Tuesday, July 30, 2013

looking forward to platte clove

I'm getting excited about my one-week art residency at a cabin by myself up in the Catskills, which starts Aug 4. I applied and was accepted back in the spring, and have pleasantly held the idea of it in my mind for the past few months.

I had written about how my paintings often embody a kind of stillness.

"My environment is reflected in my art, in one way or another, over time. Themes of sense-memory emerge, whether I am painting lush blades of grass, a sky of whirling snow or stars, or the effect of natural elements on man-made objects like old signs and buildings. It's often when everything else is quiet that the new ideas drift in and take shape. I've worked in small rooms and drafty barns, in an open field and a narrow storefront, and this shifting of my studio reminds me to be flexible and open to how the new surroundings will affect me.

I occasionally like to make temporary installations, for amusement and to explore the interior/exterior - a huge chair built out of firewood, a snowman wedged inside a phone booth; sometimes pictures result from these outdoor meanderings. My intended project will be a series of nature-based drawings, paintings, and observational writing, reflecting a solitary summer week in a remote cabin in a beautiful, wild place."

The Platte Clove Artist-in-Residence program is offered by the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, and is situated in the historic and beautiful area where the Hudson River School of Painting, the first American school of landscape, was initiated in 1825. I visited the cabin in June for an orientation and to meet the other artists who would each spend a solitary week there.  I'd driven up and up a winding mountain road until I finally spied it, surrounded by trees. We'd eaten lunch on the porch and hiked down to the nearby waterfall. They explained the kitchen, showed us the outhouse with its composting toilet, and gave us keys.

Now the time has come and I have to actually pack the stuff, fill a bunch of jugs with water, and say bye to internet for a week. That in itself will open up a lot of hours. I've been somewhat distracted, and while it's true I have the same mind wherever I am, it will be easier to focus said mind somewhere else for awhile, and back to the practice. I've set the tentative task of creating new work from what nature puts before me or what it may evoke. Rather than strictly from objects and images stacked in a towering reference pile nearby. At least I know I won't be absently forking up ice cream from a quart container while working, as I am currently doing.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

i am for an art

I may have only seen Claes Oldenburg's art 'sit on its ass in a museum' (currently at MoMA through Aug 5- plenty blog posts elsewhere online about his work and this show), but it just happens to inhabit that white space the way it once inhabited a grimy downtown storefront and before that a city of scavenged materials, and reminded me that his 1961 writing "I Am for an Art", below, is one of my favorite art manifestos. From before I knew there was such a thing.
I read it in 1997 as part of a class at Cornell about Pop Art and pop culture, first time I learned about any of those artists and what they were about. I was just starting to figure things out and not even sure what kind of art I'd make and even if I'd make any, beyond living-- as I vaguely envisioned it-- 'a creative life'. Then all those texts I read that year, and then the subsequent years at SVA, lodged themselves in the back of my brain until I noticed that what I was so drawn to, what kept me living a few more years in the changing city to walk and look, to photograph objects, was the art of the everyday. I didn't know that what I would want to paint would fit into this, whether it would ever matter or not (I still don't know). But it resonated with me before I understood why.

