Thursday, September 04, 2014

About my collection

As an artist I have collected art, now and then, so I began to think about collection. What does my collection say about me? Who’s art is in my collection? I remember looking through local critic and photographer J. R. Compton’s page of his art collection, I think it says a lot about his personal tastes and his personality. So I thought I would bare my soul and give you a glimpse of my own collection of art.

Being an artist, I sometime manage to convince other artists to trade with me. My first trade for an art piece was with C. David Jones. He is an artist out of Bowling Green, Kentucky. My friend had had him as a painting instructor at Western Kentucky University, where I too got my undergraduate degree. Later, when I ran a gallery in Dallas for a short while, I gave C. David Jones a show and he traded me one of my early signature paintings for large narrative piece, which depicts the old opera house of Bowling Green, Kentucky. The piece uses a lot of earth tones and the scene implies a love triangle.

While at the University of North Texas, Michael Tole, who shows with Conduit, traded me two prints he made during his printmaking class for one of my digital mono-prints. These two prints are of Fabergé eggs, yet stripped of much of the colors. Jenny Leigh Jones graduated a year before me and traded me her very personal painting of a tea set and reclining lawn chair for a drawing. My four year old girl insisted on displaying it in her room. UNT alumni, Lori Giesler just gave me a few pieces. One of her paintings hang in my bedroom next to Sarah Williams’ painting of a dark rural downtown street, which I traded Williams for a large drawing. Giesler’s image looks like a movie still image with a faded depiction of Rich Uncle Pennybags from Monopoly Game run across the canvas. Another alumi, Mariko Frost’s painting is located over my bed. The moment I saw the piece in her studio, I fell in love with the rich mix of oils. The painting has an exaggerated one point perspective in a subway tunnel. Two figures are in an embrace on the far right side. A ghost image of a speeding train streaks by the figures.
 
I spent a few years in Waco and I meet a several artists, but only Iris Lee traded me a piece. I know it must have been extremely hard for Lee to trade me her drawing of a jaguar, but my son needed the powerful animal to nurture his imagination and also to give him strength. I too feel awe inspiring by its presence every time I enter my son’s room. But I know what you must be thinking, “it must be nice to get a collection of art with just trading art, but I have to pay for mine.” Well, back before I had children and before I spent a lot on grad school, I had some money to buy art. On a trip to Santa Fe, my wife and I bought a Peter Voshefski ink and gesso on panel. The drawing was made in 2005 and titled “a map of the forest.” It was my first purchase of an art piece by an artist I never meet, I knew little about him, but I had to have the work and I was willing to pay for it.   

A few other artists in my collection include: paintings by Brenda McKinney, Elizabeth Owens, and Joe N. Gamblin; prints by Vivan Spraberry and Sandra Lords; a photo by Sebastien Boncy.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

CORE SAMPLES


Cat Rigdon - Genghis Khan - Multi-media 16 x 18 inches


ModernDallas.net re-post of my article

Last week I wrote about galleries taking risks and one of those risks I mentioned was a gallery risking a show on an untested curator. Well, Adrian Zuniga of Galleri Urbane may not be completely untested, because he has jointly worked on several shows at the gallery during his two year tenure. However, this was his first solo curated exhibition for the gallery and I think he tapped into the aesthetic mission of the gallery quite nicely.

Adrian Zuniga’s concept was to stage and jury Texas artists through an email submission process which lasted three weeks. The gallery advertised several places to capture a broad range of artists. They received about 90 submissions, and from that Zuniga created a short list of 25. From that point, he started curating a show of artists that would fit well together in the two front gallery spaces. This process helped him reach 11 artists he wanted to show. The artists also delivered more than was exhibited in the show, so Zuniga was able to curate each individual artists work with care and consideration. Zuniga pointed out to me that some artists in the show could convey their ideas in a single work, while other artists required two or more pieces to help the viewer fully develop an appreciation for the works. Although Zuniga was sole curator, he still had to make the argument to everyone else at the gallery and the public at large that these were worthy selections.

So who was in the show? Cat Rigdon for one, and she came off as clever, and fun. She had pieces that played with consumerism packaging, crafty stitching, sometimes messages that read like twitter feeds, and a bunch of other random mess that made every one of her pieces charming. Zuniga was wise to pick several pieces of hers for the show. I might not have been so charmed if Rigdon only had had one piece. Josephine Durkin’s collages were in the same room as Rigdon, and I felt the work complimented each other. Durkin’s work has flowing lines that seem made from random images and textures, but contained by the paper and the frame. Isabella Bur’s large paper works with small labels also reflected consumerism, but more inline with the throw away culture. It took me a while to enter these pieces by Bur, but the more I reflect upon the work, the more I am engaged with her use of all that blank space and two tiny used up objects. These works are almost museums in and of themselves to the objects on display.

Zuniga’s curation took a different direction the second gallery, which had a little more focus on street art sensibility. More spray can or expressionist mark making populated the space. Jay Giroux’s Christopher Wool type paintings used spray cans and text. Bryan Ryden created a messy dark piece with a kind of street painted cloud shape. I connected to this dark and brooding piece with a small, optimistic yellow cloud. Eli Walker also used the can and thick paint to create a web like image. Dylan Jones was odd person out in the room, but fit the overall Galleri Urbane aesthetics quite nicely. I feel Jones might be playing a bit with Donald Judd’s boxes by slapping a shipping sticker on his work. This simulated sticker is in the tradition of Pop art. Jones makes the label absurdly large, the way Koons would make a huge balloon animal. I’m sure Judd would be rolling in his grave.

Kelly Kroener, Samantha McCurdy, and Liz Rodda offered low to the ground sculptures, which I admit I didn’t give as much time as they probably deserved. Owen Drysdale also had a piece that I didn’t give my full attention. But I will keep them on my list of who to watch and maybe they will capture my attention at the next show. It is so hard to shine in a group show and I think Adrian Zuniga gave a valiant effort in giving each artist the space they needed to draw us into their work. This Saturday, August 9th // 5-7pm is a closing reception with the show ending on August 15th.

