There is a huge Lucian Freud exhibit at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Over ninety pieces are included in this exhibit. It is also the only US stop for this show that was put together by the National Portrait Gallery London. A large number of these pieces were painted in his studio, portraying life – the studio as the background with many subjects vulnerable, yet comfortable, posing nude, seeming to just be hanging out. There are so many things to take in when looking at his work, composed largely of portraits and nudes. The scale is immense, making these figures larger than life. Painting his subjects as they “posed” for him, full of emotion and intensity. The permanent collection at the Modern is always fantastic to wander through. There is a wonderful selection of Modern and Contemporary art, including Joseph Cornell, Richard Hamilton, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Motherwell, and some huge pieces by Anselm Kiefer. The Greeting, 1995, by video artist Bill Viola is a provocative piece to watch. The video is of two women talking, when a third woman walks up and joins the conversation. While this is an ordinary occurrence, Viola captures human emotion as he plays the interaction in slow motion. This changes the entire way this encounter is viewed. SFMOMA has a great video of Viola discussing this piece, and how the composition of the figures are based on an image of The Visitation. This makes me think of Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. He would film people for the length of the film, a couple of minutes, but would slow it down and extend it to four minutes. Warhol felt a person either had a presence or they didn’t. Warhol was also interested in capturing real life and human emotions, as in his early art films Sleep, Eat, and Blow. I was fortunate enough to see several of the screen tests played at the McNay, when they exhibited Andy Warhol: Fame and Misfortune. Another highlight in the collection is the Minimal art. This particular type of art is clean and simplistic. It is interesting that next month I will be heading to Marfa, Texas for my annual pilgrimage to Chinati, and here in Fort Worth many of the artists I will see there are on display, such as Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and Carl Andre. This large piece by Judd is from the floor to the ceiling. Even in this image, you can begin to see how the translucent plastic or glass material bathes the work in a soft haze of orange, extending from the piece to the surrounding environment.
However, I do prefer to view these artists in the setting that Chinati presents. One or two pieces from an artist doesn’t seem like enough. Even though that is primarily how art is viewed. Well, that’s not entirely true, maybe just regarding permanent collections. I make a huge effort to see an artist’s solo exhibitions. It is important for me to see a large body of work from the artist or experience several series, such as in a major exhibition or retrospective. Since viewing the huge installations that are presented in Marfa, I think I am spoiled. Maybe Judd was onto something. I think I do prefer his isolated, large permanent exhibits of an artist’s work. In that context, I can get an idea of what they are trying to convey through their work. If you are drawn to a particular artist, it is also logical to want to see more. Installations on such a large scale are also an experience in itself. That cannot be expressed in one or two pieces.
Richard Serra also has a small piece, however, his amazing work here is a massive outdoor sculpture. Rusting metal overtakes several stories, towering over you. As with many of Serra’s outdoor sculptures, I was able to walk around and inside. With an opening at the top, the light shined in. The size, material, and tall shape also made the piece bounce echoes of any noise or yelling from inside. That was an interesting experience. I have always found it interesting that Serra is one if the few artists that has had his work rejected by the public. Having to walk around the large structure in a plaza proved too much for some New Yorkers to appreciate, and Tiled Arc was dismantled, apparently still sitting in a warehouse. Another public work by Serra that has caused some controversy is the outdoor piece, Shift, located in Canada. Although the issues surrounding that piece have to do with land rights being sold, with the new owners trying to remove the work. The highlight, however, may be the actual building itself. Built fairly recently in 2002, it was designed by Japanese architect, Tadao Ando. This modern building is a brilliant extension of the art collection within. The forty foot glass windows allow an incredible natural light to enter, while outside it reflects the serene pond, outdoor sculptures, and an amazing view of downtown Fort Worth. With plenty of space to walk around, it is easy to enjoy the view. The unique design places the building within the 1.5 acre pond, the water coming right up to the large glass panes, creating the illusion that the building is effortlessly floating.
