Sunday, May 29, 2011

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Encaustic Week 2011

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Hard to believe that all these months of waiting are nearly over and The Fifth International Encaustic Conference begins THIS WEEK. This is the fifth year that Joanne Mattera, Conference Founder and Director, has brought the conference to us and I have perfect attendence. As you've read me saying for months, the conference will be held in Provincetown this year at the Provincetown Inn on June 3-5. Following that, the festivities move to the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill for a week of post-conference workshops.

This year Joanne has invited me to participate in the Saturday morning panel on Mastering Media. I will be talking about blogging based on my experience with Art in the Studio as well as the two blogs I have set up in conjunction with the conference -- last year's All Info On Art Blogging and this year's Art of Bricolage.

I've been doing research on Art in the Studio to analyze exactly what has happened in the 250+ posts I've published -- who, what and why I wrote what I wrote. I've at least skimmed through every one of those posts and am writing a somewhat sketchy PowerPoint as a guide for speaking about this blog on the panel. Perhaps I'll publish that info here once the conference is over. It's been an interesting study for me to see how my writing and my approach to things have developed over time.

I will be blogging from the conference, as I did last year. This year I have my new Iphone and a mobile blogging app so I'll really be able to go live from wherever I am. Typing on that little Iphone keyboard is not one of my favorite things, so I'll probably just send some pictures. At least something will restrain my usual verbosity.

(I'll be able to look out at this breakwater from my room at the Inn.)

The weather forecast looks really great -- cool and sunny for the most part -- just what I like.

I will also be teaching two all-day post-conference workshops (both the same) at Castle Hill on Making Fine Art With Unconventional Mixed Media and Encaustic. In preparation, I've been writing the Art of Bricolage blog especially for my workshop students. I am pleased to say that Joanne Mattera has signed up for one day, and this will be the first post-conference workshop she has ever been able to attend. Cherie Mittenthal, Executive Director of Castle Hill, and her great staff have taken over the organizing tasks that Joanne usually has to manage.

Photo credit: Ewa Nogiec,

Provincetown is a great place to people watch, dine out and, oh, yeah, look at art. There are three shows in Provincetown organized in conjunction with the conference and featuring work in encaustic:  Kobalt Gallery (Beeline, the conference exhibition) , Ernden Gallery (invitational show of work by gallery artist Deanna Wood along with Milisa Galazzi) and Bowersock Gallery (Art in Motion).

Also, Joanne Mattera and gallery owner Marla Rice have organized a show (Surface Attraction) at Rice Polak Gallery centering on materiality in work by selected gallery artists along with work in encaustic by Joanne Mattera and Lynda Ray.

Photo credit: Ewa Nogiec,

In addition, there is an invitational sculpture show at Castle Hill, curated by Cherie Mitenthal, in which I was invited to participate along with Kim Bernard, Catherine Nash, Miles Conrad and Laura Moriarty. I'm excited to be included with such accomplished artists and to show my encaustic-based work beside theirs.

So look for a surge of posts about the conference with my news and views. My pal Binnie Birstein and I will be driving down to the Cape Friday morning to be there in time for the Monotype Marathon that begins Friday afternoon. All the P-town shows will have openings Friday night and it should be a happening place as 243 (and maybe more) waxers converge at the tip of Cape Cod.

Note: all images in this post are from the internet

Thursday, May 19, 2011

That Emotional Connection

Gateway, 2010, mixed media with encaustic, 24" x 66"

This painting was the first in my Running Stitch series and it has now been sold by Arden Gallery. I am happy to report the sale and thankful for Arden's expertise in marketing. At the same time, because it was the first of this series, I feel a strong connection to it, and seeing it go brings memories of its creation in the studio -- the excitement I felt as it came together and the pleasure it gave me as I added panels and watched it grow. I felt it could have gone on expanding forever. (Note: you can click on pix to see larger views or click here to see a better image on my website.)

Gleaming in late afternoon

Initially, I called this piece itself Running Stitch before I decided that it should be the first in a series of that name. I took the first picture of it in late afternoon as the light changed and made the copper strips in it gleam.

Detail of Gateway showing elements of  patinated copper, rubber, book pages, book covers and more

There were a lot of copper elements in this piece, most of them with a green or blue patina, but some just pure copper, and all set off with black encaustic.

I feel a bittersweet sense of parting from it that doesn't happen with every sale, but only with the pieces for which I feel a special connection. Farewell, Gateway!

Onward and Upward in the Arts
Tomorrow I am packing up my three works for the invitational sculpture show at Castle Hill that will run from May 30-June 9 in conjunction with The Encaustic Conference. This is the first time I have ever made anything that I wanted to be classified as "sculpture" and I am just playing around at the edges of the process. I think my aesthetic really lives somewhere between painting and sculpture in the twilight of 2.5D.

