Artist Sonya Clark, Graphic artist Karl Stevens, and more
Artist Sonya Clark and double exhibits at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum: "Sonya Clark: Monumental Cloth, The Flag We Should Know Sonya Clark: Heavenly Bound." Graphic artist Karl Stevens on his work in the New Yorker, The Boston Globe and his new book: “Penny: A Graphic Memoir.” Japanese animation, at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Florida, and a curated art fair.
>> What would this nation be like
if that was the image of the Civil War that had endured?
That something was surrendered?
>> BOWEN: I'm Jared Bowen, coming up onOpen Studio,
artist Sonya Clark introduces us
to the flag we should know.
Then Karl Stevens on illustrating
the adventures of his cat Penny
and cracking the cartoon code ofThe New Yorker.
>> It has to it has to make you laugh, but not laugh out loud.
It just kind of like, smile and chuckle. (chuckles)
>> BOWEN: Plus advent in anime.
>> You can see that development process, how they go from
the raw images and ideas into the more technical details
and drawings, and then the final product.
>> BOWEN: And art on the water.
>> You're really on a curated experience.
We're really like... I'm looking at, like,
how people experience work
within an environment of a group of people that you're with
for the entire journey.
>> BOWEN: It's all now on Open Studio.
We begin the show
at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.
That's where you'll find artist Sonya Clark,
winner of the museum's prestigious Rappaport Prize,
in a deep interrogation of the Confederate battle flag.
Unfurled as a monumental sea of off-white
filling much of this gallery space,
is a Confederate flag of truce.
Or as the title of this exhibition explains--
The Flag We Should Know.
>> I want everyone to know what this flag is
so we can conceive of what truce really means.
>> BOWEN: History has largely forgotten
this simple white flag, actually a towel,
used by Confederate troops to signal a truce
during General Robert E. Lee's surrender in 1865.
The original is now housed
at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
That's where artist and Amherst College professor of art
Sonya Clark discovered it during a visit in 2010.
>> And I have to tell you, I was like,
how come I've never seen this thing before?
And that question is why there is the show
that you're in right now. (laughs)
>> BOWEN: Haunting this show is a flag that's not seen here--
the Confederate battle flag, that unlike the truce flag,
survived to become a ubiquitous emblem in this country.
As Clark documents,
it adorns all manner of merchandise
from baby onesies to nipple pasties.
>> My thought was, what would this nation be like
if that was the image of the Civil War that had endured,
that something was surrendered?
But instead we have the Confederate battle flag
in our consciousness, yeah.
>> BOWEN: Deeply so-- when Clark and a curatorial team
assembled this show in Philadelphia two years ago,
they sought out red paint to pop
in the exhibition's otherwise neutral palette.
>> Because the Confederate flag of truce has these
three minimal red stripes on it, I said, "Well,
that's the color we'll use."
>> BOWEN: The Benjamin Moore sample
they inadvertently selected? - ...Was Confederate Red.
That paint chip color, Confederate Red,
lived between two other paint chip colors.
One was called Raspberry Truffle,
and the other was called Cherry Wine.
In between these two confections
is a color that is about insurrection,
about enemies of the states, about people who wanted
to keep Black and brown people enslaved.
>> BOWEN: Clark has interrogated the legacy
of the Confederate battle flag both intellectually
In her pieceReversals,
she used a dishcloth featuring the Confederate flag
to remove dust covering a section
of The Declaration of Independence preamble.
she collaborated with audience members
to literally deconstruct the flag.
Thread by thread--
a metaphor for the glacial pace of dismantling racism.
>> I think when people see the Confederate battle flag
being paraded through the U.S. Capitol,
Sonya's work offers some tools to process
what does that incredibly complicated image mean for us.
>> BOWEN: The deCordova's Sam Adams
oversaw both this installation
and the companion show Heavenly Bound.
InConstellation, Clark delivers us into a night sky,
honoring the guidance it provided enslaved people
escaping to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
>> We're thinking about people whose stories
were incredible, they're full of bravery
and they're inspiring and deeply important
to the foundation of the country.
But they're not recorded.
