Posts Tagged ‘northwest art’

Surprised to hear from me again so soon? I was on hold with the employment office and thought, why not write a blog post? Funny what goes through your mind after listening to repeated pre-recorded messages and disturbing muzack for an hour. That’s right, an hour.

In my last post I sent links to the print-on-demand books The Theory and I created for Oregon sculptor Lee Kelly. Two of those books (One through Nine and The Observatory at Jaipur) documented exhibitions Lee had at his gallery in Portland.

The books contained:

  • Photographs of each piece in the exhibition, captioned with names and dimensions
  • Photographs of earlier pieces that are related in some way to the new work
  • Critical discussions of the new work
  • Brief introductions explaining why we thought a book was a good idea
  • Biographical information about the artist

I’m going to discuss each point in turn but right now let’s talk about why a book can be an important tool for an artist and another way to direct the messaging about your work.

Exhibition catalog
I’m not speaking for every commercial gallery, but here most galleries don’t produce exhibition catalogs for their artists. Public museums and collections often do, as a matter of course. But most of us wait years to be included in a major collection or even (gasp) get a career retrospective exhibition. So what happens while we wait? We mount important shows in commercial spaces, the work sells or it doesn’t, and a month later it’s as if the show never happened.

You probably document your new work and exhibitions on your web site. A web site is the most important tool you possess because it contains everything and is easy to update. But speaking as a user, I know how quickly most people click through web sites. And getting people to read anything longer than a caption online? Whew!

Old tech like a printed book can place images in context with writing and give depth and insight into the artistic process. Or allow a critical thinker the ability to write about your work at length. And because the book is available online (through whichever online publisher you choose) you can buy copies of the book at cost to give away or provide a link so that people can buy it themselves. It’s always there.

Preserving a body of work or important period in an artist’s life
I was talking to my father about the book we wrote called One Through Nine which discussed an exhibition of paintings he did in 2013. It was his first exhibition of paintings on canvas since sometime in the 1960’s. He said, “I didn’t realize until I saw the book that the paintings all related to one another. Without the book, the paintings and the ideas would be gone.”

All that said, this is not a get rich quick scheme unless you are a genius self-promoter.

A book is another way to take control of the messaging and presentation of your work.

Next time I’ll try to channel The Theory about why having a smart guy or gal write about your work is a good idea.

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Jaipur cover_bogHello, everyone, I’m not dead. I’ve been… well, that’s a long story for another post. Right now I want to tell you that The Theory and I have put together three new books about Oregon sculptor Lee Kelly. Who is, coincidentally, my father.

Observatory at Jaipur
Catalog accompanying Lee’s show in October 2015 at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, Oregon. Full color, 86 pages. Get it here: Observatory at Jaipur

One through Nine_cover_blogLee Kelly: One through Nine
In 2013, Lee Kelly created a significant body of new work, a series of paintings entitled “One through Nine.” These nine paintings are oil on canvas, a medium the artist had largely abandoned in 1963. However, these new paintings do not represent a return to Kelly’s Abstract Expressionist past but emerged from his sculptural work of the last ten to 15 years. Full color, 68 pages. Get it here: Lee Kelly: One through Nine

A bog cover_blogBook of Gardens
A Book of Gardens was first published by Lee Kelly and Bonnie Bronson in 1987 as a study of garden designs from India, ancient Egypt and Japan. Hand-printed and illustrated by Lee Kelly, designed and spiral bound by Bonnie Bronson, this small book had a single release of fewer than fifty copies. This 2015 edition includes a facsimile reproduction of the original book and photographs from Lee’s sculptures as installed at his home in Oregon City. Get it here: A Book of Gardens

For the next week or so, I’ll send free pdfs to anyone interested in taking a look at the books. Leave me comment below and I’ll get back to you.

What’s next?
With these books in mind, I’m considering doing some posts about the process of putting together print-on-demand books for artists. In a world where exhibition catalogs can be expensive to produce, print-on-demand might be something for artists to consider. So more on that later. And hopefully another year doesn’t pass before I do these posts!

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On Tuesday, November 1, 2011, a ragtag crew of sculptors, welders and students installed a public art project in downtown Oregon City. Created by Oregon sculptor, Lee Kelly, and called moontrap (lowercase m is intentional), this sculpture was commissioned by the Rotary Club of Oregon City and gifted to the citizens of Oregon City, past present and future.

