Thursday, September 24, 2009

UM Graduate Student Art Show @ The UC Gallery

Whether the UM Art Department - cough cough - I mean the UM School of Art (recent name change) has been developing their grad program or if they just got lucky this year with some really great students , I dont know, but regardless this group really nailed it. This show has a great selection of wonderful and well-done works across many mediums.

Lisa Jarret

Walking though the door, one is presented with two abstract doll figures hung on the wall, made from fabric, cheese cloth and clothing tags. These two dolls made by the excellent artist, Lisa Jarrett, are both rich in physical appearance and in content making for a strong welcome.

Eva Champagne

Kensuke Yamada

My vision was then filled by two large hand built ceramic pieces by Eva Champagne and Kensuke Yamada. A bulbous flower in lime green and red topped with glitter by Champagne. While, Yamada's eight foot tall armless figure towers over the space watching with a steady gaze. The simple use of pattern and repetition interacts gracefully with the scale of this work.

Cathryn Snugg

On the wall next to Yamada's figure, is a lovely painting or is it? In closer inspection one will find the surface is stitched together on a stretcher using pieces of wedding gown material, and fabric (some with imagery and some without). Created by Cathryn Snugg and titled "After Expectation" this Mixed Media work includes images of a bride, a few bear scenes, a deer's rump, and a drawn progression of two deer copulating (my favorite part).

Two other pieces that demand attention are two figurative paintings. First off, is Emily Brown's piece titled "Siblings" it is a diptych with a figure on each panel. The mark making and layering effects are subtle, emotive and gorgeous. Textures made by carving and hammering into the wood surface top off the subtle color scheme and expressive handling of the figures.

Emily Brown

Emily Brown Detail

Last but not least is Rebecca Weed's oil painting, "Border Sleep" it is composed in one of my favorite layouts - a dense corner with the rest being empty space. This is the first fully painted piece I have seen of Weed's. Generally her pieces are drawn on to a translucent, tan colored wax paper fastened to the wall with the bottom edge unattached which allows the drawing to move and have an eerie spacial/atmospheric quality. In her drawings the characters seem to be more of a memory of the figure. In her drawings the edges of her figures are flowing and filled with movement. In this oil painting it appears she attempts to turn her figurative drawing style into a painting, however I believe it is not as successful as her drawings. The eerie spacial quality is replaced by a flat layer of paint and the figures seem a bit more solid and static. Nonetheless it is still a great painting.

Rebecca Weed

Friday, September 4, 2009

In Search of Art - First Friday September 2009

With out further or do Artmelt's first First Friday coverage.  Debby Florence and I met at the Catalysts to take a peek at Andy Smetanka's light boxes.  The boxes themselves were made by my good friend & woodworker, Martin McCain, while the images were produced by Smetanka.  The images made by cutting out different color sheets of paper are then layered and set in the light box.

My favorites were the skylines, the museum and the war scenes.  The skylines were well designed and the light coming through the windows made for good pattern & repetition.  The war and museum scenes seemed to have a literary or historical quality that I liked. The way the figures are engaged in aspects that are off the page, for example, the figure in the cannon piece with his hand over his eyes looking into the distance  The objects and figures in the war scenes suggest they take place during the Civil War era. I just really like the T-Rex fossil in the museum scene, but even in it there seems to be a sense of history when dinosaur skeletons were first being exhibited in museums.  The large windows reminds me of Union Station in Kansas City when natural lighting was the only method to light a building.  The other works here were mostly landscapes or an element of a landscape like an image of wheat.  These were well crafted but lacked the conceptual & historical depth that the war and museum scenes provided.



Outside of the Catalyst we ran into members of Turning The Wheel doing street performance reminding us to let go, be creative, have fun and wake up.


Then we went to The Murphy-Jubb Fine Art Gallery, which neither Debby or I had been to before.  The Gallery was on the third floor which provided some nice views, oh and there was some well done water color paintings of animals. Debby got caught up in a conversation with some folks while I was patiently itching to leave, so I mainly stared out the window. "Hurry up Debby, the well-painted, brightly colored animals are starting to give me funny looks."


