Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Critical Theory

A post on Matt Langley's blog made me start thinking again about critical theory and its relation to postmodernism and other art world isms that have come about since theory forced itself on an equal plane with artistic creation. Like Matt, I found the group associated with October to stimulate ways of thinking about art production and, on a higher level, its purposes in the contemporary world. The book "Art After Modernism" which was edited by Brian Wallis was my bible in art school with Hal Foster, Craig Owens and the other October editors being as influential as the Euro scene to me. I recently repurchased the Anti-Aesthetic (ed. Hal Foster) to read on an extended business trip and found myself thinking deeper about all levels of art from production to presentation and, ultimately critical scrutiny. I'm starting to dig into Hal Foster's book "The Return of the Real" which was published when I was not engaged in the art world enough to know of it. I received it as a Christmas gift from Lori who stated that she hopes she is never forced to read it. Now, Lori is one of the best painters I know and is intellectually superior to just about anyone I have ever met. It is telling that critical theory holds no real place in her practice. Does it really matter?

Matthew Langley Wooster Street 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Material World

I often joke that I only learned three tangible things in art school and only one had anything to do with technique. Back in 1984-85, when I was a foundations student at the Corcoran, I learned two of these three things. Franklin White taught me what a powerful tool the eraser can be. In response to my use of crappy, cheap acrylic colors and student grade canvas, Marie Ringwald told me to use the best materials I can afford. She showed me slides of some pieces that used glass bricks and neon (if my memory is correct). Over the long run, that statement has always stuck with me as much as a pink pearl and dry cleaning bag. I've come to understand that statement to mean, know why you are using what you are using to make your work. Does the material support the work or does it get in the way? In art, as in most things, it all comes down to balance. Do all elements work in concert with each other to create a seamless whole. I am looking to find work for Material World that finds that balance.

Marie Ringwald 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Making it happen

There are many ways to be engaged in the art world. First and foremost is to create work. This has always been a main pursuit of mine. The other side is to present work whether my own or that of others. In the late eighties and early nineties I was able to put some shows together and still remain proud of the shows we assembled at the short lived Praha Gallery in Norfolk. I am currently pursuing some curatorial opportunities and will use this space to help develop my thoughts as this progresses.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

True Artists

So what is it that we try to achieve as artists. To have passion? Technique? Originality?

I watched a documentary about the punk band the minutemen last night and it struck me that these guys achieved what we all wish we could do. Listening to their music, even if you hate the style, there is no denying that these guys had awesome chops. There is no doubting their sincerity and passion. Now they were always striving for something a little beyond themselves which kept the flame burning. Their politics were sometimes naive but definitely earnest in their intent. Most of all- there has never been band, before or after them that sounded anything like them.

One of the things in my life I will brag about is seeing their show at the 9:30 club in the Spring of 1985 (they played the night before a rally to protest US intervention in Central America). Even more brag worthy was to spend an evening with them as they stayed at my friends' place after they opened for REM in Norfolk. They played a large chunk of Double Nickels on the Dime on Acoustic Guitars (Mike and D fought over the 12 string).

Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Computer

Finally, after a few months without regular access to a computer, we have made the switch to an iMac and I should have more time to work on the inevitable issues of getting work out into the world.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

12 X 12 at artdc.org Gallery

Yesterday I helped out getting tons of working into the gallery. As the name suggests, all work must be less than 12" on any side. It looks to be a fun show with tons of good work, all priced at less than $300. Most pieces seemed to be priced between about $75 and $150. I wan unable to stay for the actual hanging of the work, so it will be interesting to see what it looks like in the wend. I have my favorites but it was so crazy, I can't remember their titles or who made them. I'll have a full review after I head back next weekend. The big fun will happen on the 22nd when the the whole arts district of Hyattsville opens up for the annual festival. Head over to the gallery early and buy art because plenty will be sold by the end of the festival.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mark Rothko in the tower at NGA

The second in a series of "contemporary" exhibits in the Tower Gallery of the National Gallery of Art features 7 large Rothko paintings from 1964. Since I took the elevator up, I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of earlier Rothko paintings in the smaller area before the main tower gallery. The earliest works are smaller paintings that are somewhat rough around the edges. I don't know Rothko's biography well enough to make definitive statements but I would guess these did not meet with a lot of success. They are interesting simply for how they may help in understanding of his development. The works from the forties are more accomplished, with surrealist tendencies which Rothko and other New York School painters were employing at the time.

