It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. This blog was to be a running commentary on my work and paint making but to be honest I have not done much of either lately.
The time stamp says my last post was August 3, 2010, just over one year ago. I have made some work in that time, and I’ll post that soon, but mainly I’ve been working in other directions. That is about to change.
This past year I was awarded a “professional development grant” by my school. This means that I have a semester of paid leave. I taught over the summer but now the new semester has begun and I’m going to be painting fool.

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A while back a friend of mine asked me to blog about my opinions of the Bravo show Work of Art. He thought that, as an artist and curator, I might have some sort of insight into the show.

To be honest when I thought about it I was both skeptical and jealous. Jealous because when I first saw the show Project Runway, originally a Bravo show now on Lifetime, I immediately thought that there should be a similar art based show. So here was my idea and I wasn’t on it. Skeptical because I always saw it the show as a potential train wreck. Really, how could you explain the art making process of many different artists with different styles working in different media? The logistics of the studio alone seems imposing. But there it was.

When the show started I was in Italy teaching a study abroad class. I was able to download the first episode on ITunes but I never got around to watching it, a combination work, exhaustion and that green monster jealousy. That first episode was still sitting in my queue wanting to be watched.

Last night I took the plunge, reservations and all, now I’m hooked. I still have some of my initial reservations, more on that in a bit, but I did enjoy this first episode and I’m looking forward to the next one. This first episode was what it could be. The necessary introductions where made taking up time that keep the visuals of the contestants working to a minimum, something I would personally like to see more of. I thought the idea of the self-portrait introduction was a interesting and I enjoyed the contestants reactions as they walked through, I reacted much the same way as the contestant Nao did, mostly a dismissive “eh”. I found it curious to later find out she was a professor. I did have a reaction to her piece that reflected her reaction to Amanda’s piece, a

The first challenge, making an image that represented a randomly assigned fellow contestant, was a difficult assignment. Making work about someone you just met, and your competition in this case, is a challenge. That the pieces in the end spoke more about the artist making them than they did about the subject. It’s no surprise that they did come off that way, how could you know that much about someone after a gallery reception and thirty minutes of focus time. In fact this was the nagging flaw in the entire episode. I’m willing to accept the fact that the work was more about the artist than the subject but how could any juror truly judge a work based on the little they had seen of the artists. I’m sure they saw plenty of videos and read some on the contestants but they supposedly hadn’t met the contestants until the day of the crit. How could the judges make a determination about how well the artist had accomplished the goal of capturing their subject when they couldn’t know the subject that well themselves?

Some of my initial question and concerns have not been addressed yet. The time limitations of the first episode didn’t allow for the exploration of the dynamics between the contestants or various artist’s to their preferred media to be shown. The only example that shined through was Miles’s blown bulb. Miles, who seems a pretty sharp, works suing a photo-based screen printing process. He needs strong light bulbs to expose his screens. After one exposure his bulb blew leaving him without any method to complete his work in the form it was conceived. I like Miles, he’s my favorite so far but come on, shouldn’t an OCD be more prepared? I do hope these concerns are addressed in later episodes but for now I’m willing to give them a pass.

I had two concerns pop up during the show both which I see as big problems. The first was the presentation of the work in the “gallery.” The work was presented in a pretty weak way. Each piece was simply presented side by side with simple lighting. With all the curators standing around I would expect a better presentation, a good curator can make a good piece look great. The argument against that thought, none of the work should be emphasized so as to keep the critique process even, doesn’t stand muster here. If the curation was strong across the board evenness projects forward. The second concern was the critiques process itself. It wasn’t nearly as clean as what I expected having seen Project Runway’s process. I’d love to see the group critique, let everyone weigh in. Letting some, the bulk of the group, go without comment is too easy. Weighing in on only the good and the bad is also too easy. The jurors need to be held accountable for their opinions as much as the artists need to be held accountable visual.

So far this is a fun show. I love watching artists make work, seeing the process and I think it’s something that the public at large is often left ignorant of. So much of art is viewed as genius, ethereal muses or raw, born with. talent. Good art, at least long lasting art, can’t be made in a vacuum. Art isn’t like politics and sausage, it’s best to see it made warts and all. This is the ultimate potential strength of Work of Art, exposing the process of art for all to see.

