Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Random Works – Or Not

In a world which continually reduces the discursive and non-discursive complexities of art to the reconciliations of entertainment, fashion and (recently) social theory, this self-criticism is an ethical necessity.-- John Robert(1)

During this first semester I have focused my studio attention on a series of abstract paintings which I now call my organic series. It was suggested during my first residency that I use this time to work in a new direction, experiment with materials as well as visual content. My starting point for the new work and experimentation was inspired when I attended a friend’s exhibitions at the Center for Contemporary Art in Sacramento. Terry Berlier who is an Associate Professor at Stanford University, produced an exhibition that incorporated tree cookies in an interactive series of sculptures. Tree slices or tree cookies provide a full narrative of a tree’s age, health, and environmental conditions. Berlier’s work was inspired in part by her discovery that there are 63 trees per person currently on this planet. It is with this information and Berlier’s exhibition together with a documentary on architect I.M. Pei - The Museum on the Mountain (1997)(2), which presented me with a starting point and dialogue for my new work.

The film in essence is about the process of constructing a museum in Japan, located within a forest where some of the trees are one thousand years old. The movie presented an additional and interesting component as Pei, who was born in China, discusses the challenges that occurred with the fusion of two cultures with different sensibilities or aesthetics. The idea of building a museum within a forest, trying to disrupt the natural environment as little as possible, combined with thinking about these trees living for millennium was a concept that really grabbed my attention and stayed with me. I have found comfort in thinking about this forest being able to sustain itself for such a period of time. It has provided me with a psychological counter balance to the concern that I have about the environmental issues that we face today due to global warming.

Upon the advice of my mentor, Tom Holland, I began experimenting with mixed media works on paper using tempura paints, glue and water as the medium, along with black marker, chalk, charcoal, pencil and ink, working on primed Arches cold press water color paper. The goal was to work quickly and produce a lot of work. The first paintings were rough and a bit clunky, with a few offering some interest because the technique was not apparent. With these by-chance pieces I dove in further with experimentation in materials, process and random elements in nature. My goal was to include a narrative component based on nature like the tree cookies that would in some way date stamp each painting. It was not clear to me just how I was going to achieve this.

Half way thought the semester I moved my studio to a different location. I’m now in a smaller space and since I live in California I decided to take advantage of our mild weather conditions. I started hanging my work out in my garden to dry, along the fences and where ever I could, to give myself as much work space in my studio as possible. I also wanted to be open to chance or accident, rather than just approaching painting in the usual way that I already know so well. Because I was hanging my work in the garden on the fences unexpected creative opportunities were presented by the sprinklers, sun, and wind. I noticed that as the work was hanging in the garden the plants were casting shadows on the paintings. The shadow added an interesting random component and one that was constantly changing. I felt perhaps this could be the window into my date and time stamping idea. I began incorporating the cast shadow into the painting by quickly painting the shadow itself. It is interesting when you think about the seasons affecting the lifecycle of the plants, the shadow being unique at every moment, every season, never to appear exactly the same again.

The mentor component of the Art Institute of Boston’s MFA program from the start particularly appealed to me. I found it very helpful to work with a professional who provided me with an independent view, generous critiques, observations and encouragement. This allowed me to push the limits of my work, take my time, experiment and be open to the unexpected. Writing the research papers also provided me with the opportunity to think about my work in an entirely different way. As a painter I primarily looked to the paintings themselves to provide the narrative content and through research and writing I have been able to contextualize my work more clearly.

