Thursday, December 13, 2007

Incubator: Rememberances

Incubator entries contain some of my germinating concepts that will work their way to full blown artistic expression over time.

My mother died recently after years of chronic illness. The memories of her that come to mind overall are good and amusing ones even though there was at times considerable distance between us, and at one time, resentments that over the years faded away. Some papers she left behind show her caring and her own trials. This has me thinking about memories and rememberances.

I will be remembered as … even our own day-to-day, year-to-year memories are fleeting, sometimes dead wrong. Does it matter how we are remembered; if so, why? One idea is generational -- how we are remembered impacts our family, perhaps our friends. Another idea is divinity -- we'll be judged later. A third idea is our highest and best purpose -- does the way we are remembered serve to achieve our purpose (even if we are unsure the purpose)? We pass the world onto others.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Open Studio

Here's are close-up shots of a couple of the figurative elements for The Open Studio Project, Vessels with Souls, and an installation shot. The project has been extended by the city into December. I am now working on other constructions with the newspaper, without consideration for graphite or pigment surface imagery.

The graphite pulled the repeated Vessel figurative shapes together and engaged the dynamic I was after: at a distance, each shape appears dark and singular, but on closer inspection, both the newspaper layers and the graphite imagery layer reveal themselves. As my thinking progressed with each shape, I became more interested in using the woven paper to add quasi three dimensionality to the pieces; at the same time, I also became more interested in using the graphite to obscure as well as to accent when integrating the graphite imagery into the newspaper elements.

The butterfly was a bit of a surprise, beginning as a meditative exercise in interlocking pieces and growing organically into a form. At one point, I could see it as a shroud growing to fill the the expanse of the room, and yet, since Vessels has representational content, I felt a deep need to maintain a representational aspect to the developing form; hence, the form felt complete when it reached this stage. It can go on the wall and be suspended from the ceiling, as well as lay across the floor or other forms, taking on the shape from whatever supports it is given. I see many dimensional possibilities, which I am beginning to explore. How form possibilities engage a concept remains crucial. I plan to engage the expansive room shroud idea in some manner, letting it run its course without the confines of the larger installation concept, at a later date.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Color Procrastination

I've become obsessed with color the last two days, perhaps because the elements I am working on in the open studio are going to be quite dark. At the moment, I'm settling for playing a little with color on the computer, to have a place for the thoughts to go. I'm not saving most of these exercise, but once in a while I hit on something I want to hold onto a bit.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sincerety, real or faux, is not enough

Read an article in Artlies, Vol. 49, on (S)incerety in art ... really, faux sincerety. How much does it matter if the artwork is sincere or intentionally made to look like what loosely and supposedly passes for sincere, like what "sincerety" justifies, or what is in the manner of the "sincere"? If it's bad, it's bad ... regardless of intention. At times, it seems as though we've lost the ability, or at least the willingness, to judge the result of visual effort based on the actual quality of its aesthetic impact. Eliminating aesthetic standards, or expecting no aesthetic response, though does not make art work more assessible; indeed, it seems to put it further out of reach: to reach it, one must be okay with elevating the bad or ineffectual over the powerful and moving.

Friday, November 2, 2007

City of Chicago Open Studio

I am the Artist in Residence at the City of Chicago's Open Studio this month. The Open Studio gives the public the opportunity to watch an artist at work. I am working on the elements for an installation using woven newspaper figures as the surfaces for my imagery. My primary days will be M, W and Th from 9 to 6, and intermittent hours other days. The studio is beneath the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington -- access via elevator in the Cultural Center or through the pedway.

Two days into this, I don't yet have much up in the way of art. I sit behind a table, cutting and interweaving newspaper strips (after I read the paper, of course). Lots of cutting. Lots of interweaving. Staring at the wall/space and at some of my larger, imperfect scraps -- I do alot of staring -- gave me a idea for laying out a separate wall installation moving around a corner, related in general shapes/forms to the main work. Art is fluid that way. I'll be seeing what comes of the idea at the same time that those who stop in.