"I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something
other than sit on its ass in a museum.
I am for an art that grows up not knowing it is art at all, an art given
the chance of having a starting point of zero.
I am for an art that embroils itself with the everyday crap & still comes
out on top.
I am for an art that imitates the human, that is comic, if necessary, or
violent, or whatever is necessary.
I am for all art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists
and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse
and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.
I am for an artist who vanishes, turning up in a white cap painting
signs or hallways.
I am for art that comes out of a chimney like black hair and scatters
in the sky.
I am for art that spills out of an old mans purse when he is bounced
off a passing fender.
I am for the art out of a doggy's mouth, falling five stories from the roof.
I am for the art that a kid licks, after peeling away the wrapper.
I am for an art that joggles like everyone’s knees, when the bus
traverses an excavation.
I am for art that is smoked, like a cigarette, smells, like a pair of shoes.
I am for art that flaps like a flag, or helps blow noses, like a handkerchief.
I am for art that is put on and taken off , like pants, which develops
holes, like socks, which is eaten, like a piece of pie, or abandoned with
great contempt, like a piece of shit.
I am for art covered with bandages, I am for art that limps and rolls
and runs and jumps. I am for art that comes in a can or washes up on
the shore.
I am for art that coils and grunts like a wrestler. I am for art that sheds
I am for art you can sit on. I am for art you can pick your nose with
or stub your toes on.
I am for art from a pocket, from deep channels of the ear, from the
edge of a knife, from the corners of the mouth, stuck in the eye or worn
on the wrist.
I am for art under the skirts, and the art of pinching cockroaches.
I am for the art of conversation between the sidewalk and a blind
man’s metal stick.
I am for the art that grows in a pot, that comes down out of the skies
at night, like lightning, that hides in the clouds and growls. I am for art
that is flipped on and off with a switch.
I am for art that unfolds like a map, that you can squeeze, like your
sweety's arm, or kiss, like a pet dog. Which expands and squeaks, like
an accordion, which you can spill your dinner on, like an old tablecloth.
I am for an art that you can hammer with, stitch with, sew with, paste
with, file with.
I am for an art that tells you the time of day, or where such and such
a street is.
I am for an art that helps old ladies across the street.
I am for the art of the washing machine. I am for the art of a government
check. I am for the art of last wars raincoat.
I am for the art that comes up in fogs from sewer-holes in winter. I
am for the art that splits when you step on a frozen puddle. I am for the
worms art inside the apple. I am for the art of sweat that develops
between crossed legs.
I am for the art of neck-hair and caked tea-cups, for the art between
the tines of restaurant forks, for the odor of boiling dishwater.
I am for the art of sailing on Sunday, and the art of red and white
gasoline pumps.
I am for the art of bright blue factory columns and blinking biscuit
I am for the art of cheap plaster and enamel. I am for the art of worn
marble and smashed slate. I am for the art of rolling cobblestones and
sliding sand. I am for the art of slag and black coal. I am for the art of
dead birds.
I am for the art of scratchings in the asphalt, daubing at the walls. I
am for the art of bending and kicking metal and breaking glass, and
pulling at things to make them fall down.
I am for the art of punching and skinned knees and sat-on bananas. I
am for the art of kids smells. I am for the art of mama-babble.
I am for the art of bar-babble, tooth-picking, beerdrinking, egg-salting,
in-sulting. I am for the art of falling off a barstool.
I am for the art of underwear and the art of taxicabs. I am for the art
of ice-cream cones dropped on concrete. I am for the majestic art of
dog-turds, rising like cathedrals.
I am for the blinking arts, lighting up the night. I am for art falling,
splashing, wiggling, jumping, going on and off .
I am for the art of fat truck-tyres and black eyes.
I am for Kool-art, 7-UP art, Pepsi-art, Sunshine art, 39 cents art, 15 cents
art, Vatronol art, Dro-bomb art, Vam art, Menthol art, L & M art, Ex-lax
art, Venida art, Heaven Hill art, Pamryl art, San-o-med art, Rx art, 9.99
art, Now art, New art, How art, Fire sale art, Last Chance art, Only art,
Diamond art, Tomorrow art, Franks art, Ducks art, Meat-o-rama art.
I am for the art of bread wet by rain. I am for the rat’s dance between
I am for the art of flies walking on a slick pear in the electric light. I
am for the art of soggy onions and firm green shoots. I am for the art
of clicking among the nuts when the roaches come and go. I am for the
brown sad art of rotting apples.
I am for the art of meowls and clatter of cats and for the art of their
dumb electric eyes.
I am for the white art of refrigerators and their muscular openings
and closings.
I am for the art of rust and mould. I am for the art of hearts, funeral
hearts or sweetheart hearts, full of nougat. I am for the art of worn
meathooks and singing barrels of red, white, blue and yellow meat.
I am for the art of things lost or thrown away, coming home from
school. I am for the art of cock-and-ball trees and flying cows and the
noise of rectangles and squares. I am for the art of crayons and weak
grey pencil-lead, and grainy wash and sticky oil paint, and the art of
windshield wipers and the art of the finger on a cold window, on dusty
steel or in the bubbles on the sides of a bathtub.
I am for the art of teddy-bears and guns and decapitated rabbits,
exploded umbrellas, raped beds, chairs with their brown bones broken,
burning trees, firecracker ends, chicken bones, pigeon bones and boxes
with men sleeping in them.
I am for the art of slightly rotten funeral flowers, hung bloody rabbits
and wrinkly yellow chickens, bass drums & tambourines, and plastic
I am for the art of abandoned boxes, tied like pharaohs. I am for an
art of watertanks and speeding clouds and flapping shades.
I am for US Government Inspected Art, Grade A art, Regular Price
art, Yellow Ripe art, Extra Fancy art, Ready-to-eat art, Best-for-less art,
Ready-to-cook art, Fully cleaned art, Spend Less art, Eat Better art, Ham
art, pork art, chicken art, tomato art, banana art, apple art, turkey art,
cake art, cookie art.

