Nov 5, 2008

Victorious Spirit

It makes me so happy to know that what I saw in Barack Obama about two years ago was seen by so many other Americans. I feel a renewed sense of kinship with you all that was hidden or discolored by previous elections and the climate of the last eight years. Last night, every state I ever lived went blue: Indiana, New Mexico, Virginia and (although I guess it's still not official) North Carolina.

I was in London when we began the wrong war and watched as the world's perception of our country changed from a beacon to a warning light. Now I know that we can begin to heal those relationships.

Yesterday in Henrico County (and a little in Richmond City) I spoke with so many Obama supporters and was happy to provide those people with a little bit of added enthusiasm by checking to see if they had already voted. Those that had were excited to see someone out 'working it' , many were literally on their way out the door and a few of them arranged for rides with us. The lead volunteers were organized, professional and determined. Kudos to them for opening their own doors to allow us to be more effective.

As the results of this election sink in for me and my eyes dry up from the tears of joy last night, I sense some ghosts of hatred fleeing the places where they had festered for so long. Roanoke and Richmond City both voted for the first African-American president (as well as many other southern cities). Wow. That diluted sense of darkness that has hovered behind me here in Richmond is gone.

And listen, it's not that I think he's going to build a utopia- it's more that I feel confident in his decision-making faculties. The things that he spoke about in his acceptance speech were idealistic and I like it that way. It's what I saw in him from the beginning. Let's not shy away from the best of all possible worlds, but let's not turn our heads when it inevitably something doesn't go as planned. For now, I will bask in this result and try to apply some of those grand ideals a little more in my own life.

On one sad note, proposition 8 in California did pass, revoking the right to marry for gay and lesbian couples throughout the state. It hurts me to see people actively taking away an existing right of another group. Shame on you. It's just meanness, prejudice, ignorance and fear. Results like this are sobering and remind us of the long road ahead. After all, it's not like Virginia even had this possibility on the table. What will happen to gay and lesbian couples who have already gotten married?

One more thing, speaking about people of the right-wing variety. John McCain's concession speech was very appropriate and I think he did an excellent job in trying to calm his *ahem* enthusiastic supporters. I heard them yelling things out during the speech, heard them booing and McCain very forcefully told them to stop. Now, certainly his tactics are somewhat to blame for stoking some of the fire in these people but at last now he can return to being John McCain and not whoever that was on the campaign trail.

Yes, yes, y'all. Let's hope now for the return of civility.

Oct 20, 2008

seek to uncover a mystery color

The prospect of moving forward with your work can often feel like trying to perform magic, like trying to turn a wall into a door or window. You know you've done it before, but was it a dream? The questions you had put aside coming running to your ankles like little gnomes. Some of them are nasty little buggers!

The work I showed in Greensboro this fall was my first body of work post-grad school. I wanted to continue down a path of these strange deliberate marks that build up an uncertain and fantastic space. It was also very essential that I effectively stop myself- that I test my intuition to recognize something that works before I move past it and take the painting in another direction. There were two paintings that went past that mark and ended up being interesting, but more like my previous work.

I strove to make it a show about color, to use combinations I had felt to be important or rich internally but had previously left to the will of the painting. In other words, I somewhat let color be the dictator this time. Color certainly is the biggest of those gnomes and it tends to bite. Why is that? Because it's hard to talk about. It's very infuriating. You can find bits of text here and there that start to hit upon the importance of color.... (the 'haptic space' of Francis Bacon paintings)....but you still have to put it all together for yourself.

Everyone loves and talks about synesthesia, including myself, but there are particular reasons why this is important to painting. Dur, people, it's about illusion. When your brain senses the illusion of space but knows it to be a flat surface, it makes this great contradiction that your mind responds to by trying to involve all of your other senses. I know this happens in music too, through a different means but through an aspect that is as basic to music as flatness v illusion is to painting/imagemaking, but what is it? What is chromatic music? I keep thinking I've found the answer to this but I just find examples of it working....

Oct 15, 2008

Clip of the Presidential Debate

Ok, so I saw this on Keith Olbermann, big whoop. I just HAD to repost it.

