Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sneak Peek

For the most part, I don't like to post up new work until it has been in a show...however, here's a little look at one of the pieces I'll be putting in the Dwarfs and Giants Show. It's actually the work that is featured on the invite.

Hope to see you there!

May 7, 6-10 p.m.
the Design Cooperative
1032 Hendricks Ave., (across from Reddi Arts)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hirst for Supreme


dwarfs and giants: a show

The premise behind the show is some very large works will be available, but also some very small, and perhaps more appropriately priced pieces will be available as well. Plus, it's gonna be a good time!

Hope to see you all out.

And yes, as we get closer, rest assured I'll go on and on about it...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Folio goes to the Cummer

When Folio Weekly announced its call for artists for its inaugural art show, I admit, a derisive chuckle may have escaped. Though Folio has been a long-time supporter of the arts, their focus has always been music. Or so it seems to me (and I used to write for them).

I then did a little research on the gentleman selected to be juror, Folio Weekly Art Director W. Kelley Lucas. I’d heard good things about him, however, looking at is work, which seems to have greater ties to comic, illustration, and satirical traditions, I arrogantly thought that the bent exhibited in his work would be evident in the show selections.

Though there is a distinct lowbrow/underground vibe to the show that could arguably be linked to Lucas’s personal aesthetic, as a whole, the show is thoughtful and surprising. And perhaps most exciting of all, there are several artists on display whose work I was not familiar with.

Franklin Matthews’s muddy green landscapes seem to consciously defy the clear, white-blue light so often depicted in NE FL landscapes. Almost tangibly hazy, the works seem quickly, but confidently executed and the boggy sensations the paintings evoke make me want to check my shoes for mud.

Clay Doran, the alter-ego of the artist Squid-dust presented two works which are based on the decay of the urban landscape. Using rickety window casings with the glass still intact adds to the feeling that Doran has rescued the piece from the “city floor,” and through a change of context reinvented it.

Edmund Dansart’s work is also evolving. His palette and brushstokes, though still conveying a great deal of agitation bow to the greater impact of his work as a whole. Which accomplishes much more through sly humor than his earlier grimmer and more narrative works did.

Overall, though I’d say the show displays what might be described as a Folio-esque aesthetic, it hangs together well….and even in that lowbrow-ish bent is still very much in keeping with values and interests that former director Maarten van de Guchte took the museum in. Specifically his interests in Americana and folk art.

Featured artists include:
• Brian Gray
• Casey Matthews
• Chad Landenberger
• Clay Doran
• Daryl Bunn
• David Hansford
• Edmund Dansart
• Matt Abercrombie
• Franklin Matthews
• James Greene
• Jose Cue
• Leigh-Ann Sullivan
• Christina Foard
• Logan Zawacki
• Mark Estlund
• Matthew Bennett
• Sarah Crooks Flaire
• Zac Freeman

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fine Art and Inflatable Tanks: the 2009 Arts Awards

The Cultural Center’s Arts Awards luncheon was today, and thanks to thoughtful friends at the Cultural Center, I was able to attend.

Though I like the arts awards, in some way they strike me as odd: a kind of quantifying of the unquantifiable. However, they generally have good speakers, and it is always gratifying to hear many of these people speak. Though my favorite still is the 2006 address given by Charles Landry. Not only did he have real, tangible ideas, his energy was infectious. Sometimes I still try to think about projects in the manner he might.

This year’s awards, beautiful objects in their own right, were designed by artist Grant Ward, the Keynote Speaker was Robert Lynch of the Americans for the Arts nonprofit agency, and the recipient of the Individual Arts Award went to Marty Lanahan of Regions Bank. Incidentally, when they showed video footage of her in her office, in several of the shots, she was seated in front of a Kurt Polkey piece, When I Grow Up, I Will Own America.

Robert Lynch spoke for maybe a half an hour, and the thrust of his speech was the integral role the arts have played in cultures across the ages. Among others, he cited the pyramids and the Parthenon—which, according to Lynch was divisive in it’s time, called “a wasteful and grandiose gesture.”