I am for an art that is combed down, that is hung from each ear, that is
laid on the lips and under the eyes, that is shaved from the legs, that is
brushed on the teeth, that is fixed on the thighs, that is slipped on the

square which becomes blobby"

--Claes Oldenburg, 1961

Friday, July 26, 2013

grazing horse

One of several paintings I'm working on for an upcoming horse-themed group show in September, in Westchester. This is 15"x15" acrylic on wood.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

nyfa mark show at islip art museum

Today is the reception for this show that opened at the Islip Art Museum on June 16, though I am unable to attend (or.. unenthused about driving out to Long Island & back on a summer Sunday, I'll admit). I did want to BE there, if I could've flown in my private little plane. Then again if I had my private plane, a lot of things would be different.
It looks like a great group show and I'm glad to have three of my paintings included. I was part of the NYFA MARK program last summer (see these posts: camping it up, the smartist, and words to the why's). While I still don't know what MARK stands for-- Make Actual Real Kash? --I did make some nice kontacts and learned how to develop my kareer.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

foliage, faces and fishes

For Beacon's Two Row Wampum Festival on Aug 3rd, Jon and I painted these 8' tall panels, which will be mounted on three-sided totems and displayed at the riverfront along others by local artists.

From the site: 'This is the 400 year anniversary of the Two Row Wampum Treaty, the first treaty between the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) and the new European Settlers (The Dutch).. 
The Two Row Wampum Campaign organized by the Haudenosaunee and Neighbors of the Onondaga Naiton (NOON) is to bring attention to this treaty and to honor its vision today. They wish to come together in peace and harmony where each nation (the US and the Iroquois Confederacy) follow separate but parallel paths. This coming together also entails a spiritual duty to protect and preserve the environment for all future generations. They hope that we will all join together to honor this treaty and honor the sacred duty to mother earth. To publicize this effort the Haudenosaunee, along with non-native allies, will be paddling canoes from Syracuse down the Mohawk River to the Hudson, then down the Hudson River to NYC.' 
After the event the totems will be installed in town 'as a reminder to our commitment of friendship, ecological stewardship, peace between peoples and living in parallel forever.'

It was a lot of fun to collaborate. We had a general idea of what we'd do with our themes of nature, the river, and friendship, and then let it evolve, brushing on layers of paint as we crawled around the floor. Jon cut some shapes out of wood to add dimension to the painted fish, leaves and faces. I don't often give myself the chance to improvise so freely while painting, nor to work with another person-- maybe the last time I did was with a friend at Better Farm-- it was the intense focus of painting for two 5-hour stretches (so we could power through it while we both had the time), combined with the improvisational element of riffing off someone else's style, and finding more than what we would have brought to the project had we worked separately on each panel. 

I will post photos of the assembled totems at the festival in a couple of weeks!

