Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Reflections" @ The Kent Museum

I'm feeling like I should have my artist license revoked for belatedly announcing a exhibit of my work in a museum but luckily for me I'm license free so I'm allowed to continue my profession regardless of any malpractice on my part.

 So . . . Last Saturday, September 13, was the opening reception for the exhibit Reflections @ the Kent Museum in Calais, Vermont. The closing reception is Sunday, October 5, from 3:00 to 6:00 and the show is open to the public Friday through Sunday 10:00 to 5:00, as well as by appointment.

The venue is unusual as a museum space but it is also wonderful in its own quirky way. It is located on a dirt road in a town of about 1500 people, it has no collection, the lighting is non-existent, and the walls are perpetually in the same state of "under repair" for lack of funds. But it is also that unfinished state that makes the space great because -- with the exposed lathe, multiple color painted walls with patches of new plaster, and peeling, multi-layered wallpaper -- the interior is a work of art in its own right.

The show features thirty artists, including ten of my new pieces from this year. As I was installing the work I was particularly impressed with how my sculpture/paintings interacted with the walls and I felt that the title, Reflections, was particularly apt because they seemed to reflect each other.

My two most recent pieces were also included in the show -- August 2014a and August 2014b. From what I remember, the mixed media on each includes shellac, epoxy, graphite, acrylic paint, spray paint, and oil pastels.
August 2014a
mixed media on wood
49" x 9.5" x 2"
August 2014a (closeup)

 August 2014a (closeup)

 August 2014b
mixed media on wood
57" x 9" x 2"
 August 2014b (closeup)
 August 2014b (closeup)
Even though the site is remote, the location is so beautiful it is worth the drive if only for the view from the outside. I especially like the contrast of the historic structure and rural setting with the contemporary sculpture of Judith Wrend. As foliage season emerges in the next few days, the view will change to spectacular.
8'7" x 10'2" x 10'2"
Judith Wrend

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fear of Triangles

In August I was asked by the architecture firm Gossens Bachman Architects to paint a metal garage door on a warehouse building next to their offices in Montpelier, VT. This was an especially fun commission because, just like my last one, I was given free reign to create whatever I wanted without any discussion, plans, or drawings. This is how I prefer to work so it is a blessing to find clients who are brave enough to go along with my madness. In fact, the extent of our conversation about the design was the following:

GBA: So, do you know what you'll do?
RH: I have a vague idea.
GBA: Do you know how long it will take?
RH: Until I'm happy. Maybe a week, maybe more, or I might go super-minimalist and decide that I'm done when I show up the first day. 
GBA: Ok.
Fear of Triangles
exterior latex paints and stains on metal
144" x 138"
 I ended up using twenty-two colors and creating twenty shapes. I visited all the local paint stores looking for mistints so I could find random colors cheap but ended up having to mix some of my own because, with a couple of exceptions, the mistints were dull/boring colors and I was looking for bright colors that would make the piece highly visible from a distance.
Fear of Triangles (site view)
 The painting is located in an obscure industrial section of town but it is visible, especially in the winter months, from Barre Street, a highly traveled side street. I'm happy to report that the feedback has been positive and GBA is happy with the results. I look forward to finding more opportunities for outdoor paintings because my dream/vision is to eventually start painting buildings. I'm hoping I can find a client brave enough to hire me because I don't have the money right now to buy my own structure.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bumper Sticker Update #3

Here are my latest four wordless bumper stickers. I'm thrilled to continue having incentive, and inspiration, for making them and being able to find people who are interested in getting one, however, I recently modified the rules for giving them away -- as always, the first bumper sticker is free for anyone with a US address (just let me know where to send it) but I'm now insisting the people agree to stick it on a vehicle, for everyone else I charge $10.
3" x 10"
limited edition of 10
With these amorphous designs people often tell me thing that they see in them which I always find interesting because I have nothing in mind when I create them, but my favorite interpretation is when someone saw the one below and immediately said "Oh, its a T. rex tail!" I love the image of T. rex tails being green polka dotted.
3" x 10"
limited edition of 11
3" x 10"
limited edition of 11
With this last sticker (my twentieth!!!), the printing company had made a mistake with the violet shape, sending me stickers with something that was too close in color to the background, making it difficult to see, so when they corrected the printing job they made a couple of extra to make up for the error, hence the edition of 12. As of today, August 21, 2014, I still have ten copies of 080214, so if you want one, let me know. All others have already been distributed and are no longer available. If you would like to see my latest designs as they become available I recommend following my Facebook page because that is where they are posted first.
3" x 10"
limited edition of 12

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Messiness Continues

Over the last few months I've continued to explore an abstract expressionist style, over-laid with geometric abstraction. This process involves layering different media, removing them, and then layering more, repeatedly until I'm happy with the results. Media include acrylic paint, shellac, oil pastels, spray paint, graphite, epoxy, gesso, and milk paint (I think that is a complete list but I can't guarantee it). Except for this first piece, I've titled them with their date of completion because I didn't feel comfortable with any other title; I could have left them all untitled, but that would have been too confusing, and I felt that any descriptive name would have felt forced or been too revealing. Instead, I want the viewer to find their own way with the work. Another reason for date titles is that I feel the chronology of the work is important, and revealing, in how the work evolves over time.