>> BOWEN: However, their history may live in the artist's hair.
Here Clark offers a white sky dotted with black stars
created from her own head.
>> If you pluck a hair, in that hair
is this genetic code
for all the people who have come before you.
So your hair is both singular, like it's the hair that I grow,
but it's also absolutely collective.
>> BOWEN: Clark is mindful of the "we" throughout her work.
She wants museums patrons to become pollinators--
taking her ideas with them as they leave.
But not before participating.
>> All the way to the other side,
just give it a nice push through.
>> BOWEN: Visitors here are invited to help make truce flags
on looms in the gallery.
>> And then you'll send it
through again... take it out, let your foot off the lever.
Bring the beater down.
Pull it tight, back up.
And then the next pedal.
It's important that we all participate
in this collective work of healing,
of racial and social justice.
>> BOWEN: And how does weaving do that?
>> So we do that on a symbolic level by--
every single visitor who participates,
will contribute to a collective truce flag.
>> BOWEN: With some deft pedal work,
precise shuttling, and maneuvering,
the visitor weaves their own self
into the show-- imperfections and all.
Are you mindful that people will leave their interaction
with your work or leave a museum exhibition different?
>> Maybe they leave with a question, which actually is
more powerful, I think, than an answer.
Because a question is...
is an invitation to keep thinking.
That's actually how the artwork grows and lives beyond me.
>> BOWEN: Next, it's a foray into feline fecundity--
I will do anything for alliteration--
for artist Karl Stevens who just published a graphic novel
that takes us on the prowl with his cat Penny.
He's also just launched an illustrated column
forThe Boston Globe
and is a regular contributor toThe New Yorker.
And for all of you trying to win the magazine's
hallowed caption contest, he has clues.
thank you so much for being with us.
>> Thanks for having me, Jared, it's great to be here.
>> BOWEN: So let me ask, you are a painter who has found a lot
of success in the graphic novel realm-- what led you there?
Are these childhood influences?
>> You know, my parents would getThe Globe every,
every weekend, so I would pore over the comics pages
and copy them-- like Calvin and Hobbes, like,
that was an early one, Bloom County, Doonesbury,
although it was over my head at the time.
>> BOWEN: Well, enter Penny... (chuckles)
This fabulous cat of yours who exists in real life
in addition to the book.
Tell me about Penny and her life as we see it here.
>> It's the story of a cat who goes from a cold, dark alley,
you know, on the street of-- the streets of Brooklyn
to our comfortable but very cloistered and bourgeois
apartment here in Fort Point.
My wife and I always kind of talk to the cat.
And just one night we were just sitting around the couch
and, like, Penny was staring at me
with this really inquisitive look.
And I just started, you know, sketching this dumb comic strip
about, you know, what she was thinking.
And it just kind of hit me, it was this Eureka moment,
like, "My God, you know, like, I should just be doing
a comic strip about Penny."
You know, it's-it's about a cat, everyone loves cats.
>> BOWEN: Well you take us through her adventures,
her non-adventures, just living
in your house with you.
How would you characterize her, her character, who she is?
>> So, she's, she's really of two minds, you know,
she's-she's happy to be trapped with us.
But also she kind of longs for the freedom
to be out in the world and, you know, like,
be able to hunt and kill things.
>> BOWEN: Well, I understand that you can,
you can take us through a little bit of what you've written.
Take us into Penny.
>> My earliest memories are of living on the streets
amongst the garbage and ignored decay.
Although, it wasn't as bad as it sounds.
I felt love and was cared for.
This caused me to see the beauty that was always around me.
But then the kidnapping happens.
Now I live with two people
and my existence is a constant loop of eating,
sleeping, and thinking.
So much thinking, so, so much thinking.
Aww, Penny's so cute in her bed.
It's not so bad.
Actually, the people are very kind
and the wet food is a definite step up from the mouse carcass.
>> BOWEN: So I'm always curious about graphic novels and comics.
How do you look at the power of just one square
and what you're able to do in one square?
>> I was trained as a painter when I was in college,
and I'm always looking at fine art painting
like old master painting.
