Artist, Designer, Traveler, Writer, Photographer

PAINTING

THREADS OF TIME

I am pleased to announce a solo exhibition of work from “The Threads Project (2001-2007)”. “Threads of Time” will open on the evening of Friday, September 18, 2015 at The World Trade Center’s Offsite Gallery in downtown Norfolk, Virginia and continue until October 16.

After showing many of the pieces from this project since its inception in 2001 in juried and solo exhibitions across the United States, I am happy to be able to have a fairly comprehensive selection of pieces on view. Visitors will be able to see approximately sixty of the several hundred works completed over the years 2001-to about 2007. Included will be textile pieces, drawings, works on paper, unique prints and works on paper derived from prints made at Crown Point Press in San Francisco, paintings, and a sculpture.

The blog covers in detail the history of “The Threads Project” and is a good resource for those planning to visit.

FRONTCARD back(2

The Offsite Gallery is run under the auspices of The City of Norfolk through their Office of Cultural Affairs. It’s temporary gallery space is in The World Trade Center as its usual space was severely damaged by an explosion earlier this year.

This exhibition is a bit of a homecoming as I showed my work long ago in 1980 for the First Anniversary Exhibit in the original damaged gallery, The Selden Gallery in the historic Selden Arcade.

Of course I never imagined then that I would one day return to Norfolk. Some of the pieces in the exhibition have roots going back to that time. The technique of frottage or rubbing began after one of my first trips to Europe, to London, where I made tombstone rubbings at Westminster Cathedral. I enjoyed experimenting with it over time and when “The Threads Project” began several decades later it proved to be one of the important methods in my work.

“Threads of Time”~an appropriate title for a long journey.


“NO CHANCE”

July 31, 2014-August 7, 2014

The 30 by 40-inch painting on canvas, “Origin”,  marked the first new work this year. It was a difficult painting, laden with starts and stops and  layers of decisions as I built up the surface searching for the final state.

ORIGIN 2014

ORIGIN  2014    30 x 40 inches  acrylic on canvas

Even as I struggled with this work, I sensed a change. Questions come to mind. Have I finished with this series of dot and stain pieces? If not, where am I going? And significantly, what connections are there to my past work and  to contemporary art being created today?

As I mentioned recently, the creative well has been severely depleted. So it is wonderful to be working at all.  As in past times of such depletion, I am slowly emerging from the anaesthesia. I am looking at art again, art of all kinds. I am looking at what is happening in the capitals such as London where  The Tate Gallery is of course in the forefront of exciting contemporary art. A link from The Tate’s website to the iconic institution WhiteChapel Gallery has led me to their series of anthologies, Documents of Contemporary Art .  Historic and contemporary aesthetic ideas and issues are written about by artists, curators, and scholars.

My first two choices in the series are “Time”, edited by Amelia Groom, and “Chance”, edited by Margaret Iverson.

I chose the volume devoted to “Chance” because I had been thinking about the switch about a decade ago from work that was primarily figurative to non-representational work or abstract.  I had been thinking of conversations with a colleague who was struggling with her first attempts at abstract painting. I offered the advice to “search for the pattern” in the marks already made in her painting. This led me to analyze my own process, particularly in the ongoing series of stain/dot paintings. I had been thinking of the staining aspect in terms of “chance” and was considering a blog post on this process about a year ago. My tentative title, “The Game of Chance And The Search For Pattern” now seems flawed, at least in reference to my own work.

Now that I have begun to delve into the wider outlook presented in the Whitechapel book I can see that chance has little presence in these paintings. Considering some of the definitions of  “Chance” made this clear.
Chance
“A possibility of something happening. The occurrence and development of events in the absence of any obvious design.
Fortuitous. Accidental. Do something by accident or without design”.
 The more I read about the process of chance as used in past decades by people like John Cage and John Baldessari the more I realized that the only part of my process involving chance was the staining with which I began the paintings. Even here, I controlled the image by shifting the canvas to guide the flow of color. In the end I decided that chance was for all purposes, absent. In fact, the paintings are remarkably controlled from beginning to end.

Rather than chance, especially in this recent piece,  perhaps accretion would better describe the process.

The origin of the staining method began with the textile work decades ago. The application of fluid color onto the stretched canvas, a fabric after all, causes a similar result as my old dye processes on silk and cotton. There is a slight sense that the stain begins with no authority of mine,  But that’s where any possibility of chance ends. By tipping, blotting, spraying, I guide the flow of color as much as possible. I search for a pattern, yes, but one that fit my sense of composition on the surface.

photo4

These photos give a bit of of the steps in the process of trying to work out this painting. As the top photo shows, it as a difficult process, with attempts covered over.

At some points, it seemed the solution was in hand. But no, the painting was far from the final state. I was tempted to resist the usual complexities of the dots, to leave the composition in a far more spare state of positive and negative.

photo7

But there seemed to be in irresistable force at work. I felt driven to continue  finding “islands” of color and dots in the field of the canvas.

Untitled New Painting 2014

This photo gives the “terrain” of the painting. From these “islands” developed the pattern that also sustained the stains from which the picture began.

