Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reflecting on 2011

Now that 2012 is a few weeks old and 2011 is behind us, I am beginning to miss making a 4”x4” piece of art every day. Last year the 2011 Project became the focus of my artistic life. There were a few days when it felt like a chore, but overall, I truly enjoyed working on it. Gradually my wall kept filling with the grid of piece after piece. But it really wasn’t until near the end of the year that the impact of the project began to feel “real” to me. Around November I was reaching the point where I had that I did it feeling. I’ll never forget the final moment when I put the last coat of varnish on the last piece on the evening of December 31st. I was sad that the long journey was over but also had a sense of accomplishment with having actually made it.

When I conceived the idea for the 2011 Project, I was experienced enough to understand that I could not really predict how the project would unfold. I had the basic concept of a piece of art every day. Having spent years exploring pattern and making grid like collages, the idea of using 4”x4” canvases and laying them out in a big grid was natural to me.

Starting with the commitment to making a piece of art every day, I quickly realized I also wanted to explore a different idea every day. There are reoccurring themes and styles throughout the project, but I really did strive to make each individual piece about an individual idea. There were many themes and materials I was well versed in and they started to appear in the project. As I began looking for new ideas it also lead to new styles, materials and subject matter. There are so many things I painted for the first time ever in 2011, everything from magnolias, to a goat to a quahog shell. Maps appear in plenty of the pieces and I also used other materials that I had used previously like old photos, vintage postcards and stamps. But the list of new materials grew to include: naugahyde, MUNI passes, dice, jigsaw puzzle pieces, Eucalyptus leaves, candy wrappers, wax and incense boxes to name just a few.

One advantage of working small was that each piece took me about 1-3 hours to make. There was some additional prep time and scouring around for materials. But basically, as an artist, each piece was a small commitment. This brief amount of time opened me up to experimenting. Unexpectedly, many pieces have become studies for future projects. The 2011 Project is also a vast personal sketchbook of ideas I will be expanding on for months and years to come.

Each artists needs to develop their own rules. And, I do not want to be one of those artists that tell other artists what they should do. But I will suggest that by imposing a disciplined structure for yourself, if even for a month, you will likely have a similar experience of positive and unexpected results.

The year 2011 is over, but the 2011 Project is far from finished. There is the need to show as an installation(s) in 2012. Then the separate pieces will be distributed to supporters so they can curate them for the future. And some point 10 years, 20 years or even further into the future, it will be even more interesting to revisit the project.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

An Inspirational Phone Booth

Yesterday afternoon was spent at the SFMOMA wandering through the galleries. One particular photo that drew me in was Henry Wessel’s Buena Vista, Colorado (see above). It was no surprise. I am constantly drawn to images of open, empty roads under big western skies. I take “this” photo all the time on road trips and use them for sources in paintings.

Wessel’s image is dominated by the phone booth. Phone booths have all but disappeared. The logo and style of the booth dates the image to about 40 years ago. If one recognizes that time, it’s unnecessary to confirm the image is from 1973. If the phone booth were absent from this image, it could have been taken yesterday.

This photo stuck with me after I left the museum. As I thought about the photo I was reminded how every artist may act as an archivist either consciously or unconsciously. Many of the pieces for the 2011 Project dealt with past and disappearing objects. Wessel’s photo of a phone booth inspires me to continue to document ordinary items in my work.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Not available in the gift shop, yet…

If you know my art, you know I love things in grids. A Rubik’s Cube with my images seems inevitable. I’ve seen more than a few of these art cubes in museum gift shops and yes, they are kind of kitschy. I do confess to buying a Gilbert and George cube on sale. But as their work is often in grid form, that Rubik’s Cube has my approval. And it was on sale, cheap. A few months ago I attended an art fair and where an artist had some hand-made Rubik’s Cubes. He shared his trick with me. You basically buy Rubik’s Cubes cheap and then print out your own work and replace the color squares. A certain large shipping company has great blank, adhesive labels that fit in a printer and officially are not for this purpose. And where would we be without Japantown dollar stores and knock-off Rubik’s cubes? So here it is, the 2011 Project on a Rubik’s Cube. If you’d like one, you’ll have to wait for the big Tofu museum show and always remember to exit through the gift shop.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Today in the mail from Italy

As an artist it’s always a struggle to get recognition for your work. Today the current issue of Urban Magazine arrived in the mail from Italy. It has an article on the 2011 Project. I am feeling rather validated today, and I have to confess, just a bit glamorous…

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Off to the Post Office

A big stack of 2011 Project postcards ready to go to the post office. Do I have you on my mailing list?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Point Reyes

Today is Epiphany or the Feast of the Three Kings. Point Reyes National Seashore is named for those Kings. It’s a place I like to visit whenever I can and it inspired a number of pieces for the 2011 Project including the six ones seen above. I have been painting and photographing Point Reyes for many years.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Archive Pieces

Early on in the 2011 Project I started to save some of the cut outs and various scraps generated while making the pieces. It was the beginning of an archive box that I often used as a source for subsequent pieces. Here are just some of the scraps from the archive.