How long have you been teaching at Flagler?
I guess I am really curious that the exhibition is seemingly about the process of meditation, or at least a deliberate gesture of practicing or acknowledging insight/stillness before any actual work is done. Do either of you follow a meditation style or spiritual discipline that benefits or influences your work?
Could you describe your own respective process/ritual of “a private creative practice?” Do you honor/suffer from any superstitions or compulsions that tie into your preparing to roll up your sleeves and get to work?
I fell into teaching at Flagler because I knew Patrick from a number of years back in my undergraduate years. Patrick was in graduate studies when we met and he taught me a thing or two about painting. I decided to get on the grad school bus and went to get my MFA in Sculpture from Parsons School of Design in NY. Two of the biggest art mentors during my years of schooling there was Tom Butter and Louise Fishman. Tom really shaped my visual language and explained to me that making art and talking about art is as complex as keeping friends and maintaining relationships. We maintain close correspondence through the mail. Louise is an old school Ab-Ex painter, an incredibly wise woman. Her studio visits with me were invaluable and she explained to me about the struggles and the inadequacies of making art which I am always burdened with.
I finished up my years at Parsons and ended up kicking around New York for a few more years making art, working random jobs, and raising a family in Astoria, Queens. The city and that neighborhood in particular was really formative to my practice. On one block you can be inundated with affluent Greek yards and families, turn a corner and shake hands with the Muslim in the kitten friendly Stop & Shop bodega. The art objects currently gracing the country are as plural as the streets. There is a kind of regurgitation of visual cultures and histories happening that are then being spewed out and clobbered into some semblance of something. I like to think that I am engaging this eclectic puzzle through the sculptures and paintings that I fabricate. A lot of what I do is free-wheeling and involves collage and jumbling disparate materials together by way of props and other adhoc methods. The end product usually reveals the ridiculous and irrational act of this thing we call “making art”. Don’t get me wrong, I am dead serious about what I do but at the same time you feel like crawling under a rock.
Louise taught meditation techniques to me as a way to clear ones head before engaging in creation-my life is much too chaotic for the allowance of that practice though. I tend to kind of dive right into the making of stuff. A mess is made and then I begin to react against the onslaught and refine. I tend to be a night person when I work and have realized that when I am engaged in something in those late hours, you feel most alone. The practice feels entirely secretive and bizarre. It would seem to me that the created object has more ability to reach beyond its material mayhem to touch personal nerves with its creator...but this may all be a delusion. A great deal of pacing and staring at actions I have made is engrained in my studio practice and I have an Australian Shepherd that is always at my heels. Sometimes I just sit in front of the thing that I have been fabricating and find myself baffled at how I had arrived at some of the forms or material combinations. It often feels like someone else is at the steering wheel and I am operating unconsciously.
Could you elaborate on the title From: Goya To: Gooseneck? Is this merely wordplay or is there any greater significance? What was so affecting from this Camus story that compelled you to create an entire show (if this is the case) based on the piece?
I think the idea of “absurdism” played a big role in Patrick and I doing a show together. We were sitting around trying to think about what the connective thread was in our work and realized that it was such a ridiculous thing to be striving to do. Patrick paints monsters and at times I’m grasping at straws. We did need some kind of statement to bring clarity to the cacophony and I remembered this great short story by Albert Camus (who was considered a philosopher of the absurd) called, Jonas, Or The Artist At Work. The whole story is really wonderful but one excerpt seemed to tap into the wealth of what we do. The passage comes at a point in the story where the artist has lost himself and his light (inspiration). He has tried to seal himself up in silence from distraction to really allow himself to work and when he has done this, the artist faces a profound loss and leads those around him to believe that he is working when in fact all he has to account for is a long waiting meditation.
I feel like at times when I am making my work that I have literally lost my mind and that it is not I who am making the art, but rather the art dictating to me what it wants to be. You work in this private void where it is just you and the object and no one else. That can be real unnerving. Where does the faith in the thing you are creating come from? Is it just because it feels good to be making anything at all?
I believe this gets at the core of the show. From: Goya To: Gooseneck is a bit of play on words but does convey some embrace of history and hybrid of absurdity. The title also felt appropriate as being an exchange or correspondence between two people.
Could you describe some of the works featured in the show? Will there be paintings by Moser/sculptures by Myhre or do you both have works in differing media in the exhibit? What materials are involved?
