Friday, May 30, 2008

paint & ink

A couple of newly completed pieces.

Halcyon, 2008, acrylic on panel, 24" x 24"

D52908, 2008, ink on paper, 38" x 50"

Thursday, May 29, 2008


The Pew Fellowship evaded me again this year, but three painters I know and whose work I admire here in Phily received one.

Congratulations to: Charles Burwell, Anne Seidman, & Mauro Zamora

ESPO goes legit

'Grafitti artist' and 'Fulbright scholarship' in the same paragraph!

From the New York Times:

"A love of graffiti has gained Steve Powers notoriety on the streets, fame in the art world and a long arrest sheet. It has also earned him a Fulbright scholarship."

Steve Powers, a.k.a, ESPO wins Fulbright, paints legally

Powers/espo slideshow here

Blue ribbon bland

I like murals, well...ok, some murals. Living in Philadelphia, you kind of get used to seeing one on almost every other side of a building, thanks to the city's mural arts program. The murals are good and not-so-good but, overall, I think they tend to bring another level of life to an old city.

A few weeks ago, I was out on an errand. Walking past Fleishman's Fabrics (pictured above) I noticed the outlines for a mural on the side of the building at 5th and Monroe."Nice", I thought, "something other than the black walls to look at..." A couple of days later, I saw the mural taking shape with two guys painting the walls and colors starting come through. About a week in, the wall was finished.

I didn't know what to expect, but I definitely didn't like what wound up there. As you can see, it's basically an ad for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer using the art of Pabst art contest winners. It seems Pabst has an art contest where the works have to feature the beer prominently. The winners, apparently fans of the beer, get a monetary prize, spots in a traveling exhibition, AND they get to have thier works reproduced in murals. Great, now I get to look at mediocre images of a mediocre beer every time I pass this corner, which is at least four days a week.

This movement of so-called 'viral marketing' has got to be the most cynical and tired efforts by corporations to gain new consumers. Not that it hasn't worked, but most of these campaigns, especially those targeting the 18-25 demographic, come off as heavy-handed and usually missing the mark. I'm reminded of some ads for a PSP video-game console that mimicked street artists by using grafitti-inspired characters and wheat-pasting. That campaign was basically laughed off the walls, and faced the wrath of business owner who didn't want the ads on their businesses. In fact, there were some prominently displayed on the walls of a business directly across the street from the one I'm complaining about.

I'm guessing Fleishman's were offered some money to have the murals put up. That's the only way I could imagine them agreeing to have it up. Maybe, they really like Pabst and wanted to show that love to the world. But what do I know? I know that if they really wanted something artistic, eye-catching and original on the walls, they have a school-full of creative, energetic grade-school kids right around the corner who, with some guidance, could probably have put something up that was amazing. Not to mention that there are thousands of LOCAL artists and would-be artists who would have been happy to help spruce up this dark corner. Instead we passers-by get a bland, corporate logo to brighten our day.


A related item is here

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Double the fun!

I was leaning out the rear window of my apartment, trying to take a shot of something else when I spied this amazing sight.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Olafur Eliasson: Take Your Time

I'm heading into the studio to work, but in the meantime, here are some shots from the Olafur Eliasson show, Take Your Time, which I visited last Thursday. Well, the MoMA part, at least. I hope to get to the P.S. 1 part in June sometime. Take Your Time is up now through June 30 at Moma and P.S.1

Great show and true to it's title, you really should take some time to be with the works on view. The only hinderance I found was the crowds. We were at MoMA on a Thursday afternoon, which seemed to be a prime time for school classes to visit the museum, making the crowds more intense than usual. If you go, consider getting there earlier than mid-afternoon, if possible or earlier in the week.

I only see things when they move, 2004

Our shadows in color

Room for one colour, 1997

1 m3 light, 1999

1 m3 light, 1999

360º room for all colors, 2002

Wall eclipse, 2004

Friday, May 16, 2008

living color

I love to work with color, but nothing I can come up with can match the amazing things that nature can produce. Take, for instance, the brilliant hues of Toxic Nudibrachs, photographed by David Doubilet for National Geographic Magazine.

The soft bodied sea slugs are pretty vulnerable except for the toxins they absorb from prey. Those toxins wind up creating amazing colors and patterns on the skins of the slugs, in addition to taking them off the menu of larger, faster predators.

Here's a related video

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blue (pattern I)

Blue (pattern I), 2008, acrylic on panel, 24 x 24 in.
(photo courtesy of Mark Brosseau)

New painting. The blue form doesn't look as 'blue' as it is in person, but one of the problems with digital cameras seems to be the accurate capturing of some blue hues. I've since reworked the loose form by adding another layer of color to it, but it's essentially the same as this, except denser.

