Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hydrology show, Convergence

Well the last month has been busy between helping my mother-in-law move, shows, conferences, school stuff, etc. Didn't realize how long it had been since I posted. I have two pieces in the Hydrology show at the Chelsea Center for the Arts. The opening is tomorrow - Friday, December 4 from 6-9 and yes I'll be there.

Tuesday was the Arts Alliance's first annual conference - Convergence. Hosted at the EMU Student Center, this half day conference addressed the creative economy. I attended a session on artspaces - work/live or just workspaces for artists created out of spaces formerly used for other things like factories, prisons, schools, etc. The session talked about legal/zoning/regulatory issues with setting up such space and was useful.

I also attended a session on the Arts Alliance's new web portal. I'm really excited about the portal - it's going to be a terrific resource for both producers of art and art events (using the word "art" in its broadest sense) and for consumers of same. Whether one is looking for a play to attend, a kiln to fire one's work in, music lessons, gallery openings or artist community the new portal will be a boon for the county. I'm on the advisory panel for the site development but this was a chance to see the site not quite ready to go beta but close. I'll be talking about the site a great deal once we're live.

The keynote session was given by Stuart Rosenfeld about the economic impact of the creative economy. It was an interesting session full of hard data. For me the biggest take-away from his talk was how profoundly under-counted are the economic impact of the arts. It was unfortunate that most elected officials who were invited to the conference didn't come - the message of how much the arts do in terms of economic impact is an important one that needs to reach those people.

After attending TEDx Detroit I was inspired by the mix of music and poetry interspersed with regular sessions. My friend Ken Kozora said that an arts conference needs art and music and poetry and dance - so we brought those elements in. I curated a one day exhibition of visual art for the conference. Artists showing their work included: Lynda Cole, Margaret Parker, Barbara Thomas Yerace, Laura Seligman, Candace Compton Pappas, Martha Ceccio, Anne Savage, Connie Cronenwett, Rick De Troyer, Francsc Burgos, and Barbara Carson.

Ken played his wonderful music three separate times, two of which included dancers Amanda Stanger-Read, Director of Arts in Motion Dance Studio and Christina Sears Etter, Artistic Director of People Dancing. All three musical interludes had my images projected behind them. Poet Chris Lord read us the poem she wrote about the importance of support for the arts. Many of us had first heard that poem when she read it as part of testimony to the state legislature asking them to not cut state arts funding. We ended the conference with a guided improvisation led by Amanda and Christina which had everyone in the room up and participating. It was quite different than most other arts conferences I've attended with the mix of arts and traditional sessions and set a very creative tone. The events were videoed so I hope there will be video available at some point.

Convergence was a terrific way for our local arts community to come together. One of the important things the Arts Alliance has done is to connect people working in different parts of the county in different kinds of art related fields to one another whether it be music, dance, visual arts, theatre, literary arts or arts administration. I appreciate what Tamara Real has done in building these community connections - it's hugely important, especially in economic downturns for the different arts constituencies to work together. And our community just had a real loss with Angela Martin-Barcelona leaving us due to her husband's job change. As marketing director at the Arts Alliance Angela has done a lot to help the arts community and she will be sorely missed!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

video on embedded light exhibition

This is a nice tour of the exhibition with some low-key commentary, particularly on the techniques involved in various pieces. It's a lovely way to see the show! The video is by Gilda Snowden, a Detroit artist, art professor and curator.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Embedded Light write-up at GPAA

There's a nice post about the Embedded Light show at the Grosse Pointe Art Center with a few pictures from the opening. The opening was well attended. The center is in a new space as of this year and has just hired a new director. While they are an old organization all of the changes make it feel young and newly energized. There is clearly a lot happening there and I hope it will continue to evolve. It's great to see a Michigan arts organization putting energy and effort into encaustic and national shows. I'm well aware of how much work it takes to put together such exhibitions so kudos to Birgit Huttemann-Holz for making it happen.

