Monday, February 21, 2011

The Burlap Campaign of '10

 Coffee Strongman, Mixed Media, 17" x 28", 2010

   This series began as an accident. After knocking over a can of One-Shot Sign Painter’s Enamel, I had some burlap handy for the mop-up. Over a few seasons, the idea of using coffee sacks as the substrate for a varied edition of prints came to fruition. One of my sign clients, Coffee Emporium of Cincinnati, supplied me with a dozen. I began to notice the graphics and weaves on the various bags. They come in a wide range of textures, subtle colors, and graphics. The lettering on the sacks varies from being refined to crude and usually includes ambient marks added along its mysterious travels.

  In this series, the dominant head and figures are lino-carved elements that were stamped (or more accurately, stomped) into place. Colors and inks were stippled and painted; the black line was augmented with textile needles, which dropped little paths of ink onto the gnarly surface. Well into the project, I realized that the original bags were most likely sprayed through hand-cut stencils. Something tells me that work environment did not include respirators or cross-ventilation. I showed them in Canada at the Show and Tell Gallery. The venture met with limited commercial success. The owner is kindly storing them until I can raise the funds for their return freight. For now, I have been cured of my yen for working on such a rugged texture. But I still wonder about the chain of events that leads from the Earth to my exotic and tasty coffee. Tea, too.