Thursday, June 26, 2008

steven lopez interview

(steven lopez, one brought light but the other brought the funk, acrylic on canvas, 48x30)

if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, or if you're a local and you've seen me out at a show on the verge of a panic attack of joy, babbling on about september's show, you know how big of a fan i am of steven lopez's work, and how floored i was when he excepted my offer to do a show here at fenario. in fact the combination of his generous spirit and strong work ethic and my persistance and charm (i like to think) have yielded a project that includes not only recent canvas works by the artist, but a large scale installation piece in the gallery and even a possible live painting. 

steven lived and worked in eugene for several years. after studying art at the U of O steven moved down to LA post-graduation to challenge himself in a broader urban environment. eugene is a open-minded, progressive community. as a whole we tend to embrace change, and find a collective excitement in new ideas. in 2000 steven participated in a project that exemplifies eugene's progressive attitude towards the arts. the city of eugene granted the lane arts council (who is now generously coming full circle to help fund our project with steven) 25,000$ to develop an art wall in downtown eugene. six artists were chosen to help create the 10x75' mural, which still cuts a dashing figure on the alley wall next to shoe-a-holic despite some spot jocking in the past couple years. fortunately, this evolution of the piece has always been part of lopez's vision. in an article published in the oregon daily emerald at the time of the project lopez said, "art is supposed to be continually changing. i don't think a mural should be permanent" (Markstrom, 5.17.00

(frustr8, art wall, eugene oregon, 2000)

along with contributing a few other beloved local murals to eugene's landscape, lopez, who once wrote frustr8, has also left a lasting impression on local graffiti artists who often site him as an inspiration to focus their art into something more constructive and/or continue pushing for freedom of artistic expression. as a good girl with an ever-present internalized rebel streak i had always been fascinated with graffiti art, and having several friends who were themselves graffiti artists i had been watching the work of several local artists, including steven, for several years. when a friend of his brought in a few of his recent canvases to be photographed i instantly recognized the style and execution of the pieces and shamelessly bombarded the man with questions about steven's recent work. he suggested that i contact steven myself, and after some giving myself a serious pep talk i did, and the rest is history (in the making). steven took the time to answer some of my questions about himself and his art, and what he's been up to in LA:

CG: tell us a little about yourself, and how you got started as an artist.

SL: i grew up in boyle heights in my early childhood. my mother was a big guardian in my life. at times she was a little too strong, which i thought was a bad thing. but growing in these past couple of years has taught me that unconditional love was her motivation. when i think about that, it blows my mind and calms me down. the art side was always in my blood. my father is really good with his hands and can build houses from scratch. my mother has always been animated and has some major "zip" in her life. i think these 2 elements helped get me started. it wasn't until high school that my art teacher opened me up and showed me that i had something to offer.

CG: what did you want to be growing up? when did you know that making art was what you wanted to do with your life?

SL: as a kid i told everyone that i wanted to be a doctor and drive a limo. it sounded good but it was so far from the truth. i had an r/c car hobby that got obsessive. i wanted to be good, really good, so one day i half-heartedly made a contract with the prince of darkness but i didn't have the guts to sign it in blood. i was desperate back then because i felt like i didn't matter. i was drawing at this time but i wasn't really taking it serious. i was 14-16 during that time, i was concerned with why girls didn't like me more than being an artist. it wasn't until i was 18 and coming home from my freshman year in college that i realized that i wanted to draw. 

CG: where do you draw inspiration from? living in LA must give you ample opportunities to observe life in all its vast array of forms. what do you take from your day to day life experiences into your artistic world?

SL: i draw inspiration from the many relationships i have with myself and others. living in southern california does open my eyes to a lot of life. i think about my own stereotypes and fears with other people. this was a big focal point for me a couple of years ago. the grittiness of street life and possibilities of one love contrast my thoughts everyday.

CG: your style seems to be strongly influenced by prior experience with graffiti art. do you still go bombing?

SL: graffiti is a big influence in my life. i don't bomb and i don't plan to. i've noticed in my early art career that i served my ego in the sense of, "look at me!" this left me empty inside for many years. i've been transforming my work to serve something other than my pride. 

CG: how do you feel about graffiti art starting to get recognition from major art institutions, like the graffiti research lab at the MoMA or the front facade of the Tate London that was recently covered in huge pieces by international street artists?

SL: progression happens in many ways. people who believe in illegal work, that want to destroy more are contrasted by organized art. there is no one that is the authority on this art form so there is no right or wrong way to do this. anybody who says otherwise needs to look in the mirror and say, "i sound like george bush"

CG: music is obviously a big influence on you. how does music factor into your process? what kind of music inspires you?

