May 31, 2009

Hi, my name is Fang and I'm a copropheliac.

Yes, Fang needs help and more appropriately, I live with a canine who has a problem.
  • Do I worry about how much shit Fang eats? Yes.
  • Do I tell lies to cover up for Fang's shit eating? Yes.
  • Do I feel that if the Fang cared about me, he would stop eating his own poop? Yes.
  • Do I secretly try to smell the Fang's breath? Yes.
  • Have I been embarrassed by Fang's behavior? Yes.
  • Do I search for hidden poop? All the time.
  • Am I on edge when he's been out in the yard too long, not knowing if he's been eating poop? Yes.
  • Do I think that if the Fang stopped eating poop, my other problems would be solved? For sure.

May 29, 2009

Flashback Friday

Wentworth Avenue #1, 1991, roofing tar, paint, found materials on canvas, approx dimension 24" x 28"
Wentworth Avenue #2, 1991, roofing tar, asphalt, paint, found materials on canvas, approx dimension 36" x 36"

These paintings were done while living in Chicago in the late 80's to early 90's, after undergrad and BEFORE going to grad school. I scavenged old abandoned buildings for materials and made paintings based upon the junk I found. I matched the color and materials of the found objects and made a painting based on that site. These reference a torn-down warehouse once located on a deserted stretch of Wentworth avenue between Pilsen and Chinatown.

I was into Anselm Kiefer at the time. duh.

I'm joining in the fun of digging up old paintings and posting them on Friday until I get bored with the idea or get behind on scanning. Practically none still exist, but I have slides. woo-hoo.

(Due credit for Flashback Friday idea to Carla Knopp)

May 28, 2009

Obligatory mini-post

Moto Guzzi is "fixed." Seems there wasn't really anything broken. It appears that the simplest, most obvious cause was overlooked: the battery terminals were loose. I feel kind of dumb for not troubleshooting this myself, but the good news is that I know for sure my starter is good.

I wish the bike had a side car. Fang and I would take a trip together. That's the drag about being a mid-size-dog-loving motorcycle rider. I've seen small dogs in backpacks and tank bags, and in Nashville I met a guy who taught his dog to perch on the pillion seat. And yes, there is a website devoted to dogs who ride.

Back to my summer syllabus.

May 27, 2009

Welcome to Procrastination Station.

The Guzzi is resting in the studio while it has open starter surgery.

Today's To-Do list:
Summer syllabus.
Reconcile bank statements.
Thank you note for studio visit yesterday
Thank you email to STBX for reconciling joint banking.
File paperwork
Clear kitchen table of misc. art supplies and stuff
Make new journals
Depo check to bank
Pay cell phone bill
Reluctantly turn down Figure Drawing class because (a) I don't do figure and (b) 160 miles round trip was a few miles over the limit of what I consider to be a reasonable commute. I don't know, maybe I'm spoiled. If it were for a painting class I'd consider it.

Not on list, but accomplished nonetheless:
Weed front yard and remove every single dandelion weed by hand. I lost count. 25-30? More? Embarrassing.
Watch Moto Guzzi guru remove my starter.


I love running and am so happy to be doing it injury free again. I'm still at 2-mile runs and my average pace looks to be about 11:30+, but I'm consistent and I'm injury-free so far.

My motorcycle is parked in the studio for the time being. The starter, I am inclined to think, is totally dead. I'm fairly confident it's not the battery, as I replaced my battery not too long ago & today we put it on a charger and it looked to be fine. Moto Guzzis are fantastic but mechanics are scarce. Vespa dealers supposedly will service them now that they've been bought by Piaggio but still. It's been a constant shuffle the last few years trying to find a steady, competent and local mechanic. Thanks to a friend and facebook, I met another Moto Guzzi owner who offered to take a look at my starter and swap it out on his bike as a way to troubleshoot. Motorcycle owners are amazing people. The guy lives on the other side of the world practically. (Okay, I'm exaggerating, but it's LA; people don't cross zip codes unless it's important.)

So meanwhile the bike is in my studio to protect some exposed parts from outside dust and such, and I'm happy to be a Moto Guzzi owner again. I do hope it's the starter. Just got word that it's NOT the starter. Back to the drawing board. sigh.

