Oh, how I wish I could see this show! Susannah Coffey was a professor at my alma mater, and I came this close > || to taking a class with her. It was Figure in the Landscape at Oxbow summer art camp, and she was to co-teach it with Dan Gustin, another great professor, but he showed, and she didn’t.
“Steve Locke wrote (from the show’s page below) that, “Coffey is painting a new kind of space… She is painting the interference, the attitudes, the obfuscations between the understanding of the self.“”
If you’re in NY, I hope you get to see the show. If you’re not, some night, indulge in a little sumpin’ and stare at her paintings online.
I just finished rereading the two essays in this exhibition catalog of the work of Scott Barber, a Dallas painter whose work I first saw — and fell in love with — at the Galveston Arts Center in late 2006 (a posthumous exhibit of the artist who died in 2005 at the young age of 42). I found the essay titled “Rational Exuberance” by Charissa N. Terranova to be quite an interesting and illuminating essay on Barber’s work.
She begins with a long and interesting full paragraph exploring the meaning of flatness. She explores how to understand the flatness in Barber’s work through it’s relation to the flatness in modernism as described by Clement Greenberg, the flat surface of Andy Warhol, and the late 20th-century “superflat” of Japanese culture as founded by Takashi Murakami.
Her writing is exquisite. Take this phrase, for example: “…a more metaphorical type of flatness in the work of Andy Warhol, where meaning that lies within gives way to significance sliding along surfaces of a flamboyant and raucous Teflon consumer culture…”
This is one of those essays that truly helps one to understand and appreciate an artist’s work in all its lovely complexity.
I could fall into one of Jackie Tileson’s paintings and wander around for hours or days. She creates a deep ethereal space filled with wonderful surprises of different types of imagery: explosions of paint, drips, amorphous shapes, graffiti, circles, loops, and fractal imagery — different vocabularies of expression skillfully combined in one large space.
I just discovered she’d had a show in Dallas this past summer. An 8-hour round-trip and I could have seen her work in person!
Artist Statement (excerpt)
“I am interested in creating paintings that bring together a wide multiplicity of sources into a coherent – and sometimes discordant – whole, an attempt at a “unified field theory” of painting. My paintings feed off of the history of abstraction, physics, traditional eastern imagery, Chinese landscape motifs, digital imaging, and other sources. There is a constant flux between atmospheric and graphic, abstract, and figurative, quiet and chaotic forces. A medley of sources is orchestrated to create or reconstruct a world within the painting in which a new kind of sense is made – one in which the beautiful, absurd, sacred, and mundane can coexist.”
See more of Jackie Tileson’s amazing paintings, and read her full statement and reviews on her website.
I’ve had several opportunities to see Beili Liu’s work up close and personal right here in Austin. She teaches at the University of Texas and shows from time to time at one or another of Austin’s galleries. The last show I attended was “The Mending Project” at Women and Their Work in 2011. A room is filled with a cloud of hundreds of Chinese scissors suspended from the ceiling, points down, just over your head. The artist sits below those hundreds of sharp points, calmly mending bits of fabric while the threat of danger hovers very close above her. It’s a very powerful piece, at once menacing and visually stunning.
“Lure/Forest” is one of the works that first drew me to Beili Liu’s work. Thousands of disks made of hand-wound coiled red thread are suspended from the ceiling with a single thread that then drapes onto the floor. The sight of all these disks slowly swaying in the space is quite enchanting, like standing at the edge of a forest of red flowers slightly disturbed by breezes wafting through. Like much of Liu’s work, this installation references an ancient Chinese legend. A related installation, “Lure/Wave” won 3rd Place at Artprize.
Liu creates some very compelling installations and 2D work, and her use of a wide variety of materials is always fascinating, thought-provoking and unexpected.
“My work depends on a genuine connection to the material. By playing with the material—testing, manipulating, experimenting, and examining, even leaving it for months—I watch for the moment of surprise, when the material responds to one or a series of actions, and leads to an exciting physical or conceptual outcome. That outcome itself sometimes becomes the lead into a new project.
As one who comes from the East and lives in the West, I have experienced two distinct and often contradictory value systems. These experiences constantly influence each other, at times create conflicts in my life, and other times offer great inspirations for my work.”
See more of Beili Liu’s gorgeous and intriguing work, and find out about her full list of awards, shows, and accomplishments at her website.
