Thursday, December 28, 2006

"Blessed Art Thou", 2006, 88' x 60", oil & acrylic on linen (click on images to enlarge)
® Kate Kretz, 2006. All laws of intellectual property apply and will be enforced.
"Blessed Art Thou" was on display in the Chelsea Galleria booth at the Art Miami Fair at the Miami Beach Convention Center, January 5-8th, 2007.

This painting addresses the celebrity worship cycle: each participant in the cycle perpetuates it while pointing a finger elsewhere. The title, “Blessed Art Thou”, is taken from a line in the Catholic prayer “Hail Mary”: “…blessed art thou among women”.

I am interested in the psychological ramifications of celebrity worship, particularly as they relate to class, self-esteem, and consumerism: I created an oppressive psychological space where the consumer is driven to reach for the tabloid, hungry for the escape provided by “information” about the celebrity's private life. Next to images of the "perfect" celebrity are ads for diet pills, aimed at the now-inadequate feeling reader.

Angelina Jolie was chosen as the subject because of her unavoidable presence in the media, the world-wide anticipation of her child's birth, her "unattainable" beauty and the good that she is doing in the world through her example, which adds another interesting layer to the complicated status that celebrities hold in our culture.

The "Virgin" and Zahara figures are loosely based on a Van Dyck Virgin painting, and the Maddox figure is borrowed from a Raphael painting. This painting utilizes imagery that has appeared in previous work, but where I formerly used this visual vocabulary to look inward, here I am responding to the world around me. I don't watch television or read tabloids, and I avoid shopping malls and box stores whenever possible: I believe that my isolation from this kind of exposure allows for a certain perspective that reveals the absurdity of this endless cycle.

The deliberately kitschy top portion of the painting is made up entirely of oil glazes in a traditional Renaissance style, while the bottom portion is acrylic underpainting with many layers of oil glazes.

(ADDENDUM: subsequent to this post, "Blessed Art Thou" was featured in over 30 documented international and 65 domestic newspapers, as well as Vanity Fair Italy and ELLE Japon. Relevant interviews were published in Foam magazine,, and Ilovesecondhandsmoke blog. The work was featured on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and Fox networks, followed by hundreds of television news sources around the world. The painting continues to be included internationally in university textbooks and classroom curricula across diverse disciplines. The complete list of documented press coverage is here, and the YouTube video of a paper I gave at The Southeastern Conference placing this painting in the context of my life/previous work, and Catholic imagery in contemporary art in general, is here. The painting is available for exhibition in safe venues, as threats have been made against both the artist and the painting. A full size study for the work was included in the 2011 exhibition "Beyond RE Production: Mothering", at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien in Berlin.

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Thanks to George, the ladybug, and Ultramarine Blue....

My husband was not used to the quiet demeanor I sported at dinner last night, our 20th dinner out since "the big crunch" began. I was reticent and contemplative, experiencing the kind of rare, deep regret that makes you replay childish scenarios, "If only it was five hours ago...", or "maybe it was a dream, and I will wake up and have my white dress back...". I had come out of the green glaze dilemma with a victory, maybe I could do the same with the blue glaze, but I was dubious. Mostly I was in mourning... visualizing the subtle white cloud of puddled skirt over the background clouds over and over.

Doing the kind of painting that I do requires an incredible amount of faith. I spent a lot of time getting colors just right in the Wal Mart, for example, then put a green glaze over the whole thing. If it doesn't work, there is no way to take it back or undo it. I usually glaze a small amount on the side of the painting to test, but that only gives you a rough idea about how it will look over one color.

I spent last night glazing white (for highlights) on the blue dress. When I went to bed around 1, I had a dream where I saw my friend George, who passed away last year. I don't remember what happened in the dream, but I awoke feeling that the painting was going to be ok. I got up this morning, and decided that the one glaze that I had time to do would be ultramarine blue, like the Marys in the paintings of old. I got started, and a ladybug flew on to my painting.

It has been freezing at night, so I don't know how it survived and made it into my studio, but I took it as another good omen. As I put down the blue, I kept stepping back to look at it, and felt increasingly better: the figure has more "punch" now, the hair and sash are not the only dark values, so the grouping is more unified against the clouds. I think the clouds have lost some impact, as the blue dress is stronger than the blue of the clouds. Her dress is more "Mary-like". Pluses and minuses. I worked through the morning, and now I am declaring it finished: (click on image to enlarge)

"Blessed Art Thou", 2006, 88" x 60", acrylic & oil on linen.

