Friday, April 30

Monograph Bookwerks

Monograph Bookwerks
John Brodie and Blair Saxon-Hill have opened a new art book store: Monograph Bookwerks. John and Blair are both visual artists, so the shop promises to be smart about architecture, design, photography, fashion, biographies and criticism. They will sell both used and rare books, studio objects and artwork! Keep up to date with their Twitter page.

Although I don't know Blair all that well, I do know that John is ceaselessly busy. John recently opened Store For a Month (much to the chatter of PDX). He also had a giant re-appropriated billboard-like art installation at this years Disjecta Biennial. Oh, and he owns Le Happy.

Tuesday, April 27

Euan Uglow: A Painter's Painter

Ali Euan Uglow (via Akty Erotika)
Euan Uglow is a painter's painter. Just like a friend of mine once described Nabakov as a writer's writer. Why? Because their work is playful and experimental. Or maybe they're less about something and more about being difficult and exploratory.

As Nabakov did with words, Uglow tends to do with paint. That is, dealing more with relationships about the material and less about reactions to the world. Maybe these kinds of works are infuriating for a non-painter (or non-writer) to look at. Maybe infuriating is too strong a word. Maybe just without statement. Beautiful works about working. And sometimes nothing more.

Monday, April 26

New York Review of Books: The Book as Object

Alberto Moravia's Boredom  in the NYRB edition
 "The series boasts exquisitely presented books—affordable trade paperbacks with a beautiful cover image and wrapped in a dual-tone spine and back cover that form a literary rainbow when shelved together." I owe my interest in Alberto Moravia to NYRB.

Although my interest has waned recently, the series has always been like a beacon. Last year (or longer) I also got hooked on Peter Handke. The NYRB version of Sorrow Beyond Dreams got me scouring shelves for old copies of others like Short Letter, Long Farewell. A few months later, NYRB release a whole bunch. And sometimes that's how it happens for me: seeing the series handpick an author like that highlights them. I may not have given the book a chance otherwise.

Sunday, April 25

Surface: Seeing it in Person

Reflection, Self Portrait 1985 Lucien Freud (via WebMuseum)
There is a Lucien Freud exhibit up at the Centre Pompidou in France. It's unlikely that I'll get to that. There isn't a good chance I will see Freud's work in person for a long while either.

Lucien Freud uses so much paint - his images are so tactile -  that I wonder how seeing them in person would change my experience of them. My wife said seeing the paintings in London is the reason for her undergrad thesis. Oppositely, another friend recently said he saw some in person and it changed his view of the work for the worse.

Wednesday, April 21

Studio Update

Studio 2010 Stephan P. Ferreira
 I have been playing around with oil on paper in the studio. There is a certain speed of mark and mix of soft and hard features I have been fascinated with. But really only coming up with only little pieces. Today, with some final control over some smearing and gesture, I feel like there is a sort of direction. I'm hoping to get started on a larger piece with figures at a table, in the sun.

Studio 2010 Stephan P. Ferreira

Monday, April 19

When a Chair is Not a Chair

Salesmen Sample Cabinet 2006 Roy McMakin (via James Harris Gallery)
 I never thought much of artist Roy McMakin. But that was my own fault. A lack of investigating what he was about. Allowing this one poor monograph my store had for eons determine his whole artistic identity for me.
Roy McMakin (via James Harris Gallery)
But the other day, I ordered and had a good look at When a Chair is Not a Chair. I was caught by furniture and designs which were fragmented. Where he actually introduced fragments of other colors and shapes into these beautifully made pieces.

And then I found his Eight Photographs of an Angel Wing Begonia series (of which I cannot find reproduced anywhere except the book).  Here is another version, done much simpler. They are around 30"+ in size and comprised of neatly layered photographs of the Begonias. The single clay pot they're planted in are in one piece, while the plant itself becomes fragmented and twisted.

The closest thing I could find in his (apparently) extensive photography work was the images here. Sometimes they're photographs of his furniture. And sometimes they are photographs of other objects, drawings, etc.  It's become so interesting to me to figure out how this artist takes apart his own work. And how maybe by playing with these objects in a cubist sort of fashion, the photographs have since informed his work. Just like the craftsmanship of his furniture making has informed his photography.

A Green Dresser 2006 Roy McMakin (via James Harris Gallery)
Watch Awaken  2008 Les Rogers (via Les Rogers)
As I write this, I do not have anything rather important to say about McMakin that hasn't already been said. And I really haven't even done more than drool, at dozens of separate special moments, with those images in the book. At first I wanted to make all these comparisons to Cubism (check), David Hockney's photo collages and my own work.

But after a vain search for those images, I realized it was simpler: I was  responding to those photographs of the begonias, with a distorted literal and figurative language because it drew attention to how something is made. Like good paintings and how they are about painting. The comparisons then are more like Maureen Gallace or Les Rogers (two new favorites that come to mind). Where-in a figurative subject is only the vehicle for getting you to look at how it is made.

Cape Cod, Early September 2008 Maureen Gallace (via Whitney)

Sunday, April 11

Everybody Knows This is Nowhere

Hanna 2010 Ryan McGinley (via Art Observed)
There is a great Ryan McGinley exhibit up at Team Gallery in NY called Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. Also some great images and linsks at Art Observed.

Larson F 2010 Ryan McGinley (via Art Observed)
I'm not sure I really like nude photography. Even those classic nude landscape-like photos by Weston made me feel weird. But I do love the expressions, the candid faces and the blurry features mixed with other crisp limbs.

McGinley says,"... I sort of approach using the studio camera like a candid camera. And it would be insane to shoot as much as I did on film because for each portrait: I shot between 1,500 and 2,000 photos." Unbelievable. But it doesn't seem all that strange to me, considering the way I've learned to take photos - or sketch a line - is to make many of them. Sketching that way is a very traditional way of doing it. The photography habits though - maybe more a product of digital technology. Would Weston be doing his any differently? I think, with exceptions,
photographers have always bracketed shots. But today I think digital has changed that.

And it's changed what you apparently can capture. And what becomes candid. That's something that's just occurred to me - things can be captured faster. Things you may only think you have seen you now see. Like a weird way your Uncle might roll his eyes - and now you can see that forever, alien-like. It's almost another level of realism - this split second gesture, caught in all it's detail.

Polaroid by Andy Warhol c. 1970's 
I have been using those kinds of things in my paintings alot. I really liked that first image above, with the dark shape of hair - and the slightest blurring of shapes and different sharpnesses in the face.

I've also been stuck on this memory of an airport somewhere - where the sun was setting into the terminal. And I sat facing the crowd of people squinting. I am stuck on all the expressions with this creamy lit skin and deep red shadows under noses and in folds. But I haven't been able to be fast enough to capture it with a camera.

Also semi-related in Portland: Scarecrow at Reed.

Saturday, April 10

Artist behind Glass

Installation View of I Don't Know Anyone in Paris 2010 (via NAAU)
I love stopping by NAAU each week to put my hands to the glass and watch the artist in residence. Currently it is Gabriel Liston. The program invites gallery artists to work in the space for over a month. The gallery seems designed exactly for this purpose, with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the street. This is consistent with NAAU's process-oriented nurturing too.

I am still undecided if I'd ever really want to stop by when the artist is working - or if I like being able to see the process without the artist.

I really particularly enjoyed Timothy Scott Dalbow's residency last period. Cris Moss, who curated this years Disjecta Biennial singled him out as being one of his favorite painters working in Portland.

Looking for an Hour

The Mill 1947 Max Beckmann
Thursday night James Lavadour gave a talk about Max Beckmann's The Mill at PAM. These artists talks have been happening every Second Thursday of the month and I'm just getting around to seeing one. I just found Podcast highlights from past talks too (the Hayes one I had meant to see).

The best part of the talk for me was the unusual chance to stand in front of a painting for an hour. Sometimes I give something a few minutes. It's those minutes that give you a fresh feeling when you exit the museum. In my studio I often look at things for hours - days - but its more grueling, self-depreciating kind of looking. Or sometimes I wander a museum trying to greedily have those experiences over and over. But usually there's only one in each visit.

