Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Octagon

As parts of my current projects unfold and manifest themselves in new ways I am scurrying to keep up with contemporary events in relation to what I am trying to accomplish.  I have been accepted to present my project through a resourceful and respected website and am refining what exactly it is I am working on, and don't wish to let to much go before things are set up.  I will be presenting my newest project through Kickstarter and hope that all of you will participate with me in making it happen.  I am trying to get back over to Japan for a new series of direct observation landscape paintings and prints, specifically dealing with Otsu, where my wife and in-laws are from.  Once I have spent my initial time in Otsu,(and funds lasting) I plan to travel eastward toward Tokyo stopping in at various towns along the way and sharing with all of you via a daily blog.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  I'm on my way to get a haircut tomorrow and to shoot a video for you all!  I also have to finish writing my presentation and study some more Japanese so I'll keep you guys up to date on the progress for the project.  In the upcoming week(s) I hope you keep me in mind and help me share my project with others.  More on all this later!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

PostColonials Post Opening

The 18th of March followed a few days after the Ides and now we are into Spring.  Do yourself justice and put a spring in your step to view Postcolonials at Linda Matney Gallery.  You have until May to view stellar works by 9 different artists.  Aesthetics and works on par with its NYC Chelsea counter parts make this a "Don't Miss" exhibition (and don't all American Galleries strive to impart that feeling?).  The artists all have brought their "A" game and while they have come in peace, their art won't leave you without something to chew on or staring at your shoes.   The works are diverse in approach and subject matter but connect on a higher ground as suggested by the exhibitions title.

Brian Hitselberger's gouache and pigmented ink piece is dazzlingly frenetic with its obsessive mark making that fades as one steps back to soft pinks and purples washing away and relaxing you from the claustrophobic experience of close inspection, as one might recess from hunting for historical facts to appreciate history's stories.

Anthony Wislar's works are pasted and painted oils on paper which at first glance seem sloppy and effortless except for what must have been countless attempts to make the marks just so in a first attempt, the effort re-appearing in pastiche, collage, and palimpsest images to culminate in a manner like reliving moments until you perfect them in your mind; until you have just the right come-back or successful explanation of facts to make your point.

Judith McWillie's monumental piece "Winter Sky North" is a rapturous work of glow in the dark pigment upon a Navy Blue field at least twelve feet wide and tall.  As I think about the movements/migrations we've made on this earth, the different peoples looking at the same stars, and our foray into outer-space you can't help but be filled with wonder as a child might starring up at the stars glued to the ceiling casting off into sleep.  "Winter Sky North" both transports you into the cosmos and grounds you with its referential points of direction and cosmic compass wrapping you in its monumental stature.

Photo courtesy of Lee Matney

Jeremy Hughes who co-curated the exhibition with Paul Thomas, is showing paintings that are brightly colored and full of sloppy bombastic paint which is confident enough that one can forgive a laziness of detail.  Jeremy is a colorist at heart and it shows through in these works that exhibit a rainbow he has pulled out of his subconscious.

Zuzka Vaclavik's watercolors are mouthwatering and sensuous, begging to be looked upon and will colonize any ambitions you may have of collecting solid art work.  Passages of the pieces perform like a lover's selective eye, or a mirror in which youth recognizes its own passions introspectively.

Hope Hilton's pieces are calm studies of plant life that may be found around the Williamsburg area from which her ancestors hail.  Each print has been given loving attention to detail with quirky heartfelt line work.  You would not find depictions like these in a field manual but perhaps in a personal manual of someone close to the land with an understanding of the plants personalities.  They exude a patience that you would expect someone to cultivate over years of practice.  If you make it out to the show you will want to purchase these works for your reading area or study.

Zachary Herrmann's glass pieces remind me of ice sculptures but with out the coldness and leaving you only with the mystery and sparkle of a winter night.  Illuminated from the bottom the pieces seem like single malt scotch in a crystal glass through which you might stare at a fire and think.  I never have done that, but it seems like something George Clooney would do and I imagine he enjoys it as I do those pieces.  Herrmann has provided us with severed fish and human heads, that pulled my brain in the direction of Greek mythology, the works of a Medusa turning flesh to clear glass and stopping it up with wax as a bottler of fine spirits might seal his best brew.

Teddy Johnson's works depict urban landscapes with figures balancing or finding balance on top of high and low rooftops.  The quality of the paint is reminiscent of a Hopper city-scape but the figures are playful as they seek balance; the city full of possibilities and habitable unlike the psychology of Edward Hopper.  The buildings and streets in Teddy's paintings are alive with color and paint strokes that emphasize a playground for its inhabitants.  His paintings are filled with a lust for life and we just hope no-one gets hurt on the monkey-bars.