This was the beginning of three nights in a row of art shows. The first event is at the McNay. It is always nice to visit here, both the grounds and the buildings are beautiful. The permanent collection and travelling shows that come through here are always impressive, as well. The talk today is Artists Looking At Art, featuring Ana Fernandez. Always enjoying her work, I also visited her solo show in Austin, at Women and Their Work, and previously wrote about it. Hunting out the originality of San Antonio, Fernandez presents her take on the authentic parts of the culture here. I learned how her family, particularly her Grandmother’s home, became a pivotal influence to her art, inspiring her original paintings. The home itself became a place of mystery for her early on in her life. Her slide show included many of the photo studies she did in preparation for her paintings, proving these places really exist. These photos were taken from the huge screen in the Chiego lecture hall, so their colors are not depicted accurately and there is some obvious distortion. However, the imagery was so great, I had to include them. Below, the real house is on the left, Fernandez’s painting on the right. While never painting the scene exactly as she found it, she captures the essence of these places, the most important part. This next image is another photo of a real house on the left. On the right is Fernandez coincidentally meeting a man who lives in that house. Randomly, he had wandered into her show at Joan Grona’s, instantly recognizing his dwelling. This photo was taken and printed in a publication. Sharing tales of her methodology, Fernandez searches around the city for her inspiration. Claiming she can never find anything when she is looking for something specific, just getting into her car to drive around reveals all the material she needs. The final part of Fernandez’s lecture took place in front of her painting currently on display in the Frost Octagon, in the front of the building. The standard size of her oil paintings are large scale. It was impressive to see so many of these on display at her show in Austin. I learned this particular piece was inspired by a family party going on as she drove by. The actual photo had a large family in it, but she decided to omit them, creating an eerie feeling of something missing from an event that was already in full swing. Instead, Fernandez represents the missing family by numbers on the chairs. The sole figures remaining are the ghostly silhouettes of two children in the bouncy castle, that were in her original photo. Fernandez gave a great lecture, explaining a lot about her work. Finding out what she was drawn to and why helped me understand how personal her work is and see it from a different view. While changing some details, she is preserving the unique history she has adopted as an adult and artist. From the McNay, I head across town to Bismarck Studios for Franctober-Fest, featuring the work of Franco Mondini-Ruiz. Never having been to this gallery before, I was impressed by its size and what an event they had going on. But of course, I have never been to a Mondini-Ruiz show that wasn’t an event. With beer, bratwurst, and umpah music, this was a fabulous Franco Mondini-Ruiz experience. Mondini-Ruiz typically makes two types of work: oil paintings and assemblages. I have been a fan of the assemblages for a while now, owning two of them already. La Mojada, the first piece I purchased from Mondini-Ruiz, is smart and comical. It is a white porcelain female head, swimming across a cup of tea. Since then, I search through the seemingly endless amount of art he creates for his shows, looking for other pieces that I connect with. Mondini-Ruiz will never be accused of not working on his art, every art show I have ever been to has an insane amount of art that he has produced. Having been to his lecture at SAMA a few years ago and reading his interviews, he says he makes art for all people, all incomes. Primarily making his profits from his large scale paintings, he lets his assemblages go sometimes for a price that is “artist affordable”. Remember, all art is normally negotiable. Seriously, if he had not lowered the price, I wouldn’t be able to afford even one piece. Mondini-Ruiz is quite a character, and easily recognizable in his trademark stripped pants. When I arrived at this show, I didn’t really have any intention of buying anything. I am broke right now, after all. But after talking to him, my husband bought me a new piece I had been admiring, Bubble Boy, in the price range of our other pieces. Mondini-Ruiz even convinced my friend that came with us to buy a piece as well. We probably should have left then, but the we were having such a great time! Eventually, Mondini-Ruiz charmed the pants off of us and made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. We bought another piece, and I left with the biggest assemblage there, the priciest. It was such an incredible deal, we could not pass it up. This was a fantastic and exciting night. I love going out to see art, it is always inspiring. Beginning with a great lecture and finishing up by walking away with two pieces of art that I love, I really can never predict what may happen. Mondini-Ruiz is the artist I own the most pieces from, now owning four. Next is Linda Arredondo and Barbara Justice, having two pieces from each artist. I may have to write a blog about the wonderful pieces that my collection is comprised of. It is a small but growing collection, and are all pieces that I admire.
Second Friday has come around again so I head out to see some art.
