Thursday, January 28, 2010

lit of crit

murder of crows 16" x 12", oil on wood, 2009

On January 1st I expressed my hope that I remain grateful for the generosity of critique. Tuesday night I had a crit with a particularly close peer group and a new professor. It always takes me a few days to fully process what I have heard, but I am satisfied that some of the questions raised are those I am already asking myself about the work. On the whole, it was thought provoking and went quite well.

There is always one bit I immediately take away that is a sort of an a ha!  moment. It was suggested to my colleagues and I that we develop a personal set of criteria that determines when a work is done to our own satisfaction. Brilliant! I love a set of self-determined criteria that I can meet and then surpass. Or, what does it mean when my gut tells me that I have finished a work, but I have not yet met all of my criteria? This notion presents a real opportunity for both restraint and expansion. I have begun work on my own set.

As for critique, I value it, even on those occasions when I get ripped a new one. It forces me to break from my routine and think conversely. I will miss the unfettered honesty of academic critique when I leave here. I will also miss the language particular to it. Every profession has a specific language. For those of you who have not experienced a studio arts critique, I have prepared a little primer highlighting some of the terms heard in critique. It includes those that one would and would not want to hear. I have heard many.

dreamlike: doesn’t make sense in the physical world

dreamy: blurry or out-of-focus, except in painting, where blurry or out-of-focus is now always called Richter

not my aesthetic: may be well executed, but you just hate it

risky: jury’s out – could be good, could be bad, but kudos for trying something beyond of your comfort zone

push: when you’re encouraged to take the work beyond that comfort zone

tasteful: formally attractive but careful, boring, innocuous

Pop: if your professor was schooled in the 50’s or early 60’s, they hate it

crap: crap

outrageous: if painter Linda Francis is critiquing, it means really good (as in, “that pink in those shoes is outrageous!”)

crazy: my personal version of outrageous (as in, “Heather, that Godzilla painting is crazy!”)

ambiguous: swings both ways – good, it’s asking a lot of questions - bad,  it’s indecisive

elegant: at risk of becoming tasteful - frugal, yet well done, well composed, well thought out, well executed and usually well received

muddy: you let your solvent/medium get too dirty, but because it was so late and you were so tired,  you didn’t notice – but your critics did

editorial: when the artist is trying to shove their opinion down the viewer’s throat

conceptual: just plain used way to often and not in the proper context

quaint: nostalgic

nostalgic: fictional construct of a perceived, not necessarily factual, past -  usually coexists with sentimental

sentimental: the bad kind of emotional

poignant: the good kind of emotional – may provoke an unexpected visceral response

necessary: an element or elements that reveal the context of the art work and/or elevate the formal quality of the work

sufficient: the correct amount of the necessary

Next week, I have a one-on-one crit with a particularly well-known artist. I am nervous. I’ll let you know if any of the above terms come up.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

where there's smoke

If you’re in Chicago and looking for LIVE MUSIC and a good time to be had by all this Saturday, January 23, 2010, head to Lilly’s on Lincoln Ave. where JAKE and THE WRANGLERS will be burning down the house. Check out that sexy bass player, and remember…you may look, but don’t touch! Show starts 8:00PM.

2513 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 529-1600‎

Friday, January 15, 2010

the same

Two days ago I was mentally composing what I thought would be another pithy post about painting. It was going to be glib yet intelligent and of course, packed with insight. Then there was an earthquake.

I have already written about the abundant ethnic diversity that exists in Brooklyn. It has one of the largest populations of Haitians living outside of that country and my heart truly aches with them and for those still there. In a country so impoverished, the loss and devastation is only magnified.

Humanity often demonstrates impossible cruelty, but it also possesses a tremendous capacity for love and generosity. I am grateful for organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross who have so quickly responded to this event. If you are able to donate to either of these organizations, please do.

Hidden within every tragedy is an opportunity. This disaster may illuminate our sameness. In fact, my prayer is for sameness, in which we finally recognize that we are all the same, no matter our gender, age, color, country, sexual preference or Belief. Then perhaps our acts of love and kindness will occur not only in response to calamity, but each and every day.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

the verdict

David Salle
King Kong
123" by 96" by 26"
acrylic, light bulb, oil/canvas, wood
1983courtesy Mary Boone Gallery

So he said… that I’m “a pretty good painter” … I’ll take that!

Friday, January 1, 2010


Resolutions. I don’t think I ever kept one. In fact, I can’t recall even making one. Remarkable things have happened to me during the past decade. My sole contribution was a willingness to say yes. I have no plans of giving up sugar, caffeine, meat or television in 2010. I’m going to continue highlighting my hair, wearing makeup and probably being, in general, quite vain.

Many of my hopes for 2010 seem to fall under the realm of my responsibilities, not my resolutions. They include a heightened demonstration of love, respect, compassion and tolerance for my fellows; employment, so that I may once again financially contribute to our household; mindful gratitude for the generosity of criticism; continued support for fellow artists; a willingness to ask and answer questions; the belief that, very often, others do know more than I do; and the ability to say yes more than no.

Something happened several weeks ago. A well respected, public figure in the art world gave me a vote of confidence. After seeing my work this individual observed that I (to paraphrase) “was a serious artist, making serious work, about a serious subject.” This was pretty heady information and I had to decide what to do with it. It took several days of reflection to come to a decision and the result is indeed a resolution. It’s simple. In 2010, I have to work harder.

I wish you peace, happiness, health and hard work this New Year - and beyond.