My studio visit yesterday was with the Brand Library and Art Center in Glendale. I like studio visits. This one was a little different. They refer to it as an interview, but it felt more like a presentation. The visit was scheduled for 1.5 hours, but I think we held it at about an hour. I showed a few works from The Tornado Face Drawings, some watercolors, a couple of large paintings and a few of the new small paintings. I caught myself saying "NO" a little too emphatically when one of the curators asked if the small paintings were "studies" for the larger works. It's a valid question I guess. Sure, I'll spend infinitesimal amounts of time and detail working on a study. Not. Later, when I was talking about my process, I slid in an apology for perhaps answering a bit abruptly when she asked if they were studies. I politely went on to say that I never do studies and have no idea how the work is going to look while I'm working. I won't know anything for a couple of months.

But studies! Hrmph. It's not the first time someone suggested that my smaller paintings were studies. When I was working on my, "It's the Best I Can Do Today Paintings" a couple of years ago, some people suggested they were studies. I believe I said, "NO...they are not."

Studies. What a concept.

May 26, 2009

Wow, talk about waking up on the wrong side of the bed.

I should not be allowed to read crap until I have my force field fully activated. I'm turning into a crusader, I can feel it. I am trying to save painting from some whacked out misconception that painting (a) holds less less meaning than weaving ponchos on the street outside a gallery or making dinner for poor friends  (b) that painters only make paintings in order to make money and (c) in the process I am also trying to save people from having to wear crappy ponchos while thinking they are culturally enlightened.

It's one thing to choose a conceptual project without an end product as your chosen medium, but to suddenly jump on the bandwagon and declare that the economy has forced everyone to give up traditional mediums and to inanely assume that do-good art is "unsellable" and loaded with meaning, WTF???

I mean, we're at viral status right now. Code Orange, people. I went to grad school in the 90's. I quit painting because I didn't want to be weighted down with "The Object" etc blah blah blah. I came back. I saw the light, whatever. I'm not dissing Social Art, I'm just in awe that suddenly there's this wave of people who think thought they were going to "cash in on the hot art market" and when it didn't happen, they jump ship. I'm also in awe these stories are permeating the media.

Mat Gleason has also written about this much more eloquently and rationally in the current issue of Artscene.

I was going to just link to the NPR report, but what fun would that be. No, you must read it here. I gave up on trying to clean up the spacing issues from my slipshod cut and paste job. Link to story with pictures here.

5/26/09 10:33 AM
In Tough Times, Artists Find Inspiration, Invention : NPR
May 26, 2009
by Laura Sydell

Over the past decade, the notion of the "starving" young artist became a bit of a misnomer, as artists right out of school were snapped up by galleries, sometimes selling their work for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But times are changing; after a decade of record-setting prices, the price of art at auction was down 35 percent in the first quarter of 2009, and art galleries are cutting back and shutting their doors.

Last year, 27-year-old painter Michelle Blade finished her MFA at California College of the Arts. She was looking forward to cashing in on the hot art market — until she discovered that the market wasn't as good as she expected. "People are just not buying work anymore," Blade says. But, Blade adds, being an artist is about more than just money. She says the realization that it was going to be harder to sell her paintings freed her up to think more about meaning. Her latest art project is a series of one-on-one sunset conversations documented with photographs.

"This isn't sellable," she admits. But, she says, "this project is opening up a huge community to me, and this is a new way of having an art practice." Triple Base, Blade's gallery in San Francisco's Mission District, is a for-profit gallery that has a not-for-profit arm meant to support experimental work. For the past few years, gallery co-director Dina Pugh says, it was hard to get artists to use the nonprofit.

"There was a sense that art was becoming a little bit staid, a little bit safe," Pugh says. "I think we're all involved in art because we want to see it challenge the status quo. … But I think it's hard when people are making a lot of money, [because] they just want to keep doing what works."

Pugh is now seeing a change. Artists in San Francisco have been experimenting with social practice art — a movement that questions virtually all of the conventional notions about art, from the need for galleries to the very definition of an artist. Pugh had one artist weave ponchos in the street in front of her gallery and gave them away to people in need. Another gathered unsold vegetables from farmers and cooked dinners for, well, starving artists.

"I feel a sense of optimism," Pugh says. "People are kind of excited that the options are more open to them now to experiment in a way that they didn't before. ... Maybe they would have been considered kind of hippie-dippy or Utopian."

This wouldn't be the first time that a major crisis has sparked a new art movement. The Dada movement was born out of the tragedy of World War I, says art historian Mary Anne Staniszewski, as a reaction to the ugliness of the war. "They started to make works in a radically different way, and it is really the most influential break in terms of the 20th-century art movements," Staniszewski says. "They really started making performances, collages, happenings."

