Someone else’s trash can definitely be my treasure. When I started out creating art, I had a difficult time figuring out what I was going to do, therefore could not really know what I would need too far in advance. The biggest problem this caused me was the cost. Figuring out what I needed last minute and running to Lowe’s or Home Depot or the art store was not economical at all. Fortunately, I now contemplate most of my projects for quite a while. There are so many projects I want to work on, there is no way I could complete them all at once, and many of them evolve over time. What this means for me is that I am much more patient. And if I put in the effort, I can find more unique materials, often for free. I am excited because it is trash pick up in my neighborhood again. It is now only once a year, but throughout the year in different neighborhoods around town. I have never been organized enough to fully take advantage of this, I know I have seen a map outlining the different zones. This year, I found many great surfaces that I am extremely excited about. I have been incredibly busy this year, curating and representing other artists, that I haven’t had time to focus on my own art. Not making a huge effort, everything was found as I did my regular driving, just keeping vigilant of my surroundings. As I had mentioned in my previous post about SAMA, Chakaia Booker inspired me to add rubber to my art supply stock pile. People throw tires on their curbs all year long, but particularly when there is a huge trash pick up. I simply stop and throw it in my trunk. Used tire stores are also good resources. They are dying to get rid of them, they have to pay to have them all hauled away. I found I can take as many as I want if I stop there and ask. Since I found they will be at my disposal at any time, I did agree to stop picking them up until I am ready to use them, to preserve the sanity in my house, and stop taking up so much space. Apparently, I lied. I could not resist when they were just sitting there, thrown to the curb. Yes, I picked up a total of ten tires this round.
In another post, I also referenced a found art show I had been invited in. The piece was a broken window I found in front of someone’s house. The window was broken, as if something was thrown through it. When I saw it, I immediately had to pick it up. I saw the broken dreams in this window. I imagined the window being broken as a fight ensued, something being thrown at someone, missing and going through the window. Or someone possibly trying to break into the house, again, shattering a sense of safety within the home, a man’s castle. All the pieces clicked for me as I saw this piece laying in the pile of rubbish. I simply titled it Broken Dreams, and it was accepted into the student show, only adding holes to suspend it from the ceiling. From that show, I was invited into The DuChampions of Art at Lonestar Studios. I was requested to alter the piece, so I changed it from its original negative found state by cleaning it and boarding it up, rendering it useful again, now titling it Perseverance. Since then, I have been drawn to windows. They represent so much to me, dividing the private world from the public. It is a part of a home, letting in light, keeping out adverse weather. I find them to be both functional and revealing at the same time. A window is a good framing device, painting surface, or as I mentioned earlier, can be an art piece all on their own. My first window find is exciting, however, soon ends in disappointment. I am unable to fit them in my car and I wasn’t prepared to strap anything to the roof. That does happen when there is no preparation. I have to let them go. I did go back the next day, but they were gone. That is how this goes – a limited time opportunity. All is not lost. Fortunately, while different, there are still plenty of windows thrown out. I come across two different, smaller windows, deteriorating but with the frames and glass in tact. That is a characteristic I love about finding old items. The worn, weathered appearance often ties in conceptually with the ideas I am working with. Separately, I find three framed window panes and yet at another stop, I find two window frames with no glass. At this time I don’t have any specific project in mind, but I will contemplate them for a while. I have noticed a few reoccurring themes that have found their way into my work, including windows and other parts that comprise a house. While I have been collecting doors for a while, I have recently begun to consider using drawers. When I came across a pile of them, I had to grab a few. They can be used as a possible display case, or hung as a shelf, but after some thought, I decided I want to use these shallow drawers as painting surfaces. They just need to be cleaned up, then I can apply a few coats of gesso and sand. I need to spend some time thinking about the imagery I want to use for these paintings. That is the nature of how I work, contemplating over a period of time. So far this has worked out well, I know when I am ready. But by far, my favorite find was this night stand. I have been wanting to take my painting to a three-dimensional surface for while now. Again, the excitement was instant when I saw it, like with the window. The top is missing, but that can be easily replaced. In fact, my head is already swimming with how I can take advantage of this. In my drip paintings, I not only layer the drips, I layer the imagery. Masking off as I paint, this creates a diminishing image, getting smaller within itself. I think I would like to do this with wood, my image getting smaller, going deeper inside. This has a topographical atmosphere, becoming a map of whatever image I want to explore. This is something I might not have thought about if I had bought this new. I have never been interested in a brand new, polished look for my art. This method of obtaining art supplies motivates my creativity and is extremely economical. For not exuding too much effort, I actually found quite a few items I am excited to work with. My ideas started brewing as soon as I had some inspiration. All of this was free. I just had to look around in what I did every day. My total is three window panes, two complete windows, two empty window frames, one shutter door, three drawers, one night stand, and ten tires.
