April 30, 2012

Thank you to this month's sponsors

I'd like to take a minute to thank Two Coats of Paint's April sponsors. These organizations, individuals, and companies are committed to supporting online arts writing, so be sure to show them some love.  (Image above: Two Coats of Paint's new Seattle artist pals Sharon Arnold and Ryan Molenkamp, who took me to Smarty Pants to sample some local micro brews. Many thanks to them, too.  But more about Sharon and Ryan tomorrow.)

  • ArtPrize – Part art competition, part social experiment that awards $560,000 total in prizes; registration through May 24.
  • Pulse Art Fair – Pulse New York runs May 3–6, 2012, at The Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, New York.
  • BAMart Silent Auction – Auction featuring over 100 artworks, with proceeds to benefit the Brooklyn Academy of Music and its programs
  • Saatchi Online – Online gallery that connects artists and art lovers directly: discover art, get discovered.
  • Dumbo Arts Festival - Brooklyn’s biggest arts event takes over Brooklyn’s waterfront with visual arts, music, and literature on 9/28-30.
  • Norte Maar – Community-building nonprofit organization with an emphasis on collaborative projects
  • UncommonGoods – Cool and unusual gifts for any occasion.
  • Adam Lindemann – Follow what the New York Observer columnist is seeing and reading at his site.
  • Storefront Bushwick – Bushwick gallery currently featuring artists Carol Salmanson and Stephen Traux
  • Unnamed Broadway Musical: The Musical! – An experimental, legally questionable restaging of an orphan-themed Broadway musical, at EFA Project Space
  • Pernod Art & Absinthe Guide – A handy mobile app that lists galleries, events and bars serving Pernod in Brooklyn
  • Artspan – Contemporary art destination and service providing totally customizable artist websites
  • FIT Art Market MA Program – The group exhibition “No Other Medicine” is now on view at NY Studio Gallery through May 19
  • “Oh hey. What’s going on?” – a project by artist Jesus Benavente
  • Art Systems – Professional art gallery, antiques and collections management software
  • Tyler Summer Painting & Sculpture Intensives – 7-week immersion program for artists interested in developing their work in a challenging and supportive environment
  • 950 Hart GalleryThe Lowbrow Society Smut! Show, a public celebration of private affairs, May 4–5.
  • Claremont Graduate University MFA – A highly focused graduate-only studio-art program
If your organization is interested in advertising on Two Coats of Paint, please get in touch with Nectar Ads, the Art Ad Network.


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New Bushwick HQ for Two Coats of Paint, Guest Gallerist this Saturday

Tomorrow I'm moving to a new studio in one of Bushwick's older artists' buildings.The space features a beautiful view to the east, convenient location near the L train, two big white walls, a sink, plenty of windows, heat and AC, and a freight elevator steps away. What more could a painter want?

Also, keep in mind that I'll be serving as Guest Gallerist at Pocket Utopia this Saturday from 3-6 pm. "Artists and Other Frenchmen: Portrait prints from Nanteuil to Villon," the inaugural show in the new Henry Street location, features three centuries of French printmaking. Please stop by and say hello--I'll be live blogging and Tweeting throughout the afternoon--and the show, which opened last night, is terrific.

Austin Thomas installing the show at Pocket Utopia last week.

Related posts:
Makeshift studio in Georgetown
Pocket Utopia announces inaugural exhibition and preliminary artist roster


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At the University of Washington: Travis Davis Smith and Andrew Dadson

The University of Washington runs the biggest art program in Seattle, and when I was out there last week, first-year MFA student Travis Davis Smith picked me up at the airport and took me to the MFA studios, which are housed in an old navy base.

Smith is working on small-scale sculptures created by arranging found materials in precarious situations. He entered the program as a painter, but his work has taken an unexpected turn.

Sometimes, Smith says, he returns to the studio and is pleasantly surprised to find that pieces have fallen apart. He likes the notion that things change.


Attached to a one-story brick building, this rock climbing wall sits next to the old barracks that houses the MFA studios. Imagine how vivid the color of that painted sky looks on Seattle's dark, dreary days. 

Here's Smith having a smoke in the parking lot while I gush over the painted rock-climbing wall (pictured above).

The MFA barracks also houses a gallery where they were hanging the BFA show. 

At Henry Art Gallery, the University's enormous gallery complex, I saw paintings by Andrew Dadson, winner of the Brink, a biennial award that goes to an emerging artist living Washington, Oregon, or British Columbia. The award-winner receives $12,500, and, in addition, the gallery buys a piece for their permanent collection.

From the press release: "His photographs of lawns painted solid black or white focus on the urban environment as a zone rife with borders; these works suggest voids that have become part of a mysterious, and possibly contentious, narrative. They prefigure his current canvas paintings that transfer the (literally) painted landscape into the realm of abstraction. Dadson utilizes the very materiality of thick layers of paint—applied to multiple canvases standing on the floor and leaning on the wall and each other—to reinforce his allegorical interest in boundaries. Dadson asserts that 'Everything has boundaries; the delimitations between such can be static and opaque or permeable and imagined. In my practice, I search for the spaces and opportunity to then question where such boundaries begin and end.'"

