Saturday, June 30, 2007

.... and yet another accusation against poor D.H. One of the prices of fame, I imagine, as discussed in this 2003 UK Telegraph article, when he was facing similar accusations. Here is an article about his "Valium" dispute, with illustrations of both pieces. Oh, for the days of comparing brushstrokes to prove authenticity...
On a personal note, when I see pictures of his face these days, I have the same gut reaction as I do when I see a picture of George Bush... what does that mean?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kate Makes Another Painting That is Impossible to Photograph (I miss my SLR)

I am prone to making dark paintings (figuratively and literally). Most are not hard to photograph, but every once in a while, one comes along that is the right combination of texture and value, providing a challenge for even the most experienced photographer. Crying Man IV is painted with oil glazes on a black gessoed ground, so the background is very matte, and the figure is sort of a satin finish. It is proving impossible to photograph..... even with diffusers, even outside on an overcast day. It is a rich, deep valued painting,
but the dark, satin surface always seems to pick up glare when photographed (on the bottom third here).
"Fate of A Technicolor Romantic" was similar: even after 10 stabs at it myself, and attempts by two professional art photographers, there was always glare somewhere on the 6 x 8 foot inky canvas. In the old days of SLRs, there was always a polarizing filter option to try. I have a high-resolution digital camera now, and this evening will be spent online looking for a filter set for it.

Artwork does not really exist in the world until there is a great high res jpeg of it that can be sent out. Representations are so frustrating to me: If you do a 6 x 8 foot painting, and most of the surface was detailed with a size 00000 brush, none of that is going to register on the reproduced image. Given the option, I will always ask if photos for articles can be detail images rather than the whole painting, because I know the work "reads" better that way. I have frequently had people contact me because they saw a detail of a painting, and they "had to have" the detail image, while they passed over the image of the whole painting.

Oh, oh..... and over at Ed's (I refer readers to his blog so often I should be able to call him Ed), new reasons to talk about Damien.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Studio update...

Been drawing on my cartoon, but also doing boring stuff: resume updating, business replies, etc... it is an exciting time, but I am contemplating hiring a one-day-a-week secretary, as I have been working day & night since I got home, and things are not moving as fast as I would like. It is time for a major website overhaul, and even if I do not do it myself, there will be lots of prep work.

I am getting ready to stretch the largest canvas I have ever stretched, and an odd shape to boot! I am quickly outgrowing my new studio as I set up to work on 2 large canvases simultaneously, and wish I had room to put up a third.

I have been working on a cartoon for the large piece for 3 months (with interruptions for travel), and I am minutes from being ready to transfer to canvas, but I am waiting for my husband to come home, put on a suit, and pose for a few last details on the cartoon.

Nights, when I am too tired to draw or even embroider, been watching films on witch hunts (Three Sovereigns for Sarah, Otaker Vavra's Witch's Hammer, and Carl Dreyer's Day of Wrath.)

P.S. If you had trouble with the video link from yesterday's post, click on it again, I have found a newer, faster version, and over at Ed Winkleman's blog, they are discussing the rationale behind the 50/50 dealer/artist split.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Another entry from a friend for the Damien Hirst antithesis competition....
(the views and artwork reflected in this video do not necessarily reflect the political leanings or aesthetic sense of this blog author).

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Book Report and more on Phantasmania...

Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him was an extremely satisfying novel for revealing hypocrisy in the contemporary art world, but it is quite light... a good novel for the beach or vacation. It qualifies as "chick lit": written from a gallerina point of view, all the art terms are explained to the reader, which interrupts the flow of the story and takes away from the protagonist's voice, but I found it enjoyable just the same. Larry Gagosian claims that "She got it right."

Finally, as promised (I forgot to bring the catalog to San Diego with me), an elaboration on the Phantasmania show I waxed on about. As I (think I) said, this exhibition almost single-handedly restored my faith in the next generation of painters. (There were sculptures there, including a really wonderful installation by Jon Pylypchuk, but it was really the two dimensional stuff that blew me away.) The show was an amazing assembly of related, but disparate, imagery, coupled with consistently well-executed exploration of media. It has been a long time since I have seen so many finely crafted paintings with resonant imagery in one space.

Part of the power, I confess, is that I simply grooved on the subject matter. "Phantasm" is defined as
  1. Something apparently seen but having no physical reality; a phantom or an apparition. Also called phantasma.
  2. An illusory mental image. Also called phantasma.
  3. In Platonic philosophy, objective reality as perceived and distorted by the five senses.
A few years ago, a reviewer described my work as "phantasmagoric", which pleased me to no end when I read the dictionary definition ("A fantastic sequence of haphazardly associative imagery, as seen in dreams or fever").

So the imagery was haunting, and many of the painting techniques were compelling. Several artists used masking film: Andrew Sendor paints anonymous, sometimes distorted, Victorian figures with oil on shiny (black or colored) plexi, then peels off the film to reveal swaths of shiny surface that visually cut into the images. Wendell Gladstone uses masking techniques, among others, to develop layers of texture: hard to read in jpegs, the surface is lusciously tactile in person. Dan Attoe insets tiny mini-vignettes, complete with satellite subconscious utterances in text, into grand sublime landscapes to build a kind of neurotic psychological tension. Shiri Mordechay employs a seemingly infinite variety of media to create gorgeous obsessive imagery that plays with, and tears through, the surface of the paper. The tiny hard-edged paintings of James Benjamin Franklin are simplistic in form, but highly charged, with a seductive surface of Flashe paint covered with resin. I also loved the imagery of Anna Conway, Jules de Balincourt, and obsessive pencil drawings by Adam Helms. Kelly McLane used an interesting, dream-like technique of oil washes over graphite: the form marries so well to the content. As I try to find jpegs to show you, I realize that, (as these artists are all fairly young), the images that are available are rarely the great ones that I actually saw, and the images I can find are often not always as developed as the ones in the exhibition. Shiri Mordechay and Dan Attoe were my favorites in the exhibition, and the works I find online pale by comparison to what was hanging on the walls at the Kemper museum. It was an outstanding selection of work by the artists mentioned. Get the catalog.

In said catalog, curator Elizabeth Dunbar writes, "All of the artists included in Phantasmania wrestle with a world gone astray by distancing themselves from the present and reverting to the interior spaces of the mind... these artists are united by their common use of (mostly) playful fantasy and make-believe to create psychologically charged realms suffused with a critique of reality."

So the works are an escape from the constant media barrage of disasters and horror in form (referencing Surrealism, Romantic Painting, or Symbolism), often infused with a simultaneous reference to the current day in subject matter.
The Kansas City Star Review is here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A friend in NYC sent me a link to the Village Voice, where critic J. Hoberman refers to "Blessed Art Thou" in his review of "A Mighty Heart". I want to bake this man some cookies!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A weird day....Up till 3:30 am on Monday night... on a binge with a new idea: did some research, ordered a few books and films to help with the gestation period, did some sketches. Started reading Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him tonight, and I am close to finishing, but it is 2 a.m., and there is lots to be done tomorrow. It seems to be filled with amusing and accurate character portrayals of art world players... I will tell you when I finish it tomorrow if it ultimately satisfies.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Conservative Artist... an Oxymoron?, or, the Burlington Walls Start Closing In.

Simon Schama's Power of Art on PBS: if you did not catch it tonight, follow the links on the site to find out when you can see it again. The visuals are great, they really help one get inside the artists' head... the narration borders on the melodramatic, but I've never been one to mind that. If we support the show, maybe by the 2nd or 3rd season, they will get through all the "really great masters" and feature a woman artist.

