Thursday, February 17, 2011

Economics and Art

Ready to go - my Fundred Dollar Bill

Following up on my previous blog, I've mailed my contribution out to the Fundred Dollar Bill Project. Here's where to get your template and where to send it to convince Congress to clean up lead-contaminated soil in New Orleans. Why should you do this? Lead poisoning leads to health problems, impedes learning ability and contributes to violent behavior. Mel Chin's website says it best: This is an important local and national project of interest in the areas of art, science, health, education, environment and social activism. An armored truck, three million kids, Congressional leaders, need we say more?

And thinking about how imagination (art) works in the service of society, I'd like to mention the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. From time to time I serve as an Artist-Teacher working with their MFA students, and it was nice to meet Danielle Dahline, the MFA in Visual Art Director, and other members of the faculty, at the CAA reception last week. Vermont College's program promotes art that is collaborative and takes on its significance through a relationship with social, cultural, political and economic concerns. In their words, "All artists have an obligation to understand and struggle with these extra-artistic issues."

I just have to get my licks in - add them to the many voices speaking out against yet another round of cutting programs and funding for all the arts - and say that devaluing the creative process can only hinder intelligent thinking in all areas including science and economics. When will they ever learn?

Monday, February 14, 2011

More from CAA

Last Friday's programs at the CAA Conference included a panel discussion of current practices in painting, a presentation of global opportunities for artists who want to work outside the US (and for artists from away looking to come here to work), and finally, an interview with Mel Chin.

There's a unresolved conflict between the modernist notion that paintings are objects, and post-modern practice which posits that paintings are events that take place over time, and that the resulting image is simply the residue of those events. When I'm working, I like knowing that the essence of change is always implicated in the painting, and that paintings come out of doubt rather than out of historical certainty. The unresolved conflict bit comes in when, in spite of the painter's doubts and uncertainties, the paintings themselves are inevitably resolved not only as objects, but often even as uncomplicated objects of beauty.

One of the presenters - my notes don't record which one - spoke of the computer as offering a new complexity for painters, a new way toward the sublime. I like that idea too - that the sublime as located by the Hudson River Painters for instance, and as run to ground by the Abstract Expressionists, will now have a 21st century residence.

And then, Mel Chin. Since the early 90's and Revival Field, I have been in awe of his decision to move away from making discrete objects and toward implicating all of us, whether we are aware of it or not, in taking responsibility for the things that are wrong with society. In awe too of his ability to put ideas into practice. Using imagination and humor rather than ham-fisted accusations achieves much. Have a look at his Fundred project for cleaning up the lead pollution in New Orleans. Make your own Fundred Dollar Bill and send it in. I have my template ready to color in.

Image: Geologics, oil on canvas, detail, has absolutely nothing to do with Mel Chin, but very much to do with paintings as objective accretions of process, and a whole lot more to do with Google limiting today's image choices to its surreptitious storage on Picasa of my own work.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Voy a viajar

The subject of today's afternoon session at the College Art Association ARTspace conference was: Residencies. I've done residencies both locally, at Spalding University in Louisville and at the Art Center at Kingdom Falls in Maine, and also internationally at Pouch Cove in Newfoundland. This year, I'll be spending October at the Can Serrat Residency in Spain.

I have always loved to travel in search of the artistic grail, and I have always loved languages. Therefore, being awarded a stipend for a residency at Can Serrat is perfect. When I applied, I promised myself that if I got this, I would learn Spanish, and I'm well on the way to doing so now. I'm attracted to the geological splendor of the region (see above image), and the more I look into the region's history, the more I find connections to the medieval mysteries of Catholicism. All of this will feed my work in ways that I can only guess at now.

My thanks go out to ARTspace and the Services to Artists Committee of the CAA for excellent programming, and I'd also like to mention ResArtis and the Alliance of Artists Communities. If you are looking for residencies - and there are at rough estimate some 500 in the US and 600-700 world-wide - then these are your go-to resources.

Image credit: Can Serrat website

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


The College Art Association is in town this week, hosting its 99th Annual Conference. The ARTspace "conference within a conference" offers programs free to the public, as a service to artists. This morning's sessions were titled  "The Aesthetics of Sonic Spaces" - four talks on the nature of sound art, what it is, what the tools are, and how sound art intersects with environmental art. Like installation art and performance art, sound art had its genesis in the 60's and in situational esthetics. Two of today's questions were "who owns the air space in which sound occurs?" and "how do we make sound art that does not reference music?"

So the image I've chosen does not accurately represent what today's talks were about, but it does identify a seminal modern composer and sound architect whose drawings were the subject of an exhibition last year at the Drawing Center in Soho. I am sorry I missed that, but grateful for the opportunity today to be introduced to his work. I see it as a point of entry for my own installation work - not to jinx the subject, I'll save writing about that for later when I'm deeper into it.

Other take-aways from the talks today:

Jonny Farrow's Soundwalks along the Gowanus Canal and in Fort Greene. I'll walk more slowly and listen more intently next time I'm headed for the studio.

China Blue's Seventh Kingdom projects that invent new "bioforms" from the detritus of urban life. Her use of seismic recorders to catch vibrations in the structure of the Eiffel Tower - and then ratchet them up so as to be audible to humans - make me wonder what the inner shiftings of the earth sound like, to paraphrase Octavio Paz, sounds from the other side.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Erosions at Coleman Burke Gallery New York

Some images from my exhibition Erosions at Coleman Burke Gallery New York
January 27 through March 10, 2011

Erosions, geologics & terrains, the exhibition catalog with an essay by Mark Wethli, is available at the gallery and from