While Patrick is a painter and I am a sculptor, both of us dabble in other media. Patrick is going to be showing a video along with his monster paintings and I plan to put up a couple of paintings/collages and a wall relief piece along with the various sculptures to be displayed. I’m actually really excited to show one of the paintings measuring 4 foot square which lays the foundation for new developments. It took many months to craft and revise. The wall relief is also new for me and will be a conglomeration of similar forms found in the paintings but fabricated out of various materials and spray paint. I work heavily with metal and teach Metal Sculpture at Flagler, so a good deal of the works feature metal elements along with wood, fabric, concrete, found objects, and store bought products. The work have figural tendencies and titles help elude to this but the work also functions on a high level of abstraction.
What are some of your greater “non-visual” influences or current faves, be it music, authors, foods, guilty pleasures, whatever?My two boys are a big source of inspiration. My oldest, who is 6, is already exhibiting artistic flare and works on paintings and random little things he calls sculptures. I sit and watch them work and at times am really impressed by their material invention. I actually steal some of their techniques. An author that I read over and over again is Raymond Carver. His personal life and the stories that he wrote resonate with me. It all stems from the foundation of one sustaining their passions through adversity with perseverance.
Do you feel any affinity with any local NE FL artists?I really don’t. Maybe I just have not lived here long enough, but no one around here appears particularly thirsty for art. There is not a competitiveness that seems to exist among the creative individuals that are here. I guess that I am not really one to talk though. My life and practice is pretty private and I do not have the mentality to show, show, show. It has been four years since I have shown anything at all. I have a hand full of like-minded individuals that I banter with and share ideas among and the majority of them do not even live in the same state. I rely on the good old fashion post office as my hub for communication with these few other artists.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
These are some random studies of mine that are performative in the Drawing Foundations class that I teach. The objective is to unify the objects within a staged scenerio with the space they occupy by collapsing spatial conventions and inventing new shapes. Moments within the objects (design, pattern, light, shadow) combine with the space (between, behind, beyond)in the attempts to create an entirely flat picture plane. Quite the challenge but a fruitful exercise.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
I thought that I would post this drawing that I made in relation to the last post. I was brushing up on some figure drawing for the Foundations course that I teach. I'm definitely not one who practices what I preach. Though competent, I still prefer the wonky invented versions.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
The aim or rather purpose of art and why it is what creative individuals do is always at the top of my list of things to dredge up. It is a really old question and is only questioned because as far as can be discerned on the surface of things, art does not immediately serve any particular need; it is rather useless in a utilitarian driven culture. The irony in this is that as more Americans seek modes of comfort and a technology that is created to make life the simpler, the more Americans invest in the devices of a useless nature and alienate themselves from the needs of one another.
Certainly one of the reasons why artists make art resides in, a need to relive through the fabrication of images and objects a moment in their life that they wish to re-experience or in some cases put to death. These hope filled pursuits drive the creative individual to create, but in the summation of their action, produces hopeless results. Glimmers of the glorious (or dreaded) thing or moment might be revealed in the created art, but it will never equal the impact of the actual thing or moment. Thus the catalyst for constant investigation and persistence in the artists practice.
As far as there being an aim/purpose to the art, many have their beliefs and philosophies as to what this answer is and many of the answers come in the form of a verb. At the moment I remain set on an answer to the question that would appear to blanket all other given answers. My answer is derived from a quote that I stumbled upon by (I believe it to have been from) Chardin. Chardin claimed that “the chief end goal for a work of art must be that it be a visual feast for the eye; all other reason follows after this”. These words would seem to emphasize that the aim of art should simply be to provide beauty.
The word beauty has lost some luster over time and while there might exist some conflict over what is beauty?-what is beautiful? Very few of us would argue that we prefer beauty over the drab. Beauty has attached to it a good deal of skepticism and sarcasm when we talk about it in relation to a work of art. The belief that art is made only in times where there is a deficiency of beauty is false and ridiculous. Art will serve its purpose as long as people seek to find escape from reality and put faith in silent pictures and forms. All of this would see to welcome the idea that people like to project their thoughts and ideas upon things that are defenseless and chameleon-like; a thing that exists where we as the determined viewer, have the ability to deem the formidable thing beautiful. Twisted but true.
