''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 1997, Mace 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...
BALLPOINTBRIEF by B. Neufeld posted September 11, 2017
Drawing a Blank・September 29・
Case study; ongoing. 1: Observe how different media outlets handle the reporting of ballpoint pen artwork. 2: Report findings to The Ballpointer.
Drawing magazine threw their proverbial hat into the ring with the publication of their Summer 2017 edition: The Ballpoint Pen Issue. Tucked within its 80 pages of art supply adverts, subscription sales and how-to-draw primers (non-ballpoint) a couple of articles focussing on ballpoint pen art can be found... Continues below ...
''May I help you?'' Van Orton asks. The man offers no verbal reply, but sets his drink down and points toward Van Orton's shirt pocket. Ballpoint cameo #1: a leaky pen has left a blue ink stain (this is why they invented pocket protectors!).
RETROSPECTACLE by E. Lee originally posted Dec. 17, 2016
Lennie Mace・Tokyo, Japan
Decade 2 : 1994-2004 Global & Mobile
By 1994, Lennie 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...
The issue kicks off its ballpoint coverage by plugging Trent Morse's book, Ballpoint Art. Matt Rota's book The Art of Ballpoint is not mentioned, but Drawing's one-degree of separation is clear: their three featured ballpoint artists all appeared in Rota's book and are alumni of School of Visual Arts in New York, where he teaches. Guno Park, whose artwork garnered cover placement (pictured), is a fellow instructor at SVA.
Nicolas V. Sanchez is the highlight ballpointer of the three. Sanchez has been attracting attention with his ballpoint-on-Moleskine sketchbooks, a selection of which was showcased by The Ballpointer in a special PICKS page slideshow, but I'm still waiting for the unquestionably talented artist to go large-scale and finally put his 4-color BiCs to greater use.
Drawing saved a personal fave for last, closing the issue with a page of Ben Sack's intricate, imaginative carto-graphics. His drawings are not part of their ballpoint feature—his fine-liner pen drawings were instead published—but Sack has one-degree of separation, too; with The Ballpointer : his ballpoint drawings were featured in February, 2017.
Feb 4, 2017—Jan 7, 2018 NOW UP
Closing Borders solo exhibition
Serlachius Museum, Gösta Mänttä, Finland
Finnish artist Riiko Sakkinen, cited as a 'political artist' in the exhibition promotions, includes his ballpoint & mixed-media The Least Powerful Passport (pictured) on display in an exhibition which ''studies a Europe that is barricading its borders and turning in on itself''. Long run. More info.
Those kinds of promotional pens, otherwise seen as 'bad ' ballpoints, are actually the go-to pen for ballpointers needing to fill in large areas or lay down thicker layers of ink・
＊Read more K. RieSTARPOINTS on the CULTUREDpage
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...
・The Game 1997・Director David Fincher
tEarly in the movie, jaded, haunted financier Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is waiting in an airport boarding area. A real-life, real-time 'game' is about to turn his life upside down. The game came via a gift-card presented to him on his 48th birthday by his younger brother Conrad (Sean Penn), who claims to have participated recently and recommends it.
Van Orton is given the impression that he failed an entry exam which would've allowed him to initiate his game, but we soon learn this is actually part of it. In a scene marking the unannounced start of Van Orton's game, two ballpoint pen-related phenomena make an appearance within less than a minute of screen time.
Van Orton notices the man across from him is staring at him.
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…
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Sept 27—Nov 18, 2017 NOW UP
Suddenly a Knife solo exhibition
Art Projects International New York, NY (USA)
Ballpoint Elder IL Lee debuts a series of oil & acrylic paintings (pictured: WB-1610, 2016) which echo the aesthetics of his ballpoint pen abstracts, this time created using a knife. More info.
INKBLOTTER last revised October 13, 2017
Ballpoint pen artwork & more, now on display or coming soon.
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Since 2014・Volume 4
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.
Slideshow above : All artwork Media Graffiti series and 365DAZE project; ballpoint pen on printed matter. All artwork © Lennie Mace.
Drawing magazine—which probably boasts international circulation as the corporate-backed publication it is—is a fairly benign art source, evident in its conservative content and the bland way it's served. The editorial policy at Drawing seems to be 'light and sweet'. Nothing meaty to be found—not anything that might scare away potential advertisers or subscribers, anyway—and all the personality of a pigeon.
This kind of generic magazine is best for the bragging rights it provides to contributing writers, the artists they cover and the parents of all involved, and puts a couple of extra bucks into the pockets of those contributors (hopefully), most of whom seem to teach drawing classes somewhere or another. Probably ups their 'cool' quotient to the impressionable art students they oversee. Ballpoint drawings illustrating some of the articles appear to be those of students.
Drawing's mother company—the self-professed hobbyist-targeting ArtistsNetwork, a division of F+W Media, Inc, which must be a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble or at least have a distribution deal with the book chain giant—doesn't give away any of its information; their website only offers enough of a 'contents' list to try to tempt you into a subscription. At ten bucks per issue, it's at least cheaper than an art class, but I recommend browsing for free while sipping a latté at your neighborhood superstore・
Sept 8—Oct 28, 2017 NOW UP
Another Slipping Glimpser solo exhibition
Carl Hammer Gallery Chicago, IL (USA)
Indiana-born & -based artist CJ Pyle presents approximately twenty-two new works (Mrs. Burt of Encino pictured) seemingly 'woven' in ballpoint and mixed-media onto paper and other surfaces. More info.
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
Van Orton extends a 'Thank you' to the man and tosses the leaky ballpoint on the table as he rushes to the nearest washroom. Ballpoint cameo #2: It's a vanity ballpoint pen, emblazoned with a company name, in this case CRS; it's the name of the company which produces these 'games', Consumer Recreation Services.