Monday, December 13

Go Where? Trying to be Good

Go Where? 2009 Jeffar Khaldi (via Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde)
One of the best ways a work of art can be good is when your experience with it reflects, in stages, exactly how it must have felt to make. I tend to respond to paintings that reveal the fun in their construction, the intensity, some heartbreak, labor, risk, confusion and ultimately, some sort of satisfying discovery.

I like to see a painting that shows off how effortlessly it was constructed but yet humbles itself in areas that could have been painstaking. Another words: triumphant and full of ego, but deserving of that confidence.

An artist a friend works for claims to have spent a good decade hiding and making bad work. And the kind of painting I am talking about is as a result of that hard work. It appears so unabashedly effortless because that fluidity has probably taken a short lifetime.

Seeing Jeffar Khaldi's paintings made me think of that. They also immediately remind me of Neo Rauch for the same reasons. Khaldi's subject matter is serious but not stodgy (unlike the NYT Book Review's Top Ten of 2010 which was a complete disappointment). I admire paintings like this because they don't take themselves seriously and that's an important point for me to learn with my own work.

Semi-Related: Chuck Klosterman interviews Jonathan Franzen who makes a good point about authenticity, "Inauthentic people are obsessed with authenticity".

And Klosterman is on a roll lately, with a great totally unrelated article about zombie onslaughts.

Thursday, December 9

Grant Hottle: So Domestic

So Majestic 2010 Grant Hottle (via Half/Dozen Gallery)
When seeing the Grant Hottle exhibit, So Domestic at Half/Dozen, my first thought is how well his paintings manage a large scale, especially knowing the artist works in a cramped space.

Cramped Apartment 2010 Grant Hottle (via Half/Dozen)
Even in Cramped Apartment, that Hottle admits, "is the kind of space I find myself in most of the time. My home is full of art, books, tables - stuff. It's lived in...I wanted it to feel closed in and cluttered like my studio", it's painted in a way that uses it's size - a painting of stacked objects in a tight space but painted so that it reads from 10 feet away.

Looking closer you'll find that most of his paintings are deeply layered and reveal strokes perhaps not bigger than an inch. And perhaps this is what attracts me most to Hottle's work: the ability to articulate tangible, modern compositions relying on traditional color, shapes and elements.

Yes there is the strokey, and the electric color palette - but everything holds together as that first believable idea. Hottle's paintings are a lot about realness:
The term 'real' is so subjective. I've been thinking about this specifically in the relation to the home because in moving from place to place, the space I think of as my home bleeds from one structure to the next. So where is my real home? Is it where I am now or where I am from? Isn't it a construction of both?...the greenhouse in So Domestic only exists in the context of this painting. It was never a direct observation or photograph of a place you could walk into. It is a construction, but is no less real for being so.
For complete images and discussions with the artist, visit the Half/Dozen Gallery website.Or visit KBOO's Art Focus for discussion with Half/Dozen's Timothy Mahan and artist, Grant Hottle.

Tuesday, December 7

Finding Patience: The Trees Through the Forest

Untitled (Red Dresses) 2010 Stephan P. Ferreira

Detail from Untitled (Red Dresses) 2010
Stephan P. Ferreira
When I finish a painting I often have a hard time seeing the whole. I'm stuck on details or the overall language of the painting.

I've labored so much over how I've articulated the imagery that trying to decipher any meaning is the same experience as trying to figure out what a word means after it has been repeated over and over: the word looses it's context, it looks foreign and suddenly you can't even remember if those letters are arranged correctly.

Having been so wrapped up in the painting I can only see the trees in the forest, as it were. It takes stepping away to eventually see the bigger picture. But before then, it's usually these small areas in my paintings that teach me and prompt me to do something else.

A recently completed painting based on a Depression era photograph got me thinking about what changes need to be made in my own process and what the successes in my work tell me about my focus and patience.

Tuesday, November 30

MFA Boston in Two Hours

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Kelsey and I had only two short hours to spend touring the new American Art wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This wasn't much time for the art - or the camera - but the space is fantastic, and the Museum's highlights look better than ever.