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So, this morning, after I glazed the ceilings down and got the florescent lights to glow, I was happy with the bottom of the painting (shown in my previous post at that stage). I put some more highlights on the baby's hair, glazed Angelina's hairline so the hair I painted last night would look more convincing, and did a kind of subtle, back-lit "halo" effect on her hair as well as the hair of the baby, wanting it to be a little kitschier.
(excuse surface texture glare, it is late...)

I looked at it for a good long time, decided to call it "finished", and moved the painting to a place where I could photograph it. Having a little more distance from the work, I realized that I was dissatisfied: I wanted the whites to pop more, there was too much white overall on the top, it was all running together, etc. I decided to take the buffer day that I built into my schedule, and work on it one more day.

After the blue had been glazed over the top quarter of the dress, I was happy, as it provided a contrast against the baby blanket and her skin, but a few minutes later, I realized that I was going to lose the "cloud" of fabric at the bottom of the figure, which I thought was really elegant and subtle in its difference from the "real" cloud background. There have been two nerve wracking moments in this painting: when I put down the first green glaze, and it flattened out the whole bottom, and when I put down the blue dress glaze, below. I will spend all the time I have remaining responding to the blue glaze decision.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I lied. It looks like I have glazes to put down in a few more places early tomorrow morning. The green glaze flattened out the ceiling too much, so I will have to reglaze the ceiling. Need to make the lights "glow", and add another color to the baby blanket.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

After the green glaze......
Today is the last day of painting.... here is the top as of yesterday, sorry this is bit dark on the right. Last of the visitors left an hour ago.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas, all.....

Friday, December 22, 2006

Amost 6 a.m. Friday. The second round of guests arrive in a few hours. Made lots of progress today, though I did not get started till 5 p.m., and breaked to bake for a few hours. Glazed the clouds so the Angelina and children figures "pop" more.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

4 a.m. Sitting in a stupor staring at the painting and not moving means it's time to to go to bed. Tomorrow is mostly a baking day, but I will probably sneak upstairs to glaze my front doorway and work on hair (the old woman in the middle could not have her hair done until the area behind it is finished, because her hair will be quite wispy/translucent at the edges). Finally started working on the the upper part again today.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Highlights, Coke cooler: 3:40 p.m.
Feeling manic, about to drive to Greensboro to pick up the first holiday guest.
What a Difference A Glaze Makes....

So here is the bottom center before the first glaze.....
and after. (click on image to enlarge)
4 hours sleep last night.... feeling pretty good about where I am, so I am hitting the hay.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Was lying in bed at 2 a.m., painting in my head, so I decided to be efficient, get up and actually do what I was thinking about. I crashed at 6:30, a half hour before my husband gets up, and got up to start it again around 10:30 a.m. I think that I am working with just the right amount of tiredness to take the edge off any anxiety that I have about needing to finish this painting soon and simultaneously needing it to be amazing. In my semi-stupor, I fantasize about a team of assistants, who block in all the basic objects in my painting, and I come in to do the fun glazing part at the end, the stuff that makes it "my painting".

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Don't say I didn't warn you..... there is a great post on the Ed Winkleman blog entitled "Fair Fatigue", and the terrific original source article that inspired the post is The Trouble with Art Fairs by Marc Spiegler in The Art Newspaper.
Feeling really dicey the last few days, managing to work through most of it. I really need a good painting day tomorrow.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Painted all day Friday, though towards the end it was increasing uncomfortable. By evening, I was violently ill, with hours of intense stomach pain. I was concerned that it was/is an ulcer, but Kevin insisted that it was my breakfast of coffee and lots of raw almonds of a questionable expiration date.

Feel more or less normal this morning, and thankful that it was a one night occurrence. Now faced with looking at the painting that I did yesterday. Want to put in the flag, and start pushing things back in the space down below, it bothers me a great deal how cacophonous it is, how everything is bright and pushing to the front of the canvas: I will begin to create some space in the Wal M*rt today.

