January 28, 2015

John Yau: "There is a lot of very good painting going on these days"


At  Hyperallergic Weekend, John Yau starts a post about a visit to Louise Belcourt's Williamsburg studio with a mini-rant about curators, galleries and museums:
Despite the hue and cry about zombie formalism, there is a lot of very good painting going on these days. It is just that you haven’t seen much of it in MoMA or the Whitney in recent memory, and frankly you should not expect to. The apparatchiks are too busy either going to dinner with a trustee or documenting painting’s demise, as evidenced by their exhibitions of Elaine Sturtevant and Wade Guyton, to actually go out and discover that appropriation is not the only game in town, and has not been for a long time. Maybe the problem isn’t zombie formalism, but zombie curators.
He's right to shift the onus onto curators rather than blaming artists for the market-driven phenomenon that has come to be known as zombie formalism. Yau concludes that visiting artists' studios is the only way to see the best paintings, most of which are not being shown in museum surveys because they don't suit collectors' (i.e. trustees') tastes.

Museum curators may be in thrall to Zombist collectors, but plenty of galleries mount shows that are more compelling than the overly-produced, hotly-traded, undead variety. Here are a few paintings that stand out this week.

[Image at top: Louise Belcourt, Mound 25, 2015, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.]

January 27, 2015

January 27: Andrew Ginzel's list of NYC shows and events


SOME but not all NYC SELECTED SHOWS TO SEE / January 27, 2015  / Listed south to north. Compiled by artist Andrew Ginzel for his students at the School of Visual Arts. Note: Images have been selected by Two Coats of Paint.

[Image: "Call and Response" Huge group show @Gavin Brown Enterprise. Image of the opening reception courtesy CANADA.]

January 26, 2015

RESIDENCY: Andrea Zittel's Wagon Station Encampment


Regular readers know that I'm a zealous supporter of DIY artist residencies, so I was pleased to see that Andrea Zittel's Wagon Station Encampment is featured on the Art21 website this week as part of their "Exclusive" web series. Zittel, represented by Andrea Rosen in NYC, is known for her Bauhausian conflation of art and life, turning every domestic choice and object, from clothing and furniture to housing and landscape, into material for her practice, which she dubs the Institute of Investigative Living.

Blizzard!


Last night when my flight to the Sundance Film Festival had been cancelled, I realized that the storm we're expecting in New York today is going to be a monster -- a storm-of-the-century sort of event. Unless the electricity goes out, expect a few posts in the next couple days while I'm sequestered in my little (but well heated) UWS apartment. Hey--at least I don't have to shovel. We rescheduled our flight for Wednesday-- fingers crossed that the airports are up and running by then. To kick off the Two Coats of Paint storm coverage, here's a clip of the amazing Bob Ross painting a little winter scene...




[Image at top: Screen grab of Yahoo weather report]

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January 23, 2015

ON FILM: Art and Fraud


Guest contributor Jonathan Stevenson / Art forgery seems especially unsporting and misanthropic as non-violent crimes go, involving as it does the subversion of high culture. For one unknown artist to represent as his own a painting made by another artist would seem a less objectionable transgression than copying a master's work. But in the circumstances chronicled in two recent movies, Big Eyes and Art and Craft, the reverse is true.

[Image: Forger Mark Landis at home surrounded by his paintings.]

INSTALLATION: Elements @ Minus Space


Mid-size objects and paintings that "investigate primary forms and elementary materials" are having a meaningful conversation at Minus Space this month, and I strongly recommend stopping by and taking a look. A walk around the gallery is required to understand how these forms, full of subtle surface contrasts, interact, but gallery director Matthew Deleget sent me some installation shots that look pretty good, too. Artists include Rachel Beach, Vincent Como, Mark Dagley, Cris Gianakos, Erik Saxon, and Li Trincere.

[Image at top: Erik Saxon, Rachel Beach, Li Trincere]

Present, Past, and Future: Irving Petlin @ Kent Fine Art



Guest contributor Eileen Jeng / The exhibition "The Still Open Case of Irving Petlin: From the Years 1960 to 2012" at Kent Fine Art comprised a selection of the artist’s paintings and pastel drawings spanning over five decades. After World War II, Petlin moved away from the bold aesthetic sensibilities of the Chicago Imagists and the Monster Roster, which included an older generation of Chicago artists such as Leon Golub and Nancy Spero, towards a more surrealist approach. He developed a penchant for creating allegorical works, informed by his personal experience, historical and current events, mythology, Biblical stories, and literary writings. With an idiosyncratic approach, the 80-year-old artist creates unsettling yet imaginative, thoughtfully executed works.

