March 30, 2012

Teaser: Studio Coffee Break is Officially Percolating

One of the early warning signs of being happy is that I can tell I'm walking around with a slight smile on my face. I met a man who knew a man that...Okay, what really happened is that I met D. who knew S. S. runs a speakeasy tucked away in a back alley. Okay, it's not actually a speakeasy, and back alley is a stretch, but it's a place that brews the most elite espresso I've ever imagined. During the second or forth shot, I pitched Studio Coffee Break to S. while mentally logging a conversation where the words, cheese whiz and cappuccinos, were spoken in the same sentence. S. went for it. In fact, he loved the idea. Loved. And since there's no time like the present, I'm going to test drive it next week and report back. Check for the scoop on FB. Part of the deal is that it stay slightly private. Exclusive, even. Your curiosity is piqued, is it not? Mine too. I was a bit jumpy when I left. I swear I'll just have one next time.

In other news, the estimable Sharon Butler stopped by the compound on her way back to DC. I forgot to snap pics. You'll just have to believe me. The visit was way too short, but maybe I can snag her and a few others back for a Studio Coffee Break session this summer. I'll start embroidering the guest towels in case the micro-residency books up.

March 29, 2012

Sharon Butler in town as part of NCAP's Insight? Outta Site! forum

Sharon Butler is in town this week as part of the Nashville Cultural Arts Project's (NCAP) spring 2012 Insight? Outta Site! forum. The talk was fantastic and I would have tweeted it but my rapt attention was on the dialogue. Sharon talked about her own experience with regard to how community affects the work (residencies, blogging, teaching); the significance and meaning of scale in her own work and others; the importance of writing as an alternative conceptual practice; self-motivation; the studio; the gallery system(s); DIY and taking responsibility for your career; and what I believe to be a core concept, at least with regard to my own work- how adapting one's practice (I'm on the fence about using the word, practice nowadays, but it flows grammatically) to situations in flux, not only enriches one's art and life, but also shapes the content and form of the work. There was also an amorphous thread on commodification which is always funny to me because seriously, just because a paintings hangs on a wall and fits in box, does not mean that it's some sort of direct to DVD cash cow. Ah, youth. The house was packed and the discussion lively.

The talk was held at Zeitgeist Gallery with a potluck beforehand. My birthday was yesterday and while I might appear mature, I still regard cake and icing as the reason for the season, so yes, after a full day of class, I stopped at the store, picked up eggs and a cake mix, and whipped up a chocolate cake with kickass Nutella icing. I blasted the a/c in the car and the cake cooled on the floorboard on the drive over. Iced it on site. After the discussion several of us went to a local tapas bar. Made it back to the compound before midnight, and told the dog I do it all for him. I can see the potential headrush supermoms might get from balancing a full life. My usual MO is more along the lines of: "I mixed some yellow ochre today." (That's a you-had-to-be-there reference to the more mundane aspect of blogging a painter's life with reference to Sharon talking about opening up the content of Two Coats to what it includes today.)

Through NCAP, Sharon's doing studio visits today and tomorrow with artists in the community.

And now some more link love:
I'm still relatively new to the scene here which keeps me in a beginner's mind mode, but I'm starting to run into artists I know including Adrienne Outlaw who organized the talk, Dane Carder, a painter and photographer who runs Three-Squared and who tipped me off to some sort of underground coffee dealer in the hood, (new ideas about Studio Coffee Break percolating as I write), Lain York, and the staff of Zeitgeist who are possibly eating leftover chocolate cake for breakfast and Beth Foley who I met through Kit Reuther, who I met through an old friend when I first arrived. I also met several artists at the talk, including Sharon Louden who's been a visiting artist at Vanderbilt this semester, and I ran into a few people who had Chicago and LA ties. I love the art world. It was a great evening, topped only by the fact that I've got 4 shows happening between now and June. Fifty-one is the New iPad.

March 28, 2012

Happy Birthday

Grace Hartigan and I share a birthday. 
Modern Cycle, 1967
Grace Hartigan, Born: Newark, New Jersey, March 28, 1922. Died: Timonium, Maryland 2008
oil on canvas 78 1/2 x 108 1/2 in. (199.4 x 275.6 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David K. Anderson, Martha Jackson Memorial Collection 1980.137.33 

March 24, 2012

Hyping other people's stuff, plus a little of mine.

Henry Samelson
Super, 2012
acrylic on canvas
When I discovered Henry Samelson's work, I had an immediate response that went beyond liking the work visually. I felt we might share similarities beyond the surface. The "S" painting is what nailed it though. 

Mary Addison Hackett
My Mortality as Based on a Mixed Metaphor, 2007
acrylic, spray-paint on canvas
14" x 11"

Henry has a blog called Buddy of Work where he invites artists to show a secondary or alternative body of work along side their main body of work. He recently invited me to contribute to Buddy of Work. I could have hijacked the entire blog to devote to my offshoots, but the watercolors are always the ones I think of as my other work. You can read the blog post here. 

March 19, 2012

My springtime regime

I barely ran this winter. The weather was nice enough, not too cold, and lame. 

