Cleveland native comes back home to build large-scale textile printing studio

Dan Bortz textiles

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Dan Bortz, artist)

The Time Change Generator in Cleveland is a fine-art-focused, oversized textile screen printing studio being built by me and my partner. I’m originally from Cleveland, but I left home in 2008 to attend California College of the Arts in Oakland, Calif., where I met my long-term partner, Lynnea Holland-Weiss. In spring 2018, we relocated our practice to Cleveland to build our dream studio. My vision is to create small- to large-scale screen prints on fabric, repeat-pattern yardage and garment printing of my and other resident artists’ original artwork. The largest scale printing that we will be doing is 5′ by 6′. It not only would serve as a personal studio, but would bring artists from far and wide to design and print textiles. From extensive travel, I have connected with many artists who I respect and admire. My overall goal is to create a space to experiment with exciting mediums for myself and others. I’d like the ability to share the abundance of space and simultaneously bring national and international talent to Cleveland.

HGR has been a total treasure chest of studio equipment, let alone the inspiration of just walking around and looking at weird old machines. Without a full comprehension of what I’m even looking at, all I see is material and shape, thinking about how I could repurpose something into a piece of art. Or use it in my studio. We’ve found really great metal push cars for the studio, a nice light table, furniture. There also are many other things that we have our eye on for potential use. Here is an old drawing of mine to show you how a place like HGR can influence my drawings:

Dan Bortz machine drawing

 

You can follow Dan’s work on Instagram at @JBECAUZE @TIMECHANGEGENERATOR or @LYNNEAHW.

An artist and a carpenter team up to create public art

JP Costello and Erin Guido of So Fun Studio

 

(Q&A with JP Costello and Erin Guido of So Fun Studio)

What services does your business provide?

So Fun Studio is an interactive design collaborative that creates joyful and lighthearted public art and products.

How did you get your training?

So Fun is a collaboration between two artists, Erin Guido and John Paul Costello.

Erin studied printmaking at Indiana University and urban planning at University of Michigan. She is currently a project manager at LAND studio, a public art and public space nonprofit in Cleveland. She is also a mural artist and has multiple works up around town.

John Paul started in the trades with a metal fabrication company and then worked as a carpenter. He now has his own design and fabrication business and works on everything from residential and commercial furniture to more unique jobs, such as a custom bamboo motorcycle seat or a twenty person foosball table. He is a self-trained artist and creates wooden sculptures.

Tell about some interesting projects that you’ve worked on.

We collaborated on an interactive art show at the Akron Art Museum called Please Touch in spring 2016. After we completed that show, we formalized So Fun Studio because we knew we wanted to create more interactive art works together. It made us so happy to watch museum goers have fun touching, changing, and playing with the art work. The world needs more moments of joy!

So Fun Studio Please Touch installation

TODAY I FEEL, a kinetic artwork with wheels that spin freely from one another, is probably the most successful installation from Please Touch. The sculpture is roughly 6’x6’x6′ and made of 15 wheels, each with 30 sections of hand-painted alphabet and punctuation. Users can display their “feelings” by moving the wheels and changing the text. Currently, TODAY I FEEL is on display at the Cleveland Public Library.

So Fun Studio Today I Feel sculpture

 

Since Please Touch, we have participated in gallery shows and created art work for public events. For example, DANCING MACHINE is a full-scale teeter totter with characters attached to gears that “dance” as you teet and tott. It was on display at the Ohio City Street Festival and Gordon Square’s Hip2BeSquare outdoor summer event.

So Fun Studio teeter totter

Most recently, we built I HAVE MANY, a 4’x35′ interactive billboard installed on a building rooftop at 78th Street Studios for the 2018 CAN Triennial, a curated contemporary art festival featuring artists from Northeast Ohio. From the ground, people can pull cords that are connected to one of four indexing gears to change the displayed words. There are 256 different versions of the artwork depending which combination of words in the sentence the user selects.

What materials do you use?

The recent interactive artworks are constructed from Baltic Birch Plywood for the main body, along with wooden gears or indexing pins. We also use metal, plastics, or off-the-shelf materials, like bicycle gears, when necessary for different moving parts. We normally use acrylic paint or exterior house paint for the added graphics, lettering, and illustration.

Do you have employees/collaborators or work alone? 

So Fun Studio is the two of us, although John Paul’s father has majorly helped many times with construction and installation when time is crunched. Our friends also have helped multiple times with painting the pieces. We are lucky to have so much support!

What is the mission of So Fun Studio?

