Steve Mancione

Workingman's Art

I am a Chicago based artist who has always been drawn to what many traditional art critics might call "low-brow art".  Graphitti, comic books, and cartoons have always interested me most, I think because they are the most relatable to the public at large.  Making art for the .5% of the population that actually goes to "white cube" galleries doesn't seem practical to me.  Those people are all artists, art critics, or art teachers.  They already come to the work with predisposed notions of whatever theory they are currently regurgetating.  In my mind, it takes more balls to do artwork that everyone, from every class has access to.  A tag on a brick wall will be seen by more people than a framed work in a gallery.  But it's not exposure I'm after, it's opening up the vacuum sealed bubble of the art world to everyone, not just the people in the "art club".  I want people who would never walk into a gallery to be able to see my work.  Regular people without trust funds and people who have no idea what "post-modern" means.  My family, colleagues and friends are hard working individuals who will most likely never know a -shall we say - "priviledged" life. So that's who I make art for because I can actually relate to them and hopefully they can relate to me.  I guess I'll sum this up in a quote from one of my favorite childhood movies. 

"I make car parts for the American working man, because that's what I am. And that's who I care about."

                                                                    -Ray Zalinsky (Dan Akroyd)

Residency at the Center for Book Paper and Print - Columbia College

Welcome back.  Thanks for the loyalty and you can look forward to a better record/documentation of my current work right here.

I recently completed a residency at the Center for Book Paper and Print at Columbia College Chicago.  I submitted a proposal to get access to the papermaking and print facilities to continue working on my Blue Collar Black Sheep series.  If you aren't familiar, you can read about the first book right here.

I continued making paper to represent building materials, continuing the theme of closing the gap between creating fine art and traditional building trades. Using cotton fiber, pigmenting, pulp painting (it was more like pulp pouring) and a stencil technique, I was able to create large scale (22" x 26") sheets of handmade paper resembling drywall, blueprints, and brick.

Images and process...

For the brick, I started with pigmenting the cotton gray (mortar) on a large planet mold sheet.

Brick Mortar

Brick Mortar

Then I cut out a stencil of a mortar pattern out of mylar (one continuous piece) and laid it on top of the wet sheet of grey.

Mylar for the bircks

Mylar for the bircks

I then pigmented another batch of cotton Brick-Red and poured the red pulp into the brick spaces left by the mylar stencil.

Brick wall after red pulp was poured and stencil removed.

Brick wall after red pulp was poured and stencil removed.

After pouring the red, I removed the mylar stencil (oh so gently) and to my delight, I was left with a sharper than expected edge for each brick.  I was a bit worried that the press would smush the nice clean bricks into indiscernible blobs, but alas, here is the pressed and dried result...

Dried sheet of Brick Paper

Dried sheet of Brick Paper

I also pigmented a small batch of pulp a little lighter than the first red and did a little two-tone action by pouring both shades on the same sheet.

Two-tone with the top down

Two-tone with the top down

So there you have your bricks...to follow that up, let's get to some dry-wall paper. I did another gray base sheet, the same way I started the brick. I then laid two wet pelons over each side of the gray base sheet and left a gap wide enough for that strip of white you see to mimic drywall seam taping.  I poured unpigmented white pulp in the gap the create the "tape".  I did this for the x-axis, and then for the crossing tape on the y-axis.  To create the nail patch circles, I carefully poured small piles of white pulp at equal distances around the "tape".  

Drywall paper before press

Drywall paper before press

Here is the paper pressed and dried...

Drywall pressed

Drywall pressed

As you can see, I lucked out again and the press did not destroy the integrity of the hard lines I created with the white pulp.

The blueprint paper won't be much to see until I get the white-ink content printed on there but I'll put this here just to complete the trio.

Cookie-monster blue pulp in the mold

Cookie-monster blue pulp in the mold

You get the idea

You get the idea

So that's what I was able to get done over my two week residency at the Center.  I got about 4 sheets of each "building material". I am creating content now to be printed on these sheets which will continue the story of the first book, and it will be in our favorite narrative format - comics!

Thanks for reading and check back later in the week for an update on the children's book I was just commissioned to draw...Emily and the Penny Adventure!

Cheers!

Steve