Oct 12, 2008


Can we go ahead and vote already??? The longer this thing drags on, the more insane I will become. You know, I've heard peers say 'you can't trust either candidate' or 'they're really the same'. Now, I don't see that as much in this election as in 2004, but it's certainly there. It's not their fault! Have you seen McCain squirm lately? He hates what his campaign is forcing him to say. Both candidates have been trimmed down so much that they appear similar. I hate that Obama is forced to denounce his pastor and spend time explaining his connection to Bill Ayres. Everything that is particular to the character of each man has been removed or distorted. The hype takes over and we suddenly look at our politicians the same way we look at Britney Spears.

They are statesmen. Statesmen!

Can we vote already??

Don't let America whitewash you. 'Radical' in the USA is like 'Thursday' in the EU. We are acting like an adolescent country, picking away at tiny unimportant things while the bigger picture is escaping us. We might be failing math class but all we can talk about is what a big slut Melissa is and how she's totally not a natural blonde.

Shake it off, America.

Oct 6, 2008

Eve Ascheim and Kiki Smith

I am completely paranoid that people distrust and fear abstraction. In the Weatherspoon Art Museum this weekend, I went to look as the Eve Ascheim show and people just cruised through that gallery. I must remember that it is not my job to proselytize or carry the flag of a particular doctrine. If I start worrying about other people too much, my own work will never grow.

I'm just about leaving room for the viewer! Her work was really inviting to me, that's why it's so surprising that everyone was zooming through. There was this surprising warmth in the paintings, or cleanliness without sterility. I felt relief in looking at this work, relief like some kind of mental stress or anxiety has just been removed. Like you woke up in a different (and better) room.

Kiki Smith is difficult for me, I won't lie. Several pieces in the room really challenged me while others fell completely flat. I should point out that these were prints. I think the pieces were the most interesting when they moved further away from more literal trappings of folk-tales and mythology, etc. The more the pieces move away from that, the more you can feel the presence of those myths.

If you're near the area, check it out.
Images, top to bottom: Eve Ascheim, Untitled and Convergence.

Kiki Smith, My Blue Lake.

Oct 4, 2008

my first first Friday

The first couple of stops I made on Broad street left me wanting a little more...grit, I think you might call it. The work I mentioned in an earlier post, Rebecca Murtaugh's, turned out to be seductive, sure, but that is where the work remained for me. Her pieces were beautiful objects.

I really didn't feel 'at home' with any of the work I saw until I got to the Church of the Crystal Light. I wonder if this is just a superficial bias of mine- preferring a setting of informality to the polished veneer of the other galleries.


Interesting work is interesting work. The scattered wall piece, made up of what might be called visual and textual 'one-liners' became more than just 'one-liners'. How? I think it was in the volume and diversity of the blips and blurbs, the spontaneous, scrawling feel of the whole piece. Each addition was different than the last in content, in material, usually scale, etc. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that each 'statement' up there was done by a separate person. If that's not the case, damn....bravo. It was unpretentious and fresh, subtly aligning itself with politically minded sensibilty while simultaneously pointing out the ridiculous behavior of such people, or at least, their all encompassing statements.

Also included in that show were two wall paintings (Maya Hayuk) that were seductive in grittier way than the 1708 gallery. It's not that I have something against the meticulous or rigorously ordered as a rule- but like everything else, it's all about how those aspects are deployed. To put it simply, I thought Rebecca Murtaugh's works were closed to me while these wall paintings remained open.

The Transmission gallery offered me the best paintings of the night. It was immediately clear in viewing Alexis Semtner's work that the 'bar' of the whole evening had been raised, or at least, here's someone "really moving some paint around". Her work is such an interesting balance of control and release, surface and illusion. As a show, the inclusion of another installation by Maya Hayuk fit well just formally, tied as it was to a grid but not rigidly so. I guess it was also refreshing in hindsight to see work that looks at geometry in a non-purist light (both Hayuk and Semtner).

"Optical Illude this Biatch" by Alexis Semtner (rt)
"Teen Center" by Maya Hayuk (below)

Oct 2, 2008

Reading Rainbow - Rauschenberg leads to Harris

This book I'm reading on Robert Rauschenberg keeps apologizing that he's not as shocking as he would have been in the late 50's, early 60's. Sure, probably not. Especially his later work in which he really tried to address the media assault. It's not his fault that the really relevant work centered around that subject would be addressed more fully by those who were born in the 60's. However...his early work to me is timeless. Maybe non-painters are tired of this kind of talk by 2008:

"I put my trust in the materials that confront me, because they put me in touch with the unknown....I like to start working...when my sense of efficiency is exhausted".