When I'm working on deadlines in the studio, I tend to let things slide. Exercise is the first to go. A mere 45 minutes a day would do, but nope, I'm too pressed for time. I justify that my studio work is very physical. It is, but it's hardly Matthew Barney physical.

I am on day 2 of my springtime regine:
morning yoga.
riding my bike to work or errands.
reasonable studio hours.

March 13, 2012

Interlude: What's Sadder Than a Frog Playing a Banjo: A Stopgap Venture.

Fade in.
There's a motorcycle in the corner of the garage. We see that it's connected to a battery tender. Our protagonist  has her boots on. She had a productive day in the studio and is ready to take a short jaunt to run errands. It's 80 degrees. Sunny. Perfect weather. She puts the key in the ignition. She's had this bike for eight years. She knows it has a quirk: it rarely turns over the first two times. Third time's a charm. She always says this as it starts on the third try. This time though, nothing. Her heart sinks. She tries again. She hears the motor for a split second, followed by click click click. Maybe there were four clicks. Being slightly obsessive, she goes through a complicated routine retracing the steps of putting it on and taking it off the battery tender as she pretends like she's starting the bike for the first time. After acting surprised several takes in a row, she accepts it's not going to start. She sees the handyman petsitter guy across the street and asks if he thinks it's the battery. He rides a motorcycle. He once told her he rode, but she's never seen him ride. She doesn't know why she asked him. Maybe it's because she thought it could finally be the solenoid and she wanted a second opinion. He says she needs water in the battery. She doubts it. She installed the battery a few years ago and specifically recalls that it did not need water. She has a love-hate relationship with always being right 99% of the time. She doesn't actually tell him he's wrong, but she says she doesn't have time to add water. She thanks him for stopping by.

She calls the local auto part chain to see if they have a battery. She reads the part number. She asks if it's already charged and ready to go. They say yes. She asks if they are sure. She drives to the local auto parts chain. They have the battery. Before they bring it out, she double checks that it's the right part number. Her receipt shows a different part number. They tell her that's their part number. They look again at the part number. Cue Refrain.

{Refrain: She has a love-hate relationship with always being right 99% of the time.}

They bring out the correct battery. It will need acid and it will need charging. The instructions are on the box with a diagram. The diagram shows battery acid spilling all over the place, plus she doesn't have a charger, only a tender. It is highly unlikely a tender will charge a completely dead, or uncharged battery. She knows this. She also knows that playing with battery acid might not be a good idea given how the day has been going.


She calls a motorcycle store. Amazingly, it is located down the street. They have the battery. She asks how much. When she comes to, she asks if they can do something a little better. They say yes if she gets her ass down there before closing. She's taking liberties now. They didn't say, "ass."

She walks in the motorcycle store. She's not distracted by the shiny motorcycle gadgets as she walks to the counter. She hasn't been in a motorcycle store since she lived in California. They have the battery. Precious, my Precious, she says. No, she doesn't say that, but she's hesitant about taking out a second mortgage to pay for a motorcycle battery. She puts her old battery on the counter. They hook it up to a charger detector thing. They confirm the battery is dead. She tells them someone told her it needed water. They make fun of the local auto parts chain for telling her that. It's not like she has a soft spot in her heart for the local auto parts chain considering they lied to her, but she's quick to point out that it was some yahoo who claims to ride a motorcycle who told her that, not the guys at the local auto parts chain.


Maintenance-Free, NO Need for an Initial Charge. These are the words on the box. Her heart starts palpitating at the thought of Maintenance-Free. She wants everything to be Maintenance-Free. The dog, the paint tube caps, the laundry, the car, the bike, the yard, the house, she could go on. The battery looks powerful. He knocks off 15%. He tells her she might have to bend the terminal connector if the cables on her old battery has a block connector. She realizes she's making up parts now because she doesn't know the proper names.

Three hours have passed, maybe days. She makes it home in rush hour traffic and begins to install the battery. The block connector is made out of titanium, or perhaps, carbon steel. Whatever. It's not budging.

She calls the motorcycle shop. She's polite but gets to the point. She asks them to charge up an old fashioned battery, the Yuasa. She says she'll be in tomorrow to pick it up.

Thank you for reading What's Sadder Than a Frog Playing a Banjo: A Stop Gap Venture. Please deposit a quarter to hear the story again. Press 2 for an alternate ending. If you'd like to perform an intervention and support our protagonist's while she accesses her skill set and looks for a day job, you can make a donation to her paypal account. If the concept of 'day job' sounds menacing, you can also get on the waiting list for a trial subscription to MAH Short Stories, a stopgap venture. 

Interlude: My visiting artist lecture.