Staniszewski notes that the Depression sparked a social-realist movement that gave us photographers like Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange, and that the upheaval of the 1960s brought more attention to the work of women and minorities. She adds that in times of crisis, institutions are sometimes more open to different kinds of art.

"Another really key point is that artists have been taking on all of the great and important questions of our time this whole period," Staniszewski says. "It's just that the very, very mainstream art world has not paid attention to it." Instead, the focus has been on extravagance — as with Damien Hirst's piece, "For the Love of God," which featured a human skull made of platinum and decorated with more than 8,000 diamonds.

Painter Chuck Close hopes that era has come to an end: "It'll be a time of major purging of a certain kind of wretched excess, I think."

Close, who is in his 70s, has had a long and successful career painting photorealistic portraits. He says he worries about the struggles ahead for many of his less financially successful colleagues. But, he says, artists are a different breed from investment bankers.

"An artist will lose everything and still go right back into the studio and get to work," Close says. "I didn't notice anybody at Bear Stearns offering to go in and work for a year for free to try and keep their company going." Even if artists are now going into the studio with less certainty, Blade says, maybe that's not such a bad thing for art.

"With the economy going in this huge downward spiral, we need a moment of reflection," she says. "I want to take the idea of the sun setting and kind of just look inward, because there is no West; we can't go to a new frontier. There is nowhere else for us to go. Everything has been established."

As for anyone who might be discouraged rather than inspired by these tough times, Close likes to remember the words of his mentor, painter Philip Guston, who advised that someone who could be talked out of being an artist shouldn't be one in the first place.

Follow up comment included:
Cynthia Tyler (JudithAbraham) wrote:
May 22, 2009 6:00:15 PM PDT

If you are going to write a story about contemporary art - more
research into the history of the critical discourse is advisable. If
you had investigated artists at the top commercial galleries in
New York (for example) you would have found many mid-career
practitioners for whom non-painting and/or "relational art" is
the basis of commercially successful careers. Relational Aesthetics
is a significant movement that emerged in the 1990s and rapidly
became part of mainstream art practice. (See the work of Rirkrit
Tiravanija, Vanessa Beecroft, Maurizio Cattelan etc). The work of
artists like these coexists at galleries with the work of painters
and sculptors in a cozy manner. Yes, the economic downturn
may cull out people who are not seriously committed to what
they make, but in general the art world has been pluralistic for a
long time and remains that way. This is hardly a revelation.
Artists have to make art. There is no question about it. Money is
good. But art happens, whether there is income from it, or not. I
cannot be talked out of being a woman, being 58 years old,
loving dogs and cats, longing for Venice, or making art. Thank
goodness, it actually does support me, most of the time. I am

May 25, 2009

Identity Crisis Spurred by Advances in Digital Imaging Technology

I was hoping that the scanner would be high quality enough to document the work. Not even close. I am so lazy. Setting up a tripod and shooting this work should be a no-brainer. I've got procrastination issues. Not titling the work, not shooting the work, all these are symptoms.

I know artists who will NOT show anyone new work until their gallery sees it. Or artists who won't show anyone work until it's hanging in an exhibition. That's not my intention, but I guess I am feeling reluctant to post the work lest it suddenly lose the mystique I've attached to it here in the studio. It might have to do with scale. The large paintings will never be seen full size on a computer screen, at least not this year, or by anyone I know. I have this fantasy that Apple will come out with a life-size iPhone called the iPhone Station. I've roughed out a prototype below:

The new affordable iPhone 'Station', available 2010.

But back to art, the small paintings can be reproduced digitally 1:1 and this is a heart-breakingly deflating experience for me. Seeing the small works full size or larger on a computer screen is even less accurate of a representation than seeing larger paintings reproduced and scaled down. For the first time ever, I think a digital reproduction of my work is a filthy lie. Meanwhile I guess my solution will be to keep with the scaling thing and post small jpegs of them until I figure out a solution. Or maybe I'm just a little grumpy and my perfectionist streak is rearing its ugly head.

And speaking of mystique and enigma. I really like Carla’s Flashback Friday and might even be motivated to have a Flashback Friday myself. I liked what she said about exploring metaphysical/metaphorical imagery. I find myself finally acknowledging words like mysticism, romanticism and metaphysical though I'm still uncomfortable with labels other than 'abstract,' as you shall see below.

