THE BALLPOINTER

    Since 2014・Volume 5

News, Reviews & Coverage of the Artists using Ballpoint Pens, the Artwork They Create, the Tools They Employ & Other Equally Newsworthy but Overlooked Art & Cultural Topics, Worldwide.

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THE BALLPOINTER
Original content © The Ballpointer / Mahozawari Unlimited.

Slideshow above : All artwork Media Graffiti series and 365DAZE project; ballpoint pen on printed matter. All artwork  © Lennie Mace.

Next installment, Winter 2017 :  Decade 3: 2004-2014 


For more art and information 

www.lenniemace.com&www.lenniemacemarket.com

His ruse was an apparent success, as Spielberg illustrates … 

It's a respectable feat of artistry, what Mace has accomplished in three incredibly productive decades, especially considering the limited fanfare of its occurrence. For the latter two decades the absentee New Yorker hasn't even exhibited in his hometown, although a Tribeca showroom houses available artwork viewable by appointment. Mace's 2012Pen Pal exhibition in San Francisco was his most recent in the US. Mace hand-wrote explanations for each work of art onto antique postcards, as if writing to a friend from afar, and displayed them alongside respective artworks. Invisible Ink was his most recent exhibition in Japan; since then, Mace has mostly forgone exhibiting. As for social media, Mace considers himself a ''conscientious objector'', careful about ingratiating himself on the internet overall, and maintains only a modicum of presence via his own websites. It's a clear example of how the internet is not the final word on all happenings of the world. A three-part online retrospective hardly makes up for missed coverage. 
    It was originally intended to wrap up this retrospective with Mace's Ena Castle, being built as an artist retreat in the mountains of central Japan but, in the end, Mace requested that we instead focus on The Ballpoint Summit group exhibition he is curating. Set to take place in Tokyo during the city's 2020SummerOlympics, Mace hopes it to be the ballpoint pen art exhibition to set the standard for any which might follow, to attract attention to the medium and, just as the Olympics, showcase as many renown practitioners as he can get on board. Few, if any, are as qualified as Mace to curate such an ambitious exhibition. 
    Stay tuned for three more decades

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​OFF TOPIC  Points of interest in the arts, from elsewhere on the internet

artnetDo Outsider Artists Really ExistAnthony Haden Guest・Jan 22, 2016 

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 PressDetroit police issue warrant for street artist Fairey artwork・June 25, 2015 
The ReportShepard 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  


NewsweekFox Channel Blurs Out Breasts on Picasso PaintingLucy 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  


The Globe and Mail (Canada)When Iggy Pop can't live off his art, what chance do the rest have?

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 

National Doodle Day (UK)drawing a line through epilepsy・Annually? 

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 

''A businessman who'd seen my  Mona Lisa  in New York (in 1993)  commissioned me to do something similar in Japan. Since the subject would be Japanese and the finished artwork would end up in Japan, I suggested they send me there to do the drawing. If I drew it in New York, it would cost them to get the artwork to Japan safely anyway,'' Mace reasoned. ''I told them they could consider the cost of the trip as partial payment and they took me up on the offer. Next thing you know, I'm in  Tokyo  for a month, and  Kyoto, where I drew the Toji pagoda on site. I never particularly cared about Japan, and if it weren't for that commission I might never have gone, but I saw an opportunity to travel and had a good reason, so I took it. That one month was like fate. I knew I started something there and couldn't just leave it at that, so I made plans to spend more time.'' 

If work as an illustrator defined Mace's career in the decade prior to 1994, Japan defined it for the decade that followed, and thereafter. Appearances at high profile art expos such as NICAF  in Yokohama and Tokyo's then-fledgling  Design Festa  during his first years there elicited art world and public interest. By 1997Mace was holding solo exhibitions at least twice a year in Japan. Exhibitions at Isetan department store in Tokyo became part of his rounds, and provided prestige; department store exhibitions garner mass media attention and, therefore, respect for artists in Japan... 


