Monday, April 30, 2012

In Daily Serving

Bean Gilsdorf writes Help Desk for Daily Serving. This particular post is illustrated by works of mine, most of them at my show at frosch and portmann.

A little comment on the above image, Target No. 32. It is the rare use of not a real woman - it's a painting by Wayne Thiebaud. Then she is stuffed into a Judd box, from the same article I plundered for the Judd Montages. So she is kind of a crossover between two bodies of work.

Friday, April 27, 2012

CAP Auction

Tomorrow night is the highly anticipated CAP Auction, in which one organization brings in about half a million dollars towards their mission To prevent HIV infections, support and empower people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS, and eliminate HIV/AIDS stigma. Last year I was the Art Narrator of the live auction and I look forward to doing it again tomorrow night.

Gigi Rosenberg on KBOO

Listen to the interview here.

I've been away from Art Focus at KBOO for a few weeks. My return interview on May 1st will be Gigi Rosenberg, who has a new book out: The Artist's Guide to Grant Writing. I read this book cover to cover while I went through my submission ventures. It definitely helped.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Romanblog II

Many thanks to Vincent Romaniello, who posted about my show on Romanblog II. He took the photograph above, which I believes gives an idea of the depth and richness of color. Seen in person, you can tell these are nowhere near Photoshop. Not that Photoshop is bad - just sayin'.

A lot of old friends came out for the show. Mark Rabiner shot Anonymous Woman No. 7 above. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Squeeze Hard (Hold That Thought)

Squeeze Hard (Hold That Thought) by Sharon Butler and Allison Manch at Season in Seattle has been up for a few days. There is a catalog available, including an an essay I wrote. I decided to post it in this blog as well:

Recent paintings by Sharon Butler investigate the objects of everyday life while riffing on a casual, everyday practice of painting. In “Staples,” Butler uses to common staple as the formal image. Save of course, like any New Casualist, the form is far from formal. It appears sketchy, in progress, perhaps undone. The incompleteness asks us to look further at just what is actually there. In the case of this painting, the canvas is loosely stapled to the stretcher bars. A provisional presentation is celebrated, almost like nostalgia for more simple times or a beginner vision. “Staples” mean more than one thing and act in more than one way. The means and the material are all in a transition, no set program or agenda in place, no direction home.

“The New Casualists” was actually the name of an important 2011 essay by Butler for the Brooklyn Rail, in which describes the trend of non-formalism in abstract American painting. While Butler doesn’t toss her own work into the ring in the essay – her work isn’t completely abstract anyway – and she’s also claimed right in her blog Two Coats of Paint that she is far too much a hand-wringer to be called such - the article indicated a wider net of theory and zeitgeist into which some of her work belongs. She has certainly got “a studied, passive-aggressive incompleteness” down.

Mind, the reproductions on her own website are often in-studio shots, meant to reveal process and place as well as object. Everything appears to be on an equal footing. As we move through Butler’s work in terms of images, in terms of paint but also in terms of writing, we can see that the process and shift of work is an ongoing verb rather than a noun. With her hands in so many different mediums, wearing just about every hat you can wear in the art world, Butler’s own paintings reveal a restlessness and breathlessness, disguised by a humility and earthiness which is probably not telling the entire truth.

The paintings often feel like track marks, where wayward stains and bleeds mesh with layered lines. Paint is mixed with graphite, as if to tell us that drawing came first and will not go away. In this regard none of the pieces feel like pure painting, whatever that is. There are watery bleeds and washes matched by tentative pauses.

Allison Manch, who shares exhibition time with Butler at Season, uses bleeds, stains and washes too. The stains become the background for her illustrative embroidery. And while both Manch and Butler may have used a bigger, more varied palette in the past, the newer work claims a more subtle color story, as if color is beside the point.

Manch creates characters and storylines atypical of embroidery, some fantastical, some nostalgic and some based in current cultural climes. No doubt she is a forceful proponent of what the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Oregon so ardently described in the title of their popular and occasionally profound exhibition “New Embroidery: Not Your Grandma’s Doily” in 2006. Like those artists, Manch embraces homespun mediums while addressing a variety of more contemporary themes and images.

