March 1, 2015

Joan Waltemath: Sew


After painting with acrylic pigment and binders for the past few years, I recently returned to oil, mostly because I like the way oils darken and age over time. Working with oil paints involves forethought about layering, drying, and mixing mediums—even the brand of paint can make a difference in the stability of the surface over time. Centuries ago, artists were a bit like chemists, mixing secret recipes for binders and varnishes that least would affect the lightfast quality of their pigments and the surfaces of their canvases. Joan Waltemath, who has a handsome show of abstract paintings on view at Hionas this month, is something of a throwback to those times, grinding her own pigments, experimenting with minerals, concocting mediums, and undertaking other painting-related investigations. The resulting paintings are elegant and spare in terms of imagery, which is based on mathematically-generated harmonic grids, but rich and complex with respect to surface and color. I wonder how the subtle relationships she coaxes from her materials will change over time.

 A Joan Waltemath painting


The biggest surprise of the exhibition is the inclusion of several small pieces, made of canvas and black fabric rectangles, roughly sewn in geometric arrangements. When I asked Waltemath about these curious canvases, she told me that they were made from remnants of The Treaty of 1868, a project that involves a series of 16-foot sewn canvases that she has been working on in Nebraska since 2009. Through the project, which was funded by a 2012 Creative Capital grant, Waltemath hopes to reconcile her intellectual approach to abstract painting with her involvement in the sacred ceremonies of the Plains Indian tribes.


I asked if the small sewn pieces might be studies for new paintings. “I see them as autonomous works,” she wrote in an email. “Because all the harmonic proportions are being cut from these large rolls of canvas, the left-overs have this interesting random set of relationships that I find in keeping with my other work. Obviously it’s fun to make something quick and easy that comes together more or less effortlessly. While I am sewing the big pieces, which each take about two weeks to make, I keep all the left-over pieces laid out and when two dimensions coincide, I sew them together. That way they come together in a totally random way.”

For Waltemath, whose paintings and graphite drawings (on view at Schema in 2013) can take years to complete, the new pieces seem to signal a less fastidious approach in which speed and chance might take precedence over deliberation and order. Looking closely at the paintings in the exhibition, I spotted a few drips and rough edges in Waltemath’s otherwise immaculate surfaces. Perhaps the sewn pieces are already affecting her pristine aesthetic.

The future? On Waltemath's website I found "Forays" a 2014 series of work-on-paper that has a loose, lively feel. Above: Joan Waltemath, Foray, 2014, pencil, egg tempera, casein, gouache, flasche, metallic gouache, colored pencil, oil pastel, conté crayon on handmade linen paper, 25 x 29 inches. 

"Joan Waltemath: one does not negate the other," Hionas, LES, New York, NY. Through March 14, 2015.

Related posts:
Waltemath's powerful Dinwoody drawings (2013)
Exchanging studio visits with Joan Waltemath (2011)

Umarmung or marsha's two ways: Joan Waltemath @ Pulse


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February 22, 2015

Richard Aldrich on "progress"

The February issue of Art in America features a Ross Simonini interview with Richard Aldrich in which the artist discusses the notion of artistic progress. Here is an excerpt in which Aldrich deflates the traditional idea that an artist makes formal progress over the course of a lifetime, embracing a "stylist non-progression." I agree completely.

[Image at top: Richard Aldrich, Untitled, 2013-2014, oil, wax, charcoal, oil bar and enamel on linen 84 x 58 inches. Courtesy of Bortolami, New York, NY]


February 20, 2015

Small work: Brett Baker @ Elizabeth Harris


Brett Baker's new small-scale paintings at Elizabeth Harris are a little bigger than the ones in his last show, and they continue his exploration of line, thickly layered paint, and color. Several years ago, when Baker moved from a good-sized studio to a small apartment in New York, he decided to apply the same effort to miniature abstractions that he had previously invested in mural-size work. The resulting series, which he continued when he eventually relocated to North Carolina and began the blog Painters' Table, are intellectually enigmatic. By the same token, though, the rich blue palette (many of the paintings are simply titled "Night Studio") is visually hypnotic, and the heady scent of linseed oil (some are still wet) cuts directly to the heart. Like a wayward lover returning home, these paintings have you at hello.

