Thursday, March 26, 2009

urban 1028


i love patrick haemmerlein's work. it speaks, with a gritty urban voice, to the beauty of simplicity. not simplicity of composition, as haemmerlein's works are often explosive, multilayered mixed media melees, but simplicity of intention... clarity of verse, certainty of voice.

a move to los angeles in 2000 led to an "obsessive photographic cataloguing of the city" that created a foundation of imagery for haemmerlein's developing interest in graphic design (quote from artists' site). the artist is at LEAST a double threat with his superb photographic eye, and his ability to eloquently apply those images in more complicated, urban inspired designs (who knows, he might be an amazing character actor too. triple threat potential for sure). in most cases, rather than mining the depths of communal imagery, or worse, as some choose to, plundering other photographers' work and justifying the theft with a shield of "artistic license," haemmerlein produces his own imagery from the ground up. i have an enormous amount of respect for haemmerlein's multiple talents, and the seamless manner with which he integrates them. 

above is an interesting side by side comparison from haemmerlein's site. on the left is the original photograph the artist took, and the right is the completed amalgamation. the photograph is lovely on its own, well composed, good lighting and direction of the subject. i love that the final piece is unexpected. the photograph is sort of softly glamorous, and while the design image retains the woman's engaging gaze, the composition takes on elements of toughness, disorientation and fantasy. the woman in the picture becomes a creature of the city, a natural urban native whose own body sprouts infrastructure.

the ny native's work is kinetic. the images leap from the page with youthful exuberance. behind the busy, often glutenous compositions are clear, concise messages of community, identity, and a call for compassion in the urban jungle. with a distinct graphic design aesthetic, haemmerlein's works read like headlines. they are bold, arresting and can elicit a gamut of emotions from shock to joy, and even that particular strain of shame that results from having the truth dumped in front of you and being forced to look it in the eye and acknowledge its presence.


haemmerlein has done many images, like the two above, that record in a sort of archaelogical manner the synthetic detritus of the living city. these works remind me of kevin cyr's cars and trucks, in that they imbue nonliving figures with personality, grace and a hint of nostalgia. i love that the compositions, though focusing on dominant machines, contain allusions to the city as its own ecosystem. small trees germinate from the underbellies of slick american motor vehicles, constant, persistent reminders of the natural world that we are all connected to; a mother nature that is too resilient to ever be fully buried under concrete. 

haemmerlein's work is multilayered in several ways. the intended messages of the pieces are complex and easily open to various interpretations. the city is a system, and everyone has their place. a resident's reaction to the pieces of the city haemmerlein records will vary depending on which nitch that resident resides in. new comers to the city may still find their heart breaking at the sight of an earnest eyed homeless man with dreams in his stare, but those who have been exposed to the callousness for longer may already have their blinders on. for those who have (arguably) had to steel themselves to the ugly realities of urban life, these pieces might be pretty reminders of their helplessness and apathy. i love the above piece because it exemplifies the relationship between figure and environment in haemmerlein's work. in this piece the city skyline is dwarfed by a tree, next to which an elated figure dances in pure abandonment. 

haemmerlein's pieces are physically and visually multilayered as well. each piece is carefully built up, either with layers of paper and media in his more painterly pieces, and with layers upon layers of text and imagery in his graphic design pieces. take for example the obama piece below. not only is the imagery rich and florid in its depth, but the words themselves "hope monger" are open ended. "monger" is a word that is most often understood as pejorative. in the complicated political climate of today's america, images such as this successfully speak to hope and jubilation while carefully reminding us of the importance of inquisitiveness and a constant questioning of the status quo. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

April Fenario Gallery Show!

marlis, night owl, oil on canvas

This April Fenario Gallery will be hosting a two person show with local Eugene artist Marlis, and Portland based painter Ashley Montague. We will be presenting these two artists as essentially side by side solo shows, so each show has its own title and theme. I've been working towards this format, because I feel that it is a better utilization of the space. We've been in the habit of hosting solo shows, and while this is a great opportunity for many artists, it is limiting for us at the gallery, and on top of it 

marlis, forest through the trees, oil on canvas

Marlis is a California native, living and working in Eugene, with an eye-catching folkloric style to her insightful, moody acrylics. Her show is entitled “From Here to There: A Journey Towards Outward Expansion,” and showcases the evolution of her painting style, from a expressionist approach to more realistically rendered forms that retain their passion and emotional resonance. Marlis has been earning a growing local following with her art exhibitions and frequent live paintings at performance events. This exhibit will be an opportunity to show her fans, new and old, the exponential growth of her talent and vision.