So far, most people that stop by have hovered outside the windows; a few have dared to enter and talk for a while, some about art and some about general events.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ponder Deinstalled

Today, I took Ponder down at Evanston Art Center. The very large scale work fits into a shoebox and a three ring binder. Hard to make final observations, other than it came down much faster than it went up. When I arrived, the other work from the exhibition was off the wall and being wrapped (they are very efficient), leaving the floor somewhat cluttered with boxes. It's always a little sad when one sees an exhibition down, and yet, somewhat refreshing to see blank wall again.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Art? Test

Someone sent me this entertaining online quiz ... can you recognize Art?

I got 14/16 -- pride or chagrin?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

MCA Visit

Yesterday, I finally had time to walk slowly through the MCA's current exhibitions -- it's free until mid November. They have collection highlights, where I spent the most time, and Sympathy for the Devil, an attempt to catalog(?) the intersection between art and rock since 1967, focused predominantly on New York and LA and tossing in some of the Midwest/remainder of the country.

I'm not particularly knowledgeable about rock -- there's music I like to listen to and music I don't like to listen to, but I generally have never followed music/ musicians / the music scene or the trends and don't know the ins and outs of rock history or movements; I'm not the best audience for Sympathy for the Devil. I walked away with an overwhelming feeling of over-the-top sameness. Perhaps the sameness came from the series of wall paintings spread throughout the exhibition (meant to tie the show together?); for me, these felt unduly staged like banners substituting for large wall text I've sometimes seen vying for equal attention with the art in major museum exhibitions. I did appreciate time to look at Longo's graphite and charcoal drawings; the richness of these highlighted the general weakness of the pure graphic silk-screened (or digitally printed?) black and white grid of canvases chosen to earmark the exhibit in the long hall between the main exhibition rooms.

The collection highlights proved more of a draw for me -- Bontecou (my favorite exhibition at the MCA), Irwin (okay, this piece is up alot), Ryman,... How is it I can be absorbed by Ryman's white on white paintings (or Still's work at the Art Institute) and yet not be particularly minimal in my own artwork? Their work is not precisely minimal -- lots of built up paint -- but the result tends toward minimal aesthetic. Calder's always there ... always appreciated.

I found the MCA's archives of the last 40 years surprisingly absorbing, the highlight of my visit -- fascinating to read correspondence between curator and artist surrounding the development of a show, nostalgic to see records of exhibitions I've seen at the MCA even just a few years ago, and interesting to make new discoveries in a glimpse at exhibitions that preceded me (Made from Paper show, Chris Burden, etc..) Christo's (preparatory?) drawings with wrapped elements were a treat. Of course, when I visit the British Museum, I tend to spend a fair bit of my time in the document room.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

From My Your Studio Flower Inspired Series

Willingness to Open Up

Tendency to Wait

Tendency to Approach

How do I Get Noticed?

Tendency to Connect

Tendency For a Few To Ignore Restraint

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Participated in SAIC's fundraiser, Barewalls, yesterday evening. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon and early evening. Less artists painted live this year (they offered finished works this year to give artists a different way to participate), which meant more room but less room energy overall during the afternoon. It perked up with the arrival of viewers -- a good turnout I think; at least, it felt crowded.

Unlike last year, I was still working when people came in to watch us paint; I had about an hour's worth left to do. My camera battery died at the end, but it turned out the last picture I had taken was very close to the finished piece (just missing my signature and a few darkened spots). Another artist was kind enough to take a couple pictures of the final piece for me. I titled the piece "Upturned Vessel".

Monday, October 8, 2007

Latest Exhibition: Unform, Reform, Inform, Deform

My latest exhibition continues to play with mutable elements, this time developed and arranged specific to an architectural office (Joel Berman Architecture and Design) here in Chicago during Andersonville Arts Weekend (it's still up, btw) as part of Chicago Artists Month.

Mutability – translating walking in and around a building and opportunities to change positions into imagery – informs the observations, structures and possible juxtapositions.

Catch site of the Wrigley Building from a certain angle, and one half appears as a plane – flat -- until the dimensional block of the clock tower unfolds behind it; the two towers connected by a bridge push against one another, reminiscent of folded paper. Musings like this led to mental play with Chicago buildings as flat and as dimensional shapes, folding and unfolding the shapes, and then to physical manipulation of forms based upon these shapes.