But, you know, I've-- I approach comics
in a similar way, I mean,
I always start with the words first,
because that's generally where your, your eye goes
when you're reading a comic.
So once I have that placement down,
then I work the image around that,
you know, just so it fits in, in a... in a cohesive way.
And, you know, I mean, I think about color a lot, too.
>> BOWEN: You just mentioned being able to look
at masterpieces, as I imagine you do quite frequently.
Full disclosure, I first met you
at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum where you work.
(laughter) >> Right.
>> BOWEN: So what is-- how does that...
Well, first, tell us what you do there,
and tell us how, how that informs your creative process.
>> Well, I work in security there.
I find museums, like, very comforting because,
you know, all the people that work there are, like, devoted
to art and the preservation of art,
and those are just my people.
I must have, like, stared at that Rembrandt, you know,
for like thousands of hours, the, like,self portrait.
It, it used to haunt me when I was in my early 20s.
>> BOWEN: Haunt you in what way?
>> Well, because, you know, he was 23 when he painted it.
So, you know, as a young artist, you always compare yourself to,
you know, where other artists were at
a certain point in their career.
>> BOWEN: Let's talk about a couple of other projects
you have in the works right now, which is your, your column
forThe Boston Globe, what are... what are you able to do
there in the ideas section?
>> So I think we're going to keep it relatively
autobiographical-- I was writing about, like,
working at the Gardner during lockdown
during the first couple... and it's like my walk home
from the Fenway to Fort Point.
>> BOWEN: So let me ask about The New Yorker, too.
I mean, for an artist doing what you do, is that the Holy Grail,
to be featured inThe New Yorker?
>> Oh yeah, yeah, for sure, I mean I was really shocked
when they reached out to me.
>> BOWEN: Can you read us a couple of your
most recent successes with The New Yorker?
>> So this first one is, it's two dandelions
and one is saying to the other, "The wind, the wind,
"that's all you think about.
You've got to learn to live in the moment."
>> BOWEN: (chuckles)
>> And then the other one was Bigfoot and his mother
are sitting on a couch and his mother is saying to him,
"It doesn't matter what other people may think,
I believe in you." >> BOWEN: (chuckles)
>> Bigfoot's mother-- so I was, I was pretty proud of that one.
I thought that was, like,
the quintessential New Yorker cartoon.
>> BOWEN: Well, I was just going to ask that--
it's one thing to know what funny is,
it's another thing to know whatNew Yorker funny is.
So how do you know it?
>> It has to have this this certain, like,
twist to it that that it's like just weird enough
but not too weird.
It has to it has to make you laugh, but not laugh out loud.
It's just kind of like smile and chuckle.
>> BOWEN (chuckles): You realize you have lots of people
who have their notebook right now trying to take notes
for entering the caption contest...
at the end of the book.
What's the ratio of submissions to those that they accept?
>> They probably buy one out of every 30 or 40.
So-- actually probably closer to 50.
I mean, I submit like five to ten every week.
>> BOWEN: So you've mastered rejection at this point?
>> I have a thick skin.
I mean, I've been in this game, you know,
for like, like, 15 years.
I mean, in general, just, you know, trying to get published.
So, it's, yeah, if-if you don't have a thick skin,
you, you shouldn't be in the, in the comic business.
EspeciallyThe New Yorker.
>> BOWEN: It's always great to to look at your work,
read your work, and I love Penny.
Thank you so much for being with us today.
>> Thank you, Jared, it means a lot.
>> BOWEN: It's time now for Arts This Week,
and it's a "scream."
Sunday, kinship is on display inClose to You at Mass MoCA.
Organized at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,
the exhibition features six artists exploring
various forms of intimacy.
Artist Jerry Takigawa delves into memory
and the effects of Japanese Internment
through a trove of family photographs
Explore the exhibition at the Griffin Museum
of Photography, Tuesday.
(mariachi music playing)
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with an evening of music
from Verónica Robles and her all-female mariachi band.
Celebrity Series of Boston presents this virtual concert
(Boston Pops playing "Luck be a Lady")
Stream a Mother's Day concert from the Boston Pops
Keith Lockhart leads the orchestra in a performance
of music about and by women, including Clara Schumann,
Carole King, and even ABBA.
