Intoduction to Conversation

Conversation by Brian Stuparyk

“Conversation” is a 6 color silkscreen print on Arches 88 by Brian Stuparyk.


Brian Stuparyk is a silkscreen printmaker whose prints showcase mementos of the individual pursuit of elusive personal happiness. In his work, failure is as important as success. He depicts tokens of life’s little defeats, everyday failures, impossibilities and things that don’t necessarily need to be celebrated. Although great time and care is taken to faithfully reproduce these objects, they remain by their nature disappointing.

Stuparyk on “Conversation”

“I like to talk. Because it lets other people know how I’m feeling.” From: Notes On The State Of Virginia by Drakkar Sauna from the Album drakkansasauna

There are no strangers. This I have learned from having moved roughly every three years of my life and meeting an incalculable amount of people. A member of the general public is receptive to talking (at least for a moment) to almost any other, depending of course on circumstances. The key to this is that the odds of you approaching a total stranger are much greater than those of you being approached by one.

It has been said that while in school Bill Clinton never had any problems picking up any woman he wanted because he was such a good listener. Listening is much easier than the actual talking part of the conversation, yet often one of the parties does not maintain the roughly 50:50 talking-to-listening ratio that balances a one-on-one conversation. Or worse yet, often neither party listens – they just talk.

In Conversation, the two popsicles are, as suggested, conversing. However, they are only talking in vague terms to each other, and only about themselves with their thoughts meeting in the middle of the page. Each is so wholly involved in worrying about their problems, they have neglected everything else that is happening, including the fact that each is slowly melting into a puddle.

Interview with Brian Stuparyk

Brian Stuparyk was interviewed via Skype on November 16, 2007 by Oliver Wise and Eleanor Hanson Wise of The Present Group..


Part 1 where Brian talks about the themes of authenticity and value in his art, a bit about his educational history (or lack there of) in art, and the Call to Entry that kick-started the Failure series: A show put on by Chester Costello entitled, “Something to do with Failure.” We also discuss how the process plays into the creation of his works and how these works interact with a viewer.




Part 2 where we talk about his failure series, failing at failure, and the future: Trying, succeeding, and still failing. We talk about his experience at Cranbrook (“What does it mean to be an artist today? Failure and debt.”), his letter to Eric Fischl, more about “Conversation” as well as what’s brown and sticky.



icon for podpress  Interview with Brian Stuparyk - Part 1 [14:04m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

icon for podpress  Interview with Brian Stuparyk - Part 2 [12:55m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Fellow Feeling by DeWitt Cheng

A few years ago I became aware of resistentialism, that parody version of existentialism propounded by humorist Paul Jennings in 1948, and subsequently explored by Thomas Pynchon, that reveals that inanimate objects have it in for us: “Les choses sont contre nous” — “Things are against us”. The English author Terry Pratchett cites one example: “the tendency of garden hoses, no matter how carefully one coils and stores them, to unloop themselves overnight and tie the bicycle to the lawnmower.” Anyone who has struggled with balky objects knows the poetic and prosaic truth of this. We are all Laocoon (the Trojan priest seized by the serpent) afflicted by the gods.

The animistic notion that objects have a life of their own is the basis of primitive religion, of course, and the magical sense of reality is something all young children know, their rationality-stupefied parents able to share that enchantment only vicariously. It is verified and expressed in art sometimes, as in Chirico’s metaphysical still lifes – with their children’s toys, draftsman’s tools, antique statuary, and even indeterminate objects lingering in deserted Italian piazzas as evening falls. Scientists, too, incline toward viewing life and sentience from a wider, trans-human perspective: the earth is an intricate living organism, just as the “primitives” told us all along.

