November 9, 2016

Artists are needed in times like these

I'm not quite sure how to go about my day today, November 9th, 2016.
I thought perhaps I'd just sit here for hours liking and sharing all my friend's posts on Facebook in some sort of post traumatic solidarity. Maybe go do some meditating, or an extra early happy hour at some point... I am just about the most apolitical person I know and even I cried when I saw the words 45th president of the United States. It's hard to go make art when so much is going on in the world. And then I read this post by Matthew Weinstein and I thought, Yes, that's beautiful. So rather than just share it with my Facebook friends I thought I'd share it here as well.
Artists get back to work. We are needed in times like these. Think of the artists who, in grotesque times, turned revulsion into imagery and gesture, and through acts of passionate creativity gave panicked and grieving people an iconographical mirror. And when this time is past, and it will pass, people will look back at it partially through our images. Our gallows humor, beauty lust, anger, sarcasm, hysteria and rigor can make of this time something more than one of isolation and sadness.
The act of retrenchment into one's work is an insistence that the culture of creativity, liberality and love is not vanquished. Making art is an act of love. Love for one's self, love for a world that one wants to insert one's work into, and love for a world that seems to be always just out of our grasp; that we keep grasping for, because that's what artists do.
And like all love, the love of an artist for the world, which most of the time has no need of us, can become an immense rage; one fueled by betrayal and disappointment. But within art, rage can be transformed into a benevolent model of fury; an insistence that people who devote their lives to love and creativity are fucking planted in the earth, that inventing one's reality is not an escape but a stance. We don't have to like each other's work, but we need to respect each other for making work. And we need to hang with each other.
Let's make our best work, see each other's shows, and argue with each other about things so obscure that to the rest of the world we seem like cats lunging at shadows on the wall. There is nobility in caring about things; believing in things, and insisting that the world needs obscurity as much as it needs clarity.
A work of art can be a point in a triangulation between it and two people. This is valuable.
Art can be a model of keeping love alive when love seems dead.
Let's get through this day. Let's be with each other. Let's make our best work.


November 2, 2016

Another Artist Dilemma

P A T I E N C E

I just watched a video of Eddie Martinez claiming to be one of the most impatient people in the world. Maybe that's one of the reasons I like his paintings so much!

I'm an oil painter who does not have the patience (or the time) literally, to sit and wait for the paint to dry!

P A T I E N C E . . .
Not a new concept, definitely a virtue, and for me a never-ending challenge inside the art studio and out.

Maria Popova's recent musings on the seven greatest things she's learned as the creator of brain pickings include:
#7. “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.” 
... As I’ve reflected elsewhere, the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.
Although she was referring more to success in life, I'm talking about patience in the studio. My work may be process oriented, aka 'the tedium of the blossoming', but that doesn't make me any more patient. Lately I've been forcing myself to think about it more and more. 

For the most part I'm a fast painter and I like to work on human sized canvases like four to five feet. Since I've been working on a much smaller scale lately, this patience thing has become a lot more relevant. Painting small is really tough for me. Those canvases fill up fast! There's a moment when you're painting, you get a feeling that if you don't walk away from it right that second you'll destroy it and never be able to get it back. 

Samantha Palmeri art
one of four smaller paintings still very much in progress
I've never had much success working on one single piece until I drop. I've always worked on several things at once and this is exactly why. I have to remind myself, this will not be resolved in 4 hours, or 8, or 12, just let it do its thing!

In the mean time I have a real need to keep going, be busy, keep moving, so... on to the next canvas, and the next, and back around again. 


Needless to say, I have a lot of paintings piled up. What I'm suddenly realizing, though, is this pressing need to slow it all down. I need to be more consistent, more cognizant of what's working and where it's all going. It's like when you (well I don't know if they even give typing tests anymore) take a typing test for a job and you can type a thousand words a minute but half of them are spelled wrong. It's time to slow down and get it right.


Patience would mean slowing down a lot, and being perfectly happy with that. Patience would mean standing still long enough to let the moment have its moment. That seems useful... and good. Some moments need more time. How long does this one need?

Some paintings need more time, and that's what I'm trying to appreciate. In the meanwhile I'll just keep tacking those new canvases to the wall... 
 t a c k 
t a c k 
t a c k



Here's an interesting article for further reading: Patience and Painting


October 26, 2016

Ida Applebroog: Artist of the Week


Ida Applebroog artistMarginalia (Crawling Man), 1996, oil on canvas, 32 x 72 inches

Ida Applebroog: One of my favorite artists from what seems like a lifetime ago, when I was all about psychological performative painting. A fascinating artist who got a later start in the artworld, but has managed to successfully sustain it even up until now at age 86, Ida Applebroog is a huge inspiration. This was one of the most difficult artists of the week to post because she has so much work, I couldn't decide which were my favorites!


