Thursday, May 20, 2010

An Evening in Chelsea

The gallery at Mixed Greens  is currently showing Joan Linder's phenomenal drawings in "Cost of Living".  These meticulously rendered images of weeds, a corpse, an old mattress, and documents are both powerful and sensitive in their execution.  Linder restricts herself to the traditional tools of pen and ink on paper, and uses a restrained technique of building mass with repeated short linear strokes.  The graceful contours of leaf and blossom belie the compulsive control  in their execution. Table 8 (cadaver) is, ironically, one of the more lush images.  It is a dissected body,  recorded from visits to a gross anatomy lab in a medical school. Drawn in a warm floral palette of reds, oranges and yellows, it conveys life more viscerally (literally) than her massive flowers limned in monochrome blues and green. 

The artist's obsessively drawn resume of Louise Bourgeois consists of four large pages, with two columns each, listing Bourgois' CV in tiny hand lettered script.  In her painstaking chronicle of the creative life of this icon of contemporary art, Linder's homage is  both wondrous, humbling and rather uncomfortably masochistic.   The few ink stains splattering the work might as well be blood. A table strewn with mundane paper clutter is actually precisely copied replicas of lists, receipts,  bank statements, school reports and junk mail.  Looking a bit too much like my own unattended desk, the trope l'oeil effect is almost playful.  But Linder's excruciating mimicry subverts the seemingly innocuous detritus of financial bondage and family responsibilities.  Each scrap of paper signifies a decision, a bond or a distraction that together constitute the artist's, or anyone's, "cost of living".  The show closes May 28.  Mixed Greens is located at 531 W. 26th St. 1st fl.

Party Time!
Ella Yang took Karen Flatow and me to the City Arts  first year anniversary party last night.  If you haven't checked out this publication yet, it is a newspaper listing theater, music and art gallery/museum exhibitions and events in Manhattan.  There are reviews and articles and advertising at a reasonable rate.  Ella was impressed with the response she got from an ad for one of her recent shows.  Held at the Chelsea Art Museum in a grand upper gallery hung with the monumental painted gestures of Jean Miotte, the affair was festive and chic.  Flashbulbs were discretely popping, we spotted Matthew Modine chatting with the art crowd.  There was a grand piano playing, then strings; a group called The Audubon Ensemble was  barely heard above the convivial din of the crowd.  Violinist Corinne Ramey
laughed and said they could barely hear themselves.

 Ella, Karen and I held court at  one of the small cocktail tables, We sipped Pinot Noir and Karen had the City Arts cocktail (vodka infused with culture).

We talked the art talk: Sizing up studio real estate, flirting with galleries, escaping to residencies and the pros and cons of sacrificing children on the alters of art. There were no name tags but we met a man who called himself "The Wallet".  Says he buys art.  He copied our contact info onto his Blackberry.  We'll see.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Exhibition

March 27
Exhibition today.  My piece with tiles still not hung. To meet Andre this morning at 8 am to hang by the reception at 11 am.  The tiles just came out of the kiln yesterday at 5pm.  I hadn't yet assembled them into a "quilt" and Nancy helped me with the tedious tying on of ties and a trip to the hardware store to get more supplies, including hanging rods..  Also, took Dawn's suggestion to heart and separated the two colors into white porcelain and red terracotta.  They had shrunk at different rates and the look wasn't coming together with the pattern I had envisioned. My clothes for the reception will be the same things I've worn all month, but clean.  Glad I remembered to pick up my laundry last night.

Finally hung and the crowd arrives

Jason Walker's blue alter ego embodies Vallauris

Dawn Whitehand's work included sculptures of the chimneys on the roofs of Vallauris

Nancy Aleo displayed a series of paintings on traditional Mexican bark paper.  The shape of the offering bowls beneath the paintings were based on a seashell.

My wall of 17 little masks reflecting the diversity of the area

An exercise in techniques: underglaze paints and pencils, china paint, scraffito on a colored slip, decals, building up the clay surface, cutting through the clay...

Dawn Whitehand also made a series of nesting forms based on a life form found on the beach at Golfe Juan. 

Across a Tender Ocean, my porcelain quilt with paint and paper collage.

Nancy Aleo's work touched on her vision quest and the spiritual path she continued in the foothills of the Maritime Alps.  This was drawn in white ink over black gesso.

Jason's cicadas and owl

Master Class

March 22
Took Jason's 2 day master class.  His focus was primarily painting on slabs.  The clay was porcelain and all the participants worked alongside after he demonstarted his process.  He did the entire workshop in French, which was a relief for Dale who usually has to translate everything.  Jason studied French in college but has been working with software before his arrival to sharpen his language skills.  The participants seemed happy to help him out with any language glitches.  Most spoke a litte english.  There were a few Australians in the mix as well.  I made a few small plates.  We also did a scratch technique on a painted black surface.  

Of Porcelain and Perfection

March 20
Last night we loaded the kiln for a high firing.  Dawn did some calculations and we are behind scheduling for kiln firings in order to have all our work done by the show.  Both Dawn and Nancy directed the placement and loading.  Jason's two large pieces went in last. He was a bit bummed because his penguin had a fine hairline crack at the wing and showed ridges at the back where he had joined the slab.   The penguin was from porcelain, a notoriously difficult clay to start with. All clays are unique to their source: one can get to know and master the porcelain of one area yet have to learn all over again the idiosyncrasies of a porcelain from another geographic region.   He trashed the penguin, breaking it up in pieces.  He had put a lot of work into a drawing on the surface of the penguin, with the face like the nose of the Concord and airplane wings.  He had drawn with underglaze pencils  a portrait of Strobe, Dawn's friend who is staying in Vallauris. Jason had drawn him with a slightly manic expression brandishing a gun shooting CO2 molecules out of the air.     

One of the first things I did was a portrait head of Dale and after it was fired I shaped wire glasses for it.  I did it just to get the feel of the clay and to jump start my process. It didn't make it into the show.

Jason's Penguin that never made it out of the studio.
The master at work on a blue self portrait 

Days and Nights in Vallauris

This is Adia and her friend Etienne. Adia worked in the office of the A.I.R. "Galerie Aqui Siam Ben" and was a joy to see everyday.  She helped out with the language, the bus and train schedules and other practical things and was a lively participant in passionate discussions of art, life and food.

March 17
St Patricks Day. I haven't seen one shamrock or leprechaun.  Will post some images of the town.  Hilly narrow road on the way to the studios.

This is a funny juxtaposition of the sign for bread "pain" on the corner of Avenue de l'hopital:

They have colored lights embedded in the street that make the village look like a colorful art installation at night.  They cast eerie shadows and Nancy and Jason posed in the colored beams. Cats lie on the lights for warmth.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Napoleon Returns, Every Year

March 6 

Nancy Aleo and I went south a short way to the coast at Golfe-Juan where they have an annual re-enactment of Napoleon's landing there.  

After being forced to renounce the throne, he had been exiled on the island of Elba and after a few months escaped, landing at Golfe-Juan.  He led his entourage to Paris where he ruled for 100 days before finally being defeated at Waterloo. There were troops with loud muskets and tents set up on the beach, the enactors in period costumes.  There were also craftsmen and displays of blacksmithing, stone carving and the like.  

We went for a coffee afterwards and realized we were on a parade route of all the costumed players.  

Happy Birthday!

March 4
Nancy Aleo's birthday.  We celebrated with fantastic cake and some strawbs with our champs as the Aussies say. 
Here is Dale Dorosh, the founder of AIr Vallauris, with the Australians Strobe and Dawn Whitehand and master ceramicist from Washington state, Jason Walker.