I just got back from a relaxing weekend out in western Kansas which was a nice escape from the hustle of everyday life here in Lawrence. The weather was perfect and I spent one morning canoeing out on Wilson Lake which was a lot of fun. I also (over)ate a ton of home-cooked food. However, pill one of the most unique things I came across was a beautiful sunflower field, page so out came the camera!
OK, page so one more non-design post before I get back to business . . . Last night KU defeated Memphis in an amazing NCAA Championship basketball game and the town of Lawrence went crazy! It’s been estimated that 40-75,000 people rushed downtown to Massachusetts St. for a party that even a torrential thunderstorm couldn’t stop. Congrats to this year’s team on a great season. It’s a great day to be a Jayhawk!
Justin Marable is a printmaker who works out of his studio which is located in a historic and charming neighborhood in Topeka, KS (update: Justin is now a Lawrence, KS resident!). His works are primarily silk screens that explore the element of rural decay occurring in the heartlands of America. However, this isn’t to imply that the works are unattractive in any way. In fact, the colors and compositions of his works are rich and beautiful and most everyone who is from the area connects to the imagery and colors of the Midwest. He has huge body of work and is clearly passionate about what he does.
From his artist’s statement:
The history of a place, as well as its land and inhabitants, are all vitally important in defining a community’s environmental and social conditions. In my prints I romanticize this idea with the use of rural landscape and landmarks. These rural devices serve to emphasize the ever-growing abandonment of small towns and farmland of the Midwest. With the medium of serigraphy, or screen printing, I can express the man-made qualities of rural architecture with a photographic stencil technique.
Justin is also a super nice guy and was recently kind enough to invite me over to take a look at his studio and talk about his work and his process.
On Thanksgiving Day, 2007, I took a tour of Joe Malin’s garage-turned-studio for the inaugural DESIGNOJEK studio tour. Joe lives and works in Plainville, Kansas, a small town about 80 miles from the geographic center of the United States. He was born in a farmhouse his father built right on the outskirts of Plainville and has called Kansas his home all of his life. After retiring from a career on farms and oil fields, he put his welding skills to work again and started creating sculptures made from scrap metal, bolts, nuts and various other items lying around his shop. Although not formally trained as an artist, he creates wonderful pieces of folk art that have immense character, meticulous attention to detail, and fascinating historical significance. Also a modest man, he chuckled when I called his work space a “studio” and would likely correct me if I called him a “sculptor”, but his love for what he does and the care he puts into his wonderful pieces makes him as much of an artist as anyone.