I really miss being involved on large public art works and also smaller efforts shared with the community. I’m especially fond of doing joint projects with other artists.
Mostly, due to relocating and lack of funds, I didn't pursue my fine arts education further when I moved to the Bay Area. I was horrified when took my portfolio into CCAC (California College of Arts and Crafts, now just California College of the Arts)! They enthusiastically laid out an exciting course plan then adamantly informed me that they discouraged their students from working while attending C.C.A.
The intention was for students to focus solely on their studies,; idealistic and unrealistic in such an expensive place to live . In order to meet this ideal one would have to have fantastic scholarships, take out large student loans, have a supportive spouse or rich parents. I was eligible for some student aid and scholarships but I had been so floored by the cost of living shock compared to Fresno that I decided to put further education on hold for a while. Sadly, it stayed on hold.
I've continued to produce all kinds of art over the years and though I would occasionally sell some, I eschewed showing my work at galleries for the most part. Because of the stall in education and my inactivity, my resume was not as impressive as it was. I was also really turned off by having to sell myself and the required amount of pomp and pretension that comes part and parcel with being a working artist.
Lost as well, irreplaceable signed books, exhibition catalogs and prints (Leonard Baskin, LeRoy Neiman, Mihail Chemiakin, Igor Medvedev and Pierre Marie Brisson) from my time at what was then, Bowles/Sorrokko Galleries. Some of these artistic icons are now deceased. Chances are, the person who bought my unit had no idea how valuable these items are.
Leonard Baskin was an amazing artist and a brilliant curmudgeon! While I am delighted that I can find many examples of his works on the web, but this also makes me chuckle. He was a bibliophile and not a fan of computers.
LeRoy Neiman was an interesting character and a much better artist than snobs give him credit for. He was famous for his expressionist style, brightly colored paintings and prints of sports figures and celebrities. They were immensely popular. Lesser known are some of his more delicate drawings of Paris. The memorial video on the right spans a wide variety of his work. I sold some of these serigraphs.
This work to the right is by French artist, Pierre Marie Brisson. If you missed it earlier, you can click HERE you will be treated to a typical gorgeous promotional video by the gallery I used to work for. Our videographer was brilliant and gallery director Jean Audiger, whose early morning cherry attitude complete with whistling and singing in French used to drive all us night people insane, shows why hiring an art historian gives a gallery credibility.
Mihail Chemiakin is one of the most bizarre, brilliant artists today. His skills are staggering. In a demonstration at USF I watched him create a huge pastel abstract line drawing (similar to the style below) of a metaphysical head. He did not lift his hand once. It was a continuous line! On the right is a piece from one of my favorite series, "Le Ventre de Paris"
The video on the right is an excerpt from a documentary film showing the artist at work. Watch him turn a leaf into a carnival character!
Igor Medvedev is another Russian born artist. His paintings of the vanishing world of the Greek Islands made him wealthy. Ironically, he refused to teach me to swear in Russian because I was "a lady."
Actually, I think one of the things I love about all three of these artists is that they don’t just highlight their own work. All of them constantly introduce me to new artists it’s unlikely I will discover on my own! This is true of Molly as well. She is perpetually discovering, sharing and inspiring!
In several cases, particularly Ice House Detroit, the intention was to highlight neighborhood need and benefit the residents of Detroit as well. As part of their deal with the city they paid all the back taxes on a single mother’s home so she could remain and continue to do her own generous work within her community. They also fed a lot of local folks!
"Out of 85,000 grants during its 25 year history, fewer than two dozen (20) have even been questioned."
When people complain about N.E.A. grants claiming that it "funds pornography" or is a waste of taxpayer money and with their limited world view declare, “That's not art!” they fail to grasp how much wider the scope of an art installation is than it’s two or three dimensions.
Exploring these projects reminded me of my love of conspiratorial and public art. I think I have a need to connect with other artists. Although, my ideas will likely never be funded, (I am not patient enough to write grant proposals and again, there’s the stalling of the career issue leaving gaps in my resume) I would be delighted to be part of something. Helping someone else bring their dreams into being has always given me great joy!