1. John Roberts, “After Adorno: Art, Autonomy, and Critique” Roberts delivered this paper at apexart on March 8, 2000

2. I.M. Pei - First Person Singular/The Museum on the Mountain, 1997, Directed by Peter Rosen.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Invisible Americans

Figure 1. Jeff Wall
Figure 2. Industrial Prison Complex Google Images

"Artists feel that anyone who doesn’t enjoy their work does not really experience it. So we are insulated, we have this happy space of ours. But we cannot shape very much and so we do not have much direct effect on the affairs of the world. From within our space, our me´tier, we can contemplate and reflect on the difficulty, the burden, the obligation accepted by those who take on practical tasks". — Jeff Wall(1)

During the last 20 years in America there has been a significant shift in the allocation of public funding and one that I would think most people living in the US are probably not completely aware of. There has been an extreme reversal in the money designated for education and prisons. In California education was receiving seventeen percent of the state budget and prisons received three percent. Now education receives seven and prisons nine percent.

A year ago I became one of the founding members of a grass roots civic organization called, Save Rural Yolo County. This came about because a friend informed to me that less than a mile from her house, the County was offering a piece of land to the State of California to build a prison. She asked me to attend a public hearing on the issue. Little did I know that for the next year this would become a significant part of my life. In the beginning there might have been a hint of selfishness – not in my back yard. However that changed very quickly. With multiple environmentally unwise facts weighing against prisons - i.e. a huge carbon footprint, large water polluters and consumers along with the evidence that prisons don’t have to follow many environmental impact regulations, it became obvious that this was not in anyone’s best interest. Our organization in the end did prevent the construction a full - level four – maximum security state prison from being built and in the process I became more educated about prisons then I ever dreamed possible. Having this experience made me want to investigate further and find out what happened to make this shift occur - prisons receiving more funding than educational institutions.

I am also interested in how artists address and contextualize community issues in their practice. When I was going to college I knew that art, philosophy and religion were the areas that I was most drawn to. At the time my work as a painter was labeled decorative, which it was. It was the mid 70s; there was so much happening in the country in the aftermath of the Vietnam War along with many significant social issues on individual rights - i.e. racial, gender equality and gay rights. I distinctly remember feeling overwhelmed and that I felt incapable of addressing specific events that were happening in the world with regard to my work as a painter. I felt like I just didn’t know what my concerns were or how to express them. For me working on the prison issue, alongside friends, family and new acquaintances for so many reasons, was empowering and has given me much to contemplate.

The work of Ed Ruscha, Jeff Wall, Bernd and Hilla Becher all resonant with me and begin to construct an internal dialogue that engages my curiosity. I wonder if any of them would do a series of works based on prisons. It seems like they might. Shields Library at the University of California, Davis, has in their special collections several of Ed Ruscha’s hand-made books. Recently I went there to really look at them, and one of the books was Twenty Six Gasoline Stations. The librarian carefully brought the books to me on a tray along with a pair of white gloves. I have to say holding the books, examining them as if they were dinosaur bones was a thrill and I wished for a moment that I was wearing a white lab coat. My experience was similar when I went to see the Jeff Walls exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Fine Art. I took my time to digest them, marveling at the presentation and looking around at the side of the frame to see if I could figure out just how he constructed the light boxes. Once again the presentation, like Ruscha’s hand-made books, was complete perfection. However they didn’t feel real to me - the work felt removed from the commonness of Wall’s subject. Another experience akin to this was on a visit to the Centre Pompidou during the Paris Photo, at an exhibition of Bernd and Hilla Becher’s. Once again the presentation was perfection, repetitive images in pristine clean white frames laid out in a precise grid. I felt like I did looking at Ruscha’s books and Wall’s light boxes - that the subject was removed and perhaps distanced and free from personalization by the presentation. I felt, in a way, like I was in a scientific laboratory. It is interesting that Rushca, Wall and the Bechers are working with everyday, common places images that in our busy lives we don’t even notice. The sad fact is that we tune them out - the subject or work simply is invisible.

That’s what I discovered while I was working on the fight to stop the proposed prison it simply was more pleasant for most of us to tune out this issue, to see it as invisible. When one looks back at the year 1980, Reagan was elected President and this is when the dramatic shift occurred, a point of delineation. There were major cuts in funding for mental health programs and the cuts in education began. In addition to the cuts, and happening concurrently, the “Three Strikes Law” contributed to the dramatic climb in the prison population. The statistics clearly show that most incarcerated inmates in prison are there because of drug related issues.

