Saturday, November 20, 2004

I'm begining a new series of paintings that will probably surprise a lot of people in how they look. I've come to a point where the reductive nature of my recent work has been feeling a bit restricting.

The new paintings I've worked on over the past couple of days mark a return to a more expressive format. I'm still utilizing the striped elements and grid matrices, only now they are broken down into smaller parts and exist within fields/layers of color and brushmarks. There is a shift of perspective within these paintings. They share the same source material as the recent work: architecture and other man-made structures set in nature. Only now, the forms exist in a more ambiguous space instead of being entirely anchored in place.

Friday, October 22, 2004

I was shocked and saddend when I found out about the sudden death of fellow Philadelphia painter,
Recbecca Westcott earlier this week. I only met Rebecca once, and that was at her solo exhibition at
Spector Gallery. I only talked with her for about 10 minutes during the opening, but in those 10 minutes I managed to get a feeling for the warm, dedicated person her
friends and acquaintances knew.

R.I.P, Rebecca.

More on Rebecca Westcott:

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Day one of the open studio was a let-down on the attendence side of things. I hope tomorrow is better. The weather was pretty shitty as it rained for most of the afternoon. Plus it was way chillier than last year. Had a good, long conversation with a fellow artist and some buddies stopped by later in the afternoon, which helped to ease the frustration of not having many visitors.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Monday night, our local PBS station, WHYY, offered a rare treat. They broadcast an hour-long documentary on one of Philadelphia's best known living artists,
Bo Bartlett in conjunciton with an exhibition of his work at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. This event was rare because:

1. It's seldom that a local painter is featured in any program here.
2. It's rarer still that a local, living painter is given such focus.

I like Bartlett's work, despite it being somewhat sterile at times. I like figurative work, but it has to be done well and Bartlett is one of the few contemporary realist, figurative painters whom I think is good at what he does. Beyond that, I really connected with the sheer will, ambition, and determination he's cultivated to stay focused on his work. There was this connection to a very palpable 'search' going on that fuels much of my own creative endeavors and, which I suspect, is the same for other creative people.

This all relates to conversations and thoughts I've been having lately. It first came up a couple of months ago when I had a conversation with Gabrielle, one of my studio-mates. We got on the subject of the type of guy she had been dating before she met her present boyfriend. She said that it was an adjustment to getting used to someone who was so, and I'm paraphrasing, "so settled and unquestioning...someone who was happy where he was and accepted it". While on the other hand, her other relationships were with people who were creative in some way and were seemingly always searching and questioning what they were doing and the world around them.

That conversation has been with me for a while now and I've been thinking about the search I've been on as a painter. What it is I'm searching for doesn't matter; I honestly don't know what it is I'm truly after most of the time. It changes all the time. I know I'm attempting to express something; some relationship to my enviornment, some emotion/feeling, beauty, whatever...What matters is that there's this very real pull to define something which, ultimately, is undefinable to me. The act of creating, itself, is being in a constant state of questioning. Each painting I do invariably winds up leaving more quetions to be dealt with. There simply isn't an answer. The minute you begin thinking that you've found answer in your work, then what's the use of continuing to paint? There's no point in going on with it if you know the answer to what it is you have been after. Life is exactly the same way. There is no answer to the question, "What is life?" That only leads to more questions and there isn't a definitive answer to be found.

So why put myself through all of the ups and downs, self doubt and confidence, etc...? I don't know why, I just have to do what I do and I love it. It's that simple. What makes creativity worthwhile for me is knowing that I'm in an active conversation with life and ideas. You can't be passive and be creative, these are mutually exclusive. It just doesn't work. Creativity arises out of passion and for there to be passion means that you have to be engaged in life at some level. Not just thinking about it, but living, feeling, and being it.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

One of the hardest things I find to do is writing a desription of what I'm doing visually. There's no way to convey what I just painted without an image. It has been interesting but ultimately a futile effort. However, without a digital camera or scanner at present, I'll have to rely on the written word when I want to talk about paintings I'm working on. It's not been that bad, just challenging.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Had a late start getting to the studio yesterday, but my time there was productive. I worked on a couple of large hand-drawn grid images on paper using graphite, charcoal and some acrylic medium. I did three, all on 22"x30" printmaking paper. The jury is still out on if they work or not, but the first two are definately better than the third. I really struggled with that one. That's good because I had to deal with some of the ptifalls of enlarging the images that have existed as 6"x6" studies. I'll try a couple more the next time I'm up there, probably Monday morning before work.

Last night was pretty good. I went out for First Friday. Saw some art, saw some eye-candy, ran into some people I know and met a couple of other artists. There were a couple of painting shows I liked: Keith Ragone at Snyderman, Joseph Marioni at Larry Becker, and Joshua Mays at Union 237.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Today was one of those days when I was really excited about what I was working on and couldn't wait to see the results of my labors. However, some things take time and the painting I was working on has some time left to work itself out. I was working with some Golden Tar Gel on a portion of a 16"x24" painting and I have to let it set for a number of hours before I can paint on top of it. That's ok, because I just went and did a bunch of small graphite and colorless oil stick grid drawings while waiting for the painting to dry. I'll get to work on it some more tomorrow morning.

