J. Bennett Fitts, Victorville, CA, from the series "No Lifeguard on Duty"
GOOD magazine (one of my favorites) has a wonderful series called Picture Show that highlights photographers projects. I have collected J. Bennett Fitts' work and was happy to see him gain exposure here.
I'm drawn to paper. It isn't the economy (works on paper tend to be easier on the wallet) that is attracting me to this work. it is the work itself. Here are three I like:
Her show comes down tomorrow (4/11) at Julie Saul Gallery in New York. I was completely taken by these images - and I went to the gallery not expecting a "wow" experience. They are calming. And beautiful. And skilled. She's an Ed Winkleman pick. (The images on his post are much better so check them out.) I lucked out and visited the gallery on a day when Julie (Evans) was there with family. She was lovely and spoke easily and openly about her work. If you can, get to Julie's (Saul) to see these gems before they come down. Julie Evan's blog here.
Lesson From a Guinea Hen #3, 2008, mixed water based media and colored pencil on paper, 22x30"
Geoffrey Todd Smith:
Crazy-hurt-your-eyes art is not generally something I am drawn to. But this work is stunning and mesmerizing. And, yes, obsessed. Now showing at Western Exhibitions (until May 30) in Chicago, Geoffrey Todd Smith is a local favorite and star. You most likely will be able to check out some of his work at Western Exhibitions' both at the NEXT Fair May 1-4.
Suicide Eye, 2008, ink and gouache on paper, 31x29"
OK, so this is a very different kind of work on paper, but what the f&!#... it's Powhida! I love this guy. For real. Not just because I am worried that if I don't love him I may be immortalized in one of his "New York Enemies" Drawings. (I should be so lucky.) I really find his work smart and funny just like all of the other f*#%ers out there who do...here and here. Tonight is the opening of The Writing is on the Wall at Schroeder Romero in New York. Show runs until May 16.
Note: To understand my tone and word choices, check out Shroeder Romero's write up on the show. Brilliant!
Relational Wall (detail), 2009, watercolor, colored pencil and graphite, 44x60"
One major reason to head out on Saturday is that it is the last day of the show. Don't miss it. Danica's work has been a favorite of mine for years. Another reason to visit is the accompanying show by Karin Weiner titled Paper Trail. I am new to this work, but knew of Karin from her sixspace days. I love the humor in the work - something I can really use right now! The best part is that Karin's prices are very reasonable, most works selling for around $1,500. (The work pictured below is the largest piece in the show and it is priced at around $5,000.)
As an aside, this gallery is one of the 'good guys'. They are open and friendly and very easy to deal with. Especially Kristen, the director. And, they have a wonderful website that lets you view most of the works in their current show. Bravo! If there wasn't a complete website (with images) there would be no post and I may not have rediscovered Karin Weiner - who is now on my list of "Artists to Collect When...". (And, as per an earlier post, maybe I can encourage the gallery to post prices on their website, too?)
Karin Weiner, A Year of Many Snow Storms, mixed media collage, 36"x48"
My family is from The South. My grandmother's family helped settle the state of Florida. No "retire to Florida" interlopers here. I have never lived below the Mason Dixon Line myself, but The South is in my blood. Oddly, I have even discovered that most of my good friends hail from Texas originally. I may have been a Texan in a past life. The South intrigues and attracts me and were I not married to a staunch North Easterner (or "Nor-East-er"), I'd probably find myself living there eventually.
This may help explain why I am so attracted to this work: Walton Creel'sDeweaponizing the Gun.
I may not need a reason to admit that I'm attracted to this work, but it somehow seems necessary. It probably has something to do with the fact that I am not a gun fan, this work is borderline cliché and perhaps a little obvious. But I read a great article on this work in Art Papers and the page was turned. (pun intended) The article is written by Brett M. Levine, Director of the Visual Arts Gallery at the University of Alabama Birmingham. My favorite Levine quote from the article:
I would like to pretend that his work is like a truckload of college-educated, drunk rednecks shooting road signs at high speed, late at night, on a backwoods road. But in Alabama we actually have those, and, standing over his works, shooting shot after shot, Creel is anything but one of them.
Creel gets my dilemma and appreciates that there are many different stereotypes brought to the work each time it is viewed. I also like the fact that Creel is producing work that can't easily be categorized. Different groups claim him as one of their own...
...his selection of a non-traditional medium led many to connect his work to a particular Southern tradition: Creel was conveniently lumped in with people who carve animals out of tree stumps with chainsaws."I don't see myself as a folk artist," he explains, "and although I have been mentioned as both an animal artist and a wildlife artist, that is really not the point either."
These works take time. This is not a 'fly-by-night-get-a-few-oo's-and-ah's' operation. It has taken him five years to complete six 4'x6' panels. No machine help here, Creel stands over the panels and shoots each shot himself. In 2008 he produced a sound installation (Shooting/Loading, 2008 - available on iTunes for $9.99 or on old school vinyl) to accompany Deweaponizing the Gun. Take a few moments to see what you bring to the work.
I thought to myself, "I know that artist. Discovered him at VOLTA last year." Large format photos of people on a city street all doing "the same thing." But when I read the artist's name on Art Moco I realized that this was a case of mistaken art identity. Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad was not familiar and that is a name I would have trouble forgetting. So I did a little research. This is the mage I was thinking of when I saw the above work:
Peter Funch, Informing Informers, 2000-2008
I have collected works by Peter Funch and I'm a big fan. I am intrigued to find similar works out there. This is not the first time I have run across works of art by different artists that look similar. Ideas often generate in multiple brains at the same time. And not just for artists. When I started Mixed Greens as a website dedicated to selling contemporary art, there was no other site like it out there. (artnet.com was the predominate art site in 1995). Mixed Greens launched within months of six other contemporary art e-commerce websites. (Remember nextmonet.com? How about iTheo.com?) We all had the same idea at the same time.