Artist Heather Benning has a very clean and simple website which allows you to explore her work without getting bogged down. The photos of The Dollhouse, before, during and after when the house burned are really intriguing. The dollhouse one is a bit eerie. It reminds me of the pictures of some buildings after an earthquake or bomb blast when it looks like someone has taken a knife and sliced off the front ot the building so you can see life interrupted inside.This is much more serenely surreal though!
She has another piece done with an abandoned house called, Watching Woman, which is just stupendous. You’ll find it on her site menu as, The Marysburg Project.
All of her pieces feel a bit lonely as if they have captured a moment during which life has just stepped away, The houses both appear to be in isolated locations which adds to this effect.
I’ve gotten such a kick out of the crocheted and knitted art that pops up on public streets; cozies for metal bike racks and big yarn flowers sprouting off of street signs. In this case, International Fiber Collective made a huge cozy for a gas station!
I encourage you to check out their Dream Rocket project which will eventually wrap a Saturn V moon rocket replica in 8,000 artworks by school children! Teachers and parents, it’s still possible to sign your school up!
This video about the gas station project is short, gives you a terrific overview and is just the right length!
I am now absolutely smitten with artist Candy Chang!
I love the participatory aspects of her work.
Many of her projects involve empty buildings!
West Oakland could use a Candy Chang!
Other installations include:
- Writing “confessions”
- A literal "career path" with fill in the blank sentences, “When I was little I wanted to be ____. Today I want to be ____.”
- An “I wish this was a ____.” sticker for abandoned storefronts
- “Please Disturb” door hangers you can copy and use with your neighbors. Check them out! What a beautiful thought!
I love every one of her projects. I encourage you to take the time to browse her sight.
Below is Chang's fabulous TED talk!
I also encourage you to go beyond the Inverted House, "Inversion". and explore more of these artists' work! The videos are cool!
From artist Dean Ruck’s page,“Havel Ruck Projects (Dan Havel and Dean Ruck) is an artist collaborative that works in public and quasi-public environments to repurpose architectural structures and remnants of no perceived market value into works of art. By reorganizing the physical construction of unremarkable spaces and places, their interventions bring attention and recognition to under appreciated and ordinary buildings and their histories.”
Houston Artists Dan Havel and Dean Ruck are Awesome Sauce in my book! I love how they incorporate neighborhood history, social commentary, recycling and community accessibility into their work!
A college art instructor of mine, Ken Owens said only rarely could one use the word, "neat" to describe a work of art. (He generally thought this was a lazy descriptive term. FTW, one of my sculptures won, "Neat!" from him.) I think he'd say it's okay to describe, Inversion as, neat!
"It's either a tourist trap or a pilgramage"
The artists sued Honda for copying their Inversion piece in an ad for the CRV. The imitation was pretty obvious!
I have a fondness for art that makes me think, even provokes me to consider something I hadn't given much thought to previously. I think that true art inspires some sort of reaction or emotion. This can be pleasing or serene and sometimes there is something about the work that can make people angry or uncomfortable.
It's all art to me!
Click on the thumbnails below for intersting info about the artists. Caution: The Gaudi link may leave you breathless!
As an Aphrodite devotee, I ascribe to the idea of seeing beauty all around me.
I have struggled with my view that almost anything can be art when I observe the range of graffiti in my neighborhood! Much of the tagging, I feel, is thoughtless vandalism but then I see more substantial pieces that are so striking that I am glad when I see that no one has painted over them. Some purported works of art are so poorly executed or so purely pretentious that they irk me.
But then, I stop to consider that these things got a reaction from me. Indeed, I got emotional. They pushed my buttons in some way. Should I allow for the possibility that they are simply somewhere in the outer orbits of my art definition?
This is why I don't blog as often as I'd like to and why they are so lengthy sometimes. It can be an all day adventure! I hope you enjoyed this one! In some ways it's as personal as my previous post, but not nearly as introspective and hopefully, more enjoyable; painless even!
I would love to know:
- What you thought about these artists and their installations?
- Do you have a personal definition of art?
- What artists/kinds of art do you gravitate toward and why?
- Do you think art has to be beautiful?
- Anything you might have to say about art or this blog