Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Today, it took me all day to trace the back of a very large (80 x 116"), complicated cartoon.
My hand is cramped, so I will transfer the cartoon tomorrow, and embroider or work on my webpages tonight. I started thinking about the title......

sa•cro•sanct -adjective
1. extremely sacred or inviolable: a sacrosanct chamber in the temple.
2. not to be entered or trespassed upon: She considered her home office sacrosanct.
3. above or beyond criticism, change, or interference: a manuscript deemed sacrosanct.

im·pal·pa·ble -adjective
1. not palpable; incapable of being perceived by the sense of touch; intangible.
2. difficult for the mind to grasp readily or easily: impalpable distinctions.
3. (of powder) so fine that when rubbed between the fingers no grit is felt.

e·the·re·al -adjective
1. light, airy, or tenuous: an ethereal world created through the poetic imagination.
2. extremely delicate or refined: ethereal beauty.
3. heavenly or celestial: gone to his ethereal home.
4. of or pertaining to the upper regions of space.
5. Chemistry. pertaining to, containing, or resembling ethyl ether.

Death -noun
Synonyms: afterlife, annihilation, bereavement, casualty, cessation, curtains*, darkness, decease, demise, departure, destruction, dissolution, downfall, dying, end, ending, eradication, eternal rest, euthanasia, exit, expiration, extermination, extinction, fatality, finis*, finish, future home, grave, grim reaper*, heaven, loss, mortality, necrosis, obliteration, oblivion, paradise, parting, passing, passing over, quietus, release, repose, ruin, ruination, silence, sleep, termination, tomb, un

A great review of Stella Vine's show that gets to the heart of her work.

"I have made my world and it is a much better world than I ever saw outside." - Louise Nevelson

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ingmar Bergman is dead. I wish I was in New York, to watch "Wild Strawberries" with my brother, and raise a glass to him.
Stumbled upon in the blogosphere.... a great post on Art Workers VS. Art Thinkers on artist Deborah Fisher's blog (in reponse to that great article that ran in the NYT last year about artists who do not make their own art).
So, today Ed Winkleman ("Bless his heart", as they say here in The South... but I MEAN it) has blogged about sleezebag dealers. Yours truly has been talking about starting an annonymous art blog entitled "Empowering Artists" for many months now, but her compulsive making consistantly wins out over her altruism, and now someone else has beaten her to the punch. Unfortunately, if you follow Edward's link to the original source, it is not a thread one can easily comment on or add one's stories to, but Edward's blog today will be worth a read. I also found the BadGalleries.org site through Ed's posting... their Mission Statement is a must-read.

I am humming away in the studio with a "Do Not Disturb " sign on the door, have been looking forward to this day for a week. Hoping to set up my MySpace page during the evenings this week, as well as a page at The Drawing Center, because I just got invited to participate in their viewing program. (yippeee!... artists, send them your stuff) There are lots of great drawings to be discovered on their website, organized by media or "type" (subject matter).

"If you start with something that's false, you're always covering your tracks". - Paul Simon

Saturday, July 28, 2007

"A painting is a thing which requires as much cunning, rascality, and viciousness as the perpetration of a crime." - Edgar Degas

Been entertaining a niece and nephew this past week.... beach, waterpark, science museum, pie and cookie baking, making more mirrors for the tree in the back yard.
Lots of embroidery at the beach, and sneaking some reading in at the end of the day (HTML for Dummies), but no painting. Chomping at the bit. Monday.

Friday, July 27, 2007

"Sometimes I have an imaginary picture in mind of the poet Mallarme in his study late at night... changing, blotting, transferring each word and its relations with such care... and I think the sustained energy for the travail must have come from the secret knowledge that each word was a link in the chain that he was forging to bind himself to the universe." -Robert Motherwell

Thursday, July 26, 2007

"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." -Andre Gide
Your Horoscope by Rob Brezsney

Writing in Poetry Flash, critic Rusty Morrison speculates that “the sublime can only be glimpsed by pressing through fear’s boundary, beyond one’s previous conceptions of the beautiful.” That’s a good theme for you to experiment with right now, Aries. According to my reading of the astrological omens, you’re very close to making contact with splendor you’ll remember all your life. (And I don’t use that fancy word “splendor” lightly.) You’ll need a lot of playful courage to make the boundary-crossing. But I know you can do it if you keep heading in the direction of what’s scarily meaningful.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

She Just Couldn't Resist...

Jonathan Jones at The Guardian writes about the woman who kissed the Cy Twombly painting.

I remember one night at 2 or 3 a.m., after a week of all-nighters, I had an uncontrollable urge to lick the painting that I was working on: it was one of those sleep-deprived moments when I could not believe that I was looking at something that I had actually made.

I am not normally one to be starstruck, but I can remember over the years having the strong urge to touch the work of various artists I admire, thinking there would be some sort of mystical transfer of creative energy.... and I think I might have given in to those urges once or twice.
But I never left marks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"The unconscious wants truth. It ceases to speak to those who want something other than the truth." - Adrienne Rich

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More on Stella Vine, as her show opens.

Surfing this morning, happened upon this photo from an opening in Miami this past weekend. Generally, things are great here in NC, but seeing this photo made me remember how, after 10 years of living in Miami, I had gotten to know a lot of people in the art scene. I used to put on a cool outfit (one of the ones currently gathering dust in my closet), and my friends and I would load into a car, hit all the openings (which were always packed), and I would see dozens of ex-students, friends, and colleagues, often several times, because they were doing the same rounds as we were. We would greet each other by kissing on one or both cheeks, something that people just don't do here in Burlington. We would finish off the evening by going to a great Peruvian place at 11 or 12 at night, talking about all the art we had seen.

Due to the lack of distractions at my perpetual artist's residency in the middle of NC, I am getting more work done than I ever have in my life, but today, I miss being a part of a large artists' community, and I miss my friends.

Friday, July 20, 2007

This is pretty incredible. Somebody call Jeff Koons.... opens up new possiblities for an Art Factory. Courtesy of Lisa at The Intrepid Art Collector.
(All the figures that I had drawn on my cartoon, then needed to erase & move at some point)

"The Great Thing.... the sense of having done the best... the sense which is the real life of the artist and the absence of which is his death, is having drawn from his own instrument the finest music that nature had hidden in it, of having played it as it should be played. He either does that or he doesn't... and if he doesn't, he isn't worth speaking of." - Henry James

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A moment aside....
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I spend most of my waking hours with a four-legged studio mate. Today, while reading the news, I read about NFL player Mike Vick's involvement with dogfighting, and it made me sick to my stomach. I seldom insert activist requests on this blog, but I feel I must provide this link to the Humane Society, where you can read about this terrible activity (let's not dignify it by calling it a "sport"), and send an email to the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging him to suspend Mike Vick. I can't remember the last time I watched a football game, if ever, but I figured it could not hurt to add a sentence to the beginning of the email supporting a boycott of the NFL. Thanks for your indulgence of my non-art moment.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Yours truly is on cloud nine today... I just found out that three of my hair embroideries will be included in a Fall exhibition at the Museum of Art & Design in New York. I am deliriously happy and preparing a new Art World Truths embroidery to work on tonight, because I don't know how much sleeping will occur!

My life curse.... bad news=insomnia, good news=insomnia.
"There are certain mysteries, certain secrets in my own work which even I don't understand, nor do I try to do so. The more one probes, the more one deepens the mystery: it's always out of reach. Mysteries have to be respected if they are to retain their power. Art disturbs: science reassures." Georges Braque

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Oh, that I could be in the UK to see this De La Tour show. He was one of my earliest fixations as a young painter. They are showing his work together with "The Shadow", an exhibition of contemporary artists working with light. The Guardian review is here.
A glimpse into Jeff Koon's Factory, by The Observer's Gaby Wood. If you are a artist, and you are having a bad day, skip it... it will push you over the edge. But you can at least have a chuckle over this tidbit:
"When art critic David Sylvester interviewed Koons in 2000, and asked him about his recent methods of production, he began by comparing his factory to that of Raphael and Rubens. But Sylvester pointed out that unlike Raphael or Rubens, Koons did not actually do any of the painting. Koons replied that he wanted to 'grow as much as possible as an artist, instead of being tied down in the execution of the work.' "

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ed Winkleman has a great post/discussion going on about an article that originally appeared in The Art Newspaper, "The Problem with a Collector-Driven Market", written by Jane Kallir, co-director of Gallerie St Etienne in NY. Highlights:

For the past century or so, the art world has been supported by four principal pillars: artists, collectors, dealers and the art-historical establishment (critics, academics, and curators)....Over the long term, art-historical value is determined by consensus among all four art-world pillars. When any one of the four entities assume disproportionate power, there is a danger that this entity’s personal preferences will cloud everyone’s short-term judgement. Put bluntly, the danger of a collector-driven art world is that money will trump knowledge. Great collectors should ideally become nearly as knowledgeable as the curators and dealers who help them build their collections. But not all of today’s collectors have the passion or the time necessary to develop this depth of knowledge. Collecting, once the pursuit of a relatively small number of driven individuals, has become far more common among far more people."

The corollary to a collector-driven art world is that the canon of ostensibly great artists is being largely determined by market forces. The huge prices that have been achieved lately at the top of the market are the result not only of new concentrations of wealth, but of the fact that many people are pursuing the same handful of artists and works of art. Therefore the drop-off from the peak can be steep, becalming the middle market and consigning lesser works and lesser artists to also-ran status.

This is a market with a voracious appetite for alleged masterpieces, and little patience for historical or developmental nuances. It encourages superficiality: rather than collecting a single artist or group of artists in depth, collectors now often prefer to amass scattered masterworks: here a Matisse, there a Picasso, and then perhaps a Schiele. In an overheated environment, the art-historical establishment often finds itself chasing rather than guiding the market. The press must keep up with the latest trends, and coverage of social events and record prices often takes precedence over quiet critical reflection. Museums need the support of trustees, but the most powerful collectors no longer need the imprimatur of an existing museum; they can simply open their own."

Somehow related to the "why are there so few masterpieces these days?" discussion, as well as my painting pants series. I have a triangular canvas to stretch and gesso.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Transcending the rational....
I stumbled upon this article at the UK Guardian about artist Stella Vine. I remembered her work from PaintersNYC a while back. I wish that I could say that I hate these paintings, but I can't. (Keep in mind that I do love some folk art for precisely the same reasons that I like hers).

1. They are "bad painting"... really, I can think of any number of places where I have seen similar imagery, style, etc.
2. They are mostly paintings of celebrities from found photos.
3. They manipulate with the Keane/natural - human - attraction - to - big - eyed - baby - thing.
4. They remind me of early Lucien Freud: his are more neurotic, hers are more unhinged.
5. In many ways, they embody the kind of art I often rail against.

But I think they kick ass.

Friday, July 13, 2007

(click to enlarge)
"Art World Truth #1", 2007, thrift store overalls worn to paint "Blessed Art Thou", paint, embroidery, 60 x 19" unframed (click to enlarge)

This is a rough unofficial image, they will ultimately be nicely shaped and framed behind plexi in ornate gold frames when exhibited.

I am embroidering art world truths on the overalls I have worn when I paint. I wore one primarily while painting "Blessed Art Thou", another during "Fate of a Technicolor Romantic", etc. They each have the paint colors from that painting wiped on them, as this is my habit.

I grew up with the Catholic notion of relics. These are the residue of the cathetic ritual of creation, marking time spent on the painting, then further invested with time through the embroidery process. I sometimes fell like a bit of a relic myself for investing so much time into each piece, and creating my own work from start to finish, no longer the norm in the art world... all of this is crossed with the Emperor's New Clothes, and the "worker's " observations on the current state of the Art World.

When I was in LA, I asked a curator friend if she could recommend a gallery in LA, and she responded: "I know this sounds silly, and is frustrating to hear, but your work is too good (i.e., you paint too slowly, you are too obsessive): they would look at your paintings, and say "make us ten more like that", and that would be impossible". The peculiarities of the way I work have been a source of frustration to me, and I am looking for a way to reconcile my reality with the reality of the art world. This series will be a way of emphasizing and honoring the process, what goes into the work. This is the beginning of a peripheral project, done at night when I am worn out from painting, but my hands still want to work. I can also take the pieces with me when I travel, and still be productive. I will be looking to propose a show someplace where the overalls will be framed next to the paintings.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Before the painting part even starts....
I am building a large, triangular canvas. I needed 120" heavy duty stretcher bars, to be recut into my triangle. Pearl Paint and Utrecht do not carry stretcher bars that long. There is a Jerry's ArtORama in Raleigh, but they do not have the super long stretchers in the store, they have to be ordered from a warehouse and shipped. However, if you order heavy duty stretcher bars from them, you must order a total of 12. So I calculated what I think I will need for my next few paintings, knowing that I may have to drive to Jerry's some day to swap out some of the normal sized ones if I did not guestimate correctly on the coming works.
$500 and two weeks later, the long cardboard boxes were waiting for me, half-on and half-off my porch, in the rain, when I returned from Boston. Yesterday, after a bit of internet research to jog my memory, I blew out the dust from the Trigonometry portion of my brain, and figured out the lengths and angles of my triangle. I learned that my miter chop saw is only designed to safely cut angles between 45 and 90°, and all my angles were more acute, so yesterday morning I measured and marked all the angles by hand. After dinner last night, my husband supported the extended ends of the stretcher bars while I cut my angles freehand with the chop saw. It was pretty close, but I needed to do some tweaking, so I made a few adjustments without him this morning, using a step ladder to stand in for the husband. This afternoon, I am assembling the canvas and photographing my new embroidery, which I finished last night and will post soon....
"When you start working, everyone is in your studio... the past, your friends, enemies, the Art World, and above all, your own ideas... all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then if you're lucky, even you leave."
-John Cage

