Monday, February 28, 2011

And six hours later....

So I finished the main attraction on "The Man made the Mountain" and the main thing I noticed while doing it was how many different ideas, concepts, and decisions I made about the piece. I made up my mind about the piece's purpose and changed it about twelve times throughout the long process of applying the detail, and to tell the truth I still haven't quite come up with the "ending." That said, I have developed quite the attachment to the rather forlorn looking "man", if you can call him that. For me, the placement of the eyes really gives off this extremely heavy, almost detached and introspective emotion. It turned from what was to be a glorious declaration of the power of the detail, to punch in the gut, leaving the detail as an ironic contradiction to the overall feeling of the piece. I am pleased with it at the moment, though I am unsure of what will happen next...six hours down...many to go.

made with acrylic paint, collage, molotow paint markers.

The Oscars

the oscar's were last night apparently and my ignorance of most things mainstream continues! I don't think I've ever actually watched the ceremony, but I always check in the next day with the slightest hopes of my favorites being winners. And for the most part I wasn't surprised. I knew Black Swan had some great reviews and I was hoping it would win more than it did, but I can't say I really thought it would. With such a dark, almost horrific movie, the fact it was getting such popularity was a surprise already. I'm just glad Aronofsky is getting the props he has deserved for the last ten years. I can't really complain about it losing to The King's Speech, as it was a much more "likable," maybe accessible is a better word, movie and was definitely a quality film. I was glad Inception didn't get forgotten and was probably helped by the fact that it was released recently, thrusting it back into the public eye. Bansky's loss was a little surprising, but once again, the content and "aura" that surrounds that "scene" probably didn't help it make any friends in the "high society" side of things. I was glad it was well-liked and respected, but it obviously doesn't fit the mold for the usual cookie-cutter oscars.

One thing that I wasn't all that happy about was Black Swan's miss on any of the main technical awards. I thought cinematography and editing had a chance and still think it's VERY lame that Mansell didn't get nominated for original score. He has made some fantastic music and always seems to get passed up. Sure it was based on an existing piece (the ballet being performed) but how else do you write a score on a ballet? It was an original song, just with inspiration. I guess that's a new argument for a new time, but if we've learned anything from art, it's that the line between inspiration and copying is very thin, if not completely nonexistant

Anyway, overall I can't complain about the choices too much. Natalie Portman was the surefire win for Black Swan and anything else would have been gravy. Were there any huge surprises? Not really...but would you actually ever expect a pshycological-erotic-horror-thriller to win much? Not at the Oscars...

Friday, February 25, 2011

High Society

I read an article that reflected upon the "self" in a museum and how one should act. Should we try to sound like we feel every brushstroke, that the colors speak the very message of the artists intent? Should we throw out names of old masters, comparing and contrasting the styles and techniques? Should we pretend to be the high level, well-dressed, stroking-chin art critics that roam the galleries, squinting at every piece, glaring at the slightest noise made and asking "but what does it MEAN?"

While the article takes about 8 billion pages for you to get to the answer, the simple response is NO. Being an artist myself I frequent the galleries, museums, and cafe's around the city and try to get the same out of the people I know. But it is really is a challenge to get anyone, even myself, to enjoy the time spent there because of the creation of the "High Society" that seems to follow art around. The truth is, as basic as it seems, is that it is only art. It's paint on a canvas. It doesn't deserve your reverence or awe, and it doesn't require a dead stare and a closed lip. To experience art fully, simply be yourself.

If you are pretending to be an art critic, you won't be looking at a piece through your own eye. You won't connect with the same aspects, you won't feel the same emotion. And if you respond based on your reaction while pretending to be someone else, it won't be true to you. If a piece makes you feel "well this is obviously a comment on the inhumanity of the government on the less fortunate"  then say that, but if you feel "this is a piece of shit." then that is just as valid. A reaction to art does not have to be Shakespearean level literature, it just has to be real.  

I'm sick of the way we have risen art to a monumental level and how it has alienated the general public to the point where they just avoid it. Art is not impressing an art critic. It's not a measure of how many connections you find in the colors used. It's not how cryptic I can write a title, review, or artist statement. Art is the creation of something that has a true meaning to someone. That meaning can be anything, and that person can be anyone and there are absolutely no limitations. We need to get art back to the point where the general public is involved with it, interacts with it, and learns from it. Until then, it really doesn't have the power to make the difference we all hope it will.

None and No Half men

I dont watch the show and now it's almost guaranteed I never will, but Charlie Sheen has once again screwed up his career. Not only is this not the first time he's screwed up, but it's not even the first time he's screwed up this season. His last outburst where he blasts his own show and the creator has led to the network canceling the rest of the season. Normally, I wouldn't really care, but I think it's a good time to point out that being a dick just isn't the way to go about life. No matter how important you are or think you are, if you constantly throw people under a bus, there is no one that will give you a break or trust you with anything.

