Friday, June 29, 2007

paint and montage


Is there any connection between my photomontages and paintings? Some years, yes - but in most years – there appears to be not much tying them together.

About 20 - 25 years ago I made collages which were abstract, based on the Russian Avant Garde. I never showed them – they were more like short poems I could tack on my source wall, things to look at. Because they were made just for me, they became something I could never toss, even though there is nothing special about them. I still have a few of these seemingly insignificant bits and pieces of paper stashed away in portfolios.



Lately I have been sort of going back to those forms but in different ways, and this time, they feel more connected to the paintings I make. The route to this idea was to nearly stop painting, first of all! For two weeks, I did not paint and I am still painting less as I montage more. Some of the ideas I was addressing in paint came to the table of paper.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hatshepsut


Last year the Met hosted a show on Hatshepsut, something I lusted to see. The woman, so ambitious she sported a beard to get her point across, has always been of interest and adoration for me.

Her death has been a mystery for centuries, her mummy nowhere to be found. Her male relatives did their best to erase her from history too. One website said she was …"not popular and many of her monuments were defaced after her rule…” Gee, I wonder why.

But now recently her mummy (and all its entrails in jars) has been found. Turns out she was not murdered by the jealous men around her, but died fat and sassy. I always loved her temple, made of the living rock.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Interview with Jen Bekman

(interview archive mp3)

Jen Bekman is doing so much that it was not that easy knowing where to start with the interview. Most probably know her for her gallery on Spring Street, which focuses on emerging artists and often photography (but not exclusively). The gallery has a blog in which she writes a lot about photography and the various projects she’s up to.

Projects - like Hey Hot Shot! - a quarterly competition which Bekman initiated. It debuts ten new talented photographers to the public four times a year with dedicated shows. Another project is 20 x 200, a way for emerging artists to get their works to new collectors.

Ms. Bekman also writes Personism, which is where I originally found her, filled with all sorts of useful information. It was actually the post on Women Speakers for your Conference which drew my initial interest. I loved the post and what others had to say.

It took me awhile to backtrack and find out how this idea even began – a conference on creativity happened, with a panel of 28 speakers and none were female. The conference defended themselves by saying that women were invited (yeah, Cindy Sherman. I guess she MIGHT be busy!), but none could make it. Ms. Bekman said: “Try harder.”

Presently her gallery has an exhibition called A New American Portrait which she curated along with Jörg Colberg.

(The interview is this coming Wednesday, 3PM PST.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Linder


Yesterday the New York Times reviewed an exhibition at P.S. 1 by Linder. This is an exhibition I would love to see by a photomontage artist close to my heart.

Don’t know her – didn’t even know Linder was a she for years. I should have known Linder was a she, with all the messing of the body politic and the daily domestic grind.

All I know is that when I came across The Secret Public in London, a slick yet raucous fanzine this artist published in 1978, I knew I had come across something very special. I still have this magazine and while I’ve collected my share of fanzines, very few (if any?) have reached the level of excellence The Secret Public did. (Or maybe it's personal, the way her images just burned themselves into my art brain.)

Linder made work for the Buzzcocks, one of my favorite bands. And when I say favorite, I don’t just mean music. Also style – Buzzcocks had a ton and Linder made a huge contribution in her cut-up, constructed way.

The critic, Martha Schwendener, brings up a couple of things to grate on my nerves, though only faintly. She wonders why Linder did not make art for awhile, in the era of the 80s and 90s. Gee, got a few hours? I wonder what kind of stories the artist might tell - of how life intervened, maybe without support or adoration.

Also, Ms. Schwendener positions Linder alongside Siouxsie and Lydia Lunch, calling them a “corrective to punk” and its male posturing. No, I would say that the original punk was already an in-your-face, woman-powered corrective; Siouxie and Linder were no second-wave new-wave. What the genre became later, that’s another story - but the originals were gender-bending, Glam-influenced and there were plenty of females there. Linder was one of those.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Interview with Chris Ashley


(interview mp3)

On the 20th my guest on Art World will be Chris Ashley. I only met him recently in Portland, as he’s showing at Chambers. I’ve already written a bit about that show here and there.

Ashley makes paintings and drawings and he writes extensively in this blog. He also makes drawings via HTML. All of the works interplay. He is also currently showing in Luxe, Calme et Volupte at the Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta.

I’m not the only interviewer around either. Here he is with Vincent Romaniello and also, at Thinking About Art.

