Monthly Archives: July 2007

San Diego Comic-Con 2007 Day 1

img_2552.JPGThis was the first official day of the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con. Yesterday was the “exclusive” preview, and today we had the normal crowd. This first picture is from the convention floor. The next picture…

img_2549.JPG… was from the line to get in this morning. Compare it to the picture of the line from yesterday. The increase is dramatic, and this is the smallest of the convention days. I got a late start this morning and ended up towards the end of this line (although there were some folks behind me).

img_2561.JPGFor those who remember the animated TV show Speed Racer, here’s the Mach 5 that’s being used in the live-action movie. I thought I’d show another picture of a genre car, in keeping with the batmobile shot from yesterday.

img_2573.JPG This is a set in the display area of one of the toy manufacturers. They’re selling some sort of merchandise from the Indiana Jones franchise. It was a pretty elaborate prop. I don’t know how successful a marketing tool this was, but there were a lot of us taking pictures of the set.

img_2557.JPGYes, there are a lot of folks in costume at the event. Wonder Woman and the Storm Trooper are a couple who will pose for pictures together. It’s a real blending of two totally different worlds. But, if you look carefully, you’ll see that the Storm Trooper is pushing a baby carriage. And, you can just make out the chubby legs of the baby in the carriage. This just goes to show that that Geekdom can cross generational divides!

img_2583.JPGLego is at this event with some very impressive sculptures. Here are R2D2 and C3PO made entirely from Legos. You can get a sense of the height from the granularity of the robot parts. It was really impressive work, and they aren’t alone. There were a lot of impressive statues at this booth, including a huge representation of Batman standing on a rooftop. These two seemed to be the newest of the statues. They are really amazing.

photo.jpgThis image was taken by the artist of the comic that I’m holding. I just happened to come to the booth where the artist (Rikki Niehaus) and the writer (Dana Gavin) had unwrapped and put out their brand new book. I bought the first book they sold, so they wanted a picture on me holding my new copy. The title is Art in the Blood, and is a re-examination of a Sherlock Holmes story where Watson has just come back from Afghanistan, and so there is a real tie in with current events. It sounds really interesting.

img_2590.JPGWeta is the special effects studio that worked on the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and this is in their display area. Those are statues, made from a rubber/plastic material that is pretty creepy to feel. It’s a lot like skin – but not. There were a lot of us that had to touch the statues, and then wrinkled up our faces from how creepy they felt.

img_2582.JPGThere are lots of sessions on a variety of topics going on throughout the convention. I attended this one on graphic story telling. Some of the sessions are put on by media companies to talk about their shows and have cast autograph signings. Those can get pretty crowded. Saturday looks to be pretty heavy with movie presentations.

img_2548.JPGThis was my favorite image from the show today. Nothing elaborate, no special effects. It was just on the hand bag of a woman going to the show this morning. It made me smile.

There are a lot of little images and events that really add to the convention. It’s a great place for folks to show off their cleverness.

img_2600.JPGSo, here’s today’s damage (or haul, or score, or clutter). I start out trying to arrange things in order to emphasize individual traits. But about half way through I realize that it’s all about volume.

Remember, that’s just today’s stuff. More tomorrow, along with bigger crowds.

San Diego Comic-Con 2007 Preview

img_2530.JPGI’m in San Diego for the 2007 Comic-Con. This has become more than a convention about comic-books, and is now a pop-culture convention. Every geeky hobby is represented here: comic-books, games, tv shows, toys and collectibles, movies, graphic art, books, and costumes. The entire San Diego Convention Center is taken over from Thursday to Friday, and for those lucky enough to get a 4-day pass (they sold out this year) you can attend a Wednesday night Preview!
img_2531.JPGI checked into my hotel (The Sophia, which is very nice so far) and got to the Convention Registration at 3:00 pm. Registration was quick and I checked the lines for entry into the 6:00 pm preview. At that time, they were very short.

There aren’t a whole lot of costumes, yet. I did get a picture of the cat-woman. There will be more costumes, and much more elaborate costumes, later in the show. But, this one was simple and fun.

img_2542.JPGAfter going back to the hotel and rearranging my bags, I got some food (chicken from the deli at a Ralph’s Supermarket along my path) and got back to the convention center a little after 5:00 pm. This is the line that I found. That 1 and 1/2 hour makes a real difference. Still, even though the room for this part of the line was warm, everything was pretty orderly, and they let us in at about 5:50 pm, 10 minutes early.

img_2544.JPGI wasn’t particularly interesed in showing you the classic 60’s batmobile, but this is the only shot I have of the crowd inside. I was too busy trying to buy a few items that were in limited supply. I’ll have better pictures of the convention floor tomorrow.

