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BALLPOINTBRIEF by E. Lee posted January 8, 2019
Random Points 2018・SUB・
Short of anecdotes for the next time you're in need of small talk at a holiday function, as happens to me every December? Internet slideshows can always be counted upon to provide informative but otherwise useless, even laughable (perhaps the point) information that'll impress or at least entertain. Msn.com's 116 amazing facts for people who like amazing facts provides plenty. Did you know there's a word for the act of stretching and yawning (#30)? Bet you didn't know there's a bird who can learn to talk better than parrots (#5).
Plenty of art tidbits made the list. Entry #76 teaches us the name of the color seen when you open your eyes in a pitch-black room. Entry #14 tells us the percentage of Bob Ross paintings containing at least one 'happy little cloud'. And did you know Dr. Suess's book Green Eggs and Ham was the product of a dare? See entry #29. Our favorite occupies the opening slot: ''Between 1912 and 1948, art competitions were a part of the Olympics. Medals were awarded for architecture, music, painting, and sculpture.'' Hey IOC, bring that back!
Robert De Niro plays Fred Blake, a New York mobster under witness protection in France with his wife, son and daughter. Fred is a typecasting parody of De Niro's onscreen gangster persona in the same way as his character in Analyze This was. In school, Fred's son Warren (John D'Leo, pictured) is reminded by his teacher that he is expected to contribute something in English to the school newspaper ...
OFF TOPIC Points of interest in the arts, from elsewhere on the internet
The Report: Aging elbow-rubber and chronicler of the 1970s, 80s and 90s celeb social circuit Haden-Guest was fishing for a timely topic to chime in on and he found one in Outsider Art. Although he touches on some valid points, the article is provided no space for him to actually go anywhere with it. Just lots of name dropping — Henry Darger, Adolf Wolfi, Joe Coleman — enough to prove he may still know what he's talking about.
The Point: Usage of ballpoint pens to create art has its own outsider element of which Haden-Guest is either unaware or wasn't provided enough space to touch upon. But his closing statement about the "surge of faux, unfelt Outsiderism into the marketplace" hits a nail on the head. Whatever will cover the high cost of an art-star lifestyle and expensive gallery space; a Jeff Koons exhibition of ballpoint PEN tings would fit that description. B. Neufeld
Associated Press・Detroit police issue warrant for street artist Fairey artwork・June 25, 2015
The Report: Shepard Fairey, ''who created the Hope poster that came to symbolize President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign'' vandalized buildings across Detroit, and ''would be arrested if he returns to Detroit and doesn't turn himself in ''. Fame ''does not take away the fact that he is also a vandal '', a police sergeant is quoted as saying.
The Point: Indeed, this is still what it takes to be considered 'cool' in the 21st century. Personally, I 'Hope ' he's made an example of. R. Bell
Newsweek・Fox Channel Blurs Out Breasts on Picasso Painting・Lucy Westcott・May 15, 2015
The Report: Pablo Picasso's The Women of Algiers (1955) broke the record for most expensive work of art to sell at auction, but apparently had its bare nipples blurred during a news report of the sale.
The Point: Considering Picasso's cubist painting style, the only way an impressionable mind would even recognize 'nipples' is if someone told them they were nipples, and the only way they would consider nipples bad would be if someone taught them they were bad. Apparently someone at Fox must've been cut off from mother's milk too soon and still holds a grudge. B. Neufeld
BBC NEWS (UK)・Painting sale sets $300m record・Feb 7, 2015
The Report: Paul Gaugain's Nafea fas ipoipo? (1892) was privately sold for $300 million to an unidentified buyer in Qatar.
The Point: That same amount of money could... A: Buy 300 works of art for a million dollars each. B: Buy a million artworks for 300 dollars each. C: Feed the unfed of the world. D: Wipe my ass 300 million times at a buck a wipe. E: All of the above. B. Neufeld
Elizabeth Renzetti・Oct 17, 2014
The Report: The 'godfather of punk' says he'd have to ''tend bars between sets'' if he had to live off of royalties from his music alone, because 'everyone wants to listen' but 'no one wants to pay'.
