Sunday, November 30, 2008

Art Space Talk: Casey Ann Wasniewski

Casey Ann Wasniewski received her Master's Degree from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. She is an accomplished contemporary artist, concentrating mainly in a fiber medium. Her work is painstakingly detailed, paying special attention to texture and color. The artist uses horsehair and yards and yards of wool yarn, which she hand-dyes, and later, meticulously hand-embroiders using the highly three-dimensional "French Knot" stitch. The knots are then skillfully manipulated and hand-sewn into abstract and organic-like structures. Like the layers of cells comprising the organs in our bodies, such is each piece a massive conglomeration of "French Knot" stitches. This accumulation of knots creates density and overall form of the pieces. Horsehair creates a decidedly dirty and fleshy quality. Ms. Wasniewski's sculptures have shown around the country, including Pennsylvania, Florida, New Mexico.
Preternatural #4, Dimensions: 37" X 11" X 11"; Medium: Wool, Horsehair, and Industrial Felt. In the corner, far away from sight, lives this, growing, feeding, living, we tend to think of these things, these dark ugly corners, in the house, forest, bottom of the ocean, are disgusting and yet, we can not keep our eyes off them, they intrigue us.
Preternatural #4 (detail)

Brian Sherwin: Casey you studied at the School of the Art Institute Can you briefly discuss that experience? How did it impact you as an artist? Did you have any influential instructors?

Casey Wasniewski: I received my BFA and MFA from SAIC which took five years, it flowed by so fast, and I got on that river and took in everything I could possibly take in, learning bits and pieces of history, literature, and technique. I embraced those moments of fragmented thoughts, learning process, and took in the energy of all the working professional artists around me. The community that exists in such an institution is intense and full of free-flowing ideas and thoughts.

At the time, when I was emerged in the flow of things I didn't really think about how it truly impacted me, although three years out of it, I would say that at the time I couldn't really articulate what I was doing, and now working as an artist, out of that institutionalized community, I look back and take those things I once had, and apply them to my current life. I have found a community like that of the institution and can go back to what things truly inspired me to work/create, taking out books/notes/ thoughts from all those years, adding to the pile, learning new things that I never had time for. I use the knowledge and the practice I embraced then and use it on a daily basis, sharing and bouncing ideas off of the tight-knit community that I am surrounded by. I think knowledge is a moving target, and it follows you wherever you go, and life at SAIC showed me that.

I have had many really influential instructors, Anne Wilson opened my mind to deep philosophical ideas, and techniques, for which I have always looked up to. Park Chambers stuck with me, making my mind turn in all kinds of directions he was not afraid to tell me things were not working or I was to linear. Francis Whitehead, opened my mind to the conceptual world, and through working on a project in South Carolina showed me the ways of research and organizing thoughts. Through a Co-op at SAIC, For the past 6 years, I have had the pleasure of studying textile conservation with Frank Connet,with whom I have had a long relationship with. He taught me things, ways of life, cultural histories, and preservation techniques.
Brobdingnagian Caliginous Substratum Scarum, Side View, Dimensions: 18" X 45" X 22"; Medium: Wool, Horsehair, and Industrial Felt
Brobdingnagian Caliginous Substratum Scarum (detail)
The colors in this piece, while brighter than most of Casey's other works are still hand-dyed. This shot shows, the extreme detail of the "French Knot" The embroidery stitch used to create this texture.
BS: Casey your primary focus is the utilization of fiber mediums within the context of your work. Thus, texture plays an important role with your creations. Can you discuss some of the materials you have used and perhaps give some detail about your process in general?

CW: The materials I use are simple natural yarns, silks and wools; embroidered together, knot after knot, an accumulation of knots on top of a thick piece of felt. My hand and needle punctures, pulls, folds, and shapes the felt intuitively by the knotting process. Texture to me is a sensation, it is important as it is something you can feel, something your hands want to touch and your mind wants to investigate.

One straight needle, and a line of soft delicate yarn takes flight through my fingertips, wrapping around the sharp metal needle, going into the dense wool felt over and over, at moments the multiplicities of other materials such as horse hair and goat hair enter the pieces; becoming animal. The process is a meditative state, where the hands take flight and the mind moves in semiotic chains.
Vehement Flavescent Ilk 1 & 2, Dimensions: 12.5" X 27" X 4"; Medium: Wool, Horsehair, and Industrial Felt. The microscope goes into a realm of bright biology. Specimens so bright and vivid, they must not be taken from nature, or should they? At the bottom of every jungle or forest there are moments so bright, so full of life, they become a mystery.

Vehement Flavescent Ilk (detail)

BS: You have stated the following, " Sometimes we think we know something but we only know it in the most abstract way which means we may not know it at all". Can you go into further detail about that?

CW: Kiki Smith said in an interview, " I think art is just a way to have an opportunity to think about things." One can enter my work in many ways, taking it as a whole, concentrating on an area or focusing on a point of rupture. Each fragment of the whole holds different intellectual and emotion thoughts for me. If one looks for literal in my work, they will not find it, because those abstracted ideas of fragmented semiotic chains will take flight, into a world of the poetic imagination.

The work is not just an abstraction of one literal thing, it is an abstraction of multiplicities and some can take those multiplicities in entirely different directions which is the most interesting thing about working in the abstract, it has a variable we may never know.

BS: Your work tends to explore opposites- for example, repulsion and attraction. Would you say that your utilization of these contradictions are a reflection of how you perceive humanity? What are the specific social implications of your work?
CW: I think humanity is a beautiful thing, there are white and black areas, but there are also vast amounts of grey. By exploring these opposites there is room to think about those fragmented moments in-between ,i.e. the grey areas . There is a lot of good and bad, repulsion and attraction but for me it is those moments in-between, those grey areas, that we are not accustom to that intrigues me the most. Art often imitates what nature can no longer do.

Pellucid Ecumenical Quietus #1,2,3. Dimensions: 12.5" X 41.5" X 4"; Medium: Wool and Industrial Felt. Water, Maps, Constant shift in the material landscape. Yellowish blue, pollution? Beauty? A landscape, a movement, Glaciers melting? Forever lost. White is silent, white is mourning, white is death for the life of a coral.

Pellucid Ecumenical Quietus (detail)
BS: So Is there a specific message that you strive to convey to viewers and if so, what is it?

CW: The world is a Rhizome in essence; each creature runs in its own line of flight. One can enter a piece of artwork and follow it into the poetic imagination of the artists or of themselves, taking a journey into the sensuous unconscious.

BS: With all this in mind… Can you discuss your current work and the goals you have for it?

CW: Be like the river constantly flowing in different directions. The goal is to create an environment with multiple entry ways and like the river it flows from there, taking space, philosophy, and art into consideration, and well going with the flow of things, moment by moment.

BS: Finally, where can our readers view your work in person? Will you be involved with any up coming exhibits?

CW: I was absolutely flattered to have been one of the 50 finalists for the myartspace.com Bridge Art Fair winners, so I will be shown on screen over there, and I will also be at a satellite show, PooL Art Fair

Miami: PooL Art Fair ROOM 209
A show called: n-Literal ( n(minus) Literal)
Artists: Casey Ann Wasniewski and Scott Gruss

I of course have a myartspace.com page, as well as a website www.caseyannwasniewski.com. In January I will be having a solo show, at the Brickton Art Center in Des Plaines, IL , please check the website for more information .
You can learn more about Casey Ann Wasniewski by visiting her website-- www.caseyannwasniewski.com. Casey is a member of the myartspace community-- www.myartspace.com/caseyannwasniewski. You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page-- www.myartspace.com/interviews.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor

Art Space Talk: Christina Massey

Christina Massey was born and raised in Northern California where she studied painting and printmaking becoming an award-winning graduate before moving to New York City to pursue her Art career. Described by some as a Neo Conceptualist, her work often uses humor and theatrics to involve the viewer in anti-establishment rhetoric through the use of word play in her titles.