We aim to use art and design to bring moments of joy, humor, and imagination to anyone and everyone!

I understand that you are HGR customers. How did you find out about HGR Industrial Surplus?

Word of mouth from other artists and builders. We remember first walking into the facility and the feeling of excitement, like a kid in a candy store.

What kinds of items have you purchased at HGR Industrial Surplus, and how have you used them?

A few metal carts and a table or two along with miscellaneous little odds and ends that sparked our interest.  We currently are on the hunt for a metal lathe and mill; so, we will be back in soon!

What inspires you?

Erin is inspired by street art, pop-up books, playgrounds, walking around cities, and anything that is colorful and happy. John Paul is inspired by nature, cityscapes, abandoned buildings, Whirligigs, and practically anything else with some sort of motor.

JP Costello catan wall
designed by JP Costello
JP Costello hinge stairs
designed by JP Costello

Q&A with Waterloo Arts Fest Artist-in-Residence Angela Oster

Artist Angela Oster

When did you know you were an artist?

I’ve always loved to draw and make things, but it took a while to consider myself an artist. I think it was after I developed the habit of drawing every day that I had the confidence to call myself an artist.

How did you get your training?

I have a BFA from The Cleveland Institute of Art and took vocational commercial art in high school. I also did a mentorship with Dan Krall, an illustrator and animator. I also practice a lot on my own.

What types of work do you create?

I mostly draw cartoons. My goal is to make them funny, weird, cute and kind. I also make small sculptures based on my drawings. I like to call them delicate monsters and wide eyed weirdies. In art school, I studied installation and performance art; so, I also am interested in interactive, public art. But the running theme is to invoke delight, whether it’s a cute drawing or a playful sculpture.

Angela Oster vampire cartoon

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by everything! Sometimes it’s a vintage greeting card or an old video clip of an animation or an antique broach. I’m a fan of so many artists and so many kinds of art, and it gets all mashed up into my drawings and sculpts. There is an impulse that happens.

What do you do when you are not creating art?

When I’m not creating art, I like to look at art in museums and galleries. I teach at BayArts and work part time at Ohio Citizen Action. I love to spend time with my family and friends, watch movies, swim, and go to flea markets and libraries.

Have you shopped at HGR for your work?

Yes! HGR is like a candy store for artists. There is so much raw material; it’s boundless and inspiring, and it’s affordable!

If so, what have you found and how have you used it?

I found some orange “High Voltage” tape to use in a public sculpture for Waterloo Arts. The tape was a turning point in the evolution of my idea for the sculpture, and that would not have happened without HGR.

How did you get involved as an artist-in-residence with Waterloo Arts Fest?

I have participated as a vendor for many years at the fest. I think it is so unique in that it’s a real neighborhood event. There are a lot of hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. This year, I was invited to do a residency, so I jumped at the chance.

Tell us about the project.

I built an “Orange Removal Machine” — a community sculpture that served as a voter registration booth and also helped gather objects for “A Color Removed” at SPACES Gallery. I built a giant, open structure out of hula hoops and covered it with orange tape. I asked people to bring me any orange objects: clothing, toys, sports equipment, household items, etc. The objects have been cataloged and displayed as part of Michael Rakowitz’s installation at SPACES, during FRONT International.

Angela Oster Orange Removal Machine concept drawingAngela Oster Orange Removal MachineAngela Oster Orange Removal MachineAngela Oster objects for A Color Removed

What’s next?

I’m organizing a pop-up group show at the Osterwitz Gallery located at 15615 Waterloo Road in Cleveland on Sept. 7. I gave 30 artists a “Ting-a-ling Tina” Doll, a tiny doll inside a tiny phone. Each artist can customize the doll, or make a new piece inspired by the doll. It should be a fun show!

Q&A with Waterloo Arts Fest Artist-in-Residence Susie Underwood

fan ax set design by Susie Underwood for Near West Theater's production of Aida
fan ax set design Near West Theater’s 2018 production of Aida

When did you know you were an artist?

I have always loved making things and coming up with creative narratives. When I was a kid, I’d read fantasy or science fiction novels, and then I would create costumes or props inspired by the stories. That being said, I don’t think I was comfortable calling myself an artist until I had completed some installations with my former art collective, Art Club, around my mid-20s. I felt that I was actually doing something unique and from my own perspective for the first time, and that helped me to feel comfortable calling myself an artist.

How did you get your training?

I went to Ohio State University for art and journalism, got my master’s in art museum education from Antioch University Midwest, and gained a lot of my experience from working with studio and family programs at the Columbus Museum of Art. Much of my knowledge is self-taught. School can only get you so far.