Well my grades are in so I have a few weeks off to work. I have a show coming up at Walnut Gallery and I have much to do to prep for that show. I have four new pieces started and I’m looking forward to finishing them. I’m teaching in Italy again this summer so I’m “losing” six weeks of work. I’ll be painting in Rome of course but I’m taking the family this year so this time around I may not get as much as painting time as last year.
I’m looking forward to doing some plein air work in oil. Last year I taught a class in watercolor last summer but this year I’ll be teaching oil. I’m looking into purchasing a new travel easel. I’ve been to cheap to buy one but I’m trying to arrange the purchase of a few of them for my class.

The image is of me doing an impromptu lecture on the history of pigments in and art supply store in Rome.

A few days ago there was a story in the NY Times about new National Endowment of the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman’s budget presentation to Congress. It’s a good read but there was one part that stood out to me.
The NEA received $50 million in stimulus money. This is really a piddling sum but it’s a sum Representative Jack Kingston (R-District 1-GA) felt a need to comment on. Congressman Kingston in not my representative but is the congressman for the district adjacent to mine. In fact his district covers part of Savannah.
His quote was: “If it created jobs, you’d have 435 members of Congress saying, ‘Let’s put in more money to the N.E.A.”…. “The only shovel-ready aspect of it is that they need a shovel to clean up some of the bull they believe in over there.”
As a resident of Savannah, which I understand Congressman Kingston is, he should be well aware of the importance of jobs created through the arts. Savannah is of course home to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). SCAD is the largest art school in the world incorporating campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Lacoste, France and Hong Kong. It is directly responsible for thousands of jobs in the Savannah area alone and had 1600 employees in June, 2007. SCAD obviously employs hundreds of art professors in many fields, the fine arts, movie production, industrial design, art history and architecture to name a few. These are only the art related fields. SCAD also employs many educators in other fields, political science, English, athletics, languages. The jobs associated with SCAD must also be considered, security, janitorial, administration. SCAD Savannah had 7,473 students in 2007. How many of these students live in off campus housing? How many eat in restaurants and shop in Savannah’s stores? In 2007 the economic impact of SCAD in Savannah was $369.7 million. The NEAs entire budget last year was $161.3 million.
If Congressman Kingston needs examples of how the arts can affect and stimulate the economy he need only look in his own backyard.
Art Jobs are real jobs.

I mentioned in my last post that I had three new images here is one.Untitled_Fear III

Untitled Fear II, 26″x36″ oil on synthetic canvas. I apparently called it Fear II in the exhibition at MOCAJ though.

Wow I just realized that I had not posted in months. That’s bad even for me. So a quick catch up.

1. I’ve been teaching a lot, three classes which is less than my usual four but one is a new class with a  steep learning curve. Nothing I can’t handle but it has taken up much time.

2. I’m running the University of North Florida Gallery of Art. I’ve been organizing the schedule for the next year and helping to open a new gallery on campus. It’s fun work, but time consuming.

3. I’ve been working. I finished three paintings in the last few months, I’ll post images in coming posts, but three is a big number for me in as sort a time as three months.

4. I’ve been exhibiting. Three exhibitions, one at Seton Hall University, one at the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art and the Brevard Museum of Art. The show at Brevard is going to travel, I’ll let you know locations when I have them.

I’m tired just thinking about it.

I’ve been able to work in the studio pretty much everyday this past week. I’ve been finishing up a piece and getting started on another piece. Between that and putting together the UNF Gallery schedule for the next year I’ve been busy. I’m pretty excited about both of my pieces and I’m very excited about the upcoming schedule.

Toward the end of my Rome trip, my department chair, Dr. Debra Murphy, asked me if I had seen anything in Rome that was going to influence my work as I moved forward. I wasn’t sure how to answer the question because I was pretty overwhelmed by what I had seen. Now that I’m a few weeks out one image has come forward in my mind, the Ara Pacis. I’ve been caught up in the frieze parts in particular. I also happened to run across Vincent Desiderio’s Sleep image. So I’m thinking big on my next image, bigger than I’ve ever worked before but have always wanted to work. It will fill up my studio but I’m itching to get started.