Ida Applebroog artist
  Modern Olympia (after Manet), 1997-2001, Oil on gampi on canvas, 4 panels, 73 x 148 inches

Ida Applebroog artist   Marginalia (goggles/black face), 1996, Oil on canvas, diptych: 16 x 14 inches and 14 x 18 inches


Ida Applebroog artist

         Marginalia (hand on forehead/squatting), 1996, oil on canvas, each 16 x 16 inches


Ida Applebroog artist

I'm rubber, you're glue, 1993, oil on canvas, 99 x 65 inches

Ida Applebroog artist
Winnie's Pooh, 1993, oil on canvas, 86 x 84 inches


Ida Applebroog artist
K-Mart village I, 1989, oil on canvas, 5 panels, 48 x 32 inches


Ida Applebroog artist
         Emetic Fields, 1989, oil on canvas, 108 x 202 inches


Ida Applebroog artist
Sure I'm sure, 1979, ink and rhoplex on vellum, six panels, 12 x 9 ½ inches each


Ida Applebroog artist
Sure I'm sure and the following two images are part of the provocative series of 10 offset books published and distributed by Applebroog from 1977-1981. She called them "performances" and titled them Dyspepsia Works
"Applebroog produced editions of 400 copies cheaply, and mailed them off to friends or acquaintances, or to artists whose work she admired. Eleanor Antin's postcards, graffiti by Jean-Michel Basquiat or Keith Haring, or Jenny Holzer's sheets of "truisms," pasted on bus stops, alongside notices of yoga lessons, kittens, or second-hand furniture for sale, are other examples of not-for-profit artworks, ingeniously and anonymously distributed, through which, without that having been precisely their intention, the artists all became famous."*
*from Art And Moral Dyspepsia by Arthur C. Danto found in Ida Applebroog: Nothing Personal, Paintings 1987-1997

Ida Applebroog artist

Ida Applebroog artist
  Thank You Very Much, 1982 (detail) ink and rhoplex on vellum, 7 panels, 10 ½ x 9 ½ inches each

Ida Applebroog artist
Tobias, 2005, unique digital photograph with mixed media on gampi paper

Ida Applebroog artist
Good Women (Bettie), digital outtake, 2005
Unique digital photograph with mixed media on gampi paper, 35 x 47 inches

Ida Applebroog artist
Monalisa, 2009, mixed media on canvas, 3 panels, 104 x 77 inches


Here's the article and image that inspired this post. Thanks Hyperallergic!
http://hyperallergic.com/329998/drawing-became-ida-applebroogs-means-communicate-outside-world/
Ida Applebroog artist
Mercy Hospital, 1969/70, drawing on paper


The exhibit Ida Applebroog: Mercy Hospital continues at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Miami through October 30. Call Her Applebroog, a documentary on the artist by her daughter Beth B, will screen at O Cinema on October 29.



Ida Applebroog, Installation view of Past Events, 1982

Creative Time's Projects at the Chamber, Manhattan 1982, was inspired by the dramatic environment of the Chamber of Commerce’s Great Hall, which is decorated with portraits of the great financiers from American history, all of them white. In Applebroog's installation, the artist made the walls “speak,” telling an unpleasant story of patriarchy. She placed a small bronze sculpture of a woman in the midst of the portraits and inserted a speech bubble into her lips that warned: “Gentlemen, America is in Trouble,” to which the portraits replied: “Isn’t Capitalism Working?” or “It’s a Jewish Plot.” The show proved controversial: it was removed twice in one month and eventually moved to a gallery. The artist’s response: “What did they think a woman was going to do in that space?”


Further looking and reading:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/19/arts/design/shes-her-own-artist-and-a-daughters-muse.html?_r=0http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/19/arts/design/shes-her-own-artist-and-a-daughters-muse.html?_r=0

http://idaapplebroog.com/

http://bombmagazine.org/article/2235/ida-applebroog








October 17, 2016

Philip Guston, Who The Hell Wants Paint On A Surface?

Philip Guston painting
Philip Guston, Alchemist, 1960, oil on canvas, 61 x 67 inches

Philip Guston in an interview with Joseph Ablow 1966

"For reasons which I did not understand at the time... when I went into nonobjective painting or at least non-figurative painting, I felt I was even then involved with imagery, even though I didn't understand the imagery, but I thought it was imagery.

For some reason that is not quite clear to me yet, and maybe I don't want to be clear about it either, I was forced and pushed into the kind of painting that I did. That is to say that the demand, in the dialogue of myself with this, was that I make some marks.
It speaks to me, I speak to it. We have terrible arguments going all night for weeks and weeks.
"Do I really believe that?" I make a mark, a few strokes, and I argue with myself. Not "Do I like it or not?" but "Is it true or not?" And "Is that what I mean? Is that what I want?"