[Image at top: Installation view. All images courtesy Kent Fine Art]

January 7, 2015

In retrospect: Sara Greenberger Rafferty @ Rachel Uffner


Guest contributor Eileen Jeng / Sara Greenberger Rafferty’s exhibition at Rachel Uffner Gallery explored the themes of performance, stand-up comedy, media culture, and gender identity that have preoccupied the artist for almost a decade. With several large-scale wall pieces of irregularly-shaped Plexiglas, screws drilled through acetate into the wall, and a polysilk curtain installation, Rafferty employs new mediums while continuing to challenge the definitions of photography, sculpture, and painting.

[Image: Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Untitled, 2014, acrylic polymer and inkjet print on acetate on Plexiglas, and hardware, Irregular: 26 1/2 x 39 x 1/2 inches.]

January 6, 2015

Last Chance: ZERO countdown


One of my favorite exhibitions of 2014 was "ZERO, Countdown to Tomorrow." Open through tomorrow, the show features work by European artists who sought to redefine art following Europe's devastation in World War II--in essence, to start art over in a world that wholesale violence had physically, politically, psychologically, and philosophically transformed. Their experimental approaches and use of unorthodox materials like smoke, fire, metal, glass, and nails led to the development of innovative painting forms including the monochrome and the serially structured painting. Anticipating Minimalism and Conceptual Art, the ZERO artists crafted idea-based objects that incorporated movement and light, pulsating and blinking an urgent SOS, exhorting us to look more closely at nature, technology, and our interaction with both.

[Image: Enrico Castellani, b. 1930, Castelmassa, Italy. Untitled, 1959, nails and paint on canvas, 79 × 59 cm. Private collection, courtesy Tournabuoni Art © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rom]

January 4, 2015

Michael Voss: Beyond the absolute


The following is an interesting catalogue essay that critic Carter Ratcliff wrote for Brooklyn painter Michael Voss's 2014 solo show at George Lawson in San Francisco. Ratcliff rightly suggests that painters aren't resigning themselves to imperfection, but rather cultivating it.
Abstract painting was born from a yearning for absolutes. In 1915 Kazimir Malevich presented his Black Square as absolutely rectilinear, perfectly symmetrical, and precisely right-angled. By 1921 Piet Mondrian had limited his colors to the primaries: pure red, pure yellow, and pure blue with no modification whatsoever. Though Michael Voss is an heir to the tradition they founded, his art has no air of the absolute. In fact, his paintings suggest that he wants to rescue his medium from the absolutism that still haunts it, nearly a century after the appearance of Black Square. He has many reasons for doing that, no doubt, and surely most of them live in regions beyond the reach of language. Nonetheless, a reason—indeed, an impressive reason—for dispensing with absolutism comes to light if we ask not why Voss paints as he does but how. And where.

[Image at top: Michael Voss, Salvador, 2014, oil on linen, 12.5 x 10.75 inches.]

January 2, 2015

Part II: Adira Thekkuveettil and the defaced murals in India


Contributed by Hannah Kennedy, Two Coats Intern /  Adira Thekkuveettil is an emerging photographer working in Gujarat, India, who created "Women on Walls," a series of photographs inspired by the notorious 2012 Delhi gang rape incident. When she noticed that public murals depicting women that were intended to beautify the city had been defaced, she began photographing them. Thekkuveettil ultimately developed a series of images that deconstruct the notion of sexual violence and its prevalence in India, using text, photography, and performance to illuminate these themes. This is the second  of a two-part interview that explores Thekkuveettil's artistic background and her "Women on Walls" series.

Part I of the interview is available here.

Field Trip: Tiger Strikes Asteroid in Philadelphia


While I was teaching an MFA seminar at PAFA last semester, I took the class to artist-run gallery Tiger Strikes Asteroid for a talk by founding member Alexis Granwell. Granwell told the students how the gallery works and explained why running a gallery can be a good option for young artists, especially if the type of work that interests them isn't already being shown in their town.