Massey has produced multiple series of works including everything from conceptual abstract paintings to public interactive works negating the gallery completely. Works, though often making a statement about Art as a whole, revolve around the subject of painting in particular through her process and use of materials. The installation process itself is often a political commentary more geared toward the non-art educated viewer. Donations are often made to various charities through her sales.
Wrinkled 14, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 34" W x 28" H x 3" D, 2006.

Brian Sherwin: Christina, you studied at London Metropolitan University and at California State University. Can you briefly tell us about your academic background and how it impacted you as an artist? For example, did you have any influential instructors? Was art school a positive or negative experience?

Christina Massey: College for me was a very positive experience, but it was my decision to minor in Theater Set Design that impacted me as an Artist more than any Art Course or professor did. Working in the Theater Department taught me to think on a larger scale, to think about the power of language and audience participation. More importantly, this allowed me to step out of the shoes of an Artist so to speak, and view the Art Department from another point of view.

BS: In your work you utilize humor and theatrics to involve the viewer in anti-establishment rhetoric through the use of word play in your titles. Can you discuss this and perhaps describe some of the thoughts and motives that inspire you to create art as you do?

CM: That "ah ha!" moment when a viewer makes a connection with the work is what makes me feel successful as an Artist. I love to exhibit in spaces where a more diverse audience than the typical gallery-goer crowd gets to see and interact with the work. I strive to reach a wide audience and if that connection is made through a smile, an "oh I get it" moment, even better. It's those moments that inspire me to create the work I do.

Wrinkled 39, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 12" W x 12" H x 3" D, 2008

BS: Originally you focused more on figurative abstraction with an interest in futurism, correct? Eventually you broke from that path and started to create flesh-like abstract paintings instead. You titled that series the Dead Series. I understand that the Dead Series was the catalyst for your current work. Can you go into further detail about that? What spurred your change in direction?

CM: Yes, much of my early work was figurative. Ironically, the figures were typically trying to escape their frames. The "Dead Paintings" series was a break through in terms of not doing what was expected of me. Though the desire to change my style and direction was already there, after 9/11 like many people, I rethought what direction and path I wanted to take my life and work.

BS: Tell us more about the social implications reflected within the context of your work. What are the specific messages that you strive to convey to viewers when they observe your art?

CM: Different installations will focus around different social aspects, but always using those general social observances to demonstrate and relate them to those of the Art World. Each installation, though different in theme, always revolves around the concept of connection as base. I use painting as a process to communicate and de-construct the "us" and "them;" the artist: dealer, art educated and not, 3D artist: 2D artist, new and old. This has been addressed through traditionally hung wall paintings to large installations, always using the same format of painting to communicate the conceptual process.
Wrinkled 22, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 16" W x 16" H, 2007.
BS: Tell us more about your process… perhaps you can select a piece and discuss how it came into being as far as the materials and methods that you utilized? For example, do you work intuitively or do you prefer a strict work ethic when focusing on the creative process?

CM: My work is very constructive/deconstructive. I create work intuitively, always in the mind set that the first approach will be the end result, though this is not often the case. Somewhere in the middle of the process of creating the work, I'll get an idea to do something completely different. The work that had initially seemed completed, I see through a new set of eyes how that work could be used more powerfully in another form, even if this means "destroying" the original work.
For example, the "Meat Market" series was entirely constructed out of previous paintings. The fact that those paintings had to be "killed" in order to make the installation only enhanced the overall concept, making it stronger than the paintings had stood previously alone.

BS: You have been described as a Neo Conceptualist. What are your thoughts on that and art world labels in general? Do you embrace titles, labels, and so on… or do you try to avoid being pinned down to any specific box, so to speak?

CM: I prefer to stay in that "gray" area that defies any particular label. My work is somewhere between painting and sculpture, craft and fine art, abstract and representational. As long as I can continue to surprise people with new work and not become predictable, people can label my work however they like.
Wrinkled 17, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 2006.

BS: Speaking of the art world, what are the specific concerns that you have about the art world at this time?

CM: One concern is that much of the Art that gets the most attention is all drawn from the same sources. Diversification is a new concept to the Art World, and one that I feel needs to continue to grow. Not simply in terms of gender and race, but also from various income levels and educational backgrounds.

BS: I understand that you have been an advocate for a few charities and have used your work as a vehicle for raising funds, so to speak. In your opinion, why is it important for artists to use their work for this form of change?


CM: So many Artists love to make comments on social awareness issues through their Art, and often tend to fall a little short in terms of their own actions. Like the old saying, lead by example, not just talking about it. In my opinion, doing so only educates yourself more on the topic, but also adds more validity to your point.

Wrinkled 21, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 18" W x 18" H, 2007.

BS: Christina, where can our readers view your work in person? Will you be involved with any upcoming shows?


CM: I've just begun a new series of work that I want to fine tune before I'm ready to exhibit it. So the majority of my energy is being devoted to that. Though, that having been said, due to some recent international interest, I'm also researching opportunities to exhibit in various cities in South Korea and Japan.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the goals that you have?

CM: Just that I'm thankful you enjoyed it enough to feature on your blog!
You can learn more about Christina Massey by visiting her website--http://cmasseyart.googlepages.com. Christina is currently a member of the myartspace community-- www.myartspace.com/christinamassey. You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page-- www.myartspace.com/interviews.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Eric Beltz's Good Land


Eric Beltz
"By this Axe I Rule"
2008
Graphite on Bristol
27 1/2 x 23 inches


"All conservation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish."
-Aldo Leopold


The exquisitely rendered graphite drawings included in "The Good Land," Eric Beltz's recent exhibition at Morgan Lehman Gallery, are sophisticated responses to our American folkways and myths. As darkly funny as they are disarmingly earnest, the graphic works are both exhortations and critiques of our nation's inborn exceptionalism and romanticism.

Of particular interest to Beltz is our American relationship to landscape. In "By This Axe I Rule," a contemplative outdoorsman sits on a tree stump, ax in hand. The bodies of a white-tailed deer, a moose, a opossum, a raccoon and other animals are partially concealed by snow drifts at his feet; a turkey vulture is perched above, wings spread. The man bears a striking resemblance to renowned ecologist Aldo Leopold. The likeness may be coincidental, but is nonetheless pertinent. 2008 is the 60th anniversary of Leopold's death. Like Henry David Thoreau and John Muir, Leopold is a lodestar for many contemporary environmentalists. His "A Sand County Almanac," published posthumously in 1949, remains a critical conservation text.

Unlike Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," the 1962 bestseller that catalyzed the modern environmental movement, Leopold's "Almanac" is not a call for corporate and federal responsibility. Although Leopold would surely support such measures, his book is principally concerned with our reforging an intimate connection to the landscape we inhabit. "We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in," he wrote.

It's noteworthy that Leopold's faith is not of the starry-eyed variety; his "land ethic" includes hunting, controlled burns and other practices typically condemned by preservationists. Contrary to the romantic conception of wilderness, Leopold's ethic acknowledges that the tools invented by humans (the saws, shovels, axes, picks and pitchforks that figure prominently in Beltz's drawings) are not simply cruel agents of mastery. Humans are animals and, as such, we are not apart, but rather a part of a complicated, messy ecology. No matter how we manipulate our environment, dominion remains a comforting delusion.