The humorous, deadpan prints of Brian Stuparyk provoke such wry musings about the interaction between human and other (i.e., ostensibly inanimate) life. His beautifully executed photo-silkscreens depict the unseen, unremarked stuff of daily life —a band-aid, a lottery ticket, a fortune cookie, the umbrella from a tiki bar drink, popsicles- in the bright, shadowless lighting that we recognize from advertising. The colors glow almost preternaturally with incandescent longing; they demand to be consumed, like the foods in Wonderland (“Eat me”, “Drink me”). In these works, however, the objects of desire, though, are affectionately humanized and imperfect: they’re used, they’re remnants – leftovers: a cigarette butt, an empty condom package, an Second Place ribbon, a rejection note, crumbs, puddles.

005stuparyk.jpgThe artist calls these images, which take Pop Art’s love of the commercial vernacular and replace its determined democratic iconoclasm with an amused affection for the invisible artifact as a kind of human surrogate. He looks askance at a hyper-competitive society of self-declared strivers and winners: “In my work, failure is as important as success. My subjects are tokens of life’s little defeats, everyday failures, impossibilities and things that don’t necessarily need to be celebrated.” Each print is a “keepsake of failure, unrequited love or losing struggle.” Given that most of us lose more often than we win, a certain wry humor about oneself seems an eminently reasonable and sensible attitude toward quotidian life with its thousand natural shocks.

Stuparyk studied photography in Canada and printmaking at Cranbrook Academy in Michigan. He has taught in Ohio and Michigan, has exhibited nationally, and is currently Artist in Residence at John Talleur Print Studio in Lawrence, Kansas.





DeWitt Cheng is a San Francisco artist and freelance art writer for Artweek, Art Ltd., and Shotgun-Review-com. He curated “Hybrids” at the Peninsula Museum of Art in 2006 and is co-curator the Meridian Gallery’s 2008 “The Art of Democracy” show. He will be teaching Contemporary Art Theory and Criticism at UC Berkeley Extension, San Francisco, in the spring of 2008.

Handling, Storing, and Framing Your Print


Gently remove your print from the box and separate it from the foam. Use two hands when handling the print, as creases in the paper are hard to remove. You may leave it in the plastic to protect the paper from the oils on your hands. Lay the print down on a smooth surface. Use smooth weights, like books, on the four corners of the piece to flatten. Once it’s mostly flattened, turn the print over and weight it again until flat.


If unframed, it is best to keep it in a cool, dry, dark place on a flat surface in contact with acid free materials.


If you are going to frame the print, here is an explanation of the different elements you’ll encounter.

The Frame:

Made of wood or metal, the frame is the support system for the work of art. The larger the piece, the more substantial the frame should be, since the weight of the glass and other materials are heavier. When going to a custom frame shop, the frame is usually the most expensive part of the process. This is because each frame is built specifically for your artwork, and many of the mouldings are hand-crafted and/or finished. There is no shame, however, in buying and using pre-joined frames, as long as they are strong enough for your size artwork. You can find these in many art supply stores and craft stores, or you can get used frames in thrift stores or antique shops. Another option is to buy a frame with a poster or print already included, like the ones sold at stores such as Target and TJMaxx. Just remove the artwork, use the frame for your new work, and you’ll still save more than getting a custom job. Also, at craft stores like Michael’s you can buy kits with sets of two frame legs, so that you can easily build your own custom sized frame.
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Annotated Links

Failure and Art

A presentation of “video and performance based artwork exploring aspects of failure” put on at Park Projects in March 2007. “Failure Ridiculous Terrible Wonderful” was mounted in conjunction with the book Failure! Experiments in Aesthetic and Social Practices published by the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest Press . On their website (under Journal Press), you can purchase the book or read an introduction written, appropriately, too late for the publication deadline.

The Fable of Failure In Modern Art: An article written by professor Paul Barolsky in the Virginia Quarterly Review . It explores themes of the artist’s sense of self-doubt and anxiety and how it manifests itself in their work.