One of the artists exhibiting at REM Gallery is Erin Stafford. I have known her since we went to Berlin together a few years ago, when she was finishing her graduate studies. She paints very feminine, classic subject matter, and in this show, displayed them in beautiful baroque frames in contemporary colors. Pearls and jewelry are common themes among her paintings. However, she adds a suggestive touch, updating classic imagery with a more modern, seductive take. Stafford chooses to present us with another view of these female adornments, one not so polished and perfectly manicured. What I enjoy most about this series is her ability be seductive with inanimate objects. When I use words like suggestive and seductive, I expect a portrait, not a still life. I had been considering her for Seven Minutes in Heaven, and this was my first opportunity to discuss this with her. I found out she has moved back to Dallas, but was very excited to be invited to the show.
I decide to check out the art at High Wire Art Gallery. A large space, there are always several artists showing various media. In particular, I notice the photography of Carter Johnston. His unassuming portraits have an interesting take on a personal experience. All of the photos are of people driving in their cars. In his artist statement, he discusses the private world that exists when you are surrounded by four walls of metal, able to push out the rest of the world, only interrupted by other drivers, breaking the magic of solitude. Unaware as Johnston’s shutter clicks, his subjects reveal moments of introspection, withdrawn from reality, if just for a few moments.
I laugh as I see an old, beloved painting displayed. Zagros Memar painted this piece while we were in school, and it has always been a favorite of mine. The imagery of these conservative women with a stud is playful and insinuating. The rawness is very expressive, exposing the secrets that goes on behind the closed doors of society. He has a studio in the back building of High Wire with Holly Simonson and Alex Vargas, but unfortunately it is closed tonight. Normally it is open while they paint or display their art for sale. There is a band jamming together, experimenting with sounds in the open studio area. I know High Wire encourages musicians to jam together, both the owners, Ray and Cindy Palmer can often be found in the middle of the instruments. I have also seen Vincent Valdez join them with his trumpet, although not tonight.
There is also a small space in the front that has paintings, prints, and sculptures for sale, although not a part of the current exhibit. Walking in, there is a portrait being painted of a seated subject. Seth Camm is the artist, explaining to me that portraits are a good way to make extra money. I definitely understand that. I am the queen of making a living from anywhere I can. Still at High Wire, I ran into Thomas Cummins, a photographer that has large scale work currently displayed in the Window Works at Artpace. I was at the opening reception last month and heard him talk about the bridge he photographed. Another Thomas Cummins met his demise off that bridge, so he went and paid a visit. Linda and I recently were going through our artist list and she had brought him up as someone she was interested in having in the show. The three of us have shown together in at least one group show at JusticeWorks last year. He is interested, but a little apprehensive because he is an architectural photographer. I discuss that Barbara Justice is also and she more than rose to the challenge of Seven Minutes, even getting a review of her piece. I tell him to think about it, there still is almost nine months until Contemporary Art Month. He is still interested and I tell him I will get with him to show him the coloring book and reviews from the show. This art evening has been very productive. Anytime I get a little work done on Seven Minutes I am extremely happy. My goal is to have the majority of the artists confirmed by the end of the summer. Now that I have more experience and know better what to expect from putting on a large, independent group show, I am more determined to complete things in a much earlier time frame.
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.
As an artist and curator, I am always searching for new artists to work with. I have attended the East Austin Studio Tours for a few years, but for the first time, they are hosting the West Austin Studio Tours. Only about an hour drive from San Antonio, I will always try to take advantage of an opportunity to meet a lot of artists and see their work all at once. Huge open studios like these often have over one hundred artists participating. Another perfect day for exploring art! My first stop is to see Ana Fernandez at Women and Their Work. Real Estate and Other Fictions, is a show of her large scale paintings. Fernandez is a native Texan from Corpus Christi, currently living and working in San Antonio. Depicting common San Antonio scenes, one starts to realize it may not be so common after all. It is a unique city that creates its own culture, with a strong past.