February 19, 2015

February 19: Andrew Ginzel's list of NYC shows and events


SOME but not all NYC SELECTED SHOWS TO SEE /February 19, 2015  / Listed south to north. Compiled by artist Andrew Ginzel for his students at the School of Visual Arts. Note: Images have been selected by Two Coats of Paint.

[Image at top: Suzanne McClelland @ Team, opens February 22, through March 22.]


February 15, 2015

The Artist's Statement: Thomas Micchelli


Thomas Micchelli, co-editor of Hyperallergic Weekend, has what looks like a fine solo show of paintings and drawings on view at John Davis through March 1. Two bodies of work are included in the exhibition--"Bacchantes," an ongoing series of paintings and drawings, and "Bivalves," a set of two-part drawings that were on display in a 2011 group show at Centotto in Bushwick.

[Image at top: Thomas Micchelli, Bacchante (blindfold), 2015, oil and wax on Melamine, 11 3/8 x 10 inches.]

Lux: Julian Kreimer


I recently got a note from Julian Kreimer, one of my former colleagues in the dynamic painting program at SUNY Purchase, who is about to complete an artist's residency at Lux Art Institute, a Kunsthalle-type institution outside San Diego. Lux invites artists to work in residence, after which they mount a show that includes some of the work completed during the residency period alongside earlier work.

[Image at top: One of the beautifully painted canvases that Kreimer completed at Lux.]

February 14, 2015

Quick study: Goodbye art world, Tal R, Anselm Reyle's fall, Hollywood agents, Lucy Lippard's advice, and a rant about education


When twenty-somethings realize being a part of the the art world often means enduring a hard, poorly compensated, unfair existence, sometimes they decide to pursue other options. Sadly, this week Whitney Kimball announced that after writing for Art F City for four years, she is leaving the art world. Read the farewell letter in which she says goodbye to all that. We'll miss you in the blogosphere, Whitney, but keep in touch. Let us know what it's like out there. (Art F City)

Strong recommendation: Go see Tal R's new paintings at Cheim & Read because TODAY is the LAST DAY. (Image at top)

"Just like handbags are in style, and then two years later they’re not, an artist’s in, then he’s out.” Bloomberg runs a piece about how artists get chewed up and spit out by the art world. Read about Anselm Reyle, Barnaby Furnas and Tom Friedman's sad career trajectories. (Bloomberg)

United Talent Agency, the firm that negotiates for actors like Angelina Jolie and Harrison Ford, is launching a fine arts division. Now uber artists can graduate from the art world and move on to Hollywood. Excellent. (The Art Newspaper)

Casualism has arrived in the fashion world via hair styles: “...drab non-hair... passive-aggressive hair...enviable without any help at all....If the ombre of seasons past telegraphed a beachy disregard for appointments and status quo, non-hair is a full-out (if faux) throw-the-Filofax-away refusal. And in its visually subtle noncompliance, it more successfully captures the laissez-faire attitude that imbues so many attempts at stylized apathy...” (New York Times)

Read why paying adjuncts poverty-level wages is a problem. (Washington Post). IMO, full-time faculty at state universities need to stop fretting about retirement benefits and pay raises and turn their attention to the festering adjunct pay problem, because very soon, if politicians have their way, everyone will either be an adjunct or teaching 4/4. Remember all the outcomes assessment initiatives of the past ten years? All those program and course rubrics will certainly make shifting to a primarily adjunct workforce faster and easier as full-timers retire. Shared governance will be a thing of the past as corporate education reformers with political connections take over the curricula at state institutions. Read the The New Yorker's profile of Jeb Bush for more insight into how for-profit education corporations have inserted themselves into the process, converted millions (billions?) of taxpayer dollars to private profit, and busted teachers' unions. But maybe I'm just being negative...?

"Keep your standard of living extremely low." Lucy Lippard advises young writers in her acceptance speech for the College Art Association’s Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art (read more excerpts from her speech at ArtNews).

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Evelyn De Morgan: The Love Potion



Drawn to the style of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Evelyn De Morgan was best known for tackling literary subjects and spiritual allegories. According to the De Morgan Foundation's website, she was engaged in numerous political causes, including prison reform, pacifism and the Suffragette Movement. De Morgan's later work was deeply affected by her interest in the afterlife and her involvement in the popular Spiritualist Movement. The Love Potion (above), a protofeminist painting, depicts Jane Morris, wife of artist William Morris, not as a stereotypical wicked witch, but as a learned scholar and alchemist. Incidentally, Jane was a famous Pre-Raphaelite muse who some speculate may have been the basis for the Eliza Doolittle character in George Bernard Shaw's 1912 play Pygmalion.

[Image at top: Evelyn De Morgan, The Love Potion, 1903,  41 x  20.5 inches. Inscriptions: signature, painted, lower right: "EDeM 1903." Courtesy of the De Morgan Foundation.]

The following interpretation of the painting, which originally appeared in Elise Lawton Smith’s Evelyn Pickering De Morgan and the Allegorical Body, is posted on the De Morgan Foundation website.

February 9, 2015

Two Coats at Sundance: Misery, ambition and the creative life


Guest contributor Jonathan Stevenson / Every January throngs of industry strivers and film buffs congregate in the snowy streets of Park City for the Sundance Film Festival to network, make distribution deals, and watch great independent movies before they reach local art houses. Of course, you roll the dice in choosing the films: however strong the field, not every one of over 100 films is going to be a winner, and you can’t see them all. We were reasonably lucky in our three days at the festival.

[Image at top: The view from the press screening room parking lot. Park City is a cute tourist town, but most of the films are screened at theaters on the outskirts--in strip malls, rec centers, and hotels. Sundance had organized an excellent system of shuttles and buses to get everyone from one theater to the next.]

February 8, 2015

Painting of the day: Mark Brosseau's Viscous

Mark Brosseau, Viscous, 2014, medium: acrylic, flashe, and ink on canvas, 24 x 20 inches.

About Mark Brosseau: Equally drawn to color, science, math, and emotion, Brosseau discovered art by way of chemistry and architecture. Born and raised in Lyndon, VT, Brosseau enrolled at Dartmouth College with the intention of pursuing a degree in chemistry, but his interest soon shifted to architecture, a curriculum that required him to take a drawing class. The drawing class he took changed not only his college major but also his life, introducing him to the world of creative exploration that fuels his passion and intellectual curiosity today. Graduating with honors from Dartmouth in 1998 with a BA in Studio Art, Brosseau then enrolled in the graduate program at University of Pennsylvania, where he earned an MFA in 2001. The following year, as a Fulbright Scholar, Brosseau went to Iceland and continued painting and printmaking. He currently lives with his wife, writer Jenny Lentz, and two dogs in New Jersey just outside of Philadelphia, and recently joined the collective Tiger Strikes Asteroid where he is serving as co-director. Painting has become his full time occupation. His paintings are on view through next week at EBK in Hartford, CT. (via press release)

I included Brosseau's work in Nor'Easter, a members exhibition I selected at the New Britain Museum of Art last month.

Mark Brosseau, Spectral, 2014, acrylic, flashe, ink on canvas, 16 x 20 inches.
 
"Mark Brosseau: Paintings,"  EBK Gallery, Hartford, CT. Through February 15, 2015.