Friday, November 19

Finding Gerard Byrne

Case Study: Loch Ness (Some Possibilities and Problems)
2001-2010 (ongoing) Gerard Byrne (via Auckland Triennial)
Since 2008, I have been searching for documentation of Gerard Byrne's Boston ICA installation of Case Study: Loch Ness (Some Possibilities and Problems). I have really just been stuck trying to find his name, remember when I was there - and almost in bizarre irony to what the exhibit was about - what I had seen - which was originally what haunted me.
Installation View: Case Study: Loch Ness (Some Possibilities and Problems)
2001-2010 (ongoing) Gerard Byrne (via Auckland Triennial)

Case Study has been one of the only installations I've seen that completely swallowed me up then piece by piece revealed it's intentions. It didn't have a clever aftertaste. And unlike how I feel about a lot of installation art, it used all of it's components (photography, found sculpture, multimedia elements) convincingly - that is to say, it couldn't have been executed any other way. The piece has been building since 2001. Greg Cook, of the Boston Phoenix described it as:
...a playful conceptual-art riff on the Loch Ness Monster mystery. The installation comprises a slide-show, a grainy silent film, audio of a guy reading what seem to be accounts of sightings of Nessie, text summaries of "sightings" pasted to a wall, and a tree stump. But mostly it's black-and-white photos depicting a strange ripple on the lake, driftwood, a swimmer's arm breaking through the water - all things that might be mistaken for a monster if you were so inclined
The Loch Ness legend is well known. There has never been any true evidence of the monster's existence. But Byrne is not so much interested in presenting the legend to us, so much as he's trying to provoke us with questions that Cook suggests: "How do we see? How do we trick ourselves into seeing things that might not be there?". Or as Nicholas Baume, Chief Curator at the ICA, describes, "he plays with our sense of period and context, fashioning his work so that we can never be exactly sure of what we are seeing."

Saturday, November 6

Keeping Friends Outside the Art World

Dan Cameron (Photo via Art Fag City)
I have been following Paddy Johnson's interview series, Survival in New York, on Art Fag City. The series includes interviews of young and established artists and curators including to-date: Marcin Ramocki, Lauren Cornell, Dan Cameron, Triple Candie and William Powhida. They will be compiled and reflected upon later this month in an issue of MAP Magazine.

New York is a far cry from Portland (or maybe not) but the artist survival woes are the same. How does an artist develop a career of making things while making a living?

The interviewee's are genuinely down-to-earth about their practice. Maybe confidence like that is exuded after establishing yourself or eliminating doubt. Confidence is a common trait among young artists, but being down-to-earth is certainly not.

Tuesday, November 2

What Am I Looking At?: Figurative Paintings That Aren't

Two Paintings by Roger White (via Rachel Uffner Gallery)
When you see something you like, you know it immediately. But knowing what it is you're enjoying is always harder to define. Many of the paintings I've been thinking about lately reflect that feeling pretty literally. These are images about image making and they are influencing my own decisions about paint.

The paintings I'm thinking about might articulate some sort of tangible space but with non-objective shapes. They do not quite fall within Abstraction.I thought the paintings of Roger White work this way. White's paintings are comprised of non-objective and organic forms making up patterns. But in some of the paintings the patterns deviate and sometimes the abstract forms feel reminiscent of actual objects, like a hat, lampshade or folded something. But the forms never materialize beyond that and ultimately we're left looking at only the relationships of a painting process.

Wednesday, October 20

Defined by Limitations

Luc Tuymans in his studio (via Elle)
An older idea came back yesterday: how much does an artist's limitations define their strengths and direction in their work?

As an immediate example Luc Tuymans came to mind. His paintings aren't limited in their intended capacity. But his work has a distinct style, already influencing a host of young artists, even before Tuyman's own career is finished.

Tuymans admits that his paintings are executed in one day. He claims, "I only have an attention span that's that long". Still they are "captivatingly blurry, washed-out and bleached" conceptual representations. His paintings are derived from banal photographs and television.

I remember a figure from my memory - perhaps in undergrad, maybe a grad student in adjacent studios - explaining to me one afternoon that it was necessary to continually refine your process, throwing out old ideas and experimenting with new ones, until you were able to produce what you wanted effortlessly or at least fluidly. And recently, another friend hearing that I had taken a banal, incremental change in the way I moved paint around remarked: "that's creativity - each time you find a solution to make what you do better."