ModernDallas.net for more images.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

CONDUIT GALLERY @30


Vincent Falsetta, Untitled, 1980, oil on canvas, 70x65"

ModernDallas.net re-post of my article 

A few things happen over the course of the summer months with commercial galleries. Galleries close for vacation, galleries try some untested curator or artist, or a gallery will launch a group show of their stable artists. If a gallery is going for the easy road of showing a stable group show, how can the they take a fresh approach? The answer is simple, visit Conduit Gallery and you will find a creative approach that takes even the seemingly easy road approach and makes it complex and interesting. Nancy Whitenack’s and Danette Dufilho’s concept for celebrating 30 years of Conduit Gallery was to seek out an old piece and a new piece from their stable artists. Then display these works together to create, in some cases, jarring comparisons.

Because Conduit has so many artists, they split up their Longitude/Latitude show into two parts. The first part just came down this week and they are launching the second half this weekend. In the first show, a few artists stood out as interesting comparisons between their old work and new work. One glaring difference between old and new were Michael Tole’s two paintings. His 2005 painting is an atmospheric calm blue landscape, where as, his 2012 painting is an orgy of flesh and blurred camera effects. Only the theme of photo reference realism remained between his paintings. This upcoming show will have Robert Jessups’ 1998 cartoon style painting, Schrodinger's Mouse II next to his 2014 March Moves painting which is incredibly abstract but no less whimsical and narrative based. Justin Quinn’s 2003 musing on Moby Dick with the letter E pulled out and reworked like a conceptual puzzle is completely different from Quinn’s abstract 2013 Mystery Plane drawing. Both works are drawings, but the more recent work feels like some of the conceptual structure has given way to a more emotionally charged abstraction.

Though some artists had radical shifts, others you could tell made slow and steady developments in their work. In Conduit Gallery’s first show, Ted Larsen’s 2003 assemblage painting Batten may look radically different from the 2014 piece Bird Dog, but spend some time and you will see the similarities. The paint on the wood and the pure aesthetic look of both pieces feel like he keeps an incredible continuity of thought and vision, and this runs through Larsen’s work. Vincent Falsetta’s 1980 painting and 2014 painting both Untitled, had a similar rhythm and complexity only the 2014 piece felt more amplified and refined. In the upcoming show, Jules Bucks Jones 2010 drawing matches the 2014 drawing in style and mark making. Only color distinguishes the two works. I guess 4 years isn’t really much of a time comparison, on the other hand I have known artists that change style like they change clothes. Buck Jones, like Falsetta and Larsen are taking their time to develop the work rather than plunging into wild, unfocused experimentation.

Conduit Gallery’s 30 year celebration will end August 30th. 30 years is an incredible run for a gallery, since most barely last a year or two. Nancy Whitenack and Danette Dufilho have taken a normally boring, throw together gallery stable group show, and put a nice spin that reintroduces you to their artists. I look forward to their 60th year celebration in 2044. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ART ON HENDERSON


Amy Scofield - Treevolution is a trio of 21-foot trees made of recycled municipal water pipe and PVC. The branches
are arranged in a helix and festooned with bright orange construction fencing.

ModernDallas.net re-post of my article.

A visual treat of several sculptures line North Henderson Avenue, just north of downtown Dallas and right off of 75. Artist Scott Trent had a vision to partner artists and businesses in a joint venture to show quality art in a public space. Trent directed and partnered with Mark and Roger Andres of Andres Properties to kick off the Henderson Art Project for the first two years, after which the project was rebranded as Art on Henderson with publisher Jeff Levine of modmedia as director of the project and now sponsored by CIM Group of Los Angeles, Open Realty Advisors of Dallas, Phoenix Property, Consillient and JBL Partners who see a value in showing artists work in a public space.

Amy Scofield received first place for her absurdly fun sculptures, Treevolution. Scofield’s light blue recycled city water pipes and obnoxious orange safety fencing clash with each other, but also with the environment. Like Christo and Jeanne-Claude pink islands or umbrellas, Scofield’s work stands out and demands to be noticed. I see these trees as first making you snicker a bit, but then you start to pick up on some of the environmental issues Scofield is clearly trying to convey. Recycling material into art being just part of the message. Think about the future where tree like objects will be built to capture CO2. If environmental issues are not addressed through reduction of CO2, objects like Schofield will start appearing everywhere to meet this need.

Nic Noblique was selected for third place in the juried competition, out of seven finalists. All the finalists received funds to install the work and prize money was given out to the top three artists. Noblique’s work looks inspired by an old tree trunk or a melting musical instrument. This rusted metal sculpture twists and towers 12 feet high. John Camara’s sculpture Zeta took second place. Camara’s slick design gave the piece an arrow dynamic quality reminiscent of a fast moving sports car. Even his exterior paint on the object gave the sculpture that fluid motion of cutting through the air at high speed.

The finalists also included Laura Abrams, Pascale Pryor, Scott Shubin, and Erika Huddleston. These four were great candidates, as juror for this prize, I found it hard to vote for one over the others. Art on Henderson has really livened up North Henderson Avenue. The project has continued for five years now, and I hope to continue to be a part of this ambitious effort to show great art from Texas artists to the Dallas public.

Monday, August 18, 2014

NATHAN GREEN


Bacterio Resist (YTG/ Drop Shadow) 48"x60", 2014

ModernDallas.net re-post of my article.

If you are like me, when you visit shows, you like to pick up a card. I have folders full of cards from past shows. Now and then I flip through them, make lists of artists, and I look some up on the internet that still interest me. In my recent browse through my collection, I came across the artist Nathan Green a few times. I noticed him, because I had just seen his work up at Barry Whistler Gallery during their One Night Stand show and at the Goss Michael Foundation.

I admit, it has taken me a while to come around to Nathan Green’s aesthetics. Last year, when I saw the show Fresh Tracks at UD Haggerty Gallery, I wrote, “... Nathan Green is kind of a conundrum. I am not quite sure what to make of his painting work. Green’s objects seem like clunky and awkward experiments, without some kind of refinement or resolution.” I was still skeptical when I saw Green’s curation of Failing Flat at CentralTrak. I was about halfway done with a less than flattering write-up on the show, when I found my heart wasn’t in it. Something was holding me back. I think my conundrum with Green was that I wasn’t completely seeing his big picture, and part of me knew it. A few cards of Circuit 12 Contemporary helped me to put Green in context. Circuit 12 Contemporary is one of the more unique galleries in Dallas, because they offer a Chicago aesthetic sensibility spiced with Miami energy. When I saw Green’s work during their Regional Quarterly Vol.1 CROSS TALK show, reflecting on the card and some past pictures I was reviewing, I now see it was a good fit for him. Green never attended the Chicago Art Institute, but I see a real kinship to some artists coming out of that school.