"Over the past twenty years the State of California has built twenty-one new prisons, added thousands of cells to existing facilities, and increased its inmate population eightfold. Nonviolent offenders have been responsible for most of that increase. The number of drug offenders imprisoned in the state today is more than twice the number of inmates who were imprisoned for all crimes in 1978. California now has the biggest prison system in the Western industrialized world, a system 40 percent bigger than the Federal Bureau of Prisons."(2)

A significant problem that exists is that many prisons have been sold to private companies and are being leased back to the states. “In the State of New York the prisons are owned by the Urban Development Corporation and leased to the Department of Corrections. Governor Cuomo "sold" Attica prison to the corporation for $200 million and used the money to fill gaps in the state budget. In order to buy the prison, the corporation had to issue more bonds. The entire transaction could eventually cost New York State about $700 million."(3) I wonder just how many people are aware that prisons are privately owned and are run for profit with an annual cost of $50,000.00 to keep an individual in prison for one-year.(4)

In a talk about the Prison Industrial Complex, Angela Davis, graduate studies professor emeritus at the University of California, suggests we teach about prisons in our schools and that we make prisons visible.(5) She also raises an interesting concept that slavery was abolished to those living in the free world, but not for those in prison. They are held as hostages to the corporate owners of the prison. When you combine this information with the statistic that one-third of all young black men in the US are in prison, it raises many questions. When one looks at the pristine works of Ruscha, Wall and the Becher’s one sees the facts, straight on, in a scientific manner. Perhaps, this is what needs to be done with prisons - look at them head-on and make the industrial prison complex completely visible.

1 Stimson, Blake. “The Artiste”, Oxford Art Journal 30, 1 2007 109

2 Schlosser, Eric. “The Prison-Industrial Complex”, The Atlantic, 1998

3 Schlosser, Eric. “The Prison-Industrial Complex, Atlantic, December 1998

4 Huling, Tracy, Building a Prison Economy in Rural America, From Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment Marc Mauer and Meda Chesney-Lind, Editors. The New Press. 2002

5 Davis, Angela. “Angela Davis discusses Prison Industrial Complex”, YouTube

Friday, October 16, 2009

Was Henri Matisse to Richard Deibenkorn as Robert Frank is to Wayne Theibaud?

Empathy allows both the artist and spectator to enter and vicariously live in an imagined, painted world. —Wayne Thiebaud

Figure 1. Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park No. 114, 1979, Oil on canvas, 81 x 81
Figure 2. Henri Matisse, Goldfish and Sculpture (Le Poissons), 1911

Richard Diebenkorn emerged out of the Bay Area Figurative movement during the 1950s and 1960s. Bay Area Figuration was in many ways a response to what was happening with the New York School of painting in the work of artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and the like. Not unlike New York, Paris and London there was an on-going collaboration among artists in the Bay Area. They showed their work in exhibitions together and they also helped one another find teaching jobs, galleries, and museum exhibitions. This collaboration provided a rich foundation from which Bay Area Figuration grew and gained momentum. It was out of this synergy the acclaimed magazine Artforum began in San Francisco in the early 1960s only later did it move to New York. The initial goal of the publication was to bring acclaim to artists on the West Coast. The additional element that existed in the Bay Area was that the museums showed works from significant European collections.

In addition to the influential exhibitions of modern and contemporary painting mounted by the San Francisco Museum often in advance of the artists’ showing in New York museums, there were important local collections of Impressionism (the Palace of the Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum), Cubism, School of Paris (the Stein collection), and the Blue Four (Galka Scheyer). 2

Diebenkorn had the opportunity to look at the works of Matisse up close in the museum and was profoundly influenced by his work. The influence is evident not only in the figurative works but in the non objective works of the Ocean Park series and the landscapes as well. He drew from Matisse’s distinctive palette, bold graphic references, and reductive abstraction; in addition he borrowed from Matisse’s distinctive brush work. There are several works to draw a direct comparison.
One such comparison is Goldfish and Sculpture (Le Poissons), 1911 and Ocean Park No. 114, 1979. Although Matisse’s painting makes reference to the human form and objects in a three dimensional space, Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park No. 114 uses line and reduced color pallet and brush work, to in many ways communicate a similar feeling as Le Poissons.

