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Kevin Muente

Taking On Twisters, Here Comes the Vortex, Kevin Muente, oil on canvas, 36" x 48"

Taking On Twisters, Here Comes the Vortex, Kevin Muente, oil on canvas, 36×48

This is a detail from Muente’s perfectly composed painting, from INPA 5, Manifest International Painting Annual, Manifest Gallery. Manifest’s current selection process involves a complex two-part system, juried by a 9-12 member panel of professional and academic volunteer advisors with a broad range of expertise. The jury then passes along their scores to the project curator who will assemble the final selections from the jury-approved pool. The gallery is accepting entries for the next annual, with a deadline of July 18.

Santelli in Denver

Path 29, Prismacolor drawing, Bill Santelli

Path 29, Prismacolor drawing, Bill Santelli

One of Bill Santelli’s tremendous drawings has been selected for “DRAWING NEVER DIES” a national juried exhibition at Redline Contemporary Arts Center, Denver, CO. This drawing comes from a series I’ve loved since I first saw it here at Oxford Gallery.

The exhibition will run from July 9 – August 5, 2016.  Opening Reception is July 9, 2016 at 6PM.

Bill’s contribution to the show is THE PATH 29, above, a prismacolor pencil drawing.

About the Exhibition, from Redline:

Perhaps the oldest and most basic art act, drawing remains relevant despite significant changes in technology and the nature of art. The definition of drawing is blurry and often serves as a basis for study in most every other medium. Drawing is rarely is given the same attention as other disciplines within visual art, but is regularly a root for other artistic practices, as well as being a valid realm on its own.

Drawing Never Dies will survey the range of drawing taking place today. Approaches may span from minimal to maximal, meticulous to messy, monumental to miniature. From commonplace and traditional materials such as graphite and pens on paper, to drawing on the surface of the earth, to artists working with technology such as 3d pen drawings in space or forms intended for experience on the screen; we are interested in a broad/expansive survey of drawing now.

RedLine is pleased to announce Donald Fodness (artist & curator) and Daisy McGowan (Director & Chief Curator of Gallery of Contemporary Art, Colorado Springs) as guest jurors.

 

Santelli in Denver

Path 29, Prismacolor drawing, Bill Santelli

Path 29, Prismacolor drawing, Bill Santelli

One of Bill Santelli’s tremendous drawings has been selected for “DRAWING NEVER DIES” a national juried exhibition at Redline Contemporary Arts Center, Denver, CO. This drawing comes from a series I’ve loved since I first saw it here at Oxford Gallery.

The exhibition will run from July 9 – August 5, 2016.  Opening Reception is July 9, 2016 at 6PM.

Bill’s contribution to the show is THE PATH 29, above, a prismacolor pencil drawing.

About the Exhibition, from Redline:

Perhaps the oldest and most basic art act, drawing remains relevant despite significant changes in technology and the nature of art. The definition of drawing is blurry and often serves as a basis for study in most every other medium. Drawing is rarely is given the same attention as other disciplines within visual art, but is regularly a root for other artistic practices, as well as being a valid realm on its own.

Drawing Never Dies will survey the range of drawing taking place today. Approaches may span from minimal to maximal, meticulous to messy, monumental to miniature. From commonplace and traditional materials such as graphite and pens on paper, to drawing on the surface of the earth, to artists working with technology such as 3d pen drawings in space or forms intended for experience on the screen; we are interested in a broad/expansive survey of drawing now.

RedLine is pleased to announce Donald Fodness (artist & curator) and Daisy McGowan (Director & Chief Curator of Gallery of Contemporary Art, Colorado Springs) as guest jurors.

 

MCAF Announces Call to Artists, Art Class for Youth, More

MCAF Announces Call to Artists, Art Class for Youth

MCAF Announces Call to Artists, Art Class for Youth, Father’s Day Print Sale, and Plans for Magna Deo Church and Cultural Center.

