Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Looking for Angel Valley

Last fall, I published a piece (see “As Seen on Oprah”, October 2009) on the events that led to the conception of my Thesis work. Angel Valley is the name of a retreat center in Sedona, Arizona. There, in October 2009, three people died in a makeshift sweat lodge constructed for a self-help empowerment workshop. In addition to the deaths, a number of participants were critically injured. The cost to participate in the workshop was $10,000 per individual. A one-time telecommunications-marketing manager was the workshop’s creator and facilitator. He has been indicted on three counts of manslaughter and is preparing for trial in Arizona.

This body of work references my own examination of manufactured, misplaced and inadequate constructs. The constructs are often the byproduct of the search for utopia that in fact, cannot be assembled in the physical or material world. Within my work, time, recollection and longing are collapsed, illuminating the irrationality of invented utopias and locating the site of physical presence in time and space.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

necessary content

During the Easter season one is inundated with eggs; candy, colored and purely decorative. Regardless of their nutritional, symbolic, seasonal or commercial importance, eggs are in fact, remarkable.

Perfectly designed for their function, their shape allows them to roll easily in the nest without falling out. The calcium carbonate shell is strong enough to protect the cargo, yet so fragile that a young chick can break through, emerging exhausted, but alive. Duck eggs have oily shells, rendering them waterproof. There is nothing unnecessary about the components and structure of an egg.

Last week I met a well-known art critic. Someone in our group inquired as to what she believed made certain works of art successful. She responded, and I paraphrase, that effective art contained only that which was necessary to it. It is unhindered by extraneous components. This does not mean minimalistic, for she went on to clarify that it could have a whole lot of stuff, but all of the stuff had to be necessary to the work, for it to truly succeed.

I recently completed five large oils, some of which I am going to include in my Thesis Show. I began a sixth painting, and when I completed the monochromatic under-painting, it appeared that the work might not require the conscientious, pigmented layers of glaze in which I usually indulge. It might not need color at all. The idea of an achromatic painting interested me. Granted, I mix my own black, so it is never truly black, but color is one of the natural instincts on which I have come to rely. What I had been doing was getting comfortable and it was time to break things.

My challenge is to make the paintings strong enough so that black, white, and perhaps the addition of one other color remain sufficient visual components. I have completed this first black and white painting and am pleased. 

Today and for the next three weeks, known critics and curators will see this work and publicly comment on it. Like the egg, I hope the painting and I attend these sessions, outfitted only with that which is necessary and sufficient.
After my exhibit opens on April 19th I will post the works.