Always Goodbye by Ray Hecht. 88 pages. TWG Press, 2019, paperback, $5.99.
With great insight and humor, Ray Hecht shares his life with the reader in his autobiographical graphic novel, Always Goodbye. This is an ambitious work as Hecht takes stock of his whole life thus far. Hecht sums up his life, year by year, and he’s up to the challenge. He’s definitely an interesting subject: an artist, filmmaker, journalist, and author. What he’s doing here is giving the reader a window into what he’s done all his life: traveling, observing, and creating art. Like the results of a conversation between good friends, this graphic novel provides many gifts.
The theme of the book is found in the title. While traveling can be enlightening and full of adventure, it often comes at a price. And, of course, all travel is not completely voluntary. A lot of the nuts and bolts of travel are not glamorous and bring in a whole lot of issues including the trauma of displacement.
No doubt, Ray Hecht is doing exciting work with comics, both as a creator as well as an instructor. And he certainly has a wonderful track record of prose novels, including South China Morning Blues and The Ghost of Lotus Mountain Brothel. Hecht is an artist down to his bones and I definitely relate to that. Hecht has harnessed a creative drive that’s led to compelling work. Anyone interested in the inner life of an artist will get a lot out of his latest book. If you enjoy a hearty work of autobiography, this will appeal to you. Hecht’s comics have got enough of that quirk factor that earns him a place within that fine tradition of auto-bio comics that includes such luminaries as John Porcellino, Tom Hart, and Lynda Barry.
Always Goodbye is published by TWG Press and available right here.
Over the years, I’ve done a number of process posts where either I just show you my work, or show you how I created it, whether visual or literary or whatever. Being an artist is not just one thing, right? Seems to me a good time to do a bit of a reintroduction here. I’m going to be looking over things I’ve done in the past, sharing new things, and gearing up for a number of new process posts going into the end of this year and into the next. We’re looking at everything. And this is while I’m still working my way to completing some current projects!
This leads me to a quick Top Ten list.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO MOTIVATE YOU TO CREATE ART–or ANYTHING?
A deadline. If there is some kind of deadline, that always gets my attention.
Curiosity that develops into an obsession. You develop a passion! Who knew?
Feeling competitive. Okay, maybe not the best reason but, hey, a bit of gusto never hurt.
Breakthrough. You have figured something out. An epiphany. You are compelled to create!
Drop your inhibitions. You stop putting yourself down and clear away any doubts!
Need to impress. So, you’ve fallen in love and want to impress that someone special. Why not?
Others are looking up to you. What about that special someone in your life who already believes in you?
Courage. Maybe there’s nobody special at the moment to cheer you on but you find courage on your own!
Making up for lost time. Where did the time go? Seriously, where did it go? So, you hop into action.
You discover this feels good! The very act of creating is intoxicating. Now, you’re on your way!
Here I am drawing Grand Central Terminal.
What I’m getting at, for the purposes of this post, is that I want to do my best to get some good solid process features out soon. You know, “How-to” sort of stuff. I am constantly learning new things from various sources. I see a lot of fun and interesting “how-to” books and gurus out there. My conclusion: there’s always room for another person to share their work, tips and insights! I’m just that kind of person. I won’t promise what happens next here but I’ve got a nice track record of following through. Heck, I’ve done more posts right here on this blog than most people I know. So, yeah, I’m good for it. I just gave you a top ten list. Not bad, huh? We’ll do more. That I can promise.
New York Public Library
Anyway, with all that said, I’m thinking a lot of my activity here on this blog and elsewhere could add up to some sort of book that I could share with you that speaks to what I’m doing. It would be an initial step towards what I’m envisioning. It would be the first in a series of books that explores the passion of creating art and storytelling, a nice mix of work, tips, and insights. I’m always learning, always thinking. Also, I should add here that I’m gearing up for a big trip. It is something that has involved a bunch of behind-the-scenes planning with a little help from sponsors and friends. That will be revealed as we progress down this journey. Basically, what I hope will happen is that, at least, a number of successful travel and art blog posts will result. That’s the first step.
Here are some of the photos that I took with pro photographer Abdiel Colberg.
He is a very kind, patient, and thoughtful person. Such a talented artist who was so generous with his knowledge. Here are some photos I took under his guidance. Check out his website right here. And check out the Airbnb course right here.
Be ready to walk around and take some great photos!
You can’t deny someone what they love because love will find a way. So it is with me and drawing. I’ve always loved drawing. I draw very well, if I do say so myself, and I don’t have to make excuses for it, thank you very much. You wouldn’t begrudge a ballerina for dancing very well or a professional singer for singing very well. I think you know what I mean. I think I know my way around words too but that’s another story. It’s not about conceit. No, it’s simply talking about how someone is built. This is what they know.