Surveying architectural detail as silhouettes coalesced around bird forms in the Tribune Tower’s doors; and thereafter, bird or bird-like forms seemed to pop up everywhere, some actual and some perhaps more conjured in the detailing, from the owl atop the Harold Washington Library to the winged form in the prairie style Healy Building to Sullivan’s owl-like detailing on the Carson Pirie Scott Building. Some buildings themselves seemed to take on a bird like appearances. Losing the buildings among the birds rescaled the relation between the two.

It’s a fact of life that unfortunate birds regularly slam into glass windows of buildings, and a less known fact that Peregrine falcons were transplanted to roost on city buildings to improve their numbers.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Distance As An Issue in Art

Relating to documentation and viewing a piece live, one of the Museum of Contemporary Arts (in Chicago) curators at a panel discussion about their curatorial practices spoke about the complexity of documenting and exhibiting performance work as the performing artists eventually become unavailable. Any piece that involves the context and viewer to deliver its content and impact presents this same difficulty. Individual paintings don't necessarily depend upon the context in which they are exhibited for their meaning and impact, even though they are reset in different contexts everytime they are rehung or repositioned in new sites. The sites may well impact viewers' interpretations but not necessarily the summary interpretation of the work over time. We look at the painting, not the wall on which it hangs or the room in which it hangs. IF we look at the painting ...

AS OPPOSED TO the photo of the painting. I'm reminded of something an art professor noted ... once upon a time, instead if having access to the actual paintings, many people relied on black & white reproductions in books to view and learn about the great paintings/painters/sculptures/scuptors, then on inaccurate color reproductions; now it seems we digest much from web images and what we imagine from accompanying and historical text that accompanies the reproductions. Distancing seems to be built into how we digest art.

Which brings me back to the photos of Ponder, and the extent to which I distance myself from my own work or not. Looking at the two photos of Ponder (and a few others I have), it occurred to me that I can see my struggle with flipping the piece and visualizing flow in the opposite direction during the reassembly; the piece feels more at ease in the first incarnation. I wonder if other pick up on the struggle. Perhaps my memory of the experiences hopelessly infect my perceptions of the piece.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Installation: Ponder at Evanston Art Center ... Images

Finally had a chance to take pictures of the reinstallation of Ponder at Evanston Art Center (second picture here). Compare to the first installation (first picture). The combination of having to flip the image and pieces and the rearrangements to adjust for pieces not adhering as well to the wall surface made for big differences; yet the essense does remain the same, doesn't it? I am biased, though, so perhaps likely to see the essense carrying through.

Even so, I think that the spatial effect in the reinstallation unfortunately suffers somewhat. Perhaps due to the more limited area for placing the elements on one wall. Or due to the gap? The Center's wall has a significant gap -- a flaw far more apparent in the documentation than when viewing the piece on site; that gap draws the eye.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Reception for Sheets, Planes and Pulp

Nice turn out for at the reception for the Sheets, Planes and Pulp.

Margaret Hawkins, the juror, focused on the immediacy, fragility, and mark making of paper as drawing points for the medium. I see what she means. Paper tends to want to be and to feel very hands on. I found sculptural aspects compelling: one artist made a sculpture that looked and felt like a smooth, shiny stone; another artist made transluscent cocoon like forms.

As for my piece and some more thoughts on reassembly, sadly, a couple elements did not want to hold to the Center's wall (the wall was more textured than the original installation wall), preferring the floor area. I did not mind the dropped elements, but was bothered by the remnants of tape, like stains on the piece, left behind on the wall. I reset the couple winged elements that slipped, substituted winged elements for the book pages after deciding the book pages might be too heavy to cling, and set the book pieces as emerging from the swarm. The arrangement, even with these tweaks, works conceptually and visually. Of course, differences are only apparent to me. Not even those who had seen the piece previously installed seemed to realize the differences -- an interesting footnote perhaps on what people may or may not retain from viewing a piece of art.

One other observation: I'm not sure the swarm aspect hit viewers as immediately this time around.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Installation: More thoughts on Ponder

It just struck me that I had become used to looking at the picture of Ponder, mostly a small version of the on my computer screen, and thinking of the picture/documentation -- since that's what remained from the original installation -- and less about remembering the impression of the installed piece itself, a big difference in scale. Seeing the piece reassembled, even disoriented, emphasizes scale difference. Whether it's a loss, a gain, or simply different I imagine is an individual impression viewer to viewer. For me, simply different.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Installation Day: Ponder

Lots was unexpected when I arrived at the Art Center to install Ponder today.