And just when I thought I worked in a vacuum, the students in the advanced drawing class at LMU in Los Angeles published their responses to the visiting artist lecture I gave back in January. It's on a private sketchbook blog. I just read over responses and saw their work. Great stuff! I can't publish for privacy reasons, but they were inspired by my technical and conceptual approach, specifically my "ability to pick up a brush and dive in without hesitation or any sense of pressure involving a finished product," and my "unique style that has an intrinsic movement to it, something that clearly happened with time and hundreds of paintings." Yes, I needed to quote that. There's more, but that was the gist. I enjoyed the opportunity to work with them. And it's funny you know, because I don't really consider myself a drawer, yet for a few years in LA, in between the large paintings, I was manically drawing, and I did create hundreds of drawings. Thanks again to Jane Brucker, Professor and Chair of the Drawing Department for inviting me.

It was late, so that's hot tea, not coffee. At one point I accidentally dipped the brush into my thermos mug instead of the water jar, which made a nice segue for a discussion on why one should not eat and drink at their work table. It was cold, which is why I am painting while bundled in a scarf.

The topic was, What is Drawing? I gave an experimental watercolor demo and lectured about my work. I also included a couple of sketches in my slide lecture, including one of my studio back when I made the Tornado Face Drawings. I revamped my entire workspace to accommodate my production mode that month. I mentioned this in my lecture and it became the source for their homework assignment where the students were to sketch their ideal studio space.
Blast from the past: My Zen-like Studio with Ikea Furnishings and the Tornado Face Drawings. 
I'd like to go cry now. No, not really. Just wistfully missing that studio. 

(republished from January)
My friend, Cole and I did a collaborative drawing of the Eames Living room installation at LACMA. We weren't supposed to take photographs, so I sat down to sketch it. I went on a sketching kick for a few days after that. I'm not very consistent with sketching. I should be. It's quite fun and Cole's a good inspiration for that. 

March 12, 2012

Before I forget, DeKooning to Guston:

I keep forgetting this quote and yet I love it. It took some searching to find it again. It's on iTunes under the National Gallery of Art podcast on Philip Guston.

Context: When Guston returned to the figure at the height of his critical success as an AbEx painter, he was dissed by most of his contemporaries and the critcs. Notable exception being DeKooning. DeKooning got it, and in the podcast Guston quotes DeKooning as saying to him, “What did they think? We're all on a baseball team?"

Fabulous, right? Oh so fabulous.


I had a good time in Atlanta. It felt good, bigger, open. I am also a native Atlantan so possibly it's just one of those things where it feels like home even though I haven't been there in a while. I'm thinking about going back. Not sure, just thinking. Depends. Everyone kept talking about mosquitos, though. 

This painting by my aunt was hanging in my guest bedroom. I also discovered that my great grandfather was a photographer by trade. I already knew that my grandfather was a photo engraver for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. I like having an artist/craftsman lineage. 

I also like having three shows to finish prepping for. It's been a good year thus far. 

March 11, 2012

Studio Visit: Mery Lynn McCorkle

On my way to Atlanta, I stopped by Mery Lynn McCorkle's rural studio in northwest Georgia. I met Mery Lynn in Los Angeles. In addition to having double first names, we both moved back south about the same time. Mery Lynn's been working with glitter lately. The recent works reference single cell organisms and begin with layered washes on primed panels which she then builds up by laying in areas of glitter. Check out more of her work here. 

Glitter and harvested parts. 

Studio view


Highway 1, Georgia.

Okay, seriously. Is this how we want to teach our children what a hyperbole is? My first thought as I raced by at 65 mph was, "Is it still on fire?"
I'm a literalist sometimes. 

March 03, 2012

Cooking with Gas*

I finally uploaded the recent work to my flickr site and a private album on FB visible only to me.

I'm still in the hush hush stage. The show is in 3 months, which sounds like a long time from now, but I need images for press etc., and well, eventually one needs to say, "stop" and begin again. Or not. But if I have to have a cut-off point, I guess it's now since I need to submit an image for the card. I still have more to paint. If I'm lucky, I'll always have more to paint. The next month or so will be tricky in the studio. How to keep painting, while prepping. How not to drift too far. Maybe I'll clean the palette. Maybe I reorganize the studio. I've neglected a lot of things around the house. The car needs fixing. When it warms up, maybe I'll finally make the garage studio a nicer place to work this spring and summer. Perhaps I'll paint a wall white. I have to move out of the other studio. I'm tired of dust. I caught a mouse. I used an old fashioned trap, and I am truly sorry, but it seemed more humane than anything else, other than taking an excursion to the park with a mouse in my car. I thought about my mom. She would have done that. The excursion. Actually, no, she wouldn't have done anything. There was evidence of mice when I moved in. I cleaned, I emptied out drawers and things. Not all of them. There's still more to do. I don't know how this one got in. I think through my furnace. Some kind of ground covering has overtaken the dog yard and part of the driveway. It's green, slightly spongy to walk on, invasive. A parallel universe could be thriving underneath it. Maybe I won't have to mow so much. I've already had 2 espressos and my salty snack sugar fix for the day. I should just pick an image and be done with it. I just love this awkward holding period where I wait to let go of the current work, so I can keep moving on. Not really. It makes me anxious.

* Thanks to Nomi for today's post title. 

And meanwhile, another nice review for my piece at The Torrance Art Museum.

The show comes down March 10th.