Saturday, October 16

Feeling Butterflies Again

I took a short walk through the Portland Art Museum the other night. Just enough time to make some notes for a longer visit. I was stunned by the Mark Grotjahn installation. I usually have a hard time relating to work dominated by hard-edged, geometric forms. I like what a friend calls, "a way in" or some sort of broken spot (this is actually a point in my own work that I consciously see lacking).

Weibes Kleid Martina Sauter 2010 (via Ambach and Rice)
Stuhl Und Sessel Martina Sauter 2010
But these have it: as you walk closer, those large black shapes become made up of smaller shapes and marks. A natural noise of colored marks are around and outside those giant abstract butterfly wings. They appear almost hurriedly rubbed. As you step back and you begin to read the larger scale again, these images become tied to a representational sort of emotion. Poetic. The video above, courtesy of the Gagosian, shows some of this.

And these kind of noisy marks dwarfed in scale by the abstract, black, wings are like marks I am also trying to play with. Those marks in Grotjahn's pieces are contained within the larger fog of smudges and movement becoming a general tone. It's always exciting to see something your thinking about reflected in a completely different kind of work. Perhaps a piece of art you wouldn't even have ordinarily enjoyed. And even better, is if that work is doing it even better somehow - teaching you something.

From the book of Cy Twombly Photographs 1951-2007 (via Rare Autumn)
Semi-Related: Via Another Bouncing Ball, Regina Hackett links to some beautiful re appropriated photographs of Martina Sauter. Read her press release. These images change the original meanings of the used photographs - but what I like most, is how they also change the meaning of the surface texture of walls, furniture and film texture. They remind me of Cy Twombly's photographs (which I only have seen through this awesome book). I've always enjoyed the way they exist as something documented and yet with a new life of their own - the camera adding it's own emotional texture.

Tuesday, October 12

Picasso for Me

La Celestina 1904 Pablo Picasso (via Seattle Met)
Now at SAM: Picasso:Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris. This is great for Seattle and the Northwest. And especially great for someone like me or for you. I've always respected Picasso, but outside textbooks and short visits to NYC, haven't figured out why I ought to like him. D.K Row of the Oregonian says of the exhibit: strives for broadness, providing an extensive summary of Picasso's career through formidable prints, paintings and sculptures. Every significant period is covered: Picasso's beginnings as an intrepid talent; his Blue Period; the development into Cubism; the many works based on his many wives and lovers (from Olga Khokhlova to Dora Maar to Marie-Thérèse Walter); his absorption of Surrealism and much more.
Jen Graves of The Stranger also has some good first-hand thoughts on the exhibit. It is an extensive exhibit and as Graves points out, full of surprises and pieces not regularly reproduced.

I'm not a fan of a blockbuster. This is an exhibit that could have easily name dropped and been about something else entirely. Or it could have been fluffy (as is probably so tempting for the current climate). But Graves points out how SAM inserts some of it's own curatorial adventurousness: panels are placed throughout the African and other collections linking them to Picasso.

I have yet seen the exhibit - but wish the exhibit could go one step farther and have the guts to place the works throughout the other collections. Besides the security risk, that would be a completely radical and new way to see Picasso's works.

Semi-related: Kelsey pointed out that the PSU Lecture series is happening again. The first was Tina Olsen who talked about museum's role as educating on it's objects. She's also partly responsible for the annual Shine a Light on October 15th.

Saturday, October 9


I'll have some new pieces on display for Art3, presented by The Match. The show is an effort to promote NW 23rd's Third Thursday's and to fill storefronts. The spaces include the former Music Millennium store at 801 NW 23rd and Umpqua Bank at 467 NW 23rd. There are 12 participating artists:

Sidonie Caron
Charlie White
Cory Hanson
Jody Katopothis
Annie Meyer
Stephan P. Ferreira
Matthew DiTullo
Judson Moore
Mitchell Freifeld
Jennifer Zika
Antonio Villagran
Frank Schroder

The Opening Reception is Thursday, October 21st, 2010 from 6-9pm. The spaces are open Friday from 6-9p and Saturday, Sunday 1pm-6pm. Please drop by!

