Archive for the ‘ VisArts ’ Category

Goddamn Darlings

Artist John M. Adams came by the studio yesterday and we talked about process. We discussed how my piece, 100 Paintings, foregrounded both process and design. I think content is available via observing how the maker made the item. Likewise, John appreciated the aesthetics of the thing. So it looks good and thinks good.

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100 Paintings; 2015; one-hundred acrylic paintings on a 20×16” stretcher on easel; 74x37x37”

 

I think I have made many works that are trying to find some axis between looking good and thinking good. Process has been an important component of my work as a means at standing back from painting issues like re-presentaiton, the canon of art, and my skeptics world view. The stretching and re-stretching method of painting was a process based approach to get a leg up on the image – the front of the painting the viewer sees. Painting Paintings at Both Ends was a culmination and cousin of 100 Paintings.

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Painting Paintings at Both Ends, 2017, acrylic on canvas and two stretchers, 50×216″

John helped me realize that I have been bouncing between a content oriented process approach to making and rebounding back towards the most elemental origins of making: the mark. I have recently been just trying to make paintings that stand on their own sans my gimmicks of layering or exploding the painting.

The mark making goes back to some of my first interactions with sticks of charcoal. You put the charcoal on its side, then pivot, leaving its center axis on the page. By doing this, you can make a circle. Or you can slide the stick around and create a network of what looks like pipes. The recent painting is doing this same athletic gesture but with the brush.

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Untidy Pivot, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 28×28″

 

I followed Untidy Pivot up with Sixteen Cornered Darling and an as yet to be titled painting yesterday…

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Sixteen Cornered Darling, 2017, acrylic on linen, 19×19″

 

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currently untitled, 2017, acrylic on linen, 19×19″

and today. This one might look black and white but it is actually very dark blue.

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A 42 Broken Arm or So, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 50×50″

 

I am already seeing a problem with these paintings (and why I have done the more process oriented works in the past): the paintings are pretty, sensuous, and goddamn darlings. So I need to think about them but they feel good.

See more of John M. Adam’s work at his poetically titled website:

thefullempty.com

 

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Befuddlement, Labor, and Collaboration

Blogging about this process is difficult because there are ten trillion potential elaborations to elucidate. There are many things occurring in the studio and they all want attention.

On Homogeneity and Heterogeneity

The long, stretch/re-stretch process seems to want most of the attention. This process is a nomad, dragging me along. All the paintings interact with each other. A painter might have a career wherein each painting leads to the other. An idea occurs that leads to a new idea, and on and on. This process is similar but it is all happening at once and in one painting. Maybe time is conflated with this project.

All the paintings are touching each other. The stretcher is an artificial framing device to set up a singular working space, but the old paintings are still present. The history of the making is present with each painting because each “new” painting literally contains old paintings.

The painting (pictured below) is emblematic of this process. There are five previous paintings present. The top left corner, the violet one on the left, the one with red stripes, the one with the large pink portion, and the lattice green grid. All of those paintings interacting with the un-painted canvas. There are drips but it is alone and I need to find ways to deal with this mess.

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detail of a work in progress

On Labor

There is also a question of labor. How much is enough? How much time spent makes a thing good. In the past, I have made very simple paintings. Single gestures. The idea might be that the simple painting could be good if that singular gesture can hold the viewer. If it has conflict. It if it dramatic enough. If it has unity and variety. The whole potential for how we might assess “goodness.” So with a “simple” painting the labor portion might occur before and after its making. The painter, with years of study, approaches the canvas, makes the singular gesture, then walks away. In its simplicity it is vulnerable. Perhaps empathy can be extracted from that moment. A little breath.

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Untitled, 2013, acrylic, graphite, and oil on wood, 6×6″

But the “goodness,” might occur in the long making. One-hundred hours on a painting. If a viewer sees Linn Meyers’ work at the Hirshhorn that viewer can discern that labor occurred. Time spent in making. Time spent might tend towards goodness.

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Linn Meyers, Our View From Here, photo by Jay Hendrick

I wonder if time spent equals goodness. That can’t be true. There has to be something in between the time spent. There has to be effort in the labor.

That is a concept that frustrates with this current painting. It has a certain momentum. It might just be a deadline, but this painting has an urgency. I want to make it. I want, not to finish it, but to maintain the erratic learning that is occurring. The painting is a conundrum – unstable and frustrating.

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It is further frustrating because I wonder how much work I should do for each painting. How much labor should go into each painting that will create the whole painting? My approach has been to make each painting good, as if it could be good on its own. That’s when I un-stretch then re-stretch. But none of them are ever truly separate form each other. It is artificial to think of them as separate.

On Collaboration

I have had several artists to visit the studio at VisArts. There have been painting exchanges  and discussions of where to go next. What I had hoped would occur has been occurring: I am learning from other people. It is very easy to become engaged in one’s own work. This process is disruptive, perhaps as much as the stretching/re-stretching.

