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Hangin’ with Nick Barron

POSTED BY , ON August 30, 2012, Comments Off

What could be so hard about hanging paintings on a wall? More than you think! A huge amount of meticulous work went into installing each and every piece in Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective—all 163 of them. I took some time with Nick Barron, Departmental Specialist in Contemporary Art and 29-year veteran of the museum, to talk about the intricacies of hanging this exhibition, as well as what it’s like to get up close and personal with the masterpieces of our time. And who knows, you might pick up some pointers for your home!

Katie: When you are getting ready for an exhibition of this size, when and how do the works start arriving at the museum?

Nick: You know, meetings begin way before the art is set to arrive to talk about the procedure—when the art is coming, how many trucks are arriving, what’s on each truck. They try to arrange the schedule so that certain works come first or come around the same time so the curator can start working once the art is unloaded, unpacked, and conditioned. You often can’t get going until all the players in a certain gallery have arrived.

I know that [curator] James Rondeau works with a three-dimensional model to lay out exhibitions. But did the model just provide a general idea of where things were going to go or did you see a lot of changes once the art was actually in the space?

The model was very close to what the show actually looks like. But of course, once you get in a room and you put the art there—once you see the art in person—it has a life and energy of its own, which you can’t always tell in the model.  And sometimes it carries over to a whole other room, because when you move something in a doorway, you can then see it in the next gallery. Sometimes it’s visible two or three rooms away, so it’s an evolving process.

When did you begin installing this exhibition?

We had three weeks, 16 working days. And actually, three weeks is really tight. People think that three weeks is a lot of time, but it’s not because you have to take into consideration unloading trucks and moving crates and then moving the art and laying it out. And you haven’t even started hanging yet. So when you have a show of over 160 works, it’s not like you can go quickly through. It went right down to the wire.

And there are always obstacles that we aren’t aware of that need to be fixed. Once we had one of the sculptures here, we saw that the pedestal we built was too low. So another one had to be built right away. Then you have to wait for the paint to dry, so that kind of stops that room. Issues like that generally come up along the way.

What was the first work installed in the exhibition?

Actually the first two works we installed were these two works that we’re standing in front of [see one example above].

The entablatures?

Yes. Since they’re so long (ed. note: 20 feet), we used two electric lifts with a large platform in between, so there was a solid base that the works could rest on. We didn’t want to lift them that high just holding them because the works could torque, which would obviously be really, really bad. We stayed on the lift with the paintings the whole way up.

Like the entablatures, quite a few of the paintings in this exhibition are very large. How did you go about installing them? How many people did it take?

Sometimes the larger paintings are lighter and not as bad as you think. And then sometimes the smaller paintings are actually much harder because of the weight and the thickness of the frame. You can’t grab it well. Then you have to decide if you need equipment to lift it up. Sometimes we use an electric lift with a base on it where we can lift the picture to the height necessary instead of people actually trying. But most of the large ones need 4 people for hanging and measuring.

What sort of tools to you use to ensure that everything is level?

Levels, mostly. But often paintings aren’t exactly square or rectangular because of the stretchers, so it might read as level on one side, but another side shows that it’s higher on the right. You have to go to your eye eventually, but sometimes two or three people will all see it differently. One person will look at it and say it’s a little high on the right and another person will look at it and say no, it’s a little high on the left.

There are some works in here that I’ve battled for a long time. Every time I walk past that room, I feel like it doesn’t look right and I’ll check it with the level and it’s like no, it’s level.  But eventually by the end of it, I have to change it because every time I came, I said that doesn’t look right and that’s what the visitors see. Even though the level said it’s correct, you don’t see it that way. And so I asked other people in the department and they all agreed, yeah, it looks a little high on the left. So we lowered it and it looks fine now, even though it’s not technically level.

How do you know exactly how high to hang something?

The curator will designate a hanging height. And different curators will hang at different heights. In a space like this with such a high ceiling, if you hang the picture low, you see all the space above it. In the European galleries, though, with a lower ceiling, they hang a little lower. Another reason to hang a little higher is that is a lot of these pictures are very large. So if you hang the smaller pictures at a lower center height and then you have a bigger one that climbs the wall really high, the one that’s lower can feel awkward. So the curator picks the center line and almost every picture in the show will hang on that center line. In the Lichtenstein exhibition, it’s 64 inches. So every picture in here is centered on a 64-inch height except for the very, very large paintings or paintings like the Entablatures, which have been positioned up high for other reasons. The larger ones are hung 20 inches off the floor to stay away from the baseboard.