This first piece, One Whitish Orb, is a recycled shellac painting from 2010. I struggled with it for several months but finally felt it come together when I added the polka dots.
One Whitish Orb
mixed media on board
35.5" x 29.25"
I especially like how the acrylic polka dots overlay the shellac polka dots (which I didn't realize were polka dots until the acrylic ones were added).
One Whitish Orb (close up)
I've also completed two more two-sided paintings. With these, however, I decided to paint, and have wood exposed, on both sides. I also split them into two pieces and off-set the sections. 
May 2014a (side one)
mixed media on wood
13" x 53" x 3"
65" high from floor
There are saw marks and scraps that gouge the wood in these pieces, adding a layer of linearality to the messiness. I think it is also interesting how the abstract expressionist mess is framed by geometric abstraction.

May 2014 (side one close up)
This is the other side.
May 2014a (side two)
mixed media on wood
13" x 53" x 3"
I think the saw marks, filled with epoxy and may other things, cutting into the clean wood section adds a aspect of minimalism to the piece in addition to tying the two sections together.
May 2014a (side two close up)
The base is made with black cherry and 1/2" stainless steel rods.
2014a (base)
wood and stainless steel
This other two-sided piece is made in the same way except I used 1.5" thick lumber instead of 2" as with the one above.
May 2014b (side one)
mixed media on wood
8.5" x 30" x 2"
61" high from floor
May 2014b (side one close up)
May 2014b (side two)
I like how the imperfect saw kerf epoxy filling gave me a chance to add different colors and create a miniature abstract painting within.
May 2014b (side two close up)
The base design is the same as above, though a little smaller.
May 2014b (base)
In living with my first two-sided paintings for a while, I began to feel that they had a "presence" -- I felt a personal relationship with them as if they were another being in the room with me, and I thought the feeling could be accentuated if I used the same technique vertically. As I started working on these last three pieces, I thought of them as independent spirits with complex personal histories recorded over millennium, with each mark and layer representing events that are obscured, but never forgotten, by the next series of events. I like how all of these layers can be seen as messy and "ugly" on one level, but when viewed as a whole, and appreciated for what they are, it can also be seen as very beautiful and wonderful.
June 2014a
mixed media on wood
41" x 10.5" x 2"
With these last three I also cut circles into the wood, filling them with epoxy and other things, to add another layer of geometry to the work.
June 2014a (close up)
June 2014b
mixed media on wood
53.25" x 9.5" x 2"
June 2014b (close up)
June 2014c
mixed media on wood
47" x 9" x 2"
June 2014c (close up)
I'm really happy with the emotional content of these pieces, I can really feel them, but I'm curious, and looking forward to, seeing if and how others are affected by them. Thankfully, I won't have to wait too long because they will be on display in mid-September -- look for an announcement soon.

Monday, July 28, 2014

North Carolina Barn Bling

On a recent trip to North Carolina I was commissioned to construct some barn art for friends that live in the Asheville area. I had mailed them some of my exterior paints ahead of time and was told that they had scrap wood or plywood laying around that I could use, but other than that, there were no plans. I was thrilled that they trusted me enough to let me do what ever I wanted, with no direction or limitations, just the way I prefer to work. 
Moving the finished piece out of the barn for installation.
Unfortunately, I forgot to measure it so this picture is included for some perspective.
Honestly, constructing it was a little nerve-wracking. Because of travel plans and other activities, I was left with only 30 hours from start to finish. Additionally, I wasn't sure what I was doing, or if I'd be able to finish it, until the 27th hour.
Finding a way to get it into place was a little complicated but, thankfully,
not too difficult because it was relatively light.
I was a little concerned when I saw the plywood that I was going to work with was only 3/8" thick because I wasn't sure how well I'd be able to attach the pieces together but it turned out not to be a problem and the thickness was especially fortunate when it came to raising it in place; because it was so light, it wasn't too difficult to work up the ladder. By the way, I find it only appropriate that we used a tractor for the installation, as all barn art should be installed.
Though I try to be as safe as possible when installing art work, I'm always relieved
when no one dies or is seriously injured in the process.
My fear in taking on this commission was that I would get all the pieces painted but wouldn't be able to come up with anything I liked in the allotted time and would have to tell my friends that I'd finish it at some indeterminate time in the future. I was truly working on "a wing and a prayer", just trusting that somehow something would come together if I just followed the process. Much to my surprise, and based on the feedback I've gotten, it seems to have worked. More than anything though, I'm just relieved I'm not embarrassed with it.
3/8" UL plywood and exterior latex paints and stains
approximately 8' x 8.5' x 1" (I forgot to measure)
I've been calling this series "Barn Art" but I like my friend's terminology of "Barn Bling" better. It is located off a rural road and faces away from it so the only way to see this piece is by personal invitation. It is nice to see my work on an actually barn, I particularly like the contrast of contemporary art on an old, traditional, building.