Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Do the World a Favor, Give a Curator a Cigarette

On a Merrily inebriated evening in Geneva last December, a turn of phrase infused with the drunken spirit that anything can be a good idea blossomed into a project which in turn grew into a clinging vine that required a year's worth of attention.
Sitting outside Livresse on a chilly chilly evening, accompanying Hadrien Dussoix and Yoko Malbos as they enjoyed a smoke, we spoke of the changing tide of cigarette smoking's level of acceptance in European culture.  Following American's lead, smoker's throughout Euroland have been turned out from restaurants and bars onto the street.  That conversation merged with talk of curators and some of Hadrien's tribulations with curators...and the perennial phenomenon I've witnessed of classes of curatorial students who, as a demographic seem to be bucking the sense that cigarette smoking is a diminishing habit.  I've come to view smoking in this instance as a career aid, as connections and comradeship are formed while huddled outdoors in all weather, 5-10 minutes at a time.  I uttered the phrase "Do the world a favor, give a curator a cigarette" and we all just cracked up.  Let me reiterate that we were well toasted.  Talk turned to making this phrase a ritualistic base on which a year's work could be founded.
I'm not sure how far Hadrien got with his effort, but I managed to lay the phrase down on paper every day...or nearly so, catching up on the days I couldn't be bothered with at the time.

The parameters of this project were thus:  For every day of 2013, we would draw/paint the aforementioned sentence on A4 paper.  That's it.

Now that 2013 is over, and I actually have 365 of these things to show, I'll spend 2014 posting one of these pieces here on the blog every day.  All of these posts will be gathered under the tag, Do the World a Favor Give a Curator a Cigarette.

I've enjoyed digging into the various ways the sentence be read, lovingly and maliciously.  I think it's also a swipe at the mal-adoption (misappropriation) of the mantle of curator by cultural hoarders these days.

Seeing how "drawing" the same phrase over and over can get a bit tedious, and that A4 paper isn't a commonly used paper size here, I thought I'd make the process more interesting for me by making A4 paper out of whatever I had around the studio.  I ended up cutting down or collaging material with various imagery which would interact with the text....so that's what you'll see.

By the way, if you've given a listen to the Dia:Beacon episode of the Dead Hare Radio Hour, you've heard Hadrien and Yoko's charming duet among the contributions on that project.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Oh Christmas Thing 2013

After last year's hiatus, the Christmas Thing is back again in 2013.  As usual, it's a humble affair which entails some found elements, an unresolved sculpture and some xmas lights.
The two lighted components join Angelika's previously installed sculpture of a fragmented and skewered angel (photo just above, lower left of center; a detail from 2012 below) in covering a bit more iconographic turf for this holiday.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

This week in Crotch

It's been a week of weather influencing the venue of Crotch and Matt Kinney's installation. Here are a few snapshots.
Frosted on Tuesday.
Covered on Sunday.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

leaves 4 dead

leaves 4 dead

killing at least four people

four feared dead

4 killed

killing four people

Killing 4

killing four passengers

four people were killed

deaths reported

there were four deaths

4 Dead

4 dead

Four people died 

4 dead

4 dead

killing at least four passengers

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Modelling Behavior: the opening of Crotch

When one has something to do in their mind, in art, you have to do it. If you're not an artist, you just don't have to do all of this. And if you can't sleep under your truck, you never amount to a damn anyway.

This quote, of De Wain Valentine, lifted from a an conversation with the artist on the national gallery of art podcast from is a lovely analysis of the imperative that rests at the base of the artistic impulse. 

It was this quote, and the better part of an episode of Bad at Sports (no. 416 artist as arbiter panel), that I was listening to on my morning commute which inspired me to follow through on a long harbored idea, and .

