When I started trying to promote my own artwork online I kept coming across other people's art that amazed or compelled me in one way or another. This blog has been a way for me to practice thinking and writing about art, as well as learning more about my peers and all the incredible art that is being made out there.

Search for an Artist on this blog (or cut and paste from the list at the bottom of this page)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Matthew McConville - update

"Table Top Landscape"  about 5' wide

My apologies, but It's one of those weeks. Hopefully I'll do a regular post before it's over but in the mean time I thought I'd share this painting sent to me by Matthew McConville (whose work I posted on Nov. 16).

What I love about this is the direct dichotomy it represents with another group of his paintings (see below) which depict monumental scaled earthworks on small intimate canvases. In the piece above he represents a landform in miniature resting upon a table top but done on a fairly large scale. It's exactly the sort of thing that can make seeing art in real life so  rewarding. Here we can only imagine the different effects the variation in size might have. But conceptually, at the very least, it's a fun game of playing with scale and how that impacts the nature of representation.

"Steel Box"  2007  oil on panel  16" x 24"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lekan Jeyifous

"Urban Growth Strategy 1"
"Central City Settlement"


"Hydro City Settlement"

"Outer City Settlement"

Lekan Jeyifous is a Nigerian born and Brooklyn based... um... architect? yes. Designer? sure. Artist. certainly. His work is much more far-ranging than what I've posted here. This is just the stuff that first appealed to me; work that integrates graphic novel/sci-fi aesthetics with the fascination of detailed charts, maps, blueprints and other technical visuals. In everything he does the presence of New York City, and Brooklyn especially, looms large. This is urban art with an urban message to an urban audience. The message? Well, maybe it goes something like this. "This place is seriously messed up. I wouldn't live anywhere else." He captures something of why the occupants of big cities feel this way: All the crowding and chaos, the slow decay at the margins and the dilapidated facades of industrial ruin somehow manage to co-exist alongside a thriving population ever ready to reinvent itself and its environment. There is an odd phenomenon that exists in the minds of city dwellers where even a dark dystopian vision of the future seems in some ways kind of exciting. In keeping with this sort of futurist mentality he keeps his media process mixed giving it a look both modern and aged. "The drawings presented here started out as digital images that were outputted, sketched and drawn over, and scanned back into the computer in order to be retraced, textured, and layered." All of which makes the images seem as if they were historical documents from some distant future relating to one less distant. You can see more work like this and plenty of other stuff on his website www.vigilism.com
I came across his work initially on the art networking site: bluecanvas.com

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nancy Loughlin 2

"Discord"  2011  oil on wood panel  55" x 40"

"Homestead"  2010  oil on wood panel  52" x 36"

"Playgrounds"  2011  oil on wood panel  42" x 36"

"The Go-Round"  2011   oil on pressed wood  30" x 36"

"The Lodge"  oil on wood panel  60" x 47.5"

I am more than a little bummed. Nancy Loughlin currently has a show up in Seattle at Linda Hodges Gallery. Just three hours away for me. And I had to head over that way to pick up some of my own work. But the only possible day I could go was on a Sunday and her gallery is not open on a Sunday. Why not? Why? I don't often get to see the work I post here in person. Seeing art first hand always makes an enormous difference. But sometimes the difference is greater than others. Ms. Loughlin's art seems of that sort. Her work is often large and always complex, subtle and delicately nuanced. Nonetheless I'm enthralled by even these small digital reproductions. Figures and creatures and all manner of imagery fade in and out of her paintings occupying scenes and symbols of domesticity and haunted by wildness and chaos.  She's exploring the hidden dimensions of our ordinary lives which create the illusions of order, and thinking about the ways in which we try to pretend that nature is out there, when all the time is is right here with us, and being affected by everything we do.
You can see loads of work on her website: www.nancyloughlin.com

(The Show close this Saturday on the 26th so if you happen to be in Seattle, go see it this week!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Matthew McConville

