My love of the baroque (and the subsequent revivals) is long standing, so much so that I built my previous career as a decorative painter identifying my craft as Neo-Baroque. As a studio painter I still find the allure of the baroque irresistible and in my latest work Reflection of a Harsh Super Ego , I attempted to capture the florid excess of the period.
This work is an extension of my “stuffed painting” series which constitutes a large part of my latest body of work Fairyland. Ostensibly this latest piece is a reflection upon such cheery topics as existential angst, mortality, self-worth/esteem and of course, aging. It is also hopefully funny, a memento mori with wit.
Utilizing fabric allows me to explore the funeral lushness found in over- upholstered baroque furnishings, particularly the decidedly non cozy state beds:
Daniel Marot, the designer of the state bed above was a master of baroque theatricality. His designs for court furnishings are astounding , so inventive, whirling madness yet an underlying balance. I can easily stare at his compositions for hours, and I have. My aforementioned decorative work was directly influenced by Marot and his contemporary Jean Berain.
So it was of little surprise that I would return to the wonderful fripperies of Marot and Berain. I particularly admire the baroque compositions that incorporate a writhing pool of figures, sensuously colliding with one another yet all forming a cartouche, a mirror frame or cabinet. The mad fusion of sculpture, ornament and perhaps some functionality.
My fripperies and atlantes may not be of ormolu, ivory or silk but they are roiling about in a nutty baroque manner.
In his excellent Baroque Baroque , the art historian Stephen Calloway refers to a British baroque revival as “bugger’s baroque”, apparently a witty retort to queen-ish decorative excess. I like to think my “mirror” might have earned that title. Being that The Reflection of a Harsh Super Ego is a further exploration of “sissy” arts, and an element of a larger body of work called Fairyland, I think it has earned that distinction.
Reflection of a Harsh Super Ego will be part of an upcoming solo show at Ave.50 Gallery, 131 N. Avenue 50, Los Angeles, CA 90042
I finished this painting several weeks ago, but needed to step away from it a bit, literally and figuratively. It is a large painting and that is the direction I would like to take with my studio practice. This painting is in many ways the impetus for my moving studios. I’ve simply run out of room at my charming current studio.
But this has been a long journey, nearly two years, from bringing what had been a seemingly simple response to Christina Rossetti’s incredible poem of the same name, a simple pencil sketch, to this large canvas.
Before heading off for Philadelphia in the summer of 2015 I made this sketch, dashed it off really.
I was entering a summer program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and I hadn’t really any concept of how to focus my time. Materials needed to be shipped and I felt overwhelmed logistically. Plus I suffer emotionally from being separated from David and the pups.
I’ve posted before about the PAFA critique program, at times bitterly, but in hindsight I realize how unprepared for the experience I actually was. I now feel, a few years later, that I could approach the experience with more confidence and intentionality (is that a word??).
Perhaps some other summer.
Without a real game plan I decided pretty much on board the plane that Goblin Market was to be my next project for the summer. Part of what I had hoped for with the critique program was to loosen up mentally and creatively, and my little sketch , which I had so enjoyed drawing, would launch me in the right direction. Or so I hoped.
The following are some sequential images of its making.
I pause here because this is where strife began between me and the program director , she insisting that this was a finished work, and I insisting it wasn’t. I envisioned a more polished painting and she wished to “free” me from what she perceived were constraints . Again, in hindsight, I feel I could now express my intentions with more clarity, but at the time I felt crushed and confused.
I persevered but warily.
This image is where I left it at PAFA, unable to finish , I rolled it up, threw it on the plane and allowed it to languish in my studio. I tried avoiding it frankly. Then, in 2017 I decided I needed to face the painting once again.
I’ve tweaked it a bit since this next image, but I now believe it to be finished…for now.
I have a solo show coming up in July, its a small show ( Goblin Market will most likely make its debut), a gallery within a showroom I enjoy showing in. I am excited. It is my first solo show and in many ways it is a clarifying experience.
I’m grappling with what I want to say as an artist and as a person . What is my contribution in this dialogue of life. The window we are given is open ever so briefly, and as I feel I have only just recently entered into myself, I desire to do so fully.
My show will be called “Fairyland”. It is a concept I wish to explore in depth; I will be putting together more extensive proposals for other solo shows, so this show in July is the model.
The following is a revised statement for “Fairyland”:
“At this stage of my life, off center of a century, I am grappling with ways in which to express my “being-ness”. Unable to avoid the “who am I “ question any longer, I find myself ,as a visual artists reaching beyond my usual studio practice of oil painting into diverse disciplines including figures in the round.The figures are essentially dolls, and are fashioned by fully embracing the pre-conceived sissy element of this art. It is in this extension of my practice that I am exploring, at this late stage, my identity as a queer and terrified man; the specter of the pansy boy I was, being given new voice in my latest ongoing project “Fairyland”. It is in this new series of projects , where paint, needle and thread give expression and validation to a long suppressed self loathing.
The very name “Fairyland”, a word once delivered with bloody blows transcends beyond with a message of empathy, compassion. pride, and I hope , humor. Reclaiming the fairy has been empowering. The art I attempt to create is intended to express the spirit of furtive repression breaking free.”
June is proving to be a whirlwind month for me, four group shows this month, plus I am preparing for a solo show in July AND a studio move!
The following are the shows are lined up for June.
These are good problems to have!
Los Angeles Art Association & the City of West Hollywood are proud to announce Out There, a very special exhibition celebrating the LGBT experience during West Hollywood’s Pride Month festivities at Gallery 825.
In its 10th year, Out There is a key feature of Pride weekend, an annual event that attracts nearly half a million visitors to West Hollywood. Out There was juried by William Escalera and Francisco George and opens at Gallery 825 on Friday, June 9 and runs through June 16, 2017.
When: Reception – Friday, June 9, 6 to 9p
(runs through June 16, 2017)
Where: Gallery 825, 825 N. La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90069
Crossing Boundaries:Engendering LGBTQ Identities
In celebration of Pride month across the nation, the Avenue 50 Studio takes great pleasure in announcing our upcoming exhibition in which the works of our LGBTQ artists are honored.
Featured artists include: Alex Constant, Ambre Aki Gonzales, Christopher Velasco, Efrain Torres, German Rubio, James Grey, Juan Solis, Leonard D Greco, Miles Hochhalter Lewis, Noel Alumit, Nora Rohman, Roberto Benavidez, Tiffany Syas, Wren Warner
CEDARFEST:32nd Annual Juried Arts Festival , jurors Nicolas Shake and Robin Rosenthal
Opening June 17th, 6-8 pm, show runs June 17- August 5 2017, MOAH:CEDAR 44857 Cedar Ave., Lancaster CA 93534
A beloved and feared instant summertime classic, this year’s Satan’s Ball is a powerful, cheeky, unapologetic embrace of the dangers, demons, burdens, and temptations that beckon to the more sinful angels of our nature with the promise of magic, mystery, spells and shadows.
As I mentioned, I am also planning a move to a new and larger studio. Exciting but daunting, here are a few snaps of the place . The current tenant hadn’t yet moved out on the day the husband and I checked it out. We were both pleased with the northern light and sense of space.
I just finished up with an all day, rather grueling artist workshop , the topic at hand being business practices.
Much I was familiar with, at least superficially, but when role playing was introduced, ( again, ugh) new revelations were revealed .
I’m insufferably shy , I feel ill from exposing myself and of course , who do they call upon first . I was mortified , but I suppose fighting one’s demons is half the task . It’s almost impossible for me to discuss my own work , always trying to deflect scrutiny of the work and by extension , myself .
I still feel mortified . But I tried to persevere through the discomfort.
Part of the workshop was, once divided into small groups, we were to view and describe one another’s work to our group mates . Me being me made positive , probably lame , certainly vague comments ; truthful but never wanting to hurt feelings . In hindsight I see that as unhelpful.
The observations made concerning my own work were revelations- at least to me .
My work was described as :
Strangely biblically tinged
More familiarily , it was described as :
On one hand I’m concerned that my work can be perceived as disturbing but on the other I AM trying to create emotionally evocative work . In the end , I left feeling fascinated by perception , the very concept of perception, how I perceive my work not always translating , or if it does , in a darker stranger way than I had planned . This is something , that in so many ways, cannot be controlled without deliberately designing an image to evoke a specific response .
But that’s perhaps best left to marketing .
It is all so personal ,the work I make ; it might seem idiosyncratic, perplexing , off putting to some ( many?) . I have only just begun to acknowledge that fact in my bubble of splendid isolation.
I’m not going to make any significant changes after these revelations, in fact I feel committed , dare I say confident in the direction I’ve set for myself. Whereas previous critique left me in a puddle , I found this experience a helpful , and strangely ,an affirmation .
One of the facilitators tried to coax me into being more natural while role playing . The truth being I WAS being the natural me, the terrified , the insecure me , the one who makes stuff that may seem inscrutable ( even disturbing ) at times . My job now is to continue exploring my beingness, staying focused upon my truth and when possible try to explain it more efffectively .
At this stage of my life, off center of a century, I am grappling with ways in which to express my “being-ness”. Unable to avoid the “who am I” question any longer, I find myself, as a visual artists reaching beyond my usual studio practice of oil painting into diverse disciplines including figures in the round. The figures are essentially dolls, and are fashioned by fully embracing the pre-conceived sissy element of this art.
It is in this extension of my practice that I am exploring, at this late stage, my identity as a queer and terrified man; the specter of the pansy boy I was, being given new voice in my latest ongoing project “Fairyland”. It is in this new series of projects , where paint, needle and thread give expression and validation to a long suppressed self loathing.
The very name “Fairyland”, a word once delivered with bloody blows, transcends beyond with a message of empathy, compassion. pride, and I hope, humor. Reclaiming the fairy has been empowering. The art I attempt to create is intended to express the spirit of furtive repression breaking free.
I finished my latest figure last evening, what I had heretofore been calling simply a rag-doll, I am now calling a stuffed painting.
He is called The Wodewose.
Greenmen (andGreenwomen), The Green Knight, Wildmen and the archaic form, the Wodewose, fascinate me. They are at once pure of heart and spirit yet unbridled, carnal, the embodiment of our bestial selves. No wonder they appear so frequently in medieval marginalia; amidst sacred texts, randy hairy beastie-folk cavort and beguile.
I’ve turned to the theme multiple times. After reading Simon Armitage’s excellent translation of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” I was hooked on the theme, a wondrously fascinating archetype; ripe for seemingly endless re-interpretation.
This latest work is in the round and I was able to more fully develop his fleshy-ness ( and hairy-ness thanks to some found faux fur).
I was inspired to employ the Wodewose-Wildman archetype because of the recent celebration of Beltane on May 1st. Rebirth, renewal, the “pagan” appreciation of unbridled spring. My figure has two ways of presenting himself in order to more fully keep in the step with the seasons.
The first being flacid Winter Dormant:
And thesecond, lively Spring Renewal:
“The Wodewose” will be part of my contribution to “Satan’s Ball”, a group show at Art Share LA that promises to be an:
“unapologetic embrace of the dangers, demons, burdens and temptations that beckon to the more sinful angels of our nature”.
I’m going to close with a few random images of Wildfolk that never fail to delight me. As I leave for Pittsburgh tomorrow and rain is supposed to be in order, I’m looking forward to a wild rush of greenery (and perhaps a few fauns).
I’ve spent the weekend manning a wall at a local art walk . A first for me . I generally do not attend art fairs , usually attending museum and gallery exhibitions.
The decision is a pragmatic one , with so many openings , it is really just a matter of time management. So I’m unfamiliar with art fair culture , its norms and practices .
As the art walk winds down I’ve come to the conclusion that many art fair attendees come for the booze , folks enjoy drinking beer whilst perusing the open studios . Perhaps the only thing they enjoy more than warm brew is snapping at images of artwork and hastily retreating to the next experience.
This isn’t an unfamiliar sight , particularly at museums; I’m afraid to say I’ve done it myself . But when it is your own work , you ache to inquire their motives for snapping away , seemingly in a random superficial way . It seems a peculiar form of ownership , ownership of experiencing a work without commitment.
I understand that , like I said I snap away with great abandon . Often accruing too many images with little to no engagement , frequently it’s an impoverished experience.
That said , my “Adam” has been quite the hit . An ideal selfie prop for giggling young women and buff young fellows . It’s odd for me to see my work as a naughty joke , but “Adam” was created in a playful spirit , for him to be recieved that way , seems appropriate. Plus , he doesn’t seem to mind .