I also have to call Bridgette after 11am. She wants me to talk to her about the new paintings I'm working on. She wanted me to come over to the gallery tomorrow, but I don't know if I'll have the time. I'll see.
Spent three hours last night in the studio bagging up promotional materials for the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours. It went much smoother than I thought it would. I had two out of three people come by and pick up their bags of goodies (postcards, posters, brochures and balloons). One couldn't make it and she called. It's amazing what can happen when I finally get down to having myself organized. Not that I'm never organized in the studio or elsewhere in my life, it's just that I had a lot of reservations about taking on this particular task. Now that I've tackled it, it's much less intimidating.

I certainly need to spend more time reflecting on my work. Most of the time, I go to the studio and get to work almost right away and paint until I get tired. Not a bad thing, but spending time in there last night not working on any of my projects and just looking at them made me realize that I need to make that connection more often. I'm in a very different mental state when I'm busy painting. In those times, I'm more involved with the pushing around of paint and trying to make the thing 'work' as a piece of art. Even when I've stopped painting for a particular session, I'm too tired and have been too close to it to attempt to evaluate it consciously.

That's why it's important to spend some time with the work, just looking and thinking. I've neglected that aspect of the creative process to a certain degree. It has a lot to do with wanting to get ideas out of my head as fast as I can. I paint, paint, paint then stop, go home, come back again and do it all over again. This way of working leaves little time for evaluating the work properly. So, I'm going to make more time for examining what I've done. I don't want to spend too much time on that, but it is important.

Friday, September 17, 2004

There's been a lot of time between posts here. I'm hoping to rectify that by posting a bit more, but I'm making no promises about exactly how often that will be.

Moving on...

Things are changing in my work again. Well, things are always changing but now I'm working with three distinct ideas at once. The paintings are diverging into two series. One, tentatively titled, 'Long Walls', utilizes a rectangular format with the main image close to the lower edge. They're basically a closer examination of an idea which first appeared in my painting last year. In these new paintings, there is more emphasis on the tension between the walls and the area above them. I'm not sure of how I think of the space above the walls. I keep coming back to 'sky' but it could be read as the upper corner of a ceiling; part of an interior.

The other potential series involves still utilizing the linear patterns, except I've taken to inserting a 'globule' of color in front of the patterns. Some of the shapes are transparent, while others wind up opaque. The genesis of this idea came to me while working on the postcards for the 'Dear Fleisher' benefit. I then took that idea and in one session, did nine small(12"x12") sketches on paper. Then I worked on some larger pieces on paper, using a rectangular format, both horizintally and vertically.

The particular challenge with the 2nd series lies in how I handle the edges of the organic shapes in relation to the canvas's edge. In some of the sketches I've done, I painted the globules in a less contrived and self-conscious and in others I could tell that I was certainly 'thinking' about how the edges met or didn't, in some cases. I took Amy up to see the new work and we had a conversation about this and it really got me thinking. It's always good to get a second set of eyes on the work.

I'm in the home stretch with the Philadelphia Open Studios Tour volunteering. Ed Bronstein dropped off the promotional materials at my studio this past Wednesday. There are nine boxes of brochures. They were heavy. I had to carry them up, one at a time, to the third floor landing. Taking them all the way up to the studio was out of the question. I've volunteered to be a distributor of POST materials. So, on top of my regular job, trying to get painting done and the rest of my life, I have to fit making sure people pick up their promotional materials as well. It should be ok. I have limited times that I can be at the studio, so I'll have to let everyone know when they can come to pick up things.

I'm a bit peeved about where the location of my studio wound up on the map in the brochure and on the poster. They managed to put the number marker below Market St. instead of above and on 2nd Street instead of 3rd Street, for crying out loud! Honestly, I think most people will find the studio via the printed address.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

I have the makings of a new studio project in the works. As usual, the idea seemed to come out of nowhere, but It's been forming for a while now.

The first incarnation was of a rectangle, segemented into quarters, and each quarter assigned a different color. At this stage, I thought of it as a t-shirt design with possible postcard and greeting card applications. Then, it evolved into my using the 1"x3" pieces of lumber to construct multi-segmented, wall hung works which fall somewhere between painting and sculpture. They'll probably fall closer to the painting end of the spectrum, largely because of the surface treatments I have in mind. I'm planning on using stuff like wood putty, wood glue, acrylic paint, shellac and anything else that I can think of. The idea is to liberally use these materials with a lot of sanding and other means of altering the wood's appearance to come up with unique works (*sheesh*sounds like I'm writing a project proposal).