"Excavation"  oil on panel  12" x 14"  2007

"Iceberg"  oil on panel  16" x 20"  2007

"Ramp"  oil on panel  16" x 22"  2007

"Un-natural Bridge" oil on panel  16" x 14"  2007

"Waterfall"  oil on panel  16" x 24"  2007
Matthew McConville's work ranges over a variety of themes and subject matter from straightforward landscape painting to allegorical figurative works, to installation projects and digital drawings of hair (?!). All of it is thoughtfully engaged in historical perspectives and his statements concerning each of his projects is well worth reading (something I don't get to say very often about artist statements). But what initially caught and held my attention was these depictions of imaginary large scale earth art. He describes his approach as combining the visual style of the Hudson River school of painters (Church, Cole, etc.,) and the Earthwork artists of the mid to late 20th century. His short essay on these called "Earthworks 2007" is especially good. Interestingly, given the monumentality of both the images and the historical references, the actual paintings are quite small, only 16" tall or smaller, which in the real world creates a a very different interaction with the viewer. While I think the paintings would work wonderfully very large, there's something both intriguing and playful (dare I say, ironic?) in this more intimate and personal scale. The artist is asking us to imagine the monumental instead of trying to convey it directly. Most of us will never see Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson (due to it being constructed during a time of drought it has spent most of it's history since 1970 submerged) or other famous earth art projects. We have to be content with documentation and our imaginations. In the same way, I have never seen most of the art I post on this blog. Mr. McConville seems to be saying (comfortingly I think) that, while this is certainly not be the same, it may be enough.
You can look through the rest of his work on his website: matthewmcconville.com
I stumbled across his work here: www.levygallery.com

Monday, November 14, 2011

Masakatsu Sashie

"Stove"  2011 oil on canvas 162 ×194cm

" ジャンボリー"   2011 oil on canvas 116.7 ×116.7cm

"Planet"   2010 oil on canvas 162 ×130.3cm

"Bazaar"   2010 oil on canvas 130.3 ×194cm

A lot of contemporary art here in the U.S. is addressing the condition of our post-industrial world and the decay and destruction of our environment. There's an obsession with decrepit buildings and overgrown infrastructure. It's no surprise that artists in Japan would take on some of the same themes. Masakatsu Sashie has an interesting take on it though. In many of his paintings a death-star-like sphere of urbanity floats above a desolated world. In another the urban is represented by a battle ship plying a sea of human refuse. The message is clear: As cities grow, the planet dies. Subtlety is fine thing but sometimes the message is more deserving of a hammer-like delivery, and these arresting images do just that. You can see more at sal-s.com

The artist was also featured on www.artistaday.com where I first came across the work.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nina Elder

"Pile"  2009  Acrylic on Panel  48" x 84"
"El Huerfano (The Orphan) II"  2011  Acrylic and Gesso on Panel  36" x 48"
"Double Feature I (Alamosa)"  2009  Acrylic on panel  36" x 48"
"Defunct: Ojo Caliente"  2011  Acrylic on Panel  48" x 60"
"Lode"  2011  Acrylic on Panel 48" x 60"
Nina Elder's paintings apply the flat mass produced feel of pop-art to the post industrial American landscape. It's an unexpectedly nice fit. There's something about this look, that was originally employed to mimic the glossy glitz of pop-culture and consumerism, that does as fine a job describing the shabby detritus of our modern landscapes. It's as if to say, this too is consumerism. Not in the form of entertainment and advertising, but the more direct consequences of how consumer culture consumes and transforms the real world. Being a resident of New Mexico most of her work echoes the open spaces of the West, but it's not a romantic openness. Instead what she sees is how the perceived emptiness is used as an excuse to construct and destruct without concern of cosequences.
You can see more paintings, plus drawings and other work on her website: ninaelder.com
Nina's work was recently featured in New American Paintings 96.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sarah Williams

"Clarence"  2011  oil  24"x24"

"Paint Booth"  2011  oil  30"x30"

"Pavement 5"   2011  oil  12"x12"

"Brookfield Satellites"  2011  oil  12"x12"
"Sprague's Locker"  2010  oil  18"x30"

Anyone who has seen my own work will understand the appeal for me in Sarah Williams's night scenes. Artificial lights all have their own signature spectrums, some close to white, others eerily extreme, saturating all within their reach in a sickly range of reds and ochers or cold and unforgiving greens and blues. Sometimes several different light sources vie against each other. But the darkness, is the defining element of night. And the stillness that emanates from it. These are quiet scenes, not of nature, but of completely man made structures and environments. The people are absent. For night is also the time when we sleep, and even the places that we build appear to dream.
You can see more at her website: sarahwilliams-paintings.com
Her work was also included in the recent issue of New American Paintings (#96)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Laurie Anderson

Although I usually focus on visual artists still trying to promote their own work I have on occasion posted more successful folk. So when an email came my way about Laurie Anderson's show "49 Days in the Bardo" at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia which included a number of large drawings, AND an invitation to interview Ms. Anderson, I could hardly say no. First, here's some of the work.