Yet most of us do not conceive Nature in this way. Just as we distinguish between the self and the group, so too do we draw a hard-line distinction between humanity and the “natural world.” William Cronon, a respected, if controversial environmental historian, argues that we must alienate ourselves from Nature before it can be understood as something pristine, virgin or more wild than ourselves. In his celebrated 1983 book, “Changes in the Land”, Cronon reveals the quixotic quality of preservationist impulse.
"If the nature of Concord [Massachusetts] in the 1850s - a nature which many Americans now romanticize as the idyllic world of Thoreau's own Walden - was as 'maimed' and 'imperfect' as he said, what are we to make of the wholeness and perfection which he thought preceded it? It is tempting to believe that when the Europeans arrived in the New World they confronted Virgin Land, the Forest Primeval, a wilderness which had existed for eons uninfluenced by human hands. Nothing could be further from the truth....the land was less virgin than it was widowed. Indians had lived on the continent for thousands of years, and had to a significant extent modified the environment to their purposes…The choice is not between two landscapes, one with and one without a human influence; it is between two human ways of living, two ways of belonging to an ecosystem."
The preservationists' dualistic attitude (i.e., Humanity vs. Nature) provides only simple answers to our complex questions. By contrast, Beltz’s allegorical drawings shirk simplistic moralizing in favor of contradiction, ambivalence and multiplicity. His scenes speak to an active communion with Nature, albeit one that includes suffering, death and a melancholy nod to the essential absurdity of existence. By turns, Beltz eulogizes, champions and satirizes Thoreau's self-sufficiency and Andrew Wyeth's rural romanticism.


Eric Beltz
"Hysteria"
2008
Graphite on paper
17 x 13 3/4 inches


Beltz critiques America's religious and economic landscape, as well. Four of his drawings comprise a series entitled “Back to Eden.” In each, a headless body clothed in overalls, workman boots and a shirt with rolled up sleeves – the uniform of the outdoorsman-farmer - is slumped in or alongside a pile of cut logs and other vegetation. Above each of these tableaus, Beltz has written one word in cursive: Asthma; Hysteria; Cancer; Delirium.

Considering the series, I recall Adam Smith’s ignored admonition concerning the dangers of loosely regulated capitalism. Smith, the 18th century Scottish philosopher best known for his influential treatise "The Wealth of Nations," is canonized by contemporary capitalists for laying down the principals of free market economics, but he entertained doubts and acknowledged the shadows cast by such a system.

"Power and riches," Smith wrote, "are immense fabrics, which it requires the labor of a life to raise, which threaten every moment to overwhelm the person that dwells in them, and which, while they stand, can protect him from none of the severer inclemencies of the season. They keep off the summer shower, not the winter storm, but leave him always as much and sometimes more exposed than before to anxiety, to fear and to sorrow, to diseases, to danger and to death." Smith’s misgivings were warranted. Contemporary life is rife with social ailments and, in combination with our alienation from Nature, secular capitalism is a principal causative factor.

Curiously, free market capitalism is close kin to Manifest Destiny, the divine doctrine of conquest and consumption. Capitalism is exported with no less zeal than our cruel spread west from the colonies. Harriet Beecher Stowe, the 19th century novelist best remembered as an outspoken proponent of abolition, wrote that America is "a nation specifically raised up by God to advance a cause of liberty and religion." She did not say “liberty of religion.” America was founded by Protestant fundamentalists fleeing religious persecution in Europe. Arriving on these contested shores, they took names like Ezekiel, Jacob, and Issac, and likened their journey to the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. These religious settlers are the forebears of a great many contemporary Americans.

Appropriately, Beltz’s drawings incorporate Biblical texts and his subjects are recognizable as America's founding fathers and God-fearing, anonymous farmers. But Beltz draws from a peculiarly American well, the proverbial melting pot. Each drawing is suffused with currents of Eastern philosophy and shamanism. His farmers and historical figures are also mystics. American philosophy is more plural than we care to admit, and Beltz's admixture of East and West, allegory and history, supernatural and natural is a fair reckoning. (American transcendentalism, for example, the philosophy so vital to Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, was a hybrid of Protestant Unitarianism, Romanticism, Hinduism and European intellectualism.)


Eric Beltz
"Tree of the Evil Eagle"
2008
Graphite on paper
40 x 30 inches


Still, the Bible is the first book of the United States, and many Americans regard the Constitution and founding fathers with astonishing reverence (to the extent that, in some circles, the former is sacrosanct). But documents and philosophies are of a particular time. Guarded by strict interpreters, the Constitution of the United States can become as regressively dogmatic as any primary religious text. Without thoughtful interpretation of Constitutional scripture, the significance and relevance of the founding fathers' enterprise will wane.

But most Americans (politicians and citizens alike) are in the business of denying the inevitable, be it the death of a loved one, an unregulated economy or an ideology. Rather than confront our heavy history (and with it our future), the United States cloaks itself in exceptionalism. We remove ourselves from a fact-based historical narrative so that the road to future success is understood as an unyielding continuation of the present, divinely-ordained course. Like the empires that rose and fell before us, America's clarity of vision is obscured by global power and a history that privileges mythic glory over fact. Because we make history, many of our leaders feel strongly that we don't need to know it. Moreover, the history we make is irreproachable because it is consecrated.

Yet the secular capitalist world view strives to replace religion and the supernatural with consumerism. Manifest Destiny Version 3.0 is not ordained by God so much as by the Almighty dollar. And the replacement worked, more or less. The secular capitalist model is today the global standard. But sociologists, anthropologists and, now, some neuroscientists agree that the substitution is inadequate. This deficiency is most apparent in a religious nation like the United States, where fundamentalism and cultism, reactionary responses to the secular world, are thriving. Despite our founding fathers' dismissal of the New Testament's Book of Revelation (Thomas Jefferson described it as "the ravings of a maniac"), a 2002 CNN/Time magazine poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe the prophecies therein are real and that the gruesome judgment of the Second Coming is imminent. James Watt, former President Reagan's Secretary of the Interior, is among that majority. He famously stated that protecting our nation's natural resources was not a priority because Jesus Christ would return only "after the last tree is felled."

Yet some fundamentalists are more fair-minded. They focus instead on the Bible's call for stewardship, and argue that the success or failure of the environmental movement depends on which interpretation gains the upper hand. Will we embrace a dominionist or stewardship theology?

The crux of that question is the American notion of wilderness. Cronon writes, "the flight from history that is very nearly the core of wilderness represents the false hope of an escape from responsibility, the illusion that we can somehow wipe clean the slate...and return to the tabula rasa that supposedly existed before we began to leave our marks on the world...Non-use is not an option: to live in nature is to use and change it by our presence. The choice we face is not to leave no marks - that is impossible - but rather to decide what kinds of marks we wish to leave."


Eric Beltz
"The Good Land"
2008
Graphite on paper
30 x 40 inches


Beltz's meticulously rendered works don't offer any answers, but neither do they shrug off the dilemma. With a richly ironic sensibility and a sensitivity to the complexities of our national character and (natural) history, Beltz embraces our clusterfuck approach even as he skewers it. "The Good Land" is sublimely ambivalent.

Photo credit: all images ripped from the artist's website

(Note: This post originally appeared on the art blog, Hungry Hyaena.)

Art Space Talk: Daniel Oglander

Daniel Oglander’s interest in creating visual art was nurtured at a very early age. Oglander was born into a family of visual artists. His work involves meshing aspects of photography and painting together. Oglander derives most of his material from abandoned buildings. In a sense, he gives new life to the images he finds in books and magazines that have been disposed of-- the meaning is open to the interpretation of viewers. Of his work Daniel states, “I have all of these impulses when I work and I just do it. My process is chaotic and colorful. Usually a "clean" image of a human is transferred over the mess of color underneath. This is meant to represent the facade most people put forth, when inside there is a lot more going on.”
Brian Sherwin: Daniel, I understand that you are from a very artistic family-- in fact, you share a website with several of your family members. Can you tell us about that experience? For example, do you exhibit together?

Daniel Oglander: My family is very unique. Usually parents are "Normal" and the kids end up rebelling against the adults. I always thought my parents were cool. My brother and I embraced their ideals instead of rebelling; it worked out nicely for both parties. Eva, my mother, is a potter/graphic designer and the Rock of the family. My dad Gary is an abstract painter and a super cool dude. My younger brother Eric is a mixed media artist who is currently living in San Miguel, Mexico. The "Oglanders" are a team.
We live and create together on pretty much a daily basis. Almost every room in our house has been converted into "shared" studio space. My mother's pottery studio is the same place where my brother and I paint. The electric kiln is in the garage along with wood working tools metal scraps, fertilizer, bikes, and other random shit. The gas kiln is just outside the garage in the driveway. My dad's paintings are pretty big so he paints outside on the deck...when it's nice. If its raining He'll just pin a canvas to the wall and paint there.
On the occasions when we have exhibited together, our house turns into controlled chaos. But we make it work. It's kind of like a family of musicians performing together. But, A family of visual artist putting together a show is something different and special in it's own right.