Monday, July 15, 2013

press time

Here's a nice article about our gallery in Philipstown.info/ The Paper, a local (Cold Spring, Garrison, Beacon) publication:

Catalyst Gallery Operates a Little Differently

July 14, 2013

Short-term rental gallery designed as alternative business model to serve and sustain artists
By Alison Rooney
The usual equation for an art gallery is akin to that of agent and client: in exchange for services provided — in this case a space to exhibit work — the provider receives a percentage of the artist’s sales profits. Catalyst Gallery, a new space that opened near the west end of Main Street in Beacon last February, uses a different formula.
Exterior of Catalyst Gallery   
Exterior of Catalyst Gallery
The gallery is available to rent, without curatorial vetting or any real restrictions, for any artist. The renter can use the space as they wish, paying simply the negotiated fee, with any sales profits retained directly by the artist, not the gallery. Catalyst’s stipulations are simple: “We provide only the space, our friendly support. You take care of installation, publicity, openings, ‘sitting’ the gallery, sales, and de-installation/basic cleaning.”
The space, formerly the second of the two spaces which were home to the VanBrunt Gallery, is approximately 400 square feet, and includes “freshly painted, well-constructed” walls, as well as wood floors, track lighting, a bathroom, some parking and large storefront windows facing Main Street. The renting artist takes care of and has control over all the rest.
Rentals are available monthly (ideally including a Second Saturday date) with some two-week and even shorter rentals available from time to time. Right now Catalyst, which is within walking distance from Dia, is booked solid through November.
The idea for this came to Catalyst co-owners and artists themselves Erica Hauser and Jon Reichert (he is also a cabinet maker). Hauser says she and Reichert “talked awhile about having a show — I’ve shown pretty regularly in the area. We were feeling discouraged that there aren’t more venues for art in a town known for being revitalized due to art; galleries come and go. I didn’t want to be a gallery owner and though we thought about having a collective, most of all we wanted to have a place where you can just go and see something — this town can be quiet or packed so it can be hard to plan, economically.
“Then, this space became available and it didn’t need a ton of work to get it ready. We went back and forth on the idea until it evolved into making it available for artists to rent on a short-term basis, and occasionally use it to show our own things. This gives people looking to show a professional place to exhibit and also to meet with colleagues. We’re not interested in ‘being the main brand’ — it’s not our vision.”
Hauser recently spoke of her vision for the space at the June Beacon TEDx talk:
“I want to engage the public, support artists and open a good-looking place to show art on Main Street; I need such a venture to sustain itself and to facilitate my own work. My friend and I manage Catalyst Gallery as a rental space where people can realize their creative projects, independent of a more typical gallery model. They rent it short-term to install essentially whatever they want, find new exposure, experiment with ideas and inspire dialogue. They have full control, which is something we as artists so often end up handing over to someone else, or waiting for others to make decisions about our work.
Catalyst Gallery's Erica Hauser, standing near one of her own paintings. Photo by A. Rooney.
Catalyst Gallery’s Erica Hauser, standing near one of her own paintings. Photo by A. Rooney.
“This way, artists have access to a professional gallery space in a highly-visible location to try something out. A sculptor used the gallery as a testing ground for new pieces and to meet with collectors. Another wanted to explore the local market potential with an eye towards opening a permanent shop. As for us, we have extra studio space, a venue for group exhibitions and workshops. Every time I see a new show going up, and watch people walking by, peering through the windows, I am reminded that the vitality that drives Catalyst is rooted in making our own work, providing a way to sustain and encourage the creative life, and supporting the art community we are part of.”
The gallery opened with an exhibit of Hauser and Reichert’s own work, and since then has played host to a range of art including a sculptor from Los Angeles whose works focused on dogs (and tied into the “Beacon Barks” community event; a group of MFA students from New Paltz who showed their work together, and, most recently, an installation which examined truth in advertising and agribusiness while reinterpreting product packaging and in-store signage. “There’s been so much interest, we’ve been able to pick and choose,” says Hauser, adding, “we like diversity.”
Philipstown photographer Aleta Wolfe’s show opens on Second Saturday, June 13 (see sidebar.) Hauser says Wolfe was “looking for an opportunity to explore a new project and committed to the idea early on.” Occasionally they may break with the mold, for instance a group holiday show with works from multiple artists is planned, that one possibly on a commission basis. Artists have the option to open the gallery for whatever schedule they personally wish for, i.e., weekends only, or every single day of the rental, if they are available and willing to gallery-sit.
Hauser has been in Beacon for about six years, moving there from Washington Heights, after having a “good instinct about this place.” She’s not a stranger to the Hudson Valley, however, having grown up in Brewster. Her own art, which was visible during an in-between exhibits visit to the space, has been called “American nostalgia, with a vintage aesthetic.” She describes it as “representative, but it’s not photorealism, evoking a sense of place and time — maybe a memory but also having graphic appeal.”
Sculpture  and other artwork by Ed Benavente fills the windows last April at Catalyst Gallery. 
Sculpture  and other artwork by Ed Benavente fills the windows last April at Catalyst Gallery.
She describes Reichert’s works (there is a very small area at the back of the space which serves as a mini-working area for him, as “very kinetic work: sculpture with moveable parts and also acrylic on wood paintings.” Hauser sees both of their works (prints of which are available for sale at the Clay, Wood and Cotton store next door) as sharing a “strange sense of humor.”
Hauser and Reichert chose the name Catalyst because the definition of the word coincided with their goals for the space: “The space will be continually utilized and transformed to fulfill various needs, and by doing so will create new opportunities for communication and creativity. Essentially unchanged, yet always different.”
As Hauser has stated, “It will bring something new to town each month, and we won’t be sure just what, but we know it will be interesting.” Catalyst Gallery is located at 137 Main St., Beacon. Visit catalystgallery.com or phone 845-204-3844 for more information.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

