--Dan Cummins (Board President)

A Glimmer of Hope

The ArtiFactory entered 2020 on a high note, expanding programming and investigating the potential use of the Bochner Building for a community art center. Amperage Marketing and Fundraising completed a feasibility study for us, and this assessed the level of community support, including financial support, for an art center. The study also helped us to see where improvements can be made.

When Covid-19 struck Johnson County in March, non-profits were hit hard. Resources have since been scarce and have rightly flowed to organizations with rent commitments and paid employees. The ArtiFactory was forced to retrench to the bare minimum of programming via Zoom.

As we look to a future that includes a vaccine, we will again actively pursue our dream of a community art center. Our approach will be different, with a focus on starting smaller and growing as traction is gained. We will look for a “startup” space to call home that allows us to expand our programming and further engage the community. We need your help to make this happen. If you have ideas and/or are interested in helping, please click here to volunteer. Looking forward to an exciting 2021.
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Please Tell Us Your Views
--Beppie Weiss

Hello again art friends.

The holidays are upon us and they will certainly be different than the usual festive season. There are so many things that I associate with the season not least of which is gathering with friends. Well that’s pretty much out. But let’s not dwell on the gloomy. Here to make you smile is a little “news” from Paris.
Closer to home, the “Small Works” show is up at Art Domestique in Washington on the square. They are open Tuesday-Friday 10-4, and Saturday 10-1. If you don’t want to get out of the house and take a drive in the country on a sunny winter day, you can view this nice exhibit on line. Go to their website, artdomestiquegallery.com, scroll down a bit to 4th Annual Small Works Show, then start dragging the pictures R to L to view the show.
I have a couple art competitions that might interest you. “Iowa Artists” is a grass roots arts organization with various divisions across the state. Usually these divisions have annual shows the winners of which submit their art to the state show. None of this has happened this year. Iowa Artists is turning 50 this year, and is hosting its first on line art competition. This show is for work created this past year, 2 or 3D, one entry per artist, and submitted by January 31. For more details and the entry form go to Iowa Artists Online Competition. Another competition that might interest you watercolorists is “Splash 23 Art Competition: The Best of Watercolor.” This is a big international competition with equally big prize money.
Note to Artists:
PLEASE send me any news you would like to share about your art or work you are doing. Otherwise, I won't have a single thing to write about next month! Click here to contact Beppie Weiss with your event suggestions.
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--John McGlinn

In the Studio

A Seascape with a Message: “Outraged”
A long-standing member of Arts Iowa City/ArtiFactory Board Beppie Weiss has a strong background in representative art and illustration including professional work with the Illinois Department of Education for many years. One of the instructors for ArtiFactory drawing and painting classes, Beppie knows her stuff.

Here with the award-winning pastel “Outraged” she shows us how a personal interpretation can be universally appreciated. Only through skill and perseverance can an image like this emerge from such a dynamic scene.

In her own words below we get the context for the work and the details of her achievement. Congratulations, Beppie!

“This 14” X 24” pastel ‘Outraged’ came about from watching and photographing a dramatic sunset on the gulf of Florida. The back lit cloud formation was like an angry sea spirit coming ashore to berate us for all the damage we have done to the oceans. That list is long and the time to change our behavior is overdue.

I entered this painting in International Artist magazine's contest for lakes, rivers and oceans. I am honored to be included in the Winners Circle and be published in the December/January 2020-2021 issue of the magazine. I hope you have enjoyed looking at it.”

Computer tools for better paintings
Many of us may use the PC application “Paint”, which I think has been part of every release of Windows for 15+ years. I use it to generate edits to paintings in progress.

I take a digital photo (phone is convenient), then transfer it to my pc, and open in Paint. There I can scale it using “Resize” to make the file size more manageable (megabytes to kilobytes) and if deserving, to eventually go on my web site. I also use the “Select All” command to crop the image.

Once this basic stuff has been done, I employ different graphic elements/modes to define possible edits, save the file with a different name, and compare the edit results to select a way forward on the real painting. No quick “intuitive” gestures for me late in the painting’s evolution, unless I am truly desperate! That’s why I say: I do not finish a painting, I survive it!

One key feature missing in Paint is a conversion to gray-scale for value analysis. But the freeware G.I.M.P. program does provide the “Colors-Value Invert” command for something close.
Since I do not paint with random access to the whole surface like an Impressionist, but instead, layer paint washes, I must try to anticipate any change impact as best possible. Maybe you do too.
Matisse’s life work in a few minutes
Matisse at Pompidou Museum in Paris Nov 2020

Centre PompidouMatisse is a big dog in the art world because his paintings are beautiful, his artistic evolution is monumental, and he helped usher in a new perspective in art history.
This very recent 12 minute overview done by a curator at the Georges Pompidou Museum in Paris is just perfect. Her explanations are in French, which always sounds great, with captions that concretely guide us through the exhibition’s tour.