But there comes a point when something catches on the canvas, something grips on the canvas. I don't know what it is. I mean, when you put paint on a surface, most of the time it looks like paint.
Who the hell wants paint on a surface? 
You take it off, put it on, it goes over here, it moves over a foot. As you go closer, it starts moving in inches not feet, then half-inches. There comes a point, though, when the paint doesn't feel like paint. I don't know why. Some mysterious thing happens. I think you experience this, maybe in parts of canvases or something like that. If you can do it by painting a face or an eye or a nose or an apple, it doesn't matter. What counts is that the paint should really disappear. Otherwise it's craft or something like that."
Philip Guston painting
Philip Guston, Portrait I, 1965, oil on canvas, 68 x 78 inches







September 12, 2016

Music to listen to in the art studio


Yesterday in my studio I meditated to John Coltrane's Interstellar Space... 
for the second time. It was only a few minutes, but wow, what an impact! If you would've told me a year ago that I'd be into this album I'd have thought you were crazy. A year ago I would have definitely run the other way if someone put this on in my studio... but all of a sudden it's working for me. I find myself tangled up in the color and light of the sound, and breathing in all its breaths. Both times I opened my eyes to the brightness of my room knowing exactly what I wanted to do with the painting on the wall.

I don't usually meditate before I start painting, and I don't usually listen to jazz, let alone free jazz, while I'm working, but I'm glad for whatever gave me the impulse.

About the album, Robert Christgau wrote in his column for The Village Voice that he was amazed by the duets, which "sound like an annoyance until you concentrate on them, at which point the interactions take on pace and shape, with metaphorical overtones that have little to do with the musical ideas being explored."

I couldn't have said it better myself! Here, take a listen:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le4iF-ZAJ3g&list=PLd56fNeWVkFn6OqF_4JR86Gz5Db9MYpmP


Music has that magic ability to set a mood and tone for the day, bringing up memory and emotion, good or bad.
You can wallow and get lost in it, or it can drown everything out. Usually I spend half my day in silence and half of it with music on. There are periods when I listen to the same thing almost every day. Years ago I did a whole series of paintings to Peter Gabriel's Us. Then there are periods when I'm not satisfied with anything I hear. I've tried podcasts and local radio stations, old CD's, new CD's.

Because I'm aware of how much I'm influenced by it, lately I've been trying to be much more conscious of the music I listen to.
Last month out of frustration I spent several days in complete silence. I ended up listening to Pink Floyd's Clouds for an entire week after that. Bitches Brew by Miles Davis is another current favorite.

When it comes down to it there is certain criteria that needs to be met. If the music I'm hearing can jolt me emotionally in one direction or other without overwhelming me, I'm in. If it echoes the same mood as the painting I'm working on, that's good too. But it can't impede on the work. If I'm paying more attention to the lyrics of the song than the colors on my canvas, that's no good. There needs to be enough space in the music that I can subconsciously float myself into. Philip Glass is really good at that. If a whole album flies by and I realize I didn't hear any of it because I was lost in my work, that's perfection!

I just realized that everyone on this list is male, so here, to balance that out, depending on the mood: Concrete Blonde, Ani DiFranco, Nina Simone, Fiona Apple, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Blondie, Yeah Yeah Yeah's, Zap Mama, Martha Wainwright... okay well, that more than balances it out!

Happy listening.






July 21, 2016

Where's your studio?

So here's another question for you artists:
Which do you prefer, studio space outside your home or inside your home?? 
For two years I've been telling the world how madly in love with my studio space I am and now I'm trying to rationalize the possibility of not being able to afford it anymore.
I told myself when I got it that I'd never have a studio in my house again.
There's something about physically going to work that is so appealing. Paying for a separate space forces me to work harder and take it all more seriously. I don't think about the computer or the dirty dishes or what we're eating for dinner. I barely even look at my phone.
Having a professional space makes me feel more like, um, a professional. 
But it also has a lot to do with having something all to myself which is really important too. The problem is if I can't afford it then that something for myself turns into something else entirely.
How selfish do we artists get to be? 
Especially when there's no money coming in from the work, only going out.....

Samantha Palmeri painting
unfinished painting, oil on canvas

I'm an artist who has tinkered away in the studio mostly unnoticed for years, and I suspect that will be the case for more years to come. Not that I'm complaining about it, well, I don't mean to anyway. I know I sound like I complain about a lot of things! About rejection notices and staying motivated and burning bridges, about solitude, both the desire for it and the lack thereof. I've complained about wanting a muse after losing one I thought I had, and also about not really needing a muse to begin with, etc. etc. I'd like to think they're not really complaints so much as comments on the topic.
I think spending a lifetime making art can sometimes be confusing like this, and at certain times it does feel a little like a useless endeavor. Nobody really needs it, do they?