The art as arbiter panel discussion from the 2013 CAA conference largely dealt with alternative and unusual exhibition and curatorial projects.  I'm a sucker for this type of discussion,as might be surmised from some of my past curatorial and participatory projects.  I'm susceptible to a type of infectious spirit gleaned from hearing about how individuals have plied the infrastructure of their own lives and situations to design a platform of creation, exhibition and conversation for other artists. This is a type of cultivation I groove on.  Its a compulsion and can feel like a weakness.
The idea lodged free by these audio selections is Crotch, a project space nestled in the crotch of a maple (I think) tree in our back yard.  Crotch was born as a one liner as I was bringing kork to a close in 2011.  kork was a project space situated (for three years) in the office of Bailey Browne CPA & Associates in Poughkeepsie.  A relatively low impact manner of posing challenges to artists, kork provided me with a the privilege of witnessing first hand the generative processes of artists' responses. Crotch promised to be an even easier-to-manage endeavor, but it fell victim to my constant exasperation of my own impulse to cook up these schemes at the expense of my own studio endeavor.
The Crotch venue
By the end of that heady morning commute mentioned above, I hashed out the details and the resolve to make Crotch happen over the course of this coming year, lest I regret not having done it after some point when we have left this apartment and this town of Beacon.

The tree in question, which has become Crotch, has been the setting of several works and actions for us here at Kamp MAYKR over the past several years and I thought it the perfect excuse venue to build on. Crotch is available for visits in person, by appointment, but it will probably mostly be "experienced" via a webcam feed embedded on the home page of crotchprojects.com.
Crotch as the point of splitting, of branching out. Crotch as the embodiment of the crude, impolite, make-dirty business that is not discussed in proper company, or in towns that are working to regenerate and rebrand themselves as progressive, creative, tasteful communities attractive to the creative class.  Crotch as the point of departure for creative and procreative and impulses. Crotch as an acknowledgement of the erotic drive in all forms of making; art, place, baby, etc. 

Crotch is informal, private -with an option for publicness- natural, and slow.  Crotch moves on the pace of the changing seasons, and like our neighboring institution, Dia:Beacon, Crotch relies on rhythms of the day and natural light to illuminate its offerings. 

The webcam stream makes me consider the surveillance society we are in, in which so many of us offer up ourselves to surveiling. Also, another recurring theme for me is that of the nature of experience (primary, secondary, first hand, mediated, etc.), and the naturalness of what we frequently see and experience comes to us through a screen and is taken as a true experience and an accurate view.   The webcam's gaze is south facing, and much of the day, the tree of crotch is largely backlit by the sun. At certain times of the late afternoon the feed is bright and washed out by a cloud of glare.   Any particular artists work may be obscured by the limitations of this remote portal.  What can be gleaned is the context of that artwork's current setting.  The webcam's is a long look upon the slowly changing scene modified by the presence of one artist's contribution. 
Angelika Rinnhofer, My Period Piece

Crotch launched quietly in October with a work created, and surreptitiously placed in the tree, by Angelika. My Period Piece is a braid of colorful fabric emerging from the crotch and falling down the trunk to the ground. 
Although not really visible through the web cam, Angelika's ribbon of color activated the moss encrusted trunk....and gave the squirrels something to play with.

Crotch is currently occupied by a work by Matt Kinney; it's another example of the perk of instigating these kinds of projects.  We came home from lunch last Sunday, startled to find this milled piece of timber rising from the ground, strapped  to and at odds with the tree of Crotch.  Its a kind of Christmas to see these artists responses manipulate my surroundings and I feel myself the grand beneficiary of these efforts.

Matt's work is heavy effort and rigid tension but with a delicacy marked by the incandescent ribbon of yellow rope and strapping tethering the two poles.  The yellow rope glimmered in the Sunday Sun, linked to the slightly more earthy yellow leaves which have since been cleared from the ground by the lawn care guys.

Matt's work is an active force acting on the crotch, opening it up, maintaining it as a point of emanation.  I scheduled Matt to be the artist for November.  This current piece is actually his second effort.  Through a miss communication, his first piece was erected in on other spot on the property, a magnolia tree on the other side of the house.
Matt's initial gesture in notCrotch

This placement presented a dilemma for me.  I wasn't sure what to do. It happened. It exists as a manifestation of our communications and it was interesting because of that and it has value there.  It was in the crotch of a tree but it wasn't in Crotch.  Matt was relieved when i told him because he wasn't happy with the work anyway and was pleased by the opportunity to push another idea forward.   I think of that first attempt as a testament to the promiscous drive for an artist to make and do - that any crotch is a viable depository for those creative manifestations.   I hope he doesn't mind me showing this image of it, but I like that it is part of the process that brought this second piece into being.

