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September 18, 2010 September 18, 2010

Posted by cbuchanan in Uncategorized.

This could be the day that changes a lot in Birmingham–from the fabric of our downtown area to people’s opinions about the city.

Welcome, Railroad Park!

I’ll be there today–and many other days in the future. I’m so glad that it’s so close to where I work. I can’t wait to make it a favorite Birmingham spot, and I’m eager to see what happens to the area around it in the next few years.

It seems like this has been a great week for the city, with the park opening, a successful Artwalk, the beginning of the already extremely popular Birmingham Restaurant Week, and announcements of new businesses opening and new projects in the works for downtown. This park will be the perfect place to celebrate!


Long Time, No Blog September 6, 2010

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My plan for the second half of the summer was to take it easy, basically. Since I’m not participating in Artwalk as an artist this year, I wouldn’t be making prints every night, leaving me all kinds of time to experiment with my art. Well, that didn’t quite happen. Here’s all that I have going on right now:

–I’m volunteering for Artwalk this weekend.
–I’m working on new wall art for the grand opening of the new Naked Art in early October.
–I’m planning a printmaking show that will open in January at Lite Box Gallery. I’m curating this one rather than making the art for it, and it will feature all kinds of printmaking from artists across Alabama.
–I’m working on two magazine articles that you’ll see in the coming months.
–I’ve been doing some traveling.
–I am actually doing some artistic experimentation. I recently created my first intaglio print, which was a lot of fun.
–Plus there are big events to attend, including the grand opening of Railroad Park on Sept. 18 and the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival the following week.

And of course, new ideas for new projects keep popping up all the time. I’m trying to do a better job at prioritizing them and spacing them out. There’s so much I want to do around here, but not enough time to do it!

Pride of Place June 29, 2010

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I recently stumbled upon this post at Freethinkbham.com, and I highly recommend a read:

What Will Save Birmingham? Pride.

I think that post succinctly explains the root of most of Birmingham’s problems. Our inferiority complex, our lack of confidence, our lack of will, and our defeatism all stem from a lack of pride in who we are, where we are, and what we are. The author makes some great points about celebrating our history, our amenities, our architecture, our natural beauty, and our people–and suggests promoting the positive will build on itself and motivate people, both within and outside B’ham, to invest in the city’s continued growth.

I totally agree with that, and I would suggest that the uptick in pride is already happening. I think–I hope–that we’ll look back on 2010 as a turning point. Since the beginning of this year, we’ve had at least four major “movements” on Facebook to protect and promote things that make B’ham unique–the efforts to save Live 100.5, keep the Chick-fil-a drive-through out of Five Points South, save the Clairmont fire station, and protect the Garage Cafe. Hundreds and in some cases thousands of people have joined these causes, which in turn have helped spark the I Believe in Birmingham group. People are more energized than I’ve seen in quite a while.

Also, I think the opening of the Railroad Park will be a seminal moment in the city’s modern history. If you haven’t seen any photos from inside the park, I suggest you look here and here. I think you’re going to like what you see. It looks fantastic–a great leap forward for downtown B’ham. It’s going to change some people’s minds about this city and what we can do–or at least force them to admit that it’s a step in the right direction. I can’t wait to see how it affects the surrounding neighborhood. (In a couple of years, we’ll have another seminal event–the opening of Red Mountain Park. This will be an amenity that will make other cities green with envy. Green! Get it? Heh heh heh.)

I’ve also seen a rise in pride on a more personal level, though the reaction to my B’ham-centric prints. Actually, all kinds of B’ham-related artwork is hot right now, and you’ll find a lot of it at almost any local art festival you visit. That’s a good sign that people realize their city has a unique character–one that’s worth protecting and celebrating. That’s where local pride begins.

And We’re Back June 20, 2010

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The opening of “Signs for Our Time” at Naked Art was a huge success, and I want to thank everyone who has stopped by to see and/or purchase something from the show. The art from all of the artists is fantastic, and the response from the community has been thrilling. Don’t forget that you still have time to see our modern take on WPA posters–the show closes June 30.

So now that the show is in place, what’s next for me?

