A Visit to the “About Face” Exhibit at the Blanton Museum

Chuck Close Self-Portrait, 1999 Relief etching
Chuck Close Self-Portrait, 1999 Relief etching

Yesterday we checked out the “About Face” portrait exhibit at the Blanton Museum.  Another great exhibit!  For exhibits like this that are (more or less) chronological, we try to start our viewing at the end, or the latest works and work our way backward in time.  I usually enjoy viewing contemporary works the most, as I haven’t seen as many of them, and they are more relevant to my own work.

I absolutely love all works by Chuck Close.  He’s one of the painters that I contemplate often when I am about to start a painting session.  I love how his portraits are made up of tiny abstract shapes, and how interesting all those shapes are, and how much fun it is to see a progression of the various shapes within the portrait—more fun when the work is in color, but almost more interesting in black and white.  I keep wondering how I could incorporate shapes like his into my abstract paintings.  (Does it even make sense?  Maybe I should paint little representational shapes that make up a larger abstract work.)

Byron Kim | Synecdoche, 1991-1998 | Oil and wax on twenty panels
Byron Kim | Synecdoche, 1991-1998 | Oil and wax on twenty panels

I was thrilled to see the work “Synecdoche” by Byron Kim, which consists of oil and wax on twenty panels, and are portraits in the sense that each panel is the base skin color of each of twenty models that he found on the UT campus; thus the title, “Synecdoche” (a figure of speech in which a part represents the whole).  These twenty panels are in a way part of a larger work, or kind of a synecdoche within a synecdoche, the larger work now owned by the National Gallery of Art.  The larger work has been shown at such museums as the Tate and MOMA, which has a link to a nice video explanation by Byron Kim.

Oliver Herring | Patrick, 2004 | Foam core, museum board, digital C-print photographs, and polystyrene
Oliver Herring | Patrick, 2004 | Foam core, museum board, digital C-print photographs, and polystyrene

<– This sculpture made up of photographs by Oliver Herring amazes me. Kind of like David Hockney in 3D.  đź™‚

The oil painting by Jim Torok below is only about 4″ x 3″ — awesomely done and really requires close viewing!  I’m trying to imagine the numbers of hairs in the brushes he must have used.

The portrait by Robert Henri is a long-time favorite of mine; I can stare for hours at almost any of his paintings, and his portraits are particularly amazing.

It is also great to see again the “Portrait of George Gershwin in a Concert Hall” by David Alfaro Siqueiros, which is also a portrait of dozens of audience members.

So much great work, so little time to talk about it, so go to the Blanton and see this show yourselves, if you can.  It’s up through September 4th.  There are rooms and rooms of paintings from present-day back to the 14th century.  I took photos of many of the ones that I found compelling, which you can see in the gallery below.

“Rivers” at Wally Workman

Ryan Coover's River Blooms II, 2011 at Wally Workman Gallery
Ryan Coover’s River Blooms II, 2011 at Wally Workman Gallery

Last weekend, we finally made it out to Wally Workman Gallery to see the group show “Rivers.”  So much excellent work!  I was particularly interested in seeing two paintings by Ryan Coover, which were whimsical abstractions that seemed to contain microscopic life seen up a little closer.  His two larger paintings were both beautiful and fascinating.

I also really enjoyed the wonderful luminous colors in the large and small abstract oil paintings by Joyce Howell, and the lovely large worlds created by Saliha Staib.  Neighbor Jennifer Balkan’s paintings are always a delight to view; I love her hunky application of paint!

Well, instead of reading my blatherings about how much I enjoyed all of the work in the show, why don’t you check out these photos I took of some of the paintings there:

Or view far better photos on the Wally Workman blog, where you can also find out more about all the artists and their work.

Pictures from the Davis Gallery and the Blanton Museum, 12-2010

wood sculpture of Caprice Pierucci

My brother visited Austin last December, and my husband and I took him on a sightseeing tour of several great places around Austin, including a couple of places to see art.

One day, we made it over to the Davis Gallery to see the really awesome wood sculpture of Caprice Pierucci. Her work really blows me away. It’s both very labor-intensive and very organic in appearance. I love the undulations and how she makes wood appear so fluid!  Take a look:

Here’s a good little review of the whole show in the Chronicle.

Davis Gallery

Caprice Pierucci

The next day we headed over to the Blanton to see the “Turner to Monet: Masterpieces from The Walters Art Museum” exhibit, which was slightly underwhelming.  But then we headed up to the second floor to view the American and Contemporary galleries.  A lot of wonderful humongous works and a few interesting and even awesome installations.