SL: the tempo is very big. it helps get me into the world that i think about. sometimes i will play a certain album or song over and over to keep me in a certain mind state. i love listening to timeless music. 

CG: you've been working with kids down in LA the past couple years. i know you're the teacher, but they've probably taught you a lot as well. what have you learned from your kids that art school never taught you?

SL: the kids keep me grounded as to what is going on in their world. being in school, or being an artist, can create a self absorbed attitude. being with them forces me to give up my perception and talk to them eye-to-eye.

CG: you've been involved in a couple really cool eco-friendly projects recently. is the environment a special area of interest for you? how do you try to live your life green?

SL: my friend eric ritz gets me involved in those projects. he actually graduated from the U of O years before me. i feel guilty when i'm forced to throw plastics and paper away. working with him gives me another sense of responsibility. i bike to destinations as much as possible. recycling is not big here in LA, so i take it upon myself to contact people to help get it done.

CG: how does it make you feel to know that the mural art that you've created here in the community of eugene continues to touch people and inspire them? what does it take to make something so beautiful and special, and then walk away, leaving your creation in the hands of the community?

SL: i'm touched that people feel that way towards my work. putting work in the hands of the community is an ancient tradition. i'm glad to continue that tradition. 

CG: if you were a crayon what color would you be?

SL: sunset magenta

CG: what do you do when you complete a work you're particularly proud of? any interesting rituals or rewards that you indulge in?

SL: i stare at it for awhile asking myself, "did i really do this?" i might give myself a weekend to relax afterwards. but i have to get back to telling a story.

steven lopez's exhibit "modular transformation" will be coming up in september. opening reception with djs, dancing and live painting by the man himself will be held september 5th. this will also serve as the unveiling of steven's limited duration installation piece, so get here before its gone. 

thanks again, steven. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

summer lovin'

good golly miss molly, it is hot in eugene.
it promises to be 95 degrees for the olympic trials for track and field being hosted at our own hayward field. my mom and dad have pretty nice tickets, so they should be good and toasty by the end of the weekend. 

i've got a lot of work to do this week on the website for fenario and preparing for sarah ciampa's show next week. working with sarah has been a real pleasure for me and the gallery staff. she's organized, she knows what she wants and she doesn't wait till the last minute to get her stuff together. i'm going to have to write new exhibit protocol around this girl's performance. i can't tell you how often we've had shows arrive two days before opening, not ready to hang, with no titles and information. while we've always managed to pull it off it can be really stressful to say the least. with sarah's show we've already got all the promotional material out and moving, i've got the labels made and ready to be hung, and all the art is coming to us a week in advance fully ready to hang. bless her heart, i am so very relaxed!

good news is building up around the steven lopez's exhibit in the fall. the lane arts council has agreed to underwrite the materials cost for the installation, so now all i've got to do is find some funding to get the man and his art to eugene in style. we're working on developing ideas for forums or question and answer sessions that would focus on the eugene art wall project that steven was a major part of a few years back, and the importance of public art. i'm really excited because i've been trying to work on ideas of how to not only draw more people into the space but how to get them to interact with the art, talk about it and leave inspired. its pretty perfect timing for the whole thing seeing as how it will be september and the university students will be coming back into town and its eugene celebration so the foot traffic should be good and high. 

things are looking golden over at fenario. come check us out. 

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Beauty and The Beast

its so rare these days for me to find a movie that sticks with me. it seems like most of the films i've seen lately are mostly derivative fluff that wastes about two hours of my time, floats through my consciousness, and leaves not a ghost of an impression. i can't tell you how often i watch a movie these days only to be unable, hours later, to recall even the premise. its not that i'm drug addled, or ADD. its just that in the film industry, where the same stories are told over and over again but in different forms, it seems like it has become more and more difficult to  invent something truly original. something interesting enough to leave a stain.

the other day i was having lunch with my dear friend rebecca who recommended a severely odd sounding movie. she turns to me and says, "you've got to see 'searching for the one eyed jesus'!" 

"the one eyed jesus?" i repeat. "like a cyclops jesus? i suppose that sounds pretty rad."

"no, chloe, WRONG eyed jesus."

