PI&S features Rudy Hall.

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PI&S welcomes Logan Square-based illustrator/painter Rudy Hall to the exhibition walls of the Flatiron for the month of November. Rudy is a graduate of SCAD Atlanta (the sequential arts school sometimes called the “Harvard of comics”), and while he demonstrates great flexibility in his drawing chops as an illustrator-for-hire, his own signature style comes through in his paintings and portraits.

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His compositions have an illuminated quality that fuse graffiti motifs with distinct nods to the cyber-punk aesthetic.  Totem objects float in space around his stoic portrait subjects’ deftly painted faces, and his work bristles with implied movement. Prints for sale at PI&S and for more images, please visit his website.



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Every October, artists all over the world take on the Inktober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month.  I followed Jake Parker’s Inktober prompts for each day’s drawing, although I sometimes stretched the interpretation a little.

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A sampling of my Inktober drawings:


..and here’s the other 22.

Thirty-one drawings, thirty-one days!

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Drawings will be on display at Pen, Ink & Song during The Flatiron Arts Building’s Fall Arts Festival/Open Studios Nov. 3-5th at 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave. from 7pm to midnight!

The Art of the Heal.

97-Canon-DSC_4672.jpgI threw up a few times the morning of November 9th. 9/11 was a shock, but 11/9 was nauseating. I am deeply connected to multiple communities that are in real danger from the looming Drumpf catastrophe, but I was shocked by how visceral my response was.


Just a day before, I had renegade installed my Trump sign-redacting sculpture #towerchicago on the Chicago river front, across from Trump Tower, complete with red carper from which to take the perfect photo of Adrian Smith’s gleaming skyscraper…one without Trump’s name on it.


I thought the sculpture would be a part of a celebration, not a bitter protest. I felt sick, and didn’t even want to go see the piece again. The urge to run was strong as well. I hold dual citizenship with the US and the EU, but it is though Latvia, a tiny, former Eastern Bloc country that relies on its NATO membership to thwart the constant threat of Putin’s Russia next door. Did we really keep an endangered language and culture alive for half a Century, only to have a reality TV-show host sell free Europe to his ex-KBG sugar daddy?

The thought of Russian troops returning to the Baltics made me physically ill for days.

So I started painting. Unlike pen-and-ink work, which is meticulous and unforgiving, I find painting to be more therapeutic; political art catharsis. Perhaps the most terrifying part of the whole election nightmare was seeing how clear it was that Trump himself was caught completely off-guard by the upset. It reminded me of Goya’s haunting Saturn Devouring his Children (1820) painted while the artist was ill, confined to his home, and disillusioned with the Spanish government.


Saturn seems surprised and horrified by what he is doing…but he continues. I couldn’t get this image out of my mind, so I adapted it to suit the current situation:



In American political cartooning, the trope of “raping Lady Liberty” has long been used to sow xenophobic fear. But since Trump himself has admitted to a long history of sexual assault against women, it seemed quite appropriate to show her disrobed. I finished the painting in three days (using acrylic paints) and then coated it with a lacquer to give it that classic oil painting look.


I also made a poster version that was a kind of veiled shout-out to this Nation cover from 16 years ago, where Brian Stauffer depicted George W. Bush as Alfred E. Neumann, before the result of the 2000 election had been decided.

Damn, do I miss the Twentieth Century.

I even find myself missing the previous decade. Looking back on my political art from the last ten years, much of it seems suddenly outdated. Remember when Sarah Palin finding herself a heartbeat away from the nuclear codes was about the scariest thing we could imagine?

Or  how about Vladimir Putin besting George W. Bush in a battle of the wits?


While 9/11 was a complete shock to most of us, 11/9 seemed more like the prognosis of a cancer we had suspected was growing in our body politic. For years, the Right had whipped up a bigoted base with talk of death panels and fake birth certificates. And these lies were predated by a the lie Colon Powell was made to sell; the threat of WMD in Iraq. Without bending to accommodate and normalize THAT giant lie, the incredible sacrifice made there makes no sense.


So just out of decency to our dead, we had to normalize that lie to some extent. This cancer of lying has been growing for some time. We just didn’t know it. If you know you’re sick,you can do something about it.

And if you know you’re dying (and you’re David Bowie) you can orchestrate the most dramatic album release in music history.

2016 started thusly:


Bowie’s twisted, agonized figure from in the video for Lazarus was my inspiration for a mash-up of Kafka’s Metamorphosis with the national tragedy of white nationalist Steve Bannon playing alt-right Rasputin to a trust-fund sociopath. What had we become?



