Saturday, January 31, 2015

Black is my new White

I remember when I was in graduate school one of my semester end group crits centered around how I use too much white in paintings.  One critic said it was a crutch and the remaining 15 minutes were spent pointing it out.  Since then I had a heightened consciousness for my use of white, sometimes just indulging it and other times forcing myself to omit it from my palette completely.

Recently I can not get enough of what you might call the opposite.  Blacks and blues that cover.  With white I liked its transparency and even just the gesso white of the board, the pristine, light filled quality.  But I've been finding the rich darks so seductive in their subtlety.  I bought a bunch of different blacks at the suggestion of another painter and it has fed my investigation.

Another thing I find so nice is how it can be dense and deep or flat.  I like the way it pulls a viewer to approach at an intimate distance.

Stray Boy, 2014, Oil on Panel

Detail of an in progress painting

Midnight Remote, 2015, Oil on Panel
 This one and this one too, they were precursors to this obsession.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow Day Creations

Even though we only got about 3 inches of snow, there was enough hype over the "Blizzard of 2015" to get me two snow days.  I stayed indoors and off the roads like the good citizen that I am, and used the time to do some creative projects I've had on my mind for quite some time.

The first (above) is a Nugget pillow!  Nug loves to put her head on a small pillow.  I have one with sequins on it and another with embroidery from Mexico, both that I really like, that she is constantly drooling on.  So I figured I'll make her her own pillow.  (Because that's not a spoiled dog or anything.)  And then I saw this cat pillow, and figured "oh! if I make it look like Nugget then she will know it's hers."  And so far its working.  I always knew there was genius inside that thick head of hers.

Staying with the theme of pillows, I decided to give another one a face lift.  A couple months back I bought a box of Rit dye for like $2 to jump on the dip dye bandwagon.  I tried that with a white shirt and the results were terrible. 

 But I love the pillow pictured left, it was just getting dingy even after being washed.  So I threw it in a dye bath and rewashed it and I love it now.  It's funny because in my paintings I keep covering original paintings with a uniform layer of blue.  I think I just need to put my whole living room in a blue dye bath.

And what kind of snow day is it without cooking?  Especially a soup.  So I made a minestrone.  It's pretty classic although I used gluten free noodles which turned out surprisingly well, sometimes they disintegrate, and some aged balsamic on top.  

The one big family secret I will share and my mommom would be so distraught to know I am doing this...add a sweet potato to broths.  They disintegrate in a good way and sweeten and thicken the broth.  We do it with chicken soup and I did it with this soup and it really added to the flavor. 

And finally, I replanted this pig pot!  My friends gave me this amazing planter for my birthday and I had been keeping basil in it.  But that all died, its too cold in the kitchen.  So I split succulents and replanted them here.  I recently learned about this which I guess a lot of people know but I had no idea.  You can take an arm of a succulent and plant it in the soil and it will grow roots.  I tried it with another planter and its been about 4 months, so far so good.  It's great because when my original three little pots are looking leggy I just break them off and replant.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Shows from NYC to PHL

This post is a mash-up of things I have seen in the last month and a half.  I was in New York twice and did a bunch of popping around in Philly and never got organized enough to do a proper post but here are some images anyway.

Albert York @ Matthew Marks

Albert York

The Albert York show was a solid gem in a sea of mediocre shows I want to forget about when I was up in NY in early December.  It was really nice to see a painter who quietly pursued his interests over years and years.  In stark contrast was the Hockney show across the street -- what the hell was that??  I was also not as excited about Neo Rauch as many other people seemed to be.  Why does everything have to be so in excess when artists get to a certain level of success?  What happened to restraint?  More on that in a minute...

Ridley Howard at Koenig & Clinton

Ridley Howard

But first, Ridley Howard's solo show at Koenig & Clinton was another excellent show of restraint and continued investigation.  The formal concerns for color along with the figurative imagery was very nice.  (link above has installation shots)  

Another really nice show that I regretfully don't have any photos from was Matt Bollinger at Zurcher Studio.  Beautiful use of collage.

Schofield @ Woodmere

Installation Shot at Schofield Show
 Although this show felt a bit repetitive at times, the survey of Walter Elmer Schofield at Woodmere Art Museum was worth the trip.  I particularly loved the room pictured above.  The greens and blues in those pictures was knockout.  The larger room had some really solid painting in it, just maybe too many.  I felt as though some of the later, weaker paintings could have been edited out.  The show is up for a couple more days...

Amy Sillman @ MOMA

Against my better judgment I went back up to NY last week because there were a few things I wanted to see, especially at MOMA.  It was that 9 degree day so that on top of the fact that I had been disappointed the month before meant I was feeling extremely critical.  Like, "this better be worth it", not "I have an open mind to take in and digest whatever I stumble upon."

