Thursday, August 30, 2007

Six Southern Boys

I made my way back to the Sunday Southern Art Revival show at Whitespace last night to hear the six artists (Jesse Cregar, George Long, Scott Pethia, Mario Schambon, Tindel, and Michi) give a talk about the body of work. Almost every painting in the very large show was a collaborative effort, each adding their touch to the paintings and working under the idea that nothing was ever finished and nothing was ever sacred. Mario Schambon said he "enjoyed being put in an uncomfortable place" where one lost control over the outcome of an artwork and instead embraced the possibilities that came with five other artists adding their layers of interpretation - or as he put it, the painting was "like a baby that grew up and got dirty - real dirty."

Listening to the talk I realized that what all of these paintings were really about, what the artist's mainly talked about and what the audience had many voyeuristic questions about, was process. The artists all agreed none of the works were necessarily finished and once the show came down, what paintings returned to the studios would most likely be reworked with more layers and would inevitability end up changing.* One painting has raccoon footprints trudging through the resin surface, others have background scribbles done by some of the artist's kids, and the splattered backgrounds of others were created with a tennis ball launcher. The purpose behind be paintings was more about the collaboration than the result and the show seems like a moment of contemplation in an ever evolving production.

*This idea of the artworks constant evolution reminded me of the previous post concerning the value of artwork. Again, if one of these paintings is sold then it could be assumed the painting would never be reworked and instead live on indefinitely on someone's wall, cherished as the sacred object "art." Yet, many of the works that do not sell will end of being reworked, possibly becoming completely unrecognizable or even tossed in the scrap pile. And so again, who is making the value judgement on the artwork? It is not the artists who are proclaiming something finished, valuable, or worthy of eternal life - but instead the patron who buys the painting. Is that patron then being given a certain role of power in the process of creating art?

The group also compared working together with that of a band, although in a completely different way than this "touring band of artists". It made me think these guys might want to try taking their show on the road as well. Going from venue to venue, working "live" alongside gallery goers, etc, weaving the place and culture into the context of their work. And judging by the flier for the show, their t-shirts would be rad.

The show comes down September 1st 2007. More info at the whitespace website. And the previous post of this show can be found here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Crash and Burn

New video "Car Crash" by Jody Fausett

Oh the glamour of it all.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


The Derek Eller Gallery in New York asked artist Keith Mayerson to curate a group show for the month of August. He took the challenge one step further, and wrote a manifesto to go along with the show, "NeoIntegrity". The salon style show of nearly 200 artists comes down this week and it sounds like an experience I regret missing. I found the manifesto and show images on James Wagner's blog and due to my own enthusiasm for making lists and futile attempts at defining art I could not resist posting it as well:

1. Art should be reflective of the artist who made it, and the culture in which it is produced.
2. Art is aesthetic, and whether ugly, beautiful, or sublime, it should be interesting to look at and/or think about.
3. Art is not necessarily commodity, and commodity is not the reason to produce or appreciate art.
4. Art is about ideas, the progression of ideas, the agency of the artist to have ideas, the communication by the artist to the world of their ideas because agency and ideas are important and what art is.
5. Art communicates via its own internal language, and by the language the viewer brings to a work of art. But this language is not entirely textually based, and being an aesthetic object (or image[s], idea[s], comic, or happening[s]), the work communicates in such a way to be transcendent beyond language, and traditional constructs of textually based ideology. Therefore the work of art remains a deep communication between artist and viewer, and withholds the possibility of the sublime.
6. Art is rather than tells, it is about itself; it shows itself to be about what it is rather than being an illustration of what it isn't.
7. Art is important because it reminds us that we are human, and ultimately, that is its function.
8. Art can be, and should be sublime, in that it is able to produce images directly from the mind and imagination of the artist, producing tangible realities from the fertile imaginings of the conscious and unconscious of the artist, triggering responses from the same in the viewer via form and light and color, that transcends language and received ways of looking at things, that, while ideological, comes closest to directly communicating from one animal to another in the most broad, base, but considered aesthetic language possible.
9. Art should be alive, have a life of its own, transgress intended meaning or hand or wit of the artist in that it arranges, via form, light, color, and space, other worlds that are optical and transmit cognitive reactions in the mind of the viewer that cause an ineffable schism between belief and reality that cause the work as to appear to be breathing life.
10. Art can indeed be windows onto other worlds, windows into the soul, able to capture dream space/time unlike any other medium because they are produced by the mind, gesture, hand and intellect of the artist, who consciously or unconsciously cannot hope to ultimately control the meaning, interpretation, or event described by the hand and mind of the unconscious.
11. Art should be experienced: a good work of art cannot be successfully reproduced or explained, indeed, that is ultimately the only reason art is important in the age of corporate commodity culture: it has an aura that cannot be contained-it is a result of a peculiar man-made alchemy that comes closest to recreating the soul.

