Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Minimalism at Woman Made Bare Essentials

Nice, very nice, my work and the work of these other fine artists juried into Woman Made Gallery's Bare Essentials Minimalism in the 21st Century, by Ingrid Fassbender.

Note that I have made bold not only my name in the list but my fellow exhibitors in the "Marks In Time" group. We exhibit together as a three-fer, email us at marksintime@gmail.com

Bare Essentials: Minimalism in the 21st Century

We thank Ingrid Fassbender for jurying entries for the "Bare Essentials: Minimalism in the 21st Century" exhibition on display from November 4 to to December 22, 2011. After reviewing 276 artworks, she selected the work of 26 artists.

We congratulate Grazyna Adamska-Jarecka, Salwa Aleryani, ATYL, Carrie M. Becker, Jan Blythe, Marian Carow, Nancy Charak, Patricia Schnall Gutierrez, Jeanne Heifetz, Martha Hopkins, Carrie Johnson, Katie Kehoe, Pauline Kochanski, Lindsey Landfried, Diane McGregor, Elizabeth Mead, Anna E. Mikiolay, Amanda Damico, Phuong Pham, Ulli Rooney, Mary Rork-Watson, Lisa Flowers Ross, Yvette Kaiser Smith, Sharon Swidler, Asha Tamirisa, and Erwina Ziomkowska.

Exhibition Dates: November 4 - December 22, 2011

Opening Reception: November 4, 2011 / 6-9pm

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Greatest Artist Ever?

I want to dive into this one. Who is the greatest visual artist ever and why? I invite artists and thinkers to offer up their opinions on this.

My nominee is Goya.

It is a much overused trope, especially in this modern era of the artists' statement, that art is about truth. Goya tells the truth about war, disaster and misery, to which he had a front seat.

"Goya’s Los Desastres de la Guerra, a series of eighty prints depicting the consequences of the nineteenth-century Spanish War for Independence are unbearable, but they are not meant to simply document atrocities. The real paradox of horrors transformed into painting or sculpture or print is that art does not let the savagery have the last word."  —Stephen Vincent Kobasa is a writer and activist who contributes occasional essays on art and society to the New Haven Advocate.

Goya started his art career by making "cartoons" for tapestries that depicted idyllic happy dancing scenes. After the images were converted to fabric, the oil paintings were rolled up and set aside. All this to our benefit as those paintings now grace the Prado.

Goya became a court painter to the Hapsburgs that ruled Spain, managing to depict them despite their pendulous jaws and unhandsome looks with some flattery. He also made devotional paintings that grace cathedrals in Spain.

Events in Spain, however, gave him a front row seat on horror and treachery. The Hapsburgs were lured out of Spain to France by Napoleon Bonaparte, who then installed his brother Joseph on the throne. An uprising by common Spaniards ensued with horrible massacres by mercenaries loyal to France. A monstrous civil war ensued. Eventually, the Spanish patriots succeeded, the Hapsburgs and the church prelates came back to rule Spain with an even harsher hand, giving no gratitude to the populists for saving the country. The argument can be made, not really germane to this discussion of Goya, that stable government did not exist in Spain until after the death of Franco (1975).

To sum it up, Goya's career spanned the 19th century, he moved from the depiction of idyllic country scenes, flattering royal portraits, devotional paintings, the Caprichos, the Disasters of War, ending with the Black Paintings.

As survivors of the hapless 20th century, after Auschwitz, Dachau, Cambodia, Somalia, Goya tells us about our darkest, deepest human selves.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Learned a Museum Lesson

I took myself to the Art Institute of Chicago the other day. I have a usual path that I take, prints and drawings, then American paintings, then the modern wing. This means that I walk past China, Japan and quickstep through South Asian art in the railroad bridge to get to what I am in a hurry to see. However, finding myself in the place last week and having seen prints, drawings, American, modern several times this summer, I decided that I would go to China and Japan.br /Part of the reason I would seemingly rush past is that the Art Institute puts the older more traditional art at the front of the gallery. Thus I almost missed this amazing bamboo basket. To call this a basket is potentially a serious mistake, it's a sculpture, it's an amazing piece of art.