I'm just calling this "Red Piece" for the time being

So this one is "Blue Piece" until I think more about it

I've shown these two pieces on this blog before, but I haven't shown the third piece that will be in the show. That will be a surprise and is the most "sculptural" of the three. The real sculpture is building boxes to pack these pieces into. Fortunately, my very kind studio neighbor, Kathy Jacobs, is delivering them to Truro for me.

News of El Anatsui
After seeing and blogging about Anatsui, one of my most admired artists, at Wellesley College, I began following Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu's blog. Okeke-Agulu is an artist, curator and art historian as well as an assistant professor in the Art and Archeology Department at Princeton, and he participated in the public conversation with Anatsui at Wellesley. I learned so much from his explication of Anatsui's work that I wanted to read what he had to say about contemporary art, particularly from Africa.

El Anatsui, Intermittent Signals, 2009, photo taken at Jack Shainman Gallery, NY, Feb 2010

Today Okeke-Agulu's blog  had a post about Anatsui's show being installed at the Clark Art Institute in their new Stone Hill Center, designed by Tadao Ando. The works are from the Broad Art Foundation's collection. Okeke-Agulu has visited the Clark with Anatsui and on his own to consult on the installation, which he describes as "fabulous" because of the beautiful space designed by Ando. The show will run from June 12 to October 16 at the Clark in Williamstown, MA -- out here in the other side of Massachusetts where I now live. I plan to see the show and to watch the public screening of the new film about Anatsui by Susan Vogel on July 24th, which I posted about here.

His blog also linked to a new book to be published by Yale University Press about Anatsui's show at the Clark. The book is a transcript of a conversation between Anatsui and Okeke-Agulu as well as an essay by Alisa LaGamma, curator in the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Met.


As my mother says, never a dull moment.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Last Week in Review

New Work

Dark Companion, 2011, mixed media with encaustic, 36 x 36 inches

This past week I completed the piece above to show in the fall at The Brush Gallery in Lowell, Mass. in POLLINATION: Beyond the Garden, curated by Gregory Wright. It will be accompanied by a work of the same size in paler and brighter colors.

New Sale

Southern Stories, 2011, mixed media with encaustic, 30 x 36 inches

Also last week the commissioned work above was completed and purchased through Arden Gallery.

New Blog

And for my final item in this brief update, I have posted today the fifth entry in my new blog, Art of Bricolage. I am writing this blog especially for the students in my post-conference workshops, "Making Fine Art with Encaustic and Unconventional Mixed Media." My post today was about meaning in art.

Excerpt from the initial post:

Why Bricolage?
Bricolage is a term that is beginning to be used more frequently to describe artworks made from found, recycled or ready-made materials. Such material is usually called junk, but since we are talking about fine art, I prefer to use a term which may be considered the equivalent of "collage" except that the materials are not necessarily paper and they are not necessarily attached with glue. Perhaps "assemblage" is a more familiar term for the process we will be using, but instead of just joining together elements or objects, I want to stress the manipulation of individual elements and the submersion of elements into a completed work.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Out of the Studio

Between one thing and another, I don't get out much to look at art, but on Friday I went to Boston to deliver some work and made a long day of it by visiting a few galleries, stopping in at Greg Wright's opening at Galatea Fine Art and concluding the day at dinner with friends. (I know that Greg is going to blog about his own opening, so I'm leaving that to him.)

SOWA (South of Washington Street) Artists District in Boston's South End. This is an outdoor mall where galleries and other stores are located at street level. The entrance to a big artists' studio building, 450 Harrison Ave., is also located here.

Despite being a native of Boston, I don't get in there much since I'm about a two-hour drive away in western Massachusetts. When I visit now, it's always mind bending because I'm seeing the new/current along with the remembered. The South End has been mostly gentrified and revamped to the extent that I barely know where I am, although it's surprising how quickly the automatic mental GPS kicks in.

At Arden Gallery, Matt Duffin, Untitled (Tricycle), encaustic on panel

Earlier in the day I also went to a few galleries in the older district of Newbury Street, home of Arden Gallery, located in Boston's Back Bay near the Public Garden, Copley Square and other well-kown spots. Other than the work at Arden, where Matt Duffin was showing, I was not particularly bowled over by anything I saw.

Chase Young Gallery

Cynthia Packard , Blue Arrangement, 36"x36", oil and mixed media on panel

One South End gallery I did like was Chase Young Gallery, which had a show on of gallery artists entitled "Blue," that included the work above by Cynthia Packard, a Provincetown artist I wrote about in my Provincetown Art Context post. This had a great surface and an interesting darkness about it that may not be apparent here.

Kathryn Frund, Rapture, Rupture No. 6, 16"x16"

Kathryn Frund is an artist whose work in the show I particularly liked. Lynette Haggard had featured her previously in her blog here. I liked the work online but in person I really, really liked it. Note to self: Get out more.

Kathryn Frund, Intimate Alignments and Intimate Matters, each  16"x16", mixed media on panel

Detail of Intimate Alignments

Other work that interested me was ink on mylar by Katina Huston.

