Saturday, December 11, 2010

Censorship and Art

This week I am going to post two links regarding the recent censorship issues at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. The full story can be read here.
An official Q and A put up as a result of all the protesting can be read here.

As a general rule I am opposed to censorship. There must be guidelines on what is, and what is not acceptable artful expression. For example animal cruelty or child pornography would clearly fall under the category of unacceptable.

But far too often, as in this most recent case, the public has rejected expression based on emotion rather than sound thought or judgment. Most of the protesters have probably not even seen the video in question, and are basing their opinions on the ideas of one perspective. Many of the protesters stated that they did not want their tax money supporting this type of expression, despite the fact that this exhibition was put together with private funds. The core issue here is the development of an informed opinion.

I will add as a christian and a Catholic I can understand the protesters viewpoint, but I believe it to be misguided. First: there could be a whole variety of interpretations of the ants on the crucifix, and not just the negative anti-Christian views expressed. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, this is not that different than the bible story of the golden calf. If we confuse our faith relationship with God and the icons that represent those relationships, then our belief is not really based on anything. Our individual relationship with God is what matters, not the physical objects and imagery associated with that relationship.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two types of art

The first of this weeks posts addresses the idea of New Media in art. An art professor has implanted a camera in the back of his head, and the video recorded from this camera will be offered as part of an opening of performance art. Read more here. To me this serves as an example of New Media. Although New Media has been growing since the mid to late 20th Century, it has sprung up recently in the last decade or so in a more prominent way. As an artist, I do not have an issue with New Media, I am all for experimentation and exploration. However, I do think art is something that is meant to be understood across a variety of eras and spectrums. How will this stand up to time? After the apocalypse of the modern era, how will archeologists and art historians of the future be able to interpret this type of work? And, is it important that they do? Perhaps my understanding is biased in an unproductive way. What do you think?

The second post for this week addresses human creativity. A graphic was recently released detailing the NFL wins and losses for the season. This image was so popular it went viral. Read about that here. I think that a graphic design created spontaneously and recognized by a wide audience as useful qualifies as art. Again, as an artist I can only wish that an image I have created and posted on the internet would go viral. That would be amazing! Too often I think people perceive art as an abstract high culture activity that only the upper class understand. I believe this to be incorrect. Art is the spirit of creativity, and this graphic represents one example.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Graduate Studies in Library Science

This year marks the first full year that I have been enrolled in the LIS graduate program at the University of Southern Mississippi. This program is ALA accredited, and the specifics can be read here.

As part of my studies I am enrolled in LIS 558 Internet Resources and Applications. This course examines on-line tools, and social networks in the library. What I have learned thus far, both in this class and in the others I have taken, has been amazing. Librarianship is a fascinating subject.

Since the majority of postings on this blog are about art, and art related issues, I will close by adding that I hope to one day use my degree in an Art Library. More information about art librarianship can be found at the Art Library Society Web site. A link is here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Temporary installation art/Public art

The above image is an example of public art. From the looks of things I would guess that it is also probably impromptu public art. This is art created freely and spontaneously.

Another example of this type of art was posted in the New York Observer . This story was about an abandoned area of Long Island. Artists took over and made it their own. The full story can be read here.

Spontaneous creation is good for artists and non-artists alike. I think it opens the mind and frees space from random thoughts. The creativity also offers an opportunity to grow in terms of expression. Your thoughts?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Artists and documentation

Recently an artist decided to visually depict how a Mc Donald’s hamburger and fries does not decompose. The full story can be found here. I think it is interesting that it was an artist that decided to illustrate this point, and I also think she did a nice job.

The idea was to keep a McDonald’s burger and fries, and photograph it each day. It has been six months and there has been no change in the way the food looks; no mold, no breakdown, nothing.

This was a very effective way of making the point that this food is not in any way healthy. Artists have historically documented ideas and experiments, but it has been centuries since this role has had a significant impact. The reaction from the public, as well as from the corporate offices of McDonald’s has been swift. I’m not saying artists should look for ways to anger or frustrate people, but I do think they have a responsibility to get people thinking and talking, and this project did exactly that.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Painting unearthed

A painting by Giovanni Boldini was recently discovered in a Paris apartment. The apartment had been locked up and unoccupied for the last 70 years. The news item can be read in full here. Information about the artist can be accessed here.

