September 29, 2009

Bill Weiss go round

Bill Weiss, "untitled #36," 2009, acrylic, oil stick and board on canvas 36 x 60"

Back in 1998 Dominique Nahas wrote that Weiss's paintings have a ramshackle physicality that strikes us with their sense of urgent immediacy. "These paintings work on you as slowly and surely as the wind, the sea, and the trees; they become part of you if you give them time." Talking about his process, Weiss said he enlarges small drawings and uses this magnified version as a template in order to start the painting. "I am making an actual painting that starts as an enlarged version of a tiny drawing, which is, in turn, a drawing of an imaginary painting, a painting that I want to make.”

"Bill Weiss: Variations," Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY. Through October 10.

Bloggers panelize at Art Miami in December

Art Bloggers@, an organization Joanne Mattera and I started in 2007, has been invited to organize a panel discussion at Art Miami in December. We're calling the panel "Beyond Basic Blogging: Carving Our Niche in the Blogosphere," and we hope to discuss developments in art blogging from the past year. "Call it journalistic physics: With conventional print media in decline, art blogging has filled an unexpected niche. Armed with free or low-cost web hosting and a raft of photographs and videos from tiny cameras (sometimes even cell phones), art bloggers are posting reviews, reports, interviews, opinions, advice, links, and Tweets. No, we’re not The New York Times. And that’s precisely our power. In an art world chronically short on coverage, we’re covering events—often from an artist’s perspective—with a democratic and regional take on who, what and where. The best of the art bloggers have carved out identities with defined points of view, good writing, and you-are-there pictures."

Six panelists—Sharon Butler (Two Coats of Paint), Thomas Hollingworth (Artlurker),  Paddy Johnson (Art Fag City), Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof (The Artblog), and Hrag Vartanian (Hyperallergic) will talk about blogs—their own and others’—which have built a following by filling a specific need or point of view. Joanne Mattera (Joanne Mattera Art Blog ) will moderate. Audience participation in the discussion is encouraged.

Date: Saturday, December 5, 11:00 to 2:00. The panel will take place from 11:30 to 1:00, with time afterward for art bloggers to continue the discussion in smaller groups.
Location: To be announced. Art Miami is in Wynwood, next to Scope , across the street from Photo Miami, just down the street from Red Dot. Back in the day it was the only fair in town. Then Art Basel arrived. We'll post the specific location on the Art Bloggers @ blog shortly.

September 27, 2009

Dalton of Troy

Jennifer Dalton "Information Flow," 2000, oil on paper, 9.5 x 7"

Jennifer Dalton, 2006 installation view of "Would You Rather be a Loser or a Pig?" at Plus Ultra (now represented by Edward Winkleman).

Jennifer Dalton, "How Do Artists Live?" 2008

 “Is It Just Me?” surveys the last 10 years of Jennifer Dalton’s sculptures and installations based on exhaustive “excavations” of herself and her surroundings. Dalton, who started out as a painting undergrad at UCLA (see more of her chart and graph paintings, click here), is an archaeologist of the presentday, collecting and examining personal and cultural information, organizing and evaluating the information according to her own unique criteria, and displaying the findings in sculptural installations consisting of assembled or handmade objects. According to The New Yorker, Dalton, rather than being hamstrung by the onslaught of art biz info, turns the information into art. "A wall of miniature action figures laden with shopping bags details the tastes ('old masters,' 'contemporary,' 'tribal art') of prominent collectors. A slide show of graphs and charts asks, 'How Do Artists Live?' (Answer: twenty-five per cent get money from their parents; eight-hundredths of a per cent report income from illegal sources.) A case filled with gray rubber bracelets offers viewers a chance to identify themselves as 'losers' or 'pigs,' reiterating how, in the art-plus-business equation, no one comes out clean."

"Jennifer Dalton: Is It Just Me?” organized by Tara Fracalossi, Hudson Valley Community College, Teaching Gallery, Troy, NY. Through October 24.

September 26, 2009

Liz Jaff: Taking up space

Liz Jaff's ink drawings at Kris Graves Projects

Liz Jaff's postcard for her show at Kris Graves Projects just arrived in the mail. Although I rarely send exhibition announcements anymore, opting for the ease and economy of email and FaceBook, cards have a longer shelf life than an email, better color reproduction than an inkjet print, can be displayed, or, to make more room, filed in a drawer. On the front of Jaff's card is an image of nine exquisite drawings of a folded object, tacked to a wall. The full set of 400 ink drawings reference sequential film strips and photographic contact sheets. Jaff thus continues her exhaustive investigation of space as defined through folding. Postcards may take up a little space, but some are worth saving.

"Liz Jaff: Diagramming a Fold," Kris Graves Project, New York, NY. Through October 10. Also on view: "Jason Hanasik: He Opened Up Somewhere Along The Eastern Shore." Through October 10.

Quote of the Day: Jane Fine

Jane Fine "Family Outing," 2009, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 96"

Jane Fine "Flashback," 2009, acrylic and ink on canvas, 32 x 50"

Jane Fine, "Monument," 2008 acrylic and ink on wood, 70 x 48"

“Ultimately, as much as my work has been concerned with events and politics outside my studio, each painting is full of metaphors for the battles inherent in my own creative process: trying to make something from nothing, intention from accident, illusion from flatness and meaning from doubt.”

"Jane Fine: Glad all Over," Pierogi 2000, Brooklyn, NY. Through October 11.

NY Times Art in Review: Franklin Evans and Tim Bavington

Franklin Evans, "lookbackstage," 2009 painted tape, thread, wood and text 125 x 137 x 66"

"Franklin Evans: 2008/2009 < 2009/2010," Sue Scott Gallery, Lower East Side. Through Oct. 24. Roberta Smith:  Having been mostly confined to elaborate abstract watercolors in his last show, Franklin Evans’s art is now all over the place. It has embraced the popular convention of the ephemeral wall-to-wall-environment, although it makes the genre look archaic and faded. This installation, which Mr. Evans spent about a month creating, covers everything but the ceiling and the gallery’s office. The total effect is of a giant walk-in watercolor, or of an artist’s studio striped and blotted with color that accrued during the making of many paintings.....Mr. Evans is foremost a latter-day Process artist. Thought processes, studio processes and art world processes are all evoked here, and parsing the details can be engrossing. But taken as a whole, or even in larger pieces, the show looks indecisive and creaky. It could be a long-lost precedent for bolder environments being made today, rediscovered and dusted off.

