January 29, 2019

Kiki Smith, Art Exhibitions, Journal Writing, Inspiration, Vulnerability


from the exhibition Genevieve and the Wolves, Sainte Genevieve, 1999, ink on Nepal paper, 7 feet 8 1/4 inches



Kiki Smith


My Blue Lake, 1995, color photogravure with a la poupée inking and lithograph in colors, 33.7 x 45.8 inches


Sojourn installation image at the Brooklyn Museum, 2010

book cover



I got a great book for Christmas this year, Kiki Smith: Photographs
Published on the occasion of the exhibition I Myself Have Seen It: Photography and Kiki Smith, March 6-August 15, 2010, at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle. Organized by Elizabeth A. Brown.

I've been following Kiki Smith's work for a long time. I remember one of the first exhibitions I saw of hers in the 1990's of black birds and bent over bodies hanging on the wall and scattered on the gallery floor. The psychological, emotional, and physical relationships she explores: self to nature, nature to animal, animal to human, and so on, mesmerize and enthrall me. She seems to be an artist who is so completely enveloped in her work, consistently working on numerous projects at once, in complete servitude and surrender to her art.

It both inspires and intimidates me. On Christmas Day I wrote in my journal,

Kiki Smith inspiration. I am not an artist/person who lets it all hang out. I am full of fear not vulnerability. I do not photograph myself naked or give myself tattoos. I am not fearless. I am covered. I want to break through like piercing the yolk of a poached egg. I want to completely dissolve and disappear into my absolute. I wonder if this is a thing everyone is even capable of. I'm starting to think this is the thing that makes great artists, and this is the thing I do not have.


Ribs, 1987, terracotta, ink, and thread, 22 x 17 x 10 inches

Silver bird, 2006, ink on Nepal paper with silver gouache, mica, glitter, and graphite, 72 1/4 x 58 1/4 inches

Lilith, 1994, bronze, silicon, and glass

Lilith detail



Fawn, 2000, Etching and aquatint, 22 1/2 x 31 1/4 inches


Daisy Chain, 1992, steel and bronze, chain 100 feet


Untitled (red man), 1991, ink on gampi paper in four parts


Rapture, 2001, bronze, 67 1/4 x 62 x 26 1/2 inches






Touch, 2006, suite of 6 prints, aquatint, etching, and drypoint, 30 x 22 inches


Wolf Girl, 1999, etching and aquatint on paper, 8 x 11 inches




Jewel, 2004, suite of three prints, aquatint and etching, each 14 x 17 inches





Cat, 1999, cast porcelain, 3 x 3 x 3 inches





Kiki Smith


further looking and reading:

Art21

ArtObserved

Shoshana Wayne Gallery




January 25, 2019

How to: the personification of punctuation

Elizabeth Murray, C-Painting, 1980-81, oil on canvas, 109 x 114 inches

Texting is changing the way we communicate. I've noticed lately that I use an inordinate amount of exclamation points when I'm texting or writing emails.

!!!!


I'm reminded of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine breaks up with her boyfriend for not using exclamation points, and then gets reprimanded at work for using too many!! When her boss reads out loud the sentences where she used them, dramatically emphasizing each word, it's hilarious.

Dramatic emphasis is exactly what exclamation points are intended for. Yourdictionary.com states that:
Exclamation marks were originally called the "note of admiration." They are still, to this day, used to express excitement. They are also used to express surprise, astonishment, or any other such strong emotion. Any exclamatory sentence can be properly followed by an exclamation mark, to add additional emphasis.

Yes, punctuation is used to clarify meaning, however, because of the ineffectual nature of virtual communication, there is a lot of over compensating going on. The mechanisms we use to connect with each other are so detached and removed from real human connection. We're more likely these days to use punctuation to personify way more than a single human assertion. It's like there aren't enough emojis or punctuation marks in the world to completely articulate our thoughts and feelings in a text message.

Every part of texting has become a complicated playing field requiring deciphering skills akin to war time code cracking. Nothing is inconsequential, or goes unnoticed. Every word, letter, image, and punctuation mark, indicates a host of signs and secret or not so secret messages. Even the length of a text message is important. How long it takes you to text back is monumentally important. Taking too long can be perceived as a slap in the face, while texting back the second someone writes to you can either be seen as super reliable-I'm-always-here-for-you, or totally desperate behavior.