This discovery has made the value of Boldini art increase. In addition, on-line searches for this artist have also risen. I think it is interesting that one painting discovered in a Paris apartment could cause such a stir. I also think it is interesting that more people have become curious about the work of Boldini. I like that an artist can create a sense of buzz about their work, years after death without much more occurring than the unlocking of a closed door.

A sample of his work can viewed below.

Friday, September 24, 2010


This posting is about doodles. I have been thinking about doodles, and why people make them for some time. I find it interesting that someone who claims he/she cannot draw will instinctively start doodling on the page in a distracted moment. I think this furthers the thought that drawing is automatic, and part of the human experience.

This thought on doodles has lead me to incorporate a series of doodles into my most recent work. I have been collecting doodles from people for about a year. I have assembled them together in a collage, and this will be applied on top of another image. This collaborative effort reflects my thoughts as well as the thoughts of the people who created the doodles. If you doodle, what do you include?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Trouble in Venice

This weeks post is about a controversy brewing surrounding an Irish artist that is to be represented at the Venice Biennale next year. The full story can be read here.

Essentially, the artist and the Representative selected to curate the Irish contribution to this international exhibition come from the same gallery in New York. The article explained how decisions were made, and elaborates on why this is such an issue.

The major issue is the accepted practice for the juror to be unbiased when selecting artworks for inclusion in a exhibition. This is not the first example contradicting this practice that I have come across. It has been my experience that if the artist knows the juror, and especially if the juror is very familiar with the artwork, then chances are very good that that artist will be admitted.

Major exhibitions should be based on double blind admissions. However, the contemporary art world is pretty small and I'm not sure how one could guarantee anonymity. Perhaps if a show relied on average art enthusiasts instead of established art historians, art critics, and gallery owners as jurors, a true blind submission process could be established.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How Artists Work

On a recent road trip that went through the Quad Cities area, I was listening to a radio interview with the Arts Educational personnel at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, IA. (A link to the museum website is here.) It was a very interesting interview that discussed art as communication, relating art to the everyday world, and how both children and adults responded to art. I was in agreement with much of what these educators had to say. However the discussion on artists and the way artists work was an area that I could not see eye-to-eye, and feel I must comment.

A member of the Figge staff was explaining her view on the relevance of art in relation to how artists remain productive. She commented that distractions and outside personal commitments could sometimes slow production. She also added that when the artist is not in the studio everyday devoting 100% of his/her time to art making this represents the beginning of giving up.

I disagree with this line of thought. Much of what makes art successful is based on experience and observation. I believe that an artist must spend an equal amount of time outside the studio observing and experiencing life and human interaction as in the studio working. It has been my experience that art making is a successive process that builds on the ideas and thoughts of predecessors in much the same way science is built on previous scientific discoveries.

A favorite artist of mine (John Piper) once described production down time as opportune for artists to explore and research the ideas that influence how he/she works. I would add that by engaging in this method of working, a context for the art work is established. If an artist truly spent all efforts in the studio the quality of those works would be lackluster.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Garage Sale Find

According to several news outlets, a California man (Rick Norsigian ) claims to have unearthed a number of original Ansel Adams film negatives. The story from the BBC News can be read here.

Verification on the authenticity of these negatives is in dispute. People from both viewpoints have commented on this issue. From the article, it seems that the central theme of these arguments is whether or not Mr. Norsigian should profit from his find.

Establishing the dollar amount of any one work of art is often an inconsistent process. Many factors go into this decision, including the “brand name” of the artist. Artists’ names fluctuate in popularity just as companies on the stock market. I would add however, that this is unimportant.

I have often made the comparison between the visual arts and literature. Both are forms of communication, and they are both frequently used to tell a story. With regards to the visual arts, I think how that story is told and how the viewer responds to the story has far more value than a monetary sum. The same could be said for literature as well. While original manuscripts from authors have a high dollar amount, people don’t really purchase and trade these items. They are reprinted and people acquire their favorites because of the content.

To own a work of art, regardless of the media, only for its dollar amount is not a wise decision. If one enjoys the work, let that be the reason to own it. Do you agree?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Juried Art Shows

My work was recently accepted for an upcoming juried art exhibition. I am very excited about this, but feel I must also address the nature of juried art shows. Usually these shows are juried by a panel of experts or one individual art professional. Although firmly established, this process seems somewhat arbitrary. For this show 230 works were submitted, and only 33 were accepted. I understand the idea of promoting only the best work, but should this determination be made by only one individual or group?

