Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quick fare from the fair


I’ve been behind on my self-imposed quota of three postings per week due to a constipated calendar, however….now that school has started and shows are happening on a more regular basis, I hope to become more regular myself!

Just a quick posting here to prove that I do not have to make-up the source material for my paintings. I was as the local fair last night as a chaperone for band practice. While they marched the field, I went off with my camera in search of some interesting faces. Unfortunately people hate to have their picture taken so I usually resort to more stealth techniques. I found out that taking pictures of a chicken can cause it undue stress, especially if the chicken is also depressed. According to its owner, the fowl in question was suffering from both maladies. How one knows if a chicken is stressed and depressed is beyond me, but I was sternly instructed to leave the poultry to pout in private. I wonder if they make Prozac for poultry.

Off to the dairy barns where I encountered a cow wash. I guess bovines don’t mind being photographed while in the shower, but the owner kept ducking behind her charge. She was not too happy with me either. I took a few quick clicks and then passed on by as a hose was dangerously close to missing its intended target and hitting me.

Hoping that sheep and goats might be more cooperative proved a falsehood as well. Sheep people are very protective. Maybe these folks thought I was a spy for the competition even though I was not dressed like the others setting up plates of pumpkins, potatoes and peas for judging. I did manage to get a good shot of some goats wearing coats (to protect their coats I supposed) before a rather disgruntle goat guy shooed me away. With all due respect, I passed by the pig pens figuring the reception would not be any better.

A painting is definitely gelling in my brain about this experience at the fair. I just need to find a camera that shoots sideways so I can pretend to be aiming at architecture and not animal handlers. Life is so unfair.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Visual Clutter Bothers The Technosaurus


Yes, I am the Technosaurus. Much to the chagrin of my technologically gifted son, I still have trouble with the more complex and multilayered computer functions and other devices of modern society. My older son would gladly join me on this lily pad, the dishwasher fairies being a classic example, but you would be reading my obit if I explained that story any further.

I will confess to being a lurker on the internet. I regularly check out other blogs and websites and such, but don’t become a follower. On several of my other art gallery sites, I have tried to change a simple profile picture and it does not work, even when I follow all the steps listed. That annoys me. I contact the “contact us for problems” link and nobody ever gets back to me…..um, I would call that problem number one in case anybody is keeping count.

I get weekly emails to join this group or that one, so and so wants me to be a “friend”, join, join, join….so I dutifully drop by and see what the fuss is all about it. I finally figured out what it is that annoys me the most about the social network sites, it is the visual clutter. Now don’t get me wrong about my ability to figure all this out, I am a card carrying member of MENSA after all, but the layout of these sites just does not seem logical to me. For a right brainer, I am also inherently very organized and detail oriented, so the scattered nature of images on the small computer screen just really bothers me. They don’t appear visually (artistically) inviting, and with so much text, in so many colors, using little coded language, well…..it seems a waste of my time to sit there and go through it all. Clicking on tiny pictures of people or art (break out the reading glasses) lead me to other places with more type and more comments and more pictures, then we have the arrows, the icons, the advertisements, the flashing this and the scrolling that, toss in some music, and it all just overwhelms my brain. Before I know it, a good chunk of usable work time has flown by and that is an hour of creativity never to be gotten back.

Unfortunately this method of contact and promotion is the way to go if one wants to expand the pond (or pool of opportunities) and at which point I guess I am up a creek and have lost my paddles. Not that that is such a bad thing. As life passes by in the fast lane, speeding along the current of modern media, I am happily recording your antics and translating them to canvas once again. I will admit that last month I did join Facebook more out of peer pressure than anything else. Other than one new follower to my blog, I have yet to see what the benefits are of this online community. What are you all talking about? Why are you tending non-existent farms? Why do the conversations go down as opposed to up like on email chains? Why do you keep changing your profile photo? Is your laundry done? Are the gardens weeded? Are you caught up on bills and ironing? Have you seen a good movie, art exhibit or taken a walk in our wonderful parks? Sat outside and read a book then taken a nap? I just don’t inherently understand the desire to sit in a chair in front of a screen sending out little snippets of thoughts when there are so many other things to do in the world of actual reality. But we are all of different natures and I guess I am sounding like my Grandparents when TV first came out…it will never last. Hmmmm, could be they were right, this little box in front of me right now seems to be taking over like NY bedbugs.