And it's not just in Hollywood where people seem to put up with more than the usual person.It's the people looking at your work on the wall, it's your friends at the bar, and it's the guy down the street who can't get out of his parking spot. Get off your ass and help him out, it'll take five minutes of your "precious" time, and whether or not you believe in karma, at least nothing bad will come from it. It's not anything revolutionary, but don't be a dick.

everyone that encounters you throughout the day.

full story below:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blast from the past

No, not talking about the barely-viewed Brenden Frasier movie, but I was looking around on the MNartists page and saw something that looked familiar. It was mine! Apparently I made a page there once. Not surprising, I forget what I'm talking about two seconds after the words come out and usually don't make sense anyway, but its always a bit of a surprise to find your stuff on a site where you have no recollection of posting things. Take a look at some work from back in High School. It is definitely interesting, at least for me, to see the progression my work has taken and continues to this day. I'll give you a comparison, the first picture is one of the older pieces I found looking through here, below is one of the most recent pieces I have finished. I think I'm getting better, or I could just be losing my mind.

Shinique Smith

I drive a hard bargain when it comes to the art that I like, but when there's someone with a unique combination of style, using and exploring countless medium and obviously drawing from certain inspirations, It definitely deserves a look.

Shinique Smith combines the most flowing and elegant graffiti-esque writing with a Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg type collage all wrapped up in a beautiful O'Keefe bloom of color and shape. The inspirations are many, the media are every day objects, and the message is one of dependence on the objects around us. Yes, its a tired and drawn-out subject done time and time again, but something here that is a bit different is that the objects do not take center stage. Instead of individual objects being the subject, displayed in all its ordinary glory, they are details which are part of a larger composition. She doesn't remake Warhol's coke bottles, but builds a monument out of them. In this, she takes the power away from the singular object and points out the overall dependency that dominates our life. Its uplifting in the sense that an Ipod or a coffee mug aren't the master's of our life, but wholly depressing in that, instead of shrugging off the influence of one prized possession, we face a knick-knack mountain which affects every aspect of our lives.

Smith's work is both beautiful and foreboding, showing her deep exploration into the subject over the past ten years. The show is at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art through May 8th and is bound to interest anyone who loves riding the line between old inspiration and new technique.

Check out the Sentinel's review below. Photo taken from

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

8 bit Mona Lisa?

games in the museum

Video games are art! or at least they belong in a museum. The Smithsonian is asking for the best games in history for a show, displaying all their electronic 8bit glory! With video games now entering such a prestigious place, it begs the question, will video games someday be viewed on the same artistic level as movies? At first thought i would say no. They are usually  simplified versions of a story where the player moves through levels for the sole purpose of beating the game. But the more in depth the games get, the more dramatic, personally invested, and affected we are by them. Take  Left 4 dead, a hilariously fun game where the entire point is to kill as many zombies as possible without dying yourself. Even with great graphics, this is still "space invaders" in a much prettier, or gorey, skin. This would be the first thought type of game. On the other hand, you have the recent Fallout 3, or Fallout New Vegas. Here you get a post-apocalyptic world with monsters, mutants and outlaws, but instead of running through town launching grenades, this game lets you form relationships, make decisions, and has endless possibilities for how your player can "complete" the game. You can be good or bad, trustworthy or a liar, and the game experience changes with the decisions you make.

In some ways, games are moving beyond movies. With graphics almost as good, stories that rival the best blockbuster, and the ability for the viewer to literally control the storyline, games are becoming (if they aren't already) the dominant entertainment platform. Now, with games that can shift and adjust to the individual, you get a movie that you have a hand in creating.  Hmmmm....interesting.

Now does that make it art? they could be the best form of interactive art ever created! but where do we draw the line between something being art, something being artistic, and something being creative. Can a coloring book be art? does it depend on the depth, quality, or importance? What makes Mario art and not Contra? I don't think the general video game will ever earn the distinction of art, whether it deserves it or not. We like a certain importance or purpose given to our art which is greater than simple "entertainment." I guess someone just has to do it and figure it out for us...Who will be the first "video game artist" to exhibit at MoMa...wait, forget that last sentence, I found my path to becoming a millionaire...