But I'm not. This kind of thinking is still relevant. In fact, the only thing trying to make it irrelevant is our fad-oriented culture (art world included).

Rauschenberg did not plan his paintings. Continual discovery = genetic makeup of paintings. This is why they can still appear so fresh. He offered you an alternative way of seeing your world by bringing outside objects into the works, and HOW he used those objects NOT to build up a representative whole (thinking cubist collage) but with "apparent indifference to their situation". Object is place is object is painting is color is mark is place...etc. Now that is simultaneity.

Stupid rabbit hole, now I feel like I need to talk about why that perception of simultaneity is worthwhile. You know what-- I'm going to leave that open, sort of...

I also picked up a book at the VCU library called "Discrepant Abstraction". I picked it up casually at first and flipped to an article called, "Quantum Ghosts: An Interview with Wilson Harris". Here's as far as I got:

"His novels breach temporal, geographic, epistemic and other boundaries to advance a complex mantling of inner and outer apprehension, narrative dispatch meeting metaphysical enquiry meeting lyrical compression meeting gnostic demur."

What you say??? So I absolutely had to go check out a copy of his first novel, "Palace of the Peacock". Wowowowow. If your sensibility is anything like mine, pick it up. Compression/Expansion. Our location in the book, or the story, I should say, haha-- I just picked it up as I was thinking of where I was going to go with this sentence and read-- "crash and collide and collapse". Yes, our placement in the narrative crashes, collides and collapses. The 'lyrical compression' seems to be key to my understanding of the book, acting like seductive vibrant colors do on my eye or vocal harmonies in music. You might find beautiful passages in any book, sure, I might even be able to wield one or two-- but Harris is acting like a maestro or shaman, wielding a force. There is no western 'overlord/author'- we are carried on a current.

"The boat shuddered in an anxious grip and in a living streaming hand that issued from the bowels of earth...The outboard engine and propeller still revolved and flashed with mental silent horror now that its roar had been drowned in other wilder unnatural voices whose violent din rose from beneath our feet in the waters."

"The rocks in the tide flashed their presentiment in the sun, everlasting courage and the other obscure spirits of creation. One's mind was a chaos of sensation, even pleasure, faced by imminent mortal danger."

Sep 30, 2008


<----'Portal', by me.

Le sigh. Every so often I stumble on an artist who has done something I not only think is interesting and enjoy- but is doing something with a material that I could see myself doing. This is a strange experience. I guess this Friday I'll see this woman's work in person and can actually talk about it:


Big differences, sure. My work isn't as polished- a quality necessary for the weirdo humor it carries with it. This work is also further removed from painting, although she's totally one of those painters who just happens to work with 3D materials. Not a negative, just an observation.

And, of course...the title of her show here in Richmond is SEDUCTIONS which is TOTALLY a word I played up in a recent proposal to a gallery down the street. Lucky for me, SEDUCTION is only half the battle. Lunacy, the other??

I am quite literally, talking to myself. Despite prejudices, I really have no problem with this fact.

Sep 29, 2008

The Magic Christian

Now is a good time to watch this movie.
It's taking every ounce of strength not to go into a diatribe about the failed bailout plan and Kennedy's tv show, "Friend or Foe".

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

For your health and wellbeing:
Make some tea. Put on a Ravi Shankar record. I will be running on a platform of running, it seems. Escapism '08!

Sep 28, 2008

Barack Obama in Fredericksburg

With great speaking ability (ahem, power) comes great responsibility. I agree with a person who recently told me that discussions about politics start to sound like religion. They can. These issues make us emotional, especially after 8 years of the Bush administration.

Political discussions are also a lot like alcohol consumption.

"Please use responsibly"

Obama is the have-a-beer-with-dinner to McCain's sloppy-drunk and Bush's puke-on-your-shoe-wake-up-in-the-ditch-covered-in-dog-pee.

On Saturday, I saw this speech:

I don't expect the man to fix it a day. I do trust him to make the right choices every step of the way, choices that reflect an America that has always existed in my brain.

Addictive Properties

I caved. I now have a blog. The news, the political situation and my own personal searches (jobs and art) have kept me so stuck to the internet that you'd think it was a drug.'s time for a little personal oasis that hopefully will prove to be the same for others, over time.