This painting, and a few other recent works, is currently on display in the offices of Tierney Communications, in center city Philadelphia.

Anne Seidman @ Schmidt/Dean

Anne Seidman at Schmidt/Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
May 2-June 7, 2008

Made it to the opening of Anne Seidman's show, Touching, last Friday night at Schmidt/Dean Gallery in spite of the cool, rainy weather. I've always admired Anne's work for it's boldness of color, confident compositions and taut energy, all of which are in evidence here. The complex subtleties of even her least complex images (upon first viewing them) really warrant some investment of time to really appreciate what Seidman accomplishes.

Her newer paintings, such as the untitled piece above (top, right), bring a new kind of tension and potential to Seidman's works. The jagged, sharp-edged, multi-colored form unfolding along the edges of the painting appears to be in a continual state of change, poking and testing the edges of it's surroundings and establishing it's place (limits?). The energy and tension in this painting and others by Seidman belie their size and draw me in every time.

At the opening, I ran into painter and art blogger, Steven Alexander. We talked for a bit about Anne's work and he has posted a great review of Anne's show on his studio journal.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg, R.I.P

Estate, 1963, oil and silk screened ink on canvas, 96 x 70 in.

Robert Rauschenberg, one of the giants of 20th century art, has died. Here's the New York Times obituary by Micheal Kimmelman

Friday, May 09, 2008

Like what you see? Jump for it!

(photo: Caroline Giegerich)

Ever feel like you want to possibly go out of your mind when you see a piece of art/architecture/design that you love? You know that intense rush you get when in the presence of something that makes you as giddy as Homer Simpson in a doughnut shop?

Well, why not take Van Halen's advice and do a little Art Jumping?

More Jumping here

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

scrub out

I'm continuing to work on this new series of what I'm calling 'altered photos'. I've learned so far that it's better to scrub the photo when dry if I want to keep some of the more subtle colors and patterns I've masked out.

In other news, I managed to make more work for myself in the studio today courtesy of tiny paint spatters that have managed to find their onto the surfaces of newly completed works. I thought I had them out of the range of my main working area, but obviously I was wrong. Of course my better judgment tells me to turn works I'm considering finished towards the wall. The problem is that my better judgment likes to go on coffee breaks at the most inopportune times.

It's not too bad. I think I'm fairly good at camouflaging unwanted stray marks. There have been times when I've left the strays where they landed, but it's not a preferred way of working.


Last week. I delivered my registration form and check to be in the next Philadelphia Open Studio Tours. I almost considered not participating this year, but that bit of madness passed quickly. I couldn't come up with a legitimate reason not to do it, so I ponied up. Now I won't think about it again until the month before. Then again, knowing how organized POST has become over the past couple of years, with new email updates almost once a week, it won't be that far removed from my daily consciousness.

Seriously, it's good to see (and participate with) an arts organization that's almost completely artist/volunteer-driven thrive and get better with time. With the way the art-scene in Philadelphia has grown and changed over the past 10 years, it's vital to have an organization like POST around to bring artists and the general public together. They do so in ways that can foster better understanding of art and art-making in ways that visits to galleries, museums, reading the latest 'art and fashion/music/pop culture' magazine articles and scandalous headlines from the art world can never accomplish.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

shock and yawns

Yale art student submits new work for senior thesis. ( via c-monster)

This has been kicking around for a couple of weeks now and my reaction to this latest twist is a big resounding, '90's pseudo-nihilist "whatever...".

"(Aliza) Shvarts had allegedly told the university administration that she had not in fact performed the described acts, but rather that the story itself was the artwork"

I'm not entirely sure what her intent was with the original thesis, but she certainly managed to be up there with the shock factor, alongside this guy. Self-inseminating and then self-aborting will no doubt garner a lot of attention with today's atmosphere surrounding sex a woman's right of choice in how she uses her body.

However, if, as stated in the latest report, Shvarts work was the story, then it falls flat. The so-called news is saturated with 'stories' like this all the time-where there is not real story, just a collection of innuendo and false leads.

In terms of false leads, she might have actually accomplished something-the classic bait and switch for fame. Student puts forward a controversial idea for a work of art, gains tons of attention and at the last minute, submit something more 'palatable' for her thesis committee to consider and voila! instant attention around the art world and byond.

Can you hear it? "Is it art? Did she really do that?, This is why I hate so-called contemporary art!" and on and on... Everyone yells, screams, praises, questions, and pontificates and then it all dies down until the next time.

She'll either captialize on this attention or we'll never hear about her again. At this point, I couldn't care less.