Friday marks the anniversary of the recovery
of Edvard Munch's painting The Scream in 1994.
One of Norway's most infamous art heists,
the painting went missing for almost three months.
And it would not be the last time
a version ofThe Scream was stolen.
Next, the exhibition Anime Architecture presents
Japanese animation before the digital era.
Presented at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
in Delray Beach, Florida, the show featured drawings
and paintings used in the creation of animated films.
>> I'm Carla Stansifer, I'm the curator of Japanese Art
at the Morikami Museum
and Japanese Gardens.
This isAnime Architecture.
This exhibit features four films that came out
between 1988 and 2004.
These films are all anime,
which is the Japanese animation process,
and they are all sci-fi
and they all also encapsulate a realistic style.
So that's what each of the films have in common.
And, you know, anime is
a multibillion dollar business today.
The original curator of the exhibition,
Stefan Riekeles from Berlin,
he started this project back in 2008
and he was fortunate enough to go into studios,
meet with the animators,
and look at some of their work
and he was really interested in the process
of anime making.
It's amazing, you have hundreds of artists
working together to create one film.
And he talks about how a lot of the artists were hesitant
to put their art in frames and on the wall,
they didn't see it as art.
They saw it as just a small part of this whole production.
The curator went with the backgrounds
and not just the characters.
For example, in the Japanese anime process,
the voiceovers come last.
You know, in a Disney production they come first.
But in Japan it's the opposite.
They have a much greater emphasis
on the environment and movement.
Ghost in the Shell came out in 1995
and it's based on a very popular manga series.
We really can't underestimate the importance of this film.
The people who created TheMatrix say flat out
that this film inspired them.
And the entire film is about artificial intelligence
in the future.
But how this artificial intelligence
interacts with the technology, with the machinery
and really they're talking about what it means to be human.
For this film, we featured some of the hand drawings
by Takeuchi Atsushi,
and then we have the paintings of Ogura Hiromasa,
which actually appear in the film.
So you can see that development process, how they go from
the raw images and ideas
into the more technical details and drawings.
And then the final product and the feel
and the emotion that comes out-- it's almost as if
the background and the environment
is its own character in the film.
They really want to emphasize that.
We do have some photography as well.
And location photography was very important.
Remember, these artists were going for realism
and the director Oshii Mamoru
not only worked on anime, but he also worked on live actions.
And he thought, "Well, why don't we do that for anime?"
And I love to point out this piece right here.
He snapped this picture in a shop,
after he had gone in, his lens sort of clouded over.
And then this is what his art team did with it.
And I love it because
we're not just seeing a copy,
they're not copying what they saw.
They were inspired by this.
And you can see they added some signage.
They added a building over here.
I also like to point out in this piece, again,
it's a watercolor on paper by Ogura Hiromasa.
And this one would have been captured on film
for the final product.
You see these dark colors here,
it has this nice, brood-y tone to it.
But when that transfers to film, a lot of that gets washed out.
But Ogura was a master at finding
just the right mix to create these darker tones
and still keep them vibrant.
This piece here is from the filmPatlabor
which came out in 1989.
If you look very closely at this piece, you'll see
a few little bits of tape across the top.
And that's because there are actually three layers here.
Why would they do that?
Why would they go to all that trouble?
Well, in this particular scene,
we have a flock of birds that flies
through the frame, and so we had to have space
in between those buildings
and they were moving at different camera speeds,
how complicated it gets
just for a flock of birds to fly across screen.
Around 1997, the anime industry
moved to entirely digital productions
from concept design
through to the final piece,
was all digital and it was this great wave,
this great change that took over the studios,
especially throughout Tokyo.
there are only five studios left
who can do hand-drawn backgrounds.
>> BOWEN: We stay in Florida now where Art Fort Lauderdale
is an art fair quite unlike most.
For four days, as we see in this piece filmed pre-pandemic,
attendees take part in a curated experience,
traveling the intracoastal waterways to waterfront homes
teeming with art.
