Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Art Flag Commission

Over the summer I was asked by gbA, a Montpelier architecture firm, to create an object (not necessarily a flag) for the flag pole outside their offices. After some thought, I decided to stick to a "flag" format because I love that with a flag there is an implied meaning but that with a unique abstract design the meaning is completely ambiguous.
gbA Flag
36" x 70"
I researched whether to have the design printed but I didn't like the materials and I didn't think it would "fly" very well, and when I looked into buying the fabric and having it sewn together I realized it would look much better; thankfully, it was cheaper as well.
gbA Flag (on site)
85 Granite Lane
Montpelier, VT
Given that I lack the both the skills and equipment to construct the piece, this was my first opportunity to pay someone to make my art.
gbA Flag (closeup)
The piece is obviously an outgrowth of my bumper sticker series, hopefully I'll have more opportunities to create a series of flags as well.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Robert Irwin @ Hirshhorn Museum

Here is my belated review of the Robert Irwin exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum titled All The Rules Will Change (April 7 to September 5, 2016). The show chronicled Irwin's early years and his rapid shift away from abstract expressionist paintings to ground breaking work that is entirely original in its efforts to break down the barriers between art and everything else. With many of his pieces he is so successful it is difficult to distinguish where the art ends, in fact that is the point, there is no boundary.
Title Wall
One of the first series of work in the show are some of Irwin's "Pick Up Stick" paintings. They are designed with the children's game in mind. I believe there were three on view, all with yellow backgrounds and different colored over-lapping lines.
Ocean Park
oil on canvas
Between 1961 and 1964, Irwin worked on a series of much more minimal, much cleaner Line Paintings.
Jake Leg
oil on canvas
Jake Leg (closeup)
The late line paintings became even more subtle, with Irwin painting only a couple of horizontal lines in the same hue as the background, making them difficult to distinguish background from foreground, and making it difficult to photograph as well.
oil on canvas
Overlapping a bit, chronologically, were Irwin's Dot Paintings. These went even further in obliterating boundaries by creating the sense of light on canvas rather than paintings. They were a major step in his effort to create a painting without painting. Though he used paint on them, they created the sense that he did not.
Untitled 1963-65
oil on canvas
These are, again, very difficult to photograph as the lens doesn't know what to focus on.
 Untitled 1963-65 (closeup)
My favorite work in the show were the two disks, below, that represented work from his disk period, 1966-69. They are very disorienting in a way similar to Anish Kapoor's work. Looking at them from the front left me with complete confusion as to what I was looking at. The intent, and its realization, is to break down the boundary between the artwork and the surrounding environment. By fabricating a mysterious object and lighting it in a precisely designed way, he is able to create a situation in which the object, the lighting, and the wall have equal importance to the work of art.
acrylic paint on shaped aluminum
Only from the side you can figure out what you are looking at.
 Untitled (second view)
Untitled (1969) is equally mysterious and it is even more successful in blurring the line between where the object ends and the wall begins.
acrylic paint on shaped acrylic
Untitled (second view)
 Untitled (third view)
The final piece in the exhibit was a piece made specifically for this exhibit. Conceptually, it gives the impression of being a square that encompasses the inner circle of the museum. There was a warning before entering the section that the work can be disorienting for the viewer which creates an atmosphere of anticipation followed by disappointment or confusion when one enters the section and one is unable to determine what the art is or even where it is. Ultimately, the work isn't just the object but also a dynamic created by the mind of the viewer, the object (or lack thereof), and the intent of the artist.
Square the Circle
fabric on wood
I found the video interview of Irwin at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from 1973 very interesting if only to get a sense of how he thinks and talks. He is very articulate in describing his highly abstract concepts. One thing I remember him saying is that there is no relationship between why he became an artist and what he was doing at the time (and I'm sure even more so now). He started on one path but it ended up leading somewhere he could not possibly have predicted.
Video Interview Still
Los Angeles Country Museum of Art
Before this exhibit, I hadn't been very familiar with Irwin's work. I had seen an installation of his at Dia:Beacon a few months earlier but I don't recall another occasion of seeing his art. 
Excursive: Homage to the Square3
@ Dia-Beacon
Consequently, I found the show to be a great opportunity to learn more about this unique and influential artist. The Hirshhorn did an excellent job in pulling off an exhibit of an exceptionally difficult conceptual artist to display.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sealed-Bid Auction Experiment

As with most artists I know, at times I struggle with too much inventory and finding ways to move older work. In thinking of ways to resolve this problem, I have decided to experiment with conducting a Sealed-Bid Auction. To  start with, I am offering five pieces. Depending on the results, I may offer another five pieces in a few months.

