Working Metal

Every so often I get the chance to work with metal. I confess to hanging out at historical recreations (Museum Village/Suffern NY, Old Bethpage on Long Island) and watching in fascination at the blacksmithing demonstrations. Aside from small projects the first time I used sheet aluminum was for my portfolio. When I got out of school I developed the habit of constructing my own portfolios, something I always got great reactions to from art directors. Everybody remembered me and associated the big metal book with my work at the time (I was doing a lot of work about the old Soviet Union).

(above) Three views of my portfolio. 1/4″ aluminum plates with copper mesh. The engraving in the middle is a magnesium printing plate etched to read correctly.

“…I almost cut myself on your book” was a common reaction I’d get until I really filed down the edges. Perhaps those sharp edges were some sort of passive/aggressive behavior for all those early rejections? The book felt like it weighed a ton to carry, and the magneium would oxidize and have to be gone over with steel wool. But it was well worth it.

(Above) Hammered aluminum archway in front of a family portrait which included an 8 foot long beard created out of canvas strips. Each strip had Yiddish expressions silk screened on them (New Paltz, NY).

A few years latter for a show in New Paltz I created a 5 foot archway based on Jewish cemetery gate motifs. The aluminum was salvaged from old litho plates, sanded and ball peened. The idea was to angle spot lights in such a way that shadows were cast in a German expressionist kind of way. I was pretty happy with the outcome

Below is the lettering I cut out of aluminum and riveted together for the Frankenstein display (see an earlier post on the blog) at Parsons in the illustration Dept.

(Above) The letters in progress on my work bench with riveting tool (Below) Frankenstein painted black and hanging by translucent fishing wire in the case.

Frankenstein At Parsons

Frankenstein/Cultural Icon

At Parsons I’ve been working on an exhibit of Frankenstein as a Cultural for an 8th floor showcase.
Below is the result with the an expanded version of the text that appears with the display. These are really a  fraction of the things spawned by the myth of Frankenstein’s Monster. Thank you to Bob Sikoryak, Roger and Mary Bow , and Steven Guarnaccia for their contributions.

Also please feel free to check out my class blog at http://lesconcepts.wordpress.com/ I have  a number of interesting posts and lots more Frankenstein info.

A huge looming figure with a flattened head, bolts coming out of either side of his neck, and a halting stride with out stretched arms. The image of Frankenstein is universally recognized by young and old around the globe .Mary Shelley’s haunting novel, first published in 1818, and its themes of the consequences of man wielding the divine spark of human life, instantly captured the imagination of the public. Stage adaptations of the story began five years after the novel appeared. Parodies of the play were performed soon after that. Even those early plays only remotely resembled Mary Shelley’s original novel, they instead paid homage too the novels main themes and catered (much as todays audience) to the public’s love of being frightened.
Part of the power of the myth is that Frankenstein exists as both victim and villain, clown and monster. The creature can be a lovable, bumbling cartoon character pushing kids cereal or an angry, tattooed, anti-establishment punk rocker. The creature has been the subject of plays, movies, and television, action figures, graphic novels, comic books, music and is even an adjective in our language (think Franken-food).
Mary Shelley’s creature is alive and has a life of it’s own.
The monster’s story has been reinterpreted and retold in a wide range of media, and across generations. Each re-imagining of the story adds something to the myth as well as reflecting the time period it’s produced in. In fact, it’s Boris Karloff’s interpretation of the creature (from James Whale’s 1931 movie) that has replaced Mary Shelley’s original description of the monster in the mind of the public.

Frankenstein/Summer Reading Project 2008

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley was the 2008 selection for the Illustration Department’s Summer Reading Project. All illustration students had the common cultural experience of reading Frankenstein.

The story of Victor Frankenstein, and his scientific offspring present unique challenges to illustrate. There are a number of themes to explore in the original book and how to convey them visually; parental responsibility, and rejection, the moral scope of new technology, point of view, and notions of good and evil, to name a few.

There is the problem of avoiding cliches, images we have all seen before vs. finding a new look to the story.

