Monday, December 31, 2012

Art's Memories—Kenneth Patchens in Frank's Bookshelf,

I'll always remember my first encounter with the work of Kenneth Patchen, the great American poet. My friend, Frank B, had a box set by New Directions, of his picture poems, in his bookshelf, across from the studio where we all were striving to create, as a motley community of artists and musicians, a complete, unified (by which I mean not totally fractured) theater piece, over a period of 2 hectic months. In his picture he'd struck a rare expressive vein wherein word and picture were organically (and passionately) mushed together to create a unique, very personal vision. Later I understood that most of his picture poems were done as he endured a terrible back pain that afflicted him for the rest of his life.  The picture of Patchen shows him backstage at the Living Theater, where he was performing with Charles Mingus, reading his poems to Jazz circa 1957. For this reason he was often described as a Beat Poet, a label he resisted.

Kenneth Patchen Picture Poem

Roger Hilton Night Letter

Roger Hilton

Roger Hilton Night Letter

Allen Ginsberg with Kenneth Patchen
I conflate his work at times with the night letters of Roger Hilton, drawings also created against a backdrop of pain and also a deep resistance to going gently into that dark night. Created in his last two years in Cornwall, England, where he lived virtually bedridden, sustaining himself on cigarettes and whiskey to Patchen's work was underscored by a deep anger but vast hope for humanity. these gouaches were characterized by a bitterness leavened only by the power and fury of the work. Again words (usually grocery lists, or a list of demands, or cruel jokes laid on his poor, devoted, and long suffering second wife, Rose) are seductively, powerfully merged with imagery and incisive mark making.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Art's Memories—The Elephant Celebes by Max Ernst


The Elephant Celebes may be the painting, from the Surrealist era, that has had the most impact on me. I still remember coming face to face with it for the first time on one of my early visits (I was still in school) to the old Tate Gallery (now called Tate Britain), when it still housed their contemporary art collection. The meaning of it was completely obscure to me but the impact was irrefutable. The fact that I could not pretend to understand this painting but still could be so viscerally impressed astounded me. Though Art is about connecting it is not required to lay everything out for the viewer like a thesis. The art, poetry, music that continues to inspire me rarely has an obvious meaning, or where it does there are certainly layers that remain opaque and compelling, like Shrek's Onion—I've capitalized "Onion" to make it sound like a strange law of physics. I do not want to totally get something. Once I do the mystery evaporates and I need not return. Also think the recent run of incredible serialized dramas on TV channels like HBO that are layered with such complexity and nuance that they reward revisiting and in some instances stand as contemporary novels for our time. In Max Ernst's painting this lumpen form confronts you silently and you are left to wonder for eternity whether it is hollow inside, perhaps half full of ashes, or hot and alive and ready to take off and energize—or destroy—the planet.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Art's Memories—Ivon Hitchens

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/ivon-hitchens-1291

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/artists/ivon-hitchens

Ivon Hitchens might reasonably be considered an uneven, provincial artist in the ever shifting space that is The Gallery of the World. Some of the work that can be seen in the BBC slideshow is awkward (I do not think of him as a strong draughtsman) but in his paintings of small, intimate woodland settings, and musty ponds, he captures smells and memories of an English landscape that reside deep in my own memories; and his own deep connection to English nature is incontrevertible. Growing up I did not encounter his paintings that often but his work was striking in it's relationship to the work of the abstract expressionists. There is a connection to the work of his contemporaries in England (Peter Lanyon comes first to mind, or even David Jones), and later British artists, especially Howard Hodgkin. Inevitably his work also harkens back to that of Constable and Turner, and shares something of a raw mysticism with Samuel Palmer, a protege of William Blake.

I want to highlight the work of artists who impacted me at an early age though remaining somewhat outside the mainstream. So I am not focused on providing links to the work of William Blake, or John Constable, or William Turner. I imagine images jump to mind for most folks when seeing these names. The BBC Art Library is phenomenal, as are those, of course, to be found at The Tate and The British Museum, each of which are referenced above.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Extreme Oil Cleanup


Public Viral Cardboard Sculpture




This Sunday I'll arrive with old wooden palettes, some wood and a pile of cardboard and will begin to build using grip staplers, tape, utility knives, staple guns and maybe white glue (no electrics so no glue guns). The results may well look a lot like a pile of cardboard! We'll see. Daring to go at it without a clear target is part of this experiment in Public Art. I may press tools into the hands of visitors and ask them to add to the piece. I may draw on the piece using india ink and brush. A lot depends on the weather. Maybe I'll see you there.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Harmonica Player

Woke up in the night thinking about Corneille, then realized I meant Constant (they were both members of the COBRA movement and neither were favorites of mine). Constant later went on from his creating of childlike paintings to create architectural schematics. In collecting catalogues and books about the COBRA movement one one small pamphlet stuck in my mind: Constant by H. Van Haaren, published under Art and Architecture in the Netherlands. When working in cardboard my approach has always been to bend and warp the material, fight it and create something more organic than the box like nature of cardboard would at first suggest. Now I find myself more inclined to the creating of more modular objects akin to Richard Deacon (http://www.richarddeacon.net/). In a way Constant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constant_Nieuwenhuys) gives me permission not that I fully understand why I need it. If I want to build a building I can.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cardboard Animals

For two hour workshop with kids in a lovely local summer camp...
Went to recycling center and salvaged cardboard
Arrived with:
 small templates of baboons and elephants
 tools-tough scissors, grip staplers, utility knife and cutting board (for my use only!)
 pile of cardboard sized to templates
 color markers

Had class of eighteen and two wonderful helpers

Whilst they colored their little animals I created big baboon
Whilst we cut out their little animals and gave them stands the kids colored big baboon




Finally cut out big baboon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tony Smith, local Sculptor

Tony Smith, 1946-1947 (Sitting behind a...chinese typewriter?) And in background...just guessing...Pollock Psychoanalysis paintings?

With Jackson Pollock and Barnett Newman 1951

With models/maquettes for "Bat Cave" 1969
Please visit this blog post from which I shamelessly took these images for a more in depth appreciation of Tony Smithhttp://mondo-blogo.blogspot.com/2011/12/tony-smith-kills-it.html

Cardboard is Everything

http://bartalos.com/page/3/
Beautiful use of recycled cardboard by Michael Bartalos

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Doing Lines

Asemic writing