Because Green is experimenting in such a playful way, I was caught off guard and a little baffled by his intentions. I think he has tapped into this world where boundaries are blurred between forms. Painting and sculptures have continued to merge into a hybrid form and Green has been extremely nimble at navigating this trend. Because Green is exploring this hybrid world, pieces can feel raw, unfinished like his painting Droplets at the UT show. The work can feel damaged like Warm Skies SW at Barry Whistler Gallery. Green has even constructed and then destroyed an art piece as performance. Green has a series of Bacterio paintings and the Light-frame 410B painting at Goss Michael that captured my attention. I can relate to these organic shapes that feel like bodies twisting and intertwining in the Bacterio paintings. The objects colored bright green in wood frames make the hybrid object Light-frame 410B an enigma that doesn’t feel too highbrow to unravel. In the end, Nathan Green has taken me on a journey of self discovery regarding my own boundaries of aesthetics. Although I am just beginning to appreciate his work, I am confidently hopeful I will further enjoy watching Green develop as an artist.

images courtesy: barrywhistlergallery.com + nathangreenart.com

Friday, August 15, 2014

JOSHUA KING


Rooster, 2012
Acrylic, Wood, Flocking, Poly Resin

ModernDallas.net re-post of article 

Many artists stay in their studios, producing a bit of art and showing a little here or there. Other artists are wild self-promoters with little regard for what they take from others. There are the Sunday painters, the friend promoters, the international stars, and various other categories in between. But there is a distinctive breed of artists that seek a wider audience through focused engagement. This breed creates an inclusive atmosphere or an event in order to promote a greater local art scene, while maintaining a good studio discipline. Artist Joshua King fits this last category.

I first encountered Joshua King’s work in Austin during the city’s East Studio Tour. I was struck blindsided by his objects. They looked like he had pink powdercoated found objects. When I asked King about it, he called the process flocking. King’s sculptures were some of the most memorable pieces in that show, and this was two years ago. I remember that I first was repulsed and attracted to the surface of his pieces. I’d never seen a sculpture that attracted me to touch it while also giving me a feeling of great pause on whether this would cause possible injury to my skin. Turns out, if touched, the microfibers would damage the work or at least as King says, unbalance the work. King is not repeating a kind of Duchamp readymade, nor is he another Post-Modern Neo-Dada, but he is invoking Duchamp’s ideas with a modern twist. Like the piece he had at the SMU-TED event, he brought in old hand powered water pumps and painted them a very alarming bright red color. TED events gather people to discuss solutions to problems in society. King’s work brings attention to the impending fresh water crisis in order to further the discussion and spur people to think about possible solutions. Imagine, 52 billion gallons of wastewater is processed by Dallas alone. Each of his hand pumps represented a billion gallons.

King is not asking “what is art?” as Duchamp might have, but rather, what can an ordinary object come to mean in another context. This shift of focus makes King’s work more topical and less philosophically abstract. Much of King’s work reminds me of that Warholian mass production approach, only King thinks like the contemporary consumer. He wants to customize and make the everyday object personal. By doing so, these over customized objects go to the purely absurd level. He makes them no longer functional and consequently King has moved his objects into becoming art.

Along with Shane Pennington and Veletta Forsythe Lill, Joshua King founded the AURORA event in Dallas. The seed of the idea started with Pennington and King wanting to extend the Cedars Open Studio Tour into the night. The event expanded to the Old City Park with nearly 40 artists in new media, sound, and projection. Each year this event has gotten larger in number of attendees and artists participating. The biennial event has attracted artists from around the world. All three artists had a vision to make Dallas an international art city and AURORA was the kind of event to put Dallas on the map.

Gallery in Dallas last year. In 2012, The Goss-Michael Foundation group show along with his solo show at The WAAS Gallery helped to increase his profile. With a BFA from North Texas, he has made great strides with his art. If you are hoping to see his work soon, you will have to wait till November, here in Dallas and New York City. Joshua King is also one of many talented artists from the Mod Artists Group.

ModernDallas.net for more images

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Woody Allen quote

My drawing uses the words of Woody Allen,  "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work...I want to achieve it through not dying." The pictures below are two details and the complete work. 36 by 36 inches ink on paper. Title: achieve immortality 





Thursday, August 07, 2014

Who am I looking at?

What artists am I looking at right now?

Brice Marden, Sarah Applebaum, Sarah Sze, Tara Donovan, Allison Long Hardy, Polly Apfelbaum, Judy Pfaff, and Julie Mehretu.

Because I listened to a pod cast with Allison Long Hardy and her list of artists are my list of artists I want to continue to help inform my work. I knew about many of these artists, but hearing her talk about these artists and then looking them up one after another, I started to see similarities and an exciting trend in the works. The idea of multiplicity with a feeling of ordered chaos came to mind. If feel a kinship to many of these artists and looking at them all at the same time helped me tie in some ideas I have been working on in my own work.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Pod Cast on Visual Arts

I have been searching and searching for a good pod cast on visual art. I have finally found one. Bad at Sports interviews artists and sounds like the have some real fun with it. I was amazed at the depth of interviews and the joy of talking shop along with content over a pod cast setting. I will be listening to Bad at Sports for years to come, I hope.

Over the Couch Art


What art is over your couch? Here is my drawing over my couch. I think the b&w lines go well with the grey couch.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Marriage Proposal

Over 10 years ago, I created a painting as my wedding proposal. I painted the definition of love, a quote from Nietzsche about marriage, and then I used her and my signature. I layered these on my painting and I must say, I used some colors that I might not have chosen if I had painted it today. The definition is a clear reference to Joseph Kosuth. I was using signatures at the time, but several other artists have played in this genre of conceptualism, most notably Gavin Turk. The repeat of text, "will you marry me" was influenced by a show I saw of Jean-Michel Basquiat. In a show of works on paper, he was repeating words or phrases. Sometimes he would mark them out, thus I allowed my words to overlap the other words. One the day I proposed to her, I convinced an art gallery to hang my work. Then I invited her to see a show. I remember asking her what she thought of the painting. I gave her a ring once owned by her grandmother. She said yes, but of course she did. We had already ordered her dress. Plus, she loved me and still does. We have the painting hanging in our bedroom.
 