The Point: The important matter of artistic value in the easy-access digital age. Visual artists face the same challenge. O. Lebron
The Report : Originating from the UK and operated by Epilepsy Action, National Doodle Day is a fundraising event to benefit ''600,000 people in the UK living with epilepsy''.
The Point : Epilepsy! Donate a doodle, buy a doodle or learn how you can get involved in other ways. O. Lebron
Daily Mail Online (UK)・As prices for Damien Hirst's works plummet, pity the credulous saps who spent fortunes on his tosh・November, 2012
The Report : Auction prices for Damien Hirst artworks are falling and some are being withdrawn unsold, circumstances cheered by the proudly biased (''Finally...!'') writer of the article (Ruth Dudley Edwards?).
The Point : At the time of Hirst's rise as darling of the art world (mid/late-1990s), suckers still speculated on art-as-trophy-investment. What's happened since then is a fine example of what happens when the now-proverbial 'wow factor ' is all you have. After the thrill is gone, someone is bound to notice: ''Uhm, it's a shark. In a tank... Isn't that what Museums of Natural History or aquariums are for ?''. It's just as much the fault of the media for reporting about such bull-shit-artists in the first place. B. Neufeld
At least For Her was about ballpoints. Other products which surfaced in product-flop slideshows weren't even identifiably Bic. The company appears twice on cbinsights.com's list Corporate Innovation Goes Bad, and neither had to do with pens. At #131 is Parfum Bic, a 1989 attempt at the fragrance market which lost close to $11M. The prospect of perfume from a ballpoint pen manufacturer must've stirred impressions of stinky ink or eau de lighter fluid, and the product was gone by 1990. On the same list, #69 flopped enough to make other product-flop lists: Bic disposable underwear and pantyhose. Need I say more? There you have it; disposable products and information, truly worthy of the king of disposables・
Warren remembers a joke from his youth, overheard between two 'wise guys', which referenced the Russian opera Boris Godunov. He picks up his handy Bic, jots down the joke and submits it. Wouldn't you know it: that very newspaper makes it back to the very mobster who told the joke, who also happens to be the one trying to locate (and rub out) Fred ...
Ballpoints also turn up in slideshows, but not (yet ) for the artwork created using them. At #12 of 38 in msn's These 20th-century entrepreneurs changed the world is none other than Baron Marcel Bich, listed among luminaries such as Thomas Edison (#2), Henry Ford (#4), Bill Gates (#18) and Steve Jobs (#20). Bich, of course, is not the inventor of ballpoint pens, just the entrepreneur who brought them to the masses (as Bic), kind of like what Ray Kroc (#8) was to McDonalds. Bich's entry shows not a portrait photo, as most others, but a photo of a Bic ballpoint pen instead (pictured). Other entries whose products shaped the creativity of mankind include Walt Disney (#6), George Lucas (#22) and Ole Kirk Kristiansen (Lego, #14).
So Bic ballpoints have left an indelible 'mark' on history, and internet trivia, but not always for the better. At #10 in an msn slideshow of Incredible Product Flops is Bic's For Her ballpoint pen. Other than the flowery packaging and pink and purple inks, there's nothing identifiably 'Her' about the pens.
BALLPOINTBRIEF by E. Lee posted November 18, 2018
''To portray a wild boar in a way that no one has ever portrayed a wild boar; to make an ugly animal attractive, in an original way; as interesting for me to draw as for viewers to see; in a way that's just as recognizably 'Lennie Mace' as it is 'boar'.'' Thus describes artist Lennie Mace as his approach for drawing 2019's Year of the Boar new year card design, his 9th entry to what will comprise a 12-piece series. The cards follow the Chinese Zodiac of 12 animals, but China's Year of the Pig becomes boar in Japan, where Mace's cards are marketed.
Using one eye to draw a one-eyed boar was not originally part of his approach. Yes, you read that right: Mace drew what would become his Popeye Boar (pictured) using only his left eye, but not as part of some challenge or to show off. While working at his castle in the Japanese Alps in October, Mace took a direct hit of decades-old dust into his right eye. The toxic ball of dust infected the eye, leaving him virtually blind in one eye during the exact period he had set aside for drawing the annual card design. ''The drawing had to be done; the new years' cards have become an anticipated event for many people, and part of my 'job','' Mace explains. ''So I was drawing injured, and had to depend on my left eye.''