I was hoping to see a piece by Byron Kim titled “Synedoche,” that I had seen years ago.  It’s a 20-panel piece that is composed essentially of portraits of 20 people randomly encountered on the UT campus—but each panel is a solid color— the color of their skin, representing the whole person (hence the title), with the group of painted panels representing the larger population.  I’ve seen another larger portion of this project, which I thought I saw here in Austin, and which has even more impact.   The initial work received a lot of acclaim in the 1993 Whitney Biennial.  There is a 400-panel iteration of this at the National Gallery that I would really love to see in person.

Unfortunately, this was not on display during our brief visit to the Blanton, but here is a group of photos I shot from the Contemporary galleries there.  For artists and explanations of the work, you really owe it to yourself to go to the Blanton and take a look yourself.  Many of these pieces become even more interesting when you find out the motivation and intent behind their creation.

The Blanton

Oranges and Sardines at the Armand Hammer Museum

Painting by Mary Heilmann "Blood on the Tracks" 2005
Painting by Mary Heilmann “Blood on the Tracks” 2005

Today I mapped out about 4 different exhibits I wanted to get to, and they weren’t necessarily that far from each other (Westwood, Hollywood, and Santa Monica); but we got going too late, and had to return to Pasadena too early to be able to fit in more than one of them, especially considering LA traffic (1 hour to get there; 1.5 hours to get back; how do people stand it out there?).

The first (and last) place we made it to was the Armand Hammer Museum, which I am now officially declaring to be my favorite museum in LA. Every show we’ve seen there has been fantastic. OK, well, that may not apply if you’re primarily interested in viewing only Impressionist works or art from previous centuries. But for me and Terry, the shows at the A.H. tickle our art-appreciation bits the most.

Continue reading “Oranges and Sardines at the Armand Hammer Museum”

Cut Paper Exhibit at the Vincent Price Art Museum

Cut Paper Exhibit at the Vincent Price Art Museum

One of the art exhibits I really wanted to see while in LA, based on my pre-trip research, was the “Cut: Makings of Removal” exhibit at the Vincent Price Museum at East Los Angeles College.

It did not disappoint. In fact, I was quite blown away. All of the work is created with paper cut by the hand of the artist. The variety of work was delightfully surprising.

What had really drawn me to the exhibit was an installation of hanging paper by Chris Natrop. Delicate vines of cut white paper hung from the ceiling in a small space of maybe 8’x8′ and gave one the sensation of entering a magical paper garden.


Artist Adam Fowler assembled what seemed to be dozens of thin layers of geometrically cut out circular shapes in this piece and another, much larger piece.

Adam Fowler, 6x4

These “plastic” chairs may look like a crazy stack of actual chairs, but they are in fact photographs of chairs attached to foam core and then arranged, by Dana Maiden.

Dana Maiden

I stepped around this beautiful work by Deb Whistler.

Deb Whistler

Desi Minchillo had at least two large works of tiny cut paper bits assembled into thought-provoking pieces. This one is called “Embattled Icons and Faded Ideals.”

Desi Minchillo, Embattled Icons and Faded Ideals

Artist Jane South had several large pieces, such as this one, that reminded me of the infrastructure under amusement park rides.

Jane South

The works of Justin Pearce combined cosmic drawings, like tattoos, on the bodies of cut-out figures.

Justin Pearce, Pantheon

I have to say the work of Leigh Salgado was probably my favorite. These huge pieces hang away from the wall a bit and are very intricately cut — yes, Virginia, everything there that looks like a hole in lace is indeed a hole, hand-cut by the artist. The subtle coloration is scrumptious, and the way the light shining through the holes creates shadows on the wall behind makes for an even more complex and compelling image.

Leigh Salgado, Church Lady's Rapturous Veiled Hat

“Church Lady’s Rapturous Veiled Hat” by Leigh Salgado

Leigh Salgado, Mirror Mirror

“Mirror, Mirror” by Leigh Salgado

These three pieces by Noriko Ambe will probably end up affecting my work the most. I really love the stratification she creates through the layers of cuts in the paper and the book.

Noriko Ambe

Noriko Ambe

Noriko Ambe, Charleston Black Smith

Teresa Redden had three tiny pieces — one cube, one cylinder, and one cone, created from itty bitty teensy tiny circles of cut paper interwoven together like chainmail. I really do not see how she did it unless she has hands the size of a fairie’s. Quite remarkable, and the photos I took do not do these pieces justice. At all!

Teresa Redden, Cone

This was another amazing work, by Yuken Teruya, made from a shopping bag. The artist cut and folded inward the tree shapes from the bag.

Yuken Teruya

Here’s a shot of the top of the bag:

Yuken Teruya

There was actually a lot more gorgeous and amazing work at that show. Terry and I were both quite impressed with all the work and thrilled that we were able to see it.

