Notes From the Life of an Artist
The Art Ache
Yes, there are contemporary art rules – codes to let one another know whether or not you are a contemporary art insider or poser.
Number one is that anyone who is anyone does not sign their works of art, with few exceptions. You might as well dot your i’s with hearts. This was once a little tough for me to buy, having started my career in realism where there was a good chance that a painting hung with an unobtrusive signature on it led to more sales. You are aiming to be such a somebody that people know its your work without needing a signature, and if you are not there yet, pretend you are, because a signature yells that you are not even going to get there. Your signature is not part of the work. A frame is not part of the work. Your collector list is not part of the work. All of this is both true and not true. READ MORE
The city of Black Rock is created on the “playa” of the Black Rock Desert for the annual weeklong Burning Man Festival. We flew from Reno to the playa on a terrifyingly small and old charter plane that seemed barely able to make the 50-minute flight. READ MORE
Hiring a web developer? Read this first.
Because my website had not been properly set up in the first place I was faced with the dilemma of constant manual fixes or a complete revamp of the site, so I decided to stop fixing what was basically broken and to start over. This would provide me with the opportunity to implement some upgrades and redesigns that would have been tough to integrate retroactively. I had a pretty solid idea of what features and functionality I needed in a website and how I wanted it to look. I had no idea that translating this into a working site would be such a challenge.
Finding someone to take the job is relatively easy. Finding someone who can actually deliver is astonishingly difficult. It seems there are several types of developers out there. READ MORE
Reading art writing requires an extra cup of coffee for me to be able to stomach. I can more easily plow through a scientific abstract than smoothly digest art writing, which takes the simplest ideas and often strives to make them as complicated, vague and important as possible. I feel oddly guilty about this because I love art, I love exploring ideas, I love to learn, I am not intimidated by difficult text and art is my chosen field. Yet when I want to wind down with an article at the end of the day, art writing is not my choice. I fail to buy it, and get distracted and exhausted by my own judging and eye rolling when I notice the effort that the writer took to make a simple idea seem lofty or ambiguous. On many occasions I am bewildered by the first or second reading of a sentence. Art writing is the frame taking over the painting. Here are the types words that are favorites in the field: polymath, normative, palimpsest, transversal, polemic, zeitgeist, ziggurat, semiotic, polemic, etc. Sure, there are uses for them, but sometimes I feel like yelling, “Stop trying so hard! It’s just art!” Here is an example of some drivel from a Whitney Biennial catalogue as noted in the blog of artist and critic Carol Diehl:
“Bove’s ‘settings’ draw on the style, and substance, of certain time-specific materials to resuscitate their referential possibilities, to pull them out of historical stasis and return them to active symbolic duty, where new adjacencies might reactivate latent meanings.”
Really? READ MORE
I was driving by the frozen river on a winding road on my way to cross country ski with my dogs last Sunday. The sun was shining and flakes of snow were falling off of the trees and catching the sunlight. Some high, echoing piano notes were repeating on the radio. I used the Shazam app on my iPhone to find that the song was “Wash.” by Bon Iver. The notes sounded poignant and lilting and like a memory. They sounded to me like light green, and the sound matched the feeling of the flakes of snow catching the sun, and described the heartache of loss. I knew then exactly where to go with the canvas that had been sitting unfinished in my studio.
The painting, a 6’ x 9’ panel, was faintly sky blue covered by layers of dark drips. While listening to the song I got the idea to cover the blue with a spare, transparent wash of light spring green, turning the painting into a fresh forest, but one that is melting and dissolving and haunted by a few out of season snowflakes flying amidst the greenery. The snow over full green represents the sad fact of our climate turned upside down: snow in summer, heat in the winter, freezes in the tropics, heat at the poles, tornadoes and storms and all of the upheavals of a pained planet. I want the piece to be sensuously beautiful but to also give the viewer a jab, like the feeling you get when a beautiful bird smacks your window and falls. I want the piece to look delicate but slightly wrong, and to be evocative of loss. I want the piece to be eloquent and poignant. READ MORE
After years of landscape painting I began to realize that scenery was not so interesting to me as the fundamental biology behind the scene and our pervasive role in the system represented. I am fascinated by human progress, by the effects of human advancement and by the complicated interrelationships of those effects. READ MORE
Shortly after composing my last artist statement, I came upon this podcast while listening to old episodes of my favorite audio show, Radiolab. The show fascinated and stunned me, because it so very much provided a clear and timely example of the very complex relationship I have been exploring between humanity, earth, intention, and consequences. As I listened to it in my studio I actually got goose bumps on my arms. If you take a few minutes to hear the segment you will have a clear understanding of my current 2013 work. READ MORE
A couple of weeks ago we returned from a trip to South America with the Aspen Art Museum. Sixteen people and Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, the director of the AAM, went to private collections, artist studios, museums and galleries. Here are some of the things that surprised me. READ MORE
Our relationship to the world we live in has changed exponentially and rapidly. Nature, once bigger than humanity, is now a tool, a resource, an infected organism and a fragmented system. Buy it, sell it, use it. We alter genetic codes, shape the climate, patent genes, change the course of evolution and create artificial life. We wipe out entire species and ecosystems and turn the ramifications into political arguments. Basically, we shit where we eat. The idea of “nature” as a broad, controlling and creative force in the universe seems quaint and secondary. To contemplate nature in this era is to examine its qualities and possibilities: its patterns and symmetry, its randomness, fragility, and interconnectedness, its unavoidability, its potential. READ MORE