He also noted that there was a branch of the military, a secret branch composed entirely of “creatives.” This was the branch that infamously came up with the idea of inflatable tanks with which to fool the Nazis (because at that point, the Allies were short on lots of things). Lynch made the point that though the arts can be a “secret weapon,” that perhaps now is the time for them not to be so secret.

Though I agree with Lynch about the arts not being so secret, I’d like it if grant money wasn’t so secret too…or at least the process by which one is awarded it here in Jacksonville. But that might just be me and my sour grapes, after all, I was turned down for a grant last year…

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Quick Word

From Mr. Reinhardt concerning the nature of the marketplace:

"If you're a buyer if artists you don't get what you wants for what you pays for.

You pays for what the artist wants, that's what you gets.

The artist is singing before the collector calls the tune."

-from his unpublished, undated notes...though I am not sure how well that applies today, I liked the optimistic bent of it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

not more communism but more public-spirited pigs

Truly the parallel and overlapping paths of history are fascinating. Just this morning, I read a juicy little tidbit that note that T.S. Eliot himself wrote the rejection letter to George Orwall re.: the publication of Animal Farm.

From the letter (recently made public):

"We have no conviction that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation at the current time,” wrote Eliot, adding that he thought its “view, which I take to be generally Trotskyite, is not convincing”.

Eliot wrote: “After all, your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore the best qualified to run the farm – in fact there couldn’t have been an Animal Farm at all without them: so that what was needed (someone might argue) was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs.”


Later, Animal Farm was published by Secker & Warburg, and since then has gone on to be a triumph of 20th Century Literature.

Friday, April 10, 2009


I’ve resisted commenting on what’s happening over at Globatron because I thought it was pretty much an exercise in didactic dogma and circular thinking. However, with the recent turn of events, I thought I’d draw a parallel between what’s happening there and the Communist Revolution in China in the middle of the last century.

After the Communist forces took over, ostensibly to help the common people and create a more equal society things went well for awhile, but eventually Party leaders were corrupted. Ideas and ideals were distorted, a program of counter/mis-information, bully tactics and gross human rights violations ensured.

Also, as people were starving to death, provincial party leaders were generating reports of record-breaking crops and productivity. All lies to serve what the leaders saw as a greater good, i.e. reinforcing their political goals and dogma.

A good idea gone wrong.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Other's Words

I've been reading a lot lately. Yesterday it was a Diane Arbus bio, today I'm on to Man Ray. I'm not selecting these artists necessarily because I am such a huge fan of their work, rather, I am intrigued by the times they lived in, the people they's kind on like constant, ongoing, but pleasant research. And through reading (and looking) I can create, in my own mind, a picture of the times they lived in, and in so doing, help understand my own.

That being said, when I ran across the following paragraph of Arbus speaking about her own work, I thought that not only does it apply (probably) to a whole bunch of creative people, but it's also a great description of the "mean reds," that Holly Golightly talkes about in Breakfast At Tiffany's.

"Partly what happens though is I get filled with energy and joy and I begin lots of things or think about what I want to do and get all breathless with excitement and then quite suddenly either through tiredness or a disappointment or something more mysterious the energy vanishes, leaving me harassed, swamped, distraught, frightened by the very things I thought I was so eager for! I'm sure this is quite classic.''

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Let Us Now Rejoice

There are few things more satisfying to me than doing research on a topic I am {at the time} obsessed with. I love the feeling of putting the pieces together, of gaining deeper knowledge and of creating a context that I understand not in an abstract way, but one that borders on the tactile...maybe even instinctive.

So when I read this morning that on April 21, an online resource called the World Digital Library will launch...I was practically beside myself...and like many a bookish researcher before me, struggled with whether or not to share this news with others. Obviously excitement and practicality overcame selfishness and secrets.

Read the whole (short) story here.

And as a stopgap, check out the site Europeana: "an online archive of European culture to which more than 1,000 European national libraries, museums and institutions have contributed content. It proved so popular on its launch in November, with 10m hits an hour, that it had to be temporarily closed."