The Center assigned me a corner (thankfully) but one side was very short -- a little less than 2 feet -- far too short for the spatial illusion to work. They assumed that the elements were going to be suspended; but of course, that's the illusion! The Center did shift a painting several inches, giving me a little more room to work with, but I had to flip the orientation of Ponder so that the swarm was going in the other direction, and shorten part of the paths on one wall (they were equal in the original installation), all of which impacts the spatial illusion. 5 hours later, instead of the expected hour or so, the piece was up and my head hurt.

I had a headache while flipping the piece -- very disorienting it turns out -- as I am used to the right to left flow and had trouble wrapping my head and eyes around a left to right flow while also trying to insure the piece looked enough like the original image that the juror had viewed to select the work for the show. Parts did not readily flip either. The hand has images on one side so it cannot simply be turned over... alas more disorientation as it is now an unnaturally facing hand like someone twisted the arm 180 degrees at a joint. The winged elements suffer from the same problem, though having these face the wrong direction looks less apparently off. I could not simply flip the floor element either, as the drawings on it and the cut out hand are oriented from one direction; so these too are a bit disorienting in the reassembly. I also had to assemble the piece in sections, as I did not have the ladder, which was in use by others, at all times; so there was less room for free form color balance/weighting during assembly. This, the limited time and the disorientation from flipping the piece forced me to lessen focus on color balance ... getting the paths to work spatially was more important. They do work. Thank god. So the essense of the piece is very much the same. Perhaps the essense is all reassembly in an altered context can achieve.

The white wall, verses the greenish wall of the original, is much starker. The absense of colored lights (I could not find low enough watts for the lighting system) changes the piece as well by taking away one aspect of connection between elements. On the other hand, the colored lights are less integral -- before they offset the darkness of the green wall. I was able to get some colored shadows to cast from brighter pigment in some of the elements, strategically placed for highlight effect. That works as nice points of emphasis with in the paths. The result of these color/lighting differences, I think, is a greater emphasis on the paths, a less blended effect. Starker. Different.

What did I find out: One has to rethink assembly while reassembling; it can NEVER be the same piece but essense carries over through differences.

I'll post an image when I have one.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Installation: A Second Physical Life for Ponder

"Ponder" will be reassembled in Evanston Art Center's exhibition, "Sheets, Planes & Pulp: Works on (and of) Paper" this month. This opportunity to begin the dialogue from installation to documentation to reinstallation necessitated two additional pieces of documentation -- a sheet of instructions for installation and developing a path diagram.

Writing the instructions and drawing the after the fact path diagram were at best translations of the work because the piece was originally developed loosely through in the moment interaction with the pieces, my scissors, my senses and thoughts, and the space, rather than constructed according to a series of rules. As it turns out, the instructions and diagram won't be needed: I'll have the opportunity to do the installation at the Art Center.

Question of retention, augmentation, and accepting that the piece will differ no matter what? When I went back to collate the elements of the piece, I was reminded of the damage that some of the fragile newspaper winged elements and one book page horse element suffered while removing the original piece during deinstallation. I produced additional versions of the winged elements, though these probably won't be needed this time around, and will include the damaged pieces among the floor pile to retain a place for them in the piece. I repaired the damaged horse element.

The piece also may do without the colored lights in this reassembly unless on very short notice, I can find bulbs or filters compatible with the Art Center's lighting system.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Installation and Reasembly

The difference between viewing actual installations, documentation after disassembly, and resassembled installations presents potential for dialogue. Examining these relationships, noting subtle tensions, Ponder, an installation exploring temporary materials and spatial orientation, will evolve in different contexts in the coming months. The image here is the from Ponder's original site specific context.

Tendency Series (Continued)

Following up on contradictions between form and intentions, I developed a sign that I am incorporating into some of the Tendency work, and pushing a dialogue between the sign and the weight forms.

