Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Michael Gallagher at Schmidt Dean


I stopped in to Schmidt Dean Gallery today to see Michael Gallagher's show Big Fun.  It was a really quality, cohesive show.  The surfaces of these things are even richer in person.  I was interested to see the way he manipulates color, some paintings operating in more narrow palettes of gray and reds and others marrying small bits of many colors (like the work pictured above).  I think this show would be extremely giving to any painter and highly suggest seeing it before it ends on June 29th.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Pick: Francis Davison











I find the collage work of Francis Davison (1919 - 1984) so exquisite.  Davison only used found papers and never changed the color, only through the relationships of the collage did the color become so rich.  A reader said of Judith Farr's work 'equal parts restraint and wild abandon'.  This comment has been in my mind a bit, and I think it is a key feeling in works that I really admire most.  Looking at a work, I like to feel the artist working, editing and changing things relentlessly but also searching for the point where there is just enough, no excess.  And I think Davison is an artist to learn so much of that from looking at his work.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New York Trip

I went to New York yesterday with two of the most artistic and stylish people I know -- they are wonderful friends too, so the day started off just right -- and it only got better from there.

Paysage Méditerranée, 1954, Oil on canvas, 23 5/8 by 31 7/8 in

Grignan, 1953, Oil on Canvas, 5 1/2 x 8 5/8 in.

We saw the Nicholas de Staël show at Mitchell-Innes and Nash.  Above are my two standouts from the show.

Nasturtiums with the Painting "Dance" I, 1912, Oil on Canvas, 75 1/2 x 45 3/8 in.

And hit the Met to see what was on view there including the PUNK fashion exhibit and a visit to the modern galleries.  I love revisiting the painting above every time I am there.

Little Sperlonga Norway, 2011, Acrylic on Canvas, 11 x 15 in.

Extreme Ikebana, 2012-13, Acrylic, Collage on Canvas, 66 x 84 in.

We also breezed through Chelsea to the shows we thought worth dropping into including Judith Simonian at Edward Thorp.  Her work was really interesting to see in person.  Her ability to pull together all these images and paint and color and make them work on one canvas while teetering on the edge was pretty great.

Olympian, 1984, Oil on Linen, 17 x 23 in
Barking Dog, 1995, Oil on Canvas, 11 x 14 in.

Long Rectangular Box, 2001, Oil on Canvas, 14 x 17 in.

But my favorite of the day had to be seeing the Victor Pesce show at Elizabeth Harris.  The show included somewhere around 60 works ranging from 1978 to 2010.  There were so many gems in the show, they were quiet meditations on painting.  His ability with color is really fantastic.

We ended the day on another lovely friend's roof deck overlooking the Chrysler building while eating Turkish take out and sipping white wine.  Probably one of the best Tuesdays that ever was.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Pick: Judith Bryony Farr


Acrylic on Canvas
Acrylic and Pencil on Paper

Acrylic on Paper 
Acrylic and Pencil on Paper 
Acrylic and Pencil on Paper


This Sunday's pick is one I have been looking forward to sharing.  Judith Bryony Farr's work is wonderful.  She is the new painting friend I mentioned in my post about Albert Irvin.  We have been corresponding about our lives as painters in our different cities (she's in Lleida, Catalonia) and the trials of the studio along with sharing influences and new finds.  

Out of a personal curiosity I asked Judith if she would be willing to send some photos of her bike ride to the studio and inside of her studio, as well as respond to a few questions.  Her poignant reactions and beautiful pictures are below.  Check out the light in that studio!  I think its time I start making studio visits a regular part of this blog...



1. We have discussed a bit about color and how living in Spain vs. England may have impacted your work, can you talk a little about that?


This question has really made me ponder the impact of moving to Catalonia (still officially part of Spain, but we'll see...).  I must admit I've never considered Spain to have had a direct impart on my art, although after 10 years here it undoubtedly must have.  The light here is startlingly different from Britain and the weather conditions are also much more extreme.  One thing that always delights me is that magical hour just before sunset when everything turns bright pink, orange, yellow or violet.  The truth is that I find so many things about where I live very moving just because they're so different to where I grew up.  The culture, language, landscape, and food for example, often thrill me, when maybe I should be pretty used to them by now.