Back out to the street and we ran into this. Montana is magical and it is a treasure, but I think this would do better on a coffee mug. I think I may have liked the scribbles and poster remnants better.
The Missoula Art Museum (MAM) is having an opening, let's go. The MAM hosted a series of works by the artists, Freeman Butts (Click here for more details). The paintings in this show were all large containing references to nature, landscapes and figures.

This artists began making art in the hay day of Ab Ex and abstract painting in the U.S.. Butts' free wheeling and zen-like use of paint certainly contains the freedom that one would find in the 60s and 70s west coast culture suggesting he was more interested in the journey of painting rather than making high-priced art objects.  His exploration of abstraction,  landscapes, and figures reminds me of Willem DeKooning and Richard Diebenkorn.  This man was certainly not afraid to wield the brush, which led to a very prolific body of work through out his lifetime.  However, looking at his work in the present I feel like they were painted a bit too fast and lack in process or layering. Unlike Dekooning infinite layering/removal or Diebenkorn's atmospheric glazing, these paintings when viewed closely have little depth, but the bold gestural paint application succeeds well at a distance.  Perhaps getting caught up in semantics may be irrelevant in regards to Butts' zen outlook towards life, but nonetheless it is just an observation.  Also in this show we are a few sketches, some hand built clay figures, and a pair of his paint-covered overalls.  This exhibition was gifted to the MAM by the family of Freeman Butts, to which his sister and granddaughter flew in from Los Angeles for the opening - they were the friendliest people I have met in a while. To learn more about Freeman Butts click on the link above and read about Steve Glueckert's first meeting with the artists.

Here is a shot of Freeman Butts' Sister and Grand Daughter - nicest folks ever.

There was also the annual Missoula Now show at the Ceretana which is curated by Patricia Thorton and Adelaide Every, of Dj Mermiad and Rooster Sauce fame. This show claims to exhibit the younger and/or lesser known Missoulians making art now.  This show had some great work and I am hoping to post some pics and a bigger review later on.

Should We Cheerlead the Local Arts?

Which statement is true:

1) The more I move through the art world in Missoula, the more I become excited. So many up-and-coming artists are committed to their unique process, and their work continues to develop. Not only do I see new styles and new ideas, but I see new interpretations of familiar themes, to my surprise and delight.

2) The more I move through the art world in Missoula, the more I become jaded: The lauding of certain genres/artists at the myopic exclusion of others, the emphasis on home décor above meaning, the biting competition for table scraps, the huge blur between artisan and artist, and the way that none of this is questioned, but rather blithely encouraged, is a kick in my morale.

For me, both of these statements are true, and oddly, each statement can cause raised eyebrows depending on who I am talking to. Either I am supposed to be 100% outsider/counterculture and complain about all things Pirnie, Dolak , or Hugo, even if I find beauty there, or I am supposed to be 100% supportive of all things Missoula Fine Art, even if I find questionable things within it . As I straddle both of these worlds wondering how they're much different anyways, I risk making everyone mad. Yet an impulse to comment upon the inevitable tensions that arise around art and artists keeps bubbling to the surface of my life.

Upsetting people hasn’t been my wish. Let me illustrate with a tangent: I was recently at a dinner with a some artists, performers, and event organizers, and heard someone say to an out-of-towner that the arts scene here is well attended, but rather lackluster. Heads around the dinner table nodded in mild disdain. It seems like Missoula Loves an Event, but they don’t much care what exactly happens there, as long as there’s beer. (This is a generalization. But there's enough truth in it for me to use it. )

My wish, therefore, is for luster! Part of what makes the arts exciting is where and how they impact us, what we extract from an art experience , and what happens to culture as a result of its arts. I’ve been in other situations with talented, vibrant people, who express their wish for better arts criticism here. They crave more of a challenge, more discussion and interplay between artists. I think everyone is waiting for someone else to start openly talking about it, but nobody wants to be “the controversial one, ”only to inadvertently divide the groups and support systems inherent to any Arts existence.

