Thursday, May 31, 2007

Earth Quake

Installation views of the Richter Scale at Pendleton.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Women in Art"

Someone sent me this video, marveling at the morph. And I did too.

But the subject title was confusing for me, because it said: Women in Art.I was thinking the video might be about women in the art field or women artists. They're on my mind. But it was women as the subject... duh!

...If you look at the many comments made on the site, you'll see that many people are complaining that there are no women of color in this montage. We've all got our own perspective on what we are looking at or for....

My question is: are any of these images made by women artists? Is there, for instance, a Mary Cassatt in there?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Andrea Arroyo

(interview mp3 here)

My first guest on this new radio venture is someone who has covered a lot of ground and a lot of bases: Andrea Arroyo, presently showing at the Arthaus in San Francisco.

She is exhibiting on one coast while living on another (New York, to be exact). She was born in Mexico and creates imagery influenced by that culture, inspired by Pre-Columbian art and Mexican mural design. She’s made more than one kind of crossover, too, as she was a dancer before a visual artist.

Arroyo has worked in a myriad of mediums throughout her art career: painting and graphics, public art and set design. She’s done a lot. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker. The Next Wave Festival at BAM commissioned her set designs. You can see her stuff in the transit system of Manhattan.

Plus she must be an invigorating role model, as she was once named Outstanding Latina of the Year by El Diario and also, the official artist for the 7th Annual Latino Grammy Awards. I understand she has an interesting story of how she came to the States.

And then there are the recent paintings, which is what I came across first. It just seemed to me that a show called Women Who Fly, based on characters out of history and mythology, might be a good candidate for an art podcast on a women’s network.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Coagula/ Mat Gleason

Each month two boxes of Coagula arrive on my doorstep, sent to me by the editor Mat Gleason. And so in a fashion, I am the Coagula PDX missionary, dropping off copies at PNCA and PSU and wherever else I might go.

I think I saw the journal years ago, but it was during a trip to NYC in 2005 that it really caught my eye. There I was in Ronald Feldman, coming across what looked to be a gen-u-wine art fanzine from LA, snarl intact. Cool.

The ever-star-struck writings of Baird Jones grabbed me right away, as I used to go to a lot of his parties. This was probably twenty years ago and unbelievably, he still puts on these sort-of art parties and events in NYC - funded, in part, by alcohol companies (or so it appears). It seems like he had met everyone and remembered all their confessions.

Mat not only edits Coagula and writes a blog, but also does his own podcasts at Artscene.

Friday, May 25, 2007


The number one word and image to drive traffic to my site has nothing to do with art, my own or anyone else’s. It also doesn’t refer to the name of my site or an artist or any of the activities there.

It’s “succulents.” The word sends me the most visitors (when it comes to a search).

Succulents still intrigue me and yesterday I bought a bunch more for a hot place in front of the house. They keep evolving all year, a glorious crescendo during the spring and summer and then, become spent and dried, but usually not dead.

Late May is the time of peonies. We had 24 blooms this year of Coral Charm, above. They start out nearly hot pink but will become an antique yellow over time. And immense.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Art People

In 2002, when I started talking to artists at KPSU, there was such a need for any kind of art coverage. There weren’t so many blogs back then or the profusion of voices we have now.

At the time my big concern was the artist, front and center. I felt they did not have a lot of power (that hasn’t really changed either!). Pals told me that they were not very empowered in our how their art life played out.

An artist quipped one day: “I’m at the bottom of the food chain.” I was a little taken back at the brutal claim (and it turns out she was talking about her medium, not just being an artist, so there’s a hierarchy even within the visual arts). She was making all this work and did not know how the hell to get it out there - so I was like: “Let’s hear what the artist has to say!”

Five years passed and while doing that show, I worked at exhibition spaces, getting a crash course on what other people in the art world were doing (the gallerist, the curator, the writer, etc.). Being on the other side of the desk let me see and value what these people were doing. It was almost weird to see myself become an advocate for the gallerist, as opposed to the artist, but let’s just say that advocacy grew as I understood how the art object made its way to us.