Acrylic on canvas

(detail #1)

(detail #2)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Norman Carton

Norman Carton (1908 - 1980) was an artists that lived Philadelphia, educated in Paris, and worked in New York. Carton was part of the 1950's and 60' New York School of artists or commonly referred to as Abstract Expressionist. He exhibited in over 70 group shows and over 20 solo shows. He worked for the WPA in the 1930's creating murals. In the 1940's Carton founded a fabric design firm and production company. His hand-printed fabrics were featured in Harpers Bazaar, Interior Magazine, Vogue, and Women's Wear Daily. His fabrics were collected by Hattie Carnegie and Nina Ricci. In 1962, Carton founded Dewey Gallery in NYC. His work is in over 200 private collections and in the following museums: The Whitney Museum of Art in NY, Albright-Knox Gallery in NY, Chrysler Art Museum VA, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Jewish Museum in Paris, National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, Museum of Art, and Musée d'Art et d'Histoire in Saint-Denis, France. His papers were donated to the Smithsonian, here is a link.

Right here in Texas, Norman Carton has a piece in Austin at the Blanton Museum of Art. These pictures below were taken from my phone at the Michelson Museum of Art in Marshall, Texas. The paint on these works are so thick, the museum staff is reluctant to rotate them into storage. You would have to build a box for each piece and install foam in the box to make sure they didn't get damages. Plus, you want to be careful your storing material doesn't stick to the painting. I guess it is easier to just leave them up. Besides, I guess it is nice to always see some late 1950's AbEx work in a small town museum.
 
Oil on canvas
The Barker

 
Oil on canvas
Dark Landscape


Oil on canvas
Ocean Brilliance II


Oil on canvas
 Game of Jacks


- source for bio was taken from several website, so I am unsure the originator -

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Marshall Art League Blog

In order to get fully connected with the art community around me, I have joined a few groups. One such group, which I am getting myself more involved in is the Marshall Art League. I am currently putting together a blog that will help the League post updates to their events, feature members work, and make East Texas have a greater impact on the visual arts. Here is the first steps, starting the blog. Feel free to visit and tell me what you think. I will be taking a completely uncritical eye approach to posting things. I will follow what the members with the page.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ERICA WICKETT


Morning Grey. Ink and Charcoal


ModernDallas.net re-post of my article

Erica Wickett is bringing her work up from Waco to Davis Foundry Gallery in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas. I shared a studio with her for a while and I had some interesting conversations about her work and in which directions she would like to take it. Critics Walter Robinson and Jerry Saltz might describe Wickett’s paintings as part of the Zombie Formalism. Both see a glut of abstract art that in their opinion are reductionist and attempt to be hip. Saltz named John Bauer and Jamie Sneider as examples of this kind of work, which felt a little like Wickett’s paintings. Maybe it is because I talked with Wickett and shared a space with her work, but I wouldn’t read her work so harshly.  Lets deconstruct her work and see if I am clouded by my personal bias.

A great way to get to know Erica Wickett is to take a look at Baylor professor Karl Umlauf’s paintings. His abstractions are a clear influence on Wickett’s paintings. Umlauf makes bold gestures with paint like a neo-expressionist from the 1980’s. A large chunk of his work looks like simulated decay of walls or structures. Almost all his work is dark, many times earthy, or he simulates motion in a few pieces by depicting what seems to be water waves. His painting style seems to have a strong influence on the local Waco art scene, because several artists in the area follow a similar look and style. Another artist sharing our studio space was Brandon Reasoner.  His large canvas paintings contained similar elements to Wickett, but he uses more colors and sometimes hinted to other images he would layer over to create a sense of depth and history in his works.  

Erica Wickett’s abstract paintings resemble a section of earth or maybe a portion of a decaying building. The textures are thick and rhythmic with black, white, and grey mixes of paint. You generally get the feeling that Wickett is tapping into a purely primitive aesthetic. Not primitive in the sense of 'untrained,' but more like Wickett is reaching back into our base experiences as humans when we first moved into caves or shelters. We as humans needed the caves for their consistent temperature and easy defense. I am reminded of the cave walls of the I35 caverns, between Waco and Austin.

For me, Wickett’s charcoal drawings are her strongest works. Her drawings are complex and tend to be figurative in nature like Jackson Pollack. These works are also in black and white, but every mark is enjoyable while the overall image seems to imply something less abstract. In our conversations at the studio, I often encouraged her to go to grad school, but a few artists-in-residencies would be great for her too. As for Zombie Formalism, I think the jury is still out. She is definitely in the danger zone. I see Wickett’s personal voice whispering in her paintings, but I would rather hear her screaming out her uniqueness. Judge for yourself at the Davis Foundry Gallery on 509 West Davis Street in Dallas. Erica Wickett will have her work up until July 26th.


Visit ModernDallas.net for more images

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

ON YOUR MARK: OPUS I

Robert Lansden, Shadows III, 2013,
gouache on paper, 22 x 22 inches


ModernDallas.net re-post of my article

Summer seems to be the perfect time for galleries to bring out a group of artists from their stable and then put on a group show. Summer is also a good time for galleries to test the waters on a few new artists or new work by a particular artist the gallery represents. A gallery can create a similar feeling you might get at an art fair booth. The fair circuit seems to encourage the galleries to show as many artists as they can in a small space, which is fine, but I tend to get a visual overload without the breaks in between spaces. Gallery hopping has a complete different effect. Sure you don’t get the exposure of the international galleries showing head to head with the local galleries, but you do get a nice visual break. A gallery can also be a little more bold in their groups shows, because they own the space. Cris Worley Fine Art played her part in doing the ever present summer group show, but with some interesting surprises.

Robert Lansden’s paintings greet you as you walk into the front space. His purples were so rich and made of little dashes, organized in beautiful geometry. Simple, complex, and time consuming; all the aspects of a powerful abstract art piece. Lansden’s works are smaller than someone like Robert Mangold, but Lansden’s painting has similar presence. I saw a perfect balance of minimalism with obsessive mark making. Those little dashes reminded me of the visual effect created by the painted dots of color which fill space on Turkish Chini pottery.

