Over eight years ago, at the completion of The Autumn Etchings, I stopped making etchings. I’d made them for 12 straight years and made over 400 images. I love making them; the ink, the acid, the alchemy of all of it. . .the knowledge that no matter how well you plan, about 20 percent of it is up to the fates. My etchings were well-collected (and thank you for that). They are in all of the major museums and led me to places I never thought I would get.
After The Autumn Etchings, I was tired. I’d made very little one-of-a-kind work during those years and I was more and more curious about combining drawing and collage. I also felt like maybe my tank was empty. I needed a break and made myself the quiet deal that when I had something I felt was new to bring to etching, I’d make more.
I can’t count the times in the last few years while making something particularly graphic, I’d thought to myself, “This would make a remarkable etching.” I began to realize how much I missed it. Last fall, I made a piece with the peerless Teresa James, with whom I’d worked for ten years and we made a lovely five-color piece called, The Spider Music.
A month ago, I picked up the phone and bought an etching press. . .a Takach. the only kind I use. I hired Will Sturgis, a first -rate etching printer and Glenn Hendrick, also a terrific printer, and then Lauren LeVato, a wonderful artist who also does sales and PR and I started Black Shamrock. So I’m hacking up copper like a banshee and I am one happy Mick.
One of the compelling lures back to etching was visiting Tokyo, a little over a year ago. Land of Hokusai, Hiroshige, and all of the other Floating World artists who’ve made such magnificent etchings. Tokyo itself– its odd, other-worldly order and quiet. Ueno Park, a huge sprawling public green with ravens and storks and cicadas. The huge koi ponds with monstrous koi, some as old as 225 years, gliding like luminous ghosts in the brackish water.
Koi are primarily carp with a better paint-job; glorious yellows, oranges, golds, pinks and in some cases, iridescent whites, floating in the ponds like ancient apparitions.
I loved standing there and feeding the koi. At first I gave them “koi food,: which they ate politely enough. The next day I came back with a sack of Big Macs from McDonalds and started tossing them hunks of that and the koi went bat-shit for those. Everytime I came near the water they’d put their mouths up to the surface and make slurping noises with more gusto than Jenna Jameson.
One day, the pond-keeper walked up to me and I thought I’d get in trouble for feeding them McDonalds. I sheepishly said, “I probably shouldn’t be feeding them these burgers.”
He smiled and said, “It’s fine. They eat shit. How much worse could those be?”
I realized feeding those koi and sitting in that park that for the first time in a long time, I was happy. Whatever else was going on in the world around me; it could wait. Taking a moment or two to marvel at the natural world around you was well worth it. The respite re-energized me and it was good.
This is a new five-color etching and it is for sale. The pre-publication price is $1500.00. In 30 days the price will be $1800.00
It is in an edition of 40.