What were some of the most difficult works to install in this exhibition?

The Entablatures were very hard, both because of the height involved as well as their length and the difficulty associated with unpacking them. We had to ensure there was minimal risk of them twisting or bending at any point. And then once you’re dealing with height, it’s always a little bit nerve wracking, but you just make sure you handle everything with great respect and care. These aren’t just some objects. They’re great, great works of art. And if anything ever happened, I don’t know how you would deal with that.

How do you hang pieces if there’s one on top of the other, like in the Landscapes gallery?

Of course, you never hang above another picture. If you had to, you would take the bottom one off, hang the top one, and then hang the bottom one again. Sometimes we’ll even remove pictures off to the side if we need extra room around a painting. Or if we’re creating any vibration in the wall. In fact, we didn’t use any nails in the show. We tried to use all screws and predrilled the holes.

And are they all centered on the walls?

No. It’s funny—usually if you see a painting adjacent to a corner, it looks like it’s centered, but typically it will be a couple inches out of the corner.

What does “out of the corner” mean?

Well, normally you might have a painting on the wall and 20 inches on either side. But if there’s a corner, we’ll take it out a few inches and have 21 or 22 inches on that side and 18 on the other. But you have the illusion that the work is centered.

As an artist it must be exciting for you to come in such close contact with these pieces.

Oh, it’s unbelievable. Unfortunately, Roy Lichtenstein is no longer alive, but here at the museum I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of the greatest artists alive—like Jasper Johns and Ellsworth Kelly—and some of the artists that I think will become the greatest artists alive. Even if they’re not at that status yet, it’s still so great to meet these people and see them interact with their work. That, as an artist, is one of the greatest pleasures of working in the field of contemporary art.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Well, one of the things I really love that I don’t know if a lot of people think about is the sculpture at the front of the show. Placing that was one of the moments when James worked really closely with us. He walked all around the balcony as we moved it around. It’s just one example of James not easing up until he got that sculpture placed exactly where it should be. I love that the brushstroke is pointing you towards the show. See how perfect it looks to have the shape silhouetted against that column? There was really nowhere else that you could get that. Everywhere else the words [on the title wall] ate it up or the dark wall ate it up.

It draws you in.

It tells you that you’re in the right place. A lot of people don’t notice that stuff, but it’s what I love about working with James or working with artists. You see how they think and how they make these decisions. It helps me as an artist actually.

Image Credits:

Roy Lichtenstein. Entblature #8 (detail), 1972. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Private Collection.

Roy Lichtenstein. Galatea (detail), 1990. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Private Collection.

Institute vs. Institvte

POSTED BY , ON April 27, 2012, 5 COMMENTS

Dear Art Institute,

Your graphic on your home page has a typo. You are calling yourself the Art “Institvte” of Chicago. It is a pretty huge error. Just thought you would like to know.

This e-mail echoes the most commonly asked question to my department: did you know that your logo is spelled incorrectly? We always reply to the people who ask, but for all of the people out there who didn’t feel compelled to write us, the answer to that question is a definite “yes.” But because we do understand why there might be confusion, we thought we would set the record straight and give you a little background on our logo.

Our logo was redesigned by Pentagram in 2008. And while it has a modern sensibility and was created in anticipation of the opening of the Modern Wing in 2009, Pentagram was inspired by the facade on the museum’s original building (see above). If you look at the text above the banners, you’ll notice that the museum’s name is spelled with a Latin “V.” This is a nod to the classical architecture of the building, as the uppercase “U” wasn’t introduced until the 16th century. Note that this convention extends not only to the museum, but also to the artists’ names that run across the upper border of the facade. If you look at the architrave of the building the next time you’re here, you’ll notice there’s no “U” in sight!

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Puzzling Heizer

POSTED BY , ON December 16, 2011, Comments Off

If there’s one thing that I learned as a curatorial intern helping with the installation of the exhibition Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964–1977, it is that when tackling a show of this scale and ambition, there are surprises at every turn. This proved to be the case especially for Light Years because several of the works featured in the exhibition have not been shown since their original creation and presentation in the 60s and 70s (as noted by fellow intern Julia here). Pair that with the fact that most of the artworks are not simply individually matted and framed photographs that can be hung on the wall, but rather works with multiple components and complex—at times unusual—installation requirements. The result was a demanding and painstaking installation process that took our team of curators, conservators, and installers over four weeks to complete.