Anyway, I'll be spending the early part of Labor Day up in the studio working on this idea. I don't have to be at work until 2pm, so there's a few hours to play with. I'm really excited about the possibilities!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Today, my studio time was spent on three works on paper, each 22"x30". Continued with the new idea of using a striped elements overlaid with a transparent, organic shape. Only these are larger than the ones I did the last time. I'm still trying the idea on for size but I think I'll wind up with some paintings based on these works. I also came up with an idea for another series of paintings. Tentatively called the 'Wall Series' or 'Long Walls', the paintings I have in mind will be rectangular with 1/4 of the surface area devoted to a glossy, patterned 'wall' and the rest a matte field of color. I don't know how many I'll do, but when I get tired of it I'll stop and go on to something else.

It's a good feeling to see the emergence of new possibilities in the work. One idea leading to another. I love and treasure these fertile creative times because you never know when you'll hit that next wall and what effect it will have on you or how long it will last.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Worked on nine new works on paper this evening, all 12"x12"(paper), 9"x9"(images). The work just flowed out of me. I decided to try out this new idea of having the stripped elements overlaid with a colored, bulbous shape which obscures all but the very outside edges and corners of the colored stripes. I also used variations on the grid in some of the works along with the stripes.
I challenged myself to make each image and composition different from the last. I needed to let the first layer of paint dry before adding another layer, so while that was going on, I would immediately start work on the next piece by laying out the compostion in graphite. There was very little time between each piece which forced me to think quickly and not take too long to start the next image.

Working this way from time to time helps me with generating ideas plus I can have a fairly good idea of what might work on a larger scale. I can't wait to get some more stretchers and canvas so I can take these new ideas and expand on them.
It's funny, just earlier this week I was thinking about how I felt that I was heading towards another period of feeling 'stuck' with my work. Now, I can see several new approaches to the paintings that I didn't see before, just because I decided to stay in the studio even when I desperately wanted to do something else earlier in the session.

Brian Coty never showed up. He did leave a message just before I arrived at the studio this afternoon. He was calling from a bar and said he'd forgotten what my studio address was and hadn't written it down. Now, when I talked to him earlier, around 1-something, he said he was looking for a pen, found one and took down my address. At least I thought he did...We've been playing 'studio visit tag' for a while now and it's begining to get on my nerves. He doesn't have a phone, land line nor cell, and he can't seem to remember to keep basic information like my studio address with him. I've only met him once-at my exhibition in February but he seems to be a bit flaky (no wonder, he's one of those artists who lives in their own world, lol!) I'm by no means perfect, but if you make plans to meet up with someone, then keep the contact info with you. That's what pen, paper and pockets are for. On top of that, he said in the message that he'd "call back later". He didn't.

Needless to say, even though the original plan fell through, I was productive and that's all that counts.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Yesterday's studio session was the longest I've had there in a few weeks. I was there for almost 9 hours. My recent sessions have been shorter by five hours or so. Things went pretty ok. I re-worked two small canvases that turned out much better than in their previous incarnations. I'm experimenting with my works on paper but not getting anywhere yet. I need to experiment with my painting techniques a bit more, as well.

I really need to move forward with buying some wood or other hard surface material to paint on. Stretched canvas is great but I need a less flexible surface to pursue some of the work I want to do. I live right down the street from a lumber yard and have been very lazy about picking up some stuff and having them cut it down for me. Gottta get on it! Having ideas is great, but they don't do me any good if I don't do anything with them.

Speaking of ideas, here is what's been floating around my noggin for a while in various forms:

Developing a new, solid body of large and small-scale paintings. Adopting a layering technique which incorporates both solid and transparent forms in the paintings. Currently, I default to an opaque layering ideal most of the time. This isn't a bad thing, but I've found it a bit limiting as of late. Looking back at the work I produced for the exhibition this past February, the more successful pieces had some of both techniques. There is also the scale issue; how large do I want to go with the work? Currently, my largest paintings are 48" square and, lately, 36"x60" rectangular canvases. These are sizes which feel comfortable and are easy to store, ship and carry. I do want to expand the size a little but not by much.

I've been struggling with the works on paper lately. I like my drawings, etc... to stand on their own, not merely as sketches for paintings. Sometimes I use them for that purpose, but I also do things on paper that a similarity to the paintings but will never translate as paintings and aren't meant to. So, what's the issue? Well, I think it has to do with some internal need to have the works on paper directly correlate to what I'm doing on canvas. When I work on paper, I like to work with different materials than I do on canvas. This has been very beneficial as the differences in materials , oil stick and graphite on paper, gouache on paper as opposed to acrylics on canvas, force me to deal with images and ideas in completely new ways. The work on paper has taken on a life of it's own, separate from what I do on canvas which sometimes causes some conflict. The important thing, though, is that I'm working to figure it all out, with the end result being a body of work that I'm proud of.

Then there are the installation ideas which incorporate rope and hardware. The sculpture ideas using wood and hardware. The prints I want to do and it goes on and on and on...

