Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spasms worthy of a blog post

So I just finally got around to finishing the...March issue of Art in America. Yes, March. Weird. I thought I took April and May with me out of one of the crates in the studio currently housing all art-related reading materials in my possession. Nope, I took March and May. Poor April. But I guess I never actually finished the March issue, so it was a good thing I took it becauseeeee (dramatic breath) upon concluding this woebegone issue, I had a rapid succession of recognition spasms:

Spasm 1: The article on Julian Schnabel. OK, so this is sort of a prelude to the real recognition spasms. I do not know Julian Schnabel. However, I do love his paintings, and he's been in my mind a lot recently, so it was really cool/ weird to be confronted with full-page spreads of work that has been flurrying about in my brain for the past few weeks. So it was kind of a, "Hey, I know you!" moment anyway. This article also reaffirmed my certainty that I must stand face-to-face with a Schnabel before I die...Yup, mortality spasm.

Spasm 2: Alison Schulnik was mentioned in the article "Soul Searching in the USA" for her participation in an SBMA exhibition, "Stranger Than Fiction". Here's how my brain reacted to that: "Alison Schulnik!! I know her! Canada! I wanted to eat her paintings, but touched them instead! I fucking love her! That video she did for Grizzly Bear is epic. Oh hey, yeah, that painting! Octopus tattooo!!!" Translation, I saw her work at Canada last summer! I saw the painting mentioned in the article (I also touched it. You would too)! Her delicious frosting blister paint crusts fueled an entire body of work for me. Her work also translates really well into video via claymation in this:
And she has an octopus tattoo, which is important because I have one.

Spasm 3: IN THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE, Dawn Clements is mentioned because she was in the same show. Boom, recognition spasm: "Hey! She rode in my car!!" She did indeed. She came to Brandeis fall semester of this past year to give a talk (during which she gave her own personal perspective on the piece mentioned in the article), and I happened to be the person designated to transport her to and from her hotel. I also bought her lunch. We had a lengthy conversation about gender roles. She asked me my name again before I dropped her off because she said she wanted to "look out for me" (yes, I squeeled inwardly)

Spasm 4: Review of Joe Bradley's shows at Gavin Brown's Enterprise and Canada: "JOE BRADLEY!! CANADA!!!! I know both of those nouns!" Joe Bradley was one of the visiting artists during the program I did at Tyler. He's also one of the main member artists at Canada, which I've already mentioned above (Wallace Whitney, the director of the Tyler program, is also a co-organizer of Canada, so that's how that linkage comes in)

Spasm 5: Review of Odili Donald Odita's show at Jack Shainman gallery: "GAAHHHH, ODILI! Tyler again! We went to his studio! I stood among those paintings! That was such a cool building... 'largest canvas in the show at about 9 by 11 feet'...Duh, he has like 12 foot ceilings..." So yeah, part of the Tyler program involved studio visits and Odili Odita is on the faculty at Tyler, so we got to go to his studio, which was a really awesome space. I think he was preparing for a show in Sweden then...

Spasm 6 (Denouement): Behold! The final page of the magazine is a full-page advertisement for none other than Tyler SPI! "I posted flyer versions of this all over the art building! Woo, go Wallace, taking out an ad in Art in America! I am so personally pleased to have taken part in the first generation of this program!"

And that, friends, is what we call 'blog-worthy' (because I was alone in my kitchen when all of this happened, and even if someone had been there, they would not have had the necessary level of enthusiasm in their reaction. But you will, surely. You will damnit!)

Glad you read this yet?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Excuses for my flakiness/ Thoughts on making work for one's heroes (sycophant vs. worthy fellow)

Please pardon my total lack of consideration for the people that apparently do in fact read this. I've been busy graduating (magna cum laude, with highest honors and the Mitchell Siporin Award, for those who care about such things), moving into a new habitat (which involved uhauling things from PA to Waltham like the day after graduation), and generally acclimating to the limbo that is currently my life. I know, I know: excuses, excuses.

Anyway, I'm not going to feed you lies and pretend like I have images to show you. I don't. I have tentative plans to de-install my work from the gallery "early next week" though, so I should really get on that...

Also, the studio is in the process of being renovated right now, which is very exciting. The kitchen's getting a face lift and we're getting a snazzy expanded print shop. That said, I can't exactly work in the studio right now, which is less than ideal. It hasn't been a huge deal yet, what with the spastic, ever-expanding To Do list that has been devouring my focus for the past few weeks, but I can feel the pressure building (my sketchbook feels it too, I'm sure).

SO, I thought now would probably be a good time to relieve some tension in the form of a good ol' fashioned senseless ramble. Let's take a look at the most recent pages of my sketchbook: angsty introspective rant...pretentious quasi-essay on goals/ ambitions...prolonged/overdone metaphor about works of art as children...uggghhhh....OK, here we go--something not so mortifying!

I've been thinking about this concept of artists making work that is inspired by something: a personal hero, a novel, a film, some noun that has inspired them enough for them to create something new, rooted in that experience. OK, here's the back story: Someone who shall remain nameless once suggested that I try making work for the people I admire until I figure out how to make work for me. I didn't really know how to feel about this suggestion at the time, and I still don't. I got to thinking about Emily Roysdon's David Wojnarowicz Project, and how she'd said he made her feel like she could be an artist. Phoebe Washburn was inspired by the work of Dieter Roth, and made an homage to him in the form of Untitled (Cheese). Judy Pfaff made a whole series of work when she moved into Richard Serra's old studio "in order to exorcise him". Basically every artist I've read about or heard speak has made something at some point in their career that they ground in that kind of notion. We all have heros, people who inspire us and make us feel like we could create something worthwhile and be loved for it. I feel that. But somehow this whole idea of making work for one's heroes makes me kind of uncomfortable. Maybe it's the ambiguity of the word 'for'. I think it's probably a totally respectable practice as long as 'for' doesn't mean 'to please'. If you're making something to please someone else--if you think to yourself, "Wow, this person has really inspired me. I want to try to make something that they would like," that feels dangerous to me. I think the thought process has to be something more like, "Wow, this person has really inspired me. I want to try to make something that would inspire them in return." Anything less is just sycophancy. Nobody respects a sycophant. But if you can make something that legitimately inspires your personal hero, then you're a worthy fellow artist. That should be the goal. Because that way, the work is still ultimately coming from you (it's ultimately reflecting your voice), not from some contrived facsimile of what you think your hero would want to see.

Alright, rambling accomplished. Stay tuned...Maybe if I get too bored/ stir crazy, I'll post something mortifying...