Monday, February 18, 2008


I like paintings with texture to the point of becoming relief paintings. When I was in NYC last month I had the opportunity to go the Metropolitan and the paintings that stand out in my mind are the ones with a lot of texture.

Jean Dubuffet’s is one who championed texture. From the Met’s page about one of his works:

In 1945 Dubuffet had begun creating what he referred to as hautes p√Ętes, paintings in which a thick paste served as the ground, color was used sparingly, and contours were scratched like graffiti. The paste used for the ground was made of tar, asphalt, and white lead, often enriched with cement, plaster, or varnishes, to which sand, coal dust, pebbles, and pieces of glass or straw might also be added. Gradually, color virtually disappeared from his work altogether.

This work by Anselm Kiefer, Bohemia Lies by the Sea, had a very engaging texture that isn’t evident from the photo of it. But then that’s how texture is. It is not satisfactorily simulated by photographs.

I like that the painting is of a landscape. Though it is a fairly simple one at that - with 2 lines down the middle suggesting a road. Flowers abstractly line the sides. Created in 1996 of oil, emulsion, shellac, charcoal, and powdered paint on burlap. The size is H. 75-1/4, W. 221 in. on two panels (each 110-1/2 in. wide). The title is from the title of a poem by Ingeborg Bachmann. This version translated by Peter Filkins.

Bohemia Lies By The Sea

If houses here are green, I’ll step inside a house.
If bridges here are sound, I’ll walk on solid ground.
If love’s labour’s lost in every age, I’ll gladly lose it here.

If it’s not me, it’s one who is as good as me.

If a word here borders on me, I’ll let it border.
If Bohemia still lies by the sea, I’ll believe in the sea again.
And believing in the sea, thus I can hope for land.

If it’s me, then it’s anyone, for he’s as worthy as me.
I want nothing more for myself. I want to go under.

Under - that means the sea, there I’ll find Bohemia again.
From my grave, I wake in peace.
From deep down I know now, and I’m not lost.

Come here, all you Bohemians, seafarers, dock whores, and ships
unanchored. Don’t you want to be Bohemians, all you Illyrians,
Veronese and Venetians. Play the comedies that make us laugh

until we cry. And err a hundred times,
as I erred and never withstood the trials,
though I did withstand them time after time.

As Bohemia withstood them and one fine day
was released to the sea and now lies by water.

I still border on a word and on another land,
I border, like little else, on everything more and more,

a Bohemian, a wandering minstrel, who has nothing, who
is held by nothing, gifted only at seeing, by a doubtful sea,
the land of my choice.

Looking for the poem that inspired the painting led me to find out that Kiefer was the first to create a “spectacular” art installation at the Grand Palais in Paris - for the new Monumenta project - his done for 2007. Sorry I missed it. It sounds like it would have been wonderful.

His title of his monumental work was Sternenfall (’Falling Stars’) - with themes including creation and cosmology inspired by nature, mysticism, poetry, memory and science. A lot of things that drive my own art.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Jellyfish in Newport, KY

A couple of weeks ago, I headed over to the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky, which is across from Cincinnati.

I had arranged and gotten permission to paint the jellyfish there on a Monday - when it would be relatively quiet. Being winter, it was a nice, warm place to paint some wildlife - and I particularly like jellyfish.

Besides looking interesting - I am intrigued by the fact that they are doing so well adapting to human activities. Most of the things ending up in the ocean are detrimental to fish and such, but jellyfish are thriving. They don’t mind it being warmer, being more acidic, having fertilizers thrown in. Plus people have eliminated much of their competition, while leaving them be.

So I packed up my paints like I always do, making sure I had a dropcloth, prepared panels, and all of the right colors that I would need. I spent the night in a cheap motel room (with hardly any heat!) so I could be there when they opened.

It was a good day. I created 3 smallish paintings. Plus I painted jellyfish on 2 larger panels that I finished the backgrounds on later after I brought them home.

The Luna Moth Art Gallery

Starting in January, the The Luna Moth Art Gallery got off the ground.

The Caldwell Eco-Center had a nice, underused space in the front. So with some cleaning, a logo, some advertising, some people to volunteer to keep the place open, and plenty of artwork to exhibit - we have a gallery.

The gallery should get more exposure for both artists who create nature and/or ecologically themed artwork as well as the causes and organizations which are part of the Eco-Center including the Center for Sustainable Living, The Hoosier Environmental Council, and The Indiana Forest Alliance.

I’ve volunteered to take on the role of curator and gallery director.

The Dinner Party

Recently I had the opportunity to go to the Brooklyn Museum and see The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago. I had heard about for over 30 years and it was good to see that it had such a nice home.

The place settings were great, of course, and easy enough to take in in a reasonable amount of time. But the Heritage Panels contained far too much information to take in while I was there. So it was a happy find to see that there is such a well thought out web site associated with the artwork - with a virtual magnifying glass so that one can read the The Heritage Panels at one’s convenience.

A lot of the information seems to overlap what I have read in various books, such as When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone (1978) and The Chalice and the Blade By Riane Eisler (1994).

It’s nice to have it all clearly laid out.