whole lot of millions

So a Warhol and a Picasso recently sold for 17M$ and 40M$ respectively, each breaking their presale estimates by far. So while the rest of the economy may be down, art seems to be one of those things that always manages to stay around. Prices for great artists has been going up and up, and every few months, some kind of record seems to be broken. Whether it's Pollock's #5 in 2006 for 151M (the most ever), or a Monet for 79M in 2008 (#18 overall), the astronomical prices of art and the value of art in general continues to grow despite a recession. And while indisputable masters like Picasso dominate most of the "most expensive ever" list, more recent (and controversial) artists like  Basquiat, Hirst and Banksy are all on the rise as well. I don't know about anyone else, but i think that's very exciting and should be exciting to any young artist. There's obviously no guarantee that your work will be worth anything close (or anything at all) to these three artist in the future, and how "famous" you get while your alive is usually directly related to the prices your work demands, but the fact that the art market hasn't collapsed is an uplifting sign to me. It says that, even if the buyer's aren't art officianados, people see art as a very valuable part of life, something worth money, and something worth owning, and I believe that this isn't restricted to the ultra rich.

I'm not planning on making a million bucks next time i show, but the reality is that art seems to be important to enough people to at least warrant some optimism that there will be a market for work, at least good work, for a long time to come. And, as an artist, a vibrant market is all you can really ask for.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Banksy Hits L.A.

Well this is well-timed with my morning post today. Banksy never sleeps, even while waiting for the Oscars. His movie,  "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is nominated for "best documentary." And even though he has already caused some controversy with the Oscars denial of his proposition, should he win, to accept the award in a mask (he fervently protects his real identity), he has managed to "decorate" some LA billboards with some unsavory images of Mickey Mouse and other cartoons.

While i have always enjoyed seeing Banksy's work and love a good bit of well-done graffiti, I was a little let down by his recent image (at least the one on view in the article). What has always been great about Banksy, whether you agree with his message or not, has been his ability to make his statement in a creative and unseen way. Whether it is an elaborate stencil or a huge, on-site sculpture, the work catches you off guard, and demands that you investigate. In the image included, however, there is a lack of the sophistication that makes this image less meaningful or memorable to. Instead of the usual subtle sarcasm, this piece yells, even screams its message against vanity and greed. Instead of seeing something that helps me "realize" the issue being commented upon and being approached in a new and interesting way, this piece approaches like a fifth-grade protest sign that I shrug off easily.

Maybe he doesn't think the colonies can understand the sophisticated work from his usual stomping grounds of London (wouldn't blame him), but I would have liked to see something a little less Dane Cook and a LOT more Mitch Hedberg, especially on such a huge stage.

But he's way more famous than me, so maybe he knows best. Check it out for yourself and look him up if you want to see some of his other work.

image taken from

Fire in the Desert.

An exploration into isolation and elegance. I found it interesting to see how the simplicity of the overall piece caused the splashes, "mistakes", and drips to emerge, creating a more interesting and personalized subject. I think it came out with some kind of tragic beauty, an object frozen eternally at the moment of its creation.

Exit Through the Gift Shop: Great documentary, sobering realization

One "Mr. Brainwash" (MBW) went from "an idiot with a camera" (as one interviewee put it) to selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of art in the single opening night of his first ever show. If that's not jumping on the bandwagon, Im not sure what is. And it's not his fault. Mr. Brainwash should be congratulated on realizing the things needed in order to sell work. Good advertising, good endorsements, and lot of weird and mysterious appeal. People came out of the show saying they had seen something historically significant, and they had. It just isn't becuase of the art.

The historical significance and the most telling part of the documentary is exposing the "real world" to how the "art world" works. Spend money, know people, and you will get noticed. Tell enough of the right people how great you are enough times and eventually someone will listen. Get enough interest based on anything, and if you present it well enough, it will be made meaningful. It was a harsh, but true message that even most of the "original" street-art stars seemed to realize. While their work is striking, new and exciting, it only takes one person to make it look pedestrian, and one new thing to make people forget it all together. Toward the end of the movie you saw many of the artists refrain from commenting on MBW, and my feeling is that they saw him as somewhat of a fraud, cheapening the work they do. While he was the friend they let into their world, let him film them, and trusted him like no one before had, they saw him take their art and turn it into a circus. He put on the most dazzling show he could think of, pumped out piece after piece and sent everything to the highest bidder.

There's nothing wrong with selling work, but i have to believe it irked these guys who have been doing this for years. An unproven artist picks up your trade overnight and becomes a sensation.

This was the first "great" documentary about street-art that I had seen (and I've seen a number of them), and the sad part is, it pointed out the brevity of its subject to the artists. It brought out the part of the art-world, that artists not directly associated with it hate. The fact that it's not always about the art. It's about the person, the hype, and the amount of cash one can get by exploiting the public. If we learned anything from this documentary, it's that the art-world is as ridiculous and obsessive about its fads as the general public is about its pop stars.

