All suited up and ready for the "winter sessions" in the studio. I'm looking forward to exploring a lot of new ideas and sending new works out into the world in the coming year. No resolutions needed, just continuing to work and keep the creative fires burning as bright and hot as I can.
All the best for a great, productive, inspiring 2012, no matter what you do.
"Art is for the living. If someone has lived creatively and you are grateful, for goodness sake, write them a letter, or create a website about them; get an article about them published if you have the opportunity, or if you are an editor, commission tributes while she or he can read them. What is the point of making a fuss when they are gone? It is morbid and to me it seems inauthentic...Instead of lamenting the lost, we should be celebrating their achievements, and saying thank you, while they are still among us. So stop this saccharine artistic morbidity. Instead, pick your favourite living creative artist – and write them a fan letter." -Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, UK
In his latest blog post, The Guardian's Jonathan Jones writes about the loss of Cy Twombly, Lucien Freud, and Ken Russell. His overall point being that the rush of the arts media to heap praise and tributes on the recently departed artists comes too late. Now, the people Jones mentions were hardly unknown and did live to see their work exhibited or seen by wide audiences. I think that it's the lesser-known people who should have a chance to have an encouraging note or two, especially from people that they don't know and may never meet.
I come across a lot of images of artwork on the web and when something strikes me in a particular way, be it art, design, photography, or music, I'll often find a way to let the artist know how I feel about their work, mostly via email and sometimes by posting about their work either on this blog or elsewhere.
I don't do this to "network" or to gain some other in-kind favor or notice, I do it because something about their work grabbed me. I do so for the same reason that Jonathan Jones mentions in his blog post for the Guardian; that we should celebrate artistic achievements while artists are alive and can appreciate the thoughts and accolades from peers and others.
"The Art of Time" is a documentary about Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Inc, founded in Los Angeles in 1960 by the late June Wayne (1918-1911) to prevent the demise of lithography. "The Art of Time" (top) focuses on the more emotional aspects of lithography, while "The Art of Lithography"(bottom), a slightly different cut, focuses on the more technical aspects of lithography. "The Art of Time" and "The Art of Lithography" were directed by Marina Chamrad.
After watching these videos, I'm really itching to do some printmaking again after too many years away from it...
Charline Von Heyl, Igitur, 2008. acrylic on linen, 82" x 74"
I saw the Charline Von Heyl 10-year survey exhibition at ICA-Philadelphia today and had a hard time leaving. I kept wandering back and forth in the exhibition because I couldn't get enough of her work. At once chaotic, serene, and very much about the materiality of paint, Von Heyl's paintings really deserve some extended viewing time.
Besides the paintings, there is also a large selection of works on paper by Von Heyl that incorporate printmaking, collage, drawing and other techniques. The show is up until February 19, 2012 after which it will travel to ICA-Boston.
Me in the studio earlier this summer. I'm sporting some old-school Cazal frames for a special photography project. When Cazals were really trendy during the 80's and popularized by hip-hop icons Run DMC and you would not have caught me in a pair. Not only did I not like them, but there were kids and adults being robbed and killed for them. However, when they were presented to me as a prop for the shoot, I was instantly taken by...not nostalgia, but an instant connection to my teen years.
This shot was taken by Iman Jones. To see more of his work, go to Iman Jones.net
Cult photographer and filmmaker Todd Selby's latest short is a revealing portrait of performance artist Christine Sun Kim. Deaf from birth, Kim turned to using sound as a medium during an artist residency in Berlin in 2008, and has since developed a practice of lo-fi experimentation that aims to re-appropriate sound by translating it into movement and vision. "It's a lot more interesting to explore a medium that I don't have direct access to and yet has the most direct connection to society at large," says the artist. "Social norms surrounding sound are so deeply ingrained that, in a sense, our identities cannot be complete without it."
Selby filmed an exclusive performance from Kim in a Brooklyn studio as the artist played with field recordings of the street sounds of her Chinatown neighborhood, feedback and helium balloons, and made “seismic calligraphy” drawings from ink- and powder-drenched quills, nails and cogs dancing across paper to the vibrations of subwoofers beneath. Working with sound designer Arrow Kleeman, Selby carefully choreographed the film's ambient score to reveal the Orange County native's unique relationship with sound. "Her work deals with reclaiming sound because it's a foreign world to her and one she's not comfortable in," explains Selby. "I wanted the film to act as an artistic conduit for her to tell her story to the world.” (text from NOWNESS.com)
Mark your calendars! Next Monday, November 14th, an interview I did recently with Roberta Fallon and LIbby Rosof of The Artblog will be posted on Artblog Radio. There is a brief sample of the conversation with this link.
The Bridgette Mayer Gallery reopens it's expanded exhibition space to the public on November 15th with "Karmic Abstraction", a group show featuring works from myself, Neil Anderson, Charles Burwell, Ryan McGinness,Rebecca Rutstein, Odili Donald Odita, Arden Bendler Browning, and more.
I've seen the new gallery space in progress and am really excited to see it finished. More wall space, more space to play with for exhibitions!
See the press release for Karmic Abstraction after the break:
Great studio visit yesterday with Douglas Witmer, Jeffrey Cortland Jones, and Jones' colleague at Dayton University, Kyle Phelps. Jeffrey and Kyle were in Philly from Ohio and this was my first time meeting JCJ, after having been 'net friends for a few years now.
Studio visits with other artists always serve as reminders of how much time I spend with my ideas in my head and working in solitude because I talk so much when people come around...
I have been reorganizing my work space in fits and starts over the several months. A couple of weeks ago, while preparing for open studios (POST), I thought that it was time that I finally dealt with my storage rack. It's a very basic structure with and upper and lower level and no compartments, just open space to keep some works in a contained space. The main reason for the reorganization was to have a better sense of where certain works were in order to avoid having to guess where something is.
Before changing things, the lower level of the rack held older, heavier works from the mid to late 90's that I brought with me to my present studio in 2002. I wanted to make that space available for newer works only and had to relocate the older ones. I had not looked a any of these pieces in years and also realized that almost none have been documented. I thought that it would be interesting to take some shots of some of them as I was moving things around.
The works pictured above all date from around 1996-2001. The first two pieces are good representations of the mixed media approach I was involved in during the latter 90's. I was very interested in moving away from canvas for painting and used aluminum, plexiglas, hardware, enamel and acrylic paints, shellac, and even a solution I bought to create rust effects on various surfaces (see 1-3, above).
The studio I had then was located in a huge warehouse on 12th Street, just north of Vine (the Goldtex Building) on the northern edge of Chinatown. During the time I had a studio there, the building housed a couple of huge clothing sweatshops, along with photography studios, fashion designers and other artist spaces. At one time, it housed the graduate art studios of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. While I was doing the mixed media paintings, someone rented the studio next to mine around '98-'99 to film a scene or two for an independent sci-fi flick (I have since forgotten the name of said film). When the filming ended, there was a ton of plywood left behind which I had access to and made use of for paintings.
Photos 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9 all show paintings made with that salvaged plywood. Photo 4, "The Carrot's Dream Wanders" (approx. 48"x 48"), is probably the heaviest painting I've ever done. I don't know its exact weight but, needless to say, I wanted to make sure that it wouldn't warp nor come apart, as it is comprised of two panels. It has held up very well over time, so I feel vindicated for my overzealousness with cradling the panels.
It's really interesting to look back at older work and be instantly transported back to moments where certain choices were made in regards to the building of the images. Some works are more explicit than others in how I recall what I did. In some pieces, like #8, I don't recall much about the making of, whereas with others I remember a lot about the process, but when I look at it now, it's hard to say how I even pulled any of it off.
A look around the studio as it was set up for the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours.
It was a great couple of days with lots of great conversations, new faces and some that I hadn't seen in a while. The great weather brought out a lot of visitors and the new work generated some good dialogue and feedback. Thanks to those who were able to make it out and thanks to the organizers of the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours for helping to make it happen!
Oops! This post has been a 'draft' all week, which has been a very busy one, so please forgive the late announcement Anyway, if you are in the Old City section of Philadelphia this Saturday and/or Sunday, October 15th and 16th, feel free to stop by my studio. I will have it open as part of the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours. I will have a selection of new and recent paintings and works on paper on display.
Here's what you need to know:
Dates: Saturday, October 13th and Sunday, October 16th
Times: 12pm-6pm, each day
Studio address: 16-A North 3rd Street, 4th Floor (location map)
Old City, Philadelphia.
While you're in the area, make sure to visit some of the other Old Ctiy POST participants, as well:
Divided by Zero, 2011, 40" x 30, acrylic on canvas
A new painting, Divided by Zero, on the studio wall. It's one of a few new "hybrid" works that highlight spatial and compositional dynamics previously unexplored in my painting. This is one of the results of new creative challenges I set up for myself recently in an effort to rethink some of my art-making practices. The process of moving beyond places of stagnation in the work is always tough, but necessary for the the work and artist to grow.
The creative growth process can be harrowing at times because of all of the questioning that comes along with it, but you have to be willing to take on those doubts with action(s) since doing so is an essential part of creativity. The real issue is understanding that for the art and artist to grow, those questions, whatever they may be for any particular artist, by nature, are unanswerable.
I watched a video of an artist talk given by Bill Viola on the Tate Channel (from 2006) not long ago. In it, Viola addressed the issue of creative doubt by saying, "Artists need to know how to fall, to step off of the ledge in a leap of faith." I could not agree more. When I'm in the studio, I'm often in a state of "falling". Not only that, but I also thrive and gain energy from what feels like a striving to get "there", even when I know that there is no "there" to arrive at. As soon as you get "there", all bets are off since what you have been looking for doesn't always seem quite as satisfying anymore. All that's left to do is to start falling again. I'm sure that anyone pursuing any kind of creative path already knows this, consciously or not. It's good to hear someone speak about those feelings and remind us of how important it is to accept the risks of a creative life.
Falling, as it is generally understood, has failure attached to it because falling implies that a goal has been missed; you fall from a cliff, you can die. The goal of living, in this extreme case, has been been missed. For artists, falling is critical for there to be growth and discovery. When I take that step and don't quite know where I'll land is the thing that fuels the fire. It's one of the ways I keep myself connected and thoroughly engaged with the work. Without falling from time to time, real engagement with the work is lost and what's left is, at best, mediocre.
Thinking about falling as it relates to creativity got me thinking about Laurie Anderson's "Walking and Falling"
Yes, it's that time of year again, that time when Philadelphia artists open our studios up to the public for a peek behind the curtain(s).
Today was the first day to pick up our promotional materials.
Imagine the surprise on my face when I saw my mug staring back at me from the back of the brochure for the 2011 edition of the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours. I had no idea this was happening, but I'm pleased and honored. The brochure photo was taken in my studio last year by Bernadette Dye. And, no, I don't smile...ever.
My studio will be open on Saturday and Sunday, October 15th and 16th from 12-6pm both days.