Friday, December 27, 2013

Holly Munoz is making a record

My very good friend Holly Munoz is making a record. It's pretty serious. John Vanderslice is producing it, a guy from Iron and Wine is playing cello, etc. Holly is crowdfunding the production and rollout, and if she makes the goal, I get to do her cover art. Some of the rewards for contributors include the original painting I'm doing for the cover as well as the drawings and sketches that happen beforehand (and a bunch of other great stuff). The imagery is in the early turning-it-over-in-my-mind stages, but here's a little painting she commissioned from me last year for a friend. The record cover will be similarly landscape-ish, painted in gouache, but more grand in scale (and not including Hello Kitty).

Holly is the best. She's a great friend who reached out to me when I first moved back to Minneapolis and helped make the move way more friendly. There's a song on the record that was partly inspired by a piece in my book The End, written before we ever met. So doing her cover completes a nice little circle. The record promises to be great. Kick in a few bucks here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

All About the Travels of Louella, Chapter 1

I uncovered this little hand made book in my mother's archives this morning. It's a little book of etchings I made for my little sister in probably 1994 or so, when she was 2 or 3. It's post Two Headed Boy, but pre-Big Questions. Its also a precurser to a more complete and refined book I made for her a few years later.

Just last Saturday I was talking with Jenny Schmid at Santopticlaus about why I'm not a good printmaker. I have little-to-no patience for involved processes and I always change my mind in the middle of printing. This is a good example. I was etching used plates, trying to do aquatint (gave up after the first two images), and just generally making a mess. Also I hadn't quite figured out how to write backwards on the plates, and the typewriter I was using was missing its 'w'. Still, this thing makes me smile. Needless to say "to be continued" didn't turn out to be quite true.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


So yesterday I was putting together a slide reading and talk about book making and some of the various kinds of book and minicomic formats I've messed with over the years. And I realized I have extra copies of some stuff that I can probably do without. Like, why do I need more than one copy of this stuff, right? Today I'm selling stuff at Santopticlaus at Co Exhibition in Minneapolis. And I decided to make the stuff available to the interweb holiday shopper as well. Hi interwebbers. So go here and see what's available. And then buy some stuff. Available NOWHERE ELSE (except a couple issues of BQ are on Amazon, but why would you want to shop there?)

Oh, and did I mention these awesome BATS from Marijpol? I had them in a show at Open Eye Figure Theatre in August for Autoptic and am putting them up at Lula in the Spring. But today they're at Co Exhibition for Santopticlaus. How awesome are they, right? Right!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Project: Astoria

I'm going to be in Chicago in a couple of weeks to help high five Todd Baxter and open his new show at Lula. This is one of the pictures:
Todd has been a friend for twenty years – since we were painting students together at the University of New Mexico. Back then he was doing exquisitely painted scenes with little collage elements cut from books and magazines inserted so seamlessly that you sometimes couldn't tell what was real and what was invented. Sometime after that he got hold of something called Photoshop and now he does the same thing with his own photographs, culled from shoots in Guam, Morocco, the Pacific Northwest, rural Kentucky and the space museum in Washington D.C., among other places, as well as in studio shoots with hired models. I've posted about his work now and then on this blog, occasionally I've been lucky enough to collaborate with him, and we've shown his work several times at Lula. He's one mega-talented s.o.b. (with a similarly talented collaborator in Aubrey Videtto) and we're beyond delighted to show this new body of weird loveliness as it develops over the next few years – this is the first of what are projected to be several semi-annual showcases at Lula. So come get in on the ground floor. More about the Astoria backstory here. And a facebook event page for the opening is here.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Rage of Poseidon 'Originals'

I'm doing a reading from the book – and giving a talk about making books – next Friday at the MCBA in Minneapolis, 7pm. And then again in Chicago at CityLit (with Jessica Hopper) December 15th.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

More Coming Attractions
Thursday is Give to the Max day, an annual fundraising occasion for all sorts of non-profits with Minnesota connections. Autoptic is getting in on the action. Help out here.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Coming Attractions

I've got a few talks and things coming up*. This Tuesday I'll be at St. Olaf College in Northfield Minnesota reading from Rage of Poseidon and discussing a new book I've recently begun.

December 6th I'm doing a reading at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts here in Minneapolis and, apropos of the venue, I'll talk a bit about various short run book and mini-comic projects I've done over the years in weird handmade formats, as well as the aforementioned new project.

Stuff in Chicago, L.A. and at Stanford coming up as well. Details to follow.

Meanwhile, here's a drawing I did recently of Kris Kristofferson for Cinefamily in L.A. (it makes a nice pair with the Dennis Hopper drawing I did for them a few years ago.)

