Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lee Post

One of the highlights of the Anchorage trip was a chance to finally meet one of my favorite artists in Alaska, and also as a bonus, check out one of his shows. Cartoonist Lee Post grew up in Palmer and now lives with his family in Anchorage where he draws illustrations and works on books and other freelance projects. The exhibit, "A Study in Curious Portraiture," was in a newer restaurant called Urban Greens (where incidentally I had one of the best sammiches of my entire life), and it featured a series of caricatured portraits. While the pieces were interesting - definitely curious - enough on an individual level, collectively the work had a simultaneously intimate appeal and a underlying weirdness: like a reunion with a forgotten branch of the family tree that nobody ever talks about. The Anchorage Daily News review of the show noted:
For "Curious" portraiture, he dug into his trove of old photographs -- some of family members, some acquired at antique stores. The original idea was to illustrate the pictures in an exaggerated, but fairly straightforward way, sort of an "alternative family history."
Lee uses pen & ink first on his pieces, then scans them and finishes up in Photoshop: "I use Copic Multiliner SPS, in brush, .03, .05, .07, and the trusty Sharpies in a pinch. I really like the changeable tips and refillable ink cartridge. I had been using Faber-Castell Pitt artists pens, but the brushes would wear out before the pen, which just got annoying. I actually keep two of the bush models, one with an old tip and the other with a sharp one, which works brilliantly."
And despite his being colorblind, I love his palette: the colors used in his work add a subtle depth to what I've grown accustomed to seeing in black and white over the years. This content is a shift away from his weekly cartoon feature, which he really didn't get enough of an economic return on his investment of time out of. It was a matter of serendipitous timing that coincided with the close of his feature and this new direction into gallery pieces.

Nice to see an alternative venue match the artist's work: contrasted against the glut of tourist-traps and other galleries scattered about downtown, this was in many ways a literal breathing space, aesthetically and gustatorially. Yet again I was reminded of the range of opportunities artists can take advantage of while trying to establish a presence and maintain visibility with the public: rather than vying for limited space in traditional outlets, exposure through creative exhibitions like this one will in the long run attract a significantly more diverse audience and also appeal to a different market. Clean, well-lit (unlike my photos) and staffed with friendly folks added up to an enjoyable experience - a perfect pairing.

Lee also maintains a good, active web-presence with a couple of blogs: Your Square Life and also Illustration Alaska, and profiles on both Facebook & MySpace. From these sites one can contact him for commissions, purchase miscellaneous goods like tshirts of his designs, stay abreast of current + upcoming events, news about Lee and also gain some insight about his process.

An absolutely outstanding addition to my personal comics library was scored over a signed copy of Lee's book "The Very Best of Your Square Life" that was published by Expanding Press last year. This features a select collection of the work published between 2001-2007 in the Anchorage Press. While he's now done several other titles, including a couple children's books and a puzzle book, this compilation is an excellent representation of the 300 panels he put out for the newspaper. I bought my copy at the amazing Title Wave Books, Alaska's biggest independent bookseller - well worth an afternoon visit if one is ever in Anchorage.

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