So friends, until I figure out how the Wall, the Facebook, the Profile, the Info and the Newsfeed all fit together and to which place I am supposed to post what I want you to know….where you are right now and on my website are the best places to see what I am thinking…..and no way can I do that in 160 characters or less. I rather like it here on my lily-blog so pull up a pad now and then when you need a breather from the rapids of rampant networking.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cari Miller at Studio M


Studio M is currently showing 23 pieces of art by Carie Miller on view through September 19th. Listed as paintings in the title, one will actually find 5 mirrors, 5 photographs, 7 collages and 6 traditional media paintings. I asked my companion to give me one word to describe the show. After a pause, the word was “primary”. I asked if that was a reference to color or to age level subject matter and together decided it meant both.

The statement says the show is intended to celebrate summer through colors and emotion, bringing some happiness to an otherwise drab part of the country. A free lance artist since 1995, I don’t know Ms. Miller personally nor have I seen her work before so this is a blind assessment on my part. I appreciated her explanation regarding motivation, inspiration and dedication.

The Sun Series is by far her strongest imagery and one worth pursing on a commercial level. It could be a successful concept for the lucrative graphic arts market. The technique of large blocks of color separated by thick black lines reminds me of Britto’s work and the offset compositions are much like BZTAT’s approach. The best of all the Sun Series paintings is “Pride” which encompasses the complete package of proper framing, scale, color and use of additional media to render the subject matter to its fullest potential. The mirrors which also use the same technique as the Suns, but with different subject matter could also be pursed on a production level. I am not seeing them (no pun intended) as a gallery display as much as I do an art festival entity. They would sell well in that type of venue with a bit more attention paid to the inner edges of the paintings along the transitional side of the mirror insert. Some of the pieces were painted to the edge and made a big difference in the presentation. Others were not and therefore less successful. Attention to detail is very important when presenting work to the public.

The word “edit” comes to mind with this show. Her photos are well done but unfortunately lost amongst the other pieces. I would like to have seen them all together on one wall. My companion picked out “Raspberry Dreams” as a favorite, a colorized digital photo of a daisy. Some of the other photos are not enhanced which speaks well for their content and presentation. It was almost like two different artists in one space (I have the same problem and therefore separate my two artistic “selves” from each other as much as possible).

Does one get the connection to her statement in its entirety? Absolutely, and be sure to read it before taking in the show. What motives an artist is very important regardless of how a viewer can or cannot relate to the work. What the public sometimes forgets is that the work is not “for them”, it is “from the artist” for the GP to share. The judgment of what is good and what is bad is subjective. Objectivity comes into play in areas of presentation such as chinked mats or threads of glue not removed. Subjectivity is one’s personal feelings about what is displayed. I enjoyed my few moments in the sun and would like to someday see a full show of nothing but the Suns in her signature style. Until then, Ms. Miller needs to find a market, develop a plan, and get the imagery out on commercial products where I am sure she could be quite successful!

Friday, August 20, 2010

From nesting instincts to the empty nest...


All pregnant women know what the nesting instinct is all about. A few weeks before delivery, we start to clean and sort and do all the things necessary to feather the nest for our new baby. At the other end of the line is the empty nest moment when our baby birds have grown wings, tested the air, and taken off, leaving behind both messes and memories. I have noticed that quite a few of us are at that stage of life. Some are new to the moment, others like me have had one gone for a few years now and one who is grounded only by the location of a fridge and a bed and hence eventually comes home to roost each night. A year from now, the nest will be completely empty and I can throw out all the dirty feathers.

