You may, like me, have received an email from Florida this week titled, “Inquiry your artwork.” The letter says you are talented and that there’s an artist agency interested in representing you. This agency offers “gallery exposure,” “multimedia marketing,” “art book artist profiles” and “art fair exhibitions.” The letter includes links to a PDF brochure and a website.
Monthly Archives: November, 2018
Yesterday, my friend Joe Blodgett brought a big yellow print into the studio. It was sort of modern, with a large, undecipherable signature across the lower end. “What do you think of this?” he asked. “Interesting,” I said, which is what I say when I don’t know what to say. “Why don’t you run it through those ‘evaluation points’ that you use when you jury?” he suggested. I protested that my points were subject to modification — sometimes there’s something major that upsets them. “Like, ‘I like it,’ ” I said.
“People think I’m dead,” Larry Poons says, without irony. At age 80, he’s explaining his obscurity to filmmaker Nathanial Kahn while daubing colour onto a mammoth work-in-progress — un-stretched canvas draped ceiling-to-floor in a circle around him. Larry’s wizened face, hobo duds and ramshackle studio in rural, upstate New York describe an archetype of monetary irreverence. He and Kahn are in the midst of shooting The Price of Everything, Kahn’s documentary about the skyrocketing contemporary art market. Poons has been cast as The Purist.
Those of us who sometimes mentor and instruct students are familiar with trying to get people to really look at things. Recently, after a few days walking around in a subject-rich environment, I was agog with new possibilities. Burdened with reference, I returned to the studio and proceeded to paint the worst thing I’ve done in some time. It was one of those paintings that can have you considering a career in accountancy. During the fiasco I began to better understand a syndrome I’ve had all my life. It’s what I call “the tyranny of reality.”
Recently, a letter arrived describing a young girl standing at the barre in her ballet class, while an artist guest of the instructor sketched and gathered painting material.
“I remember thinking how I would have loved to be painting and learning alongside him, rather than be self-consciously fumbling through ballet exercises at the barre,” the letter read. “Later, he held a show and sale of paintings and drawings inspired by his time there. My parents and an older sister bought pencil drawings featuring my little sister…
Floating through the Chelsea galleries, up and down the democratic elevators, through the mysterious doors where minimalist girls, like wax figures, sit at laptops in sparse foyers and do not acknowledge your presence. Where liveried guards suspect your bag and camera, here and there there’s a Burton Silverman.
Coming from a background of illustration, Silverman, an artist’s artist, has found a unique place in the realist revival. To read his partly biographical The Art of Burton Silverman, you might think he’s still fighting the art-wars of the sixties.
In the comments section of last Friday’s letter, Sharon Lalonde asked, “What is the responsibility of an artist to be a good host at her opening, and what would that look like? I have been to openings where one has to guess who the artist is, or the artist is comfortably in a corner with a few friends and does not engage. I think some education in this area would be valuable.”
The other day I happened to be paying a visit to one of my galleries. I noticed a guy moving slowly along a wall — his nose almost dragging on the paintings. “He’s an art student — comes in here all the time,” said the dealer. “He’s studying all the artists and trying to figure out their secrets.” The guy was making notes, lost in his own world.
Like the novel or memoir many of us feel we have lurking inside but will probably never put to paper, there is undoubtedly a painting or two that simmers in the arm and hand of all creative beings. More primal than writing, mark-making begins in early childhood, to be perverted later into a messy and inconvenient activity where the exception to do it in adulthood is made only when it serves an industry. A lawyer friend once invited me to his basement to show me an appealing, sort-of pointillist portrait in cheery colours. “Can you help me get a show?” he asked.