This is why I've been feeling the sqeeze of having a job and concentrating on my artwork. Even though my job schedule allows for an abundance of studio time, it's getting hard to accomplish all that I want to do. I could just concentrate on painting,which is really what I do already, but that's not all that I am. On top of that, painting alone can't accomodate all of the ideas I have, so I need to spread them out into other areas. I can accomplish a lot with the time I have, I just need to be a little more efficient with how I use it. This just means that I may have to concentrate on one or two things for a while, then switch materials and pursue something else for a time. That's the only way I'm going to get anywhere near accomplishing all that I'd like to do while maintaining a steady paycheck. There is still the goal of being a self-sufficient artist, but until then, I guess it'll be a juggling act, with painting as the main thing I work on. Whatever, as long as I can keep working...

There is always the possibility of coming up with a project which incorporates painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking...

Monday, August 09, 2004

One day last week, I had an interesting exchange with one of the customers at work. He comes in once in a while with his daughter. He's probably in his mid-thirties or so.

Anyway, we greet each other and he says, "Wow, you've been here for a long time. You own the place yet?" I laughed and replied, "No".

Him: "You're a manager, then, right?"
Me: "Yeah, I've been managing here for the past 9 years or so"
Him: "Man, you ought to be ready to buy the place then..."
Me: "Nah, I don't want own the store"
Him: "I understand. You can always open your own store sometime"
Me: "No, I'm not interested in owning a store. I have my own thing going on"
Him: "Oh, what's that?"
Me: "I'm an artist. I've been doing it for the past 23 years and that's what I'm concentrating on"
Him: "Yeah, well, everyone needs to have dreams."
Me: "Well, it's more than a dream for me."

I then went on to tell him some of what I've been doing lately and how my art career has been growing and so on. I spoke to him in such a way as to there not being any doubt about my chosen path and I think that surprised him a bit. There was a distinct point where he gave me this slightly puzzled look, it wasn't real obvious, but his demeaner definately changed a little, as if he couldn't understand that I'm 100% serious about being a painter. I think some people just aren't used to artists talking about thier work and careers the way people of other professions talk about theirs.

Question: "What do you do?"
Answer: "I'm a painter"

That's it. I'll tell people that I have a job, but that's never the first thing out of my mouth anymore. At one time, I was reticent to tell people that I was an artist. The reason? Well, we all know that art isn't a viable way to make a living, blah, blah, blah...why not just do it on the side, blah, blah, blah..."Well, good luck with that"(translation: "One day, you'll have to wake up and face *real* life...BLAH, BLAH, BLAH...")

Dreams really are good to have. The difference for people like me is that we are living our dreams every day. I know I am. Every day. Even when I'm not in the studio. I've been doing so for the past 23 years with and without money and will continue to do so. I'll stop doing art when I'm dead.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

So, this morning the phone rings and I think it's around 6:30 or so and stumbling out of bed to find the phone and see the time, I notice that it's almost 9!! Luckily, I'm off from work, but it was one of those moments when your brain is still trying to get your right foot in front of the left and any other function(s), like opening your eyes, is almost too much to ask, :P

The person on the phone was Bridgette. She was calling to let me know that she was prepping 18 of my paintings to be shipped to the law firm in Washington, D.C. She's arranged for the law firm (I keep forgetting the name) to hold the work for two weeks to see how it fits into thier space and decide which pieces they would like to purchase. She also asked me to come up with one or two-sentence blurbs to give them a sense of the inspiration for the work since neither Bridgette nor I will be there to talk about the paintings. I have to meet with her tomorrow morning at the gallery around 8:30 to do that. She's going to send me an email with all the titles and so forth so I can get a head start tonight. I remember most of the works she has, but not all.

This could turn out to be a great thing if all goes well, as in they buy all of the works. Even if they don't like *all* of them, and still purchase some, I'll be happy. This is potentially my first corporate collection that I can put on my resumé and that's exciting. I'll certainly have more incentive and funds to replenish my inventory in the coming months. This is certainly one more good step towards realizing my goal of becoming a self-sufficient artist. supplies, more paintings...drool

Monday, July 26, 2004

Bridgette and I had a meeting last week in my studio. She wanted to see what I'd been working on for the past few months since my solo show at the gallery in February.

We talked a bit about the paintings I had on the walls. Then she asked me about one in particular. She asked me what excited me about that painting, tentatively titled, 'Frances Blue'. The first thing I pointed out was overcoming the challenge of having some of the stripe elements entering the picture plane from the top of the canvas instead of being anchored along the bottom as is usually the case. This was a big deal for me since the 'hanging' stripes cause a total shift in how the space is perceived; from that of looking at something that is anchored on the same horizonal as the viewer to a much more ambiguous space. One where the main forms lend themselves to a floating or sliding action in front and behind each other.