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February 7, 2015

Installation: Call and Response @ Gavin Brown


"Call and Response," an enormous group show hung salon-style in the back gallery at Gavin Brown, includes many of the artists whose work comprises "The Forever Now," but the work selected by Gavin Brown, in a context both more cogent and more expansive, seems genuinely of the moment. Some abstract paintings are included, but, for the most part, a loose form of representation rules. The show is notable not only for whose work is included, but for the artists whose work is not. Another reminder that the art world can be like the stock market: one day you're up, the next day you're down. Here are some shots of the installation. Click images to enlarge.

[Image at top: Installation view, Gavin Brown. From left to right: Bjarne Melgaard, John Seal, Avery Singer, Scott Reeder, Tala Madani, Ella Kruglyanskaya, Trevor Shimizu, Charline von Heyl, bendix Harms, Leah Glenn, Jess Fuller. ]

Installation view, Gavin Brown. From left to right: Sophie von Hellermann, Julia Wachtel, Chris Martin, Torey Thornton, Henry Taylor, Allison Katz, Bjarne Melgaard, John Seal, Avery Singer, Scott Reeder, Tala Madani, Ella Kruglyanskaya, Trevor Shimizu, Charline von Heyl, bendix Harms, Leah Glenn, Jess Fuller. 

Installation view, Gavin Brown. From left to right: Sanya Kantarovsky, Kianja Strobert, Rebecca Morris, Merlin Carpenter, Ken Okiishi, John Miller, Ida Ekblad, Tyler Dobson, Josh Smith, Eric Palgon, Peiter Schoolwerth, David Korty, Blake Rayne, Sadie Laska, Sean Landers, Sophie von Hellermann, Julia Wachtel, Chris Martin, Torey Thornton, Henry Taylor, Allison Katz.

 Installation view, Gavin Brown. From left to right: Caragh Thuring, Silke Otto-Knapp, Will Benedict, Raina Hamner, Uri Aran, Van Hanos, Dave Milko, Sanya Kantarovsky, Kianja Strobert, Rebecca Morris, Merlin Carpenter, Ken Okiishi, John Miller, Ida Ekblad, Tyler Dobson, Josh Smith, Eric Palgon, Peiter Schoolwerth, David Korty, Blake Rayne, Sadie Laska, Sean Landers.

Installation view, Gavin Brown. From left to right: Amelie von Wulffen, Fredrik Vaerslev, Tyson Reeder, Nick Mauss, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Michael Williams, Michael Krebber, Matt Connors, Antek Walczak, Brendan Cass, Michela Eichwald, Vittorio Brodmann, Kerstin Bratsch, Joe Bradley, Mathieu Malouf, Katherine Bernhardt, Brian Belott, Jane Euler.




Installation view, Gavin Brown. From left to right: Vittorio Brodmann, Kerstin Bratsch, Joe Bradley, Mathieu Malouf, Katherine Bernhardt, Brian Belott, Jane Euler., Gedi Sebony.


 







"Call and Response," Gavin Brown, West Village, New York, NY. Through February 28, 2015.

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The archive: Jack Pierson's billboard paintings


In the early days of digital imagery, the most challenging aspect of the new medium for artists was output. Back in the late 1990s, most labs were equipped with small printers (11 x 17 inches), but oversize prints that could compete with the scale of paintings were costly and the inks were not archival, fading within months, which flattened prospects for selling or collecting. Companies like Nash Editions began retrofitting Epson printers to use archival inks, but size was still an issue. Jack Pierson began working with companies that used the same acrylic spray technologies to print billboard images on vinyl in creating a series of large-scale images based on his photographs. Sprayed on canvas and stretched like paintings, the images, which look like a particularly obsessive form of pointillism, are on view at Maccarone through March 14.

[Image at top: Jack Pierson, Stardust #1, 2001, acrylic lacquer on canvas, 73 x 95 inches.
Courtesy of the artist, Maccarone, New York and Cheim & Read, New York.]


January 28, 2015

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


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

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

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

January 26, 2015

RESIDENCY: Andrea Zittel's Wagon Station Encampment


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

Blizzard!


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




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

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