The preview was pretty interesting. I have pretty thorough notes (that I prepared in advance) about vendor booths and what I want to get, so this night was pretty structured. I still found a lot of unplanned things. In fact …

img_2547.JPG…here’s a shot of all the items I acquired just tonight. There are comics, books, toys, posters, some nice lithographs, an original drawing/sketch, bookmarks, and give away items. It was a very good night.

Afterwards, I had dinner at a fabulous restaurant I happened to find off the main Gaslight District. It’s called Candelas, and I’ll talk more about it in another post.

For now, I’m cutting this off to go and get some sleep for tomorrow.

AAW 2007 Symposium, Day 4

img_2209.JPGThis was the last day of symposium, and I don’t really have many photos to throw at you all. This shot is of Alain Mailland demonstrating how he creates one of his amazing pod-like pieces.

On this final day, I bought a few more things at the trade show. During the symposium, a large conference room is set aside for vendors to tempt us all with bright and shiny tools, gorgeous pieces of exotic woods, and educational books and videos that will quickly and easily give us the skills to make everything we see in the galleries. And darn it, for me resistance is futile. I bring a separate bag to fill with lots of goodies. My excuse is that this event always falls near my birthday. Hah!

And I’m sorry, but there are no pictures of the trade show. I was too busy shopping.

The other special event on the last day is the Instant Gallery Critique. Each year a select committee chooses 20 or so items out of the Instant Gallery and gives a critique on each of them. It’s always really interesting. This year, the reviewers were Stephen Hogbin (who was the third artist receiving the first POP Merit Awards) and Michael Brolly.

The last day is always a mix of sadness and relief. I enjoy every aspect of the symposium and am sorry to see it all end. But, by the end my head is so full of ideas, inspiration, and influence that I can’t really stuff anything else into it. It takes a couple of weeks for me to process through all that I’ve seen. And I don’t know that I ever get the chance to try (let alone incorporate) it all.

So, that’s my view of the AAW 2007 Symposium in Portland, Oregon. I had a wonderful time, both at the symposium and Portland in general. Next year, the event will be in Richmond, Virginia. Maybe I’ll have a few things I feel are ready to put in the gallery. I say that every year.

My trip home was delightfully uneventfull. I’ve discovered that Sunday evening is great time to fly. There are no crowds, and everyone is really relaxed and friendly.

img_2210.JPGOne last picture, again from Alain Mailland’s demonstration. This is fairly far along in his work on the piece, and you get a pretty good sense of what the finished item will look like. What’s better than seeing the hands of a master craftsman in the middle of working on a piece of art?

AAW 2007 Symposium, Day 3

img_2201.JPGThis picture is from the banquet that took place this evening. I’ve had some wonderful meals in Portland (that would would probably earn me a tsk or two from Mikki), but the banquet meal was not one of them. Your basic chicken with starchy mashed potatoes and asparagus, and a salad that was probably sitting on those plates since the last banquet. Luckily the crowd was warm and friendly, and the action at the auction would make you forget eating rusty nails!

Before I launch into the amazing results from the auction, let me show you some more amazing artwork that came off of a lathe.

img_2141.JPGYesterday I had a picture of the work by David Nittmann, but I wasn’t happy with the view. Well, my camera has fresh batteries and here’s a better view showing off the colors and the patterns in this piece. With this view, you’re also looking into the narrow opening and seeing the colors inside of the vessel. Beautiful.

img_2155.JPGI didn’t write down the artist on this piece, but I wanted to show work created on a Rose Engine, and with this piece there’s no color or grain to take away from the textured patterns. The Rose Engine is a type of lathe that was originally developed in the Victorian era and used to add this sort of complex and detailed surface decoration to turned work, referred to as Ornamental Turning. Although there hasn’t been a lot of this type of work done recently, I’m starting to see more and more of it. It can be quite beautiful. The tops done by John Sauer (shown yesterday) are ornamental turnings.

img_2166.JPGThis bowl is by Molly Winton. The design is made with a burning tool; the horses formed by the unburned wood, and the black background is the burned part. She doesn’t color the piece. The light brown is the natural color of the wood and the black is charred wood. In the lower part of the bowl, there is a “basket weave” pattern that’s also burned into the wood. I had a chance to attend a couple of her demonstrations and see her technique. Interesting and lovely work.

