Recent drawings

Recently, I've done two things to try and breathe some new inspiration into my studio times: I've begun going in on Monday evenings, 5:30 – 10:00, in addition to Wednesday and Friday mornings, 6:00 – 8:40, and I've returned to doing some drawings. Both have been influential in energizing me and my work; I feel like my studio times are much less disjointed because of the schedule change, and I like the direction the drawings are going. I thought I'd share some of them with usual, my drawings are a wet media; this time, ink on paper, sometimes with gesso. Occasionally I "cut n' paste" scraps of paper to "erase" certain parts. (The blue is plastic I'm working on):

The images are related to quilting patterns my mother uses, and to some sketches that I did a while back...other than that, I'm not sure what the genesis of these are, or how they fit in with the rest of my work. I do know they are a lot of fun. And not much is more important than that.


Brice Marden at MoMA: a flash in the flesh

Went to catch the Brice Marden exhibit at MoMA Monday, at its tail-end. A gorgeous and revelatory show; and it was fun to share it with someone who didn't mind me prattling on about Marden this and Marden that...thanks Justin.
And the added bonus, in the drawings gallery? We saw Brice Marden himself, obviously taking advantage of the last day of a group of work that he may never see together again, while he's alive. I whispered to Justin that I thought that "that guy" really looked like Brice Marden, and then proceeded to feign admiring the same piece he was talking about, with a young woman, to try and catch some clues. And then this guy who looked like he could have been a mix between Warhol and John Adams (the American composer) came up and asked him to sign his monograph...AHA! They snuck out the back door so as not to attract more attention.
What follows are a few random thoughts on his work, precipitated by conversation between Justin and I. The work was arranged more-or-less chronologically.
Something which became evident as we moved from the more "color-field" work of the 1960's into the heavily calligraphic, was that his "record of marks," so important to the feel and composition of the more minimal paintings, at the bottom of the canvases; suddenly moved from there, to being essentially seeded all over the painting; dispersed over the entire canvas.This seemed to signify a move from the paintings being primarily experiential (especially colors), to being more referential (though still entirely abstract).

(above, Cold Mountain Painting, 1989-91) courtesy: see above link
Additionally, as the lines became more and more autonomous (less connected to literal calligraphy) they evoked the feeling of being root-bound; much the way an over-fertilized plant looks when freed from the pot. The feeling of being bound by specific boundaries and edges is no mistake in reading these paintings, I think.

Something else I'd not noticed before seeing so many mid-career paintings in person, was how often his colors were some version, however analogous or muted, of the primary colors. Some, for instance, looked like a group of greens or grays, but upon closer inspection, one went solidly towards blue; this one, towards a yellow, and another, towards some type of red.

All in all, a wonderful show, capped of course, by seeing the master himself...waiting in the wings, as it were, for a quiet induction into fame. And then all of a sudden, he ducked into a hallway; out of sight.


Witmer and Ashley in Dayton

Friend Douglas Witmer and his friend Chris Ashley have a left-coast/right-coast collaboration going on for their new exhibit, in Dayton, Ohio. Here's the e-card:

Some of their drawings remind me of Richard Tuttle on a great day...nice.


Pop lexicon and Zizek

(image from

For you fellow amateur lexicographers out there, and all other poseurs, I've picked out several of my favorites from my 2006 Merriam-Webster's Word-A-Day calendar. And just for good measure, I've thrown in a provocative Times op-ed from everyone's favorite rogue thinker (not including Pat Robertson): Slavoj Zizek. So here goes:

Word 1: apple-polish, verb; to attempt to ingratiate oneself: toady; or, to curry favor with
(as by flattery)

Word 2: calumet, noun; a highly ornamented ceremonial pipe of the American

Word 3: florilegium, noun; a volume of writings: anthology

Word 4: inselberg, noun; an isolated mountain

Word 5: peregrination, noun; an excursion especially on foot or to a foreign country: journey

And there you have it. Other 2006 favorites; anyone? I hear the vote for the coined word of 2006 is imminent. Here's's poll results:

And, for that good measure portion:

Here's a short excerpt:

"This is the trick being attempted by those who claim today, “But the world is nonetheless better off without Saddam!” They forget to factor into the account the effects of the very military intervention against him. Yes, the world is better without Saddam Hussein — but is it better if we include into the overall picture the ideological and political effects of this very occupation?
The United States as a global policeman — why not? The post-cold-war situation effectively called for some global power to fill the void. The problem resides elsewhere: recall the common perception of the United States as a new Roman Empire. The problem with today’s America is not that it is a new global empire, but that it is not one. That is, while pretending to be an empire, it continues to act like a nation-state, ruthlessly pursuing its interests. It is as if the guiding vision of recent American politics is a weird reversal of the well-known motto of the ecologists — act globally, think locally."


Artist of the fortnight: Tim McFarlane

Greetings, and happy new year; I'm finally back to a normal schedule. Took a hiatus from computers for about a week; it was very nice. But now, I'd like to present you with the painting with which I've been enamored for the past few weeks. Consider this a brief return of the Artist of the Fortnight series.

Tim McFarlane's All that Could Be: (thanks to Rubens for the larger image tip)...

Read some of Artblog's comments on it, and the exhibit it was part of, here:

Coming up this year: images of some new work; some thoughts on exhibits; some theological essays; who knows? Stay tuned...

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