[caption id="attachment_453" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="Knot, 2007, by Homma Hideaki"]Knot, 2007, by Homma Hideaki[/caption]

Furthermore, it's a mistake on my part to assume that if it's old it's boring. This is one of my favoritest pieces in the China exhibit. It's a clay model of a pigsty and latrine from the Han dynasty era. It is about 12"x12"by 8", in the center is a sow suckling her piglets.

[caption id="attachment_454" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="Han Dynasty"]Han Dynasty[/caption]

Lesson, slow down, look.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Helen Frankenthaler is My Lodestar

[caption id="attachment_460" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="Cri de Coeur 5951, © Nancy Charak, 2010, watercolor, prismacolor pencil on unfinished fabricated birchwood panel, 18”x24”"]Cri de Coeur 5951, Nancy Charak[/caption]

I can honestly say that there’s a very real sense in which I have never not known about Helen Frankenthaler and her work. My mother was a great admirer of Helen’s art, returned from a vacation in New York gushing about what she had seen when I was still in grammar school. To my sorrow that catalogue has disappeared. A good friend from junior and senior high school had Frankenthaler’s work in her house, along with Picassos and Kandinskys.

[caption id="attachment_461" align="aligncenter" width="276" caption="Tales of Genii III, Helen Frankenthaler, 1998, fifty-three-color woodcut from 18 woodblocks (17 maple, 1 mahogany) and 2 stencils on gray TGL handmade paper,” 47x42” (119.4x106.7cm), Edition 36, Artist’s proofs 14."]Tales of Genii III, Helen Frankenthaler[/caption]

I choose Helen Frankenthaler because she is the head of a pantheon of abstract expressionists; to name a few, Agnes Martin, Joan Mitchell, Linda Karshan, Sandra Blow, Vija Celmins and Katherina Grosse. Purity of thought and action on the canvas emanate from Frankenthaler’s work, even if that work is a 53 color woodcut.

The Frankenthaler woodcuts astonish because they continue her pattern of breaking rules and ignoring conventional modes of working art media. She is widely credited with being the first to work with unprimed canvases, allowing oil paint to halo and stain, and in so doing, to influence a number of artists, Jules Olitski and Sam Francis as foremost examples.

Helen Frankenthaler is my lodestar. I keep two quotes from her displayed in my studio, “A really good picture looks as if it’s happened all at once. It’s an immediate image. For my own work when a picture looks labored and you can read in it—well she did this, and then she did that, and then she did that—there is something in it that has not got to do with beautiful art to me.”[1]

In the description of the exhibit of the woodcuts at the National Gallery of Australia’s website, she is quoted, “There are no rules, that is one thing I say about every medium, every picture. . .that is how art is born, that is how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules, that is what invention is about." [2]

[2] http://nga.gov.au/Exhibition/Frankenthaler/

Sunday, April 3, 2011

We're Not Going Back. . .

Two of the greatest technological revolutions in the history of the world go largely unheralded, the flour mill powered by electricity and the washing machine also powered by electricity. No other inventions have done more to liberate women, with the possible exception of the birth control pill. And I might add, we’re not going back, no woman I know yearns to get back on her hands and knees and grind corn for five hours a day to feed just five other people, and no woman I know wants to stand over a washtub with a washboard ever again.
Nicola in Edible Geography talks about this liberation, after a lengthy description of the process of grinding the wet maize to make tortillas.

“Mexican women that I have talked to are very explicit about this trade-off. They know it doesn’t taste as good; they don’t care. Because if they want to have time, if they want to work, if they want to send their kids to school, then taste is less important than having that bit of extra money, and moving into the middle class. They have very self-consciously made this decision. In the last ten years, the number of women working in Mexico has gone up from about thirty-three percent to nearly fifty percent. One reason for that—it’s not the only reason, but it is a very important reason—is that we’ve had a revolution in the processing of maize for tortillas.”

Similarly Hans Rosling in a Ted.com video lecture discusses how the washing machine saves so much time and womanly labor that women can now read.

As I've said, we're not going back.

Art Has Power...

[caption id="attachment_474" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="Judy Taylor, Maine Mural"]Judy Taylor, Maine Mural[/caption]

From Visual Art Source, Weekly Newsletter, April 1, 2011, comments by Editor Bill Lasarow, "We have to go back to the early 1930s for comparable acts taken with similar reasoning.

