Saturday, February 20, 2021

Space Boxes February 2021: Current Artwork Utilizing Vintage Space Figures and Acrylics by Golden's Artist Colors

Our introduction. Thus, he returns ...

Current Works In Progress, February 2021

That's Camp Nyland, February 2021 in Syracuse NY. Snowdrift on the picnic table is a passive nature-based sculpture I've been observing all winter, and am eager to see it melt. The COVID 2020 hijinx sent me running from Utica NY back to Syracuse fulltime: Need to have two sets of eyes on my 80+ year old parents every day even if they be my own. Had to choose between waiting out last spring's lockdown here or there and it didn't take much time to decide. Was finally able to move everything back to Syracuse in October and have indeed been making art all the while. The Tech Garden functioned on skeleton staff for nearly all of 2020 and I have not been queried about new show ideas thus far (and have a few in mind for someone, somewhere). 

So here we are with little to do but wait, my parents on their 2nd shots next week and I should get mind round about the same time the Herd Immunity kicks in -- Just what I expected, though I will be surprised if life actually does return to "normal" so soon. We did a show about The End of the World at The Tech Garden summer 2018, and were sadly more correct that we thought. The one happy thought is that at the time I'd concluded there's no way our consumer driven society could come to an "end" in the traditional sense of the words. It'd take a swift kick to its collective gonads but walk it off, sort out priorities, and address them. We continue, sadly having lost way too many in a collective tragedy that has left me numb & not knowing what to say until I was ready.

My priority has been making art and I found my groove last year when utilizing space toy forms to overcome my issue with rendering skills. Now I don't have to, and am finally crafting the "playsets" as static diorama like paintings enclosed in assorted boxes. Here's some in varying states of completion.

Boxes are 4x4 inches, all acrylics by Golden's and the space figures all pre-1980. There's something about the vintage forms in particular which fascinates me. "Retro-Futurism", using the forms of the past to draw a possible vision of the future. I also try to only use generic figures -- No Han Solo! or other branded franchise characters, the painting automatically becomes about that character, its franchise and its fan's expectations.

Some of the boxes are planets, some are seascapes, one is a city and my favorites are the swamps & marshes. It's the same objectives to the painting as the Frog Ponds were c.2018, with the focus on use of materials and "surfacing" rather than sketching out a landscape. The substances accrete over a period of weeks, and these figures won't necessarily go into these boxes.

I'd rather be using figures I fabricate myself but even a 3d printer would be an investment beyond current means (including a new computer which could run the software) let alone even a basic casting set with centrifuge (!!!). So for the time being I'm using other people's space people and their vintage pedigree is part of the formula, favored companies being non-character figures by Marx Toys, MPC / Multiple Toymakers, Tim Mee Toys, LP / Lik Be Plastics & Metal, and anonymously made copies thereof. I also try to only paint figures which have damage, are visibly playworn, or copies of dubious ancestry that a "real collector" wouldn't care about -- Those are the best! And the disclaimer rule is that No vintage space toys are harmed in the creation of my artwork! Five minutes under a hot water faucet with a toothbrush and they are clean. It's acrylics on plastics so the trick is keeping the paint on the figures.

Display could be on a shelf or hanging, and to make sure the bottoms of the boxes aren't blank I made more of the planet.




Self Portrait



Urban Hipster Space Turtle

Some sort of dispute over parking ...

Chance Encounter

Lost in the Space Swamp

The Lovely Dr. Chandra Lakes, and her ingenious Plutonium Energizer Module. The power of which, in the wrong hands, could destroy entire worlds ...

Crackle Paste, Glass Bead Gel, Clear Granular Gel, Cobalt Blue, Green Gold Fluid Acrylics, Iridescent Acrylic Blue Green and Pearl, buckets of Micaceous Iron Oxide, Matte Heavy Gel Medium and Clear Tar Gel (love it!!), Pyrrole Orange Fluid Acrylic and Cadmium Orange Red for space suits, Iridescent Copper Light Fluid and Iridescent Copper Fine in full body for priming the plastic figures (the bits of ground up metallic looking stuff sticks better), Iridescent Stainless Steel for gritty "used universe" metallic surfaces, Bone Black Fluid Acrylic for darkening tones, Carbon Black Fluid Acrylic for outlines, Indian Yellow Hue Fluid Acrylic for that Martian sky, and cotton wadding for volcano ejecta or atmospheric inversion. Just in case you were wondering what I'd used. Boxes nicked off Amazon at 12 for $25. Go Fish.