What excites you about this painting? That question opened a whole world of dialogue between her and I as well as between myself and my work. It's not as if I hadn't dealt with it before, however, it hasn't been a part of my thinking process a lot lately. It's so difficult to put a finger on that thing inside that I'm attempting to put on canvas. That's the way painting is for me. There is always the chase to make solid a usually vague feeling inside. Trying to give a body to something that could be best described as having the consistnecy of fog. It's next to impossible and frustrating at times. It's also what keeps me going as an artist. Trying to capture the ambiguity of life in abstract images and yet have it hold together and mean something.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Good studio day. Stopped by the store and bought a case of water to drink in the studio. Once I got there, I decided that I needed to get some new music to listen to so I wandered over to A.K.A Records on 3rd Street. Wound up with a couple of good cds, one of which is Laurie Anderson's 2-disk live set from 2001. On my way back to the studio, I passed by Old City Coffee and the owners/husband and wife teams of two Old City galleries , Gallery Joe and Larry Becker Contemporary, were chatting. I talked to Larry Becker briefly and continued on. Once back inside the first thing I did after changing clothes was to lay a layer of color on the two 36"x60" canvases I stretched last week. It would take a while for them to dry so I decided to do some stuff on paper. I wound up with four small (10"x12") mixed media pieces using primarily gouache, colored pencils, graphite and acrylic paint.

I referred to my sketchbook for compositional ideas and was surprised at how many sketches I'd done over the past 8 months or so. I keep it with me almost all of the time. All those boring moments at work have added up. There's a lot of material to work with and that makes me a happy artist. The sketches are just that, small, simple compositional ideas. I usually only use a black, thin-tipped Sharpie although on the rare occasion, like today, color finds it's way onto the pages.

As I worked, I began to think about just how much work I could possibly get to using just the sketches I have as starting points. There's rarely a linear progression of sketch to drawing to painting in my work habits. It does happen, but more often the resulting paintings are an amalgam of various influences. Most often, as was the case today, I'll flip back and forth through the book and will wind up combining different aspects of a couple of drawings to produce another work, be it on paper or canvas.

I left the studio with a renewed sense of excitement about what's possible with my work. It's taken me a while but the battery is definately charged up and ready to power another period of high creativity.

Today's studio soundtrack:

-Stephane Pompougnac: 'Hôtel Costes'
-Laurie Anderson: 'Live at Town Hall, New York City, September 19-20, 2001'
-Tomas Jirku: 'Entropy'
-Modest Mouse: 'Good News for People Who Love Bad News'
-Davide Carbone: 'BS1 Records-Chapter One'
-Bits and pieces of NPR

Thursday, June 17, 2004

It's been tought returning to a regular studio schedule. I've been painting, just not as much as I know I should and can be painting. Since the show in February, my life has been beset by a lot of distractions and it's been difficult to pull the work together. Now, though I think I've gotten to a point where I can think more clearly about what I'm trying to do and getting it done.

It's taken a much longer time than I thought to get my creative concentration back. The few paintings I've produced over the past few months have been fair, at best. I'm now at a place where my creative side is getting stronger after a bit of a lay off. I've been sketching like crazy lately,which is extremely satisfying. I'm begining to generate some good ideas which could lead to good paintings.

I've done some things on paper, but they haven't added up to much at all. Time. That's what I need to put in. Even though I have three days off from work, I'm starting to feel that it's not enough for my work to develop to the next stage. It's interesting that this issue has been a preoccupation for me lately. What's important now is that I spend more time in the studio working. That's all there is to it. Enough time has passed since the show and I'm eager to get the ball rolling on the next body of work. My sketchbook and brain are fiiled to the brim with ideas and the only thing left to do is make them a reality.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Life really gets in the way of art sometimes. That's how it goes sometimes. The past few weeks have found me dealing with everything except the making of art on a regular basis. Once this holiday weekend is over, however, I'm making sure to bring the balance back.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Made it up to NYC to check out the Whitney Biennial and 'Singular Forms (Often Repeated)' at the Guggenheim.

A lot of the work at the Biennial leaned towards video and instillation. Much of the work in these categories was good with a few exceptions, as can be expected in such a far-reaching survey show. The better side included work by Yaoyoi Kusama ('Fireflies on the Water'), Assume Vivid Astro Focus' psychedelic room-sized instillation was just plain fun and Phiadelphia-based Virgil Marti's 'Grow Room 3 was gorgeous. Catherine Opie's minimal and haunting photographs of surfers in fog shrouded waters were winners. I really liked Chloes Piene's video 'Blackmouth'. It featured a young woman outdoors covered in mud (blood?) at night who behaved like some kind of wild beast, flailing herself around with erratic movements, crying and bellowing with the help of a dubbed soundtrack of slowed down animal gowls and yells. It was the kind of work that left me wanting more, but in a good way.

Cory Archangel's video sculpture of cloud images hacked from an old Mario Brothers game was inspired. Tam Van Tran's two beautiful, wall-mounted mixed media pieces of green alge stained paper and literally thousands of staples also stood out.
To my considerable disappointment, painting was not very well represented. The one exception being Julie Mehretu's 'Empirical Construction, Istanbul'. I also liked Cameron Martin's 'Untitled (100)', a largish painting of what amounts to rock silhouettes set in an open space. Cecily Brown has to be my least favorite living painter and the works in the Biennial didn't do anything to change my mind. Mel Bochner's word-play paintings were clever for a minute but not very exciting aesthetically.

I really don't understand why the curators couldn't find better painters to be represented in this year's Biennial. I don't know what the selection process is like, but it doesn't seem like they tried very hard.