Masterpiece Christian Fine Arts Foundation Call for Entries “Words in Red”

MCAF announces call to artists, art class for youth : Words in Red Exhibition

A Seven City West Coast/Southwest Tour

For an artist there is no higher aspiration or honor than to use your gift to the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:31). Others do not have your gift nor your voice. You have been endowed with a way of “seeing” and a calling to infuse your generation with grace and truth and beauty. In the midst of the collapsing cultural pillars, as many feel uncertainty and despair I invite you, we ask you to boldly create and answer the Call for Entries for this new traveling exhibit, “Words In Red – the Direct, Uncensored and Provocative Words of Jesus.”   His words have life-giving power and you can give them visual embodiment.   Deadline for juried entries is Sept. 1st, 2016.   For prospectus, entry form and other details see more.

Masterpiece Christian Fine Arts Summer Art Academy Art Class for Youth

MCAF Announces Call to Artists, Art Class for Youth

Drawing with Realism in Pencil with Kim Ragsdale Phillips

By the age of 8 many professional artists we know today knew they wanted to be an artist—forever!  Masterpiece is passionate about training young artists with excellence in technical skills with a view to using their gifts to the glory of God. If you’re in the Ashland, Medford, Oregon area, then this class is for the young artist in your life. Give them a jump start and true confidence with this fun and foundational drawing class this summer in Ashland with award winning graphite/pencil artist Kim Ragsdale Phillips. www.kimragsdale.com
Cost:   $90 for 6 weeks (just $15 per 2 hour session)
Class size: 10 minimum, 18 maximum
At the beautiful and newly renovated “Upper Room”, 50 W. Hersey Street, Ashland, Oregon at Ashland Christian Fellowship
Register by June 21st  online  at www.mcfineartsfoundation.org
Or by calling 541.621.6015 for registration or questions.

Father’s Day Special

Father's Heritage by Michael Dudash framed printSpiritual Warfare & A Father’s Heritage Prints

by Ron DiCianni and Michael Dudash

18 x 24 print
The whole of Scriptures tells the true stories of fathers and sons and daughters. It is one of the most important life relationships but among the toughest yet most impacting jobs in the world.   These two framed prints can be an encouragement to a father in your life.  These two prints are available now for Father’s Day and through the month of June and if you place an order today or tomorrow they can be shipped to arrive by Father’s Day (some exclusions apply).
Regular price $475
Special Father’s Day Sale NOW through June just : $299 . Free regular ground shipping.
Order now to encourage the young father in your life
MCAF Announces Call to Artists, Art Class for Youth, More : Magna Deo, Biblical fine art Cultural Center

MAGNA DEO

There’s a buzz in Southern Oregon.
(And we aren’t talking about the one created by the green leafed law recently passed by Oregon voters )
 
Masterpiece Christian Fine Arts Foundation has had extraordinary experiences and connected with over 40,000 thousand guests as we have traveled with our fine arts exhibits and art conferences.
Fine art provides a wide open door to conversation and interaction with individuals from all walks of life, languages, backgrounds and cultures…an opportunity to infuse a Biblical worldview into the cultural dialogue and experience.
Magna Deo is a vision to establish a church and cultural center dedicated to the reawakening of the truth, grace, beauty and nobility of Christianity through the vehicle of the fine arts, music, film-making, culinary arts, drama and education.
We’ve been eagerly awaiting a hearing with our local county commissioners in 4 – 6 weeks to give potential zoning approval to a large scale plan and vision.  Click For More about the Magna Deo project.
MCAF Announces Call to Artists, Art Class for Youth, More

Masterpiece Christian Fine Arts Foundation, 17575 Hwy. 66, Ashland, OR 97520

 

Beware the little mouse

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 12:  Director William Friedkin of "Killer Joe" poses during the 2011 Toronto Film Festival at Guess Portrait Studio on September 12, 2011 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Matt Carr/Getty Images)

That’s Rule #6 from William Friedkin in this interesting interview:

Inside every one of us who has ever created anything there is almost a constant record of failure, that’s what we think of, that’s what involves our thought process. I know some of the most successful filmmakers and songwriters and inside these giant talents is a little mouse. And that is, I guess, the problem of the creative artist.