Tendency To Feel Isolated:

Tendency to Feel Disconnected:

Tendency to Mix Metaphors:

Tendency Series

In conjunction with reading Art As Spiritual Activity: Rudolph Steiner's Contribution to the Visual Arts, I've been working on a series of forms letting weight move around in the picture plane. These images, Tendency to Accumulate shown above and additional images below, were done on Saatchi's Your Studio because the limitations on tools confine the manner of pushing and pulling. The concept of Tendency is broader than issues of weight in forms, engendered by playing interaction and contradiction against one another, with respect to both the forms and intentions.

Tendency to Sculpt:

Tendency to Name:

Tendency to Hang On:

Tendency to Droop:

Tendency to Forbode:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Interaction in Art

I've been thinking about interaction in art lately. Does Art lie in the constructs for interaction that the artist(s) give(s) the viewer(s) or is it the ensuing interaction itself? There are limits as to how much the interaction(s) can be expected, influenced, manipulated, or contrived by the artist(s); if the Art is in the interaction, are the constructs needed? I think Art lies in mediating between the constructs and the viewer's interaction, which admits both attempted control and absence of control as relevant.

Where does success of artwork come from? When the expectations are met by the ensuing interactions? When the interactions exceed expectations in unexpected ways? When the interactions alter the expectations? Need intention even match outcome? I find the greatest success in my own work is when the kernel of my intention is present and ensuing interaction expands my expectations.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Some News...

I updated my website at, and a brief essay I wrote, "Objects, Added Color and Installation: Thoughts on Artistic Direction", appears at

Interesting Article

"Why the art world is a disaster" by Roger Kimball

Monday, June 25, 2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

Some Pics Done With Saatchi Gallery's New Your Studio

Saatchi's Online Gallery launched a new drawing area which includes fairly rudimentary tools. I can't change the size or direction of any of the tools, but it's still lots of fun, and a bit of a challenge.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cool Globes

My Globe is up at Navy Pier...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pic-A-Day: Place

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Installation vs. Object: Longevity?

I had a web dialogue with another artist about object based art verses space based art. Installations involve some arrangement of paintings/drawings/wall markings/projections and/or free standing or sculptural elements (or monitors) in a space, and presumably some idea of transitions between the two (plus, perhaps some extra conceptual trappings), and in some cases, a time or 4D element. Nowadays, some artists even hang a bunch of paintings and call it installation because installation has become a buzz word.

While I see installations as the natural result of integrating the various elements that make up perceptions of art work and effect its interpretation, I have my own current issues with a feeling of emptiness in a fair amount of installation art I see. That was not his concern, though. His focus was on which form would outlast us (the artist) in some way defining Art, arguing in favor of painted sculpture. His concern seemed to be that the installation art will lose it's integrity once the artist/space are gone and some other artist, curator, etc is interpreting whatever survives from the installation, whether that's an object or documentation. I can see something to the idea that the individual pieces comprising the installation do not necessarily stand alone -- it depends on the concept of the installation. Still, any object is appreciated differently depending on its context, and rare is the long-lasting object that is seen in its original context. To me, the form -- painting, sculpture, installation hardly seems to be the means for defining Art. Whatever lasts will be defined and redefined by others.

His group's website is

Pic-A-Day: Der Mouse

Friday, May 11, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Viewer in Art II

Speaking of the invoking viewer participation, Gilbert & George have released a digital print (you have to assemble the parts) which viewers can download and assemble, but only during a very limited time window, which is already running out as I type :,,2075007,00.html
Gimmick or Art?

The Viewer In Art

I came across a website, fkartproject in which the artist is leaving small painted canvases behind in places and seeing who finds them where and takes the step of letting him know they found the canvas. It's charming. People who find the canvases get a kick out of their found treasure, and the artist gets his a kick out of his work connecting with someone.

It's not a new idea; others, for example, have done a similar thing with postcards. And a good deal of contemorary art invokes viewer interaction as a concept behind the work. In some measure, it's historical footnote to say art = Art because the artist says so. I find myself that I can't separate viewers from the work: connecting with viewers, to me, is essential for art to resonate. But the connection that happens is different from contriving connection. It's in vogue, but does viewer participation make art = Art or has it become another easy tagline?

Pic-A-Day: Sniff

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Saatchi Gallery Show Down

I submitted Ponder into the next Saatchi Gallery Show Down, which starts May 14 and ends May 21. Please visit and vote.