I’ll be back in a show at Museo Gallery on Whidbey Island for the first time in a few years, as part of NOW: Beauty and Paradox, curated by Nancy Loorem Adams, in collaboration with Museo’s Sandra Jarvis. Ten northwest artists explore contemporary issues through painting, fiber, sculpture, mixed-media and ceramic works with an eye toward beauty and craftsmanship.
The other artists are Danielle Bodine, Maxine Martell, Natalie Olsen, Patricia Resseguie, Inge Roberts, Sande Wascher-James, Dona Anderson, Jill Nordfors Clark, and Nancy Loorem Adams.
Opening reception is Saturday, May 6 from 5-7 PM (I’ll be there). The show continues through May 29th.
More info at Museo’s website.
The fabulous, generous, and always civic-minded Juan Alonso-Rodriguez is planning a benefit for others for his own birthday. And I have a top-secret piece in it.
He and my other pal Paul D. McKee (of Project 106 and Method Gallery) are hosting a fundraising event benefiting the ACLU, Lambda Legal, & Planned Parenthood. For a tax-deductible $100 donation to one of these three fine organizations, attendees get to pick 1 of 100 original paintings to take home.
They have supplied 100 local artists (including yours truly) with 6” x 6” pieces of Masonite and asked us to create an original work on it. All works are signed on the back so guests are choosing the work and not the artist by name. Many of us will be purposely trying to throw people off, or simply taking the opportunity to try something different.
They will have iPads and laptops set up at the entrances to each space, ready to accept donations to one of these three organizations online. (Checks are also accepted.) After you donate, you get a receipt which you take into Juan Alonso Studio or to Method Gallery around the corner and select an original work of art to take home.
The reception (21 & over) will be Friday, April 28, 5-8 pm. $100 minimum donation required at the door guarantees you get to select an original artwork to take home.
Juan Alonso Studio – 306 S Washington St, Seattle, WA 98104
2nd Chance – all ages
Saturday, April 29, 11 am. – 3 pm. – $5 donation requested at the door
Donate a minimum of $100 and you get to take an original artwork home.
On Saturday, Juan Alonso Studio will also donate 25% of sales of original works by Juan Alonso-Rodriguez to whichever one of the three organizations you choose.
Cece n’est pas my piece. These are some collages I did as warm-ups. My actual piece is totally top-secret.
Side projects with specific rules and formats are good for shaking up the old brain cells, and reinvigorating the artistic process. I have three pieces going right now that are not typical “Jane Paintings”, and all of them happen to be square. Two of the squares are from a show of my own making, and I’ve roped in a passel of other artists to join me in the madness. (Read about the third square here.)
Music has always been my painting muse, and a source of inspiration and comfort long before I was a painter. I was even a radio DJ when I was a student at the University of Chicago in the 1980’s. We spun records then, and not quaintly or ironically, either. There was a sizeable room at the station stacked floor-to-ceiling with record albums (I do hope it’s still there) to sift through before your show started. Sometimes I’d pick something out solely because I liked the cover.
The cover! They all had covers! Nice, generous, roomy, 144 square inches of loveliness or weirdness or creepiness or bad art or good art. But they always gave a little hint about what was on the inside. So when the Upstream Music Fest approached the Good Arts Building owners last year about hosting a music venue this May, I knew that I wanted to curate a visual art show inside the venue, and I knew exactly what it would be . . .
ORIGINAL HITS BY ORIGINAL ARTISTS!
I invited a bunch of artists–friends, Biscayne regulars, people whose sensibility seemed to fit the project–to create fake album covers for imaginary bands. And approximately 33-1/3 of them said yes, so now we are going to have a show. It opens Thursday, May 4, at 108 Cherry Street, on the first floor of the Good Arts Building, right next to the entrance to the studios. During the Upstream Fest, May 11-13, we’ll have free live music on site (4-10 Thurs. & Fri, 11-11 Sat.), so one can feast ears and eyes at the same time.
My instinct is to keep the album covers, particularly the band names, both my own and others’, under wraps until the opening. But a few images from the process of creating them can keep you guessing.
Some source material seen through the negative image of one of my songstresses.
She’s a black-and-white girl in a technicolor world. But who is she and what would she call her album?
A fragment of a xerox transfer. They’re a low-rent family act, that’s all I’ll say.
Bonus fun fact: Album Cover Art by a Famous Artist
Sure, we all know about Andy Warhol’s screenprinted banana, but fewer people are aware of Salvador Dali’s contribution to the genre. I don’t know if he’s responsible for the typeface, too, but it’s rather satisfying.
Sometimes I’m working on a painting, revising and tweaking and changing colors, and it is just not happening. All the draperies, wallpaper, extra characters, or funky appliances in the world won’t make it work. The problem obviously lies much deeper, and the thing is starting to feel destined for the scrap bin. I wrote about flailing in this manner in a previous post, but that time I had waited until after the painting in question had already landed safely and had even found a home.
