Category Archives: Art everywhere

posts about artists and galleries

© BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

A dissenting opinion about selling Detroit’s public art collection

My initial gut feeling and my enduring general position is that the City of Detroit should sell off its art collection.

Strictly speaking, what the City of Detroit decides to do with its public art collection is none of my business as I’m Canadian. However, the phenomenon of large and valuable public art collections is universal across much of the world. As such there are some common characteristics that I do feel comfortable commenting on.

The problem with large valuable art collections is that they are tombs for the collected works. You the public will ever only see the very tip of the iceberg, even if you attend every exhibit at one of these large institutions during your entire life. A public art institution buying your work is most likely a death sentence for that work, but a nice addition to your pedigree. The worth through this relationship is thus largely removed from reality — conceptual and abstract for the artist and the public. To me, this is the same kind of instability produced through the financial system on perceived worth of bonds, stocks and futures. At some point, for the institution, the physical cost of housing, maintaining and documenting a large amount of work increased the value of a few works and the others depreciate because no one has ever heard of these artists or seen their work.

What selling this collection would do is allow most of this work to see the light of day again. This work could be disseminated across the world, allowing people to see it who would never have been able to see it otherwise. This is great news for the work and the artist(s) who made the work. It is not such great news for the institution that was hoarding it but how does or how should that affect our opinion? I feel it does affect most people’s perspective on this situation but I also think most people do not realize they are associating the art with an institution. An organization’s ambitions are not the same thing as important art works, though I think they want to be and we want somebody to be taking collecting art works seriously on our behalf. That’s cool but if we believe in collecting works we would be disingenuous to deny the collection of collections.

Another benefit would be the absence created by selling off an entire collection as presumably the institution would need to start collecting again. This is a great opportunity for artists and a great opportunity for cultural institution workers. Imagine the activity and spending that would happen that could be spun into economic feel good indicators.

In principle I also like the idea of demonstrating the worth of collecting art by selling it and paying off the debts incurred by business-oriented ideology. I think the US, as with many countries, already gets this idea and accepts the worth of art in society. Sadly, this last point may be a more useful albeit basic lesson for Canadian arts funding models.

My partner and I rolled out the spool of cable and set up the camera right in this aisle with grocery workers behind me and in plain site of the check out. I was curious to see if someone would say something as I am sure people take photos inside the store and they don't care, but my still poses and use of the cable prop changes this act. Maybe we were too quick but none of the employees seemed to care that much. The shopper behind me certainly didn't.

10 Selfies as Interventions

This was another rewarding exercise for my New Media Studio grad program. I’ve never done a sustained series of self-portraits, and being challenged to do so caused me to ponder how to compose these perhaps in a critical and new way (at least for me).

We had been looking at a lot of “selfies” so I decided to take more “anti-selfie” approach: instead of up close, I would far away from the camera. Instead of relying on the gesture of a raised arm with a camera pointed back at me, I decided to use a remote shutter release with a cord. Instead of framing the environment to be about me and my dominance of it, I wanted my presence to instead be awkwardly inserted into environments where people were busy doing other things.

What I call “Intervention Selfies” was born.

BONUS SELFIE:

I made an 11th meta-selfie with some of the other selfies I did not use. It’s pretty funny – can you find all the me’s? Do you really want to?

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A 10 photo based works from the last 3 years

This post is a school assignment for my class “New Media Studio” (hey everyone). As I understand this exercise, we are to post 10 photos that we’ve taken. Next week we are presenting another photo assignment of 10 works from around our neighbourhood.

Since quite a large part of my photographic practice is specifically about where I live, so I’ve decided to present 10 works that outside of this part of my work. I’ll save the local stuff and its sordid back-story for that next assignment.

This was a difficult but a very valuable endeavour. The tight constraint of choosing 10 interesting photo works over a scope of over three years was challenging but rewarding.

For example, after reviewing so much of my work as chronical narrative, I am starting to believe my relationship with photography is as activity, performance on par with gratifications of memory and communication.  Perhaps it was not an approach to create an object so much as a record of meaningful work.

I am pretty much a painter and drawer, even with a camera. Everything I do is composition and conceptual based and sacrifices any notion of being a window or representation in order to try to be interesting.

I don’t know how to use even use a proper camera and I look forward to picking up those technical skills and the chance to work with DSLRs. In the meantime, I’ve been working with my cell phones and whatever software I could hack or was free. Welcome to my digital image revolution.

I scanned the well worn path up the side of a mountain in Mexico with the panorama function of the iPhone 4s, happily stressing both its purpose and ability to render seamlessly. It is important to me at this point that my work is entirely captured, rendered and output through a mobile device and on location during one session.

For me, there are several classical and contemporary themes in the work, such as: the supernatural; a formal approach to landscape; a questioning of political / social issues involving digital topographical mapping; a spiritual journey reflecting on death. There are many other contemplations that are evoked for me when I engage the work, and hopefully there will be for the viewer as well.

I enjoy the compositions of the shadows and the rocks, as well as the idea of a digital shadow cast on real objects through a challenging process of documentation for both the tools and the artist. The stresses of this effort on the image and the human traces archived in the process are a very interesting for me.