Photographer Robert Frank, a Guggenheim recipient, had a research project which was to create a body of work while traveling across America in 1955 and 1956. His task was fundamentally a documentary one, capturing an image of America from the perspective of an outsider.

Frank was a “documentary-style” photographer, as Walker Evans once termed it, looking onto the world, rather than an art photographer in the Romantic mold who looks out only to see a reflection of himself. Frank was a photographer of social form who opened his audience’s eyes to “what was everywhere visible” in American society but “seldom noticed.” 3

Frank faced significant criticism, and for many reasons. He was “condemned for his self-absorption in the face of the American social landscape.”4 It is through his work that a distinctive portrait of America and American consumerism was painted and one that strongly influenced US artists in the late 1950s and early 1960s. When one looks at the work of Frank, the many references in Thiebaud’s paintings that directly relate to the visual essay created by Franks work can be seen - America in the cabinet and behind the scene. The direct conservatism of Thiebaud’s paintings speaks of a limited view or selective view of that “American Feeling”; with flags, cup cakes, candies and the like.

My own artistic work has been influenced by Diebenkorn, Thiebaud and Frank. I have looked to them for answers to questions about the 1950s and 1960s. In many ways the work of Diebenkorn and Thiebaud is easier for me to digest, in that they seem to me to be more optimistic. The candy confections and beautiful yet sublime abstractions of Diebenkorn are more about what I believe was the mindset of the American founding fathers. The separation from England represented a new “freedom”, freedom of religion, speech, the ability to follow one’s own path, etc. - i.e. birth the term, “The American Dream”. Robert Franks through his photography shows us the underside - the bitterness and unfairness that exists in discrimination of race, social class, ethnic origin and gender.

Growing up my mother told me, Melissa you can’t judge a book by its cover. I have been attracted to the work of Matisse, Diebenkorn and Thebaud. I studied with Thiebaud for five years; he has influenced my work in many ways. For me, it is easier to live with the work of the three; Diebenkorn, Thiebaud and Matisse, and it is much more difficult to absorb Frank’s work as in the exhibition, “The Americans”. Last spring the exhibition was showing at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and I spent a lot of time digesting the exhibition, repulsed by the social unfairness and class distinction portrayed by Frank.

When one looks at the historical time sequence of the Deibenkorn, Thiebaud and Frank, all working artist in the 1950s and 1960s, it is evident they were at the same time, addressing different yet similar social issues. The New York Times in 1959 had a full page ad for Volkswagen. The ad read “Think Small”. This ad and concept was running concurrently with the construction of gaudy, oversized American cars.

So, in the end what is this all about? We all have personal choice and for me personally I have resonated with the “Think Small” concept. For many reasons this feels like it’s the right thing to do both in my youth and now as we face many political issues from tightening support for higher public education to healthcare and a changing planet due to global warming. My final question is: do we need opposing visual presentations from artists such as Frank and Thiebaud in order to educate and assist us in understanding our own personal taste and choices?