img_2168.JPGI didn’t write down the name of the person who produced this piece, either. But, I thought it was a lovely kaleidoscope. The body lifts off the stand and the pattern you can see in the scope is a typical, colorful and changing kaleidoscope image. You don’t see very many kaleidoscopes in the Instant Gallery, but this was a fine example.

img_2170.JPGBen Carpenter makes these beautiful, organic looking objects that are carved from the original turned piece. He had several other objects, one of which looked like some fantastical creature with long, bird-like legs. Although that was the first item to grab your attention, I liked this piece a lot more. All of his creations have this biological, fantastical looking theme.

img_2178.JPGThis beautiful piece is by Sharon Doughtie and is another turned and then burned work. The ribbons are the natural color of the wood, and the colorful spots in the ribbons are knots in the wood. The black background is all charred wood. Her work is beautiful.

img_2180.JPGThis is a wonderful example of a natural edge bowl. Once again, I didn’t get the artist’s name on this piece, but I want to include an example of a vessel without surface decoration. It’s a beautiful piece of wood that has been turned by an expert’s hand.

img_2068.JPGOkay, I’ll end this by telling you a couple of results from tonight’s auction. First, this is the piece that was a collaborative effort from Bonnie Klein and Jacques Vesery. Nominally a box, it’s an amazing piece with a lot of surprises that you find by disassembling it. You unscrew the box to find other turned objects that unscrew to reveal even more turned objects. Each of the artists produces beautiful and very well received (meaning expensive) work on their own. Together, these two have a history of producing collaborative objects that blow through the price ceiling on turned wood art.

Well, by the time the auction on this ended, the bidding reached $20,000. Yes, it’s an amazing price. But, just wait …

img_2070.JPGThis is the collaborative piece by Frank Sudol and Binh Pho. Frank was an accomplished turner and well loved mentor who died last year. Binh was a student of his who is now one of the top turners in the world. This work is a beautiful synthesis of both their styles and is the only collaboration they ever made. So, with that background, the discussion I heard from collectors before the auction is that they expected it to sell for somewhere between $10,000 and $12,000.

When the bids topped $20,000, the crowd gasped. Every bid that bumped the price up by $1000 had the audience shifting with anticipation – and in stunned silence. The final bid that ended the auction came in at $30,000. The crowd leapt to its feet and cheered. I don’t know whether that’s the highest price paid for a piece of wood turned art, but it’s the highest price I’ve ever seen. It was an amazing way to end the night.

AAW 2007 Symposium, Day 2

img_2044.JPGThis is from the Opening Ceremonies of the AAW’s 2007 Symposium. They announced that over 1600 people are registered for this event, making it the “second largest of its kind” (whatever that means). I think that you can see from this picture that the vast majority of members are: white, male, and over 50 (hey, that’s me!). There are women, there are people of color, and there are younger turners out there, and many of them are prominent members in the field. There are even young women of color, but the majority is pretty much represented in this picture. Still, it’s the friendliest group I’ve ever been involved with.

And, it’s an early rising group. I took that first picture at 7:45 AM, just as the meeting started! One of many reasons Harriet doesn’t typically come to these events with me.

img_2046.JPGDuring the opening ceremonies, there was a tribute to a prominent woodturner who died this last year. Frank Sudol died at the age of 73, and was a well loved and respected, Canadian woodturner. Speaking at the podium is Binh Pho, a student of his and one of the top 5 artists in this medium. It was a fine memorial and highlighted both Frank’s work and his thoughts on creativity. I sat in on one of his talks several years ago, and I feel his reputation as an artist and a mentor were well deserved.

img_2050.JPGThe central part of the symposium are the demonstrations. There are 11 time slots (called rotations) over the course of 3 days, and in each rotation there are approximately 14 different talks that you can choose from. There are demonstrations of techniques and practices (both beginning and advanced), sessions discussing design, retrospectives on the works of artists, and advice for the professional turners (studio and production). This picture is of Bill Moore during the first rotation where I attended his Metal Spinning for the Woodturner demonstration.

I’m not going to discuss all of the sessions, or even all of the sessions that I attend. Instead, I want to show some of the work that will be auctioned and others that are on display in the Instant Gallery.

During the symposium, anyone can bring in a couple pieces of their work to to be put out on display. This display is called the Instant Gallery, and this year there were 1359 pieces on display. To answer the obvious question, no, I did not have any of my work on display. I’m a pretty shy turner.

Along with the Instant Gallery, there are a number of pieces that are auctioned off to support the AAW’s education fund. Some of these pieces are donated by the best studio turners and reach fairly lofty values. There were 66 items in the auction this year.