"ok, doesn't sound any less strange, but i can dig."

she goes on to explain to me that its this documentary about a film maker that receives a unique album as a gift and goes on a quest to find the source of such original music. in a no-man's land of trite, commercial muzak getting a record that makes you stop and think is an inexplicably precious gift. documentary may be a misnomer for this film. travelogue? vision? nightmare? whatever the case may be, this film had me inching closer and closer to the screen with every passing frame, so difficult was it for me to conceive of how sumptuous and strange the whole thing was. jim white, the artist who created the album that started the whole long, strange trip, is not only a gutsy, visionary musician but a constant fountain of colloquial poetry as he guides the filmmaker through the strange southern wilderness that engendered his gothic, eerie roots music. the film, dotted with outstanding impromptu musical performances by contemporary bluegrass, alt-country and soul musicians, is a jewel box of unbelievable cinematography. after seeing it, "searching for the wrong eyed jesus" instantly skyrocketed to my top ten movies of all time. that's how good it is. highest recommendations. 

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sarah Ciampa's "Omens and Accidents"

While there is certainly no lack of artistic talent in Eugene, I sometimes struggle to find art that moves me in a new direction. Art is about discovery. I want to be moved, but not in the staid choreography of some antiquated artistic waltz. I want head banging art. Art that puts the holy ghost in you; art exhibit as Pentecostal church complete with a soundtrack of tongues. Something that speaks for itself, something that actually has something to say. I'm an aesthetic person, I do love beauty, but not that which is only skin deep. I respond to art that has its own voice, and has a story to tell. Sara Ciampa's dark yet stunning canvases all seem to exist within their own unique fairy tale... or nightmare depending on the piece. Her work is the stuff of recurring dreams. 

(Sarah Ciampa, Elemental Prospectus, oil on canvas, 51"x40")

Needless to say her show, opening at Fenario on the 4th of July, ought not be missed. But just so you can get an idea of what we have in store, Sarah was nice enough to consent to an interview. Turns out she's not only a talented artist but also a great writer with an excellent sense of humor. 

Chloe Gallagher: Tell me a little bit about how yourself and how you got started as an artist.

Sarah Ciampa: About Me? - I'm 30ish, I'm from the East Coast, I came to Eugene randomly and settled here. I began any serious exploration of the arts while I was attending community college and living in a van down by the river and the railroad tracks. The van was parked in my friend's driveway, so it was also my painting studio- which got cramped, and cold- so after a year I moved into a non-wheeled home partly so I could have a place to keep all of my work. Really, I count going back to school at 23 as the time when I began to seriously study art, but I've always been interested in art and I've been making art, I just didn't set my sights on a "career" in art and start massively producing art until then. 

CG: How did the concept for "Omens and Accidents" develop?

SC: To be honest, I don't remember exactly how that happened- I know I loved the words and the way they sound- really, is happened a lot like how I make pieces in that I have a vision of what I want the show to be like -how I want it to feel, how I want it to come across and be experienced, what I want people to get from it, and what I want to "say." "Omens and Accidents" seems to sum up some of the duality-yet-complete-singularity-of-life stuff that I feel is always present in my work. It seems it's always present in life in general, and my work is about life in general. "Omens and Accidents" is also a great title for this show because this is my first solo gallery showing and I can guaruntee to you that it often feels like the only forces that got me to this point, have been omens and accidents. The way I paint is a very omen/accident oriented process, as well. 

CG: Have you received any good omens for the upcoming show?

SC: Yes. One thing is the timing. The show was supposed to be earlier in the spring, but an "accident" happened and it got postponed until mid summer, but now this accident is turning out to be very fortunate for me in a variety of ways. So, in my book, that's a type of good omen. If you look at it from the perspective of an omen, it's saying that something is on track, is connected, even if it didn't seem that way at first. 

CG: Do you have a favorite medium? 

SC: As of now its definitely oil paint- usually on canvas. I say "as of now" because that might change eventually, but right now I LOVE oil paint. And Galkyd. I love Galkyd, too.

CG: Galkyd, huh? Wow I'm going to have to look that one up. Do you listen to music while you paint? What kind of tunes inspire you?

SC: Bjork.
Bjork is absolutely first on the list. Yes, I listen to music most of the time while I paint, but not always. Bjork's new album Volta is unreal. Everything else that I listen to varies, but some of my favorites are also Bad Religion, Cibo Mato, the Creatures, Eliot Smith, Beck, the White Stripes, Ween, L7, The Dead Milkmen and a lot of mixes that are more broad in genre. 

CG: What are some of the greatest lessons you've learned about art and the artistic process?

SC: A lesson i've learned about art is that you can learn to "like" anything. Even if you don't like it, you can like it. Validity is due to all work, not just the stuff you personally enjoy. Variety is very, very important. As for the artistic process, I sincerely believe you can't skip any step in the process of learning whatever it is that you do, but you can burn through them really, really fast if you work hard enough. 

CG: What inspires you? Any particular artist, writers or educators who you really admire?

