Friday, December 22, 2006

Review review

”The Red Show” has more alizarin per square inch than any show in town, with the possible exception of “Tesoros,” the PMA’s roundup of colonial Latin American art. While “Tesoros” runneth over with blood-red hearts and flowing red robes, the Mayer show—commissioned new works by 13 gallery artists and one outsider—is mostly abstract. By design or by serendipity, the show suggests the season’s festivities: bubbles and ribbons, ebullience, love and optimism. Tim McFarlane’s big, bold All That Could Be—a monochromatic work in shades of pink and wine—continues the artist’s motif of overlapping ladders that suggest teeming masses of people. Contemplative like Rothko but more generous and community-spirited, this piece may have antiwar underpinnings. For me, the title nods to the Army’s old “Be All You Can Be” slogan, and the flow is tinged with blood. Also notable in a solid show are Neil Anderson’s eye-popping Red Dancer and Charles Burwell’s Red Line With Three Figures. (Burwell is a new artist with the gallery.) Kate Davis Caldwell’s faux Polaroid paintings and Michael Manuel’s eco-themed stained glass with audio component by Clint Takeda are reminders of beauty’s fragility. Excellent show. (Roberta Fallon)

I've had a little time to think about what was written about my painting in the above review of The Red Show at Bridgette Mayer. For the most part, I have no problem with what was written about my painting, All That Could Be, or the show, but this line caught my attention:, ...this piece may have antiwar underpinnings. For me, the title nods to the Army’s old “Be All You Can Be” slogan, and the flow is tinged with blood.

I'd like to put another angle on what Roberta wrote, the angle that All That Could Be originally sprang from. At the outsest, I relished the challenge of working within the constraints of a certain color. The next level of meaning didn't surface until I was well into working on it. Sometime between start and finish, the idea of a title came to mind. All That Could Be came to mind because of the open-ended sense of possibility the phrase has. Some of that optimism has to do with recent events in my personal life. The reds, pinks and oranges I used, likened to blood flowing in the review, I saw as being akin to passion and life. As much as red can stand for violence and loss of life, it can also stand for the opposite.

Here is where the world of the artist and the viewer diverge greatly: what the artist is feeling or thinking during the concieving of a work of art means absolutely nothing because every person looking at or interacting with that piece of artwork will bring their own history, beliefs, and ideas to the piece. The work will mean one thing for the artist and can mean a thousand other things once it's out in the public. That's nothing new, but this is the firs time that I felt that the interpretation of my work in a widely read publication was at such a variance from the spirit of which the painting was created.

2 comments:

Rebecca Crowell said...

This entry made me smile--it's pretty easy to identify with. I guess a lot of us (especially abstract artists) have had similar experiences. It's especially weird when it's in print. But there are also those things that are said, or overheard. Sometimes the interpretations are so "obvious" that it's almost insulting--as if being the deep people that we are (!!) we'd just illustrate some simple idea or pop-culture reference.

One of my experiences was this--a university once (years ago) selected an painting of mine with a vertical rectangle image for the cover of their School of Business catalogue. The copy inside the front cover said that the cover painting represented the "upward reaching business climate of the 90s." HA! In their dreams!

I just came across your blog and am enjoying it--didn't leave a comment on the Martin Puryear entry but have to say he is a favorite of mine too. I live near Minneapolis and he has these great columns at the entrance of the sculpture garden there.

Tim said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Rebecca. I like the new piece you have an image of on your blog. I'll be stopping by to read yours, also.