Lee, father of this blog’s author, has lived in Oregon City since 1963. And despite his lengthy residency, moontrap is his first piece of public art  in his home town. Go anywhere else in the state and you’ll see quite a bit of Lee’s work.

Moontrap is located on Railroad Avenue and Eighth Street, anchored to the large concrete wall that separates the railroad tracks from the city.

Initial sketch of moontrap on a cocktail napkin. Winestock, Oregon City, February 2011.

The idea for moontrap was sketched on a paper napkin one evening at Winestock, our local wine stop, almost a year ago. The idea was to make a connection between the natural world of the basalt bluffs and Singer Creek above, and the human built world of industry and commerce. The title of the sculpture comes from Moontrap by Don Berry about the rowdy, raucus early days of Oregon City, and the compromises that had to be made in order to live with civilization.

At the dedication a few days later, Railroad Avenue was filled with citizens of Oregon City, members of the Rotary Club, Winestock folks, and friends from distant Portland, all celebrating a new work of public art in Oregon’s first city. Art and the rain—two good reasons to take shelter and create fellowship in this funny old town.

Here are some photos taken by The Theory on November 1, 2011:

Moontrap is made from type 304 stainless steel. It is 39' in length and 8' 9" in height.

Lee Kelly and D'Nita Carbone (at center) with moontrap installation crew, November 1, 2011.

Moontrap, looking north on Railroad Avenue, Oregon City.

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Here are scans of two new encaustic pieces done over the weekend. The text (which is visible despite my best efforts) is from my journal last summer. I did eight pieces like this. The one with pink chalk is slightly more successful. The other has a yellowish chalk that doesn’t scan well, but has kind of a nice opacity in real life. I have two or three pieces that don’t have any chalk and look good.

Kassandra Kelly. Distance. 2011. Mixed media on prepared board. 9" x 12"

Kassandra Kelly. Through Sleeping Air. 2011. Mixed media on prepared board. 9" x 11"

I think I’ll try this technique again and see what happens. I’m still not sure about the value of scraping off the wax–there’s something like revision in the process but the tool I’m using (lino cutter with a square chisel thing, I’m sure there’s a word for it) looks so much like whittling. Which it is, generally. Oh, well. Maybe I don’t always have to know why. Wow, there’s a concept!

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I’ve never been a huge fan of green. As Dad says, “Green is what happens when you’re doing something else.” I presume he means doing something else with blue and yellow.

Verdigris "rust" on some kind of copper or bronze fixture.

The green pigments I’ve been able to afford are quiet earth colors just a step or two away from gray. In other words, boring. But I was listening to the incredibly diverting At Home, Bill Bryson’s newest and learned something about how to make green pigment. Do yourself a flavor and get the audio book. Bill is a perfect reader—soft-spoken and funny. No one delivers a line like “…and he died, obscure and penniless, a broken man,” with more vaudevillian regret. In this text, Bill describes how the ancients made verdigris, the basis of green.

It’s simple. Take some copper and suspend it over a vat of horse dung and vinegar. The copper will corrode, like it does on your arm when you wear a copper bracelet. Scrape the green “rust” off and there is it. A Google search reveals that horse dung is just the beginning. Lots of people prefer using their own urine, and in fact there was some discussion at Winestock the other night about how common this is. Mind you, the discussion was among men, and I was faintly disgusted.

Here’s an image of a work in a series by Andy Warhol from 1978 called Oxidation. The Theory tells me this series was created in just this way, with urine:

Andy Warhol, Oxidation Paintings. 1978. Acrylic ground, copper metalic paint, urine on canvas.

Here is a lovely description of the final result:

“For all the conjecture surrounding why Warhol made these somewhat perverse works, one is left, in the final analysis, with objects of extraordinary beauty. The present example is one of the largest Warhol ever ‘made’, possessing the same qualities one finds in Oriental screens. Indeed, a Zen-like serenity pervades the surface, quite at odds, one can imagine, with their creation One can see the paintings as ethereal landscapes, or portraits of micro-organisms, wildly amplified Whichever way one looks at them, the Oxidation Paintings remain Warhol’s most economic works and some of his most elegant compositions.”