Overall, the exhibition lacked focus. I would have appreciated these thick gooey monochromes even more without the belabored explanation. Photographs of the painted lawns were on display, too, but they should have been in a smaller supporting role rather than enlarged, framed and scattered throughout the exhibition. Or perhaps Dadson could have focused more strongly on the painted landscapes and brought the objects into the gallery rather than presenting photographs that wavered indecisively between documentation and formal art objects. As the work is arranged now, the connection between the paintings and the landscape images strikes me as notional and contrived rather than organic, but the exhibition's shortcomings have to do with the installation (and statement) rather than the work itself.

In The Stranger, check out Jen Graves's article about the 2011 Brink Awards shortlist.

Andrew Dadson, one of several Plank Leaning Paintings, 2010, oil on canvas,

Andrew Dadson, small painting.
Also at the Henry: "Glossodelic attractors," a big Gary Hill rotating video retrospective took up several of the other galleries. Note to the folks at the vertigo-inducing Rem Koolhaas library: The Gary Hill video installation either wasn't turned on properly or wasn't working last week.

Related Posts:
More Studio Visits with Seattle Artists.

At Process Art, Danila Rumold writes about Robert Storr and UW faculty member Denzil Hurley's Francne Seders show, which, unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see while I was in Seattle: Economy of Means: Robert Storr & Denzil Hurley


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April 26, 2012

A few of Philip Guston's letters to Varujan Boghosian

I'm interrupting my Seattle coverage to present some images of the excellent letters on display at Lori Bookstein through Saturday. For ten years, Guston and Boghosian exchanged handwritten letters that touched on everything from their financial difficulties, medical updates and family stories to progress reports  about their work, anxiety over upcoming exhibitions, elation over good reviews, and hopes for the future. The show, which also includes the playful constructions Boghosian made in response to Guston's letters after he died in 1980, is a must see. Guston is a charmer. And the show might persuade artists to log out of their email accounts and send handcrafted letters instead--which would be good news for the beleaguered US Postal Service as well as future artists and art historians.

Seattle coverage resumes tomorrow.

"Art and Letters: Varujan Boghosian and Philip Guston," Lori Bookstein, New York, NY. Through March 29, 2012 - April 28, 2012

Related posts:
Dear Tamara, and other letters about art
EMAIL: A note to Mira Schor


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April 25, 2012

Seattle studio visit: Robert Hardgrave and friends

Working intuitively and responding to the process as it unfolds, Robert Hardgrave tries to stay out of the way and let the paintings make themselves. After a kidney transplant in 2003, his work, which fuses mysticism, Inuit iconography, surrealism, and abstraction, began to reveal insights about life, death, and the richness of everything in between. At his studio in Building C, an old Ballard paint warehouse that houses two floors of artists and a film production company, Hardgrave showed me a slew of work, including some oddly-shaped sewn pieces that were recently on display at EC Gallery, Chicago. He painted on heavy, unstretched burlap fabric, cut it up, and then sewed the scraps back together with with fancy binding stitches crafted from neon thread using an old sewing machine that still sits on his worktable. He's become obsessed with sewing, which, it turns out, was one of his father's preoccupations, too. Fittingly, he called the show in Chicago "The Apple Doesn't Fall Too Far From the Tree."

Hardgrave unpacking the burlap pieces.

Because they're in the Styrofoam crates, the pieces look framed, but actually he installed them on a wall clustered in groups, unframed. Click to see the intricate stitching.

Sometimes Hardgrave covers entire sheets of paper with fancy stitches that look like delicate netting.

Here's a big painting (6 x 7 feet or so) that he's been working on for a while.

Even when he paints, Hardgrave's angled brushstrokes often mimic the look of stitching or woven fabric. Self-taught except for a graphic design degree from a community college, Hardgrave has formidable drawing skills and his work recalls the brio of flamboyant street art, but he himself is a quiet, low-key character. I asked if he ever worked on street projects, but he just chuckled and said he preferred working alone, in the studio.

Hardgrave also took me to see work by some of his studio neighbors even though they weren't around. These vibrating, abstract paintings are by Gillian Theobald, whom I met later at our opening at SEASON.

Sue Danielson's work table.
One of Danielson's small paintings. A stack of big ones leaned against the wall out in the hallway.

This quirky   C. L. Utley was out in the hallway, too.

I want Andrée B. Carter's painting chair.

Her paintings, which are heading to Heriard-Cimino in New Orleans, are thickly layered with flaking fabric and paint. The canvas and stretcher on the right aren't part of the piece, but they look good together, right?