What types of work do you create?

Susie Underwood in costume I like to “try on” many different types of art making, and I’m usually most successful when I combine installation with performance and audience participation. So, instead of having an art show, I might set it up like a garage sale. Or I might perform lounge songs while dressed as an alien, while cracking nerdy jokes and harassing the audience with props. For the Waterloo Arts Fest, I created a “living room” under a tent and painting everything white, so that visitors could decorate my little “home.” I prefer to change the atmosphere and environment from the usual visual art experience, which I find to be pretty boring.

What inspires you?

I love finding new artists on Instagram; there are some amazing artists in Los Angeles, New Orleans and Melbourne right now. Drag queens have really elevated their practice into some of the best contemporary art out there, and they have become a big influence on my performance approach. I am also inspired by the City of Cleveland, the weird history, and the kitsch and beauty that is taken for granted. I love music and science fiction; so, that comes out sometimes.

What are your thoughts on with art therapy?

I am interested in the growing field of art therapy but I’m not actively involved in it. I curated an exhibition at the Columbus Museum of Art which highlighted the different ways that art can be used therapeutically. I was showcasing the field to the general public, who may not be aware of all that happens or the potential of art therapy.

How did you get involved as an artist-in-residence with Waterloo Arts Fest?

I was recommended as a potential artist-in-residence because I am good at creating interactive, participatory experiences and working with the public. My years as a museum educator made me that way.

Tell us about the project.

I set up a 10’ x 10’ tent with living room furniture inside. Everything was be white, even my clothes, so that visitors could paint and decorate my little home. I also had a chandelier they could help create by adding junk from their purses, and a rag rug that they could help weave. It was inspired by my love for rehabbing and decorating my home. I want people to understand that creativity doesn’t just have to take place in an art studio; it should be infused into every aspect of life. Creativity is vital to our survival, and we need it now more than ever. We need leaders who can create new ideas, not just destroy things they don’t like.

What’s next?

I have a potential mural on the horizon, if I can ever finish the design!

Susie Underwood mural for Porco Lounge, Cleveland
mural for Porco Lounge, Cleveland
Susie Underwood's WEB for the Columbus Museum of Art's Wonder Room
WEB for the Columbus Museum of Art’s Wonder Room
Susie Underwood's banners for Near West Theater's 2018 production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame
banners for Near West Theater’s 2018 production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Susie Underwood

Stained-glass company serves regional customers for more than 30 years

Pete Billington of Whitney Stained Glass working on a skylight

When you walk into the entry of Whitney Stained Glass where the uncut glass of every color is stored, it’s like entering a secret garden or the back, private, work area of a museum. There’s magic taking place, and things of beauty all around. The talent of the five full-time and two part-time employees is astounding. All have been with the company for at least five to six years. They make, restore, install and store stained glass windows and doors, as well as skylights, chandeliers, mosaics, lamps, backsplashes, and other unique restoration projects. The current and second owner, Pete Billington, says that working in the stained-glass business takes a specific skill set: drawing and illustration ability for new work, an understanding of geometry, handiness, having a good “eye,” attention to detail, construction ability, no fear of heights, carefulness, and the ability to lift and carry heavy objects.

Whitney Stained Glass raw glass supplies

The shop is comprised of four rooms on the first floor and an upstairs. On the ground floor is the drawing/pattern area, the glass area, the carpentry area, the cementing area, a welding area, and the firing/kiln area, as well as the office. Upstairs is a glass-painting space with a light table, a library, stained-glass storage for clients, and the kitchen/break room. The company has four glass kilns and a glass-paint kiln, since some stained glass that is painted is then fired for permanence.

Whitney Stained Glass workshop

Whitney Stained Glass was started in 1984 by Jim Whitney. He passed away at the end of 2005, and his primary painter, Pete, bought the company from Jim’s widow in 2007. Pete graduated with a painting degree from Cleveland State University and was working at an art-supply store after college, but he needed a more permanent position. Jim was a friend of the family and had come to Pete’s parent’s house for a Super Bowl party. Jim invited Pete to the studio. During that visit, Pete asked for a job. Jim said he wasn’t hiring a painter. Pete said he just wanted to work with his hands. Jim said, “Okay, you can start on Monday.” That was October 1998; the rest is history.