The truth is bring intense colour has always moved and inspired me since I was a child.  I remember my mum's art poster and postcard collection, her love of colourful silk scarves, the flowers in our garden and the art of  British artists such as Patrick Heron and Howard Hodgkin, and the French Fauvist painters.
e of colourful silk scarves, the flowers in our garden and the art of British artists such as Patrick Heron and Howard Hodgkin, and the French Fauvist painters.  When I use colour with absolute abandon I feel like I'm really being myself, I think that's part of what my process is about; struggling through the build up of emotional crap inside my head to reach a place of joy and optimism.

2. When you begin a painting, is there a certain impetus?  Is it a color or something you see or a pattern?  Do you have any sort of preconceived picture of what you are going to paint regardless of if that is the actual outcome?


I just need to get painting and making and take myself and my thoughts out of the equation as much as possible. I’ve tried planning, I’ve painted from photos and from life but so far these processes don’t inspire me. So when I start painting my aim is to just mess up the white surface, or start with a coloured background and work into it. I need to throw myself into the work to get past the fear of failure. There’s almost always a struggle throughout the work and sometimes I come away from the studio feeling really disappointed but it’s always worth it for those times when something magical emerges from the mess.While I’m painting an image from something I’ve seen may pop up and it’s normally a pattern like a textile pattern or something organic. However, despite these influences I know I can’t get too attached to any marks I’m putting down because they may need to be covered over in order to allow the final image to appear.


3. Your work is made of beautiful marks.  Do you find yourself searching for new types of marks all the time or employing marks that are familiar sort of characters in your arsenal?

Pattern and rhythm are an important part of my visual vocabulary, the word arsenal is fantastic! I’m not sure I have an arsenal of marks as yet but I think that’s what I’m aiming for. It reminds me of learning Spanish or Catalan; I’m just building up my skills on a daily basis and trying to express myself in more complex and imaginative ways.

I tend to go back to dots and stripes when I’m not sure where to go with a piece. I’m always trying to surprise myself and not repeat anything or do anything that’s too easy. So I’m mostly trying to find new combinations of marks, colours and compositions. I think that’s why I feel so comfortable working on paper, because I can just get it down as quickly as possible and move on to something new, I’m very impatient!

4.  What else is on your 'painting mind' presently?

Recently I’ve been dreaming of making much bigger and splashier pictures, I’ve been thinking about my process as including journeys through the pictorial space, and I’ve been trying to incorporate more drawing. I’m enjoying not knowing what I’m doing but just doing it anyway. I’m also feeling quite excited about a MFA I’m starting in September.















Thursday, May 16, 2013

ASE Review


Wei Wei Weintraub


Wei Wei Weintraub



Greg Biché


 Greg Biché


Mariel Capanna


Bettina Nelson


Bettina Nelson

I went to the Annual Student Exhibition at PAFA a few days ago.  I purposely avoided going during the opening because I wanted to avoid the mobs of people and really take a look at the work.

Unfortunately, I have to say I left feeling pretty unimpressed on the whole.  The shows walls were filled to the brim with work, too crowded really.  And that could have contributed to my feeling on the fact that I didn't see a lot of  walls that showed an artist's deep investigation into their work, it felt a bit like a jumbled mess.  