What I’m getting at is that I took a drawing work shop recently. The photos here of my efforts during the session. The truth is that any artist, no matter how good, can always make good use a creative workout. That’s why life drawing sessions are so popular: most of the people aren’t trying to learn the basics. No, they’re having a creative workout. So, I was beyond pleased to discover this drawing session offered through Airbnb during my stay in New York City.
Wow, you just can’t go wrong and, let me come back to this, your skill level is NOT the important thing. Say, you went to do a yoga session. It’s like that. Everyone moves at their own pace. Funny I should mention yoga as the instructor for this Airbnb experience, Ben Ponté, is both an artist and a yoga instructor. Well, it makes total sense to me.
With all that said, I had a blast. And maybe, at my relatively high skill level, I was tapping deeper into our shared activity than one could expect from a novice. Again, it doesn’t matter. First, I’ve spent a lifetime developing my art. If someone walks in and is trying out something they are new or unfamiliar with, they are simply going to need to take things one step at time.
New York Public Library
Look, I’ve been hitting the gym regularly since the start of this year and it has become very apparent to me that I’m at a beginner level to say the least. I’m more into recovery exercises from years of being a coach potato. Well, maybe not a total coach potato. But, there you go, we all have our stuff to work out.
The moral to this story is pretty straightforward. Be passionate about life and go out there and tackle new things but know your limits. If you have to take small steps, then so be it. Before you know it, you’ll reach a master level. It’s good for the soul and just plain fun to reach a certain skill level. I have my faults but I can always come back to the drawing board in more ways than one. And, at an actual drawing board, I feel right at home.
I found a moral but the big point also is that I sense everyone had a good time under the leadership of our very upbeat and accessible instructor. Yes, I can’t praise Ben’s course more than to state right here that it really got me thinking and got me motivated. I’m telling you, it’s a creative workout–and we all need that. Everyone can lay down a mark and express themselves. That is one of the big secrets, I suppose, to drawing. It’s all about process. The only way you’ll get it is by actually doing it. The same thing with going to a gym: the only way you’ll get results is by actually working out at the gym.
You’ll have to pardon my rambling, if it comes across that way. I just felt like jotting all this down. I’m still in New York City as I write this. And I’m still right in the middle of a thousand and one things related to being in New York City! Ah, the city that never sleeps!
Alright, I had better find a way to wrap up. Well, I highly recommend Airbnb for so many reasons. For the purpose of this post: try out the Airbnb experiences! And, when in New York City, get your Airbnb creative drawing workout from Ben Ponté! Vist Ben right here. Check out his Airbnb session, “Sketch Your Way Around New York” right here.
Oliver’s Upper Bar. Mayflower Park Hotel is gorgeous and charming!
I have much to say and little time. This is true in the big picture and in the current timeframe for all of us, right? Okay, right. Right on! So, let’s do here a recap of this whole 24-hour comics thing that I just did. I want to follow that up with a separate review of the wonderful place I stayed at, Mayflower Park Hotel. Then, full speed ahead with some full-on comics reviews including this year’s Best American Comics. Later on, I’ll have a surprise or two as the month unfolds and son on. Almighty then, first up, a movie that I put together: My 24-Hour Comics Stay: Mayflower Park Hotel in Seattle…
There’s a bunch of comics theory swimming in my head that I want to pour over into select spots such as this post. One thing: Comics are very weird and wonderful and, if you let process take over, you can achieve great things. I see comics in the same light as any serious fine art: there is room for the raw and the ragged, work that comes off as out of place; but, at the end of the day, it is up to the creator to suss out and to be honest. Does this work rise to the level of being “art,” if that is what you are seriously, and sincerely, aiming for? Some hipster sentiment might see things differently. Well, time will tell because sometimes it takes time for certain work to come into focus.
Emily, my sweet main character.
Drawing. Writing. Both are essential for the independent cartoonist who chooses to create a comic alone, as opposed to being part of a team. In the old tradition, the alt-comics creator is a lone wolf. Packing a bunch of lone wolves together can sometimes work but they then become a pack and that has its pluses and minuses. You can also just pack a whole room with people of varying degrees of talent or simply enthusiasm. That can be good. That’s what you usually call a “drink and draw” gathering. If you place it in a formal setting and have one lone wolf as leader, you might call that a workshop. Ultimately, that lone wolf would prefer to be left alone to grapple with word and image. Thus, we come full circle.