While being a top ten city in the country for population, it often feels much smaller, with all its eccentricities. Fernandez captures these moments, reminding me these scenes probably only exist here. She was able to make it up to Austin for the open studio, and besides her paintings, she was running her Botanica. Selling powders and potions to ward off controlling people and more modern bruharia to have someone unblock you on facebook, I love Fernandez’s sense of humor and how she embraces the culture I grew up in and sometimes take for granted. While botanicas don’t seem to be around anymore, they still exist, low key and hidden in the neighborhoods, much like the scenes she finds dispersed throughout the city. Fernandez is giving these beliefs a make over, refusing to let old traditions die. Looking at her paintings is like driving around in the neighborhood. Even if you haven’t seen the exact house she has decided to paint, you know you’ve still seen this house, know these people. Some of them are in my family. Women and Their Work was a fantastic, huge space. It was a great location to showcase such large paintings. They also had a fantastic gallery shop with interesting books and art.
One of the best studios visited belonged to Adreon Henry and Jennifer Bradley. Both living quarters and art studio for the couple, it was quintessential Austin. Their unique space had a living room floor covered in laminated book pages, while art, books, and collectibles were displayed everywhere. The printing equipment was an impressive set up in the side room. Henry was an interesting guy, into experimental music, books, and seriously making art. His house was a bed of creativity and inspiration. A drink was offered as we talk about the Bruce Haack vinyl playing. We discussed putting on shows in alternative locations. He had held one in an abandoned convenience store and I talked about Seven Minutes in Heaven at the Fox Motel. Artists are the most interesting people. Henry worked in many types of media, including painting, drawing, music, and mixed media. His sense of humor comes out as he draws alien figures on found art.
There were a number of portrait painters that I was surprised drew me in. I felt these artists took something as traditional as a portrait and kept it
interesting, which is often hard to do. I love the moments that Karen Offutt chose to depict, one invading a private moment as this girl sneaks some food while she cooks. The expressive look on her
face as she is caught is what makes this painting stand out for me. Painting everyday scenes of everyday people can be a tiresome subject if there is not some kind of excitement behind it. I came upon H. Chase Seal’s work by accident. I don’t believe it was listed on the tour, running into it as I stopped in an interesting looking store. The large, closely cropped portraits drew my attention. Also included was a pastel drawing I liked. While much more minimal in medium, it was just as expressive. My head was already starting to curate, a contemporary portrait show would be nice. Portraits can often be over looked as a contemporary subject matter, but these artists were proving otherwise. I always enjoy seeing artists who love what they do. That should always come across clearly in their work. But the most fun and interactive piece was by far the Quick Draw Photo Booth by Aron Taylor at Big Medium. Dealing again in portraiture, this was definitely a new concept. Just a loud voice coming from a speaker on this home made photo booth was inviting you in for a fun time. Not knowing what to expect, my friend and I decided to participate. I didn’t realize until after I was in the booth, that we were not alone. Hidden behind the camera wall, we could not see the artist as he directed our “photo shoot”. A cowboy with a Texas draw talked to us the entire time, making this such an engaging experience. This guy was hilarious! Combining art and comedy, photography and drawing, this was quite a memorable booth. Everyone’s experience was completely unique, as each participant was given different instructions.
For our shoot, we were playing the role of celebrities, expressing moments with paparazzi hounding us, and ending with the death of the celebrity.
I laughed the entire time and enjoyed that this was something I had never experienced before. Still not knowing what to expect, he told us it took about three minutes to develop the photos and didn’t want to burn himself with chemicals. We continued to walk around the gallery space until he loudly announced they were done. This original drawing on the right is what the photo booth spit out, in traditional fashion. If I ever curate this portrait exhibit, I would love to include Taylor. Someone like this definitely shakes up the typical perceived notion of portraiture. On my way out of Austin, I made a final stop at Art on 5th, to see the art work of Dr. Suess. While I have known this gallery has been representing his work for a while, this was the first time I ever paid a visit. I have always liked his art and have a book, The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss, that included images of most of the work on display. He has always been a
playful illustrator and I find his other works just as whimsical. Unmistakably his work, these are entirely new worlds Seuss has created, often exposing a much darker side. There are no rhymes to happily bring a conclusion to these works. Yet, these creatures live in this colorful, fantastic existence. Dr. Seuss will always be a childhood favorite of most people. It’s great to connect with his “secret” art work, not intended for children’s books. It is always a pleasure to lose yourself in these exotic places that only exist in the mind of Dr. Seuss.
