It’s finally time for me to take a look at the next batch of artists I was recommended at the Vermont Studio Center. Many of these artists were recommended by Miguel Luciano. Miguel in my critique with him seemed fixated on the busyness in my works particularly the the City of the Dead drawing that I completed at VSC. He seemed to favor my drawings over my paintings which I think he felt were constricting – which is exactly the point of the paintings by the way. Miguel seemed surprised, maybe a little annoyed with me that I didn’t know some of the artists he recommended.
I’d like to discuss that sense I got from him for a moment before I get to his artists. There are a lot of artists out there. When I was in graduate school I was told by a unkind and blunt professor that there were 250,000 artists with MFA’s in America. I graduated fifteen years ago and I’m sure those numbers are much higher now. Even if I were the mot engaged artist – which I admit I am far from – it would be impossible to know every other artists who might do work like mine. We artists play this game when we meet each other. Its a sorta gotcha game, a silly way that we size each other up. We play the do-you-know-such-and-such game, and if were nice about it, pass along the name in the hopes that the receiver might discover something illuminating. When were not nice we judge the artists we meet for their ignorance for not knowing other artists whose work looks similar to their own. Miguel judged me, a little. But on the other hand I know I need to look more and so I took my licking like a big boy. Here are some very beautiful flowers from the Rose Gardens at Ceder Beach Park in Allentown:
now on to those artist…
Here are the artists Miguel recommended; Jacob Van Loon, Jose Lerma, and William Pope(L). Lets start with Jacob van Loon. Van Loon’s works feel impressively airy and dense simultaneously. A trick I don’t quite achieve in my pieces. My take of this artists work is that he seems mostly interested in very traditional composition challenges of form balance and color. His titles though suggests something else maybe darker with titles like “Lead Shot Star I”, “Collider Stations”, and “Arnold Palmer”. Van Loon said of his piece “The Moguls (Stalker)” remarks that I feel are revealing of his style. In Redefine Magazine van Loon told writer Vivian Hua:
Layering and obliteration is a functional component of the concept in this set. It’s important that some of each step in the process shows through in the final composition, but it tends not to be delineated. I don’t build up volume from a center point and move outwards; the distribution of progress is staggered and dynamic. In these paintings, there’s several layers of graphite between coats of primer, and the markmaking muddies the white of the primer. I also let the primer gum up a little bit in the open air, and run a dry brush through each layer to give the surface volume. Even before [any] pigment is down, light [hits] the surface of that panel in an active way, over a whitewashed, sanded panel. Building color is something I still experiment with in each new painting
This push and pull of material and allowing underlying marks to peek through in the final work is a stylistic device van Loon and I share. Particularly with his propensity to draw and paint over graphite marks. Here’s an image of “The Moguls (Stalker)”
And now here’s a nice YouTube of van Look working in his studio
Now onto Jose Lerma. Lerma is a personal friend of Miguel Luciano and I was honored that he felt that my work resembled his friends. Lerma’s works like mine have this layering effect, and this superimposition of lines and materials. I relate to his use of non traditional materials, I see a lot of found objects in his works, pieces of detritus scraps from something larger that’s lost its purpose. In many of his pieces Lerma uses pen and ink like myself. Here are a few images of Lerma I like:
Madre Perla V-11, 2011
Elbow II”, 2006
In his own words Lerma says his works:
I make paintings and works about painting. I try my best to collapse the personal with the art historical and to fit both within a single frame. This is something many artists do, but I just wanted to make it central to my practice. Although the works and paintings change dramatically in terms of material, the common thread is some story I heard my mom say, for instance, or some ugly piece of furniture in their living room or some dorky thing I did in my youth. Then I try to fuse this with some historical event, person or artistic style. This sounds cheesy, but I always say that all art is about other art and about your parents.
I’ve felt in this brief look at artists that seeing the artist in their space gives me a sense of how they work and so here’s Lerma in his space.
Finally lets take a brief look at William Pope(L). Pope (L) is the artist Miguel Luciano was most surprised I had never heard of. I must confess to being a bit embarrassed now that I’ve looked at the artists work, though I still feel that the gotcha game artists play with each other is a bit silly. Actually I realized in looking at his work that I actually sat in a lecture he gave at the College Arts Association Conference in 2015 where he was on of the keynote speakers. It remember thinking he was cagey and evasive when asked about his recent work which reminded me of a similar feeling I got from a lecture I attended Kara Walker at the University of Michigan Museum of Art back in 2000. Part of the subject matter of both talks dealt with black identity and the violence done to black bodies, and so a nuisances response was perhaps appropriate. Here are the works I remember Pope (L) showing at that conference presentation:
Yellow People are…, Black People are my…, Yellow People…, Green People are the white…, Green People are America… and Purple People do… (6 works), 2001–2008
Pope (L) seems to be most noted for his eRacism projects particularly his “The Great White Way” piece where the artist crawled up the entire 22 mile length of Broadway in New York dressed as Superman and with a skateboard strapped to his back. Recently Pope (L) exhibited “Trinket” and enormous wind whipped flag at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which appear at times to fray at the edges, a fitting commentary on our fractured nation. Here’s Trinket:
I think Miguel wanted to provide me with another black artist who deftly used race as a subject in his works when he recommended Pope (L) to me. When Miguel met with me I was in the middle of working on my piece “Matthew Likes Darkies Best” and I was nervous that I’d handle the source material poorly. That work turned out fine thanks in no small part to Miguel’s confidence boost during that crit. In any case Pope (L) and I don’t seem to visually share many stylistic similarities other than using racialized text in our work. Nevertheless he was a fine and past due artist for me to look in on.
Matthew Stitzer, my housemate who died in January, has a twin brother Marc whose been hanging out at the house a lot lately. On one of his recent visits he got me into Boz Scaggs, as if I needed more inducement. Here’s Boz Scaggs and Duane Allman with “Loan Me A Dime”.
Okay that enough for this post. I recently sold a bunch of work at a restaurant and so I thought I’d do a “Shots from the Show” post on it in the next few days. Until then be well!