Local Comparisons: Turner Prize 2010

Burroughs in Tangiers Dexter Dalwood 2005 (via Tate Britain)
October 5th marked the opening of the Tate Britain's 2010 Turner Prize Finalist Exhibition.The winner will be chosen from the four participants and announced on December 6th.

Dexter Dalwood has my vote. His paintings are of events or places never seen and usually only previously existing through literary or cultural references. Doesn't sound like he's a likely winner though (see a round-up of press reviews here). Richard Dorment of the Telegraph says of Dalwood:
His pastiches have virtually no aesthetic interest, but that’s OK with the artist because Dalwood’s one big idea is to add a title that evokes the presence of an absent celebrity without actually depicting him or her. For example, you wouldn’t look twice at the image of a tree and full moon against a plain blue ground, but the work’s title Death of David Kelly neatly exploits that good man’s death for the smug consumption of the art world’s least thoughtful fashionistas.
Kurt Cobain's Greenhouse Dexter Dalwood 2000
Mystic Whiting Tennis 2004
(via Harold Hollingsworth)
Hmm...I cannot disagree. But his exact distaste for Dalwood's imagery is exactly what I like about it! Heck, it's what I aim for in my own work. A representational image made up of both objective and non-objective aesthetics that begs you to just look at it! Or not look at it, and miss how quiet it is altogether. Which is an idea I particularly like: how can an image be both boring and exciting?

Dorment is right though: without some of those titles, would these spaces be anything other than mundane little worlds? This is exactly why the paintings are great. Like with Kurt Cobain's Greenhouse, we are led into a serene place with only clues (a guitar, Seattle skyline) and no idea that something is amiss.The title (being used in a way I generally shy from - being that I usually wish they weren't even there) is what gives you the goosebumps.
So Majestic 2010 Grant Hottle (via Half/Dozen Gallery)
Locally, Dalwood's collage-like language reminds me of Whiting Tennis. Also, Grant Hottle is exploring the same idea of "what is real" - and even his recent work, So Majestic, seems to mirror Dalwood's Kurt Cobain's Greenhouse.

Tuesday, October 5

What the Goal Is

Detail of my painting of a Pink Credenza.
Terry Gross interviewed John Stewart for the occasion of his new The Daily Show book, Earth. The interview was recorded in front of a live audience in NY. It wasn't as personal as Terry's typical confessional-like interviews - John Stewart hamming it up for the crowd. But there were some great pieces later, including the excerpt below. It's really great advice about becoming something. And it might even be better advice for artists:
John Stewart: You know, I never in my career have ever thought about what the goal was. The goal was always to be better than I was at the present time at what I was doing. As a stand-up, my break in stand-up was not getting on Letterman. My break in stand-up was - there's a place called the Comedy Cellar in the Village on MacDougal Street, and a great group of guys that were together in those day performing. And they put me on every night at 2 AM.  I was the last guy on every night. And not on the weekends, because I wasnt good enough for weekend. So, Sunday night through Thursday night, it was me, and drunk Dutch tourists in a basement in the Village and I would perform for the plate of humus that would be served to me. Because above the Comedy Cellar is a Middle Eastern restaurant because, of course. And I went on every night and I learned the difference between impersonating a comedian and being a comedian. And that was my break, was learning how to be authentic. Not to the audience but to myself. I developed a baseline of confidence and also insecurity. I knew how bad I was and I knew how good I was. And that is what helped me through a lot of the ups and downs as we went along.
A.O. Scott (via The Hollywood Ham)
Authenticity is really important. If I could say there has been only one success of mine with painting, it has been identifying dishonestly. I'm not sure if I've yet solved those inconsistencies. That in itself could take a career.

UPDATED: Semi-Related: I wish A.O. Scott was an art critic. Or, that someone would write art reviews the way he looks at movies: intelligently, critically and yet culturally broad. Maybe injecting a little lightheartedness into criticism like John Stewart with news. What critic can be so positive and blatantly into all spectrum's of class: "My favorite movie of 2009 has to be Crank: High Voltage....I can just tell that it's gonna be good. The trailer is a flawless display of pop art. Plus, Statham is a bad ass."