Click here to continue to the fully archived feature article

​​​​RETROSPECTACLE   by E. Lee, with R. Bell  posted Mar. 12, 2018​​

​​Lennie MaceTokyo, Japan

Decade 3 : 2004-2014  Ballpoints PLUS


Continuing from  HEADLINES 2 ... While so many artists get stuck, even trapped, churning out what satisfies public expectations and popular demand, Mace's work evolves with his own interests and experiences... while remaining interesting. Ballpoints remain a trusty constant, but by testing the limits of the pens and occasionally letting them take a back seat altogether to explore other methods and mediums that satisfy his own creativity, Mace is able to refresh himself for when he returns to the drawing board, which is just as often the drawing floor, bed, or a portable piece of plexiglass Mace calls his ''laptop''. ''If I ran out of new ideas today,'' Mace asserted during a 2006 interview promoting his Imagine Nation exhibition, ''I have enough of a backlog to last several lifetimes''. By all evidence thus far, a valid claim. More below...

April 14—May 13, 2018  OPENING WEEKEND  

The BIC Collection  group exhibition

Le CENTQUATRE-Paris  Paris, France (X) 

''More than 140 works by artists from all over the world'' from the ''collection'' of the BIC pen company. Inquiries to the company and the venue have yet to be acknowledged, stand by for more info. BicWorld.

Spielberg's depiction shows poor forging skills, but, if he made it look too  good, we viewers wouldn't notice anything had been altered. Abagnale himself might even forgive the necessities of cinematic storytelling.

     When dad presented young Abagnale with the checkbook, he said it made him 'a member of their club'. If, in fact, the real Abagnale had used ballpoint pens for his forgeries, as depicted in this movie, does that make him a kind of honorary member of the  ballpoint  club? 

Read more K. RieSTARPOINTS on the CULTUREDpage

​​​​RETROSPECTACLE   by E. Lee  originally posted Dec. 17, 2016​​

​​Lennie MaceTokyo, Japan

Decade 2 : 1994-2004  Global & Mobile







By 1994Lennie Mace had made a name for himself as an illustrator and had been exhibiting his ballpoint pen artwork in New York annually since 1990. Neither realizing it nor striving for it, he became the first artist to make news by using ballpoint pens to create halftone effects never imagined achievable, in fine figurative art which elevated the pens from their proletarian origins and association with doodling. Just as media attention and success was peaking in the US, even if only as 'that ballpoint pen guy', Mace suddenly packed up and moved to Japan, to the surprise of everyone and against the urging of advisors.  More below... 

All artwork in this article © Lennie Mace/THE LAB  

・ lenniemace.com presents a ticker tape scroll of artwork, c.1998-2011 

 ​lenniemacemarket.com presents goods for sale. 

Mace promises updates to both websites on a more regular basis.


A comprehensive book documenting Mace's artwork & art life in far greater detail than space permits here is slated for publication in time for Mace's 2020 Summer Olympic Ballpoint Summit group exhibition in Tokyo. 

The Ballpointer  will report the book's release and the exhibition.

Outright forgery was also an early part of Abagnale's modus operandi. He is shown scraping away numbers printed on bank checks and rewriting them using a ballpoint pen ... 

July 15—21, 2018  NOW UP  

Birorama: Real and Irreal Landscapes  solo exhibition

The Coningsby Gallery  London, UK (Fitzrovia

Italian ballpointer Alberto Repetti exhibiting some of his more identifiably landscape-related ballpoint pen abstracts (La Sabbia Intorno  pictured, cropped). More info.

    STARPOINTS  by K. Rie  posted February 24, 2018

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... 

Forged in Ink

Catch Me If You Can  2002Director Steven Spielberg 
Kind of a true story : Mixed-up suburban teen Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) turns to a life of deception after his parents' divorce. Before long he's passing bad checks and enjoying the life. Bank fraud becomes a specialty, but early attempts are decidedly simplistic: Abagnale is shown soaking souvenir airplanes to peel their decals for illicit use ...​

Sept 22—Oct 27, 2018  NOW UP

Rebecca Yanovskaya  solo exhibition

Haven Gallery  Northport, NY (Long Island)  

The first solo exhibition of Yanovskaya's ballpoint-&-goldleaf masterpieces (Ceremonial 2  pictured, cropped) that we are aware of. Stand by for more info. More info.

Picking up where he left off last July  (Decade 1: 1984-1994),  

E. Lee's online retrospective of ballpointer  Lennie Mace  continues, from slideshow presentations and notes compiled during a week-long visit to the artist's  Ena Castle  in Japan last January…

April 10—30, 2018  NOW UP  

Artist of the Month  solo exhibition

Brickhouse Restaurant, Bar, Gallery  Hong Kong (X) 

A display of Peter Ross' ballpoint-&-gouache artwork (pictured, cropped) viewable for the price of a drink or dinner.

More info.

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INKBLOTTER   last revised April 13, 2018

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