With all these underlying assumptions, misinterpretation seems inevitable. Things like ugh, ack or lol can replace whole sentences so you better be sure to use the right one. The use of ALL CAPS or all lowercase has serious emotional implications. I mean, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO DECIDE WHICH EMOJI YOU WANT TO USE? I'll often ask my daughter when I'm writing something if I've used the proper emoji, (which I usually haven't). I'll add extra exclamation points so it looks like I'm making a joke and then she'll say that it wasn't funny to begin with. sigh

I know I don't use punctuation properly at all. Exclamation points personify a whole slew of emotions and thoughts all at the same time for me. I use one ! as a sign that I'm being positive and have a smile on my face. Two !! is very funny. More than a few !!!!! indicates total surprise, which could be positive or negative, or it could mean don't listen to me I don't know what I'm saying, lol. I'm starting to think I must sound like an idiot or come across like I'm trying too hard, but I have this strange notion that I'll look too serious or depressed without them. hmmm.


Maybe you noticed it too.
peut-être l'avez-vous remarqué aussi?

(btw, I was just informed, nobody uses lol anymore. ugh.)




January 3, 2019

Artist of the week Elizabeth Murray

Bowtie, 2000
Everybody Knows, 2007, oil on canvas, 87 1/4 x 93 inches

(the last painting made before the artist died in 2007)


To follow through with some of those unfinished posts I recently mentioned, here is Artist of the week Elizabeth Murray.


Elizabeth Murray's heroic paintings are as fearless as the life she seems to have led. A woman who wanted it all, and achieved it against all the odds; to have her children and family, and her artwork all playing center stage at once. She is a hero and an absolute inspiration. 
The Sun and the Moon, 2005, oil on canvas on wood, 9 feet 
Do the Dance, 2005, oil on canvas on wood, 9 1/2 x 11 feet
Kind of Blue, 2004, oil on canvas on wood, 9 x 11 feet
Midnight Special, 2000, oil on two canvases, 92 7/8 x 129 1/2 inches
Bill Alley, 2006, 3D lithographic construction, 35 x 41 1/4 inches
Hey Madge, 2001-02, oil on canvas on wood, 53 x 48 inches
Worm's Eye, 2002
Cry Baby, 2000, oil on canvas, 105 3/4 x 105 3/4 inches
Path/Door, 2002
Mister Postman, 1998, oil on canvas, 82 x 77 inches
for a better sense of scale: Bop, 2002-03, at MOMA

As always, I try my best to include the correct information for the images I post. In this case I was unable to find full descriptions for a few of the paintings. 

With one exception, these paintings are all from 2000-07. There are so many more layers to her work and it's nice to see the progression throughout the years, but these just screamed EXUBERANCE to me so that's why I chose them. 

Further looking and reading:

Pace Gallery
elizabethmurrayart.org
Art21
Everybody Knows, a PBS film



December 31, 2018

Happy New Year

Sending you a very Happy New Year's greeting! 


Today, New Year's Eve, will be a feast with friends. Boeuf Bourguignonne, chocolate mousse, sparkly decorations, and champagne cocktails like "Ernest Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon".

A good title to lead with: Green, 2018, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches


It's been a busy year, so much that I currently have 35 posts in the drafts folder half written and waiting to be finished. But, hey, that's 35 half finished essays I can look forward to completing.

I had a conversation with a friend recently who reminded me that all artists struggle to some degree with an often debilitating balancing act. The times when we are filled to overflowing with great new ideas and motivation are coupled with times when we can't find the energy to get dressed in the morning. We talked about creating deadlines and goals to anchor us throughout the year, and especially the winter months.

So..., I have been stockpiling ideas and materials lately in anticipation of what I'd like to be a busy art making season ahead. I've started a knitting project, a drawing project, and just bought a miter saw and tools to literally cut and paste some wonky stretcher bars together. I've been wanting to do this for years and I am so excited! I mean, I bought a saw! It's totally going to be a good year.

I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be having a solo exhibition of new work at the Catalyst Gallery in September. I am also very pleased to have been asked to be part of a group exhibition, curated by artist and owner of Theo Ganz Studio, Eleni Smolen, celebrating Women's history at the Howland Cultural Center in March.

There is so much more I hope to share with you in the coming months.

Thank you so much for continuing to read and support the ArtWrestler blog..


