Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2009 UM Juried Student Art Show by the Madstinker

The greatest thing about walking into this jury show was the quantity of work, mad technical skill, and the well-executed concepts in one show. Every emphasis in the Art department should be proud of their students. With that said, I'm a 2D exhibitionist, so I'm giving a review based mostly in that field. Sorry 3D, I'm going to group counseling and working very hard to improve myself. Soon I hope to give you the mad props you deserve.

Four pieces stuck out to me the most in this show. The work was simple and sweet all the way down to the title. Titles were important in this show, either it was really bad, or it assisted the work like a wench's assistant. Sadly, I think there was a lot of pieces falling into the first category. The work I admired had titles that kept the viewer engaged.

"America" done by Adam Lynn had friction. The rhythm in this work was down right dysfunctional. And I like it. His painting is dirty and nasty. Adam engages the viewer and himself in a conversation with questions and no direct answers. Literally, this guy used dialogue bubbles in pre-elementary handwriting. The color field was off. His spatial plane and figure drawing had no aesthetic anchors. His application of paint along with the canvas itself was so raw and outsider that it imitated the works by Ed Templeton among other Sk8/Punk/DIY kids from the 90's. And why do I find this to be all wonderful? With the title "America", this painting could have easily been preachy, egotistical and just plain annoying. He could have patronized his viewer with a technical high art application. But he didn't do that. Instead he humbled himself as the protagonist, and with that he humbled the viewer.

The next piece that made me want to run into the bathroom with a box of Kleenex would have to be Kathryn Snugg. "B for Best?" with the pop icon of deer had me going. Her canvas was made by recycled bed sheets, quilted together to create it's own modern composition. Vertical stitching broke the space well by being graphically imperfect. She threw in the pop image of John Deere acknowledging the fact that she's trekking worn territory. Deer head drawings were empathetic, but also connoted taxidermy. This was a really smart move on her part. This piece is not just a feminine piece referring to past lady crafts, but speaks to a wider audience. She was throwing all of the images of "Deer" into one big pot, accompanied by a meticulous drawing hand, stitching and embroidery. And like Adam, her materials looked accessible to anyone that has the need to communicate.

The next piece that I loved was an aesthetic bad boy. The character in his story was caught with his pants down, exhibiting greedy consumption with crude imperfection. Richard Evan Holmstrom's "2-1-2-3" is on such a large wood canvas that you are exposed to hairy legs and tighty-whiteys from across the gallery. This character is humorous, misogynistic, and demanding. At the same time, he's a mere simpleton. The great thing that Holmstrom illustrates in this piece is also a sense of vulnerability. The use of color pink is seen more as Freudian reference then aesthetic. He's mixing comic book with Modernism. It's hot! The character and his many egos and desires are all isolated from each other while the background is a generalized abstraction. The painting is ironic conceptually and visually. When I look at this big guy I can't help but think that Richard is thumbing his nose at someone or something. His technical skills is exceptional and up to par in an academic world. Hell, he even made a nice canvas (that was also an obvious fault in this show: badly made canvases). Maybe it's the man getting him down, who knows.

And last but not least we have Sheilah Healow. So many students and artist around this town has tried to tackle the chaos/order subject and has failed miserably. Sheilah makes it look easy. A quaint little drawing "Transition" showed complexity, movement and engineered lines bottled up like an atom bomb in the middle of a raw piece of paper. The multi-media piece reminded me of the work of Julie Mehretu. Color and line patterns along with topography creates a organism made of unlikely elements. But unlike Julie's work who focuses more on engineering and networking as a global technological organism, we see Sheilah making hers more micro than macro. She keeps her organism in a round-up, dead center of the paper as if it's a petri dish observation. She makes it more humanistic with drawings of anatomical imagery like intestines and feet. I've seen Sheilah's work before, and what I like about her is that she is not afraid to try new mash-ups but at the same time she will always have her signature moves.

As you can see there was plenty of more great pieces in the show. So many were reminiscent of styles and movements that are going on this day and age. These four artists just happened to turn me on in that certain way. It takes all types. Congrats to all the ones that submitted their work. Congrats to all that got in. The show is only up until the 20th, so get on over there.

A bunch more photos from the show after the jump.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

First Friday November 2009

Well it is (or was) 3:15am,  I've been home for one hour after a good evening on the town looking at art, socializing, and drinking free booze of course - isn't that the real reason we go out to First Friday- if it is, it shouldn't be!  Nonetheless, I  saw a lot of art tonight, some good, some better, some worse.  All in all it was a good FF, I crossed paths with a lot of different friends and people, and passed out a bunch of Artmelt handbills.  Tonight was like our official exiting of the closet.

Being that we were advertising the blog we came across a lot of discussion regarding the blog, art, art criticism and its role in Missoula.  We got a lot of good feedback, and discovered a lot of ideas for future posts. So our first official First Friday adventure was a success.  Let us begin the journey after the jump.