–I’m enjoying a little art break. That doesn’t mean that I’m not making anything new; on the contrary, I’m going to spend the rest of my summer experimenting with some new techniques. But I have decided to not exhibit at Artwalk as an artist this year to give myself some time to relax after six months of nonstop show preparations. I’ll still be at the festival as a volunteer, though.

–Road trips! I’m hoping to make my long-planned jaunt to Dismals Canyon soon. And in August I’m going to a high school reunion in Virginia, near the beautiful Cumberland Gap, which means new opportunities for hiking and photographing old signs along the way.

–I’m planning to blog more regularly. Perhaps even multiple posts in one week, for crying out loud.

–Additional activities with the Birmingham Printmakers, plus there are several things in the works that I think you’re going to like. I’ll reveal more once the plans take shape.

It’s Finally Here! June 9, 2010

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The WPA show, “Signs for Our Time,” arrives this Friday, and I can’t wait for you to see all of the great pieces from all of the artists. Everyone took the WPA poster concept and interpreted it in all kinds of intriguing and sometimes unexpected ways. Most of the “posters” are really one-of-a-kind art pieces–occasionally on wood and even fabric–and you’re going to see some by artists who have never shown their work at Naked Art before. Then there’s the functional art, which I created. In all, I made about 40 pieces for this show, including three of the posters.

While you’re waiting for Friday night, take a look at these links to get a feel for the real WPA and its posters and other projects:

WPA Posters at the Library of Congress: Site 1Site 2
WPA Posters on Flickr
The WPA in Jefferson County (from the B’ham Public Library)

Hopefully I’ll see you Friday or Saturday! Be sure to stop by, say hi, and let me know what you think of the show.

Friday, June 11: 5:00-9:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 12: 1:00-6:00 p.m.
Naked Art Gallery, 3815 Clairmont Ave., Birmingham
(next to Silvertron in Forest Park)

Show in Sight May 17, 2010

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I’m beginning to breathe a sigh of relief. I’m nearly done with my pieces for the long-awaited WPA show!

In fact, I delivered most of the pieces to Naked Art last weekend. You’ll be able to see them when the show opens on the evening of June 11. The full title is “Signs for Our Time: A Modern Take on the WPA,” and it features WPA-inspired “posters” with current messages created by a plethora of artists–including some who have never shown their work at Naked Art before. I’ll have two posters for sure–and maybe more because I keep thinking of new ones I just have to add–and I have created more than 30 pieces of functional art, ranging from clocks to wearable items. I’m very excited for everyone to see the art for this show, because the artists have outdone themselves. The show will run to June 30, and you’ll see some promos for it soon on Facebook.

Also, the Birmingham Printmakers is hosting its second meeting/print swap on June 2 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Forest Perk Coffee in the Piggly Wiggly shopping center on Clairmont Ave. If you’re a printmaker of any type, I invite you to stop by and meet other printmakers, show your work, and bring extra prints if you’d like to swap. If you’re not a printmaker, feel free to stop by to see the art and learn more about the medium. It’s possible that I might have some big printmaking-related news to share at that meeting. Stay tuned!

Once I’m completely finished with my contributions to the WPA show, I’ll resume regular blogging, and I already have some ideas for posts. Several great Birmingham-centric blogs have popped up while I’ve been absent, and they’re all worthy reads. (I referenced most of them in a previous post.) Be sure to check them out and join the conversations.

Surfacing April 15, 2010

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Poor, neglected blog! I really do have all sorts of ideas for posts, but right now all creative energies are focused on finishing the WPA show. I’m nearly done making all of my pieces. Of course, I’ll need to go back through all of them to do some touch-ups and make sure they’re all sealed, photographed, etc., but once the major art-making is done, I can breathe a little easier.

Yesterday, Vero at Naked Art and I evaluated all the poster submissions from artists/designers for this show. I think you’re going to like what you see come June 11!

Before I go back into the ink, here’s a reminder that Artwalk applications are due very soon. Go ahead–fill it out. You know you want to!

Industrial Beauty March 18, 2010

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Still working on the WPA show, but here’s something to chew on until I resume regular blog programming. It’s an essay by city planner, architect, and Birmingham printmaker Frank Hartley Anderson that appeared in Warren Manning’s 1919 city plan of Birmingham (which you can read online via Google. It’s his vision of “industrial beauty,” and he indicates that it’s something to celebrate–something that makes B’ham unique. Of course, this is right up my alley. As I have worked on my prints over the years, I have come to love the industrial architecture and history and–yes, art–of this city. Read it and let me know what you think.