I’m not going to show all of these pieces. Instead, I’ve picked out a few that I particularly liked. My camera died about half way through my viewing, so I’ll be back tomorrow with new batteries and some additional photos.

img_2092.JPGThis is by Binh Pho. It is a very thin and light vessel that has been pierced with a design and then delicately painted using an airbrush. There is usually a lot of symbolism in Binh’s work, representing aspects of his life, including being raised in Vietnam. But interpreting the sybology isn’t critical to appreciating his work. It’s a gorgeous piece.

As I mentioned before, Binh Pho is recognized as one of the top woodturners in the field. His delicate vessels and their pierced and painted designs are instantly recognizable.

img_2086.JPGThis is one of my favorite pieces in the whole show. Alain Mailland is a French turner and he does amazing abstract work. This piece is turned and then carved, but isn’t dyed. The colors in the work are from the natural colors of the woodd. I attended two of his sessions and was amazed and inspired by both of them.

img_2140.JPGThese are pieces by David Nittmann. They’re turned and then dyed in such a way that it looks like basketry. But, they aren’t just technical wizardry. These are gorgeuous pieces, and this one photo doesn’t do them justice. Unfortunately, my camera died just after this photo, so I’ll have to come back tomorrow with a better shot. I bought a piece by this artist several years ago, and his work has gotten better and better.

img_2116.JPGJon Williams creates these lovely little pieces, and I’m very much drawn to the colors and the pattern. The colors are painted onto the surface, but the patterns are burned into the wood. The burning process is called pyrography and uses a sharp, heated tool that’s similar to a soldering iron. This makes the pattern more than just surface color. It also has a tactile component, and gives the images depth (that’s meant literally as well as figurately). There are a lot of woodturning artists using pyrography in their work nowadays, but I think those swirling patterns that he creates are beautiful.

img_2136.JPGJon Sauer makes these gorgeous tops from exotic hardwoods, and then carves them using a machine tool called an ornamental lathe. He uses several different pieces of wood in a single top and then turns them to have a beautiful form. They are also excellent spinners.

The stands are something new, and I think they complement the tops perfectly. The cantilever design is a new twist. Together, they make a very elegant display.

img_2110.JPGJim Christiansen does work that fascinates me. They are the only pieces in the instant gallery that leave me with a strong emotional reaction. His current work uses figures along with the turnings and they evoke a lot of feelings. I enjoy a lot of turnings, finding them beatiful or fun, but his bring up strong emotions. I really like them. This piece and Alain’s piece are the two that I would most like to take home with me. Someday …
img_2097.JPGThe AAW has a large number of member clubs that represent local regions (I belong to the Channel Islands Woodturners). At the symposium, there is a Chapter Challenge in which clubs come together and produce a group piece. There were 4 pieces in this years challenge, and I liked this one the best. It’s from the Glendale Woodturners Guild (from Southern California).

img_2070.JPGThis is an amazing piece that will be in the auction tomorrow. It is a collaborative piece by Binh Pho and Frank Sudol. At the start of this post, I wrote that Frank Sudol died this last year, and Binh gave the memorial at the ceremonies this morning. Binh was a student of Frank’s , and they had wanted to do a collaborative piece for a long time. Just before he died they created this stunning pece of work, their only collaboration. It is an interesting mix of their styles, and both are clearly represented in this piece. I overheard some collectors speculating that they expect it will sell for between $10,000 and $12,000 at the auction. That would be an amazing price and probably well deserved.

img_2068.JPGThis is another piece that I believe will set the upper bar on prices at the auction. It is a collaborative effort between two very popular artists, Jacques Vesery and Bonnie Klein. From this picture alone, the piece may not look very impressive, but I happened to be nearby when the artists arrived to show off the piece to some friends. There are a lot of hidden surprises in the work. The ball has an image of the world carved onto it. It seperates from the base and can be opened like a box with a lid that unscrews. Inside is another ball with an image of the sun and the moon. That ball can also open up with another small blue marble inside which has a map of the world and the lettering “You are here” over Oregon.

img_2078.JPGHere are the two artists of this piece, and Jacques is showing another of the hidden surprises. This is under the base. I’ve taken seminars and demonstrations from both of these artists and they are extremely nice people. Their collaborations are very popular with collectors, and I expect that this extraordinary piece will fetch a high value.

That’s it for this entry. As I mentioned, my camera’s batteries died, so I’m off to resupply and tomorrow I’ll have a few more pictures from the Galleries.