The whitewashing of David Alfaro Siqueros' "America Tropical" in Los Angeles was prompted by his symbolic representation of a hovering American eagle poised to peck the life out of a crucified Mexican laborer. Diego Rivera clashed with his patrons John D. and Nelson Rockefeller over the content of "Man at the Crossroads," which included a portrait of Russian Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. The mural was removed from their Rockefeller Center building in New York. After recent controversies over the painting out of a partially completed mural by Blu's in Los Angeles and the removal of a video by the late David Wojnorowicz from an exhibition in Washington, D.C., perhaps it was just a matter of time before elected politicians would begin to interpret their mandates in the spirit of a conquering medieval army. Destroy all signs and symbols of the previous regime, permit only images that proclaim the power and glory of the new ruler.

As Mount Holyoke College (Maine) President Lynn Pasquarella wrote, "... The act of removing images commemorating Maine's history itself conjures thoughts of rewriting history prevalent in totalitarian regimes." The grand historical spirit of barbarism is on the loose in America."

Compassion is a Verb

My thoughtful brother sent me this as we have been engaged in an on-going conversation about the condition of the world.

“As I was reading the article the author James Baraz references two of my night stand authors Thich Nhat Hanh and Alan Watts. For those of you who need a little background Nhat Hanh writes an excellent book (amongst others) entitled Peace in Every Step where he reminds us to be "mindful" of our moments and our experiences and to create positive experiences for our selves and others. Watts (the true ex-hippie philosopher) came to my attention in the sixties in a now defunct publication entitled Earth. In an editorial that sticks in my mind to this day he elaborated on the theme that "everyman is an artist" that the ability to "throw paint" or play music was comparable to a lawyer presenting his case in court, or a social worker focusing a families therapy towards enlightenment. His book entitled the Wisdom of Insecurity tackles the issue (and I truly paraphrase) of what tools and philosophies do we go through life with when we know "no one gets out alive".

My brother references James Baraz’s post in the Huffington Post, in which Baraz says:

“Accepting that anything can happen at any time helps us understand that life is out of our control. As much as we want to feel secure, events will unfold as they will. And in this physical plane, events do not happen in a vacuum. They affect everything around them. Buddhists call this interconnectedness. One metaphor describing how a small change in one location can have a major influence in another is the famous "butterfly effect" of chaos theory: A butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can alter the path of a tornado in Texas. In a complex system a change in one condition can produce a result in another part of the system. As we're seeing now, what happens to those far away can ultimately affect those near and dear to us.”


“You may want to do something and don't know quite where to start. As one of my teachers says, "Action absorbs anxiety." If you let yourself feel the caring and connection that comes from your heart, you may find ways to put that compassion into action. Meditation master and social activist Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us that compassion is a verb. Whether it's sending support or prayers to the victims in Japan or working to raise consciousness to the nuclear issue here, what you do in response to this situation can lessen feelings of helplessness. What you do matters and affects us all.” (ITALICS MINE FOR EMPHASIS)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Marks In Time, an Exhibit Proposal

Artists Marian Carow, Sharon Swidler and Nancy Charak, create works of art that illuminate lines in subtle, minimal, yet complex ways. Carow, Swidler and Charak discovered that their artworks relate in ways that engender visual conversations. This exhibit proposal is that series of conversations.

[gallery link="file" columns="4" orderby="rand"]

This exhibit proposal arose from an awareness that our different approaches to art making nonetheless have fascinating overlaps. After a number of meetings and discussions with each other about both the art work and of our ways of thinking, we decided that we wanted to collaborate on a group exhibit.

Marian: My drawing process is distillation and expression, putting media to paper, intuitively tapping into a continually evolving vocabulary of lines, marks, smudges, scribbles which populate the silence of the paper plane.

Sharon: My images are navigations through an environment of meditative space. Space and lines create a diary of time, delineating both timeliness and timelessness.

Nancy: What is necessary for my art is that it flows from inside and allows the work to spring from my entire set of experiences and sensibilties as an artist. I then trust that my hand and eye make art that says to the viewer, "here look at this, make of it what you will."

Contact us at marksintiimetrio@gmail.com