*Anders Nilsen is a fiscal year 2013 recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Frailty Overhead

This Summer I did a collaboration with my friend the novelist and skateboarder  Kyle Beachy (here he is doing a nose manual). He gave me a few short prose pieces, I chose one and did some illustrations for it. It ended up as a four pager, which has just been published in Make Magazine, in Chicago. The format is similar to Rage of Poseidon – one image on a page with text underneath, though the images are more comic-y and complicated, as above. You can get a copy here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Open House Tomorrow Night

This Summer I was asked to do a button installation in the new offices of the National Resources Defense Council. Tuesday night is the open house for the new offices, designed by Studio Gang to be platinum LEED certified and zero emissions, zero waste. It's kind of amazing.

The piece was designed in consultation with NRDC. The Midwest chapter focuses on Great Lakes issues, so almost all the imagery comes from pictures of the Lakes. The overall design is inspired by diagrams of their relative volume and depth (in order of size: Erie, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Superior). On the buttons themselves there are images of people fishing and swimming, images of fish, plants and cities on the shore, sunken wrecks, sailboats, ducks, and driftwood as well as plenty of images of the Lakes' surfaces in all sorts of light and weather.

From the last, Lake Superior, the buttons trail around a corner onto the taller right hand wall (the St Lawrence Seaway, basically) connecting the Lakes to the Atlantic ocean, the wider world and the larger hydrologic and weather cycles that connect them. To the right there is a similar trailing off, upwards into the 'sky' (okay... the ceiling) again to indicate the idea of the circularity of the cycle and that the lakes are in fact fed from the rain, which in turn comes from the wider world. Along with images of the Great Lakes are a few of some other large lakes and bodies of water around the planet, again to just point to the general interconnectedness of all this stuff – the Caspian Sea, Baikal, Victoria, Tanganyika, Titicaca, etc.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Magic and Loss

I just read that Lou Reed died. Which is crazy. There aren't that many artists of his generation whose death would stop me in my tracks. Fewer that I'd be compelled to write something about. But one of his records was a particular touchstone for me. If I was in New York right now I'd probably feel compelled to go to his house and leave flowers. Which sounds ridiculous.

Like any kid, I had phases with lots of artists from my parent's record collections. They all had their moments. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Neil Young, all the usual suspects. Lou Reed was the same generation, but he was different. The music never felt tied to an earlier era. It wasn't old music that I was nevertheless able to relate to; it didn't feel old. It felt like it was mine. It always felt honest and straightforward, even when some of the records didn't quite connect. In high school, along with Transformer and Velvet Underground and Nico I listened to New York over and over. In the nineties when I was in college Set the Twilight Reeling came out and I listened to that on repeat. When the tape wore out I bought the CD (the design of that CD, too – brilliant, with the transparent blue plastic and the yellow ink...).

I still consider that one of the best records about falling in love ever made, which is saying a lot. And the fact that it was about Laurie Andersen only made it that much more awesome. Songs for Drella is one of the best biographies in any medium. It makes you feel like you kind of knew this Andy Warhol person. And I don't even really like Warhol that much as an artist. I still play those songs, twenty five years after the fact. It's truly great music. But that's not why I would go to his house.

Magic and Loss appeared in the early nineties, around the time I was heading to college in New Mexico. I think I got the tape in the mail as part of some sort of "10 tapes for 99¢" deal in an ad in Rolling Stone. The record is about the deaths of two close friends from cancer. The songs are heartbreaking and some of the most inspired music he ever laid down. But I also remember listening to this incredibly raw, intimate record on my walkman as I paced the stacks in the library for my workstudy job, and sort of wondering if it was really meant for me to hear. It felt a little like, as good as it was, maybe he should have kept it to himself. It was just... so... heavy. I listened to it a handful of times and then put it away. For about twelve years.

Since my own book on the same subject came out a few months ago that record has come up more than once in conversations about what it means to tell such an intense, intensely personal story, to bare the rawest moments of one's life in a work of art and make it public. I remember that feeling, and I know there are people that feel the same way about The End. They've told me. On the one hand I understand, now, from my new vantage point, that, at the time, Reed probably just didn't give a shit. That's the music he was making and if people didn't want to deal, fuck 'em. Grief does that to a person even if he's not the great uncle of punk rock. But on the other hand I also know now that it turns out that work like that does have an audience. It may not be 19 year old college students who've never lost anything precious. But others have. They might get it, and be grateful that someone was able to put feelings they didn't know how to wrestle with into words, into music, into pictures. That record got played by me when I was in that place. It did that weird thing that art does. It helped me  actually feel.

I'm sure a thousand blogs will be choosing among his songs to say thanks and goodbye in the next few days, which is as it should be. He wrote better rockers than this one, he wrote great songs that are about loving life, ice cream, how awesome it is to love a girl. For what it's worth, if I was him I'd probably rather be remembered for one of those. But fuck it. Here's one about being sorry that someone who was important to you has to go. Thanks. And goodbye.

Saturday, October 26, 2013