Take, for example, the two works by Michael Heizer in the exhibition, Munich Depression (1969) and Munich Rotary Interior (1969). Installing the former was fairly straightforward (relatively speaking). The nine prints that make up the artwork were pieced together and mounted with tape on white plywood board and covered with glass by the artist. The only complicated part of the installation of the work was its awkward-to-handle length (nearly eight feet!) and weight (easily 50 pounds!). Fortunately, the museum’s expert team of art handlers was able to install it without much of a problem.

Installing Munich Rotary Interior, however, proved to be an entirely different beast. First, the work is enormous. Spanning 28.5 feet long and nearly 6 feet tall, Munich Rotary Interior is, like Munich Depression, made up of nine gelatin silver prints mounted on board. Heizer conceived this monumental version at a later date than Munich Depression, but had never shown it before this exhibition. Because the entire work is a curving panorama when each photograph is properly fitted together, each board is cut slightly different. Some are trapezoids, some are more rectangular, and some have little arms that reach across the photograph they border.

As a result, before the crew could even attempt to install Munich Rotary Interior, the photography department’s conservators had to come up with both an installation plan and a safe hanging mechanism that would take into account the puzzle-like alignment of the various pieces and protect the delicate surface of the overlapping photographs. The solution was first to create a full-scale cardboard maquette of the entire work that was used for placement. Once the precise location of each piece was mapped out and outlined on the wall, we made custom padded hooks to hold each piece securely in place. When the day came to install Munich Rotary Interior in Regenstein Hall, it required about eight sets of hands and the better part of a day to meticulously fit each puzzle piece together. The end result is that Munich Rotary Interior—giant though it is—seems to float on the wall.

Since both of Heizer’s versions hang adjacent to each other, the finished installation is encompassing and extraordinary in its scale. The monumental Munich Rotary Interior and the smaller Munich Depression are visually in dialogue, and to me, the juxtaposition of the two concludes the exhibition with an exclamation point.

—Danica S., Curatorial Intern, Department of Photography

Hanging the Heads

POSTED BY , ON December 12, 2011, 1 COMMENTS

The installation of Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964–1977 (opening tomorrow!) took place over the last four weeks, with a team of museum curators, designers, conservators, technicians, and preparators putting together its many complex components. As a curatorial intern in the Photography department, I had the opportunity to take part in the installation, which was particularly exciting for a number of reasons. The first was that this is not your standard photography exhibition. The works included are so diverse that installation of a single work was not as simple as hanging a framed photograph on a wall. And for some pieces, specific notions about how the work should be installed and what kind of space it should occupy were critical to the artists—many of whom are still alive. Working with curators, conservators, and preparators to understand the ideas, materials, and space that make up a work of Conceptual art often felt like unlocking the layers of meaning and unexpected humor behind each piece.

While the exhibition was organized by the Art Institute, approximately half of the works in this exhibition are international loans, some of which have never been exhibited in the United States. It was fun to watch these pieces arrive from far and wide and then be unpacked for their debut at the Art Institute! One such work, Braco Dimitrijević’s Casual Passers–by I met at 1.15 pm, 4.23 pm, 6.11 pm, in Zagreb, 1971, arrived several weeks ago from Vienna, Austria. The work consists of three photographs of strangers the artist encountered on the street, which have been blown up to monumental size (approximately 12 x 10 ft.). In earlier installations, the images were hung as banners on bus shelters, billboards, and prominent buildings in Zagreb’s Republic (now Jelačić) Square. By monumentalizing the faces of anonymous citizens in the places typically reserved for state leaders, celebrities, or historical figures, Dimitrijević disrupts the ways we perceive and accept visual displays of power. This time, the oversized anonymous portraits are hung in the Reading Room of the exhibition, where their monumental scale fills the walls and dwarfs visitors.

The work arrived rolled, just as banners and billboards would, but they did not come on printed paper. Rather, the images were printed photographically by coating canvas with photographic emulsion. Installing the work involved unrolling and laying out each individual canvas and then mounting it on the wall with the help of ladders, lifts, and the help of up to six preparators. It was a full day’s work, done under the skeptical gaze of one of Dimitrijević’s subjects—a man who to me has an uncanny resemblance to Robert Duvall.

