Saturday, January 31, 2009

Eddie Martinez and Chuck Webster

untitled, 2006, mixed media on paper 6" x 8"

Lionheart, 2008, mixed media on panel, 40” x 40”

untitled, 2006, mixed media on paper

Don't miss the great Eddie Martinez and Chuck Webster Collaborations show up now at ZieherSmith. It closes next weekend, Feb. 7, so go there and then come to my show, Make it last...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Harry Shearer

After a seemingly endless election period, Harry Shearer’s The Silent Echo Chamber, now at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, feels like the appropriate palette cleanser. While Shearer is mostly known as the voice of many Simpsons characters and for his various collaborations with Christopher Guest, it is less known that he has been exhibiting these videos of "found" live feeds since 1992. It's surprising how enthralling and fun it is watching television screens of public figures sitting, doing nothing while waiting to go on air.

The Silent Echo Chamber at the Aldrich closes on Feb 8. See my interview with Shearer below:

Jon Lutz: Your various projects really seem to compliment each other and bring something different to the table. The same could be said for The Silent Echo Chamber. Can you talk about the impetus to create this work? How long have you been making videos?

Harry Shearer: I had started collecting these images when I realized that we were in the first generation of humans where so much ordinary behavior of so many well-known people was being videographed, and that somebody should be collecting it, after which I nominated myself. So, at some point, it seemed interesting to assembled the images for public view, and the art world seemed the most congenial place to do it. I started with a show called Telesthesia, a word I'd like to think I made up, at the Fullerton Museum in Orange County, CA, in, I think, 1989. Then came Barney's windows in NYC in 1992 for the figures involved in the Democratic Convention in the city, then The Wall of Silence at MOCA's Santa Monica storefront, commemorating the OJ trial circus, and then a long pause before the Conner Contemporary Art gallery in D.C. invited me in 2004 to do what became Face Time, the immediate predecessor of this show.

JL: Do you see yourself as a “video artist?”

HS: I see myself as a guy who puts these shows together. The term "video artist" is relevant only in the sense that gives people a recognizable category into which to insert this stuff.

JL: Your long running radio show, Le Show, features your recap of the lesser-known, but significant news stories of the week. You approach the details of these stories with a dry mix of sarcasm, humor, and critique. With The Silent Echo Chamber, it appears that you have taken a more objective or contemplative approach. The biting wit is replaced with a powerful ambiguity that emerges while watching figures like Karl Rove stare blankly, James Carville fidget, or Joe Biden eat a sandwich. Is there any kind of critique here of these individual personalities or is it solely up to the viewer to come to their own conclusion?

HS: That's one reason I enjoy doing this in an art context: much more conducive to ambiguity, multiple meanings, or total lack of meaning, than the comedy/satire world, where you really care whether the audience "gets the point." There's much less critique intended here, although some may occur to some viewers. But I think, in terms of what these shows mean to me, they're much more about the contrast between TV as we know it-basically, to a large extent, radio with pictures--and the possibilities of a truly visual medium.

JL: Most of the figures are politically involved, but then you throw in people like Dr. Phil. Are your choices of subject matter colored by any personal experiences with these people or comments upon the entertainment/news business in general?

HS: Choices constrained by two factors: the ubiquity of these people, and my ability to access images of them.

JL: In one case, Ben Stein and Henry Kissinger are shown, at different times, on the same screen. Given that they bear some resemblance to each other, there is some evidence that you have done some subtle constructing and arranging for humorous effect. Is this deliberate or merely coincidental?

HS: I'm very scrupulous--or obsessive--about not editing or altering the videos. It's too easy, and then it's about me. Kissinger and Stein showed up on the same screen because neither of them is in the immediate current spotlight, a la the other folks, yet they both amuse me. And, of course, that's the Jewish screen.

JL: You have also appeared on cable news shows many times. Is any part of these about your experience of waiting to go on air? Is there an inside joke here or something going on that someone not familiar with television production might not know about these clips?

HS: No, as a matter of fact, there's no joke. Well, if there is a joke, I guess it's that never before in human history has so much valuable time been spent by so many "important" people sitting around doing nothing. That may be a distinctive mark of our era. Or of our (former) prosperity.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ned Colclough

Tug of Love (detail); Read Your Mind, 18" x 24"; Florida Room (detail)

, 22" x 28"; All the Bass, 18" x 24"

Florida Room; Souvenir, 22" x 28"; Tug of Love; Read Your Mind, 2007, 18" x 24"

Pacific, 19" x 23"

Theme from Planet
s and detail

LinkLinkAnything at all

When I first got a peek at Ned Colclough’s studio a couple of years back, there were a few paintings on the wall, pinned up photos, and various parts that would become these constructions. I recently had a chance to stop by again and the room is now filled with finished pieces. Maybe it’s because there’s no space for more, but they seem to represent his first major body of work. I'm really into the the sculptures because they are deliberately precarious and oddly rythmic. They pivot, lean, brace, and balance with nothing but friction and gravity keeping them together. Keep an eye out for his work…

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mark T. Stockton

Poised, 2007, 1983 series, charcoal on acid free paper, 108" x 72",

Madonna I (After Lee Friedlander), 2008, 6” x 4", graphite on 26" x 20" BFK Rives

Mr. Olympia (small), 2008, 1974 series, 9", graphite on 26" x 20" BFK Rives

Last year, Mark T. Stockton was gracious enough to participate in my show, Perfect Strangers Daily Operation. I’ve been keeping up with his work on his website and noticed some new gems. I'm not often drawn to work dealing with celebrities, but Stockton's drawings have something good going on. They are more about the former lives of the stars and how their new lives contrast with the original context of the photos; Tom Cruise as a teen idol on the cusp of stardom, Madonna as a struggling artist’s model, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as a championship bodybuilder.