Duchamp and More at The Norton Simon Museum

Painting by Helen Frankenthaler "Adriatic" 1968
Painting by Helen Frankenthaler “Adriatic” 1968

Just a week after the East Austin Studio Tour ended (my last big art event for the year), we took another vacation out to LA to visit my husband’s elderly parents.

On our first day there, we met up with my friend Patri and proceeded to the Norton Simon Museum. Well, we did a kind of a whirlwind tour there. We had gone for the Marcel Duchamp Redux show, which was quite a tiny show. It was literally a copy of a show they had had there decades earlier. They had mostly prints of about 14 pieces from the earlier 1963 show, all in one small room.

More exciting to me were a few pieces from the post-painterly abstract painters Sam Francis and Helen Frankenthaler; especially the Frankenthaler piece (pictured here), which was a huge, all orange stain painting (orange — my favorite color! So exciting!!!).  Here is a snippet of a quote I copied from the gallery card for this painting: “What concerns me is — did I make a beautiful picture?” Well, I’d have to say emphatically, YES! I think (I’m afraid) I have similar sensibilities, whether that be good or not so good these days. What can I say?

Richard Diebenkorn - Bottles
Painting by Richard Diebenkorn “Bottles” 1960

There were some other great pieces in the room, “Tall Figure IV” by Giacometti; “Three Standing Figures,” 1953, by Henry Moore; “Untitled,” 1962-63 by Robert Irwin; 1947, “Horseman,” by Marino Marini; and “Bottles,” 1960, by Diebenkorn (pictured on the right). And more, but I didn’t have a chance to take any more names or notes.

We spent a few minutes looking at some of their Impressionist collection — admiring the perfect yellow Van Gogh had used to paint a straw hat and a tree (2 different works), a couple of pieces of Cezanne’s, including one of his fantastic tulips paintings, and at least one Monet.

We also peered at the “On the Enlightened Path: Jain Art from India”; “Ruth Weisberg: Guido Cagnacci and the Resonant Image”; “Under the Influence: Art-Inspired Art”; and “The Art of War: American Posters from World War I and World War II” — the poster art exhibit in particular which was really quite fascinating.

Song Kun at the Hammer Museum

Painting by Song Kun It's My Life 05-08-31 2005 Oil on canvas. 10 5/8 x 13 3/4 in. (27 x 35 cm)
Painting by Song Kun It’s My Life 05-08-31 2005 Oil on canvas. 10 5/8 x 13 3/4 in. (27 x 35 cm) Courtesy of UniversalStudios-Beijing, Beijing, China

Several great exhibits at the Hammer Museum

Today, our final day in LA, we headed over to the Hammer Museum to see Eden’s Edge: Fifteen LA Artists: Ginny Bishton, Mark Bradford, Liz Craft, Sharon Ellis, Matt Greene, Elliott Hundley, Stanya Kahn & Harry Dodge, Monica Majoli, Matthew Monahan, Rebecca Morales, Lari Pittman, Ken Price, Jason Rhoades, Anna Sew Hoy, and Jim Shaw.

Death Rider (Virgo) by Liz Craft
“Death Rider (Virgo)” by Liz Craft
New Moon and Palm Trees by Sharon Ellis
“New Moon and Palm Trees” by Sharon Ellis.

On our way out, we almost missed a small show by emerging Chinese painter Song Kun, who filled a small gallery with 97 daily paintings of her life…fabulous! Her work ranges from part drawn, partly painted canvases to fully realized and very well-done representational works to a number of blank canvases. At first, I took one quick pass through the gallery, intending that to be it; then went back and looked at each painting more closely, then went back again, by this time fully drawn into her mesmerizing paintings. This was my favorite art of all that I’ve seen on this coastal trip!

Museums in Balboa Park, San Diego

Sculpture in Balboa Park Cafe

We spent a couple of days in San Diego; one whole day at Balboa Park. The first museum we came to was the Museum of Living Artists, so of course, we had to check that out. They had a show of local artists responding to the Dead Sea Scrolls (which are currently showing at the Museum of Natural History).

Good show, similar in some ways to an AVAA show. For a local show, I was impressed by the number of strong and thoughtful pieces. There were many interesting responses to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

There was a beautiful abstract called Mosaic #6 by Jane Fletcher, the prettiest piece in the show, and a very funny piece called “The Dead Sea Squirrels” by Hank Gross. There was a very interesting Torah-photo sculpture by Art Ferber, and a thoughtful piece called “What Every Household Needs” by Nanette Newbry that printed the entire Patriot Act in something like 1pt. type on a metal plate.

