Monday, May 25, 2009

The Physicality Phenomenon

Steven Heller has a nice prediction in the NYT Magazine here. He argues, "Hand lettering is seen as a means to distinguish expressive from non-expressive messages," later continuing, "The hand offers a more human dimension and individual personality. Of course, this will inevitably change. A popular design trope will be copied until it is overused and we’re sick to death of it."

I see it as being less of an inevitable design trend/ flash-in-the-pan phenomenon, because humans are always going to be playing around with how letter forms look in their own handwriting. Yeah, sure, maybe hand lettering on book covers and film opening sequences will become less exciting at some point, but just in the same way that Helvetica will always be around for function and clean lines, so, too will hand lettering continue to serve a purpose for expression, intimacy, silliness, and distinctiveness.

The connection can (and should) be made to the rise of handmade and hand-crafted works throughout our culture in the past five years or so. Hand lettering is intimately linked to other forms of creative expression manifested in a uniquely physical form, like letterpress printmaking, DIY, and Etsy. I also have been arguing for a while now that farming, vegetarian cooking, and organics are all linked to this social phenomenon of physicality as well. (NYT article about more and more college students seeking out organic farming summer internships).

Designboom has a great article/ compilation of the "decidedly low-tech" trend here.

Heller's blog for Print magazine is here. John Gray, who is a really cool graphic designer (book covers, oooh!) did the cover for Extremely Loud, Everything is Illuminated, and many others you'll probably recognize. His website, Gray318, is here.

I also like to peruse Oatmeal & Cinnamon's blog about hand-lettering.

Asterios Polyp

I occasionally get emails from Pantheon Books, the graphic literature division of Random House, and this new graphic novel from David Mazzucchelli, Asterios Polyp, looks amazing. It comes out July 7th, 2009.

I also get a huge kick out of the Pantheon website design (the image above is a screen capture from the site).

Paul Gravett, who is an incredible London-based critic/ curator/ writer/ scholar of all-things-comics, has an early review of Asterios Polyp, including images from the book on his website here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dana Schutz

Thinker, 2008
Oil and acrylic on canvas
95.25 x 76 inches
241.9 x 193 cm

It's funny, I had mysteriously forgotten about one of my favorite contemporary/ young painters, Dana Schutz, and I caught her name in an art review I was perusing this morning.

Her new 2009 work is pretty funny: seen here at the Zach Feuer Gallery.

I'm really digging the patterns she's working into these paintings. The blue doodles in the background of this painting, Thinker (2008), are beautiful, and a handful of the other works have lovely repetitive motions and stripes worked into the canvas. Schutz is an incredibly talented and skilled artist, and I truly appreciate her composition, subject matter, and unabashed use of vivid color, but I think my favorite thing about her is that she has a sense of humor.

I first saw her work at the MOCA in Cleveland in 2006 (was it really that long ago?). It was a collection of her paintings from 2000-2006. There was a lot of self-referentialism (did I just make that word up? 'cuz I like it) and cannibalism, playing around with making the grotesque even more grotesque. Schutz's new works seem to come from a different part of her brain. They are more layered and nuanced paintings. The paint (although it's hard to really know this from online images) seems to lie flatter on the canvas, the features in her faces blend together more subtly (somehow this is even creepier?), and the twisting of the features starts to look a lot like Francis Bacon's faces.

Guitar Girl, 2009
Oil and acrylic on canvas with black velvet
60.25 x 48.25 inches
153 x 122.6 cm

But, like I said, most importantly for me, her work makes me laugh. She is drawing on traditions within painting in terms of subject matter, and blatantly poking fun at those traditions as well as herself as a painter. Those neon greens drive me nuts because I don't want to look at them, I don't want a technicolor assault on canvas, but I appreciate the neon simply because it balances everything else.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ode to Renzo

This NYT Architecture review of the new Art Institute Modern Wing is practically a love poem.

I like that the connection to Mies van der Rohe and the Arts Club of Chicago was made-- I noticed it too, so I'm glad I wasn't just making it up.

I want to go back soon and see that Twombly exhibit again, I can't stop thinking about it.

Both works are Cy Twombly, Untitled (2001)

Update: The Twombly exhibit is called Cy Twombly: The Natural World, Selected Works, 2000-2007. The Art Institute's site/ associated images for the show can be found here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I want to go to there

This is the approximately 2,000 mile road trip I want to take this summer/ fall. Having never been on a road trip before of my own design, I think it's high time for some adventuring.

Another milepost, another mile!

This is water, this is water.

I just read this essay/ speech written by David Foster Wallace for Kenyon College's 2005 graduation, and reprinted in the Wall Street Journal: here. It's a really strong piece, and maybe it speaks to me a lot just because I've been thinking about how it's been a year since I graduated and I'm really and truly an adult doing adult things in the real live world now, but I also think it has a good number of human truths that are easy to forget about. I recommend a perusal highly.

I've been getting this poem by Frank O'Hara, "Animals" (1950), stuck in my head these days. It's a good one.


Have you forgotten what we were like then
when we were still first rate
and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth

it's no use worrying about Time
but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
and turned some sharp corners

the whole pasture looked like our meal
we didn't need speedometers
we could manage cocktails out of ice and water

I wouldn't want to be faster
or greener than now if you were with me O you
were the best of all my days

Friday, May 15, 2009

White Suitcase Table

White Suitcase Table, originally uploaded by Weezi In Canada.

