Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cross MacKenzie Show Installation Pics

I installed my show of new striped paintings/sculptures at the Cross MacKenzie Gallery in Georgetown (Washington, DC) on November 11. The show has been extended one week, now being on view until December 15. Originally, the plan was to install eight pieces so I brought twelve to give the gallery a selection of work to choose from but, fortuitously, we were able to hang all of them. Though it is difficult to see, we installed four pieces in the front window, including three of the one-sided paintings.

Though we hadn't originally planned on showing my canoe, the gallery director found images on my Facebook page and asked me to bring it. This canoe is absolutely not for sale but I agreed to let the gallery negotiate a commission one. I love the idea of it being considered a work of art because I built it with that idea in mind. I also agree with the gallery that it gives the viewer a clearer understanding of my art.
Even though we hung more pieces than we planned, I am happy with how much space they have, I don't feel they crowd one-another at all.

I hope you get/got the chance to see the show, the work really is much better in person. Additionally, the gallery has agreed to offer my bumper stickers with the same conditions that I do. I left some of my last three designs (#28, #29, and #30), so if you do stop in, you would have the chance to acquire at least one of my pieces for free.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Show Card

Here is the card for my show at Cross MacKenzie Gallery, November 13 to December 9, with a reception on Friday, November 13, 6 to 8pm.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Solo Show @ Cross MacKenzie Gallery, Washington, DC

I'm excited to announce that I have a solo show scheduled at the Cross MacKenzie Gallery in Washington, DC (opening November 12, 2015). In preparation I took my most recent work to RLPhoto in Burlington, VT to get them professionally imaged. I wrote about the first six of these previously, here and here, but these images are so much better than the ones I captured I have to share them again. They are a really top notch professional photography studio and they are really great to work with -- I feel lucky that I am able to use them.
Sugaring Time
acrylic, oil pastel, epoxy, shellac on wood (with stainless steel hanging system)
80" x 23" x 1"
If you looked at the earlier posts you may notice I made the titles more memorable so that I can talk about the work without having to refer to my notes to know which is which.
Sugaring Time (closeup)
I've also upgraded the hardware of this piece since it was first photographed. It now has a custom made stainless steal hanging system.
Sugaring Time (side two)
In making all of these pieces I've struggled with finding the right balance of bleed-out from the acrylic paint onto the wood. I want some because I like the play between the clean line caused by taping the paint and the soft fading of the color around it, but I don't want too much of it because I feel the piece ends up looking "muddy."
South Beach
acrylic, oil pastel, shellac on wood
34.5" x 10" x 1"
I also like how the bleeding of color captures some of the natural and added texture on the piece, like these diagonal lines below. 
South Beach (closeup)
I don't often use cherry as a primary wood in my work because I love how the lighter woods work with color, but when I saw this piece in the lumber yard, with significant figure and plenty of light sapwood to add contrast, I had to make an exception.
All Species Day
acrylic, oil pastel, shellac on wood
41" x 16.75" x 1"
All Species Day (closeup)
As with cherry, I've had a bias against using walnut but this board was so gorgeous, I again made an exception. In truth, I felt disappointed with it when I was done because I felt the colors didn't standout from the dark background enough but I've gotten so much positive feedback I can only assume that it was more successful than I had thought.
Bari Notes
acrylic, oil pastel, shellac on wood
58" x 10" x 1"

