America is burning. Cops beating protesters. Looting and burning. A “good” time to revisit my piece, “Pride”, originally done in response to the KKK march in Charlottesville and part of my Sins and Sorrows series. Unfortunately still relevant. #assemblageart #assmbleage #pride#whitepride #whiteking#Americatoday.#racism #GeorgeFloyd#fightthepower
I’m sequestered in my studio near downtown LA with police helicopters overhead and sirens in the distance. Santa Monica (far, far away) is being looted and protesters are being shot and it sounds like there’s more protesting going on downtown- but I don’t have a TV and the internet here is overloaded and so slow that I don’t really know what’s going on. Instead, I’ve wandered around my studio today feeling listless and unproductive and like I should be out there, but I don’t particularly want to get shot in the face with a rubber bullet and blinded (like I’ve seen happen to others) or worse. I made a sketch of sorts of a beat down on a 7’ square canvas. I’m not a figure painter though so it looks about as bad as it did in undergraduate school- very blocky and awkward. I’m aware of my strengths and weaknesses and figure painting isn’t a strength. Nonetheless, echoes of previous paintings will always shine through and each painting is made up of dozens of ruined compositions beneath- so may slivers in this protest painting still appear in whatever it becomes.
In light of the hideous murder of George Floyd, I've been totally disgusted and despondent. It seems pointless to paint unless the art work is political. It’s at times like this I think of artists like Leon Golub. “... Golub became involved with other artists collectively dubbed the "Monster Roster" by critic Franz Schulze in the late 1950s, based on their affinity for sometimes gruesome, expressive figuration, fantasy and mythology, and existential thought. They believed that an observable connection to the external world and to actual events was essential if art was to have any relevance to the viewer or society. This is a view that informed Golub's work throughout his career... Golub turned his attention to terrorism in a variety of forms, from the subversive operations of governments to urban street violence. Killing fields, torture chambers, bars, and brothels became inspiration and subject for work that dealt with such themes as violent aggression, racial inequality, gender ambiguity, oppression, and exclusion. Among the work produced in this period are the series Mercenaries, Interrogation, Riot, and Horsing Around. His Interrogation II (1981; Art Institute of Chicago) is representative of the subject from this period and Golub's technique, "the canvas painted, scraped and repainted many times to create a tense, skinlike surface."
During a time like this, one goes back to the artists who did it best- Picasso's Guernica of course. Starting a new painting that's really large. Perhaps I can borrow a few elements, or at the very least, digest some of his marks and symbols.
Finally banged out a new piece yesterday probably reflecting my frustration/sadness with flights home being canceled so unable to see my family. Here we have, "Happy Little Bridge to Nowhere", 48" x 48", oil paint on upholstery fabric, May 2020. Sort of a San Fran looking scene with a car on a dilapidated bridge ending in the middle of nowhere, detritus in the ocean below...industry tearing up a mountain side and a reference to Christo's on top of the hill. Good to finally bang one out!
Hello all, I've been using this Covid time out to catch up on a lot of things: specifically old art magazines, some I've since 2007. I rip out articles and images that are of interest and use them to draw from as a resource later... it's a lot of material. Glad I'm finally doing it! :)
Some happy news: “Virtues and Sins”, a diptych assemblage that is part of my “Sins and Sorrows” series, has been acquired by a collector in Canada. These copper plates been deliberately rusted and then a CNC machine has inscribed words. If placed in sunlight, the words glint and glow. I really love this work- rust is alive and the piece will continue to change and evolve over time.
Hello from Los Angeles where I’ve been in quarantine for the last month due to the Corona virus. It’s been interesting to be here for an extended time. I’ve never had this much uninterrupted time here without visitors, attending gallery openings, museum excursions, shopping, going to the gym and hiking or even going to the local watering hole to rub shoulders with fellow artists. Initially I was stressed, worried about my friends and family and lethargic but I’ve found my rhythm of sorts. I haven’t been in the headspace for painting but am doing a lot of manual labor. Over the past year or so, I’ve dragged various odds and ends home from the dumpster if it looked as if it was good surface for painting- especially wood panels. I’ve amassed quite a collection and now the time has finally presented itself where I can give them the tlc they need. I’ve never painted on a hard surface but was thinking they’d lend themselves well to oil sticks. I used to only use oil sticks for painting until my Prof’s encourage me to step away and use brushes. It has been awhile but I’ve been dragging out my art supplies and still have plenty of oil sticks. The problem I’ve found with oil sticks is that they never seem to dry. I have a painting that is about…fifteen years old and it’s still somewhat wet and tacky. Maybe I can set them out in the strong sunlight as I go along. Other than the panels, I’ve been stretching and gessoing a lot of stretcher bars. It’s a welcome mindless task and I don’t mind the tedious nature of it. Also I’m trying out using latex house paint as a primer. Some of my larger canvases are such gluttons for paint that by the time I’m through, I’ve spent a lot just on the preparation of the piece. I also started drawing on the canvas with the paint. I like its immediacy and not having to be concerned with the image. It takes two coats so I can paint over it if I don’t like what I did or use clear matt medium if I do. What I also look forward to doing is a lot more experimentation with materials. I think sometimes I got too caught up in producing work that fit with my oeuvre that I didn’t give myself as much permission as I maybe should have. So… stay tuned. I’m never bored here and hope you aren’t either. More to come. Emily