Messy Desk

by Merry-Beth Noble

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

May Projects


My Journal -- Web Debut!
Life in Chicago viewed through a cell phone.

Announcing the debut of my new
on-line project "My Journal."

This image-based journal that begins on
May 29, 2007 was created to present a casual view of my everyday life as an artist in Chicago. Constructed completely from images and video taken on my T-Mobile cellphone, the photo journal is appropriately hosted on the T-Mobile pictures website! I can also credit T-Mobile with the catchy title: "My Journal" -- (which is included on the site free of charge, and can't be changed.)

Different than the Messy Desk, and Travel Journal 2007 weblogs that are more centered on travel, "My Journal" presents a personal view of the ever-changing landscape of the city where I work and live.

Click on different highlighted calendar dates or "most recent entry" to see photos and read journal text. You can also click on the "My Journal" heading and view all the entries in sequence. Also, because the journal is public there's no need to sign in to view the pictures.

Take a browse through the images and entries and feel free to leave your comments by clicking on each image to view a close-up and comment window.

Now it's up to you to decide the answer to the question, "Is it Art?"

IMPORTANT NOTE to Mac users:

Be sure to use Firefox as your browser or images won't appear clearly.
Safari will not work to view My Journal.
(PC users' browsers should work fine to view the images.)

To go directly to My Journal click on the "My Journal" in the links column to the right,
or type in the web address:

Be sure to return periodically to see new images and photos!


Still on view through May 11th 2007

"Big Sky"

This exhibition "pays homage to the sky and all of its proponents."

School of the Art Institute of Chicago
LG Space
37 S. Wabash Ave., #220
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 899-5131

(For more information such as gallery hours and directions,
view the post dated April 7th below.)


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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Gallery Photos, Relationships

"Relationships" at the Jean Albano Gallery in Chicago was a terrific-looking show, and a great theme idea. As an artist who has been invited to participate in several of this gallery's group exhibitions, this was the most interesting one I can remember.

This show of work by contemporary artists, was framed around the theme of relationships. This idea included not only work that had a type of relationship in the content imagery, but the show was also designed to feature work that was created by well-known artist couples who are in a "relationship."

Because most of my new work was being exhibited in Sofia, and Prague at the time, it was a challenge to come up with an interesting solution to the exhibition theme.

I ended up exhibiting two pieces that formerly had no "relationship" to each other whatsoever, (to be honest.) Miraculously when I placed the two pieces together, a print called "Wonder Woman" and a drawing called "Cowboy Capitol"
it was instant magnetic attraction.

[Images: "Wonder Woman" 2006 single color linocut print, Ed. 10, 8" x 6"
and "Cowboy Capitol, 2006 India ink on paper, 8" x 7"]

Even though the two works on paper are created by totally different methods, ink scratchboard vs. blockprinting, the size, tone & content worked somehow. Perhaps it's luck --

or perhaps its LOVE! Whatever the case, these two American heroes were destined to be together.

Organizing a wide variety of artists with an even wider variety of work is not easy, but in this Winter show, Jean Broday and her team Sarah, Lindsey & Emanuel did a dynamite job.

[Image above: features screenprint by Hague Williams]

Many of the participants were couples who both make work, such as Tony Phillips and Judith Raphael or artmaking families like the Wirsums.

The show included some artists who's work I greatly respect such as Margaret Wharton, Jules Fieffer, Gladys Nilsson, Karl Wirsum, and of course Hague Williams. It was great to be in this exhibition with such excellent creative company.

[Image features the work of Karl Wirsum]

Thank you, Jean!


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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Content, Permissions & Contact

Messy Desk, 2006 - 2007
Content & Permissions

Please find below technical details, contact information, and content description for Messy Desk.

Messy Desk
web address:
Copyright 2006, 2007 Merry-Beth Noble
is an informational weblog that discusses art, exhibitions, art-education research, travel and creative projects.

My Journal, address:
Travel Journal 2007:
Paper Chase 2006:
are connected weblog projects by the same author that are found under the conceptual and cyber umbrella of Messy Desk.

Unless otherwise noted or credited, the text on this site is written by:
Merry-Beth Noble, MFA
Artist and Educator
at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago,
and the International Academy of Design & Technology,
Chicago, Illinois, USA
and Author of this site.

All images unless noted otherwise are taken by: Noble.
Noble is also solely responsible for the content of this weblog. Please feel free to contact her for further questions at the Email address listed below. Also feel free to leave comments within each post by clicking on the "comments" button at the end of each entry. Certain objects and artworks on this site may be available for purchase or exhibition loan. Please send an Email with your specific project inquiry and your message will be returned. Press may also contact Noble at the Email address below.

[Image at the right features
handmade ceramic
plate by artist Edith Abeyta]

In the spirit of collaboration, education and communication, Noble welcomes interaction and references made to this site and requests that credit be given to Noble when this content is used. Permission to use images and quotes may be obtained by contacting her at the following Email address:

Merry-Beth Noble

Your support and interest in this weblog is appreciated, and please keep re-visiting this site to see the latest news and updates. Thank you for visiting Messy Desk!

--- Merry-Beth Noble

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

April Projects

"Big Sky" Exhibition

[Image: "Invisible Paper Airplane"
2004, (detail) Acrylic and collage
on paper 20" x 16"]

Opening Reception
Thursday, April 19, 2007

School of the Art Institute of Chicago
LG Space
37 S. Wabash Ave., #220
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 899-5131

This exhibition "pays homage to the sky and all of its proponents."

