July 21, 2014, 9:29am
“Central Washington Fire Not Contained,” reads the headline of the Associated Press’s silent footage showing the plumes of gray and black that presided over entire mountains full of charred treetops in Washington State over the last week. Somewhere between the brush fires that maintain a forest’s health and the catastrophic fields of flames that consume the homes and the national parks of the western United States every summer resides the invisible line that separates controlled chaos from the uncontainable. Standing among the natural phenomena dominating the paintings of Introductions at Seattle’s G. Gibson Gallery while the fires burn across other pockets of the state, the related tensions investigated by these artists take on a new level of relevancy. — Erin Langner, Seattle contributor
July 17, 2014, 9:12am
Much of Durango-based artist Chandler Wigton’s (NAP #105) work deals with the subconscious and conscious imagination as a site for exploration. Guided by intuition and a desire to better understand science and appreciate its many mysteries, Wigton draws on a multi-disciplinary approach for inspiration. Many abstract concepts associated with outer space and its creation including the big bang, wormholes, and time are key themes in his work that serve as a backdrop for contextualizing other more internalized subjects such as language, the body and geography to better situate oneself within that larger, contemplative existential setting. At times, his work reveals a tendency to become map-like or diagrammatic, and in that sense, they become tools for better illuminating the objects and phenomenon they represent. I recently had the opportunity to talk with him about his work. – Claude Smith, Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor
July 15, 2014, 9:25am
Forrest Bess never made a living as an artist. He spent most of his working life as a bait fisherman off the Texas coast making meager wages and living in ramshackle conditions. Yet he navigated the New York art world with relative ease. He exhibited his work at Betty Parsons Gallery along other artists like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman. He held a lifelong correspondence with notable art historian and critic Meyer Shapiro. And his work was purchased by distinguished art collectors like John de Menil. All the while Bess felt marginalized, perceiving that the artists of his generation thought of him as nothing more than a hick.
Bess, then, was a man of dualisms, at once a rugged roughneck in the oil fields of Texas and a deep thinker who corresponded with Carl Jung. He was both a supremely accomplished painter and an isolated fisherman who struggled with alcohol and mental illness. Forrest Bess: Seeing Things Invisible, on view at the Berkeley Art Museum through September 14, presents Bess’ paintings alongside an archive of historical material that shed light on the artist’s life. -- Matt Smith Chavez, San Francisco Contributor
July 14, 2014, 9:05am
A tortoise, a gas station, a sleeping dog, a shadowy tree and a juvenile detention facility: these are the subjects of Buddy Bunting’s five new paintings. At first sight, the mystery of their connection hangs in the air with a sense of heavy deliberation; these unlike things are somehow meant to be together, but it is hard to see how. Then, slowly, as you linger inside Seattle’s Prole Drift gallery, that sensation of heavy air becomes more pronounced and persistent across the scenes—the stillness of the dog, the haze surrounding the tree, the immobility of the tortoise. The title that gathers them together—Valley Fever—evokes the slowed pace that feverish heat commands, and this proves to be the best approach to journeying through Bunting’s thick environs. — Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor
July 08, 2014, 9:49am
In Michaels Fried’s review of Michel Seuphor’s now criminally out of print 1963 book Abstract Painting: 50 Years of Accomplishment From Kandinsky to Jackson Pollock, Fried all but dismisses the very need for such a book, saying, "Whatever controversy it may once have provoked, abstraction per se is by now no longer a live issue.” An understandable stance, perhaps in 1963, near the beginning of one of the more recent bona fide canonical shifts in the history of art. Art is not fashion — but there has always been a fashionability to what kind of art is discussed as part of the current dialog. Human beings have always, and will always, seek to arrange, produce, and think with the more formalized 2D visual concepts; the relatively modern format and practice of painting has, for the last hundred years, been one of the primary sites of that inquiry. - Jason Ramos, Los Angeles Contributor
June 30, 2014, 9:18am
The current show at Johansson Projects, Alicia Mccarthy + Jenny Sharaf, is a bit of a study in contrasts. For one, the artists find themselves at different points along their respective career paths. Alicia Mccarthy is a mainstay in the San Francisco Bay Area and part of the so-called Mission School, a group of artists that came to prominence in the city during the early 2000s. Jenny Sharaf is a recent MFA from Mills College in Oakland and a young emerging artist who has exhibited in LA and San Francisco. Their two person show at Johansson Projects seems to point to interesting contrasts in compositional approaches, one that responds to the world outside of the gallery, the other to the thingness of paint. – Matt Smith Chavez, San Francisco Contributor
June 25, 2014, 8:34am
Los Angeles-based artist Aaron Noble has spent a considerable amount of time in Albuquerque over the past nine months–so much in fact that he jokes about it being his second home. After finishing up his largest and most ambitious mural to date in February as part of an exhibition and public art commission, he has since returned to collaborate with local artists Roberto Reyes and Faustino Villa–most recently on, “The Cuckoo’s Nest or, What You Hustlin’, Brother?” located in East Downtown Albuquerque. – Claude Smith Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor
June 10, 2014, 8:57am
After my April review “Dan Gluibizzi and the World Wide Archive,” painter Gavin Bunner (NAP #65, #97) and I discussed the process of sourcing images from the internet. Bunner expressed curiosity about whether Gluibizzi and Penelope Umbrico (also mentioned in the review) have noticed any changes in search engines over time and we wondered how these changes have impacted or inspired their work.
And so began this roundtable conversation with three artists, all who use the internet as a source of primary material for their work. Both Gluibizzi and Bunner are painters who find their source images online (Gluibizzi often using Tumblr and Bunner preferring Google images). Umbrico uses photography as both the medium and subject of her work, tapping sites like Craigslist, eBay, and YouTube for shared tags and similarities.
Though the three artists’ end products vary drastically in look and feel, they all capture something of the cultural zeitgeist pulsing through the world wide web. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor
June 09, 2014, 8:51am
Allison Watkins (NAP #109) uses hand-stitched embroidery to bring her drawings of clothing to life, creating a sort of trompe l’oeil effect where her textile “paintings” are imitating and standing in place for other textiles.
Watkins uses her own clothing as source imagery and inspiration for her work, which is why there is probably such a feeling of warmth, comfort, and familiarity embedded in the very fabric and overall feel of the pieces. In her works, each item of clothing hangs fantastically in an undefined closet as if floating in an otherworldly space where it is just us—the viewers, and the clothes. These items take on a life of their own, calling attention to the uniqueness of our clothing and the delicate details that differentiate and define our very own dress and style.
I spoke to Watkins about her art and inspiration, shedding light on her process and plans for future projects. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor
June 06, 2014, 8:30am
“ANYTHING can be ’editioned.’ Repetition is your friend.” This is one of the rules in William Powhida’s The Rules, which itself an edition of sorts. Referred to by the artist as a “republication,” The Rules is an oil painting that was made by an employee of painting village in Shenzhen, China, based on a JPEG image depicting the Brooklyn artist’s text-based drawing of the same title. This republication is available in three sizes and can be purchased through the artist’s website, for the duration of his show at Platform Gallery, Unretrospective, along with any JPEG that can be found on the site. In effect, Powhida has created a space where anything really can be editioned, and repetition is your—or at least your wallet’s—friend.— Erin Langner, Seattle contributor