Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Pick: Cora Cohen

I have known Cora Cohen's work briefly but it wasn't until recently (the show Signs and Systems where I also saw Sunday Pick Sean McDonough of two weeks ago) that I saw it in person.  The same was true of her work as the other standouts in that show, the surfaces were thrilling.  

Her work is quiet and slow, qualities that are not always lauded in the contemporary art world and I don't know why.  Looking at her work is to watch her paint.  You can feel the consideration of each mark and as a result the painting is left so open to the viewer.  The process is embedded in the mark.  

The subtlety in the layering of nuanced color and glimpses of light through washes keep the paintings moving, like each time you look back something will be slightly different. It's kind of like the hypnotic feeling I get watching my dog sleeping, so rhythmic and steady but wonderfully and oddly captivating and alive.

Her work feels like the best of the best to me.  If described to someone without the first hand experience, you might say you've seen that type of painting a million times.  But this you have only seen once when you stand in front of it because every single mark is made with purpose and an honest consciousness.  That is such a remarkable thing to behold.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Pick: John Bokor

Vase of Flowers, 2012

Striped Tablecloth, 2013

The Green Bowl, 2011

Burgundy Still Life, 2012

White Tablecloth, 2012

White Tablecloth and Pen Jar, 2012

John Bokor's still life is among work that I can continue to look at and find new things to see and learn from as good painting does.  He uses 'everyday objects' (a phrase I actually hate when referring to still life paintings) for their properties of color, pattern and shape, they are not sentimentally loved but visually loved for those properties.  They are composed almost musically, a rhythm to each painting that is different.  That is part of what I really like, the ability he has to create color relationships and a sense of light unique to each painting.  Many more works can be seen at his gallery in Australia, King Street Gallery.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Color and Pattern...Come On In

Turkish Ottoman from a favorite local shop called Woven Treasures on 23rd and South                  
 Spray painted this odd piece Alex got in college that was ugly brown but an essential place to put keys and a drink

We have lived in the same 900 square feet for four years and about three months ago I decided it was time for a bit of updating.  I also decided I had about $250 to do so.  After painting the walls a light, cool gray, I have slowly been making minor additions and changes.  Here are a few of them.

Taped off this chevron pattern and added some pattern to a boring stool with leftover paint
Got a new carpet on overstock for $100 

 Alex's parents gave us this unbelievably gorgeous vase for our one year wedding anniversary that passed this week
My parents scored us this awesome piece of stained glass on a road trip to Florida for $35 off craigslist

And I have big plans for that coffee table in the first picture, just scored off craigslist for a whooping $30.  

Every once in a while I feel miserably constrained by my budget ('do you know how many amazing and weird things we would have if I had a well paying job Alex?') but then I get some ideas and that creative competitive thing (you know what I mean?) kicks in and I think, 'I bet I can do this for under $20, maybe even for $0'.  I really think being resourceful can make up for the missing 50% of my salary that most other people have, it saves so much money and is so incredibly satisfying when the work is done.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Pick: Sean McDonough

2012, Oil on Linen
Arkansas Mishap, 2013, Oil on Linen
Mockingbird, 2013, Oil on Cotton

Sis, 2012, Oil on Linen

Armed, 2012, Oil on Linen 

I recently saw Sean McDonough's work for the first time when I dropped by Gross McCleaf to see their current show Signs and Systems.  McDonough's work was one of the stand outs in the show for me.  So much of the work in that show hinged on the surfaces for me, some worse in person, some better.  This work is subtle and complex in its surfaces and color and varies between the pieces.  

When I later read McDonough's statement I liked what he had to say about this (excerpt):
My objective is one of haptics – the communicative power of touch. What are the communicative qualities of the mark, and how do they relate to the body? The making of marks is the meaning.

Paintings by their nature exist as images – as manifestations within pictorial space. I’m primarily concerned with how the image is created. The image is the evidence of the body’s engagement. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Visit to the Phillips and Braque Show

Georges Braque, 1943, Pitcher, Candlestick and Black Fish
Georges Braque, 1952, The Philodendron 

Georges Braque, 1952, The Shower
Milton Avery, 1954, Morning Landscape

Marsden Hartley, 1936-38, Off to the Banks

Yesterday I went down to D.C. to check out the Braque still life show at the Phillips Collection.  It was  a good show, I especially enjoyed the last room with his works from the 1940s.  The one at the top of this post was really nice in person.  He painted the yellows over the darks and it had a slow glow that burned across the entire room.  