Amid the many pieces from Dr. Seuss, other artists are represented by Art on 5th. One landscape painter in particular caught my attention, Debbie Mosely. I was drawn to the atmospheric mood she was creating with her paint brush and drips. Looking at her pieces, I felt that I had often been there, in that desolate place, even if just in my mind. The West Austin Studio Tours were a fantastic experience. A little different from East Austin with more gallery spaces, but the creativity continues to flow on the other side of IH-35. Austin is greatly known for their music scene, but this weekend I got to take a closer look at the expanding art community and it was a great experience I hope I get to enjoy again. I am already waiting for the East Austin Studio Tours in November.
It’s been a couple of weeks since I returned from my trip. The last few months have been a whirlwind but that has now become a calm lull. For the first time in a while, my immediate projects and concerns were completed. There will always be my long-term art projects to work on, but for now, there is no immediacy, no impending due date hanging over my head. Also swirling in my head was all the new information I had to process from the trip. There was so much art, so many experiences, what do I do with it all now? Not to mention I didn’t really have much work lined up. I needed a few days before I could even begin to think, it was too much. It turned out, I needed two full weeks of decompressing to bring me back to my normal, take charge personality.
After I reconnected, I am able to see more clearly and not feel so stressed when I look. Since I don’t have a stable employer, this is all my initiative, and I get to choose what direction I head. While I am certainly capable of this and is how I normally run my career, this is also why I couldn’t necessarily jump right back in. It takes a lot of energy, organization, and networking to work with lots of artists, different galleries, and find work for myself.
The first major project I decided to focus on was Invisible Gallery. During these last two weeks, I got a not so happy call from my partner about our studio and gallery space that we were getting ready to move into – she lost the space. It was a fantastic three bedroom apartment that was the entire first floor of a two-story house in Tobin Hills. She had been living there and was ready to move on, but still loved the space for a studio and I entirely agreed. I was to have control of the large living room for a gallery space. When she originally called with the bad news, all I could really say was ok. I was stressed, broke, and in a weird, unfocused place. I wasn’t in a position to take charge at that moment. However, once the fog cleared, I realized it was completely salvageable. But I can’t dwell on that now, I have to spend my time looking for a new space, not lamenting the lost one.
But Invisible Gallery has never been a physical space to date. It has been my art representation company. Although, in the beginning, I did have a space for a few months. Taking advantage of a vacant house close to where I live, I decided to squat, not letting it go to waste. For six months I had a rent fee studio space that I shared with Linda Arredondo. Unfortunately I was not able to keep that space and I had always agreed with myself that I would willingly move out, when eviction time came.
While I have dreams of running my own gallery space, I still sell art now. I decided I needed to contact the artists I am working with and get things started there. I am primarily concerned with trying to sell work from their existing inventory, not getting a new body of work at this time.
Linda Arredondo is how and why Invisible Gallery began. Her work has always been widely admired and respected. She uses a wide array of media and is very experimental with techniques, making her work intriguing and original. However, Arredondo is a typical artist, more concerned with working in the studio than spending her time meeting people to sell her art. While I highly respect her drive, she was being overlooked simply because her work was not getting out there. I decided I had to do something about that, her work is so amazing. It all began with a facebook post. I simply put I had three pieces from Arredondo for sale. With no images, prices, or descriptions, I sold two pieces within an hour. The realization that I have been building a network of people that will listen for a moment is invaluable. They are interested in art. Arredondo and I have worked together on a few projects, the biggest by far was as co-curator for Seven Minutes in Heaven. I love promoting Arredondo’s work because it is informed and interesting at the same time. We often joke about managing each others careers. She is always giving me fantastic advice on my career, and I work with her on hers. Arredondo received a Bachelor’s of Fine Art from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2008, as well as a Master’s of Fine Art from Yale in 2010, and continues to exhibit her work.
Artist number two was John Cody Williams. We had previously discussed my selling his work, but I had never received any images, a key component needed for sales. He often works on mylar or paper, creating delicate, yet often taboo imagery. When I get to talk with him, he is still interested in my representation. Things are going good so far. I have worked with Williams several times before. We have both been in at least one group show together at JusticeWorks. He has also been an artist in two shows I have curated, Experimenting Sound, 2009 and Seven Minutes in Heaven, 2012. Williams work is dreamy and poetic as he visually draws us into often very private moments, sometimes awkward and uncomfortable, yet inviting you to stay at the same time. His beautifully detailed drawings often take the viewer into a place where everything else is forgotten and are surrounded in Williams’ world, a place where the landscape is ever changing. Williams attended the University of Houston, receiving a degree in Studio Art in 2008, exhibiting his work and having several article about his work published.
