Archive for the ‘Painting’ Category

Hey big bloggy, I’ve seen a lot of art lately. Turning over stones during listless hours of surfing my favorite art reporting interweb outlets.  Summer is always a cool time to catch up and since my art production in the studio is ramped up as I hammer out a new body of work and  forge ahead getting ready for some exciting exhibition opportunities I like to slip away during the day job to wash the stench of corporate complacency off my body with a refreshing gallery visit or internet poke around. Here is what I found recently.

I secretly ghost traveled with James Kalm to see Katy Moran at Andrea Rosen Gallery. She had a solo show last year in Columbus at the Wexner Center that was great. I’ve enjoyed for the past few years running into Morans work. Each time it changes and grows in ways I love to see in an artist practice. It shows explorations and searching in the studio and in thinking about process and painting that to me exemplifies the spirit of a true painter. These paintings are not as slick as usual. They are manhandled and struggled with. It shows work and thinking.

I also really like the Mark Grotjahn show at Anton Kern Gallery. I think the same work or similar from this series was shown recently at Blum and Poe, none the less the work is magical. Along the same lines as Moran but I think with much more confidence, Grotjahn creates these heavily worked and layered decorative works that suggest to me the tribal drum circle ritualistic haze and magic of a serious painting session. I love the connection between some sort of tribal ritual and the energy, motion and movement of a really serious painter working out problems and personally connecting with making art. Plus just wanting to smell that paint all day would send someone into a K-hole of extacy induced spinning….or maybe that was just me, back in the 90’s.

As I mentioned before I entered Hey Hot Shot last week and just when I was feeling confident I am confronted with Martina Lindqvist as a critics pick of HHS blog. I mean these pictures are poetic, dark, moody and they take you there. You want to be there.  Martina  can execute her vision with clarity and passion. These slick pictures have the feel and drama of a Hollywood-esque high production value Crewdson picture but land more toward the moody, dark outside looking in singularity of man, camera and landscape of Todd Hido. If this is my competition, I’m doomed. Ha-ha.

from NYMAG

And last I end with Urs Fischer at the Venice Biennale.  His installation of a 3 wax sculptures one, my favorite a portrait of the artist Rudolf Stingel that just happens to have a wick in it. A giant man candle. It burns bright from the mind but melts all over. It’s the perfect show piece. Poetic and accessible. Urs has usually bombed for me. Big budget, yadda yadda yadda. But I really like this trio.


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Oil on Canvas!

I have to totally make amends with both  myself as a viewing professional and Royden Watson.  I admit I casually dismissed his piece at the MOCA benefit  by assuming it was a quirky artist gesture or some rehashed mash-up of minimalist sculpture and Duchampian mass-produced found item turned art object.  It was actually hard to get close to it due to the  ratio of space to people, not that I didn’t appreciate it or find it somewhat thought-provoking as I mentioned in my MOCA diary entry, but I did just breeze by it, made assumptions and was embarrassed by not doing my due diligence as an art viewer. I certainly judged the book by its cover.

The irony of it all is that  my assumptions and the artist intent is the point. Watson mentions in his artist statement that in his own words:

“One of my studio aims has been to create highly representational painted “portraits” of the prosaic objects that we so often overlook”

Right and so I did. He goes on to mention how in a contemporary society where information is consistently readily available and certainly not in short supply that the easy searching of Google and the thousands of sources and viewpoints often both confuse and test the limits of truth by loosing and changing the context of pictures, stories and facts. So here Royden is making incredible lifelike painted “portraits” of mundane objects, in this case a 2×4, and me a man of contemporary society doesn’t think twice about seeing the object from across the room, through a sea of patrons and dismissing because of the nature of the object he chose  and all of its mundane utilitarian glory and its history as an art object in sculpture and installation art.


When I sit back and reflect on my humbled experience here as an artist and viewer I am reminded of Tauba Auerbach and how Watson and Auerbach would make a great show. Their works have a good dialogue going about representation and the nature of materials, perception and the flatness of the support vs. the ability painting has to fool us and the eye. I really admire both artists and I am thrilled to have found out about Watson.

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Ask An Art Critic @ NYMag

Jerry Saltz generous column @ NYmag

Jerry Saltz AKA Mr. Accessible, Democratic Critic, the Critic of the people for the people a few months back opened himself up even farther beyond his studio 54 wait listed Facebook page to answer a few questions a month in a column for New York Magazine called Ask An Art Critic. I love reading it as do I love reading all of Mr. Saltz writings (agree or not ) I always appreciate his toned down rhetoric and non academic prose. This was a question from the most recent set of queries, I found it very interesting and informative in regards to viewing art in general and heck looking at life….

Dear Jerry,

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a lot more abstract art being made, and I often find myself stymied by something a little bit embarrassing. Jerry, is abstract art for real? I mean, I often don’t really get it. Isn’t it just smudges and stripes and squares and stuff?


Dear Embarrassed,

You are not alone. I too have heretical thoughts like yours. It can also take 30 years to understand why an all-white painting by Robert Ryman or a pencil grid on canvas by Agnes Martin is art.

I can’t tell you what abstraction is, but I can tell you a number of things that I think that it allows artists to do. What I say about abstract art could also be applied to representational art. With that in mind here’s “The Jerry Saltz Abstract Manifesto, in Twenty Parts.”

1. Abstraction is one of the greatest visionary tools ever invented by human beings to imagine, decipher, and depict the world.

2. Abstraction is staggeringly radical, circumvents language, and sidesteps naming or mere description. It disenchants, re-enchants, detoxifies, destabilizes, resists closure, slows perception, and increases our grasp of the world.

3. Abstraction not only explores consciousness — it changes it.

4. All art is abstract. A painting of a person or a still-life is a two-dimensional representation of three-dimensional reality and therefore infinitely abstract. Whenever an artist sets out to make something it turns into something else that he or she could never have imagined or predicted.

5. Think of an abstract painting as very, very low relief — a thing, not a picture.

6. Abstraction exists in the interstices between the ideal and the real, symbol and substance, the optic and the haptic, imagination and observation.

7. Abstraction brings the world into more complex, variable relations; it can extract beauty, alternative topographies, ugliness, and intense actualities from seeming nothingness.

8. Abstraction, like ideas, intuitions, feelings, and life, is not mimetic.

9. Abstraction is as old as we are. It has existed for millennia outside the West. It is present on cave walls, in Egyptian and Cypriot Greek art, Chinese scholar rocks, all Islamic and Jewish art — both of which forbid representation. Abstraction is only new in the West.

10. Abstraction gained ground in Western art after centuries of more perfected systems of representation. By the mid-nineteenth century, representation felt like a trap, and seemed empty, false, or limiting. A similar situation existed in the early aughts, after artists of the nineties re-deployed realisms in numerous ways. The field appeared closed off for younger artists. That’s why contemporary artists have not only begun to reexplore the possibilities of abstraction, they’re shedding much of the Greenbergian cant and academic-formalist dogma that attached themselves to it over the last 50 years. Abstraction is breaking free again.

11. Abstraction offers ways around what Beckett called “the neatness of identification.”

12. Rothko’s glowing floating rectangles of color are more than abstract patterns. They are Buddhist TVs or what Keats called “good oblivion. One sees what nothing looks like in them. They make you ask, “What light through yonder painting breaks?” (Now do you see how full emptiness and abstraction can be?)

13. Abstraction is just a tool. It is no less “real” than philosophy or music.

14. Abstraction is something outside of life that allows us to be present at our own absence or alternatively absent in our own presence.

15. Abstraction creates patterns of meaning and its own extremely flexible intricate syntax. It is astral synthesis.

16. Abstraction teeters on making empty gestures while also making deep statements.

17. The camera was supposed to supplant painting but didn’t. Instead, painting — ever the sponge, always elastic — absorbed it and discovered new realms.

18. Abstraction may speak in a sort of intra-species visual-electronic-chemical-pheromonal code, creating optical-cerebral networks and wormholes, organic maps of unknown yet familiar territories, may have a kind of plant intelligence that allows it to grow, proliferate, flower, change directions, and survive relentless aesthetic predation from a lay public.

19. Abstraction contains multitudes.

20. I’ve left out No. 20, because I want to hear your opinion: What else does abstraction do that’s special? Comments are open below.

The ensuing conversation in the comments section is worth the read too, so click on the link above and read a debate of believers and nonbelievers and you will see why what Jerry does is important to the vibrancy and importance of art in society beyond the high dollar auction results.

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Lori Ott @ MOCA

I am really excited about the openings at MOCA this season. Lorri Ott and I had a printmaking class together at Kent when I was briefly flailing and failing there for the world’s shortest MFA stint. I’m a late bloomer and at the ripe age of 25 I wasn’t ready for the time constraints of an advanced art degree. MFA for me at the time was like the pressures of a time-lapse flower in bloom. I however needed the spring rains to wash over the ground and slowly let the earth warm in order for me to photosynthesize.

I’m rambling. So it makes me happy to see a brief fellow artistic traveler get recognized…at MOCA none the less. I can’t wait to see the work Lorri and curator Megan Lykins Reich has put together. Otts assemblages of both found and created detritus are rich in metaphor and material. Her relatively modest scale sculptures exhibit a poetic randomness like the way colored trash and debris magically find themselves curated together in an alley where cross winds have swirled them together.

Can’t wait to see it. Lorri Ott:Passive Voices opens this Friday at The Museum of Contemporary Art and runs till May.

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Instead of just posting a blank page,  here is a little Agnes Martin. And as the Mrs. is off for a snow day  no doubt Peg Bundy-ing it up on the couch with some bon-bons, I, at the day job,  caught made a paper fish for a new photo I am working on. I thought it turned out pretty nice. It’s a trout about a 4 pounder.

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rush to your newstands...

Hiddy ho rust belters. The most current New American Paintings Midwest edition has some seriously good painting happening within those 100 or so satin coated soy printed pages. And what’s more of a surprise is the number of Cleveland artists all tucked up and nestled in sharing the spotlight with the larger and louder 2nd city to our 3rd, Chicago. We have a lot of competition here in the midwest. We could get royal rumbled by Kansas City, Minneapolis, Chicago but Cleveland took it to the mat. High-fives to Lorri Ott,  Natalie Capanneli, Andy Curlowe, Michelle Muldrow. It all just makes me so proud. Now if only we could get some galleries to stay open but that’s another story….

clockwise from top: Lorri Ott, Michelle Muldrow, Natalie Capanneli

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Grant Wood-DAR

I love this painting, Daughters of the American Revolution by Grant Wood. I find it incredibly relevent not only in subject matter but also style.  Wood had an uncanny way of subtle distortion that mixed realism and cartooning in an exaggerated style that captured character and setting to tell great stories. I really identify with his skeptical American-ness. DAR expresses a satirical look into class structures at the time. The daughters are clearly extended pinky, tea sipping aristocrats who by name only identify with the struggles of the revolution. Wood I imagine a member of the working class back bone see’s the appropriation of such a name as hypocrisy as the revolution was a fight against aristocracy, plutocracy and ruling classes.

I just love those 3 ladies and I see Grant Wood’s smirk painted all over their faces. I think the subject matter is especially close to the struggles of modern-day America and proves that perhaps history repeats itself or that we have not really solved the problem from even hundred years ago. Palin’s ancestors perhaps : )

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