Anonymity

“I’m tired of all the anonymous comments. You’re all snarky and you say these nasty things - who are you?”

…This post was going to be about why I like a name behind a comment or post. But certain pressing realities came into play as I tried to follow what is happening over at Zeke’s Gallery.

He is having legal problems. I don’t know all the details - some posts were deleted. From what I can glean, someone did not like what he wrote - or what he allowed in the comments. Now he’ll be in court this week. His blog might be shut down – maybe his gallery too.

And I was just about to hail all those who speak their minds with a name behind it. But it can be tricky to be you. Unless of course you only have nice things to say!

On the anonymous angle, some sites could never exist without it. The beloved Anonymous Female Artist is on top of the list.

On the other hand, there is a difficult-to-measure veracity of any anonymous online statement. Context matters. Who are they/ what do they do/ what else are they liking/ not liking, as they hand down the verdict? And so I would like to say that I admire those with a name behind the text (like Nancy Baker, quoted above).

Whatever they write is measured against what they have contributed otherwise (like their art, their collaborations, how they help others). If every art show and every piece of art has context and is measured against it, then text and opinion has context too. Talk but no walk is easy to dismiss, yet aggravating too.

When I first got on the Internet, I, like so many, was someone else besides myself. This got boring. We earn our life and enough of that already gets dismissed. I don’t need to do it too! - This of course has a shitload of downsides. You can get sick of your life - what others so impolitely call baggage.

(That word actually came into the conversation when I was trying to advise an artist I was showing. It was about price and when I gave him some of my experiences, he told me to not bring my baggage into it. Fun!)

Sometime during my stint at Artstar, I did a show called “Be an Anonymous Art Critic.” I gave people a chance to bark. And they did. The inception of the show was basically a reaction, on my part, to so many politically correct responses on the air. The off-air conversations were often much more lively. But if I were to do it all over again, well, I don’t think I would. Maybe it’s just the view from 2007. It’s easier and easier to pass judgments while not having to be forthcoming about yourself.

Friday, June 15, 2007

studies


Bring on those lazy hazy crazy days of summer. I had a class on the history of rock n roll and the final was yesterday. The Pendleton show comes down tomorrow and then it’s down to radio, art making and dog school for the summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

navigate

"...You CANNOT blink in this profession. You cannot show weakness, insecurity or failure. Every experience must be spun into something that makes your little ole ass look brilliant....But that is the game in a world where everyone is applying for a new job every day..."

(Nancy Baker's interview here)

I’m done with Nancy’s blog, with re-reading included. But I’m not going to be able to bring up every little thing which touched me, which coincided with my own view or experience. I swear, she and I have practically written the same words. But hers were online, whereas most of mine are in the torrid pages of my 134 notebooks of a paper diary.

Nancy gives several recounts on the shameless act of self-promotion. Like her, I thought that if I just made good work and kept the nose to the grindstone, this was all I needed to do. This is what I did in New York – really stupid!

Because I had to be nice to people all day long in my retail day job, I just didn’t have the will for it at night. Even recently, I wondered what the options were as regards the rounds of promotion (for others, if not for myself). My generation was not very well trained in this area.

But people wonder why you are not saying that you’re the best. No shit. They’ll think that something’s wrong. No one wants to pick a loser. It’s up to us to say “it’s a winner” and the whole affair can nauseate.

It’s not that I doubt my own work, which is amazingly where people go when I tell them how I feel about this part of the “career.”

It’s the system I doubt, always did. I just don’t believe it catches everything, knows everything, can project everything – and I’m over the system thinking it can. It takes huge, almost untrainable social skills. I'm slowly learning, but it still isn't easy to navigate.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

more on Nancy Baker



I was reading that Nancy Baker believes that Solipsism is a means of survival. Perhaps this is revealed in her paintings.

Luis Camnister says that she is: "... maybe, a non-academic painter who, in her wish to poke her finger in the wrong places, fakes academic painting. She manages to have it both ways, doing impeccable work and also making fun of it.”

I am always a little curious about doing what they call “academic” work - meaning, I guess, rendering well, in traditional means. Does there always have to be a catch? Must one always poke fun at something? I want to ask Nancy about that. I’m not saying that is wrong, but I wonder if that is always her intent.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Chris Ashley



(Chris Ashley interview here)

While I enjoy all kinds of exhibitions, there’s not that many that make me want to run right into the studio. But that’s what Chris Ashley at Chambers did to me. I kept seeing works I actually wanted to make my own version of! You can’t see it all in one visit. It is hard-edged heaven.