I am a bit cranky tonight: last week, when I was still in San Diego, I received an email that a local arts group back home was doing an open figure drawing session on Monday, June 18th. Now, I have not attended a figure drawing session in a decade or two, but I was also teaching figure drawing regularly during that time, and you really do absorb through osmosis as you look and help correct student drawings.

I am doing lots of figurative works these days, and I thought, "It won't hurt, seems like a good thing to do at this point", so I emailed my RSVP and said that I would attend. That night, I had a dream: I was attending some sort of huge art meeting, mostly women, and all of a sudden, I became uncomfortable. There were people starting to process through the space, and it began to feel like church. I said, “I thought this was supposed to be about art! I am not good in groups like this, I have to go...”. And the smiling young women around me said, “We’re artists, we don’t like to belong to groups either!”, trying to reassure me and make me stay. After a few more minutes, I just said, “I’m out of here!” and bolted for the door. There were still a few young women who ran after me, trying to get me to come back. The dream kind of shook me up, and I shared it with Kevin, and with my friends at the Stitch N Bitch a few days ago.

Today, I was anxious all day, and could not figure out why. I went to the figure drawing session, and during the break, went into the administrative office to pay my $15. There were 3 “fellow artists” there, doing the same. When I paid my money, I was asked my name, and the administrator asked, “where have I heard that name?”, and I mumbled, “oh, there was something in the paper a few weeks ago”, trying to keep things low key and get out of there as soon as possible. One person said one thing, then someone else said another, putting pieces together. There were two conversations going on, and then the only man in the room simply said the word, “devil.” I said, “excuse me?” on my way out of the door, and he said “she’s the devil.” For some reason, I thought that he must be joking, but when I looked back, he was not smiling, or saying “just kidding”. I normally do not shy away from confrontation like this, but I honestly could not believe that he was not joking, it did not sink in that he was serious until I got back to the drawing studio. (How much of a Christian could he be if he was drawing a naked man in the next room?) Even during the last hour of the session, I just sort of shrugged it off, and concentrated on what I was doing, but now it is really beginning to bug me. Certainly, people said a lot worse to me last January, but this was said in person, and it caught me by surprise. And why should it bother me so much what this limp-brained little man hissed at me?

While I was raised Catholic, I do not attend church. While proximity to most organized religious gatherings makes me anxious, the largest percentage of my moral code comes from the values I was taught as a child, except where the letter of the law rubs up too hard against the spirit of the law, and then my liberalism takes over. The best complement anyone ever paid to me was that I "live closer to what my professed values are than anyone they had ever met". I expend a lot of energy trying to be a good, kind person.

I felt like I was in a bad horror movie tonight. I watched "Jesus Camp" a few weeks ago, I am reading things here and there about the rise in Christian fundamentalism, but it was always "out there". I was at a nude figure drawing session in an ART organization tonight, I thought I was safe. We live in the 21st century, for God's sake. And I have been living in an ivory tower, apparently... these professed Christians, who are as un-christian as I can possible imagine, are all around me, within striking distance. I have unwittingly been playing "don't ask, don't tell" in my daily interactions at the supermarket and the gym.

I just ordered a Jesus Is A Liberal bumper sticker (also peek at the site's "Good Christian Hate Mail"). I have been invited to attend a function at this same organization later in the week: I am looking for a red dress, and a red tail to wear with it.

And I feel a painting brewing.
Amusing Oversimplifications, The Burlington Royals, and more comments on The Art Market

What is the world made of? Put in any two terms, such as "haves" and "have nots", or "great artists" and "bad artists", and the metaphysical calculator will examine the world for the relative proportions, and give you a pie chart illustrating the percentages.

In the more-of -the-same department, The New York Times published this report from Art Basel, written by Carol Vogel. It begins,

" 'Is there anything left?' Anne Mosseri-Marlio asked as she surveyed the red dots beside many of the paintings in Paula Cooper’s booth.

The doors to Art Basel, the annual contemporary art fair here, opened promptly at 11 a.m. Tuesday, and 10 minutes later Ms. Mosseri-Marlio, a collector from Basel, looked distraught. Works by artists like Kelley Walker, Sherrie Levine and Rudolf Stingel had already been sold.

Steven P. Henry, director of the Paula Cooper Gallery in Chelsea, seemed just as surprised. 'People literally ran and were here by 11:01,' he said. "

I have been collecting articles like this for at least a year, and I have finally decided to stop, because they all say pretty much the same thing. It IS interesting to note, however, that several recent articles I have read featured collectors complaining that the quality "is not what it once was":

"Collectors are grumbling about the scarcity of top-quality art.

'There are some good things, but not as many as there used to be here,' said Donald L. Bryant, a Manhattan collector and trustee of the Museum of Modern Art. 'The market is so hot, and the demand is so great, it’s getting harder to find great art.' "

Artists producing recognizable product (one that can easily be identified as "a Currin" or "a Dumas" from across the room) in time for the art fairs occurring several times a year is not conducive to "great art". Neither is having your ten assistants paint your ideas in time for the next art fair. Something's gotta give.

After an intense couple of months, I tried very hard to be a human being this weekend. I had some fellow fiber artists over to eat chocolate cake, drink moscato, and work on projects (most commonly referred to as a "stitch N bitch"). Kevin and I watched a few movies (I DID embroider through one of them), and went out to dinner at a new Thai restaurant. I had mentioned to my husband years ago that I occasionally love to watch little league games, and that led him to get some free tickets from work to go to see the Burlington Royals play: they are a farm team for the Kansas City Royals, much taller than little league players, but it was a good people-watching evening. The stadium was featured in the film "Bull Durham" for the away games. We both mentioned that we felt guilty wasting time in this manner, like wasting calories eating bad chocolate, so we are not likely to go back unless we have guests in town. I think we were the only ones drinking beer there.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My friend Elmer sent me this link to a slideshow report from the Venice Biennale, presented by NYT's Michael Kimmelman.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I apologize in advance for perpetuating the hype, but it IS art news: Damien Hirst interviewed by Joe LaPlaca on ArtNet. Mr. La Placa stands in front of The Object, and comments, "When the glittering photos of For the Love of God were released, I was sceptical, particularly given all the pre-show hype. But nothing can prepare you for the effect of seeing this astounding object in person." Mr. Hirst speaks about empowering artists, finding a different way, presenting himself as a DIY guy. It is important to note that he was validated through the system first, and only THEN had the capacity to go this route.

David Hockney blames IPods for bad painting , art like Damien's, and even bad dressing, in the Sydney Morning Herald, via

"THOSE who prefer a well-painted landscape to a diamond-studded skull or a roasted corgi now have a culprit to blame for the contentious state of contemporary art: the iPod.

The artist David Hockney believes the ubiquitous music player is contributing to a decline in visual awareness that is damaging art and painting in particular. It even makes people dress badly.

Speaking on the eve of his 70th birthday, Britain's best-loved living painter said the proliferation of iPods - Apple has sold more than 100 million worldwide - and other digital music players has combined with a decline in art education to create a 'fallow period of painting'."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Over at The Intrepid Art Collecter, they are talking about art vs. craft, "Beauty is Function", and there are some great links referenced.

And at Ed Winkleman's, why are there so few moving works of art these days? Be sure to click on the link to the Paul Pott's performance if you have not yet seen it. I would actually watch TV once in a while if I got to see things that gave me goosebumps instead of reminding me of how ugly human beings can be to each other.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Jet lagged, happy to be home. On Sunday, got lost in LA... after finding my way, I saw the Wack! show: it was amazing to see all those iconic pieces in person, after years of looking at bad B&W reproductions. I wish I had a daughter to take through the show: it is such an important collection of work and history. Days before, I had seen the Identity Theft show at the Santa Monica museum, featuring a few of the same artists with a more narrow focus, and had found the work to be flat and dry, the art seemingly lost in the didactic message.

Next, worked my way around many obstacles in the form of roadblocks, security and one way streets to see Poetics of The Handmade. The exhibition was amazing in terms of the work's sheer obsessiveness, but some pieces worked better than others in terms of reaching the status of "poetry". Marco Maggi's incised aluminum pieces are incredibly seductive... saw a few of these at the Kemper Museum last week as well. Maximo Gonzales with his entire room made of fantastic scenes fabricated completely from devalued currency cut into tiny pieces and pinned to the wall, stood out, as did Dario Escobar's ornate skateboards & surfboards. Livia Marin carved (turned?) hundreds of lipsticks, emphasizing the phallic & fetishistic nature of this common object (I could not help but think of how this piece will have to be preserved under a vitrine to survive dust). The pieces made out of QTips and toothpicks seemed tired, and not able to transcend their materials. Maybe I have been looking at too much Tara Donovan, someone who does this so well. A sample of each artist's work can be found here.
So today, unpacking, laundry, sorting through 3 trip's worth of collected information, loving on Radley, and trying to unknot my neck & back, to get into the studio tomorrow.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

5 hours a day on the highway is really taking its toll, but I saw more amazing art yesterday. Today might be my last day driving into LA, my spine feels as if it is in a giant knot from the past month of travelling and driving, I need an ibuprofen drip in my car.

Yesterday went to Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, a complex with 25-30 galleries in it. The Santa Monica Museum was there, and an AMAZING japanese paper store that also carried bookmaking supplies. I could have spent all day and dropped lots of $$ that I don't have, so I bought some sample packs and a catalog. Gorgeous handmade papers, as well as gampi paper, rayon paper, lots of transparents, patterns, etc. Yum. There were about 4 galleries that really blew me away, some were closed for installation. With one hour left before I got back on the highway, I decided I could fit in one more thing so I went to the Hammer Museum. My friend had recommended the shows here, and they did not disappoint. The first was a small solo show of 199 small paintings by Song Kun... lovely minutiae of daily life, melting into the canvas.
Eden's Edge: Fifteen LA Artists, was fantastic. Some of these artists I have seen elsewhere (one piece was in the foyer at the last Whitney Biennial), but there was enough work here to really appreciate those whose work I have only sampled before. I loved about half of the artists, one or two seemed to be curious because of their obsessiveness, but lacking any real punch. But Rebecca Morales.... I wanted to chant her name, these works were SO beautiful. Watercolor, ink and pastel on calf vellum. After so many years of making and teaching art, I LOVE when I cannot figure out how something was made. I don't think the enlargements even BEGIN to show the magic of her work. Beautifully drawn, gorgeous, seductive, intricate, SIMULTANEOUSLY SERIOUS & WHIMSICAL. See how the universe feeds you and answers the questions you ask if you just keep your eyes open?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Drove 2 hours to get to the Getty Center (Los Angeles) yesterday, and it was worth every moment crawling back in post-rush-hour traffic. I met a friend who works there for coffee, and I asked her what it was like to come to work in heaven every day, albeit a Richard Meier version of heaven, taking the tram to the cluster of gleaming white buildings up in the clouds, housing great art, fountains, gardens, good food, and panoramic views of the mountains and the ocean.

There was too much in the permanent collection to mention. The Radiant Darkness exhibition was small, but gorgeous, the Tim Hawkinson room was fun, just FUN (enlarge the octopus image on the link). After the Damien Hirst post (and several emails from people known & unknown), I am thinking a lot about the function of art, especially with regard to seriousness. There does not seem to be a lot of seriousness in the Tim Hawkinson work that I saw, but there is a visual sophistication and wit, and sometimes a strong psychological aspect as well.

Although I sometimes have fun conceiving of my work, and add elements to lighten it up for myself, I have mostly been dead serious about how I approach my work and what I make work about.... the Catholic thing again, I see it as a vocation, as a calling. I was telling a friend the other day, I have always been driven, but having this window of opportunity in my life to concentrate solely on my work, I feel like I need to make it work not only for myself, but I feel like I have an opportunity that most artists would kill for, and I have to make the most of it, be worthy of it, make work that is worthy. So I am not teaching right now, but I feel like I have turned it up several notches, and, if you know me, the R.P.M. was pretty high to begin with. But sometimes I feel like the earnestness (what is serious art? what is important & relevant art? If I died next year, will I have said what needed to be said? How do you deal with the fact that most people do not want to look at the truth or deal with complex issues? Why do I care if bad or superficial art is validated? It IS necessary to define what important art is for myself, but is there a need to discuss/define what important art is for everyone else?) is killing me, and I am rethinking what artmaking can be, what kind of facets it might have. When my old friend Peggy saw "Blessed Art Thou", she said, "I can see that you are happy in your new life, because there is humor in your work."

I need to get in the car and drive back to Los Angeles, visit some galleries, and turn this over some more. Or better yet, just think about what I'm gonna make when I get home.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Thursday, spent the afternoon at The San Diego Art Museum, where I swooned for at least an hour looking at "Waking Dreams: The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites from the Delaware Art Museum". I have seen a few of these works before, but seeing them together, along with gorgeous Art Nouveau objects, was incredible. The Pre-Raphaelites are tremendously important to me: all of my early models (the "Beauty Wrest", or "women sleeping in cars series") were chosen for their Pre-Raphaelite looks, because I wanted to reference that period of painting. With its dramatic, over-the-top poses, attention to detail, and jewel-like colors, it was so seductive, but completely dismissed by the people I was studying under at the time. There were a few pieces that surprised me, because they were not painted the way that I expected them to be painted... I realized that, for years, I have been painting my work (hair by hair, lace fiber by lace fiber) the way that I THOUGHT these works were painted, having only seen them in reproduction. Some of the Rossettis, for example, were much looser than I thought. On the other hand, Isabella and The Pot of Basil, by William Holman Hunt, is only a little over one by two feet, and the painting is impeccable, the translucency of the garment fabric, the iridescent quality of the ceramic in the forefront, the fabric under the pot of basil that contains her lover's severed head, incredible!

I wanted to run home and paint immediately! Today driving to Los Angeles to go museums and a few galleries. Tomorrow is totally a gallery day. Trying to cram as much as possible into this California opportunity.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Catching Up

Sitting in a hotel room in San Diego (seized the opportunity from a generous friend for a tag-along, low-cost LA gallery reconnaissance mission and lots of art viewing), trying to catch up on the world via the internet, and sort things out over coffee. It seems as though I have not stopped in a few months, with the two shows back-to-back and various other things. I am trying to take a breath this morning and regroup. I have told two people in the last week that I need to slow down this pace or I will explode, go up in flames. Last night I had a dream that I did just that, but it did not seem traumatic, it seemed kind of beautiful. Yoga. I am hoping yoga will save me.

Apparently, the Damien Hirst thing happened while I was busy: one of my friends sent me an email rant last week. She was struck by the profundity of his artist statement: "It shows we are not going to live for ever. But it also has a feeling of victory over death." I could picture her ranting about him in real life, and it made me smile.

I was thinking about it on my flight yesterday, why he pisses so many artists off. An obvious answer is that, if you are an artist, you immediately think about what YOU would make with 20 million dollars. But if one's goal is to make a statement about the state of the contemporary art world, what better way to do it than to create the ultimate luxury object, a glorified piece of jewelry about "not taking it with you"? It smacks a bit of committee art... a bunch of people sit in a room trying to come up with the best one liner, the most obscene object... "we'll cover something with diamonds... what could we use that will instantly charge it with profound symbolism?" Art constructed for the press release, as someone noted over at Ed Winkleman's blog.