 Tim Bavington, "Up in Suze’s Room" installation view

"Tim Bavington: Up in Suze’s Room," Jack Shainman Gallery, Chelsea. Through Oct. 10. Ken Johnson: Chromophobes — people who hate and fear color — should steer clear of this optically ravishing exhibition. Tim Bavington creates a type of updated Color Field painting. His medium-large paintings most often consist of thin vertical stripes whose edges blur into one another. The colors are so intense that it is as if you were seeing them on a flat-screen television, or your visual perception had been amplified by a hallucinogenic drug. As if to pre-empt criticism that his paintings are just so much eye candy, Mr. Bavington has added notes to the exhibition checklist explaining that his decisions about color and pattern are determined by the structure of certain rock ’n’ roll songs.

Read the entire Art in Review column here.

September 25, 2009

Michelle on the arts

Michelle Obama hosted a concert this morning at the Pittsburgh Creative & Performing Arts School for its students and the spouses of international leaders deliberating at the G-20 economic summit.  She gave an 11-minute address about the arts as a prelude to performances by guests Sara Bareilles, Yo-Yo Ma and Trisha Yearwood. Here are  excerpts from her speech, from a transcript issued by the White House:

"We believe strongly that the arts aren't somehow an 'extra’ part of our national life, but instead we feel that the arts are at the heart of our national life. It is through our music, our literature, our art, drama and dance that we tell the story of our past and we express our hopes for the future. Our artists challenge our assumptions in ways that many cannot and do not. They expand our understandings, and push us to view our world in new and very unexpected ways….. It's through this constant exchange -- this process of taking and giving, this process of borrowing and creating -- that we learn from each other and we inspire each other.  It is a form of diplomacy in which we can all take part…." (via LA Times blog)

Critic on critic: Charlie Finch vs. Dave Hickey

At artnet Charlie Finch beats down Dave Hickey, whose recent SVA lecture, "The Good Ennui," has been circulated online via the James Kalm Report. (SVA has asked that the video be removed, so click over and watch it now, just in case.) "Watching a video of another ridiculous lecture by Dave Hickey at SVA, one is not surprised to see that the bulbous phony is still up to his old tricks. Hickey is a guy who tickles his audience with hoary signifiers, constantly preens his own self-regard and takes an obvious theme, that is also false, and gently beats it to death.

"In his current dispensation, he begins by making a joke about not turning off his iPod during the lecture so he can listen to T-Rex. Well, people just love to cite Mark Bolan's band as a lost reservoir of genius, and Hickey's audience giggles in recognition. A less pretentious sophisticate might have referenced Nazz or the Flamin' Groovies. Then Hick the Dick compares his hair to Einstein and refers to the with-it philosophe Peter Lanborn Wilson by his nickname 'Tim' and wonders if people are happier in Bhutan 'when Uma Thurman's father is there.'

"This is not insight. This is the same kind of vulgar vanity by association that one gets when opening the current issue of W to see a number of good contemporary artworks being debased by an Inez van Lamsweerde fashion shoot. Must the art world constantly be advertising its general lack of curiosity by slumming to the dumbest and most obvious signifiers in the wider culture? Dave Hickey is most comfortable with that status quo because he has fashioned a career out of his own intellectual laziness interfacing with the naiveté of his student audiences..." Read more.

September 24, 2009

Congratulations to all the Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant recipients!

Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner in the studio, 1949.

The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, now starting its 25th year of grant-making, has announced 125 grants totaling $2,093,140 to individual artists and arts organizations for fiscal 2008-09 (that’s an average of about $16,000). Grants are awarded to professional visual artists from around the world, based on dual criteria of artistic merit and financial need.  It's interesting that the Foundation, which used to specify artists had to be painters, has changed the restriction. The Foundation has widened its scope, but they still don't accept applications from commercial artists, photographers, video artists, performance artists, filmmakers, crafts-makers or any artist whose work primarily falls into these categories, nor will they pay for the costs of installations, commissions or projects ordered by others. In other words, solitary object-makers still rule at the PKF.

The individual winners for ’08-09: Jane Adams, Elise Adibi, Sam Ainsley, Adela Akers, Jonathan Allen, Md. Anisuzzaman, Rick Araluce, Jan Baracz, Jack Beal, Susan Benaricik, Eva Berendes, Joseph Biel, Rosalyn Bodycomb, Claudia Borgna, Jennifer Bornstein, Joan Carney, Dave Caudill, Lishan Chang, Carmen Cicero, Charles Clough, William Conger, Diana Cooper, Nancy Craig, Bill Creston, Maureen Cummins, Priscila De Carvalho, Hank De Ricco, Blane De St. Croix, Donna Dennis, Antonina Denysyuk, Markus Draper, Anindita Dutta, Yizhak Elyashiv, Lilly Fenichel, Kendra Ferguson, Mary Frank, John Franklin, Jeff Gauntt, Mark Grieve, Keith Hale, Mary Hambleton, Susan Hauptman, Richard Hennessy, Charles Hinman, Herbert Hinteregger, Pud Houstoun, Pang-Chieh Hsu, Kay Hwang, Esuko Ichikawa, Inge Jakobsen, Paul Jansen, Nicholas Jolly, Darina Karpov, Wade Kavanaugh, Ken Kelly, Tamara Kostianovsky, Anthony Drauss, Julia Kunin, Olawole Lagunju, Caroline Lathan-Stiefel, Greg Lindquist, A. Mitchell Long, Jake Longstreth, Tea Makipaa, Knox Martin, Gregory Masurovsky, Joshua Meyer, Elizabeth Meyersohn, Frane Mlinar, Chuck Moffit, Stephen Mueller, Lydia Musco, Lynn Newcomb, John Newman, Roni Nicholson, Hedy O’Beil, Edgar Orlaineta, Rachel Owens, Mia Pearlman, Gillian Pederson-Krag, Nick Perret, Ben Pranger, Sebastian Preece, Raha Raissnia, Hunter Reynolds, Aurora Robson, Volf Roitman, Mel Rosas, Joan Rzadkiewicz, Paul Santoleri, Carri Scanga, L. Aili Schmeltz, Peter Schroth, Alex Schweder, Steve Smulka, Jane South, Bethany Springer, Miha Strukelj, Terry Thompson, Roy Thurston, Annie Varnot, Marlene Vine, Sarah Wagner, Randall Walker, Joan Waltemath, Lucia Warck Meister, Lorraine Weglarz, Jordan West, Lisa Zwerling.(via Artnet)

