July 31, 2009

So long Pocket Utopia

Today is my last day of the residency, and Pocket Utopia's last day at 1037 Flushing Avenue, too. When Austin Thomas opened the space in 2007 as part of her social-space-creating art practice, her commitment to the project was for a two-year period, and now the time is up. As the final artist-in-residence, I feel a little bit like the last guest stumbling out of a really good party at dawn. This morning Jen Dalton, Andy Piedilato, Matt Miller, and Beth Gilfilen all stopped by. Then I packed up my bags, folded the chairs, swept up my scraps, and lowered the window gates for the last time. Instead of Pocket Utopia, look for a cool new bar from Matt Webber, who also owns Soft Spot in Williamsburg, and Keith Cochran at the beginning of the new year. Austin--thanks for everything. Look for Pocket Utopia projects around town and at Rouse Point next year.

Click here to see work in progress, as well as images from the residency period.

The nicest guy in Chelsea: Booksigning party

Ed Winkleman, signing books last night in Chelsea.

Anyone who reads the art blogs knows that Edward Winkleman recently wrote a book, published by the Allworth Press, called How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery. Yesterday I briefly stopped by the booksigning at Ed's gallery and chatted with the blogerati (blognoscenti?) who came out to celebrate Ed's success. Here are a few snaps.

Hrag Vartanian (HragVartanian.com) and Brent Burket (Heart as Arena)

The Art Fag City posse: Associate Editor Karen Archey, Summer Intern Julia Halperin, and Editor Paddy Johnson

I also ran into former Pocket Utopia resident Amy Lincoln (on right) and figurative painter Loie Hollowell.

After stops at a few other galleries, I finally got to check out Ed's book on the subway. See what I mean--he really is the nicest guy in town. No wonder his book is number one in the Amazon rankings for art books. :)

July 30, 2009

Last chance: Sadko Hadzihasanovic at Paul Petro

Sadko Hadzihasanovic, Untitled, 2009, oil and pencil on masonite.

Through this weekend Paul Petro presents sardonic work by Sadko Hadzihasanovic, a talented painter I met several years ago at the Blue Mountain Center artists' and writers' residency in the Adirondacks. Arriving in Toronto from Sarajevo in 1993, Sadko, who has an uncanny resemblance to Antonio Banderas, quickly established himself in Canada's art community and continued his exploration of masculinity and cultural identity at the margins of pop and art history. John Armstrong wrote in 1998 that since Hadzihasanovic's arrival in Toronto, he has been "applying his Belgrade and Sarajevo academic training in drawing and painting to the swill of North American culture." After seeing the show at Petro, Leah Sandals (Unedit My Heart) reports that Sadko "continues to show his facility with drawing and painting in an assortment of small works on panel. All seem quickly done yet deeply felt, a nice combination. Some are portraits-- humorous, mythical characters. Others are simply streetscapes of a tropical locale. Others are more realist-styled drawings from photographs. Together, they are a really nice summer show."

"Sadko Hadzihasanovic: 50 Paintings For My 50th Birthday," Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto. Through August 1.

July 26, 2009

Twitter notes

Here are some items cut and pasted from the Two Coats Twitter feed. For readers unfamiliar with Twitter, "RT" indicates the item has been repeated, or "retweeted," from someone else's Twitter feed.
  1. Last chance: Arrangements to Ward off Accidents (at Priska C. Juschka) http://bit.ly/12m2sN
  2. What's on your studio wall? http://bit.ly/dTbkE (from Minus Space)
  3. Listing of Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant recipients now online (w images) http://bit.ly/qvY4n
  4. Poor Williamsburg http://nymag.com/realestate...
  5. For CT social media writers: Blog This! on August 6, from 4:30 – 6:30 pm, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT
  6. From Yarn to Yucca- A Continuation of the Dialogue Between Abstraction and Figuration (at John Connelly) http://bit.ly/P7z3h
  7. Give them what they never knew they wanted (at Jeff Bailey) http://bit.ly/11A6eV
  8. Naked: http://bit.ly/M4t8P, Summer Sexy: http://bit.ly/16QdUG, Sultry (in August) http://bit.ly/nyOLi
  9. Check out Ivan Pope's balloon installations http://bit.ly/jeGqL
  10. Kriston Capps and Cara Ober discuss the Sondheim Prize process http://bit.ly/Y7FCt
  11. Regina Hackett flags Merrill Wagner's show in Seattle at Traver Gallery http://bit.ly/W92Q3
  12. Follow the last days of Pocket Utopia http://sharonbutler.tumblr....
  13. RT @giovannigf: @BOMBmagazine's Bravo art reality show Twitterer was Mike Shankman - his paintings are here: http://mikeshankman.com/
  14. RT @Powhida: http://bit.ly/SvUiP Who is "Qi Peng?"