One of those problem paintings has been hanging around my studio for over a year now, a reject from my Manet covers series which I’ve since finished and shown and published a book about. In that series, I had restaged some of my favorite Manet paintings in mid-century suburban America, using characters I gleaned from various vintage magazines ads.The Waitress, 1879: For my cover of this work, I found the right fifties’ lady holding and contemplating a serving tray, three people turned mostly away from the viewer, a musician, and a sort-of-dancing spunky gal sporting capri pants. I always work out the compositions first as charcoal drawings, then I figure out the shapes of the panels and what fabrics to cover them with.
Sure, the six-figure composition was a little unwieldy and sprawling, but that felt true to the wide-open American suburbia that these people had to inhabit. The housewife serving the beer was in a much larger space than her Parisian counterpart, but her domesticized world was so much smaller in every other way.
The deep expanse of the living room felt kind of claustrophobic with all those people squished in the foreground. Which is what I was going for. So far so good.
I sort of organized the people into “teams” and partially separated them with one of those very mid-century room-divider things.
The yellow squares are paint samples that I’ve made to help me pick colors. But finding colors that would play nice was proving to be a bit of a challenge…
Out with the yellow table! It was pretty and everything, but it had to go. Then the guy’s suit went from blue to green and he acquired a hat. What’s with his friend? I’d chosen her for her weird snail hat, and now I had no idea what to do with her. Unruly, the lot of them. Except maybe the guy at the piano. I kind of had a crush on him, but I couldn’t decide how to decorate his little corner.
The deadline for the show came and went. I had plenty of paintings for it without this one, so it went unfinished into the painting rack, where it sat for about six months. When I finally pulled it back out, one look told me it was never going to work out as I’d planned it. So I unbolted and separated its two halves, and then got ruthless with the white paint. I spared only the areas of fabric that formed figures, and not even all of them made it.
Out went the problem lady and the guy with the hat. Away with that pesky husband sipping his beer at a funny angle. After some hesitation, I let the piano player go, too.
Then I put the two panels away again, hoping I would forget about those awkward, unwieldy characters and their strange preoccupations. Forget about the original Manet, too. These would be just some bits of ephemera I could riff off of when I needed a new bit of something for my brain to chew on.
Brain-chewing day finally arrived last week. I decided that this lady needed a floor to ground her in a world. I’d bought a chalk-line for the specific purpose of making perspective lines, and I was nerdily excited to break it out for the first time. A couple of tacks where the vanishing points go, and chalk away! Fun!
I knew immediately what color her new, clean, streamlined, tiled universe needed to be. Sometimes the technical, repetitive task of filling in dozens of receding squares is soothing and satisfying, clearing my mind and letting me enter the world of the painting.
She’s now been put away for a bit and her orange tiles are drying.
The next day I pulled out her friend and gave her a chalkline grid, too.
I found an interesting receding chevon tile pattern in an advertisement that I’m replicating within the grid. Turquoise is her color. Beyond that, I don’t know where this is going. I’ll figure out their new stories and add the rest of their surroundings as I get to know them. Stay tuned.
Last summer, I started a project: drawing the Alaskan Way Viaduct in its final years. This highway from the fifties is a loud, ugly, overbearing monstrosity that blocks the waterfront, drowns out conversations, spews tire dust everywhere, dominates the cityscape, and reminds us of a less enlightened age when freeways obliterating the human-scale landscape seemed like a good idea.
Well, here’s the thing: I kind of like it. I mean, I’m still looking forward to the party we’ll have when the viaduct is finally demolished, but by drawing it I’ve gained something like an aesthetic appreciation for the damned thing. Susan Sontag observed that photography favors traditionally “ugly” subjects, conferring on them a kind of beauty. I’d add that a century and a half of looking at photographs has made us all appreciate the ugly a bit more in person, too.
Looking at it so much made me realize that it actually has a design, something I’d not previously been aware of. Someone at some point had to think up those giant blocky arch sections that recede into the distance; they’re not completely accidental. It has a color, too, closer to burnt umber than to grey, which I think is the color that everyone assumes it is.
It has an uneasy but nevertheless affectionate relationship with its surroundings. This little Frankfurter stand sits nestles so cosily in its shadow, while the shiny glassy blue and coffee-colored post-modern office buildings behind it tap their toes impatiently as they wait their turn to finally face the water.
I can’t imagine what was going through the mind of the person who decided to tag it with “Oprah.” Maybe something to do with her giving all those cars away.
Landscape painting came into its own when rural life was beginning to disappear. Pining for the soon-to-be-lost is sometimes a shortcut to aesthetic appreciation. I can’t say I will be sorry or nostalgic when the viaduct is demolished, nor when the automobile era finally grinds to a smoky, smelly halt at that final traffic light. But for now, I’m taking the time to appreciate the charms of the ugly and embarrassing while it’s still with us. I’ll be back under its deafening canopy next summer, too, with my sketchbook. (If I miss your call that’s probably why.)