*Top image: "The Ray" by Chardin
*Bottom image: Photograph of Franz West romancing an object
Friday, August 20, 2010
One of the highlights of a recent visit to New York back in July was a trip to the Met with our good friends' kids who live in Queens. Esther and Lemuel had never been to the Met and I assured them that they where in for a surprise. We began our adventure on the rooftop of the Met where ice cream was enjoyed while checking out
Doug + Mike Starn on the Roof: Big Bambú- a monumental, sprawling, display of bound bamboo sticks that transformed into an architectural maze that one could tour if patient enough to acquire a precious ticket-we just watched and took in the views of the park and city.
From the rooftop we made our way down to the Impressionists-George Seurat was a big hit with his dots of color. We came across a Courbet (one of my favorite painters of all time, and told the kids so) they thought the parrot was beautiful(in their words) but thought it was a little weird that the woman was not wearing any clothes.
Esther and Lemuel then wanted to see the Arms and Armour wing which instantly became a favorite spot. They found the Samurai masks funny and some of the swords a bit rusty.
A very memorable day spent at the Met-kids know how to energize a place especially when they are touching all of the art.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
In Rosalind Krauss’ book, Passages in Modern Sculpture there is a chapter on Dada and Surrealist sculpture-particular to its origin. The chapter is titled, A Game Plan: the terms of surrealism-the word “game” should be highlighted as the key by which many of the poets and artists would subscribe to birth irrational works.
Krauss opens the chapter with one such game for poets, disguised as a recipe by Tristan Tzara. It reads as follows:
Take a newspaper.
Take some scissors.
Choose an article of the length
you wish your poem to have.
Cut out the article.
Then cut out carefully each of the words in the article
and put them in a bag.
Then pull out each cutting one after the other.
Copy them down conscientiously
in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And you will be a writer of infinite originality and of
charming sensitivity, although incomprehensible to the masses.
Krauss goes on to state that, “…if an ordered structure is the means of endowing a work of art with intelligibility, then the breakdown of structure is one way of altering the viewer to the futility of analysis. It is a form of shattering the work as mirroring the rational powers of its viewer…Dada’s enemy was a priori, the power of reason, and, most particularly, reason as a vehicle of power.”
Further in the chapter is a bit on objective chance that follows a similar pattern to the poet’s recipe, “Andre Breton’s documentary novel L’Amour fou is an account of the workings of objective chance. At its outset Breton and Alberto Giacometti wander through a flea market where each purchases an object without knowing why, only later realizing that the object, found by chance, answered a question that had been unconscious. Breton’s question, posed by the automatically produced phrase “Cinderella ashtray”, a phrase that had obsessed him earlier, had been the unwitting formulation of his own desire for love; and the slipper spoon that he had found in the market became for him the double sign through which he could read that desire and believe that he would gratify it. Giacometti’s object served in the completion of a sculpture.”
I believe that Surrealism and Dada have had the longest lasting impression on contemporary Western sculpture with post Minimalist works right on the heel. The grab-bag reasons of chance, disorder, and irrationality have reigned supreme for quite some length of time in the past couple of decades. It is perhaps the notion that chance and incoherence are the easiest ways of dodging rational explanations for an irrational practice, but its long standing explorations may be because it is still such a fertile vein for revealing subconscious thought and desire.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Newspaper, gesso, oil, ground chalk, charcoal, ink on Newsprint.
This 'century flattop painting' spawns from the vivid color displayed in Spike Lee's film, Do The Right Thing. It is one of my favorite films of all time and for quite some time have attempted to do the film justice through the means of paint...still falling short.
The painting that Joey shipped to me was packed between two cardboard strips that featured floating holiday penguins. The packing material proved to be decent material to paint on and thus the birth of these 'penguin paintings'. I promptly sent these back to Joey.
Monday, June 21, 2010
After sitting and examining the work on the left for about a month, I came to the realization that every time I looked at it I felt uneasy. It was wrong-seriously wrong. I set myself to modifying the work and pin-pointed the restlessness to have resided in the central portion of the composition. Making quick work of exterminating the awkward shapes, I settled upon the arrangement on the right. I now feel at ease.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
This is an excerpt from an interview with painter David Reed taken from the book, ‘Between Artists’.