July 24, 2009

Zdenek Kosek: Maintaining universal order

Ballpoint pen, marker/paper, 7.75 x 5.75 in (19.7 x 14.6 cm)

In Art on Paper, Lyle Rexer examines Zdenek Kosek's ballpoint pen drawings which were recently on view at Calvin Morris. "Born in what was then Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) in 1949, Kosek worked as a typographer and drew occasional satiric cartoons. At about the age of forty he became afflicted with schizophrenia and had to quit his job. The particular form of his illness was the conviction that he had a duty to master meteorological problems and had a central role to play in the maintenance of universal order. (His obsessive charting of weather patterns resembles that of Henry Darger.) Under the influence of this condition, Kosek began to produce the drawings for which he is now known, including the seventeen in the Cavin-Morris exhibition.

"I use the term 'drawing' advisedly, because these works hover between map, diagram, chemical formula, and sketch. Compositionally they appear as conglomerations of cartoon thought bubbles, with directional arrows, dotted connecting lines, numbers, and phrases. Unlike the paranoid but plausible mappings of the late Mark Lombardi, Kosek’s figures do not so much describe a set of relations as act them out, or perhaps constitute them. As with an outsider like Wölfli, one gets the impression that the artist (if that is what Kosek is) may believe in a preexisting order but that this order keeps shifting as the drawings are made. What gives the productions their desperate poignancy is the sense that order is ceaselessly unmade by the very intelligence that seeks to articulate it." Read more.

July 18, 2009

Willa's Commencement, Chapter Two

In her second installment of "Willa's Commencement," Two Coats intern Willa Köerner moves from New York to San Francisco where she looks for a job and considers how to make art on a shoestring.

Reinvention and Relocation: The Great Post-Grad Challenge
by Willa Köerner

The components that contribute to the making of a successful artist are too vast and variable to categorize, especially by a young and inexperienced fledgling such as myself. At this point in my “career,” I feel a bit bedraggled by the thought of everything that I still need to figure out. The end of college has signified the end of the beginning– the last step on solid ground. I am now standing at the foot of a great amorphous mountain, wondering how to take a step through sand that is ghostly white and thin as air.

Until graduation, making progress seemed as simple as imagining something interesting and then figuring out how to tangibly express that idea. In art school, having a creative vision and finding the motivation to realize it was not only possible, but also mandatory. Because of the expectations of the college curriculum, the process of making art became a somewhat regulated experience. There were days to brainstorm, days to stretch canvases and gesso, and days to stay up all night figuring out what exactly needed to be done. In a sense, I was an art machine – inputting what my professors told me and outputting art that was deserving of an A.

Having been out of school for about a month and a half now, I’ve begun to realize how startlingly difficult it is to maintain the same quality of work on my own. For one thing, there are no more deadlines or prompts from which to work. Now that I’m a self-motivated artist, everything I do is at my own pace and of my own agenda. This is exciting, but it is also terrifying. On an even more horrifying level, there is the fact that all of the resources that my college offered me are now long gone. If I get the sudden urge to weld some metal together, forget about it. If I want to use a really expensive computer program on a high definition monitor, I must be crazy. With no studio and no job in sight, my post-grad existence has largely become a process of learning how to make artwork with a pencil and paper– a complete reinvention of myself as an artist.

