Friday, December 22, 2023

Narrative Mystery Drawings

Tower Power  9” x 12”
Tower Power
2023
9” x 12”
Ink on Paper

Drawing has always been at the center of my daily practice. It’s such a direct experience: paper, pencil, erasers. If a photo tells a thousand stories, a drawing tells a million. In this hyper information and digital age, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The act of drawing is a way to process all of this. The viewer perhaps has a moment to reflect, to breathe. 

Inside the work of art each characters has their own life story. It’s like looking at a a single frame from a graphic novel, but the viewer is left to fill in the rest of the story - the before and after. In this sense narrative painting can be empowering, liberating, or challenge our perceptions and assumptions. It’s up to the viewer to complete the work.

My favorite are mystery narrative artworks. The audience becomes the detective, challenged to unlock symbols, methodology, techniques and art historical references. When does a drawing become an illustration, a poster, a comic book strip doesn’t necessarily matter to me. All can be done well, some a quick gotcha - others a book. When a narrative work hits that universal truth, its meaning can adapt and change with the times. Other works perhaps document a significant moment or series of events. Over time the most honest of those works sometimes find their way in and out of popular culture. Whose voices are amplified, when and why, become part of the mystery  itself. Enjoy!


Boat Ride 18” x 24”

Boat Ride
2023
18” x 24”
Graphite on Paper

 

Run
2023
16” x 20”
Graphite on Paper



Dinner Out
2023
18” x 24”
Graphite on Paper


Concert
2022
9” x 12”
Graphite on Paper

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Sedona Arizona Landscape Drawing Hikes

 This series of observational drawings are from Sedona. I love this part of Arizona, where each day the the mountains reveal different colors are textures. The sunrises and sunsets are unique and some of the most colorful scenes I’ve ever witnessed. There are teal, gold, blues, turquoise, magenta. The full spectrum of colors and values. Oak Creek Canyon, Verde River, West Sedona. Each place has it’s own unique ambiance, color and voice.  


There are a ton of trails to choose from some constitute a full day trip to truly enjoy. I spent a few days exploring western Sedona on this trip. It’s a place I had rarely taken time with. The trails immerse one in nature quickly. I walked, stopping to draw various scenes, flowers, trees, rock formations and cactus. The drive out Dry Creek Road and Boynton Pass Road was delightful. I had to keep pulling over to take in the views.


These sketches are like field notes, jotting down marks inspired by the full experience of this place. The days I was there were slightly overcast, cool, clear with little wind or atmospheric dust. Perfect for drawing. I used the basics, a variety of pencils, a few colors, eraser on Strathmore and Arches papers.



The sketches are source material for a series of 18” x 24” acrylic paintings. Both the drawings and paintings will be available for viewing, and sale on my website


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Monday, February 13, 2023

Thoughts On Drawing: When I wake, I draw

 Thoughts On Drawing: When I wake, I draw.

It has often been said drawing is the core of art, the seed where ideas begin. Some call it a doodle, a sketch, a mind map, an observation, a note, writing. The academic approach is to learn how to create a believable three dimensional environment. Drawing is pre-verbal, primal. The language of drawing so clear and direct.


We can draw with pen and ink, a burnt stick, metal, graphite. Drawing as a way of processing ideas, a form of deep meditation, of switching intelligence. Drawing allows for the experimental, ethereal, spiritual, a voyage into the great unknown.


When drawing I have two primary sources; observational and internal. I bounce between the two. Observational drawing is demanding, we draw what we see - not as we want it but as it is - casting marks and dots of light - doing our best to capture a specific moment, before the lights and shadows change too dramatically. What emerges is our own voice, our own poetic intuition, but the scene is prescribed. This gathering of visual language finds its way into the internal drawings. Internal drawing is as vast a galaxy as observational, trusting intuition and tens of thousands hours of practice.

Illustrations are perhaps refined drawings, with more attention to contrast and graphic lines. There may be a prescribed literary or conceptual objective, or a random meeting. Eventually drawing and illustration merge, then divert again.

Building Your Drawing Collection

People seem to buy a work on first glance - it’s a very intuitive heart process. A work just speaks to you. Next on the list is price, does the work fall into your budget? Drawings tend to be much more affordable than paintings. Do you need to set up a payment plan? How will you store or display the work? When we buy a framed work, we are buying the frame as well, that can double the cost in some cases. I sell mostly unframed work unless the client asks otherwise. Unlike paintings most drawings bought directly from the artist are unframed, allowing for the client to frame the work in a way that corresponds to their interior design.