I started at the Matisse cut outs show which was very good, actually quite like what I expected.  So in a strange way I didn't take a lot from it for myself but I enjoyed the visual experience of it.  Then I dropped into the Forever Now show about contemporary painting including painters like Amy Sillman, Julie Mehretu, Laura Owens (big names but a nice number of women painters).  I felt somehow underwhelmed even though every single thing was over-sized.  I liked the painting above by Sillman best.  Somehow making still life that size was the only thing that felt necessary and full of spirit, it was funny.  A lot of the other paintings felt like they were big just because that meant they were important.   I think this nicely written article says a lot of what I thought.  

Jean Dubuffet 

The Dubuffet show was the most surprising for me.  I was really engaged by it.  It felt so right to look at right now.  It was raw but the restraint of material and color kept it poetic somehow.  I also saw the Gober show which is now closed and was worth seeing but the rest of those shows are still going and worth the trip.

So I left MOMA feeling pretty satisfied but not completely.  If it was 65 degrees that would have been one thing, but on a 9 degree day I needed to see something really, really stunning.

Anne Tabachnick @ Lori Bookstein
 So it was a good thing when I got to Lori Bookstein, because both shows were just that.  I have a catalog of Tabachnick's work but had never seen it in person. 

And on top of that show, the back show was really nice by Eric Holzman.  These are up until mid February.

Eric Holzman

I also liked Sarah Gamble's work at Edward Thorp which is now over. (sorry no photos).

Mamma Andersson

The final thing I saw was Mamma Andersson at Zwirner.  I loved her work when I was in grad school.  And I still like it.  I thought this show was not quite as strong as the last I saw and I hated the project space.  I think she is teetering right on the edge that this whole post seems to be about -- continuing to make work that has a struggle and a personal investigation vs. making work too fast because it is in demand.  I understand that it might take going over that line to know it but I really hope she sticks to moments like the one pictured above vs. this.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Fine Arrangement Exhibition @ PAFA Museum

Below are some images from the A Fine Arrangement exhibition currently on view at PAFA.  Curated by Jan Baltzell and Michael Gallagher, it is a large show with a great variety of paintings in scale, time period, style and imagery, highlighting the versatility of the genre.  I keep going back to the show and finding new things.  It's been a really engaging show for me and I love that it is up for a few months (opened in October, ends April 12th)

There is a free, public opening on Tuesday, January 27th from 4:30 - 6:30 and a panel discussion Wednesday March 4th from 5:30 - 7:30.  

Jimmy Bellew, Palette, 2012

left: Laura Adams, Jade Bracelet, 2013(?),  right: George Cope, Spectacles, 1900 
Jane Piper, Still Life with Two Compotes, 1968

Raymond Saunders, La Chambre, 1961

left: my painting Black Curtain, 2014, right: Richard Diebenkorn Interior with Doorway, 1961 (one of my favorite paintings ever, looked at it all the time while in school)

Humbert Howard, The Yellow Cup, 1949-50

Unidentified Artist, Still Life with Pumpkin, 19th Century

Jane Wilson, Some of Willa's Things, 1971 (a favorite of my from PAFA's collection, almost always in the vault) 
Claire Kincade, At the Foot of the Table, 2013

Michael Rossman, Leaves, 1969

left: Horace Pippin, The Warped Table, 1940, right: my painting Pink Flower with Clock, 2014

Michael Ciervo, Untitled(Power, Corruption, Lies/Fantin-Latour), 2008 (excuse the glare)

from left: Ken Kewley, Jimmy Leuders, Bill Scott

Abraham Rattner, The Round Table, 1945
left: Catherine Mulligan, Still Life, 2008, right: my painting Late Night Light, 2014 

Joshua Marsh, Not, 2013

Elizabeth Godshalk Burger, Still Life, 1940 

Jan Baltzell, Begonia, 1971-72

These installation shots show how big the gallery is with a lot of work to digest.  I probably only posted a quarter of the work, if that.  It continues into the stairwell gallery and back gallery as well.

  As a still life painter I always feel like there are not enough shows of good, radical still life paintings to sink my teeth into.  This is a really satisfying experience and worth a visit and a return visit for sure.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Sunday Pick: Jean Brusselmans

Dilbeek Sous La Neige, 1938

Winter, 1925

Jardin Sous La Neige, 1942 

Seringen, 1934

I've been enjoying the paintings of Belgian artist Jean Brusselmans (1884-1953).  His use of white, black and chromatic grays is really strong.  I also think the stylized mark making, although typical of the time feel somehow specific enough to be fresh today.  I am most drawn to his landscape works, particularly snow scenes, but think the vase of flowers above is beautiful in its play with flatness and pattern.