Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Collages by Keats and Katz

Whistle For Willie Illustrations (above and below) by E.J. Keats

The Snowy Day Illustration (Above) by E.J. Keats

Alex Katz Collages (above), of which imagery and the book are nearly impossible to find

I love, love, love these works. The paired-down simplicity, graphic, flat quality to the image and color/pattern contrasts are so fresh.

I forgot all about Keats' work until working with kids this past summer. I thought it was so funny that my aesthetic taste has carried through since I was little, as these were some of my favorite books. I remember completely judging a book by its cover and only being invested in the story if I thought the illustrations were good (which is quite snobby considering I was probably making scribbles).

When I saw Katz's collages which I favor over a lot of his paintings, I thought of this connection. I also thought of some of Horace Pippin's work in relation to these collages. I have begun thinking about all these qualities in relation to my work too. How to incorporate pattern and a more graphic element in contrast to my brushy strokes are fueling a few experiments these days. Not quite ready for the unforgiving eternity of the cyberworld yet though...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

David Sedaris on Conceptual Art

If you haven't read this yet, you should:

Or listen to it. That's what I did while painting recently and when he got to Chapter 4 : 12 Moments in the Life of an Artist, I couldn't help but laugh hysterically. Not only at his jokes about artists and their deadly seriousness but also the irony that I was at that second probably at about Moment 5, in my studio, paintbrush in hand. Which I actually had to put down to jot down some of the things he said to laugh at later. Here they are, not exactly quotes but pretty close:

"I took an apartment near the state university where I discovered two things: methamphetamines and conceptual art, neither one of these things is dangerous but in combination they have potential to destroy entire civilizations.

[Former art friends] were still talking about pen and ink portraits and couldn’t seem to understand my desire to drag a heavy cash register through the forest…I hadn’t actually done it but it sounded like a good idea to me.

His living room contained nothing but a giant nest of hair…Their artworks were known as pieces…Nice piece I’d say. In my eagerness to please I accidentally complimented chipped base boards and sacks of laundry waiting to be taken to the cleaners. Anything could be art if you looked hard enough. The world was our conceptual oyster and we ate it raw."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Smart Art

I'm not usually a sucker for clever, conceptual work. In fact, I'm not even sure this is a visual work of art but I have to agree with the collaborating artist Christian Bok-- it is some kind of poetry-- and sensitive enough for me to think about after the punchline.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Humphrey Ocean Interview

One of my favorite contemporary painters, Humphrey Ocean's take on what is essential to his work:

"I paint what I know. I'm not interested in the grand tour. The things that I paint make their mark, make me feel something, and it's that feeling I'm trying to paint. I like to paint where human beings have been,

where they've done something to a place."

Someone can walk past a portrait and recognise that person, but if it's like something about that person, that tiny thing that is absolutely them, whatever it is, then that's a terrific thing.

Each time I paint, I open up and take in all of what I see. I let all the shipping come in and hope the right thing comes into the harbour and parks up, and that's when I know I've got the little thing I want. I can't even try to explain what I'm looking for, but I know when I haven't got it and I know when I have."

And here is a nice little excerpt from Nick Hornby's article on Ocean and what painting is all about:

"When I went to visit Ocean, I had just finished reading The Eclipse of Art, in his conclusion, Spalding promises that when the shadow of conceptualism passes, we will be dazzled by the imaginative light of the artists working in our backyard.

I put this to Ocean, but he is having none of it, of course: he has a nice life, his paintings are sought by collectors, and in any case he finds the current climate much healthier than the Eighties, "when everything was so referential, and everyone was walking around with Gogol sticking out of their pockets. Not that there's anything wrong with Gogol." In any case, Ocean is perfectly content to let history sort it all out. "I mean, people don't look at a Rembrandt and think, 'Well, I don't know what to make of that.' And they're not interested just because he's old, either. You look at a Rembrandt and your knees shake. That's what it's about."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tracy Miller

In honor of a sunny Friday, the ebullient paintings of Tracy Miller:

Breakfast, 2009, 20 x 20 inches

Tartelette, 2003-08, 40 x 30 inches

Candy, 2009-10, 30 x 20 inches
photos courtesy of the artist

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Good Things

Do you know the work of Kenzo Okada (1902-1982)? If not, don't feel bad, neither did I until yesterday. But thankfully one of my critics told me I would love him and he was right! So now I have to share with you.
P.S. This is my 100th blog post and right around the year anniversary of this compilation of art thoughts. Since I heard yesterday that 80% of blogs die by 6 months...I'm kind of proud.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Taste of Spain

Here are some of the wondrous things I saw in the last week in Spain
Mosaic in the Alcazar Palace in Seville
Me in front of a LARGE tree in the Jardins de Murillo
All the streets were inlaid with stones or tiles
Clouds at twilight on the bridge to Triana
Odd vase in the Cathedral's treasury
View of Ronda as the sun broke through rain clouds
Even the pigeons were pretty, the white ones looked so clean
Glazed statue in the Alhambra gardens
Ronda Trees in Silhouette
Starry sky in the day

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Roger Chavez at UCAL

I've been meaning to post this for a while. The wonderful art center I have worked at for the last few years, University City Arts League, has hung a beautiful solo show of Roger Chavez's drawings and paintings.
As you can probably tell, the work has to be seen in person and it is only up until Friday! The pieces are quiet, searching and humble...all things I value and seem increasingly endangered in the art world these days. (Sorry I'm a little bitter from yesterday's '4th wall'...but that's for another post or maybe for another blog or maybe for a journal I then proceed to burn.)

Rebekah Templeton

Rebekah Templeton Gallery has just begun an online inventory gallery of sorts which is pretty cool. Work that has been exhibited in the space previously or other work by artists which have shown there have work available online. Some of my pieces from the show last spring are listed.

They are also holding an open call for new artists. It's a great space with some of the nicest people in the art community I've met. There is also an interactive performance piece this Saturday which includes an old typewriter and the ability to send personal letters via the artist. Check it all out here...