In this installment of What’s New, we checked in with poet, publisher, author, musician, and pen & ink artist Ted Washington to see what he’s currently working on. In short, a lot! Including an exhibition of his work that opens Saturday, January 14 at Ashton Gallery in San Diego.
Take a few minutes to watch this mini documentary about Ted that first aired on Art Pulse TV, and then check out his Q&A with our executive producer, Barbarella Fokos below.
Credits: Executive Producer, Barbarella Fokos, Director David Fokos; Segment Producer, Jason Page; Segment Director Thierry Denis – Helium Films USA; Cinematographer Thierry Denis; Editor Thierry Denis; Music Good Morning by Pitx, Bye Bye by Pitx
BF: I loved when you said, “Am I still breathing? If I’m still breathing, I’m doing art.” So it’s safe to assume you’re still creating. What have you been working on lately?
TW: I’ve been active on all fronts. My band, Pruitt Igoe, recorded and released another collection, titled “Tag.” This one is, as the usual, different from those that preceded. The music is more approachable and the poetry addressees social and political issues. It’s a little caustic, but fun. Pruitt Igoe will be opening for Adia Victoria at the Casbah on February 21st.
I’ve been reading poetry all over San Diego County, featuring and hitting open mics when time permits. The writing is continuous. I’m performing with a group of San Diego and Los Angeles poets in Victorville on January 15th.
Many people know about my fine art, but not that I used to draw at an animation studio, or that I’m a comic book nerd (4000 books in my collection). It was my introduction to art and writing. I emulated the art from the comics. Some of my favorite artists — Arthur Adams, Bill Watterson, Jeffrey Jones, Michael Golden, this list could go on and on — come from the comics world. With that said, I have been drawing a comic series. Horn Dog is a non-digital comic. Hand-drawn to size and photocopied, folded, and stapled zine style. It’s not available online, and can only be purchased from me when you see me or at various comic conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con, where Puna Press hosts a table. Lotekted is my pseudonym for comics and youtube.
The pen and ink is where my heart lays. I’ve completed the portrait of Karen, who was the model from the filming session for Art Pulse TV, and a few others too. The stipple is constantly in transition because I keep tinkering with the technique.
Which leads to the abstracts completed within the last few months in the Tidal Series. The first three are Tidal Series: Cardiff. Also, I recently completed a commission for a friend in San Jose, it’s an album cover for a project titled “Probe.”
BF: In the mini doc, we didn’t get a chance to talk about Puna Press. Can you tell us more about that?
TW: Puna Press is the publishing company I started in 1995. We celebrated our 20 year anniversary with a performance by the writers we publish at the Whistle Stop earlier this year. The imprint publishes poetry and art with our focus being San Diego talent. Our books incorporate poetry and interpretations by artists. It all started with the book, “More.” I wanted that European aesthetic for my book. I was quickly told that no publisher would make that book because of all the blank pages and the size, the expense of printing the art, and the fact that it’s a poetry book. I understood and decided to do it myself. I quickly went $4,000 in debt, freaked out, and was fortunate to get a job in the animation field to pay off the book. Ten years later and after the art winning some awards and getting in some national exhibitions and learning a lot more about the publishing game, I decided to give it another go with the book, “Less.” This time I sold a limited edition print with the promise of a matching numbered copy of the unpublished book. The edition of 100 prints sold out in six weeks. The book was in the black before it was printed and basically put Puna Press in business. I now have partners and have published several writers and artists. Books by Michael Klam and Edwin Decker are currently in preproduction. We also produce the podcast, Say Something, Anything. I was approached by Kara Goldfarb in 2014 about her interning at Puna Press. I don’t believe in free labor, so I hired her. She was fresh out of Ithaca College and full of new ideas and hungry to do things. Kara edited the books by Adam Greenfield and Anna Zappoli and became the voice of the podcast, interviewing poets and focusing on spoken word.
BF: What are you working on right now?
TW: On the table right now is a portrait of performance artist and dancer Adelaide Marcus, to be followed by Tidal Series: Imperial Beach.
BF: Where can people go to see your work?
TW: I show frequently with West Coast Drawing, and we have a show opening January 14th at Ashton Gallery @ Art on 30th. Then in May, 2017, at the Bonita Museum in a group show.
BF: You spoke about how peaceful the stipple technique is for you. Is this your favorite medium of all time? What are some other mediums you enjoy?
TW: Stipple is my favorite technique. It’s painful sometimes, because I see how prolific other artists are, but at the same time, I could do it without ever showing the results to anyone. I love pencil too, and before I got to the ink I used to paint. Also I love animation, which speaks to my dream project.
BF: What is your dream project?
TW: One day I want to make a film, pen and produce a play. I am the librettist of Scent of Jasmine on Parker Street, an opera that was performed at San Diego State University for the composer Jude Thomas’s master class. It was cool hearing and seeing others with incredible talent perform your vision and words. I want to make an animated film, which I will be working on soon for a collaborative peace with the filmmaker/musician Alexis McAfee. Also, I’ve been cast in Ben Johnson’s and Grant Reinero’s current movie project.
BF: Is there anything else you want to share that I didn’t ask about?
TW: If there is something you want to do, and your belly is full, and your family is well, and you have people willing to help, get after it.