Feb 112018
 

This is the cultural anchor for the Design District and is free of charge. The 37,000 sq. ft  building was designed by the Madrid based firm Aragurent Gallegos Arquitectos.

ICA Director Ellen Salpeter states,  “Our mandate is to show the most innovative work being made today.”

The elegant entrance sits in striking contrast to the parking garage across the street, pictured below.

They’re rushing to install the garages cladding screens that were designed by different artists.  It’s rather fun!

Pittore 1973

Who else?  Phillip Guston.  Born in Montreal, his family moved to Los Angeles when he was a child.  He spent much of his life teaching art as a way of supporting his art practice.

These examples of his work after 1970 are characterized by gross cartoon like images.  I feel uneasy looking at his work from this period.  And I think that’s his point, taking a 360 degree turn from painting refined abstracts.

It was a slap in the art world face at a time when  abstraction was revered for its purity and autonomy.  This work was met with hostility when it was first shown.

He was concerned with figuration, reflecting social upheaval, the cruelty of the world, and, more personally, the isolation of the painter in the studio.

This theme of the artists’ push against creative isolation resonated for me throughout much of the work I saw at the ICA.

The Door 1976

I get the feeling he’s making a comment on the ‘rat race’ here.  I like the whip like image on the wall to the left and the discarded paint brushes.

These sandwiched pieces were done by the collective, Art & Language, founded in 1967 in Coventry, UK, by Michael Baldwin, David Bainbridge, Terry Atkinson, and Harold Hurrell.  Two more artist joined in 1970, Charles Harrison and Mel Ramsden.

There were eventually fifty people associated with the group between 1968 and 1982.

They produced pieces typically associated with conceptual art:  journal writings, text-based work, ephemera and installation.  The group challenged the very nature of the contemporary artist, working cooperatively and collectively.  No artists isolated in their studio here.

The Studio at 3 Wesley Place Illuminated by an Explosion Nearby, (which is represented in the painting above)

One of a series of large scale paintings dedicated to the motif of traditional studio work.  The work is ironically referring to the popularity of expressionist painting at the time, and challenging the strict formal vocabulary of Conceptual art.

Dieter Roth has turned his studios (Iceland, Germany, Switzerland, and the US) into sculptures in his quest to merge art and life.  The process like Table Hegenhelmerstrasse was built from 1980-2010.  He’s a relentlessly prolific artist.

His son, Bjorn Roth, works with him so as to expand his practice into a social organization.  Dieter Roth has also made ‘trash pictures’ combining garbage, chocolate, and collage, in a process of permanent decay.

Joseph Buoys Table With Accumulators 1959-1985

Bronze table and balls, painted black with wire cables.

I’m always very moved by the work of this artist.  A groundbreaking figure in German and International art, Joseph Buoys also uses his studio as sculpture.  This piece is part of a large scale installation.  These enigmatic forms seem both sinister and humorous.

I think that Buoys experience in WW2 in Nazi Germany, his time in the Luftwaffe, as well as on the ground as a soldier, has had a profound effect on his art practice.  I’ve seen other installations of his work in Germany.  They have a sense of austerity, foreboding, and mystery.

Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz

The Soup Course at the She-She Cafe 1982

Here are two married artists who are best know for their installation work.

Sandwiched here are Still Life,  polaroid works of Lucas Samaras.   This artist had a big impact on my work when I was a student at the Alberta College of Art and Design.  I was studying painting.  These small pieces, taken in his studio, are painterly and intimate.

O-Ton and Cat’s-eye  2014  Rosemarie Trockel

This German artists work critiques and reflects the conventions of art making.

In O-Ton, the dusty paint encrusted easel might be interpreted as the death of painting. Cat’s-eye depicts a window with an obscured view, referencing the ‘window on the world’ of painting.

The work I saw at the ICA provided me with lots to think about in my own art practice.

As I leave, they’re still working on the parking garage.  Can’t wait to get back to Miami and the Design District to see it completed.

Feb 012018
 

Midtown Miami has four distinct neighborhoods.  Two of these are very different creative destinations:  Wynwood and the Design District.

We headed to the Miami Design District, en route to the Institute of Contemporary Art.  It was a surprise.  We had intended to stroll through the district en route to Big Art.  We ended up spending the morning.

It’s a work in progress, and it’s fresh and exciting.

