Saturday, April 28, 2012

Zoom In Video

Diane Dwyer, director of the Imogen Holloway Gallery in Saugerties asked the artists participating in the gallery's inaugural show to create a short video in which they speak about the work they have featured in the show.  My video is below.  You can check out videos from the other artists on the gallery's video page.  Remember, Zoom In opens on May 4th and will be on view through Memorial Day.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Zoom In opens at the Imogen Holloway Gallery in Saugerties, NY on May 4

I'm excited to be one of the artists included in the inaugural exhibit of the Imogen Holloway Gallery in Saugerties, NY.  The exhibit, Zoom In also features work by April Berger, Kari Gorden, Heather Hutchison, Brian Lynch, Matt Magee, Norm Magnusson, Vincent Pomilio, Bernie Reitemeyer, Harry Roseman, Barb Smith, Joy Taylor, Joshua Vogel, and Douglas Wirls

Zoom In opens on May 4, 2012 with an opening from 6-9 pm and will remain through Memorial Day, May 28th.  The Imogen Holloway Gallery is located at 81 Partition St. in Saugerties, NY.

The exhibit press release is here.

I enjoyed a wonderful visit to my studio last weekend from gallery director Diane Dwyer.   She's got some great ideas for programming events and exhibitions in the gallery and I look forward to how this venture develops.

Of course, I'll be in attendance at the opening...undoubtedly capturing some audio for Dead Hare Radio while I'm there, so come by and say hi.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shallow Storage

from left to right: One White Duck, Betrayal, Estauns Interius, O' Fortuna.

One of my tasks while in Denver recently was to contend with my storage space, which I intended to cut in half.  What is in storage is mostly artworks, my own and that of others that I have acquired, and some books and personal miscellany.
The new smaller storage space did not allow space enough for several larger works.  My solution to this was to take several of these works to my buddy Cole's place.  Cole has an abundance of wall space and a desire to act as ward for these things.
Reflecting on things that we keep and the cost associated with keeping them leads to many questioning of value.  It's an act of luxury to ponder the fate of acquired objects.  But as an artist - one who makes things, it's a constant point of consideration.

Estuans Interius & O' Fortuna, 1997

The works taken over to Cole's place largely date from 1997-1999 and many of them painted after I returned to Denver from living in Miami Beach and Cole and I were roommates.  The prospect of bringing these works into the sunlight for a period of time got me thinking of the possibility of reexamining the paintings to determine whether they're worth paying to store or not.

This opened the door to the idea of a self instigated residency in which I would return to Denver next year, set myself up at Cole's place and rework/work over those pieces that I deem lacking - and make them worth paying to store.

Betrayal, 1997

One White Duck, 1997

Looking at some of these works out in the open again, I find most of them are of their moment and may not warrant a do over.  There are a couple of large works that are still in storage that will come out and will definitely go back under the knife.

Vantage: Longview, 1998

For a period when we were living together, Cole and I hosted a stretch of Saturday "salons".  a group of friends came over every week and we'd record improve jam sessions, play surreal poetry games and create collaborative visual works.  These sessions were immensely fun, creatively provocative and spawned some meaningful artworks for me.
My memory is that for a while these get togethers were fairly sustained.  There's a bit of a utopian veil that that guazes over my view on that period.  It was an expression of pure, fun creative interaction, unburdened by expectations of outcome  (although, knowing my mind as I do, I must have projected some outcome expectations of our activities at the time).

A group of watercolors from 1999-2000 on the left and on the right, an arrangement of Genesis paintings from 2007. 
Three of these works are watercolors from 1999-2000, the lower left work is by another artist.
In a moment of personal awareness, hanging the Genesis paintings near the small watercolors that were already there, I saw a relationship, compositionally and chromatically between these two bodies of work which I had never considered.

Trapt, 1997on the left and on the right, a tagteam collagoration with Yackel, 1998ish,
I'm expecting this residency, lasting 2 to 3 weeks, to happen sometime next year, will be a slight revisitation of that moment.  Interacting with Cole and other collaborators, open endedly producing sound and visuals.  I expect also that the thrust of my activity during this period will be framed with the intention of contending with storage (and the objects within) in a different, studio based way.
I'm thinking of pulling out the artworks of others that have unfortunately been packed away since moving to NY and live with them again, reflect on them, respond to them.  I also plan on placing the items I have in storage into service in the making of new work....allowing them to earn there keep, as it were, beyond dusty mementos.