In addition to being stripped of the resources of Vassar College, I’ve also thrown myself into a completely new cultural landscape. Two weeks ago I moved from New York to San Francisco, CA with the intent of finding new friends, new favorite foods and new places to look at art. Since I’ve been here, I’ve begun to analyze things left on the street with the attention of a homeless person. “Can I paint on this? Can I cut this up? Is this at all interesting?” Having moved across the country with little more than two suitcases and a box of paints, paintbrushes and other worldly essentials, my apartment’s dearth of furniture and commodities lends itself well to junk collection habits. I feel a bit like a confused bird picking out all different types of branches, twigs and animal fur from which to experimentally build a new nest.

On the bright side, I can’t imagine a better time than now to reinvent myself as an artist. Being unemployed in a completely foreign city has forced me to think about almost everything in a new light, from my search for artistic identity to my quest for employment. I’ve been doing a lot of job-hunting on Craigslist, which has opened my eyes to a lot of uncanny truths. For one, I never knew how well my liberal arts education would prepare me for a career as a “magic princess” (face-painting, story-telling and role-playing were all majorly emphasized in my art degree). Unfortunately, this job requires each magic princess to have her own car– something I lack. When I was not chosen for a job that described its duties as “tracing hundreds of images of women knitting,” something I feel I would have been perfect for (or so I claimed in my cover letter), I was forced to realize that there are some let-downs that college could not have prepared me for. Alas, I refuse to give up hope! Someone has got to hire me sooner or later.

Regardless of the inauspicious nature of my job hunt, I’m quite happy with my decision to leave the East Coast. Walking the streets of San Francisco supplies my eyes with an unending rainbow of interesting people and smells, colorful murals and tropical plants. Migration is a natural process for many animals, and I believe it’s important for human beings as well–especially those seeking endless aesthetic inspiration. I’d like to think of the artist as a tough subspecies of Homo sapiens, for whom adaptability is a crucial characteristic. If I can make it here, I’ll have one leg up on Darwin’s scale of survival, regardless of how fit I am to trace photographs of women doing handicrafts.

July 15, 2009

Loren Munk: Geographer of the NYC art scene

Loren Munk, "Greater Williamsburg" (2005-08) oil on linen, 48 x 60 inches

Loren Munk, "The Bowery Small," 2006-07, oil on linen, 36 x 24 inches.

This afternoon I stopped by Loren Munk's studio for a visit. Well known for his James Kalm Report videos, Loren has been working on some fascinating paintings that chart the connections, artists, galleries, and neighborhoods of the NYC artworld, both past and present. If he invites you over, definitely make time to go see his work. (Sorry for the dismal quality of the images below.)

Loren Munk

Work in progress

Study (detail)

July 14, 2009

Pocket Utopia's final edition

Adam Simon, Breach, 2009, 5 × 7 inches, acrylic on mylar, Edition of Ten. Courtesy of PU Press.

This Thursday, July 16, 6-9 pm, stop by "Business Edition," a one-night exhibition of artist-produced editions and prints, and a selection from the recently inaugurated Kris Graves Projects - Pocket Utopia Flatfile collection. The evening's highlights will include: a new Pocket Utopia limited edition by Adam Simon, a 246 Editions by Sharon Butler (that's me), an intaglio hand-worked print by Andrew Piedilato published by Randy Wray's Element Editions, a Brece Honeycutt Byproduct, a recent Maggie Michael painting on paper from +KGP&PU Flatfile, and works in progress by Pocket Utopia's current artist in resident, Sharon Butler.

Note: After this month, Pocket Utopia will close, but Austin Thomas and Norte Maar announced this week that they are working toward creating a Black-Mountain-like school called Pocket U which will convene the last two weeks of July, 2010, at Rouses Point, New York.

Click here for directions to Pocket Utopia, 1037 Flushing Avenue, Bushwick.

July 11, 2009

Two Coats urges mothers to apply for art reality show

In late June on Art21, I wrote about the upcoming art reality show that Sarah Jessica Parker and Magical Elves are producing for Bravo, and, as if by magic, casting was announced the following week. I'm sure the usual suspects will apply, but I'm urging older artists, particularly mothers, to take a shot at it. Bring the kids to the audition, change a diaper or two while waiting in line, and show the dirty ones as work samples. Seriously. At the very least, document the whole experience, upload it to YouTube, and don't forget to send Two Coats a link.