I have made a few attempts at working with other people’s paintings. Becca Kallem’s painting has been leafed. Becca is interested in art history. It is present in her work. For me, I keep those things between my teeth, near the gums but this collaboration is bringing them to the fore, causing me to address my influences.

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Becca Kallem and Jay Hendrick, Greco (pink tag), 2016, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 30×27″

This pink painting is interesting. Becca told me she was working with El Greco, The Burial of Count Orgasz, for this particular painting. The triangles present in that work by “the Greek.” The triangle occurs often with Becca. The triangle might be taken as canonical when thinking about Becca’s work. And it reminded me of my art history courses. My professors pointedly speaking about the presence of triangles in the composition.

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El Greco, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, 1588, oil on canvas, 480 × 360 cm

This discussion bred new things in my own work. The appearance of the triangle.

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detail of a singular painting among many paintings within an unfinished work

This art historical quotation continued in the collaboration between Becca and myself. When I first began making paintings, the tradition of Byzantine icon painting became important as an inquiry and as a vocabulary in painting. There was a structure and methodology to making those paintings

This thinking has been borrowed by me and carried forward, put through many filters and come out the other end for me as a sort of signifier. I use burnt sienna. Not because it is yet another color, but because it links back to that icon painting, to the methods of my canonical lineage. Becca’s paintings made me think about those art historical influence and a tiny fleck of gold leaf on her painting was like a canonical lightning bolt. To leaf her painting would bring up her brush work yet it would also push everything back. The leaf would tug back to that icon painting, and to the lack of icons in my own protestant church upbringing.

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unfinished collaboration between Becca Kallem and Jay Hendrick, 2016, gold leaf, acrylic, and oil on canvas, 29×16″

This collaboration has me thinking of canon and I must address that canon of art. This project is working within that vein. I am wanting to collaborate with these people because they are themselves canonical to me. They represent different approaches to painting. They are now-ness. Living future subjects of art history. Somewhere within the local quotations is something good.

I have also begun a collaboration between Kathryn McDonnell. We exchanged paintings and she wants to try this stretching and re-stretching method.

http://kathrynmcdonnell.com

Linn Meyers: Our View From Here

 

Drips Drip

This painting project is pushing me around. I guess that’s what we want with painting. To be shoved down the stairs, launched from the cliff, sucker-punched with the unexpected. Therein will be the situation where learning can take place. Where the painting can become unstable – precipice walking. Wherein the painter can become vulnerable and thus relate to the viewer. There is something there about knowing, and how to know.

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On one hand, a person could be in an unstable place. “Travel broadens the mind,”is the saying. In that traveling the mind encounters the unexpected and unknown. In that unknown is the moment wherein the traveler can choose to adapt their knowing to the new experience, or disregard the encounter. Disregard the alien and continue with the present knowing. So be shocked and adapt or be shocked and disregard. There is also the knowing that abrades then polishes – shock and study.

Painting can operate in this same way. Josef Albers homage’d to the square over a thousand times. Over twenty-five years inquiring after color through the limited variable of a singular composition. Peter Dreher painted (kind of) the same painting for decades. So maybe Albers and Dreher were polishing their knowing of a thing. They had a subject and worried it for decades. They knew what they would be doing within a limited set of variables. They had to show up and work.

There are other approaches wherein art creates complete instability in the making and receiving. Many artists’ work is oppositional, retributive, and especially abrasively challenging. In that abrasion in the possibility to learn, or to disregard.

This project is pushing me to learn. Firstly there is the long painting that drips on itself. Secondly there is the collaborative component of this project wherein I paint on other peoples’ paintings. It has all been disruptive.

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Painting Painting at Both Ends, acrylic on canvas in progress, 60×21

This Painting Painting at Both Ends, has a wholly unexpected compositional gravity. Wherein I previously obsessed over the self-organizing system of the grid, this particular approach spins that fractally, looping, ouroborosian self-organizing method upon its head. The drips drip. They do follow gravity but the paintings are hung in wacky ways. They are all hung on the wall via hanging wires, but the entire painting is weighty, so each stretching causes drips in many directions.

Further, the knowing that the entirety of the painting will be interacting with each stretching causes each painting to occur in a non-standard Jay method of work. I know that each painting need not be the pinnacle of making. I also know that much of the paintings will be covered up by future paintings. I know that each painting will not be singularly alone. It will have many neighbors. The composition is legion.

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detail of the larger painting. Half of this has now been covered. Further, this painting will continue to be dripped upon, just like the rest of the work.

The collaborative portion continues. Mei Mei Chang visited today and I handed off a painting.

See more of Mei Mei Chang’s work at http://meimeichang.tumblr.com

 

An Aimed Shrug

I think everything comes down to knowledge. How to justify knowing and further, how to make choices. These are very frustrating issues for me.

When I was young I had two solid pillars of knowing: the church and the university. I grew up hearing church goers speaking with authority. Truth was present – present in the deity. I also grew up, almost quite literally, in the stacks of a university library. My mother was a librarian and so my babysitters were the books, college students, professors, and other librarians.