"Lola in the Night Sky" light through punched holes in aluminum  8' x 14'  (photo: Lou Reed)

from the series "Lola in the Bardo" charcoal on paper 10'4" x  14'4"  (photo: Carlos Avendano)

from the series "Lola in the Bardo" charcoal on paper 10'4" x  14'4"  (photo: Carlos Avendano)

"Lola in the Bardo" insallation view (photo: Carlos Avendano)

The premise behind the show is this:

"In The Tibetan Book of the Dead, also known as The Great Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo, the bardo is described as the forty-nine day period between death and rebirth. The book is a detailed description of the way the mind dissolves and what the spirit experiences in this transition. In April 2011, Lolabelle, my small rat terrier died after a long illness. For twelve years she had been my constant and faithful companion. Counting the forty-nine days from Lolabelle’s death I realized according to The Tibetan Book of the Dead Lolabelle would be reborn on June 5, my birthday."
-Laurie Anderson

The show which runs through November 19 if you happen to be in the Philly area, is a multi-media body of work including texts, drawings, sculpture, projections and sound. I'm mostly concerned here with the drawings. You can see some images from other aspects of the show at www.sneakattackmedia.com. The main thing to keep in mind here is the scale. These are enormous drawings. Big isn't always better by any means, but it is important to keep in mind when trying to gauge the effect the originals might have on the viewer. And now, here's my first interview with anyone ever. In it's entirety. I only edited out the ums and aws and paraphrased slightly here and there for clarity:

Me - I was aware of your music and performance and installations but not of your drawing. Have you always done drawings?

LA - Yes, I have always done drawings. When I was in art school I was a painter. Then I did sculpture. So I've always done [visual art].

Me - A lot of artists may get some success in one area, whether it's acting or music, then try out other forms of creative expression. Often not particularly successfully, but you seem to cross genre's pretty easily. Why do you think that is?

LA - I spent my whole childhood making little books, doing little puppet shows, doing music, painting, and nobody ever said, hey, what are you going to be? Nobody ever asked that question, so I never answered it. Fortunately I found a good catchall thing which was "Multimedia artist". I don't feel like I have to stay in the right bin. Sometimes I think those bins are made for economic reasons more than any other ones. My chops in music and [in other areas] aren't great, but I'm not a chops person. I just like to express different things in different media. I'm not intimidated by the fact that I don't have those kind of chops. A friend of mine recently said "I realized I'm not part of the art world, I'm part of the art market". That was really chilling to me and that explains at least part of the reason why you're assigned a bin. The art police come along and say "Get back in your bin!". being an artist is supposed to be about being free. But sometimes when you step out of your so-called genre, you're told not to do that, and you realize this is not such a free place either. So I try to do that, if I feel like it. It's not really to prove anything. I started making paintings last summer because I was really kind of depressed. A friend who's a painter said to me, "here's some brushes, here's some canvas. go and make a painting." I said no, I hate painting. he said "Go - and - make - a - painting!" So I said "Alright" and I did and I couldn't stop. Now I have to say that I have a certain amount of disdain for art as therapy. If you don't feel good get a shrink or talk to your friends, don't take it out on your art. But I have to say after doing those big paintings I felt a lot better, so what do I know?

Me - You mentioned the size. These are really big drawings. how important is the scale of the work?

LA - Really crucial. Really really crucial. For me it was the closest I've come to playing the violin, to improvising. It was the gestural bowing that's all over the place in those drawings. You see this circular motion, and I thought what are all these weird shapes that are like spinning tops? And then I realized they were just... like the way the bow is expressed in motion.  I learned a lot by looking at it intuitively. I'm used to working more on a level where you have to explain things. So it was a big relief to make what seemed more like an abstract piece of music.

Me - Of course most of the people who see these images online will never see the originals. How much value do you think there is in seeing small electronic images? How much is lost?

LA - A lot. For me as an artist working in theater, scale is everything. you can't put a little quicktime movie on youtube and expect it to have the punch as it does in a theater when it's a giant 70mm movie. None of these things work little ...the scale of these is important. You stand in front of them and you're informed by that.

Me - Do you think that having such a large show dealing with issues of love, loss and death is in any way trivialized by it being about a pet? (I'm not sure why I felt compelled to ask this)

LA - I think that unless you really have loved an animal in that way it may seem idiotic. When some of my friends said , oh I hear your dog died... but they couldn't even be bothered to give their condolences... they were like, get over it. I had a cat that died... what's the big deal?" One of the things about being with an animal is that opens you to another way of being in the world. It's an amazing way to see things. Also, when they say things like that and I'm standing there (my dog has died and I really miss her, it's very physical, and it was a pure and great relationship that we had, and also lot's of fun...) I'm thinking, I would a hundred times rather be spending this evening with my dog than talking to you. A lot of what counts for human companionship is just... competitive comparing of careers or trying to keeping up with your email. As a kid we had a lot of animals but I never really got to know a dog like that before. So I don't think it's trivializing anything to talk about loving an animal. For a lot of people it is ridiculous, I do realize that. They just think, oh my god that's so pathetic. But I really hope they get a chance to fall in love with an animal, because it's great. I probably felt the same way when people talked about their dogs... until I got a dog. So it's really better to just talk to other people who like dogs.

....that's the whole thing right there.
you can also check out Laurie's Website: 
and her facebook page: fb.com/laurieanderson