I imagine that in the coming weeks and months, I'll need to work very hard not waste hours tracking down obscure facts and bits of lore. I can't wait!

*pictured: a page from a 17th century Irish psalter, featuring David and Goliath from Europeana.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Yours, Mine, Ours

Last night was the closing event for phase one of Matt Allison’s “What’s Mine is Yours.” I stopped by the unfinished space at 323 Bay Street, and to my pleasure and surprise was early. The space, currently in the throws of renovation had the empty, dank, forgotten air of a basement…but was not without the spark of possibility. In fact, according to Allison, the space is slated to become a nightclub.

Entering the cool, slightly damp space, I was struck at once with the air of secret sharing, of absurdity, and of puppetry that pervaded the space. Admittedly, my most recent knowledge of Allison’s work comes from the show, “Next things next,” which he curated and participated in as well (I too showed two pieces). In “Next things…” Allison showed a series of pseudo technical drawings, against which he installed boxes of apples and oranges…at the time, I was really drawn to the renderings which reminded me of the precision of blueprints merged with a kind of obsessive uselessness.

The new installation, “Mine/yours” is arte povera/the weird-house-on-the-corner by way of Joseph Cornell and perhaps even Gustave Baumann. That is to say that there is a pervasive air of absurdity in the work abutting a kind of fanatical patheticness. “The word for me on this project,” said Allison with a smile, “was ramshackle.”

{From Miriam Webster: ram·shack·le, Pronunciation: \ˈram-ˌsha-kəl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: alteration of earlier ransackled, from past participle of obsolete ransackle, frequentative of ransack
Date: 1830
1 : appearing ready to collapse : rickety
2 : carelessly or loosely constructed}

And yes, the works were indeed carelessly and loosely constructed, in fact, I needed to keep reminding myself “not to trip and destroy things.” I also need to tell myself not to {err} ‘liberate’ the shiny, faceted, glass jewels strewn carefully around…because…if what’s yours is mine…in fact: that last statement prefigures the next phase of Allison’s project—he invited guests to bring him things of their own, and “trade” them for things of his…thus, “What’s Yours Is Mine.”

For Allison, who plans to take this year and “work,” (he put grad-school plans on hold because apparently he wasn’t the only person who sees the downturn in the economy as a good a time as any to dabble in the nuance and eccentricities required of an advanced degree) the piece is ultimately about “the graphic and the sensual…the old and the new.”

Monday, April 6, 2009

Weekend Adventure...

This weekend was really fruitful for me, if you count afternoon naps and light shopping among constructive endeavors.

Actually, I was more active than the above-sentence might suggest. On Saturday I rode my bike over to the Riverside Art Market where I used Matt’s/BikeJax’s Bike Valet Service. It is such a smart way to effectively utilize the space, while letting people feel secure about their “steeds.” *Sidebar, when I was a kid, I used to pretend that my bright-red 10-speed was really a horse…now, slightly more steeped in bike culture (well, at least I read the blogs) I find out this is a fairly common occurrence…

But enough of my maundering; after arriving at the market, I wandered around for a good hour or so, just kind of absorbing the vibe and seeing how everything worked. And I must say, it seems to be a success…I will be curious to hear about how the artists themselves do, but the ancillary booths seemed to be doing a brisk business and everyone I ran into that I knew seemed to be smiling…

Overall, I hope the RAM serves to elevate the visibility of the arts in Jacksonville, and in so doing, contribute to a culture where the value of the arts aren’t just given lip service, but instead help to create a community where the arts are more viable for artists themselves.

That being said, I’d like to remind myself and others of what Jim Draper (gosh I seem to be quoting him a lot) once told a roomful of aspiring artists: that only 20% of his market was here in Jacksonville, the rest are much further afield.

Interestingly, a few of the vendors that really caught my eye were those using humble materials and transforming them…but these thoughts I’m developing into a more articulate article for EU…look for it in the May issue.