Learning about Dimitrijević’s installations and their various presentations over the years made me think about how its political implications and the physical challenges it presents are key parts of the work. Like all the works in Light Years, Casual Passers–by has more to it than meets the eye. You can learn more about all of the exhibition’s artists and the ideas behind their works in the Reading Room—if you don’t mind being watched!

—Julia D., Curatorial Intern, Photography

Image Credit: Braco Dimitrijevic (Bosnian, born 1948). Casual Passers-by I met at 1:15 pm, 4:23 pm, 6:11 pm, in Zagreb, 1971. Three canvases with gelatin silver emulsion and a gelatin silver print. Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna


Diary of a Press Check

POSTED BY , ON November 11, 2011, 2 COMMENTS

Hello from Altona, Manitoba, Canada (pop. 3,700), where, on behalf of the Art Institute, I am on a press check for the forthcoming exhibition catalogue Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964-1977. We’re printing this catalogue with the fine people at the Friesens Corporation. This is my fourth trip to Altona this year, so it’s becoming a routine: the Chicago-Winnipeg-Altona route, dinners at local hot spot the Pizza Haven, and spending hour upon hour in the customer suite at the printer (printing involves a lot of downtime, but we’ll get to that later).

This’d be a good time to remind everyone that the Art Institute has a very active publishing program. We produce approximately a dozen titles a year—catalogues for special exhibitions organized by Art Institute curators, catalogues highlighting parts of the Art Institute’s permanent collection, guidebooks on collection highlights, smaller titles in continuing series, you name it. We have even recently ventured into the exciting world of postcard books (check ‘em out; send ‘em to your friends. Postcards: like texts but slower.™). Our books print all over the world: Canada, the Chicago suburbs, Rhode Island, China, Italy, Singapore, Germany, Belgium, and elsewhere. Choosing a printer is a complicated process. Budget and schedule are two huge factors, of course. On top of that, different printers have different strengths. For instance, some are better at printing photography, some specialize in unique and complicated bindings, some excel with larger or smaller print runs. We have a stable of printers we trust, so we can always choose the right fit.

Anyway, one of my jobs as the publication department’s Production Coordinator is to supervise the process of actually printing these books—the last big step in a project often many years in the making. I’m now going to briefly describe some technical details of printing a book, so some of you with short attention spans or better things to do might want to click “close tab” now. Bye!

Okay. We print our books using a method called sheetfed offset printing, wherein large sheets of paper go from one end of a printing press to the other (a journey of 30 feet or so). In the process, rollers transfer ink from aluminum plates to the sheet of paper. The plates are prepared beforehand using a process called “computer-to-plate” wherein text and images are digitally etched directly onto the plate. There’s one plate for each color of ink—usually cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. One side of this printed sheet is called a form, and once a sheet is printed on both sides (or “backed up”), it is cut down into pages and folded together. This is called a signature—usually 16 sequential pages. Once you’ve printed every signature, they’re bound together into a final product we call a book. In our case we’re specifically talking about art books, also known as “EXPEDIT Fillers.”

Those are the basics. The essential purpose of being on press with a book is to “okay” each form. You work with the press operator to get the color of the images as close to perfect as possible (particularly important for a museum catalogue) while keeping a close eye out for any other problems that may come up. Such problems include, but are not limited to (you may want to get out your glossary of printing terms here): registration issues, ghosting, flopped images, moiré patterns, inexplicable color shifts, hickeys, plate scratches, checking imposition, and on and on and on. We work with some of the best printers in the world, but it’s impossible to anticipate every last potential problem. With our unique titles, it’s crucial to have someone on press who’s very familiar with the project and the Art Institute’s standards.

Once everything looks good, I initial the sheet, and the press operator prints the full run of the book—i.e., if we’re printing 5,000 books, then, of course, we gotta print 5,000 copies of each form. While those 5,000 sheets of paper are flying through the press, I have time to kill. Printing plants aren’t typically located in extremely exciting areas, so one’s options for sightseeing or hitting the clubs are usually slim. Of course, as I write this, my coworkers are back in Chicago working on other forthcoming books. So, I’m working too: responding to email, reviewing designs, revising schedules, you name it. Things need to keep moving so we’re ready to print the next book.

