Photo wrangling continues for Stencil Nation. I think it’ll all come together this week, because it must be finalized now. Yesterday, I biked over to 24th street and picked up a DVD of over 50 scans of 1980s and early 1990s street stencils from D.S. Black. We had a great talk about street art, stencils, Thomas Pynchon, and other things. He began to mention places where I could continue research on stencil history. “At this point,” I replied, “I can’t keep digging and researching the origins.” Pausing to think, I then said, “maybe if someone asks me to write another book about stencils, it’ll be about its origins only.” Earlier this week, Josh MacPhee threw out more leads to follow for stencil origins, and I told him that it was too time-consuming at this point. And this morning, I see two e-mails in my inbox from two people I had contacted months ago for stencil history and historical photos. Gee Vaucher of the CRASS collective dropped a quick line wondering if she had replied to my initial em. Photographer Susan Meiselas finally got in touch with me regarding her photographs in Nicaragua in the 1980s. She offered to look for Sandinista stencils and gave me another lead on finding documentation. So, I’m putting the idea out there for an art history book on stencils. Klutch and Logan Hicks are still on the wrangled list, and an activist here in the Mission is giving me a CD of Oaxaca images today to maybe add to the ones I already have. Still haven’t heard from Andie Grace of the BRC LLC regarding Burning Man stencil art. Ach! Getting close, but no cigar yet. Writing continues and goes well. Justine is working on new cover comps. Will call her very soon! PS: Finally got to read some Overspray ‘zine/mag issues thanks to Janet Attards mailing them my way. Good to see that they’re trying to keep street art real, keeping the communities in dialog about the art, the politics, the fine balance between starving and making a living, etc. Also finally watched some of Matt McCormick’s short “The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal.” People keep asking me if I’ve seen it, so now I get a taste of its brilliance. And, sadly, the Albany Landfill seems to have been evicted for “clean up” today. That usually means one less spot for graffiti and radical urban living.
Book work continues. Justine Ives from NYC contacted me out of the blue to tell me that she was the designer. We’ve since been eming back and forth across the nation, and will chat via phone tomorrow. Looking forward to working with her and hope the distance won’t hinder production. I need to begin to format photos so that I can mail a DVD to her. I just need to format the file names, as Justine prefers to format the files herself. Peter Kuper’s first attempt to get his Oaxaca pics to me failed. Haven’t heard from him since telling him via em. Still hanging on for DS Black and Klutch too. No word from Logan about his photo info either! Got the Wall and Piece book in the mail, and Hasta La Victoria, Stencil (about Argentinian stencils) came in today. Good to see the latter book, and its English translations, but had no idea that it had a time line. It’s a bit different than my time line, but had no idea that there was one out there already. No idea is really original anymore is it? Went to hear Mona Caron speak at CounterPULSE last night and was glad to see Josh MacPhee and Claude Moller in the audience. Claude has been out of state for a while and Josh was in the City curating an upcoming show at Exit Gallery in NYC. It’s a show about political movement art, that is, art work that resulted from many radical, left, etc. movements. We had beers and burritos after Mona’s talk and caught up on each other’s projects. Worked on text today and started the Stencil Graffiti text. Things are flowing; just need to figure out how to eat and grocery shop, take a shower, etc. as well!
More work on Stencil Nation today. The long weekend in South Carolina ended up with bee stings, Benadryl-induced drowsiness, and a swollen hand instead of working on the book. But I got to get things going a bit today after the swelling began to go down. Andi Grace from the BRC LLC (aka Burning Man) contacted me and asked for links instead of thumbnails to OK the BRC stencil art. Looks like they might not approve the questionably-located pieces due to the BRC rule of not defacing other people’s art. I understand that. DS Black called me up and said that he’s slowly getting his 1980s and early 1990s images together to submit. Klutch, recovering from a heart attack, called me to discuss the book, but my phone isn’t working too well here in the suburbs. Will call him back soon. Got to work on the artists text tonight, and found a much-needed quote regarding Peter Kuper’s stencil work online in a digital version of the Mad Magazine book I read four years ago. No need tracking the book down at a mall! Back to SF tomorrow and then more writing and revising and hounding the few remaining folks who need to submit content. 1:00 AM and the AC is freezing my ass off. So to bed I go, with a hopeful final round of Benadryl.
Spent most of Wednesday writing and editing and compiling. Began the Introduction, not to be confused with Chris Carlsson’s Forward. Hard to write, but I think I might have a good bit worth editing and revising. Finally got the last of the 1980s photos from Jef Aerosol, and he also dropped me some stencil history for the time line. I continue to spend too much time on the time line, but I think it will be appreciated. There are about 50 footnotes at this point, and it is at about 2,300 words. Jef thanked me for working on the history of the art form and gave me a great tip to a 1960s stencil action in France. Also worked on the back pages items: bibliography, resources, links to the artists in the book. It will probably grow as I continue to remember to add items there, though there is so much online to find and click through (Duncan Cumming’s site has loads of books and links; more than I could put in my back page.). Jennifer has put a call out to SFAI for a budding book designer. Fingers are crossed. Still haven’t heard from Black Rock LLC (Burning Man) regarding my wish to put BRC in the book. Will call them tomorrow and hope that that will get through the proper channels there (ach, the bureaucracy of that org!). While working on the bibliography via online sources, I couldn’t help buying a $10 used copy of Banksy’s Wall and Piece. I try not to buy new books, so was glad to get a copy so cheap. Besides stealing one, used and tattered is the best way to get a Banksy book!
