Scott Bakal
May 2011
Untitled | 20"x30" -ish | Oil on Panel
A couple of weeks ago, while at Rick Berry's studio...supposedly joining a group of other artists to draw from a model, Rick and I got to talking about art and we just gravitated to a panel he had previously prepared.  Everyone else was still sitting in front of the model sketching away on the other side of the studio while we started tinkering on this.  It started with Rick facing the opposite direction and randomly making marks on the board and from there...a figure emerged as we brought it out the abstraction.

I've worked like that before.  I would take a chamois loaded with charcoal and wipe down a board and then try to pull out forms.  This was many moons ago in the 90's when I was experimenting trying to figure things out for myself and it was really enjoyable.  I think this is the first time since then I worked on something similarly.

I've done a collaborative sketchbook with Rob Dunlavey a few years ago and in the middle of doing one with Alan Witschonke.  We would have the sketchbook to ourselves for a period of time - but I don't remember ever working - literally - together on the same piece at the same time with an artist.

While I was working on it, I couldn't care what was going on around me - just focus on things popping up around you on the board and try to embellish and improve what was growing in front of me.  There were no breaks.  As soon as I paused to get another oil stick, something else was already on the board and I had to react to it.  As soon as I, say, painted in the hair, Rick was throwing turp at it to get it to bubble up - which led to us placing the painting on the floor and both of us flinging tupentine at it - then back on the easel for more.  On and on for a couple of hours we ended up building this image.

What a blast to work with Rick!

All photos below by Kristen Uroda.
Ashford Stamper, A/D for The Pitch called last Thursday to do a cover for them for Monday.  The story was about a key player in the Westboro Baptist Church who seemed to have found religion but lost some family members, in particular, a daughter, in the process.

I heard about all the press this church was getting over the years with their hatemongering displaying signs such as 'God Hates Fags' and 'God Hates America'...essentially spinning the bible to meet some diluted variation of what they read.  I didn't know too much about this group beyond that so after we agreed on a fee and I got the article on Friday, I decided to do some deeper research beyond the article.

I was up around 4:30AM Saturday morning and started watching documentaries on this 'church'.  It was alarming to see this very closed off family, who pretty much blocks out most of the world and get rammed into their minds, hateful words by their patriarchal leader, Fred Phelps over and over again.  For about 6 hours I watched documentaries and interviews transfixed on how amazingly brainwashed they are.
My original set of sketches were focused on one of the daughters, Lauren, who had left the 'church'.  There were TV interviews I watched also with her.  She outright states that her father is brainwashed but is also very sad that she has no communication with her family.  On the flipside, when discussing their daughter, Drain and his wife react as if she doesn't really exist anymore falling back emotionally stating it was 'God's Decision' - sort of pushing off all responsibility to their God.  After a while, you see that their justification for everything they do which includes upsetting people and picketing funerals of fallen soldiers lacks any sort of personal responsibility and falls on 'God's' shoulders.  It was incredible to see how emotionally detached they were toward their daughter because Lauren decided that the sort of thing her family was involved with wasn't for her.

In the end, the discussion went toward focusing more on Drain and the brainwashed/focus that seemed to overtake him from when he first discovered Westboro, moving from Florida to join this church in Kansas and alienate everyone he knew and even his own family.

Here's a link to the full article.
One quality I was trying to acheive is the spinning illusion you get when staring at it to help push the idea of being brainwashed.
Student Scholarship Competition! / Lecture Tonight!
Dadu David Shin
I am minutes away from hopping in my car to drive down to NYC to fulfill my duties as Chairman of the Society's Student Scholarship Competition on Friday.

Seeing all the original work that came in for the final judging, I was so impressed with the work.  It was amazing to see.  During the judging for the monetary awards, Murray Tinkelman, a committee member said after perusing all the original art: "I think if we took a bunch of chips, through them up in the air and gave money to where ever the chips fell, everyone would probably agree on it."  THAT'S how amazing this show looks.  The reality was, after 4 hours with much discussion, the judges chose the final award winners.

Friday night, the doors open at 6PM to see one of the most popular shows annually held at the Society.  Congratulations to all the students and I look forward to meeting many of you there.  A special congratulations to Distinguished Educator of the Year winners: Gil Ashby who will be present and posthumously John Lagatta.

To see the full collection of over 200 selected works (out of a record breaking 7002!) which will be at the show this evening, follow this link.  Some images are below.
John Dombrowski
JooHee Yoon
Rachel Pontious

I had asked Matt Mahurin, one of my favorite artists, to come in and judge the Student Scholarship Competition.  During one of the breaks from judging, I was speaking to Anelle Miller, Director of the Society, about how much I've been a fan of Matt's work and described some of the amazing work and films he's done.  Without missing a step, Anelle went into her office and came back out with her desk calendar, sat down beside Matt and asked: "So, when would you like to do a lecture here?"

Don't miss it!

Tonight, at 6:30PM 'An Evening with Matt Mahurin'
Recent Articles

Work (21)

History - Joe Bowler (46)
Bakal is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!