I love the richness of Heather’s mixed media paintings, her use of color, and her imagery from life and science. Looking at any of her paintings, I feel as if I could walk into her oddly populated world. She creates a sense of space and a sense of place that stands in contrast to her use of ornamentation, drips, and flat shapes that reference the language of painting. It’s both an illusionistic space and the flat space of the surface of the canvas.
“My work is an intuitive gathering of imagery stemming from the natural world. I recreate geographic patterns and forms and then layer them to make up new systems in the environment. By analyzing the biological and structural phenomena, I find similarities between their elements…I am interested in the imperfections in nature, the complete randomness yet undisturbed instances of subtle perfection.
By layering varied imagery through drawing and painting, a sense of fragmented time emerges, a documentation of events.”
Read Heather’s full statement and see much more of her gorgeous paintings on her website.
Full Day of Visiting Artist Studios, Last Day of E.A.S.T.
I decided to spend the final day of EAST visiting more artists’ studios rather than hanging around The Vortex. If you came to see me at The Vortex yesterday, my apologies for not being there; if you’d like to see more of my paintings, you can always schedule a private visit at my home studio; just contact me and we’ll set something up.
I started at neighbor Robbie Ortiz’s studio, where he and fellow painter Stephen Schwake were showing their work. Robbie does some amazing cubistic paintings and drawings; visit his website at: RobbieOrtiz.com.
Stephen does large paintings and drawings influenced by “80’s skateboard graphics, hot rods, science, stained glass, American roots music, mid-century modern design, art history, and World War II fighter planes.” His site is StephenSchwake.com.
Next, I headed down to the Artpost, where I visited with Court Lurie for a bit. I really love her abstract paintings! Court is very deservedly a rising star in the Austin art world.
I popped my head into a few other studios; there’s a glass artist named Nicholas Dertrien who is doing some pretty amazing blown glass sculpture of the human body, some complete with (what I think are) internal organs.
I also peeked at the work of sculptors/installation artists Scott Proctor and Marianne McGrath.
Then I drove up to the Pump Project Satellite, where I met painter Keva Richardson (love her work), and visited with good friend Jill Alo at Women Printmakers of Austin, where I also ran into friend and fellow encaustic artist Maggie Jordan. Popped into Damon Arhos studio, too.
Stopped in to see Daphne Holland’s new work, and chatted with Juan Moreno, two more encaustic artists from Texas Wax. Stopped into Bay6 Studio, where I talked to Kevin Kuhn briefly (he’s taken over the Texas Wax website, bless his heart), and Sharon Kyle Kuhn, the encaustic artist who started the Austin Chapter of Texas Wax.
By this time, it was after 5:30, and I still had at least 6 more artists on my must-see list but knew I only had time for one more. So I zipped over to Jennifer Chenoweth‘s to see her new work and the work of Virginia Fleck. Her work is always so interesting, and her home itself is an amazing work of art! Good call: Jennifer very kindly packed up a bowl of her delicious chicken pesole to take with me after my very brief visit.
And that, my friends, was my whirlwind one day tour of EAST 2010 (seeing only about 1/10th of the artists participating this year).
Sculpture by Hank Waddell and paintings by Shawn Camp at Shawn Camp’s studio during E.A.S.T. 2010
An artist is not an isolated system. In order to survive he has to interact continuously with the world around him… Theoretically there are no limits to his involvement.— Hans Haacke
EAST Artists Tour
This year, for the first time, artists were able to visit other artists’s studios on a few weeknights in the week between the two EAST public tour weekends. This is a really great development! A major drawback of being a participating artist in EAST these past years has always been that you’re stuck at your own studio and can’t get out to see new work, new artists, new spaces, new ideas, and visit with your artist friends. It was one of the main reasons why I didn’t open my studio last year, and instead spent the time visiting as many artists and studios as I could comfortably squeeze in.
The folks who organized this actually pulled it off more or less at the last moment, so I think that not all the artists were even aware of it. I found out too late to make it during the first two nights, but managed to get to three artist’s studios on the third night.
First, I got to visit with neighbor and painter extraordinaire Jennifer Balkan. Jennifer is a very painterly figurative painter who often uses bits of maps in her work (and she’s really, really nice!). I saw her work during the very first EAST Tour that I visited—maybe it was #2 in 2004 (when there were only 51 locations)—and I was blown away by her work then.