-- If you are interested in a piece, email me the amount you are willing to pay for it by 11:59 pm, October 11, 2016 (I'll reply with a confirmation email); 

-- There is no minimum bid;

-- Highest bid for any piece wins, if there is a tie, the earliest bid wins;

-- Potential bidders are welcome to inquire about additional images, including high resolution versions;

-- Potential bidders are invited to schedule a studio visit to see a piece in person as well as other work I have available;

--Because shipping costs will vary, i have posted the price for the continental US (other locations should inquire for cost);

-- Winning bids are confidential.

What Remains
acrylic and shellac on butternut
33" x 8" x 4"
Shipping Cost: $30
Year of Dreams
acrylic and varnish on maple
21" x 8.5" x 2.25"
Shipping Cost: $12
Brasilai Bound
acrylic, epoxy, graphite, tinted shellac, shellac on mixed hardwoods
24.5" x 32" x 1"
Shipping Cost: $30
Something Moved
gesso, tinted shellac, shellac on board
14.5" x 33"
Shipping Cost: $20
Thrice In A Lifetime
tinted shellac, shellac, varnish on maple and cherry
36" x 36.5" x 1"
Shipping Cost: $40

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Bumper Sticker Update #5

Here are my five most recent bumper stickers. I have been making them since April 2013 and I am now up to thirty-two. I am not sure how many total I've made and distributed because the editions have varied and it would take some math to figure out but it is somewhere around 300 at this point. 

As I have mentioned in previous posts about them, I create them as anti-bumper sticker bumper stickers to counteract the effects of dogmatic and demanding bumper stickers typically found on vehicles in the US. To get them on the streets, I offer all US residents one free as long as they promise to put it on their vehicle; all other bumper stickers are $10. Just email me an address and I'll send one to you. 

Because they are limited edition, I usually only have the latest or latest two available to chose from. To find the latest version, please check my Facebook page.
limited edition of ten
3" x 10"
limited edition of ten
3" x 10"
limited edition of ten
3" x 10"
As of today, I still have a couple of the one below.
limited edition of ten
3" x 10"
Below is the latest version. The six month gap between designs is by far the longest I've gone in my bumper sticker designing history. It must mean that I'm not getting out enough and meeting new people so I'll have to make an intention to do more of it, at least through the summer.
limited edition of ten
3" x 10"
If you like the concept and/or designs I hope you'll ask for one. I really would like to get more on the roads around the US, I feel they help to lower anxiety/stress levels because they are non-antagonistic (they don't tell other people what to think/believe/do), and we can certainly use more of that, especially on the roadways.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Pick 'Em Up @ Exposed 2016

I am please to announce I have a piece in Exposed 2016 along with fifteen other regional and national artists. The show is an outdoor exhibit throughout Stowe, Vermont and is organized by the Helen Day Art Center.
Pick 'Em Up
latex paint on wood
77" x 210" x 4"
My submission, Pick 'Em Up, is intended as a playful reinterpretation of the children's game Pick Up Sticks. I believe it creates an interesting contrast with the serious and austere historic New England architecture.
 Pick 'Em Up (closeup)
Because it is a historic building, I wasn't allowed to screw anything into the bell tower columns. To get around this limitation, I strapped boards in front and behind the columns then screwed column "blanks" into my strapped boards. I was then able to attach my "sticks" into my blanks. From the ground the entire contraption is not very noticeable.  
Pick 'Em Up (bell tower view)
I am very thankful that the curator, Rachel Moore, allowed me to install my piece on the bell tower. I know the Stowe Select Board was not happy about the idea of art being installed there and I am sure there will be additional "public relation issues" because of it, but the building does house an arts center so it is wonderful that the Helen Day is willing to push the boundaries a little bit in the service of art. 
Stick Colors
I bought red, yellow, blue, black, and white paints; and mixed the other ten colors on my own. Each sticks is 120" x 2.5" x 0.75"; except the red one which is only 117" long.

The reception will take place on July 23 at 4:00 pm. People will meet at the art center and then start to walk around town with brief comments by each of the artists. The walk should take about two hours. The exhibit will be up through October 15.

Monday, June 27, 2016

New Box Of Courage Installation

My "Box of Courage" sculpture will be on display in front of ECHO, Leahy Center For Lake Champlain on the Burlington water front until mid-October. This is the third installation of the piece I made in 2013 as part of Helen Day Art Center's Exposed exhibit in Stowe, VT. It was also on view in Burlington last year as part of the Art Hop.
Box of Courage
plywood, wood, paint, screws
86" x 86" x 48"
Box of Courage
As usual, I found that children intuitively knew how to use it and immediately started climbing inside.