January 1, 2015

Gratitude, Favorites from 2014, Predictions for 2015

Last 2014 snap from the studio in LIC.

Happy New Year!

I recently read an article (thanks to Sharon Louden for bringing my attention to it on Twitter) that suggested the most common mistake artists make is forgetting to thank the people who have helped them. Thus, my first task of 2015 is to thank the people who supported Two Coats of Paint and my studio practice in 2014. It turns out that the list is extremely long--please forgive me for not thanking you sooner.

First, a big thanks to the readers (you!) who, despite all manner of distraction, have continued reading Two Coats of Paint. Whenever I think I've had enough, I get a lovely note from someone telling me how important it is to have independent (non-market) voices in the art world. I'm grateful for the encouragement.

Thanks to all the writers and artists who generously contributed posts to Two Coats of Paint in 2014 : Jenny Zoe Casey, Andrew Ginzel, Mary Addison Hackett, Hannah Kennedy, Dion Kliner, Heather Leigh McPherson, Rebecca Morgan, Helen O'Leary, Betty Lou Starnes, and Jonathan Stevenson.

Thanks to the people and organizations who make blogging possible financially: Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation selected Two Coats for a Arts Writing Grant last year, and Nectar Ads, masterminded by Veken Gueyikian and Hrag Vartanian, afforded Two Coats commercial sponsorship throughout the year. Thanks to all the people who have given me advice about grants and written recommendations for my proposals and applications--you know who you are.

I couldn't have continued producing Two Coats of Paint without visiting artist invitations and commissions from Gail Spaien at Maine College of Art, the MFA students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the MFA students at Brooklyn College, Leslie Bostrum and Wendy Edwards at Brown University, Anne D'Alleva and Judith Thorpe at the University of Connecticut, Clint Jukkala at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and Marie Thibeault at California State University at Long Beach.

In terms of course preparation, I want to thank Heather Darcy Bhandari at Brown, Eileen Neff at PAFA, and Judith Schaechter at PAFA, who each provided teaching materials and ideas for course content. Major thanks to all the students who shared their work with me throughout the year; they make teaching worthwhile.

I loved curating "Possible as a Pair of Shoes," the MFA show for Brooklyn College, last year. Thanks to Christopher Stackhouse for letting us use his poem in the catalog essay and thanks to BC alumni Sam Jablon, Chris Moss, and Fran O'Neill for participating in the panel discussion we organized in conjunction with the show. Thanks to the BC faculty (chaired by Michael Mallory) and staff who helped hang and promote the show, and Showroom Gowanus for hosting it.

In the studio, I am grateful to all the artists, curators, and gallerists who included my work in exhibitions this year: Robert Yoder at SEASON and NADA; Deborah Brown at Storefront Ten Eyck; Stephanie Theodore at Theodore:Art; Adam Simon at Lesley Heller; John O'Donnell at Artspace; Brece Honeycutt and Chris Duncan at Union College; Janet Goleas at the Islip Art Museum; Julie Torres at Bushwick Open Studios; Brian Dupont at Adah Rose Gallery, Fran O'Neill at Life on Mars; Justine Frischmann at George Lawson; and Peter Makebish at MAKEBISH.

Thanks to the critics, bloggers and journalists who covered these shows and contributed to the dialogue: Loren Munk, Julia Schwartz, Hrag Vartanian, Karen Lipson, Michael O'Sullivan, William Eckhardt Kohler, Anne Russinof, Paul Behnke, James Panero, Paul D'Agostino, Enrico Gomez, and Brett Baker.

Also I want to thank artists Joy Garnett, Teri Hackett, and Patricia Smith for sharing their studio space with me while they were either working on other things or out of town, and Lisa Kim and Kate Gavriel at Two Trees Management for helping me with my application and then inviting me to participate in the Cultural Space Subsidy Program for the next three years. Thanks too to everyone who came out to the show of Thomas Micchelli's work (alongside my own) that I organized during DUMBO Arts Festival. Thanks, Tom, for participating. I love your work.

Thanks to Jenna Lucas at the New Britain Museum of American Art for inviting me to curate Nor'Easter, their upcoming members' exhibition.

