Friday, July 29, 2011

Gallery 2622 opening August 5

Blooms, from the Icon Series

I will be showing selections of my work from two projects, the Icon Series of triptychs and the Reverie Series of photomontages.

The exhibit will be held at Gallery 2622, which, not coincidentally, is located at 2622 North 76th Street in Wauwatosa. The exhibit runs August 5 - 28, 2011.

The opening reception is August 5, 5 - 9 pm.

Artist Statement 

I believe that we live in a world that is fundamentally different than that of previous generations. The land is stressed, the natural processes that sustain life are stressed, and as a result the human species is stressed. Our unavoidable and often unconscious task is to adapt to these unresolved circumstances. My work tries to make sense of the paradoxes inherent in this human condition.

The pieces in this exhibit are drawn from two series.  Each series deals with particular formal considerations as well as subject and meaningful content.  While my work often involves very specific formal structures, form is driven by content, expression and an overall conceptual framework.   

Tower, from the Icon Series
The Icon Series uses the triptych, a recognizable formal structure with historical/cultural resonance, to emphasize iconic themes. The form places a central figure within a context that either magnifies its iconic stature and symbolic meaning or creates an unexpected juxtaposition. The central figure in these constructions is often elevated to iconic status despite its being an otherwise ordinary subject. It is rarely a subject that would be perceived as iconic and therefore it subverts or inverts the accepted definition of an icon. My intention is to invite the viewer to think about the subject and its relationship to its context in a newly symbolic way. Using multiple images emphasizes that our experience of the world is relational and conditional rather than singular and fixed. 

The images in the Reverie Series are subjective landscapes. They are less about a particular place and more of a meditation or emotional experience. Each is a montage created from multiple photographs. Like the realities I perceive, the facts are blurred: the image is removed from actuality to some dimly seen place between memory and desire, where the landscape is subjective and the intersecting spirits of nature and humanity are suggested.

The meanings are often ambiguous, but they refer to the tensions and narratives of living in an environment that is increasingly compromised or redeemed by our own actions. I am not a dispassionate observer and although the landscape I experience may be beautiful, it is never pristine. This work has been informed by author Bill McKibben’s “The End of Nature,” in which he asserts that nothing on earth is left untouched by human influences, and other ideas of contemporary environmentalists.

But, while they may relate to urgent topical issues, the images are not didactic; they are experiential, symbolic and emotional. My central intent in this work is to express feelings I experience when confronting a particular landscape at a certain time and—paradoxically—to find the universal in the specific place and the eternal in the moment.  

This is work that has not been shown in one place before. Examples from both series can be viewed on my website.

Glass Facade, the Reverie Series

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Keeping Quiet

I read Pablo Neruda's remarkable collection of poems, Extravagaria, in its entirety when I was in college. While the sense of Neruda's stature as a poet has never faded, the individual poems, the words themselves, certainly have succumbed to my failing memory.

I was reminded of it last Sunday in a service on Buddhism when the poem below was read. I am grateful. I just pulled my bilingual copy of Extravagaria off my bookshelf and wiped off the dust. Time to revisit the master. 

Keeping Quiet

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with

Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

And in the original Spanish, should you be able to enjoy it that way: 

A callarse

Ahora contaremos doce
y nos quedamos todos quietos.

Por una vez sobre la tierra
no hablemos en ningun idioma,
por un segundo detengamonos,
no movamos tanto los brazos.

Seria un minuto fragante,
sin prisa, sin locomotoras,
todos estariamos juntos
en una inquietud instantanea.

Los pescadores del mar frio
no harian danio a las ballenas
y el trabajador de la sal
miraria sus manos rotas.

Los que preparan guerras verdes,
guerras de gas, guerras de fuego,
victorias sin sobrevivientes,
se pondrian un traje puro
y andarian con sus hermanos
por la sombra, sin hacer nada.

No se confunda lo que quiero
con la inaccion definitiva:
la vida es solo lo que se hace,
no quiero nada con la muerte.

Si no pudimos ser unanimes
moviendo tanto nuestras vidas,
tal vez no hacer nada una vez,
tal vez un gran silencio pueda
interrumpir esta tristeza,
este no entendernos jamas
y amenazarnos con la muerte,
tal vez la tierra nos ensenie
cuando todo parece muerto
y luego todo estaba vivo.

Ahora contare hasta doce
y tu te callas y me voy.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Things on Strings at MARN

If you didn't catch the opening of "Things on Strings" at the Milwaukee Artists Resource Network gallery, stop by and check it out from now through August 13. As usual at MARN, there was a lively crowd ogling the diverse collection of sculptures, which, as the title suggests, were all hanging from the ceiling.

I didn't have my camera along (what was I thinking?!), but fortunately my friend Frank Juarez was there and has posted on his flickr site a set that he took: Things on Strings.

Frank missed my favorite piece. Three cups were placed on the floor, a tea cup, a coffee cup, and a plastic cup. Above each was suspended the frozen contents of that particular cup: tea, coffee, and some colorless liquid that might have been soda. By the time I got there the three cups were about two-thirds full again and the frozen remains had shrunk to small balls of ice. There was a steady drip from each that continued to fill the cups. Whimsical and clever. The ephemeral quality that provides conceptual depth to this piece makes me wonder what will remain for subsequent viewings or if you "had to be there" for the opening.

"Things on Strings" was conceived by Becky Tesch, who participated in the MARN mentor program this past year. She worked as a curatorial protégé with Mark Lawson, who is gallery director at MIAD.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Art is life and death

"This is the heart of the matter - art, truly, is not a commercial proposition. This is not "idealism." This is the truth. Art is life and death, nothing less. When it is less than that, it isn't art. Money is only one form of value, often acting merely as representative for more profound ones. True art patrons know this - therefore, they look to patronize art that clues us in on our fundamental humanity and core values. Artists are not entertainers. We're not fantasists. Richard Tuttle said only art can show the truth of our existence. I don't disagree. Ad Reinhardt called art commerce and art as entertainment a "suicide burlesque." That phrase crossed my mind more than once last Friday, strolling the fair. A carnival of the frivolous. I don't have the time. None of us really do."

That is a quote, which I found provocative, from Titus O'Brien. I got it from a blog about ArtChicago by Paul Klein. To see the rest of his post, click here. I think it's interesting that Klein considers Fred Stonehouse a Chicago artist even though he lives in Milwaukee.