My humorous attempt at invisibility, a dimensional work on paper, originally inspired by the watercolor paintings of Gladys Nilsson, is included in this group show. Curated by Jennifer Gill, a former Prague Studio Program student, "Big Sky" is an eclectic collection of works that all seem to be ... looking up.

Exhibition runs April 19 - May 11, 2007
gallery hours:
Tues - Fri 12:30 - 5:30PM
(Sat. by appointment)

(Located in the Sharp building of SAIC.
Cross street Monroe, in the Chicago Loop.
Adams stop from CTA Loop trains.)


Play It Ground
exhibition in Los Angeles

Closing Reception

[Image: "Thunder" 2006 (detail)
Acrylic, Prismacolor and
collage on paper 10" x 8"]

I have the fortunate opportunity to be in Los Angeles with fellow artist, Hague Williams to attend the closing reception of "Play It Ground." This diverse group show has a wide variety of work in all types of media. Please join us as we celebrate the exhibition's successful run! Come by for one last opportunity to purchase work, or visit with the artists.

Saturday, April 14th
6PM - 9PM

Don O'Melveny Gallery
5472 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(310) 686-5613
(between Fairfax and La Brea in mid-Wilshire)

(For more information check the previous post from March 18th below.)

Video Animations Screened at DePaul University

[Image: "A Knock at the Door" 2004-2005, video still,
digital video animation]

A small collection of my video animations will be shown at DePaul University as part of the Experimenta 1 Video course this month. "Animated Pages" 2006, "Photo Double" 2005, and the stop-motion battle of a monstrous intruder, "A Knock at the Door" 2004-2005 will be shown by Susan Giles, in this introductory college video class.

[Image: "A Knock at the Door" 2004-2005,
video stills of animated sequence]

I am pleased to have been invited to be a part of Giles' curriculum. In addition, she will present this blog, "Messy Desk" and my on-going virtual book, "Travel Journal 2007" to her students, as examples of new media and traditional forms working together in an artist's practice.

[Image: "Animated Pages" 2006,
video still, digital video animation]

Experimenta 1 Video Course
Department of Art and Art History
DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Susan Giles, Faculty


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Views of Prague, Winter 2007

I returned to Prague this winter to work with SAIC's Prague Studio Program and to attend the Dekadence Symposium at the Obecní Dům.

As faculty of the program, we also presented our work in the concurrent Dekadence themed exhibition, "Dekadence Dance,"

at Academie of Fine Arts, Prague (AVU) in the AVU Gallerie.

The show was well attended with Czech and American students and faculty at the opening,

along with friends, and of course,


[Image: Prague drawing in Mini-Sketchbook, 2006,
Ink and pencil on paper, 2" x 3"]

Besides showing a small book and decadent "Fire Mask,"

I exhibited several series of new drawings and works on paper presented in arrangements,

[Image: "Bohemian Lion" 2007, (detail)
Gold colored pencil on paper with cut-outs,
8" x 6"]

along with video animations I created while working in Prague.

[Video Still, "Photo Double" 2005]

[Astronomical Clock, Prague,
19 January, 2007]

Some notes on the passage of time:

Always a source of inspiration, Prague never gets old to me and is different every time I visit, yet some iconic views of the city are comforting because they seem to never change over the years.

Even though enduring views of the city are reliably the same, why is it that the impulse to snap a photo occurs, even when we already have the photograph?

Why do we take the same picture again?

When do we stop photographing the landmarks? When the landmarks reside in our home town, does the need to photograph them disappear? Are they less special when they are more familiar?

[Pražký hrad (Prague Castle)]

[View from across the Vltava River, 6th January, 2007.
Beginning of trip to Prague.]

[View from across the Vltava River, 20th January, 2007.
End of trip to Prague.]

Besides capturing images, or "taking" a memory of Prague with a photograph, many others have left their mark behind as a memento for others to see instead.

There is contemporary graffiti

and vintage graffiti,
making it clear to anyone who takes the time to read the names and years, that leaving a sign or a personal mark...

is an act that has been going on for centuries, and graffiti is not a new form of avant garde defiance, but a timeless form of expression. In this way, the signature and date is not only the mark of graffiti, but the claim of authorship; the message to the viewer of the future, that says,

"I was here at this time. Remember me."

One can say, as time passes, the object may stay the same, but the meaning changes.

Once a standard issue vehicle, associated with inferior mechanical quality, now the Tribant is a retro-kitsch object of desire.

Prague still has many of these functioning relics of transportation, such as the Tribant automobile, and the ever-popular Autobus.

On this trip we were able to take an autobus trip to the Holocaust memorial site in the walled city of Terezín.

Besides statistics and stories scripted in the wall text of the museum and recited by the guide, the place itself speaks the most powerfully through its silence.

This is because of the evidence that has been left behind.

The residents of the town during WWII still speak to us today through the objects that remain there. Whether a conscious act to bear witness, or an expression of authorship at the moment of creation, the city and prison of Terezín has these remnants that serve as marks of human lives; images, numbers, words, dates, signatures -- graffiti.

These carvings have been left on a stone doorway outside the prison of Terezín.

Are they the signs from a victim, a captor, or a viewer?