BS: Can you go into further detail about the connection you have with your family as far as your artistic growth is concerned?

DO: Basically, I grew up in art school. There were always plenty of pencils, crayons, pastels, paint, clay, ink, string, glue, all of which ended up on the walls, couch, or even on my moms Chevy Nova...sorry mom. My creativity was nurtured every step of the way by my parents. After high school, I decided I wanted to go to a "real" art school. In six months I had dropped out. My parents were better teachers.
Oh, but they don't pull punches. I'll walk upstairs with a brand new painting I've just done, show it to my mom, and she'll say "It sucks"...but, here's why it sucks and this is what you should do. We are constantly bouncing ideas off of one another and learning new techniques. One of us will go to a workshop or class, come back, and teach the rest of us what we've learned. Our goal is to continually evolve and inspire each other as artists and as people. In case you were wondering, I love my family.

BS: Aside from your family… are you influenced by other specific artists? Tell us more about your influences…

DO: Hmmm. As far as other artist go, I've been looking at Jenny Seville. The Nurse series of Richard Prince. And De Kooning just for a few color ideas. What really influences me, though, is life in general: the random occurrences, happenings, discoveries, all of it. I derive most of my material from abandoned buildings. There is something about taking an image out of a book or magazine that someone left years ago and breathing new life into it.

BS: Now… about your specific body of work-- I noticed that you use pop culture references, but there is also a foreboding sense about your work. Tell us about the thoughts behind your art…

DO: My ideas are constantly changing. The one constant in my work is images of people. I've always been intrigued by human beings- our nature, why we do or don't do certain things, why we treat people of different classes, races or creeds in dissimilar ways. We all have layers. Each of us has parts of ourselves that shine through and other things that we like to keep in the shadows.

BS: So what are the social implications of your work? Do you strive to convey a specific message to viewers?

DO: When I sit down to do a painting my goal is not to broadcast my views in any particular way. If you can see something in my work, that's great. If you don't, well, then look at something else. I am extremely passionate about what I do. If you can find that message in my work then I've done my job.

BS: Would you say that you adhere to a certain philosophy as far as your work is concerned?

DO: Creating art is hard wired into my brain. I can't do anything else. I've been making art for as long as I can remember. My philosophy is enjoy every moment. Follow your bliss. Don't sweat the small stuff. I am genuinely happy almost all day -- minus the five minutes before I take that first sip of coffee.

BS: Can you give our readers some insight into your current work? What are you working on at this time?

DO: All of my art hinges on my ability to "discover" new material. I don't buy my images, they are all either from books found in abandon buildings or photos I've taken. I was recently in Mexico visiting my brother and his girlfriend. We decided to go for a walk through the town and stumbled upon an abandoned compound of buildings. Inside one of the buildings was an enormous pile of books, magazines, letters and pictures. I spent the next three days of my vacation sorting through this treasure trove...I found two dead rats one squirrel and enough material to last me a few years! I'm surprised I didn't get the Junta Virus from inhaling all that rat shit. Most of my new work will be centered around that new material found in mexico.

BS: What about exhibits? Will you be involved with any upcoming exhibits?

DO: I am currently working on a piece for an exhibit at the Nashville airport. Each one of my family members has been given quite a large space to fill . I'm planning on doing a grid consisting of 60 or so small pieces to form one large image. Its the first time I've ever attempted such a large piece. The dimensions will be 20'x10'. I have to finish this piece before January 15. Kinda freaking out.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the goals that you have?

DO: Right now I'm just interested in making good paintings and having fun. If I end up getting some measure of success and respect that would be the cherry on top.
You can learn more about Daniel Oglander by visiting the following website--http://web.mac.com/oglanderart. Daniel is currently a member of the myartspace community--www.myartspace.com/danieloglander. You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page-- www.myartspace.com/interviews.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Myartspace / Bridge Art Fair Announce the Winners and Finalists of Joint Miami Competition

The three winners and 50 finalists of the Miami competition sponsored by www.myartspace.com and Bridge Art Fair have been announced! The three winners are-- Jonathan Brilliant, Beatrix Reinhardt, and Douglas Ljungkvist. The jury panel for the competition included: Elisabeth Sussman-- Senior Curator at The Whitney Museum, Janet Bishop-- Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), JoAnne Northrup-- Senior Curator at the San Jose Museum of Art and Michael Workman-- Founder of the Bridge Art Fair. The three winners will be represented by myartspace at Bridge Miami this December.
First Place Winner: Jonathan Brilliant
Jonathan David Brilliant describes himself as a Southern Has-been and a British Wanna-Be. He was born in 1976 in Charleston, South Carolina. Brilliant holds a B.A. in studio art from the College of Charleston and an M.F.A. in Spatial arts from San Jose State University.In addition to site specific installations, Brilliant works in video, photography, digital imaging and googles himself regularly. He currently lives and works in South Carolina with his wife Brooke and their cat Zero. To read an interview with Jonathan, click HERE.

Second Place Winner: Beatrix Reinhardt
Beatrix Reinhardt was born in Wolgograd/Russia and grew up in former East Germany. Presently she resides in NYC where she teaches at the College of Staten Island/CUNY. She received her M.F.A. in photography from Illinois State University, her M.A. in Media Studies from the New School for Social Research and her B.A. in New German Literature (minors: linguistics and psychology) from the Freie Universit't Berlin. She has taught widely in Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. Reinhardt's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. To read an interview with Beatrix, click HERE.

Third Place Winner: Douglas Ljungkvist
Douglas Ljungkvist was born in Gothenburg, Sweden. Mr Ljungkvist was a former advertising executive who decided to leave his corporate career to become an artist. Douglas describes himself... "I am a self-taught Brooklyn based photographer, originally from Sweden. Photography for me is all about self expression. My goal is to capture images that leave the viewer with more questions than answers, inviting them to an interactive experience." To read an interview with Douglas, click HERE.

To observe a list of the three winners along with the 50 finalists visit the following page-- www.myartspace.com/miamibasel/winners/winners.html

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor

Monday, November 24, 2008

Art Space Talk: Jonathan Brilliant

Jonathan Brilliant is the first prize winner of the Miami Basel competition sponsored by myartspace and the Bridge Art Fair. The competition involved a world class jury panel from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Jose Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of Art and the Bridge Art Fair. Brilliant was born in 1976 in Charleston, South Carolina. He holds a B.A. in studio art from the College of Charleston and an M.F.A. in Spatial arts from San Jose State University.
The Goldsworthy of the Coffee Shop at SC State University, 30,000 wooden coffee stir sticks woven in place and held by tension, work created on site while in residence the week of oct 17-24 2008, Dimensions: variable; Medium: woven wooden coffee stir sticks

Brian Sherwin: Jonathan, you are the top finalist in the Miami Basel competition. As you know, the competition was a joint effort between www.myartspace.com and the Bridge Art Fair. Can you discuss what attracted you to the competition and why you decided to enter?

Jonathan Brilliant: I think like most people I was seduced by the caliber of the jury. I am always hesitant about submitting to things with an application fee, but when I saw which institutions the jurors were affiliated with, I figured what the hell. I am a big fan of the San Jose museum of Art, the Whitney and the SF MOMA.

BS: How did you feel going into the competition? Also, in your opinion, why is it important for artists to compete in juried competitions of this nature?

JB: I felt about the same as I always do when submitting; a bit like pitching pennies in a well. I don't know how important it is for artists to enter juried competitions of this nature. I do know that it has become part of my practice after I complete any installation to send it out somewhere to hopefully keep the momentum going.

