I’ve stopped applying for shows during the time of Covid because… why? Currently the future of the brick and mortar gallery system is uncertain and in crisis. It will be interesting to see which will survive and which will go under after months of being shuttered. Art fairs have been canceled and…maybe that’s okay- they were becoming exhausting and expensive- though I did enjoy dressing up and making a splash. For the time being, no art is being hung, and even if it were…would you really want to go and walk though air wafting with potential Covid? We shall see what happens with rates of infection after the huge protests. That being said, I did apply to a show at the Orange Country Center for Contemporary Arts 40th Exhibition and was accepted with my piece “End Times” (online until July 26th). We had a zoom call reception with an “attendance” of sixty plus people on Saturday. A panel of select artists talked about their work and people reminisced about the forty-year history of the gallery. (During these sorts of events, putting one’s speaker on mute and being a passive listener is to be recommended!) My pieces tend to be large and rather underwhelming on a screen- the texture doesn’t really show and you can’t get up close to see the mark-making. Plus, I photograph them myself and things tend to turn out trapezoidal and get cropped out. I know I’m supposed to have a pro do it but… saving money you know? I might apply for a couple other things, but in the meantime, it’s been really nice to have a time-out from the whole scene and to experiment a little. Here’s a picture from the OCCA show- this is just one screen of people from several screens!
New painting. "For George", oil paint on linen, 7' x 7', June 2020. How do I even begin to describe how horrifying these past few weeks in the US has been? The casual indifference of the “peace officer” who knelt on the neck of George Floyd and murdered him in the streets... the violence against protesters gathered to protest abuse of power perpetrated upon African Americans… This is the time to reflect on my white privilege and to listen to people of color. Their experience in this country has been unspeakable for centuries- beginning with slavery to institutionalized racism in the criminal justice system and socioeconomic issues which contribute to the systemic oppression of brown and black people. My first degree was a BA in Criminology with a minor in Sociology. My degree was from Canada and so the focus was on First Nations Peoples, not African Americans. However, just like in the States, minorities in Canada are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. I learned to question the constructs of society, to examine why things are the way they are and to not accept statistics but to look at the reasons behind them. Upon graduation, my professors nominated me as the top Criminology graduate of the year. However, having learned what I did, I decided I didn’t want to work within a system that systematically oppresses minorities- from the “us vs them” mentality of cops, to the failure to rehabilitate offenders, to laws that benefit corporations over people. The criminal justice system- as is it- is broken. Yes- it gets dangerous offenders off the streets and we cannot live without it. Several of my former basketball teammates and my first boyfriend are Mounties and I value the work that they do and appreciate their sacrifices and the danger they put themselves in, putting away people who are dangerous and harmful. However, speaking as a whole, for some people, the criminal justice system has failed to make society better and habitually persecutes certain communities. My life took a different direction after I graduated and after some years of meandering I decided to express myself as an artist. I’ve addressed institutionalized racism in my work before with my painting, “Albert Woodfox”, an assemblage called “Pride”, from my Sins and Sorrows series and now “For George”. I’m not a figure painter so it’s a bit clunky and I’m feeling insecure about how the cops aren’t specifically white- they’re green, pink and red. However, I’ve tried to identify them as fascists with signifiers like their black boots, armband, cuffs, belts, hat and batons. I’m also reading articles like, https://lithub.com/white-artists-need-to-start-addressing-white-supremacy-in-their-work/?fbclid=IwAR1NbkI2u6Hm_v-tneXN_cc6BgGHng3bPfWZm967LlV-tW-ZmAOe7R6eB20 and trying to analyze my work and be open to when it falls short. My latest painting is large- seven feet square- and it is bound to offend. However, I’ve always tried to reflect what is happening in society and my life and this is my honest, if awkward attempt. The movement to end racism and change the ideological hegemony of this country has been met with extreme resistance to say the least. Art should reflect the times we live in and police violence and racial justice is something that needs to be thoughtfully and empathetically addressed.
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.