Friday, September 12, 2014

On Openings

Opening with Hipsters, 2014, Oil on Panel

Above is a recent painting I made.  It came from deep in my subconscious brain.  I seriously started the painting with four pink balls and before I knew it they became heads and this was in front of me.  I have no clue who the people are except that the short head in the front is mine.  It came after a particularly awkward night of openings that prompted me to write this post -- an issue I have been thinking about for a long time: openings.

I always set out going to openings with such optimism.  From a month's distance they seem like the perfect social gathering -- people interested in the same things, looking at artwork over a glass of wine.  And then I enter the show and usually pretty immediately things start to go awry.

It's a type of awriness (should be a word) that is so subtle.  I mingle with a first person who its great to see but I'm simultaneously aware that I'm very sober and fairly sweaty from the walk.  The more I start thinking about how sweaty I am in the lights of the gallery, the more my hands feel like foreign objects attached to my arms that are growing quickly and need to be folded awkwardly over my chest to be contained.  I excuse myself to get a glass of wine.  As I am pouring, I am rewinding the scene that just occurred so spontaneously and still deciding whether my enthusiasm was way too excited over the person's comment when someone else usually pulls up.  We talk, I inevitably do something weird. 

The thing is: there are two types of opening goers.  There are those who want to really engage and have a great conversation for a long time broaching all subjects and those who want to bop around and say hi and take in the show quick and easy.  Both philosophies are great.  It turns out I am neither of these.  What I am is the opposite of whatever the person I am talking to is.  I don't mean to be but I must not pick up social cues well or something, every conversation I either feel like I need to pivot and run or am grabbing the person on the shoulder trying to scream a stupid story into their ear.  

The finale comes when, after so many of these start to accumulate, I eventually am talking to someone and the voice in my head is just replaying the 'aubrey's awkward highlight reel', the painfully weird and overly enthused things I have spewed at various points in the night and I can no longer take it.  Which is when I dash out to the nearest bar (hopefully I am with a friend or Alex) and drink away the socially inept artist that I am and wait four weeks to do it again next month.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Report from NY (Sept 2014)

Maria Lassnig at P.S. 1

I spent the day in NY yesterday.  It was the perfect, perfect weather for a day of exploring -- the day right between summer and fall, warmth in the sun but wind in the trees.  A great iced cafe con leche and grilled corn at Cafe Habana and a glass of wine at the cozy, classy Freeman's.  (I kept thinking the place was like walking into a nature morte painting)  

Notice I haven't mentioned the art yet?  That's because the large majority was either forgettable or I am hoping to forget it soon.  At one point my aunt made the hashtag for the day, she said, "god, everything is either boners or bad."  Hahah.  So I'll spare you that and touch on the best things.

We went to P.S. 1 MOMA which I had actually never been to before.  What a great space.  

Roof of P.S. 1 where there is a vegetable garden you can take tomatoes and basil from...

We went there because it was the last day to see the Maria Lassnig show but I think my favorite part was walking around the building; the roof had a beautiful view and really great Richard Serra installation room.  And the different stairwells had installations from William Kentridge and other artists that evolved as you went down.  Not to mention the old public school feel with a 'boys' entrance on the exterior and great light fixtures and tiled bathrooms.

 The Lassnig show we had heard a lot about and didn't want to miss.  I felt it was pretty good but not as good as everyone was saying.  The best works were small watercolors on paper and older works from the first 20 years of her career in my opinion.  The work she is most known for felt too constant in its sense of space, composition and mark, there was not enough searching for me.  

This was a nice one that had great color passages

Small watercolors

Loved this dog..

We left there for the LES on a pretty high note.  Spent some time wandering around and this is when the comment of the day, referenced above, was uttered.  Everything was so surface.  And that's not to say the surfaces were nice.  It was all about a superficial theme or aesthetic.  There was no sense of a deep exploration, personal questions or parameters, no nod to form or materiality.  Regardless of my initial impulse against a lot of the work I would go up close and look only to feel assaulted by a disregard for the construction of the thing.  

The exceptions to this were: Jenny Perlin at Simon Preston gallery, Helen O'Leary's two back room works at Lesley Heller Workspace and Stanley Lewis at Betty Cuningham.  These were nice works with individual investigations.  

Made me think about something I notice with students a lot -- a desire to have a 'style' or 'theme'.  This comes organically, by accident, from making work and figuring out what it is that gets under your skin and makes you want to make work forever.  A dialog with yourself in your studio.  It does not come first. That reversed way of thinking is what many of the shows I felt were bad were doing -- trying to arrive at a 'look' without a means of getting there.

Helen O'Leary at Lesley Heller
The best show of the day for me was Leaves at SHFAP.  It was a group show of various processes and content.  There was a lot of work to look at for an extended period of time, asking different questions but as a good show does, also asking questions of other works in the show due to their contrast.

Peter Acheson

Bad photo of a beautiful installation of Sangram Majumdar 

Katherine Bradford

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Goodbye Summer...

Toshiki Ohashi-Keisuke Konishi Illustration Poster for the collected works of Jean Genet

Like it or not (this year I don't), Labor Day means fall is coming with its serious air of renewal and buckling down to work.  I am going into the new semester with one foot still in the summer.  Part of me looks forward to a crisp breeze and rich velvety purples, greens and ochres but another part is not ready to leave behind the carefree studio days and bloated air of this summer.  I hope with this new season I can maintain some sense of these easy, good-spirited days even while stress from teaching and other boring responsibilities crowd my plate.  Goodbye summer you have been so nice...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Pick: Deineka's Works on Paper

Alexander Deineka (1899-1969) was a Russian painter with quite an oeuvre of work; some quite nice, others downright bizarre.  Some feel a bit too rooted in political subject matter, like they can't overcome their social message and simply read as good paintings years later.  Which is why I especially enjoy his watercolors and gouaches, mostly made in the 1930s, which seem much more spontaneous in subject, composition and make -- and as a result feel quite timeless.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Last Minute Philly Shows

There are two shows I recently saw worth getting to in that last two weeks of their run.  The first is All Different Colors at Fleisher Ollman.  Many beautiful drawings and sculptures to be seen in this exhibition.  

Here are two I snapped a picture of:

Paige Donovan, all acrylic on paper, 12 x 18 inches

Carl Bailey, Untitled, 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18 inches
But click here to view more images and these in better quality. 

This is the second show worth the trip:

The annual juried show at Woodmere, which I saw about two weeks after the Fleisher Ollman, felt like something of an extension or compliment to it, very personal works, sometimes narrative, with an emphasis on color.  Makes sense that the juror is the wonderful Sarah McEneaney. 

Here are two pieces from that show:

Philippa Beardsley, Pizza Parlor, 2014, Wood, acrylic and mixed media on wood

Morgan Hobbs, A New Haircut, 2013, Oil on Canvas
They have a nice online catalogue here if you can't get to the show or aren't local as well.

All Different Colors closes August 30th, the Annual Juried Exhibition is up through September 1 (with a free closing that day.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Caught in the Studio: Leggy Begonia

I like this corner of my studio.  Leggy Begonia and a few favorite other things.