Friday, November 19, 2010

MECA lekka trek

The seniors in MECA's illustration IL 421 blasted down to Boston this week, stopping mid-way at the Portsmouth Museum of Art to see the expansive exhibit, Sugipop!, all about manga and it's influence on contemporary art.

From the opening display of cute severed heads, to the Hokusai book of character designs that spawned Japanese sequential storytelling, the show spans an amazing range of imagery.
This is "Yoko Natsu Chan" by Mr. 

We couldn't go in this room, but you could feel this piece by Momoyo Torimitsu, titled "Somehow I Don't Feel Comfortable."
Besides seeing wood block prints from the Edo period, there were actual cells from Astro Boy, another classic, by the man considered the Godfather of Anime, Osamu Tezuka.

There are rooms upon rooms of more art influenced by Japanese fixations that merge the cute and morbid, like this painting by Mike Shinoda, "Purple Skulls."

Skulls are a recurring theme for more than a few illustrators, it seems. This installation by Yoskay Yamamoto, was in the lobby, and was a pleasing piece to leave the show with, and hit the road again.

 Thank you, Zoe, for opening just for us!

The next stop was the Art Institute of Boston, where I taught many many moons ago. While waiting for the last car of students to arrive, I enjoyed this curious blur of signage.

Susan Le Van, illustration department chair, generously welcomed us to a lecture and demo with the brilliant James Gurney,  He touted the advantages of water soluble colored pencils for sketching on the fly, and shared images of travels, moving subjects, and the portability of the Niji water brush. He works small in his sketchbook, capturing landscapes at postage stamp size. But he said, "You don't have to draw what you see," and showed examples of turning a bored passenger waiting for a train into a troll.

Even when drawing on location, you can "go elsewhere" he claimed. Here's the cover of his sketchbook, fancifully embellished:

He proceeded to paint a portrait of a faculty member, Tom Barrett, with a camera recording his every stroke, while calmly chatting about his process and taking questions.

Thanks to James for sharing his wisdom, talent, and amazing technique, and thank you, AIB!

From there, our troop headed over to Cambridge, to the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

This place is enough to blow your mind, from every exotic animal to fragile glass flower to shimmering beetle specimen.

We wandered, and sketched, and got cross-eyed with all the visual stimulation. First stop, dinosaur bones! Here's the Kronosaurus queenslandicus that spans an entire wall:

Cyndi used her vivacious line and quirky humor in this drawing:

Erica's looking at patterns here, I think.

This guy makes me laugh...

as does a recent piece by Joe, that makes the most of comic proportions.

Thanks to the Lion King, I was drawn to this fellow, hearing Hakuna Matata in my head while I drew.

The room with the dinosaur bones is more spacious than other areas, so I sat on the floor to draw this
odd creature, the edaphosaurus, with a little head, stumpy legs, and boastful armor. (This one's for you, Eda!)

The act of sketching gave me a chance to slow down, make observations, and eavesdrop on the nearby class giving detailed reports on various specimens in the exhibit.

Bret pointed out this particular guy, whose noble gesture calls to mind "to be, or not to be.."

Is it any wonder what Alysa would draw? This self-portrait for a recent project might give a clue, since every day is Halloween for her.

Yes, a fruit bat skeleton!

And she got inventive, too, turning a rabbit that happened to be near the antler section into a jackalope.

Our time and meters ran out too soon, but now IL 421 knows where to go for excellent reference on nature's diversity.  It was a weary ride back to Maine, but we left full of inspiration.


Kara Schaff Dean said...

Looks like a fantastic day! The manga exhibit looks incredible. When I think back to the days of watching fan-subbed anime bootlegs and being able to buy over-priced manga only in specialty shops, I am continuously amazed at(and grateful for) its arrival in the US (finally!)

Rob S. said...

Well done, Jamie. These guys need to get outta the school, as you know!!! The building at AIB on 601 Newbury is where I hang my stuff for my MFA residency. Funny that you were there!

Mary Anne said...

Jamie, That is Eda's favorite dinosaur! So sweet of you to sketch it for her! We also saw it at the Museum of Natural History in DC. I will show this post to Miss Eda! What a great day for the students!

salty eric said...

i think i went to the harvard museum of natural history about once a week growing up! random fact: the kronosaurus skeleton they have at the HMNH is incorrectly reconstructed. it supposedly has about 8 vertebrae too many! (about 2 feet too long)

jamie peeps said...

I thought it looked remarkably LONG.
Lucky you, Eric, that you went there all the time. One of my students would like to move right in!

S.N. Couming said...

Thanks for this great post. I had no idea about the Harvard museum of natural history. I think I'll check it out next weekend and spend the day sketching. Also the Portsmouth exhibit was a great find too. I definitely want to check out that show.