Friday, October 1

Gray Area

Lisa Kowalski Gray Area 2010 (via Half/Dozen)
Ruminating on Abstraction, check out the large wet-on-wet abstract works of Lisa Kowalski at Half/Dozen. It's up until October 23rd. A good throw back to the Abstract Expressionists. And I mean good because these 60" images breathe.

Mary Heilmann (via Un Bloody)
I can't help but feel alot of young abstract work feels stiff, copy-cat or caught up on being non-representational for lack of anything else (this coming from a painter who is fixated on representation!). It might take a career to understand how paint relationships work. I can't understand how artists at the student-level ever begin with Abstraction. Where are they working from?

Even though Abstract Expressionism was explored and absorbed into a sort of mainstream art language, I think it might be one of the more difficult things to explore.

Semi-Related: A friend of mine keeps pointing out that a painting I bought from a local painter bears a resemblance to some Mary Heilmann. It's true, but both their bodies of work (and concepts) only intersect at the stripes.

UPDATED: See Lisa Kowalski s installation shots via OpenWide PDX.

Friday, September 24

When a Ditch is just a Shape

Nele Tas About Christmas 2005 (via BAM)
Grier Edmundson The Work Ahead of Us
2009 (via 1430)

I switched majors in college because Illustration wasn't teaching me enough about painting. I thought the act of painting alone was enough. But that put me in the position to approach subject matter very literally. Illustrative. Today I am still trying to teach myself how to paint - or - how to paint, paint, not things. How to break things apart. How to paint abstractly.

I always seem to think from figurative means to abstraction. I actually remind myself constantly to step back, squint or find a means of obstructing my observation - ways of breaking my vision. Another words, I am always turning towards representational means to articulate something, but find more and more that my subject matter means less and less. There is something else I am looking for at an abstract level.

Maureen Gallace Cape Cod, Early September 2008
Seeing the work of Nele Tas reminded me of that today. Alot of his paintings of crowds are very abstract, but snag us using recognizable body-like shapes. It's as if the artist is using objective shapes as non-objective shapes. Figurative, or literal shapes (in this case bodies) as marks in themselves. It got me thinking: maybe lots of representational painters aren't even lingering on figurative means. Maybe, even, they're approaching representational subject matter with abstraction.

In my process, it wasn't until seeing Grier Edmundson's work at Fourteen Thirty Contemporary last year that I truly began to understand a painting with figurative subject matter could convince me not of the narrative but of the painted relationships. Or even that those abstract relationships could create a stronger representational narrative. Grier Edmundson is also alot like Luc Tuymans.

Tuesday, September 21


Walked by this colored-steel yard today. It's one of those places I've walked by countless times. But something about the season, time of day, the light affects whether I see it. These sorts of things can feel incredibly random. Or, is it about whatever I am fixated on? How many things did I walk by for the umpteenth time today and not see?

I disciplined myself and went to the studio today. But didn't feel focused until I was in the bookstore. It's almost like I spend any given day finding the best activity I am suited for. Sometimes the bookstore is a place I have to visit many times to be focused (I will even stray towards certain aisles depending on the light and start there - where I feel right. If it's Downtown Powell's this usually means near the windows. If it's Hawthorne, it usually is directly down the center).

Haven't been following the Oregonian's Art section recently. But browsed today and liked this on Stephanie Snyder. Her curating philosophy:
Yes, but I don't believe in being didactic or dogmatic. I appreciate what Roberta (Smith) observed about the "overeducation movement" happening at a lot of museums. She was talking about the Brooklyn Museum where the walls are colored, and there are video monitors and wall text everywhere. I don't believe in doing that to viewers. You educate by curating good shows and allowing viewers to have a quiet experience with art.
And also, a new Amsterdamn-centric (refreshing!) list-blog about painters, A Thousand Living Painters, has lots of interesting work including these great paintings by Albert Zwann. His paintings feel a bit like backgrounds to Neo Rauch. He's using the same sorts of old-print colors, but really playing with architecturally crisp shapes and otherwise messy figurative spots.

Friday, September 17

Ellen Lesperance

Ellen Lesperance was chosen as this years Betty Bowen Award recipient. Really beautiful work and in-line with well deserved past winners.