The challenge is this: discuss the biases in a way that opens a dialogue instead of shutting one out. Our opinions can be viewed as the beginning of a thread. One person picks up where the other left off, and the confluence results in a broader outcome than when thought occurs in isolation. You know, like weaving a tapestry. The challenge is to remain in a discussion with a goal other than hearing your own blather.

I think there's hope. We have to push our limitations, though. Our media and arts organizations are constrained in the role of Cheerleaders. We've been following along, dutifully hunting down wine at First Fridays, and charitably partying it up at every Festival Fest. But we can do more. If a diverse enough number of us can figure out how to openly agree , disagree, and supportively banter about the arts in Missoula, and start responding to each other in a critical and artistic manner, we might be able to push through to something new. Art can keep being a fun way to stimulate the tourist economy, music can keep being a great addition to local events. I admit that art prints, postcards, and coffee cups are the only way less wealthy folks can purchase art and hence support artists. Can we talk about the negative impact of the dollar on art while advocating that artists earn a living?

The current role the arts play in Missoula is not threatened if more space is created for reflection and criticism. The emphasis can be more self-aware, and less sales-driven, while still understanding that artists deserve to make money. With vibrant discussion and interesting challenges, the artists will have their spirits fed as well as their bellies filled, and this can only mean more art.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Definiton of Art

art 1
  1. Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature.
    1. The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium.
    2. The study of these activities.
    3. The product of these activities; human works of beauty considered as a group.
    4. A system of principles and methods employed in the performance of a set of activities: the art of building.
    5. A trade or craft that applies such a system of principles and methods: the art of the lexicographer.
    6. Skill that is attained by study, practice, or observation: the art of the baker; the blacksmith's art.
    7. Skill arising from the exercise of intuitive faculties: "Self-criticism is an art not many are qualified to practice" (Joyce Carol Oates).
    8. arts Artful devices, stratagems, and tricks.
    9. Artful contrivance; cunning.
  2. High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value.
  3. A field or category of art, such as music, ballet, or literature.
  4. A nonscientific branch of learning; one of the liberal arts.
    1. A system of principles and methods employed in the performance of a set of activities: the art of building.
    2. A trade or craft that applies such a system of principles and methods: the art of the lexicographer.
    3. Skill that is attained by study, practice, or observation: the art of the baker; the blacksmith's art.
    4. Skill arising from the exercise of intuitive faculties: "Self-criticism is an art not many are qualified to practice" (Joyce Carol Oates).
    5. arts Artful devices, stratagems, and tricks.
    6. Artful contrivance; cunning.
    1. Skill that is attained by study, practice, or observation: the art of the baker; the blacksmith's art.
    2. Skill arising from the exercise of intuitive faculties: "Self-criticism is an art not many are qualified to practice" (Joyce Carol Oates).
    3. arts Artful devices, stratagems, and tricks.
    4. Artful contrivance; cunning.
    1. arts Artful devices, stratagems, and tricks.
    2. Artful contrivance; cunning.
  5. Printing Illustrative material.

Definition of Melt

v., melt·ed, melt·ing, melts. v.intr.
  1. To be changed from a solid to a liquid state especially by the application of heat.
  2. To dissolve: Sugar melts in water.
  3. To disappear or vanish gradually as if by dissolving: The crowd melted away after the rally.
  4. To pass or merge imperceptibly into something else: Sea melted into sky along the horizon.
  5. To become softened in feeling: Our hearts melted at the child's tears.
  6. Obsolete. To be overcome or crushed, as by grief, dismay, or fear.
  1. To change (a solid) to a liquid state especially by the application of heat.
  2. To dissolve: The tide melted our sand castle away.
  3. To cause to disappear gradually; disperse.
  4. To cause (units) to blend: “Here individuals of all races are melted into a new race of men” (Michel Guillaume Jean de Crèvecoeur).
  5. To soften (someone's feelings); make gentle or tender.
  1. A melted solid; a fused mass.
  2. The state of being melted.
    1. The act or operation of melting.
    2. The quantity melted at a single operation or in one period.
  3. A usually open sandwich topped with melted cheese: a tuna melt.