Katina Huston, Saxaphone Square, 24"x24"

Katina Huston, Blue French, 24"x24"

Last month I missed Elise Wagner's show at Chase Young, but there were still a couple of her pieces on display in the back gallery. They are powerful works with great surfaces.

Elise Wagner, Event Horizon, 36"24", encaustic, monoprint, oil on panel

Event Horizon detail

There was not enough room to really stand back from this piece, so I apologize for the bad photo framing.

Elise Wagner, Quantum Singularity II, 24"x70", encaustic and oil

Detail of Quantum Singularity

Then, since it was First Friday Open Studios, I went upstairs in 450 Harrison Avenue to visit a couple of friends.

Charyl Weissbach

Charyl Weissbach working in her studio 

Charyl's studio with comleted works - and visitors

Charyl will be teaching a post-conference workshop titled "Mainly Metals" at The Encaustic Conference next month.

Linda Cordner

Linda Cordner is another friend whose studio I visited.

Works displayed in Linda's studio

Closeup of a new work by Linda (much better in person)

Susan Still Scott

Finally, I went over to Kingston Gallery, where Susan Scott had a show in the back gallery. She has also been featured on Lynette Haggard's blog and I met her at the Danforth Museum in Framingham, where she had a solo show last fall..

The work below is all within 15"x15"x 8" size and is constructed of acrylic and flashe paint on canvas or cotton duck, wood, wire, string, polyfille and acrylic polymer. All dated 2011. This is provocative and surprising work that compels viewing from many angles to figure out what's going on.

Susan Scott, Turtle Shirt

Susan Scott with Turtle Shirt

Black Ecstatic, View 1

Black Ecstatic, View 2

Trophy Painting, View 1

Trophy Painting, View 2

Reach, View 1

Reach, View 2

Mugpee Mashpee

And a good time was had by all!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Working Artist

It seems that recently my time in the studio has been filled with the kind of work that feels like I have a job working for The Man. (Does anyone still say that?) It's been putting panels together by drilling holes and inserting screws or bolts, touching up the edges, repairing small dents or scratches, attaching hangers and wires, writing titles on the backs of panels, wrapping, packing and all the myriad of other tasks that I would have my army of interns or assistants doing if only they existed in reality instead of in my dreams.

Why cats, you may wonder. Well, I went looking for pix of studio assistants and all I found was pix of cats and dogs that people had posted. So, hey, I have my own damn cats. They're not in the studio with me, but they do lounge around all the time, apparently the way people think studio assistants do. I guarantee you that mine would be kept busy--at least busier than these cats.

The good news about all these studio chores is that I'm getting the work ready to launch into the world in the form of sales, which is never a bad thing, no matter how annoyingly detailed it may seem.

And, just in case you may wonder what it's like to have an army of assistants, cast an eye on this video of Julie Mehretu's studio in Berlin that features some of her assistants. You'll see how the other half lives.

In Other News
I received a comment today on my blog post about Anatsui at Wellesley College from Susan Vogel, a  remarkable art historian, teacher, author and filmmaker. She is internationally recognized as a curator and expert on African art. She was the Founding Director of the Museum for African Art, Director of the Yale University Art Gallery and Professor in the Department of Art History at Columbia University. Ms. Vogel said I had written a "terrific post" about Anatsui and directed me to her website, where I would find information on a film about Anatsui that she directed and just released through her production company.

Susan Vogel

Her film, Fold Crumple Crush: The Art of El Anatsui, was shot over the course of three years in Venice (at the 2007 Bienniale), in Nsukka (the village where Anatsui's studio is located) and in the U.S. She has also made eight short films about various working practices of Anatsui that can be shown together as a longer film. It all looks fabulous and I would love to see the films. The site has a list of upcoming screenings at the Metropolitan Museum, Skidmore and Sarasota Springs. The one I'm shooting for is at the Clark in Williamstown on Sunday, July 24th. I wish I could have downloaded the film trailer for you, but it wouldn't work. You can see that on Susan Vogel's website too.

In Anatsui's studio, laying out separate pieces to make a large work (from Fold Crumple Crush)

The Pace Becomes Frenetic
Some time around the end of April when the calendar is about to turn over into May, you can hear the hum of activity begin to pick up. The pressure is building and time seems to condense as all those things that you seemed to have limitless time for begin to mount up and you are suddenly aware that there is NO WAY you can ever finish them all before it is upon you. The Conference is coming, the Conference is coming! There's that drumbeat and it's getting louder and more insistent. The Conference is Coming, THE CONFERENCE IS COMING! Only 32 days left now. Aargh, get it done, get it done. THE CONFERENCE IS COMING!

Photo courtesy of Joanne Mattera

The Big Ball o' Wax rolls on toward the 5th Annual International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown, Massachusetts, June 3, 4 and 5. All the info here.