Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Tapestry Cow" and Portland Open Studio

"Tapestry Cow", pastel, 9.5x9.5
Every October one hundred artists in the Portland Metro area open their studios to the public during Portland Open Studios. A nominal fee gets you a map/admission ticket enabling you to visit the artists where they work, look at their projects, observe techniques, and ask questions. The art's for sale, too, of course! Some studios are in the artists' homes, basements, garages or attics, and some are rented spaces in old or new buildings. Many printmakers form collectives to share studio space and equipment. I made a point of meeting some of the artists who live in my neighborhood, among them Andrea McFarland, a fellow pastelist, and Christopher Wagner, whose wood sculptures are sophisticated yet hit a primal nerve. Elsewhere in town I visited Renee Hartig and got pretty excited about her powerful oil paintings. Mark Diamond's intricate metalwork and cloisonne blew my mind.

Inspired to "do something different" with my own work, I'm using a familiar subject (a cow) in a new style that reminds me of an old tapestry. What do you think?

Friday, November 4, 2011

India: Giving thanks for the memories

"Bangles", pastel, 9.5x7
Remembering Thanksgiving 2009 in Delhi, India: Navigating streets swarming with food vendors, tuk-tuks, dogs, motorbikes, goats, beggars, and camels, we meandered down narrow alleys, peeked into homes through open doorways, marveling at the electrical wiring tangled and dangling overhead, and narrowly escaped stepping into fresh piles of poop. A grizzled and cheerful chaiwallah pounded fresh ginger, tossing it into a steaming pot of milk and black tea simmering over an open flame. Delicious. Goats, everywhere, had been brought to market by Muslim herders hoping to make tidy profits during Eid. New owners would lead their goats  back home through the alleys to live for days or hours before ritual slaughter, cooking and consumption. We visited a Sikh temple where we left our shoes outside, covered our heads, and received a tutorial about Sikh philosophy, the hallmark of which is service. Inside the temple kitchen I did my part by making chapatis.

Sarah and Alan, Old Delhi '09
Learning the goat business
Do-it-yourself electrical, Old Delhi
Making chapatis, Sikh Temple, Delhi

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lonely Tree and "The Cool School"

Lonely Tree, pastel, 11x8
The landscape in Southern Oregon and Northern California is often spectacular with dramatic skies. On a car trip from Portland to San Francisco I got many great photos that have translated into paintings that I really love such as Lonely Tree, featured here.

On the theme of California:   "The Cool School" is a documentary about the genesis of the LA art scene starting in the late 1950s and focuses on the role of the Ferus Gallery, which opened in 1957, in coalescing the movement. Apparently there wasn't a strong West Coast art scene at the time, with only a nascent one in SF--everything was happening in NY. But a guy named Walter Hopps, inspired by an encounter with Marcel Duchamps, had a vision to promote abstract art. As soon as he partnered with the more dynamic and ambitious Irving Blum they created the LA art scene by cultivating and promoting local artists including Ed Kienholz, Ed Ruscha, Robert Irwin, Ed Moses, Wallace Berman, Craig Kauffman, Billy Al Bengston,  and John Altoon. Nevertheless, it's telling that it wasn't until Blum brought the theretofore unknown Andy Warhol and his soup can series from NY to LA that Ferus Gallery really took off. Architect Frank Gehry hung around with these visual artists, feeling more energized by them than by other architects. During this time period Dennis Hopper was also part of the gang--it was definitely a boys club.