To phenomenal printmaker and artist Laurie Sloan who invited me to work at UConn's Counterproof Press as the Artist in Residence during 2014: Thank you (and Ned, too)!

Panels and presentations: I want to thank Timothy Nolan for co-chairing "Articulating Abstraction," a panel discussion at the College Art Association's Annual Conference with me, and thanks to Sharon Louden for filling in when I unexpectedly couldn't make it to Chicago. Thanks to panelists Alexander Kroll, Keltie Ferris, Rebecca Morris, Terry R. Myers, Barry Schwabsky, and Jessica Stockholder for agreeing to participate and keeping the conversation going without me. Thanks to Mark Tribe, Deborah Brown, and Jsun Laliberte for inviting me to participate in "Abstraction and Its Discontents" a terrific panel at the School of Visual Arts.

Appearing with Sharon Louden on numerous panel discussions during the book tour for Living and Sustaining a Creative Life was a lot of fun--more thanks to Sharon for including my essay in the book. In 2014, Raphael Rubinstein, Miriam Stern, Saul Chernick, Meredith Etherington-Smith,
Anne Kelly
Anne Kelly,  Natasha Conway, and Erin Wiermsa commissioned me to write essays, and the process was invariably edifying; much appreciated.

And last but not least, I'm grateful to everyone who invited me to their studio or visited mine. Let's keep the conversations going in 2015.

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And now for the year in review.

Paul D'Agostino, art editor at the L Magazine, asked a gaggle of artists and writers for their favorites or highlights from 2014 and a few predictions or hopes for 2015. Thanks to Paul for including me; here's my contribution:
2014: Christopher Wool and ZERO Group at the Guggenheim, Sigmar Polke at MoMA, Supports/Surfaces at Canada. “Exchange Rates” in Bushwick was a crazy idea that actually worked. Seeing Michelle Grabner, an artist engaged in numerous DIY projects, curate a section of the Whitney Biennial was extremely gratifying. 2015: I’m looking forward to the term ‘atemporal’ replacing ‘zombie’ in painting discourse, and watching migrating NYC art communities help bring Detroit and other downtrodden cities back to life. Will Jerry Saltz finally unravel?
Contributors include Two Coats film reviewer Jonathan Stevenson, Deborah Brown, Meg Lipke, Charlotte Kent, Kate Teale, Vincent Romaniello, Cathy Quinlan, Todd Bienvenu, Jillian Steinhauer, Benjamin Sutton, Don Voisine, Kerry Law, Fran O’Neill, Paul Gagner, and Matt Phillips. Click here to read more.

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Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. For permission to use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

December 22, 2014

Suzanne Joelson studio visit: Temporal and now


When I stopped by Suzanne Joelson's studio a few weeks ago, I found her working on several things at once, including two large paintings on hollow-core panels (doors in a previous life) and a series of painting-collages on paper. Recently I've been collaging scraps of clothing--primarily t-shirts from the salvation army--onto my paintings, so I immediately glommed onto the clothing, dishcloths, and other fabrics that Joelson had pasted into her inventive and evocative abstractions.

[Image at top: The painting on the south wall of Joelson's studio]

December 15, 2014

The strategic now


In her statement for "The Forever Now," the contemporary painting show on view at MOMA through April 5, 2015, curator Laura Hoptman makes a case that the Internet enables painters to sample styles from art history, creating an “ahistorical free-for-all” in which artists are “reanimating historical styles or recreating a contemporary version of them, sampling motifs from across the timeline of 20th-century art in a single painting or across an oeuvre, or radically paring their language down to the most archetypal forms.” As a painter and an art professor, I can confirm that this is true.

Most painters, regardless of generation, rely heavily on the Internet to find reference images, to research other artists who have trodden similar paths, and to form communities of kindred artistic spirits. Online research has been especially important in raising the profiles of under-recognized artists and art movements. I never would have discovered my own work's connection with the Supports/Surfaces artists such as Claude Viallat without the Internet.

Indeed, many of the seventeen artists included in "The Forever Now" work with abstract visual languages, imagery, and ideas found online. Who doesn’t? The more important factor that seems to tie these painters together--and this is where Hoptman’s eye comes into play--is a rather dispiriting interest in strategy and finish over experimentation and heart.

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