Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Next Up!

Among whatever else I have going on in the studio, I also have a specific project in mind to work on: a book about Love Canal. It's a neighborhood in my city, Niagara Falls, NY, that was discovered to have been built on top of a toxic waste site and came to international attention in the 1970s thanks to a grass roots effort by a housewife named Lois Gibbs.

I have been fascinated by what remains on the site for many years now, and have seen it transform into an increasingly wild area spotted with the very occasional house still standing and occupied. I'm not sure exactly how I want to approach this. I'd likely let my photos speak for themselves, but considering that I do also enjoy writing, I'd also like to compose accompanying text.

I'm thinking about trying to interview the current occupants of the remaining houses. I'd really like to do that, in fact. I've been so curious about why they decided to stay all these years. Or maybe they are people who bought real estate dirt cheap and decided to risk contamination in exchange? One house I've noticed even keeps a large vegetable garden.

Incidentally, wildlife seems to be thriving there, at least the plants, trees, and birds I've seen.

Last weekend I drove around and took a few photos.


Here is one painting that didn't make it into my show at Betty's (it didn't really fit—I had planned to make other quilt paintings and just ended up focusing more on the houses). The inspiration for it was one of the so-called "cutter" quilts I bought recently. A cutter quilt is one that has been so loved and well-used that it is falling apart in places... and they can be had for not very much money, as one might imagine. But, that status doesn't lessen the fact that their beautiful colors and patterns remain, even if some are faded or deteriorated. I obviously take a lot of liberties in my interpretation... I'm not interested in creating a realistic rendering but rather to showcase the aspects of the quilts that dazzled me so much in a more simplified, graphic manner.

This painting is 16" x 16", acrylic on canvas.


By the way, the opening for my show at Betty's went really well. So many people came out to show support, and I got lots of great, interesting feedback. Even sold one piece, and have interest in a couple others! That's always nice. Working with Kathy Sherin, the curator, was great. She really has a wonderful eye for grouping works together and making the show feel really cohesive. Unfortunately, I totally forgot to take photos. If anyone has any I'd be grateful if you'd share!

That said, I am glad it's out of the way and will be hanging through July. Next up is my show at ArtMission in Binghamton, where I'll be showing more house paintings—the batch that are already made (including the Betty's paintings, and the ones languishing in New Hampshire) plus some new ones, too. Exciting! But I am glad to have a break from any major art activity, aside from studio work.

Speaking of which, I am starting a two-week vacation on Friday! You can bet that I will be happy to spend a good portion of that time in the studio... I can't wait.

Friday, May 14, 2010



I have been busy in the studio getting ready for my show opening on Monday... but I haven't been posting any works in progress, or finished work. Part of me is dying to share what I've been doing, but I have been feeling strangely protective of it until it's actually hanging in public.

The reason? I want it to be a surprise.

Silly, I guess. But true.

Last night one of the paintings I was working on, one of the houses titled, Wrong Place, Wrong Time, is getting really gorgeous. I found myself really falling in love as the evening went by and I got more layers on it. It's funny how the ones that are rather homely in their beginnings, and even in "adolescence", turn out to be the best works.

It's an amazing process, the development of a painting. Which is why I keep doing it.


I also really noticed my development as an artist in a very palpable way last night as I was working. The way I work, the colors I gravitate toward, the qualities that are important to me... all have changed quite a lot since I entered grad school. It's taken some time, but it's so interesting to me how my work has become this hybrid of the representational and the abstract. And how concise I've become with the brush. I love painting edges, or making a curve just so. I'm starting to lose the drips, which is probably a good thing. (Bingyi's comment those months ago really stuck with me, I admit it, but now... I think she was right.)

Last night I was thinking about Alex Katz and Giorgio de Chirico, not for his surrealist tendencies as much as for his architecture and light and economy.

Alex Katz.

Giorgio de Chirico.