Monday, October 25, 2010

I feel pretty bad having this blog and not having a chance to keep up with it. There is so much going on right now but I am really going to try to make a better effort to write, at least to keep people plugged into all of the crazy things that are going on. So quickly i will tell you a little bit about what has been happening.

First and for most, I'm going to be a dad. So that will be very cool. I've never done this before, but everyone tells me it is great. I'm sure it will be.

Late in the summer I was nominated for a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant. The application is in and I am waiting for the results. Fingers crossed.

The next crazy thing that happened is that the magazines are totally pushing my work right now. As you can see, Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles put me on the cover with my installation at Spa Sentio. It turned out beautifully and I am told this is the first time the magazine has focused on a piece of art for the cover.

944 Magazine (Atlanta) has also written an article on my work for their most recent issue. It is a great piece by a fellow midwesterner. Fahamu has also contributed to the magazine which has a feature article on Kehinde Wiley.

I've also done an interview for Points North Magazine that focuses on the Hudgens Prize. I think it will be out any day now. I haven't seen a copy of it yet. The final magazine spot is the November issue of InStyle. No photo credits but it is from an interior Susan Kassler did a few years ago with a fantastic pink nail polish drawing. oddly enough the article is about framing.

So back the the Hudgens Prize mention. I am one of the 5 finalists for Atlanta's first Hudgens Prize. It is the largest prize for a single artist in the Georgia. I am please to be exhibiting with Hope Hilton, Gyun Hur, Jiha Moon and Ruth Dusseault. The exhibition will feature not only some new works, but some new mediums that I have never tried before. I'm adding stone carving to the equation. That exhibition opens on November 30th, when the announce the winner. Seriously people, cross you fingers, do something, i mentioned the kid right.

Today I was asked to take part in FAU's 2011 version of southXeast: Contemporary Southeastern Art exhibition. Opening in Late January, I am hoping they except my installation proposal.

I'll try to post the results of everything as they come up. Watch my FB page to find out dates on exhibitions.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New photo edition.

I took this photograph at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin in 2008. I printed a small version of it for an exhibition at Indiana State University. Recently, I've been thinking about how photography could benefit the conversation between objects in my shows. Adding Julius Shulman photos to the "Building Futures" show at Solomon Projects in 2007 was a huge step in that direction.

I saw these two chairs and they haunted me for about an hour until I went back through the museum to shoot it. I originally took the photo as a document, not a piece of art. I love the story it tells, or the one you could make up. It could almost be a black and white photo. So many questions come to mind for me when I see it. Two chairs would suggest a couple, but I assumed the chairs were for security staff. So why two? If they were for the public, why not a bench? The chairs are slightly askew and appear to have sublte differences. The institutional feel of the marble floor and white chairs is somehow offset by the heat radiator on the wall and the warmth of the light coming through the window.

The window sill is illuminated, carrying the eye to the control knob at the right edge of the image. In many ways the knob controls the composition for me. Without it, the image would be rather symetrical. I loved my trip to Berlin and this image captured the essence of what i enjoyed about the city.

This image is now available in an edition of 10, with 2 artist proofs. The image is 4"x 6". They are framed alike in a narrow flat white frame, with a 1 1/2" 8 ply mat, with museum glass. It is approximately 8"x 10" in the frame.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Extending ...through line...

February 13th, 2010 ...through line... opened at Solomon Projects in Atlanta. This exhibition was the first time I took an honest look back at why I make the work that I make. Not only did I explore the process, I also examined the sources of content. One of the central pieces in the show was a set of four drawings on watercolor paper depicting the north, south, east and west elevations of the first modern home that I came in contact with as a kid growing up in Winterset Iowa. I've posted photographs of the house before on the blog.

The largest piece in the exhibition was a 17' drawing of Quai St. Michel, the entire street elevation of the street on which Matisse housed his first apartment studio. Directly across the Seine from Notre Dam. In the exhibition, the drawing hung directly across the gallery from an etching of Notre Dam by Matisse. Ironically, this etching was removed from a book containing a suite of etchings.