September 23, 2009

Allen Ruppersberg: The art of give and take

Installation View at SMMoA

Allen Ruppersberg, "Poems and Placemats," 2008, 48 x48" each, mixed media. Courtesy Margo Leavin Gallery.

On the LA Times blog, Christopher Knight reports that Allen Ruppersberg's show at the Santa Monica Museum of Art is surprisingingly poignant. "Using the span of human lifetimes, including his own, Ruppersberg compiles printed matter of many different but familiar kinds to quietly escalate an elemental awareness of impermanence and change. Keyed to vernacular objects and mechanically reproduced images — books, records, newspaper clippings, family photo albums, postcards, snapshots, magazines and more — his work is like a mountainous archive of half-remembered, shared events from the not-too-distant past, temporarily sorted in the midst of slipping into inevitable decay. Wave goodbye to Grandma.

“'You and Me and the Art of Give and Take," as the surprisingly poignant exhibition is called, includes two new large-scale installations and a selection of 10 drawings and collages made between 1985 and 1989. Among those drawings is an exquisite set that clarifies Ruppersberg's objective. Titled 'The Gift and the Inheritance,' each is a pencil rendering that shows a single book from Ruppersberg's extensive library — Shakespeare, Baudelaire, Horatio Alger Jr. and even a 'Tick Tock Tales' comic. The books are rendered diagonally on the page, in careful perspective as if glimpsed resting on a tabletop; but, in fact, the images are adrift in the blank white space of the sheet. The result is an uncanny sense of materiality given to an illusion — of drawing as both an activity in time and a physical object in space....

"Ruppersberg's use of soft, dark graphite emphasizes inescapable relationships between drawing and writing, as well as their considerable differences. According to a wall text, each of these drawings comes with a pledge that, in the future, the actual book Ruppersberg drew will be sent to the drawing's owner as a bequest from the artist. An unexpected sense of yearning begins to surround the work — a longing to know the past recorded in the historical publication, as well as for the promised inheritance that will arrive at an unknowable moment in the future." Read more.

Allen Ruppersberg: You and Me or the Art of Give and Take,” curated by Constance Lewallen. Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA. Through December 19.

Also check out "The Five Foot Shelf," an online project on Dia's website, here.  "Allen Ruppersberg's first web-based project presents the contents of "The New Five Foot Shelf," a collection of books comprising nearly 800 pages of texts written and compiled by the artist, in addition to photographs of the four walls of the studio he occupied at 611 Broadway in New York City from 1986-2001. 'A recurring interest of mine has always been in the blurring of roles between artist and viewer and the repositioning of the audience in order to bring it more in line with the action of the artist.'"

September 22, 2009

Rackstraw Downes and Mark Bradford win MacArthur Genius Grants

Mark Bradford, "Giant," 2007, mixed media collage on canvas, 102 x 144." Courtesy Sikkema Jenkins.

Rackstraw Downes, "Under The J Line At Alabama Avenue,"2007, oil on canvas, 20 x 32." Courtesy Betty Cunningham Gallery

There are three criteria for selection of MacArthur Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work. This year, artists Mark Bradford and  Rackstraw Downes are among the 24 fellows, each of whom receive $500,000. Bradford  has a show at Sikkema Jenkins in New York through October 17. In June, a traveling retrospective of Rackstraw Downes's onsite paintings from 1974-2009, curated by Klaus Ottman, will be at  be at the Parrish Art Museum. Another Downes show also opens at the Aldrich Museum in June.

September 21, 2009

Ted Kennedy's paintings and prints

Ted Kennedy, "Hyannis Port Compound."

In the Cape Cod Times Karen Jeffrey reports that there are hundreds of Kennedy paintings and prints in private hands, and they have already increased in value. "According to several biographers, Kennedy began painting in earnest in 1964 after he broke his back in a plane crash that killed two others. He spent six months immobilized in Boston hospitals while his back healed. Painting, according to some who knew him, helped him pass the time during recuperation and later became a passion. Over the years his favorite subjects were those that anchored him to Hyannisport – the sea, sailboats and spring flowers. In 1992, when he married Victoria Reggie, he gave his new bride an oil painting of daffodils. Later, she told a reporter from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette about the origins of the painting: 'We were reading the William Wordsworth poem ‘Daffodils' and the last two lines are: ‘And then my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils,' and it was so wonderful and romantic and Ted said that he wanted to paint me a picture of daffodils and he did.'

"Kennedy often included humorous notes when giving his artwork as gifts, or inscribed them with self-effacing humor. Consider the oil painting he gave Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, which showed the Kennedy compound from the sea, with the tower of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church standing tall on the hill above. It is inscribed: 'To Orrin, handle with care. If the paint comes off, the numbers will show. We'll leave the light at the compound on for you anytime. Ted Kennedy, ‘91.'"

"Elizabeth Ives Hunter, executive director of the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, has seen Kennedy originals in private collections and displayed at charitable events. Kennedy, she said, had talent and painted for the joy of painting. 'He painted when he had the time and he unquestionably was able to capture light falling across a form,' she said. In his sailboat paintings, 'he always got the rigging right, and that's important.'