Unlike the first new tower show which presented Philip Guston's work in a straight up manner, the NGA has chosen to try to tie all of these works together in the context of Rothko's use of black. I personally find it a bit of a stretch. What becomes clear as one enters the main gallery is that these 7 paintings are not black. They are certainly dark but I was seeing purples, reds and blues. The essay material suggests that by sitting and looking at these paintings for an extended period of time you will notice subtle colors peaking out. Well, maybe I'm just super-observant(not likely), but this was simply obvious.

To make another connection,they chose to play Morton Feldman's chamber piece "Rothko Chapel" every half hour. It is a wonderful, contemplative piece which was first performed in the Rothko Chapel in Houston. Yes, these paintings were precursors to the cycle in the chapel but did its inclusion here really make sense. I happen to like Feldman, and this piece in particular, so I found it a nice touch.

So this is must see show, not necessarily to come to any conclusions about Rothko's use of black but for a chance to see a number of great, related paintings along with some earlier paintings that are not seen all that often.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

New work

I have posted some new work to my portfolio. I'm particularly happy about these two. The first is a reworking of the Entanglements piece which began this series (36" Sq Acylic on Canvas)

The second is titled Untangled (also 36" sq acrylic on canvas)

Thursday, March 4, 2010


So I'm very happy with the way my work came together last weekend. The problem came with trying to get good images of them to send off. The surface is very important to my work. The paintings are created by building up dozens of layers of paint with a final surface that is rich, but subtle. The surfaces are quite glossy too, making the acrylic paint seem more like oils. This is an issue I will have to figure out soon.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Big Weekend

Well, I'm hoping. I was really getting some traction last weekend before this cold kicked my butt. I'm looking forward to digging back into these new works. I'll update later this weekend.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

41st Annual Laurel Arts Guild Juried Exhibition

Just found out this morning that my painitng Nemesis was accepted to the Laurel Arts Guild Juried Show. There are a few artists that I am familiar with from Artomatic and artdc.org, so I can tell this should be a quality show that I'm very pleased to be part of. Here some basis info from their site:

41st Annual LAG Open Juried Exhibition - March 5 - 28

The juror, Michael Janis, is Co-Director of the Washington Glass School in Mt Rainier, MD and also has taught at Penland School of Craft in North Carolina and at Istanbul’s Glass Furnace in Turkey. He was awarded a 2009 Artist Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts as well as ‘Outstanding Emerging Artist 2008-2009’ by the Florida Glass Art Alliance. His work is in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Please visit the Montpelier Arts Center to see the artwork. The gallery is open 7 days a week from 10am - 5pm.

March 5 Exhibit opens to the public
March 7 Reception 2-4pm
March 28 Exhibit closes

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Been a while

Since our main computer went down, I haven't been posting much anywhere. Today, I dropped off one of my paintings and two of Lori's to the multi-venue "Lust" show. I always say that I don't want to make work specifically for a show. I broke my own rule this time since it was a painting I have wanted to do. Unfortunately, I rushed the drawing and it did not come out as good as I would like. It also took me away from the series I'm working on. Anyway, I can get back to work on them today.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wolf Kahn at Addison Ripley

A quick trip into DC on Sunday to see the Wolf Kahn show and pick up some paint that has gotten critically low. I like his paintings a lot. The well executed but in the end, these paintings lacked a certain spark. So while I was excited by his technique no paintings blew me away. These paintings seemed quite "safe" though there is no doubt that he can paint. I noticed three red dots. Two pastels and a relatively small painting. Added up to about $22K. Not bad but there is a lot of work left in the gallery. Perhaps the frames were a turn off. They looked like they were salvaged from a dump in the 60's. They were beat up, scratchy and had paint stains on them. Seemed odd for a gallery that has a high end frame business.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The weather outside is frightful...

...and our furnace is broken. Its pretty cold in the house. The main floor is really cold but it was pretty toasty upstairs under about 5 blankets. The good news, if there is any- the basement is still pretty warm so if we can't get ti fixed today, I should still be able to paint.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Back to Work

Unlike many artists that must work a day job to make ends meet, I actually like my job but it keeps me extremely busy during November and December including time spent in markets across the country. This, and wonderful visits from friends and family, has kept me out of the studio for about 3 weeks. The first couple of days back were a little frustrating. Though I did no irreparable harm to the works in progress, I felt as though I was simply pushing paint around, not getting any closer to finishing- even, perhaps taking a step back. I think it took a while to get back to normal (if that is possible) from both the time zone change and recovering from working in stores for about 11-13 hours a day. I've finally started to feel like myself, especially in the studio and the paintings are moving forward. I am trying to finish three that were close to completion before I left for Arizona a few week ago. I hope to finish them up this weekend. I really need to get some more work together. There are a number of opportunities I would like to try to take advantage of but don't know if I have enough work.