Anne Allen used the gallery walls as a drawing surface for her installation. Allen’s drawing hugged the corner of the second gallery space. I kept returning to these wonderful marks. I understand it took several days to complete. Anne Allen can draw on my walls any day. Paul Booker shows a familiar painting, but still always worth mentioning. I was very happy to see the return of Murielle White. She presented a drawing that manages to feel empty and busy, simultaneously. Contradictions in an art piece can either destroy or enrich the work. White succeeds in enhancing the experience through little marks that build, but trail off to quite spaces.

Cris Worley took a risk on some new talent. Francisco Mroeno had a painting of an eagle made with dash marks that felt more like a drawing than a painting. I will admit, I was completely perplexed by the work as a single object in a group show. I couldn’t quite understand what made the work engaging, until I did a little research. In Mroeno’s case, being part of a group show pulled his work out of context from the rest of his aims. It feels Mroeno is tapping into a deadpan Post Modern irony in his work. But this is not made abundantly clear without supporting work.

Other artists in the show include: Shannon Cannings, Maysey Craddock, Isabelle du Toit, Celia Eberle, Simeen Farhat, Greta Gundersen, Paul Manes, Shayne Murphy, Rusty Scruby, and Kelli Vance. You only have another day to see the show, but the upcoming show on the 28th of June will feature the first solo show of artist Kristen Cliburn at Cris Worley Fine Arts. Cilburn is a Houston artist that paints really upbeat works that feel atmospheric as a Rothko. I look forward to seeing these incredibly sublime works. 

Visit ModernDallas.net for more images.

Monday, July 21, 2014

CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

Kindred Spirits
Artist: Asher Brown Durand , 1796 - 1886
Depicted: Thomas Cole , 1801 - 1848
Dimensions: 44 x 36 in. (111.8 x 91.4 cm) Framed: 55 1/4 x 47 x 5 1/4
in. (140.3 x 119.4 x 13.3 cm)
Medium: Oil on canvas


ModernDallas.net re-post of my article

After several years of waiting for the right moment to make the trip, I finally made the trek to Bentonville, Arkansas and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Alice Walton vision for a great art institution in a small corner of the United States was ambitious and a complete success. Traveling by road from Texas is not insurmountable long, because the terrain was very scenic. The city of Bentonville look similar to a new suburb of Dallas or Houston. The reason I have been saving up to make the trip is that there were a few key art works I specifically wanted to see, but I found several unexpected surprises.

For me, the most anticipated work for me was Asher Brown Durand’s oil painting “Kindred Spirits.” This image has resurfaced in my life everytime I come across transcendentalist literature. From book covers, to images in text books, Asher Brown Durand captured the spirit of these writers in one image. The scene lays out two friends on a cliff overlooking the natural world. Twenty-three years before the first national parks, Brown Durand pressures the idea of untouched natural spaces. “Kindred Spirits,” make the viewer feel connected and responsible to preserve it.

Part of their portraiture show included Charles Willson Peale, George Washington. This is another iconic image that has been reproduced at nauseum, but the original still managed to maintain its mystique. Without simulacrum propagated by the different media, I don’t think Willson Peale’s painting would have as much impact. Anticipation of the original image by inferior copies only intensified the experience of the original.

Because this is an American art museum in middle of the country, I was expecting to see several Norman Rockwell and American Scene painters. I only saw one by Rockwell, “Rosie the Riveter.” The American Scene painters were not overly represented. A work by Georgia O'Keeffe was another expected encounter and I wasn’t disappointed.

The museum’s Post War collection felt less monumental than the rest of the museum's collection, but not surprising. I have read that Alice Walton was less passionate about the recent trends in art. However, there were a few exceptions. I instantly fell in love with Josef Albers’ 1964 painting, “Homage to the Square: Joy.” His simple, elegant colors of yellow and orange seems to almost swallow me. Mark Rothko’s 1960 “No.210/No. 211 (Orange) also made me pause. I was glad the museum had placed a bench facing the painting. I just sat and absorbed the colors. In their front room was a Jeff Koons heart hanging from an amazing ceiling. It looked like the inside of a ship, turned upside down. From their restaurant, music was reverberating off the walls.

Thier website has an extensive catalog of their permanent collection, after my trip I have found myself reviewing some of the pieces I would like to see more closely on my next visit. Their show, starting on September 13 is “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now” which will feature over a 100 artists making work in the America today. I would like to see how their curators approached contemporary art.

Visit ModernDallas.net for more images.

Friday, July 18, 2014

SANDRA ONO


Untitled 2014, trash bags & glue,  67x67 inches


ModernDallas.net re-post of my article

I often take notice of what art captivates my six year old son’s attention. I enjoy his reaction to art and like talking to him about what he sees. The boy is a pro at navigating the art scene. He always asks if he can touch the art or he asks to visit the back storage rooms. Truly, the apple did not fall very far on these points.

Conduit’s exhibition of Sandra Ono captured both our attention. These recycled objects glued together create visually stunning organic shapes. My son though she had grown them. “Are these crystals,” he exclaimed, while in front of her sculpture of trash bags. I explain to him the material, but I don’t think he was convinced. I also had this first impression that Ono had grown them, until I observed the works closer. My mind also reflected on the Post-Minimalist like works by Eva Hesse, or Robert Morris’ felt pieces. Maybe Ono is closer to the Conceptual art of Tom Friedman. Friedman uses ordinary objects like toothpicks and pencil shavings to make extraordinary art pieces. You might be familiar with locally shown artist, Jessica Drenk. Her pencil sculptures are a different take, but I feel Ono is definitely working in similar range of ideas and aesthetics. In fact, recycling has been preached the last few generations, so it is no wonder this idea of repurposing objects into art has become a kind of movement.

While observing Sandra Ono’s work made of mop head, my son bent over, simulating the bend Ono’s sculpture was making. This seemed perfectly logical to me, so I too gave his choice of viewing the work a try. Of course, he asked to touch this one, which I discharged him not to try. I, however, did have the urge to touch it myself. I wanted to reach out and feel the texture of the glue and mop heads. I discouraged my own impulses as well. Ono was still installing part of her cluster of smaller pieces when I arrived. In these pieces, Ono proves that her objects do not need scale to give power to her idea. Each of these little pieces held their own as more than just studies, but little treasures of recycled obsessions.