The New York Times reviewed the show and had this to say:

"The same can be said for “NeoIntegrity,” beginning with its title. Mr. Mayerson explains in a gallery news release that when he was given the go-ahead for the group show, he decided to take the opportunity to start an art movement. He even wrote a position paper for it, “The NeoIntegrity Manifesto.”
On the one hand the whole business is send-up, a joke. Movements are a thing of the past, when there was one kind of art and another kind, and that was it. Now there’s so much of so many things that nothing can or needs to be defined. Mr. Mayerson has always been very pro-muchness as an artist, thinker and curator. He embraces it, which is what makes his work feel generous, makes wherever he takes it feel right.
Some would say that integrity as a moral quality is also a thing of the past, with the art world swimming in money, pumping out product, ignoring conflicts of interest and so on. Mr. Mayerson’s response is not to scold but to ask, “What to do?” Hence the manifesto, an 11-point declaration that defines art as a humanist endeavor. But each definition comes with a modifying, even contradictory statement. Art should reflect the artist; art should reflect the culture. Art should not be a commodity; but if it is, that’s O.K."

The review also touches on the fact that shows curated by artists tend to take a unique approach and offer a different perspective on art than found in shows created by gallery owners and curators. I think that is what makes this show so interesting, Mayerson is not focusing on one abstract idea, issue, or word to bring cohesion to the show - instead he is examining art on a much broader scale, rehashing his own experiences and trying to piece together an understanding of the ever expanding, movement-less, trajectory that is contemporary art. What it amounts to offers no answers but, despite not having seen the show, I get the impression the show is a visual candy land for other artists to enjoy, giving a permission and dose of fuel to stoke the push beyond it.

More pictures and throughts at Escape to New York

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Even the Bums Ain't Interested

This morning I threw a piece of my artwork on the trash pile on my way to work. It was a "painting" I did in undergrad, testing the boundaries between painting and sculpture, and more or less pissing off my painting professor who worshipped Elizabeth Murray and greatly disliked the minimalist color of white. Everything I made that semester was white and he gave me the lowest grade I got in college. Maybe it's for that reason alone, in my shear stubbornness that I have held on to that "painting" for the past five years, even though I always considered it one of the more unsuccessful pieces from that series and never cared much for it.

Lately I have been purging my apartment and studio, trying to get rid of all those failed pieces of art that seem to collect on walls and in corners. But each time I cram a sculpture into a garbage bin, I'm hit with the same contrasting emotions: On one hand it feels liberating, something taken off my shoulders, an embarrassment disposed off, the zest of spring cleaning. On the other hand, there is something vaguely sacrilegious about it, to have put so much energy into creating something, to have placed enough intellectual and aesthetic faith in its gestation that it actually materialized - only to discard it with that morning's empty cereal box.

The conflicting emotions always leave me thinking, as I walk away from the dumpsters, about the value of art. If someone had stumbled into my studio, spotted this artwork and offered me cash for it, then it would not currently be on its way to a city dump, it would be regarded as "art" hanging on the wall of someones home. And so who is making the value judgement on my art? Myself, the artist, or the potential buyer, the market? Is my appreciation for uncluttered spaces and a dislike for looking at my own work for five straight years enough to determine what is precious and what is disposable? All art is disposable in the sense that it isn't a crime to throw it way, yet suddenly something given the prestigious label of "painting" is reduced to it's materials of wood and paint. The question is no longer, "what is this work saying?" and instead "is this recyclable?"

This leads to questioning my original purpose, or need, in making the artwork. If I am capable of getting a thrill from destroying it, then giving my work an eternal life on a museum wall doesn't seem to be what drove me to make it in the first place. As many times as I may consider my artwork trash, it does not stamp out my desire to create something new. In a way the destroying of work is essential to the creation of more. An overpopulated studio doesn't breed new work or ideas (at least for me). I can regard each trashed item as a test-run, the time spent making it as a learning experience. If it's all experimentation though, who makes the judgement call on what should be saved? Me? Give me another five years and my opinion is sure to change.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Came across this picture I took in Piedmont Park in August of last year. It has since been painted over with a toxic forest green color that clashes horribly with the grass. Shame.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


There was smell of BBQ wafting through the air and I knew I had arrived at the "Sunday Southern Art Revival" show at Whitespace gallery, which opened Friday night.

