A Map Is a Picture

"Golden Maps: Roadside Treasure," a collection of Justin Marable's prints exhibited via installation work on the walls of Olive Gallery & Art Supply, [opens this Saturday][1] and is [on display through Nov. 29][2]. To preview, Marable was kind enough to share insight into those saturated skies, celebrate the possibilities of his medium, and give us the real dish on the artists' life in the capital city.Art: When you are traveling in Kansas, what scenic qualities will make you stop and photograph it?*Marable: Usually I look for structures and landmarks that visually portray the passing of time. The history of the structure can be observed in the decay of wood in an old farmhouse or the rust of metal on an abandoned vehicle. That aged quality of peeling paint, of things left behind from a different place and time. I am drawn to this sad kind of beauty that is unmoving and stable. These photographs that I take are of places that seem to remain unchanged and untouched by the outside world. Granted these places are very slowly and gradually changing through the natural laws of nature but they contain within a calmness of always being there as a part of my world and home. ![][3]Art: Why do you prefer to work in serigraphy, rather than the other forms of printmaking?*Marable: Serigraphy is a printmaking medium that easily lends itself to the use of photography. Since my work is created from photographs I find this medium to be the best way to portray these scenes. The screen printing ink produces bold and saturated color that aids me in creating skies similar to those in Kansas. When I am cutting precise and delicate paper stencils (to create color separations behind the photographic image), I am able to create crisp and accurate detail. And when I am creating my skies, I can be more expressive and loose. I feel that I am always trying to push the monoprint skies in new directions. I find myself constantly experimenting with color and various techniques of printing. In this show, some of the skies have a more painterly quality, a technique I have been toying with lately. Art: Your exhibit will be prints incorporated into a map painted directly on the gallery walls, thereby making the exhibit itself a temporary installation piece. What inspired this approach?*Marable: I thought it was time to mix it up a little. The Olive was open to the idea of letting me paint the installation on their walls. The prints will follow in order along a mapped route starting in Topeka and ending in my hometown of Robinson. I felt that through a literal visual representation the audience could develop a better understanding of the places and view them as a real part of our local and regional community. ![][4]Art: Your work often features lone, decaying vernacular structures. Although your approach and tone are quite different, I see similarities to David Plowden's photographs from the late 1960s. He has said that he was often motivated by his anger at our disregard for the future. Likewise, your prints seem to speak of an impending doom-is there a broader message here?*Marable: I try to take these mundane structures and landmarks and move them beyond being purely a photograph. Some of my color choices in the skies could be viewed as ominous and somber. I am, as [Plowden] is, concerned with the disregard for our future. I spend much time in a day concerning myself with future environmental and social issues. My art seems to be a way to address these concerns. I try to reimagine the lone, decaying structures captured in my camera and turn them into something in between this world and another. I hope to bring something back to these forgotten small communities. I find myself being disenchanted with the ideas of globalization but I try to speak about history of simpler times witnessed in these towns and landmarks. I feel like I am doing my part of speaking out against globalization and urban migration (although I have not yet realized my dreams of simpler living and life in the country or rural community). When people from these towns and those familiar with these landmarks see my work, they have a renewed sense of pride in their home. It's during these moments that I realize what I am doing is important and that I am not the only one holding onto rural Kansas. Art: What is life like as an artist in Topeka? How is the art community there?Marable: Being an artist in Topeka has been great. My wife and I moved here a over a year ago. We purchased a wonderful home in a unique neighborhood (Kenwood, blocks away from Potwin), and there I have made myself a small print studio in the basement . I spent months creating homemade equipment to make this process possible. I have also worked to furnish a wood shop for my framing. I have had three shows in Topeka and am continually searching for new venues. Those shows have been well received. Washburn University has an excellent new art building and a newly renovated art museum, the Mulvane. Our county library has an amazing gallery space with nationally recognized artwork, the Sabitini Gallery. Topeka has a block-long "arts district" complete with a First Fridays gallery walk. It also has an active theater (Topeka Civic Theater) and people interested in building a stronger art community. When it is lacking, Lawrence is a mere 25 minutes away. I miss the constant feedback of Lawrence's art community, but Topeka has been good to me.[Opening event info][1] (Nov. 4) [Exhibit info][2] (open through Nov. 29) [1]: http://www.lawrence.com/events/2006/nov/04/16880/ [2]: http://www.lawrence.com/events/ongoing/15419/ [3]: http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/art/marable1.jpg [4]: http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/art/marable2.jpg


NotMrRight 16 years, 5 months ago

Art said:

" . . . Your work often features lone, decaying vernacular structures."

I used to be a pen and ink artist. I primarily drew abandoned houses (in the country) that once had been "grand."

When I began drawing these structures I wasn't sure why I did. Thought maybe it was just because I liked how they looked.

Then one day I knew that the abandoned houses were ME.

I realized in that epiphanal moment that I felt my personal structure had fallen into deep disrepair, like the houses, and was irretrievably damaged -- unrepairable.

It's years later now and I feel a bit better. If I were to draw an abandoned house today, somewhere in the picture would be a very small, almost unnoticeable, blade of green grass . . .


Aufbrezeln Eschaton 16 years, 5 months ago

Wow. You know, it's often very humbling, as a blogger, when someone posts a "reply" that's every bit as profound as the blog itself. But it gives me that hope you speak of---hope that not everyone on earth is an idiot asshat who can't string three words together.

leslie 16 years, 5 months ago

NotMrRight: Welcome to the blogs. I think your comment perfectly illustrates how visual arts can serve as a language to something deep that can't necessarily be verbalized. What a sublime event that had to have been; few of us are allowed such personal epiphanies in a lifetime.

Like Misty, I do hope you comment again in the future.

NotMrRight 16 years, 5 months ago

Mitzi and Leslie,


As I read your comments, after studiously avoiding this site since I put up my reaction to Art's comment, tears welled up without my asking for them or giving permission (hate that out of control emotion so much) but I'm glad I came back.

Leslie, when I first discovered that I was a ruined structure, even tho somewhere in me I must have known that, the revelation was NOT a sublime event -- I was devastated -- made me feel worse to realize I was such a shamble. Guess you'd have to know me personally to fully understand why it hurt so much.

Only much later, after I'd had time to think about it, did I realize that, yes, it was a sublime event in the sense that I suddenly understood myself better -- much much better. And as I think both you and Mitizi know, understanding can lead to improvement.


Sometimes just confirmation.

Anyway, I'm more able to keep a gun away from my temple because of it......

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