Thursday, March 31, 2011


Several people have asked me about a post on Liz Taylor. I think one of the reasons I held back is because I didn't feel done with her, even though there’s already six Targets of her. I was surprised she left this soon. And perhaps the best of the stash I’ve yet to cut. I mooned over the images and didn’t feel like risking them, yet.

Good art in general takes risk. Collage is right up there. Eunice Parsons said in an interview: You have to be brave. Faint heart never won a beautiful collage. She also mentioned that the risk was easier – or maybe just more urgent – with age: Occasionally I look at a piece and think this is too gorgeous, I can’t do it. But I’m going to be gone soon and someone will just throw it away, so I cut.

Lately though I’ve rediscovered how much fun low risk can be. The stash piles up and I feel like doing something, but my nerves that day are shot. So I cut what may promise nothing. She’s not that important to me. She’s nobody. And she’s tarnished, laden with patina, of an imperfect paper, imperfect times, an imperfect ad campaign. I have my doubts and that takes the pressure off. It’s another day of working and we’re not looking for lightning to strike the act of genius. The reward is not just the act of making or even what you end up with. The reward is the readjustment in how you view everything. There's a liberating shift.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Art and Theft

The controversy of Richard Prince and his case spread like wildfire through my Facebook and friends. Photographers tended to lean towards one side, as did copyright lawyers. But artists, we were all over the place.

It’s rare that someone gets bugged by my use of magazine images (some including art reproduction), but it has happened. It’s never been from the actual photographer though. It’s always been from a jealous artist.

But from the very commencement of my collage endeavor, I saw it as a creative force which must fight to survive. I had very little money and a lot on my mind. Cutting and pasting was the quickest way to get my voice and over the years, it’s been the most consistent (private diary writing aside).

This access is the very thing that kept collage for so many years on the wrong side of the tracks as regards The Art World. You know, Cut with a Kitchen Knife and all that. In fact history now reveals that it was Victorian women who made the first collages (not Picasso). So I find it very amusing that someone stealing images could make so much money at it, get so far and then of course get sued. It's all about the money.

Not that I’m a big fan or anything. I didn’t give him much thought, have no books on him, etc. I liked the nurses. And I think the Marlborough Man is completely fair game. After all, the MM has been after us for years, penetrating our psyche. That was his big ambition in life. He was asking for it.

And that’s how I feel about advertising in general. Those cosmetic and beauty ads have been hounding me since I got out of the womb. My mom was an artist, a beautiful woman AND an Avon Lady. That I should eventually cut those images and welcome them to my world is completely satisfying to me.

Someone in his FB said that both the Rasta and the MM seemed ethnographic and that without the voices of other artists, Prince had none of his own. But I think that might be the point. I don’t know that Prince feels singular or unique at all. It falls not that far from the Reality TV show, where no one and everyone is special.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Life of The World To Come: Darkness Falls Upon Us

Timothy Buckwalter has curated a very interesting show at the National Insititute for Art and Disabilities called Twist and Crawl. It comes in three parts and three of my Targets are in the second part Life of The World to Come: Darkness Falls Upon Us. Buckwalter is combining the efforts of mainstream artists with artists from NIAD. I am especially amused by the mix because I know a lot of crazy artists, or just disabled in some other way, easily filling in both shoes. This show opens on April 4th and runs about two months. There's some really great people in this show. Many thanks to Buckwalter!
Here's a cool video about the show too.

promo: Darkness Falls Upon Us from timothy buckwalter on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

John Motley on KBOO

Listen to the interview here.

When I recently collected some art writers for a panel at KBOO, a few people asked me: Why isn’t John Motley there?

OK, he’s going to be my guest this coming Tuesday. Motley contributes pieces to the Oregonian. He’s also just published a collection of critical essays that were developed alongside exhibitions at Fourteen30. The book is called Stay Time. Originally published as a series of limited edition broadsides, available only at the gallery, these essays examine the work of emerging artists from Portland, Los Angeles, and beyond.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Small Things

Kyle Chayka writes in Hyperalleric: Is Ambient Creativity Killing Our Ambition? The article and title really hit me because I was just thinking of how online creativity revolutionized my collage making. And all for the better.

You probably couldn’t say that about many forms of art. The article mostly dwells on the written word and how it has been diluted to a tweet. The speculation is that the flighty ambience of online activity doesn't foster the Great American Novel. And it may not bode well for the Great American Painting.

But just yesterday I made a collage that is quite small – about 7 by 7 ½ inches. There was a time – most of my art-making time – when that size might relegate it to a non-serious status. It would be a gift, maybe. Or I would just consider it a toss-off.

Living in a JPEG world changed all of that. 99% of the eyes who see my jpgs will never see the real thing. It’s all reduced to what fits on a screen. So while this downsized my big, acidic paintings, it totally raised my photomontage. The playing field in general changed. When I finished the woman above, her petite qualities did not dismiss her.

As to toss-offs, I’ve known for years that a toss-off can be a spark of genius and conversely, a labored piece can always look just that and nothing more. I remember reading a quote from Bill Ball, the director of the American Conservatory Theatre, years ago: Artists should be constantly working. That way your best work just gets tossed off along with everything else. That made so much sense to me. Art is not the big event. It’s not a big piece or an important piece or any of that. It’s everyday and it’s all the time and it resides in small things too.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Conversation

It's not just the young who drift to new sites away from blogging, as stated in this Times piece. The further entrenched in Facebook I became, the less I wrote here. It's understandable that pictures of dogs and gardens would find their way to my circle of "friends." But I have also written much less about art and artists here and that was the reason I started Blogger to be begin with.

Part of it could be due to KBOO. When I started this blog, I didn't have Art Focus. The previous venture, Artstar radio at KPSU, was a much less public arena. Since I've been at KBOO I just don't feel as free to dish.

Even when I post about art here, it's amazing how little traffic is here compared to my Facebook. A lot of people had something to say about my latest interview with Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson about the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards. Not a word here. That's just one example. More and more this is the place for the official record, but the conversation happens elsewhere.