But I found out about this via PORT. And I couldn't disagree more with Jeff Jahn's analysis of the pick:
Analysis: an unexpected and very good choice but I sense a backlash is about to manifest itself begging the question, "must every regional art award in the Pacific Northwest genuflect in some way towards overtly craft oriented or hand made work?"

Not to be provocative, just articulating an observable trend that hasn't really kept up with new media. Obviously, craft is a valid and important part of contemporary art but it's not the whole picture, frankly its representation at the awards level is misleading. So I ask, when will video, photography and installation art that isn't fetishing craft outright be given its due at the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards, Betty Bowen (which did award photographer Isaac Layman a few years ago), Bonnie Bronson, Ford Fellowships? ie can any of these awards move beyond a predominantly laborious hand made (looking) world? This is the silicon forest after all, Portland and Seattle's economies are very tech-driven. In short, it's a question of accuracy in recognition since many of our non craft artists are internationally established. 
"A question of accuracy..."? Did he really misunderstand the Pacific Northwest to that extent?  First of all, Portland isn't tech driven. In fact, Portland's economy laments the fact it missed the Tech Boom. Sure, Seattle is. But the Seattle Art Museum's mission has been extremely aware of its surroundings, not just trends or economics.  Just take a look at their permanent collection: a completely non-western centric focus, pieces from all over the world mixed together.

And what about craft? Craft is the Northwest! Installation and modern media isn't everything either. I believe the choices in artists, like Marie Watt and Elle Lesperance are actually more reflective of the Pacific Northwest. Shouldn't an art award named after a supporter of Northwest Native Art seek out and exemplify art that somewhat embodies those traditions in a modern world?

I'm no Northwest scholar, but I'm afraid Double J doesn't understand the deep rooted traditions of the Pacific Northwest. I find his analysis ultimately just self-serving and inaccurate. Just keeping in line with the trends.

UPDATE: Found this old Regina Hackett half-interview with Double J from 2008 (when she was still with the Pi). I'm happy to see her calling him out on his blurry ethics. But it's disappointing that she seems resigned to his clubby curatorial morals.

Thursday, September 16

"Man, I am Relaxed"

Herzog must scare his grandchildren. All 19 of them hidden away somewhere dark. And hey, that Waa-keen Fee-nicks is kind of a badass too.

And wait, you mean the Allen Ginsberg / Bob Dylan disguise was an act? Well, we all knew that. But what we didn't know, was whether or not we were going to see I'm Not ThereCasey Affleck tries to finally help our decision after a tepid opening week:
Virtually none of it was real. Not even the opening shots, supposedly of Mr. Phoenix and his siblings swimming in a water hole in Panama. That, Mr. Affleck said, was actually shot in Hawaii with actors, then run back and forth on top of an old videocassette recording of Paris, Texas to degrade the images.
This is Casey Affleck's first. Short of an art exhibit, he's kind of like a darker James Franco. I thought his supporting role in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Gerry were great.
Seeing this high-profile celebrity stunt come to fruition would be worth it enough to see. Although strangely, it does feel like there is a piece missing - a one last "HAH".

I guess this peaked my interest, after spending the last few weeks of summer trying to educate myself on the original movie badass: Dirty Harry. The movies get more cringeworthy with each sequel.

But kinda related: Podcast with Slate's, Dana Steven's, explaining rather well why The American was actually worth savoring. It is quiet.

Sunday, September 12

TBA: To Be Attended

This is my fourth year living in Portland. I haven't yet experienced any of the annual TBA festival. I came close two years ago, with a PICA membership. But found, still, events were expensive.

Looks like the best way to be involved is, well, to be involved. Volunteers get discounts or even in free. That's not exactly my style. Nevermind that I've been somewhat disenchanted with art as a world right now.

And although I love PICA as an organization, (throwing all it's weight into TBA is awesome and smart) it's still clubby.  Eventually I'll get myself to some of these events. Each year the event seems to get better well rounded and accessible.

Here are some things I'll try to see (or regretfully miss):

Storm Tharp: High House. Mr. Tharp has a studio nearly below mine. Not that this proximity begets any sort of relationship. I can still hear his music choices though. And well, I do love his work. He'll be creating work throughout the summer in this space. And perhaps there's a chance to see his process - a little dirt and disorder around all those tidy compositions.