In comparison, the Guggenheim's 'Singular Forms' exhibition was much more consistent. This is to be expected when you are dealing with more narrowly defined areas of art such as Minimalism and post-Miniamalism. This show, with works culled from the Guggenheim's own extensive collection, does a good job of tracing the development of the minimalist asthetic. As I walked along the ramps, I was struck by how rich the history of minimalsm is as well as the richness of forms and materials employed by artists over the years.

There were the 'usual suspects' like Serra, Stella, and Judd but also others I hadn't heard about like Karin Sander, whose high-polished wall section and chicken egg were welcome surprises to behold. There were a couple of Brice Marden paintings from the 60's and early 70's I liked a lot. Doug Wheeler's wall-sized 'Untitled(Enviornmental Light)' was an ethereal sensory delight. Another well-known 'light artist, James Turrell, was represented by 'Afrum 1', a projection that was beautiful and confounding in it's simple yet demanding optical play with geometry and architecure. Robert Ryman's 'Surface Veil' paintings were huge, wall-sized affairs that were good examples of why bigger isn't always better. Callum Innes, a favorite contemporary painter, had a wonderfully subtle white-on-white painting from his 'Exposed Painting' series included here.

All in all I was happy to see so much art up close and personal. Although I had mixed feelings about the Biennial, I was glad I had the chance to experience the installations and video work first hand. I try to keep up on what's going on by reading and browsing through various art magazines, but I simply cannot relate to writings about work that requires direct interaction or viewing: I have to physically experience the space and watch events unfold over time as they were intended. Reading about painting and some sculpture or looking at reproductions of such work is much easier than viewing photographs of installations or video stills.

I spent part of yesterday in the studio and later had to work. Today, I did a lot of running around: Picked up my painting from the Cheltenham Art Center, got my hair cut, went to the gym, home to eat, then to the studio and painted for a few hours. Tomorrow, Jim and I head out to Harrisburg to deliver our paintings to the State Museum. I also returned a call to Bridgette and found out that four small paintings of mine sold from Dane Decor on Arch Street. That was certainly welcome news. Just the other day I was thinking about things I need to get done soon and that I needed to make some extra cash. What timimg!

Friday, May 07, 2004

Good day in the studio even if it was somewhat short. I got in there a little later than I planned but nevertheless, I accomplished something. I'm excited about the format change I'm experimenting with. Basically, I'm going from using all square canvases to painting on rectangular ones also. Makes a huge difference as spatial relations between forms change since there is a wider area to play with.

My studio time is really precious this week as I have to work an extra day and tomorrow is First Friday. There are three openings I have to attend. The first is the annual student show at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts. I know at least five people in thier last or next to last year who are exhibiting. Then, and I just found this out today, two instructors I know from the university art department at Temple are having shows in Old City: Marilyn Holsing at Gallery Joe and Larry Spaid at Snyderman.

Also, there is this big rally in Love Park tomorrow at 4pm to protest the $4 million in budget cuts for arts organizations and recreational centers in Philadelphia. Our illustrious Mayor Street thinks the heads of these organizations can raise the funds with just "a couple of phone calls". Sure the city's budget needs to be balanced, but does it really make sense to remove funding for organizations which bring in much more money in taxes and fees than they get from the city?

Saturday, April 24, 2004

It's been an interesting couple of days. Thursday night we had the big opening reception for our group show at Tierney Communications. Tierney's offices occupy part of the 9th floor and the whole 10th floor of the Bellvue building at Broad and Walnut.

It was a huge event for Bridgette and us, the artists. It was the most upscale event I've been involved with since being with Bridgette's gallery. Thier client list reads like a who's who of big business in Philadelphia and the surrounding region and most of thier clients were there. The food spread was big and the drinks strong. Lots of good looking women, also. I didn't get to really talk to any of the clients but there were some people there I didn't expect to see and had conversation with them for a short time. Besides them, I mainly hung out with the other gallery artists or friends (Corwin, Tet, Jackie, and Adam, aka Botany 500, the dj for the night).

I didn't know where all of my work was hung so I had to go on a little expedition to find them. The office is like something of a maze because of it's size but once you go through it once or twice, it's fairly easy to negotiate. Anyway, I found my paintings and with the exception of one, I liked the display. The one painting, 'Daylight Meltdown' is on a wall with absolutely no light on it. I also happen to be the only artist with work on the ninth floor. Three paintings from my 'Foundation Point' series are hung next to each other directly in front of the only staircase that connects the ninth and tenth floors. Very good spot. My only wish is that they were hung a little farther apart from each other.

Office spaces are difficult places for a lot of artwork. There is one hallway where there are works by four other artists that is really dim. Rebecca Rutstein has two 66"x66" paintings there and not only is the lighting bad, but you can't step back more than two feet from them. To be fair, most of the lighting in the office is good and a lot of work is well hung. Bridgette tried to get better lighting for those few in dim areas, but the company wasn't too keen on adding lighting fixtures.

