Thursday, February 20, 2014

On Chagall

I find Marc Chagall's lesser known ceramic work way more fantastic and suited to his work than his paintings.  The way forms can encircle each other and disappear around the side or be distorted by the shape of the vase is so appropriate.  I think his manipulation of composition is so much better on these, the surfaces look quite beautiful too.

Another thing about Chagall that I hold close to my heart is something he did not make but rather influence.  It is a poem by my favorite poet Kay Ryan and speaks to the whimsy I strive to find in making a painting and making a life.

Every Painting by Chagall

Every twined groom and bride,
every air fish, smudged Russian,
red horse, yellow chicken, assumes
its position not actually beside
but in some friendly distribution
with a predictable companion.
Every canvas insists on a
similar looseness, each neck
put to at least two uses. And wings
from some bottomless wing source.
They are pleasure wings of course
since any horse or violinist
may mount the blue
simply for wanting to.
(In freedom, dear things
Repeat without tedium.)

I love that: ...may mount the blue simply for wanting to.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Wall of 'Leaps of Faith'

This is the other wall in my old studio space that I recently put back together.  I am calling it the wall of 'Leaps of Faith.'  Usually I wouldn't need to name a wall of paintings  but I just finished reading Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer in which he titles and names everything.  Its very weird prose (if you have read it you know what I mean) but gets in my head, kind of like when I am talking to an English person for a while, I feel the undeniable urge to mimic back to them in an accent.  Does that happen to other people?

Anyway I will tell you a few of the stories as to why I titled it this way.  First, the keystone in the center is a picture of Alex and I at our wedding.  What is more of a leap of faith than committing the rest of your days to someone else?  Even when you had been with them for 11 years previously...  Its in the frame I found a while ago which was a strange leap of faith project on its own...

This picture sort of goes with my story of my humble art beginnings from earlier this week.  It is a drawing I did at age 6 where I guess the teacher posed the question: What would your magic hat let you do?  And so I drew myself doing a self portrait and underneath in the teacher's writing it says "My magic hat would let me be an artist."  My mom found this and surprised me with it framed for Christmas this year.  Pursuing that dream is definitely a leap of faith.

And this little gem is a painting of this exact space, day bed and Nugget.  A few weeks ago Alex and I had a Nugget painting competition.  This was his painting and it won.  I loved it so much I decided to hang it up, because your first painting always requires a leap of faith.  The other pieces required a leap of faith too but they are by other artists and not my stories to tell...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Old Studio Wall Pt. 2

I changed up my 'recent acquisitions' wall again since having my newest favorite painting framed.  Today was a snow day so it was a good project to keep me from going stir crazy.

That painting is by Greg Biché.  It is quite hard to photograph now that it is under glass but see it here, on his website.  Click the link, really, because there are four others in this series and many excellent paintings and drawings.

I also decided to take a better photo showing the John Bokor drawing and Jean Smith painting.  I have access to a computer so I can plug my camera in once more!  Woo, I didn't realize how dependent I am on a computer until it was gone.

I took the other dog painting that was on this wall and moved it to the side wall with a few other serious treasures that I want to share.  I will post that soon, just have to finish it up.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sunday Pick: Shara Hughes

Your Not Lost Stupid, Your Hiding, 2013

Boo Hoo I'm In Love, 2013
Atlanta-based painter Shara Hughes' work has had my eye since her piece Your Not Lost Stupid, Your Hiding was in the group show Bathers at Morgan Lehman this summer.  

She is in a group show opening in a few weeks at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Brooklyn.  TSA was originally a Philadelphia-based gallery and now they have opened this second new space over the last year.  Sump Pumped Sentiments opens Friday, February 21 and looks like its going to be a pretty interesting show.

A Few Studio Shots

The view from my desk

A few new tools that were a gift from my dad.  They don't do a good job at their intended purposes -- in fact they're pretty useless-- but fantastic shapes for looking at and painting from.

Love the windows and shape of our space

My fantastic new palette table.  It's so wonderfully enormous.  An old ikea table found on craigslist.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Women and Biography at Woodmere Art Museum

I'm happy to share this announcement for Women and Biography opening at Woodmere Art Museum on February 8th.  I have a piece in this show which was bought by a woman who promised her collection to Woodmere.  So that's how that happened.

The show focuses on women who paint from their own life as a subject matter.  I am more than honored to be showing alongside these women, many of whose paintings have been the source of contemplative looking for me.  That first name though, Mary Cassatt, holds something particularly special for me.

Beginning in fifth grade, Mary Cassatt was to me what Michael Jordan was to many of my male counterparts.  She was my Justin Bieber to girls of that age currently.  If you couldn't already tell, I wasn't the coolest kid, but I was passionate.

Around that time, I already knew I loved art and knew quite a few artists -- Georgia O'Keeffe, Dali, da Vinci, Gauguin, Degas, Monet -- they were on my radar, but none held my intrigue like Mary Cassatt.  I had read all of their 30 page biographies in the library and decided Mary was who I needed to emulate.  Number 1 -- she spent time in Philadelphia and was a woman painter.  Check, I could do that.  Number 2 -- somewhat magically and simply (at least in the bio) she ended up in France alongside some of the best painters and thinkers of her generation.  That would work for me.

So when I found out that our final graduating project was the 'famous person project' I naturally knew who would be my subject.  For this project students in the entire grade had to create a written report and foam core poster and it would culminate in a one day event where we dressed as that person and presented them to the class.  

I worked so hard on that report.  The cover was a hand cut-out brown paper palette with collaged rainbow colored-blobs of paint.  The kicker was the binding -- I hole punched the side in two places and used a paintbrush to hold the rubber bands that secured it in place.  I was very shy at that time and I have to say normally pretty modest, but on that day I distinctly remember carrying the report in, casually facing outwards.  Not too aggressive but just in case someone caught a glimpse they would note that I was not only depicting a great artist, but also one with her own artistic merit.  HAHA! 

My love has spread a bit since then, to other painters and realities for myself.  But I definitely still have love for her.  This painting at the PMA is always a favorite of mine.  I love the way the darks fuse into one large abstract shape and what that suggests of the relationship of the father and son, form becomes content: 

Portrait of Alexander J. Cassatt and His Son, Robert Kelso Cassatt, 1884, Oil on Canvas
So my fifth grade self can't help but smile deeply at the reality of this Woodmere show and the proximity of our names on the publication.  Of course I am in no way equating the two of us but it is quite an affirming feeling to look back close to 20 years and know that this thing of making art which seized me then still possesses me.  And that I am lucky enough to be living a life in which I paint on most days I think would make that 10 year old version of myself pretty proud.