"'There are a number of notable historic and political figures who painted, including Winston Churchill and President Dwight D. Eisenhower, she said. 'It's instructive that if you look at folks who are most successful in their fields, and who chose painting as a recreation, (they) often do it well,' Ives Hunter said. 'This suggests there's something in the process of creating art that appeals to outside-the-box thinkers.'" Read more.

Promotion Project update

The first letter for the Promotion Project today arrived from Kathy Stockman at Cincy Art Snob. Thanks Kathy for participating in the project. Stockman, an art historian, writer, and critic who has taught art history at various colleges and universities in Ohio, agrees with Mark Rothko that "there's no such thing as a good painting about nothing. " Check out her lively Twitter feed at

Also thanks to Art Fag City, C-Monster, and Absent Without Leave for posts about the project. Keep those cards and letters coming!

Update: And thanks, too, to Joanne Mattera Art Blog for the shout about the project.

September 20, 2009

"I think once I stopped caring quite so much about where I fitted in, and whether it made any sense to be painting, I started getting more and more absorbed in it."

Cecily Brown, "Indian Tourist," 2008, oil on linen, 97 x 89" Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

In the Guardian, Perri Lewis and  Cecily Brown talk about the painting process. "You've got the same old materials - just oils and a canvas - and you're trying to do something that's been done for centuries. And yet, within those limits, you have to make something new or exciting for yourself as well as other people. I have always wanted to make paintings that are impossible to walk past, paintings that grab and hold your attention. The more you look at them, the more satisfying they become for the viewer. The more time you give to the painting, the more you get back....Often, I find it really hard to see what I'm doing when I'm in the thick of things. I can get too precious and have to force myself to put my paintings aside. There's a wall in my studio where I hang paintings that I think are done or nearly done. Over time, I'll realise which ones are working and which aren't.

"There's never a moment for me when I consciously add the last stroke. When a painting is 90-95% there, it's especially difficult because you know that it's really close and you also know that you could completely ruin it. Of course, I do often ruin things. I take things too far, and can't get them back....The problems don't get any easier just because you're exhibiting. I'm still faced with the same difficulties as when I first started to paint. But you'd never make a mark if you started worrying too much about how it will be received in the world, or if anyone is going to look at it. You can't have all that in your head while you're in the process of making a painting.

"I think once I stopped caring quite so much about where I fitted in, and whether it made any sense to be painting, I started getting more and more absorbed in it. I've discovered that the more I paint, the more I want to paint. The longer I go on doing it, the more I have to say and do. You pose a certain set of questions in one group of paintings and you want to answer them in the next. One body of work leads naturally to the next - you sort of feed off yourself. It's a question of accepting the limits of painting and trying to be as imaginative and expansive as possible within those boundaries."

Promotion Project countdown: 31 days till deadline.

Kandinsky's influence

Heidi Pollard, "Honey," 2005, oil on canvas, 48 x 48"

Mark Mullin, "Falling When Plotting," 2009, oil and marker, 78 x 66"

Peter Plagens, "Untitled," 2007, mixed media on canvas, 96 x 144"

Pioneer of abstract art and eminent aesthetic theorist, Vasily Kandinsky (b. 1866, Moscow; d. 1944, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France) broke new ground in painting in the first decades of the twentieth century. His seminal pre–World War I treatise Über das Geistige in der Kunst (On the Spiritual in Art), published in Munich in December 1911, lays out his program for developing an art independent of one’s observations of the external world. In this and other texts, as well as his art, Kandinsky strove to use abstraction to give painting the freedom from nature that he admired in music. His discovery of a new subject matter based solely on the artist’s “inner necessity” occupied him throughout his life. In Newsweek, Peter Plagens has put together a slideshow of artists who share Kandinsky's "aesthetic DNA." The list includes A-listers like Arshile Gorky, Willem De Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, Terry Winters, Elizabeth Murray, and Thomas Nozkowski, but also includes less well-known painters Heidi Pollard, Mark Mullin, and, well, Peter Plagens himself. Of course, the list could go on and on. A shorter list might include abstract painters who don't share Kandinsky's aesthetic DNA.

In the NY Times this week, Roberta Smith reports that the Kandinsky retrospective at the Guggenheim looks sensational. "The purity of the present show limits Kandinsky’s immensity a bit. It simplifies a vision that held music, painting and language as part of a continuum and relegates his activities as theoretician, essayist, poet and (arts) community organizer to the show’s informative, discreetly placed wall texts. In both of his best-known books — Concerning the Spiritual in Art(1912) and Point and Line to Plane (1926) — he displays a remarkable ability to reconcile the redemptive power of art’s 'inner pulsations,' meant to be experienced 'with all one’s senses' and exacting diagrams of the formal effect of different colors, shapes and lines, each of which he felt had a distinct sound. There are formalist possibilities in these pages that Clement Greenberg never imagined....Kandinsky, the most well-rounded and compleat of Modernist prophets, always had more ideas than he knew what to do with. At the end of his hectic, productive life, he finally began to lay them out one at a time. This marvelous show starts settling the dust."

"Kandinsky," curated by Tracey Bashkoff, Christian Derouet, Annegret Hoberg. The Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY. Through January 13. 

Promotion Project countdown: 31 days till deadline.

September 19, 2009

NYTimes Art in Review: Greebaum, Thuring, Berryhill

Joanne Greenbaum,"Untitled 2009," oil and acrylic on canvas, 80 x 78 inches. Courtesy D'Amelio Terras

"Joanne Greenbaum: Hollywood Squares," D’Amelio Terras, Chelsea. Through Oct. 31. Roberta Smith: Joanne Greenbaum’s new paintings are nicely abrasive, inharmonious in color and, generally speaking, a little nuts. They make the eyes spin....The best works here emphasize dark tones, if not black, and the weight of the color works well against the thinness of the paint. There’s a grinding energy to the surfaces; they suggest a graffiti artist or a child with crayons who has been working in one place too long. What was supposed to be once-over-lightly becomes charged and impacted, pushing into the vicinity of painting without succumbing to the medium’s usual seductiveness. Ms. Greenbaum has become less tolerant of the bare white canvas that tended to make her paintings resemble large colorful drawings. These new works are something else.

Read more about Greenbaum here.

Caragh Thuring, no info available.

"Caragh Thuring: Assembly,"Simon Preston, Lower East Side. Through Nov. 1. Roberta Smith: In her first New York solo show of paintings, Caragh Thuring, a young Brussels-born artist who lives and works in London, conveys a self-conscious ambivalence toward her medium. Her paintings consist, on first sight, of seemingly random shapes and marks scattered across unprimed linen whose light-brown tone forms a conspicuous part of the picture. These elements hover autonomously in a state of peaceful coexistence between abstraction and representation and intention and indifference. They resemble the parts of a sentence that have been diagrammed and patiently await the interested reader who wants to put them back together so they make sense again. Luckily, this isn’t too hard to do. Minimally recognizable fragments of trees and such suggest outdoor settings, and Manet’s “Luncheon on the Grass” appears to be a theme....Titling the show “Assembly” is also intriguing. It evokes the phrase “some assembly required,” a notion that Ms. Thuring might consider.

Michael Berryhill, "Gay Pride Moustache," 2008, oil on canvas, 48x36"

"Michael Berryhill: Basement States," Horton & Liu, Chelsea. Through Oct. 10. Karen Rosenberg: One of the hardest things about making a painting is knowing when to stop. Some artists tend to leave things raw; others habitually overcook. In his New York solo debut at the recently opened gallery Horton & Liu, Michael Berryhill does both. Mr. Berryhill is a recent graduate of Columbia’s Master of Fine Arts program (class of 2009), though at 38 he’s older than most. His paintings, semi-abstract still lifes with a cartoonish touch, are confident and colorful. The problem is that some are worked to within an inch of their lives, while others look as if they were plucked half-formed from the studio. The standout is “Stair Guitar” (2009), in which Mr. Berryhill plays a noodling, psychedelic riff on Picasso’s cubist instrument. The music theme extends to the spectral amplifier of “Mi Amigo Sound Machine” (2009), and the warped fingerboards of “Two Easy Pieces” (2009), which exude a friendly, jam-band Surrealism. Meanwhile, “Gay Pride Moustache” (2008) doesn’t deliver on the campy promises of its title. The folds of drapery are too distracting, the artfully cluttered tabletop too reminiscent of an undergraduate exercise. And the smaller, sketchlike paintings clustered nearby aren’t quite ready for prime time. Mr. Berryhill should keep thinking about music, which seems to give him some parameters.

Read the entire NYTimes Art in Review column here.
Promotion Project countdown: 32 days till deadline. Read progress report here.

September 18, 2009

Louise Nevelson: Working small

At Modern Art Notes, Tyler Green reports that art museums are better positioned to weather a recession than other non-profits. "Food banks need to keep buying food, but art museums typically already have art -- and they usually have art that isn't on view and that could be. At a time of budgetary pressure, any museum worth its utility bill should have curators eager to present works from their collections in new and interesting ways. Take for example the work at left, Louise Nevelson's Aquatint I, one of a suite of Nevelson collages currently on view at the Hirshhorn. In the dozen years I've lived in Washington I'd not only never seen these Nevelsons, I'd never even heard about them. They're fantastic, the best Nevelson-anythings I've seen. I'd never thought of Nevelson as a particularly astute colorist or composer, but each collage reveals an acute understanding of how to bring the eye into a composition, how to bounce it around a bit and ultimately how to hold on to it."

In 2004, Hackett-Freedman Gallery in San Francisco presented a group of Nevelson's smaller mixed-media collages. Here are some of the pieces that were in the show.

Untitled, 1970, 20 x 16" mixed media collage.

Untitled, 1970, 20 x 16" mixed media collage. 

Untitled, 1957, 40 x 32" mixed media collage

Untitled, 1981, 40 x 32" mixed media collage

It's not all milk and honey

 Klaus Weber's bee shit paintings in Glasgow.

Guardian critic Skye Sherwin wonders what's the difference between a man and a bee. "Not so much to the 18th-century free market advocate Adam Smith, for whom the industrious beehive was a symbol of human progress. Plenty if you're the German artist Klaus Weber whose 'bee waste action paintings' are currently on show at Transmission Gallery. Defecated upon by bees whose job it is to cleanse the hive, Weber's delicately shit-speckled canvases come with a sting. As with other projects of Weber's – including an LSD-laced public fountain and concrete-busting mushrooms grown through a gallery floor – it effects an ingenious, unruly upheaval of everyday presumptions." Read more.

"Klaus Weber: Bee Paintings,"  Transmission Gallery, Glasgow. Through October 3.

September 16, 2009

The Promotion Project

The Promotion Project is underway. Putting together a successful application for academic promotion is an unapologetically narcissistic undertaking. The process involves sifting through years of paperwork from past projects and attempting to explain their relevance—-without sounding like a egomaniacal blowhard. Where I teach the activities are divided into four categories: teaching, creative activity, professional activity and service to the University. To make the process more interesting and to help put blogging, community building, and the multitasking, DIY nature of contemporary art practice in context, I’m asking readers to participate.

My goal is to get letters from people at all levels of the art world (artists, critics, collectors, dealers, curators, readers, and, of course, bloggers) to support my application, and I hope @ Bushwick & Main readers, Two Coats subscribers, Facebook pals, Twitterati, etc., will consider participating. The letters will be exhibited as a group show (each writer will be considered a collaborator), and will also be published in an artist book (probably through The letters should be more about the writer, art, art criticism, art blogs, bloggers, than they are about me and my small contribution. Although there isn’t much time, a short paragraph, a sentence or two—-hell, a few words, would certainly be welcome. I need the letters by Monday, October 12, but let me know if you need more time.

Please send letters to:
Sharon Butler
Department of Visual Arts
Eastern Connecticut State University
Willimantic, CT 06226

Clarification/Update: Thanks, everyone, for your interest in participating in the Promotion Project, but I've gotten several notes wondering exactly what the letters should say.  First of all, they are recommendation letters supporting my promotion to full professor, and although writers will send them to me at the above address, the greeting should be "Dear Committee." Perhaps you would like to say something about who you are and how you have become familiar with my work. If you are familiar with the blog, write about that. Don't feel you have to cover every aspect of my career or need to do any research. As they say in the Creative Writing Department, write what you know--and please, stay in character. The content of the letter is up to you of course, and I hope you will give your own work a little boost as well--after all I'm planning to exhibit the letters publicly, so please take advantage of the opportunity to draw attention to your projects, which will help put my work in a larger context. Thanks again. I look forward to hearing from you.

September 21 Update: Letters of Support are arriving
The first letter for the Promotion Project arrived today from Kathy Stockman at Cincy Art Snob. Thanks Kathy for participating in the project. Stockman, an art historian, writer, and critic who has taught art history at various colleges and universities in Ohio, agrees with Mark Rothko that "there's no such thing as a good painting about nothing. " Check out her lively Twitter feed at Also thanks to Art Fag City, C-Monster, Joanne Mattera Art Blog, and Absent Without Leave for posts about the project. 

October 11 Update: Progress report
The Promotion Project, which includes my (embarrassingly) self-regarding application for promotion and all your amazing letters of support, has grown to fill 5 binders and one accordion folder. Today I hope to finish the narrative summary, which at this point includes far too many “In addition to...” type phrases, and desperately needs a good edit. Luckily the award-winning writer who works downstairs has agreed to help. Also, the College Art Association has expressed interest in showing the project at their Annual Conference in Chicago this February. Can you think of a more appropriate venue? I can’t. And besides, I'd love to spend a few days in Chicago, even in February.

November 3, 2009 Update: Promo Project complete...and then not
I handed in the five-binder Promotion Project last week (image below), which I thought was excessively long, but Visual Arts colleagues suggested I was in fact too humble, that I needed to beef up the section on my creative work, add more narrative about each project, and tie my activities more tightly to the university's mission statement.  I spent the last week obsessively reworking the project, which ultimately required adding an extra (6th) binder.

November 4, 2009 Update: Exhibition in Chicago 
Sharon Arnold, Seattle, WA
Amy Bassin, Long Island City, NY
Farrell Brickhouse, Staten Island, NY
Timothy Buckwalter, San Francisco, CA
F. Lennox Campello, Washington, DC
Jenny Zoe Casey, Tavares, FL
Patrick J. Donovan, Washington DC
Ted Efremoff, Willimantic, CT
Laurie Fendrich, New York, NY
Brad Guarino, New London, CT
Mary Addison Hackett, Culver City, CA
Ross Harney, ECSU student
Paul Gustafson, Farmingdale, NY
Lisa Klow, Laurel, MD
Joanne Mattera, New York, NY
Thomas Micchelli, Chatham, NJ
Ross Page, ECSU student
Jane Rainwater, Andover, CT
Julie Sadler, Canajohorie, NY
Mira Schor, New York, NY
Andrea Scrima, Berlin, Germany
Kathy Stockman, Cincinnati, OH
Rebecca Taylor, Los Angeles, CA
Austin Thomas, New York, NY
Hrag Vartanian, New York, NY
Leigh Waldron-Taylor, Providence, RI
Victoria Webb, West Chester, PA
An Xiao, Brooklyn, NY

Ethan Ham's circle game

Ethan Ham, a sculptor and installation artist who often uses kinetics, electronics, and computers in his artwork, has curated Camera/Chimera, a new project inspired by Telephone, the children's game in which meaning evolves with each whispered retelling of a phrase or story. Ham invited an artist to create a photograph, then asked others, in a linear sequence, to replicate the previous artist's image. Arts writers (including me) were asked to listen to a description of the image, and then write what they thought they heard. The project will be at Gallery Aferro in Newark through October 3. If you can't make it to the show, Ham has created a beautiful 66-page color catalog (pictured above), which you can either download, or buy (only $10) here. Art blog readers will undoubtedly recognize many of the artists and writers involved.

Artists include: Becca Albee, Holly Andres, Patterson Beckwith, Chase Browder, xtine burrough, Cassandra C. Jones, Stephanie Dean, Dennis Delgado, Joel Fisher, Harrell Fletcher, Joy Garnett, Greta Ham, Tim Hutchings, Steve Lambert, Gus Meisner, Robin Michals, Hajoe Moderegger, MTAA, Shani Peters, Anne Schiffer, Christian Marc Schmidt, Tom Thayer, Mariana Tres, Angie Waller

Arts writers include: Sarah Kate Baie, Michael Betancourt, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Sharon L. Butler, Andrei Codrescu, Greg Cook, Evonne M. Davis, Laurel Gitlen, Ethan Ham, Ellen Handy, N. Katherine Hayles, Paddy Johnson, Lisa Kjaer, Jonathan David Martin, Carolina A. Miranda, Ceci Moss, Jack Murnighan, Laura Napier, Tim Maul, Catherine Spaeth, Hrag Vartanian, James Wagner, Emma Wilcox

"Camera/Chimera," curated by Ethan Ham. Gallery Aferro, Newark, NJ. Through October 3

September 15, 2009

Places to go

 Alex Paik, "Hey, Hey Housetop," 2009, mixed media, 8" x8"
"Alex Paik: Playground Counterpoint," Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Philadelphia, PA.
Through September 25. "Not even as children do we avoid conflict. Though the word 'playground' surely conjures up images of fun and camaraderie, many of us just as clearly remember – on the very ground meant for frivolity; as a counterpoint to our studies – bullying and intimidation. In this season of memories of schoolyards and playgrounds, Paik’s new work evokes that mostly jubilant place, with its residual tinge of the danger in abandon. "

Peter Schroth, "Ocean," oil on paper mounted on panel, 28 x 28"

Joanne Mattera, "Silk Road 122," oil and encaustic on panel, 12" x 12"

"Slippery When Wet: Suzan Batu, Susan Homer, Nancy Manter Joanne Mattera, Andrew Mockler, Don Muchow, and Peter Schroth," Metaphor, Brooklyn, NY. September 18-November 22. "5 painters and 2 photographers explore this liquid realm bringing the stillness of art and a variety of sensibilities to bear on the the restless motion of this most common yet still elusive element."