Once again, Conduit’s project room gives you the best possible sensory overload. Rosalyn Bodycomb’s birds would not have been as impressive in a conventional painting, but Bodycomb creates a flock of birds, complete with sound. Each canvas is small and some birds are cropped, then finished on the next canvas. This adds to the feeling of a chaotic flock of birds. My son was excited about the birds hanging from the ceiling, but I was less enthusiastic. I thought the paintings and sound was enough. Ellen Berman also has her take on traditional still lives. My son liked naming the objects. Conduit will have all three artists up until June 21st. Thankfully, everyone at Conduit Gallery are extremely accommodating to my son and I on our visits.

Visit ModernDallas.net for more images.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

OTIS JONES + BRET SLATER


Installation at Holly Johnson Gallery




ModernDallas.net re-post of my article

Last Saturday I made my way over to Holly Johnson Gallery to see the new works by Otis Jones and Bret Slater. I stopped by early in the morning and I found foldout chairs were set up, facing two comfy arm chairs. I immediately remembered the invitation I got for a town hall style interview with Sharon Louden and Annette Lawrence. Both would be at the gallery that day at 4:00 PM to talk and sign the book, “Living and Sustaining a Creative Life Essays by 40 Working Artists.” Needless to say I came back to the gallery to hear the talk.

Artist and Editor of the book, Sharon Louden interviewed Denton artist and contributor to the book, Annette Lawrence. The conversation centered around Lawrence’s experience as a professor and as an artist. She shared how she set aside several hours a day to work on her art. Sharon Louden read a passage from the book which illustrated how being creative from an outside observer might not look like the person is working. However, the creative process of thinking and planning is as important as producing the work. I would have picked up a book right there and then, but my six year old had had enough after sitting quietly for an hour, and he bolted out. That is OK, I now have it on my Kindle and I am currently devouring the book.

Flashing back to that morning, I was able to spend some time with both Otis Jones’ and Bret Slater’s object paintings. I once compared Slater’s paintings to a thick frosted cake and some of those same elements are present in these works, but subtle shifts in style have begun to emerge in his work. Slater is still a rebel minimalist of eye popping color and texture. However, these object/paintings seem sleeker and more refined than my last encounter with his work. I am happy to see he is sticking with the playful titles. By being nonsensical in naming his work, he manages to be simultaneously irreverent to past traditions while accomplishing the same goal of allowing the works to become subjective.

The descriptive titles of Otis Jones’ object/paintings accomplish the subjective interpretation while maintaining a strong connection to the tradition of minimal and abstract painting. Jones is not repeating the formalist formula of abstracting, rather he is pushing the boundaries of painting through furthering the conversation of sculpture and painting. His hybrid forms, object/paintings are important in the development of contemporary art language and innovation. In the last 20 years or so, this breed of painting has been developing and refining. It has its roots with Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg, but they were attaching parts in more of a collage style. Jones and Slater are making the painting and sculptural elements into a seamless construct.

“Living and Sustaining a Creative Life Essays by 40 Working Artists” is available at a bookseller near you or online. You can find this interview and other interviews from the book tour online as well. Otis Jones and Bret Slater will be showing at Holly Johnson Gallery through July 26th.

Visit ModernDallas.net for more images.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Off

It looks like I took the summer off. I have been knee deep into a stupid app game which has been eating my time. I have not spent enough time creating art or even spending time with anything else. I can not tell you how long has it been that I have been able to travel to a major city to see art. I am truly stuck in a rut. I thought living 3 to 4 hours away from the centers of culture that I could still make the monthly trip, but when things get tight you have to cut somewhere. Don't get me wrong, I am happy where I live, but I wish the trip wasn't so long sometimes. I keep putting off photographing my new body of work. Plus I can seem to get motivated to finish this crazy piece I am currently trying to finish. I bit off more than I can chew on this one. I need to step away again and start a fresh piece. I can't keep getting caught up in an art piece that will never end. I also need to switch from my left to my right hand in making my next drawing. Just to give my left a rest. Can I do it is the real question. I have been able to paint with the left hand but drawing is another creature entirely. I really need to put the word out for a studio assistant or maybe an art student willing to help me execute my vision. Of course, that comes with its own problems. I need to stop complaining and start doing again. This weekend will have to be that new beginning. Otherwise, it will not get done.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Notes From the Past


I ran across some old writing about my undergraduate days at WKU. I think it was a reflection piece I wrote just a few years after my 1993-94 Freshman year. The above image is Pearce-Ford Tower, a dorm were I lived for the first semester. I would like to share this writing with you, slightly edited for your reading pleasure.

Freshman year in college and it is the weekend before classes. I have just finished unpacking all my things and I went out for some lunch at the student center. I get back to my dorm and I walk into the elevator. A young man follows me in as I press the button for the 12th floor. He makes no move to push a floor button, instead he positions himself in the corner of the elevator and faces forward. We give each other glances of recognition as the floors counted off. The door split open to my floor and I walk to my room with the elevator guy following me close behind. I unlock my door and he introduces himself. "Oh, I'm your roommate, apparently. I'm Hunter." To attest to my memory skills, I can only remember his name was Hunter, but not his last name. I don't even think his first name was Hunter. He is what I affectionately called a random roommate. If you don't request a roommate, the University assigns just anyone to room with you, thus random roommate.

Hunter was never in the room much. He apparently lived in town or near Bowling Green or at least his girlfriend did. I didn't really pry so I am vague on his biography. I remember he was also out because he was part of a local street hockey league and he was rushing for some Greek organization. Sometimes he would actually sleep in the room, but he would often stay up late reading Steven King books. Another pastime of Hunter was shooting his high power paintball slingshot at people's dorm room doors. A few times he would race into the room after a shooting caper on another floor. To avoid suspicion, he shot our door and complained to the floor residential assistant.

At some point in the semester, all his stuff was removed from his room and I never found out were he went. I didn't even run into him on campus. Of course, it was a big campus and we really didn't run in the same circles at all. 