Light and paint

The Table on the Porch, Fairfield Porter, oil on masonite, 1971, 18x24

The Table on the Porch, detail, Fairfield Porter, oil on masonite, 1971, 18 x 24

I’m hardly posting here of late, because I’m finally hitting my stride again in the studio, after a desultory year, crammed with more social activity and other work than any year in recent memory–all of it good, but also a hindrance to daily painting. I have been almost completely abstaining from exhibiting work this year in an effort to get to the point I think I’m reaching now in my work, with strong momentum, along with a queue of ideas for enough future paintings to fill a show and a currently-successful diagonal move toward something a little different in my still lifes–while continuing to do what I’ve done before, alternating between the two modes. The perfectly executed painting by Porter, above, serves as something of an inspiration–most of the work he did at the end of his life (he had four years left when he painted this one) humbles me, actually, though what I’m doing isn’t nearly as loose. I may get there. What I’m trying to uphold from his example is the sense of a light-drenched scene, where color and only the upper register of values are used to define form, where the shape of the paint is as important as whatever the paint depicts, and where everything seems to have been laid down with a single brush, giving a unity to the marks. It’s as spontaneous as a watercolor, the liquid quality of the oil conveying the shine and reflections of the sunlight. It looks exactly right as you see it for the first time, until you wonder why the shadows of the porch’s window frames could be that yellowish-ochre-orange: in fact it’s the color of the table revealing itself in the shadows of those wooden struts, apparently beneath a sheet of glass laid down over it, or simply a glossy finish on the wooden tabletop. It appears Porter applied that color to the entire tabletop and then went back over it, alla prima, or else on the next day, with an off-white to convey the reflected light from outside. Maybe it’s just an arbitrary color choice that works because it evokes all of this even if he didn’t see it on the actual table. This one has an effortless quality, sprezzatura, the masterful way all the colors harmonize as an abstract pattern, and yet also, amazingly, evoke the unified world of that hazy day on the Maine coast, instantly recognizable as a moment of ordinary happiness, perfection.  But it’s the quality of this light, coming from behind but also glowing in this porch, seemingly from all directions, that pushes me to take a different approach in the painting I’m doing now, not just in the quality of the scene, but in the way I’m applying the paint–a greater simplicity of application, thicker layers, some wet-on-wet, and a bolder more simplified way of building the picture through areas of color with less attention to minute details. I’m liking it.

Blast from the past

self portrait

Oh, snap: “That dull Merchant-Ivory movie ‘Surviving Picasso’ has been much criticized for showing, for legal reasons, only ‘faked’ paintings of Picasso’s work in the forties and fifties, but no one has had quite the courage to say that it’s hard to tell them from the real ones, except that Picasso’s real ones of the time were even worse.”

–Adam Gopnik, “Escaping Picasso,” 1996, The New Yorker

David Smith

Mountains-Clouds-Haze, David Smith, Hong Kong, China, 12" x 15" oil on plywood

Mountains-Cloud-Haze, David Smith, Hong Kong, 12″ x 15″ oil on plywood

I’m happily painting every day again, to the neglect of other things, such as writing about painting. But I want to pass along a series of examples from the INPA 5, the latest international painting annual from Manifest Gallery. This detail, slightly cropped at the right edge, is of a painting done by David Smith, one of my favorite artists who exhibits regularly at Manifest in Cincinnati. He combines the subject and feel of classic Chinese scroll painting–misty camel-hump mountains–in a contemporary mode. Instead of water-based paint on paper, he’s using oil on plywood, and the integral role of the brushwork in traditional Chinese painting here has a gestural quality that reminds me of Richter’s abstraction. And yet it works perfectly to evoke nearly the same kind of world a Song dynasty painter-poet would have evoked. Would love to know more about Smith, how and why he paints in Hong Kong, and if he was born there or is an expatriate.

 

A way of being human

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

I’ve been talking with some other artists lately about the motivation to make art–and how easy it can be to lose the intrinsic urge to make it by focusing on it as a means rather than an end. If you aren’t selling anything at the moment, or no one seems to be paying much attention, then it’s tempting to go outside and, say, plant some vegetables rather than struggle with a resistant picture. Art is hard work, but I do it mostly because it’s so pleasurable to finish a painting, and sometimes even more so if the image played hard to get. It’s easy to drift away from that zone where the effort is both constraining but also feels good, the reward of pushing back against a challenge, with the sequence of the hundreds of interim completions along the way toward being done. When it’s most frustrating, it’s easy to dismiss what Keats said about poetry: “If Poetry comes not as naturally as Leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.” But I doubt that he meant all good creative work has to be a first draft: Kerouac, non-stop with his long scroll of paper, or Edwin Dickinson with his premier coup work. I think what he meant was that the urge to create something comes naturally, and that’s why people do it, with no other purpose in mind. It’s an end in itself: which is what the “fine” in fine art really means, fin, the end.

