Wednesday, March 31, 2010
It's the day before art walk and the group show. Not entirely pleased with what I accomplished, I'm nervous. With my consent, anxiety took over my creative process. In a desire to prove something, ego got in the way. I trust my paintings. But the show piece was foreign terrain.
After work I headed to Liberty to chill. A few hours with some gin, a couple sushi rolls and this evening's friend, Just Kids by Patti Smith.
It's a slow read. Not because it's difficult because it isn't. It's gorgeous. Her words flow right off the page in a stream of beauty. It's slow because for me, it's painful.
While reading and attempting to remain present to what I'm reading, memories of all my past intimate relationships, whether or not traditionally sexual, rush in front of my eyes. Deeply personal moments mix with her words and create a bittersweet stew.
Some snippets I read today from Smith's book:
on Andy Warhol...
In early June, Valerie Solanas shot Andy Warhol. Although Robert tended not to be romantic about artists, he was very upset about it. He loved Andy Warhol and considered him our most important living artist. It was as close to hero worship as he ever got. He respected artists like Cocteau and Pasolini, who merged life and art, but for Robert, the most interesting of them was Andy Warhol, documenting the human mise-en-scene in his silver-lined Factory.
I didn't feel for Warhol the way Robert did. His work reflected a culture I wanted to avoid. I hated the soup and felt little for the can. I preferred an artist who transformed his time, not mirrored it.
Sharing a letter from Mapplethorpe...
"I open doors, I close doors," he wrote. He loved no one, he loved everyone. He loved sex, he hated sex. Life is a lie, truth is a lie. His thoughts ended with a healing wound. "I stand naked when I draw. God holds my hand and we sing together." His manifesto as an artist.
and a few pages later...
Sitting by Robert, examining our own fate, I nearly regretted the pursuit of art. The heavy portfolios propped against the stained wall, mine red with gray ribbon, his black with black ribbons, seemed such a material burden. There were times, even when I was in Paris, that I had just wanted to leave the lot of it in an alley and be free."
These words resonate...profoundly.
Art is liberation and at the same time, I feel its burden. Art is a harsh mistress.
It is my mistress.
Monday, March 29, 2010
A very busy weekend with some studio time and much socializing and a party. Reconnected with many folks and by midnight on Saturday, was too pooped to play. It was a nonstop, go to kind of day. In the evening I did see some really pretty play, flirted, reminisced with a friend about some of the hottest public play we had shared years back, booked a weekend of fun in July, and stuff. Did spend some nice quiet time with my favorite play partner.
Yesterday I hit my wall and needed to back out of a birthday party in the afternoon. I crave a 3 day weekend to begin today so I can regroup from the past couple days. This morning was beautiful, dark and rainy. The kind of day that entices me to curl up at home under the covers. Instead, I'll make do with grabbing a few vacation hours this afternoon so I can return to the studio and see if I can make one painting less of a mess before this week's art walk.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Yesterday was another full day, beginning with meeting a friend, long walks, a tasty breakfast, more walking, mini baby donuts from Pike Plake Market, and then a long afternoon immersed in powerful conversation while basked in the warmth and peace of the studio. My workspace never fails to bring forth its quiet energy. And the company was wonderful.
The room has some serious juju.
And now, I'm slowly winding up for a very busy weekend.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
A very warm, bright sunny day. A road trip to the airport with a coworker in the middle of it. We baked in the sun while waiting for an arrival. It totally distracted me for the remainder of the day and I couldn't make it down to the studio. So I played hookie and indulged in quite a few gin & tonics. The quantity of which makes part of my world blurry. And sushi. All in the good company of a bunny.
It was a severe case of senioritis. Without being in school.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I've been so busy this week, and will be again today but I'm dashing this off before heading into the remainder of my day.
Last summer a former studio mate had washed the outside of our big windows. A couple days later, it was pooped on. Yesterday evening, while at the studio, I decided to take a photo of it.
Here is an in progress painting. It's really interesting to work on a couple paintings, exploring blacks and browns while at the same time working on another where I'm really trying to push the lights. The image is a little darker than the actual painting.
I've been thinking a lot about homelessness and the many ways we are all invisible.
Changing times. Yesterday a coworker asked a question on facebook and I had just popped into facebook, saw her request, immediately responded and said I was headed over to her office to help her. As I walked over to her office I realized that there was something ludicrous in that entire exchange.
'Tis the season - two evenings ago I heard the bells of our neighborhood ice cream truck.
'Tis not the season - the doorbell to the office (which plays a multitude of tunes) is stuck on jingle bells. It does bring chuckles throughout the office every time someone comes to the door.
I wore my Ogunquit sweatshirt to the office yesterday to commemorate the fact that I'll be there in 31 days.