Bari Notes (closeup)
I've also found it interesting how my feelings for April Dawn have evolved. As I was making it, I was enamored and thought it would be a great piece; but when I finished I first hung it horizontally and I was surprise by how unhappy I was -- it just seem to lack energy. After a couple of weeks I changed the orientation to vertical and was much happier but still a little disappointed, mostly because I felt I hadn't left enough wood visible and I thought the bleed was a little too muddy. However, much to my surprise, as I've shown it to friends I've consistently heard them say it is one of my strongest pieces. I've long thought that artists are often the worst judge of their work but I find it so interesting when I see it in myself as well. 
April Dawn
acrylic, oil pastel, epoxy, shellac on wood
72" x 16.25" x 2"
It is hard to tell from these images but this piece is two inches thick in the middle and tapers down to about a half inch on the sides.
Sugaring Time (closeup)
After hanging April Dawn in my own living space and seeing how it interacted with other vertical stripped pieces in the same room, I was inspired to make a single piece that played with the same effect, this is the first to evolve out of that idea. One of the things that I like about this design is that it allows for the possible construction of an installation across an entire wall.
acrylic, oil pastel, epoxy, shellac on wood
45" x 10" x 5.5"
Anonymity (Side Two)
Anonymity (closeup)
These last six pieces were all finished in September.
Cleveland, Ohio, 1975
acrylic, oil pastel, epoxy, shellac on wood
58.25" x 1.25" x 5.5"
They are all hung on a mortised french cleat that I made myself. It is a super strong hanging system that lets me keep work tight to the wall even with a small surface area.
Cleveland, Ohio, 1975 (side two)
I like the simplicity/austerity of this piece.
Cleveland, Ohio, 1975 (closeup)
I originally envisioned these two pieces (above and below) as a single piece, displayed off-set from each other, but as I was working on them I realized they should hang separately, that they are more powerful on their own than together. 
In Remembrance, For Ornette
acrylic, oil pastel, epoxy, shellac on wood
57.25" x 1" x 6.25"
I like that one side is much lighter, having a lot of sapwood. As I've mentioned, I generally don't like using walnut as a primary wood because it is so dark but this board was so gorgeous, I had to make an exception.
In Remembrance, For Ornette (side two)
I like the saw mill marks left on this board, with the rough and smooth surfaces next to each other. I also love how the mill marks create gaps that can be filled with color. I feel that these "imperfections" have a commonality with O.C.'s sax playing style, hence the title, though I do feel a bit uneasy about making the comparison with such a great musician.
In Remembrance (closeup)
With these independently hung multi-piece pieces I'm not particular about hanging them exactly the same way each time. Rather, I have principles that I want to follow -- I want them to be off-set from one another; the order of the boards should be the same (in this case the dark board should be in the middle and the live-edge of the small board should be on the outside); and two of the boards should be close enough together that it isn't easy to see what is between them. 
acrylic, oil pastel, epoxy, shellac on wood
46" x 14" x 6"
Namibia (side two)
Namibia (closeup)
Breakfast In Tunis
acrylic, oil pastel, epoxy, shellac on wood
35" x 1.25" x 10.5"
When I first came up with idea of using mortised french cleats to hang work on edge I was excited because I realized that it opened up the possibility to make work like these last three, work that can appear to be flying off of the wall or maybe even floating.
Breakfast In Tunis (side two)
Breakfast In Tunis (closeup)
I also love that this work demands to be seen by protruding into a room. They don't blend into the background and they force the viewer to walk around them. I also love how they exist in a place that isn't distinctly painting or sculpture, but equally both.
acrylic, oil pastel, epoxy, shellac on wood
47" x 1.25" x 10.5"
Voyager (closeup)
Voyager (side two)
I love apple season in Vermont. There are so many great and rare varieties arriving in the market and changing throughout the season. I know and love a few of them but mostly I'll randomly buy unknown varieties without worrying about learning their names, just being confident that I'll like what I taste and happy to be surprised.
Apple Season
acrylic, oil pastel, shellac on wood
50" x 1.25" x 10.5"
I also love the saw mill marks left behind on this board.
Apple Season (closeup)
Apple Season (side two)
If you are in or near DC in November/December 2015, I hope you'll get a chance to see the show and look at the work in person! If you do, please share your thoughts with me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Power and Mystery of Ursula Von Rydingsvard

I recently ran by this large maple stump in Montpelier and immediately thought of Ursula Von Rydingsvard's work that I had seen on a visit to Storm King Art Center in July. I thought it was interesting because I've wondered about her inspiration for her creations since seeing them, though I still believe the resemblance is mere coincidence.
Maple Stump -- Montpelier, Vermont
Here is For Paul. Perhaps the resemblance isn't total coincidence in that her work is monolithic and organic so an occasional tree stump will be VonRydingsvard-esque, but what I find interesting, and captivating, about her sculptures is that they are more than organic and monolithic, they are also mysterious.
For Paul
cedar and graphite
Her work draws viewers in by causing them to ask questions. What is the material? Stone or wood? I looks organic-ish but there are still hard edges, so is it man-made or natural? Additionally, it is interesting on both the macro and micro scales, as viewers look at it from a distance they need to come closer to answer questions but as they get closer the texture and detail bring them closer, and the closer one gets the more there is to look at, until one is a few inches away examining the wood grain.
 For Paul
In both of these images, above and below, For Paul looks like it might be a wall of stone but it is confusing because of the deep crevices, that look like they might have been gouged out by water, but the edges are so sharp, contradicting the water theory. 
 For Paul
I think the monochromatic nature of the work adds to the mystery of the material and method, helping to hide the human involvement in its construction.
 For Paul
Luba creates similar levels of confusion, questioning, and interest from viewer though it has an added aspect of being partially made with bronze. 

cedar, cast bronze, graphite
The integration of the bronze is so well done that it is hard to identify through a casual examination of the piece (the narrow "legs" -- on the lower left in the above image).
Again, the quasi-natural look is mysterious.
The work is constructed out of stacked four by four cedar but depending on the angle of the cut on the end-grain, it may look wider, adding to visual confusion.
The mystery of Ursula's work goes beyond questions of construction and materials, it extends equally to her inspiration, what she is seeking to accomplish and what her inspiration is. Writers tend to spend a lot of space discussing her early childhood in German labor camps, her associated exposure to rough lumber and harsh living conditions, and her difficult emigration to the US; but few actually discuss the emotional quality of the work and her goals in its construction, including Ursula. For me, the power and mystery are the point, where the line between natural and man-made are blurred and the forces of either can be overwhelming, dwarfing where we stand.