Many of these art people do not make much (or any) money for what they do and what they do, basically, is help facilitate the works and dreams of others. This is not to say that the job needs no sense of self however!

Julie Bernard at KBOO handled her show like this from the start – she was always as interested in the director of a museum as much as an artist. It took me years to see that she was right.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

vive chrome

Pendleton: long stretches of emptiness filled with blue and gold. The linear quality of no mountains (and no skyscrapers) on the horizon is just so overwhelming. I saw many variations across it, light like I rarely see - because there is no place to put it, no sky here (or New York) to hold the light.

But there, nothing stands in its way. The sky is like a blanket wrapped around you, like the ones they make in that town, only beyond measure. There can be no coincidence about the blanket and pattern making going on there – it comes from above.

My squares and rectangles are the boxes of color known as the sky.

Color for me is an unavoidable fact of life, but some are not convinced. This hit home in a recent discussion at Art and Perception. Steve Durbin wanted to know if there was such a thing as Chromophobia. I felt it more than knew it, in how the term ‘colorist’ was thrown my way in New York when I first arrived.... and it didn’t sound very good.

But I really didn’t think the work was ‘about’ color per se. Sure, I used chartreuse with orange and purple, but I just thought of it as paint! Dumb, huh?

The thread eventually got into ‘whiteness,’ and as I noted, I have a friend who is not automatically giving over to the supposedly assured heaviness of it. As an example, she is way over Robert Ryman. She thinks he’s got a great scam going and she is, BTW, a fan of minimalism. I was almost kind of shocked, because the man is like a god.

Some days the world in my studio is red. Some days it is blue. But a day is a hell of a lot easier on me than when I made Beam and all those 48 inch squares. My world was yellow for two months with Beam (see above). That was a not easy, especially as it was winter. I tried to make the sun in a basement.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Andru Layke

Recently someone breezed through my office and without knowing at all the context for this piece of work, or who the artist was, declared: “This is really, really great.”

It was the first work I ever saw of this artist, when I attended his exhibition at the Night Gallery in London in 1978. The piece was poster-size, I recall, black swastikas, the Kill Kill Kill is blood red. Perhaps you can discern a soldier, which was in green, running across the mid-field, but this soldier had a sort of martial-arts flair to him. I’m pretty sure the stripes on the side were red, white and blue, but I’ve looked this tiny postcard for so much longer than the original piece – I can’t say for sure.

The show really knocked me out - here was someone doing what I was only dreaming about at this time: making very clear art statements for my generation, our music and for the place and moment we were at (which still felt very post-war Britain). The artist was so young but had this complete, well-conceived and executed solo exhibition in London and doing it all, as they say, his way. I was so lucky to become friends with him.

This postcard was out in view because I’m attempting to gather the various works, missives and photographs I have of Andru Layke. I wrote about him here previously as Andi Septic, the name he had when I first met him.

Turns out he kept Layke as his name. I have now learned more about him, as family members have been writing me a bit since that post. We’re both learning, as I guess Andru was a bit of a mystery.

And an incredibly talented man. Not just an artist, he designed fabulous gear during at least the New Romantic era in London, after perfecting the look fostered by Vivienne Westwood (see Andru above, circa ’78). But he was also a wonderful writer. I kept every single letter he sent me and I’m no natural packrat. Plenty gets thrown out, but all of Andi’s letters were works of art, plus so much fun to read!

As the plague roared on in the 80s and early 90s, I often thought of him. We had lost touch and I was afraid there was a big reason why. He is no longer with us, and now that I know that, I just had to add something more to his memory. His work and his friendship are treasured.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

the kids have something to say

I forgot how clear and hot and dry Oregon can be. Over the weekend I delivered my show to the Pendleton Center for the Arts, leaving the grey and green behind for the purple and orange that is Eastern Oregon.