I used to have a slogan, pinned up in the storefront window of my first art gallery with white twinkly lights around it, that said Art Is A Necessity. One day a known local artist asked me with a quizzical smirk on his face if I actually believed that. It never occurred to me not to believe it. I think about that all the time. I don't know why, because I don't really know how it affects me one way or the other except that I've always made art because it was a necessity for me. I don't know about anyone else but I need it.

Anyway, my hesitation, anticipation and anxiousness about getting back to work in the studio tends to do this. This wallowing in existential revery sort of thing. I've been reading Philip Guston books lately like I'm studying for the next quiz. Philip I'm ready whenever you wanna lay it on me! Except reading about it and doing it are very very different. I don't want to be him anyway. I'd like to be myself if I can figure out what in the world that looks like, and where to do it.............................





July 14, 2016

The Killer of Imagination

I think I've been wrong.

Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin

What can I say. Some people who know me intimately will think that's very funny. But yes, I think I've been, I mean I know I've been overly self-conscious, which is the killer of imagination and impulse. All my musing about muses and audience can't possibly be right. I don't need more people looking over my shoulder, I need less.

We should learn to be our own muses is my new motto. 

I have been away from the studio for probably the longest stretch since moving to Beacon, NY two years ago. I've worked hard in that time, making over 25 paintings and countless works on paper, so I very much needed this break... At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin
It all started with this year's Beacon Open Studios at the end of May. I spent two full days gibbering to strangers (and friends) about my artwork. Something a lot of us who participated in the event noticed was that after a while of describing your work to people, you start repeating yourself over and over. The same descriptive words start flying out of your mouth. And you hear yourself saying things you never heard before. You're like, oh, so that's what my work is really about!!

So what did I hear myself saying all day for two days straight? That my paintings were in a transition phase, that they weren't exactly the kind of paintings I wanted to be making but somehow they needed to be made, that they were more formal and more figurative than I wanted them to be. Although I had very positive feedback, I found my own self-effacing comments very revealing. It was clear to me that that series of paintings was done with. But what to do next? And why did I need to make all those paintings that now felt forced and untruthful?

So, I've been away from it for a while.

Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin
The timing has been impeccable since I did just move, and moving as we all know, is hell. But now I'm ready to go back and I can't imagine what to do.

For starters, I've decided to refrain from sharing works in progress, so you probably won't see any new photographs for a while. In this age of sharing every second of our lives with everyone on the planet, I've suddenly found myself needing some privacy.  

I have a lot of work to do. Whatever it is that's been keeping me from the most truthful work I can possibly make has got to go! So I may need to close off the world for a bit, hole up in the studio and not come out till I figure something out. 

 
Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin



Promise I won't be MIA for too long..............




July 8, 2016

FREE INSPIRATION

There are certain artists I can never get enough of. No matter when or where I happen to stumble upon them, their images never fail to fascinate and inspire.

Here are three of my favorites, Bill Jensen, Gerhard Richter, and Richard Diebenkorn. With one extra by Will Barnett.

Bill Jensen Art
1. Bill Jensen
Gerhard Richter
2. Gerhard Richter
Richard Diebenkorn
3. Richard Diebenkorn

Gerhard Richter
4. Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter
5. Gerhard Richter
Bill Jensen Art
6. Bill Jensen

Richard Diebenkorn
7. Richard Diebenkorn
Will Barnet
8. Will Barnet

Richard Diebenkorn
9. Richard Diebenkorn
Richard Diebenkorn
10. Richard Diebenkorn

1.  Bill Jensen,

2.  Gerhard Richter, "Sinbad" (series), 2008, enamel on back of glass, 11 x 9 inches
        Follow the link to view the entire Sinbad series of 100 paintings

3.  Richard Diebenkorn, "Untitled", c. 1952. Gouache and graphite on paper, 11 x 8 1/2 inches
4.  Gerhard Richter, "Sinbad" (series), 2008, enamel on back of glass, 11 x 9 inches
5.  Gerhard Richter, "Abdallah" (series), 2010, enamel on back of glass, 12 x 12 inches
6.  Bill Jensen, "With Color XIII", 2009, egg and oil tempera on paper, 20 1/4 x 15 inches
7.  Richard Diebenkorn
8.  Will Barnet, "Untitled", c. 1957. Watercolor on paper, 7 x 4 7/8 inches
9.  Richard Diebenkorn, "Untitled", c. 1952-53. Watercolor and graphite on paper, 12 7/8 x 18 7/8 inches
10.  Richard Diebenkorn, "Untitled", c. 1952-53. Gouache on paper, 17 1/8 x 14 inches