(begin essay by Frank Hartley Anderson)

Industrial Beauty.

Beauty is comparative. The beauty of women, or pictures, is one kind. There is a beauty in strength, and in usefulness.

To one unused to an iron and steel center there is a vast amount of beauty he has never seen. The vast galleries in the bowels of the earth where the coal is mined, have, under the miner’s lamps, with other lights flashing in the distance, a weird beauty of their own.

The opening of the tipple, with its accompanying pillar of gas and flame, when the red ore is put in the melt for pig, is, in the daytime, a fine sight. At night, when the clouds are hanging low, the lighting effects on these clouds is a sight at first terrifying as well as wonderful.

A run of pig, at night, is a strange sight to one unused to it. The east end of the First Avenue viaduct about nine-thirty should be much more popular than it is at present, as here, practically in the heart of the city, can be seen this sight which millions of people have never seen, a sight which, on a stage, people would pay millions of dollars to see.

The blue flame under the pot, the sparkling beauty as the slag is run out, and later the glowing hotness as the molten iron is run into pigs, lighting up the gigantic furnaces and the steel frame buildings, is a beauty such as no artist can put on canvas. Mere paint can not convey the brightness of the light, nor the fearful beauty of the scene. Every plant in the district, steel mills, by-product plans, structural iron works, coal, and ore mines, and the machine shops, all are well worth seeing, both from the viewpoint of picturesqueness, and because of knowledge to be gained regarding the activities of this, the coming industrial center of America.

(end essay)

Late Addition February 21, 2010

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So it’s been quite a while since I updated! I have been busy working on pieces for this summer’s WPA show at Naked Art, and so far, so good. The pieces I’ve completed are looking good, and I’ve got about five more in progress. When the show opens, I’ll have roughly 30 new functional pieces (clocks, boxes, etc.) as well as one of the WPA-inspired posters.

I’m going to try to update more often, but just in case a few days go by, check out these other B’ham-centric blogs that I’ve been enjoying lately:

Bhamarchitect’s Blog
The Heaviest Corner
Red Mountain Review

All of the above focus on architecture and city planning–and how they affect history, culture, business, growth, etc. They’re far more intertwined than most people realize.

And last but not least, Magic City Manifesto, a look at B’ham through the eyes of a newcomer.

Revisiting Progress January 25, 2010

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The other day I saw a brochure titled “The Progressive City: Birmingham in the 1930s,” and, well, I could barely contain myself. Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m fascinated by that period in American history, that I’m *especially* fascinated by that period in Birmingham history, and that I’m working on pieces for a 1930s-inspired show at Naked Art this June.

The brochure promotes Collective Perspectives, Vulcan Park and Museum’s annual series of arts events to mark Black History Month. Because this year’s series is themed to B’ham in the ’30s, the park will spotlight the era’s art, music, people, and events through the visual arts, musical performances, theater, and film every Thursday evening in February.

But it gets better.

The visual arts part, scheduled for Feb. 4, showcases Frank Hartley Anderson, a master printmaker active in B’ham in the 1930s through the Federal Art Project. He chronicled Birmingham’s landmarks and people through his black-and-white woodcut prints, which are amazing in both technique and image. Can you tell that I find his work very inspiring? (If you get a copy of the Collective Perspectives brochure, check out the snippet of Anderson’s “Iron Furnace” print; my “Iron Spires” print of Sloss Furnaces is, in part, an homage to this print.) Graham Boettcher, curator of American art at the Birmingham Museum of Art, will discuss Anderson and his B’ham works.

But wait–it gets even better.

That night, Vulcan Park will have a mini show of Anderson’s prints belonging to the art museum. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this–as far as I’m aware, only two of them have ever been on display in recent years. Following the Feb. 4 event, the Museum of Art will show Anderson’s prints from Feb. 9 to May 9. I am so there.

Vulcan Park’s Web site has more info about the series as a whole, but not the individual events, which is too bad, because they all sound interesting. Admission to each event is $10 and $30 for the entire series. Each event lasts from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Hopefully I’ll see you there!