These Plastic Shoes Carry The Scars From My Life With Pa, 1997
These Plastic Shoes is one of the works directly inspired by these Saturday get togethers.  Inspired, really by a particularly brilliant line of incidental poetry.  It's a multi-part painting, measuring something like 50"x60", the parts of which have been slowly been distributed among folks who have been important to me in my life.  Below are two of the constituent parts.  The remaining parts are sitting in a box in the storage space and they will certainly make their way out during this residency.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The March of Nature

Untitled, 2003, wood, paint, vines and dead antlers
This sculpture from 2003 has been hanging on the wall behind Phyllis Lerud's garage in Denver since I finished it.  I was glad, on this recent trip, to spy it in this condition of nature overcoming it, and augmented by a small rack of antlers pinned between the work and the wall.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Can you un-know this man?

Nancy Switzer, "Can Wall v.6 Violet Fusion",  oil on canvas, 60"x60" ©2009 Nancy Switzer

My reading yesterday, in Lewis Hyde's Trickster Makes This World, both served as a continuation from the previous post and reminding me of an experience of seeing a work that informs the same topic .  While in Denver, I saw a painting by Nancy Switzer that embodies the the best balance between the recognizable and the un- mentioned on the previous post.  I couldn't find an image of the painting online, so I grabbed another from the artist's website which points to this balance, one of her "can wall" works.  For me, the works of her Can Walls are the most compelling because they ride the line of that duality, although in this case, it's to a lesser degree than the painting I'm remembering.   Switzer's work focuses on sundries from the pantry; tin cans, cutlery, fish laid out on a surface.  Her paint application  is thick and generally contours around the forms of she depicts. 
I don't know the name of the painting I saw in that residence outside of Denver, but, like the work seen above, it is large and square.   The square is a nearly all over painting of predominantly grey tone, except for a band of black, perhaps 8" talk along the top of the work.  The division between this blackish band and the rest of the body is a little uneven, making for a slightly irregular - and high - horizon line.  The first analogy that comes to mind is to that of a late grey Rothko, but the field of grey is actually a melange of colors, applied thickly - almost to the degree of a Freud, except less brutally applied.  The overall grey effect is also not alien to Freud's palette, there are dustings of pure hues,  but The swells of paint are applied more conscientiously, flowingly.  Thatched is a word to describe the body of this field, not unlike a Kiefer landscape.  I know it's gauche to describe any work through the similarities it to the works of others...but such are the difficulties of conveying a vivid description.
It's a profound work.  Heavy.  The painting is as arresting as a Rothko is.  It's more captivating and assured in its subtle presence than any other recently produced painting I can remember encountering. 

Unfamiliar with Switzers' subject matter when I first noticed the painting, I was surprised to learn that the work is a representation of a large array of silver utensils on a surface.  Similar in nature to the painting below, the work I'm describing renders the subject far more ambigously.

Nancy Switzer, Long Silver Scatter, oil on canvas. via

The great effect of this work is that once one knows the subject, one can read (roughly, but satisfyingly) what's being represented, but this layer of recognition doesn't detract at all from the process of knowing this piece.  So often the learning what a piece is "about" (or what it "is") affects negatively that process of knowing a work for oneself.  Essentially, never being to unknow what you've learned in order to get back to that primary moment of introduction to a work.  Unlike most work, this work doesn't close that door on your experience.  It has the unique quality of allowing one to pass through that threshold  - in both directions.  It's a shame I can't show you.

In Trickster Makes This World, Hyde happened to offer up a few a passage on the very nature of recognition.  In describing Andre Serrano's Piss Christ, he writes:

Serrano seemed to me to be playing with the old problem of recognition.  How do we see what's really in front of us?  The swineherd meets Odysseus on the beach, but does not know him.  Why can't he see what's there?  How does the mind recognize the real meaning of what the senses offer up?  Conjoining an abstracted Christ and the human body, specifically the body we deny and turn away from, the blood and excreta from which we normally avert the eye, Serrano's image seemed to me to ask what the Roman soldiers asked Peter: "Do you know this man?

