Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A New Look At Home

Today I was walking to the post office and I was trying to look at the town where I live objectively. It's not beautiful, in the traditional sense. There is no architecture of notice, no city planning. It is not magnificently landscaped or filled with interesting shops. It just is.

The interesting thing is that is contains an honest reality that is it's own version of beautiful. The real things that happen to people and construct a life happen here. They happen to people of character who deserve respect. Seeing life play out like that provides something innately fascinating.

I have come to live in this town 3 separate times, and each time it became a different place.
  1. I came home from the hospital here in the summer of 1976, when I was born.
  2. I came here for a new start in the spring of 1988, when I was 11.
  3. And I came here after I lived in Chicago to resume my teaching career in the fall of 2002.
There's something here that deserves documentation. I'm not exactly sure what or how I'll go about it, but I'll let you know when I find it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Richter is my Yoda

I like that the name Yoda has become synonymous with understanding and wisdom, and I like using that as a name for those who live that. I've taught with several people in the past decade who have shown such a fundamental understanding of education that it only made sense for us to call them Yoda.

When I think about painting though, and influences, there can be only one. Gerhard Richter is my Yoda. He is the ultimate painting theorist. He's the quintessential postmodern painter. He operates with both a love for paint and a respect for it's inherent (and undiscovered) possibilites. And yes, after 30,000 years with a material, there can still be new things to do with it. It's amazing how he takes something as beautifully simple as paint and makes it new. When I look at his work it's like I'm staring at a new, undiscovered planet or something.

A few weeks ago I was at the St. Louis Art Museum and they had the most impressive room of Richter's work. Not only did they have some of his definitive photo paintings (like Betty) but they also 3 of his large abstractions from the late 80s. When I say large, I mean LARGE. Massive might be a better way of saying it. The three paintings November, December, and January occupy an entire wall, and fill the viewer's entire field of vision. It's like diving into the ocean, and feeling yourself getting swallowed up completely. I'm guessing that they are 10 feet tall, and collectively about 40 feet wide. And they're stunning. Though I know this won't come close to doing them justice, here's December:

He's not just a brilliant painter though, he understands paint, entirely. And he understands the practice of painting.
An example of the way this guy thinks:

One has to believe in what one is doing, one has to commit oneself inwardly, in order to do painting. Once obsessed, one ultimately carries it to the point of believing that one might change human beings through painting. But if one lacks this passionate commitment, there is nothing left to do. Then it is best to leave it alone. For basically painting is total idiocy. (From NOTES, 1973)

In terms of painting there can only be one Yoda...perhaps he'll take me as his padawan.

Monday, March 29, 2010

City Bird

So, I still haven't gotten the work I painted during winter break photographed so that I could post those images. I know. I'm terrible at making my art a priority. I'll do better. And now I have other paintings that I've started, so I'm going to be even more behind on art-ing. But considering the drought in work that I experienced in recent years, there are worse problems to have. At least I'm painting.

This one is from winter break. I called it City Bird. I don't love that title, it's just what I used. I already gave this one away to a dear friend for her birthday. She loves art and is clever and lovely. Since this one was on the way out, and is delightfully small, I scanned it. No photography needed.

There's an ambiguity to this one that I enjoy. Art isn't blatant. It can't be a flashing neon sign with the meaning spelled out (sorry Bruce Nauman, I didn't mean're clever and ironic and awesome, so you go right ahead.) Subtlety and ambiguity can be so beautiful.

More to come. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Flux Capacitor is Broken

Something is wrong with time. It goes too fast. I was sure this would be the year that I'd blog more, but here it is...a quarter of the way through and I haven't blogged since the New Year. Maybe I just don't think I have enough to say, or don't take the time to make it worthy, or something.

I've recently learned two (completely unrelated) things from two (completely unrelated) friends:
  1. As it turns out..."real bloggers", blog daily. They offer something new and exciting to their readers every single day. I find this both terrifying and exhilarating. Could I be a real blogger? Do I have what it takes? Do I have the potential to be one of those people who put something new into the blogosphere every single day? The mere thought gives me a jolt of excitement. That sort of diligent work could lead to greater understanding, introspection, and if God loves me, intelligent thought. Wow. That'd be sweet. But could also lead to failure, or at least the feelings of inadequacy that accompany missed deadlines and unused opportunities. I don't think this can be decided right now. I'll get back to you on whether I decide to be a "real blogger" or not.
  2. Sometimes it's the really simple concepts that we forget. A few Sundays ago, I was on the phone with a friend who moved to London, who happens to also be an artist. We continued a discussion we've been having for years about how little time we have to paint. She then reminded me of the idea that art-making doesn't stop. An artist, makes art wherever he goes. I don't mean this in the hippy-dippy creativity touches everything way. I mean that when we have work in process and we think about it while driving to work, or we stop to buy a new kind of paint to use in an upcoming piece, we're still working. Every time I go into my studio and look at a painting, and decide what is or is not working, I'm an artist. Every time I walk into a museum and feel that kinship that a painter feels when he looks at the work of those giants who's shoulders he stands on, I'm an artist. Every time I spend more money that I should at Pearl or Blick, I'm an artist. That's reassuring in a sense. Sometimes it feels more lost than that. Like the pencil you couldn't find when it was right behind your ear.