July 20, 2014

Last Two Drawings to Tango

I had four more sketches left of musicians performing at a Milonga. I decided that I was scraping the bottom of the barrel on two of them so relegated them to the trash. It felt good to do so as some editing of my drawing collection is called for. The remaining two were not quite as dynamic as my previous sketches but worth finishing anyway. A few coats of grey, black and white pastels with a touch of charcoal brought them back to respectable life.

July 15, 2014

The Tango Singer: Milestone Number 2400

For some years now, I have been working on a digital archive of my work. Occasionally, I reach a milestone; The first one thousand works...the first two thousand works. Sometimes just even numbers are small events to celebrate. The drawing of the singer above marks entry number 2400. The drawing is full of a number of circles to mark the two zeros in my new number.

What is in a number? Is there a right number for an artist’s life work? Certainly other artists in history have made much more than 2400 works. Others less. Much depends on the size of the work and the speed of execution. I have a balance of quick work, slow work, small work and large work. So I would expect my lifetime of accumulation to be about average.

Most artists don’t painstakingly catalogue their work. Perhaps they are too successful in the here and now of marketing and exhibiting to be bothered by it. The cataloguing for me has certainly been time consuming. I also think that the catalogue is a contribution for a posterity that may never be but there if needed. It has helped benefit scholars who have written about my work.

I must confess that it was a hard sell for me when my brother, a scholar editor an archivist himself, first proposed the project. It would take too much time I whined. And there was this problem of having to confront mortality. When we first designed the archive and defined catagories for items (i.e. drawings, mosaics, paintings, paintings in series etc.) we had to agree upon an upper limit to a number. The limit was 999 for each category. In other words, I probably wouldn’t do more than 999 of any one type of art before I DIED. That is most likely correct but to see it in black and white was rather intimidating. Thus far I have not surpassed the 500 mark in any one category but with over 342 drawings and maybe a few more years left I suppose it would be possible.

For now, I’ll celebrate the number 2400 with a hope for many more to come.

July 14, 2014

The Keyboard Player

Having just finished my drawings of a bandoneon player I sketched at a Milonga in Columbia, South Carolina, I turned to finishing up my drawing of his fellow band player. The keyboard player pictured in the above drawing moved with lively histrionics, which I’ve hopefully captured in this charcoal impression. I had his business card at one time, but could not find it again. So the keyboard player will remain nameless for now. I could, and may, try to contact his partner and get a name.

July 13, 2014

The Bandoneon Player

Lately I have been revisiting the year I studied the Argentine Tango and finishing the drawings that I had started at that time. There were numerous sketches of dancers from that era. But at one of the evening Milongas I made sketches of the musicians. I recently revised the sketches of the bandoneon player Osvaldo Barrios. I sketched him live as he performed on his favorite bandoneon, a taped together old thing that he loved for its sound. On one of his breaks he explained that he had painstakingly kept this instrument alive because the sound was better than any of the new ones he tried to replace it with. That may have been so but when I watched him seem to merge with the instrument as he played I felt that it was an old familiar friend that he could not forsake.

The pictures were originally rough pencil line drawings but I have finished them in charcoals and pastels. The blackened background helps off set Osvaldo’s wiry white hair.