First off, I stopped by Bernice's Bakery to see my good friend,  Penelope Baquero's opening "Eco-Sapien."  These works explore human's relationship to the natural world and the concept of the eco-sapien.  Her paintings don't really tell us how to become eco-sapiens, but rather the paintings visually and emotionally explore the meaning of Eco-Sapien. For example, in one piece a human heart is topped with trees (much like a sea stack in the pacific northwest) and obviously trees could never grow out of your heart, so the meaning and symbolism emotionally suggest what it may be to have some eco-in-your-sapien. The highly detailed acrylic paintings are well executed and the style reminds me of a modern day Frida Kahlo. Good work Penelope!

I discovered two new galleries this FF. The first, Gallery @ studio D and  secondly, Contraption (which I find to be an excellent name btw). The audience at the first was filled mostly with people 30+ years older than me, and the work there by Dennis Sloan & some others, was well out of my price range. Contraption, owned by two guys named Phil and Lucas, is intended to cater to a younger crowd and a younger style of art. I was talking to Phil, and he said that younger adults can be intimidated to walk into some of the fancier galleries in town, and that they wanted to create a space that was friendlier toward them; not to mention there were 2 kegs of beer and a DJ playing all night. The space is small but great, and I am looking forward to seeing where these guys take this contraption.


So back to Gallery @ Studio D

I am wondering what these guys are contemplating here...is it the dynamic colors, the interweaving of form, or is it the hot chicks on all fours? Let us hope it is the previous, but nonetheless the figures are certainly idealized and aesthetically proportional, to which I am not sure what to make of?  Is there some kind of sexual objectification occurring? In some ways painting anything is a form of objectifying. When making these works he claims to have been in his female-form phase, according to an article in the Missoulian.  As a painter from a different generation I didn't know there was such a phase, but frankly I do not think his conceptual framework holds up enough to suggest there is no objectification occurring here.  I am less worried about the firearms, as was the Missoulian's focus, and consider the idealized forms and sexual positions to be the point in question.  The paintings themselves are large and technically flawless. Surrounded by so much color, to which Sloan says is inspired by Montana skies, is visually engaging, but ultimately I view them to be no more than a modernist exercise in form and color.

My favorite show of the night was at the Catalyst featuring Sheilah Healow and Patrica Thornton. Like myself, both of these artists have studios at the Ceretana, so lucky for me I have been able to see a lot of their work. I believe their work compliments each other well, and their painting share a similar feeling even though they are worlds apart...it might be their color pallets and ambiguity. My favorite piece is this one by Sheilah Healow. The sheep and the head wrapped in wire, with the aggressive power of the white bull is latent with meaning, what specifically I am not so sure, but  I am happy to leave that question unanswered and just be with it.
I love T-Rex in a ball gown
Then off to the Missoula Art Museum, ran in to a lot of people there - Wolf Redboy, the museum staff, Ed Morrisey of the art dept, some graduate art students, and a handful of others.  There are a few good exhibits up at the MAM. One Being Roger Shimomura's "Minidoka on My Mind" and the other being a series of cardboard sculptures titled, "Big Trouble - The Idaho Project" by Scott Fife.  Both shows, well-worth-seeing, are rather powerful in content, size, technique and scale, but perhaps get a little redundant for me.


The texture created by the cutting, gouging, drilling, tearing of the cardboard creates a raw surface, and remarkably captures the likeness of these figures.

This one is certainly the exception to redundancy as the interaction between horse and wood board is rather intriguing, probably one of the few horse sculpture I actually like.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Art and Fashion

First Friday. Heave a cynical sigh if you want, but each month there are redeeming gems in the mixture of delusional crap/pretentiousness/marketing ploys. If you didn't go, I implore you to make it to the following places this month while the shows are still up: The Catalyst to see Patricia Thornton and Sheilah Healow's work. A&E Architects ( Next to Butterfly) and look at Dirk E Lee's prints through the window. And, the Embroidery shop next to the Bridge, now called Contraption. (You NEED to ask about the "Poverty" hats.) And please run to the MAM to see the giant cardboard heads before they're gone. These things are worth your time. This month, we will try to interview some of these artists. So go see it up close, why dont you.

Last night I was at the end of my wandering, and headed to the Badlander. My timing was so lucky. I had no idea there was a performance coming. Then the music came on and these people I in fact know in other contexts, made another world of our seedy Badlander.

It was the smoke machine plus the music plus the herky-jerky slow motion movements of the models blowing bubbles staring with vacuous dream-like trance faces ,

and Alison pirouetting , sometimes faltering in the most real and greatest way, and gut wrenching music, --- that made the best surprise of the evening.