1. Thiebaud, Paul. “Wayne Thiebaud Riverscapes”, (2002). Exhibition catalogue, page 35.
2. Jones, Caroline A. “Conclusion Chapter Six” Bay Area Figurative Art 1950 - 1965”. University of California Press, Ltd. Oxford, England. 1990, page 157
3. Stimson, Blake. “The Pivot of the World, Photography and Its Nation”. Mit Press. 2006. Page 105
4. Stimson, Blake. “The Pivot of the World, Photography and Its Nation”. Mit Press. 2006. Page 105

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Melissa Chandon- Residency I - Critical Theory One Seminar Essay

Reflections on Less and More

I am for an art that takes into account the direct effect of
the elements as they exist from day to day apart from representation.
—Robert Smithson

In his 1972 essay “Cultural Confinement,” Robert Smithson draws a direct comparison between the museum and a jail with galleries as cells. Galleries and museums separate and isolate artworks from any real reference to everyday life. It is because of this idea that Smithson began working on pieces he called “Non-Sites” that, when placed in a gallery or museum, made a direct reference to an actual place outside of the museum that he called “Sites.” Smithson was, in a way, speaking about the process of seeing and accurately representing a visual reference in a meaningfully complete and cohesive manner. The role the artist has in establishing the relationship between art and its reference to the world is something that interests me and drives my work. This artistic process raises a question about what we actually see in our daily life.

I think of my work similarly as a kind of archaeological touchstone for thought. In each painting, I strive to evoke a sense of “place” in the hope of evoking a memory and thus creating a familiar resonance for the viewer. I feel a social responsibility to preserve vanishing markers from our visual horizon. My aesthetic goal is two-fold: to evoke the residue of the past and to provide the viewer with a visual respite from their very busy lives. These two are not as unrelated as they might at first seem—respite in nostalgia for a simpler world may indeed be a meaningful and resonant social and political position, one that complicates the traditional association of the liberal left with the term “progressive.”

There was a defining moment when this project crystallized. I was in rural Utah on a road trip, when I spotted a drive-up burger place called the Snow King with a large neon sign that included a snowman. My photograph didn't turn out well and on my next trip one year later I decided to reshoot the diner, only to discover the building had been torn down. This resonated with me and created a sense of loss, one that I could not at the time completely explain, and brought back childhood memories of my family life growing up.

I have a black and white photograph that my father took of me at the age of 5 standing on a chair in front of a kitchen sink. I have an apron tied around my waist, I am washing dishes, and I look very pleased with myself. The year was 1957, and we were living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We were there because my father was stationed at Sandia Air Force Base. He was also attending the University of New Mexico and my mother was working on campus. Soon after graduating, my father began working for an engineering firm. Our family life was in full swing by then: my parents had three children, they had purchased their first house for $17,000, and my mother was a fulltime housewife and seamstress for all of her children's clothing. The 1950s were an unusual period in time when the GI Bill provided many men the opportunity to go to college, pursue their dreams and build a future for their families. Life seemed rich in that there was time for family and relaxation. Our family had one TV and we watched it together. It was a novelty, a shared experience, providing a family with bonding time.

Perhaps these memories are just the nostalgic and sentimental reminiscences of what it was like to see life through the eyes of a child, but perhaps not. In 2002, New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman wrote, “The middle-class America of my youth was another country,” and this is exactly the way it feels to me. The future would seem even more foreign to the life experience of my childhood with temperatures anticipated to rise upwards to ten degrees between now and the year 2100 in the area that I live and paint. One expert said recently, "In many states across the country, the weather and landscapes could be nearly unrecognizable in 100 years."ii Today, our senses are so bombarded with technologically enhanced stimuli—email, cell phone calls and text messages, and the like—our sense of proportion so overwhelmed by the scale of materially supersized commodities—cars, houses, televisions, sodas, bodies, etc.—and our sense of nature so increasingly disengaged from our sense of self—by climate change, genetic engineering, even plastic surgery—that it seems harder and harder to maintain a healthy, normal, measured bearing toward the world.

Smithson raises questions in order to create awareness about places that exist outside of the museum. Like Smithson, I hope to establish a relationship between the object viewed, the painting, and the memory of the viewer. In the process of viewing my paintings, vestiges of a bygone era, I do so, not to be nostalgic (or not just nostalgic!), but to raise basic questions about social, cultural, economic, and political change. Remembering what the past feels like—like Smithson’s efforts to conjure memories of what the outside of the museum gallery/prison cell feels like—is itself a way of encountering, and countering, the here and now.