The stars somewhat concede at the end of the film, torn between supporting their friend and criticizing his exploitation of their form of expression. But the real blow to the artists was realizing that the art-world isn't as interested in the message (or any message for that matter) as they may have thought. That they are a commodity that, eventually, will be out of fashion.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Colin Stetson - no one ever heard of a facemelting sax solo right?

Colin Stetson could be the Jimi Hendrix of the Sax, but I can't say that for sure. I know about as much about the sax as Homer Simpson (see Saxamaphone episode), but that doesn't keep my mind from exploding in awe every time I listen to a song. From what I can find, he plays the sax nonstop (circular breathing) and uses 20 or more microphones placed around him to capture the sound in the most unexpected ways. He creates these other-wordly compositions that screech and drag, claw and wail, and locks you in a room of infinite sound. 

His work is phenomenal, but it will definitely not be for everyone. Think Sigur Ros if they dropped the "prettyness" for energetic despair. 

He just released a new album titled "New History of Warfare Vol.2: Judges" has worked with the Arcade Fire, and has badass album art. Not bad for someone I had never heard of. But judging by his talent, he'll be around for a while and will continue to pull sounds that even the sax never dreamt of.

Check him out here:

Bright Eyes goes "post-everything"

If anyone had been looking forward to Bright Eyes "the People's Key" more than I, please contact me so can shake your hand, it's quite a feat. Oberst has continually made music since the release of Cassadaga a few years ago through the Mystic Valley Band and Monsters of Folk, but while the band has changed, the folk has stayed the same. Don't get me wrong, I love the first Conor Oberst and MVB album, liked the second one, and liked some select songs from the MOF album and LOVE a good folk song, but the best thing about Oberst and Bright Eyes for me, was always the intensity of the lyrics and instrumentation. Whether it was horns and tympani's, digital sound processor, or an breathy guitar his music always became the focal point of whatever I was doing. In the past three years, however, I have found myself going far back into Bright Eyes' discography rather than popping in his most recent work. I missed the personality of the singing, the intimacy of the lyrics, and heart-wrenching depression that knocked you off your feet and dragged you into the album.

With "The People's Key" however, we get a rip-roaring explosion. A fast-paced race that flies by and leaves you wanting more when the record is over. It's only been a few times all the way through the record at this point, but it's looking like an A-grade so far.

Now don't go in thinking you're going to get Lifted 2.0, or any "twin record." This is new, different, and a lot of people will probably hate it. It has techno-flare at some points, electric guitar and fast beats, and doesn't have that orchestral sound, but its a new direction, and an interesting one. It shows Oberst hasn't settled into solely acoustic ballads and old-time story tunes, but that he is still exploring what music can do for what he wants to say. And even though it is Bright Eyes' last album (so they say), at the very least, it promises a diverse and exciting future for whatever Oberst decides to do with his time.

Spill Paintings
 I found this really great video documenting a very interesting technique in art making. This group pours large amounts of liquid paint, one color at a time onto a tall pedestal and lets the paint flow over the edges, sliding to the drop-cloth below. The result is a very large, abstract color investigation. The closer you get, the more the colors interact, the more colors you can see, and the greater respect you gain for the time and effort put in. Whether you are into more conceptual work or traditional realism, you have to appreciate the beauty of the simplicity, and the complexity that results from a simple motion. Even I couldn't stop myself from second-guessing the act a bit, though. I am one who is all about my interaction with the pieces I create, and to have no control other than the speed of pour would be hard for me to accept. I would find myself tempted to affect the paint in some other way, some way to express my intent. But even with these thoughts, second-guessing and questioning another's work proves its connection to the viewer. In some way, it has made me wonder what the role of art still is, and what the role of the artist has to be.  And connection is what art is about. 
So whether you think its the best thing since sliced bread, or a big mess that happens to be pretty, don't pull your hair out over what it means. By that point you've already proven it's effectiveness.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SUNSPOTS and a new direction

My art in the past few months has been based off of ancient hieroglyphs, symbols, structures and carvings. But while I have always felt a sense of awe when viewing ancient artifacts, I felt that my work seemed to lack the specificity and intent that made their work meaningful. Simply put, my art didn't speak in the same way. In this new direction, I hope to create more intimate pieces which require a deeper investment from the artist, which hopefully will carry over to a more meditative and meaningful reaction from the viewer. This piece, Sunspots, is the first of the series

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


THE GRID is an energetic and devastating look at the disorder of attempted order. Built from a series of straight colored lines, the imperfection becomes more obvious,  the more perfection is attempted. The grid becomes a sliding, falling, and crashing heap, imitating the inability of one to achieve the rigid, pristine and wondrous glow that was once the american dream.

Acrylic, Oil pastel, Paper