September 27, 2013

Painting Toward Happiness: Episode 1: The Landscape

Snarky Jayson Musson, aka Hennessy Youngman from the hilarious Art Thoughtz series, channels Bob Ross in the first installment of his new series "Painting Toward Happiness."

September 25, 2013

Keeting and Grill: Timeless energy

Each month Giampietro Gallery pairs painters for concurrent solo shows, and through October 5 Zachary Keeting and Clare Grill have work on display. Grill, whose paintings were recently included in "Dying on Stage: New Painting in New York," draws on history, making lovingly eroded small-scale canvases that abstractly illuminate aspects of the simpler life--carving, darning--that frames and affirms their resonance today. Keeting is all about bold color and surface, creating energetic abstractions using masking, pouring, and blotting strategies to flatten the brushstrokes and keep the lively surfaces lean.

Clare Grill, Carve, 2012, oil on linen, 44 x 36 inches.

Zachary Keeting, May (2), 2013, acrylic on canvas, 50 x 109 inches.

"I make paintings about things fading away," Grills writes in her artist's statement. She continues:
I come to each piece differently, sometimes by looking at my things, or out the window, or at pictures of familiar places, or old drawings, or other times by reading a string of words I've copied down somewhere. I mess with the images these thoughts cook up, layering and wearing them away. I've become less concerned with image really, and more with just painting. The image surfaces according to the way the paint looks like it feels to touch.
Clare Grill, Darning, 2013, oil on linen, 20 x 19 inches.

 Zachary Keeting, August (1) , 2013, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 36 inches.

Where Grill's images are paired down and spare, Keeting's overflow with layered shape, color, brushstroke--like a jangled conversation between ornery, opinionated guests at a loud dinner party. His recent turn toward black and white, though slightly enervating, allows him to explore more contrasting forms and pulsating compositions. 

 Zachary Keeting, July (1) , 2013, acrylic on canvas, 54 x 54 inches.

"Zachary Keeting: recent paintings," Giampietro Gallery, New Haven, CT. Through October 5, 2013.
"Clare Grill: Steeped," Giampietro Gallery, New Haven, CT. Through October 5, 2013.

Related posts: 
What is Gorky's Granddaughter?
IMAGES: Clare Grill
July 18: Panel discussion on Casualism (and other forms of abstraction)

September 24, 2013

Remarks to young artists at UConn's 2013 Art & Art History Convocation

For their 2013 Convocation, the UConn Department of Art and Art History invited New Zealand multimedia artist Shigeyuki Kihara and me to make presentations about emerging trends in contemporary art, how young artists get exhibitions, and the impact of social media on art. Co-sponsored by the William Benton Museum of Art with the support of the Gene and Georgia Mittelman Lecture Fund, the lively event wasn't video taped, but here is the transcript of my remarks.

September 22, 2013

Allison Miller's dirty paintings and clumsy relationships

Allison Miller's paintings strike me as calculatedly--therefore artfully--imbecilic. In her second solo show at Susan Inglett, the Los Angeles artist forces viewers to ask ridiculously simple questions, such as "What is this?" and "What kind of space am I looking at?" Shapes and lines lock in bad relationships, color squeezes into (and out of) unexpected situations, and ambiguous titles broadcast multiple meanings. In other words, these clumsy, uncomfortable, unresolved paintings are mysteriously unforgettable. They got under my skin.

(Image above: Allison Miller,  Untitled, 2013, oil, acrylic dirt and pencil/ canvas, 66 x 60 inches. Images courtesy of Susan Inglett Gallery)

September 14, 2013

Quick Study: Chelsea snaps, reading links

As I traipse around the galleries, catch up on the backlog in my InBox, and read the other bloggers via my new Feedly RSS reader (so nicely designed!), I frequently post images and links to the Two Coats Twitter and Instagram feeds. Here's a selection of posts from the past week.

Artists' Residencies: Upcoming deadlines

For many artists, fall is application season, from teaching jobs and exhibitions to grants and residencies. The following is a list of some residency deadlines that might be of interest to readers. Please share recommendations in the Comments section for less well-known residencies that aren't on the list. If your organization is not listed, please feel free to submit info and links in the Comments section as well.

September 10, 2013

EMAIL: Wendy White's studio

In the email  press release for "Pick up a Knock," Wendy White's upcoming solo show, I received this studio shot of her new paintings. Hard to tell in a jpeg, but from here it looks like White might be done with the manufactured Fotobilds she was making last year. On the checklist, the materials are listed as acrylic on canvas, enamel and wood. Don't they look great?  The show is at Andrew Rafacz  in Chicago and opens on Friday, September 20. 

Related posts:

Stephen Maine on Gorky's Grandaughter

Stephen Maine has always been a favorite critic at Two Coats of Paint, and recently Gorky's Grandaughter visited his Brooklyn studio to talk about his own paintings, in which accident and imperfection play an important role in the process. "For a while my process was very controlled, I was using a small number of variables....With the ones that I think of as successful,  the relationships are unexpected or unusual. The good ones look impoverished. Like they are doing a lot with a little." For Maine painting is a purely visual experience engaged with pictorial space and painterly concerns, not steeped in autobiography, feeling, or any sort of cryptic personal content. Using enlarged halftone screen dots, he eludes to images without depicting. "How much naming do I need to do to satisfy my longing [for imagery]?"

Stephen Maine, HP12-0505, 2012, acrylic on MDF, 39 x 32 inches.