Trying not to think about the fact that, by the end of next week, there will 13 people in my house: the first one arrives on Tuesday, and I have told my brother that he will be watching me paint for the first day or two. We will get our tree and do xmas cards this evening (I am making Moqueca for the first time, this amazing Brazilian fish stew with rice and coconut milk, although that is not sounding too great to me at the moment), and take a break from painting tomorrow to have some friends over to decorate the tree. All my shopping was done a few weeks ago. Plan to paint like a madwoman through Tues or Weds, then switch gears to baking/prepping for guests. By the time they are here, there will only be a few glazes left to do, and I can sneak upstairs at the end of the day to do them.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Remind me never to do this again.....

I am serious. Remember when I said that when this painting is finished, I will be taking a little time to read and contemplate what comes next? I am taking mental notes: Angelina in the clouds, fun. Details on tabloids, not fun.

It is eleven p.m. I will at least glaze the faces on the magazines before I go to bed, then tomorrow I can glaze the space between the magazines and create some depth.

All these palettes are from yesterday and today's blocking in of the magazines.
Critiquing the Critics

Time Out New York magazine has published an article giving the low down on New York art critics, rating them overall and indicating their biases, predilections, etc.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Race is On….

One of my friends made me this sign back in grad school, and it seems that it has still not lost its relevance.

The magnum opus Angelina Jolie painting continues. Yesterday changed her sash color, as it has been bothering me for a few weeks now. Darkened up the values on the kids and baby blanket, and began the Coke cooler. Today, I set as my goal to block in the tedious things I have been putting off, covering as much white space as possible.

Tonight, we were supposed to go to the holiday celebration at the North Carolina Museum of Art, the special one for patron’s level and up. This is one of the events that I payed the extra $100 per year for: a chance to rub elbows with people who might buy art, but there is no time to go. Weighing the potential benefits of getting dressed up and driving an hour up and back to a party, it just doesn’t measure up to what stands to be gained by finishing the painting of my magazine rack.

Or, as painter Elizabeth Murray once said: “When is the last time you got a good idea at a cocktail party?”

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Basel Follow Up

Ah, Miami.
You know that the only reason the plate says "toplz" is because there are so many OTHER clever men with convertibles who had the same idea, and he tried all of the other variations they had already claimed before he came to this compromise.

The piece that made Carol & I gasp was called "Blue Shift", and was made by Cornelia Parker. I finally saw one of Lee Bontecou's more recent pieces and it was unbelievable: I missed her big show a few years back, and have been trying to get a catalog from it ever since then. There was a great Julie Heffernan painting at Basel, and more at Bridge. The Dee Ferris paintings (flip through that link to see a beautiful assortment) that were at the fair looked like a detail of Julie Heffernan's work. Laura Anderson Barbata showed a piece called "Gloria", a life-sized holographic postcard of the Virgin Mary, but she had no head on her shoulders, only a halo in its place.

At the Margulies collection, "Cooked Books" by Denise A. Aubertin was memorable, a series of books by Proust, Burroughs, and Camus that were wrapped in dough and carefully cooked in her oven until they were "just right". I was mesmerized by Jackie Nickerson's "Faith Series", photographs of nuns in their environment where the found light surrounding them becomes one of the central characters. Days later, I am still haunted by Christina Pettersson's video, "373 Sounds for Anne Sexton, or God is in Your Typewriter". As it is a video, even if I could find a still, it would tell you nothing. It featured images with occasional text: "a sound like walking without legs", "a sound like waiting for the letter that will never come", "a sound like the broken chair on the street corner, feeling sorry for itself". Ronald Mora has an installation in the collection entitled "Home Sweet Home", a kitchen covered in batting, that felt quiet, and soon will be very dusty.

The show at the Rubell's, "Red Eye" was named after all the trips that the collectors make back and forth between Miami and Los Angeles. The show was a kind of self portrait, it seemed.

I even went to the show at ArtCenter, a kind of lowbrow/Juxtapoz kind of show, where I found painting by Kris Lewis.... I could not resist a photo.

At Pulse, I saw lots of great stuff, but the large painting "Blinded" by Erik Sandberg (click on #9 at link) at Connor Contemporary Art made me sit up and take notice.

There was a surreal moment when I was having a discussion with Carol walking through "Basel Proper". We were talking about how easy it would be to just make work that would sell, and what we would make, if we were so inclined. I looked up that moment and saw a piece in a booth (sorry, I did not get the name of the artist): it was sentence in neon that read, "I sell the shadow to sustain the substance".

Way too verbose today trying to create closure on the Basel thing. Angelina painting pics tomorrow.


Link to NYT article Miami Basel: An Art Costco for Billionaires by Guy Trebay, sent to me by my buddy Elmer.
Home at Last

Feels like I have been away for a month. early a.m. catch-up stuff, then on to the painting by late morning. Will post some more info from Basel this evening, while I am doing my follow-up Basel letters and packets, along with pics from the painting if anything major happens today. Head spinning, so glad to be in front of my painting again.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Pigs of all Sorts

One of the things that seemed to come up in every conversation this trip, including long distance conversations with my husband, was a piece that NPR did on the book Female Chauvanist Pig by Ariel Levy. I am so anxious to read it, I ordered a newly published softcover version that is probably waiting in my mail pile at home.

One of the more memorable things seen during the last week was a series of fascinating canvases by Wim Delvoye at Emmanuel Perrotin gallery, and again at the fair. I was instantly jealous of the surface on the "painting", which was completely covered with hair. I marveled at the way the hair "grew" out of the surface, something I have done in my own work. Knowing how painstaking it is, I thought, "wow, this guy is really on to something..... this looks so natural". Then I picked up the press release:

Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin is pleased to present an exhibition of Belgian artist Wim Delvoye’s tattooed pigskins. Delvoye has been tattooing pigs since the 1990s, and in 2004, he set up the Art Farm, establishing his presence in China. Delvoye explains, "The idea for Art Farm is not only to produce art but to harvest art, for me it's the beginning of making art pieces that are developed in a very biological way." While the tattoos themselves do not contain specific messages, Delvoye says that, as pigs increase in size, the tattoos stretch and fade—a visual reminder of human dreams and wishes that have faded. Delvoye uses the art of tattooing as a means of critiquing human desire and ambitions.

The pigs on the Art Farm are sedated before they get tattooed and are gently raised until their natural deaths; usually well past six months, when most farm pigs are slaughtered. Collectors can buy the pigs live and pay for their keep as "foster parents" or purchase tattooed skins of pigs that had passed. "The Art Farm is a real enterprise and by selling, eventually, the skins, the whole thing gets financed and I can go on," said Delvoye, who has pushed other artistic boundaries with previous works.
When the pigs complete their life cycle, their skins will be canvases that remind the audience of the dreams that once were important enough to be engraved on the skin. The stretched pigskins are like raw canvases, each one possessing an original tattoo such as, hearts, skulls, anchors, swords, eagles, and a woman's name—reminiscent of Harley Davidson motorcycle gangs. Mortality is a primary theme in the pigskins. "Tattoos remind you of death. It's leaving something permanent on something non-permanent," says Delvoye. "Even when tattooing flowers, there is a morbid side to the activity."

Delvoye has continued to astonish the art world with works that test the conventional limits of art for more than fifteen years. He has gone beyond art's traditional mediums, incorporating technology, biology, and an understanding of today's market economy and culture into the scope of his art, in the process creating masterpieces such as “Cloaca,” a machine that produces real feces; “Caterpillar,” a sculptural imitation of a construction excavator intricately carved from corten steel and perforated with Gothic filigree; and “Marble Floors,” photographs of meticulously cut salami, chorizo, mortadella and ham, arranged in geometric patterns based on Italian Baroque and Islamic motifs.

Cheater. : ) Here are the pieces in question (scroll to the bottom). You can see more of his work here. The pieces are much more disturbing when they are stretched on the wall than when they are on the pig, I think. I have seen other things that this guy has done, and some of them are brilliant. There is no doubt that he will go down in art history as being a pioneer. I cannot pass judgement, for I have not seen the reactions of the sedated pigs being stuck with a needle a million times for an artist's "cool idea". I will say that it is a line I would not cross. (Yes, I know.... "which is why I am not showing at Perrotin")


Sunday, December 10, 2006

When you start dreamily musing on the abstract qualities of the oncoming headlights, it is time to stop for the night. Safely ensconced in a Comfort Inn just over the state line of Georgia, I am attempting to wind down after today’s drive.

I have stayed with my dear friend Barbara for the past seven days, far longer than any friend should impose upon another. I was out of her hair most days and evenings, but she kindly stayed up and allowed me to rehash the events of the day with her each night upon my return. Last evening, I drove Kaarina to the beach after our gallery opening wound down, so I rolled in close to 12:30, and Barbara still stayed up to engage in dialogue about the state of the art world while I packed my things until 2 a.m. The day had gone well at the gallery, with art magazine editors, curators and collectors among the hundreds of bodies that had passed through the space. Between that and all the notes I made on cool art, business cards dropped off and names collected, I felt I could leave town counting the trip as a success.

I woke at 7:30 today to meet friends for breakfast, and decided that I needed to go back to Pulse and pay $10 for the second time, solely to introduce myself to a gallery that I had not been able to speak with on my first trip to the fair. The owners are friends of friends, and an introduction had been made via email yesterday, with links and such, and that opportunity rarely comes along, so I could not ignore it simply because I was in a mad dash to hightail it out of South Florida.

I left town at 11:30, with a detour to the French Bakery in Ft Lauderdale, only to find that there were no genoises with coffee buttercream waiting for me. I was crestfallen, but settled on a palmier, and got on the road.

On the ride home, I tried to digest what I have seen in the past week. I was seduced by light... not painted light, actual light, and by stop motion animated videos. There is a large silver silk piece embroidered with silver thread stuck in my head (done by Angelo Filomeno) from Gallerie Anne de Villepoix at Pulse, as well as these gorgeous gothic pieces made of black velvet with ornate black matte frames by Amelia Biewald.

I am also thinking about the powerlessness of artists in this huge event designed around the objects that they create, and the normal questions about class and privilege that might follow. VIPs. Many events at art Basel that used to be open to the public are now "VIP only". Artists, except the ones represented in the main fair and the ones that are household names, are NOT considered VIPs.

Delirious from lack of sleep, I am fantasizing about an artist’s parade, where they ride by on floats, being showered with confetti, waving like presidents and popes. The people who long to own a small piece of the creativity these Very Important People possess are watching from the sidelines, pressing their faces against the chain link fence designed to keep them out. “Look, there’s the artist who did those amazing shoes!” “…and there’s the one who paints herself like Superman!” The artists look out among the throngs and occasionally toss them little bits of things that they have made, and the masses clamor to catch the objects, hoping that the creativity will rub off by osmosis. Money is of no value here, and you only gain status by making things, amazing things, with your own two hands. A few people try to scale the fence to be near the artists, but the security guards have been instructed to keep the riff raff out, as the artists head to the VIP parties in their chauffeured BMWs.
Saw everything I wanted to, save Pierogi, and I will breeze through there before I leave town. Saturated, but looking forward to the drive home to process. The opening went very well yesterday. Lots of good people. Making some progress. Worth the trip. Back down to Wynwood now, one last time before hitching up the trailer and heading North.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Off to the opening of my group show at Chelsea Galleria.....
Friday was grueling... woke up this morning stiff as a board from all the walking with my promotional/goodie collecting/camera bag slung over my shoulder.

Started with the Marguiles collection..... here is so much to see here, but for some reason, I was concentrating on the collection of videos, mostly animated: Brian Alfred, Carlos Amorales, a GORGEOUS video by Christina Pettersson called, "373 sounds for Anne Sexton, or God is in Your Typewriter". (links later, sorry, no time this morning). While looking at art this trip, I am trying to be open to seeds that might plant themselves. When my current painting is finished, I will be doing a big mailing, teaching a mini semester at Elon, and doing some reading, thinking about what is coming next. Also at Marguiles, incredible Brian Ulrich photos, and the video by Kota Ezawa, called "The Simpson Verdict", that made me cry the first time I saw it, and still gives me the creeps when I watch it for the 6th time.

At the Rubell's, there is a show that points back to their $$ and collecting, interesting machine they have set up there, with the in house bookstore featuring all the artists in their collection. There was a really interesting piece about one of Paul McCarthy's pieces that got damaged, complete with blown up faxes and emails between curators and artists.

I am loving all the work I am seeing about art fairs and the art world. At Pulse, there was a drawing called "The Cast of Art Fair Characters" that was hilarious.

How to make a piece about the powerlessness of artists in all of this?

Finished off the night going through Art Basel with Carol Prusa. The quality of the work is much better than it has been in terms of well made objects, but the selection was very staid and safe, lots of blue chip stuff. One of the local papers said that Art Basel is like going to the Met this year, with the peripheral fairs being more like going to The New Museum. One of the things that made us gasp was a lightbox built into the wall with Mia Farrow's nightgown from Rosemary's Baby suspended deep in the center.... I was SO jealous of that piece and wanted to buy it and spend a week in front of it. So Catholic. I was very good about collecting cards of anyone who was showing embroidery, as well as anyone who had lots of obsessive work. I handed out a few cards to dealers who might be interested, and had no one in their booths at the time, but mostly I was taking notes of who to add to my mailing list, and why.

Have to cut it short today, and get down to the beach to do the fairs in the hotels. Will fill in the blanks with pictures when I get home Monday, I promise. Head full of art on the 13 hours drive home tomorrow.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Here's a better image of one of Kaarina's shoes:

Yesterday morning, skipped the Rubell breakfast so I could see it later without the throngs. Went to Chelsea, hung out in the gallery, and talked to some people who came through. Doing this feels exactly like my 2 week "shit job" stint at The Limited: (smiling) “Hi! How are you? Long sleeve tees are 2 for $40 this week! … this piece is about human frailty”.

Walked around Winwood and saw some of the galleries I wanted to see: Dorsch, Chris Ingalls. Here are some of the Ivan Toth Depena’s impossible to photograph pieces in the back at Chris Ingalls:

Thet are thick, object-like, and much more subtle in person.

They remind me of one of my favorite old art movies, “I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing”: whenever they showed The World’s Greatest Work of Art, it was represented by a glowing canvas, in effect, a light box. One of Depena's pieces is at NADA (if the booth did not "flip" yet), but if you go to the actual gallery, you can experience them in a low light atmosphere, which is worth the trip.

I was so hot gallery hopping that I stopped at Target and bought a t-shirt so I could be more comfortable. I drove by the Peruvian Place, the Del Mar, for lunch, only to find that it was closed… a great disappointment. Gentrification strikes again. Let’s hope it was only closed for renovations, not sold to build another condo. “You can see the sky less and less…”, my friend Pip said. “You can now drive all the way up Biscayne Blvd and not even know that you are on the bay….” Barb commented as we drove down to the FIU opening in the evening.

I managed to sneak in a trip to the theater to see “Fur”, the “imaginary Diane Arbus biography”. The tone was only sometimes what the director intended, I think, and it pisses me off to see the direct Jean Pierre Jeunet rip-off in filming the “traveling through the ducts in the apartment” sequences, but the transformation from repressed housewife to bold photographer was an interesting one. For me, it qualifies as a film that I will purchase, because I will want to revisit some of the issues and conflicts of "the art life" vs. a conventional life.

Went to the FIU MFA show in an old Macy’s building, it was a nice space, and there was some interesting work, but my heart went out to the students who obviously spent so much time and energy on showing in a place where they were going to get little Basel traffic. Apparently, they have lots of downtown worker traffic during the day, but most of them will not bring any purchases or critical attention. I hope for their sake, the “emerging artist” bloodhounds will find their postcard among the piles of others and come visit. Being an good artist living and working in Miami and being ignored while the entire art world is at your doorstep dropping millions of dollars for (sometimes awful) work is indescribably maddening.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Check out Kelly Flynn's video... she is showing at Chelsea as well.
Art Basel Begins

Lucky for us, several of the fairs opened early, allowing us to see the work sans crowds, entrance fees, and endless searches for parking.... delightful! In the morning, I went to MOCA and saw a Bruce Nauman show. I had only seen individual works before, but seeing them together, my respect for him grew: I found the depth behind his humor. One of my personal favorites was "The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths".