Vanessa A. Garcia is another artist that I am now representing. She had approached me several months ago about representation. She previously had trouble dealing with a local organization that had her work and needed some help. Living in Boerne, tx, which is about 30 minutes outside of San Antonio, it can be difficult for her to always come into town for shows and to meet people. Unfettered by color, all the nuances in her work are the primary focus. Using canvas and muslin, the pieces transform into delicate objects revealing vulnerability and femininity. The daughter of a tailor and seamstress, her work incorporates fabrics with strong elements of sewing. Garcia received her Bachelor’s of Fine Art from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2007, and has been exhibiting her work since.
Another artist I am now working with is Barbara Justice. Her architectural photography is often haunting. She takes an inanimate structure, such as a building, and captures the essence, often a feeling of desolation. The loneliness comes through in each image, a single captured moment, finding once “alive” locations, that are now seemingly hidden and forgotten. Justice’s photography is quiet yet powerful, something I respect about her work. I have a long standing relationship with Justice, and have always respected her tenacity, starting JusticeWorks Gallery as a student and running it successfully for almost five years, only closing her doors to make a move to New Mexico, wanting a new start. I am excited to see her new body of work with all the fresh inspiration. In 2009, Justice completed her Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Photography from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has had her work published in Photographers Forum and continues to work commercially.
The fifth and final artist I am representing is Adriana Barrios. As a print maker, Barrios is concerned with techniques and details. While smaller in scale, her work is thoughtful and precise. She had previously discussed with me about representing her work. I liked her business approach, asking me what I could do for her. As the other half of JusticeWorks, she also made the move to New Mexico, and was still interested in showing and selling her work in San Antonio also. However, nothing had ever been solidified, so I took the initiative to contact her, asking if she wanted to be the final artist I represent. Confirming we are now working together, I am very satisfied with the Invisible Gallery group that has been established. Barrios completed her Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Printmaking from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2009, continuing her studies in Florence, Italy.
I personally find the work of these five artists compelling and intelligent. Building relationships with all five of them since college, I respect their work and understand how dedicated they are to their own ideas. The diversity of the artists is also something that interests me about this group. As a curator, I love walking into a show with an idea expressed in various media. That is a primary goal I focus on when putting together a group of artists.
Five artists is all I can really handle at this time. With the exception of my initial approach to Linda Arredondo, the other artists all sought me out for representation. I appreciate that they want to work with me and respect what I am trying to accomplish. This is an endeavor I have been slowly working on now for a couple of years that has continued momentum. It is also something I never had particularly envisioned myself doing. Running a gallery, yes. Representing artists with no physical space, well, that never even crossed my mind. But being self employed, I have learned to search for opportunities wherever they may be. I suppose creating my own opportunities. Thinking outside the box has lead me down a very interesting journey. Once you can accept there are constant unknown factors, it is actually exciting to challenge yourself with new ideas. That is why I love being an artist.
So now my focus is to get imagery and info from all of the artists. I am trying to be active on the Invisible Gallery facebook page again.
I am also about to begin creating a website. No, I have never created a website before. But I have gotten a lot of great advice and info from people that have. I will never let the fact that I have never done something before stop me from trying. Will I see any type of immediate payment for my effort? No. However that doesn’t change how this new endeavor is very exciting for me. I am hopeful it will present new opportunities for me. Most importantly, for myself, I couldn’t be happier doing what I am working on or that I am working with some fantastic artists. That’s the bottom line for me.
I compared all the huge names showing, now I want to talk about the less famous artists I saw exhibiting in Chelsea. I laugh at this thought, less famous. Of course showing in Chelsea means you are known, someone has already recognized you. You cannot be a nobody and get a show in Chelsea, that’s not the way it works anymore. As I wander through the different galleries, I notice Yale is plastered all over the CVs I care to look over. I think of my friend, Linda, who completed her MFA at Yale also, but is much more low key, not making it a habit to submit work to galleries or throw Yale around. So I represent her and do that for her.