Once nighttime rolls around, though, no one back home is really too active on email. This is when it’s better to switch to lower-brainpower activities so I can be fresh for the next okay: Youtube; writing wordy blog posts; Facebook stalking; drinking too much coffee; doing my taxes; more Facebook stalking; staring into the middle distance; more Youtube; sorting through my wallet; wait, she’s in a relationship?; not reading the book I brought; coffee; in a relationship with WHO!?; spending too much money at the iTunes store; or that’d be whom, I guess, right?; staring at the dregs of my cold coffee; gaping into the maw of my 30s; eh, forget it man, we weren’t right for each other anyway.

This is usually a good time for the press operator to call me up and let me know there’s a new form to review.

So, how’s it going so far?

Tuesday

11:00 AM: I arrived at 8:30 to find out that the job is delayed a bit—not unusual. I had a snack from the cafeteria and waited. Around 9:30 I looked at the first form and had some concerns about balancing yellow in the midtone and highlight areas of one particularly neutral image. When one image has too much of a color in one area and not enough in another, what do you do, add or subtract? You have to work out a compromise. But this didn’t bode well for the rest of the job. Also at issue was the level of black ink. The press operator was running black ink at an unusually low level to avoid clogging the midtones of one particular image. Unfortunately, this made the black title type look weak and thin.

Now, sometimes you’re able to comfortably make compromises on issues like this. Luckily, in this case, we didn’t have to. Instead we placed an adjustment curve on two of the four plates. The printer will apply these curves to every yellow and black plate they prepare from now on, making (we hope) the rest of the job simpler.

11:40 AM: Just returned from seeing the form with the two adjusted plates. MUCH better. Adjusting a plate curve isn’t always an option, though. It costs money and time (which IS money, as we all know). Friesens knows only to burn plates for one form for us, waiting to plate the rest of the book until the first form has been approved. They know we’re prone to make a final adjustment such as this one before proceeding with the rest of the job.

11:52 AM: Thinking about lunch.

2:23 PM: Still haven’t had lunch, but I’ve okayed another form and took part in a five-person discussion about how to print the dust jacket for the catalogue. The Light Years jacket will print on uncoated paper, which is an interesting alternative to more common coated paper stocks. It has a raw tactility that recalls the aesthetics of the work in the exhibition. The downside is that ink soaks into uncoated paper, robbing the images of vibrancy and impact. Certain presses use UV inks that dry almost instantly before soaking into the paper (see the Art Institute’s 2009 Cy Twombly catalogue) but unfortunately that wasn’t an option here. The background of the cover image is a 100% tint of a Pantone orange that, while beautiful, only makes matters worse—in addition to the problem of the paper, the orange further washes out the black. So, to give our cover image extra depth and shape, we prepared the image file as a duotone: two black plates will take the place of one, counteracting the effect of the uncoated stock and orange PMS.

2:46 PM: Oh, one thing that makes this catalogue extra cool: we’re producing a limited-edition run of around 45 clothbound copies to be sold through the Gagosian Gallery. They will be presented in a matching slipcase box and accompanied by an Ed Ruscha print of one of the works in the exhibition. I just approved the stamping file for the front of the presentation box. This is what they’ll use to create a metal die that will stamp the book’s title in silver foil onto the cloth.

2:50 PM: Received email from AIC blog taskmaster Katie demanding a good post. I’ve never seen the words “or else” capitalized, bolded, and italicized. Cool out with the formatting options, Katie! (Ed. note: I would never!)

2:54 PM: Still no lunch. If I leave now I know another form will come up while I’m gone, and JEEZ do I not want to slow this down. Time’s a-wastin’.

2:55 PM: Tuesday crossword puzzle. Easy.

3:50 PM: Three forms down. Now going to the Pizza Haven, Altona’s main culinary experience. It’s attached to a video store, so maybe I’ll snag Knight & Day on Blu-Ray while I’m there.

6:06 PM: Just approved the fourth form after eating my late lunch. Working my way up Mt. Inbox. Not going to count how many messages are from my real people vs. how many are from The Chicago Cultural Center, Goodreads, NPR, Chainlink, Archeworks, Active Transportation Alliance, President Obama, or one of the other organizations who guilted me into signing up for their e-newsletters.

Wednesday

12:11 AM: Hola, blog. I know it’s been a few hours since I rapped atcha, but we got into a nice groove and I had no problems to describe in glorious detail. We have passed into the next day, which is notable. So let’s see, I’m heading into hour 17 soon, and we’re not yet half done. Wait, whaaaaat.