Some of you reading this are knee deep in the years where you wonder when it will end! I remember thinking that if I had a motor home rather than a minivan; I could do the laundry and cook while chauffeuring the kids around town from lessons to play dates to school and so on. As my mom once told me, “The days will last forever, but the years will be gone in a heartbeat” or something to that effect. She was right. Those heartbeats included broken ones, fast ones, bursting ones and a whole spectrum of types that probably don’t appear in medical textbooks but parents have had each and every one at some point.

What I find strange however, are the number of people who are sad about kids leaving or ask me how depressed I am about coming to the end of those years. Am I sad or depressed about it? No, I may be a bit melancholy, but I am more proud than anything else. Allow me to explain, and maybe this will ease the hearts of some of you who are experiencing your first flight.

I am proud that my husband and I raised two young men with goals and a desire to achieve them. They can’t make their dreams happen at home, the opportunities lie elsewhere. That speaks to their self motivation and bravery to let go and venture off to places unfamiliar. We are proud that they have good manners and can interact with adults of all ages and behave appropriately in situations with varied expectations. My younger son lived in fear on our recent band trip that I would pull my door stop routine and end up with 190 people jammed up behind me. You see, I won’t open a door if a son is with me. I come to a dead stop and stand there until he gets the door. If no child of mine is present, any other male in the vicinity will do and I will let them take the initiative. Most men will do so, the few who do not tend to be teens or so deep into their phones and earplugs that my existence is irrelevant. I may be liberated, but I am also old fashioned in regards to common courtesy. We are proud that our kids can cook, clean and do laundry even though they may not want to or have to, but they can if needs be. We are proud that they understand finances, practice good driving habits, and know how to budget their time. We are proud that they still like to spend time with their grandparents and are willing take part in our few family traditions. I could go on but my point is this….. don’t feel sad that a child is leaving you, feel proud and happy that the child CAN leave you because you did a job that many people cannot do. You have added a competent and productive citizen to our society.

Sure, they will still experience sore wings now and then and have to come back to the nest. The fliers may have all this freedom to soar, but so do you! Without an egg to sit on or a barfed up worm to force down their throats, you can take off and fly too. A friend of mine says this is the time to “remember why you married their Dad in the first place” and to do all those things that you never got time to do….that is if we can remember what those things were (as they got older, so did we darn it).

I think it is very important to make sure the nest is not empty emotionally; just free of all that crap they accumulated over the years, while the treasures are left behind for our safekeeping. After all, no kid wants his third grade bean art project on his dorm room wall, but to us, it is a masterpiece (even if only glue blobs are left where beans once resided). We will put it in the bottom of box and ship it off to them someday, to be replaced by a grandkid’s bean art project. But in my case, that better be a LOOONNGGGG time….and any art teacher who makes bean art anyway may get a visit from Granny the Good Witch of Relevant Classroom Projects.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The 13th Floor


The 13th Floor Gallery in Massillon (28 Charles Ave SE- around the corner from the MassMu) is a new space (opened just last month) devoted to filling a special niche of the art market. In the vein of the “something for everybody” gallery genre, those which carry paintings, prints, shirts, jewelry, sculpture and so forth, the 13th floor is not one for those in search of a house warming present. Well….unless the house is haunted or otherwise characterized by d├ęcor not found in a glossy magazine. I must say, the exterior reminded me of a quaint storefront on a Toronto side street, complete with awning, stained glass detailing and a cat (named Kitty) on the front stoop. Once across the threshold however, one becomes immersed in a world of the macabre. Not that that is a bad thing. I had a great time finding pieces from people I know as well as chatting with the founder and owner, Billy Ludwig.