In the afternoon, met my friend Carol, and we went to NADA and Scope. We weren't as impressed with NADA as we had beeen in previous years, but there were amazing things to see at Scope. Some highlights from from the afternoon: artists Katja Flieger, Arsen Savadov. I had to appreciate the framed anti-art fair and art world post-its of Joe Ovalman, and I saw some new works by Andrea Lehmann, the artist "discovered" by the Rubells last year. When she is on, her work is powerful and provocative, but I have seen as many bad paintings as good ones, and the ones I saw today looked rushed and uneven. She is young: perhaps in a few years, (when she is mid-career artist ; ) ), we will see some consistantly amazing work. My companion for this art journey was Carol Prusa, an incredible artist whose work is in the same meticulously crafted vein as my own. At one point we were looking at a piece in one of the booths, and the dealer came up to us and said "He just made these last week!", and we had to say thank you and turn away fast to keep from bursting into laughter in front of her. I like to dress pretty well when I go to these things, because I get treated with much more respect and I get more information (and goodies) when they think I might be a collector.

When I returned home, there was a Fed Ex package with my ensemble for the Bass opening reception: The Physical Memory/Last Goodbye Dress, accessorized by my ManHead Purse.

The Bass opening was a nightmare: ended up valet parking because I drove around for half and hour, and there was no parking to be found. There was a show of Berlin artists that I enjoyed, and Kaarina's shoe installation did not fail to please, though with the crowd it was hard to see them properly. She also had a suspended shirt piece in the courtyard that was gorgeous and haunting.

Many of the people I know (myself included) are just skipping all the mobbed openings, and trying to see the art on off hours when you can really SEE it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Art Basel Prep

It is odd being here several days before Art Basel starts. Driving through Wynwood today, everyone was painting the outside of their buildings, and sweeping their sidewalks.
Most peculiar was seeing buildings that have obviously been abandoned for a long time, but were newly swept out, with deliveries of new printers and office furniture in boxes sitting right inside the front door, waiting for a temporary “gallery” to be set up. It seemed like a setting for a Twilight Zone episode, where people will come, buy art, and come back the following week to find that the place has reverted to an abandoned building.

One of the women I am showing with is this amazing artist from Finland, Kaarina Kaikkonen. If you look at the images in the above link, you will see creations made from men's jackets, suspended and sometimes reaching up towards the sky. Apparently she lost her father when she was quite young, and then years later, her mother, who was a dancer. In the gallery, she is showing a series of filleted shoes, mounted on the wall..... they look like orchids…. they are gorgeous and disturbing. This series began with the dissection of her mother's shoes. She is also having a show at the Bass Museum now. I was in the gallery today, and some early birds came in and walked around the gallery. They stopped for a while and asked me about my clothing pieces, but ultimately purchased one of her shoes. Being there and watching the process was weird… it was like being one of the children at the orphanage and watching one of the other kids drive off in the car of their new parents.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I am in a bullet sort of a mood today.

• Dropped off art to the gallery, helped set up, and got invited to my dealer’s house for dinner tonight.
• Dropped off the trailer where I am staying (like taking off a 50 lb. backpack)
• Went to visit my friend Pip
• Went to DSW (see below)
• Stopped at Starbuck’s for the wireless internet and caffeine to perk me up for the party
• Stopped to buy a bottle of wine and treats for the host’s dogs
• Went back to Barbara’s to freshen up
• Went to dinner

At the party, I
• Ate Jamaican food
• Met lots of cool people
• Got invited to a party at Bal Harbour on Saturday night
• Met a curator who has known my clothing work for a while, and asked me to please come to the opening on Weds night wearing one of my dresses. (Kevin will be Fed Exing the outfit tomorrow)

Secondary agendas while in South Florida

• Go rollerblading on Hollywood Beach where I used to skate all the time
• See as many indie movies as possible
• Have one of those genoise cakes with the coffee buttercream frosting from the French Bakery on Sunrise Blvd. (they are EXACTLY like the ones in France, right down to the little crunchy things on the sides)
• Have fried squid or squid and rice at the Peruvian place on Biscayne (in the 30’s somewhere, on the east side of the street)
• Go to DSW (I have been to 3 DSWs in NC, and the only shoes they carry are black and brown ones)

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Monday, December 04, 2006

The Road to Art Basel

It all started with the Johnny Mathis interview on NPR this morning.

No wait, it really all started back with my mother dancing with me on her hip, or the constant daily radio music played during my pre-school days. Maybe it’s genetic, because I know that all five children are afflicted with it, though they would ‘fess up to it in varying degrees. Smarmy music…… ultra smooth voices singing along to overproduced orchestral arrangements. I love it. It brings tears to my eyes, I Iove it so much.

