Monday, June 15, 2009

On Route One-A

I feel obligated by my own sense of duty not to skip another week of blogging, but it is after all, as of next week, summer, and instead of racking up shows that I’ve seen, I give you this: three moose, various ducks one of whom is utterly comfortable begging for a handout, tadpoles and frogs a go go, just tonight a deer in the driveway, and 4:30 A.M. wake-up calls by a very loud robin. Such is the life of the Maine artist on Route One. It’s a wonder I ever get to the studio.

But I do, and I also made it up Route One-A to Bangor today to the University of Maine Museum of Art to catch Vessels Absent, Aaron Stephan’s exhibit of humanoids cum packing crates, arranged like spectators at an art exhibit. Aaron’s work is born at the intersection of art criticism and craft. What is art, anyway? Is it the ability to make objects, or the gift of allowing those objects to comment on themselves and on art in general?

The packing crates reminded me of Mark Tansey’s “The Innocent Eye,” but I wondered too about the spillage of shredded paper at the base of each crate. Are one’s thoughts about art always so transparently “out there” for other spectators to see? As I pondered the question, I found myself standing contraposto just like one of the packing crates. And I can't leave without noting that the ink drawings in multiples of 64 comment not only on their old master sources and on Andy Warhol, but also on every artist's struggle to get it right.

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