Of course, the joke is on the collector who validates his statement through through the purchase of the status object. It reminds me of all the people who called "Blessed Art Thou" blasphemous, then proceeded to tell me all the thoroughly researched details of Angelina Jolie's private life to prove why we should not put her on a pedestal. Is actual life growing more absurd with each passing day, or is that a function of growing old, no matter what decade you find yourself in?

I thought about Damien Hirst, and about the young artist fixation in general, and why I respond to it the way that I do. It's not just that long-road, hard-won successes make for better stories than immediate, just out-of-grad-school successes. It's something about "the brotherhood" of artists (remember the Marines comparison post a few months back?). When I got out of grad school, I knew that I had chosen a difficult profession. There were no stories in art magazines of people being plucked out of grad schools and made into art stars in those days: you knew you were in it for the art, that you probably wouldn't make much money at it, but maybe, if you were lucky and you put in your ten or twenty years in the studio, people might start to see and appreciate your vision, tenacity, and the skills you have been honing over the years. We admired "artists' artists", the ones who did the work, put in the time, struggled over the long haul whether someone was buying their work or not, whether anyone was paying attention or not. An "artists' artist" can be trusted: you know where their values lie because they have been tested over time. It seems that when an older artist finally gets some recognition, they are not cocky about it, because they remember what it was like in the trenches, the years they put in, the ramen noodle soup they've eaten, etc. They also know 4 or 5 other artists who have been doing kick-ass work for decades who have not been recognized, and they know that their comrades deserve the success as much as they do.

So I guess my emotional, gut reaction to Damien's deluxe dazzling diamond display is to feel a bit insulted as a fellow artist, feeling that doing something so ostentatious shows little respect for the artists who are still trying to scrape together enough money for that tube of cadmium red. But my rational side knows that other artists' feelings really are not something that he should be thinking about when trying to make a strong, effective work of art. (If I were home, I could interject a great David Cronenberg quote that I have, but it generally says that if you thought about who you might offend every time you sat down to make something, you would never make anything)

As far back as I can remember, I have stood in front of artwork and asked myself, "Do I trust this person as an artist?" Many people discuss "quality" when looking at work, but, to me, "integrity" is a much more effective, and less superficial, barometer of a great work of art. Can Damien's skull have integrity in its deliberate LACK of integrity?

After my recent experiences, I have to concede that we really shouldn't sit around the world looking at jpegs and making judgements about a work that may have some incredible, intangible presence when viewed in person, and we DEFINITELY should not believe ANY quotes that we read, regardless of the quotation marks. (See my "absurdity in everyday life" comment above)

In the category of "other things that have been happening while I have been spinning in circles like the Tasmanian Devil", everyone I know is buzzing about the Art In America article on art schools in the May issue. I finally read it on my way here, when I was too tired to embroider on the plane.
Gives real insight as to what is happening... worth a trip to the bookstore, if you do not subscribe.

My brother emailed me and said "run, don't walk... to see the movie 'Once' " (my brother knows me pretty well, so that is not a general endorsement, it could be that he just thinks it will feed my idiosyncrasies)

And I don't remember what links I followed to discover this, but one of my favorite artists, the antithesis of D. Hirst, has come out with a new book. Miranda July, performance artist, author, and filmmaker, has released a book entitled, "No One Belongs Here More Than You". It should be waiting for me when I get home. Here is the amazing website for the book.
I am jealous. And it reminds me that I need to work on my website.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Airplane troubles, got stuck spending an extra night in Kansas City near the airport. My friend LM and I made the best of it, eating chocolate, watching movies, and getting a decent night sleep after a very exciting week. The delay makes things tight back in Burlington, where I arrived Monday night and will turn around and leave for San Diego on Weds.

For various reasons, this was one the most inspiring trips I have taken in a long time. The Surface Design Conference itself was amazing: it was my first time attending. It only happens every two years. There were times when I was a bit disappointed that content was not discussed more thoroughly in some of the sessions, but, for someone like me (a relative newcomer to working with fiber, and a scavenger of techniques and materials), it was a smorgasbord, because the (primarily) women who participate in the conference are always pushing boundaries in techniques, and there is much to be absorbed. Unlike the "contemporary art world", techniques are shared quite readily, and everyone is extraordinarily friendly (most say this is because it is a field populated with women). Some of these women live in rural parts of the country, where they are the only woman "like them" for hundreds of miles. I also belong to the New York Textile Study Group, although I only make the meetings 2-3 times a year, (which is fine for me, because I prefer to stay peripheral when it comes to organized groups). Except for a few years in grad school, when I was trying to be "one of the guys" in a painting department, I have always been interested in fabric and clothing, marching to the beat of my own drum and having a great deal of fun doing so. I will never forget how euphoric it was to walk into the NYTSG meeting, and see a bunch of fearless women who were in love with color, texture and outrageous design. I felt like I had found my tribe: other people who, like me, want to tease their art into other areas of their lives.

One of the highlights of the conference was a lecture by Maria Elena Buszek, Ph.D, author of "Pin-up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, and Popular Culture" (a book I coincidentally have on my nightstand mountain of to-read books). This lecture was entitled "Extra/Ordinary: Craft Culture and Contemporary Art". She is currently editing a book of the same name, which will be published by Duke University Press. The line-blurring between the two has been in process for a long time... she showed fantastic work, made by many artists who might reach for the paint brush one week, and a needle and thread the next, following the content wherever it might lead.

Then there was the Kemper museum, which has a Petah Coyne in the entrance that made me gasp, and the Phantasmania exhibit that blew me away. The catalog is not available on amazon, so I bought a physical copy and schlepped it back, something I almost never do anymore. I am taking the catalog on my upcoming trip, so I promise you will get some links to the featured artists in the next few days.

In the tiny bit of down time and great amount of travel time, I was embroidering one of my projects and finishing the book "Uncommon Genius: How Great Ideas are Born", by Denise Shekerjian, a wonderful way to tie up this particular trip. The author interviews 40 winners of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship: artists, scientists, composers, anthropologists, etc., and tries to find the common links in their creativity. It is not a hokey "how to be creative" book, but one that does find many common threads connecting these disparate people. It is a difficult book to put down, and my first impulse upon finishing it was to start reading it again, but I have piles of other stuff to do before I leave.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

(click to enlarge any)
Defense Mechanism Coat. 150 lbs. of roofing nails. All the major veins and arteries of the body embroidered on the flesh-colored velvet interior.

Individuation Dress, with the mantra "I am not them." embroidered across the dress. The bodice has a sash that wraps around it several times before dragging on the floor. The sash is embroidered with "LOVE•GUILT•LOVE•GUILT". The "I am not them." mantra disintegrates as the dress does towards the bottom hem.

Summer Night Breeze Dress. So lucky to have this window. There is a hidden fan blowing it from above to make it flutter.

Physical Memory/Last Goodbye Dress, recording all the body parts that touch during a last embrace.

Vagina Dentate Purse, Fertilization Dress, and Fertilization Purse.

The Hair Embroideries portion of the exhibition can be seen here.

Been very busy here. Being at the Surface Design Conference is like being at Disneyland, not knowing which ride you want to run to. The show went extremely well, and, as if in answer to my recent post, so many things happened as a result of this show, that if even a fraction of the things I discussed with people actually happen, I will be a very happy artist indeed. Things wind down today, and we fly home tonight, everyone itching to get into their studios as a result of all this stimulation. There is an AMAZING painting show at the Kemper museum here, Phantasmania, and if you are a painter, you should see about getting the catalog. If you are a wealthy painter, fly to Kansas City, because you could look for days at the two room's worth of paintings. Will post some names to google when I get home.