Matt Kinney's piece will remain on view through December.  January's artist will be Matt Stolle.
If you're interested in visiting Crotch, send me an emaill at info at crotchprojects. com

Monday, November 18, 2013

UV Portfolio @ Matteawan Gallery: Images

In talking with fellow UV Portfolio participants at the exhibition opening at Matteawan, it was apparent that the great pleasure of being involved was broadly shared. The reward of being challenged and having one's process tweaked has been a refreshing pulsing charge.  From everyone I spoke with, I sensed that energized glow and an interest in continuing that shared studio experience.... 

The exhibit continues through Dec 22.  I believe Karlyn will add open hours on Sundays to her customary Friday and Saturday hours in December.

The other night, thinking about my prints, I began to consider my smaller woodblock as a machine. I designed it with a symmetry where I could to spin it between carving sessions, allowing for a doubled capacity for producing a variety of marks.  It was a machine made for creating chance.  A chance making machine. 

A couple of the results of my woodblock machine in action:

Below are images of a few of the prints I made which are at Matteawan Gallery (either on the wall or in the portfolio) and which are also available for purchase on the Totemic 17 website - along with prints of my fellow participating artists.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

UV Portfolio opens tonight @ Matteawan Gallery in Beacon, NY.

The exhibition of the UV Portfolio opens tonight at Matteawan Gallery in Beacon, NY.  The reception is happening from 6-9pm. 
I've mentioned this project in a previous post and last week Phillipstown.info did a write up of the UV Portfolio.  There's a UV Portfolio facebook group, and images from the project can be seen at the Matteawan website and the totemic 17 website.

The show will remain on view through Dec 22.

The whole thing has been thoroughly enjoyable, and it's been great to see what the other artists in the group have come up with.  I was over at the gallery Thursday night to help Karlyn with some of the installation and it was then I was able to take a peek at some of my colleagues' output.

In the studio:  Kimberly Loewe & Jeff White

On the press:  I played with spraying water on an inked block to get a varied layer of color.  Here you see that wet mixture bleeding through the paper, just prior to running it through the press.

I'll post images of some of the individual finished prints soon.  It's been exciting to see these things I made again since I spent relatively little time with them after completing them.  This is different from how I related to the paintings in my studio where they tend to hang around in state for extended periods of development, and I become so very accustomed to their presence.  Seeing these wood block prints again after just a short interval had the quality of the jarring excitement that comes from a lack of familiarity.  That feeling alone is a wee thrill.

The incidental offshoots of the creative process hold great interest for me and in this endeavor has reaped such stuff in the unconscious prints made on the newsprint I used as blotter paper and to block areas of the woodblock, both front and back as I was printing both sides of the block at times, to keep from making a mess with unwanted tranfers of ink to the press bed or paper.  Most of what makes them compelling to me is that they are the embodied platforms for future mutative actions.  Below are a few examples of these unintended impressions which I dig.


Thursday, November 07, 2013

Dead Hare Radio show # 43 is out...

Two weeks ago, I released the most recent episode of the Dead Hare radio Hour.  This one took a long time to get together, for technical reasons, and it's, by far, the longest episode thus far.  The matter at hand in this installment is the commemorating the 10th Anniversary of Dia:Beacon with a an audio project in which I asked several folks to record themselves reading yelp reviews of the museum.  More details on this episode are on the Dead Hare Radio Hour blog, or you can listen to the episode here:

Thanks to everyone who lent their voices to this project:
Ilka Omdahl
Cynthia Nalley
Fritz Zernike
Yoko Malbos
Olga Dekalo
Jack Siman

Monday, October 14, 2013

Walking charted territories

This long weekend has afforded the opportunity to execute a project I have long been waiting to get around to doing.  Advent 2011 was the final exhibit at kork.  I asked 31 artists to "rework" my 2001 painting THA - pictured above in this weekend's makeshift driveway studio.  Each participating artist had a 4x6" photograph of the painting which they manipulated, then sent to kork for exhibit as a daily advent calendar in December 2011.   Somewhat of an afterthought, I decided I would take the suggestions of all 31 artists as a possible solution to this image.  Over the past 3 days, I photographed the process of executing these artists' manipulations on the actual painting - essentially taking this painting through 31 days of collective imagination in just 3 days.

Though frustrating that it has taken me so long to get around to this, I appreciate the poetry of this moment falling on Columbus Day weekend, as I'm "discovering" terrain already tread by others as I reach a new state of this painting. 