Artists in the show:

Shelly Gilchrist
Lucia O Enriquez
Lisa Frank
Leslie Sobel, 3rd prize
Bill Dillon
Alix Christian, honorable mention
MJ Selzer, 1st prize
Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch
Christine Towner
Rae Broyles
Sherrie Posternak, honorable mention
Rodney Thompson, honorable mention
Mark Lavatelli, honorable mention
Elisabeth Burkholder
Binnie Birsten
Margo Mullen, 2nd prize
Yvonne Buijs- Mancuso
Cari Hernandez
Birgit Huttemann- Holz

I couldn't find links for some of the artists but will be happy to add them if anyone contacts me with them.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

MadeINTERationally - exhibition at Slusser Gallery

Curated by Sara Adlerstein-Gonzalez and Doug Hesseltine
Slusser Gallery, School of Art and Design University of Michigan Ann Arbor
until October 9, 2009

This is a big show - 16 artists in a range of media from paint, scultpture to video. The focus of the show is a commonality of experience: artists who have spent significant time internationally and how it informs their work. It’s a terrific show and is beautifully installed as well. The work is organic, mature and engaging and the installation intelligently allows the art to speak to each other making the whole stronger and more interesting yet.

The work ranges from Nora Venturelli’s lyrical nudes and Jordi López-Alert’s conte drawings on brown paper to highly abstract ceramics by John and Susanne Stephenson and Georgette Zirbes. The organic abstracted forms of the ceramics play beautifully off of Sara Adlerstein-Gonzalez’s paintings and Takeshi Takahara’s intaglio prints on an interesting range of substrates including carved wood and ceramic. Janie Paul’s austere drawings on panel are subtle and meditative, drawing on close for more in depth contemplation.

Takeshi Takahara - intaglio on carved wood

array of ceramic pieces - wall pieces are Susanne Stephenson, pieces on pedestals are John Stephenson

John Stephenson

Susanne Stephenson

Janie Paul - drawing on wood panel

Janie Paul's small drawings on panel quietly draw one in to inspect closely - there's a lot happening here but you need to get close to experience it.

Co-Curator Sara Adlerstein-Gonzalez's abstracted organic paintings
are reminiscent of cave paintings or natural objects to me. Her work has a sensibility which I find very engaging and this aesthetic shows throughout the entire exhibition. Much of the work in the exhibition echoes the palette in her own work- making for a very harmonious feel in the room.

Edward West's photographs have a painterly sensibility.

Nora Venturelli's multi-panel figurative work is elegant and beautifully drawn.

Jordi López-Alert's conte drawings on brown paper bags are more informally presented than the rest of the work shown here but somehow they have a gravitas that kept me from being perturbed by the inconsitency of their presentation. They are lyrical drawings and the roughness of the paper holds up to the informality of their hanging.

Georgette Zirbes' installation of tiles with shards of other work embedded.

Susan Crowell's polychrome ceramic wall installation

Endi Poskovic - 10 large woodcuts

Miriam Korolkovas - design and maquette for installation. I liked this piece but did feel that it was a lone exception which didn't tie into an otherwise tightly linked group of works. The maquette could have read as sculpture without the architectural graphic behind it. there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this piece but it didn't feel integrated into the exhibition as a whole - in a show which was otherwise very tightly linked to my mind.

Not shown but worth checking out are two video pieces, one by John Marshall and one by Tirtza Even. Marshall's video cleverly lines up scenes from Braveheart and Trainspotting to make trenchant commentary on his native Scotland and people's stereotypes of same. Even's video incorporates camera work which took me quite off balance - provocative if disconcerting.

This is a strong and engaging show - well worth taking the time to head up to North Campus to see.

[post edited to add information about Tirtza Even's work and to correct the spelling of Jordi López-Alert's name.]

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Embedded Light national encaustic show

Yesterday I delivered my three pieces to this national encaustic show juried by Chris McCauley. The exhibition is at the Grosse Pointe Art Center and the opening is Friday October 9 from 6:30 to 9:30pm. Here are my pieces in the show:

Greenland - ice and water, 18 x 24", encaustic & mixed media

breakthrough melt, 24 x 24", encaustic & mixed media

Greenland - melting channels, 24 x 24", encaustic & mixed media on panel

It looks like it will be an interesting exhibition with a wide range of work.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

From rust belt to artist belt II - second of many....

I spent two days last week in Cleveland at From Rust Belt to Artist Belt II - a really terrific conference. I expect to write about it quite a bit. The conference focuses on transforming post-industrial cities in the midwest. It is put together by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC) in Cleveland. This year's conference was held in a number of arts venues which have been redeveloped in Cleveland - the Gordon Square Arts District and the 78th Street Studios - the latter is a former industrial space now houseing studios, galleries and other art space. There were multiple sessions and I'll write about a number of them over time but today I'm going to focus on the keynote.

