Gates of Hell

Detail of Auguste Rodin's Gates of HellA detail shot of the massive Gates of Hell, by Auguste Rodin, at the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia.


Earth Day Celebration & Open Studio Event

Greene Street Artists' 4th Annual Earth Day Celebration & Open Studios Event is on April 21, 2013

Reinstallation of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais

The reinstallation of Rodin's Burghers of Calais
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InLiquid Benefit v. Thirteen

Last night I attended the 13th annual InLiquid Silent Auction Benefit at the Crane Arts building’s Icebox space. Although with more felt fedoras, bow-ties and ironic mustaches in attendance than was strictly necessary (seriously, it was like a Hipster factory exploded), it was a fun evening hob-nobbing with fellow Philly artists and collectors.

InLiquid Benefit 2013

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Aluminum Casting at Philadelphia Sculpture Gym

Aluminum Casting at Philadelphia Sculpture Gym

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to spend the whole day casting hot molten metal (aluminum) at a workshop I took at Philadelphia Sculpture Gym, with about 8 or 9 other people. That’s me with my hot-out-of-the-mold sculpture of an african mask medallion. I had a blast, and so did all the other sculptors there. Some of them had some prior experience (as I do), and for some this was their very first attempt at sculpture (way to go, public relations-specialist Colleen!) Darla at PSG says they’ll run this course frequently (monthly?), but if you’re the type who’s bothered by working all day in an unheated space in January, you might want to wait for warmer weather.


Burghers of Calais

The Burghers of Calais by A. Rodin

One of the benefits of working right next door to Philadelphia’s Rodin Museum, is that I can take a nice walk through the gardens surrounding the museum at lunch or in the early morning before work. The Rodin Museum has been closed for renovations since September, but it should be opening up again soon. Recently, this cast of Auguste Rodin’s Burghers of Calais appeared on the East Terrace. It was always meant to be sited outside, but previously was on display in the gallery.

Rodin's Burghers of Calais, on a flatbed truckSee the sculpture re-installed several months after this post was written here.


Sculpture by Louise Nevelson at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo © 2012 J. Thomson

Studio Visit: Ellen Benson, Hidden Gems


Ellen Benson's mask-like faces to be used in future projects.

Ellen Benson’s mask-like faces to be used in future projects.

In yesterday’s post, I described my trip to see Randy Dalton’s The Blue Grotto with Steve Berg (from Nichols-Berg Gallery) and encaustic painter and art instructor Clarissa Shanahan, and mixed-media artist Ellen Benson. Before venturing out to West Philadelphia to see Dalton’s art installation, Ellen invited us to see her home and studio in West Mount Airy. This is my record of that visit. Continue reading

Randy Dalton still wants you to “Do Blue”


Randy Dalton's Blue Grotto

Randy Dalton’s Blue Grotto

[Today I was lucky enough to tour the artist home/studios of two creative individuals (Ellen Benson, and Randy Dalton, both of the West Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia), plus an installation known as The Blue Grotto, and several related galleries/installations nearby in West Philadelphia. Because my head is still spinning with sensory overload, I’m going to share my visits with you in several chunks. This first chunk is about Randy Dalton, and his Blue Grotto Installation/Do Blue project.]

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1999 Sketchbook

© 1999 J. Thomson

During my year as artist in residence in Scotland, I was talked into applying for graduate school at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. Because of the timing of my stay in Scotland, I would have to wait another year back in the states before applying to schools, and I wasn’t sure what I would do for that year.

To make a long story short, I was accepted into the MFA program in glass at Tyler, but that meant I had to leave Scotland a month early so I could go home, pack and move to Philadelphia, a city I’d never been to before.

To say my first few months back were a bit of culture shock for me is an understatement. I was reeling. I didn’t know what I wanted to make art about, and I was still trying to get grounded in a routine at my new school. The work load was horrific (15 credits a semester, plus studio work–my glassblowing time slot was 2am – 4am–as well as student teaching/work study). I barely had time to think. And because working in glass is so time consuming, there was hardly time to finish any work for critiques.

It was obvious I was floundering, and one of my professors insisted that I keep a sketchbook, even though I’d stopped doing that years earlier, and didn’t really have time to do it anyway. These are the covers of the sketchbook, and the next few posts will have some drawings from it.

© 1999 J. Thomson