SC: Some artists that I admire: Dali, Kahlo, Warhol, Basquiat, various Dutch and Italian Renaissance masters, Van Gogh, Damion Hirst, O'Keefe, Jenny Seville, John Currin...
Some writers I admire: Kafka, Douglas Adams, Anne Rice, Maya Angelou, Forrest Carter...

(Sarah Ciampa, Transcendent Biology, oil on canvas, 27"x60")

CG: If you woke up in a live action version of Zelda, what kind of weapon would you arm yourself with?

SC: I didn't have a Nintendo. I played Frogger on Atari. Yeah - I was that kid.

CG: Read any good books lately?

SC: I'm currently reading "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." It's pretty good.

CG: What do you treat yourself to when you feel like you've finished a job well done?

SC: Sometimes its sushi. Sometimes it's rest. Sometimes it's just a pat on the back and getting to start the next thing!

Long time, No see

So sorry for the delay folks. Apparently my interview with Kevin went so well I was like a man after earth shattering sex: I just had to roll over and go to sleep for awhile. Things at the gallery are still smooth sailing. I met with Sara Ciampa, our artist for July, this week and we hit it off immediately (her portfolio had come in and her show was booked before I started working here full time). Turns out we took this great Pre-Raphaelite class together at the University of Oregon! It was refreshing to talk to someone I already had the ease to talk to on a pretty cerebral, academic level without fear of coming across as the world largest goober (or, even more dreadful, the worlds biggest know-it-all). Sara and I have a great report, and I'm really excited for her show "Omens and Accidents" that will be opening on the 4th of July. I'll be posting an interview we did later today. Hopefully, it won't send me into a writing coma, like Kevin's did.  

I've had the great fortune of meeting and talking to two other really talented artists this week as well. On Tuesday, a recent MFA graduate from the University of Oregon, Robert Dewitt Adams, was gracious enough to invite me to his studio here in downtown Eugene. A few weeks back, I had become instantly enamored with his portfolio of large scale graphic-design inspired acrylic canvases. Rob's work includes found objects, and interesting elements like sand and pebbles. Rob focuses on powerful symbols, like signs, letters, numbers and corporate logos. My first gut instinct was to lump this work in with Pop art. I suppose "lump" sounds perjorative, I really do appreciate pop art, I just find that its a hard style to reinvent in a truly fresh, unique way. Luckily I was able to see the originals, and talk to Rob about his process, thus being able to really broaden my understanding of what Rob is trying to achieve with his bold, thoughtful works. Though much of Rob's art focuses on images borrowed from popular culture his work doesn't seek to glorify consumer products or mass produced images. Instead, he seems to be taking a closer look at how these processes affect our interactions, our attention spans, and how these artificially created, digestible chunks of metal real estate get bought and sold. And he does all this with a great sense of humor and a keen aesthetic eye. I think he work is exceptional, and I hope to be able to get him a show soon.

I was also lucky enough to get a visit from the very lovely Yellena James, whose work I first fell in love with while cruising the Nucleus Gallery's La Femme exhibit catalogue. I was very happy to discover that she lives here in my native Oregon, and she was kind enough to pay the gallery a visit on her way down to San Francisco for a show she's having at Giant Robot.  I was so floored by the originals that she showed me. Her small scale drawing and painting have such character! I had seen her prints on her site, and on her Etsy portfolio and had been really curious as to her technique. They are even more impressive close up! Every tiny line and shape has its own presence and voice. They are the ultimate visual eye candy. Luckily for me she liked the space, and we're trying to plan a show as soon as possible.  
  Yellena James, Allusion, pen and ink on paper, 8x10

Thursday, June 12, 2008

what a beautiful day for a kevin cyr interview!

(Kevin Cyr, Supplying good quality products and serving people with all my heart, 48x60, oil on wood panel)

after weeks of inconsistent weather, vacillating rapidly between hot and miserable, a long, mean train of unseasonably cold weather punctuated with glimmers of sunny false hope, we here in eugene have been blessed with the kind of day perhaps only Vermeer could do justice to. this morning i awoke to the kind of day so beautiful that even with all the curtains drawn the sun seems to find its way in and tap you on the shoulder early in the morning to rouse you for the day. it was the kind of morning that smells of adventure, and my sense of motivation was piqued by the prospects. 

and why not feel inspired when you get the chance to do something as cool as interview kevin cyr?! kevin works in brooklyn, NY but he's recently spent time in china, and has added a wicked cool series of bicycle/ retro-camper creatures to his already formidable ouevre of battered muscle cars and fading artifacts of americana. i've been a serious fan of photorealism since i saw a robert bechtle retrospective at the SFMOMA a couple years back. turns out kevin, who also works in a photorealistic style, saw the same show and also had his bells rung. i was immediately drawn to kevin's work for his jaw dropping technical skill and his familiar yet haunting subjects. i love that he approaches the portrayal of a graffiti ravaged van with the dedication and percision of a court painter. His oil on wood paintings have an enormous amount of personality and presence. kevin was nice enough to answer some of my more pressing questions about his art:
chloe gallagher: so how did the inspiration for your camper bike series develop? and, since I know you've been traveling a lot lately, can you tell us geographically where this epiphany hit?