It's a real tortoise/hare race between our senses and our mind.  That the two are in competition - or I might say that it's the mind, full of all it's embedded agendas, which is in competition, the senses simply are - makes understandable the misinterpretations and inabilities to see what's in front of us.

In following some rabbit holes in writing this post, I came across this post on the Peripheral Visions blog which mentions the Lawrence Weschler book Everything That Rises: A Book on Convergences, a work I hadn't heard of, but will check out.  Convergence is much of what it's all about.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

In the studio today

I returned home yesterday after several weeks out West.

This morning I experienced an instant of an almost Kandisnky moment  - an instant of non-recognition, of unknowing in which the sensation of seeing is made potent, refreshing and raw - an effect that is gone in an instant once the mind catches up with the eye.   While away, two pieces that I had on view in the lobby of the Beacon Theater in the Jennifer Mackiewicz curated exhibit "Fine Art", returned to the house.  The two pieces, Margin and Pegleg Potato are seen above on the right hand side of the picture.  Angelika placed the paintings on the floor as pictured.  The larger one, Margin, is seen on it's side, rather than in its vertical orientation.   I don't think it really translates through the photo, but that painting has some juice to it  It pops.  And seeing it in this orientation and with the addition of distancing of time held  a wave of exhilaration.   To unknow the known, even for a second.  it's a thrilling free fall.

As if there needed to be any further illustration of how little it takes to thrill me.

Together, the arrangement, the placement, the accident of orientation are a gift.  A humble one, granted.

And to have the proximity between that painting and the work on the left hand side of the photo is an additional happenstance that warms me.  The green and blue checkered form on the left is actually a sheet of latex paint draped over a wooden rod which I left prior to departing to allow the paint to stiffen.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Trix is for all god's chil'ren

My initial response to the reading of the Gospel of Luke for the Who Do You Say That I Am exhibit coming up at Beacon's First Presbyterian Church has focused on the notion of translation and the pressures brought to bear on a text or experience when it is put through the process of interpretation.  More recently, I've been looking at the reading through the lens of another concurrent reading I'm doing for our Art Book Club Lewis Hyde's Trickster Makes This World.  The trickster, the figure, of many forms, that plays a role in so many belief systems around the world, which uniquely moves between the realms of heaven and earth.  The trickster is a connection, a liaison between mortals and immortals.  He's an amoral benefactor to mankind, in many cases breaking decorum and convention and gifting to mankind treats once were only fit for the gods.   
Drawing, 2012
So you have Jesus Christ, the chimeric man/god hybrid that moves twixt the two realms.  What was Jesus but a liaison between the mortal and the eternal, and what was his mission but to disrupt the status quo on the human plane?  So this reading of Jesus as Trickster - I've intuitively been misspelling trickster using an x - undoubtedly the subconscious influence of that rabbit always trying to get himself some of that fruit cereal meant only for kids.  And how appropriate to be mashing up a bunny-based marketing campaign with the trixster lamb that drove so much of the development of Western culture, this being Easter weekend - or as some know it as Zombie Jesus Day.  

Drawing, 2012

A dinner discussion about Easter from last week brought to mind, suddenly, that the story of the resurrection of Christ but a Zombie story?  Certainly not the original zombie story, but an Original Zombie....Jesus Christ; the redemptive O.Z.  This revelation was just that;  I had never framed the view of the New Testemant in this way and it seemed novel and obvious...Of course I should have realized that this thought was not the the first time someone had thought of it......Chad, resident zombie/undead/slasher expert assured me that there indeed are cinematic treatments of this story that exist and which will be coming out.  And in fact, it's possible to see the random O.Z. Jesus-es participating in your local zombie crawl.
And where better to consider the multitude of natures of Jesus' exploits than along I-70 moving through Kansas where He lives among all the other roadside messaging.  I even saw a Luke-specific, anti-abortion (I believe) billboard, featuring an image of baby hands and a reference to Luke 1:41, which reads "And it came to pass, that, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit:"
Jesus' Pimp Hand (after El Greco), 2005
Just today, reviewing old images, I was reminded of two of a series of sketches I did; studies for two sculptures from 2005 inspired by El Greco's depiction of Jesus activating his pimp hand in one of his famous disruptive exploits.
Jesus' Pimp Hand (after El Greco), 2005

Cocked 2005 - 48x20x16" wood, plaster, metal
Pimphand 2005 - 84x48x30" wood, metal, plaster

Sunday, April 08, 2012

This place would be great if only...