A suitcase table?!?!

Article found here.

I'm so into this.

NYT article about a new Ford trial car that can go 1,400 miles on a single tank of gas.

Come on Ford, please, please, please get us an affordable American hybrid. I'm a Honda girl through and through but I would seriously consider a Ford hybrid/ electric if it were affordable and didn't have those stupid blindspots in the back like the Prius and the new Honda Insight.

Camera Obscura, "French Navy"

I just got the new Camera Obscura album that came out in April, and I'm really digging it. It's got all of those sixties vibes and orchestral backdrops that make the songs more interesting than just your average pop song. Reminds me of The Bird and the Bee's newer stuff.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sick bed

05-10-09_2056.jpg, originally uploaded by JuliaVHendrickson.

The good thing about having a queen size bed all by your lonesome is that when you're sick you can put all of your tissues and sick things in a pile next to you and nobody cares.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Beautiful new paper goods

The wonderful paper fine art site, Little Paper Planes, has recently posted this windmill letterpress print for $40 from Dutch Door Press.

Also, how great are these paired letterpress prints? They're through Little Paper Planes as well, from Im Smitten. I know just how hard it is to get that much color rolled out evenly, so I'm very much impressed with these beauties.

Crown Point Press is offering these lovely hand-bound sketchbooks, for $15, which I'm of course drooling over.

Chicago Happenings

There are SO MANY amazing events about to take place in Chicago over the next few weeks. Here are some highlights at which I will most certainly try very hard to be in attendance.

Sunday, May 10th (12:30pm): A really cool-looking documentary is showing at Facets Cinematheque, called Inquiring Nuns. The Chicago Reader has a blurb about it here.

Wednesday, May 13th (7:30pm): As part of the ArtSpeaks lecture series, there is a Kara Walker presentation and discussion at the University of Chicago. Tickets are $20, $5 for students.

Friday, May 15th & Saturday, May 16th (Midnight): The Music Box's latest midnight movie is none other than David Croenberg's Naked Lunch, which I have been wanting to see for forever and ever. I've gotta date to this one with a certain P. Mc.-B., but you're welcome to come along as well.

Saturday, May 16th (9am-5pm): The Renzo Piano designed new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago opens! Free admission all day. (If you miss the opening, the Art Institute always has free admission from 5-8pm on Thursday evenings).

Saturday, May 16th- Sunday, May 17th: GreenFest, Chicago! A boat-load of cool speakers, including Alice Waters.

Monday, May 18th (6pm): The Chicago Public Library is hosting a lecture by Michael Pollan!

Thursday, May 21st (7pm): The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago has an exhibit of work by artist H. C. Westermann, and my very favorite art historian Robert Storrlecture on Westermann's work. I heard him speak December 6th, 2008 at the MCA on Jenny Holzer, and it was an amazingly informative experience. You can learn more about H. C. Westermann at a fun "Meet the Artist" subset of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's website here.

will be giving a free Saturday, May 23rd (5-9pm): The Chicago Printmaker's Collaborative is hosting a fun "$20 Cash and Carry" print and poster sale! The opening party is on Saturday the 23rd, but the sale lasts through June 6th. Jay Ryan of The Bird Machine should be there!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Hollis Brown Thornton is quickly becoming a favorite artist of mine.

The artist's website can be found here.

La Joie de Vivre

(Screen shots taken from film, located here).

Woah. I highly recommend setting aside 9 minutes of your life to watch this quirky little French modernist animation, La Joie de Vivre (1934).

I love all of the experimentation with the multi-panel layered animation (although it gets a little crazy and overdone at the end) and the playful, surrealist way in which the animators use the art nouveau/ art deco imagery. The varying uses of perspective are fun as well.

Matisse's influence is everywhere!

Don't even get me started on the dangerous perils of lascivious male bicyclists hiding behind "DANGER" doors, or all of the sexualized flower/ tunnel imagery.

Here is Europa Film Treasure's "Brief History" about the short film.

Hotel Chateau

05-07-09_1206.jpg, originally uploaded by JuliaVHendrickson.

I adore this hotel's sign. It's on Broadway and something... near Irving Park, maybe?

The days have been tumultuous, but I have resolved to work with this and try new things. I asked for more adventure and I must stick to my goals. Today was a wandering day, writing for a couple of hours outside in the sun at a coffee shop in Wrigleyville, then a long walk home to clear my head. I captured a good handful of great signs and textual imagery on my way back (the "Hotel Chateau" is one of them), which was fun. Finally visited a nearby thrift store, frequented by lots of insane people, but it was nice to find some goodies. Haven't been thrifting in a while.

Considering going to go see the film Sita Sings the Blues at the Gene Siskel tonight. Heartbreak, Hinduism, and animation, sounds right up my alley. It's apparently available for viewing online... it has a limited theater release because of soundtrack copyright snafus, but it might be nice to see it large.

Very much looking forward to seeing Loney Dear perform this weekend at Schuba's. Singer/ songwriter Emil's work is very enthralling, although I wish whoever mixed or mastered the newest CD had done a better job. Sometimes the bass is way too heavy, overpowering the speakers and the song.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Breakfast, April 29th, 2009

This is one of my absolute most favorite ways to have breakfast, especially when I'm running out the door.


- Brownberry Oatnut bread, toasted
- Raw Honey (Ames Farm, in Wisconsin, is to die for)
- Crunchy, unsalted, needs-to-be-stirred peanut butter