kevin cyr: the idea came to me during my first trip to China a couple years ago. I had the opportunity to assist a New York artist on a painting project in Beijing and i absolutely fell in love with the culture, the people, the food and the different modes of transportation. Beijing has a huge bike culture and for most people it's their only way of getting around and how some make a living. I saw so many people using pedal bikes, mopeds, and 3-wheel scooters for really labor-intensive work and carrying huge loads, much like pickups are used in the U.S. 

(kevin cyr, pigeon market, graphite on paper)       

cg: i know that automobiles have been a theme for you for quite some time, particularly the slightly decrepit and nondescript. did you have an interest in alternative modes of transportation before you began your travels?

kc: i've always been interested in bikes, motorcycles and painting cars was my way of documenting the changes in the U.S. through our car culture. traveling abroad has exposed me to vehicles that I never knew existed and has also provided insight into different cultures. I think you can tell a lot about a place by the types of vehicles people drive - like the rickshaw in India and the 3-wheel bikes in China.

cg: was you interest in the various bike-camper amalgams that you saw an environmental interest of a social one? What was it about them that captured you?

kc: until i built a camper last month in Beijing, it didn't exist. i guess it's a little different from my other paintings, because i'm no longer documenting a particular kind of vehicle, but creating my own. it became a social interest when i realized the cultural differences in regards to recreation. i grew up camping, but the idea of sleeping in the woods is completely abstract to most. few people i met in Beijing had ever heard of an RV/ camper much less seen one in person. until now, i've thought of my project only in the context of China, about placing such an American object on something very specific to China. it's interesting to be how Chinese people react to the camper, until now they've only been exposed to luxury products, or brands from the U.S. i'd like to think that i'm doing something a little different with the camper. i've shied away from making it an environmental issue, flying to China and back is the worst thing i can do to the environment, so i'm not the one to say anything, but as our economy worsens and gas prices sky rocket my project does become more relevant in the U.S.  
   (kevin cyr, bear you motherland in mind while casting your eyes on the world, 60x72, oil on panel)

cg: in some of your earlier works you depict cars and vans grilled with graffiti. your hand style is spot on. if you don't mind me asking, has graffiti ever been a part of you life, or are you just a pitch perfect mimic?

kc: coming from a small town in northern maine i was always too chicken to do graffiti. it's such a part of my environment in NY that it's naturally found it's way into my work (almost every van in my neighborhood has some graffiti on it). i like how it adds character to an already decrepit van, and it's fun to paint. 

 (kevin cyr, kent, 12x4, oil on plywood)   

cg: your chevy van sculpture is just amazing. did you draw inspiration from earlier installation art, like ed keinholtz and his backseat dodge '38, or is that just the art history nerd in me talking?

kc: i just had to look him up, but i'll definitely draw inspiration from him next time i consider working in 3-D. Thanks. i was really interested to see if my painting style could translate into three-dimension. i like how it came out and i plan on making more someday. 
 (kevin cyr, chevy van sculpture, 8"x5"x4")

cg: do you ride a bike?

kc: i do ride my bike, everyday. my commute now is very short, but i was a bike messenger in Boston for five years. it was a fun time and i made lots of really close friends. my interest in biking is partly what led me to the camper bike project. 

cg: you render your machines so lovingly, but on your site i also saw some lovely portraits of people. how do you approach the painting of a person differently than you approach a Hostess Cupcake truckette?

kc: it's fairly similar, but i spend much more time getting the drawing just right and i use an underpainting with a portrait. painting a truck is a little more forgiving, if some aspect of it is inaccurate it doesn't matter as much. 

cg: do you have a favored medium?

kc: oil paint on wood, but it was really fun to make the camper-bike.
 (kevin cyr, interior, oil on panel)

cg: what kind of art supplies do you take with you when you leave home?

kc: usually just the basics, sketchbook and pencils, then i buy paints and other supplies as i need it. my camera is crucial, because i do as much documenting as can. i always regret when i don't have it ready. 

cg: if i threw a fabulous kevin cyr party, and you were going to make a grand entrance, what song would be playing when you walked into the room?

kc: "making time" by Creation, but sung by my friend eddie wang at karaoke (KTV in Beijing). it has such a  great intro and i think it would be funny to hear my friend eddie sing it. he love KTV but his english is a little limited. that song is on the Rushmore soundtrack, which is still one of my favorite movies. 