He had just returned from a successful weekend show in Detroit, the Bizarre Bazaar, which if everyone had worn a brassier, would have been a complete hoot, but I digress. Such ventures are not for everyone, but there is a large audience and market out there for those who like the whole vampire and zombie scene, comic books and horror movies. Therefore, he will be bringing some of the artists from that show (in a blighted area of Detroit) to his gallery space here in Ohio. Now that is what art and art marketers should do, get himself and other artists into distant places while bringing fresh blood back home. Would I want his wares in my home, not really, but that does not mean I can’t appreciate what he has on the walls and shelves.

Do I have some artistic words of advice?, of course, not from a subject matter point of view as that is a personal matter, but from an academic one for sure. Several well known and successful artists show their work here, Billi Kribbs and Bad Girlz, Pinkerton and Mars, and the young Erin Meyer whom I know from her early high school years. Pinkerton’s dad is a friend of mine and we had a nice talk about his son’s career on a bench overlooking Lake Don Brown. Kribbs is to Massillon what Anderson and Joseph are to Canton.

Megan Mars has her niche. Her ability to paint the female human face is not in question, but I would like to see her push the images from standard cosmetic ad features, to more unusual, creative and challenging distortions of a real human face. I understand them being based upon standard gothic beauty imagery, but with an innate talent to capture something the way she can, now is the time to test her abilities and take the work to the next logical level. Groupings, full figures, and variations of beautiful faces, would take her art and message to a higher standard and where she should be. Add situations, backgrounds and events to her pieces and the work would be striking. The piece “Sweet like Candy” is a perfect example. A right balance of frame color, image color and overall proportions; it is a wonderful little gem, but so like so many others she does. That same face on a full figure and with a real exploration of how to use the limited color pallet would show us what she is truly capable of doing.

My other artist to mention is Erin Meyer, currently a painting major at the Maryland Art Institute. Her large scale faces remind me of the work of Lauren Tew, a Canton artist who died at 23 in a tragic drowning accident on Lake Erie in 2000. I knew her work and she was on her way to becoming a successful painter of specialized close-ups of faces. Erin is at the stage of finding her first voice, one of many to come over a long art career that lies ahead. Tew’s legacy would be a good place to start. Erin’s large canvases and unusual perspective would be right in line with what was an unfulfilled dream of another young woman.

A memo to all artists is that surfaces are important if you want your pieces to last. If not, then paint on whatever you wish and perhaps in this generation of instant this, and throw-away that, art is not meant to last either.

I have to talk about the coolest thing that Billy showed me before leaving. It is a Vampire Killer Kit by Shock Studios. Not for everybody, but if you have some friends getting married who are into the whole vampire culture, what better wedding present than a customized Vampire Killer Kit.? Seriously, it is well made, very clever and quite unique! Who needs another china place setting in this day and age, get your friends something different. I am sure Mike Skaggs would engrave the couple’s name on it and maybe carve some personalization on the contents in side. I am not being satirical here so don’t get me wrong. I think that suitcase presentation was awesome, clever, creative and well made. For $300 it would be neat to have if one likes that scene. With the whole vampire craze going on now, this guy has hit on a hot commodity for marketing.

Would the 13th Floor be a place I frequent for shopping?, not likely, but I will go to see each of his shows. Every generation has its own messages and imagery (Peter Max anyone?) and like music, the generation or two before it finds it abominable, loud, evil (Elvis’s hips!!) or whatever. As far as I am concerned, if it is not illegal, immoral or costs me more tax money, then go ahead and express yourselves. As long as we accept each other’s points of view, then all the arts will benefit. Congrats on the space and your vision Billy and thanks to the people (artists) who will make 13th Floor successful. Just don’t leave one of those creepy creatures by my door, although the dust bunny is a scream!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vanity in the Visual Arts