I do have some favorite spots in Chelsea I like to visit, and this pays off as I discover one of my new favorite artists, Frank Yamrus at Clampart Gallery. I seem to always like the work exhibited here and today is no exception. Yarmus is exhibiting some very unique self portraits that I absolutely adore in his show titled I Feel Lucky. I have never seen self portraits as revealing as these. More than capturing his image, each photo exposes a very intimate side of this man. It’s amazing to see how imagery can say so much. Yamrus muses topics such as life, death, sexuality, and perversion as he talks about himself. I found myself drawn deeper into this intimate conversation, wanting to continue. While not all of his imagery is sexually related, I look around, wishing he would be in Seven Minutes. Though a far-fetched dream, as I look at his prices, they are in line with other artists I currently work with. Maybe I am heading in the right direction, towards the path of curating and expanding the list of artists I work with.
Stricoff Fine Art has quite a few great artists put together, but my favorite is discovering the work of Rimi Yang. Painting images of prim and proper women of different cultures, she does anything but present a perfect appearance. These women seem to exist in some chaotic world. Depicting them in fine, traditional clothing, the blurred environment they occupy recontexualizes their lives, forcing me to confront the women themselves. As they emerge from these expressive environments, the women are lacking expression. Not a hint of a smile, not the revelation of anger, these women seem ambivalent to their situations, of their lives, at least for this one fleeting, captured moment. Yang discusses in her artist statement how beauty exists as a comparison to the ugliness. She refers to a William Blake poem where all the people are rich and happy, and heaven sunk.
Paul Graham’s photography also caught my interest at the Pace Gallery, with his show, The Present. His main concept was to photograph different circumstances of people in the same location, finding parallels with a basic premise that we are all not so different after all and that we share the places we live our lives. I am reminded of the work of JR, a photographer that enlarges and posters his images all over the world, often of Israelis and Palestinians, proving that if you place them next to each other, you can not tell what they believe in.
Graham chose to display his large photos in sets of two at various heights on the wall, including some pieces a few inches off the floor, an interesting choice. While the photos where shot at mostly eye level, this particular displays forced the viewer to look down as they consider the art. I always want to see new ideas to display art. Although, I am still deciding how I feel about the contribution this particular display adds to this body of work.
Piet van den Boog at Mike Weiss Gallery has done amazing, huge, haunting portraits. Staring at you dead on, you are confronted by the subject, feeling an uneasy gaze. Bruised and Battered, van den Booge depicts them with bright blue and green shades of patina, interspersed with rusted tones, hinting at a much deeper age, discussing their emotional history. Looking worn and weathered, these confrontational portraits are capturing a much more raw side of his subjects, exposing a vulnerability normally not seen. He pushes these ideas literally, as he chemically etched into the lead surfaces he has chosen to work on.
Exhibiting at Luhring Augustine is Michelangelo Pistoletto. He is a contemporary painter I remember reading about and looking up further. It was probably a review of one of his previous shows. Pistoletto’s interactive paintings are referred to as mirror paintings, however, they are actually photo silk screened images on steel. This instantly places the viewer in the painting plane. The imagery primarily shifts between people working, talking with their back to you, and objects of construction. When he could place the viewer anywhere, in any exotic locale, he chooses construction sites, wood pallets, and behind orange plastic fencing for this particular series. Unusual choices to converse with. I enjoy that he involves the viewer in such a simplistic way. That is a concept for me to consider. These pieces force the viewer to contemplate themselves and reality. These works combine both conceptual and figurative concepts. I think of my friend, Kelly Reid Walls, ‘ is perfect for these works. She finds a way to interact with most art pieces, most do not involve viewer participation. I would love to see what she would come up with for these pieces.
Chelsea, as usual, was amazing and did not disappoint. While the area has changed considerably from its inception, thankfully, the mission of art is still strong. Experimentation and inspiration was rampant. While these were some of my personal favorites, I had a hard time just discussing five. I literally spend two days in and out of these warehouses full of galleries. I left with a ton of photos, lots of notes, plenty to contemplate, and so much inspiration.