>> My name's Evan Snow, I'm one of the co-founders
and managing partners of Art Fort Lauderdale,
the "Art Fair on the Water."
>> I'm Andrew Martineau,
co-founder of Art Fort Lauderdale
and also the curatorial director for this fair.
>> We never had a signature four-day
art fair in Fort Lauderdale or even in Broward County,
so we decided to create a revolutionary art fair
taking place exclusively inside luxury waterfront homes
made only accessible via boat.
>> You're really on a curated experience.
We're really, like... I'm looking at, like,
how people experience work
within an environment of a group of people
that you're with for the entire journey.
We really kind of like calm
the whole experience down as opposed to it being very hectic.
>> One of the really unique things
is having the art in the homes
versus a traditional tent or convention center.
Even for a savvy art patron,
most people get art fatigue, going to these art fairs.
>> So within this environment
we're able to actually place work in a place
where it will eventually live
and where people would kind of, like, see it every day.
We've kind of placed the pieces, you know,
in the bathroom above the bathtub
or in the bedroom above the bed head.
>> We are a primarily independent-
artist-driven art fair.
It's so tough for an independent artist
not represented by a gallery
to exhibit in a major fair, the barrier to entry is so high,
it's thousands of dollars
and if you're even represented by a gallery.
So we made it inclusive, so artists of any level--
emerging, established, local,
national, international or otherwise--
can exhibit on our county's largest platform.
One of the main focal points with the art fair is each home
is a different exhibit.
>> As we start selecting the works for the fair,
we kind of match the works with the homes
that we're going to be in.
So this home that we're in right now is more
of a modern contemporary home,
recently built, and we wanted to have
a lot of bright lights,
bright light and bright colors kind of coming through.
And a lot of the work kind of represents a lot of that.
A lot of works also very modern contemporary pieces.
>> So we have three homes this year,
serving as our exhibit locations,
two of which are independent
artists exhibitions for artists not represented
by a gallery.
We also are very excited to have added a Bahamas Haus exhibition
benefiting the Grand Bahamas Children's House,
which was unfortunately damaged by Hurricane Dorian,
with a portion of proceeds so that they can help rebuild
and actually resume their art programs,
which unfortunately they had to put on pause
as a result of the hurricane.
>> I'm Jennifer Nayak.
I'm welcoming you to Bahamas Haus.
I am a collector and I'm a curator
and I'm an arts and culture writer.
I know these artists personally
and I was devastated to find out
that so many of my favorite galleries
that I like to go to were closing.
So the artwork in this room is Laurie Tuchel,
she's a Grand Bahamian-based artist.
She uses a lot of layering
effect with her colors and she paints a lot
of day in the life scenes, so these are actual moments.
So this is an example of the Junkanoo pieces
that were sent over from Grand Bahama.
One thing that's interesting about the Bahamas is that
all of the materials
the artists use are shipped in.
So you have to use the most basic things.
And when you look and see
how they used-- this artist used recycled lawn material,
I think this might even be, like, a child's chair.
They use staples, masking tape, glue, and paint.
And if you feel the weight of this,
it is about 20 pounds, 25 pounds,
imagine dancing through the streets
wearing this on your head.
These are handed down generation from generation year after year
because the artistry is so good, but also the engineering.
Caroline Anderson's work is really probably
my most poignant and my most important and expressive
from my post-hurricane pieces that were given to me.
These talk about the destruction
and the experience of going through the hurricane.
This is what Hurricane Dorian looked like to her.
>> The social interaction, I think, is super important
to get more people being able to appreciate work
>> And you get time to reflect and think about the work
you just saw on your boat journey as you go
from home to home-- it's a really...
true discovery experience where you're going to find artists
that you might not have found anyplace else.
>> BOWEN: And that is all for this edition ofOpen Studio.
Next week, on film, she's got the look.
Academy Award winner Ruth Carter walks us through
her history of costume design.
Plus, the Indigenous composers getting play
with Shelter Music Boston.
(string quartet playing)
Until then, I'm Jared Bowen, thanks for joining us.
As always, you can visit us online GBH.org/OpenStudio.
And you can follow us on Instagram and Twitter
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