marlis, reptilian attack, oil on canvas

Ashley Montague has been active in the NW art scene for many years. His graffiti inspired aesthetic transcends the oft-expected confines of street art inspired style, incorporating elements of mixed media, graphic design and installation. His exhibit, entitled “Mine Flew Away,” consists of new works on canvas. Montague, who is also a DJ, has been working on pieces that he describes as “visual re-mixes,” that utilize material recycling, multi-layered compositions, and re-worked canvases to create visual parallels to the musical re-mixes that Montague works with in his DJ sets. The opening reception for this two-person show will be held during the First Friday Art Walk April 3rd. The opening will include wine and refreshments and the artists will be present for questions. Later in the evening we will be having an after party DJ-ed by Ashley Montague. Please join us for a night of fresh art, free wine and a turn or two on the best dance floor in Eugene.

ashley monatgue, tone patterns, live painting, 4'x6'

This show is the next step in Fenario Gallery's effort to create a unique niche in the Eugene art community, where vision, singularity and contemporary relevance reign supreme. As art director, I have been working to create an exhibition program that is unique for the local scene, and affords exhibition opportunities to artists whose style and content speak directly to the concerns of modern society. As a team, we at Fenario have worked hard to refine and rework our mission statement and create a singular vision for the future of this art space. Though we are enormously proud of our history thus far, we are working towards a consistent level of quality and talent and attempting to hone in on a genres of art that are exciting, provocative and engaging. We will be focusing on pop-surrealism, urban contemporary, graffiti art and contemporary visionary art, art movements that are gaining momentum in the global art scene and that are generally under-represented in the Eugene art scene. April will mark the start of our new exhibition program, leading into May's group show "Menace to Propriety."


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

hot spot - tommii lim

tommii lim, solo, mixed media on a puma shoe box

in the dreary grey of an early oregon spring, i often hunger for color. 

its dark here. i mean... really dark. its hard to get out of bed because it's black like midnight until mid-afternoon. the only recourse is to throw on all the lights in the room as soon as your alarm goes off to try to fake the funk and get your body to respond as if its seen sunlight more recently than last september. 

when i start feeling light deficient i visit tommii lim's blog. lim lives and works in long beach, ca. lim's vibrant, alive mixed media works are joyful in their resonance and complex in their intent. his work highlights the anxieties and hang-ups of a technologically driven, fractured society. as lim himself sums it up, his paintins "problematize the paradigms governing the (in)activity of "minority" races and of hollywood against an urban american landscape rife with social, cultural, and political challenges."

tommii lim, lol, mixed media

i love that lim's pieces manage to be bright and whimsical, and yet extremely politically provocative and contemporarily relevant. there is dark humor in the details. i love the cigarette and missing finger in lol. his most recent works place skeletal figures in threatening or destructive scenes, with complex juxtapositions of bright colors and calamitous figures. the piece below was made for the "living lines" show at the jflynn gallery, a show which lim co-curated himself. the show exhibited a group of artists who, as lim described it, "work with drawing as painting."

tommii lim, we see everything (the protect america act of 2007), mixed media on wood panel, 48"x36"

tommii lim is also an accomplished graphic designer and dj. you can check out his music on his myspace

how perfect...

just as i am writing this the sun is coming out. thanks tommii!

gilbert oh - oh my!

gilbert oh, elizabeth, acrylic on canvas, 16"x12"

gilbert oh, is a nyc based artist whose haunting acrylics portray such pitch-perfect female figures it is easy to believe that he may be a real lady-killer, so in tune is he with the inner workings of the female psyche. oh's gorgeous women are painted in a luxuriously candid manner, that lends a sense of voyeurism to the often allegorical scenes. his rich colors, and classic execution lend and emotional resonance to the dark scenes. oh often employs caravaggio-esque light and technique to create an intense, dramatic atmosphere. 

gilbert oh, doll's house, acrylic on canvas, 16"x20"

as oh explains, "my work is about the sexuality of women, their fears, fantasies and nightmares." and oh what fantasies and nightmares. oh's women are often antiquated in their dress and environment, but the types of sexual hang-ups, insecurities and desires that the pieces represent are timeless. in doll's house (a new version of which is posted on gilbert's site, with dancing figures in a bucolic, arcadian background) a woman poses stiffly with a riding crop, her head ensconced in a birdcage housing her tormentors. the birds blithely peck at her eyes, bringing forth unsettling streams of gore. this entrapment could be an allegory for sexual repression, and i think that it is telling that the shadow on the wall appears without the birdcage and seems more like a lurking male figure than an echo of the woman's frail, imprisoned frame. 

gilbert oh, raising helen, acrylic on canvas, 16"x12"

i love everything about raising helen. the slightly alien alignment of her features. her long, thin fingers punctuated in alarmingly candy pink nails. i love the cast to her skin and her high, high forehead. there is something old-hollywood nostalgic about her look, but with a modern tint in the neon tone of her nail lacquer and the hungry, self-empowered look of her predators gaze. 

gilbert oh's work will be featured in our may group show, "menace to propriety" at the fenario gallery. i so very much look forward to working with this extremely talented and intelligent artist. his lush paintings are currently featured in the femme fatale group show over at alcove gallery in atlanta, ga.