Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Emily Lindskoog, Left Hand - Right Hand

Spread, (c) Emily Lindskoog, 2010

In her recent article, It’s Not Dry Yet, the ever-erudite New York Times Art Critic Roberta Smith presents yet another successful defense against those persistent voices proclaiming the death of painting. Within the article however, there is an even more interesting discussion concerning those that still pit abstract against representational art. Ms. Smith articulates why this is so clearly a ridiculous argument, and why any such argument that grounds itself in privileging one medium or method over another is a rather self-destructive and archaic, if not juvenile, point of view.

Within all of the visual arts, abstraction and representation co-exist. Any three-dimensional entity, reduced to a two-dimensional picture plane is abstracted. In Minimalism both are stripped to their most essential form; even those ultimate thinkers Art and Language, have relied on description to convey the most abstract theories about the practice, status and nature of being and artist and making art. Indeed, the infinite means in which text, sign and context can be manipulated, perceived and understood indicates almost ultimate abstraction and pure representation.

Artist Emily Lindskoog, who’s MFA Thesis exhibition titled Left Hand Right Hand, is currently on view at Pratt Institute’s Steuben West Gallery, is firmly grounded within both the abstract and representational realms. The works, monumental drawings on paper, are pure and perfect figurative gestures, demonstrating through drawing media and saliva, the extent to which her body can reach, coordinate, spew and project. One may perceive an abstract drawing, but actually receives the representation of Lindskoog’s physical limits. In addition, the lineage is also there, her media culled from early history cave paintings. Despite what may be perceived as a brutish method of mark-making, Lindskoog’s spitting, spraying and synchronizing of right hand with left, produces elegant and powerful works. The exhibition will remain open through Friday, April 2, 2010.

In a week that marks solemn observations by two of the world’s prominent faiths, Left Hand Right Hand confirms my belief - blessed be painting in all its permutations.

Monday, March 22, 2010

seeing red. and white and blue.

This morning, the debate over healthcare reform vomited all over the social networking site I participate on. I do love these exchanges, but today I was stunned at the number of time I heard “Why should I have to pay for it?” One person even said “and is the next step going to be to build every homeless person a house doesn't a person deserve a place to live are u willing to pay for that as well. At some point it's got to stop.”

Yes, everyone should have a home. A number of individuals will focus on the failure of 1950’s and 60’s Housing Projects in the United States, but this was a failure of architecture and planning, not of intent. There is also the misconception out there that the homeless are composed strictly of derelicts, drug addicts and bums. But many of these people are mentally ill and are deserving of care that simply doesn’t exist.  In the larger picture, these individuals make up only a small portion of the homeless in the United States.

Four years ago I had the privilege of serving on a volunteer committee with a gentleman who was actively involved with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. At that time, the average age of a homeless person in Chicago was 9. The fact is we don’t notice most of the homeless because they look just like us. Often, they are composed of the working poor. Transient and temporary jobs allow them to sometimes stay the night in an SRO, sometimes a shelter and sometimes their car, if they still have one. With the recession, I can only imagine that this number has grown.

While I would like to think that charities could exist as the sole support for the needs of this country, they suffer most in financial times such as these. What could your total charitable giving last year provide for? Would you have given with out the tax deduction? I myself could not give last year to a number of charities I support.

Why do we have to pay? Because it’s our duty. We have the privilege of living amidst an embarrassment of riches that we take for granted. As I mentioned on the same networking site last week, every citizen should take a trip to Arlington National Cemetery. There you can see, laid to rest, the thousands that asked nothing in return but the privilege of living here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

49th parallel

Since October of 2008 I have been documenting my body in a series of small paintings. The project started when I found myself here in Brooklyn engaged with a peer group that is, for the most part, 20-25 years younger than I. I have tried to be honest in the work and the project has become as much about refining my practice as it is about the state of the framework. To date there are 22 paintings, each 12”h x 6”w.

Last month I realized I had been avoiding the close examination of my face. It could be strictly vanity, the site where I protect the most illusions; or perhaps I’ve just become so accustomed to evaluating my body that I forgot about the face. So in honor of my 49th birthday, I decided to look at the mug, and paint it, sans cosmetics and soft lighting, as honestly as my skill would allow, Frankly, the past year-and-a-half has not been particularly kind to the visage. The water here is tough and when combined with minor sleep deprivation, no budget for cosmetic luxuries and questionable nutrition, the wear and tear are showing.

Though I miss the youth and beauty of being twenty-five, I wouldn’t want to trade in or relive the experiences I’ve had. I’m one of the lucky ones; these experiences have all been accompanied by true love. I’ve also been given the opportunity to completely reinvent myself in the second half of my life. There is still so much to do. I am fond of a particular quote by Coco Chanel.  She said, “Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.” I think I’m earning it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

amazing grace

Ten years ago today, in spite of my best efforts, life changed dramatically. To quote a friend, “it was the worst day and the best day.”  Every ordinary day, which really means every extraordinary day, is because of that very low-down day.

Hearing Hollywood dole out the thanks last night caused me to reflect on all the people that have helped me get to the here and now: Jennifer, Julie and Darlene loom large. Also, Loretta, another Jennifer, Sue, Karyn, two Lauras, Brien, Melissa, Stephanie, Troy, John, Anna, and Christa. Throw in some Brooklyn gals: Regna, Haley and Audrey - all of you have been touchstones along the way and still now. There are a few newer names that matter every day - Bob, Rachel and Pat. Who’d a thunk it?

Then there’s Mat. No one has demonstrated more tolerance, patience and love than my beautiful Mat. I love you.

Finally there’s a personal, portable, light-up, dashboard Baby Jesus, because that is who You are right now and it’s working. Merci.