It’s important to pace myself, considering the material I want to get through in the days ahead, so I will wrap things up by simply thanking all my readers and just reiterate what I’ve said many times: whatever you do, keep a sense of humor.
Peter Kuper is one of the great cartoonists and any book by him is a treat. In this case, you have a highly creative individual out and about for two years in a most stimulating environment, Mexico, specifically in Oaxaca. What could be better than his sketchbook journal of his two years there? The paperback version of his “Diario de Oaxaca” recently came out from PM Press.
Pages from “Diario de Oaxaca” by Peter Kuper
Kuper follows his heart and stream of thought to deliver page after page of enchanting work. He has a special multi-colored pencil that he uses. The lead in the pencil is made up of various colors. That allows much greater spontaneity as he can instantly shift the pencil to get a different color and then another and so on. He seems to have most fun with creating work that has that look of being on the fly–but can also be a mix of a long day, or night, of contemplation.
The sense of excitement and discovery is palpable. In a similar quick manner, he jots down numerous observations in prose as well. The joie de vivre takes a decidedly sober tone as Kuper finds himself covering a fight between strikers and government troops that left more than 20 people dead, including American journalist Brad Will. The end result is that Kuper manages to capture both the light and the dark of Oaxaca in an extarordinary collection of dispatches.
“Diario de Oaxaca: A Sketchbook Journal of Two Years in Mexico” is a 208-page paperback with full color artwork throughout. For more details, visit PM Press right here.
Book Giveaway: Be sure to visit tomorrow when the Comics Grinder Winter Giveaway kicks off. Among the items that will be available will be a copy of “Diario de Oaxaca.”
Palladian is one of those stylish hotels that attract both the locals and travelers alike. Palladian offers both a world-class restaurant, Shaker + Spear, and bar, Pennyroyal, that will satisfy any taste. Are you looking for a hip and refreshing getaway/staycation? Then this is the place. Are you completely new to Seattle and need a perfect home base close to everything? Then let Palladian serve you.
Pennyroyal at Palladian by Henry Chamberlain
Cheese and Fruit, from Shaker + Spear, and StoneCap Syrah
A very comfy bed!
I’m one of the locals who have fallen in love with Palladian. I decided to delve deeper which led to this full-on hotel review. I was seeking my latest venue for a 24-hour comics-making session. This last weekend, October 7-8, was the annual internationally recognized 24-Hour Comics Day. The above drawing is part of what resulted from my efforts for this year. There will be more about this in future posts. For now, this art is available as a print at Storenvy right here. Now, let me share with you what I enjoyed about my night’s stay at Palladian:
Pennyroyal with Shaker + Spear in the background
Right from the get-go, I was utterly charmed by the staff. And then, once settled into my room, I was so please with the atmosphere and attention to detail. I provide you here with lots of photos and a comprehensive video. And I can only hope that my words will do this fabulous place justice.
Pennyroyal overlooking Moore Theatre
I love being swept up into something that evokes a dream. Go in any direction, and an intoxicating combination of charm, style, and design will work its magic on you. My room truly felt inviting, a wonderful promise that anything is possible from the whimsical pillow honoring Patrick Swayze to the generously-sized flat screen hitched to an artist’s easel.
The Pennyroyal bar
Early on, I enjoyed a delicious cheese and fruit plate fresh from the Shaker and Spear kitchen. Throughout the night, I navigated my way with sips from a bottle of StoneCap Syrah from the renowned Goose Ridge Vineyard in Washington State’s Columbia Valley. And I made two visits to Pennyroyal and, last but not least, a morning visit to Shaker and Spear. For dinner, I had a burger at Pennyroyal with the perfect cocktail, the “So It Goes.” This is a combination of sherry and rum topped off with hibiscus petals.
Dungeness Crab Eggs Benedict
It was the next morning that I was treated to a delightful breakfast. Shaker + Spear’s head chef, Carolynn Spence enjoyed 10 years as executive chef at Hollywood’s legendary Chateau Marmont. She brings bold and inventive quality to everything she does. I was blown away by her take on Stuffed Scotch Olives.
The main entree was the Dungeness Crab Eggs Benedict. One of the patrons admired my diligent note-taking and documenting of my meal. She wondered if I was writing a review. I said that, yes, I was and my instant verdict on the crab was that it tasted, “crazy fresh.” At that moment, I said I would need to work that into my review and so I have.
My rating: 10/10
I think all of Palladian is “crazy fresh!” If you’re traveling, or a local, you won’t need to think twice about a visit. Palladian is located at 2000 2nd Avenue, which is literally just a brief walk away from Seattle’s landmark must-see Pike Place Market. This is one super location. For more details go to Palladian right here.