As you can see in the previous work, I seem to like taking things apart and reassembling them in different presentations. Including landscapes and the idea of collage led to this kind of work of pulling stills from video I would take on trips and presenting them one by one. More maps of time and space. The below video is from a bus trip many would be familiar with between Hamilton and Toronto, and right through Ford Nation territory. As such, I named it “A Nation’s Official Landscape”. I like the blury smears of colour and the wiry trees and bleakness.  It reflects my astonishment of the landscape of southern Ontario consisting almost entirely of suburban sprawl and highways. This is our shared ceremonial landscape and I understand if you grew up in a populous region such as this it is not unusual. But it is for me and this is my way of showing you that, I think.

I also enjoyed the wide array of consumer level photo tools available, and continued to enjoy pushing them to stressful limits both conceptually and technically. I often made work through multiple exposures, layering, as I did with this series of photos from a protest in Hamilton. I made this anon because I wanted to focus on the mass of people as a formal study of light and landscape and not political.
Here’s a recent photo that I like a lot. It stresses the technology and is an interesting formal composition to me, as the paper border is broken only by my hand and a little leak of light at the bottom left hand corner. I think I am finding placing myself as evidence of framing my own photos is theme that is emerging.

Here’s another selfie. I like messing around with as many image capture and rendering apps as I can, so I tried to capture my head with a 3D object app. The result is simply simulacrum. I really want to do a whole series of this, whole bodies in groups. Somehow so each part is something you can turn and play with.

Again, I love the idea of imperfect transportation into the digital realm. Perhaps I have Tron envy.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading the post and thanks to my classmates and Professor for being my captive audience for this artist talk. I’ll take it when I can get it.

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[This is the first online exhibit of 2014] “How to become an abstract painter”

Welcome and congratulations on wanting to improve yourself.

All you need to start is a pre-existing figurative oil painting (can be substituted for acrylic – consult your Doctor) with an impasto flare to it. It should have at least one area that wants to leave the confines of the canvas.

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I used a still life painting of fruit that I did in 1994. At the time I was living in Montreal and going through chemotherapy. There were over 15,000 empty apartments in Montreal, so I was able to live in a loft in the old port even though I was a student. I lived beside a hydro facility with lots of wires and conductors. I took so long to do the painting that the fruit dried up and a wasp flew in through the open window and worried me.

Step 1: Preparing your Palette 

Try to use a painting with at least as interesting a backstory to it and follow the video tutorial below before proceeding to Step 2.

Step 2: The Basics

Are you done? Great!

Now it’s your turn to create a pile of the paint flakes on a neutral surface. Like this:

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Now zoom in close with your camera phone, pretending it is a wooden frame. You should end up with something that looks a bit like this:

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Don’t be afraid to take photos from different angles or mix up the paint chips a bit:

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Great! Now that you’ve got the basics of abstract painting down, we’ll move on to more advanced techniques.

Step 3: Advanced Techniques

Let’s pull that “wooden frame” out a bit to make use of negative space. Don’t be intimidated – the post-it note was invented from negative space. Steve Jobs was famous for creating negative space in the office, and so can you.

Again, express yourself by randomly mixing the paint flakes around a bit. Yes. Good. Like this:

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Look at you!

Now, let’s create some “dynamic energy” and spread our paint flakes even further, with an even larger lens. Don’t be concerned about reaching deep inside, but do keep children and small animals away from the designated creative area:

So beautiful. Don’t forgot to pin it with a link back to this tutorial.

Step 4: Master class

You are truly ready to unleash your inner artist. For this final segment, we’ll be using negative space combined with a circle shape. You may recognize a circle from your yoga class or from that power point presentation, but it has actually been used in many civilizations throughout history – and now it’s our turn!

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Give yourselves a pat on the back – now you are ready for a rich and rewarding hobby.

And don’t forget about the painting we started with! It’s now a new work too and should be mounted with glee:

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Here’s what we call a “detail”:

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Step 6: Art as an object

And that’s not the only new work you have – don’t forget about the paint chips themselves. They make a nice ornament if you put them in a glass container. I’ve used a round jar so it will go well with the circles from our master class:

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Questions or comments? Please let us know below – and we would love to see how your home abstract paintings turn out, so please feel free to share in the comments as well.

What I have learned from grad school so far

This is the best single example of this relationship so far.  From my slide deck presentation for Communications Research Methodology on Chapman & Sawchuk’s “creation research”  (Canadian Journal of Communications) and *unexpectedly* put together for me by Google+ during automatic archiving from my phone.

Happy 2014 everyone! Make art not oil.

4-up on 12-19-2013 at 5.58 PM (compiled)

Artist Superpower: Shipping & Receiving

Don’t you think this is the most important skill that is not a skill? I do.

Sometimes I wonder if there is a correlation between being a “good shipper” and artistic success. Obviously, this is true for online art sales. My point is you probably are held back if you can’t pack it or rack it efficiently.

Don’t look at me. I suck at that and, frankly, am intimidated by the whole process.  When I actually get around to packing something its never that bad. But its definitely not great either.

I  have some artist friends who are fanatical about packing. They’ll build a crate for a week. They are such nice crates one keeps the crate forever. Me, I just started to use paper and work with digital prints more.

Even just the act of postcards or stuffing envelopes and actually going to the post office is simply not to be underestimated.  International? You are at the mercy of a series of several shipping challenges which are so little appreciated and understood by me that they are impossible to describe here.

Speaking for myself, I think having a personal delivery drone would help. Then I could tell it to deliver hand written exhibition invitations so I would not have to ship work.

A cool idea might be to turn a drone into an actual gallery. It  flies around at art festivals holding a work, for example.  I would have to pack it in carefully constructed crates in order to send it to galleries and festivals around the world. Ah, forget it.

I wish I was better at shipping and receiving.