Sunday was spent on the road for 14 hours, heading to Miami for Art Basel. I soaped my trailer to psych myself up for the trip.

I was only on Rt 85 for about 30 minutes before someone honked and waved. I began to romanticize the scenario, in my own inimitable way. “We are all headed here on an art pilgrimage”, I thought. “All these trucks, and cars pulling trailers, are full of art, going to Miami…. I bet they are all listening to the same NPR program I am hearing right now!”.

Never mind that yesterday I was cynically grumbling about art fairs. Today I was thinking about how little the average American knows or cares about art, and, given that fact, how amazing it is that all these people who actually care about art are going to be in the same place at the same time this weekend. Around the same time, they were interviewing Johnny Mathis on NPR, celebrating his 50 years in show business. As they played “Chances Are”, my eyes welled up, and I was overcome with emotion that I was heading to Art Basel. I don’t have a VIP pass (at least not this year), and I am only showing in a Wynwood Gallery, not in the fair (for now), but I am making art, and taking it somewhere where people will look at it, something I never could have dreamed of back when I had a Kool-Aid moustache.

When the Johnny Mathis session was over, I wanted to prolong the feeling, so I felt around in the back seat for my box of tapes, and pulled out The Best of the Carpenters.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Off to Art Basel

Still running around, getting everything ready, but I am in pretty good shape. Snuck in a few glazes this morning. Here are the official in-progress Angelina Jolie/ Wal Mart painting shots:

I am pretty wired today. There is not that much to get worked up over, all I am really doing on this trip is delivering some work, running around looking at more art than one person could ever absorb, and collecting cards/info from any galleries I might want to approach later. Most of the trip will be fun, meeting with old friends for meals, and going to art events together. I am feeling a bit strange about showing work at my gallery during Basel that some people have seen before (Fertilization Dress, Fertilization Purse, and Sacred Ovaries).... I guess that I am a bit disappointed that I could not get the painting done in time to show it during this art fair. It will be IN the Art Miami Fair, which is a lot more traffic than will ever pass through the gallery, even during Basel. It could not have happened any faster: "Fast art is not good, good art is not fast", at least when we are talking about my work.

There is something very unnerving about the art fair thing, so vulgar and far removed from what I believe art is about. Almost the antithesis of art. Perhaps that is the source of some of my underlying anxiety. But, (I think) I want to play the game, so I have to go to the ballpark. Even though the ballpark has bad lighting. People are purchasing art for six figures, and they are not even seeing the true color of what they are buying. I guess hype is visible under any lighting conditions.

Will leave at crack of dawn tomorrow, time to load the car.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Spent the morning painting baggy clothes.

Had to reshape the whole back of the woman below: gesso over parts, remix the base blue, then glaze the highlights.Here's how it looks before I leave for Art Basel... I said that I would devote tomorrow to prepping for my Miami trip, but I might sneak in a few glazes in the morning. I need to get a good shot of it before I go: my digital camera has not taken a square shot of this since I stretched it.

(click to enlarge) Can't wait to get back and finish the Angelina Jolie as Virgin Mary / Wal M*art painting. I usually have a title pretty early in the painting process, and I have a few ideas, but I am not sold on any of them yet.

When I return, I will spend 1-2 days blocking in the boring merchandising things that I have been dreading, then the rest will be enjoyable, coaxing the painting in different directions and creating mood through glazing. I was doing the blue in the clouds today, and realized how much I rely upon faith in my process. When you work with glazes, there is rarely any room for corrections, and I am always nervous when I start a big glaze across major surface areas.... the color has to work over the previous colors, the glaze often needs to be brushed around certain shapes without breaking into the edges. (Today, I was brushing blue around the children, their wings, etc)

This evening, we went to Raleigh for the opening of a Contemporary Crafts show that I am in. Saw some people I know, and realized how, despite all the traveling, I have been pretty isolated while concentrating on this painting for the past few months, mostly spending days in the studio with Radley.
From this to the overload of Basel, the insanity of Miami in general, and running into million of friends and ex-students (the part I am looking forward to). Off to make my list of things to do for tomorrow.