The Goldsworthy of the Coffee Shop at SC State University. 30,000 coffee stir sticks woven in place and held by tension; Medium: woven wooden coffee stir sticks

BS: Jonathan, you studied Spatial Arts at San Jose State University. Can you briefly discuss your academic background? For example, did you have any influential instructors? How did your studies impact your development as an artist?

JB: I should back up and say that my background in the visual arts is almost entirely academic on some level. Before San Jose State I studied art at The College of Charleston, and before that I lived in a cabin in Houston, Alaska. To say I came to making art by wayof academics would be an understatement. I am, was, and always will be a drummer. My first love affair with art made with sticks is drumming. That being said when I entered college at age 21 I hadn't a clue what I wanted to do with my life, on some level I still don't, but I gravitated towards the visual arts because they scratched the same itch as music.

By the time I arrived at San Jose State I was coming off of a good run at making my work mostly in isolation and showing finished works in a gallery. Graduate school gave me a captive audience to test things, and ideas. Not really in a sinister way, but just in a way that helped me better understand what the audience was experiencing.

As far as influential artists in my life I can name a few. At San Jose State University I was particularly impacted by my friend Shannon Wright. Shannon was the first one to really challenge me to make work that I enjoyed as an audience member. She is someone I am still in constant contact with and her input is always welcome, although these days we talk more about non-artsy things.
Another tremendous influence on my practice is David Kimball Anderson. David is a great dude. He is this super funny, insightful, well-informed artist. David is a master of mixing chaos, and control, refinement and rawness, something I strive for.

Finally in graduate school I immersed myself in the art that I loved. I became a devoted follower of British sculpture since the 70's and American post minimalist art of the 60's. Somewhere in there I started filtering all that through my personal lense of southerness, and arrived at my current direction

The Goldsworthy of the Coffee Shop at the Dam Stuhltrager Gallery. For 12 days Brilliant wove 50,000 stir sticks while in residence at the Dam Stuhltrager Gallery in Williamsburg Brooklyn.

BS: Tell us about your installations. For example, you have created works from thousands of wooden coffee stir sticks that are woven in place and held by tension. You have also utilized coffee cup lids and other materials as your medium of choice. What attracted you to utilizing said materials?

JB: I am just intrigued by all the materials related to the ritual of coffee and the to-go coffee cup. I find them to be the most practical familiar materials around. I have handled them way more than most other materials. In many cases it is just that my eyes are always open to the potential for making art in my everyday life. I am constantly looking around, when I see a pile of stuff on the side of the road, or anywhere there is free materials I am there. In the woven stir stick installations it is a very practical decision. I know if I have x number of days to work in the gallery to make the piece, I need x number of sticks, so I guess being practical influences my decisions a bit.

BS: Can you tell us about the process of these works? For example, is there a great deal of planning or is there room for you to follow your intuition, so to speak?

JB: I would say there is more practice than planning. Like a musician rehearsing or an athlete practicing, I am always working on my art. Before an installation I will do some practice weaving to make sure I am up to speed. In most cases I only have a couple of pictures of the space ahead of time, so I just sort of guess how many sticks it will taketo fill the space. When I arrive I immediately begin working. Before my mind has had time to wander I start weaving.

In the process of weaving, I begin to get a sense of the feeling of the space and imagine how I want the piece to flow. Oftentimes I just follow the line of stir sticks and let the weaving guide me. The decisions are sort of made on the fly, and sometimes when a section collapses in the process, I have to remake that section and that will dictate the direction of the piece. I think of the installations as drawing my way around the room, kind of like a big systematic, dimensional, scribble.

The Goldsworthy of the Coffee Shop at the Dam Stuhltrager Gallery

BS: You also work in video, photography, and digital imaging. When working across one medium to another would you say that they are all connected in some way? For example, does photography inform your sculptural works, and so on?

JB: Photography is just part of my sketchbook practice. I keep a sketchbook and a camera with me at all times, just in case I see or think of something. As for informing each other,yes. Recently I started taking multiple photographs from several angles of the installations in order to collage these photos together to create a record of the installation. I am hoping to send one of these collages down to Miami, along with a woven section and another related work on paper.

I find that digital imaging tools are also quite useful. For example the clonening tool within the Photoshop interface really appeals to me, since it creates patterns systematically the way that I do with my rust on paper works, the woven works and even the welded pieces.

BS: Can you give our readers some insight into projects you would like to take on in the future? Can you give us a glimpse of some of the ideas that you have?

JB: Have stir sticks will travel. I am really interested in creating more fully encapsulated environments. Up until now the installations have been dictated by a 7-14 day work time. If I had more time, say 3-6months, I could really blow it out.

As for the immediate future, I plan to continue working in the studio. I have a new series of drawings I am working on, and just the other day I found a few thousand wire coat hangers and started weaving those together. I have some really big wooden stir sticks I am making out of old ikea bed slats, so the future is wide open.

The Sumter Piece, for 12.5 days Brilliant wove stir sticks from the second floor through to the first floor as part of the Sumter accessibility residency program.

BS: You describes yourself as a Southern has-been and a British Wanna-Be. In one project you assumed the role of a British artist who gathers materials in his natural environment and uses them to execute a site-specific installation. It appears that humor, in general, plays a major role in how you perceive yourself. Can you discuss that and how it enters your work?

JB: Sure, I think I subscribe to the Monty python/Simpsons/Marx brothers school of humor. I hope that some of that comes through. Although I am quite serious about the work I do, I am hardly a serious person. I mean can you imagine me at a job interview

interviewer: “Jonathan, we here at The Office really need someone with special talents do you have any?”

me: “Oh sure I can turn your whole office supply closet into a visually stunning installation rendering your closet and supplies useless in the process, and I am really good at liberating materials from coffee shops.”

interviewer: “You're Hired!”

I mean I live in Stephen Colbert’s hometown, that tends to have an effect on a person!

BS: Would you say that most artists take their work too seriously? In your opinion, does that hold artists back at times?

JB: I can't speak for most artists, I know I take myself too seriously and it holds me back sometimes. But you can never take art too seriously, it is a labor of love, and on some level we have to divorce the artwork from the artist.

BS: I noticed that you have had dozens of exhibits in South Carolina. That said, is regional success important to you?

JB: You know whether I am in Sumter South Carolina, Charleston South Carolina, Orangeburg South Carolina, Greensboro North Carolina, Brooklyn New York, or San Jose California, or San Jose De Cabo Mexico, I am going to rock it out and make the best work I can.

BS: Speaking of exhibits… aside from Bridge Miami, will you be involved with anyother upcoming exhibits?

JB: I don't want to spoil it, because you know funding is all up in the air, but I am supposed to do an installation and possible public piece in May for the City of Charleston here. I have a couple of proposals floating out there, maybe winning this will help them take hold.

I want to remind people that I am the perfect recession-era installation artist for a non-profit or university gallery if anyone is looking for installation artists, or a funny inspiring lecturer I know one. Oh yeah and I am having an invitation only oyster roast and open studio some time in February, it will be called "Beg, Borrow, and Steel" email me for more information and to be put on the list.

The Goldsworthy of the Coffee Shop at Redux Contemporary Art Center in Charleston, SC--2006

BS: Would you like to discuss some of your other recent accomplishments? For example, I read that you received a full fellowship from the Joan Mitchell Foundation in 2007. Can you tell us about that experience?

JB: Yeah, to clarify that was a full fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center for a month long residency, nothing short of a great experience. I actually applied to the Vermont Studio Center and didn't think I would get the full fellowship, but when I did Ijumped up and down. I met some amazing people, and maintain contact with themto this day. The experience definitely shaped me, and is the main reason that Ipainted a recent steel sculpture titled “Big Ass Water Bottle” white, I wastrying to sort of capture my memory of the Vermont Studio Experience.

BS: I noticed that you utilize the internet for your career goals. You have a personal website, a blog, and you use art sites like www.myartspace.com. In your opinion, why is it important for artists, specifically emerging artists, to take advantage of the internet and what it has to offer?