Josh Wagner's crew was filming it, presumably as part of their impromptu First Friday Mystery movie. The cameraman( sorry I don't know his name) and I looked at each other agape after it was over, and he said, as stunned as I was, " That was mesmerizing." It's true! We never wanted it to end! But when I ran up to the models and profusely blathered to them about how exciting and inspiring it was, they seemed to interpret my barely intelligible rantings as compliments on the outfits they had made from recycled materials-- the outfits were amazing.. hooray for recycling...but while I was watching, I didn't really care to know they were just paper bags and aluminum shiny stuff, and bits of clothing. No, these were fairy-beings from another land, their clothes were made of poetry!

Yes, I suspended reality in favor of mystical dolls trancending our broken futuristic future madness artless world. Not a disco ball, not a Badlander.. Not a Missoula.. Not 50 people that know all these weird gossipy things about each other... just the suspension of all that crap: Art Fairies, GIVE US A FUCKING VACATION. But I gush. Look at the pictures, if you click on them they get bigger, they're from my phone so they arent the best. Hopefully we will get some video of this soon. But you really had to be there to get the impact of the experience. Next time make sure you are.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Indy Recognizes Artmelt

Erika Fredrickson over at the Indy...oh and that is where I am at too...nonetheless, she dropped us a shout out in the Indy Blog...check it out here

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Greta Rybus' view of The Festival of the Dead

Photographer Greta Rybus was also downtown all dressed up for The Festival of the Dead parade and captured some good portraits.  I can't wait until next years Day of the Dead parade!

More pics after the jump

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Topping of the Day of the Dead with the Mandala Project

Janaina & Pedro Marquez organized the Missoula Mandala Project, which is a giant mandala made with dyed saw dust at Caras Park.  The Mandala tops off the Festival of the Dead parade, and its scale and design is another great aspect of Missoula's art community.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Festival of the Dead 2009

As Debby mentioned in the previous post it was a great year for the Festival of the Dead parade.  With good weather, fantastic costumes, and a good turn out I could not ask for more from our little art parade that celebrates the dead and simultaneously the living. It was fun runnin' up and down looking for images,  trying to find the best combination of street lights to get a good exposure. So without further or do the pictures.

A whole lot more pics after the jump...that means clicking on read more

Day of the Dead, Sacred Art

Last Tuesday, at the Arts Forum I helped put together via the Missoula Cultural Council and Humanities Montana, Katie Knight showed slides of people using art to communicate spiritual and survival information. Colorful concentric circles represented maps of watering holes . Cultural information was embedded in embroidery. She talked about a time when art had a purpose, and how -- to abridge an entire evening of discussion -- Western society developed this notion of abstraction, individual expression, and hence art began to deviate from its civic purpose. For better or worse, art is no longer seen as intrinsic to our communication, where artists, who are everyone, play a shaministic role in their act of creation. Imagine art being intrinsic to the nature of a society, and to the nature of the individual.

Enter Day of the Dead. This year was the finest Day of the Dead parade in years. It wasnt 20 below, it wasn't raining, and the full moon was actually rising behind the African dancing, the tuba-playing, drumming, car stereo-playing Manu-Chao, giant skeletons bowing, the billowing steamroller prints , and all the skull-face painted bike riders you could ask for. Not to forget, the Dead Debutantes.

I watched it over by the XXX's with my friend Mark. All my friends recognized me , even though my hope, when I smeared my own skull-like blob face on with tempera paint, was to blend in. In fact everyone I knew, even Abe, whose face was totally covered with a weird beard and a hood, was simple to spot, which I find remarkable, that we transcend our appearances so vividly. Obscuring ourselves in paint and costume draws out this other way we "know" who each other are. Whether you view it as sensory or spiritual, to know another human being due to a more holistic recognition seems to me just one aspect of art-meets sacred, and is a community-building, socially strengthening practice, even if you aren't fully aware that you're doing it.

The Parade itself is the more obvious place where art meets the sacred. And wait--- let's not get too lofty with the term sacred--- I think its sacred includes when people are silly together, or when people kind of meekly not quite know what they are doing but theyre marching in a parade anyways, together. And "When the Saints Go Marching In " has to compete with "Me Gusta Tu," or when the giant Bernice's skeleton puppet is handing out bone-shaped donuts.

I watched it three times, running alongside it to the beginning, my own ritual was so fun, seeing everything coming again, my anticipation remaining consistent each time. It was thrill for me to be true to my impulse to do this. As a creative person, (or really just as a person) letting these impulses be done is essential, nurturing, encouraging. As I ran, I thought about the 3 people and one very special golden retriever I know that have died this year, in fact all within the last 6 months. And when I stopped running, I was kept in the present moment by the energetic mob once again. My only wish for this parade is that public crying did not seem a downer or like it's attention-seeking. But I think that taboo is part of Western Culture, and too big a fish to fry in this entry... Regardless, it's healing to grieve properly for those we miss , and of sacred importance to consciously focus for a minute on how blessed, crazy, imperfect, strange, intense, creative, and truly precious this life is. And this is how I view public, community art as a way of (healthy) survival.