Roberta Lavadour is a multi-talented woman. She makes art and also directs this exhibition space. And it’s more than just that, because all kinds of community events happen there. She’s curating, writing extensively, installing. I couldn’t help but notice, too, what great people skills she has. She’s really interested in everyone who walks through the door.

People were in and out of that space while I was there, picking up work from a previous group show. Whenever there are kids around, I always get a lot of spontaneous response. “I’m getting dizzy,” said one, over and over again – not to me, but to everyone else. I knew what she was talking about! This reminded me of another show, when the other artists were all parents (or knew parents) and lots of children came. While these kids were not “my crowd,” they were all eventually dancing in front of my work.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

wall of paint

There is an artist I love most of all. I consider him the best and many others agree.

Yet one day he told me he got really depressed. The way he said it, I knew it was true. He also once told me that he knew every pain and hurt as regards painting that one could feel. This was after I revealed to him that despite whatever insistent, vibratory joy one may detect in my work, I’ve experienced a lot of hurt in my life as a painter.

And yes, I experience it in a way I do not with say, photomontage. Maybe it’s the level of expectation and history. The wall of paint is like a Berlin Wall sometimes, this massive will of brutal history. It’s funny to think of it that way too, I know, because so much of the world just thinks it’s all about beauty, pleasure or aesthetics. And I’m not saying that those three things aren’t paramount either.

But if you are the one who gave your life to paint, the reality of it is so much more beyond how the paint gets across the universe (I was going to say canvas, but it’s much bigger than that!). We have really good days within what can be difficult years.

This all came up to me today because I was reading the exchange at Tire Shop, about individual struggles and doubts when it comes to handing your life over to this, especially in retrospect. One day you’re no longer young. You’re not just faced with the money issue, but also constantly measure the worth of your sacrifice/achievement (since everyone else is, if you’re lucky).

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Art Podcasts

When art people found out about Artstar Radio, they would often ask me: “Who else is doing such a thing?” Well, Julie Bernard at KBOO has me beat by at least 15 years! Still, there just wasn’t much in the way of art-driven radio.

Until we had the Internet. If I google art podcasts, the cup runs over. They are all over the country now. Some are very local in interest; some come from those who travel enough to be almost like an art tourist guide.

I’ve got to say, I am very impressed with the empire Jen Graves is building at The Stranger. She’s got a weekly interview podcast going, her regular stories and constant updates on the Slog. She’s covering art there in a way I don’t see in Portland at all.

Then again, Steven Vroom has had his Art Radio Seattle streaming out of Seattle (now at 911) long before Jen. Every week Steven gives art news from all over the world. There’s also Bad at Sports, which covers Chicago. I found Art a GoGo by Kathlee and Doug, a couple who chat about art in an easy way. ArtScene Visual Radio comes out of Southern California. Of course WPS1 is famous for their podcasts. This is the tip of the iceberg.

I didn’t find any that let the listeners call in with questions or comments, if they are listening live. This is an option I am hoping to build with The Art World, my next show. Not every guest will want this, but some will. Soon I will have a webpage built for the show, with a schedule and links to the work of the guests.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Pissed-Off Gene

In the 80s, I knew all these hip hairdressers getting swept up in EST. One of them told me about some forum they went to, where they learned about moving a chair. In one exercise you “Try to move the chair.” And so a struggle ensues. Then you “Move the chair” - and of course it happens without a thought. While I never bothered to learn about EST, that entire exercise I have always remembered, a focus on doing as opposed to over-thinking and pathetically trying.

Someone turned me on to a very smart bit of writing at Gaping Void: How to be Creative. It is absolutely the best time for me to read this, because transition can be really uncomfortable. In theory, art people love risk, but in reality, we have something invested in the status quo - our routine and certitude. We’re sensitive too, and so we can actually get depressed over doing new things. There's that book The Shock of the New but it could have also been The Doubt of the New, in how it occurs in the everyday reality.

I don’t even know where to start with the gems, so I won’t. Read the whole thing. (I did, however, love his stance on our universal “Pissed Off Gene.” I am so glad someone cherishes it like I do.)