Sunday, January 27, 2008

In Progress

I've got several strains of work progressing these days. One of these is the Inkblot series. In the summer of 2006, I produced a number of inkblots of various sizes and found delightfully strange images emerging. The connection with the Rorschach test of the mid 20th century is only coincidental. I've done two large pieces already, and am in the process of working on a third. I bought a box of old frames from an antique store in Cohasset,MA this fall, and have decided to try creating a wall installation of my favorite inkblots. Not at all finished - definitely "in progress", but am liking the beginning stages. The shapes are suggestive, and everyone has an idea about what they see, so in that way it is very interactive.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

St. Francis House artists

This past Tuesday, I started volunteering at the St. Francis House working with some of the folks there who are interested in finding out how they might sell or show their art. I met some remarkable folks who are struggling with extremely difficult circumstances, but have found a haven in St. Francis' art room. Under the guidance of Linda Dolph, expressive art therapist, they have begun a healing process through visual art. I was invited to talk to those interested about how they might sell their work, and where they might show it to the public.

I was honored to meet people in rough circumstances (homeless) who shared their work and their hopes for it. More than anything, I think they enjoyed having someone acknowledge their art. Whether it is possible that they could sell it at some point is an unknown, but my intention was to explain the process they would need to do to bring their work to the public.

St. Francis House is a nonprofit, nonsectarian, ecumenical daytime shelter, primarily for the homeless, located in Boston. It is the largest daytime shelter and is open seven days a week, 365 days a year and it provides its guests with the basic necessities of food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and emergency assistance. There are also rehabilitative programs (employment, housing, mental health, substance abuse counseling and lifeskills training) to help those who are able to move themselves out of poverty and homelessness, to achieve lives of independence, self-respect, and hope. (Wikipedia)

The work produced at St. Francis House might be called "Outsider Art", or self-taught art, by the cognoscenti, because it is not the product of art school training. Ironically, this is a segment of the art world that has, within the last 20 years or so, begun to command prices equivalent to many trained artists' work, and has its own coterie of superstars and collector's favorites. The Berenberg Gallery in Boston's South End carries such work, and one gentleman in my group has sold his work there already.

I believe that the commonality between self-taught artists and mainstream, trained artists, is the focus and dedication to their work, original vision, and thoughtful use of materials. I am personally drawn to the work of many self-taught artists because I often find a refreshing honesty and sincerity in the work that I find is often lacking elsewhere.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

NYC visit - recharging batteries

This past Friday evening I saw the Kara Walker exhibition at the Whitney. It was packed with the most people of color I have ever seen at a museum show. Her theme is the history of black slavery, but it easily becomes universal by extrapolating to gender, age, and relationships. We can all relate to being a slave or a master at some point in life.
In Chelsea, I visited CUE Art Foundation, and saw Phranc's exhibit of cardboard and paper replicas of shoes, clothing and other consumer stuff. Also saw a huge exhibition on masks, including antique and tribal examples as well as contemporary masks. Stux showed a young artist who works in pipe cleaners and very blotchy encaustic. One of my favorite shows was called "Ornament", riffing on Christmas kitsch. A big show of smallish works by many artists, priced to sell, very fun and funny. My absolute favorite of the day was at Tony Shafrazi, whose show, Four Friends, exhibited huge works by Keith Haring, Basquiat, Donald Baechler, and Kenny Scharf, all of whose work I find inspiring and exciting. Saw some of this stuff back in the 80s when it was first exhibited!