Matt Held, "Sharon Butler," (This painting is not in show, but what the hell, it's a portrait of me! Read the full story here.)

"Matt Held:  Facebook Portraits," Platform at Denise Bibro, New York, NY. Through October 3. "The exhibition features more than 40 canvases painted from Facebook profile photos. They encompass works which are funny, cool, quirky, and sometimes disturbing."

Kylie Heidenheimer, Installation view at  532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel

"Kylie Heidenheimer: Rift," Through Sept. 10. 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York, NY. Through October 6. "Suggestions of subject matter - Americana, natural phenomena, cosmology, weather maps, calligraphy and the primordial - seem to blend at junctures, becoming traces of their former selves. In this connection, Stephen Maine writes: 'Pictorial fact is implied rather than stated, tapping into the part of the viewer's brain engaged with becoming rather than being. The opposite of illustration, [Heidenheimer's] work pursues the phantom image.'"

Also be on the lookout for shows by Daily Operation, a curatorial project by Jon Lutz, that mounts shows in studios, apartments, parks, empty real estate, and other venues. Tomorrow: 'I Wanna Be Somewhere," 103 Reade Street, # 2, New York, NY. Wednesday, September 16, 6-9pm. "Each artist has created their own version of a diorama using the title as a jumping off point. The show attempts to marry the diorama format with their way of working. Beyond a size constraint, there were no rules about how traditional the works end up or the supports, materials, shape, etc. used."

Cara Ober, installation view.

"Cara Ober: Love Letters," Civilian Art Projects, Washington, DC. Through October 17. "Love Letters is Baltimore-based artist (and award-winning blogger) Cara Ober’s first solo exhibition with Civilian Art Projects. Ober layers drawing, painting, and printmaking into mixed media works that examine and reinterpret sentimental imagery. Intricate and funny, Love Letters explores the relationship of the artist to image, word, and personal meaning found in the exploration of secret fantasy and expressive interlude."

September 13, 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. If it weren't for the James Kalm Report, I might actually have to leave HQ. Here's a report on recent openings in Chelsea
  2.  Subscribe to Harper's and read Lethem's story about a blog, "The Dreaming Jaw, The Salivating Ear" @harpers 
  3. RT @Pocketopia: a little reference to Pocket U. in today's NYT - art school)
  4. RT @HeartAsArena: 70/30 Project in Ditmas Park right this very moment. Go.
  5. The right direction: Gallery gift shop becomes artist-curated exhibition space in Seattle
  6. Paddy (@artfagcity) thinks Flavorwire cultural coverage has taken a turn for the worse
  7. RT @Pocketopia: Pictures from an Art Stumble 
  8. Small but Sublime
  9. @heartasarena Twitter debut
  10. Images from "Inside the painter's studio" by Joe Fig
  11. Painters in Sydney 
  12. JT Kirkland's blog "Thinking About Art" becomes "Thinking About MY Art"
  13. Thrift Store paintings (via 
  14. RT @bhoggard: RT @ArtCatNY: Free art + tacos at The High Line Sep. 17 & Oct. 1 (I LOVE this idea)
  15. RT @artnetdotcom: Port Authority wants artist proposals for a temporary mural around Ground Zero. Deadline, Oct. 1
  16. Alternative source of funding for artists?
  17. Hard to believe Yigal and I used to show at the same gallery back in the day
  18. RT @culturepundits: RT @whitneymuseum: Looking for an intern for marketing dept. Email & tell why you're interested.
  19. So many shows open this week I don't know where to begin. Check out
  20. RT @hragv: St Louis Post-Dispatch art critic leaves w very mean farewell post... (via @tylergreendc)
  21. RT @theartblog: New blog post: Small is big at Gallery Joe

Joanne Greenbaum's story

Joanne Greenbaum's studio. Courtesy of Anaba

 Joanne Greenbaum,"Untitled 2009," oil and acrylic on canvas, 80 x 78 inches. Courtesy D'Amelio Terras

In Time Out New York, T.J. Carlin talks to Joanne Greenbaum about painting and making the break from a day job. Here's an excerpt. "After studying painting in undergrad school, I applied to a couple of grad schools and I didn’t get in. I didn’t get into good ones and I didn’t get into easy ones. So I moved here and had my little apartment that I painted in and just worked. I had part-time jobs. Got by barely. I was really poor. And then for 15 years, I worked full time at this fine-art photo library and didn’t quit until I got a Guggenheim fellowship in 2001. That plus a few sales from D’Amelio Terras was enough money to say, 'Okay, if I don’t do this now, I never will.' They call it the 'golden handcuffs' when you have a job that’s paying your bills, and it was okay until it wasn’t anymore. I finally said, 'I’m making the break.'"Read more.

"Joanne Greenbaum: Hollywood Squares," D'Amelio Terras, New York, NY. Through October 31, 2009.

Editor's note: This morning I finally added a "Share" button to Two Coats posts. Feels kind of...nurturing, right? And following Hrag's lead, I've also enabled mobile email subscriptions for people who want updates on their phones. Just click here to subscribe to the mobile phone edition.