Sculpture Garden at Balboa ParkCheryl Sorg, in a piece titled “Bodies I Have in Mind, and How They Can Change to Assume New Shapes,” created a piece that encompassed I think all of the text of Ovid’s Metamorphosis, each line of tiny text cut out and arranged in concentric shapes morphing from a circle of text to a butterfly, each shaped piece about 24” in diameter and encased between sheets of plastic. Another notable piece was called “Scroll and Palimpsest” by Bob Simpson – a 13 panel long mixed media piece on plywood that beautifully incorporated marks that resembled writings with drawing and painting.

There was a pretty groovy mixed media piece called “Sheep” by Wendy Kwasny-Bowen and a beautiful large oriental style scroll piece called “Waves in Conversation” by Rosemary Kimball, a nice small piece called “Fish Legend” by Meredith Cummings, and several other very nice or very thoughtful pieces, like “The Scroll That Never Ends” by Robert Collie, a digital piece about all the soldiers we’ve lost in Iraq.

There were also two featured artists with many works on display: Jo-Lind Eckstein and Claire-Lise Matthey Anderegg. They both did work that ranged from small to medium-large, and the work was layered and very richly textured. I loved both of their styles very much.

Next, we went to the Museum of Art and saw a few small rooms of paintings from Ingres to Frantisek Kupka and the surrealists. I really loved the Kupka piece! His work was apparently so avant-garde at the time, even the avant-garde didn’t get it. When asked what his work represented, he responded “Must then a work of art represent something?”

Sculpture Garden at Balboa Park

There was also a nice, elaborate show of Impressionist Artists of Giverny – lots of beautiful paintings by some of the apparently 350 artists painting around there at that time, including of course Monet, and also Frieseke, plus many I have never before heard of.

Finally, the cafe had some wonderful sculptures within, and outside was a great sculpture garden. The sculptures shown here are all from the cafe and sculpture garden. Link to the Balboa Park Gardens and Museums.

Tim Hawkinson’s Zoopsia and Uberorgan at The Getty Museum

The Uberorgan by Tim Hawkinson at the Getty Museum

Today we went to the Getty Museum to see the Uberorgan by Tim Hawkinson. We arrived just in time for the hourly musical performance. It is very cool — pipes, bladders, tubes and horns made out of industrial materials, a 250-foot-long scroll with black dots and dashes that create the score, and a device that electronically reads the marks and turns them into sounds.

Then we went to see his other pieces – Zoopsia.  There was a huge octopus made with photographs of the artist’s mouth as suckers; a flying bat made from used black plastic bags; a huge calligraphic dragon painted in the Chinese style on a large brown kraft paper, but my favorite was a display of what seemed to be the skeletal remains of the vertebrae of a dinosaur, but each vertebral “bone” was formed out of a tiny man with ribs as oars. The whole thing was made out of Sculpey!  Brilliant.

Then we checked out the exhibition of Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère — I’ve always loved this piece but hadn’t given thought to the strangeness of the reflection in the mirror behind the bar before.  Read up about it at this link to the Getty’s exhibit of this.

We also looked at the European Drawings on view.

There was a nice large show of Weston photos and some very large current photos by Luc Delahaye.

And there were some very nice sculptures outside, such as the one pictured here by Magritte.  See more photos from the Getty Museum below.

Delusions of Grandeur by Rene Magritte
Rene Magritte (Belgian) 1898-1967 Delusions of Grandeur (Bronze) 1967 Gift of Fran and Ray Stark

The MOCA in LA…

Nancy Rubins’s Chas’ Stainless Steel Mark Thompson’s Airplane Parts
Pictured: Nancy Rubins’s Chas’ Stainless Steel Mark Thompson’s Airplane Parts About 1000 Pounds of Stainless Steel Wire Gagosian’s Beverly Hills Space at MOCA (2001/2002)

Whenever we vacation in LA (to visit my husband’s father and his wife) I always try to see as much art as possible.

Sculpture at the MOCASo we made a new plan to go to the MOCA downtown. As it happened, they were installing a new show, so they only had a couple of rooms of art to view. The sculpture above, made of crashed airplane parts (if I remember right), and the figure on the right (with live birds) were in the courtyard outside the museum.

I had researched in advance to find some compelling exhibits, but once here, I sadly discovered that the painter I so much wanted to see at the ACE Gallery, David Amico, was not in fact showing there.

Inside were fabulous sculptures and drawings by LA artist Matthew Monahan. His sculptures are conglomerations of all sorts of materials, including sheetrock and wax, but we really enjoyed the heads he so beautifully drew and then folded into head shapes, sort of like origami — very beautifully done!

MOCA Focus: Matthew Monahan