Seated to the left of the gallery entrance was "Charlie, meet Malevich" 2009 The introduction to the show. Modern art literally and humorously meeting modern architecture, creating a jumping off point for the show. You can't help but notice the I-beam column as you walk into the space. Painted as though an intoxicated abstract expressionist worked late into the night applying the finish, creating an obstacle in the way, giving the viewer a choice of approach to the work. There were four columns, one in each corner. They assisted in dividing the planes of the walls by hiding the corners of the gallery. This allows the viewer to almost see the space in the round, erasing the hard edge corners of the gallery. As you examine the works in the space you begin to notice that many of the works have been completed on book pages. Torn from exhibition catalogs, sketch books, and luxurious coffee table books by Taschen. All of the pages are altered by cutting, drawing, painting and collaging. I'd like to think that my artistic statements begin with creative observations.

Book pages have been a big part of my work since the beginning of my career. As a self taught artist, books were my studio, my museum, my classroom and even my professor. The investigation often leads to a need to physically alter the material to better understand what I am seeing.

It is not a surprise that I chose the works on book pages when Anna Kustera asked me to do a two person show with Charles Labelle. Opening March 26th, 2010 at the Anna Kustera Gallery in Chelsea. The front gallery space will be used as an extension of the ...through line... show. I will be focusing on altered book pages and the first generation of drawings out from the book pages. The various drawings will talk about the relationships between modern art, architecture and the iconic decorative objects of the era of modernism.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Visual Acoustics

Visual Acoustics opened this weekend at the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta. Visual Acoustics is a documentary about the life and work of the greatest architectural photographer Julius Shulman. I have been a huge fan of Shulman for years but never had the opportunity to meet him. It is a fantastic film of a life full of vision and clarity. He died on July 17th, 2009 at the age of 98.

As I watched and listen to Dustin Hoffman recount this great life I couldn't help but think that the hour and 23 minutes of film that I am watching is a meer fraction of the experiences that Shulman had. This is a man that traveled the globe single handedly documenting the modern world. In many cases his images were used to rebuild what had been altered or destroyed.

The film shows the humor and free spirit of the photographer as it documents his interactions with architects and book publishers. He often seems surprised that people are interested in the work, but is always aware of his place in history and very proud of it. Shulman lived long enough to watch retro become retro.

I can't encourage you enough to see the film, it is moving when Shulman receives his honorary degree in his 90's after dropping out of school as a kid. It is a true American film about a wonderful life that actually took the time to take a picture.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A meeting with the Pope.

So i got an email a few weeks ago saying that Mike, one of my best friends, was coming back to the states for three weeks. I hadn't seen him in about 8 years. Of course I had to drop everything and drive back to Des Moines and hang out for a few days before he went back to Hong Kong.

It made me start thinking about my past and how being away from everything I once knew makes me question what I really know or believe. Since I was going back, I thought what the hell, lets go back... way back.

So on Sept. 17th. I got in my truck at 8:00 in the morning and began the drive 14 hours north west to Des Moines, Iowa alone. It gave me a lot of time to think about what I was going to see and how I might feel. At 40, my conscious thoughts of Des Moines and Iowa are equal to my time in Atlanta. I grew up in Winterset and Des Moines, but my life started in Atlanta.

I pulled into town around 10:00 pm, picked up my great friend Tony and went to meet Mike, play pool and get caught up. We hung out until 3:00 in the morning before going back to Tony's house to crash on his couch and chairs. Mike said it best the next morning, "if you could forget for a second about the last 15 years, the fact that we live in different states and countries, forget about jobs, relationships, all of it... nothing has changed". It was the most pathetically wonderful thing I have ever heard and he was right.

So we decided that since we were going back we needed to catch up with our old neighborhoods, family and friends. We had the idea to have lunch with our High School art teacher. Without a doubt, one of the most important people in our lives. We took her to lunch at the Winterset golf and country club, which sounds really posh on a blog. but we ate pork tenderloin sandwiches and sweet potato fries and began to get caught up. The weather was beautiful, sunny with a fresh breeze.

The last time we saw her she was still teaching art in Winterset and we crashed her class, which was always fun. She is in a different place in her life now as she is teaching kids with special needs. When I look back she always had, some were just a little more special and some had more needs. But you could see the joy on her face that some of her favorite students wanted to spend an afternoon having lunch with her, and genuinely wanted to know how she was.

I also went by the Des Moines Art Center where I worked for three years before cutting my finger off in their tablesaw while installing a Warhol show. I love that museum, it is everything a museum should be without trying to be something it isn't. It has an amazing respect for the art it collects and for the architecture that houses it. At a time when so many museums are stopping short of rollercoasters and bears riding bikes, the DMAC pulls out an Isa Genzken or a Rita McBride. Did i mention it is free?

The DMAC was also recently given a collection of outdoor sculptures that were being installed in a 4 acre greenspace downtown. I had helped John and Mary Pappajohn install 12 of the original sculptures on their property before I left Des Moines 15 years ago. I worked on the Kelly, Serra, the Smith and others. but it was wonderful to see them in the publics eye. Now the Pappajohns have given a true gift not just to the DMAC, but the city as a whole.

After two days of reconnecting with my roots, on Sunday morning I got back in the truck to drive home. Driving back through the countryside, passing Pella's Dutch windmills and the Amish buggies on their way to church, listening to public radio and recapping the weekend in my mind. I couldn't help think about how lucky I was to have the friends that keep you grounded and want to you succeed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jennie C. Jones on

It's funny to me that people continue to ask me to write things for magazines, websites and blogs. I can barely write my name or a complete sentence. But i have a new project that i am very excited about. I have teamed up with Mark Liebert ( Mark obviously taking the lead) on a new site on which we have conversations with artists that are exhibiting or living in the Atlanta area. I am most interested in a conversation after a time of settling and reflection.

I am so excited to announce that my email conversation with Jennie C. Jones is the first entry in this new endeavor. This discussion follows her beautiful show at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. I think Jennie's work is wonderfully inspirational, as if i had a kindred spirit in Brooklyn.

I hope that you enjoy the new site and check back for new entries that i am currently working on. The "punk rock wanderer" Bill Daniels is up next. we will be talking about his new show at Get This Gallery and discussing photography as documentation.

Thanks Jennie!

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Modernism

I mentioned this house the other day in a post. I grew up about 6 blocks from it and was completely obsessed with it. i had forgotten about the M*A*S*H* styled sign post that sat on the corner of the property at the street. i have always assumed that the cities listed were visited by the home owner. That on it's own was of interest to me. We occasionally made the drive back to Oklahoma to visit family friends. Once in awhile we'd go to Omaha and visit the zoo. My father was not much for travel, still isn't. He claims to be happy where he is, my mother however, doesn't share this contentment in the same way.

Back to the house, one of the things i loved about it was that it was a perfect solution to my escapism. The day dreaming about the home owners and the travel sign, and their adventures. I look back at the sign now and none of those cities seem as far away. Maybe because i have been to most of them for one reason or another. Sometimes i think the most important part of this sign was just putting the idea in my head that there was so much more out here.

I think it would be great to build a sign like that one day, but i'm not ready to stay home yet.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Highline NYC

Your looking at pictures of the new Highline project in New York. The first section opened this summer and it is about long 5 blocks in length. Cutting through the Standard Hotel as well as two other older buildings. One of which Spencer Finch has created a beautiful site specific installation in the windows.

The Highline is a project using elevated abandoned trainlines to create a greenspace/park. It is brilliant! It is like taking an old car on blocks laying on the side of the street and restoring it to the better than original condition, then letting perfect strangers take it for a spin. I absolutely loved it. The design is amazing every detail that was needed was handled perfectly. If it didn't need to be touched, it wasn't. An amazing balance with so many surprises. Including a rare view of the Statue of Liberty that far north in Manhatten, which is perfectly framed with vintage architecture.

I walked it the first time, turning around I walked back. I could have done it again, But we had people to meet. It's like a wonderful ride with views of the city that you don't get on the street or even from a window.

The next day i found myself at galleries in Chelsea and realized that i could enter on 19th, so i walked it again.

At no point do you forget you are in New York, like the rest of the world you realize that New York is changing too. It is making choices that other cities need to be making to improve the quality of life.

It is also great to see the contemporary architectural history lesson popping up around you. It reminded me of Berlin in that way, the old sitting comfortably with the new in conversation.

The Highline was not only a treat, but the highlight of my trip. It will become a part of my future trips to New York, just like the Met, MOMA or the Whitney.

Monday, August 10, 2009

cinder block photo series

I've been thinking about posting these photos for awhile. You are looking at two photos from a new series of photos that i took last spring in Atlanta, just off of Marietta Blvd. I was driving by the site and the sun was hitting this massive pile of blocks beautifully. It was like a rolling hill in a cemetery with the light reflecting off the stones.

I dropped everything I was doing, went home, and grabbed the camera and tri-pod and headed right back. A half an hour later the light was even better. I took about 30 pictures and everyone of them is incredible. This mass grave of material was lifeless and I was torn between capturing the moment and documenting a loss.

