River of Fundament: Matthew Barney

Yesterday Fisk and I spent our entire day at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as crowd extras for Matthew Barney's new work.  At times we had to sing songs and shout creative explicatives while standing on the steep steps of the dry dock, then we acted with anticipation, and then we acted excited to see Horace.  We walked in giant circles while chanting and delivering Horace into the water. It was weird, and it was fun, but mostly it was a long day. It was really neat to see Matthew Barney in the flesh working. At the end many people won prizes from a raffle, and everyone who participated went home with a shirt signed by Matthew Barney.  It was a fun experience, but I doubt I'll sign up for such a long commitment again. Luckily, I got a tan and no sunburn. 


Art & Fear; Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING. By David Bayles & Ted Orland

What makes this text so fruitful is it's open acknowledgement and discussion of the fear and doubt that is embedded into every aspect of being an artist.  Fear is not something that many people are good at talking about because of it's obvious (and false) associations with weakness.  Artists, like any professionals, are expected to be confident and knowledgable to the masses about the work that they make and are continually pressed from all sides to categorically fit into some universal idea of success when, for the most part, this idea does not exist. 

Divided into chapters like; Fears About Yourself, Fears About Others, and Finding Your Work, each explains the psychology about everyday decisions and fears that motivate or paralyze artists from making work.  Many times it felt as though the authors were trying to convince the artist to give up trying to win the affection of the general public, from Finding Your Work;

"Artists ( like everyone else) have a certain tendency to keep to their own compass heading even as the world itself veers off another direction.  When Columbus returned from the New World and proclaimed the earth was round, almost everyone else went right on believing the earth was flat.  Then they died - and the next generation grew up believing the world was round.  That's how people change their minds."

It is only in death do generations of people come around to understanding the relevancy of any particular part of culture.  Perhaps this is one explanation as to why Modern art remains so popular to the general public - the majority of people may still be catching up.  I don't mean to spread hate on the Modernists or people who enjoy Modernist work, I enjoy and respect their work for what it is, but I would be remiss if I didn't emphasize the importance of ideas behind many contemporary artists. 

From The Outside World,

"Most of what we inherit is so clearly correct it goes unseen.  It fits the world seamlessly.  It is the world.  But despite its richness and variability, the well-defined world we inherit doesn't quite fit each one of us, individually.  Most of us spend most of our time in other peoples' worlds- working at predetermined jobs, relaxing to pre-packaged entertainment- and no matter how benign this ready made world may be, there will always be times when something is missing or doesn't quite ring true.  And so you make your place in the world by making part of it- by contributing some new part to the set.  And surely one of the more astonishing rewards of art making comes when people make time to visit the world you have created.  Some, indeed, may even purchase a piece of your world and carry back and adopt as their own.  Each new piece of your art enlarges our reality.  This world is not yet done." 

The relevance of this paragraph lies in a few important areas.  It is made clear that pre-packaged experiences and worlds exist and, for the most part, people are satisfied with what already exists in the world.  However beautiful and enjoyable these experiences are, for artists, there will always be something about these experiences that feels awry- its this strange feeling that plummets and forces many people into the depths of art making.  Art making becomes the only aspect of reality that feels completely true for each artist. 

The tone of this paragraph is one of expanding imagination.  Artists are creating new worlds to help enlarge the cultural vocabulary of human reality.  The notion that an artist could be capable of such kind of creation, however small, is motivating.  It is this motivating aspect of the paragraph that leads one to believe that creating new realities is one of the highest forms of success for human culture.  It is ever the surprise that art continues to create new worlds despite it's continual process of appropriation and recycling. 


James Turrell @ the Guggenheim

James Turrell, Aten Reign, 2013
James Turrell, Aten Reign, 2013
Today is the opening of James Turrell's new work, so Fisk and I spent our Summer Soltice afternoon uptown at the Guggenheim.   We found some seats and stared up into another universe for an hour and a half before the Museum began to close.  

Initially your experience is one of awe, then your eyes adjust.  Sitting through one iteration of changing colors, one begins to feels mesmerized before another transition begins.  Fisk and I soon realized that there was little pattern in the transitioning color.  After about 15 minutes you begin to understand the subtlety of the changing colors.  It becomes more difficult to consider things like time or place when each wave of color alters your perspective so heavily. 

The guards were strict about the no photography rule, which is an honorable thing to be strict about, however futile it may be.  The internet already has quite of few images of this work.   It feels unimportant that guards are stopping people from taking photos because being there for longer than a few minutes one readily understands that this work in not one that a photo could ever capture.

The way this work pushes you through mental exploration, bizarre emotive transitions, and other worldly destinations, one knows that they are encountering a work of higher authority. 

Viewing this was an orgasm for your eyes that you may only see once in a lifetime.  To say that I highly recommended it would be the understatement of the Summer. 