headless couple

I can't imagine I'll need to use that exact blog post title again. These are the figures I painted this week for a local musician, Stephen Clair, who will be using them in a music video. I think they will also be on the cover of his next album. In the video, people will be behind them, lending their heads; also they'll be embellished and accessorized. I'm looking forward to seeing this.
They're each about 5'5" tall and will be cut closely around the outlines, so I'll probably share another photo then. This project was sort of about finding the balance between cartoony and realistic. I hope I struck it. It was actually nice not having to deal with the heads. When I used to paint figures a long time ago, they were often featureless (save a nose or furrowed brow) and unclothed- it was more about their gestures, what they were doing. It was always important that I get the hands and feet essentially right, enough so that you'd believe it. I used to twist my own appendages around or look in a mirror to draw them; a digital camera makes this a bit easier, as does the ability to go into a shop and charm the long-legged salesgirl into modeling shoes for me.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

the 'new..nifty..thrifty' edsel

The 1960 Edsel. Acrylic, 24"x36". Car's so long it doesn't even fit on a single page of its promo booklet, but is splayed across the binding. This canvas seemed just right for it. I am probably going to change the colors of the shapes, whatever they are. I was going for a kind of abstract-but-vaguely-reminiscent-of-showroom and/or open road and also mod 60s design.
I've been working on a few freelance art projects (life-size headless plywood people, anyone? Photos soon) and also went to PA for the 4th. Rode my bike around town armed with cups of paint and two brushes to edit the start time on the 6 farmer's market signs I made last summer. Initially ventured out last night before dusk, ignoring the gathering clouds, started to fix two signs and then the rain came down. Finished today in the sun. The things artists will do for free produce.
However, this artist was very lucky to drop by the paint shop in Fishkill the other day and come away with a shopping cart full of free 'oops' paint. I am very grateful for this gift, for even though he said nicely, with an impatient wave at the shelf of cans, "Get them outta here," I hadn't expected such generosity. It's fun to paint big.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Taxicab. Oil on canvas, 20"x24". Started it in Jan or Feb, put aside, resumed and finished in the past week. As I mentioned in the last post, this is from a photo I took in 2010, when I found myself making a U-turn into a lot full of weird cars, including old police cars, cabs, and other vehicles in various stages of disintegration. There's other projects I should have worked on last week, but I just wanted to resolve this, which necessitated a fresh coat of paint overall.