Here are details of the finished painting~

 

2014-08-04 13.56.50

Origin 1

The process of naming this painting was just as difficult as making it. I really searched my associations for a title which would not be trite or overly suggestive and narrow. In the end, a television program on until now unseen formation of stars gave an idea. Photographs beamed from distant space showed what astronomers called a “natal environment”, a place where a new star might be born. This painting was actually a beginning in a sense. It did record, in the process of its making, the state of chaos that precedes solution or manifestation. So rather than the rather unpoetic “natal environment”, the title “Origin” seemed appropriate.

In answer to my question of whether these dot and stain paintings have come to an end, the answer is no. The blank canvases await.

 


SUMMER INTRODUCTIONS

This new post comes after a long hiatus indeed. Leaving the West Coast for the East, a long renovation on a new home, all conspired to keep me away from my blog activities.

I’ve returned to Virginia after leaving in 1983 for San Francisco. Norfolk was my home from 1977 to 1983. I am happy to mark my return with an exhibition at The Art Works Gallery, sharing the exhibition with Lawrence (Skip) Hollingsworth, a painter, and Zach McKiernan, an historian who brought the work of a collective of printmakers from Chile.

Poster1      Artist Attachment Art Works

I chose to hang a selection of works from “The Threads Project”, a large body of work which has been extensively documented in this blog. This project marked a great change from the primarily figurative work that I was making in the years I lived in Virginia and has informed the work which evolved and developed since.

The pieces in the exhibition were selected to illustrate important ideas from “The Threads Project” such as pairs and analogies, “lab pieces”, thread drawing, the “stitch-mark”, and using thread as both subject and medium, all of which may be read about in this blog’s Posts and Pages.  Among the works were pieces which have been previously exhibited such as two triptychs, “Three In Red” and “Elements”. Works chosen included paintings, works on paper such as the announcement piece “Pages II (Red)”, and textile pieces.

Also included was “Mind’s Eye”, one of my most recent works. This is a work on paper which is descended from the ideas and relationships in “The Threads Project” that link my fine art to my textile work. I used fluid acrylic in a kind of staining method on paper much in the way that I once used dyes on fabric.

MIND'S EYE 2012 Acrylic/Okawara paper Approx. 35" diameter

MIND’S EYE 2012
Acrylic/Okawara paper
Approx. 35″ diameter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


SILK, PAPER, AND CANVAS~MATERIAL MATTERS

After more than three years, I have updated the Page which previously was titled “Textile Design Notes and Gallery” is now PROCESS AND MATERIALITY~PAINTING AND DYEING.

The new Page illustrates my wish to dissolve boundaries between materials and processes, to broaden the ideas of what defines art as artists, “craftspeople”, designers, and Makers of all creative bents continue to show in the Twenty-First Century.

GEMSTONE dyed silk c.1997

GEMSTONE dyed silk c.1997   

“Gemstone”  is one of the first textiles which I considered as a unique work of art.

ARCHIPELAGO 2012 Acrylic on Okawara paper

ARCHIPELAGO 2012 Acrylic on Okawara paper

The newly-updated Page has links to Posts which show the evolution of early textile work to  recent acrylic paintings on paper and canvas.

PROCESS AND MATERIALITY~PAINTING AND DYEING


TERMITES AND MOLTEN GOLD

Painting is back in my life after a rough patch. I have finished two paintings that remained unresolved, one for more than five years, and the other since last May.

My trip to Namibia in late 2005 resulted in so many memorable experiences and images. One of these was the abundance of amazing termite hills. Inspired by the landscape of this sparsely-populated desert country I thought to do a series of work both in textiles and painting. But alas, this tall, vertical painting sat unfinished and unsatisfying until now. The impetus to start again came from the last image posted, “Mind’s Eye”. This employed gold acrylic in two forms on my beloved Okawara paper. The more liquid of the two media happened to be Jacquard’s Lumiere, a paint I have used to great purpose in my textile work. I discovered that it worked beautifully on not only paper, but the rough and textured surface of the painting. I went on to pick up the last of my 30 x 30 inch canvases left unattended for months. Risking overkill, I discovered that Lumiere lends itself to subtle layering with fluid acrylics as well as various mediums.

Here are the results~

 

Noon-Apex  2013       48 x 24  acrylic on canvas

 NOON: APEX  2013     Acrylic on canvas   48 x 24″    Private Collection

 

 

MOLTEN 2013  Acrylic on canvas  30 x 30"

                MOLTEN 2013 Acrylic on canvas 30 x 30″

Although I didn’t  make the connection while working on “Molten”, there certainly is a flavor of the textures and light of the desert observed in Namibia. Looking back, I found some of the photos taken there provide a visual memory of the dramatic landscape more than eleven thousand miles from California.

Long Shadows At Apex Farm

Long Shadows At Apex Farm

Shed Snakeskin-Apex Farm

Shed Snakeskin-Apex Farm

Termite Hill At Apex Farm

Termite Hill At Apex Farm

Kurt, Carolla, and grandson were my hosts at their forty-five acre game farm. Carolla and I participated in the first invitational, international art exhibition, Art Action-Seven Fires in Karibib in August of 2005.