That part of the evening was done around 8:30pm. A bunch of us walked over to Caribou Café where Bridgette had reservations for thirty. I think about 20 of us wound up there. The menu was a little limited and pricey so I opted for a couple of appetizers and drinks. Dinner over, the last of us went to Doc Watson's for a few more drinks and shots to end the night.

I spent yesterday barely able to do much of anything since I got home around three and woke up at 8:30am. I was still tired but I just couldn't stay in bed. I get all of this light in my apartment because of the skylights. I got up, did laundry, then went to Sabrina's for brunch. I had planned on looking for some short-sleeved T-shirts for summer but had plans for the evening and the afternoon was quickly slipping away.

I made my way around to the new community gallery on South Street to see Jason's video project. It was good. Mainly consisted of short films where he took old film clips, re-edited them and added his own soundtrack to them. There were some good moments but a couple of them were a bit boring. Then again, my attention span was pretty shot due to lack of sleep and being hung-over so I may not have given them the chance they deserve.

Stopped by the store for a little food and returned home for a much-needed nap. Went out to Mike Stifel's opening at the Print Center on Latimer Street. He had some embossed prints on view. Minimal, but beautifully subtle. Stayed for about 30 minutes before heading over to the gallery for an introduction to Landmark Education. I've resisted investigating this for a good while, but when Miriam invited me to this seminar, I decided to be open enough to go. I'm not sure about doing the whole weekend series later in the summer but I'm thinking about it. Honestly, I think it's something I could benefit from. We'll see.

Today, I'm meeting up with Jim Erickson and we're going to do some gallery hopping this afternoon. We've been trying to do this for a while but life kept getting in the way. I really need some studio time but this could be good also. I don't have many male art buddies I hang out with so I've stayed committed to keeping this day open for that. And going to the gym.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Received an email from someone in Harrisburg who saw my work in the latest edition of 'New American Paintings/ Mid-Atlantic') and is interested in purchasing something. Apparently it came out on Monday according to Bridgette. I haven't even seen the book yet but it's good to know that it's making an impact so soon.

Things have hit a little snag with Gabrielle moving into the studio, at least until Friday at the earliest. Long story short, Deb and Allen were moving some of their stuff into the space in Kevin's living area next door to where we are now. Well, the building's owner and his wife happened to be there at the same time. The wife had a fit, yelled at Deb who told said the wife would have to talk to Kevin and not her to straighten things out. So Kevin is supposed to be meeting with the owners some time over the next couple of days. Every thing is on hold until Friday or Saturday.

The problem stems from the fact that the owners didn't want Kevin to rent out the extra space. This could be bad, but maybe not. We'll just have to see what happens. I just hope the owners don't get so pissed that they decide to unload the building and we all have to find other places. That would be a serious pain in the ass to deal with. Then again, this is Old City and I'm lucky to have the space I so for such a good price.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Alright, the mail comes this morning and I see that my return envelope from the Greater Harrisburg Arts Council is here. I open it to discover that not only did one of my paintings get into the 'Art of the State' exhibition, it's the same painting that was accepted in to the annual exhibition at the Cheltenham Center for the Arts. Luckily, the Harrisburg show begins after the Cheltenham show but the delivery date for Harrisburg overlaps the tail end of the first exhibition.

That's what happens when you send out slides all the time and forget which ones you send where. It's ok. I didn't think I'd get into both shows, let alone have the same painting chosen for two shows. It's a good thing.

I need to find the phone number of a fellow artist. We tentatively set up tomorrow as a studio visit day, but I forgot to call him earlier this week. Then I noticed that I hadn't put his contact information in my personal phonebook. I know I have it, I just have to find it anomgst my pile of folders next to my desk.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Rebecca's show opened last week at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery(BMG). She had a great turnout despite the rainy night. The funny thing is I had the same weather conditions and good attendance during my opening reception in February. Her work has grown and she's embraced color like never before. There's a nice combination of her graphic design sensibilities (silkscreening directly onto the canvas and wood panels) and straight ahead painting.

The residency she had last summer in Canada seems to have reinvigorated her love of painting. I remember her telling me after her first solo show at BMG that she was burned out and wasn't sure that she was going to continue painting. I'm glad she has continued.

I thought I'd experience a period of emotional letdown after the end of my recent solo exhibition but that hasn't occured. Some of that may be attributable to my having sold some work and having received the great reviews. It may also have to do with my still havng a lot of new ideas for more work. There was never a point after the opening where I had any doubts about what I was going to do next. That said, I never knew exactly what I was going to paint, just that I still had a lot of ideas I wanted to pursue.

I still don't know what else may come out of the exhibition, but certainly I have a stronger resumé with the show sales and reviews. Now, the thing to do is capitalize on the success of this show and move on to other markets in addition to Philadelphia. Most importantly, I've solidified my relationship with Bridgette, we're very happy with how things turned out, and are looking forward to continue working together.

