February 23, 2012

Studio Day, With Sentry

I've been thinking a lot about my captain's chair after Steven LaRose posted an image of his or someone else's. I think it was LaRose, but I can't confirm. I made a mental note and moved on. 

Pictured above is the small studio which is where most of the magic has been happening lately. My chair is an old oak rocker with a yellow ochre Naugahyde seat. Considering I grew up with a family that appreciated beauty and had a sense of aesthetics, they missed the mark occasionally. As do I.

I love having easy access to a physical library 2 days a week. I spend my break between classes in the library doing research on painting. After the studio, the library is my favorite place. Plus, it saves on gas. I had been talking to my students about what Sharon Butler called The New Casuaslists, when I stumbled across a catalog called Small & Beautiful. My interest was purely selfish, as scale is relative to my own work. I picked it up and discovered the Man Ray painting below. 
This led me to the Tate site where I discovered in Room 13, the following, albeit I had the sense I had discovered this in 2008 as well: 
Towards the end of their lives all three men reflected on their position within twentieth-century art. Picabia became ever more cynical about the art market, while Man Ray felt he never received the critical attention his work merited. Duchamp was happy to stay out of the limelight, preferring to ‘go underground’.Simplicity and economy became their watchwords. Picabia produced monochromatic paintings with small dots or discs, which defied interpretation. ‘We need a lively, childlike, happy art if we are not to lose the freedom we value above everything.’Man Ray’s ironic response to the rhetoric surrounding contemporary abstract art was ‘natural paintings’, made by squeezing paint directly onto a board, sandwiching another on top, and then pulling the two apart. ‘The least possible effort for the greatest possible result is my motto.’Duchamp continued his intellectual explorations, but ostensibly made few new works. Content to be seen as inactive, he said he liked breathing better than working. ‘Each second, each breath is a work which is inscribed nowhere.’

I'm still working on paintings for the shows. I notice when I am apprehensive about the reserve in my image bank, I head over to abstraction's place because it is comfortable for me there. For some people the nonchalant cacophony and chaos might be unsettling or exciting, but for me, it's relaxing and soothing. It seems off that I am currently most uncomfortable with paintings such as the one below simply because it is straightforward, right? I mean, wouldn't this be the time in my life to do what I think I know best? 
I don't know anymore. 

I cut the bejesus out of my finger the other day. Subsequently I spent $28 on putting together a first aid kit for the studio/kitchen. Last night I went to bed and decided to dream about the desert and Palm Springs.

February 18, 2012

If I laughed in a forest and no one was around....

I was hiking in the park when I received that text from an artist colleague of mine who also teaches. I laughed so hard and loud that tears almost came to my eyes. I'm going to laminate it and make it a wallet card and look at it whenever I need a laugh. 
It's been a few hours, and I still get a bit giddy. I mean, not that you can't mix paint with an X-acto knife, but I think a matchbook cover or an emory board would work better. 

February 17, 2012


I'm working on two upcoming solo shows. I'm on schedule, but I need to have things wrapped up in the studio fairly soon. Since November, I've made 21 new paintings. I'm still noodling a few because that's how I work. I have an imaginary shortlist of ones that might be too simple, keeping in mind that my definition of simple may be different than other people's definition of simple. I also have to write the statement for the show. I'm nearing the moment in painting that I don't want to end- the one I'd like to prolong because I enjoy it so much and I don't want it to be definitive. I've written about it this moment before and sometimes I compare it to the story of Scheherazade in Arabian Nights.

This has some funny to it.  Both de Pury and Colbert are great.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Raging Art-On - Art 1
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and this one

February 16, 2012

Not sure.

 In my mind, I'm an expressionistic abstract painter, so when I see something like this, it's like my body rejects it and I disassociate. I tried knocking back the qualities that look too cartoony or illustrative, but they won't go away. It's like a bad grass stain I can't rid rid of. Also, the content is more blatantly narrative than I prefer. I like that it's a family portrait featuring my grandmother's portable ashtray and a pillbox for Darvon, but I'm uncomfortable with how it's painted. I may have to come back, obliterate it and rework it. Or just put it away for a while and let it be what it is. 

Note: I deleted the image. It changed. Such is life. 

February 12, 2012


Before I forget- To Live and Paint in LA was reviewed by Chris Hoff at the OC Art Blog. 
I got some good ink.