I turned 40 last year, and got married this summer. My life is changing and I have spent much of it running from the first half. Sometimes I feel as though I have entered my work at a half way point, or rather that the viewer doesn't know the whole story. Most people don't know me or my work before I moved to Atlanta in 1995. Oddly, I'm not sure I knew me, but I was searching. I have been thinking a lot about why I am interested in architecture, art, and cars. It could be home remodeling projects with my father or car restoration with my brother. Obviously my high school art program had a huge impact.

I remember a house on my way to school or church. I rode my bike by it everyday, even in the summer on my way to the pool. It was strange by small town Winterset, Iowa standards. It was two stories high, and the only home in the whole town that had a flat roof. With the annual snowfall a flat roof is asking for trouble. It was modern and stood out like a sore thumb. Built in the mid 40's at 420 E. Court Street. i rode my bike by that house for years and could only imagine the celebrity that lived in that house. Probably summered there between shooting movies. I wasn't old enough to understand California modernism at the time, but I was sure the person that lived there was from California, a fantasy land far away from my bland life in Iowa.

The house had a porch on the second floor and a wrap around patio that was covered. A real party house I'd think. Fellow celebrities drinking martini's smoking cigarettes late into the evening without a care in the world, because they were in the middle of nowhere.

A few years ago I was back in Winterset, I took my then future wife to see where I grew up. I took her by the house almost before I went by my own. Winterset was famous for the birth of John Wayne and the 13 covered bridges that Clint Eastwood made a movie about. Its nice, but even with all of its "culture", it wasn't enough. I've always wanted more.

I took pictures of the house, all 4 sides, in preparation for a series of drawings, maybe even paintings. I took the pictures because there is one thing i have learned living in Atlanta. You take pictures of modern buildings because they may not be there when you drive by again. They become rubble and they scoop them up and fill an empty hole in the ground with them. Developers don't think twice. The lives that were lived in those buildings are no match for the profit they will make. So it is interesting to think of a building in terms of a life.

The new series of photos above are the first into my look at the past. I know they seem quite final in their view of destruction. I would really like to focus on what is here now, a documentary process of capturing what is left. I've missed so many. Many of these buildings are not even important examples of modernism, but the more they take down the more important the mundane becomes.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

So summer has been pretty crazy so far, still gotta get through August though. I was in New York last week hanging out and talking with some artists about the future. Things have been better, but i think it is making us better artists. It is certainly pushing me in directions to explore some things in a depth that i have never been to before.

This photo was taken by my friend Drew after our conversation about a new photo project i am working on. I've never been interested in photography beyond a tool for documentation. Oddly enough, i see these new photos as documentation even though i am not sure what they are capturing aside from debris.

I am exploring the cinder block as a symbol, a bland, cold hard, gray symbol. I am very interested in the utilitarian design and its functionality on an individual basis. One cinder block is pretty useless unless you are holding a door open. Add a companion and a board and you can make a bench or shelf for a dorm room. Add more blocks and you can construct anything you want. A retaining wall, a structural wall, shelter, on their sides they become a screen. I am obsessed with them and their ability to humanize and dehumanize at the same time.

I am collecting photos such as the one above to talk about just that idea. In art history when artists moved from the church taking frescos and paintings from the wall to wood panels and canvas it gave us the ability to move the earth. From one place to the next, we could suddenly take a picture, a window to the world, and move it. Our favorite landscape, still life or portrait was moved around the room or around the world. A picture window of perfection, and it could be changed, traded, bought and sold. The picture's frame itself created the window's frame and the artist gave us an aesthetically pleasing view of life.

It is interesting to me, as i see more and more actual windows boarded and bricked up. What does that say aside from, "you are not welcome". I have trouble thinking about an architectural space that you can not see out of. No contact with the outside world. We've come so far with our painted representations of life just to brick up the real thing. I think it says something about safety and security, but i think it also says something about the way we want to live. Boards can be removed,bricking up a window seems so permanent, so final, much like the bricking of a crypt.

The new pieces i am creating work in this thought, the picture is gone, the view is bricked up and the future seems cold and gray. I am finding myself at an odd crossroad where the symbol of what i am creating is not only actually taking place, but i am recording it as a gesture or thought that i don't even like. It is an idea that can easily be removed for the wall and replaced by a lush green Struth forest or Gursky's dimestore.

Stay tuned, i'll post one as soon as it is finished.