September 12, 2009

Matthew Offenbacher's gift

Matthew Offenbacher, "Untitled," 2009,
oil and acrylic on stainguard, 52" x 45"

Matthew Offenbacher, "Untitled," 2009,
oil and acrylic on stainguard, 52" x 45"

In her entertaining fall arts preview in The Stranger, Jen Graves reports that she's looking forward to Seattle artist Matthew Offenbacher's new project, "The Gift Shop." "Matthew Offenbacher is a center for ideas. He publishes La Especial Norte, the quarterly artist newsletter, and it's actually great. His latest project, when he is not painting his own cat, is to take over the Henry Art Gallery gift shop. What, you say? The Henry has a gift shop? It's been empty for more than a year, so Offenbacher is doing something about it, turning it into 'an incubator for Northwest artists. Exhibitions will fall like dominoes: a cascading cavalcade of adventurous, collaborative, celebratory artistic energy. How do artists work together? What can an art exhibition do?'" If I lived in Seattle, I'd be looking forward to it, too. Through early 2010.

NY Times Art in Review: Anderson and Auerbach

Hurvin Anderson "Peter's Sitters 3," 2009, oil on canvas, 187 x 147 cm

"Hurvin Anderson: Peter’s Series 2007-2009," Studio Museum in Harlem. Through Oct. 25. Roberta Smith: The deft oil paintings of Hurvin Anderson, born in England in 1965, fall within a familiar genre of architectural interiors that play it both ways: they combine the cozy details of everyday life with various geometries and paint textures that verge on the abstract. The results are capable but also familiar, and too clearly based on photographs.

Tauba Auerbach, "Crumple VI," 2009 Acrylic and inkjet on canvas, 96 x 128 inches, 243.8 x 325.1 cm (Installation image above by photographer Adam Reich).

"Tauba Auerbach: Here and Now/And Nowhere,"Deitch Projects. Through Oct. 17. Ken Johnson: Tauba Auerbach has done remarkable things with typography and calligraphy, and her dazzling, trompe l’oeil, Op Art dot paintings have been turning up in shows around town, including “Younger Than Jesus” at the New Museum. The two large canvases in this beautiful exhibition at Deitch look like giant sheets of slightly crumpled paper from a distance; up close they atomize into buzzing fields of black spots on white ground. For another series it looks as if she has simply stretched large pieces of creased and wrinkled monochromatic fabric. Examine the works’ surfaces closely and you find that they are perfectly flat, the apparent deformations skillfully spray-painted on. A set of large color photographs of television-screen static is less interesting, though the idea of earthbound technology receiving ambient cosmic energy could be philosophically intriguing. It’s amazing that Ms. Auerbach is not yet 30. She seems a bit scattered now, but in a fertile way. Her future looks very bright.

Read entire column here.

September 11, 2009

Water Lilies Live!

Here's Charlie Finch (sitting on a lily pad?) at the Monet preview last week (Courtesy NY Sun Out and About blog)

For the first time since the MoMA expansion, Claude Monet's water lily paintings will be on view. I remember the huge exhibition (80 pieces) at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1998 that included paintings of his gardens at Giverny, with a concentration on the Japanese Bridge paintings of 1900, views of London (1900 - 1904) and Venice (1908), a partial recreation of his Water Lily exhibition of 1909, views of the water-lily pond from 1914 - 1918, and some of the enormous water lily murals painted between 1919 -1926. Up close and in person, Monet's paintings are fleshy, painterly, eye-popping extravaganzas. The plethora of reproductions may make Monet's work seem conservative and trite, but painters should make a trip to see this show.

In the NY Times, Roberta Smith reports that "Monet was simply following his early work to its logical conclusion, giving little or no thought to abstraction. Right to the end he remained engrossed in the challenge of looking and painting, painting and looking, never wavering in his dedication to the task of translating his perception of the visible world into oil on canvas, bringing the natural and the artificial into hand-wrought balance. Perhaps he knew that painting, like poetry or music, was one of the few human endeavors that stood any chance of equaling some of nature’s experiential richness, if you just kept at it long enough." Read more.

"Monet's Water Lilies," organized by Ann Temkin. Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. Through April 12.

September 10, 2009

Luc Tuymans anticipates "steady sales"

Luc Tuymans, "Iphone," 2008, oil on canvas, 44.88 x 34.06 inches. Courtesy of David Zwirner.

Gareth Harris's interview with Luc Tuymans at The Art Newspaper covers both Tuymans's art practice and hopeful career strategies. Tuymans’s first major Russian show opens at the Red October Chocolate Factory this month. Twenty new works, first shown in Brussels earlier this year, examine TV reality shows and the internet. The exhibition, part of the Moscow Biennale, forms part of a Tuymans onslaught this autumn with the artist’s first US retrospective also opening this month at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Ohio and an exhibition curated by Tuymans and the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei opening at Bozar in Brussels.

TAN: Do you believe art historians will credit your muted palette with creating a new kind of reductive form? Or would you rather they labelled you a post-modern history painter?

Well, neither of those. I would be much happier if academics understood the idea of understatement. Art is not something you have to imply is political. Art is not political, life is political. Isms, such as modernism, post-modernism, etc, they’re just not applicable to the world we live in. The whole practice of painting is about two things: timing and precision....

TAN: So would you agree that your work is deeply personal rather than historical?

LT: I think it tends to be more of the former than the latter. Of course, it’s been triggered by things of which I’m not totally aware, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. Every visual is in opposition to language because if we could say everything, why make a picture of it?

TAN: So you are ultimately concerned with the fragile nature of memory in relation to both personal and historical events?

LT: It always remains fragile. Every aspect of history is partly false, it’s never complete, history writing can only be factual to a point...

TAN: Would you ever make works with certain collectors in mind?

LT: No, I would never do that. What is more important is that together with my dealers, we’ve always guarded the work in the sense that it does not crop up too much at auction and when it does, it sells for the right price, or we just buy it back. I’m very well aware of the game with Charles Saatchi who bought pieces on the secondary market for his “Triumph of Painting” exhibition in 2005 and then dumped them after the show. The US tour should lead to steady sales.

Curated by co-curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn and Helen Molesworth, "Luc Tuymans" travels from the Wexner Center to SFMOMA, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.