Yesterday was the last day I could make it to the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) to see San Antonio Collects: Contemporary, an exhibition of art from the private collections of San Antonio, including pieces from the late Linda Pace’s collection, before it closes this week. It is an impressive collection amassed here in San Antonio, giving me a rare glimpse into what is displayed in the expensive homes throughout the city. This impressive show includes internationally known artists, but also clearly recognizes the local talent from right here in San Antonio. This show focuses on the contemporary private collections, showcasing that San Antonians have excellent taste in art, and why many artists continue to work and be inspired in this bursting art scene.
Upon entering the room, an expanded accordion by Christian Marclay is the first sculpture to welcome you. To this point I have only seen Marclay’s film work, however, the accordion fits appropriately into his ongoing ideas about sound and music. His video, The Clock, 2010, was well received and reviewed, earning him a place in the 2011 Venice Biennale, leading Newsweek to name him one of the most important artists of today. Extending from the usual size, this expanded piece reminds me that sound can be made by anything and how any sound can be composed into music. A few months ago, I did get to view Telephones, 1995, at the Contemporary Art Museum of Houston. I was unaware Marclay had done a residency at Artpace in 1999, where this piece was created. Proof that Artpace and their guest curators recognizes outstanding talent.
Chakaia Booker is also included in the exhibit. I have been inspired by her work since she gave a lecture at Blue Star when I was an art student. She had completed so many pieces, she just walked around the audience, clicking the projector through her vast collection of images, choosing to show her immense her body of work, only stopping on a few key pieces to discuss specifically. Booker has a piece in the McNay permanent collection that I enjoy going to view. Her works are conversations about the environment, re purposing rubber tires as her primary material. At the lecture, she was asked where she got all of the tires, as she has created some massive public sculptures. Booker laughed, responding that tires where everywhere and free. Since her lecture, I have included rubber to my stock pile of art supplies. She was absolutely correct. They are plentiful and cost nothing but the time it takes to stop your car and throw them in the trunk.
A large portrait of Linda Pace by Chuck Ramirez was displayed. Not the traditional portraiture you would expect, Ramirez did a series of intimate Purse Portraits, revealing the secrets a woman hides and carries around with her in her purse. Louis (Linda), 2005, exposed the contents of Pace’s purse, in a large 60″ x 48″ format. Often very personal, this series exposes a private, yet functional side of his subjects, needing and using the objects carried around, yet the inside of a purse is personal, secretive. Ramirez takes this commercial approach to portraiture, isolating the subject, making it the only thing for the viewer to contemplate without distraction.
Other pieces I enjoyed in this exhibition included two pieces from Robert Longo, an artist that I have always found inspiring. The large, contorted bodies of his subjects are both awkward and entrancing to look at, again, a different way to view portraiture. His subjects are dressed for business while their poses reveal another reality, almost as if they were just struck. In my silhouette paintings, I have been using very feminine imagery, however, I have been interested in a more unusual body image, influenced by Longo, expanding from the more common femme fatale. There are a few people that have expressed interest in modeling for me using a trampoline to get a falling sensation from different body poses. Now if I could just find a trampoline to use…
Another notable San Antonio artist included is Alex Rubio. His huge piece, 4 Horsemen, takes imagery from the Book of Revelations, discussing apocalyptic themes, while updating into his signature style. Representing Pestilence, Famine, War, and Death with skeletal figures, he expands the imagery to include healing remedies for each of these world issues. Also included is a bird representing each of the subjects he tackles on the canvas, a living symbol of the horrors that will one day be the end of civilization. Of course, these are just a few of the fantastic pieces included in this exhibition. There is no possible way to discuss all of the wonderful art work on display, so I had to just highlight a few that stood out for me. Artists were represented from coast to coast, including Jeff Koons turning childhood memories into iconic sculptures, and a sleek, polished industrial board from John McCracken. This has been one of my favorite shows curated by David Rubins at SAMA. I am so glad I was able to make it, before this exhibition closes later this week.