JB: I am a big fan of the internet, it beats the hell out of sending out actual physical slides.Seriously though, I think people should only use tools they are comfortable and familiar with. The internet is good, but it is no substitute for actually getting out and seeing work you love and connecting with other artists in person. If somebody lives somewhere and they see a bunch of art stuff on the internet, or more importantly in a book, they should really make an effort to see it in person if possible.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a slight passion I have for the Google search algorithm. I for one was not happy when they changed the search algorithm sometime last year. Since my last name is an adjective, my family name by birth in case you are wondering, I had trouble getting Google juice. Once I began to engage with the internet and taught myself some real basic web stuff, I began to get the Google ranking and notjust the occurrence of the name Jonathan and the adjective brilliant. So all and all this internet experiment seems to be a good thing.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or thegoals that you have?

JB: Have you tried the new espresso truffle at Starbucks, that shit is the bomb!

You can learn more about Jonathan Brilliant by visiting the following websites-- www.jonathanbrilliant.com, www.myartspace.com/jonathanbrilliant. You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page-- www.myartspace.com/interviews.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor

Art Space Talk: Beatrix Reinhardt

Beatrix Reinhardt is the second place winner of the Miami Basel competition sponsored by myartspace and the Bridge Art Fair. The competition involved a world class jury panel from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Jose Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of Art and the Bridge Art Fair. Beatrix Reinhardt was born in Wolgograd, Russia and grew up in former East Germany. Reinhardt received her M.F.A. in photography from Illinois State University, her M.A. in Media Studies from the New School for Social Research and her B.A. in New German Literature (minors: linguistics and psychology) from the Freie Universität Berlin. She has taught widely in Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

Pathfinder Hunting and Gun Club, Fulton, NY. c-print

Brian Sherwin: Beatrix, you are the second place winner of the Miami Basel competition. As you know, the competition was a joint effort between www.myartspace.com and the Bridge Art Fair. Can you discuss what attracted you to the competition and why you decided to enter?

Beatrix Reinhardt: Art Basel is one of the most important events – it is a big art fair with many fairs, including Bridge, surrounding it.

BS: How did you feel going into the competition? Also, in your opinion, why is it important for artists to compete in juried competitions of this nature?

BR: I did not have any feeling or expectations entering.

BS: Beatrix, can you discuss what attracted you to photography?

BR: Photography attracted me because of its quietness and forcefulness at the same time.

Tantra Club, London, UK. c-print

BS: Do you have formal training in photography? If so, can you discuss that experience and perhaps discuss some instructors who have influenced you?

BR: I started photography classes at the New School and continued (with MFA) at Illinois Sate University. Wolfgang Schiermacher (New School) and Rhondal McKinney and Scott Rankin (both ISU) and my fellow graduate students at Illinois State University influenced me.

BS: You have stated that the politics of space has been the center of interest in your work. For example, how demarcation can be achieved through decoration. Can you go into further detail about this and the thoughts behind your work in general?

BR: Yes, The politics of space has been the center of interest in my work. How demarcation can be achieved through decoration and organization, the way individuals express themselves through how they organize, use and decorate their spaces, and how this can be seen as an expression of cultural values, ideals, beliefs, individual taste and sensibilities; and how architecture and decoration can reflect temporary liberation from everydayness are discussed in my photographic works.

Candy Club, Beijing, China. c-print

BS: Your photographs, such as the Club series, are void of people yet a certain presence is captured nonetheless. Can you go into further detail about this choice and what it represents to you?

BR: Sometimes human residue is more revealing than the humans who occupy these spaces. Most of my photographs are un-peopled but replete with human presence, visible in form of the social relations conveyed by the organization of space. The absence of living beings in my work, which was a gradual development, is not a matter of formal convenience. It is rather motivated by allowing an unencumbered view of a social landscape, revealing information about the people who interact in these spaces, creating real and imagined narratives for the viewer.

BS: What is the specific message you strive to convey to viewers of your work? Do you have a specific message in mind?

BR: No, that is impossible. I have an intention but no specific message.

Cretan Club, Astoria, NY. c-print

BS: Do you mind telling us about your process in general? For example, is your work intuitive or is there a great deal of planning as for where and when you shoot?

BR: Photographing clubs took planning because I needed the permission to photograph. I started the Club series in 2003 in Australia, during an artist-in-residency at the Australian National University in Canberra. Meanwhile, I photographed clubs in China (2005), the U.S. (2006/07/08), Spain (2006), Ukraine (2008) and England (2004).

My interest in clubs was sparked by the attitude of Australians towards these entities – many of the citizens belong to at least one, but more commonly to several clubs. Clubs appeared to be institutions of great significance within the social landscape. I never have been a big enthusiast of organized “togetherness”, which I always contributed to my upbringing in former East Germany, where a schedule of memberships was awaiting since the day one was born.

Thinking about the notions the concept club has to offer has been fascinating and extremely intriguing. To me, Clubs are the nexus of homogeny and heterogeny. It is that space where “like” comes together and “unlike” stays apart. The club manifests the accomplishment of a unified “taste” a harmony, a bringing together of certain personal elements, which could, quite possibly otherwise have been kept apart. However, what remains apart is just as important as what comes together to constitute the club. That is, it is not only due to the nature of union that the club is defined and takes on a meaning but also due to the nature of exclusion.

Exclusion becomes a main attribute of a club but more importantly it is what it excludes that becomes the defining characteristic of the club in question. All these notions, so I hope, have visual manifestations, which became the focus of this body of work.

Hellenic Club, Canberra, Australia. c-print

BS: Tell us more about your influences. For example, are you influenced by any specific artist or world event?

BR: I am influenced and admire different artists for particular notions, for instance Robert Frank’s ability to sequence images, Gregory Crewdson’s use and control of light and the surface quality of his images, Judith Samen’s formalism that evokes humor, the Becher’s discipline, Boris Mikhailov’s subject matters, Shizuka Yokomizo’s anonymous way of collaboration, Allan Sekula’s ideological visual clues, Wang Qingsong’s clever incorporation of art history, Katy Grannan’s captured honesty…the change of environment – having all senses reshuffled is also important. Artist-in-residencies in different parts of the world are essential I find.

BS: What are you working on at this time? Can you give our readers some insight into your current practice?

BR: I usually work on several projects simultaneously. I am working on a project about police hats and about a gas pipeline (Die Trasse) in the Ukraine.

ChangAn Club, Beijing, China. c-print

BS: Aside from the www.myartspace.com space at the Bridge Art Fair, will you be involved with any other upcoming exhibits?

BR: No, not really. I am concentrating on developing new bodies of work at the moment.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the goals that you have?

BR: I would like to make a book of the club series.

You can learn more about Beatrix Reinhardt by visiting her myartspace profile-- www.myartspace.com/beatrixreinhardt. You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page-- www.myartspace.com/interviews.
Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor

Art Space Talk: Douglas Ljungkvist

Douglas Ljungkvist is the third prize winner of the Miami Basel competition sponsored by myartspace and the Bridge Art Fair. The competition involved a world class jury panel from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Jose Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of Art and the Bridge Art Fair. Ljungkvist is a self-taught Brooklyn based photographer, originally from Sweden. The artist has stated that his photography is all about self expression. His goal is to capture images that leave the viewer with more questions than answers.

Untitled, from project titled "The Time in Between", which studies spaces and the time in between the memory and anticipation of man. Dimensions: 16x24; Medium: Photography

Brian Sherwin: Douglas, you are the third prize winner in the Miami Basel competition. As you know, the competition was a joint effort between www.myartspace.com and the Bridge Art Fair. Can you discuss what attracted you to the competition and why you decided to enter?

Douglas Ljungkvist: I usually enter contest that are limited to photography only. But in this case I was really intrigued with the possible exposure that the winning artists would receive. And the quality of the jury was an important factor, too. I’ve been a part of www.myartspace.com since the beginning and always been impressed with the quality of their opportunities and the business model. The internet has made art more democratic and has definitely benefited my development.
Untitled, from project titled "The Time in Between", which studies spaces and the time in between the memory and anticipation of man. Dimensions: 16x24; Medium: Photography

BS: How did you feel going into the competition? Also, in your opinion, why is it important for artists to compete in juried competitions of this nature?