Professors always awed me. Professors always seemed to have justifiable answers to difficult questions and it was professors whom society always sought when faced with unknowables. The university was the place wherein knowledge was arbitrated.

As I grew older I began to see an erosion of my confidence in these knowers. Church and university represented knowledge but were just as prone to error yet I saw, and have continued to see, a fear of and inability to admit this potential error. And quite often I have seen fear replace knowing. So if authoritative knowers set aside knowing for the sake of their own fears, then knowing itself becomes problematic. Knowledge becomes uncertain. And the knowledge that led to that realization is itself uncertain. And thus knowledge, in all forms, appears to become unjustifiable. And in this situation is thrust a person who needs to choose – a person who needs to make value judgements. But the value judgements are questionable because the thing that precedes the judgement is the knowledge, and if that knowledge is unjustifiable, then making choices, about anything, is problematic. And in this situation I shrug. An epistemic shrug.

Because it does not seem as if I can trust anyone. Not my parents. Not my pastors. And especially, not my teachers.

This is why I paint. This unjustifiable situation. The painting is that epistemic shrug. There are many ways to make paintings, but none seem better than others. The variables are endless, like axiological choice in daily life. There are many ways to paint, and many ways to live.

This is a major component of why I am making this Painting Painting at Both Ends. Each painting is yet another attempt at knowing – an attempt at making a judgement. Yet continuously the attempt is yet another shrug. One painting atop the other, wetness touching every attempt. Each painting dripping on formers and latters until the thing is done, stretched, and hung. But until then it is just unity and variety of waking up in the morning.

Maybe the painting is more of a directed shrug. Pointing painting in a direction and depending on the action itself to produce some viable situation.

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Painting Paintings at Both Ends, in progress, acrylic on canvas, dimensions variable currently

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Painting Painting at Both Ends all strung out

This situation of knowledge is also present in the collaborative project I am working on. Each person who contributes is doing whatever they are doing for their own reasons. There is some kind of world view (and thus value judgement) behind each person’s choices to make a painting. This project is attempting to squish those approaches and world views together. Perhaps in their co-mingling will be some knowledge that will satisfy this epistemic shrug.

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unfinished collaborative painting with Becca Kallem and Jay Hendrick, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, dimensions vary

The collaborative component of this project is proving to be vastly difficult. How do I make choices? Should it occur like an exquisite corpse? Should I respond to the previous painting? How can I not?

This collaborative component is a real mystery but I think I will likely learn the most from this portion of the residency.

Also, here are some works on paper.

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talking heads paintings

Playing with Others/ Sharing is Caring/The Unknown :Interlocating the Interlocutor (the many possible titles for this blogpost)

For this residency I proposed two tandem projects – firstly I would continue exploring my “stretch/re-stretch” method of painting. The following is an example of this method. Four  separate paintings to create a single painting. This was a sort of proof of concept that I submitted.

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Four Paintings, One Stretcher, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 29×18″

When I arrived to VisArts, I began making a work I am calling, Painting Paintings at Both Ends (working title). This work is still in progress. This painting is following that stretch/re-stretch method of painting.

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Painting Painting at Both Ends (working title), acrylic on canvas, 60×216″

The second component I proposed for this residency was to enact this “stretch/re-stretch” method with other local painters. A participant makes a painting then un-stetches, then re-stretches into a new register, then the next participant paints as normal – rinse and repeat. I may expand this process into a mail art project in the future, but for now I am specifically interested in exploring local artists of the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area. These are my local peers and my local influences. Locality is a significant component.

The first participant is Becca Kallem. I am interested in Becca’s work because I get a similar sense of a struggle. I can empathize with her paintings. They don’t seem to just occur – there is some hill to climb, or river to ford, or some inexplicable unknown to ponder. Becca’s work is also very diverse. It is observational and representational, even when falling into the category of abstracted.

Becca brought me several of her paintings to work with. This collaboration is beginning with her works, and now I need to respond. She said that some are unfinished or some are not where she wants them to be. They are paintings that might fit well into this project.

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assorted acrylic and oil paintings on canvas made by Becca Kallem

This is a complex proposition. I have begun and I am already seeing a vast gulf of impossibility. If I “just make a painting,” then I think I am making something very formal. As in, it is just paint, it is just design. Becca’s paintings obviously have a context. See the following.

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unfinished Becca Kallem painting, acrylic and spray paint on canvas

This pink painting has tape with the words “Greco (pink tag).” The painting has arcane appearing marks. A sort of greco shield design – the triangle. An aries curling horn. There are significant symbols present. It is a pink philosopher’s stone. There is some kind of alchemy present and I have little access. Sans understanding, how I could I possibly paint on top of this painting? So right off the bat, this project befuddles me. And I feel completely lost. Which I think is what I want with this project. Stay tuned for updates.

See more of Becca’s work at

http://beccakallem.com/home.html

and

http://projectdispatch.virb.com/becca-kallem

and

https://www.arlingtonartscenter.org/resident-artists-aac