But what does it mean for artists? It can't be good for your career if people are always going, "Is that so and so's work?" when they are looking at your work. Or can it? Is the "winner" in this case the artist whose work digs in to the collective mind of the market? The artist with the more aggressive dealer? Or perhaps it is as simple as who better executes the idea?
Check out these artists websites here and here and make your own comparisons. They are actually very different artists who happen to have a few photographs in common.
Steven and Billy Blaise Dufala, Special Air Mission 28000, Mixed Media, 2008
Relating to the last post, as luck would have it, the grand prize winners of the WEST PRIZE have a show up now in Philadelphia at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery. Titled "Trophy" the show includes the above work. Their show proves to be an amazing confirmation of our grand prize choice. I am looking forward to seeing and collecting more and more from these two talents.
As many of you know, last year my family launched our first annual art prize. On December 1, 2008 we announced the 10 winners. Last night we announced the $25,000 Grand Prize Winner - the Dufala Brothers.
(Top country count: US - 2546 artists; Israel - 199; UK - 139; Argentina - 86; Canada - 62; Germany 45)
Number of unique visitors to the website from May to December: 14,182 (that averages out to almost 70 unique visitors per day)
Art breakdown (as categorized by artists):
2,603 mixed media
I am humbled by the response to our first year at this. The database grew through the public launch at NEXT in Chicago last year and then through word of mouth. We contacted schools and public arts programs and let our gallery and artist contacts know what we were up to. I am thankful for the support of the art community and because of them this prize will live on. I truly feel that now more than ever is an important time to be supporting contemporary artists.
There are a number of artists (23 to be exact) who didn't make the 10 but who I am stealthily following since discovering them through this year's prize. I am encouraging last year's artists to resubmit their work this year for consideration. (It will be extremely easy to resubmit on the website when the prize opens this year.) It was nearly impossible to choose 10 winners last year. Some of the artists I am still following may end up next year's winners.
We will be launching the 2009 West Prize at NEXT this year. I have been spending the last few months getting to know as much as I can about some of the art communities in the countries with the most submissions last year so that this year I will be better informed about art outside of my comfort zone.
I was able to meet all of this year's winners (except Georg Parthen) last night in Philadelphia at the Grand Prize event. Having met them all face to face now I am even more excited about their work and our relationship moving forward. They are all Grand Prize winners in my book.
I recently returned from TED. (Those in the know, know. Those that don't, should.) TED always includes artists in their presenter line up. This year included Olafur Eliasson. I'll state right up front that I am a fan of Eliasson's work. I wasn't so sure I'd be a fan of his presentation, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did enjoy listening to him and learning from him.
One of the things I like best about Eliasson's work (as well as Turrell's and Christo's) is that "even a child" can get a lot out of it. I like experiential work that can't be brought home and is meant to be a shared experience. I am lucky to live in New York and was able to see Eliasson's Waterfalls (pictured) through the eyes of my three year old son. Listening to Eliasson speak about his work I realized that my three year old "got it". He may not have been able to tell anyone what he "got", but he was experiencing exactly what Eliasson hoped people "got" from his work.
Eliasson considers his studio a laboratory. He is part artist part scientist. (This is a win-win at TED as science is a main topic of discussion.) He talked about experience as responsibility - when you are having an experience you are taking part in the world. When you are taking part you are taking responsibility. This responsibility can be individual, as in a museum setting - one on one with a work of art, or collectively as a group, as in a public installation. He hoped his Waterfall installations in New York gave the city a sense of dimension...making the city accessible and tangible, not so big and hairy. My three year old definitely got that aspect of them. His relationship with the Brooklyn Bridge changed dynamically when the waterfall was installed. Bridges, and that bridge in particular, took form in his little brain simply because someone had added a waterfall to the structure. What was not noticed before became a beacon of curiosity and learning.
TED will have Eliasson's talk up on the website in the next few weeks. I will post a link when it is live. In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite talks from this year and past years:
Mary Temple, 441,500-443,500 (detail), 2003, 30"x36", pigmented ink on mylar
What does 1,000,000 look like? A favorite artist and good friend, Mary Temple, sought to answer that question with her 1,000,000 Ellipsoids body of work. From her website:
The drawing series 1,000,000 Ellipsoids is comprised of a single ellipse-like shape that I drew and counted one million times. The series includes over 400 drawings; each contains thousands of ellipsoids rendered in monochrome ink on vellum, using forms based on simple systems and consecution. The drawings are sequential: each day's work adds to the previous number of ellipsoids in the continuum toward 1,000,000.
This two-year project allowed me to build a structure by drawing the ubiquitous number as if it were an object that could be experienced empirically.
I was reminded of this body of work after discovering Sighn'sITS OK project.
From his website:
NOV2007>>ITSOK. Edition of 1 million.
Every single one is solid wood (no plywood or particle board) and is hand cut by me.
It should take me about 60 years to finish this 'limited' edition.
$20.00 each (currently) and a tree is planted for each one sold. Cool. Get a few. For those times when you really need a reminder that all is OK.