I call the four-foot wide painting “Uncle Samsa.” Once again painted with urgency in acrylics, then coated with an oil-based lacquer.  I used an “interference” blue-green hue to give the roach elements a sickly iridescent sheen. Sort of need to get this thing out of my studio. (Saturn sold, miraculously.)

The real reason I made the paintings was to deal with my own personal trauma following the election. Without forgetting it.  It’s important to remember. Just as we must remember the good will directed towards us by the nations of the world following 9/11 to truly appreciate the squandering of that good will by Bush and his lying cabal, we need to refuse to normalize the disease of Trump if we have any chance of cutting the cancer out.

The situation in which we find ourselves is not normal.  Trump campaigned on a series of alarmist lies, essentially claiming that the country was dying, despite unemployment rates lower than Romney promised, gas that was dollars cheaper per gallon than it was under Bush, and an economy that had almost recovered from a perennial Republican war-recession.

And now we are sick. Billionaires and Bigots are in charge, and they promise to privatize, corrupt, steal, and strip down this great nation for parts.

Now more than ever, truth is medicine.

Audioreolae Becomes an Audio Relay: Looping People, Cities and Sounds from Eastern Europe to The Western U.S. Summer 2016.

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The player stands between the Hypotenuses of two Pythagorean triangles, under an arch containing speakers. The loop creator is immersed in the sound of her loops, from above and below.  The participant’s figure is framed in a circular opening, a reference both to the circular nature of the audio loop, and to the etymology of the words “areola” (diminutive form of the Greek word for “open space”), aureole (the traditional “halo” of light around sacred figures in Medieval art) and the literal “audio relay” that is being created as the user completes the audio/visual circuit.

In 2010 I brought an interactive, musical sculpture to the Burning Man Festival called “Audioreolae” that allowed participants to experience live looping. Two “Golden” Pythagorean 3/4/5 triangles create the base for a twisted arch containing speakers. Audioreolae uses collaborative looping as a vehicle to question dichotomies such as performer/observer; front/back; now/then; beginning/end.

Over the course of 2010-2012 I installed the piece in various festivals, parks, Burning Man again, and the way people used the piece evolved…

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Audioreolae is more of a phone booth than a stage, and eventually I started leaving the last loop open for the next person to augment. Capturing authentic moments of collaborative looping works because the person or persons creating Loops are isolated from the spectators around them, but plugged into the messages left by the previous user.


The audio environment is quadsound tilted from horizontal to vertical array, and paired with ping-pong delays form “random surround sound.”  A tight sweetspot is cast at the intersection of a four channel arrangement of the speakers to create what I like to call a TAAZ:  a Temporary Autonomous Audio Zone. When one is standing inside of it, it is very loud, but also almost inaudible from the perspective of bystanders.

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This year I rebuilt the looper to collapse into itself, creating a battery-powered, 20kg package that could fly with me across Europe. In this “audio-relay,” the last loop is played first at the next site, connecting the recording sessions across both time and space.

The first activation took place at the Latvian Burn, DeJa, where from June 23-26 the sculpture stood in a field of knee-high hemp. I recorded Latvian and Lithuanian chants, as well as Ukrainian folk songs in multiple harmony looping, laughter, stories, etc.

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Next we crossed the border into Lithuania and deployed Audioreolae on the evening of June 27th in a Mescal bar in Vilnius called “Yucatan.” My crew and I were invited by our new friend Kamile, who spins as Nataraja-the cosmic dancer.  We were pickin’ up what she was puttin’ down in the DJ booth back at DeJa, so her friend opened up his bar to do a kind of improvised decompression event. He served us flights of cactahol ’til early in the morning, while Burners from the mighty Birds of Lithuania crew recorded messages for Playa.

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From there it travelled back to downtown Riga, Latvia, where on June 30th I activated it across from the statue of the mythic Latvian poet Rainis, on Esplanade park. Passers-by took a moment to say a few words to the great scribe, and others played the guitar mixed in with the voices of the plaza.

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“Ciau, Raini…”

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Cloffy serenades the poet.

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I’ve known musician/chef/Jedi Austris Silins for over Twenty years, since before Latvia was on the Euro, in NATO or had seen its first brand ambassadors. There’s a lot going on in this picture, and I can’t help but wonder what Rainis would’ve thought of it all…. ‪#‎audioreolaeurope‬‪#‎audiorelay‬ ‪#‎looping‬ ‪#‎soundsculpture‬ ‪#‎interactiveart‬ ‪#‎inwardsoundprojection‬‪#‎Riga‬ ‪#‎Rainis‬ ‪#‎esplanade‬

This was the first activation in a public park, and I didn’t get hassled at all by anyone. half a dozen folks including a few from the Baltic Burn stopped by and once again the sculpture was a decompression zone.

I left the capitol and drove East, to Cesis, where I had some art handing business to attend to at the Global Center for Latvian Art.  I camped at the base of a ski-lift across the river from the Gauja National Park, using the looper’s case as my table as I cooked dinner over a campfire.

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In the morning I swam in the Gauja river and then drove into town and later assembled a small crew to activate the looper.

We renegaded the triangle box past security into the “Lampa” conversation festival in Cesis castle park, Latvia, on July 2nd. Just as security was distracted by the political roast going down on the mainstage, I walked the Pythago case past them and just started setting up. Better to ask forgiveness than permission. Look busy. Capture sound. Repeat.

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The next stop was Nowhere, a European regional Burn held deep in the desert of Spain. Despite not being officially placed or on the map of the event, the Kunsthaus crew gave me excellent placement and art support and the piece looped dozens of individuals and groups in a variety of languages, from July 7-11th.IMG_5982




The culmination was using a variety of pickups, mics and sensors to attempt looping an unborn baby in the looper. My new friend Astride and her partner let me try -at least- to capture the sound of her baby’s heartbeat.



If we can isolate the heartbeat in the sample (which includes other music, people striking camps, using tools, etc) I’ll try to turn the little person’s bio-rhythms into a banging four-on-the floor beat for a DJ to mutate at Burning Man! On to New York, Chicago and the Big Burn, where the sculpture will have an interface that allows users to trigger the sounds of these places.



Marci Rubin – Microcosm – May 6/Artist Talk May 7, 3pm.

Pen, Ink & Song welcomes sculptor/printmaker/animal rights activist/DJ Marci Rubin for an exhibition of new and existing work called “Microcosm.”


Rubin’s process of direct printmaking on paper with fruit and ink led her to discover a basic, raw, and primary nature of creating work. Working with fruit as a material evoked questions regarding origin of cycles and phases. Utilizing fruit such as limes, grapefruits, tomatoes, apples, bananas or peaches as a material source captures the essence of the fruited body and transforms them into narratives of cellular cycles, phases, or generation. These works are a direct documentation of the lime, grapefruit, tomato, apple, banana, and peach as symbols of the cell.

“Recently my work involving the body has become political. The questions leading me to create these pieces are constituted from my interrogation of concepts such as; what is our body’s direct and indirect relationship to our environment, and how does the media and government have control of/over our bodies?” -Marci Rubin.

Marci holds an BFA from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute and and an MFA from the University of Chicago. Her work was recognized with the “curator’s choice” award at Wicker Park’s legendary Around the Coyote art festival twice, and she was a winner of the Bridgeport Art Center’s 1st Annual Art Exhibition, where she was awarded Best 3D work in show.

We will be open in conjunction with Wicker Park First Fridays from 6PM-10PM May 6th, and then please join us at 3PM, Saturday, May 7th for an informal artist talk with refreshments and music.


19th Chicago Bike Winter Art Show Poster

Co-curators Steven Lane and Stuart Hall once again bring us a beautiful show based on a simple idea: ride your bike all winter. The 19th annual Chicago Bike Winter Art Show returns!CBWAS2016

To me, nothing epitomizes this concept more than flying over one of Chicago’s frozen, grated bridges and looking down to see snowflakes twenty feet below you settling into the icy water of the Chicago river. Based on the Chicago Ave. Bridge. Pen; white and black ink; glass shards; digital effects. Orig. size: 11 x 14″ (2016). Available as a print-to-order.

BwB Winter Ball Poster

bwbposterFINALin 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the gulf coast during the Burning Man festival. A group of Burners heard about the disaster by word of mouth and packed up their party and travelled with their gear down to the disaster site and gave what their could. From this act grew an international aid org. called Burners without Borders. BwB Chicago’s annual winter ball raises thousands to fund micro-grants on the local level. I was honored to design the poster, and in collaboration with mosaic artist Jeff Zelnio was able to give the image an icy, wintery feel by using real crushed glass. Find more of Jeff’s work at his Etsy site.