South Park Block: Theodore Roosevelt guards the Portland Art Museum
One of my favorite strolls is walking down the South Park Blocks in downtown Portland and then making it over to the Portland Art Museum. I was recently in Portland and enjoyed such an outing. This was just prior to the new Andy Warhol show. So, I need to make another trip from Seattle in the near future. That said, I had a wonderful time spending most of my time taking in the permanent collections. Just for fun, here are some observations.
PAM 2016: Cymatic Modular Triangle
I was in a contemplative mood. I found myself focusing on the various juxtapositions of art I came across. There were so many pleasing combinations on view that I could not help documenting some of the most striking ones. So much to see and process. This is just a quick sampling. I also include one of the temporary exhibits that intrigued me, “Sound Beyond the Auditory,” on view until the first of the new year. I’ll say a few words and you can go to the video that showcases a really cool pulsating triangle. This exhibit is made up of experiments in cymatics, the process of making sound visible and tactile. People enjoyed each work on view and were compelled to linger over the Cymatic Modular Triangle. They would stomp, tap, click, whatever sound they could think of, to influence the colorful patterns it responded with. This exhibition was developed in partnership with CymaSpace. For more information on their programs or how to volunteer visit cymaspace.org.
Bourdelle and Monet
Getting back to my study in coupling of art works. In no specific order: we begin with Bourdelle and Monet. The massive yet pensive bust, “Head of a Figure Called Eloquence,” 1917, by Emilie-Antoine Bourdelle, takes in the scene and is a perfect counterbalance to a water lily painting by Monet.
Caro and Oldenberg
Anthony Caro’s quirky “Table Piece XXX,” 1967, fits right in with what looks like a study for a large scale Oldenberg, “Profile Airflow,” 1969.
Rauchenberg and Stella
Rauchenberg shares space with Stella.
Rodin and Monet
Rodin’s exuberance gives way to Monet’s calm.
Smith and Berman
David Smith’s spiky sculpture, “Portrait of Don Quixote,” 1952, wages a battle with Eugene Berman’s expansive “Time and the Monuments,” 1941.
Smith and Berman
Olin Levi Warner’s sculpture rides the ebb and flow of time with the paintings of Edward Lincoln Espey.
“Charrette de boeuf (The Ox Cart),” July, 1884
“The Thatched-Roof Cottages of Jorgus, Auvers-sur-Oise,” June 1890
By far, the most moving combination is of a painting early in Vincent van Gogh’s life coupled with a painting from the month of his suicide. The space between the paintings seems to stand for such a troubled life as Van Gogh’s. One painting seems perhaps serene and studios. The other painting we might read into it resignation. We can sense a mastery, a certainty within uncertainty.
Portland Art Museum
Portland Art Museum is located at 1219 SW Park Avenue. “Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation” runs from October 8, 2016 to January 1, 2017. For more details, visit the PAM website right here.
Portland beckons. Perhaps you are heading out to the Oregon Convention Center or you’re just looking for a centrally-located hotel right next to the Max light rail. Hotel Eastlund is a great place to stay when visiting Portland. I made that discovery during a recent stay. It coincided with the annual 24-Hour Comics Day that I take part in along with countless cartoonists around the world. For me, the location, the atmosphere, and the hospitality all added up very nicely. I was able to easily get around town and rely upon a quiet and comfortable room to settle into a drawing marathon.
Hotel Eastlund in Portland, Oregon
It all began with my arrival at Union Station. I took the train from Seattle. In fact, I read and prepared my review for this year’s Best American Comics during my train trip. I then walked over a few steps to the Max light rail and hopped on. Moments later, I was at the hotel. An upbeat and peppy style welcomes each visitor. The eye follows low-key colors and a pleasing combination of white and orange.
Hotel Eastlund: An Adventure Awaits
Boutique hotels are all about an upbeat and hip environment and Hotel Eastlund definitely met and exceeded my expectations. You feel, as you enter the lobby, with hints of the futuristic and the urban, that anything is possible from your new home away from home. The surroundings are chic and yet practical. There is plenty of comfortable seating and lots of informative brochures. Walk down a bit and you’ll find a roomy business computer station. And past that you’ll find a welcoming and nicely stocked café. There is also a gym and a chic rooftop restaurant. The more you take in, the more you see that this is a boutique hotel with a grand hotel vision and scope.