 (kevin cyr, camper bike, 12x12, oil on plywood)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

i'm sorry kevin

i had every intention of posting kevin's interview tonight, but unfortunately my celebration of the event seems to have gone a bit too far, and now i'm tipsy and tired and i just don't think i could do it justice. at least i show enthusiasm, right? tomorrow it is. 

my favorite band at my favorite venue

the stars must be shining brightly on me this week. not only did i get my responses back from the lovely kevin cyr, so i get to post his interview tonight when i get home, but i made a shocking realization about my most anticipated concert of the summer. sharon jones and the dap kings are just about the hottest, funkiest band in the world.  i loooooooooove old soul and funk. the first time that i heard them, i thought there was no way the record was made in the last twenty years. i had some cynical MTV generation belief that real funk was a lost breed, but praise the lord I was wrong!!! the brooklyn, ny based band is not only alive and well, but getting people to shake their asses with glee all over the world. my love for them grew quickly, but sorrow soon followed when closer examination of their tour schedule revealed that they weren't going to be in my neck of the woods any time soon. luckily, my mom, who loves sharon as much as i do, found a show in portland, oregon, just about two hours away. 
when mama-san told me about the show she said that it was at the zoo, which i falsely assumed to be an indoor venue i'd been to before. today i finally made the connection: she meant the freakin' oregon zoo, as in elephants dancing live to some of the most soulful sounds around. i've been to a show at the zoo before. a couple years ago i saw allison krauss and union station at the zoo and it still ranks in my top three concerts of all time, not only because i saw them hot off the heels of making the sound track for "oh, brother where art thou", and the acoustics at the venue are killer, but because the elephants really do come to the front of their enclosure, right by the stage and sway from side to side. is there anything elephants can't do? 

the show's not till the end of july but look out for a glowing review after i come back down to earth sometime the following week. i've got plenty more good news for the day, but i've got work to get to. 

Monday, June 9, 2008

First Friday Results

Our opening on Friday of the "Shamanic Visions: The Andes Awakening" went really well. The art was well received, and we sold several pieces (not a small feat on a Eugene First Friday). I'm fairly certain that I sold The informational didactics that myself and Daniel (the Q'ero tribe's legal representative, and our liason for the show) made brought an interesting angle to the show. Since it was a pilot project for me, I would rate it a total success. I thought it added a certain degree of professionalism to the exhibit. 

The textiles were a challenge to hang, but with the collective brain power of Braxton our resident framer, and Jessica who hangs all of our shows, we found some clamps at a fabric store that were made for quilting shows and were delicate enough for the centuries old textiles. 

Ok... one of my best friends in the whole world, Arielle, just called me. She's leaving for Israel for six weeks on Wednesday and is understandably a little frantic. Gotta run, and make her some food, help her pack, and soothe her nerves. Travel is fun, but the days leading up to it can feel like a heart attack waiting to happen. I'll post more about the show later (and hopefully my Kevin Cyr interview!!)

what a whirlwind!

 (MIT's Whirlwind digital computer, 1951, this "reliable operating system" debuted on Edward Murrow's "See It Now")

So the past few days have certainly been a hurricane, but luckily a happy, successful one. 

We had a modern dance troupe, Traduza Dance Co., perform in the gallery space for four nights last week. Traduza's show was really very moving, and something really special for me to see unfold in our space. The show was a series of dance vignettes, each with a different style and expressing a different range of emotions. Rather than having the audience sit stationary in seating they moved the crowd, interacted with them, and danced in and around them, creating a really dynamic, exhilarating show. There was really something for everyone. Happy pieces, sad pieces, it was a gamut of emotions (but them again, I'm really quite the "feeler" as my friend likes to call me). At Sunday's matinee performance there were a lot of kids, which was neat. I liked peeking through the curtains and watching them watch the dancers. There was such wonder and glee on their faces. There was one piece in particular where one of the performers did a great dance in a costume similar to an electric blue Telletubby, and to hear the shrieks of laughter coming from the kids was so fun. I am glad that people in my community are exposing their children to the beauty of dance. My mom used to take me to the ballet when I was a kid, and I've never forgotten what it felt like to be frozen in my seat in awe. 