All but the keenest viewers may have missed the many ballpoint pen cameos on screens big and small over the years. Ballpoints are regulars in Hollywood productions, and not just as set dressing...
Godunov for Bic ?
・The Family (also Malavita) 2013・Director Luc Besson
Product placement and modern moviemaking are thick as thieves, but never has ballpoint pen placement stolen a scene as in this Martin Scorcese executive-produced, France-based mafia dramedy. It didn't hijack the film, as Fedex did with Cast Away, but the one scene in which the pens appear here approaches Wayne's World's product placement parody. The minutes-long classroom scene shows several students all using the easily recognizable 4-color Bic ballpoint. Viewers outside of France might wonder, as I did: 'Is Bic the official ballpoint pen provider to all of the country's students'? ...
Mace tells us the final design strays completely from what he intended, but not because of his sight. ''I had in mind to go tribal; something linear like I did for Year of the Dragon. But it just wasn't working, so I riffed and this is how it turned out.'' Mace's 'riff ' hit on his first try, in a matter of minutes, and the final drawing was completed in around three hours. Those hours, however, were spread over three days, and that was due to his sight. ''It was rough. An hour or so was all I could handle. Frustrating, too, for a drawing I normally could've done in one sitting!''
''I drew the basic outlines very lightly using pink, and the dry pen linework (whiskers and hair) in the first sitting,'' Mace says of the drawing process. ''The next day I added purple and brown, but also very lightly, mostly as reference for where shadows would be. The final sitting was roughest, working with all three colors, layering until I got a pleasing blend.'' Interestingly, Mace used no black; the few areas that seem black are where his soft purple and brown pen strokes crossed the indentations made by his ink-less pen. ''As the colored pens cross over the indentations, the ink builds up on the opposing side of the pen strokes. In this case purple and brown congealed to form a kind of black.''
Mace originally intended to draw his boar with two proper eyes, but decided to reference his injury by leaving its right eye blank. Upon doing so, he noticed a vague resemblance to Popeye, thus the title. Mace's boar measures only two by three inches; extremely small for someone 'drawing injured '. ''That's part of what made it so hard to draw, but it was part of the plan. Lately when drawing for print I like drawing small so the art is reproduced enlarged. It shows off the smooth 'can't believe that's ballpoint' penmanship.'' Add 'can't believe Mace did it with one eye' to that. As of this writing he is still minus clear vision. The Ballpointer wishes Mace a full recovery, and we're relieved the ballpoint Elder isn't 'thinking injured'!・
July-August, 2020 NOW UP
The Ballpoint Summit 2020 group exhibition
ISETAN Fine Art Gallery Shinjuku, Tokyo (Japan)
Mark your calendar, book your flight and secure lodgings to be in Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics (pictured: designer Asao Tokolo's Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo as reinterpreted in ballpoint pen by Lennie Mace). The Olympic competition is, of course, the main attraction, but visitors to the city during those two weeks will have the added opportunity of viewing what promises to be one of the greatest assemblages of contemporary ballpoint pen art.
Summit curator and ballpoint elder Lennie Mace intends it to be the ballpoint exhibition to set the standard. Few, if any, are as qualified to oversee such an undertaking.
Confirmed participants include Shane McAdams, James Mylne, C.J. Pyle, Joo Lee Kang, Shirish Deshpande, Andrey Poletaev and many more. Mace himself is among the participating artists, but he stresses that his involvement with the exhibition will lean more toward administrative duties. Mace is still in the process of inviting artists.
Although the exhibition coincides with the Olympics, Olympic-themed art is not a prerequisite for participating artists. Mace will, however, tap art from his Play Pen series depicting athletic activities such as cycling and running (pictured below).
The Ballpoint Summit will be no competition, and no medals will be awarded, but all participating artists are worthy of gold medals for their mastery of the medium.
The Ballpointer will regularly report on preparations leading up to show time, stay tuned for more info. More info.
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The movie ends with the death of all pursuers and De Niro's (Fred's) clan fleeing to a new hideaway. No artistic use of the ballpoint pen in this film, but if it's Godunov for director Luc Besson we assume it's good enough for Bic・
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INKBLOTTER last revised January 8, 2019
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