Art, especially my art, is used as a means of communication, and I strongly feel that the best messages are conveyed to a broad audience. If work that is meant for a large spectrum is only viewed by a select few, is the message really being sent? These are open ended questions. I don’t really believe this process is going to change, nor am I certain that it should. These are just thoughts to consider as an artist. What is your opinion?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Art on reality TV

I wanted to comment on this last week, but did not get the opportunity to do so. Last week the Bravo network unveiled a new reality show. This show entitled “The Next Great Artist” has a number of people competing on a weekly basis to win $100,000 and a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. The specifics, and TV schedule can be found here.

I have to say that I don’t watch much TV, and the shows I do occasionally see are not reality-TV-based. Back when “American Idol” first premiered, and everybody went crazy over it, I was puzzled. I hated it. I couldn’t understand why anyone would tune in. At the same time I thought to myself, what if they weren’t singers but rather visual artists competing for gallery representation? Would that make it better? Would that be something I would want to try myself?

Now that someone else has come up with this idea, and actually put it into production, I can say with conviction that this is something I would not be interested in pursuing. Reality TV is far too kitschy to have any real impact. I think this true for all the reality based TV shows. Previous winners of “Project Runway” do not have influence in the fashion world, “Iron Chef” winners aren’t world class cooks, and even the winners of “American Idol” fade from the public memory. These types of programs work for entertainment purposes, but serious minded artists, chefs, singers etc. will need to travel the road from obscurity on their own.

Secondly, art is a process that develops from thought. An artist spends a good deal of time thinking. Great art is about an issue, or an idea, or some message that is trying to be communicated. This is where creativity takes shape. How the artist can best communicate his/her idea most effectively is something at the forefront of what the artist is doing.

The type of art produced for this TV show stifles creativity. Rather than focusing on the issues, these artists are going to try and figure out how to cater to the judges. It is interesting to note that the same could be said of art schools. In that environment, art students attempt to cater to their teachers. The end result in both examples is the same; mediocre art. What makes art schools more acceptable is that the creativity of art students is controlled for intellectual and developmental purposes. The same could not be said for the TV show, and I expect the level of work produced to reflect this. Please share your comments, and I’ll see you next time.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sketchbook, Art, Art projects.

The post for this week is a sort of promotion. I have entered a project that exhibits artist sketchbooks on a permanent basis in the Art Library of Brooklyn. The full project has been developed by the Art Hose Coop, a not-for-profit arts organization. I have participated in some of their projects in the past, and they are a pretty good organization. If you would like to find out more, or participate yourself, the information can be found here.

There are several themes available to the artist participating. The theme selected is up to the artist, however participants can also ask to be randomly assigned. I selected the dirigible and submersible theme. I'm not sure how I will fill an entire sketchbook addressing this idea, but it should be fun coming up with something. What are your thoughts? Which theme would you have selected?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mark Bradford

The post for this week is about the artist Mark Bradford. He was a recent recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award. An interview from The Art Newspaper was conducted, and can be read here.

Bradford's work is interesting in that he assembles media found on the street into layered imagery. The result is meant to explore issues of community, street culture, and society. Bradford is the one of the few contemporary artists that shares my view on art, how it can be used for communication and how it can be used to build community. I am not a fan of installation art, but Bradford has recently been involved in a series of installations that reflect and interact with the communities in which he is presenting. The above article explains more specifically what he is doing. What are your thoughts? See you next time.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Book Review

This book, edited by Steven madoff looked at where art schools have been, and what type of art and artists were produced as a result. Madoff also explored how an education in art could be changed to meet the diverse needs of the 21st Century. If you would like to read a copy of this book, it can be purchased here. The nearest library with a copy can also be found by entering the title here.

The author described how the majority of those who studied art (particularly those who earned M.F.A. degrees),later became instructors or teachers of art. His argument was centered around the idea that if artists were to become teachers, they should be more prepared and adept to the many resources and tools available to communicate the lessons of art. He added that this was not happening, and as a result art works have become lackluster in quality.

Madoff was succinct in his writing, and it was not difficult to follow his thoughts. His observations on what happened to students when they left art school were particularly interesting. I agree that the majority become educators and I would add that as educators, these artist/teachers have perpetuated a flatness that has affected the art world in recent decades.

Art has long been a descriptor for the societies that produced it. If art in this century is to maintain a significance, change in how artists learn and think should be considered. Please leave your comments,and I'll see you next time.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Art Fairs

I recently entered a local art show/fair for third time. Some artists that I know refuse to display their work in art fairs. They have said that it's too local, too small-time, and the quality of work represented is not very good. I'm not sure this is a correct assessment, but I will take any opportunity to show my work.