Today was Stencil Nation day after a too-long break to go to Burning Man. Mostly dealing with straggling photo submissions and back end admin tasks. I need to write! Got an em from Banksy saying he’d post images to me (though I didn’t give him my address). Had to write him back, so hope it doesn’t take another month to get a reply. Got some 1980s images from Jef Aerosol in Paris today after picking my faves last night. E-mailed Burning Man’s press dept. to get permission to put BRC in the book and the em bounced back. Hope the “questions” em will get it to the right bureaucrat. Very few submissions left. Sad that Aya and Xavi didn’t submit (I have some Xavi pics that may get in), and hope that A1One’s submissions make it from Iran in time (we’ll see). No word from Klutch who’s recovering from a heart attack, and DS Black’s 1990s SF submissions aren’t here yet either. Did download Logan Hick’s pieces today. His cut-outs are amazing! Left to do: WRITE, whittle down the images, get a designer to put the book together and format the images in one cookie-cutter way. Oh, got Chris’ forward for the book. Liked it. Need to revisit tomorrow and think about it some more.
Yesterday was nonstop until about 9pm. Adam5100 stopped by on his fixie and dropped off his CDs of images (the original got lost in the mail). I jokingly blamed him on the throw up across the street from my place, and then we discussed how to create a 14 layer stencil without bridges (I have no idea, but he’s figuring it out). Josh emailed some chronology updates and clarifications. I went to storage and got things ready for Burningman, and also went through my stencils, picking some out to take to BRC. See that Logan sent his photos, and Peat gave me some great shots to add to the ones I have for his section. Maya helped me sort out her difusor photos, and MayU in Taiwan resent some of his submissions. Got a few more cold submissions and really hope that it’ll all fit in. Burningman is eclipsing the book at this point, as is contact with loved ones (I haven’t been in touch; too busy). Adam gave another designer lead, but it might be too much for too little. Still won’t hurt to meet and ask.
Off to storage to pick up my 45s and costumes! And then do 100 other things before Friday morning……….
Ah, another packed day of Stencil Nation work. The deadline for submissions passed today and I think I have too much to cram into the book. Only about six artists and documentarians still need to get their works to me, so that percentage isn’t too bad. Of the six, I’ve spoken with D.S. Black, Peat, Logan, and Adam5100. Jef Aersol will hopefully get some 1980s images to me later in the week. Hoping to meet up with Adam tomorrow to get his disc o’ stencils. D.S. is scanning negatives of SF stencils from the 1980s. Peat seems slammed with work, which is a good thing.
Of the submissions that came through today, Pixnit only had a few since her hard drive recently failed and ate her high res files. Got some amazing images of stencils in Oaxaca, Mexico. One says “Resistance Art” and defines the whole batch I got from Ita. Just downloaded some stencils from LBS in Taipei, Taiwan that’ll hopefully go in. And Stencil Revolution came through and about 3 artists gave me their top 5 tips on a thread I had there. I think I have a good batch of how to’s to begin to edit. Oh, and Chris said that it was OK to use the photos I took of his stencil booth at Burningman last year. Still need to ask the BMorg if I can use the other ones, most of which are from the DPW crew and straight up graffiti “street” stencils (graffiti at Burningman? This year, I’m on it!)
I’m actually caught up on checking the feeds and downloading all the images. Someone dropped me brand new Banksy photos from the UK and didn’t take any photo credit. Hmm, wonder if it was the man himself? That’s all I have for now to take off of my online file storage site. That didn’t exist a few years ago, so it has become a blessing due to email crashes. Guess Google mail would’ve worked too, but I prefer MediaFire.
So busy today. I managed to take a few breaks to eat. Had dinner with Laura and went for a walk to get away from the computer. Here I am 6 hours later working away. Took some time out to begin packing for Burningman. It has approached furiously, and so I must go to help the Sustainable Living Roadshow get its carny on under the Man. This’ll be my last big departure from the book project. September and October will be all about the book.
Onward now to begin to cull photos, write, and fret about who the graphic designer will be.
Last night, at 2am, I went to bed with my mind still wandering. I spent most of the day going through my archive photos and pulling out some of the best shots for the Stencil Nation book. I’d e-mailed people from around the world about stencils and art, hopped over to Flickr to look at other photos, and checked and rechecked my working sections to see how well the photos look together. But as I tried to go to sleep, I thought that instead of not blogging about my sitting-in-front-of-a-computer life, I should blog about what I’m doing for the book. Like a diary, with short descriptions or run-on sentences, I felt I could share with everybody what I’m doing in front of my computer all day as well as hype the book. I could even let all of you in on how a book like this comes together (don’t think it has been done for a stencil book).
So I’m introducing a Stencil Nation category today for HappyFeetTravels.org and will hop on here as often as I can to let you all know what I’m working on, who I’m talking to, etc. So, on to what’s going on with the book project: