Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On the Passing of Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham, legendary choreographer and dancer, died at the ripe age of 90. His obituary in the New York Times has a quote from him about his dancer's life and passion, which is so different from what I do as a visual artist. I tell people I am a mark-maker, that I make things. I make some effort to ensure that my artworks can potentially survive me by using archival methods and materials. Cunningham's greatness lies in his understanding of the ephemerality of what he was doing.
Mr. Cunningham often spoke and wrote movingly about the nature of dance and would laugh about its maddening impermanence. “You have to love dancing to stick to it,” he once wrote. “It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Colors Exploding Like Dynamite

[caption id="attachment_769" align="aligncenter" width="512" caption="Ellsworth Kelly, Spectrum I 1953"]Ellsworth Kelly, Spectrum I 1953[/caption]

This is the way I feel about Ellsworth Kelly's paintings. I think many misunderstand his intentions and think that the work is about creating optics vibrating at the edges. I think not, I think he wants the colors to be big and bright and to explode into the viewer's consciousness.

Here's a quote from Tate Etc. from him:

"In the 1960s the Minimalists’ work was considered to be more or less what it is. The painting or sculpture represents itself. I feel that ten years earlier, starting in 1950, I was struggling with exactly the same problem. Colors for a Large Wallconstructed of 64 separate panels becomes a “painting object” that separates the form – the painting – and the ground, which becomes the wall. The edge of one panel next to another panel is not the same as one colour painted next to another colour on a single canvas. When I want to do a painting with one colour overlapping another, it has to be a real overlap, not a depicted overlap. I didn’t want to paint an overlap, meaning that it would be a deception or illusion."

"In Europe at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Fauves – Matisse,Derain – were using bright colours in their full intensity, which continued with Kandinsky, Malevich, Kirchner, L├ęger and Mondrian. They employed all the colours of the spectrum. In the 1940s and 1950s the majority of the Abstract Expressionists in New York rebelled against this European use of colour and mostly used mixed colours. That is, the Abstract Expressionists did use bright colours sometimes, but they tended to paint wet-on-wet, which muddled their hues. As Matisse would say, a small patch of any one colour is far less intense than a large one of the same colour. I returned in 1954 to New York and showed paintings done in France at the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1956 with bright colours that wouldn’t really be used until the Pop artists in the 1960s. My idea of using colour at its full intensity, which began with Colors for a Large Wall, hasn’t changed in the 60 years that I’ve been painting."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Painting of the Day....

Nancy Charak, 2009, "I Found It Just Like You Find Anything Else, I Stopped Looking," pencil, prismacolor, oil wash, oil stick on 90# white Stonhenge.

[caption id="attachment_767" align="alignleft" width="203" caption="Nancy Charak, 2009, "I Found It Just Like You Find Anything Else, I Stopped Looking," pencil, prismacolor, oil wash, oil stick on 90# white Stonhenge."]Nancy Charak, 2009, "I Found It Just Like You Find Anything Else, I Stopped Looking," pencil, prismacolor, oil wash, oil stick on 90# white Stonhenge.[/caption]

Saturday, July 11, 2009

On Behalf of My Pencils

I have lost count of how many pencils I have, how many I work with. Here's a picture of my "guys."


Here also is a link to a story about how pencils are made, and the mystery of their creation in that no one person can make one, it is a global endeavor.

From The Freeman, Ideas About Liberty. . .


I, Pencil


By Leonard E. Read • May 1996 • Volume: 46 • Issue: 5
My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pay Me Now, Help the Economy Tomorrow

Here's a good way to stimulate the economy; buy my art; buy art from LIVING ARTISTS BECAUSE..... "When artists get cash, they spend it both quickly and carefully."

Felix Salmon writes in this month's issue of The Atlantic that a good way to jump start the economy would be to pay the artists, who are among the very poorest citizens. "We’re living in a newly frugal world. But the rediscovered values of thrift and moderation should apply to the government as much as they do to households. No more trillion-dollar misadventures abroad: we need to spend money at home, and we need to get the maximum bang for our buck. If the Obama administration is serious about stimulating the economy and creating as many new jobs as possible, one choice is clear: it should announce a massive increase in federal arts funding. Artists are among the very poorest citizens. When they get cash, they spend it both quickly and carefully."That’s not what most recipients of federal largesse do, but it happens to be exactly what economists look for in any stimulus package.

Free to the Public = Sense of Ownership?

Here's a link to an article in artdaily.org with the wonderful title of "Free Admission Boosts Sense of Public Ownership of National Museums in the UK".

Key quotes from the article; to which I would add, when you take money out of the public till, have respect for the public beyond catering to the lowest common denominator, treat them with respect.....

  • Free admission is valued and seen as a key element of public ownership.

  • Free admission is much valued – and makes the concept of ‘public ownership’ real.

  • Free admission does not of itself mean people think museums and galleries are places for them to visit. Government and museums should make every effort to find out what ‘barriers to entry’ still exist in our museums and galleries. The research highlighted some clear social and educational barriers that need to be tackled.

  • Better storytelling can involve the public and make art more approachable. Even apparently remote and difficult works can be made accessible relatively quickly - but the effort needs to be made.


The public should be encouraged to ask questions and interrogate decisions made on their behalf. Being asked what they think helps people feel a greater connection to the art collections they own, and may be a crucial first step in attracting support for fundraising campaigns. Engaging the public in debate about collecting need not undermine the expert curator’s role. Galleries don’t need to be frightened to ask people what they think, because if the effort is made to engage people, they are happy to leave decisions to experts.

Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund said: "Free admission has established itself in people’s minds as the cornerstone of what it means to have art owned by the public. Galleries can still feel intimidating or elitist, but those barriers disappear when they engage us in the human stories behind the art in our national collections."