One of the original Lee Friedlander photographs of his Madonna group, from which Stockton's Madonna I after Friedlander comes, is actually now up for auction at Christie's. Check out his Madonna and others in an upcoming at exhibition titled, Drawing in the World, at UArts in Philadelphia. It will be on view from January 22 - February 22. The reception is February 6, 5pm -8pm. There will also a lecture by James Elkins "Can Drawings Think?" on January 27 and a panel with John Yau on February 4.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Carrie Pollack

Abbreviated Natural Experience, 2004, oil on canvas, 18" x 18"

Just a little while back, I posted a few works by Carrie Pollack from Call & Response, which featured some other artists who have appeared here. I've since gotten to see more of her works and had the chance to do an interview with her. See her website here and the interview below. Also make sure to check out her new works in Perception as Object, which opens this Thursday, the 8th at Monya Rowe Gallery.

JL: The most impressive aspect of your work is its understated quality. They are often simple, precise, with minimal color. There seems to be a singular idea explored and they rarely have an all-over or painterly quality. If just hearing this description, one might think the works are literal or obvious, but they aren’t. Is this something that emerges with deliberation or is it more of an intuitive response to a source?

CP: I think (and hope) it is a bit of both. My goal is to make a painting with as little as possible, almost stopping short to keep it open. I want them to be quiet, slow and a little unclear. I think when this happens it becomes more of a conversation then a statement, maybe somewhere in-between deliberation and intuition. I react to specific things in the world. These things have similar qualities so the choice of source is deliberate. Once I have this catalogue of images I know I want to work with I just sit and look at them for weeks. Through the looking at these images I begin to see other things at play, I think I am intuitively responding and arranging images at that point.

JL: What is you’re impression of these 2004 works, looking back at them now?

CP: They seem far away. I think they contain the same thinking but the new works are made from looking at my own photos and the older work was made by using found images. I have more of a personal relationship with the source I use now and that seems important at the moment. I think I was really trying to make a good painting then and now I am more interested in making a painting that might be a good painting.

Cloud, 2008, oil and pencil on canvas, 16" x 20"

JL: Since the two earlier works, you have developed a kind of “frame” around your images where parts of the canvas are left blank. What purpose do you see this serving, if any?

CP: My work always seemed to be like a small snapshot of something larger, or a close up of something that extends outside of the painting. With the newer paintings I wanted to play with that idea of the edge, or alluding to something happening that you couldn’t see.

JL: What happened since 2004 that allowed that frame to emerge?

CP: When I saw the first prints there were all of these smaller images on a large roll of canvas. When I stretched them and they never quite fit or stayed straight, I remember thinking that I wanted to play with that. I am also still working from source material but now it is mostly my own photographs that I take throughout the day. When I take a picture it becomes framed by the camera and a lot of the time I am taking fast photos so the edge happens on its own.

Metaphor, 2004, oil on linen, 18" x 18"

Foil, 2008, digital print and pencil on canvas, 18" x 24"

JL: Speaking of sources, I really like how you have a source page on your website. It’s cool because it looks like you often take directly from them as opposed to picking parts of them. Is this really the case?

CP: I decided to put that page on my website because people were curious about where the work was coming from. I thought that if I revealed those things people would start to see these things around them and then they wouldn’t ask where the work was coming from. They would see that it was part of a language that comes from the world. This was also a big reason to use the photos in the work itself and not just make paintings from images that no one would see. I wanted to bring the source into the work directly.

JL: How has this changed over the years?

CP: I used to just collect source from anywhere but now I have to take a picture of it. I like to have the photo and not a clipping of paper. I think it reduces the sources to all the same thing. They become a part of this big catalogue. I love Gerhard Richter’s ATLAS.

JL: What role, if any, do the various non-studio activities like studio visits, writing artists statements, teaching have in what you make?

CP: I am currently teaching painting and drawing at the U of Tennessee in Knoxville. The students have amazing thoughts and ideas and are always saying things that I have to think about. Having this time to work out ideas with other people in the studio has always helped me. The exchanges that take place with students or artist friends are so important. Making work is a way of communicating so being able to do this in any way helps to think through ideas. I love going to other peoples studios. You can tell a lot from how people set up their spaces, what they look at etc. I am also a big note taker. I am constantly writing down things I hear or read and this also help me figure things out.