The Magic of Hotel Eastlund
The room was quite pleasant. I fired up my laptop and set about planning my visit using the hotel’s free Wi-Fi. I looked out the window to observe the Oregon Convention Center and the Max light rail. Just beyond that, at walking distance, I would find a number of shops and restaurants including the Lloyd Center shopping mall. But, first things first, I jumped into the shower to help keep me alert for the long day of sightseeing followed by an extended drawing session. I’d already made a number of sketches but there was more that lay ahead, along with inking what I had started in pencils. And I also managed to fit in going to see Peahces at the Wonder Ballroom. I did not stay late but late enough. Before going out, I did make a quick trip up to the hotel’s rooftop restaurant and bar, Altabira City Tavern. The view is simply stunning. I had a delicious glass of house red wine. My only regret is that I did not stay longer and, with spacious seating and inviting fire pits, it was quite tempting not to leave.
Once back to my room to pursue my night of drawing, I settled in with some coffee. I wanted to tie in the quirky offbeat character of Portland with my own drawing sensibility so I focused on work from my ongoing graphic novel about the science fiction writer George Clayton Johnson. Among his accomplishments, he co-wrote, with William F. Nolan, the landmark sci-fi novel, Logan’s Run. Bill Nolan, by the way, was in Portland to celebrate with the Portland Film Festival, the 40th anniversary of the blockbuster movie, Logan’s Run. So, all that said, I felt like I was right where I needed to be. As daybreak emerged, I flipped on the TV and enjoyed Hotel Eastlund’s Channel 2 which focuses on Northwest filmmakers and storytellers, presented by Lower Boom. Among the programs, “The Benefits of Gusbandry,” starring Brooke Totman and Kurt Conroyd, is totally hilarious. Check out the video for more about my hotel stay and the drawings I did during my visit.
That morning, I was grateful to sit down with a hot breakfast. I could have called room service but I chose to throw on some flip flops and my jogging clothes and make my way down to the hotel café, Citizen Baker. I give the hotel high marks for a lively and upbeat atmosphere throughout my stay. Considering I had a pretty hectic schedule as I set about taking in Portland from various angles as well as being true to my drawing regime, it was most appreciated that I could rely upon Hotel Eastlund’s professionalism and thoughtful hospitality. The hotel is utterly gorgeous. We can sometimes take things for granted. I think Hotel Eastlund makes it all look carefree and easy. Hotel Eastlund is a refreshing and smart new addition to Portland’s Eastside making it a fun and exciting destination in its own right.
Citizen Baker at Hotel Eastlund
Another visit to Hotel Eastlund is on my agenda and the sooner the better. There is simply so much more to enjoy. So, if your next destination is Portland, keep in mind how easy it is to get here from the Westside on the Max light rail, just a brief trip across the Willamette River then you are literally just steps away from the hotel. And, if you have more involved needs, there are five stunning private dining and meeting rooms including the 3,400 square foot Cosmopolitan Grand Ballroom that features floor to ceiling windows and breathtaking views.
Find Hotel Eastlund at 1021 NE Grand Avenue. Their phone number is (503) 235-2100. And visit the Hotel Eastlund website right here.
You can steam bend pieces of alder wood to create beautiful and haunting images. The artist team of Joey Kirkpatrick and Flora C. Mace offer various compelling examples such as enigmatic birds. Their outline frames are positioned so the light casts intriguing double shadows. They beg you to ask endless existential questions. We were so lucky to view them and a wide assortment of other artworks reviewing the careers of Kirkpatrick and Mace. This show is on display through September 6, 2016 at Tacoma’s Museum of Glass.
Birds formed out of Alder Wood
“Joey Kirkpatrick and Flora C. Mace: Every Soil Bears Not Everything” exemplifies what the Museum of Glass is all about. Kirkpatrick and Mace met as students at the Pilchuck Glass School in 1979, at the height of the studio glass movement, and have been creating compelling work ever since. Known for their oversized fruit and vegetable glass sculptures, examples of these begin the show. We then move on to works utilizing various unconventional, or understated, materials such as alder wood.
Oversized Fruit Sculpture by Kirkpatrick and Mace
There is an overall calming and introspective nature to this show. I don’t know that being calm is as essential a prerequisite for an artist as making daring use of unusual materials. I will say that, while glass can certainly be shattered, and we can definitely get cut by glass, the overwhelming quality of glass, the quality we seem to seek out the most in glass art, has to do with states of serenity and quiet contemplation.
Kirkpatrick and Mace consistently invite us to enter a meditative state. Whatever the medium, each piece seems to raise more questions than provide answers. Or perhaps the overriding answer is that we can only see so much. Nature will only reveal itself so much. We are left to understand as best we can. And, through art, we can attempt to express our limits.
The limits of our means to process nature.
The limits of our means of expression.
The Museum of Glass is located at 1801 Dock St., in the heart of Tacoma’s Museum District. For more information, visit the website right here.