Saturday, January 31, 2009

“The boundaries being tested today by dialogue are not just ‘racial’ and national. They are also those of gender and class, of value and belief systems, of religion and politics. The borderlands are porous, restless, often incoherent territory, virtual minefields of unknowns for both practitioners and theoreticians.”

Lucy Lippard, Mixed Blessings, p6 1990

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thank You, Mira

This past week has been historical. It brings to mind how I have evolved, the opportunities I have seized, the teachers in my life. Mira Schor was my instructor at Parsons School of Design. The first few months I'm sure she thought I was a crazy christian country bumpkin. But I went to every show she recommended, every speaker, I wrote like crazy and tuned into every bit of wisdom she had to offer. I came into her class green to the power and recent history of art. I left empowered to contribute my own voice. Mira is a gifted writer, artist and teacher. She said, "My writing is an excuse and a vehicle for my own education". This is how I want to approach writing alongside my art-making. I recently re-listened to a great talk she gave at SVA in 2006 called The Art of Nonconformist Criticality, Or, On Not Drinking the Kool-aid. Any aspiring artist and/or writer should drink this up. It can be found here:

Thanks, Mira. I'm doing it because I saw you doing it.

Africa, Action, and the Arts

It's been a big week. The following are my passions. If you know me, you know that. In just a short amount of time, there is movement on all of these fronts, direct connections to the POTUS and his new administration.

Africa: Obama has a lot to say about Kenya. My brother-in-law is there right now, checking in with his family and starting our organization's children's home. I remember hearing that the night of the Iowa debates, he was backstage talking to Kenya as the nation's own presidential election was crumbling into violence that directly affected my family. I knew then that the needs of the continent would be addressed with him.

Action: This past Monday, MLK Day, the Obamas chose to serve their community.
So I did, too. I had my class of 20 students washing windows, wiping down tables, folding pamphlets, organizing art center rooms, and reading to children. Instead of being angry that my university still holds class on this important day of reflection, I acted.

Art: Quincy Jones is calling on the new adminstration to have a minister of arts cabinet position.
A direct ear of the president on issues of arts advocacy. Here are the links to the NPR story and the petition to sign:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Terry Winters at Matthew Marks

"For me, painting’s capacity to make images through the manipulation of materials seems to be its most powerful and magical quality. How a painting is built is a big part of what it means. Mark-making, gesture and touch—those are the key components as to how to generate images through painting." -Terry Winters

I saw lots of great art during my December 08 NYC trip. More great art than past visits. A month later, I just can't shake Terry's latest show. Knotted Graphs. Large paintings on the white walls of the cavernous Matthew Marks. One solitary bench in the middle. I sat and just watched the paint ebb and flow. Luminous. Transformative. Reminded me of why I love to paint.

Read the interview with him in the Brooklyn Rail, a great magazine. So many fantastic artist and writers in Brooklyn, it's just sick.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Found Morality

I found a spot of color on the asphalt during my walk today. I usually don't pick up trash, but this was Charlie Brown. I loathe sports analogies, but this one's good. It's not about winning for me, it is about process, about how I play and encouraging the play in others. So imagine my surprise when I turned the card over (context: walking fast, sun going down, Fishbone's Fight the Youth in my earbuds) and saw a disgruntled Snoopy. He's encouraging Woodstock to be an asshole. Well, that's my take, coming from a liberal pacifist. So is this a card in a child's game? Are we supposed to choose one scenario over the other? Play fair AND fight back? Maybe Calvin and Hobbes would have something to say about it...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Mystery Art at Spiva

Have you noticed the west wall of Spiva Center for the Arts in downtown Joplin, MO? For the past couple of months, an unknown artist has been adding an installation piece by piece. Pixilated pigeons, giant cursors. Carefully gridded, measured and drawn, and cut out of foam core. A few staff and board members have glimpsed the artist. They think it's a him. Jo Mueller, Director says, "I'm curious to see what develops, and am not inclined to interfere."

So is this just carefully crafted tagging, perhaps a Basquiat in our midst? Will he meet a Warhol, get hugely famous, so much so that we all pull his work off the wall at Spiva to sell it on e-bay? Or is this just an observant perhaps slightly bored citizen that is just weary of a blank slate?

Mueller also mentioned that "eventually the artists (and more, we hope) who created the permanent sculpture on the south side of the building will design something major for the west side of the building. That will require some significant funding which is not in place at this time. Until then, something's in motion. Let's see where it goes." We'll be watching.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Red Studio

Red Studio, Henri Matisse
1911, Oil on Canvas

This is the painting that calls me continually, that prompted me to respond with some writing. It's part of the permanent collection at the MoMA, and since the opening of the new building, to my knowledge it hasn't moved. I know this because of an aesthetic radar that leads me to this painting each time I visit the galleries. I go right through multiple rooms of Picasso, bee-lined to this great work. So much of Matisse's work illustrates the figure and great fabric patterns draped across the composition. But this is just a space, a work space. And it's red. So many connotations for me, an artist educator who is passionate about process. And the painting is large. As I stand in front of it time after time, I imagine stepping right into it and looking around, just like Mary Poppins and the sidewalk chalk drawings.