Jennifer just gets better and better, and her work is currently included in this great invitational “Women Painting Women” show at Robert Lange Studio in Charleston. You can see the show and read the articles from American Art Collector, ArtMag, & Art See at: Robert Lange Studio, and you can visit her website and see more of her work and info at: JenniferBalkan.com.
Next, I visited with neighbor, friend and painter Ines Batllo in her wonderful new studio. Ines is a Catalan painter whose paintings in oil and encaustic are skillful, deep, and full of soul. She’s doing some very interesting three-dimensional work with encaustic. She and I were having such a great conversation that I forgot to take any photos there, but you can view her work online at: inespaintings.com.
My last visit of the evening was to Shawn Camp’s studio, with Shawn Camp’s paintings and Hank Waddell’s sculptures.
Shawn’s paintings are so luscious; they are very thick with gorgeous paint, and I just want to roll in them (like in the movie “What Dreams May Come”). His work also references the landscape from an aerial perspective. I first saw Shawn’s work at the Davis Gallery in 2006, when he showed with the awesome sculptor Caprice Pierucci, and I just fell in love Shawn’s work at that time (and Caprice’s!).
Well, I fell heads over heels in love with one particular little painting of Shawn’s this night, and so, soon I will be able to look at it every day. Yes! I am buying a small painting from Shawn, and I could hardly be more excited! (EAST folks, take note: The EAST Artists Tour is definitely worth it for artist and artist alike!). 🙂
Sculptor Hank Waddell’s work is very cool, and so is he. He uses a lot of construction materials in his work, makes beautiful and intriguing sculptures in wood, bamboo, metal, foam and more. He also creates some very cool (and affordable) lead airplanes, and is always, always surprising. Hank was one of the very few artists chosen for the 24th “New American Talent” at Arthouse’s Jones Center. The work was selected by New American Talent juror, Hamza Walker, Curator and Director of Education, The Renaissance Society, The University of Chicago.”
I met Hank when he was president of the Texas Society of Sculptors, and I was taking over as webmaster. We’ve both since moved on from our positions at TSOS, but we have stayed friends, and I designed his newest website. To see Hank’s fantastic and fun work, visit his site at: HankWaddell.com.
I just discovered this great blog post about an artist/craftsman named Wendell Castle at Emily Evans Eerdmans’ blog. Wendell Castle has been creating amazing furniture for over 50 years. He has ten “Adopted Rules of Thumb” for staying at the top of one’s creative game that I find very compelling:
If you are in love with an idea, you are no judge of its beauty or value.
It is difficult to see the whole picture when you are inside the frame.
After learning the tricks of the trade, don’t think you know the trade.
We hear and apprehend what we already know.
The dog that stays on the porch will find no bones.
Never state a problem to yourself in the same terms it was brought to you.
If it’s offbeat or surprising, it’s probably useful.
If you don’t expect the unexpected, you will not find it.
Don’t get too serious.
If you hit the bullseye every time, the target is too near.
To find out more about Wendell Castle, and view more of his amazing creations, visit his website at wendellcastle.com
I just learned that Ray Yoshida, one of the Chicago Imagists and one of my painting teachers at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, passed away this week.
I studied with him in an advanced painting studio for one semester: he once told me my work was “too sentimental.” (Thank goodness!).
I’m sad and very nearly speechless. So, let me just quote from the NYT article:
“He was very important to a lot of people there,” said Robert Storr, dean of the Yale University School of Art and a student of Mr. Yoshida in the mid-1970s in that school’s master of fine arts program. “As a teacher he was mysterious and witty. The mystery would draw you in, and then he would say something funny but with an edge that would make you think — kind of like his paintings.”
And the Chicago Tribune wrote a nice story on the life of Ray Yoshida (09-30-2010: which they have since removed).
But if you want to really get a sense of what it was like to have Ray for a teacher, artist Laurie Fendrich captured it beautifully.
That quote is from an interview with Matthew Ritchie.
Better yet, I found this wonderful post by Vera Mitchell about Matthew Ritchie:
His work takes a basic line and takes it farther in meaning, in space, and in motion. He enlarges the line design to get a reaction from the viewer. He makes a drawing three dimensional and becomes a transcriber to a gesture and retains the one idea to free it and make it live in the world. He is interested in filtering out all the noise of life and focusing in on what is important. I never thought about it this way, he says that if one thing has a story, then the millions of things we see everyday have a separate story, and if we tried to see them all at once then nothing is seen or noticed. We tune it out. What he is trying to do is try to see a bit more deeply into things. Not just what is on the surface.