The show was a result of six artists, Jessie Cregar, George Long, Scott Pethia, Mario Schambon, and TindelMichi, who have been getting together on Sundays to collaborate on works of art. I liked their #1 rule for the get-togethers: they "Must always have fun". The show was predominantly paintings of layered imagery, each artists adding different techniques and materials, along with one very interesting sculpture:

Despite the name, I did not find the collaborative paintings particularly "Southern" in subject matter, instead the real connection to the south seemed to be the locale of the artists themselves. The paintings, for me, spoke greatly of Atlanta and the culture residing in the downtown neighborhoods. The work seemed completely at home in a gallery located in Inman Park and only a few miles from Krog tunnel. The paintings are heavily influenced by graffiti and urban culture and glorify the beauty found in the interesting layering of graffiti over time as different people add to a wall, turning a singular expression into something more collaborative and more expressive.

I particularly like the painting "Portrait of John Currin" by Jessie Cregar, though it was a bit different in style and did not necessarily fit with the rest of the show. Nevertheless, it was a portrait of an ostrich-brain with one leg and one arm and I imagine they couldn't resist including it - and I don't blame them:

Turns out the BBQ aroma was coming from a four tiered fountain of BBQ sauce that had a lava lamp inside of it. People were chomping down on BBQ and drinking PBR and all seemed just right - the strange infusion that is Atlanta -only Susan Bridges would let Southern boys truly infiltrate the gallery scene.

The painted column in the courtyard was a nice referenced the original platform for graffiti work:

Two of "Correspondent" Hsu's feet and one of John's:

The "Sunday Southern Art Revival will be up at Whitespace Gallery until September 1st. More info at

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Beauty of Modern Technology

I had an MRI done once and it was a really strange experience to stand in a doctors office and view a series of x-rays slicing through my body from various angles and showing the shapes of cavities within my skeleton. Strange but also fascinating. It was a different way of seeing myself, made possible by advancements in technology. In the 19th century, the camera wasn't so different. It was an instrument of new technology that suddenly enabled the earliest pioneers of photography to observe, capture, and display a different way of viewing the world around us.

The Brooklyn artists (and couple) Lilla LoCurto and Bill Outcault have taken it a step further. They wanted to represent the body three dimensionally and gained permission to use a full body scanner, installed on an Army base, in 1997. It took years of experimentation to yield results, but what they have created from scanning themselves, are incredible works of art.
From the series:

Polyconic BS1sph (8/6) 7_98 (2000)

B.S.A.M. BL2sph (8/6) 7_98 (2000)

Gleamed from their website, the LoCurto and Outcault write: "Representing three-dimensional objects on two-dimension surfaces has been a concern for artists through the centuries and the concept of simultaneity, where all views of an object are experienced at once was a major theme of the Cubists and Futurists. We conceived to explore this in a contemporary way using new digital imaging tools."

"As artists accustomed to working with physical materials like clay, stone or steel we considered the manipulation of three-dimensional forms in virtual space, like map projections, as a non-traditional extension of the sculptural process."

From the Topologies series:

Topo_m10_m11 (2005)

BS5 (2005)

"We continue to explore this omni directional quality of the three-dimensional photographic images, using the unlimited number of viewpoints derived from a single scan to place the viewer outside the frame of traditional lens-based perspectival vision. "

From the Thinskinned series:

Thinskinned [eb_2] (2004)

Thinskinned [L6_1] (2004)

LoCutro and Outcault reference the Cubist and Futurist in talking about their mission, but they also remind me of the Bauhaus, who saw the power of the camera as a tool to see beyond the ability of the human eye, championing scientific photography and the beauty in the microscopic.

Using such advanced technology as a new form of "seeing", I think the real artistry lies in what the artist do with the information taken from the scanner. The images offer much more than a simple body scan and have taken what could have been considered documentation and manipulated it into something more poetic and more telling of the human condition.

More images and info on their website:

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Atlanta band Deerhunter was robbed at gunpoint after finishing a show at Lennys a couple of days ago. Read Bradford's account on Brooklyn Vegan:

Athens, Georgia