Another random roommate was Matt. I had the privilege of spending my second semester of my first year of college with him. Matt enjoyed pretty much the same music. We watched a great deal of Movie Channel and MTV together. I remember once Matt joking claimed that he was lead singer of Collective Soul. Matt said, "I don't sound like the current lead, but I still get royalty checks. That is how I am paying for college." His Collective Soul story became a long running gag through the semester. He strummed on his guitar with a measured amount of talent, but really it was just a hobby for him. On Wednesdays, we attended a small devotional group. I lead a few sessions. Matt would play a few songs during our meetings.

I lost touch with Matt as well and I wish I would have kept in touch. I had a lot of friends that came with me from High School. They didn't seem to click with Matt. I guess that is why I didn't really pursue the friendship. Or maybe random roommates are not meant to connect for long term friendships.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mark Khaisman


Ukraine is still in the news, because of the border issues with Russia. I look to the artists for inspiration and context of a culture. Ukraine artist Mark Khaisman was educated in Russia. The ties to Russia are strong, (1654 Treaty of Pereyaslav unified these two countries and Russification also caused closer ties, however creating resentment in some), so I am sure it is not uncommon for people to seek educational opportunities in Russia. Khaisman's tape work, especially in his Goods series, is quite interesting. If an artist is going to use ordinary material then that artist must create a visually challenging image that captures your attention. Khaisman manages to skillfully use packing tape in order to create attractive images. 
From his CV information, I can tell Khaisman has moved into the international artist, rather than a regional artist. I took an art history class on transnational artists. I can see Khaisman has reached this level of artist. I look forward to following his career.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Text Artists

I ran across these two text artists and I wanted to keep a record of their work for future reference. Really, my blog has been a great resource for me to dig back into and look at art and artists. I like to see some of my past thoughts and see if I have come up with any other conclusions. Here is the two artists I am taking about. Meg Hitchcock and Gary Gissler use text in some of their works and I thought they were interestingly enough for me to make reference here on my blog.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Jeff Koons at the Bridge



So, this week I went to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. This is Jeff Koons heart in the big cafe room. Look for my article this week in ModernDallas.net for my review of the museum. 

Thursday, June 05, 2014

UTD ART BARN



ModernDallas.net repost of my article

Ideas are still being batted around about the future of the UT Dallas Art Barn. University officials might have shifted their initial desires to close the building completely, to possibly allowing further exhibitions and classes to take place in the space after this spring semester. It would seem that for now, this minimal structure might have a little more life left. However, it will take alumni, students, faculty and those that desire great art exhibition to convince the University that a seamless transition must occur.

Whether the transition is remodeling, adding an additional structure, or sadly even replacing the Art Barn; it is important that a strong functional gallery space remains on campus. Without the Art Barn there would not be a place on campus to launch Creative thesis shows for BFA, MFA, or PhD students. This is like telling a scientist that they can do all the research they want, but they can’t publish the paper after they have formulated conclusions. Sculpture and printmaking facilities must also remain intact to have a fully functional Fine Arts department that will attract the most talented students. UT Dallas can not afford to wait a few years to build another building that will house these essential spaces. Not having an art gallery on campus is like the United States not having a vehicle to send astronauts into space. Both are relinquishing control of message and prestige to others. UT Dallas needs to continue to have a voice in the visual culture without any lost time.

Back when I was getting my Masters in Humanities there, Richard Brettell curated an incredibly imaginative competition with architecture students that envisioned a campus that celebrated the arts. As I recall there was some reworking of the Art Barn space. UTA students recently tackled the idea of maintaining as Greg Metz put it, this “ iconic minimalist structure.” So, the conversations have been on going about this important space. I just hope the University officials can start to see the space through the lens of those that love it.

For many, the Art Barn has sentimental value. I asked artist and UT Dallas alumni Christi Nielsen what the space meant to her, and her thoughts on the fate of the Art Barn. “The Art Barn was much more than a building for classes. It was a space for making a mess, a space for showing pristine works. It was a learning space, it was a resting space. You saw students pulling their hair out in frustration, you saw students sleeping on couches. It truly was a space in which to exist. It was like its own little foreign country on the UTD campus. I’m a bit sentimental. I remember it fondly, of course, because that’s where I came alive. When I learned of the Art Barn’s eventual demise, I immediately went to visit. I walked through every room I could and photographed. It smelled exactly the same. It reeked of… action? creativity? mess? Process. It reeked of process. Of people figuring things out. It might smell like something different for someone else, but that’s what it was for me. I figured things out there. I’m unbelievably sad to see it go.” I could not say it more eloquently.

So many great exhibitions and art happenings have occurred and made an important impact on the North Texas culture. I can not even begin to list them all. So many artists have come out of there and have impacted the culture worldwide. The value of what the Art Barn has done for people would be hard to quantify. I hope everyone at UT Dallas will see the value of this creative space as I do, and save the essential functions the space provides us all.

thanks to Greg Metz and Christi Nielsen.

ModernDallas.net

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

HUNTING PRIZE


Richard Nix "Deep in the Heart of Texas"

ModernDallas.net repost of my article

Another Hunting Prize gala has come and gone, but this was the first show I was invited to attend as a finalist. The gala is part charity event, part $50,000 prize to one artist, and part networking event for artists. For every artwork sold at the gala, Patriot PAWS Service Dogs received a matching donation. The artworks are hung pretty tight into a corporate event space. I had Jason Bennett’s painting titled "Jenks stopped hitting me when I told him I loved him" on my left and around the corner was Hannah Dean’s painting "Re-veiled." Both were depictions of the human figure.

The figure was also rumoured to be the likely subject matter chosen this year for the prize. Steve Miller’s painting of Fort Worth from the highway titled, "Texas & Pacific, Across the Tracks," was also near me and I thought that would be the typical of many finalists, but realism didn’t completely dominate at the gala. In fact, there was quite a bit of diversity in the show. Some artists had much higher concepts than others. Among this group of artists that produced drawings were, Richard Nix, John Adelman, and Orna Feinstein.

Richard Nix’s lines vibrated with color in his drawing, "Deep in the Heart of Texas." You felt an explosion radiate around the empty center. John Adelman turns tracing into an art with his work, "61,988 tracings." Adelman is no Banky Edwards, he has no hang ups with his tracing. His drawing of a cathedral stands blurred and erect over a seeminglessly endless negative space. Orna Feinstein drew and epic size drawing titled, "Quantum Amphora #4." Feinstein was in a space that was blasted with sunlight at first, but as the night progressed, I was able to take in her work of lines that simulated organic shapes which reminded me of tree textures.

