Thursday, November 25, 2010

Same Side of the Same Coin

I made an odd connection recently between two very different ways of seeing oneself, and of working, as an artist. Maintaining a perspective which is independent from the art-world has always been very important to me. I don't shun influence, but I do want to keep one foot in "Rocktown, Indiana" at all times. I'm too easily influenced and so I consciously maintain some insularity from what's going on. It's really just a mental positioning more than anything. An artificial, adopted outsider-ism. Outsider Faux.

It's about making a place from which I have the confidence to make independent, original choices.

As I recently looked at some new work, deciding what to do next, I thought, What choices would I make if I were someone like Dana Schutz? What if I had that sort of place in the art world, not just well known and respected, but revered? I mentally adopted that cloak and it did make a difference in my thinking. It made me make different choices, mostly by going with dumber and bolder choices, unquestioningly.

It made me feel more independent from the art world, just as being an "isolated artist" does.

I'm not talking about ability, but rather about the actual types of decisions I would make, within my own work, under this guise. I'm also not talking about having art world success per se. I'm imagining a position where it's a given that I'm the type of artist who, through her uber-success, is immune from regular art world pressures/influences/thoughts/envies/garbage, and therefore is working more honestly and independently from a personal place.

I want it to be a given that I'm an artist making art. I don't want to have to prove myself this way. It's tedious and counter-productive. I don't want to have to prove my standing, locally or on a wider stage. This does affect one's work; it changes what one makes. I'll do what I must to present myself well, to explain as well as possible. But when I'm in the studio, I'm going to adapt my version of "who" is making the work.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nozkowski at The Pace Gallery

Thomas Nozkowski: Recent Work at The Pace Gallery. What can I say? I always end up serial-posting this guy. This link has installation views and pics of some of the work.

This New York Times article goes into the post-painting drawings and their process. It links to this slide show, "Drawing to Cool Down" of paintings with their subsequent drawings.

Nozkowski inspires me for what artists can do, and also for what people can do.

Nozkowski, Interview excerps

Excerps from Nozkowski's Brooklyn Rail interview with John Yau:

"Conciousness is complicated...."

"Ideas of perfection are usually based on what we have seen in the past, on what we already know. You can give anything a shot, any idea--no matter how odd or impossible seeming."

"...I don't believe success in a project like this can be measured by how easily readable my image is to other people--it is instead measured by how visually rich and complex the painting is. The picture will be of John, but it is really about what I can find in trying to see him."

"Improvisation, however, is essential to my work. I want my ideas to be located at the tip of my brush. I want my materials to talk back to me. I want to be surprised."

"I've talked about how I like painting best when it turns a little homely, turns away from the grandiose and opts for simple desire. To really want to possess something and to be willing to do anything to get it will take you pretty far. That's the reason so much outsider painting looks so great."

"This is the golden age for art-making. Not only do we have permission to paint anything in any way we like, but we also have audiences who are interested in playing the game along with us, willing to try to follow our ideas. In our studio life we are not only free--we are meaningfully free. Make a mark on the canvas. This mark can be said to represent anything I want--no problem. The success or failure of the painting has now shifted over from the subject to the strength and intelligence of the painter's work. This was always true, of course, but now it is self-evident. Keeping honest is the hardest part: If a mark can be anything, why bother grounding it at all?"

"One of the nice things about grounding works in the real world is that you don't need a position--you have a place. Willful eccentricity can be a real problem. It's not a high art crime, but certainly a misdemeanor--tiring stuff."

"Well, you know, there are people who want to understand visual language as something akin to advertising images, stop signs, and stick figures--the most banal graphic communication. This sense of communication is pretty bad, ridiculous conventions that shut off the possibility of really seeing and understanding something. At the best it's common denominator stuff--at worst it's authoritarian."

Friday, November 12, 2010


Links from MW Capacity:
Thomas Nozkowski at Brooklyn Rail. This excellent interview with John Yau is all the rage amongst the painty bloggers. It's really good.

"Teaching Close Encounters" by Matthew Ballou When I want them to think about the tension between intuition and skill, the psychology of the creative mind, or the value of actively negotiating materials (as opposed to the preciousnous and creative constipation they so often exhibit), I break out Close Encounters.

Kim Dorland: New Material at Mike Weiss - good comment thread at MW Cap.

Friday, November 5, 2010


The Texan Love Hovels painting is now in Texas. Thanks for the purchase, you know who. I'm just stupidly proud that I built a crate entirely from existing "on hand" supplies. Okay, I did go and purchase the handle, but I do have two such handles around here somewhere, so I'm not counting that misplacement.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Grassroots Voter Disenfranchisement

My polling spot has been in the same school for about 10 years. It stayed there even after the districts were condensed in 2007. This year it was moved to a public works building a few blocks away. The sign posted on the school forwards voters to a different place, which is over 3 miles away. The sign is wrong and multiple calls by different people to various officials failed to correct this.

After I went to the erroneous spot, a Painters Union building, they were extremely helpful. They were aware of the problem, had made calls, could not get any help fixing it. One person even had gone over and hung a correct sign over the wrong one, but this was torn down (could have been by someone who thought the correct sign was a trick). At one point, a poll worker looked me straight in the eye and said "they don't want you to vote".

I went to the correct polling place, and asked them about the incorrect sign. Several workers muttered various things under their breath, I couldn't catch the specifics, but it was clear that they were very frustrated by the situation. They did say they had called everyone, all the way up to the commissioner.

I went home and made all sorts of calls. The sign stayed incorrect all day. I went over and hung out for a few hours at the end of the day, and directed people to the correct site. The people who showed up at the old site were a very different demographic from those who I saw at the correct site (when I voted). (I did entertain the thought of selectively informing people of the error. But I had already decided I couldn't do that, and then it was not an issue, since those who appeared to be from the other party were not showing up at the old site [someone got the memo]).

At the very least this was sloppy, careless, and disrespectful of the voting process. At worst.....