A few days ago, I had a high school student spend the day in my gallery, watching me paint and working on her own art class summer assignments. That same day, a bus tour stopped in the gallery as well and one of the people recognized me from over 20 years ago when I was a high school art teacher and she had been a student, though not one of mine. Talk about a reality check! It got me thinking as to what my role is now within the art community. I am not a student unless re-certifying for my license. I am not a teacher with a regular classroom. I am not a mentor as I don’t have any “students” to oversee. I am not a community activist or active volunteer as of now (outside of my devotion to Scouting and the countless hours I give to that organization). Don’t get me wrong, I am overwhelmingly happy to finally just be spending time on my own projects, in my own space, working on my own ideas, and seeing where life finally takes me now that supervisional motherhood is coming to a close. With that thought in mind, maybe I can use this blog and this post today, to discuss the issue of vanity.

Not the vanity of self, but the vanity that permeates the art world and takes advantage of those who don’t see it lurking just beneath the surface, too be specific, vanity galleries, vanity shows and vanity memberships. Yes, I have been victimized by all three at one time or another, and choose to still indulge in a couple of them on occasion, but in this economy, artists need to be careful.

Vanity galleries are the most recognizable circumstance but often don’t get uncovered until too late. It is a gallery, exhibition space, or organization that advertises for artists to submit for shows. They run ads in major trade magazines. No cost to submit! What happens next is that you get a letter confirming your acceptance for a show in their prestigious space (usually NY or Berlin or Toronto) and you just need to send back your agreement to participate. A letter will follow with your allotted amount of space, about 12 linear feet in the group showing, and an exhibition fee (for their time and labor of course) for up to $3000. You read that right. Thousands of dollars for a few feet of space and three weeks on the wall in what is probably a 5th floor walk up space in a poorly lit building off the beaten path. To those in the Midwest, it sounds wonderful to add a NY gallery to your resume, even an international one, but when that bill comes, you are a bit “screwed” shall we say. Chances are you shipped out your work already and your signature of agreement is a legally binding document. Kiss those paintings goodbye for the most part. Always get full financial obligations before sending any work to any location and in this day and age of Google, you can most likely weed out the bad ones. Even Facebook a friend in the city of the show and have them check out the address for you.

Vanity shows are those juried shows which promise solo shows for the winners in major museums or are juried shows that promise hundreds of trade people in attendance at the opening. Send in your three images for about $50 and wait for the results. Rejection of course is most likely. Why? Well the letter will state that 700 or so entries arrived, all were so fabulous that the juror could hardly make a choice but decided on the best 22 images for the show. 22? Are you kidding? Most juried shows on the national level at reputable galleries take 50 – 80 pieces. Look up the 22 accepted artists later, and you may find that about 15 are local to the gallery in question. Figure how much money that place just made on those 700 entries. Choose juried shows carefully. I do quite a few but check out the location, the juror, the show’s record, other shows the juror has done and any other factors which could affect my selection. Juried shows are a great way to gain “exposure” (though I hate that word) but I have been offered shows, made sales, and won prize money from many of them so it is worth the entry fees to me.

Vanity organizations are the most difficult to decipher. The choice to belong is based upon what the organization can do for you and how much it is worth the fees to be a part of it. I belong to one whose membership I question each time the yearly dues come due. It is very expensive for not getting much out of it, but the circumstances under which I was granted access remain dear to my heart so I pay the bill and curse the mentor every time. The organization grants me access to national shows but those shows have a fee for entry even without a jury, a fee for the delivery of the work to an agent who transports it to the venue (no direct shipping allowed) and a fee for us who cannot spend 3 hours of our time as a volunteer gallery sitter. Being 3 states away, I can’t go sit there for three hours; it is easier to pay the fee. Those fees for one show add up to the yearly dues. Somebody is buying a Lexus on my dime, but it is a choice I make to claim the letters on my resume. Of course it does not make a hill of beans difference to anybody that I belong to it, but sometimes that is just the way it is. My beans are my business. Just take this advice to evaluate what you really want and need to get where you wish to go as an artist. The new social media makes it much easier to weed out the bad apples and check into potential risks before taking one. However, scammers are smart people and artists desire plenty of reassurance and confirmation so beware of what happens to your work and your wallet before seeking any attention from those whom you don’t know.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Just a note that I am now officially on Facebook (Yes, your feet are cold because Hell is freezing over as you read this.) Not too sure how it all works but hope to increase traffic to my website, this blog and the studio....leading to the bank if I am lucky.

Women Eclectic at Gallery 6000, Kent State Stark


Not easy to gain access to, this space at the KSU Stark conference center is a great location for forcing art upon the unsuspecting public. Designed for business types and the occasional social event, the building has an elegant “lunchroom” so to speak that begs for something on the walls. Tom Wachunas comes to the rescue every few months and mounts a show of local talent so people can look at something other than each other.

The difficult part is timing your visit to see the show. I tried twice and figured out the best time is late afternoon, 3-5 pm or so when the business of “business” is winding down and the staff will gladly direct you to the gallery space. Turning on the lights must have required extra so I viewed it in natural light provided by the wall of windows. So if you want to see some good art, proudly invade their left brain Bastille and take some time enjoying the following gems. In the interest of full disclosure, 5 of my pastels are included in the show which I won’t “review” because that would be rather silly (after all darling, they are FAAAAbulous!). My five faces do act as a kind of audience for the works of the other artists, interspersed like built in spectators which I found rather fun. Pause for a commercial interruption---- A full exhibition of portraits will be at my solo show at Studio M opening Jan. 14, 2011 called “Fascinating Faces from Interesting Places”---and now back to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Let’s start with Kathryn Ackerman’s work, also the postcard image. Four of her pieces are in oil and one is in acrylic and the one I found to be exceptionally intriguing. Entitled “Behind the Iron Door”, it is a face that is rendered with depth and implied texture and text. To me, the message is of a woman from some eastern European culture imprisoned and numbered. What culture or generation does not matter as atrocities have occurred over there several times. It just touched me as a work with a strong message within its colors and fractured composition. Her other works are more fanciful and full of multiple images that had me wondering how she builds her compositions, by collage or happenstance or some other creative inspiration. They are complicated and full of color and highly detailed in spots showing a masterful use of the medium as oil can get a bit muddy and these pieces are fresh and robust.

Ronni Marcinkowey has large acrylic canvases in the show that jump off the walls with their scale of imagery and bold colors. One work was on the floor, having been perhaps knocked off or the victim of a broken wire, but I found it ironic because it was called “Green Peace” which I assumed to be about global warming. I did stoop down to see the rich texture of the leaves and the undulating surface reminiscent of a jungle. My favorites were “Pareo” and “Zen”, especially the latter for its freshness and depth of color. Hanging next to “Red Mary”, “Zen” was like looking through a microscope at a portion of the former. One has to get close to the surface to see the additional media added into the piece and making it all that much more exciting in its abstraction.

“Red Mary” is by Sarah Winther Shumaker, the last of us four artists in the show. She has the most variety in her presentations showing wax with watercolor, reverse collage, watercolor alone, encaustic and finally mixed media pieces. The encaustic works are very architectural in nature, reminding me of vignettes taken from a long lost Italian city, remnants of lives past. Though the contents are contemporary, the surface treatment gives the work an ancient feel. My absolute favorite is “All The Pretty Little Houses” a truly beautifully rendered watercolor that reads like batik. It has that watercolor sparkle which is so hard to obtain. Having spent 15 years working in watercolor myself (early career era), I can appreciate the difficulty of doing watercolor well. Even the lack of light did not detract from the simple power of the imagery and the purple mat around it, yippie!!, I like purple too and it compliment my “Tara” hung beside it.

I understand that the opening was well attended and thank all who came to support the artists. It is nice to have a space outside of the arts district and not in a formal gallery setting that shows the work of locals. Sometimes we have to bring the art to the public in order to get it noticed. Thanks for the show Tom.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Check this out...