I think that generally speaking the work found in local art shows (regardless of the region in which you live)does tend to be of poor quality. However, I am also of the opinion that much of the art in recognized gallery settings is also lacking great value. The bigger issue, at least for me, is the opportunity to have your work seen. The more you show, the more you will be recognized. I would add that one never knows who is going to show up at these shows, and what exhibition opportunities may result. Art is a form of communication and the more venues used to this end, the better.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bibliography of the History of Art (BHP)

The Bibliography of the History of Art (BHP) is a searchable database dedicated to art, and art history materials. It has been called the second most frequently accessed art database right after JSTOR. Until recently this database was owned and maintained by the Getty Institute in California. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal however, reported that the Getty was dropping BHP due to budget cuts. The full story can be read here.

While I think it is unfortunate that this database will be lost, I must admit that I have never used it, and until this news broke, I hadn't even heard of it. From the newspaper article it also sounds as if this data source is not as complete as it could be. If the planned return by the Getty Institute when more funds are made available becomes a reality, then this may be the change needed to revamp this database. What do you think? Have you used this resource?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Neon Art to Dazzle London Underground

No this post is not about Star Trek. I selected the above image because this posting is about neon art, and I like this image. According to a recent article from the Art Newspaper, a California artist is set to place a giant neon installation right in the London Underground. The article can be read in full here.

Before I read the article, I was of the mindset to oppose this idea. I was dismissing it as what I have often referred to as "academic art" (which if you know me, you know I hate.). However the author of the article mentioned how it will bring a dose of bright light to a place that is often dreary. London is damp and dreary, and the underground represents the dampest, dreariest part of this city. What better location could you place a giant white light? I'm all for it, and I look forward to the day I'm blinded as the subway car I'm riding passes through this location.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Last Supper Paintings and Portion Size

Last week the Internet was a buzz about the portion sizes of the food depicted in various last supper paintings. An AP article about this issue can be read here. Another article covering the same issue can be read here.

The issue at hand, was that over the years portion sizes in the various images have increased. The articles both explain the process of how these images were analyzed. They also both went into an explanation of how this has related to portion sizes and overeating. However, form my point of view this is another example of the ideal vs. the real.

Many of the paintings analyzed were created hundreds of years ago. The food making process has changed considerably since then, and therefore the ideal of what food should look like has also changed. I think that this issue is less about portion size, and more about what the ideal food should look like.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Art, reality, and a little on Toyota

The post for this week is structured around the ideas of reality and art. I have long been a fan of Plato's take on reality and art, and I will explain his philosophy on this issue again, if you are unfamiliar with it. The topic for this week was inspired by Toyota's bad luck of late, and a news report filed by ABC News. To read that report in full, click here.

The ABC News report was about the braking issues that Toyota is experiencing. A professor at Southern Illinois University (GO SIU!) reported to a congressional hearing on the braking issue, and how he re-created some of these problems in the lab. The tachometer that monitored the revving engine was filmed twice. Once during the actual on-the-road test, and then again in a stationary position on blocks. The second filming, when the car was on blocks, was easier to see. The vibrations of the car made visibility in the on-the-road test difficult. Since the footage of the test on blocks was easier to see, this was what was used in the final report. Toyota has taken issue with this presentation, and said the conditions of each test would produce different tachometer readings.

To me this all relates to reality, and how reality is depicted. I said I would relay the thoughts of Plato and reality, but in the in the interests of keeping this blog entry at a reasonable length, I will refer you here. What does all of this have to do with art? Art is reflection of reality. Even if the theme of the work is fantasy, that idea is based on some reality or another. Additionally the issue with ABC News was based on an aesthetic decision. Reality in art, and more widely in aesthetics, is based on decisions made by individuals. How those individuals are communicating their vision of reality is the real issue. Post your comments, and I'll see you next time.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2 for 1 post

The topics (There are two! It's a two for one deal.) this week were sent to me by a friend. One discussed art produced on skateboards, and the other examined the work of Theodore Geisel AKA Dr. Seuss.

The article on skateboard art can be read here.
As I read this, I was not so critical on the artists descicion to paint an image on skateboards (as the argument of the article seems to describe) rather, I was more interested in why he chose skateboards. As I have often posted here, I firmly belive art is a tool meant for communication. The idea being expressed should be a part of all elements within the work. When I was in art school an artist and fellow student decided to produce his imagry on televisions, suitcases, hatboxes, and various other objects rather than paper or canvas. The image painted on thses items somehow related to what that object was. The result was a complete work where all aspects of visual information applied. I'm less certain of why this artist is painting on skateboards. It seems like he is only interested in making money. If that was his intenion, then I agree with the argument of the article. My reasons for agreement however, are quite different.

The second topic came from another blog. The full story can be read here. This discussion expressed surprise at learning about some politicized imagery produced by "Dr. Seuss." I have to say that I am not surprised. That time period (WWII years) was very politicized for all artists. I've seen similar works produced by Charles M. Schultz from that time period. What would have surprised me would have been to learn that this type of cartoon was produced well afet the war years in private. This is not the case however.

Thats all for this week. Leave your comments, and I will respond. See you next time.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mathematics could be used to detect forgeries

The other week (I can't really be certain time runs together lately) I heard a story on NPR about a mathematician that developed an equation that could detect if a work of art was genuine or fake. That story can be read and heard by clicking here. I had read about this several years ago, but had not really given it much though since then.

I think the important thing to keep in mind is that the equation does not really detect forgeries (despite my title). It can however, be used to gain a general sense of the marks on the surface when compared to similar marks made on a known work of art. I think math is interesting. I wish I were better at it. I'm glad to see a relationship between maths and art because I think the two seem somewhat compatible. Math can be pretty creative when the right type of person is solving the equation. What are your thoughts on math vs. art?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Caravaggio is 400

I recently found out that is 400 years since Caravaggio's death. There are to be a number of Caravaggio exhibitions throughout the year to commemorate this artist. So I decided to post three images here, in homage. I got these images from flikr so there shouldn't be any infringement issues. What are your thoughts on Caravaggio?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Paintings in the news

This week two paintings were in the news. It isn't often that paintings make the papers, so I thought I would respond to these news items. The first is about Picasso's The Actor, and the second is about the Mona Lisa, and Leonardo DaVinci.

Earlier this week a lady visiting The Metropolitan Museum of art tripped and fell into Picasso's The Actor. This resulted in a rather severe tear. The full story can be read here. I find this type of thing humerus. While I feel very bad for the woman involved and would not want to be in her shoes, I think this incident serves as an example of the impermanence of things. I think this is especially true for art. Far to often galleries, museums, and collectors view their art as this precious item, that is meant to last forever. Nothing lasts forever, and this proves it. Things can be damaged, destroyed, or stolen. Nothing is too sacred as to be permanent. A photo of the painting before it was slashed can be viewed below.

The second item concerns the Mona Lisa, and the painter that created it; Leonardo DaVinci. Apparently, new evidence has come to light that may show how this painting is actually a self portrait. There are some Italians that want to exhume DaVinci's grave and run some tests. This story can be read here. In my opinion this is just silly. Who cares if the Mona Lisa was meant as a self portrait or not? Is that really going to change the painting? I doubt it. There will always be those that disagree with whatever the outcome of the tests is, so this exercise isn't going to solve anything. I'm including a picture of the Mona Lisa as well (although I'm sure you already know what it looks like.)

Those are my thoughts on these news items. What do you think? Leave your response in the comments.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Latest Painting

It's been a while since I have posted anything here. But it has been a while since anybody has read anything posted here. So I guess we are square. This is my latest painting. What do you think? Do you have any comments or suggestions? I had some trouble with the background. I didn't really know what to do with it. I eventually decided to work with color, and I think the color in this composition works very well. This was based on a sketch I did several years ago, and the sketch includes more of the figure. I may try this one again later, in order to get the full image of the dancer. The original sketch can be seen below.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Teaching Perspective

Happy New Year to all! The first post for the New Year is about another teaching experience I had. Before school let out for the holidays I taught basic perspective drawing to some Jr. High students. I believe they really enjoyed the exercises. This is important, because the school I was in does not currently have an art program. Therefore, my teaching is the only true exposure to art and art making these students have. The samples below are from some of their work. Unfortunately I did not get to see the fully completed projects. These examples are how the students started.

As you can see we started out by drawing simple shapes that recede into the distance. I think they did a very nice job here. For the second part, I had the students draw their ideal room. They were free to fill this room with whatever they wanted. The two examples above, although nice, are incomplete. I do hope they finished them after I left. What do you think? Leave your questions and comments, and I will see you next time.