I'm excited to get back to painting on a regular basis. I've done a couple of things since the show opened, but now I'm ready to resume my former work schedule. There have been some changes in my life as of late, like returning to working out in the gym and re-doing my apartment. I'm trying to be as efficient as possible with my time without being anal about it. One thing I've learned as I've gotten older is to let some things go or to allow for last-minute changes when it seems my preplanned agenda isn't going to pan out. I've saved myself a lot of stress this way.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Went to the Kara Walker opening this evening at the Fabric Workshop. As expected, it was way crowded. Walker was there to do a one-night performance. The exhibition is the first where she is using video projections in her work.

The performance was held in the main gallery but was also projected in the studio area. It was hard to really appreciate her performance because of the amount of people talking and milling around in the lobby. I didn't see the work first-hand, but I'll go back to check it out. It was good that she had such a good turnout, but it was just way too many people in the space.

I'm sure I would have enjoyed what she was doing more if I were closer to the screen and speakers. On the other hand, I think the staff should have enforced a 'no talking' zone in the lobby out of respect for the artist and those of us trying to take in what was going on.

Saw Joni there and talked to her for the first time in months. She's been drowning in school work. Saw Mark Blavat, also. He needs to find another studio soon.
Spent some quality, if not a long, time in the studio yesterday. Sometimes the shorter sessions are more productive and satisfying than the 10-12 hour marathons I sometimes find myself caught up in.

I made good progress on two new 24 inch square paintings and a work on paper. While I waited for one thing to dry, I was on to doing something else. That's my pattern. I like to make the most of whatever time I have in the studio.

Deb and Allen said they are going to move into the space next to where we are now. I'd love to be able to take over the whole space once they're gone, but I just can't figure it into my budget. So, I mentioned to my friend, Gabrielle, that a space may be opening and she's interested in moving in. Gabrielle's needed a space to paint for a while and I think she'd be a good studio mate, so I guess we'll go ahead and make it happen.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Tired but happy. Ed Sozanski's (Philadelphia Inquier) review of my exhibition was published in today's paper. I didn't know about it until I stopped by the gallery this afternoon to drop off a set of prints. It was really positive and having my work compared with Sean Scully's wasn't a bad thing, either. I've admired his work for a while.

Nothing like a little fuel to keep the creative fires burning. Not that I needed it, of course but a little outside validation doesn't hurt.

Heading up to New York to see the Armory Show Sunday. I may go up earlier than I thought tomorrow to see the Whitney Biennial. I'll meet up with Amy and Liz later in the day.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

The second review of my exhibition at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery came out today in the City Paper. The first was in the Philadelphia Weekly a couple of weeks ago. Both reviews are positive and capture the spirit of my work really well. It feels good when someone you don't know looks at your work and is able to connect with and write about it in a way which reflects a careful study of and appreciation for what the artist is attempting to convey.

Though they serve a good purpose by bringing the public's attention to my work, I don't base my self worth as an artist on them. It's really important to see a review for what it is: an opinion. And hopefully an informed one. In my case, I've been lucky in that the writers, Roberta Fallon (Phila. Weekly) and Susan Hagen (City Paper), took some time to really study the work and write honestly about it without resorting to over-intellectualizing my painting. In both pieces, there is a very heartfelt response to the work that I appreciate.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Doing it in the first place. Facing the blank canvas or paper, making a mark, making some more.

The sound of a brush dragging across the weave of canvas is intoxicating. I often get lost in that sound. So much so that I sometimes have to work hard to back away from the painting so I can study if it's working or not. I love the feeling of getting lost in the work. That's the best part of doing anything creative.

I've been taking it easy over the past few weeks since the exhibition opened. I've been lucky enough to sell a few paintings so I've been basically spending time gathering materials (paints, canvas, paper, etc...).

I didn't think I'd take so much time off from producing anything after the show opened but the adrenaline rush of getting the show together just started wearing off last week. And I've not had the mental energy to do much of anything in the studio.

That's alright. I need to make myself take time off every now and then. I was preparing for this show for a year or so and it's natural that I'd be pretty fatigued at this point.

So far, I've begun experimenting with gouache. I've never used it much in the past but I'm really interested in finding out how it will affect my work.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

I'm in it for life.

I was in my studio painting one day when I heard that line in a song by Godflesh. It's from their cd named 'Hymns'. I think it was released in 2000. Anyway, I heard that lyric and had one of those moments where the planets seemed to be aligned, stars shone a little brighter, and suddenly it all made sense.

I'm in it for life.

For some reason that night I realized that I was indeed 'in it for life' when it came to art. That was last year. At that point, I'd been artistically active for 21 years. 21 years! How did those years add up and pass so quickly?

I'm in it for life.

The reality of how accurately that statement reflected my life really hit me like a ton of bricks. That was it! All of my energy went into painting and whatever other art projects I took on. Of course I have to work to pay bills, but I've even been able to mold that to facillitate my art life. Relationships have come and gone, but art has always been there and will continue to.

Art and life are inseperable. One depends on the other. This blog is dedicated to exploring the intersection of the two and how they affect my experiences.

I'm in it for life.