As mentioned in earlier posts, one of the pieces exhibited there, from a suite of four works on paper, will now appear in an exhibition at Northern Illinois University’s Museum of Art at DeKalb. The exhibit, called “OBJECTIVE / SUBJECTIVE: Mapping as Visual Language” will show the work of ten artists from March 19 through May 24, 2013.

These works echoed the landscapes of not only the as yet-unseen country in which they were to be exhibited, but a landscape of the mind and imagination sparked by the materiality and process of paint on paper. I carried the four pieces folded into a pocket on the side of my luggage and they were hung in a stone building with clear plastic clips. The same system will display “Interior Landscape” at the museum exhibition.

FOUR MAPS FOR KARIBIB-INTERIOR LANDSCAPE 2005  Acrylic, thread on Okawara paper

FOUR MAPS FOR KARIBIB-INTERIOR LANDSCAPE 2005 Acrylic, thread on Okawara paper


“MIND’S EYE”

Sometimes ideas float around for quite a while before the opportunity or impetus for acting on it comes along.

While doing some websearching for exhibition opportunities I came across one for a gallery in London. The timeline was short but the topic was intriguing~”Gold”.  A “match” came to mind, the thumbnail from some time back for the shaped drawing for which I already had the title in mind, “Mind’s Eye”. I would use a simple but dramatic palette of black and metallic gold.

Using the familiar and favored Okawara paper, I decided to use a roughly roundish shape with the staining process of recent work. But the addition of gold to the mix caused me to consider my options. I decided to use a metallic acrylic with a thicker, adhesive quality normally used on fabric but perfectly at home on paper. Although it came with a tip that allowed me to “draw” lines with the paint, I used a brush as well.

This is the result~A second work with the same palette on Okawara is in progress.

MIND'S EYE 2012Acrylic/Okawara paperApprox. 35" diameter

MIND’S EYE 2012
Acrylic/Okawara paper
Approx. 35″ diameter


“MAPPING”~SPRING 2013 EXHIBITION

A BIT OF GOOD NEWS THIS WEEK~”Four Maps For Karibib-Interior” has been selected to be included in the spring exhibition “Mapping” at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois. The exhibition will take place March 19 to May 24, 2013.

This piece is one of four in a suite titled “Four Maps For Karibib”. They were created in 2005 on the occasion of an invitation to exhibit for the first international exhibition in the town of Karibib, located a few hours from the capital of Nambia, Windhoek. Nambibia is a sparsely-populated country just west of South Africa. With an land area twice the size of California but with less than two million people, this exhibition was a big event to its citizens. A German colony until the early Twentieth Century, then aligned with South Africa, Namibia is now an independant republic since 1990. It is still a rough and tumble place that attracts people from many countries. Our exhibition was held at a compound in Karibib owned by a Russian ex-pat Leonid Stupenkov. The event was not only an opportunity to show work of artists but a celebration that included bonfires, fireworks, roasted goat, music and dancing. It was truly an international event! In attendance were members of the media, including radio and newspaper, as well as the Russian consul and his wife. Some traveled, I was told, two hundred kilometers to join the festivities.

Four Maps For Karibib-Interior 2005 Acrylic, thread on Okwara paper

I wrote about the exhibition in an earlier Page on Webs And Threads. Here is a partial excerpt:

“ART ACTION-SEVEN FIRES” ~NAMIBIA 2005

I received an unexpected email one day in June, 2005, inviting me to exhibit my art in Namibia where a dear old friend, Armand  has lived for many years. We met in Virginia in 1979 as he was ending a long journey across America and Canada. He was about to return home to Nuremberg, Germany to continue his studies in architectural restoration and art.

Although we knew each other just a short time, it seemed like the right thing to do when I accepted his family’s invitation to visit Germany for a Bavarian Christmas and what was to be my first trip to Europe. It was to be one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. We have all stayed in touch since then, in spite of far-flung locations and busy lives.

Armand’s adventurous spirit took him to Africa, where he finally settled in Namibia in the small town of Karibib. There he has worked as a sculptor as well as created amazing mosaics and stonework. Although the digital age means that we now stay in touch more often, the email invitation came out of the blue!. After all the years of thinking about a visit to Africa, the time was right!

There were only a few weeks to prepare my work for the exhibition. I came up with the idea of folded works on paper when I noticed a folded map of California. This turned out to be the ideal solution to transporting art more than eleven thousand miles.

I simply folded the suite of four “Maps For Karibib” and put them into the zippered side pocket of my luggage. On arrival and the installation of our work, Armand strung a stainless steel wire in the stone building where our work was located. I use stainless steel spring clips to hang them like laundry. The beautiful Okawara paper did resemble fabric and visitors enjoyed walking around to see both sides of the four works.

The four works utilize the triangular “the stitch-mark” motif first developed as part of   THE THREADS PROJECT.