The conference started out with a terrific keynote given by Ralf Ebert who spoke on Transformation Thru Culture and Culture thru Transformation. Ebert is a city planner - he is one of the cofounders of Stadtart and their site describes their work thus: Our team develops ideas, solutions and strategies within the triangle of CityRegion - Culture - Planning and cooperates with other planning consultancies throughout Europe.

Ebert lives and works in Dortmund Germany. Dortmund is in the Rühr section of Germany. This area was the core heavy industrial part of the country and has made a remarkable transformation into a cultural arena with many former industrial sites becoming arts venues. There has been an enormous focus on "change with no growth" - focusing on conservation, sustainability, celebrating the industrial heritage of the region and improving the cultural infrastructure.

Ebert said that the transformation started post WW II with unions and in the 60s artists looking for sites to transform and work in.

Key elements were
•conservation of industrial monuments - conversion into arts spaces
•improving cultural infrastructure - neighborhoods, studios, local venues as well as larger installations
•cultural flagship projects
–Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex
_Landscape Park Duisburg-Nord
Inner Harbour Duisburg - regional landmarkss on top of old slagheaps
•establishment of cultural events
Extraschicht - night of industrial culture - bringing venue + content together
•Linking cultural projects with regional initiatives
•Youth focused projects

He mentioned several projects in particular - two examples - shaft signs - 900 defunct coal mine shafts will be marked in 2010 for 2 weeks with enormous helium balloons floating 80 meters above the entrance

calm-life - Rühr highway B-1 will be closed for 60 km and 30,000 tables will be set up to make an enormous street art fair with over 1.5 million people expected to attend

Another major initiative is setting up rent free spaces for artists from formerly vacant space.

Notable successes came from
Artists having an active role in the economy
Valuing the industrial heritage of the region
focusing on tourism
access to real estate and brown fields
support for development of knowledge based industry and temporary use of spaces
attracting start ups

Failures /discouragements

It takes a long time but cultural transformation has not stopped
The Rühr is an area with significant population loss - they haven't attracted significant influx but have kept loss to organic levels from low birthrate rather than major continuing exodus.

Lessons from the Rühr

Artists are needed as urban pioneers
Use landmarks as panorama
Network of artists, politicians, entrepreneurs, scientists is key
Multi=dimentional intergrational strategy - top down and bottom up at same time
German model depends heavily on state support for projects of all sizes, especially big ones
Promotional initiatives
Flagship projects attract attention - tourism, political capital and funding
Detroit should consider working to become a World Heritage site - Rust Belt - regional audience
Arts projects with international reputation, international conferences and meetings are key to bringing outside, cosmopolitan audience
not just high culture - pop culture links help bring people back from suburbs

link of cultural/creative industries and knowledge based industries will be important [more to come on this subject in particular]

I came away from this talk both inspired by the scope of the transformation that has and is taking place - and discouraged. Discouraged because today in a time of dire economy and a place where massive funding for the arts doesn't exist it's going to be a real uphill battle to effect change. Ralf Ebert is an interesting speaker and the projects he showed us were tremendously exciting. Even with our very different funding model than Germany's and our extremely challenged economy there are possibilities since economic crisis is also a time of unusual opportunities. My next post will be about a session where three people described amazing projects coming out of the bad economy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ArtPrize & Rust Belt to Artist Belt

This article appeared in last Sunday's Monroe Evening News. I'm the last of the three artists discussed so you need to read down to the end. My piece will be at Spectrum Health - at 100 Michigan NE, Grand Rapids.

On another front entirely I'll be presenting my "sky river" project to "Rate My Project" - a panel of public art experts at the second Rust Belt to Artist Belt conference in Cleveland later this week. I'm hoping for good (useful, that is) feedback on the project and on community based public art projects in general.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rust Belt to Artist Belt 2

I'm very excited about going to the second Rust Belt to Artist Belt conference in Cleveland this week. Last year's conference was full of great ideas, resources and people doing amazing things to reinvent post-industrial cities. I'm looking forward to being a part of it this year again! More to come from the conference later this week.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

galleries - Chicago part 2 - & more trees

We visited a lot of galleries in Chicago of course. Two that really stood out - and that I try to get to regularly are Packer Schopf in the West Loop and Melanie Cooper in River North. Aron Packer was in the midst of installing his next show - image above - works of Karen Savage - but was kind enough to invite us in and spend a lot of time chatting about the work. The images are photograms - direct exposures where the object - beautiful infant dresses - are placed on photosensitive paper and then developed. They felt like the ghosts of the Valerie Mann show I wrote about a few months ago - graphical and compelling.