Preserving and collecting drawings is an affordable way to build your collection. When not on display they can easily be stored, and come in a variety of sizes. I include a Certificate of Authenticity with each work, insuring authorship in perpetuity. 


Afternoon Walk

Afternoon Walk
11” x 15”
Pencil, Colored Pencil on Fabriano
2022
$230. Unframed /Include Certificates of Authenticity
Shipping $20.


Conversation
9” x 11.5”
Ink and Watercolor on Fabriano
$150. Unframed /include Certificates of Authenticity
Shipping $20.

 

Soldiers Creek
9” x 12”
Graphite on Fabriano
2022
$150. Unframed /Include Certificates of Authenticity
Shipping $20.


Catalinas
Note cards
$10.00
($3.00 shipping)
Set: Five Cards (3.75 x 5.5") 5 envelopes


Wheel of Time
11” x 17”
Graphite on Paper
2020
$260. Unframed /Include Certificates of Authenticity
Shipping $30.


You can purchase these and many other works exclusively at: www.MichaelBSchwartz.com

Thursday, January 5, 2023

 Art.Ology: Apothecary and Druggist Bottles

     A lot of the bottles I’ve found are tiny. Some are perfume, but others have a most curious ambiance.

   Prior to family doctors, health care or the DEA was the apothecary. These holistic Pharmacy's were generally the only option for those in pain. It’s wild to realize that historically speaking, our contemporary health care system is relatively new. But back in the day, the pharmacist was the only one in town to address medical needs from dentistry and eye care to surgeries and sickness.


   Old time prescriptions mixed up some curious concoctions. A blend of tradition, innovation and inebriation. Maybe you would like a swig of old Dr. Goulds Pin Worm Syrup? Stomach out of wack - try some 33% Alcohol “Homestead Tonic”.

Natural ingredients such as Sarsaparilla’s would be mixed with alcohol, morphine, opium, cocaine, heroin, alpha or beta eucaine, chloroform, Cannabis indica, chloral hydrate, and/or acetanilide.

All these tripping patients needed to know which “medicine” they were taking, so each container had a different shape, color and form. Labels included

“These medicinal compounds would have been distributed solely based on a doctor or pharmacist’s diagnosis and prescription. While the heyday of such proprietary druggist bottles existed between the 1870s and the 1920s, earlier examples certainly existed, and typically bore embossing featuring some combination of the name of the druggist, store, and location. Such bottles have also been termed pharmacy, drugstore, or prescription bottles.”
- Digging I-95

   One of the largest collections of old apothecary bottles is in Tucson, AZ at the Coit Museum of Pharmacy & Health Sciences. It’s a hidden local curiosity that might just alter your. Interpretation of history.

   It made me wonder if there was a neighborhood apothecary nearby. During the early history of our neighborhood, called Dunbar Spring, many worked in the mines, walking a few blocks to the railroad where trains would pick up workers. Some elders recalled the vendors selling lunch foods, fresh tortillas and drinks. I can imagine some tonics were available to ease a working person’s pains. Following World War 2 my house was inhabited by a vet, who perhaps used the various tonics to ease battle wounds. Who knows. The earth hides many clues, and mysteries.

   So as you're out there digging up treasures, beware those tiny tonic bottles and objects surrounding them. If you do find some cool bottles the Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes blog may be able to help you.

   Another great source are the The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) who put together a cool site called Digging I-95 which documents many of the artifacts they are finding, including druggist bottles, their uses and history. This site is great and helped me identify a Methanol Inhaler Tube and syringe. 

   Happy Digging!


White metal syringe and Cushman’s Menthol Inhaler tube. Source Digging I-95

White metal syringe and Cushman’s Menthol Inhaler tube. Source: Digging I-95





Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Archiving the Pre Digital Alternative Press

 I’ve always loved small press zines. Mailing parties, bulk mail permits, getting everything off to the printer on time. The smell of freshly printed newsprint strapped together neatly in bundles.

As technology developed the job was made much easier, but we lost that hands on look, the opportunity to work face to face in the same room for hours. The art of hand making a magazine, the collaborations between editors, writers, artists and audience is dynamic and exciting.