Rufus Wainwright: In Concert with the Oregon Symphony, Conducted by Carlos Kalmar, with Guest Soprano Janis Kelly. An Opera? By Rufus Wainwright? Sounds fabulous. As much as I've heard, only my wife and I seem to be excited about this appearing in Portland.

Shirin Neshat: Women Without Men. A first feature film by the Iranian-born artist. I was first introduced to her by the Portland Art Museum's inclusion in Disquieted. One of the more interesting pieces in the exhibit.

Nina Katchadourian: Sorted Books. "Taken as a whole, the clusters [of books] examine each particular collection’s focus, idiosyncrasies, and inconsistencies—a portrait of that library’s holdings". Seems interesting.

Jessica Jackson Hutchins: Children of the Sunshine. Another artist in close proximity to me. I've heard alot about her work - but hardly seen it. This print show will be both something new and less typical of an exhibit of hers to see. UPDATE: A rounded out review of the show from the Oregonian.

Danielle Kelly and Noelle Stiles: Blanket. Looks like this will be occupying that empty storefront off NW Glisan, in which Tharp had some work in last month. Just walk by, it looks intense, cuddly and terrifying.

Hard Edge, Hard Work: Curated by Stephanie Snyder. In conjunction with Snyder's show at Reed, ABSTRACT.

Thursday, September 9

Clarity & Televised Golf

I've nearly completed my bookcase painting. This is a big deal only because over the last year and a half I just over-painted things or refused to finish them. So when I came in with a cup of coffee the other morning and realized I had nothing else, it was an unfamiliar feeling again.

Towards the end I read Laura Newman's words: "I want my paintings to exist at the point where form takes on meaning..."(via Two Coats of Paint). And I thought this was a perfect way to describe the intermediary distance between figurative and abstract representations. And it's even a better way to describe what I've been thinking about: articulating things without showing them.

I also thought Jonah Lehrer's (of Proust Was a Neuroscientist) article (here) on how modern mediums influence our difficulty in perceiving the message - specifically with books and reading - was apt for painting as well. Good paintings never quite articulate everything, leaving that small space of doubt or ambiguity. Lehrer talks about the inconsistencies of ink on paper vs e-readers. But I think it compares to simply looking in general. I believe a painting might have more to tell us if it doesn't tell us everything.

And lastly, maybe in the spirit of drawing conclusions, while drawing the other day I determined drawing from life works for me because it moves. Simple enough right? But while I used alot of information from photographs - it's the actual activity, like a cafe setting, where figures and variables come in to play that I react to. It makes me re-evaluate everything over and over, as a photograph, or a still model never does. It moves. And that's what I want my paintings to do.

Thursday, August 26

After School

Tonight the sun was setting hard as it does in August. I made a point to head back to a Southeast area school I stand by each morning. The schoolyard wasn't deserted, but it was closed up for the day. The building appeared like most public buildings tend to look like when not in use: dilapidated or worn - really used up. It was eerie to be facing these stark, but warm walls with kids laughter and shadows darting around.
More on the Flickr. Now it's off to far Southern Oregon. See also: Holiday Road.

Wednesday, August 25

AAN the Rooftop

Above is a video of the band, AAN performing Somewhere's Sunshine, filmed on the rooftop of our studio building. Reese Lawhon in the polo is an artist who helped build and occupies a studio on our floor. Special Guest: our landlord. Via Into The Woods TV (and Kelsey).

See also their ongoing mentions in the Willamette Week. Or in the Oregonian. Etc.

Thursday, August 12

Over-rated and then Re-rated

Kelsey was trying to leave out some History from her Art History course the other day. "There is just too much! How can I possibly leave anything out?!" I stood over her shoulder, watching her try to shorten hundreds of years of Art into one, three hour presentation. I agreed, how do you fit the rich and complex ideas you learn beyond school back into school? You don't. The solution was to teach only the most valuable and accessible lessons (especially in a summer course). The rest would be acquired, layer by layer, with subsequent courses, experience and self-discovery.

The presentation included Impressionism. She flipped through slides of Edouard Manet and later Mary Cassatt. She ended up trimming her more involved and interesting compare and contrasts like of Manet's Olympia or A Bar at the Folies-Bergere. But the images that struck me were Manet's Luncheon on the Grass and Cassatt's Mother and Child (both pictured).