Reed: Painters discover in the process of working that painting itself is a kind of nonverbal thinking. This kind of thinking is difficult to describe-often it can’t be expressed in language for a generation or two. What can’t be verbalized is unnerving. When I first started working abstractly, part of me would identify with the painting, as if I were inside it working through the forms. Another part of me would stay outside and watch what was happening. I felt split in two. I was afraid that I couldn’t come back together again. In some of my first stroke paintings, the idea was to work so quickly that I knew I could get the two parts back together. Finally, I decided that this experience of being split apart was necessary to make a painting. I learned just to grit my teeth and take it. Then in Tom Wolfe’s book ‘The Right Stuff’, I read about a similar experience. When the test pilots for the X-2 got up to the edge of space, they reached a point they called the “break off”. The pilot was no longer in his body but saw himself from above and behind at the same time. He felt at one with the plane. He belonged in space, not on earth, and could do anything he wanted-then he crashed. I still have to go through that break-off point with each painting, but now I know it’s part of the process.
*image, David Reed, Color Study
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Serra’s verb list serves as a reminder of the possibilities an object may undergo. The potential success of a sculpture rests in one or more of these determined actions. It is satisfying alone to take one choice material and subject it to any one of the following practices.
An object is polluted when it becomes victim to one too many idea or physical/material manifestation. I speak not of a Minimalist notion, but simply of clarity in vision- purity in the inspiration. Reactionary impulses with materials can be both intuitive and systematic. The result of either of these sculptural practices should remain local to the object and not force an awareness of its creation. The object should simply exist.
If the object brings the viewer to a realization of its craft it detracts from the whole and trenches the viewer in cosmetic drudgery. These kinds of moments bring the viewer back to “self” and away from “other”.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Attempts at unifying the objects with the two dimensional medium.
Formal paring-channels, compounds, corrals, windows.
Serra Verb List.
Propping, Pinning, Drapping, Wrapping-both steel & fabric materials.
Distortion & Malleability exhibited.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Inexplicable moments are upon us. If we have not had one, the time will arise. These are sensory moments that have the ability to paralyze. The experience presents itself disguised in beauty and when we least expecting it, the veil is dropped. The experience is fleeting, usually leaving us desiring for more or we are so overcome by the magnitude of the experience that we are left in a depressive state with the knowledge that we will never be able to recapture or translate that experience. As creative individuals, these are the moments we strive to relay and though it may be futile/unattainable, it is what fuels our creative capacity.
This is one moment that the architect/sculptor Tony Smith tries to relate.
Tony Smith: When I was teaching at Cooper Union in the first year or two of the fifties, someone told me how I could get onto the unfinished New Jersey Turnpike. I took three students and drove from somewhere in the Meadows to New Brunswick. It was a dark night and there were no lights or shoulder markers, lines, railings, or anything at all except the dark pavement moving through the landscape of the flats, rimmed by hills in the distance, but punctuated by stacks, towers, fumes, and colored lights. This drive was a revealing experience. The road and much of the landscape was artificial, and yet it couldn’t be called a work of art. On the other hand, it did something for me that art had never done. At first, I didn’t know what it was, but its effect was to liberate me from many views I had had about art. It seemed that there had been a reality there that had not had any expression in art.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
In an interview with Claes Oldenburg conducted by David Sylvester, Oldenburg is asked a question concerning the playful invention in his work in relation to artists such as Arp, Klee, and the Surrealists. Oldenburg’s answer: “I have the feeling that my work is more concerned simply with the appearances of things rather than the meaning attached to things. If I found a resemblance between things, I wouldn’t make very much of it. I would only be concerned with the form…I have the feeling that nature is very simple and I have the feeling that everything really looks like everything else. If we could get our eyes adjusted we’d find that the whole world was very simple, whereas it appears very complicated. I always look for an extremely simple form in whatever I see and try to find another simple form that looks like it. And it’s to cope with the environment, I suppose, to get it down to a workable condition…”
Above is a sculpture from last year, “Marquee”. It is basically two objects that have been conjoined to make one. The fence post has the appearance of being solid and rooted to its particular plot while the metal ladder form juts out parallel. The ladder form however does not suspend in space but is rather propped by a wisp of wire to counterbalance the weight. The mass of the fence post wavers as much as the economy of the wire. This object appears to have been logically engineered but yields to a make-shift solution.
