Tuesday, April 27, 2010


On her website (linked above), Toronto-based Narrative Therapist Bonnie Miller writes,

"I love Calvin and Hobbes, and was sad when Bill Waterson, its creator, closed shop. He did it to pursue his other identity as a 'real' artist. I guess that, like many of us, Bill felt that he had only the time or energy to express one identity at a time.
...the assumption seems to be that the self is fixed, singular, and internal.

...There is another set of ideas about identity, floating around out there, that suggest these assumptions:

* that we each have many identities
* that these identities are 'performed' or played out, under different circumstances
* and that these identities are shaped and received by our social surroundings- the setting, the people in the setting, the expectations of those people, and how we react to those expectations."

In painting, diverse paint applications and collage-like composition become essential to envision space in visually convincing ways. Taking cues from traditional Chinese landscape, collage compositions jettison binary structures such as horizon lines or figure and ground. The dis- or re-integration of form, color and space that results imparts the psychological and visual effects of globalization and digitization.

Collage-like space emerges in 1960s Pop Art, reflecting then-current innovative technologies in science, space travel and foreign relations. Artists James Rosenquist and Robert Rauschenberg, in particular, fractured space by merging diverse elements--Rosenquist, through the vehicle of sign painting, Rauschenberg, through chance. Both men studied Asian philosophy and inserted its teachings within the cacophony of images they experienced as culture.

Does geographic location dictates aesthetics, like perceptions defines the self? Immersion into a new space overwhelms and inundates--but does it eradicate aesthetic origins? The doubled state of being that results between an old and new self-in-situ can be bridged by diverse elements in painting. The end-game first postulated in postmodern recycling finds new possibilities in the unknown reconfiguring of the familiar.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

James Rosenquist, Painting Below Zero, p. 290

Frank Stella aid something interesting about the split-second nature of art. He said that the baseball player Ted Williams was the quintessential modern artist because of his fast eye--Williams claimed he could see the seams no a baseball as it came over the plate at ninety miles an hour. I want that instant punch when you look at one of my paintings, too--the immediacy of an ad or a billboard--but at the same time I want you to be able to read things in my paintings as they slowly rise to the surface. I'm often impressed by seeing something obliquely. That way I won't get tangled up with its meaning to the point that I forget the very thing that originally enticed me. I'll take it in in that initial flashing way, and then I'll take the time to look deeper.

What I think Frank meant is that seeing a painting is sometimes like love at first sight, something that doesn't have any barriers to it. With some paintings, you don't need words--or titles, either. You get it without anything intervening between you and your vision of it. Afterword, after you've absorbed that first visual blitz, you realize that there's something deep in that black area that you hadn't seen right away.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Guilin’s landscape is a phantasm of mountains misshapen through lost layers of bedrock, surrounding the Li River in a Seussian panorama. Cross-pollinating Guilin’s terrain with the wide-mouthed pipes, crosses and ladders of Brooklyn's rooftops, I feel sure the collision of exaggerated naturalism and human-scaled geometry will yield a living, breathing landscape in the spirit of Yuan Dynasty scrolls.