Cabinet Magazine, Issue 7- Failure: We heart Cabinet Magazine . One of their early issues, Issue Seven is a curated series of essays dealing with the theme of Failure. Scroll to the bottom part of the page and find links to many of the articles

Humor in Art

Eleanor Antin, from Art:21, Season 2, Humor: This episode focuses on different aspects of humor in art through discussions with Charles Atlas, Eleanor Antin, Raymond Pettibon, Elizabeth Murray, and Walton Ford. You can watch much of the episode through lots of little segments on the site, otherwise you can buy the series or check it out of your local library. There is a little introductory bit by Margaret Cho. Art:21, Art in the 21st Century “uses the medium of television to provide an experience of the visual arts that goes far beyond a gallery visit. Fascinating and intimate footage allows the viewer to observe the artists at work, watch their process as they transform inspiration into art, and hear their thoughts as they grapple with the physical and visual challenges of achieving their artistic visions.”

“In Fitchburg a Marriage of Art and Humor”: A Boston Globe article about two Massachusettes artists, sculptor Ellen Wetmore and multi media artist Jeff Warmouth, who don’t hesitate to poke fun at the world around them, including subjects from the art world to lactation.

Lighten Up: Art with a Sense of Humor: The DeCordova Museum put on Lighten Up in 2001. “The 16 artists and artist Safety and You, by Jeff Smithteams in Lighten Up rely on a number of types of overt humor: satire, self-deprecation, visual and verbal puns, black humor, the unexpected, the bawdy, the irreverent, and the ridiculous….By using humor, the artists break down a viewer’s resistance perform an end-run around conscious critical (and often dismissive) faculties, and create a receptive emotional climate for the delivery of impassioned, provocative, or subversive messages.”

Contemporary Printmaking

The London Art Fair website: The “About Prints” section has succinct and clear answers to questions like “What is an original print?”, “Why buy prints?” as well as a quick history of print-making.

Original locate original prints, limited editions, and multiples.

Alan Cristea Gallery: is the largest publisher and distributor of prints in Europe

Damien Hirst’s silkscreen print Sceptic



Links from Dewitt Cheng’s “Fellow Feeling”

Report on Resistentialism by Paul Jennings was originally published in The Spectator in 1948. “Things are against us”

Giorgio de Chirico was an influential pre-Surrealist painter. De Chirico is best known for the paintings he produced between 1909 and 1919, his metaphysical period, which are memorable for the haunted, brooding moods evoked by their images. At the start of this period, his subjects were still cityscapes inspired by the bright daylight of Mediterranean cities, but gradually he turned his attention to studies of cluttered storerooms, sometimes inhabited by mannequin-like hybrid figures.

TPG4 – Discussion

Please use this space to contribute your thoughts and impressions of “Conversation”

You are also welcome to start a discussion relating to the work in any way.

Brian Stuparyk’s Failure Series

We’ve been getting great responses from TPG4. Since a few of our subscribers have mentioned how much they liked the images we included of Brian’s other failure series prints, I’m posting them here for everyone to enjoy.

Sorry, 2007
5 Colour Serigraph on paper (detail)
Paper Size: 28″ x 22″ Image Size: 5 1/2″ x 8″
edition of 10

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Brian up in the news, showing at Art Affair Gallery

Everything’s coming up Brian these days.

Unseen #2, Brian Stuparyk

If anyone’s in Baldwin City, Kansas these days, I’d recommend checking out the Art Affair Gallery at Baker University where there’s a showing of The John Talleur Print Studio residents (Brian’s one of them). And who’s on the postcard you may wonder? ummm…Brian. Here’s a preview of the show in the Baker Orange.

The show runs until March 14th, 2008.
Art Affair Gallery is at the corner of 7th and High St. in downtown Baldwin City

In an article entitled “Strange Fruit”, Frank Tankard from magazine Deadwood edition interviews the members of Fresh Produce, an art collective out of Lawrence, Kansas as they celebrate their first anniversary. Brian’s third in the interviews.

Our first space!

Sure it’s only for one day, but you gotta start somewhere.



We’re starting in Old Oakland. Where?

465 9th street (9th & Broadway), Oakland. September 5th, 2008, 5-10PM. We’ll be showing TPG7 as well as an (almost) two year Present Group Retrospective. Here’s some more info.

posted: August 29, 2008

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