Key to display in 8th floor showcase

  1. Poster for I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, 1957 Released by American International Pictures.
  2. Playbill for the broadway musical and VHS box for the original movie (1974) of Young Frankenstein, by Mel Brooks.
  3. Famous Monsters of Filmland 1965 yearbook, Published by James Warren, edited by Forest J. Ackerman.
  4. DVD box of The Golem, a silent movie directed by and staring Paul Wegener (as the golem) 1920. (left), small clay golem from Prague. reportedly, Frankenstein Director James Whale screened The Golem and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) in preparation for Frankenstein. The Golem is a man made creature with no soul, formed out of clay.
  5. Spread from the third edition (1831) of Frankenstein with engraved vignette titles and frontispieces by Theodor Von Holst.
  6. Poster for Metropolis (1927) by Fritz Lang. A silent movie taking place in the future (2027) in which among other things a human like female robot is created.
  7. Still and poster from the 1990 movie, Edward Scissorhands, directed by Tim Burton. Edward is the artificial creation of a scientist (Vincent Price) who died before completing the attachment of his more human like hands.
  8. Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Frankenstein with cover art by Daniel Clowes.
  9. Frankenstein latex Halloween mask.
  10. Trading card depicting the cover of Frankenstein comics #2 drawn by Dick Briefer, Published by Prize Publications, 1945 (?).
  11. View master reels of Frankenstein (1976). Click here to see the images on the reels.
  12. Frankenstein, Illustrated By Robert Andrew Parker Publisher: Clarkson N. Potter (1976)
  13. The Diary of Victor Frankenstein, by Timothy Basil Ering (Illustrator), published by DK INK 1997
  14. Stamps, two British 1997 (drawn portrait by Ian Pollock) stamps , one U.S. , Boris Karloff /Frankenstein portrait by illustrated by Thomas Blackshear II)
  15. Frankenberry cereal, made by General Mills appeared in 1971. Strawberry flavored with marshmallow pieces. Other monsters were Count Chocula and Boo Berry. Yummy Mummy was a character from 1988 -1993. Frankenberry is still being made just in lower numbers. It’s easiest to find around Halloween.
  16. Poster for The Curse of Frankenstein ,1957 by Hammer Film Productions a British horror film company. Peter Cushing plays Baron Victor Frankenstein and Christopher Lee plays the creature.
  17. Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus, text by Mary Shelly, illustrated by Bernie Wrightson. Published by Mavel (1980) Youtube documentary on the book and Site devoted to the illustrations.
  18. Electric Frankenstein! by Sal Canzonieri. Published by Dark Horse (2004)Poster art of the punk rock band Electric frankenstein featuring artwork by Coop, Kozik, Johnny Ace, The Pizz, Lisa Petrucci, Derek Hess, Alan Forbes, among others. Sal Canzonieri is a founder of the band. Misc. art from the book is on display too.
  19. Happy Birthday Frankie, by Sarah Weeks (Author), Warren Linn (Illustrator), Published by Laura Geringer (1999).
  20. Cover from the Classics illustrated version of Frankenstein by Mary Shelly. Acclaim Comics, Inc. © Twin Circle Publishing Co., (1958) Painting by Norman Saunders.
  21. Universal Monsters: Son of Frankenstein 12-Inch figure. The figure comes with an arm, a comic and a display base.
  22. Paperback book editions of Frankenstein: Signet Classics (1965) Illustrator unknown, Dell Publishing edition (1972), Illustrator unknown, Scholastic (1974) Illustrator Margret Howlett.
  23. The Cobbler’s Monster, by by Jeff Amano (Author), Craig Rousseau (Author/Artist), Wayne Faucher (Author/Artist), Giulia Brusco (Author), Image Comics (2006). The Frankenstein mythos mingled with Pinnochio among others.
  24. Frankenstein, illustrated by Lynd Ward, reprint edition. first edition 1934, Published by Harrison Smith and Robert Haas. These have to be seen to be believed . Ward is a master story teller as well as wood engraver. He is probably best know for his novels without words, forerunners to what we call graphic novels. There are a number of places on line to view illustrations from the book. http://www.nijomu.com/blog/?p=200 or http://paganpressbooks.com/jpl/LYNDWARD.HTM I urge you to check out his work, there is a wonderful sense of pathos in the creature that I have not seen anywhere else.
  25. Bride of Frankenstein poster Directed by James Whale. With Boris Karloff, and Elsa Lanchester as both Mary Shelley and the Bride.
  26. Frankenstein…the nut cracker.
  27. Marvel Classics Comics Vol 1 #20 (1977) by Marvel. Cover Artists Gene Colan, Ernie Chan
  28. Frankenstein comics drawn by Dick Briefer, Published by Prize Publications.
  29. The 1934 Heritage press version of Frankenstein, illustrated by Everett Henry. This is the only illustration where the “monster appears”. Throughout the book the creature is depicted only as a shadow.
  30. Advertisement for a 7 foot tall Frankenstein monster for only $1.00 (plus 35¢ for postage and handling of course.) seen in a comic book.
  31. Halloween Monster bolts
  32. Video display- now playing…episodes of The Munsters 1964-66

You can also find out more about the Summer Reading Project at : http://www2.parsons.edu/illustration/frankenstein/