I'm very happy ECHO chose the piece for the front of their building because it offers plenty of exposure with around half a million people passing by it through the summer. Additionally, ECHO arranged for an interview with Tom Messner of WPTZ, Channel 5 in Burlington, giving me regional exposure as well.
Live interview with Tom Messner, WPTZ
June 16, 2016
(photo credit: Jessie Forand)
After the interview, where I explained the purpose of the box being an interactive work of art, Tom finished his broadcast from inside the box.
Tom Messner, WPTZ live broadcast, June 16, 2016
photo credit: Jessie Forand
I have to say that the interview was a lot of fun, and, being that it was filmed live and I needed extra courage to feel comfortable doing it, I can now attest to the fact that the box really does work, it certainly gave me more courage.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Crafted: Objects in Flux @ Boston MFA

The Boston MFA's exhibit Crafted: Objects in Flux (August 25, 2015 to January 10, 2016) challenged and effectively obliterated the false dichotomy between craft and art in a way that reminds me of the 40 Under 40: Craft Futures show at the Renwick Gallery in 2012. This exhibit, curated by Emily Zilber, goes even further by including artists of multiple generations and multiple nationalities. The show is also very important in breaking down the barriers between "craft" and "art" because, surprisingly, it is the first time an exhibit of this kind has been held in an encyclopedic museum.

My favorite work in the show were these pyrographs by Japanese-American artist Etsuko Ichikawa.
Etsuko Ichikawa
Trace 2012 and Trace 2112
glass pyrographs on paper
The pyrographs themselves are both beautiful and interesting but what makes them truly great is watching the accompanying video that shows how Etsuko makes them -- by snaking molten glass on paper and using an immense amount of skill in creating beautiful designs without causing the the entire effort to go up in flames. Part dance, part performance, part glass making, the end result is a work that captures a unique moment in time.
Etsuko Ichikawa
still from glass pyrograph video
Etsuko Ichikawa
still from glass pyrograph video
Charlotte Potter's Pending is an interesting conceptual piece. She projected a map of the US on the wall and placed a cameo pendant of her pending Facebook friend requests on their location.
Charlotte Potter
hand-engraved glass cameos, metal, images courtesy of Facebook
The length of the rod is proportional to the number of their mutual Facebook friends. Additionally, she very skillfully carved the image on the cameos from her friend's Facebook profile picture.
Charlotte Potter
Pending (closeup)
Greg Payce, a Canadian artist, sculpts amazing negative space images with porcelain vases that he throws by hand. Unfortunately, because I hate reading wall text in museums, I totally missed the images he creates and, consequently, didn't get a good picture of the actual vases in the exhibit.
Greg Payce
Adam and Eve
Two lenticular photographs of porcelain vases
Christy Oates often ties the traditional decorative furniture technique of marquetry with conceptual art. Here she has created work that you might expect to be made for the top of high-end furniture but they are designed using a computer algorithm based on the top trending Google news story of the day. There were fifteen pieces on display representing fifteen days in September 2011.
Christy Oates
Kaleidoscope Algorithm
Fifteen segments in various woods
Thankfully, there was an accompanying video to clarify her process.
Christy Oates
still from Kaleidoscope Algorithm video
Similarly, Alison Elizabeth Taylor uses the same traditional technique to "paint" a very different type of contemporary commentary.
Alison Elizabeth Taylor
Tap Left On
wood veneer, shellac
Her work often deals with working class issues, which is an interesting contrast to the "craft" typically used as decoration for economic elites.
Alison Elizabeth Taylor
Armstrong Congoleum
wood veneer, shellac, aluminum
Chien-Wei Chang, a Taiwanese-British artist, created this Huge Ladle (I'm guessing it is about five feet long). With it he plays with the concept of craft objects being functional. Additionally, his ladles are conceptual, relating to his own journey of emigration -- being scooped out of one container and being placed into another. 
Chien-Wei Chang
Huge Ladle
silver plating, padauk wood
Faig Ahmed is an artist from Azerbaijan who uses traditional rug making techniques and styles of his culture as a launching pad to visually tie the past with the present.
Faig Ahmed
Handmade woven carpet
With her Hair Craft Project, Sonya Clark honors artists that are traditionally overlooked and under-valued. Over a one year period she visited eleven hairdressers and had them create their art in two forms, ephemerally on her head and permanently on canvas.
Sonya Clark
The Hair Craft Project
Hairstylists with Sonya
color photographs
She also photographed the artist with their creation, thereby literally and metaphorically standing up for the work so that it can be seen as museum quality art. 
Sonya Clark
The Hair Craft Project
Hairstyles on Canvas
silk threads, beads, yarn, shells on canvas
Astrid Krogh is a Danish artist who created this beautifully woven optical fiber "fabric." The title, Ikat II, refers to a technique of resist dying that allows subtle bleeding of the colors, similar to how the different color light fibers interact with each other. As such, it is a work that is equally contemporary and traditional.
 Astrid Krogh
Ikat II
woven optical fibers, paper yarn, light monitors
With this closeup you can more clearly see the weaving pattern and the subtle bleed of color caused by the interaction of light.
Astrid Krogh
Ikat II (closeup)
In all there were forty-one artists in the exhibit representing an amazing amount of diversity in styles, techniques, and background. The quality of work was great but what I truly loved was seeing a major fine art museum breaking down barriers between it collections and expanding the definition of what "fine art" means.