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.