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April 24, 2012

Seattle studio visit: Cable Griffith

Cable Griffith, the Gallery Director at Cornish College of the Arts, paints peculiar worlds, full of familiar elements such as trees, lakes, hills, and skies stacked in odd, architectural structures that recall Pieter Bruegel the Elder's Tower of Babel. Rounded Guston-esque forms combined with hard-edge geometry, cryptographic linework, and precise color mixing create images of surreal landscape-like edifices, which, unlike Bruegel's Tower, seem to exude a resolute cheerfulness...and yet, at the same time, reveal a slapstick version of apprehension and dread.

Aeaea, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 36 inches.

Griffith has converted his living room into a studio. Here is his drawing desk and some recent acrylic paintings on canvas. Click to enlarge.

In earlier work, Griffith used the quirky geometric shapes he uses today, but he placed them in a more traditional, less tower-like, landscape space. Much of the canvas on this one is left unpainted.

The forms in his paintings are based on perceptual study of these crudely made foamcore models. Griffith arranges them in groupings, then draws them, studying how the the light falls across the objects to determine shadow strength and placement.

I like the way the color of this underpainting captures the bleakness of Seattle light. This is a straight still life from an arrangement of the foamcore models (pictured above) that includes the desktop space and a view from the window in the background.

Sketch on canvas for a new painting.

Griffith showed me one of the original ink sketches for a waterfall painting he was working on.

The view from his studio features stacked retaining walls that hold lush green plantings on a steep hill. I forgot to ask  if he chose the apartment because the view looked like his paintings, or if he started painting the stacked hills after he moved in.

Beleaguered and dispirited, artists in Seattle, who have seen several gallery closings, diminished art sales, and fewer exhibition opportunities in recent years (on top of all that depressing rain), need some attention. I have more Seattle studio visit posts underway.


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Seattle Report: Studio visit with Robert Yoder

Last week I flew out to Seattle where I saw "SQUEEZE HARD (Hold that Thought)," a two-person show I'm in at SEASON, Robert Yoder's home-based gallery near UDub, and to participate in a discussion about arts writing at Cornish College of the Arts that was organized by Cable Griffith. I visited several artists studios, and I'll be posting images throughout the week. First, let's look at Robert Yoder's new work.

Yoder works in the basement of his mid-century modern home. The livingroom and most of the first floor house the gallery. Here's the wall above Yoder's desk, which is cluttered with images of people clipped from magazines.

 Paintings combined with collage are grouped loosely in multi-panel pieces.

 In new drawings, Yoder combines text with architectural form. I can't be sure what it says, and he's fine with that.

An amusing collection of vernacular typos is posted on one wall.

Yoder, who had a solo show in NYC at Frosch & Portmann in November 2011, is in the process of preparing work for a solo booth at Volta in Basel and an exhibition at Platform in Seattle. He says they are figurative paintings, but to me they look lushly, seductively abstract. In an essay written in the form of a letter, Seattle writer D.W. Burnam, one of the panelists at the Cornish arts writing discussion, eloquently wrote that the "visual pairing of [Yoder's] panels with other treated objects sets up a dialectic in which familiar sexual cues move toward the stock of their formal construction – shapes, hues and linkages – while a baser hedonism simmers underneath the sterility of everything. These ensembles mete out verdicts on prefab identity’s impotence – its fleshy bait and switch. The painted-white tile becomes a sloppy censor – a wad of wet toilet paper above a urinal. As the presumably illicit image beneath seeps through, the rendering remains just barely identifiable as a picture of something intimate and shudderingly familiar. It’s not lost on the present work that paint and skin are both containers, organs that mediate inter-permeation." Nicely put.

Beleaguered and dispirited, artists in Seattle, who have seen several gallery closings, diminished art sales, and fewer exhibition opportunities in recent years (on top of all that depressing rain), need some attention. More Seattle studio visit posts are underway.


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April 17, 2012


If I were going to get a studio space in DC, I'd get one at 52 O Street, where I went to Open Studios this past weekend. The place reminds me of a sewing factory (now converted to fancy retail) on the Chinatown/Little Italy border where I lived when I first moved to New York. Long before I lived there, sculptor Eric Rudd converted 52 O into loft space. According to his website, Rudd,  who built 52 O in 1978, now lives in North Adams at Beaver Mill where he has  one of the largest private art studios in the world. Artists can still buy a 900 sq ft Beaver Mill loft with large window frontage for $59,500 to $64,500. In 2001 Rudd wrote The Art Studio/Loft Manual: For Ambitious Artists and Creators to help younger artists find and convert old buildings into live/work space. In 2003, Marty Youmans bought  52 O Street and has continued to maintain it as a community for working artists, although in January some artists got eviction notices to make way for a youth hostel. Whether Youmans will move forward with the plan despite community opposition is unclear.

But enough about real estate. Here are some of photographer Ryder Haske's images from the Open Studios Facebook photo album, which are much better than my lousy snaps.

Eames Armstrong (sorry I missed you!)


 Site of Tuesday Night Group figure drawing sessions in Micheline Klagsbrun's studio.


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