Her work is also not tied to a smaller scale so typical with this medium. In “Gimme Shelter,” Manch presents a 50 square inch quilt with ragged edges and bleeding, irregular edges in the text, same as the title. The heroic urgency in the capitals is complemented by the washes and blurs. The artist also repurposes found hankies which already have extensive embroidery. She adds to them, creating a narrative where there once was just design and pattern.

“Father,” a 12 inch square piece, details a more hippie-than-hipster male holding a white dog. The bleeding color around him becomes an oval, reminding us of a somewhat more traditional portrait. Then there is “Smoker,” a tiny 7 inch square hanky with an embroidered man doing just what the title says.

One of the best pieces has cacti and formal Xs in the four corners, with a man behind a bush in the center. The artist states it might be called “Stalker” but is actually as yet untitled. While embroidery asks for many lines and dots from the maker, the pieces are fairly reductive and direct, a fact driven home by the simplicity of her titles. In general too the pieces, especially the figures and faces, seem very west coast, if not “Western” altogether. In this respect the work can feel rugged and warm.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Judd Women Targets

Thanks to everyone who came to my reception. And thanks so much to frosch & portmann. 

Judd Women Targets will be up until June 3, 2012.

The photograph is by Mark Rabiner, a great photog I've known since 1979.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Targets in the Show

Gorgeous, beautiful New York. 

My show opens tonight. If you are in town, please stop by! At the last minute I post here the Targets Frosch and Portmann have for this show.

Liz, Ann, Natalie, Susan, Yvette, Kate and Lindsay.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Women at the Show

On Thursday my show Judd Women Targets opens at Frosch and Portmann. Here I present the Women who will be at that show.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


When I showed the Targets in 2010, people who only knew me through painting wondered how my collages were connected to paint. My usual response was what does painting have to do with rock n roll? Pretty basic but kind of flip.

The fact is I spent a lot of my 20s absorbing the Russian Avant Garde and their relatives. I loved Malevich and El Lizzitsky and still do. It occurred to me today just how much The Judd Montages, my upcoming show at Frosch and Portmann, had all kinds of connections and similarities to what I like to paint and the art history I loved. 

But all of the work, whether it is abstract painting or or photo-based collage, contrasts beauty and substance. My beautiful women are more than just that. And I take 'serious' objects and make them more than that.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Crystal Schenk and Cris Moss on KBOO

This next Tuesday my guests on Art Focus will be curator Cris Moss and the artist he presently has up at the Linfield Gallery, Crystal Schenk.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Squeeze Hard (Hold That Thought)

Those of you in Seattle should check out the new show at Season, Squeeze Hard (Hold That Thought). This is a two person show - Sharon Butler (above) and Allison Manch (below). Many are not aware that Season produces a fab paper catalog for every show. I wrote the essay for this particular exhibition.


In New York I lived in an illegal sublet. I was supposed to stay three months but stayed ten years. The sublet had belonged to a well heeled art dealer and while not having many things, everything it had was good. One of those things was a slick art magazine from the 60s featuring Donald Judd. Judd never really meant all that much to me but the glossiness of the stark forms stayed with me. The dealer never came back for most of his things. I held on to the magazine for over 2 decades before I cut into it.

The work began as a gesture under a bit of duress, as I had just lost my hoarded stash bag full of potential collage images in a move. Feeling paralyzed, I decided to create an exercise that would feel easy. I also wanted to inject some juice into something more known for its austerity and non-content - and to play with something not really meant to be played with. This exercise turned out to be The Judd Montages. They came right before the Targets and I don’t think I could have made the Targets without them.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Judd Montages No. 1 and No. 2

The Judd Montages will be featured in my upcoming show at Frosch and Portmann. This gives me great satisfaction as they were never shown before but I think they are very instrumental to whatever I am collaging today. I'll post a statement later this week.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Namita Wiggers on KBOO

Listen to the interview here.

Seeing Generations: Betty Feves felt like a bit of a flashback. As a child of an active artist in the Pacific Northwest, I saw shapes and colors, methods and mediums, all related to this artist and this show. Curated by Namita Wiggers, this exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Craft features an artist whose influence in this part of the world was beyond measure. I am looking forward to having Namita on the radio with me this coming Tuesday, April 3rd.