This part of the task out of the way, I'm not completely finished.  The next step entails creating a documentation of all the artists' postcards in a publication that will include images of this weekend's painting performance.  I'll also be posting a time lapse video of this weekend's painting very soon. 

This all made for a full holiday weekend, but that's not all that I've had to fill these last few days.  I was at the Garrison Art Center's printmaking studio for the second of my three studio days, developing woodblock prints for the collaborative project between Matteawan Gallery and T17.  Fruits of this labor will be on view at Matteawan Gallery in November and December.  Below is one of my woodblocks, in its current state.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

.t 17 coming to Matteawan Gallery

I'm excited and honored to be invited to participate in a print project organized jointly by Karlyn Benson of Matteawan Gallery and Jeff White of totemic 17.

The t17 woodblocks.
Jeff came up to beacon last Sunday to present the parameters of the project to a group of the participating artists.
With totemic 17 Jeff has devised a strategy of creating discreet print portfolios that follow a very specific format which carries forth as the constant from project to project.  The portfolio consists of 17 prints which conform to the prescribed sizes and shapes that together constitute the body of the conceptual totem.
An example from the tug 17 portfolio.

The first t17 portfolio centered on a theme of the tugboat as subject and was created as a community based effort.  This current project, with the working title, UV portfolio (for Unique Variant), looks to the interface of abstraction and natural forms as a thematic conceit.  Another aspect of this project is experimenting with the process of reductive wood block printing.
One of Jeff's own prints from the tug 17 portfolio.

Over the course of several weekends, the participating artists will be using the printmaking studio at the Garrison Art Center to create our reductive woodblock prints.
When we first moved to Beacon ten years ago, I entertained fleeting thoughts of using pursuing some printmaking at the Garrison facility.  I'm grateful that this project is finally giving legs to those thoughts.

Within the parameters Jeff has laid out for the form of the project, there is much room for experimentation in the pursuit of this effort.  In fact I believe most of the artists participating have little experience in working in this form of printmaking, so it will be interesting to see what everyone comes up with.  The fruits of this labor will occupy Matteawan Gallery for the months of November and December.

Beside myself, the participating artists are:
Lorrie Fredette 
Jen Bradford
Matthew S. Kinney
Susan English
Karlos Carcamo
Joseph Ayers
Kim Loewe
Leslie Kerby
Ryan Magyar
Thomas Huber
Kathy Moss

Friday, September 20, 2013

Geneve Journal: Low hanging fruits

Last December's trip to Geneva has developed a crispy golden crust o of nostalgia. Going over my photographic and video material has me wistful, especially the views out the window of my apartment - most especially when dusted by calling snow - which recall for me the open days of being in a certain element, even when that element was uncomfortable, playing around with scraps of paper h and scraps of ideas, In previous posts, I've shared some of the physical fruits of my labor in the form of the postcards - the altered ready-mades and CH Missives . which I sent to my Kickstarter supporters. It's past time for me to post images of the drawings and watercolors I also made during my stay. Those imaged here are the works resolved while in Geneva, there are more that were started, not resolved not pictured.

All of these pieces are largely some combination of watercolor, pastel and sometimes collage and they are all in the size neighborhood of 9"x12" or 11"x14.  Also, with one or two exceptions, titles have not been assigned, so I'm not adding captions with info for each piece - since I'm lazy.  I have however placed the images in this post in two different sizes to denote their place in either the of the two size groups.


Elements of Paul Klee and the forms resting in and around the harbor of Geneve were the influences floating around in my head and those are the components that more strongly bled into these pieces.

At the moment, I'm slowly reviewing the photos, videos, writings and sketches from  the trip for components which will make up the meat of the publication and video im creating for Kickstarter supporters

I'm also working on pieces born of the trip which are deeper explorations of aspects of the trip and the entire project.

Self Portrait As a Recently Departed Nun

As a form of daily exercise, I thought to create gestural responses to a series of photographs by Mari Mahr called A Few Days in Geneva.  I found Mahr's book of the same title in the MOMA Library and connected with them via the strong pull of my experience of looking out the window from my '92 trip.  But given everything on my itinerary, this endeavor was was dropped pretty quickly.   The images below are paper constructions attached to the window of the apartment in which I was staying.