I cannot believe how I rushed to finish one drawing last night. I wanted to finish it before they started setting up the Gamori Print show at Space Galeria. Yes, I had already submitted two pieces that I liked. Those two pieces showed off Takeshi Ishikawa’s prints well and were nice pieces of artwork themselves, but I did not think they reflected me and my personal style. That is why I wanted to finish the colourful pencil drawing! Time was running out, but I made my self-imposed deadline. Was it perfect? No. On the other hand, my drawings never are. They always have some flaws that make them a little wonky and mine. Could I have used more time? Yes, but I have been known to redraw a single piece so many times that four or five drawings exist below the one on the surface. Did I varnish it? I sprayed it with some glossy varnish but I will brush on several layers of varnish after the show has finished. Did I give it an interesting name? Not yet! I still have to think of a catchy title. If anybody has any ideas for a yellow drawing filled with what looks like spores or mutant frog’s eggs that seem to be blossoming, please let me know.
I had e-mailed earlier to see if I could submit a third piece, and Masako Otani said it would be fine as long as she had it before they installed the show. I made it to the gallery in the nick of time without getting lost and without taking the tour of the love hotels of downtown Chiba City. I also did not bang into too many people on the train or smash the panel on any hard corners. As I unwrapped the drawing from its protective bed sheet, I was amazed at the variety of artwork that people had prepared. Artwork included jewelry, wine bottles with printed labels, a silky blouse, a colourful lizard, a stag’s head, origami dragons, and pseudo stained glass. The room was filled with pedestals and colour, mobiles hung from the ceiling, and drawings were stacked on every available flat surface.
People slowly began to fill the gallery as the lunch hour ended. Takeshi Ishikawa came with framed prints, a roll of laminated prints, and lots of ideas. He was thrilled to see what others had made with his pictures. A few more artists came to drop off some more artwork. Kaoru Tatikome joined Masako Otani in moving pedestals to better positions and pinning drawings to the wall. Tatikome herself had several pieces, including a triangular mobile and several drawings. The plan was to cover the entire gallery from floor to ceiling with a tribute to Ishikawa. Yes, the floor itself might be covered with his prints when all is finished.
Joei Lau is one of the participants. She specializes in calligraphy, art journals, and books as art. With the strong colours in Ishikawa’s digital prints, she could not easily do the calligraphy that she had planned and had to think of an alternative. She tried many things but nothing worked. Finally she decided to make an art book, and suddenly the ideas began to flow. That one art book became several mini accordion-style books in boxes.
The frames given to me by a friend might have been why I managed to get a corner of the room to myself — at least for now. Most of the other artists did not use frames for their drawings, so their work became one huge series of drawings pinned to the wall. My frames were heavier and could not be pinned to the wall. The frames also created a 3D element to the work that would not have blended with the drawings flat against the wall. The two in frames were also not drawings; they were embroidery using a running stitch. (It is called sashiko in Japanese, and a tradition of its use in embroidery exists here in Japan.) Ishikawa has done textile design, so I thought embroidery would be a nice tribute to him and his work. My yellow drawing also stood out amongst the darker pieces. What do you think?
Regardless of whether or not I am lucky enough to continue getting such a spotlight on my work in this show, I and everybody else can say that this show was both a challenge and a lot of fun. because the colours and the images were so strong, we could not depend on fail-safe methods that we always use and we had to try new things. We had to give up and see what would happen. We all tried things that we probably would not usually do. I think the gallery owner/curator has a similar challenge in displaying all of the art work that greatly varies in size, style, and medium. I doubt that she usually hangs pieces from floor to ceiling!
T. Ishikawa said that he thought this might be the first show in the world where a group of artists takes the artwork of one single artist and then uses that art as a base for making their own artwork. Artists have definitely done collaborations and tribute shows before, but have they used the artwork of the artist being honoured? I honestly do not know. How many artists would let another person destroy their work to make a new one? Not with copies, but actual originals. Does anybody know if this has been done before? I am curious now…
Many of the artists are going to gallery on Wednesday, November 6. Although I do not know most of them, this could be a fun get-together!