And what talented, beautiful dancers! Being one of the most inflexible people on the planet (no seriously my ham strings are about three inches long), I am a huge fan of dance performances because it gives me chills to see the facility and grace with which some people can move their bodies. There is just such joy and freedom in the suppleness of their movements. They got stellar reviews, and they were exceptionally gracious and appreciative towards us for letting them us the space. Personally, I say that it was Fenario that lucked out. What an outstanding opportunity for us to use the space in a new way, and gage the community's reaction. The response was overwhelmingly positive. We received a lot of accolades from the local press about our willingness to use our space in a new way. Apparently Valedia, the dance company's head, asked several art galleries and was turned down. WHY? I'm tempted to back track to all the galleries that she approached before us and ask what their concern could possibly be. We as an art community, cannot afford to be scared of new ideas!! We can't afford to live in the shell of preciousness that fine art is so often ensconced in. It is a waste of time to wonder "what could go wrong?", only those of us willing to teeter excitedly on the edge of "what could go right" will have a place in art's future. 

Over and out.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Fenario's June Exhibition

This Friday Fenario gallery is having an opening for our new exhibit Shamanic Visions: The Andes Awakening. The show will feature the art of Peruvian Shaman Luis Salinas Quispe, with sacred textiles provided by the Q'ero tribe. His palette is so vibrant and eye catching, and there's not many complaints that you can volley at canvases that depict the beauties of Quispe's rainforest home 18,000 feet up in the Andes.

The canvases came to us unstretched in rolls. We quickly realized that they had recently been cut off stretcher bars, leaving us with little to no room to restretch them. The only possible way to hang them was to restretch the canvases and go into the image a but. The result was the image wrapping around the stretcher bars, full bleed, which actually looks really fresh, and I think makes them pop even more. We've still got the space shut to the public, and the actual hanging hasn't begun yet, so I look forward to seeing what the show looks like when its up on the walls. 

more visual eye candy

Wassily Kandinsky, 1908, Murnau - Castle Courtyard I,
oil on cardboard, 33x 44.3 cm, The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Wassily Kandinsky, 1908, Munich-Schwabing with the Church of Saint Ursula

i recently struck up a conversation with someone on the eugene gallery scene about painting on a black ground. in april we had a double show with two local artists: jamie burress (who does really cool, statement making stained glass art, among other talents) and mona zilllah. mona paints a variety of different subjects from sea creatures (like those in her show at Fenario) and hens and roosters, etc, on a black ground. i referenced the early, folkloric works of wassily kandinsky who also painted his canvases black. the conversation sparked an interesting exhibit idea in my head. perhaps, somewhere down the road when the mood of the work suits the idea, we can paint the gallery black (I mean all black, ceilings and all) and change the hours to evening hours, so the work can truly POP from a black ground. 

No I am not a vampire, drug addict or insomniac.

But I do like black. No harm in that. 

Wassily Kandinsky, 1908, Autumn in Bavaria

Wassily Kandinsky, 1908, Ludwigskirche in Munich, oil on cardboard, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
(a masterpiece)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

and the "MUST watch" award goes to:

since i'm on the cinema tip I must expound the virtues of "castle in the sky" my personal favorite of master Hayao Miyazaki (tough closely followed by "nausicaa of the valley of the wind"). i know what you're thinking: "chloe, i didn't take you for such a big anime nerd!" but if blogs are about the freedom to show your open, honest taste then i gotta admit i just loooooooove that asian animation! ever since seventh grade when my epically hip french teacher played us a french dubbed version of "my neighbor totoro" i've been hooked. for me they harken back to the early hand rendered disney's like "fantasia" and "snow white", but less veiled fascism and more mythical elements of magical realism. but be forewarned: you may DIE of the beauty of this film. seriously, have your doctor on call. 

cat on a hot tin roof


Good Lord, is Paul Newman lovely. Hard days always call for classic movies. Tonight I chose "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" for a little southern sass, and Greek tragedy. I mean, who wouldn't smile watching a strapping young Pauly running hurtles in a perfectly cut suit, then face planting (for that slap stick love in all of us that is gratified by watching another person injure themselves non-fatally). 

And jimminy crickets is Elizabeth Taylor a goddess. Curvy, dark and sultry (a little bit like how I like to think of myself ;) Who gives out violet eyes and where can I get me a pair? The costumes in the movie are to die for. The kind of clothes made with a woman's body in mind, not slapped together haphazardly in the name of originality with no regard to flattery of form. Crisp white blouse, tight, tapered pencil skirt and cinched red belt? MEOW! Talk about hitting all the right notes. Tell me a man didn't invent low waisted jeans. Hello muffin top. The funny thing is that the muffin top is not a fashion tragedy for only the pleasantly plump, I see it on even my most willowy friends. If you're not made of sheer steel, the low waisted jean will give you a fat lip guaranteed. Ok back to Liz Taylor....