Apartment Hunting, Again 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Susan Roth: Black Is A Color, at The Sam & Adele Golden Gallery, New Berlin NY October 12 2019 - March 13 2020

A quick look at the show in video taken during the opening event.

Art becomes an adventure again. Armed with Jean Hoefler designed German spaceman from 1968 marketed under the "Plong!" brand for courage we head back to New Berlin, to see what there is to see. Just like the bear going over the mountain.

Newly designed entry to the Golden Artist Colors main facility. I still have yet to go see the mixing vats! but try to never miss an art exhibit at the big Sam and Adele Golden Gallery housed within. And this was a marvelous show to get back into the swing of things with. We go to look for ideas to apply to our own methods, ways to strengthen the game. Learn from what they have figured out, and Susan Roth was a great teacher for the hour or so I was present for the exhibit's opening reception event.

For more information on the exhibit please visit the SAAG website at

For information on The Golden Foundation for the Arts and their world-class Artist in Residence program visit

And for the latest on the miraculous materials being produced by Golden Artist Colors visit

"St. Jerome's Library", 1987, acrylics on canvas and correctly placed smack-dab in the middle of the Hero Wall to get that immediate reaction. Susan had an instant fan in me at the way her works defy the squared off corners rule which most painters feel obliged to follow. These careen beyond the "square" of focus onto the walls in an organic manner. Confining them to a squared off perimeter wouldn't work. They'd bust the frame apart.

"Amethyst Necklace (V)", 1990. My favorite of the batch, and what looks like it might be cookie dough is a specially blended acrylic Volcanic Pumice Gel ...

I get moonscapes out of it. I get moonscapes out of everything which encourages my brain to concoct something on its own, and savored the encounter.

Trying to demonstrate how much stuff is troweled onto this, yet it's only just the right amount. Any more and it'd be too much, any less it'd be unfinished.

"Two Cities", 1989 with acrylic and fiberglass on canvas.

Enjoying the aluminum architectural struts used to house the energy.

"Don Juan", 1987. The dry, arid plain of Spanish Almeria.

The other "Show-stopper from across the room" ...

39 Steps, 2019, with as much drawing packed into it as a Piranesi prison view. I'm getting 19th century landscape photography out of that upper left corner ...

Susan's surfaces are all about a shifting interplay of texture and line, with one usually overlapping the other, drawing the viewer's eye across the landscape of the canvas' breadth.

"Temptations of the Heart", 1987 and something of a collage with canvas being applied upon the canvas and flavored with the acrylics. For that matter I found Susan's works to be totally cross-discipline in nature without being demonstrative about it: They are both paintings and sculptural, or physical in nature. You occupy space with them as much as you look at them, and they certainly aren't flat.

"John of the Cross", 2017 and another work employing collage technique without saying so.

"Malta", 1989.


Bays and mooring piers.

"Figure of Speech", 1987 and from the name of the show I'd anticipated a gallery of these. Imagine my surprise.

Gotta bolt that thing on in there or else that stuff's going flying across the room. Put an eye out with that heavy canvas duck I bet.

"Pandora's Box", 1987 and I get more cartography out of this. Reminds me of looking at a thermographic map of NYC.

Rivers and channels.

And the hat! "Cezanne's Hat" in fact, 1989. Troweled on slicks of acrylic gone dry into a glossy sheen of rainbow sherbet ... Not sure why dessert foods entered into this but there you go.

Delicious. I want a dish of that to go please.

Susan at left with hands in pockets. We did get to chat for a minute (place was packed) and she confirmed that the works were created & allowed to take shape long before their aluminum sided housings were contracted to contain them. She spoke of the freedom to pursue the forms as the paintings evolved, confirming my suspicion that as squared off regular four-sided polygons they would have forever been unfinished.

"Masters of War", 1996. We need this painting now more than ever. 

Laying a wreath of flowers.

The show must be seen in person to truly experience the magnitude of the ideas the works contain, and runs until Friday March 13 2020, open during the GAC facility's regular business hours. Catch a plant tour as well while you're at it ... I want to see them mixing vats! pumping out that Pumice Gel.

Visit the SAAG website at for gallery details and start planning the trip.

It's the Propeller Barn! On the way back to my Utica NY studio ... A couple years back I had a vision of this barn in flight powered by the giant fans there at center right, cows in space suits and all. Now I want to see it as an artwork. Piloted by Plong! spacemen.