Monday, April 28, 2008

"Is Painting Small the Next Big Thing?"

I've wondered if painting would go small what with the green revolution and all. The really large paintings especially - seem to mimic consumption-mode America.

Interestingly "small" in this article is not small small - but 15"x18" and 34"x36". Interesting to me - because that is about the size that I've been working lately.

An article from the New York Times...
Small may be beautiful, but where abstract painting is concerned, it is rarely fashionable. Big has held center stage at least since Jackson Pollock; the small abstractions of painters like Myron Stout, Forrest Bess and Steve Wheeler are mostly relegated to the wings, there to be considered eccentric or overly precious. Paul Klee was arguably the last genius of small abstraction to be granted full-fledged membership in the Modernist canon.

But what is marginalized can also become a form of dissent, a way to counter the prevailing arguments and sidestep their pitfalls. It is hard, for example, to work small and indulge in the mind-boggling degree of spectacle that afflicts so much art today. In a time of glut and waste on every front, compression and economy have undeniable appeal. And if a great work of art is one that is essential in all its parts, that has nothing superfluous or that can be subtracted, working small may improve the odds.

Small paintings of the abstract kind are having a moment right now in New York, with a luminous exhibition at the New Museum of Contemporary Art spotlighting the wry, fastidiously wrought work of the German painter Tomma Abts; and PaceWildenstein presenting in Chelsea the latest efforts of James Siena and Thomas Nozkowski, two older American whizzes at undersize abstraction. Even post-war Modernism could be downsized a bit, with a show titled “Suitcase Paintings: Small Scale Abstract Expressionism” opening next month at Baruch College.

Four young painters who embrace smallness are now having solo shows — three of them New York debuts — that challenge the importance of the big canvas.

Small abstractions avoid the long realist tradition of painting as a window, and also the shorter, late-Modernist one of painting as a flat wall. Instead these smaller works align themselves with less vaunted (and sometimes less masculine) conventions: the printed page, illuminated manuscripts, icons and plaques.

And yet, as each of these four exhibitions demonstrates, abstraction allows a serious exploration of process despite the limited real estate. This expands the already considerable pleasure of looking at paintings that are not much larger than your head.... (more)

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I'll be showing some of my nebula's and spheres at Allotropy in Indianapolis this coming May 9th and 10th. From the Allotropy site:

Allotropy - Art in Multiple Forms


Friday & Saturday, May 9-10, 2008
5-11 p.m.
Tickets $10 ($7 for students)
1315 Shelby St. INDY Map


Amory Abbott
Carrie Rebecca Armellino
Joe Bieschke
Susan Brewer
Margaret Gohn
Kyle A. Herrington
Riva Jewell-Vitale & Brad Wicklund
Jennifer Kaye Laughner
William G. Lopeman
Zachary Lopez
Jeff Martin
Carol L. Myers
Phil O'Malley
Mark Pack
Chad Prifogle
Shari Pettis
William Denton Ray
Josh Rush
Erin Swanson
Sarah Tolbert

Allotropy artists were selected among 48 entrants by a panel of jurors including:

Mark Ruschman - Owner Ruschman Gallery
Lori Miles - Herron Graduate and active Artist
Brad Bernard - Visiting Artist, Mississippi

Kaiton Slusher (electronic ambient) White label records/audio reconnaissance
Blueprint Music (Kate & Doug performing a special duo set)
Golden Moses & the Unrealities (Jon from Everything Now! acoustic indie rock) Standard recording
El Floundero dub club (DJ-dub, reggae, etc.)
e. brown (DJ-Jazz & Exotica)

Motif (DJ-electronic music Audio reconnaissance)
Chad Serhal (folk/blues) Standard Recording
DJ Pabasi (bossa nova-latin sound)
Turbo's left foot (DJ-rare groove & funk)
El Floundero dub club (DJ-dub, reggae, etc.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

New Harmony


Last Saturday I visited New Harmony, Indiana. I wanted to check out the gallery space at the Women's Institute and Gallery that I'll have a show in early in 2009.

There was a nice show up at the WIG by Ann Cheeks. Some works are paint/pastel/collage combinations and there were also some figure studies. The painting/collages are interesting to see in person - because the details are lost in small reproductions. Several were fairly large - like 4'x5'.

I also went to the shows at the New Harmony Contemporary Gallery of Art and the Hoosier Salon Gallery in New Harmony. The Hoosier Salon had work of varying quality. There are some nice plein air pieces in the room to the left that you have to inquire to see.

The New Harmony Contemporary Gallery of Art has a show up by Ilona Granet thru April 27th. I overheard that the artist is a former sign painter. So not surprisingly - she make signs as art. "Safe for a Century" for instance. She also had ceramics exhibited. A take off on old Greek types of style with modern and old symbols.

I always enjoy visiting New Harmony anyway- and this day in early April was especially nice. Nice weather, Spring was ahead of what it had been in the area where I live by a week or so. Trees blooming. A lot of flowers out. The river was way out of it's banks. Fortunately the Atheneum and the roofless church as such are up a hill - but the water was right there 20 or 30 feet away where there would normally be a field. Lena at the WIG considered it a bonus that she has what appears to be a lake in her view to the north when the river is up.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rising Sun / Cincinnati

I delivered a couple of spheres to an art show in Rising Sun last Friday. It was interesting to see the town - as I had heard about how there was an effort to make it an "art" town.

The county has some nice rolling hills, streams and old farms. And then there is the river - the Ohio river. The waterfront has been landscaped into a place where people may want to hang out. There seemed to be more restaurants on the main street than there would have been without an effort to remake the town.

The main art thing seems to be the Pendleton Art Center. There is a large exhibit space on the ground floor and the rest of that floor plus the 2nd floor have been divided up into artist studio/galleries. Some artists use them as work spaces - but more of the spaces looked like mini galleries. Some of the art was not bad. I looked through pretty quickly.

At Rising Sun - artists can have their little galleries and there is a person who can sell their work for them Wednesday through Sunday. There is a casino there - and presumably there could be people stopping by as somewhere to go. There are a couple of other galleries and it looked like another art center type of place was in the works.

From there I went to the Newport Aquarium and painted Jellyfish for awhile. Newport also has an exhibit space for artists who have studio/galleries at the Pendleton Art Centers. There are also Pendleton Art Centers at Cincinnati and Ashland, KY. The Cincinnati and Ashland versions are only open to the public on the "Final Fridays" (Cincinnati) or "First Fridays" (Ashland and Rising Sun) and the following Saturday. And all sales go through the artist.

I went to the "Final Friday" event at Pendleton Art Center/Cincinnati after stopping by the Over-the-Rhine area. There are 8 floors there (and the elevator seemed out of order) and approximately 75 studio/galleries. A few of the people that have studio/gallery spaces are pretty inexperienced (I talked with one man who seemed to be self-taught) - but most are seasoned artists. Some pretty good. It was interesting to see the place.

I especially like the art of Barbara Ahlbrand

and Paul Wolven who has some nice cityscapes of Cincinnati.

One thing on my mind has been a comment by someone on an art blog that I had noticed last week - that was about putting down artists who are "pseudo-impressionists". I don't know exactly what she meant by that - but it's possible that she might include people like Paul Wolven and myself. There are a lot of people who like to do Plein Air painting - it's a good way to make experiential art - and I think it's superior to making art from photographs. I suppose that it could seem so nineteenth century to paint on site of actual scenes. But I like it for the experience and for the results.