Going Hoam, 1993 collage.

Dinner last week with my dear friends Summer and Chad, of the MonkeyAngel clan.  At one point, we were speaking of time, change and their effects on us and our locations, which went more broadly into the topic of  gentrification of places. 
As Chad said, the most sure fired way to make sure that a place will turn hot is to "get us to move out of the area." 
What drives us - just us - folks the likes of me and Summer and Chad, not the majority of folks - to a place and what drives us away?.
I began considering the possibility of taking Lucien Freud's comment on from the previous post and alter its application from the making of paintings to the notion of place-making or home-making.  Make such a substitution, and the statement very nearly sums up my feelings of place, and what the real level of attraction is held by a place when it actually becomes nearer to the place it can be.

Monday, April 02, 2012

A moment of complete happiness.....

Last year saw the end of several significant artists, three of which have had a particular importance for me throughout my development.; Lucian Freud, Helen Frankenthaler and Cy Twombly.

Freud was the first of these three artists that I encountered, and as I've been reviewing old journals and sketchbooks, I found this quote by him which I jotted down in my sketchbook on this day, 20 years ago:

A moment of complete happiness never occurs in the creation of a work of art.  The promise of it is felt in the act of creation but disappears towards the completion of the work.  For it is then that the painter realizes that it is only a picture he is painting.  Until then he had almost dared to hope that the picture might spring to life.  Were it not for this, the perfect painting might be painted, on the completion of which the painter could retire.  It is this great insufficiency that drives him on.  Thus the process of creation becomes necessary to the painter perhaps more than it is in the picture.  The process in fact is habit forming. 

I have a distinct visual memory attached to this quote: the studio of my Painting 1 class with at CSU.  Perhaps I transferred the quote to the sketchbook in that room.  Nevertheless, I have a mind-image of my location and the location of my easel within that room that is specifically tied to these words of Freud. copying this quote into my sketchbook in that studio.   I remember the impact it had on me vividly.  It seemed to be a very true statement.  It's a nugget that had lodged itself deeply within my consciousness.  Even then, in my state of inexperience, this quote lent a glimpse of understanding to what it was that drove the impulse I felt to engage in this activity.  Inexperienced though I was, I felt something of the dissatisfaction and futility that are endemic to parts of that cycle of creative beginnings and completions.
When I finally started traveling and seeing Freud's work in person,  I remember being amazed at the level of "accuracy" he could attain with such thickly knotted knarls of paint.  I remember, in particular, a large portrait of, I believe, three men.  Perhaps a father and his sons.  The father sitting in a chair, his hands gripping the chair's armrests.  It was the knuckles of this man that drew me in completely.  Physical and real. Real in their presence and real in the obsession they inspired in the artist.  The dimensionality and physicality of a Freudian paint surface is not something I've carried in my own work (my cheap nature has long made me an inveterate miserly doler-outer of paint.)

Freud's death came two weeks after Twombly's.  I was so intently focused on Twombly (as I spent a week creating a Dead Hare Radio episode dedicated to him) that Freud's passing ... passed - with only a small amount of consideration, comparatively.  I think I had forgotten how much he was in my consciousness those many years back.  It's true that my sensibilities transferred from him to Frankenthaler to Twombly and I ceased thinking about him so much but finding the quote above once again has allowed me to do that.

I remember having a thought at the MoMA exhibit The Painter's Etchings held in 2007-2008 (I thought it was much more recent), I just don't remember what the thought was.  I wish I did remember.

One of: 12 Portraits of Lucien Freud Seated on Bed, London by Walker Evans, Walker Evans Archive, 1994 
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The photo above is a particularly great one of Freud - one of 12 - taken in the 1950's by Walker Evans.  The Met Museum's website has all 12 image for your viewing pleasure.   He looks like a handsome Lyle Lovett in these photos....not that Lyle isn't a handsome man himself.