Monday, June 2, 2008

stunning... just stunning


for those of your who are not aware of his work i really must bring Ernst Haeckle to your attention. taxonomical, scientific illustration is one of my favorite forms of art, aesthetically. the reason i respond so much to artists like walton ford, tiffany bozic, and ryan mclennan is because of an early love of artists like john audubon. naturalists' illustrations have always appealed to the scientific, meticulous side of me and i'm always floored by absolute control of medium and flawless technical skill. while reading an article on tiffany bozic on fecal face, she listed ernst haeckle as one of her artistic inspirations i had to investigate. what i found was some of the most beautiful, detailed and down right psychodelic art i've encountered in recent times. 

my so called life

(Post Card by Stella Marrs)

at times i live a bit too much inside my head. i'm a reader. i love to be transported to another space and time, to travel without ever leaving my arm chair. reading may have had a powerful effect on my vocabulary, but at certain moments in my life i have to wonder if my literary overindulgence has romanticized my sense of reality. surely it has much to do with why i'm so fascinated in art. art is another form of transportation. for those of us who really take our time when viewing art, it is like a mini vacation in an artist's mind, and that space can be very, very far from where we stand.

i don't read much romance, so i had falsely come to believe that my thoughts on romance and relationships were solidly rooted in the concrete, the cold hard facts of one animal attaching itself to another and all the beauty and joy that action can create. my father is a science teacher and i've spent most of my life the one Darwinian hold out in a sea of the spiritually gifted. Eugene is not a widely religious community but there is a great deal of sort of mystic spiritualism. when conversations turned to things like love at first sight or "meant to be" i was always the one bringing up chemically immediate instinctually based physical reactions to reproductive stimuli. but this isn't because i enjoy being a buzz kill or i don't believe in romantic love. i just find the natural world and its processes to be fascinating enough to be spiritual in their own right. i've never found an intellectual curiousity to seek out a higher power. i'm still dumbfounded by the hundreds of thousands of species of flowers on the earth and how they came to be, to me that is god.

unfortunately my intellectual stoicism often gets me in trouble. i miss read peoples emotions. i take things people say at face value. when they say vehemently "i'm over it" i believe them, rather than looking for the subtle shaking of the hands that might speak to doubt. let's just say that i get confused easily. 
 (, read their "Days of War, Nights of Love" - it will change your life and how you react to the hype.)

i can be fairly impulsive. i have an infatuation with spontaneity, but combined with my scientific framework that i tend to view human relationships with, this can lead to mass confusion. it seems strange to me that i can supercede the pragmatic side of my brain when i'm thinking about art, but not in my personal life. when i'm talking about/ thinking about art or especially viewing art its as if i leave behind my scientific body and reach another plane, one that i meet people on who i can't seem to understand in the day to day. if i have spirituality in my life its diety is art. when i walked through the Frick collection in NYC i felt like i was in church. i had a profound sense of the unearthly and intangible. 

it seems like lately life has been trying to subtly remind me that i have to be able to blend the two side of my brain more seamlessly, add pragmatism to my interpretation of art, and bring awe into the human relationships that i form. 

(Darwin's Finches)


(Bernini, The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa)



Sunday, June 1, 2008

musings on ray johnson

Oedipus (Elvis Johnson #1), 1956-57
Collage, Ray Johnson

i would love to be able to write to ray johnson to ask permission to use his imagery in my blog. unfortunately ray jumped from a bridge and swam himself forever into the atlantic ocean in 1995, his last "Nothing", as he called his performance pieces. 

ray johnson's art, and for that matter his life, has always spoken to me on a deeply personal level. his was a fractured, frenetic mind, a state that is reflected in his spontaneous, yet intimate collage work. ray lived a solitary life at times, he had difficulty communicating and was awkward socially. perhaps this disassociation is what prompted him to develop mail art through his New York Correspondence School. 

this is a man that i can empathize with. though i suffer from no major mental illnesses, i have serious bouts of social anxiety and i'm generally bad with confrontation. there is something romantic and pure in letter writing. true there's no body language or tone of voice to aid the understanding of what's being said, but i find that when i have the time to sit alone and write out what i want to say to someone i can simultaneously be honest with myself and my subject. i think ray found a way to communicate with a world that he found treacherous, and elevated it to an art form.  
i love the narrative quality of johnson's work. even pieces with no words still seem to speak directly from johnson's fractured heart. collage is one of the few mediums i've ever worked in with any success. i think that by finding my voice in sources created by others i gain confidence through solidarity. if little pieces of my message can be found all around, then maybe i am not alone in my thinking. i often wonder if johnson found a similar sense of connectedness in the process; whether his search for materials made him feel more or less alone. my writing