Monday, May 17, 2010
It would seem to me that many painters struggle with the question of “what to paint?”. Abstraction is usually the fall-back answer but even in abstraction the question persists when confronted with the history of Abstraction; particularly in the West. In an article on the Abstract painter Jack Tworkov, published by Fairfield Porter (Art News 1953), Porter quotes the painter stating that, “If I knew what I wanted to paint, I surely would love to paint that.” Porter goes on to say, “…he (Tworkov) does paint what he wants to paint, but he is not conscious of the desire in advance. Though there are periods when the painting proceeds without a thought, mostly it is correct to say that he is always thinking about painting while he is painting. The act is conscious.”
This is, in my mind, Abstraction in a nutshell-unconscious desire paired with conscious action; the constant awareness of the properties and limitations of the material and the cavernous passages of intention and the subject. I believe that the desire must be unconscious in order for one to become a servant to the painting. The painter comes to the surface with a notion, a system, or a method but within the painting process (the action) must surrender to the materials and the spirit. If one approaches the painting with one too many ideas, the intuitive spirit will collapse and the painting will fall into a muddy state. Potential success for any painting is not what to include but what to deduce.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
These are a few small 12x12 inch oil on raw linen paintings I made in 2009. They set the groundwork for the more recent paintings that have since become looser with the materials. They appear tight and specific but were in fact rather intuitive-in that I did not enter the work with a predetermined composition or color scheme. The paintings are also worked pretty heavily-lots of scrapped color choices below the chosen layer. I developed the paintings with Mondrian in the back of my mind-Philip Guston was at the same table. Myron Stout also entered the room. Stout is often forgotten about. A tremendous painter whose patience with the medium is explicit on the surface.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The origins for the sculptures are at times really specific to a particular moment or other object; and at other times completely lost to the act of being "in" the work at the time of the fabrication process. Two works express this translation:
"Off The Cuff" was a piece inspired by a set of particulars-it began with my recollection of the statement, '...off the cuff' that people have the tendency to flippantly throw around(oxymoron). The pairing of those words, and if we are to think about them in an illustrative light, are ambiguous by nature. The origin for that piece began with a train of abstract words and the challenge became how to translate that statement into a three dimensional form that held equivalent ambiguity.
"Carver's Crux" was a piece determined through the working process. I happened to have been reading alot of Raymond Carver's stories(for which the title of this blog originates from) when fiddling with the materials that made up the sculpture. It simply became apparent to me while contemplating the shape that the object was taking on that I was paying a small homage to the life of the author-and so I attached the words to the completed object.
In the end, regardless of the objects origins, the work is purely from listening to the inspiration and then in the most direct and unfettered means possible, executing the work with the materials I have around me.
Collage has always been integral to my practice. It engages in sculptural tendencies. Cutting bits of paper and holding them in your hand, the application of those bits to a surface-for myself it is all an additive process; very little is subtracted. Over time, collage has merged with the painting. The results in the image is often of a piecemealed effect. The picture is flat-forms shuffle on the same plane. Forms overlap but there is no sense of extended space.
Monday, May 10, 2010
After a hiatus with painting, I have picked it back up and have been investing in some works since Spring of 2009. Not all of the investigations have been successful and have been trying to get the paintings to follow suite with the sculpture-a great challenge. The painting medium is so slippery and unpridictable compared to the fabrication processes involved with the sculpture materials.
If one cuts a piece of material at a right angle the result will be a right angled form; but if one pushes a paint stroke or chalk stick through another paint stroke or chalk mark-well, the outcome is murky. I am beginning to relinquish my control and assertions with the mediums and this has opened the work up to an intuitive and quixotic path.
When working in an abstract vein the definitions bring some words and clarity to an utterly speechless practice.
Channel-(canal):the bed where a natural stream of water runs: the deeper part of a river, harbor, or strait: a strait or narrow sea between two close land masses: a means of communication or expression: a way or course of thought or action: a tubular enclosed passage (conduit): a long gutter, groove, or furrow: a metal bar of flattened U-shaped section.
Compound-(more at position):to put together (parts) to form a whole: combine: to form by combining parts: to settle amicably: compromise: to increase by geometric progression or by an increment that itself increases: to add to: a large fenced or walled-in area.