With Luncheon I was stunned to have forgotten how modern it really was. Kelsey explained it's significant nods to many other paintings in history. But I was interested in the strange space depicted and how similar it felt to what I was thinking about. Everything seems to fit together, and then yet also exists alone. The figure in the water almost separate. All the figures themselves nearly detached from paint articulating a forest clearing, but in some areas becoming just about paint. It really was a joy to discover how the painting was very much an predecessor of things explored in Cecily Brown's paintings or Neo Rauch.

I had forgotten about Manet's ability to transition from Realism to the Impressionistic. And with Cassatt's work, I had forgotten about some of the deep tones and changes of edges that give you an emotional sense of touch. Like the child's hand on her mother, compared to the other hand at her chin. The uses of grays and fuzzy mark making, against deep colors and sharper contrasts.

Both of these paintings, despite their subject matter or categorization in Art History still have more to teach me.

I don't think I'll ever come back around to Impressionism as anything but over-rated and heavily commodified. But it's still important. And when I get right back into the subject matter painted by Manet or Cassett I grow bored. But what a joy to have learned of them and dismissed them, then later revisit the same works and realize they have more. With some of those new layers of understanding I see them in a completely new way.

Saturday, July 31

Xavier Veilhan: Using an Inorganic Language

The work of French Artist, Xavier Veilhan, is growing on me. I was first introduced to his work via Art Observed, when he had the Chateau de Versailles Courtyard and Garden exhibit.
There is an interesting photo spread of the major piece, Le Carrosse on his website. This is a piece that has a strange power in that courtyard - articulating very quickly what it is you need to know. Somehow it's slightly digital language is both contemporary yet fits exactly into a memory of Versailles. It's communicating everything you need to know and using a language that we're all becoming strangely familiar with.

Wednesday, July 28

Big & Bold

I'll have a few older pieces up in a show called Big & Bold.
This 1st Thursday, August 5th from 1-8p. Running until August 8th.

at The Match
908 NW 23rd

Other participating artists:
Judson Moore
Cory Hanson
Antonio Villagran

The Match is sort of an art dealer / venue started by some friends. Drop by and support everyone!

Friday, July 16

Philip Guston: Gaps in (My) Art History

Oh the shame. While browsing C-Monster's SFMOMA photo essay today, I realized I had never yet seen Philip Guston's abstract work. Or maybe I have and instead only remember his once famous art world reversal to stylized figurative paintings in the late 60's. In either case, I've seen lots of Guston's later work and always just understood this to be a complete change for someone originally associated with abstraction. Maybe I wasn't paying attention in class, or it's just more common now to see Guston represented with his figurative work.

But how awesome that his abstract paintings appear to be composed of the same marks, colors and smudges that characterized his figurative work. Suddenly it doesn't seem too weird that his later paintings came about. It's almost as if he untangled these figurative subjects from his messes.

However, knowing Guston as I did for so long, I think it makes seeing his abstract more exciting - rather than had I been paying attention and properly digested him as an abstract painter than a figurative one. Or maybe, painting today, it's still more common for an artist to follow that linear path: figurative loosening into abstraction.

It's really exciting to see Guston's taming of something like abstraction. And then look back and see the same Guston, just distilled.

Thursday, July 15

Something Else

Yesterday I documented and sleeved some other things I've been puttering around with at the studio. These are collaged or cut snapshots. Some of the cities or buildings are random vintage postcards. But the other ones are from Kelsey's family albums. Some of the interiors have led me to think about the positive cut image as one abstract painted shape. Many more after the jump. Click to make larger.

Thursday, July 8


Got out and about with the Tibbles Family a few days ago. Super hot day. We didn't actually want to accomplish anything, and spent more time stopping for tacos in St. Johns than actually hiking.
More photos from our Sauvie Island, Oak Island walk on my Flickr. It was so darn bright. The digital camera likes to make things too clear and clean colored. I intentionally underexposed my shots and desaturated them. I later muddied them back up with more reds.

I thought afterward that these appeared very cinematic. It's not often I have people in my photos! I have been thinking alot about this particular photo lately. And have been trying to duplicate the focus and color. Something still and quick about it that I like.