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I also had a thought while traveling. What would happen if artists who made their own work started including "executed by the artist" or "oil and acrylic on canvas, painted entirely by the artist" in the descriptions of the work? We could create a new subculture of collectors.
I will be up nights doing just that this week.
Back Home.

Took my husband to Boston for his birthday, to visit a friend and see a Roger Waters concert. Pink Floyd was one of those bands that my brother listened to, so I am familiar with the music, but never owned any myself, never payed too much attention to the lyrics, etc., and did not realize how subversive they were/are. Now I have some homework to do. It was a very political performance, a reminder that artists should be an integral part of any resistance when things are as screwed up as they presently are in this country.

Got to see the Louise Bourgeois show, which was culled from local collections, and therefore, limited. Louise Bourgeois is an important artist for me. Her philosophy, "An artist's job is to tell truths that grownups don't want to hear", has become my own. There are many works of hers that I find too abstract, so personal that they say nothing to me. But when she is on, she is SO on. Like her cells. Or her sewn figures. Or, especially, her spiders. I just saw two at the Kemper Museum in Kansas City last month, and they had one at the ICA in Boston. What power. I don't know why some of them are titled "Spider" and some are titled "Maman", which is how I always think of them. Also saw the Hopper show, which was crowded and frustrating. His early night etchings were incredibly important to me decades ago, when I was doing night landscapes. To this day, I prefer all his night images. There was a large Joseph Cornell show at the Peabody Essex museum in Salem (I was there for witch trial research, and this was an amazing bonus), but we were on a schedule, and we had to go through the Cornell exhibit much too quickly. There were some pieces I have never seen before, and the museum does a great job of helping the viewer get inside the artist's brain.

I understand that those headphones that many museums offer are educating people, (and how can you be against education?), but I find them annoying. Watch people in a museum sometime: they are all standing, en masse, nine to ten feet away from the painting, about the same distance they would be from their TV, being spoon fed information about the painting. The information usually consists of amusing anecdotes and peripheral information that can be brought up and discussed over coffee in the museum cafe afterwards. I tried the headphones for the first time this weekend, and was incredibly frustrated. Experts say that you should not drive and talk on your cellphone at the same time, because you are using competing parts of your brain: I think the same thing is at work when you try to really look at, OR LISTEN TO, a painting while someone's voice is passing directly through your ear canal and into your brain.

My extra super long stretcher bars were waiting on my front porch when we arrived home. I have to recut them with my miter saw to make my triangle today.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his... in every work of genius, we recognize our own rejected thoughts, they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Everyone in the art blogosphere is atwitter over The New Criterion article "Why the Art World is A Disaster" by Roger Kimball.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Glamorous Life of an Artist's Husband

Skipping the Basel/Venice art circuit this year, Kate's husband spends his evenings working, occasionally changing out of his loungewear in the late evening to don a suit, carefully navigate the paint splattered objects in the studio, and pose for the last bits of information that his wife needs to complete her painting composition.

Monday, July 02, 2007

"Why do you want to run away? Sit down and have a drink! I'll pay. " He asked me several things, but I couldn't answer, indeed I didn't even understand his questions. So I said: "Perhaps you are sorry now that you invited me, so I'd better go", and I was about to get up. But he stretched his hand out over the table and pressed me down. "Stay", he said, "that was only a test. He who does not answer the questions has passed the test." - Franz Kafka