Tyrus Lytton's work. . . wait, isn't that me? Ahem. . .  Tyrus Lytton's work is brooding and mysterious.  His images are appropriated from thrillers and mysteries of television and film that seem searching as they play with late night broadcasts and shared experiences to express difficult emotions extrapolated from B-movies and base entertainment that one might take for their own interpretation.

Having the opening weekend done and finished, I was/am more than thrilled to exhibit with these artists in such a nice space.  We had a good turn out for opening night and expect more people through out the next month and a half.  Paul and Jeremy did a fine job with the exhibition and the Linda Matney Gallery has much to promise in the future as a leading contemporary gallery in its area.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

That Vagabond Narcissus the Hunter and Horseman of the Apocalypse

After viewing Mike Calway-Fagen's art work at Vox Populi I decided to delve a little bit into his self myth and went through his website and read his artist statement there.  I came across a word that I hadn't seen before: anthropocentric.  Loosely it is the idea that humanity is the center of the universe and that everything is here to benefit man, be it at the expense of other lifeforms.  To distill it further, that as a race we are egocentric.   Mike states that this is the cause of our past, current, and future apocalypse.  In a quick effort to bring us to a similar vein of thought and into my first assumption. . . I don't believe Mike means apocalypse in, what most of us associate the word with, the biblical sense.  I assume he is using the term as "a major misconception of ourselves", a "veil to be lifted" from our metaphysical egos.

Setting those semantics aside for now I want to address the idea of anthropocentrism.  To start off many people consider this a negative trait.  That viewing the universe through an exclusively human experience is bad.  I believe that one should remain open to multiple view points but retain an opinion.  There have been many times I thought for sure that 2 + 2 = 5 to discover that the idea wasn't as solid as I thought.  However, its the thinking part that is important.  Instinct is to be respected, but thought furthers things a bit, huh?  I don't think that anthropocentrism is a negative trait.  I believe that it can lead to negative traits, but one can take cleanliness to a negative place as well.  We are in competition with other species for resources.  They more so than us, (ego?) but a natural competition anyway.  Jump.  Lets examine competition in a more facilitative way, say an Olympic foot race. . . and use this as an analogy for anthropocentism (and use an anthropocentric game to do so) In an Olympic race its fair to say that the athletes are in similar, if not the same, physical condition.  What separates the medalists from the non-medalists are their view points of themselves.  Winners tell themselves they are the best, the race losers tend to have nagging suspicions, lose focus.  In effect Ego wins the prize.  If you are running this race and a fellow sportsman falls, breaks an ankle, do you stop in the middle of the race to help or finish and come back to make sure he is tended to, or assume he will be attended to?

The crux.  In an effort to achieve is it not right to assume we are the best, to tell your self, "I can?"  be the little engine that could?  Exclusive and excess outlooks of anthropocentrism could very well lead to a biblical apocalypse in addition to the other definition earlier talked about.
In Mike's work I see the Hunter.  His pieces exude an outdoors man's, a huntsman's aesthetic including taxidermy, boats, animal motif's, weapons, and totems.   Is this what it boils down to?  An idealistic hunter who believes that he needs to manage his game population to continue both species well being?  Or to keep his resource from depleting? Does he wonder if the animals have a mind/soul?  Does he pick out their personalities and translate them into human terms?  I can't translate my thoughts into a sparrow's or a deer's.  Isn't that ego?  To bend the terms of their understanding into yours?  Colonialism at its worst?  Are we trying to colonize the psyche of the animal kingdom with our own agenda?  Of course we are.  Does PETA have their own agenda?

Have they consulted with the whales and seals, or do they rely on human data?  Maybe.  I don't know.  Its just a spur question.  Is it really the thinking and trying that matter?  Or is it only the actions?  Or is the original message/action irrelevant? Was Aleister Crowley correct? "Do what thou wilt?"  Is the only thing important the receiver's interpretation of the message?  Francis Bacon's "Anything can mean anything" relies upon an agreed code.  Can we alter the coding in our own nature or just how it is received?  Anything can mean nothing.  Are the veils of reality that we wear needed to be lifted?  Are we afraid of what we might see?  Would we sacrifice ourselves for beings separated/different from ourselves in order for our own apocalypse to happen? Mike Calway-Fagen's work is up for your own message receiving.  At least its asking questions.  I think.  For more discussions and work visiting questions in an aesthetic manner visit the PostColonials Show at Linda Matney Gallery in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Openings will take place on March 18th at 7 p.m.

Be there or be ^2.
Analytica Tracking: