Saturday, November 7, 2009

Alan Storey-C4 Contemporary Gallery Los Angeles

C4 Contemporary Gallery, 5647 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028

"Alan Storey: Device for Drawing the Movements of a Ballerina", Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver Canada, 2008.
All images of this work are copyright © Ashley Judge, 2008.

On a recent very short and unexpected trip out to the west coast I had the opportunity to visit C4 Contemporary Gallery in Los Angeles.(5647 Hollywood Blvd.) The exhibition was work by artist Alan Storey who designs and makes drawing machines that become, in essence, the artist's hand. Having seen some of his images on the gallery web site, I was intrigued with the images produced by the machines as well as the process by which they actually come about. I love the lines! Although Canadian artist Storey is best known for his public sculptures which interact with architecture and public spaces like his giant Broken Column located in the HSBC bank in Vancouver it is the drawings and drawing machines that captured my attention. Below is his Climatic Drawing Machine, 1991 in Toronto. Above is a photograph of his Climatic Drawing Machine, 1991 in Toronto and below, the scale model of the Drawing Machine that was in the exhibition.
Above: the scale model of the Climatic Drawing Machine and the resulting drawing on rear wall installed in gallery.

Above: Detail of 'recording paper ' roll. The direction of the wind rotates the paper recording drum via the weather vane on the roof of the building. The drum is moved up and down according to the velocity of the wind.

Storey's first 'drawing machine' above is motorized and rotates at low speed. A bicycle wheel held by the arm is kept inked and stays in constant contact with the wall, creating the marks or drawing.

Alan Storey: Handle with Care,1991.
I particularly loved the drawings above that were done by a much smaller drawing machine. The drawing machine was equipped with a pen designed by NASA and placed inside a shipping crate and then shipped to several predetermined locations. The motion of the shipping vehicle and the orientation of the crate during shipping determine the outcome of the drawing. The drawing above is the folded open insides of the crate.

Alan Storey: Handle with Care, Lithograph, Montréal to Vancouver (Trans-Canada Higway,) 1994.
From the gallery site:
Ostensibly a shipping crate - except when folded out onto it's integral six hinged interior sides it is revealed to be a canvas and drawing substrate for a specially prepared pen carriage which translates the movements of the container, experienced on the journey to the exhibition space onto the 'canvas'.

This exhibition closed Nov. 7th.
All images and information was posted with permission of gallery director JW Dewdney. He was especially helpful the day we were visiting the gallery providing us with information about the artist and his work.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Process, Time, Titles and Leonardo Drew

Leonardo Drew, No. 33A, 1999, Canvas, metal boxes, oxidized metal, rust, shoes, wire
99 x 96 x 22 inches, Cardboard, In the collection of the McNay Art Museum.

Leonardo Drew, Close-up view of No. 123, cardboard, cast Elmer's Glue, feathers, paint, paper, plastic, rope, string and wood. Installation.

Many of you are familiar with the work of artist Leonardo Drew who has recently relocated to San Antonio or splits time between Brooklyn and San Antonio. The University of Houston's Blaffer Gallery hosted a mid-career survey of his work this summer beginning in May and ending August 15. It was late in the exhibition when I visited the exhibition, prompted by artist friend, Ellen Hart. She was taken with his work and knowing what I have been doing recently, thought I would be too. She was right. I loved his work. I wish my visit would have been earlier in the summer because I am sure I would have revisited several times. Below is one of his installations.

Below: No. 28, 1992 Rust and canvas
Existed: Leonardo Drew, the exhibition, curated by gallery director and chief curator Claudia Schmuckli, included a major installation created in the gallery space, 14 major sculptures made between 1991 and 2005, and 12 works on paper made between 2005 and 2008. These pieces together present a representative survey of Drew's artistic development and point to the relevance of the direction the work is taking today. (paraphrased from the Blaffer Gallery web-site announcement.)

After looking at the whole exhibition I was struck with enormity of tedious labor it must require to make each work considering the scale and multiplicity of each piece. Khrystah Gorham, gallery assistant pictured below, said that because Drew feels that manual labor is really the heart of his work, he prefers to do all the labor himself, rather than hiring assistants to build the components.
An example---No.43 (1994) pictured in the Houston Press article, is made up of 880 hand-built boxes, each stuffed with rust-dusted and twisted scraps of fabric, sometimes trailing out or stretched over sealing them.
Works on paper of molded and pressed papers
Gallery assistant Khrystah Gorham

Above and below are some of the smaller pieces in this exhibition. More intimate and perhaps more poetic than the larger pieces, these hold their own with the larger work.
Rust, molded paper, wood, nails, rusted metals, raw cotton, preserved and stuffed dead birds are just some of the "stuff" Drew uses as art materials. Paper molded into tiny cubes are essential parts of these smaller works on paper along with string, even a pencil line here and there. Below the objects hanging from tied and twisted ropes are made of molded paper. "Ethereal, ghost-like immateriality, a sense of meditation" are just some words and phrases used in describing his sculptural pieces.

No. 94 2005, Cast paper, found objects, paint, rust; 153 x 144 x 12 inches
Curtesy of Skkema Jenkis & Co. I don't have the titles for the pieces pictured below.

I can't post about Leonardo Drew's work and not mention his use of numbers as titles in light of Joanne Mattera's interesting recent post discussion regarding titling of work earlier this summer. For me, his use of numbers as titles fits perfectly with the formally abstract compositions. The numbered titles designate and help one keep track but never get in the way. The work has such strength and "metaphorical weight" that a worded title would seem like mere window dressing.

No. 26, 1992 Canvas, rust, wood 120 x 168 x 6 inches Private Collection, New York

So, what do I like so much about his work? I like
crude, unpolished materiality of the work; the ritual-like repetitive process involved in the making of the work; the strength and emotional impact of the larger pieces and of course the "visual poetry" of the smaller works on paper.
The way his work takes us back to the past with empathy and dignity is a plus.

Leonardo Drew, No. 123, 2007, Installation view with Gallery assistant Adam Varner
This installation is comprised of materials that he employed and developed throughout his career then turned into little sculptures and attached in grid-like fashion, directly to the wall of the gallery.

The exhibition was accompanied by a comprehensive monograph, the first on this artist, published by Giles Ltd., London, featuring essays by Blaffer Director and chief curator Claudia Schmuckli and Allen S. Weiss, Associate Adjunct Professor of Performance and Cinema Studies at New York University.

All images posted in this blog were taken by me at the gallery. You can go to Drew's web site or the gallery's web site for better images of his work. Click on the links provided below for more written information about Drew.
To see videos of Drew working and in conversation click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page for the links.

Press Related Articles
Beauty in the Abandoned

Monday, May 25, 2009

Paper and More

Above piece is Untitled by Howardena Pindell, 1973 Ink on punched and pasted paper, talcum powder, and thread on paper, 10 1/8 x 8 3/8" (25.9 x 21.3 cm) The Museum of Modern Art. Gift of Lily Auchincloss, 1974 © 2009 Howardena Pindell (Image is from the MOMA web site.)

If you follow Joanne Mattera's blog you've read her recent reviews of the exhibition at the MOMA Paper:Pressed, Stained, Slashed, Folded that is up through June 22. (I am hoping to get to NYC on the heels of the conference at Montserrat and see it myself.) Thanks Joanne, for the posts. This exhibition and Dorthea Rockburn's folded paper pieces brought to mind Folds, a paper and encaustic piece by Denise Stringer-Davis that is part of the Degrees exhibition on view here in Houston until the 31st at M2 Gallery.

Above: Folds by Denise Stringer-Davis, Waxed toilet paper, variable size

Besides Davis, the work of San Antonio artist Michelle Belto and myself also use paper as a major part of our work in this exhibition.
Belto makes her own paper and molds it to suit her needs. Mother's Sewing Basket is a collage of paper, Encaustic and garment fasteners used in clothing construction. She said this piece is part of a series that pays homage to the women seamstresses in her family.

My work, Slow Burn/Skin Deep below, is primarily hand made paper and wax. I didn't make the paper. It is Thai paper made of sanitized abandoned bird's nests. Thick and rough like a grass matt and very organic looking. It is part of a new series of works I call Organic Compounds.

Above: Gwendolyn Plunkett, Slow Burn/Skin Deep, 42" x 24" x 2", Encaustic and handmade Thai Bird's Nest paper on canvas on panel.

Degrees Exhibition runs through Sunday, May 31 so you still have time to see it.

In the MOMA show, the Howardena Pindell piece at the top is one of my favorites but I am intrigued by John Cage's Wild Edible Drawing No. 8, from 1990. It is handmade paper of milkweed, cattail, saffron, pokeweed and hijiki.

Untitled, 2009 Rebea Ballin

At Joan Wich & Co here in Houston this month was an exhibition by artist Rebea Ballin whose work is not of paper but on paper. Prismacolor (black) pencil drawings of hair. Conversation with the artist in the Houston Chronicle last week is fresh and candid about how she came to this subject matter. Landscapes came to mind with my first glance at the work from the door.
No, but maybe.
A quote from her conversation with Douglas Britt, "What made me want to zoom in a little bit more was an interest in the landscape aspect of hair in the scalp, the textures and things like that."

Thurel Wright's piece above
At A Good Idea on Paper , Eleanor Jane Cardwell's blog, you can always find interesting works made of and on paper. May 22nd post features the work of Thurel Wright.

The May 15th post features Artist Valerie Jolly's work. She says "she casts objects in sticky wet tissue paper."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

TexasWAX Artists Show Their Stuff

TexasWAX artists from Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are exhibiting new Encaustic works at Gallery M Squared during the month of May. The reception is Saturday, May 9 from 7-9 p.m. This is the first joint exhibition of all four groups.
About TexasWAX:
TexasWAX Houston was the first group to organize in November of 2007. The Dallas group followed shortly after. In February of 2008, these two groups held an exhibition in Dallas that coincided with the College Art Association Conference held there.

The Austin wax group formed not long after. San Antonio artists who were driving to Austin for meetings decided to form a chapter of their own so by the end of 2008, TexasWAX had expanded to four chapters.

Each chapter is active with its own projects and exhibitions, sometimes in collaboration with a sister chapter. This is the first collaborative project of all four chapters.

Gallery M Squared is located at 325 W. 19th Street in Houston Heights.
Gallery hours are Wed - Sat 10-6, Sunday 12-5.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Interactive Blogpost-Rituals/Collections-Time: Rebecca Crowell

Contemporary Abstractions
What is predictable about nature is change---change of seasons, birth, life, death and ultimate decay. Built into that predictable cycle of change seems a core of randomness that ultimately enlivens existence and life's experience. But it isn't nature so much that Wisconsin artist Rebecca Crowell is addressing in her paintings. Rather, the random effects of nature's cycles on man's intrusions into nature. Our walls and buildings. With her process of selectively adding and scraping away, she makes paintings that at first glance, resemble aging and ancient walls. But the palimpsest-like surfaces of her work take us beyond "the wall" to another level of thought becoming parallel markers of the passage of time.

Old Wall: Pyrenees, oil and wax on board 24 x 18 inches, 2009

Rebecca Crowell's Statement:
One of the remarks people have about my work is that it seems to embody a sense of time--that my surfaces often appear ancient, eroded and weathered. This is a result of a process in which I build up layers of paint mixed with cold wax medium, and then selectively scrape, scratch and apply solvent to portions of the upper layers. I like the idea that form/process and concept merge in this process--although my work draws on many sources, weathered and worn surfaces in nature and old human-made objects are among the most important--and the way I interpret this source is by building up and then tearing down the paint layers. As in nature, there is a random quality that results from this process, though of course, I also edit and select in order to reach aesthetic goals.

Recently I spent time at an artist retreat in a small, medieval village in the Pyrenees Mountains of Catalonia, Spain, and later a few days in Barcelona. These were perfect places for feeding my love of ancient surfaces--old stone and plaster walls, worn paths, crumbling slate cliffs, and ruins of old barns--all very beautiful to me. Abstracted interpretations of these surfaces have become an important thread in my recent work.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Lisa Pressman - "Searching the Narrative-New Encaustic Works" at Jack Meier Gallery, Houston

Time, Memory, Abstract Narrative
Continuing the conversation about time and ritual, New Jersey artist Lisa Pressman, whose works are on view at Jack Meier Gallery this month here in Houston, speaks about her work as
"reflect(ions) on the passage of time and the internal events that change and shape us."

Shift in Time, 24x18 inches, Mixed Media Encaustic

She says that "The paintings reveal how, over time, memories are given broader scope and are incorporated into an ongoing abstract narrative. "

Lisa Pressman: Page 3, Mixed Media Encaustic, 11x14 inches

Nature-based and light-infused as are the paintings of Diane McGregor, Pressman's paintings tell a different story, one about memory and significant moments of our past that somehow leave a mark in our lives, embedded there but not always remembered.

The process of living an abstract narrative? Yes. I like that.

Above and Below, Mixed Media Encaustic

Pressman works in various media including Mixed Media Encaustic, Oil and Acrylic. Most of the paintings in this exhibition are Mixed Media Encaustic.

Jack Meier Gallery is located at 2310 Bissonnett in Houston. Lisa's work is on view there through March 7th.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Time/Ritual/Collections Interactive Blog - Diane McGregor

Collections/Rituals - Time
Artist Diane McGregor recently responded to this Interactive Blog invitation with a very eloquent description of her studio routine and painting process. She describes her recent body of paintings as "reductive abstractions that reference nature and the landscape." Read what she wrote below:

"Your invitation to your interactive blog posts inspired me to think of my own rituals as I create one of my oil paintings. My paintings are reductive abstractions that reference Nature and the landscape.

Diane McGregor: Conferring With the Moon, Oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches, 2009

"In the morning before I start work at the easel, I light a candle and write in my journal, including affirmations. I usually spend a lot of time beforehand looking at the painting that I am about to work on, figuring out where the painting is taking me. I will often read poetry at this time as well, finding inspiration in the words and imagery of Neruda, Rumi, Mary Oliver, and others.

My glass palette is always spotlessly clean before I begin to paint. I pour out 2 cans of oderless mineral spirits for washing the brushes. Then I squeeze out the colors from the paint tubes. I select my color palette for the painting ahead of time, and I usually stick to that palette for the entire painting.

My technique is repetitive and process oriented. Vertical and horizontal brushstrokes, applied in many layers, form a grid structure and slowly build up the abstract composition as the brushstrokes accumulate and transform the canvas. The application of the paint is methodical yet allows for chance and unplanned discoveries. Time is an element of the process, as each brushstroke represents a moment, a gesture, a connection.

As I paint, I usually always listen to the music of Hildegard of Bingen (or anything by Anonymous 4), which in itself is ritualistic and repetitive, with soaring harmonies and meditative melodies. The music mirrors the painting process in its repetition and meditative qualities. In fact, I often listen to the same piece of music over and over while working on a particular piece. The repetition of the music adds a subliminal lyric element to the imagery.

When I am finished for the day, usually around sunset, I scrape off my glass palette and clean my brushes. I have a ritual for washing my brushes too. It's kind of odd and obsessive, actually. I wash each brush exactly 3 times. I then lay them out to dry, and I always let them dry at least 24 hours. I do this every time, I don't know why.

She continues by sharing an interesting blog called Daily Routines, one worth checking out.

"It includes descriptions of all sorts of rituals and habits of writers, artists, composers, etc. Like many artists and writers, at the end of my day I enjoy a glass of wine as I reflect upon the day's work and consider the next day's direction."

You can see more of Diane's work on her blog and a peek at her very tidy studio on Pam Farrell's Interactive Studio Blog Project.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hand and Foot

Two Lost Soles. We walked past these shoes every day from our parked car as we headed over to the Encaustic conference last June in Beverly, MA. The last day there, I took these photos.

This photo by Randall Louis Hamilton

Recently I came across an announcement about an art installation at Berry College Moon Galleries titled The Hand and Foot Show a collaborative effort by artists Randall Louis Hamilton (The One Shoe Diaries) and Linda Bill Shirley (FOUND GLOVES.) Both artists are from Pensacola. Made me think of the lost soles we walked across every morning heading to the first meeting of the day at the Encaustic conference last summer in Beverly, MA.
Taking to the road after hurricane Ivan hit Pensacola and demolished his house, Randall began to notice random shoes along side the road. With an artist's eye and sensibility, he began to photograph these finds creating a collection just for fun.

Some of Linda's gloves. Picture from the The Hand and Foot Show official web site.

Linda Bill Shirley says " I probably picked up my first glove sometime in the late 1980s. As an artist, for many years 'found objects' had intrigued me and I often incorporated them into my artwork. However, I continued to see random discarded gloves..."

What I like about this project, The Hand and Foot Show, isn't so much the display even though that must be very interesting. (I didn't see it.) It is the simple idea of just finding something interesting and saving it, keeping it, collecting, marking it---a souvenir, a memory marker
. An unintentional witness. Evidence. The collection expands and becomes more than than a sum of its parts. It is another thing altogether.

Click here to see the CNN interview video.