DL: Despite having done well in large photography contests in the past I always try and keep my expectations low. Especially when being up against other more popular art forms. As an artist I think it’s crucial to show your work online and in print through contests, portfolios reviews, and with peers. Putting together a contest entry also sharpens your editing, sequencing, and writing skills. I almost only enter contests now that allow online submissions.

BS: Douglas, you are self-taught, correct? Have you had any formal training? Can you discuss what attracted you to photography? At what point did your interest become a way of life, so to speak?

DL: Yes I am self taught except for a few classes I took at International Center of Photography (ICP). But since my school days I never really learned well in a formal and traditional setting. I’m more of a hands-on, trial and error type personality. I’ve always been a very visual person and everything I experience can be translated visually.

The advancement of digital photography got me interested in photography almost 4 years ago. I was hooked instantly and started reading photography books, art magazines, going to art shows, and knew that this is what I’m supposed to be doing. It also helped that my fiancĂ©e, who I met around the same time I started with photography, had studied photography at Purchase College, NY. So Erica has been a great resource and encouragement to me.

Untitled, from project titled "The Time in Between", which studies spaces and the time in between the memory and anticipation of man. Dimensions: 16x24; Medium: Photography

BS: I understand that you strive to capture images that provide viewers with more questions than answers-- such, who was there? What occurred? And so on. In that sense your photographs become an interactive experience that allows viewers to explore their imagination while viewing your work. Can you go into further detail about that and about the thoughts behind your art in general?

DL: Photography for me is all about self expression. I don’t strive to make images that tell an absolute truth, but more about how I see the world. Contemporary photography is very much about story telling. My work is more about mood and feeling than a deceive moment. Photography is a documentary medium, but I see myself more as an artist per se, whose medium and tool happens to be photography.

Untitled, from project titled "The Time in Between", which studies spaces and the time in between the memory and anticipation of man. Dimensions: 16x24; Medium: Photography

BS: With your color photography you study urban and industrial landscapes that are in transition. Tell us more about that specific body of work…

DL: The urban landscape is my domain, where I live and where I feel at home. For the first time in history there are more people in the world living in cities. Part of this trend has brought on urban renewal and gentrification, and Brooklyn, where I live, is a perfect example of this. The skyline is littered with building cranes and new buildings popping up. Industrial areas are converted to lofts and condos. I photograph construction sites as part of our changing urban landscape. These sites are considered urban eye sores but after a while we don’t notice them any more.

Metaphorically I see them as people. Yes, up front they all look the same, but when you look closer they have different personalities, materials, colors, texture, and so on. I also love how the fences around construction sites become temporary hosts for street art and message of our time are left.

Untitled, from project titled "The Time in Between", which studies spaces and the time in between the memory and anticipation of man. Dimensions: 16x24; Medium: Photography
BS: What is the specific message you strive to convey to viewers of your work? Do you have a specific message in mind?

DL: I want to share my view of the world. I want to point out the ordinary that we take for granted by making the ugly beautiful through my appreciation for natural light. With reality TV and media being what it is, I think there is a great focus on the “big” moments. Whether it’s fame, career, money, it’s creating a culture where a story is not noticed unless it’s big or scandalous. But for me life is a series of small moments. That’s what I appreciate in life and part of what I want to share as a photographer, a series of small quiet ordinary scenes.

BS: Do you mind telling us about your process in general? For example, is your work intuitive or is there a great deal of planning as for where and when you shoot?

DL: I’m all about intuition. I don’t try and decide what to photograph on a particular day, unless I have shot list for a specific assignment. I am much more deliberate with my travel photography as you only have a limited amount of time in a place, and you need time to scout for optimum light conditions. But for my personal work, I know it when I see it. It’s more important for me to capture images that grab my attention and later I decide how they may fit into existing projects.

By exploring the streets and industrial parts of the city I put myself in situations to find scenes or subjects that appeal to my eye or invoke certain feelings. These often include feelings of familiarity, alienation, eeriness, or the abstract. I’m an observer of life and places. I love the solitary pursuit of the type of photography that I do. I think some photographers are “technical” and others are “feel” photographers. I am definitely the latter.

Untitled, from project titled "The Time in Between", which studies spaces and the time in between the memory and anticipation of man. Dimensions: 16x24; Medium: Photography

BS: Tell us more about your influences. For example, are you influenced by any specific artist or world event?

DL: As with movies, art, fashion, cars, and other things, I’m visually influenced by two decades; the 70’s and the 40’s. My color photography is inspired by the 1970’s color pioneers including Stephen Shore and William Eggleston. My favorite Black & White photographers are Andre Kertesz and Bill Brant. I think it’s the juxtaposition of the elegance of the 40’s and the wonderful tastelessness of the 70’s that I like.

BS: What are you working on at this time? Can you give our readers some insight into your current practice?

DL: The portfolio that I was selected for includes images from a project titled “The Time in Between”, which studies manmade spaces. These are functional spaces meant to host people and often associated with crowds. How do these spaces look when time is suspended and the people removed? Between the memory and anticipation of man, the space takes on a different feeling and mood. These conditions are shared with indoor and outdoor spaces, large cities and small towns.

In addition to my urban landscape photography I have a few specific projects that I’m working on. The most extensive is visiting and photographing towns named “Middletown USA”, in all 16 states that have one. This project started in the summer of 2007 and so far I have visited 11 of 16 Middletown’s. This is not a documentary project of what life is like in Middletown but rather how I experience it as an outsider, along the traditions of vernacular photography. I started is as a challenge to photograph areas that are outside of my urban comfort zone.

I recently started another exciting project in Mexico City that is titled “Rush Hour”. Over time the project will visit 2-3 cities per continent and experience what happens in them during the morning Rush Hour for one week, Monday through Friday. So far I have photographed Mexico City and New York for this project. It’s a street photography project where people play a key part.

I also have several ongoing “collections” of images that I accumulate, including vintage cars, chairs/seats, marketing signs, and discarded items left on the street. A future project is to photograph my way around the Black Sea.

Untitled, from project titled "The Time in Between", which studies spaces and the time in between the memory and anticipation of man. Dimensions: 16x24; Medium: Photography
BS: Aside from the the www.myartspace.com space at the Bridge Art Fair, will you be involved with any other upcoming exhibits?

DL: I was the fortunate winner of the New York leg of the 2007 UnScene Photography Tour. The prize was inclusion in a show at Chelsea Gallery, Peer Gallery, now called Michael Mazzeo Gallery. No date has been set yet. And I’m looking forward to other exhibition opportunities in the US and Europe. I would especially love to have a show in my native country of Sweden in the future.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the goals that you have?

DL: I recently quit my day job after a marketing career in the travel industry to focus on photography full time. My long-term goal is to focus on my personal projects in the form of books, exhibitions, and prints sales. To finance them I would like to develop my editorial Travel and Architectural photography. And a grant or two along the way would help, too. I’m using my old marketing experience to seek out airline, hotel, editorial, publisher, and stock photography partners for my Rush Hour project. A project with such a global reach tends to get expensive.

Other than that I look forward to producing more work in the same sprit as I do now, not worrying about the latest photography trends.

You can learn more about Douglas Ljungkvist by visiting the following sites-- www.douglasljungkvist.com, www.myartspace.com/douglasljungkvist. You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page-- www.myartspace.com/interviews.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor

Sunday, November 23, 2008

And you thought Ebay was the only place to buy forged paintings…

And you thought Ebay was the only place to buy forged paintings… Giuseppe Concepcion at work.

It seems that a ‘prominent’ New York and Miami art dealer was arrested last week on charges of selling forged paintings. If the allegations are true the art dealer, Giuseppe Concepcion, set his caliber high. The alleged forgeries include works by several famous artist-- the likes of Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall.
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Prosecutors have stated that Concepcion sold customers the forgeries from a gallery he operated in Manhattan and from the Proarte Gallery in Miami. His activity is alleged to have occurred between 2005 and 2007. However, Concepcion’s lawyer, Mark Heller, has stated that no crime had been committed and that his client is a law-abiding professional who is dedicated to art and art advocacy.