One of the reasons I am so passionate about my work is that I feel the time is right. In a recent article about American's downsizing, the author stated, “A growing number of people in the U.S. are downsizing their homes in response to the collapse of the housing market, rising energy prices and concern for the environment. The trend has long moved in the opposite direction, with the average American home size, about 2,500 square feet, up 140% from the 1950s.” This trend along with the changes that are starting to take place under the Obama administration, encourages me that positive change is possible. A good example of this is the stimulus initiative known as “Cash for Clunkers.” In a way, it feels like what I am trying to do with my art—against the seemingly enormous scale of Hummers, McMansions, big-box shopping, and the like, I have sought for a long time now to paint a modesty of scale, a measure of restraint, a sense of proportion that I take to be the formal vocabulary of the vanishing middle-class.

works cited

Smithson, Robert. “Cultural Confinement”, (1972). Artists, Critics, Context: Readings in and Around American Art since 1945. Ed. Paul F. Fabozzi. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2002. Chapter 6, Sculpture in the Environment, page 247-249.

Krugman, Paul. “The Disappearing Middle”. New York Times. Sunday, October 20, 2002.

Grim, Ryan. “Small Midwestern States To Be Hit Hardest By Climate Change”. The Huffington Post. First Posted: 08-27-09 01:50 PM | Updated: 08-28-09 10:35 AM.

Bender, Kristin. “Little Boxes: The New Movement to Seriously Downsize Our Homes”. E Magazine. May/June 2009. Vol. XX, no. 3.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Melissa Chandon
Advisor: Professor Micheal Newman

Defining Moments in My First Art Institute of Boston Residency

My residency had a definitive starting moment during my first group critique with critical theory professor Stuart Steck. His comment about my work was, “nice, but how does this relate to current cultural issues?” This is an ongoing concern and one I hope to address and resolve during my studies.

The group crits and one-on-one crits were helpful for me. The sharing of ideas with other students about their works, along with insight that came to me during the process of speaking about my work, combined with the many ideas and suggestions the faculty had was amazing. The overall consensus and recommendation was to view my current work in two separate categories studio work for my galleries and work for my research. I feel that through a series of questions, honest dialogue and experimentation, I'll be able to begin the journey of what I need to do in order to accomplish my goals during this two year program. I know the time will go quickly. Before starting the MFA program I had a lot of time to think about my work and to think through the importance of this process and my ultimate personal goal as an artist. After starting the program I feel confident that the structure will allow me the time to experiment. With the critical theory classes, research and reading lists, I'll be able to contextualize my work and hopefully communicate my concerns effectively.

During the residency my elective seminar was Public Practice with Julia Scher. Our class covered many topics, conceptual ideas, materials and site specific works. Large scale public art is really attractive to me. I have had some experience with commissions for public spaces. It is exciting and interesting to see how the works of painters can morph into a different medium to produce a piece that can work well for a public space. The criteria for art in a public space is heavily based in materiality and durability and can present challenges for a painter. Shortly before starting the program I went to see Squeak Carnwath's retrospective exhibition at the Oakland Museum and an exhibition at the Turner Carroll Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has begun recently to experiment with tapestry as a medium for her work. The gallery in Santa Fe was exhibiting tapestry works by Squeak, Chuck Close and Hung Liu. Seeing the work answered a lot of questions that I have and it was very helpful seeing these works in person. Another artist I look to for inspiration is abstract painter Charles Arnoldi. His works are often very large, often multiple surfaces to create a single piece. He has a public art piece in the entry area of a building in San Francisco. I plan on going to see the work this semester. My all time favorite large scale commission which I was able see two years ago, shortly after the reopening of the Musée de l’Orangerie Jardin des Tuileries in Paris is Claude Monet's, Les Nymphéas.

