Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why I try to make all of my work "Archival"

This post from C-Monster explains why if we as artists want our work to outlast our own mortality, we should pay as much attention to the archival qualities of our materials. Why one should not make artwork out of pop tarts or animal carcasses encased in formaldehyde.

Having said that, it is still my contention that the art-form that lives the longest is totally not tangible, poetry and stories. We are still reciting Homer, we are still telling the oldest tales, even when they are in comic books, video games and Battlestar Galactica. The actual totally archival medium is the human memory, the human need to tell stories to each other and to our children.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Agnes MartinVija CelminsKatherina GrosseSandra Blow, and Linda Karshan. All serious abstract expressionists, who no matter what they work on, be it paper, canvas or even buildings, dare you to look at what they do.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Go to Montana in May!

No. 131, 22x30in., Graphite, pencil, oil stick on black 90lb. Stonehenge, 2007

To see this, Untitled No. 131, you have to go to Montana! Untitled No. 131, 22"x30", oil, pencil and graphite on 90# black Stonehenge paper.
RESONANCE, Solo Exhibit at the University Center Gallery University of Montana in Missoula Opening reception: Thursday, May 1 Exhibit runs to May 31

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bringing art to a wider audience

This is the kind of thing I've been talking about. Check out this story and this picture in The Art Daily Newsletter. These people are at the St. Pancras station in London waiting for the Eurostar train, they're looking at paintings from the collection of the National Gallery. Why not? We have the technology to do this anywhere, anytime.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More of the Art of Alienation

Money quote: from the Wall Street Journal about turgid, unreadable writing about art. Note this quote from the article.

" . . invents puzzles out of nonsequiturs to seek congruence in seemingly incongruous situations, whether visual or spatial . . . inhabits those interstitial spaces between understanding and confusion.'"

And further, . . ."Still, there is no excuse for a museum letting nonsense of the sort quoted above out in the open, particularly an institution whose mission includes educating the public. If the Whitney continues to snub this public -- its core audience -- by "explaining" art with incomprehensible drivel, it shouldn't be surprised if people decide to return the favor and walk away."


I just received a rejection letter from a university gallery that I applied to in response to their call in a national art magazine, no problem. My motto is "they can't reject you if you don't apply." What I do mind is sloppiness.

The call was posted in March of 2007, with an open deadline. I responded with a package of images on a CD, a proposal and the usual SASE, in April of 2007. Not getting an answer by November of that same year, I emailed the institution and the listed contact person. This individual's reply was that they never received my package. So, I shrugged my shoulders and thought "Oh well, there's a slip twixt cup and lip." And resolved to henceforth use the return receipt function of snail-mail.

To my complete and utter surprise several days ago, I received a rejection letter and all of my materials as sent in the original package, a full year later! April of 2008. This is unmitigated sloppiness and what's more, borders on cruelty.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Music VS. Visual Art

Visual art is important to me. I look at art constantly in as many places as possible and I make art. I find it sad and astonishing that so many people are able to offer up fear and ignorance without any qualms about the visual arts, in a way that they don't about music or movies. Why is it that you never hear people say, "I don't know much about music, but I know what I like." You will hear people say which music or movies genres, artists, groups, songs they like and dislike quite easily without that "I don't know much" disclaimer.

Maybe it has to do with how easily music and movies are distributed throughout our culture, but artwork is physical, tangible, palpable and hard to get to. And then there's what I call the white cube phenomenon. Art galleries and museums tend to be such forbidding edifices, all white and glossy inside, the guests walking in great silence, moving from object to object at respectful distances, never sitting and looking, just moving. The floors are hard, the spine takes a jolt, the jaunt becomes physically wearying, and the food is cute, but expensive. When I would gallery sit at the ARC Gallery, I would get phone calls from potential visitors asking if there was an admission price, if they needed a ticket, if there was a dress code. I find this very, very sad.

Clearly, the system, the cultural system is not disseminating enough art throughout the culture. I wonder why we can't turn on the television, replete with hundreds of channels, to the Art Institute channel, or to a potential Dada TV channel. Or maybe we have to organize field trips for adults, so that once a year every adult in the U.S. has to attend a visual arts event. Just a thought.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


An artist working in Swansea, Wales by the name of Richard Monahan, defines drawing:

"In my opinion and the definition that is most relevant to my own work is that drawing can be defined as such; The making of a mark upon a surface, with a hard-nibbed tool." - source:

The most important aspect to my definition is the idea that drawing must be made with a tool that is of a solid consistency, not a brush as this has an articulation, nor a computer, as this has many interventions from the moment the idea leaves the hand to the moment to when it appears on screen, but with a pencil, a pen, charcoal etc.

The reason for this has to do with the immediacy that a hard-nibbed object brings to the work. If you are to draw a line with a brush some may consider this an act of drawing but to me the articulated head of a brush is one separation between the mark made upon the ground from the physical action of the hand and therefore the brain. This separation causes the mark made to be less accurate to the influence of the hand/brain. The more separations you have between hand and ground, the less human the activity becomes.The reason I admire the act of drawing above all other art forms is its ability to convey the artists thoughts, sub-conscious and conscious, to the viewer. This is the reason that seeing artists sketch-books is of vital importance to understanding their work. It is this honesty and the immediacy of the process of understanding thought through drawing and conversely drawing through thought that makes the subject so important to every artist. I believe that to attain the ultimate accuracy and understanding of this relationship between brain and hand, the journey on to paper must be as little interrupted as possible. The pencil is, afterall, a more accurate extension of the hand.

I have expanded this line of thought into differing materials and most recently paint. By cutting and scarring a line through the surface of paint I am able to retain the primacy of drawing in conjunction with the many different qualities of oil paints.

The work is then presented with an oblique light raking the surface of the image that lends each line an accompanying shadow, thereby high-lighting the drawn qualities.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008


The art dealer Larry Salander whose gallery Salander-O'Reilly was shut down due to allegations of financial improprieties is quoted as saying, "Our society now values a Warhol for three times as much money as a great Rembrandt." Further, "That tells me that we're fucked. It's as if people would rather fuck than make love."

Thanks to The Atlantic, here's a quote: I don't have a lot of sympathy for those who bemoan contemporary art and seek a return to the old-masters. Appreciating formalism is one thing; crusading against contemporary art in order to correct an alleged cultural imbalance is something else entirely. When you buy a piece of art from a living artist you are funding her next project; you are allowing her to continue with her work. What does it matter to Rembrandt how much his painting sells for?

I SECOND THE MOTION, with this caveat, Warhol endowed a foundation that does good work: The Foundation's objective is to foster innovative artistic expression and the creative process by encouraging and supporting cultural organizations that in turn, directly or indirectly, support artists and their work. The Foundation values the contribution these organizations make to artists and audiences and to society as a whole by supporting, exhibiting and interpreting a broad spectrum of contemporary artistic practice.

So buy contemporary art from living artists or from the recently deceased, you'll be funding our next projects, helping us pay our studio rent, or supporting our heirs and heiresses.