We went to Melanie Cooper the next day and had an equally long and interesting talk with her about encaustic and various artists.

I was shocked by the disappearance of a number of galleries that seem to be casualties of the economy. Flatfile apparently closed in March. A number of others seem to have disappeared as well. Unsurprising but sad.


I went back to Matthai Botanical Gardens yet again. The digital image below is the beginning of the next encaustic piece. It will be 12" x 40".

Sunday, August 30, 2009

looking at art in Chicago

Twombly, Salalah, Acrylic on wood panel,96 x 144 in. (243.8 x 365.8 cm)

My friend Martha and I made a quick trip to Chicago for a couple days to see the Cy Twombly show at the Art Institute. Cy Twombly: The Natural World, Selected Works 2000–2007
May 16–October 11, 2009 It's a show of work in a variety of media from photography, paint on paper, sculpture and truly heroically scaled paintings. The disparate range of the work is striking. The paintings are wonderfully gestural - no surprise from Twombly. We appreciated how well installed the exhibition was - with really good curatorial notes that added to one's enjoyment and understanding of the work. That's often a week point of shows so I'm very glad to see it. I've reproduced my two favorite pieces from this exhibition. If anyone knows what kind of paper Twombly used for the series the piece below is part of, I'd be most interested to know.

Untitled, 2001

Acrylic, wax crayon, and collage on paper, 48 3/4 x 39 1/4 in. (124 x 99.5 cm)

This was my first trip to see the new wing of the Art Institute, a museum I've been visiting since I was a little kid. The new wing is really dazzling - open, inviting and airy. It was a terrific setting for the Twombly work, giving it elegant space to shine. There was also a marvellous exhibition of Japanese Screens - ranging from 15th century to modern works. The show is up from June 26–September 27, 2009 This was one of my favorites:

Morita Shiryu, Japanese, 1912-1998

Dragon Knows Dragon (Ryu wa ryu wo shiru), 1969

Four-panel screen; aluminum flake pigment in polyvinyl acetate medium, yellow alkyd varnish, on paper, 162 x 307 cm (63 3/4 x 120 7/8 in.)

We also went to the Museum of Contemporary Art where we saw the exhibition Take your Time: -Olafur Eliasson. May 1 - September 13, 2009 Eliasson works in a variety of media. He's probably most known for the interesting things he does with light. This show takes up the entire first floor of the museum and gives a good sense of Eliasson's range - including works with fixed light, projection, complicated installation and most interesting to me - maquettes, giving one a sense of the artist's process and source images. There was one piece, pictured below, which was deceptively simple. One entered a dark room which had a fine spray of mist coming down from the ceiling with some white lights shining through it. The room was tiled with some sort of absorbent rubber on the floor and there was no other light source. You could walk all the way around the waterfall of mist and there was no sound other than the gentle hiss of the water. So subtle and lovely - and evocative of places I've been but utterly generalized as to place.

Beauty, 1993. Installation view at AROS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, 2004

As I mentioned, one room was full of maquettes and photos that the artist uses for ideas, sources, references. The maquettes were mostly soldered metal wire or metal tape in interesting, geometrically complex forms. The photos comprised 4 sets of images, each hung ganged. One set, shown below, of islands, one of horizons, one of grottos and one of aerial views of rivers. Given my own interests I'm sure no one is surprised that these really grabbed me from a variety of points of view.

The island series, 1997. Private collection; photo: Oren Slor; © 2009

This entry has gotten long enough that I'll wait to post about the galleries we visisted. The two museums were well worth a trip in and of themselves. The Eliasson show comes down Sept 13 so there's not a lot of time left to see it - and it's fascinating.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

2 paintings

summer grove - PA, 12" x 16", mixed media and encaustic on paper on ragboard

solo pine, 24" x 24", mixed media and encaustic on panel

Two new pieces - both shown here with digital source alone earlier, now as completed pieces.

Monday, August 24, 2009

summer views

grove of trees seen from old railbed bike/hiking trail in Pennsylvania

Lately I seem to be working entirely on images based on places I've been camping and hiking. Not a bad state of affairs. We haven't gone anywhere really exotic this summer - I seem to be focused on woodland and lake and river scenes in the midwest and east.
Sleeping Bear panorama

Both of these images are the basis of paintings - I'll post those later - the upper source has a mostly finished painting I need to shoot, the lower is very early on. Lot of digital work in both images of course.