Check out the posting about patch trading at the following site... http://www.gregnewbold.blogspot.com. He is a celebrity artist that designed the 100th Anniversary Boys' Life cover for Scouting. He has a great blog about art as well. He visited my booth at the Jamboree. A few moments before, I was also visited by Joseph Csatari who replaced Norman Rockwell in 1977 as the official artist of the BSA. Both photos appear here because they count towards my 15 minutes with famous people.

“Art” A Never Ending Journey at the Little Art Gallery



Wanda Montgomery, local icon of watercolor painting and workshops, has taken over the entire North Canton Little Art Gallery with her somewhat retrospective show that chronicles her journey from watercolorist to well….I’m not sure what word can capture all there is to see. There is one thing I did not see, and it is one of my top three personal peeves in the art world, and that is dates on work created. (My other two irritants are untitled art and art not signed by the artist on the piece itself. Both of which will warrant a posting at some point.) In a few moments I will elaborate on the stated peeve, but first, we must wander through Wandaland!

The sheer number of works is daunting to grasp all in one visit unless one has oodles of time. The number of media and processes represented are daunting too. There is jewelry, ceramics, mixed media creations and constructions, dolls, books, and watercolors. Not only are the items diverse, but so are the frames and methods of presentation that almost become a secondary statement along with the original.

I have to admit, I am no fan of brown, earth tones, grays or neutrals. Those colors sort of depress me so an innate bias exists right off the bat. I live in a house with a pink laundry room, purple bedroom, red kitchen, teal bath and a yellow office so brown is not even a part of my personal pallet. However, personal preferences aside, the show is consistent and strong in its presentation. And she is darn good at painting too, OWS signature status does not come easily. I am not a craft person either for a variety of reasons so I was drawn to her 2-D pieces right away. “Asian Invasion” is a large colorful canvas that seems to be reflected in many of the mixed media works, drawing color, pattern and textural inspiration. Its size, larger than most everything else, makes it feel like the mother ship for the rest of the show. I wanted to take the J12 kimono necklace out of the case and put it on the painting since it is the only canvas with no additional embellishment.

My favorite of the show is “2 ½ Pairs”, a pun after my own heart. 5 pears are lined up on a panel that is superb in its use of dimension, space, color, texture, scale, and composition, the essential bones of any true work of art. The viewer is drawn immediately to the back wall where it occupies prime real estate. Other gems include “Sax Man”, a simple painting in the showcase, “NY NY”, a small piece tucked into the corner alcove and “Catch me if you can” depicting a fish theme which reoccurs throughout the show.

What did I not like? The stupid kid on his wheelie shoes that was whizzing around the gallery oblivious to the inherent danger of knocking over a pedestal and his mom who did nothing about it nor seemed to realize it was not a good idea. I tried the sniff and snort with disgust technique to no avail. I tried the step into his space method only to get a glare from momma bear.

Finally, let’s get back to the issue of dating work. In a show such as this, I would have liked to have known what her earlier pieces were and in what succession did the new ones develop so I could look for growth and influences. Dating work allows people (especially if they purchase something) to know where a piece fits into the artist’s personal body of work. A date on the piece, along with a signature, tends to authenticate any work a bit more. In the juried show world, pieces often must be no more than 2 or 3 years old, but not dating a piece allows artists to submit works that are not fresh, but gets them in the show (resume builder) since the honor system is not always honorable. In 20 years, how will anybody know the year a piece was made? Paper records can be lost, but the date on the piece is its time stamp. Historians love dated works. I date all of mine by year on the canvas. In my personal records the order of works for that year is also recorded, it is my legacy of imagery. Paintings from the early years (2001+) have cell phones with antennas on them and some of the women wear big ear phones, remnants of times past. So in the case of this show, did the dolls come after the books or along with them? Did the jewelry grow out of the book covers or visa versa? Did the large undulating metal frame come after viewing the work of another local artist? These are the things I would like to know. Good work is good work, enjoyable to see and explore, I just like to know how it all fits together.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