Heller went on to say that Concepcion had been under investigation for several years and would be exonerated. Heller has also noted that a few of the works had exchanged hands between other art dealers and that he feels as if his client is being used as a scapegoat. Will this case expose other crooked art dealers? Only time will tell.

Art fakes and forgeries are a $12 billion industry according to the FBI’s Art Register. The recent economic downturn has spurred art collectors and investors to be more active in knowing the complete marketing history of the works they have acquired. Needless to say, I don’t think Giuseppe Concepcion will be the first to go down. The art dealers bail was set for $500,000. If convicted he may face up to 30 years in prison.
Links of Interest:
Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor

When Does Art Become a Form of Exploitation?

When Does Art Become a Form of Exploitation?

At what point does art-- or should I say the subjects or themes that artists choose to explore-- become a form exploitation? Lately there seems to have been an increase in headlines asking this specific question. Some view this question as an attack on the arts while others view it as a discussion that is needed within the context of the art world and how the general public views art.

There are many questions to ask involving the issue of art and exploitation:

Is it exploitation when an artist like Bill Henson takes photographs of nude teens as young as 12 in the name of art?

Is it exploitation when an artist like Gretchen Beck mentions during a lecture about her work that her agreement with a specific ethnic group in Africa has helped to develop her career by serving as a point of contact and reference for her art?

Is it exploitation when an artist focuses his or her art on racial struggles that he or she has not experienced personally?

Is it exploitation when an artist documents his or her interactions with victims of drug addictions or individuals caught in the throws of poverty-- all the while receiving hundreds or thousands of dollars per image?

Is it exploitation when an artist builds a financial empire on the creation of faith based art while living in a way that is in conflict with the religious views he or she projects in his or her art?

Is it exploitation when an artist claims that his or her art is in support of fallen soldiers while at the same time being vocal against those who are still in the field of battle?

At what point should these works be considered exploitation? Should a line be drawn? Or is the nature of artistic expression to exploit in some manner even if our intentions are good?

The validity of said works is decided by each individual who views them. Some will be outraged while others will praise the artist for what he or she has accomplished in order to expose viewers or inform viewers about a specific topic-- regardless of his or her intention for having done so. However, contradictions can easily pop up when an artist is exploring delicate issues-- such as religion, poverty, aspects of sexuality, and cultural differences-- in an controversial manner. Due to this many feel that these artists set themselves up for confrontation. Critics of said works may even describe the practice as a form of attention seeking or an easy way to create buzz. What are your thoughts on this issue? When does art become a form of exploitation? At what point does an artist create works simply for media appeal? How can we know the true intentions behind the creation of said works? Are we meant to know? Does it matter? What say you…

Links of Interest:
Students Question: Art or Exploitation?

Views on child protocols divided

Never Forget. You’re Reminded

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
www.myartspace.com

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Art Space Talk: Roy Nachum

At first glance the paintings by Roy Nachum can easily be confused with digital art. However, his works are actually oil paintings on canvas that are painted in a way that spurs the viewer to investigate further. Nachum creates his images by utilizing the idea of pixels. Each ‘pixel’ is painted one-by-one. The end result is a painting that comes together in a unique manner. Nachum describes this as creating micro worlds that come together in order to form the pattern of a single reality or of a dream. Nachum studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts in Jerusalem, Israel. He also studied at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City. Roy Nachum has exhibited frequently in Israel and the United States.

Brian Sherwin: Roy, you studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts in Jerusalem and at the Cooper Union School of Art in NYC. Can you discuss your academic years? For example, did you have any influential instructors?

Roy Nachum: Studying at Bezalel (the Arts Academy in Jerusalem) provided me with an extraordinary, intensive, and very powerful experience. The need to create and the desire to work has always tempted me, from the time I was a young child, and has led me to achieve only the best – mediocre was unacceptable for me.

There were a number of teachers at Bezalel who changed my life by showing me new perspectives. The teacher for drawing, David Nefo, definitely made me stop and think. He taught me that every color stain on the canvas should be made only after taking a deep long look at the object – exactly like a lion plans its attack on its prey. It was there that I explored the concept in which you can create a whole world by connecting one spot of color to another – it's amazing how different colors work together to create a perfect harmony.

When I arrived at Bezalel, there was a student exchange program – something which greatly interested me. I wanted to go to the Arts Academy Cooper Union in New York, considered to be one of the most prestigious academies in the world. Every year only one excelling student is selected out of thousands of students from Bezalel. Because of my excellence in studies-- I had a very high grade average for several years-- I was sent to study at Cooper Union.

When I arrived at Cooper Union I thought that I already knew everything. After a few classes I realized that this was only the beginning. My perception as an artist sharpened incredibly. It was like knowing how to do something but now actually having to do it. My studies at Cooper provided me with a deeper and stronger experience that strengthened my perception as an artist.

BS: How did the transition from living in Israel to living in the United States influence your work? Have your travels played a role in your development as an artist?

RN: Though it was difficult, the move from Israel to the United States felt natural, because my goals and aspirations were greater than ever. My daily coping and the cultural differences opened new horizons for me and provided me with new interests around which to create and reach new subjects.

BS: Your oil paintings often appear as if they are digital images composed of thousands of pixels. My understanding is that you utilize a palette knife in order to create this ‘pixel’ appearance within the context of your paintings. Each ‘pixel’ is created one by one. Can you discuss this process further?

RN: I’ve transported on my canvases a mix of my imaginary world and my real life. The works represent part of my memories and my dreams as well as binary reading of real and unreal elements. Each pixel is created hand made, one by one, by a palette knife and so creates something that gives a unique meaning to each pixel. It is like one micro world existing in each of them, but when you look at the paintings from afar each pixel looks alike and so they give the feeling of thousands of micro worlds together creating a large pattern of a single reality or of a dream.

This different technique also creates the desire of a physical approach to the piece, inviting people to feel and touch every pixel and also to bring them into a kind of dualistic experience that finds the virtual and physical coming together in one unique moment.

BS: Can you discuss some of your direct influences? Perhaps you can give us a glimpse of your thought process concerning those influences?

RN: I am influenced by everything that surrounds me. I tend to examine daily behaviors of different people, what makes them do the things they do and why-- what they take for granted and why they do that. Thought, making and results – this is the origin of my inspiration.
I'll give you an example: a cup of water, what seems simple and obvious - the cup is resting there and will always be there. But what is the cup of water, what is it doing there, where did it come from and where is it going? If you have ever tried to look at a cup of water differently and deeper then you can see how many colors, stains, and variations there are in one cup of water. This is the origin of understanding and thinking and connecting to the real thing.

BS: Your work was exhibited by Moti Hasson Gallery at Scope Hamptons, correct? Can you discuss that experience? Also, what do you think about art fairs in general? Do you enjoy them?

RN: For years I worked and pushed to always achieve more and more in art. The relationship people have with my paintings and their own dilemmas drove me to more and more exhibitions. During those years I received unbelievable non-stop support from my parents. My mother and father are strong people with a good grasp on life, the desire to be real – something that I grew up with my whole childhood. The exhibit that I put together with Motti Hasson in the New York Hamptons was in a kind of coming-out. I personally am not drawn at all to group exhibitions. I prefer to exhibit alone.
BS: Finally, what are you working on at this time? Also, will you be involved with any upcoming exhibits?
RN: For the last 3 years I have been working on an incredible exhibit which will soon be released. It is a new process in my development and was created as an evolution of my past. This is a new thing that combines a daily look at man with new thought. This is definitely going to be new and different than anything that is exhibited today. The combination of something very abstract and something so realistic on the same canvas.
You can learn more about Roy Nachum and is art by visiting his website-- www.roynachum.com. You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page-- www.myartspace.com/interviews.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor