I often find myself working in layers, much like one would in Photoshop. I think it has become a part of the way we see things and understand them. On many handheld devices, for example, we slide between screens as if removing layers. In this case, however, text becomes pattern and pattern becomes layer, one overlapping the other.
I thought I’d completed this painting quite a while ago but wasn’t comfortable with it and I wasn’t sure why. It hung on my wall for a long time and still I couldn’t resolve the problem. Then, with a little reflection on some of my prints and the type on them, I decided to add the word, “Dance,” to the painting. Although I don’t consider the painting complete, it is much closer to that point.
The city of Vista held it’s first artist’s reception today at the new civic center for “New Dimensions,” on display from February 25th through March 30th. The show consists of 40 works of art in a variety of media from low relief sculptural wall hangings to traditional drawings and paintings. Artwork was selected from 262 entries by Susan M. Anderson, formerly the curator of Laguna Art Museum. Ms. Anderson specialized in 20th century American art and specifically that of California so it was, I’ll admit, an honor to have my work selected.
The title of the show suggests, well, something new. If it is true that of those who say they “know what they like” really mean they “like what they know” then Ms. Anderson knew impressionism quite well. I found little work in this show to be particularly new, challenging or engaging and much of it so quaint or pretty to be decorative at best. (The work of Jo-Lind Eckstein and Sam Sailors’ to mention two of a very few that really is new, challenging or engaging!) The overall quality or technical skill displayed was very good. It is clear that many of the artists on display enjoy their craft and excel at it.
The show as a whole, however, struck me as well organized but poorly displayed. Entry times and procedures were clearly stated, those receiving and hanging the work were helpful and kind. Guests could enjoy a variety of treats and a glass of sparking cider (really, cheese but no wine) as they looked through the work in the show. Several public servants for the city of vista were in attendance including the mayor who welcomed us all into the new civic center. The Public Arts Commission presented awards and a photographer stood bye to photograph the artists with their work and the event in general. (Oh yeah, all of the artists received name tags too!)
The artwork hung on roughly five foot wide moveable walls which had metal “feet” protruding from their base making them look like kindergarten classroom dividers. Artwork labels hung loosely in plastic bags rather than neatly placed alongside the work and the space felt small between the works of art. Well built and textured (meaning they looked like the walls of a house) the display panels left the artwork rather cramped for space which almost begs the viewer to enter the work into almost direct comparison between each “pair” hung together. Room between the “walls” was so limited people had to take turns in each of the spaces and this limited the distance one could stand away from a painting to look at it. Although this does encourage close inspection of drawing and mixed media work, I’ve heard there is a rule of thumb that paintings must be looked at from a distance of at least 20 feet. If this is the case, then few, if any, had that opportunity.
If you do have the chance and find yourself near Vista during the work week you should definitely stop in and see the show. I do have some issues with the show and its presentation, however this is the first inaugural show and I’m sure any shortcomings will be addressed in future shows.
History is filled not only with war but those that have sought to profit unjustly from the sacrifice and service our young men and women make for the sake of their country. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, a House of Representatives member from the San Diego area district 50, is one of those brought to trial and convicted of corruption. “Cunningham” is a painting from a brief series I worked on during the Iraq war which reflects this connection between war and crime.
The painting is 24″ wide and 36″ tall painted with oil over acrylic. On the left a noose hangs in three small rectangular sections as if looking through a series of windows or mirrors at the noose. Horizontally across the center of the painting is a band of found text from newspaper articles on the Cunningham trials. A pattern of stenciled tanks, representatives of a national war machine, is arranged vertically down the right third of the painting like graffiti. Over the entire face of the painting is a “drawing” taken from my sketchbook of a dying weed pulled from the lawn. The composition is arranged over background of color from an interior design advertisement reflecting contemporary design trends.
An art is about subtleties, isn’t it? I mean, if you look at the difference between Da Vinci’s work and that of his master, Verrocchio, the difference is not in the subject matter or the endeavor but rather the life-like qualities in the work of art. It’s the nuances, or subtleties make the difference between a lifelike work of art and one that only mimics life.
I’ve started a new painting on this subject. I’ve recognized it in previous paintings I’ve done where this “subtlety” is reflected in the use of color or the near touch between objects but I’ve not really focused on it. So far I’ve restricted the color usage to that of a prior painting and will probably restrict it even further so that the painting is not so much about dramatic color or value but the very slight changes between them. I’m also considering proportions again (and again, and again…) but looking for another way to reflect that study.
So far only the color, proportion, and pattern is evident but, with some more time, additions will soon follow.
Profiteering and corruption were a big part of the war in Iraq. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, a local here in southern California, is just one example of the complex and convoluted prosecution of that war.
Contemporary California culture is as iconic as it is impermanent. The portable lifeguard tower and disposable coffee cup are ubiquitous and temporary.