I was going to leave the following comment in Steven LaRose's comment section, but it's mostly about me, so I'm leaving it here:

I know. It's inevitable. Labels do help. I have thought of myself as an abstract painter since I first picked up a paintbrush, because that's what I'm interested in. I feel like the word, 'abstract' is fluid enough to cover any territory I enter, as opposed to non-objective, though it might be a ripe time to reinvent the definition of non-objective.

I'll go on a jinx myself and say that I have another studio visit tomorrow. This one is professional, so they won't be cancelling. At least I hope not. If they do, my faith in professionalism will be on it's way to being shot and my belief in superstitions will begin to gain momentum.

PS. I promise to post new work soon. Titles be damned.

May 24, 2009


I snuck in an au plein air painting session for the color theory and wet media part of my drawing class. Between convincing my students they were au plein painters and warding off narcolepsy, I worked somewhat on a tree, but got tired and petered out. The local coffee shop closed it's doors and there is no caffeine available on campus. The coke machine takes only quarters. It truly is a cruel, cruel world. As soon as I got home I took a power nap of 10 minutes followed by an espresso. Then off to hit the panel discussion. That's a rock in the foreground of the above painting. It looks like a ghost, but I promise, it's a rock.

I enjoyed the panel discussion, but I'm a geek for any discussion about painting. I can't say I heard anything I hadn't already concluded myself. If instead of a gallery, the discussion had taken place in a gospel church I imagine there might have been lots of "amens" in the audience. The panel took place at Honor Fraser Gallery with Phoebe Unwin's work serving as a catalyst of sorts. I totally dig Phoebe's work and related to how she spoke about painting.

Some topics broached: How do we write about painting without being simply descriptive? Why doesn't anyone want to write about painting anymore? What drives painting other than the market? What happens next in painting since everything has been done, and why the hell is everyone still painting anyway?

I would say conviction in painting is believing in what you do without much concern for whether it fits into the larger discourse, yet still being informed enough to know that it does, but not really caring so much because you're going to continue to paint no matter what. There was some discussion over whether this attitude qualified as nonchalant, and if so, how can one be both nonchalant and certain at the same time? There was also some debate over whether painters are just obsessive compulsive.

Afterward, I stopped by Scion Space to say hello to Chris Scarborough, a Nashville artist whose work was in a group show there.

The thing I don't get about Scion Space is that's is so over the top with hype and spectacle. Obviously I understand hype and spectacle; I was forced to see Banksy's exhibit a few years ago while purchasing a print for somebody. (I'm dreading the hits I'll get for mentioning "Banksy.")

But back to Scion- on the outside, I'm estimating at least 6 or more valet parking attendants, plus 2 people at the door carding people. Once inside, there was a table by the door manned by a couple of more people and specifically set up for Press and Media Inquiries. I lost count of how many video cameras and tripods were documenting the event. Everywhere you looked, someone had a camera of some sorts. I felt a little silly actually looking at the art and stayed just long enough to congratulate Chris on the show.

May 21, 2009

I'm so there. Can I bring a sleeping bag?

Panel Discussion: Is Conviction in Painting Possible?
The first talk, titled Is Conviction in Painting Possible? will start at 4 pm on Saturday May 23rd and is a panel discussion on the current status of contemporary painting. The talk will aim to examine the intrinsic challenge in theorizing about contemporary painting, based not only on studio practice but also through writing.
√√√√√√√ I'm excited about this. √√√√√√√√

Honor Fraser Gallery
Culver City

May 20, 2009

Very much a non-painting day today. I pretended to be William Wegman; Fang pretended he was a Weimaraner.

I explain the current work to Fang in depth.

I point out this painting as example.

Fang asks me some questions about my process. I patiently listen as he asks me what brand paint I use.

I went for a morning run. So far so good on that. Since I injured my knee due to over-training the first go round, I'm at the beginner level all over again. 1.7 miles every other day and will increase slowly until I'm back to 3-mile runs. I started a running blog about the same time as I began this blog. I deleted it after I quit training for the marathon due to the knee injury. It mocked me, sitting there day after day with no updated posts. If anyone knows how to retrieve a deleted blog from 4 years ago, let me know, I googled it and all I got was an archive of sorts. One entry tells me that I cross trained after the injury for 1 hour and 55 minutes. What kind of masochist was I?

After the run, I showered and put on a dress to meet a friend for an impromptu coffee but I was running so late that I had to cancel. I didn't want to take off the dress though, so that left me to work on the computer on stuff like banking, syllabus update, writing and other nonsense like the photo essay above.