I had coffee yesterday with a young artist, Adam LaPorta, who also sells Piction software to art museums. He sat down with me, Bill Stephens and Bill Santelli, for a casual conversation about how technology has changed the way artists connect with buyers, or simply how it helps, or doesn’t help, increase the visibility for their work. He confirmed what I heard informally on my last trip to New York, that even the most successful galleries in Manhattan are struggling right now. Anyone who thinks this economy has recovered is deluded. Those who buy the work of emerging artists are harder and harder to find, and those with the most money apparently are still relying on the art fairs. (And that must not be bringing in enough income to pay all the bills even at established galleries throughout the rest of the year.)

Adam’s job is, in part, to help museums open up their collections to art lovers on the Web, but he also talked about how social media and other online platforms, like Artsy, can connect artists with those who enjoy visual art. As always, the incredible quantity of available art makes it harder and harder for people to spot what they would love if they had a chance to see it–anyone who keeps up with music knows how difficult it can be to discover what you love, even with a medium that has the level of widespread popularity music enjoys. There’s just so much of it out there. Adam had some interesting things to say about visibility that weren’t about technology at all. He suggested artists need to articulate as clearly as possible the idea behind the work and communicate it. (That’s a slippery slope, but it makes sense to try and put into as few words as possible words why you’re engaged in art, even if it’s an effort that resists conceptualization.) He also said something that I’ve heard before: people want to hear a story. A friend once suggested that he’d love to read how each work in a show came together and why–and Adam said exactly the same thing. People want to know why you made a particular piece, and also why you paint, period.

But all of this sidesteps the core issue, which is to stay focused on making art, not what’s going to become of it, once it’s done. I wrote to Jim Mott yesterday afternoon, having sent him a photograph of a northern parula warbler I spotted on our birdbath in the back yard–a rare sighting, according to Jim. I had no idea what kind of warbler it was, though I guessed correctly after a Google search, but I knew I’d never seen that bird before, which is a rare experience for me since the birds we get here are pretty much the same from year to year. (I’m an armchair birder–I keep track of what birds I can spot without actually standing up. I keep a short list of what I’ve seen through our sliding glass door, but Jim is serious about it. He’s spotted more than 500 North American birds in his life, and regularly heads to the shore of Lake Ontario in May to see as many warblers as he can before they head across the water on their way up to Canada for the summer.) I mentioned to him how most artists I know right now are, to some degree, moving slowly through their own version of the horse latitudes, still working, but feeling the struggle. I mentioned that, as the weather changes, it’s tempting to postpone the work. He wrote back:

Time in nature feels wholesome and good, and the sense of life and meaning is so transparently available. This sort of self validation or intrinsic reward is increasingly not there in the world of art, or in the artist’s dealings with the world. At least, the pursuit of art these days often feels the opposite of time in nature: It’s hard to feel the point of it.
Culturally, the art enterprise, especially fine art as practiced by people like us, seems almost completely irrelevant to the world at large. The “big” artists are servicing the 1%, and the regular artists don’t seem anything like necessary to most people. BUT I do think art still can be a meaningful, purposeful, necessary thing…. And hopefully others will agree, and support will slowly rally. In my better moments I think of art as a realm of life and hope that complements nature and, for society, may be similarly necessary. However, one has to be pretty strong, inwardly, to hold onto that sense of purpose, the confidence that people will get around to remembering why art matters, or will buy it or whatever.
It’s definitely a time of crisis for the regular artist: collapsing markets and expectations, way more supply than demand, and a cultural marginality that’s no longer made bearable by the cultural constructions and glorifications and reverence that once made it seem important to be an artist.  Everyone can make cool-looking stuff with their cameras and computers.
I think art making–responding to the world, exploring vision, making meaningful marks, etc–will always be an activity of intrinsic value for some people–both artists and viewers. Engagement with the world through representation and other kinds of image-working and mark-making (with substantive, resistant materials) is a vital part of culture-building (culture as a collective realm for promoting shared experience, articulating and storing meaning). But art as a cultural project is almost certainly going through a major transformation, possibly equivalent to mass extinction by asteroid blast. Who knows what will come out on the other side, but probably not a whole bunch of wall space for all those little framed pieces of art that fill the closets of countless earnest artists these days.
I’m not suggesting that traditional painting and drawing will necessarily become obsolete…I doubt they will… not to the artistically inclined. But the customary channels of appreciation and distribution and support seem to be breaking beyond repair. Or simply out of sync with the ways of the world these days.
I guess because I see it as a puzzle, and possibly a spiritual opportunity, a creative challenge (artists that stand up for value and meaning , etc. in ways that reach people may do some good and find support), I don’t get as discouraged and depressed as I used to about the situation. I may even have some advantages – certainly by having my work linked to a story and having the chance to regularly encounter supportive strangers with the IAP (as do you, with your philosophical arsenal). But I do get discouraged and depressed pretty easily in general. Warblers can be an easy antidote, but work and progress are a better fix.