It looks like the images run in a series, with small or not-so-small changes in the HTML he uses to make them. There were whole progressions that felt like music, they way they swept along and mutated. Indeed, some of the works are named after musicians or songs.

He had a whole series that looked just like my Red One. Then he took those forms and made a thin cross, an intersection in the middle. It looked like a Native American blanket all slicked up. My actual favorites however were not the red ones, but the ones which featured his way with blue and green. He made skyscapes, seascapes and the spaces in between (or at least it seemed to me – someone else will see something else).
(Photo courtesy of Harold Hollingsworth.)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Interview with Nancy Baker

(Interview mp3 here)

I must have heard about Nancy Baker (AKA Rebel Belle) the first time at the Anonymous Female Artist, when she wrote a very compelling post called Ya Wanna Know Why I’m 50 and My Career is just Starting?

She covered a lot of things in this post but the main gist focused on what being an artist and a mother was like. I found myself spellbound, however, not by just the mother issue - but also the fact that many female artists take this longer, more complicated route to having an art career, if they get one – at least in my generation. Can we blame all of that on the 80s? I don’t know, but I know I took a long route too, even though I purposely avoided the mommy track.

(I had my tubes tied. It still shuts down a conversation. Well, more later.)

After reading her initial post, I kept track of Nancy. I looked at her considerable output of art work, her paintings and then also, her stories about the life of an artist.

She declared (at least in the past) that she, being a visual artist, wasn’t great with words. Her writings at Anonymous Female Artist and her own blog, Tire Shop, refute that. Nancy Baker has a great way with words, connecting life events with art moves.

By the time I talk to her this Wednesday, I will have read her whole blog. It’s easy because her candor alone is so compelling. Via her storytelling and fact checking, she brings up so many issues - I highly recommend checking it out.

Because she is so brave at spilling her guts, she’s inspired me to consider spilling mine more. (I used to do it a lot on my old diary, but have felt more restrained since I arrived at Blogspot.)

I love Baker’s recounts of the hellish experience that your own opening can be. I personally hang on for dear life (nah, nobody knows and I act all professional) and I’m not even in New York. I think the only time I really enjoyed my own opening was when I didn’t even have a pricelist, maybe in the early 80s in San Francisco. A very long time ago.

Her saga with writing the Artist Statement rang very true with me and as the following comments revealed, I was not alone. It sounds pathetically stupid, but that old adage "Art Saves Lives" is true for some of us. The reasons behind our work are not all intellectual; maybe you can’t even call them all emotional. How about survival? Like Nancy, I wanted to leave behind creepy home situations (which follow me to this day) for an interior, self-made world.

Nancy Baker is giving me a lot to think about this weekend. It’s probably going to take more than one post here. I still need to give you some images of hers.

Friday, June 8, 2007

what I get out of it

Someone asked me what I personally get out of interviewing art people. It keeps the world bigger. It’s bigger than my stuff, studio or the books I’m reading. It’s bigger than friendships. Things can get a little comfy in Portland, Oregon.

But most of all, it kicks my art ass because it often adds the something I wasn’t looking for. Could such a thing make me paint better? It's possible. I was also asked if I ever questioned my work or wanted to change it after an interview. Never; I just want to make more! But I often feel afterwards that there are a million ways to live with art. Hearing from someone else really committed to a life in art is like one big affirmation, the good times and the bad.

Here are mp3s of the new show:

Andrea Arroyo
Charlie Finch

Monday, June 4, 2007

Interview with Charlie Finch


(Interview mp3 here)

My next guest is Charlie Finch, a controversial critic who writes for Artnet. Controversial because some have called for his resignation. Some say his writings should be banned. They say he objectifies the female artists he writes about. Others say he's a genius.

Most art people might be surprised to find him on my show. After all, I’m on a “Women’s Network.”

But his particular way of writing about art, about women artists, all of it – it still somehow held my interest. Sometimes it appears that he is holding up a mirror to the art world and making fun of it. If he's licking his lips, he is magnifying how people are treated all of the time, in a more codified and unspoken way. People are commodities in the art world - and they are often meat.

Of course someone might argue that they don’t need to be reminded of the fact.

Yet his language has a way of allowing himself humanity, warts and all. It always struck me. He seemed to me to have a huge investment in art and one that had to almost stem from childhood. I don’t really know that at all – I mean to find out.

When I interviewed Paul H-O about his upcoming film a couple of years ago, he said to me: “Yeah, I was there in the trenches, a C-list artist at best, along with people like Charlie Finch,” – an image arose in my mind and unbelievably, even though I had never actually met him, the image was correct. I used to see him all over town. He looked like how he wrote, he looked like his name. Sometimes that happens. (There he is pictured above with his new bride, Marion, and step-son, Charlie.)

This is not to say that I won’t ask him about his intent. Many people have ranted about it. Here’s the opportunity to hear what they writer has to say. If you have questions or comments, you can leave something here or call during the show (866.472.5788).

Meanwhile, I leave you with a few colorful online links regarding Charlie Finch:

Mia Fineman calls him a brilliant art critic.

Edna at Anonymous Female Artist does not necessarily agree.

Art Fag City had something to say.

As did Todd Gibson.


I could go on, but Tyler Green made a very tidy short list.


But hey! Read the archives! Decide for yourself! They go back ten years.

As for me, if I pass by Artnet and see a piece by Charlie, I always read it.

Schedule

It has taken me months to get the schedule nailed down, but I now have the initial 13 week pilot of this radio show squared away.

Yesterday I just heard from Barbara Takenaga, an artist who shows with MacKenzie Fine Art in Chelsea and with Gregory Lind in San Francisco. She will be my guest on the 22nd of August. It was at the Gregory Lind Gallery room at the Affair at the Jupiter Hotel where I saw her work. It blew me away.

In the 13 weeks, I have 4 artists, a gallerist, a director of a non-profit space, a museum director, several published authors, an art market analyst, a collector, a few curators and an art critic. Only David Cohen and Namita Gupta Wiggers (from the Museum of Contemporary Craft) are from Portland, Oregon.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Spending

For a few years I had been hearing about a novel called Spending by Mary Gordon. When I searched for it online, I knew I had to check out this book. It may be a little late to share it now as it is over ten years old and there are plenty of comments already online. But these comments tend to come from avid readers or book clubs, not from painters.

Story: A smart and caustic 50 year old female painter lives pretty frugally, but she does live as an artist. At least she has a studio – its virtue, she says, is that it exists. She must have some kind of success- after all, her gallery is in the Fuller Building on 57th (and seems to be modeled a wee bit on the Forum Gallery.)

She gives a slide presentation at a gallery one night and explains, for a laugh, that male artists for years have had the muse; why can’t she? She explains the role of this muse: the muse does not just get naked throughout the years. The muse cooks, cleans, take notes and gardens - she does it all. Where is one of these for her, she jokes for the audience.

Then a fellow stands up in the darkness and says: “Right here.” His is a plan all mapped out. He’s collected her work and closely followed her career. He even tells her: “I’ve heard of this same conversation a million times. ‘Where’s the female Picasso? When will we have these kinds of advantages?’ OK - let’s take a gamble on you.” He wishes to provide everything she needs to take it all to the next level. How great of an artist could she be?

She questions the prospect. On her own, all triumphs (and losses) are at least hers. The fact that he’s totally fuckworthy makes her feel a bit of a whore, too. She takes him on in more ways than one.

She also takes the notion of muse and gaze in new directions. She not only lets him take care of her, she paints him after sex, while he’s spent, naked and dozing. She eventually creates a body of work tied to the past (as in the great paintings of naked men in art history, such as Jesus) but still very new, declaring a rarely seen female gaze on the male.

I personally have met female artists fed up with nudes. One told me she witnessed photo slide reviews in which men literally went fidgety in their seat when the male nude came on the screen. She says that many people are homophobic and that’s why the naked man makes them uncomfortable.

Spending gives another view, which I found fascinating. The view of the nude is about power. The artist who gives us the view has the power, not the model. As the artist asks for more and more time, she is asking from the model more than she ever asked when she just took his money.

For when you capture the model, you steal. She takes not just his time and discomfort. It’s almost like how the Native Americans were said to feel about being photographed: it stole a bit of their soul. No longer belonging to the model, the gaze is all about an agenda, projection, interpretation and ownership by the artist.

I was well into the book before I came across the Amazon site with all the comments about the main character in this book. She’s selfish. (!!!!) She’s a terrible mother. She’s repulsive.

Whoa, welcome to artists. Not that all great artists are assholes, but surely no one can expect her to be a saint? Yet we do. We want her to please. But she’s an artist and not up for it. I found her portrayal to be very accurate.

Friday, June 1, 2007

summer (in progress)


Hard to go down to the dark basement when summer strikes.