October 3, 2018

simple pleasures

Some of the greatest pleasures in life are the simplest. I should write a list each week as a reminder to focus on the good things and not the bad.

This week my list would include



watching green tomatoes on the counter turn pink and bright orange
a cup of coffee so good it actually puts a smile on your face
the words, you're right (aka you're not wrong) coming from either husband or daughter
closing the studio door, any hour, any day, sitting cross legged on white studio couch
spending a fortune on pink linen bed sheets and not feeling the least bit guilty about it
and finally, tomato sandwiches made with aforementioned tomatoes (must include white bread, vegan mayo, sriracha, salt, pepper, and tomatoes from the garden)










June 24, 2018

the patience of making art


Thank you Brainpickings for posting this this morning:


Rilke on the Lonely Patience of Creative Work


“The most regretful people on earth,” the poet Mary Oliver wrote in contemplating the artist’s task and the central commitment of the creative life“are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”
That is what Rainer Maria Rilke (December 4, 1875–December 29, 1926), another great poet with a philosophical bend and uncommon existential insight, explored a century earlier in the third letter collected in his indispensable Letters to a Young Poet (public library) — the wellspring of wisdom on art and life, which Rilke bequeathed to the 19-year-old cadet and budding poet Franz Xaver Kappus.
1902 portrait of Rainer Maria Rilke by Helmuth Westhoff, Rilke’s brother-in-law
Rilke’s first letter to his young correspondent had laid out his core ideas about what it takes to be an artist. Building upon that foundation in the third letter, he echoes his contemporary Franz Kafka’s assertion that “patience is the master key to every situation” and considers the master key to the creative life:
Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful: patience is everything!
The patience of making art is a lonely patience — one that demands the solitude essential for creative work, be it art or science, so widely recognized by creators across time and discipline. “Oh comforting solitude, how favorable thou art to original thought!” wrote neuroscience founding father Santiago Ramón y Cajal in considering the ideal environment for intellectual breakthrough“Nourish yourself with grand and austere ideas of beauty that feed the soul… Seek solitude,” Eugene Delacroix counseled himself as a young artist in 1824. “Solitude, a rest from responsibilities, and peace of mind, will do you more good than the atmosphere of the studio and the conversations,” the young Louise Bourgeois counseled an artist friend in the following century, just as the poet May Sarton was exulting in her sublime ode to solitude“There is no place more intimate than the spirit alone.”
Art by Isol from Daytime Visions
Rilke articulates this vital incubatory solitude of creative work to his young correspondent in a sentiment of growing poignancy and urgency amid our age of instant and ill-considered opinions:
Leave to your opinions their own quiet undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be pressed or hurried by anything. Everything is gestation and then bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist’s life: in understanding as in creating.
He echoes Goethe’s largehearted, increasingly needed wisdom on the only appropriate response to the creative labors of others and writes:
Works of art are of an infinite loneliness and with nothing so little to be reached as with criticism. Only love can grasp and hold and be just toward them.
Letters to a Young Poet — which also gave us Rilke on what it really means to lovethe life-expanding value of uncertainty, and why we read — remains one of the most beautiful, profound, and timeless works ever composed. Complement this particular portion with Rachel Carson on writing and the loneliness of creative workand Virginia Woolf on the relationship between loneliness and creativity, then revisit Rilke on the nature of creativity.




June 20, 2018

Gratitude for Summer solstice and dirty fingernails

I think I remember telling someone once how much I loved having dirty fingernails if it was from gardening or painting!

I'm writing this just as the summer solstice is about to circle back around to us, and I couldn't be happier. I'm starting to think the six months of cold weather we get around here is like five months too many. So, this summer I am making every effort to celebrate the weather and outdoor living.

I'm always looking for opportunities for artist residencies or fairs in places like Italy and France, but this week I realized I can create my own artist residency right here. I've been working on my pastel and charcoal drawings en plein air, aka the patio, in between dips in the pool and visits from friends. Life is good!

Every morning I go out to the yard and switch my slippers to rubber boots to water the vegetable garden. There's something about the ritual of this activity that makes me so happy. I'm not a very patient person, but I seem to be really good at watching the plants grow...

Anyway, Happy Summer. Hope we are all able to make the most of it!

















Plants and drawings: all works in progress

All images © 2018 Samantha Palmeri
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