One of my favorite stories right now is something I read a few days ago. Artists and hackers, the bane of the business world, created a special pair of glasses so a paralyzed graffiti artist could do his art. The best part? There are eye trackers that cost over $10,000. This particular pair? $50. You can read or listen to the story here, at the NPR website.
An amusing email exchange between a nonreligious parent and the christian volunteer at his son's school.
Some really pretty mini non-edible food
Speaking of food, a study shows that food in The Last Supper depictions keeps increasing in size.
And here is this week's Freewill Astrology.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I really want to go paint but today calls for laundry and housecleaning. Especially housecleaning. I've been incredibly neglectful and it's time to tackle the dust bunnies. I fantasize about having enough money to have someone clean my home once a month. Maybe one day. And the stupid part is, I do laundry fairly regularly. My home is less than 400 square feet. There is no reason why I couldn't tidy while laundry is being done. It doesn't take long to do but getting started always feels like the hardest thing in the world.
The rocker is my thinking/feeling chair. Being able to rock while staring at a difficult painting is a wonderful thing. Comforting. The chair was left for me by the artist who had the space before me...and it's been quite the gift.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
From the "Bleeding Vessels" series, 18"x24", oil on canvas.
I began this painting around the end of October and it has gone through many changes since that time. Today, I arrived in the studio trying to ignore a nagging headache that began on my way to the bus stop. I managed to work on 3 paintings including finishing this baby before the pain topped me and I needed to leave earlier than planned.
My head may have hurt but my feet were very happy in the new green sneakers.
I saw this while waiting for the bus yesterday and enjoyed its delicate quality.
It was a day of green shoes and eggs and painting. And walking.
Before leaving the house I threw an apple and a hard boiled egg in my bag. Never place a hard boiled egg in your bag unless it's contained within something else. It ended up severely cracked, right down to the yolk. The lucky part was that it must have just happened because I was only about 5 minutes away from my home. So I chomped it down, needing to eat it a few hours earlier than anticipated, before it collected dust, lint and bag bits.
Painting was good. I began working another 30"x40" painting. The part that pleased me was that I sacrificed a painting. Over the last 6 months I'd periodically check out a certain completed canvas in my storage room. It's a piece I finished a year ago. It's not the best painting that I've done but it held special meaning as well as new technical achievements. I even considered submitting it to a juried show a few months back but at the last minute, decided against it. I walked into the storage room to change into my shirt, eyed the painting once again and instantly knew that I was going to paint over it. The decision totally surprised me and yet it was right.
It did take me a little while to make my first new mark on the surface. I placed it on the easel and stared at it for a long time. Caressing the surface, cleaning the canvas with mineral spirits. And then I was ready. The initial brushstrokes carried a small twinge of loss. And then freedom.
I'm looking forward to returning to the new piece in an hour or two.
After painting I decided to walk most of the way home. It was a beautiful warm and sunny day.
I have an old brown suede pair of sneakers. They had died about a year ago but I was still wearing them to go to the studio. They appeared in good condition but the support was shot. My legs would get tired easily and my back, sore. I couldn't walk any distance in them without major discomfort. But a 3 week furlough these last 12 months meant always making choices with my money. Even for little things. It was always an "or" instead of an "and". In addition, it doesn't help that I hate to shop.
Having received a nice check for some art, I was committed to new sneaks. Yesterday I walked from the studio up to Sneaker City on Pike, between 1st and 2nd. Entering the shop, overwhelmed by sneakers, I almost became dizzy. And it didn't help that my legs were aching from the walk.
I'm not into flash. Once upon a time sneaker shopping used to be simple. Limited colors. No designs. I would tend to purchase white, or something very neutral. Black. Or brown like my last pair.
As I circled the store a pair of Sauconys caught my eye. They were a warm olive green. These sneakers clearly had some magical power because in that moment nothing else made sense. It puzzled me. But I handed my old beat up brown suede sneakers to the salesman and left the store looking at my green clad feet with glee and a touch of suspicion.
Many times people have asked me what my favorite color is. I've always responded that my favorite color is the one I need in a specific moment. Yesterday it was green.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Those solid nine hours of sleep earlier in the week? An anomaly. Since then, I've been waking each night after about only 4 hours, whether I'm in bed at 9 or at 12. Sigh.
Work has been very busy.
Tuesday night I attended a wonderful conversation at Vermillion Gallery on artists residencies and retreats. 3 artists had returned from the MacDowell Colony in NH, and another had gone to Bellagio, Italy. It was not only informative, but a good overall discussion that was opened up to everyone. I'm still thinking about residencies, how to continue to create my own mini retreats, and when to balance that out with more social outlets. The conversation could have easily lasted another couple hours.
Last night was a phenomenal evening at the luscious Triple Door with Justin Bond. We laughed hard throughout the evening. Mx. Bond's intelligent and compassionate energy not only filled the room but enveloped us. And without being overt, the night offered a healing component.
Why does painting feel a lot like my photo? Mostly in the dark with a few glimmers of light.
And now...off to the studio in the sunshine and see if I can mark up my canvases with some of that sun.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Life is incredibly full right now and doesn't even leave much time to take photos, let alone blog.
I finally have a little time to put down a few thoughts about the Kiki Smith talk from a few weeks back. This photo was shot while waiting for her to speak.
I enjoy attending artist lectures. Whether it's someone who I truly admire or someone I know little about, there is always something new to learn.
The first was Jim Dine - one of my gods. It was at the SAM and although it was in a large space, there was a sense of intimacy. Even the Patti Smith evening with a packed house at Benaroya felt intimate. While waiting for Kiki Smith, I began noticing the people walking in...a veritable who's who of the Seattle art community. The energy felt more like a media event than an artist talk. It made me uncomfortable. But I shrugged it off.
Immersing myself in her words, I was engrossed. She spoke fast, almost rambling...a stream of consciousness type of banter that would shift as slides changed. I once told another artist that I wanted to walk barefoot through his mind. With Kiki's talk, it felt I had a little bit of that opportunity.
I knew essentially nothing about Kiki Smith. The first time I saw her work and even heard her name was during a trip to NYC in Dec 2006. I had left the large Brice Marden exhibit and then wandered into hers. The work fascinated me. At times it was also intimidating, confusing, made me angry and also brought some enjoyment. A little of everything. I circled the exhibit a few times trying to get a handle on who she was and what she was trying to say.
So I was anticipating her talk with no preconceived notions and hoping to find a few treasures.
She spoke a bit of her upbringing...a family of artists, along with the idea that becoming an artist seemed to be a given. I couldn't help compare my own childhood and struggle to validate my passion. Although she's a woman artist who is aware of the privilege of men, there is clearly a great privilege growing up supported by artistic parents. She's 6 years older than I am and I fleetingly couldn't help compare and wonder what my life would have been like, what kind of work I'd be doing, and where I'd be if I had been so encouraged as a child. Fleeting, because if I dwell on it paralysis sets in.
And, there is another entire form of privilege when one gains celebrity status. So her periodic mentions of being a feminist artist would grate my skin.
Back to her talk. There were many gems scattered throughout. Here and there. I wanted to jot them down but was engrossed in listening...agreeing with some of her words and tossing others out. My notebook remained closed until the very end when I could barely jot down a couple phrases:
Partial quotes regarding her art practice:
"...when you open up and have space to listen..."
and a little later...
"....you have to follow your work..."
Mere fragments, but there is much richness and truth.
Regina Hackett managed to pull more quotes from her lecture...here.
Here is Jen Graves' piece on Kiki Smith
The video of Kiki Smith's talk
What struck me were the times she'd mention diving into the unknown...and that's where we blossom. The being okay with not fitting in. Yes I know this. And when I forget, there is always my shrink to remind me. But it's always nice hearing it from another artist.
I'm continually struggling with not sinking into the abyss of thinking my work isn't relevant. The only way I can keep painting is by reminding myself (loudly) that I am the creator. In that, I attempt to remain authentic to myself, which means continually fighting the urge to settle simply to fit in. I need to remember that my attempts to remain present...awake...regardless of what society or the art world says, is what keeps my work relevant.
I left immediately after the talk because my head was full. I wanted to think about what she said and how it applied to me. My head was filled with ideas about new directions and new ways of looking at my own art.
And in that, it was an enjoyable talk. I'm not swoony over everything she said, but overall was left with a strong sense of encouragement for my own work.
Now I'm off. It's an evening with good friends, enjoying great food, drinks and Justin Bond at the Triple Door.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Yeah, I have a thing for jars. This one is in my kitchen.
A few links~
A short 4 minute trailer of a documentary on LGBT elders -
GEN SILENT: The generation that fought hardest to come out is going back in…to survive
A different twist on body painting Living Paintings
And here's the new site for the group show I'm in. The opening is Thursday, April 1st and I'm very much looking forward to seeing all this work hung together.
Troy, the curator, is still uploading photos from the 49 artists -
Monday, March 15, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Sometimes the light in my studio is simply delicious.
I'm still painting the Bleeding Vessels series. Want to see some new paintings I'm currently working on?
I began this one over a month ago, worked on in for a few sessions and have just stared at it for the last 3 weeks. I am enjoying the simplicity of the composition and the color but I'm not sure about it. With time, it will tell me what it needs.