After RAM, I went to check out the Tilly Fowler Memorial sculpture being installed just behind the YMCA, on the Riverwalk in Riverside. I am still not sure that I love the piece, but I do support a greater proliferation of public art in our city…

Then later on this weekend, I found myself at my friend’s suburban home near the beach, watching a troupe of usually articulate friends hurl themselves down a hill, into a retension pond…though I was tempted, I resisted…it was like stank, kamikaze, slip-n-slide...

*and finally, the picture of my dog is taken from my recent Santa Fe trip, we were out hiking in the Sangre de Christo mountains, and the shot, taken on my trusty cell phone pleases me to no end.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Thank You

A couple of days ago, my router got zapped by lightening, and I haven't yet dug out the passwords etc...required to reset as I type these words I am making use of the Downtown Library's WiFi...but really, I am not writing these words to complain about my own foolishness, but instead to thank everyone who came out to the Bright Young Things Show.

I think the night was an overwhelming success and the support and comments I got (and I believe the other artists got too) was amazing and (for me) transformative...

I've often gone back and forth about making work vs. writing/thinking about work and ideas of process vs. conception. But now, well, at least for the immediate future I think I'll be making work as much as talking about it.

So, thank you to everyone who stopped by...I am so excited to get back to work...

*p.s. the above pictured image was not in the show, like a fool, I forgot to document that work before I stuck it in the frames (I guess that's what happens when you get all excited to see the finished product...)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Reflections from Santa Fe

I just spent two weeks on the road. I drove out to visit my brother who lives in Santa Fe. Along the way I stopped to visit my friends Mae and Marcie who live in northern, rural Louisiana. While there, I celebrated St. Patty’s day at an Irish Pub (granted, I departed from the program by drinking rum and coke), then we ate Cane’s chicken fingers…delish!

We also spent time driving around historic Monroe, ate at the Mohawk (two words: delight sauce), and then imbibed drive-through daquiris…while noodling around the park.

Then I left and headed on towards Santa Fe, and except for the worst hamburger I have ever eaten (including fast food burgers), the trip through Texas was uneventful.

Santa Fe is the second largest art market in the States, second only to NYC. Or at least that’s what they told me while I was there. And certainly, they seem to have the galleries, museums, and artists to back up that claim. Downtown Santa Fe is a relatively small area, easily navigable in an afternoon. That is not to say that one can visit every point of interest in that afternoon, but one can (with the help of a map) get the lay of the land and mentally mark points of interest.

A couple of things came to light while poking around the city.

1. Most of the galleries maximize their wall space: the galleries (for the most part) are hung salon-style with a variety of artists.

2. Even those galleries that hang in a manner more consistent with what we think of as “contemporary” show a variety of artists.

3. Where possible the artists represented are a mix of nationally recognized names, and those that are more regionally recognized.

4. There are a range of products and items available…including jewelry, accessories, books, and often, artist prints.

5. Almost without fail (except for the Andrew Smith Gallery) the gallery worker-bees were friendly and knowledgeable…talking to just about every person who walked through their doors, regardless of outward appearances.

It seems to me that Santa Fe (though drawing on a much older tradition of art-making and artists in residence) might be a more effective model of an art community, than say, larger cities whose reputations rest on austerity. Perhaps an exuberant, slightly hippie-dippy (for lack of a better term) approach is one that could be inherently more inclusive, and thereby more successful—both in a fiscal and cultural manner.

Of course, that is something that I tend to buck against, but perhaps a greater range of work (including that which I find distasteful, sentimental, and trite) has room for those things I find important and engaging.

Well, the Riverside Art Market opens in three days, and I suspect it’ll be a zoo scenario on Saturday. Nonetheless, I’ll be there…we can only wait and see what happens.

Well, that and keep making work.

And, if you’re at loose ends for things to do this Friday night, in addition to the First Friday event in 5 Points, there’s the Jane Gray Bright Young Things opening from 6-9 p.m., and there, I’ve got brand-new, never-before-seen works.

Jane Gray Gallery, 643 Edison Avenue (one block off Riverside Avenue), Jacksonville, 904-762-8826.