Welcome to my obsession with Edie Sedgwick. It’s a decades long thing. So, this production of block prints isn’t a “passion project,” at all; it’s an “obsession” project. I feel a strong kinship with her, her personality that is so transparent in every photograph, her heart right there on her sleeve, her bubbly, honest emotions that were impossible to hide. There is a permanently young, electric spark in her eyes that pulls me in. Edie was a little bonkers. Ah, yes, that too appeals; “bonkers” is absolutely something, which I can relate. Some nights I have lain awake thinking about her—just, Presto! She’s in my brain. Perhaps it’s because even in death her magnetism gravitates me closer, as it does for just about anyone in her orbit. Those qualities are worth the many art projects I have dedicated to her, thus far. She said something that relates to my own life: “I’m in love with everyone I’ve ever met in one way or another. I’m just a crazy unhinged disaster of a human being.” She seems one of the few who saw and comprehended the balance between exquisite beauty and the black hole of chaos.
For those not familiar, Edie was born on April 20, 1943, to a family with power and old money. During the 1960’s she was a model, an actress, a socialite who frequented pages of Vogue and other fashion magazines. People adored her. She is perhaps best known for her relationship with Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan. She dated Bob and starred in several of Warhol’s films and was probably the most consistent figure at The Factory parties, Warhol’s zany forever-active production headquarters. You would be tested to find anything written on Edie without hearing a gob about Bob or Andy, which is bullshit because both of them treated her as disposable in the end, which is tragic. She was brilliant, shockingly fabulous and original and didn’t need permission to be exactly who she was. During the late 1960’s, Edie battled drug and mental health issues and later fell out with Warhol, causing her eventual departure from New York and a return to her hometown of Santa Barbara, California, where she sought a fresh start. Love and circumstances intervened; she married and only a few short years later died from a mix of barbiturates and alcohol. She was 28.
This block print project has rumbled in my mind for years. The original sketch was done in Cape Town, South Africa in 2012. I have carried that sketch around the world making improvements here and there, waiting for the right time, the right inspiration to dive in. I planned for years to do this project with linoleum block printing but I wanted to treat linoleum printing like Japanese woodblock printing where each block is carved and becomes one layer and that layer is dedicated to one color, then you add another color with another block, then another color with another block, and so on. The Japanese would carve wood. I used linoleum. For about 4 straight months I embarked on this multiple-color project, which isn’t easy, to say the least being that most linoleum prints are done with a single color. I used 4 linoleum blocks and carved different layers for each color. I intentionally set each block just a millimeter or two off alignment so that it would be near impossible to line up every layer perfectly with the next. I did this because I enjoy the look created when registration, that is, the alignment of the colors, is just barely off. In my long history with printing I have found that when the registration is off it is as if you can see through the printing and into the artwork, into the process it takes to create it. I call that “delightfully off registration.” I did a single print with perfect registration to prove I had the right to break the rules. You can see it with the very first print 1/111.
Oh, and speaking of numbers, you’ll notice another of my obsessions, this with Nikola Tesla’s theory that the universe is built in triangles of 3, 6 and 9. With that in mind, everything in this project has been painstakingly calculated to those numbers. Even the total number 111 is 1+1+1=3. And since I always sneak secret messages into all my endeavors, I’ve also subtly included my ”luckys” of 11 and 29 sporadically within the project. All of the formulas and calculations and re-doing and re-counting and checking several times, was painstakingly difficult, I certainly lost hair over it, but I succeeded. Because of all the colors and all the blocks and all the iterations, this was a messy project and I forced myself to embrace letting the ink fall where it wanted. If you’re interested in the process I have created a short video which you can view HERE. It shows the entire process from start to finish including the final step of burning of the blocks used to make these prints. Now, we know I will never be able to create these again—through fire it has been recycled back into the universe.