This painting began with an accident. I had picked up some new stretched canvases from Utrecht. They had revamped the entire store since the last time I was in there and it took me a while to find what I needed. I found the correct sizes and purchased them. In the studio I pulled out one of the new 18"x24" canvases to begin a painting and noticed it was stretched in linen, not canvas.
I've always wanted to try painting on linen because I've heard wonderful things about it. As soon as the first layers of paint were applied I saw I was dealing with a different beast. The surface was much too smooth for me. I missed the tooth of canvas. It changed how I can handle the paint.
The last week of February I was hankering to work in charcoal on paper but didn't have the paper. So I pulled out a canvas and wondered if I could get that same feel in paint. It's an interesting process. There is much drier brush work. And much layering and some glazing. It's very challenging to photograph. There are some beautiful subtleties that have disappeared in the jpeg.
And, I decided to continue in that vein. But I'm pushing the paint, and the color a little more. In looking at it now, it needs some glazing over the really dark areas and I think I'll pull back on the color.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Last night I was here, spending a wonderful few hours with a friend in the Fireside Room at the Sorrento Hotel, reading a book, sipping on wine, enjoying crab mac and cheese and relaxing. It was a perfect way to assist with soothing wrangled nerves.
Thanks to The Slog, here is a great link: Bad Paintings of Barack Obama. Thing is, I'd love to walk into a room and see them all hanging together. Just click on each and note that when you encounter a repeat, it doesn't mean that you've seen all of them. There are many, many paintings. At one point this morning I returned to my desk to find copies of two of the quirky paintings on my desk. One is a Picasso-like piece and the other (my serious fave) is Obama with tacos, people in underwear and floating tighty-whiteys. I'm so curious about the mindset of the creator of that piece because I don't understand the meaning of all the underwear in the painting.
They are charming. And fun.
I'm glad it's Thursday.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Sometimes, even when I can't really see an end in sight, all I can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep going. It is how I wake each morning and manage to get things done.
That's how it's felt for a long, long time. It takes a lot of energy to not get discouraged and sometimes...despair just sets in.
Today is one of those days. Everything is up on the surface and I'm really feeling my wounds.
But...I'm still gonna continue moving forward. I have to.
Monday, March 08, 2010
Now that many of my deadlines had been met, I took Friday as a day to cozy up to myself. And although there were many plans over the weekend, I ended up cancelling more than half of them because extra downtime was needed. I took a break from the studio and the bits of socializing I did engage in was celebratory, including some brilliant time with a man who is very close to my heart. We hadn't seen each other in a long while and reconnecting felt like old times.
It's Monday and it means back to work, back to painting, and hopefully finish writing up my thoughts on the Kiki Smith lecture I attended last Thursday evening.
I just sent this link to my coworkers and am listening to them chuckle while they cruise the site. Here are Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Knocking stuff off my list...
This morning I finally compiled all my tax stuff, created a spreadsheet and placed the entire pile on my tax guy's desk. Tomorrow I meet with the book guy about illustrations. And then a full weekend is coming up and I hope to find the time to paint yet not sure it will happen. I'm looking forward to a good friend's reading on Saturday, and there are a couple play parties but I honestly don't know if I'll have the energy to attend. It depends on how the days evolve.
Life should return to a more regular schedule on Monday. Balance is tough. Lately it seems to require saying no more often than yes.
For Film Noir lovers...
...a beautifully created and very sexy tribute to Film Noir, set to Massive Attack's "Angel".
Here is the list of films featured in the mix.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Yesterday was a crazy but very good day. My week was slammed with all sorts of stuff. As yesterday evolved, everything kept changing and things that were scheduled for today and tomorrow ended up happening yesterday. So it made for a very full day and yet, it clears the remainder of the week so it's more manageable. I can actually focus on my day job for the next two days, which is needed.
Here is this week's Freewill Astrology.
A fun little tidbit thanks to the slog: A Random Exhibition Title Generator. My first hit came up with -
Queering Charm: A Remix of Aesthetic Forms and Their Opposites.
Heh...that could almost really be used for my current painting series. And the second one is appropriate as well -
Collective Imagination: Figuring Interactivity
It's silly fun.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
What an insanely busy week...!
There's a big fundraiser for the Tony DeBlase Scholarship fund this weekend and I have a meeting for that this afternoon. Shipping out stuff for NYC today. I'm looking forward to getting together with a man I rarely get to see this evening. Dropping off my painting for the group show tomorrow. Received a pleasant surprise in the form of an invitation for some play in a couple weeks at a space I've never before attended. Last night was an amazing dinner with Roger and Dwayne. Dwayne was up from SF and the conversation and energy we all shared was balm for a bruised heart. I have some good people in my life.
And it's Art Walk this week, but it's the first one I will not be attending. My paintings will hang in the open studio while I'm listening to Kiki Smith talk about her art at UW.