James Turrell, Aten Reign, 2013. Daylight and LED light. Temporary site-specific installation, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York © James Turrell. Photo: David Heald © SRGF

James Turrell, Aten Reign, 2013

James Turrell, Aten Reign, 2013


Jennifer Wynne Reeves @ Brooklyn Art Space

Jennifer Wynne Reeves gave a small performance at Brooklyn Art Space last night.  She read some narrative/autobiographical short and emotional summaries alongside a 45 minute slide show of her work.  She had a few works from childhood and college, while the bulk of the work is from her more developed periods towards her present day art making. 

Many of her writings correlated directly to phrasing in her paintings.  The writings were somewhat sexual at times, while mostly being about losing love and the complicated nature of relationships. My favorite anecdote was when she described a spider who have decided to make it's web inside of her sink.  She gave the creature 24 hours before using a napkin to take the spider outside. 

This performance was enjoyable, as was seeing so many of her works.  The Q & A left a little to be desired- perhaps I was looking for too many specific answers.  One aspect of Reeves' work that I enjoy are her compositions, how some of them really seem to fit within modern ideas of formalism, while other compositions are more contemporary working entirely outside the rules of formalism.  I would have loved to hear more about how she thinks about editing, and how she thinks about creating such different compositions, though she only relented that most decisions are based on her mood. 

Altogether, another good talk from Brooklyn Art Space. 


Newest Paintings/Colorado/Moving

The last couple weeks have been busy, and I have - not surprisingly- burnt myself out enough to catch a terrible cold, which has given me the opportunity to think about how amazing it is to be healthy.  I hope to be at a healthy place soon!  All this activity is not without its reward, starting with, these quick five paintings that I finished in the tail end of my residency at Brooklyn Art Space. 

Hammer Monster, Acrylic on Canvas, 2013, 14x15 in.

Nar Monster, Acrylic on Canvas, 2013, 14x15 in.

Orca Monster, Acrylic on Canvas, 2013, 14x15 in.

Puss Monster, Acrylic on Canvas, 2013, 14x15 in.

Star Monster, Acrylic on Canvas, 2013, 14x15 in.
I was lucky to bring these works to the BAS critique earlier this month. I got some really good feedback about the speed of my work and pushing certain parts of my painting even further.  I'm sad that my residency at Brooklyn Art Space is done - but happy about the community of artists I met there. I'll definitely be participating in the critiques to come. 

What's made leaving BAS easier has been the surprise opportunity to attend an Unconventional Aesthetics course at Anderson Ranch in Colorado this July.  I've never been to the Aspen area, so I'm really looking forward to attend. 

This month I've moved in with Fisk, and it's been nothing but fun so far.  Much more fun things to come out of this Summer, I can tell.  As for now, more sleep and rest. 


Austin, TX: Blanton Museum of Art

Jorge Eielson, Quipus 58 B,1966-68

Adolph Gottlieb, Cadmium Red Above Black, 1959

Romulo Maccio, Vivir: A los saltos, 1964

Cildo Meireles

Yayoi Kusama, Japan, 1929

Detail of Progress II

Luis Jimenez, Progress II, 1976/1999

When in Austin, Fisk and I were lucky enough to enjoy some quiet time at the Blanton Museum of Art.  To our surprise, we found some really great works there.  Some people may have been surprised that we wanted to see art, coming from someplace like New York where great art is plentiful, but I just can't imagine a nice vacation without checking out local art.  The installation by Cildo Meireles was very exciting to walk through. The kind of light the pennies radiated was very captivating. To end our viewing, there was a fantastic video by Liliana Porter called, "Drum Solo". It featured a series of scenarios acted out by still life. It was my favorite work of art in the entire museum.  I am definitely keeping an eye for more work by this great artist. 

Liliana Porter


ARTHOUSE: Austin, Texas

Temporary Insanity: Pinaree Sanpitak 
I could tell that this installation was interactive from afar. The way the works were spaced onto the ground, lent themselves to be walked through quite easily.  Different sound decibals triggered motions in the pear shaped pillows allowing them to take on a life.  This movement for me, couldn't be separated from the many science fiction monster movies where hundreds of alien eggs scatter the ground of Madison Square Garden, breathing and waiting for someone to take a wrong step. From the artist statement, "For Sanpitak the meaning beyond the movement connects the individual with the collective, the spiritual with a sense of community and the world around us." The orange color of the Thai silk, a reference to clothing of Buddhist priests, promotes meditation.  I did not feel a strong spiritual connection between myself and the community, but the tranquility of the installation as well as the organic shapes of the sculptures did facilitate a peace of mind. 

 Constructed Lanscapes: Seher Shah
These black and white works with their stark black shapes against dense mapping created some fun games for your eyes to participate within.  The black shapes act as interruptions to the space, at the same time become places to rest from the active details in the grids and dense landscape below.  These works also felt incredibly formal, paying respect to composition, shape, as well as directionals.