If selected, an artist-mother could effectively quash some of the gender stereotypes we learned in art school and beyond. I'd do it myself (great story, right?), but I'll be out of town. The Untitled Art Project will select thirteen emerging to mid-career artists to compete for a gallery show, a cash prize and a sponsored national tour.

Casting Calls are as follows:

LOS ANGELES (sorry, too late)
Saturday, July 11 & Sunday, July 12, 10 AM – 2 PM

Tuesday, July 14, 10 AM – 2 PM
Fredric Snitzer Gallery

Thursday, July 16, 10 AM – 2 PM
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Sullivan Galleries, 33 State Street

Saturday, July 18 & Sunday, July 19, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
White Columns

For additional application information, click here.

Related posts:

Neomaternalism: Contemporary Artists' Approach to Motherhood

Paddy Johnson at AFC gets a tip that filming already is underway.

Painter Mira Schor edits a collection of Jack Tworkov's writing

I wrote another guest post for Art21 last week about Jack Tworkov's new collection of writing. I'm just getting around to posting it on Two Coats. Sorry for the delay. Here's an excerpt.

"Owing to its timeless insights about artmaking and life, art teachers traditionally assign Ashcan School painter Robert Henri’s 1923 collection of writing, The Art Spirit, to beginning painters. The newly-released collection, The Extreme of the Middle: Writings of Jack Tworkov, seems destined to be another such classic. Edited and annotated by painter Mira Schor, the 500-page book includes letters, lectures, journal entries, and published essays from the 1930s to the 1980s in which Tworkov intersperses unpretentious philosophical inquiry with progress reports from the studio. One of the primary players among the New York School painters in the 1950s, Tworkov recognized that his ideas were often at odds with prevailing theories. Nevertheless, he was committed to teasing out not what he ought to believe, but what he actually believed. The book is rooted in Tworkov’s era, which spanned the rise and decline of American painting, and manages to entertain readers with amusing anecdotes about his famous cohort while also imparting wisdom gained from a lifetime spent in the studio...." Read the entire post here.

July 9, 2009

The Slow Inevitable Death of American Muscle

In the latest issue of The Brooklyn Rail I look at Jonathan Schipper's installation at The Boiler.

What a great idea. Artist Jonathan Schipper, with vital help from engineer Karl Biewald, manages to transform a car-crash into an observable work of art by slowing it way, way down. Two bygone muscle cars (a Camaro and a Firebird) are strapped to a steel frame outfitted with a sophisticated gear system that moves them imperceptibly toward each other, simulating a head-on collision in ultra-slow-motion....Even after the gee-whiz, techno-geek factor wears off, Schipper’s installation scans as a poignant deconstruction of male rage and regret as well as a thoughtful—and playful—take on mortality. On each visit, we see that the crash has progressed a little further than it had on our last visit. We can walk around the cars, calmly marveling at the slowly bending hoods, only half aware of the calibrated chains turning quietly off to the side. “When we see an automobile destroyed, in a way we are looking at our own inevitable death,” Schipper writes about the project. “This moment is, because of its inherent speed, almost invisible.” By enabling the viewer to rubberneck bloodlessly and at leisure, Schipper asks us to consider our own mortality in the context of the grindingly slow process of life. From this perspective, death can seem less tragic than the workaday: the final outcome of industry....
Read the entire article here.

July 8, 2009

Pocket Utopia Residency

In this new sketchbook I'm recycling the leftover stack of June Wagmag

If you're interested in following photo updates during my Pocket Utopia residency this month, check out my new Tumblr blog here. With Tumblr, I can take pictures and videos on the cell and post them right from the iPhone app.

July 1, 2009

Revisiting the archives

In celebration of the Smithsonian Archive's effort to put more artists' archives online, and the release of The Tower Paintings: Keeping Our Distance (Two Coats of Paint's first ink-on-paper publishing project) my new guest post at Art21 features images of observation towers and a journal excerpt from my own own stash of ephemera. Check out Art21 here.
Click image to enlarge. To see a preview and read a description of The Tower Paintings: Keeping Our Distance, click here.