Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Talented Students


My wife Patty and I went up to Interlochen in northern Michigan last weekend, to teach a two day workshop at their facility for adult programs. In the hallway, I saw some works by students from the high school Arts Academy which really caught my eye for their skill. That portrait, above, has a great awareness of tonal harmony, don't you think? That, plus the observational skill, the nice mark marking (flat brush for the block shapes, thinner brush for the lines) ... if I were this student's teacher, I'd have given them an A.

Similarly, this more abstract looking painting of a lighted window at night has great brushwork, and a developed sense of how to make a painting with just a few colours. Considering the artists were teenagers, I was extremely impressed. I could definitely imagine hanging one of these in my own home.
 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Visit to an artist's studio: Josh Garber

Bequeath, 51" x 48" x46", tree branches, electrical cable, electrical conduit, coaxial wire, packing tape,
bubble wrap, shrink wrap, magazine paper, t-shirts, shoes, beer cans, soda bottle, stuffed animals, injected ink
I attended a gathering in the studio of sculptor Josh Garber about a week ago, and this piece caught my eye.
Close-up
It's a wild, free form accumulation of the cheapest, throw-away materials, wound round tree branches and taped any old way to hold them into place. The list of materials on the caption to the first photo suggests that they might be a classic representation of what an artist wears, eats, and drinks nowadays (with the exception of electrical wire, perhaps). If you follow the link to his website, then look again at this new work, you'll see that it's a departure from previous work. But the more I look at it, the more I see the relation to Josh's other sculptures. His public art pieces may be made from aluminum, but they have the same looping and winding forms, and the appearance of material that may be hammered into the forms, or exploding outward from them. Notice how this trash sculpture similarly appears to be lifting up and pushing outwards.

He hasn't decided yet when this piece is finished, or where the series will end up, which is the natural way to proceed. There was conversation about casting it in bronze, which would be a striking conclusion. In it's current form, though, it's clear evidence of an inquisitive mind that's not satisfied with previous conclusions, and is open to posing new questions to itself.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Visit to an artist's studio: Doug Frohman


Doug Frohman is an artist whose studio is upstairs from mine at the Cornelia Arts Building in Chicago. He makes abstract paintings on canvas and panel, usually at least 48" x 48" upwards in size, which are an absorbing combination of all the ways a painter can make a mark on a surface. He takes paint and he brushes it, lightly and roughly, thickly and thinly, he scrapes the paint off and relays it, he uses a knife and a rag. When he's covered the whole surface, he goes at it again, and again, putting down one small area next to or over another small area until the whole picture finally emerges from this accumulation of stuff. The overall tonality and visual effect of his paintings is like Sean Scully, the difference being that Scully's "blocks" are often larger.


After Doug spoke about his paintings for a while, he said something that might be a profound way of describing this process. Or it might not be. But it probably is.

He said:

"When the picture changes ... it changes."

Hmmm ...

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