Somehow lately I seem more grounded in painting where I am, whether it's from an aerial point of view or from a view I could shoot myself.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

support the Arts Alliance - challenge grant

On Tuesday August 18th there will be a wonderful opportunity to help the Arts Alliance raise funds. The Community Foundation for SE Michigan has issued a challenge - starting at 10am on the morning of the 18th they will match $1 for every $2 donated online until the $1 million available has all been pledged. The money is targeted to a number of arts and cultural non-profits in the region.

I'm hosting a party at My Favorite Cafe in downtown Saline starting at 9:30 that morning to collect donations. We'll be raffling off some artwork, hope for some live music and will have a good time raising money for the Arts Alliance. So come join Lynne Friman, Terri Sibo and me at 101 S. Ann Arbor St., Saline.

- or you can go to a similar gathering in Ann Arbor at Sweetwater's Café. 123 W. Washington St. from 9a.m.-1p.m. Participating arts and cultural organizations - 7 total - will be at this event. There'll be an hourly raffle! Stop by for good causes, good coffee, and good times. (Sponsors: NEW & Sweetwaters) You can donate online starting at 10am on August 18th by going here.

These funds will help the Arts Alliance continue to provide the tools and services that help area artists and arts & cultural organizations stay connected, have a presence in the political arena, and obtain the respect and recognition the sector deserves. (Rumor is that funds will be gone in 1 hour -- so it's very important you go online at 10a.m. sharp!)

spread the word - this is a grassroots effort and every donation counts!

Come to a Challenge AfterGlow at the Aut Bar (315 Braun Ct., in Kerrytown) from 5-7p.m. and celebrate our community's rich arts and culture.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

new painting

This is the starting point for a big new encaustic - it will end up being 24" x 24" and probably a long way from this image, shot at the Matthai Botanical Gardens. I've been spending a lot of time walking there and at the arb lately - good for both artistic ideas and finding a peaceful space in the midst of a busy, fragmented summer.

Friday, July 31, 2009

What happened to July?

Guess it's a clear sign of what a crazy month it has been when I don't post for more than 3 weeks. July was consumed by work, sky river and Art Fair, houseguests, a camping trip up north and working on my piece for Art Prize. So here are some images....
working on the sky river mosaic at the Street Art Fair

thanks to Dad and Liz Soll for the pix!

Sleeping Bear rough panorama

dune grass and view of South Manitou Island

Sleeping Bear Aerial - this is my submission for Art Prize - lots more info to come once I have a venue.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Art Fair

comp - what the proposed piece will look like

Next week is Art Fair. I don't have a booth but will be doing two workshops at the Street Art Fair's big activity tent on Wednesday and Thursday both from 3-5pm. These workshops will be on the sky river project. There is not yet a process through which I can actually apply for the piece to be funded and installed in the site I designed it for - the roof of the Maynard Street Parking Structure. Despite that we're going to start a reduced version of the piece.

The proposed piece is a community based piece of environmentally focused public art using recycled materials - plastic snow fence and plastic jug lids - to portray the Huron River based from modified satellite images. During the workshops we'll start assembling a shorter section of the piece. As planned, it will be 125 feet long. Lacking approval and storage for such a big project we'll do a 12 foot chunk instead!

Come and see me and help attach hundreds of bottlecaps to snowfence. If the full project goes forward someday I'll need to collect 20,000 caps. For next week I need about 650 or so and fortunately, thanks to a few very enthused people I have more than I need. In fact, I came home today to find a big bag of caps on my porch waiting for me - without a clear indication of who was so kind. Thanks Suzanne - I think! And if it was someone else I hope they'll tell me so I can thanks them!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Print

Huron River Triptych

This piece will be in The Print at the Ann Arbor Art Center. The opening is on Friday June 26 from 6:00 - 8:00 pm in the Exhibitions Gallery. The piece is digital, chine collé and encaustic on Rives BFK paper. I began with chunks of the satellite map of the county which have been a big part of my work for more than a year now thanks to two public art pieces - one finished and installed and one still, hopefully, pending.

Meanwhile I'm working on more boxes and am documenting the process so will post pictures of the development of at least one of them rather than just the completed piece - but not yet!