I couldn’t have put it any better, and probably not even as well, as Jim did here (as long as I’m right in assuming he was being sardonic about asteroid blasts.) The other dimension of making art that he and I have talked about is how completely antithetical it is to our media-induced passivity and fragmentation of attention. When you make a painting you’re requiring yourself to live in a completely backward way (in a good sense) that throttles the flow of stimuli from smartphone/iPad/TV/computer screen, which for most people now is a non-stop pinging of incoming color and sound, ever changing, a mental IV drip. Like meditation, painting narrows your field of awareness down to one very slow spot of color at a time, and you might spend days looking at that spot and working on it. In its own way it’s an act of rebellion against the tide of monkey-mind, clicking from one thing to the next in flight from feeling captive in the present moment. That alone is all the motivation one needs to do it. It’s a way of staying human against all the forces that seem to be eroding the old assurances about what it means simply to be a person. We live in nihilistic times that are quietly redefining (destroying?) human nature, I think, and it’s worthwhile to stand back from it and say, “Enough’s enough.” A painting can still offer painter and viewer both the same kind of stillness, the inclusive awareness of the world, that it has offered for hundreds of years, of a sort that nothing else does.

So, I have some plants to put in the ground. (And then some painting to do.)

Familiar vs. Novel – Everything is a Remix

First, if you’ve never seen Everything is a Remix, go watch it now. It’s a great primer on creativity, originality, and copyright.

Recently Kirby Ferguson posted a new installment about the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens.

Towards the end he makes a point about a sweet spot existing between the familiar and the novel. He’s talking about movies with box office hits on one side and critical hits on the other.

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This is very close to something we at the Center for Artistic Activism have talked about with popular culture and radical ideas. Popular culture(s) are familiar and comforting, and radical and visionary ideas may be a hit with academics, researchers, and your activist friends, but are fairly new and unfamiliar to the bulk of the population.

As artistic activists, when we can combine the two: we can put something new into an familiar container.

I remember talking to Jon Rubin about this when he was giving me a tour of the Waffle Shop (Talk Show). The Waffle Shop was just that – a restaurant that sold waffles to customers who sat at tables. It was also a talk show. The customers were welcome to play both host and guest on the talk show and a video camera streamed the show to audiences online. The waffle restaurant is familiar, the talk show is familiar, but going to a restaurant and becoming the host of an internet tv show? Well, that is a little unusual.

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Jon explained that people walk into the Waffle Shop and they might not understand what’s happening over at that side of the building, but they do understand how a Waffle Shop works. They understand tables, chairs, menus, and waiters. They can sit there and be comfortable. Then, after some time, they start to try to figure out the talk show. And after that, they have a chance to put it all together and figure out what it means.

A community driven talk show wouldn’t work alone. Families don’t just up and decide to go to the cable access studios and make a show some Saturday morning. And a Waffleshop alone has no meaning. But the two together hit that sweet spot between familiarity and novelty where something new and exciting happened. The Waffle Shop was a huge hit.

The Waffle Shop (Talk Show) is just an example, but the core idea is: if you want your radical ideas to resonate with large audiences, it needs to be rooted in the familiar. We need to speak in a language people understand, and use that language to tell them something new.