Thursday, April 8

Jacqueline Humphries

Installation View of Jacqueline Humphries paintings (via Two Coats of Paint)
Would love to see these Jacqueline Humphries' pieces in person. Especially after reading the conversation between the artist and Cecily Brown (Thanks to Two Coats of Paint for something interesting like this).

Work of this scale or something requiring this kind of experience needs to be seen. Before ever seeing Cecily Brown's or Dana Schutz work in person I never could quite like it.I was fortunate enough to see a great show of Brown's at the MFA Boston years ago. And another of Schultz's at Brandeis.

Sometimes I think it's pretty amusing that I paint and photograph so figuratively but lately have been so attracted to completely abstract work. It's almost as if although I've been painting fingers, toes and kneecaps...but all I'm really thinking about is paint application, shapes or colors.

I think I need more good conversations about work like this

Sunday, April 4

April is the Cruellest Month

Untitled Jake Arcularius (via Nationale)
April is the cruelest month. Check out work by local photographers, Jake Arcularius, Jacques Barruel, Olivia Bolles, Mimi Dutra, Ty Ennis, Nialls Fallon, Liz Haley, William Skip Haswell, Tamar Monhait,  Zachary Reno, Norm Sajovie, Anna Shelton, John Voves, and Kersti Werdal at Nationale through April.

Fairchild-Dornier 328JET William Skip Haswell (via Nationale)
Visit Nationale for images from this exhibit.  Also some photographers will be discussing their process on Monday April 5th at 7pm! Thanks to HomeSchool for the heads up.

Saturday, April 3

Representing Response

Untitled 2010 Stephan P. Ferreira
I have been trying to find ways to capture my direct experience using photography. The immediate and emotional responses are different than the resulting image. I've zoomed in our out. The camera has framed it away from everything else. And sometimes it's that everything else that created the experience. I'm left with something the camera saw but not my reaction.
Untitled 2010 Stephan P. Ferreira

 I have the same disconnect sometimes with paintings. Where did everything that exists inbetween go? Perhaps the resulting image is  strong, but they don't exist very long for me when I can identify how much unlike they are to the way I remember something.

Sometimes the figurative or the identifiable things in the photos tend to make me believe the images less. This is often why I avoid words - or things I recognize to begin with. But then later when looking at the image I've seen I've also removed all context.

I took the photo of those cabinets at a large office furniture warehouse. There was a man struggling with a bunch of metal racks in the pit of the store. Metal noise and grunting. And these stacked fixtures appeared to be just cold, stiff and quiet. The same reaction you might have if hearing an argument through the wall.

There is an entire process - and in the case of walking: there is the physicality of it, perhaps the sunlight or a chill, maybe getting lost and then finally reacting. The journey to finding the photo. I'm still trying to find out how I represent my initial response.
Untitled 2010 Stephan P. Ferreira

Friday, April 2

Terrell James and the Experience of Art

Most of the time when I look at art I'm not ready to. I'm distracted or waiting for something else. Or I'm too busy looking for my expectations. Looking at art is an experience I have to build up to. Last night's First Thursday was a good experience. I don't even think the art had much to do with it.

I set out with a list, like always. And went early to avoid the scene. I had a good few minutes alone with Lavadour's multi-paneled piece at PDX Across the Hall. Having a second alone in a gallery like that, on an evening like that, seemed pretty spectacular. I might have spent most of those seconds thinking about having that lavish solidarity with the piece - even if I wasn't having it.

Thursday, April 1


Untitled 2010 Stephan P. Ferreira
I walk a lot. During these walks, weaving through residential streets and to industrial lots, there is always a moment when the sounds of everything become quiet.

Sometimes when visiting a museum I spend the majority of the visit unfocused and rushing. It's only towards the end of the experience that I feel whole, collected and quiet.

Quiet  may or may not relate in some way to my own painting practice. It is a place to put in order what ordinarily gets put away. It is a place to collect those quiet moments in hope of recognizing a pattern in my own work.