12:20 AM: This robot has a really cocky strut that I don’t like the looks of one bit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mclbVTIYG8E&feature=youtube_gdata_player

2:27 AM: I thought I’d be coming up with all kinds of zany late night quips by now, but I’m kinda not. So I’ll reel off a few more facts about the Art Institute Publications Department. We’re a muscular band of four editors, a production team of three, and a scrappy business manager named Bryan. Outside the museum, we work with a dazzling cast of freelance editors and designers, printers the world over, prepress houses, authors, translators, indexers, and bakeries. And of course we work with the amazing people in a number of departments within the museum. A handful of our books are designed in-house by our Graphics Department (see the recent Contemporary Drawings from the Irving Stenn Jr. Collection and Jitish Kallat: Public Notice 3). And what would an art book be without photos of the art? Our Imaging Department provides us with a steady stream of incredible and professional art photography.

3:25 AM: Now this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxFWD2UoIZo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

8:31 AM: Ahhhhh the fresh promise of a new day—fresher than my clothes or teeth. I’ve been at the plant for 24 hours now, and I’m working with the third press operator of the project. They work in 12-hour shifts, see. We’re moving along, but more slowly than we hoped. We’ve just started a process I mentioned above: “backing up.” No, not the thing you’ve never done to your hard drive, but something FAR MORE EXCITING. This is when we print on the opposite sides of all the sheets we’ve already printed. Because, y’know, the pages of a book usually have junk on both sides. Wow, who felt it necessary to point THAT out? A GENIUS. LEAVE ME ALONE.

Oh, we printed the cover and it looks great. Printing the cover image as a duotone, a decision we made, you’ll remember, during the last minute tete-a-tete-a-tete-a-tete-a-tete (apparently this was yesterday, but it seems like at least yesterweek or maybe even yesterfortnight), was the correct choice. Once you get your hands on this catalogue (available upon release at the Art Institute Shops, Amazon, and, if you get there before it permanently closes, your local independent bookstore [just kidding; that closed years ago LOLOLOLOL]), take a look at the difference between the black tone on the jacket flaps and the black tone in the cover image. What you see on the flaps is a single hit of a “dense black,” which is actually a build of 100% black and a tint of 40% cyan for extra depth. On a coated sheet, this would be blacker than, like… a coal fight at midnight. Between bats. Bats hurling coal at each other. But, like I was saying, the uncoated paper sucks up the ink and the black we see is more like that coal fight at duskish, like 7 or 8, depending on CST or CDT and how far north you are.

Uggggghhhhh.

So like I was saying, compare that to the black on the cover. “Whoa.”—You, after comparing. The intense look we achieved on the cover is a primo example of how traditional print media will be saved. Everyone in the industry calls this “The Pizzazz Factor.” If we keep turning out books like this, check back at your local independent bookstores soon for their grand reopening.

Printing a cover is often a bigger and/or less predictable challenge from the interior pages because of the variables involved—it’s sometimes, as in this case, a different paper stock, or includes added elements like a laminate or varnish, etc. Compounding those challenges is the total lie of not judging a book by its cover. You know who judges books by their covers? Everyone who has ever bought a book or relies on bookselling for any part of their income!

2:57 PM: Hours later. See that break in the action there? That’s because I was interrupted and I’ve been running around busy ever since. All that downtime I was talking about before sometimes doesn’t happen. If, for instance, the printer puts your job on two presses simultaneously, you might end up going from one press to the other and back again without a break. This can be exhausting but it keeps you moving and excited and engaged.

Thursday

12:06 AM: Still on press. Three forms left to okay. Have not slept in forty hours. What will happen to my brain? I went to tweet something about how I must be Navy SEAL material because I’ve been awake this long and still have my wits about me. But then I stared at my iPad for 30+ seconds literally unable to recall what I had planned to do with it—a plan that had been in my mind just milliseconds prior. Staring. Staring. So maybe I’m not SEAL material. That I even considered this shows that I’m not really at top form right now.

9:42 PM: Okay, quick wrap up here. I finally finished (most of) the press check around 4 AM. I slept. I was back at the plant at 10:30 for one final okay on the special section of the book that prints on uncoated paper. Okay the sheet, jump in the car, fly to Chicago. Done. But that’s not how it happened, of course: the job before mine had problems; mine ran late; mine had a problem; another problem; another problem. All eventually solved, thankfully. So I rebook my flight. On the way to the airport I get a call: flight cancelled. That’s why I’m writing this in a Winnipeg Holiday Inn, set to go home two days after originally planned, and having slept six hours of the past 60. Why? FOR ART.