(1979-1985) The Delaware Alternative Press
was my introduction to the world of alternative publications. This collective put everything together by hand, typewritten, cut and pasted. The office was cozy and professional. Picking up the freshly printed offset web press, driving them back and having a distribution party was all the reward we wanted. DAP articles were well written, edited and facts checked.

 





 

(1980-1994) Cultural Democracy Magazine
The Alliance for Cultural Democracy (ACD) recently reconvened on-line to organize archives of the organization. ACD was an important organization, a vast national network of artists and cultural workers dedicated to cultural democracy and equity. 

(1989-90) The Campus Slant  had two issues printed on newsprint. It was the newspaper of the Students for Creative Action Now (SCAN). We were a phenomenon of sorts, a student activist group famous for challenging The University of Arizona  to stop the Mt. Graham telescope monuments to Columbus on Sacred Apache Land. We organized one of the only student referendums in the history of the university. While we lost 48-52% we succeeded in shining a spotlight on the issue, and among our many cultural rights victories, forced the UA to formally recognize the existence of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

 
(1991-2) Student Artist Call was a collective chap book containing materials submitted by participants and distributed through the mail. As a working group of SEAC (the national Student Environmental Action Coalition) pulled off three issues and succeeded to inject radical artistry, puberty, theater and prop making into an emerging social justice movement.



(1992) The Postal Art Broadside was a publication documenting the Postal Art project. The project featured walk up art stations, exhibits of all work submitted, and emailing of hundreds of works worldwide - feeding etc works back into the postal art movement. The project included a series of newspaper boxes converted to distribute Postal Art Kit’s and works of art for a quarter. 

 
(1997 - 2001) A/Rise was the newsletter of the Tucson Arts Brigade. There were (8) issues published before switching to an online version. TAB was a community arts collective, that established a city wide Mural Movement that hired artists to work in schools, neighborhoods and community centers. 
 






Monday, December 12, 2022

 Signs of Change: Pop Up Arts

Tucson, AZ: Signs of change are everywhere. The proliferation of the digital town square, several billion voices roaring on soapboxes. Everyone wanting just a few seconds of your time. Occasionally interrupted by a work of art, a beautiful song, a smiling face. The digital sphere has become essential in engaging the world. Piercing the digital fog has become a radical act.

This fall a few of us got together to paint some simple signs that said “Vote”. We installed them throughout the city amidst the other political signs, with the intention of reminding everyone to participate.

So many people don’t vote, it takes too much time, they forget, they aren’t registered or had their right to vote rescinded. So we made the signs whimsical, colorful. It wasn’t a demand, rather joyfully encouraging people to do something that might make them feel better, maybe even give them agency.

When we went to take the signs down many were missing. We discussed the space in our cultural environment these signs had temporarily occupied. Did they change the landscape? Were they noticed? Did they have an impact? 

We did this as individuals, without any group or institutional support, a tiny voice in an ocean of roaring thunder.

A pop up dissident moment. A sign of change.



Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Exhibit: Judaica inspired Drawings and Paintings

 

Beth Shalom Temple Center Art Gallery
presents
“Judaica inspired Drawings and Paintings ”

by
Michael B Schwartz

Aug. 30 - Oct 27, 2022


I put together a combination of drawings and paintings created over the past few years that somehow incorporated Jewish ritual objects. These are observational and narrative works in charcoal, pen and ink and acrylics.

Some of the works are like talismans or wall amulets, good luck charms for houses. The more abstract works are influenced by Torah breast plates. The decorative elements in Judaica have symbolic and mystical meanings in some cases, other pieces are more formal.

I created these from a cultural perspective, with consideration of the stories and history of these objects. Who owned them, what were their daily lives like? Who made them? 

A special thank you to Marcia Wiener and Beverly Lake.

To purchase works:
Works are for sale and available as prints or cards. To have a price list emailed to you drop me a line on my website. 

To Visit the Exhibit:
Call (520) 648-6690
Monday & Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Wednesday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Location:
1751 N Rio Mayo, Green Valley, AZ 85614
https://www.bstc.us/

 

Shabbat Light

Hamsa

Mezuzah

Torah Scroll Covers


Spice Container
Shield of David


Eternal Light