September 8, 2013

Back-to-school at Pocket U-niversity

On August 4th at Pocket Utopia, artist-curator-writer Sarah Schmerler and galler-artist Austin Thomas convened “Session One," the first of several conclaves dedicated to collaborative learning in which "the gallery serves as the hardware, the art market serves as the software, and the artists provide the content."

Joanne Mattera's new angle

In 2012 Joanne Mattera turned the 12 x 12 inch square that she had been working with for several years forty-five degrees and began exploring the possibilities of working on a diamond-shaped support. "The grid remains the focus of my formal concerns, but the diagonal allows me a different way to approach it," Mattera writes. Using intuition rather than calculation, she divides the diamonds horizontally, noting that the division isn't "mathematical but it is precise, allowing me to resolve relationships of color and shape in a way that is new to me. In some paintings, the grid appears to be quietly disassembling; in others, all the pieces seem to have clicked into place."

(Image above: Joanne Mattera, Diamond Life 27, 2013, encaustic on panel, 12 x 12 inches.)

MUST SEE: Charline von Heyl at Petzel

On Friday Charline von Heyl's seventh solo show opened at Petzel, and the paintings look fantastic. Two Coats is putting this exhibition on the top of the MUST SEE list for next week. 

Image at top: Charline von Heyl, Slow Tramp, 2012, oil, acrylic and charcoal on canvas, 82 x 72 inches.

September 3, 2013

Mark your calendars: September events (and how to get a free backpack)

On Thursday, September 12, 5 - 7 pm, please join me for the opening of "Sharon Butler: Dense Surveillance," a solo show at the Fine Art Gallery at Westchester Community College that will be on view through November 24. In a large, quirky space, the exhibition includes new work as well as paintings and drawings from the past several years. A couple of events related to the exhibition are in the planning stages, so look for more details about those in the near.

(Image at top: Sharon Butler, Turbine House (Purple), 2013, pigment and binder on canvas, 66 x 78 inches. Installation view.)

The following week, on Thursday, September 19, I'll be speaking at the UConn Art & Art History Department's Annual Convocation Ceremony. Co-sponsored by the William Benton Museum of Art and the Mittelmann Lecture Fund, the event is FREE and open to the public. Samoan artist and independent curator Shigeyuki Kihara, currently a resident at ISCP,  and I will each make 30-minute presentations, followed by a brief question and answer period. If you're anywhere near Storrs, Connecticut, please join us at 6pm in von der Mehden Recital Hall. I'll be giving away free backpacks to all Two Coats of Paint readers!

Sharon Butler, 45 Decibels, 2013, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches. 

Related posts:
Upcoming show: Dense Surveillance (2013)
Secondary usage: Four questions and answers (2013)

The things around us: Melissa Meyer

Over the past year, curator, writer and gallery director Stephanie Buhmann has been conducting a series of conversations with artists, which she has generously made available on her website. The following excerpts from a recent studio visit with Melissa Meyer speak to newness, abstraction and the notion that our surroundings seep into our work in countless, often unintentional, ways.  [Sidebar: I sometimes wonder what contemporary art would look like if artists lived in environments like, for instance, the South of France instead of the post-industrial neighborhoods around the country. And when will the next generation begin converting abandoned strip malls and big box stores into studio space?]

Stephanie Buhmann: The concept of time is very important and becomes even more so in this day and age when an artist’s audience is increasingly prone to zap through visuals, information, installations, and art fairs. To be able to slow down the visual experience is crucial - especially in regard to abstraction. Sometimes I think that we had reached this sophisticated place of how to engage with abstraction but that many are now brushing it off again as easy to take in or make. I think that many contemporary abstract artists have to fight again against a quick overall assessment of their work and a decorative viewing in general.
Melissa Meyer: Abstract viewing and analyzing is not taught – at least that’s what I believe - because of what happened in the Greenbergian age in regard to formalism. It’s also because you can’t put it through a political sieve even though it was considered radical and aligned with radical political thought. I identify with young Jazz musicians. Working in a form that was once considered avant-garde but which now is considered traditional. And what do you do with it? You don’t abandon it because…
SB: …it’s not the newest thing anymore.
MM: Right. After all, it is still relatively new....

SB: I love that there are stacks of newspapers in your studio.
MM: Sometimes I wonder if I should stop getting the New York Times.
SB: There is an interesting relationship between these towers of newspapers and your work’s gestures and overall abstraction. Both provide a column of information, but stacked or re-ordered it’s not legible in a traditional sense. I think it captures what I feel when I look at your work: there is some information, but its abstraction encourages me to search for a new way of reading it.
MM: Looking at different things, such as these windows, always influences me. Like that one you see the reflections of on the other building. I love all of that....

Download the complete interview here. Note: All rights for this interview remain with the author. For permission to use any material in print, please contact

Image above: Melissa Meyer, Smokey, 2013, oil on canvas, 60 x 84 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Lennon, Weinberg, Inc.

On view: Arthur Dove, 5th Floor at the Whitney Museum

From the Whitney's website: Around 1910, Arthur Dove became the first American artist to make a painting that had no recognizable images in it. He resisted calling his paintings “abstractions.” Instead, he insisted that they were “extractions,” since he worked to extract the essential nature of real-world subjects. He believed that objects and places had inner, elemental spirits that were not reflected in their physical forms. His exploration of the line between abstraction and figuration connected him to Georgia O’Keeffe, perhaps his closest colleague among the artists who exhibited with Alfred Stieglitz.

The haunting painting pictured above is on the fifth floor at the Whitney Museum in "American Legends: From Calder to O’Keeffe," a rotating exhibition of work from their collection.

Image: Arthur Dove, Ferry Boat Wreck, 1931