I'm now waiting for a woman who wants to buy my Tracer projector from me. Like I ever was going to trace an image and paint. I think I almost used it once.

May 19, 2009

Other than the spate of recent earthquakes, the economy and the never-ending To Do list, today was a jolly good day.

First off, my earthquake policy was almost cancelled because the last two payments were not credited to my account. The joys of online banking. FYI, The California Earthquake Authority and Allstate, although working together, don't seem to work well with certain banks. Seven years of online banking and as soon as I started making payments from a new account, the system breaks down. My payments were quietly credited BACK to my checking account, thus putting me behind 2 months.

After that was resolved, I hauled 3 cubic feet of bulky items out to the curb for my free bulky item pick-up tomorrow. My backyard had been looking rather white trash. Plywood, dilapidated chairs, junk wood and those used stretcher bars I tried to sell on craigslist. By end of day, scavengers had hauled off the stretcher bars.

With all the crap gone, I opened up my compost bin, which I confess not having contributed to in a while, and it was full of bamboo. I like bamboo but it's a bit tenacious and reminds me of kudzu. It will apparently grow through any organic object. It shot through a plastic bag of potting soil, which prompted me to think that if bamboo can grow through plastic, it could probably grow through human flesh.

I spread out the bamboo leaves and what soil was in there, and relocated my compost bin away from the bamboo patch. Then I raked up some pathetic patches of dirt and arranged some of the potted cacti in a pleasing manner next to the bamboo patch. Next I rearranged the outdoor furniture to look as though civilized people might sit down and converse. The outdoor furniture used to be indoor furniture. Imagine you happened upon a ghost town furnished by Design within Reach and Tommy Bahama. It's not exactly Southern Living, but it's got some character.

Then I went to the studio, worked on one of the new paintings and came to the conclusion that I am a diabolical genius.

After I arrived at place which resembled a finished painting, I put said painting on the wall and stepped back. I looked at it from a distance, then walked up close to see the details. Here's the funny part. I couldn't see the painting that close unless I put my glasses on. Maybe it's just me, but it made me laugh. Which is how I concluded that I was a diabolical genius.

May 18, 2009

A few words on a review and some questions

A post of a review from The Brooklyn Rail.

Louise Fishman

Sharon L. Butler

Cheim & Read March 26 – May 2, 2009

In stark counterpoint to the New Museum’s wryly titled Younger Than Jesus show featuring artists under 33 years old, Cheim & Read is exhibiting the Abstract Expressionist paintings of seventy-year-old Louise Fishman, an artist who has been dedicated exclusively to painting for over fifty years. Critics usually address the materiality, the densely layered paint, and the overall toughness of her canvases, noting how Fishman’s non-mimetic imagery emerges through the physical act of painting. Her tenacious approach to art practice (paint, scrape down, paint, scrape down, paint…) is certainly labor-intensive in an old-fashioned way that evokes admiration for her determined endeavor. She has ignored aesthetic wanderlust, postmodern doubt, and post-postmodern theory in favor of a singularly rigorous studio practice. Unlike the work of many younger artists, Fishman’s paintings don’t hinge on clever ideas or strategic theoretical constructs. Rather, she finds meaning in the physical process of making the art itself—a disposition that lends itself to exhaustive depth rather than expansive breadth.

Louise Fishman “All Night and All Day” (2009). Oil on canvas, 66 × 57 inches. Courtesy of Cheim & Read.

The Fishman exhibition comprises three big rooms full of large-scale paintings. They feature dark, clotty passages of dull, textured paint pulled across the expanses, some with a final topcoat of twisty, truncated strokes combed and swept across the pocky surfaces. In Fishman’s work, Gerhard Richter’s 1980s squeegeed abstractions meet Willem de Kooning’s 1950s action paintings. Fishman’s show at Cheim & Read three years ago also featured broad horizontal and vertical brush strokes, but they were more clearly aligned with a loose, grid-like structure; the colors were lighter and less abrasive. In the new work, the lattice-like openings of the notional grid seem to have been filled in like potholes on a badly worn, weather-beaten highway. The contrast is obvious and jarring. The denser, more caustic, and ostensibly unlikable nature of her new paintings suggests that Fishman, like most sentient beings, may have developed a darker view of the world over the past few years.