The focus is art, luxury fashion, and architecture.  There’s also many fine restaurants and cafes, furniture galleries and relaxing outdoor spaces.

The Miami Design District figures large in the annual Art Basel event.  With over 70 art galleries (and that’s expected to double) there’s plenty to see.  And not just in the galleries, but on the streets and courtyards.  Art is everywhere.

Craig Robbins is the creative force behind this redevelopment.  He and his company, Dacra Development, were also instrumental in the South Beach Art Deco rehabilitation in the 1980’s.  He’s a visionary developer, philanthropist, and art collector.

So how did a born and bred Miami kid become a visually literate powerhouse? While a student in Barcelona he grew to appreciate art and architecture.  Moreover, he understands that these two things can define and enrich a city.

He bought his first piece of art, a Dali, while studying there.  He has since accumulated a large contemporary fine art collection.

He studied law, and learned the business side working with his fathers development company.  He also formed some important design partnerships along the way.

I tried opening the yellow door but no luck.

Plenty of reflective materials, both glass and mirrors.

Luxury fashion is everywhere.  The buildings they inhabit also reflect strong design elements, high quality construction and materials.  Here’s a sweet window dressing in Dior.

Intriguing textures everywhere the eye travels.  I like the fake bark concrete treatment juxtaposed with the water spigot.  Not an intentional art installation.

Intimate courtyards with sculptural conversation seating.  All so brand new the trees need supports.

Bold orange with an Americano at the Ella Cafe.

More finishing work in wonderful discrete passageways.  These cool and shady spaces are important in the often hot Miami climate.

A Buckminster Fuller dome provides an emblematic entrance to an under ground car park through a cool blue courtyard.

One of a kind stuffed robotic animals, and a sculpture gallery.

My old Volkswagen, but better.

Love is indeed the answer! Plenty more where this came from.  I always say, just collage in a photo of Einstein, and your good to go.

I was surprised by this inert security guard.  SF MOMA has one as well.  There’s lots of real security in the Design District.

Loads of colour everywhere.  Perfect in the intense Florida light.

Did you know the latest thing in architecture is parking garages?  The facade of this garage, and still adding finishing touches, sits across from the Art Museum.

Skeletal installation piece with water dripping slowly from a small hole above.

I alight on one of the many spots to sit, relax, and enjoy that warm Miami vibe.

Jan 092018
 

New Smyrna Beach Florida

This mornings tide line walk was a treat.

There was a big storm our first night and the king tide made for an interesting trek along the beach in the early morning light.

New Smyrna Beach seems to go on forever.  It’s just under 20 km.

Hard packed sand makes it perfect for long walks or cycling with a fat tired bike.

It also has some of the best surfing on the east coast.


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Dec 212017
 

The winter solstice reminds me of the beauty and striking simplicity of black and white. Not that there’s much snow here.  Our west coast winter is green and moist.

However!  In a few days I’m flying into the Okanagan Valley.  We’ll drop down above hills and valleys, farms and ranches, orchards, vineyards, and the vast frozen white lake.

It’s really wintertime there, and the approach to the Kelowna airport is fantastic:  a monochromatic dream rich in pattern and texture.

I’ve been using a monochromatic palette throughout my studio life.  It’s a contemporary idiom for many artists,  and I’m drawn to it as well.  It’s been an enduring part of my studio work, especially in printmaking.

The pieces that follow were done over the years using different materials and methods.  I work with value and texture, especially in painting.

Let’s take a walk through these monochromatic pieces.

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Dec 052017
 

Exploring Scale in Painting

Here’s a series of acrylic paintings on canvas where I work with scale and proportion.

I like playing around with big space in a small area.

These are abstracted landscape, rich in texture and colour.

Size:  Small – the largest is 10″ x 12″.

Proportion:   The compositions in these pieces have large open areas juxtaposed with areas of detail.

Surface:  Each have areas of texture and areas of flat colour.

Materials:  My favorite paint products are made by Golden.  They’re constantly updating their line.  There’s always new products to explore and their pigments are high quality and reliable.

Pumice and molding pastes create great texture.  I develop small mark making areas using one of my favorite materials, graphite.  I’ll sometimes gouge into the surface as it dries, or rub graphite into the drying paint.

These small pieces stand alone quite well.  And I can also use them as maquettes for much larger works.

It can be daunting to take on a large canvas.  It’s a big investment of materials and time.  So painting small, then taking it big, is a straight forward way to approach a larger work.