For the last several months the Los Angeles art world’s attention has been captured by the blockbuster Pacific Standard Time exhibitions happening throughout southern California. In the midst of this dominant viewing of the past art of Los Angeles there has been a few brave souls staging exhibitions that sit outside of this particular lens. One of these shows is the quiet survey of current Los Angeles painting that recently opened at the Torrance Art Museum titled To Live and Paint in LA curated by Max Presneill and Jason Ramos.
This satisfactory show tucked away in the south bay provides rich conversation for what challenges a painter in Los Angeles may face. When one first enters the main gallery it is apparent that scale is on the majority of these painters minds. L.A. painters are going big, with mixed results. I found myself wondering if this is how you get noticed in the noise of the L.A. art scene these days, go billboard size. Most of these large paintings had interesting parts and would have worked if they had been scaled down to a quarter of their current size. Working on such big canvases is difficult work, and I applaud the effort, but most fell short. The funny thing is, in the heart of all these large canvases, it’s the small paintings that work best.
I attended the night of the opening, and while walking through the main gallery fighting the crowd; it was the smallest painting of the show that drew my attention. Mary Addison Hackett’s slight depiction of a figure and a dog stood out among the noise and crowd of opening night because of its tenderness. I went back a week later and still experienced the work in the same way. Hackett’s painting is reminiscent of David Park’s figure work, but with a sunless palette that left me with a sense that her subjects reside in place far away from Los Angeles, possibly giving us a glimpse into the psyche of every Los Angeles based painter, the hope of escape one day.
One take away from this exhibition will be that L.A. painters are not afraid of color. A strong work in this show that captured what seems to be the prominent color field in current L.A. painting best (minus the hot pink) could be found in the work of Tomory Dodge. Dodge’s hard-edge abstraction is firmly Californian in its roots, but thoroughly L.A. in its color choice.
Another quiet work that was almost missed among the colossal works in this show was the meditation on line and pattern by Alison Rash. Rash’s markings stood far outside the kinetic energy of the majority of works in this exhibition that it almost felt like a break to get lost in the line of Rash’s subtly strong work.
To Live And Paint in LA is a wholly gratifying examination of the current state of L.A. painting, even in the work that fell short, providing a broad survey of the painting of our location and time. The show will run until some time in March and should not be missed.

February 04, 2012

I'm not sure I want to claim this one. And yet, I post it.

I can't really explain this. The farther away I stand from it, the better. Up close it's like realizing maggots are in your cereal bowl.

February 03, 2012

Social Networking Furlough

The elusive landline. No caller ID. No voicemail. Perfect. 

I need to focus on painting and getting something I can call a studio halfway organized. I'm tired of bumping into furniture and ducking under a chandelier. It's time to deal with it. 

Mike Kelley

Link to Christopher Knight's appreciation of Mike Kelley.

Unlike half of LA and the art world in general, I didn't know Mike Kelley personally, but I'm feeling a sense of loss usually reserved for people I knew well. I liked his art a lot, but I don't own any catalogs of his work. I didn't make a point of seeing every exhibit he was in, but I was always compelled to spend time with his work when I saw it. It's hard to to put a finger on why his death has made me sadder than most. It was way too early to lose him.

My heart goes out to his friends and family.

Mike Kelley, "The Escaped Bird," 1987

February 02, 2012

Weekend Update

Since school started back up, I'm tracking all my activities for 2 weeks. I know social networking and the Internet are a time suck, but I wanted to know just how much time gets wasted elsewhere. Like today. Today was a studio day and yet, there it is in plain view- only 2 hours. It was a good 2 hours- I almost finished 2 paintings that were in various stages of unfinishedness, but nonetheless, it wasn't a solid 6 hours in the studio.
It's true, I busted over 1.5 hours on FB today- though in fact, some of that was meaningful correspondence. 
[note: I have since discovered a setting which makes it possible to multi-task, like right now for instance- I am on the internet, drinking coffee, and giving the dog my divided attention within moments of getting out of bed. 

Lost time is a black hole for me. It's that time between doing dishes and working. Or between showering and leaving the house. Some activities included in lost time are: looking for glasses, trying to figure out what coat is proper, realizing I can't stand wearing my skinny leg cords anymore, suddenly deciding to make a pile for goodwill etc. I think you get the picture. 

The other reason for wanting to track my time is to see whether I could justify an intern or an assistant for office work and some emergency organizing. And all those little things add up. I called it "housework," but I spent 20 minutes in my crawl space with someone who was checking out whatever it was that woke me up at 3am the other night. It sounded like a 30- pound hamster on a metal wheel making its way through my duct work. Nothing dead or alive was found. The mystery remains. From there, I walked the dog and picked up sticks. I saw a couple of branches that might make good paintings, so I guess picking up sticks is good.