The other pieces here are from the permanent collection and the works that gave me the most pause this trip.  Of course I spent time with the Bonnards, Diebenkorns and Matisses, they are like old friends.  But these paintings were poignant for me this time in a way that they weren't before.  The harsher and simplified shapes are things I am needing in my own work more and so I think that is why these stood out.  It's hard to tell a day later but I'm hoping something in them seeps into my studio for a while.  Either way, I am never sorry I spent a day in this museum.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

In the Studio: Helen Frankenthaler

1956 Life Magazine Cover featuring Helen Frankenthaler.  I doubt she ever sat like this in her studio on her paintings, especially considering the macho men of her generation she was able to keep pace with and out pace.  But what a great thing to be able to do that and be a woman who puts on a skirt and tie blouse at the end of the day.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday Pick: Bill Traylor

Yesterday, I went to see the Outsider Art show at the Museum.  I had heard good things and was not disappointed.  The show is organized well and felt just the right size -- each artist had a small alcove that held their work, so each artist's individual vision (which was so different and poignant from one to the next) could be engaged with.  

There were quite a few artists whose work I responded to -- but I have loved Bill Traylor's drawings for a long time and seeing them in person was a treat.  The piece at the top and its inky blue washes and tension at the top was exquisite.  Traylor apparently started drawing suddenly in his mid -eighties and made many drawings.  He was born a slave and remained on that land as a farmhand most of his life.  

Contemplating each artists' daily life (of which many were extremely interesting and bordering on bizarre) and the notion that they made work purely for themselves, with no intention of showing it or selling it kept popping into my mind.  The human urge to make things and how varied that expression can be was incredibly present.  More on Traylor and this show can be seen here.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Gallery Hopping List NYC

My recent NY trip map (if you will)
Recently, a reader from overseas asked me for any recommendations on galleries to visit in NY when in for a short visit.  I have had a running list of favorites on my computer that I check before heading up myself.  But when my computer bit the dust a few weeks back, I realized it would make a lot of sense to put this list in a safer place: my sketchbook.  I also thought it might be something helpful to put up here after hearing there may be some interest for it (...and in case my luck goes really bad and I lose my sketchbook too.)

So here are my favorite, most solid choices (only in Manhattan):
Cheim & Read
Edward Thorp
Elizabeth Harris
Sears Peyton
Sikkema Jenkins
Tibor de Nagy

Here are my second favorite, most solid choices:
Anton Kern
Bowery Gallery
DC Moore
George Billis
J. Cacciola
Lori Bookstein
Matthew Marks
Mitchell-Innes & Nash
The Painting Center
Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects

And here are the enormous, monstrous galleries that are less my style but worth seeing anyway:
David Zwirner

So that is my usual rundown.  If you have any suggestions to add please leave them in the comments section. I will try any gallery once...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sunday Pick: Gabriella Boyd

Bananas, 2012
Ripe, 2012

Girl Cruising, 2012

Two Tables, 2011
In the last few weeks I came across the work of Gabriella Boyd.  Finding her work gave me this overwhelming, ecstatic, sense of relief.  It's a hard feeling to explain, unless you are a painter yourself and have experienced it first hand -- but the feeling of seeing a painting that reflects your own sentiments visually is one of the most exciting and relieving I have experienced.  It's as if the painter is walking out of the painting and saying, "I get you and everything you are trying to do", and from there you could just talk for hours about seeing and painting.

  Of course, my paintings are different than Boyd's, but her interest in pattern, color, odd spatial and figurative relationships just give me faith in my own attempts at painting.  Her paintings play on the edges of reality and I love them for that.  She is the kind of painter that pops into my mind in the studio and I feel a renewed sense of confidence (like I felt when I first saw Kyle Staver's work).  There is a nice Huffington Post article on her work, her influences and her thoughts on her work here.