Yet it is only the emotional and vaguely political aspects of her work that have varied appreciably over the course of a career. Except for a brief exploration of different approaches in the 60s and early 70s, when Fishman and her feminist cohort brazenly undertook to define a new grammar of feminine artistic expression, she has mined the same Abstract Expressionist vein for upwards of forty years. Fishman’s narrow-gauged though prodigious output demonstrates that she, like many other artists of her generation (Brice Marden, Robert Mangold, Bill Jensen, Pat Steir, Robert Ryman), is uninterested in extravagant experimentation with concept, approach, or materiality. Indeed, when Fishman started painting, lifelong concentration on a single medium and prolificacy were hallmarks of the great artist. Her commitment to, and mastery of, one medium is still undeniably admirable, her replete exploration of technique fascinating in its resolute intensity.

Nevertheless, Fishman’s paintings are out of sync with current discourse. Gallery-goers and museum visitors are accustomed to seeing a variety of objects rather than so many similar canvases—unless the artist is making, say, a cynical statement about repetition, like Josh Smith’s recent show at Luhring Augustine. Instead, audiences are more familiar with and engaged by multi-tasking artists who move fluidly between media, and for whom “pluralistic” describes not just contemporary art discourse but also their own individual practices. Such aesthetic preferences seem not so much normatively better or worse than those of Fishman’s generation, but simply the inevitable product of a changed world. Now, as information of all kinds has rapidly proliferated, artists employ a wider range of media to quickly process practically unlimited aesthetic and conceptual triggers. Inexorably, then, the circumstances of post-modern life have driven the contemporary artist to a decentralized practice that surveys rather than dissects or plumbs. That reality makes Louise Fishman’s art more diffident and less accessible. At the same time, her work harks wistfully and faithfully back to a time when a painter’s canvas could embody her world.

About the Author

Sharon L. Butler is a painter and associate professor of Visual Arts at Eastern Connecticut State University. She maintains an art blog, Two Coats of Paint, at

* * * * * * *

I liked this review of Fishman’s work at first reading, and with subsequent re-readings, but because I’m a little ADD, I had to go back and mine it for the backhanded compliments. The reason, is that I mine a similar vein in my work. The second reading was like picking ripe fruit off a tree.

The review seems to have some contradictions and if I break it down to one sentence, it posits Fishman's work as not being relevant to today’s discourse primarily because she has remained steadfast in her convictions as a painter and an ab-ex one at that...

"Rather, she finds meaning in the physical process of making the art itself—a disposition that lends itself to exhaustive depth rather than expansive breadth.

"...Her replete exploration of technique fascinating in its resolute intensity."
"Yet it is only the emotional and vaguely political aspects of her work that have varied appreciably over the course of a career."
"The denser, more caustic, and ostensibly unlikable nature of her new paintings suggests that Fishman, like most sentient beings, may have developed a darker view of the world over the past few years."

Finding meaning in the making is not necessarily a vertical practice, and surveys are not necessarily expansive. Practically everything stated supports a conceptual and engaging painting practice, maybe not one that is ‘extravagant,' but nonetheless, conceptual. And maybe that’s the problem, it seems like another stab at raising the “painting is dead” argument. The review is interesting as a compare and contrast to the Jesus show, but I'm not getting how this makes Fishman's work inaccessible, diffident and out of sync with current discourse.

Link to the NYT review of Younger than Jesus.

-What defines a conceptual practice?
-What does it mean to be accessible?
-How do you define current discourse without being exclusive?
-What do you think the status of painting is today?

May 15, 2009

This weekend-

Got mentioned in some press for the Venice Art Walk this weekend. One of the new little paintings will be in a show called Project 30 curated by Lisa Melandri. I have to teach tomorrow, but my friend Molly is coming down from Santa Barbara and we're going to hang out and do the Art Walk on Sunday.

Follow the link for details.

Also on the agenda for Sunday is a brunch for all the artists participating in a project curated by John O'Brien. More on that later.

May 14, 2009

Those second thoughts in the middle of the night. (Repost with pictures)

Maybe the new paintings are too small.
Maybe they're too tight and organized.
Maybe they can't breathe.
Maybe I'm spending too much time working on them.
Maybe I'm nuts.
Maybe I shouldn't have pulled out that mag lamp which lets me see all the layers of paint as a microcosm.

May 13, 2009

Damn, cleaning out the studio is grueling and not for the feint of heart.

That would be feint faint of heart as opposed to the deceptive thrust of the heart as implied in the post title. 

The game is structured and extremely hard, like diamonds, 2009
oil on canvas
7" x 5"

Three days it has taken me to weed out the studio. One full day, one full, but kind of half-ass day and today was the finessing. I also trucked some work over to storage. Moving into a smaller storage unit was a dicey move, but I think I'm okay with it. It's a tight squeeze and it definitely means I will not be making any more larger paintings. I haven't issued a moratorium, per se, but secretly, that's where I'm heading. I think this is a dicey move as well. When was the last time you saw an installation view at a gallery or a museum in which all the works were under 10 inches? When was the last time a show of tiny paintings was reviewed? (Other than a review last year in the New York Times.) It seems like a death wish or the fast track to oblivion to impose a size limitation on my paintings. Here in Los Angeles it seems that small paintings are the mainstay of  salon-style group exhibitions held during the month of December and benefit auctions. This is one of the reasons why I was reluctant to do them and also why I suddenly found myself enthralled with investigating this scale after having such a bias against them. I love disputing myself. 

So far, the head count of the 5x7's is 12. It's the titling that's been slowing me down. That, and the ongoing search for self within them. More on that later. I also need to update my statement.

Just got the disappointing news that I  was NOT selected as a pre-qualified candidate for upcoming public arts projects. Bummer, I was thinking I'd have fun doing murals and being a public artist, as opposed to the private sector artist that apparently I am. Oh sadness.

And totally unrelated,  but quite funny as hell, I came across this quote by Anthony Lane  in his review of Star Wars: Episode 3-Revenge of the Sith, "Break me a fucking give." It's from 2005 so I'm already four years past the shelf-life, but I'm intent on finding a way to insert this into every conversation I have from now on. 

May 09, 2009

Been working on my hand-eye coordination.

Well, yesterday was a blast, albeit jam-packed. My itinerary in yesterday's post was dead on, except the arrival time at the gun club. Lunch, espresso, carpool activities and Friday afternoon on the Los Angeles Freeway pushed me off schedule an hour.

The gun club was fun. I haven't shot a gun in about 25 years. Not to brag but I hit a bull's-eye on the 3rd or 4th shot. I had a feeling I would. It's a long story, but in grad school when I stopped painting, I spent a couple of months in my studio practicing hitting a bull's-eye with darts. Eventually I did a live-feed video performance at N.A.M.E. gallery in Chicago. I have it on hi-8 tape stock. The camera was focused on me so you only knew by my expressions how I was doing. The performance ended when I hit a bulls-eye. It was a 2-night gig. The first night took about 20 minutes. According to the review, people walked out. I was in a sealed off room, so I couldn't see anyone. The second night, I hit a bull's-eye in about 5 minutes. Conceptual video art is fun, but I'm glad I went back to painting. It's much more of a Sisyphean task. Apparently that becomes me.

All my shipped-back art has arrived. Lovely. The good news about that is that I have a studio visit with the Brand Library & Art Center in a couple of weeks and I had submitted the Tornado Face Drawings as part of my proposal. No bad news, per se, but it would've been nice had more of them sold. I'm really going to try and make some pretty art during the remainder of this year. No more Little Miss Troublemaker with the sharp angles and murky hues. Try, I said.

May 08, 2009

I'm posting every day now. I think it's called 'journaling.'

7AM Morning coffee.
9-10AM Pick up van. Load painting.
10-11AM Drop off painting to Condé Nast Building. A collector friend is considering buying it; I agreed to do a lease toward purchase should he decide to buy it. New territory for me, but I'm hustling and trying to be creative on placing the larger works.
11am-1 PM Pick up another painting at KE. Move painting to storage, return van.
1-2PM Prep for my drawing class tomorrow, have my afternoon espresso- iced today, walk Dog Boy.
2-2: 30 PM Decide on an appropriate outfit.
3PM Meet fellow some artists at an indoor firing range and blast the hell out of some paper targets. My motto: It's cheaper than therapy, but the quote from another range site is better, "enjoy euphoric rushes of energy combined with inner peacefulness -- much like yoga."
After that, a trip to Wurstkuche. I will be indulging in the Belgian Fries and an imported soda.
After that, home to feed and walk the beast.

May 07, 2009

I'm not really the manic-depressive type, but I can tell when I'm leaning more one way than another.

I truly would benefit with a little help over here. An assistant, housekeeper, taskmaster. something. I'm delivering a painting tomorrow. It's fairly large, so I rented a cargo van. I'm lucky. Avis is less than one block away. I was going to wrap the painting in kraft paper, but it's only one painting so moving blankets will provide enough cushion. I also did some spring cleaning in the studio. I need to do a lot more. I'm not a proponent of destroying old work, but every now and then I do if it did not contribute to my progression. Today I trashed (7) 24" square paintings from 2004-2006. I felt a little bad about one and kind of regret that decision but, it's done.

I sliced my finger with an X-acto knife.

I stretched and primed 4 more linen panels.

I tried to teach 2 tone-deaf paintings to sing. Who knew you could spend so much time on a small painting? I'm not sure about them. They were hard. They're dark.
I will have to ignore them for awhile and start on a new one. I had that feeling I get every now and then, the one where I'm pretty sure I've done everything there is to do and I'll never be able to paint ever again. I continued to paint in site of that feeling.

May 05, 2009

Screw the $95.00 Fancypants Thumb Box, I Acquired a Free Cigar Box.

And for a moment, I almost sat down and enjoyed a smoke with the rest of the boys. Seriously, it was tempting. I like cigars, but the smoke gives me a headache now. I picked the box up at UPtowns Smoke Shop in Green Hills. Nice place, but they need ambient lighting. The overhead lighting wasn't up to snuff. (I couldn't resist.) I would recommend a few nice table lamps paired with some decadent parlor room shades to accompany the leather club chairs. If I had a smoke shop, you can bet it would be comfortably stylish and dry cleanable. But I digress. Jeeze, I'm like craving a cognac and a smoke now.

Here is my new thumb box with a work in progress. I haven't pimped the cigar box out yet, but will post pictures when I do. Don't be fooled into thinking I was painting nature from life because I wasn't. It was just a nice day to be outside. But then again, it's Southern California, the odds are good it's ALWAYS going to be a nice day to paint outside. : P

I've got a couple of even newer things coming up that I just got wind this past week. I'll post as they become more concrete. One is group exhibit this summer and the other is a studio visit which may lead to an exhibition. I've decided to convert to Optimism, so we'll see.

My storage rent increased and this morning I unexpectedly spent over an hour moving to a smaller unit. I will be holding a studio sale soon. I get nervous about the idea of that for some reason, but it's something I need to do.

The Weekend in Numbers

I will spare everyone any overtones in the saga of getting my work back and just give you facts alá Harpers:

Number of works coming back to the studio this trip: 13
Number of phone calls needed to arrange shipping and packing of paintings and drawings from BNA to LAX: 22 calls
Number of emails needed to arrange shipping and packing of paintings and drawings from BNA to LAX: 10 emails
Number of new boxes I had to buy: 3
Cost of buying new boxes plus packing material to ship works back since old boxes and packing material were missing: $55.98
Cost of shipping 3 boxes of framed drawings back via UPS: $90.11
Cost of PT Cruiser needed to transport work to UPS: $116.67 (I had a coupon)
Cost of plane ticket from LAX to BNA: $268.30
Cost to pay another artist to repack the large crated paintings and deliver them to the shipper: $25.00
Cost to ask same artist to deliver one painting to my mom's house on the way to the shipper: Large Master-Pak shipping crate originally valued at $160.00
Cost to pay Bax Global or whatever they are called now to ship the larger works via another gallery in town to my studio in Culver City: $135.00
Cost if I had shipped them via UPS: $528.00
Number of hours needed to reframe 12 framed drawings that have come unhinged: ?
Number of people involved thus far: 6
Odds of me showing in that town again: 1:100 (I made this number up, could be higher, could be lower.)
Total: $851.06
I still have a few paintings left in Nashville to ship back, but I implemented the Just-In-Time thinking and decided since I didn't need them back as urgently as I needed the other work back, I could postpone that cost.

Somehow this turned into a group effort. Many thanks to everyone involved, especially Chris Scarborough and Lain York in Nashville for physically handling AND ARRANGING THE NITTY GRITTY OF THE SHIPPING! the large crated paintings that required 2 people and a truck, but especially Chris who also has a solo show opening this weekend at Curator's Office in DC. (And I only say 'especially Chris' because I actually met with and spoke with him through this whole thing, which made it slightly less painful and awkward).

The stress factor was considerably high considering the timing worked out so that I could check up on my mom, do housekeeping, recycling, sneak junk and clutter out of her house, take a 90-pound manic dog to the vet for his annual checkup and attend my HS reunion all WHILE doing the above shipping stuff. It was a little nuts. I actually puked this morning either from stress or taking a vitamin on an empty stomach.

It rained for 4 days straight. I have never been so happy to get back to LA. and I can't frigging wait to get in the studio. I may even get that silly Thumb Box after all.