I found this text on a restricted area of the Georgetown University web site (it came up in a Google keyword search, so how restricted could it be?) and there was no author given. Go here to read the entire the article which also includes some entertaining notes on who did what.

Addendum: The Theory used his mad skills to glean more information about the article quoted above: “The author is Martin Irvine of Georgetown U.  Teaches contemporary art theory and visual culture. He is quoting an exhibition catalog from Piss & Sex Paintings and Drawings, from Gagosian (NYC, Madison Avenue).  Catalog essay was by Bruce Hainley.  Exhibition dates September/November, 2002.  Catalog is out of print.”

(While this not a proper citation, I express my thanks to both Georgetown University and the Gagosian Gallery for the link.)

While I really hope NOT to use my or anyone else’s bodily products, verdigris seems like a worthy Hive experiment. The Theory checked pH levels of various household compounds and discovered that very close to the top, just after battery acid (1.0 pH), was lime juice (1.8 to 2.0), followed by lemon juice (2.2 to 2.4) and vinegar (2.2). Go here to check pH values of other interesting household items.

Bits of copper salvaged from other projects.

I took some bits and pieces of copper and put half in white vinegar and half in concentrated lemon juice. Both solutions were warmed and soaked in paper towels with the copper bits arranged on top. The lime juice I set aside for my gin and tonic constitutional. Check back later to see how my verdigris experiment is progressing.

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Driveway leading around the side of the house.

Perhaps because I was born in Oregon, I am always searching for evidence of a drowned world. I dream of summer, but to be honest, it is the impenetrable curtain of rain I love most. Today the ponds are overflowing and all the soft, low spots in the paths and driveway are deep underwater. Last week’s fallen leaves are are now a carpet of crinkled mulch. Rhododendron leaves hang slick and sodden, bloated with with water.

No place describes the process of accretion and decay like the Willamette Valley in winter. All last year’s layers–leaves, newspapers, soda cans–press into the ground, soon to become just another layer of tilth and soil. Nothing organic lasts long here, and why should it? Our memories are only slightly more reliable than a season of rain.

This weather–and this time of year–got me to thinking about some of the various reasons artists use encaustic. After all, they could be painting with acrylic. Or whittling. This week I want to examine briefly memory, recycling, remote viewing and the geologic/archaeological process of hiding and revelation. These observations will come from various artist statements gleaned from the web. Caveat here: artist statements are invariably imprecise because they are artists’ attempts to explain what they do. Some artists do it well, others less so, but these statements are often put together somewhat after the act of creation.

Before I get to this new series, I’ll post what I intended to write last week–some thoughts on how to make green pigment. I know, right? Didn’t I say I’d never make my own pigments? Read it Wednesday.

For today, here are some photos of my drowned world.

Sword ferns and pond.

Mulch in the making: leaves and ferns at the base of a birch tree.

Pond with golf ball-sized raindrops on the camera lens. Don't they look like UFO floating orbs? Maybe they are...

And because I couldn’t believe my luck, today of all days, here’s Marzi–awake:

A brief moment of consciousness.

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Other than practicing telepathic calls on the Baron Lucy-Lee, I spent most of the weekend asleep. I’m reading a book called The Sense of Being Stared At and other Aspects of the Extended Mind by Rupert Sheldrake. This is a great book for reading around naps because just about the time you think, “Hmmm, I’m hungry. I wonder if I can put a picture of chocolate cake in The Theory’s mind…” bam, you are asleep.

On Saturday, I spent a few hours in The Hive working on layering. I came up with a piece called Reveal where I could see layers of gray and black cutting over one another. This is an example of how the technique can be great yet the piece itself is sort of wrong. I don’t have any images of it yet so here’s a detail of an older piece called Skidoo which I love for the soft colors. I’ll try to get some scans of Reveal by tomorrow.

Skidoo, detail. Wax on prepared board, 6" x 6". Collection of John and Cheryl.

On Wednesday, I’ll talk about vendors I like—including the coolest wood place on earth—and Friday will be another Hive special of the weird. Tune in.

And one more image to show I’m not always skint with images. This is a detail of Do-Over, a piece which earned its name after I melted off the crap that was on it previously. Please note the color green. There will be a test on green this Friday.

Do-Over, detail. Wax on prepared board, 10" x 10". Keep in mind it doesn't look nearly this good in real life.

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