As my first mentor I have chosen Tom Holland. He has taught at University of California, Berkeley and the San Francisco Art Institute and currently has a studio in Berkeley which is not far from where I live. His work is non representational, both two and three dimensional paintings on metal. He has a very strong sense of color and form. I consider him less a painter and more of a sculptor. I felt this was a good starting place for me because I am interested in his technique of applying paint on a metal surface. This would be a valuable skill and one I could use for public art projects.

The artist talks during the residency were fantastic. It is interesting to hear individual artists contextualize their body of work. Cory Arcangel's talk was in many ways my favorite—he was spontaneous, insightful, random, funny, and articulate at the same time. I completely identified with his story about Tiger Woods and his process of reworking his swing. New York painter Susan White had an interesting approach of showing the small rotating images of fashion, graffiti, other artists work, along with seemingly random photos during her talk. This was for me more effective in contextualizing her work than her actual talk. The detail images that Laurel Sparks used in conjunction with the large images of her paintings was very effective in showing the process and gave information to understand the sculptural elements she combines in her paintings. I have listened to many artists talks but knowing I am now preparing for my final MFA presentation, I now regard the talks in a very different way.

Stuart's Critical Theory I course was engaging and very stimulating. His enthusiastic teaching technique encouraged lots of stimulating conversation. There were times when it felt the class discussion was taking us in an opposite direction, only to have the conversation come full circle and make perfect sense. This fall I would like to take an art history class at University of Cslifornia, Davis or Sacramento State so I can continue to develop the skills needed for my final thesis.

During my first semester of studio work the overall consensus during the group and individual critiques was that I use my time in the program wisely and experiment. Some of the ideas that were suggested as areas to explore are: abstraction, surface (texture, smooth), paper, canvas, wood, metal, beauty, ugly, brushes, brush strokes, distance from the painted surface while painting, color, black & white, line as form, removal of paint, sanding, scraping, shinny, flat, edit, space, light, dark. My goal for the semester is to set myself free to explore, and be adventurous. It will be interesting to see where my work takes me when I am not dictated by gallery needs and expectations. I hope to have quite a lot to show when I return in January.

For the academic portion of my semester I would like to read many books on a wide range of artists and hopefully gain insight on their philosophical approach to their work. I am hopeful that in doing this the knowledge I gain will give me the necessary skills needed to bridge the gap that Stuart Steck so poignantly mentioned during my first group crit—that is, how my work addresses current social issues. I hope to write a comparative essay on a painting by Squeak Carnwath and a painting by Cy Twombly. I would like to also investigate a painting from Richard Diebenkorn's Ocean Park series and a painting by Henri Matisse.

The artists that were recommended for me to investigate during this semester are: Gerhard Richter, Peter Doig, Mark Rothko, David Hockney, Squeak Carnswath, Maureen Gallace, Nicola Tyson, Edward Ruscha, Henri Matisse, Charles Arnoldi, Cy Twombly.

Reading list:

Interaction of Color, Josef Albers. Yale Univsrsity Press
Richard Diebenkorn, White Chapel Art Gallery, London
Bay Area Figurative Art 1950 – 1965, Caroline A. Johns, University of California, Berekley Press
Matisse A Retrospective, edited by Jack Flam, Beauix Arts Edition
Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting, Barry Schwabsky
USA Today: New American Art from the Saatchi Gallery, Meghan Dailey & Norman Rosenthal
The Art of Richard Diebenkorn, Ahmanson-Murphy Fine Arts Book, Jane Livingston

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Residency #1

I worked in the studio today. I began my black and white series called 63 trees. To view the work paste in the url address into your browser:

I am going to meet with my mentor today. I have the good fortune of being able to work with Tom Holland. When I Googled Tom here is what Ask/ART has to say, "abstract painter Thomas Holland was born in 1936 and settled in the Bay Area of California. His works are not associated with any particular movement or artistic group, but space, color, and form are common themes surrounding his often geometric works. His materials and mediums are varied -- fiberglass, aluminum, epoxy paint, paper, and marble transforming and constructing these materials into multi-dimensional objects such as free standing structures or wall reliefs."