Pete does not market the business or actively look for new customers. All of his regional customers are repeat customers or find him from word of mouth due to the company’s reputation. His extensive list of customers includes Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Lakeview Cemetery, Trinity Cathedral, The Old Stone Church, Elizabeth Seton High School, and many other churches and private individuals for their residences. He says about 25 percent of his work is installation of new glass; the rest is restoration. These projects are intricate and time consuming. For example, one church’s stained-glass restoration project in Monroe, Mich., took five years to complete. Pete’s first big job with Jim was the First United Methodist Church at 30th St. and Euclid Ave., Cleveland, which also was a multi-year project.

I asked Pete which project was his favorite or most memorable. He says, “A lot of them. When you take apart a Tiffany, it’s really consuming for weeks. We also rebuilt a 40’-by-60’ skylight at the Calfee Building on E. 6th St. and Rockwell Ave. For that job, I had to get a custom roller made to match the texture. The roller, made by a company in New Jersey, was 6’ long by 7” in diameter and cost $35,000.”

One interesting topic came up during my tour: lead. Yes, all of the employees work with and are exposed to lead on a daily basis. They get tested annually and are well within the safety range. Pete says, “We wash our hands a lot. Mainly, the older stuff is dangerous as it deteriorates and oxidizes, but the primary concern is if you breathe it in or ingest it. Contact isn’t as much of an issue.”

Pete’s a trained fine artist who mainly paints in watercolor. When asked if he still does his personal art, he states, “YEAH! I need to do work that isn’t work-related, but I also do my own stained glass to make use of the facility and equipment. I encourage my staff to do the same.” He quotes the late, great glass artist Dan Fenton from his book Glass Under Heat: Complete Kiln Work Notes, 1982-2004: “Never let the sun set on a cold kiln.” About stained glass, he says, “Painted glass is my favorite, especially the Munich-style, old German stuff.” Check out the photo below to see why.

Munich-style stained glass

When asked what inspires him, he says, “The drive to stay successful, to stay in business, to pay my employees and keep them working. I want my clients to hire me again and tell others. The ability to work as an artist and support myself doing what I love.”

glass being restored at Whitney Stained Glass

Call for industrial artists to deck out HGR’s offices!

metal armour with rusty gears and cogs artwork

As you may know or have read about in past blogs, HGR has invested in building out a new back office for executives, HR, payroll and other internal departments. It is designed with manufacturing and industry in mind. We also will be starting a complete renovation of our front Sales office where customers come in to make purchases and drivers come to pick up loads for delivery. That project is expected to be complete late this summer.

We need some two- and three-dimensional art for the walls, a clock, a coat rack, an A/V stand and other items that keep to the industrial theme, including machinery, our building’s history, Nickel Plate Road railway, etc. We have lots of machinery badges, blueprints and equipment schematics that we would like to display. Like any office, we need art, decorations, plant stands, and functional items.

I know that we have many artist and maker customers who shop here for material and inspiration. If you want to showcase your work and get some notice by the people who walk in our doors every day, contact Gina at gtabasso@hgrinc.com with photos, proposals or ideas, or give her a call. We have a modest budget; so, we are looking for lesser-known artists and makers who just want to be part of HGR’s future. We can trade store credit or marketing services, too!

 

Acclaimed multimedia Los Angeles artist shops for inspiration at HGR

Luddite by James Georgopoulos
Luddite in MAMA Gallery
Steel, aluminum, titanium, rubber, concrete, copper, automotive finish, brass, powder coating and electronic components with 35:00 minute single channel video
80 × 79 × 53 in
203.2 × 200.7 × 134.6 cm
James Georgopoulos 2016
Photo Courtesy of MAMA Gallery

 

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger and HGR Frequent Shopper James Georgopoulos, multimedia artist)

James Georgopoulos works with painting, sculpture and video installation to address a relationship between highly skilled production techniques, pop culture and taboo iconography. He began creating visual works at age 14, and his father was an avid art collector. He relocated from the East Coast to Los Angeles in the early 90s to work in the film industry, including as an art director for commercials and music videos, including Pink Floyd’s “Take it Back.” Georgopoulous’ work can be found in collections around the world.

Currently, his solo show at MAMA Gallery in Los Angeles is buoyed by four major new video sculptures that the artist created out of found, fabricated, and handmade materials. The Earth Is Flat is an interrogation of artificially intelligent systems and the values and hazards implicit to autonomous computing. The title of the exhibition emanates from the certainty that we are at a precipice, akin to the era when a flat world was the predominant theory about the form of the Earth. Theorists and technologists—Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking among them—believe that we are presumably in a technological stone age, and that artificial intelligence will continue to develop rapidly and exponentially in spite of warnings and omens.

Luddite by James Georgopoulos in MAMA Gallery, Los Angeles