Jackson Art Supplies: ArtGraf Drawing Putty
Artgraf Drawing Putty
I came across this material on JacksonsArt.com in London a few days ago that reminded me of a life drawing class and its tools 54 years ago. Always short on money back then, it was not something I could splurge on. The material is not unique, but the video is! Have a look, and consider what that range of methods could add to nuances and bold contrasts in your drawings. Maybe Blick’s carries something like it.
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--Phil Beck
Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant ChildThis month we pay tribute to the unique life and vision of painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, born in Brooklyn in December 1960. His career took him from homeless graffiti artist to the top of the New York art scene of the 1980s and a friendship with Andy Warhol.  He had noteworthy exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad, but his life was cut short by a heroin overdose at 27.  Derided by some as a mere Warhol hanger-on, his art superficial and faddish, others recognized his importance as a person of color (Haitian-Puerto Rican) with little formal training who cracked the dominantly white art establishment and brought the voice of underrepresented people and the spirit of folk art into the gallery. His neo-expressionist drawings and paintings incorporate original poetry, private symbols, and biting social commentary.

Basquiat, a 1996 biographical film written and directed by artist Julian Schnabel (At Eternity’s Gate), helped spread the word about him beyond the East Coast. It charts his meteoric rise from street artist to fame and fortune amidst a backlash fueled by racism. Although not a commercial success, the film was generally well-regarded by critics. But, like its subject, it also generated some controversy. In addition to changing details of Basquiat’s life, Schnabel failed to get permission to show original works by the artist, so he created his own in a similar style. The results, however, are pale imitations of Basquiat’s idiosyncratic, groundbreaking art.

In one of his earliest roles, Jeffrey Wright turns in an earnest but somewhat muted performance as Basquiat. David Bowie, however, is weirdly memorable as Andy Warhol.  The cast is rounded out by heavy hitters such as Dennis Hopper Benicio del Toro, Parker Posey, and Gary Oldman, who plays a thinly disguised version of Schnabel himself. This led some critics to charge the director with being more interested in enhancing his own reputation than Basquiat’s. In Summer 2019 ArtiFactory partnered with FilmScene to present a free screening of this flawed but very worthwhile film. 

If you’re interested in something less Hollywood, a couple of interesting documentaries have been made about him. Jean-Michel Basquiat: the Radiant Child (2010) is built around an interview that filmmaker and friend Tamra Davis did with him the year before he died. Filling it out with interviews with other artists and associates of Basquiat, including Schnabel again, Davis tries to unveil the person behind the mystique. 2017 saw the release of Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, which explores his work as a street artist before he found fame. And then there is Downtown 81, a curious underground film in which Basquiat himself acts, portraying a homeless street artist (which he was at the time) drifting through New York’s hip art and music scene before a climactic encounter with a bag lady--played by Blondie’s Debbie Harry. Of course. The movie wasn’t finished or released until years after his death. Notably, the paintings Basquiat creates in the film are some of the first he put on canvas.

Camille ClaudelDecember is also the birth month of Camille Claudel, the French sculptor who for years was better known as fellow sculptor Auguste Rodin’s lover than as an artist in her own right, but who today is recognized for her considerable talent and accomplishments. Born in December 1864, she started sculpting in her teens and was beginning to attract favorable attention when she met Rodin and became his student, collaborator, and mistress. After their relationship ended, she worked and exhibited steadily but lived in poverty and seclusion until 1913 when her family committed her to an asylum, unjustly in the view of many. She spent the rest of her life there, dying in 1943. She never sculpted again.

Her torturous affair with Rodin forms the basis of Camille Claudel, a French drama from 1988 starring acting luminaries Isabelle Adjani and Gerard Depardieu. One of the first films about a woman artist, Claudel presents an unidealized but stirring portrait of a woman fighting for self-liberation. It was both a hit at the box office and the winner of many awards. Then in 2013, Juliet Binoche won accolades portraying the older Claudel during her years in the asylum in Camile Claudel 1915. I have yet to see this film, but praise for it is very high.
Seen any of these films?  Tell us what you think of them, or suggest others not covered in the newsletter. Click here to contact Phil Beck with your movie comments or suggestions.
Jean-Michel Basquiat on Film:
Camille Claudel on Film:
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Léonard Kibala was born in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He came to the United States in a diversity lottery that he won in 2019. When asked what his motivation he said, “I am an artist. I must not be silent. Painting portraits is my way to express my artistic talent to the American public. The United States is a country of opportunities. I hope I can realize my artistic dreams here.” Click here to learn more.

ART IN THE AFTERNOON is a monthly artist talk / workshop usually held on the 3rd Sunday. This series focuses on introducing local artists to the Iowa City community.

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Art in the Afternoon on YouTube

Recordings of the the recent Art in the Afternoon programs on Zoom are now available on the ArtiFactory YouTube channel.

Watch on YouTube

We have several needs for volunteers.

If you are interested in helping keep the arts alive in Johnson County. Please click here for more details.
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