There was a lot of experimentation going on and 'contemporary looking' things but only a few walls that felt authentically cohesive and as a result kept me engaged. The standouts for me are above:  Wei Wei Weintraub, Greg Biché, Mariel Capanna and Bettina Nelson.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Pick: Megan Chase

A.M., 2011, Oil on Muslin Panel, 29 x 48

Column, 2012, Oil on Panel, 8 x 9.5

Passage, 2012, Oil on Muslin Panel, 12 x 12

Pass Time, 2012, Oil on Muslin Panel, 11 x 14

Some Dark Days, 2012, Oil on Canvas, 38 x 48


I was so happy to come across Megan Chase's paintings recently online.  They are so joyful and full of a love for paint and color and shapes and florals that feels near to my heart.  I really admire the way she can paint a great small picture and bigger, more sustained pictures that are also very good.  They serve different purposes but seem to feed each other in a fruitful way.  Enjoying them on this perfect spring day is just right.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Out of the Studio: Claude Monet


Monet and his wife Alice in Piazza San Marco, Venice 1908.  

Love everything about this photo but maybe most the fact that I thought she had a bird on her hat the first ten times I looked, but now I realize its a hat in the shape of a bird.  They may be the first to 'put a bird on it' ever -- artists are always first with the trends.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday Pick: David Holt

Landscape with Bather, 2011, Acrylic on Canvas 
Bathers(akimbo), 2011, Acrylic on Linen

Romanesque 2, 2009, Acrylic on Linen

Pines, 2011, Acrylic on Canvas

Small Woods, 2008, Acrylic on Canvas

Small Landscape, 2011, Acrylic on Wood

The work of David Holt, is some of my favorite painting I have found via the internet in the last year.  His work is one of those that I debate sharing with others in my most selfish moments, because it is just so good I want to keep it to myself!  But they are the type of paintings you can learn a lot from, so I must share the wealth.  

He has a few long running subjects including botanicals, architectural ruins, bathers and fossils/natural history.     On top of the subject matter, you can read his interest and understanding of art history and painting in the beautiful compositions and mark making.  The color usually operates in these cool blues, pinks and dirty greens -- really stunning combinations -- I imagine in person the depth of color to be even richer. 

 I am hoping to see the work in person in the future (it has been at Bowery Gallery, NY in the past), his work has most recently been shown with Loop Gallery in Toronto, Canada.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

First Friday: No Lollygagging



Amanda Bush, Habitual Offender 


 left: Amanda Bush, Pink in the Face, right: Leigh Werrell, Up, Down, Charmed Bottom

Leigh Werrell, Home
Joan Turner, Summer House (detail)

Joseph Lozano, Blinds

When I was a kid, I was always hearing this expression, "go do x, but no lollygagging"  And now that I teach kids, I know exactly why. All they ever do is lollygag, leaving massive messes their wake, completely forgetting the task at hand...which the attending grown up then has to go complete on top of cleaning up the other mess left from the time spent not doing the original task.  So after a long week of working with these lollygaggers, I was understandably exhausted and the only thing that seemed reasonable or enjoyable to do on friday night was to go home and face plant into bed until tomorrow. 

 But it was First Friday.  

So I gave myself the strict instructions: get to the shows you want to see, no lollygagging.  And it was the best plan ever.  

I went first to Gross McCleaf, to see Memory, Place and Identity as Filter, which featured the work of Amanda Bush, Leigh Werrell and Joan Turner.  It was really a fantastic show.  A very cohesive, well curated show with beautiful paintings that seemed to reference the artists' lives but went to some exotic, boogeyman dwelling childhood paradise alla Peter Doig.  Definitely worth a look in person -- the images don't do the surfaces and color justice.  (Full disclosure:  Leigh and Amanda were in my MFA program a year below, and they are lovely people, but that is not why I recommend this show.)

My second and final stop was to Joe Lozano's solo show at Artists' House.  All the work was in this beautiful bluish, green tonality like the painting above.  The paintings were of common things, (like a wreath or blinds or two people embracing) which is something of a departure for his work.  But the way they were painted made these things feel anything but commonplace, they were also alive with a sort of foreign, other-worldly light.

Of course, being an artist, I often find myself wandering around aimlessly between point A and B, lollygagging if you will, but at First Friday, when a billion people are milling through sweaty galleries to see what is many times mediocre art for the promise of a splash of wine and a pretzel rod, I like my new all business approach.  I arrived home invigorated for the first night all week.