Untitled (Book of Nature 4) by Natasha Bowdoin was part ink drawing and part gouache painting. Words trailed up and down the work, yet hard if not impossible to read. I enjoyed the organic form that worms like vines. Sherry Tseng Hill’s painting, "Making Small Spaces," reminded me of the works by David Collins which recently showed at Valley House Gallery in Dallas. Thou Tseng Hill allows more of the dimensional structure of the original architecture from her source material to shine through. Not surprising, Tseng Hill is also an architect and a painter.

Because I was encouraged to stand by my art all night to help network and sell the work, I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked looking around. I would have taken more time with Louis Vega Trevino’s, "Windows," or maybe Larry Gentry’s, "Repurposed Crossing." I didn’t even get to visit with the winner of the prize, Winston Lee Mascarenhas and his painting "Rite of Spring," which turned out to be abstract of all things. This broke a great deal of assumptions about the prize and gave many abstractionists, myself included, a glimmer of hope for the future galas.

ModernDallas.net for more images.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

TRAVIS LAMOTHE


Installation View

ModernDallas.net repost of my article

The internet makes for quick research and contact with artists and their galleries. Last week, I found out that Re Gallery was having a show of Travis LaMothe’s paintings, so I looked at his personal site and emailed him. I asked him to send me his thoughts on his work and LaMothe sent me four wonderful paragraphs of text. And no Travis, it was not more than I was asking for, but rather it was insight that confirmed some of my suppositions about the work. I also had a great conversation over the phone with Wanda Dye. I think it has been about a year since I have been down to the gallery, but not for the lack of great shows. I could kick myself for missing shows like Lily Hanson, Rebecca Carter, and Arthur Pena to name a few. Spilled milk, I will not be making the same mistake by waiting so long to visit.

Twenty years ago, I went to college for Graphic Design, so paintings that use unfolded box designs instantly brought me back to those days of experiment with product designs. In fact, I own 4 books filled with box designs, so the moment I saw an image of LaMothe’s paintings, I knew I wanted to know more about the work and the artist that made them.

Travis LaMothe’s show is tightly packed with 24 pieces, each 24 inches long. Other than a few breaks by windows and doors, the works are installed 4 inches apart. LaMothe has created a simulated/actual retail space that reflects marketing strategies. Objects come in boxes, which his painting depict and there are a variety of drapery linen colors to choose. In his email, LaMothe alludes to the marketing of shoes. Having variety of color allows a product to feel personalized to the consumer. In art, it has been traditionally taboo to express this kind of base consumerism, but is this personal preference more complex? And like a store, the works are cataloged with numbers corresponding to the designs of the boxes. The boxes have become flat, unfolded and made into simple white minimalist shapes framed by the linen. These paintings use the non-traditional medium of drywall compound, but still read as paintings. You might say LaMothe is deconstructing the whole shopping/painting experience. LaMothe is creating Conceptual Pop woven in Minimalist formalism. A seemingly impossible combination pulled off by LaMothe’s careful orchestration of key elements.

Browsing LaMothe’s web site, I found his AND & OR series, this message about the current body of work at Re Gallery, “Cardboard, larger, invokes a floor plan the same way an object can invoke the idea of a painting”. This series is a collection LaMothe’s ideas and you can see that he has implemented them into physical objects. I think LaMathe’s AND & OR piece accomplishes the stated idea, but through this solo show at Re Gallery, LaMathe has managed to say so much more. Travis LaMathe’s show, “Generics” will run through May 25th.

ModernDallas.net for more images

Monday, June 02, 2014

ROBERT +FAITH JESSUP



Robert Jessup - "January Number Two", 2014, 20 inches by 24 inches, oil

ModernDallas.net repost of my article.

About a month or so ago, I had the extreme pleasure of visiting Faith Scott Jessup’s and Robert Jessup’s studio. I was invited to see Robert’s new work, but I found it a real bonus to also visit Faith’s space as well. I had seen hints of Robert’s new direction at a recent show at Conduit gallery of Dallas, at the UNT Gallery in downtown Dallas, and after my studio visit, I ran into more work down in Houston at the McMurtrey Gallery. McMurtrey’s space could only contain his small works, so I am hoping to see Robert’s new large paintings at another venue soon.

When I say large paintings, I am talking about paintings that are at Robert’s limits to move by himself. But these are not just arbitrarily large, the size helps to expand the story his paintings are conveying. At first glance, you might want to call them abstract, but Jessup is more akin to works by Willem de Kooning in that he is more interested in human form. And like de Kooning, Jessup tackles the idea of a portrait in a few of these works. He differs from de Kooning greatly because Jessup is also very interested in a strong sense of narrative. These large works have the character and feeling of a story. Even Jessup’s portraits seem to be less about the surface of the figure and more about an idea or character sketch which easily leads into a story.

His painting, “Field Figure, Red White,” is reminiscent of a head shot photograph, but with an odd twist of energized lines. The colors and implied narrative action of Jessup’s painting remind me of Philip Guston’s later representational paintings. Like his more realistic works from the past, Jessup is pursuing storytelling through painting. The only difference is that now the work is stretching the limits of narrative painting into a more subjective, mysterious realm.

Jessup’s paintings use thick lines to pull and push your eyes around the canvas balanced by fleshy, earthy tones; I can’t can’t help but think that these works are very sexual. Lines become legs and arms twisted together with an embrace. I was first struck by the movement of these works and on reflection, I now see them as powerful bodies in the act of making love. "New Years Day" looks as if the blue line is penetrated by the pink line, filled with blue fluid. The more I look at the work, the more phallic symbols appear. Of course, sex isn’t the only override imagery, to give these works a possible twist, landscapes seen from the sky point of view also come to mind, but that creeps close to traditional abstract art. However, unlike the formalist approach you still read a kind of story in these paintings. These works are about journey and exploration.

View Robert Jessup at Conduit Gallery and Faith Jessup at Norwood Flynn Gallery The McKinney Avenue Contemporary New Works Space, Robert Jessup's May 10 - June 28 An art talk with Robert Jessup, Wednesday, June 11 // 6:30 pm. the-mac.org

ModernDallas.net for more images