BZTAT’s Downtown Cats


Canton’s Arts District has another new public art project added to its ever growing litany of creative wall coverings. Only in the last 6 months or so I have paid much attention to what is on the buildings besides signage and architectural details. Perhaps it is because some of the projects are not on the main drag and others are starting to deteriorate from weather conditions or lack of proper materials in their construction. Some of the installations are not to my liking and others fall into a different perspective, but I got to thinking about what is my role in the public part of public art? And for that matter, what is the public’s role in public art and do they know they are participating in it? Alas, I am far too devoid of energy after three weeks of very little sleep and much physical demand on my soon to be 50 year old physic so mental gymnastics to answer my own questions is out of the question right now. I am going to take the easy road and point out the obvious. When an artist is commissioned to do a public piece, you should expect to get “that” artist and their voice, vision or style. Perhaps a newbie to the art scene may stretch their style a bit to get that public commission job on the resume, but established and successful artists don’t have to go that route. BZTAT and cats are a synonymous and symbiotic relationship so when BZ (shortened from now on because I can’t keep hitting the TAT without messing up and backspacing) does a mural, you are gonna get cats. Don’t like cats? Then go apply for your own commission and do what you want to do, there are plenty of bare brick walls out there for everybody.

BZ is a self taught marketing and social networking genius. She knows her stuff, she knows her media and she knows how to make art work for the good of our society and for just good old fashioned making people feel good. Now this is where all you detractors jump right in with your under the breath comments about how it is not “art” and how it is too “commercial” and so forth, I have heard it along with many others. Funny how Britto and the that Blue Dog dude have gone commercial and are happily sipping mai tais at their tropical vacation homes so more power to those with the magic of marketing.

Okay, back to the Cats. No need to go into the specific details of the installation (size 4 x 8 feet), number of panels (4), names of cats and so forth, all of that has been in our local paper and can be found on her website and others. What I wish to call to your attention is the appropriateness of the installation for the location and the imagery itself. But in a slightly different perspective, allow me to turn over my keyboard to Ringo and Sadie (Tator’s), my two resident feline fans, and let them take over while I go take a much needed nap.

Ringo here, I don’t like people much, they scare me, so I don’t go outside but I did get to see a picture of the Downtown Cats on the computer (my only source of mouse action too). Big and colorful and graphically simple, these panels will appeal to the GP of all ages. Because the cats look back at us viewers, we can feel engaged with the piece. No deep thought processes required, which is good because my brain is the size of a walnut, but I think sometimes art should be about the very basics of line, shape, color, texture and space, the 5 building blocks I hear about all the time (other than get your tail out of my pallet!...and she is not nice about that one). I think art should make people stop and look at it, not like “what the heck is that piece of junk?” , but as in “that’s pretty, I like it, I wonder what else is around here?”. I suppose jk would not mind if I went into a dissertation about the historical nature of public murals and their social function, but I am polydactyl so typing is not fun. Pretty cool being a cat with thumbs however!

Tator’s take now….mind you I am rather grumpy from having been awoken from my nap. It is not easy to be lazy enough to gain 20 pounds so I have to work at it. I like the cats. They are all a bit skinny for my taste, but being an “it”, I don’t have any attraction to anything so who cares. The colors interest me most because they are not just flat. Most people miss that aspect of BZ’s work. Her colors are multi layered and planned out with thought to one showing through another and giving a glow to the edges of each color field which makes the images have depth and richness. Kudos to Cats getting their rightful place in a town that seems obsessed with dogs. Of course I could take out any of those little pooches with one sudden drop of my big fat furry behind. Enough said, I need another cat nap.

Congrats on your public piece BZ and may it draw much attention to your cause of animal rights and rescue.