Monday, April 19, 2010

month-long survey of my nyc residency

I've more or less settled into my studio, and I will miss it when I leave! It's been good to be able to work larger, but it doesn't mean working larger is any easier. I'm using this space as an experiment to see how upping the scale of the paintings goes.
Since I work from all angles, changing the orientation, I have to keep the work on the floor. It's too big to be taking it off the wall and turning it this way and that without an extra pair of hands. I aim to stretch the finished canvases when I get back to Savannah.
These are all works in progress, some further along than others. The only one I'm happy with in its current state is the largest one (7' x 8') with the turquoise foam. Though it will almost certainly change a lot before its done.
The others may be only experiments, done on paper board someone left in the hall, and they are the usual 36 x 50" size. The mounds you see on them are acrylic flexible modeling paste that I molded into various shapes. The downfall is they make the pieces a lot heavier.  But, I find that medium handy; it's clean and dries pretty fast. Out of my few experiments with unorthodox materials, this is probably the safest for adding lumpy textures. The other more gritty lumpy areas are acrylic pumice gel. Also heavy! Good experiment, though.
I am also using high-gloss alkyd house paint for its particular effect, along with acrylics. For cost effectiveness and for faster drying time, I am also using acrylics for the first layers in some areas on the larger canvas ones, then applying oil atop or alongside that. For larger pieces that is probably the way to go.
Here are some shots also of my messy comfortable studio. I have covered everything from stem to stern in plastic so I hopefully don't have to paint the walls and floor once I leave!

Since this is really my first time in New York (I've visited briefly before with others leading the way) I have felt like a body of eyes and ears. Just absorbing the assault of horns honking, strangers' conversations, subway squeezings, turbo walking everywhere, and the visual feast of seeing every kind of being dressed in every conceivable way has left me dizzy. The constant contact is visceral, a real dose of culture shock (in pleasant ways for the most part) for one spending most of the time insulated from others within the confines of one's car! I like it this way better, much more freedom and opportunity to meet up with someone you know on the street. I love that.
Spring is here also, and I wanted to add some pretty shots of that. New Yorkers are out in droves when the sun shines...but I am savoring the chilly weather too. The above shot is a tranquil one in Chelsea, and the next one is from right outside my front door on West 34th and Ninth. The Empire State Building is included, and looks strangely puny in this age of the spectacle!
Also delightful was stumbling across Hell's Kitchen Flea Market which is open every weekend and only a block away from the studio. One more shot taken in Greenwich Village and then I'll move on to Great Art I've Seen!

The German-born artist Charline Von Heyl is one of my role models. Her 'eccentric abstractions' (my term) have gained in prominence and acclaim. She shows with Friedrich Peitzel (spelling?) in Chelsea. I was really excited to see a solo show of hers a couple of weeks ago there. The paintings are large, about 7 x 8' on average, and seem to result from a struggle to wrestle forth an image that is unconventional and arresting, something that never existed before.  I strongly identify with that quest.
I also find refreshing her penchant for using tried and true materials (oil and acrylic) to create fresh imagery.

Peter Halley is an artist I never gave much thought to, but when I stumbled across a show of his in Chelsea, I was confounded by the scale and shock value of his paintings! Yes, they are hard-edged, carefully planned out works, very methodically done, but the day-glo colors and his Rolla-Tex hotel room textures really ignite a visceral charge. I was really delighted by the show, and it just goes to show you how nothing compares to seeing works in person. A photo (these included, I'm afraid) just cannot provide the up close and personal experience of beholding scale, true color, and detail.
Before I move on to my other favorite heavy hitters, I want to include (above) a few shots of random artists' work (that unfortunately I don't have the names of right off hand) who were also showing at different spots in Chelsea.
Others are more well known, like Tami Ben-Tor (the video still of lady with glasses) and George Condo.
I went to a group show opening at a Chelsea gallery, Edward Thorpe, that I've long been intrigued by because he shows artists who are not so slick and 'market-oriented.' The works shown there have a more personal sensibility that I find very attractive. It was a great show, all women, including one of my favorite artists, Judith Linhares, (above) whose work I'll show next. These pics don't do justice to the opulent colors and sensual brush strokes that really give her work its power. Though her work recalls Dana Schutz, Linhares is an artist in her sixties who has been working in this vein for many years, long before Schutz appeared on the scene. I met Linhares at the opening and she was very polite as I pumped her hand and gushed about how I had admired her work for years and how great it was to meet her!
These four works above are random ones I took at the show, and I'm not sure who the artists are. But I think they exemplify the very un-craft-oriented sensibility of the show. By the way, some of you may remember Matt Blackwell, who was our visiting artist from NYC back in Fall 09. He is one of the gallery's artists and was present at the show. It was great to see him. I also ran into 2009 SCAD alumni Rachel Fainter, who lives and works here now.
Now to Rock Star Fiona Rae, whose show at PaceWildenstein on the East Side was a TKO knock-out. Paint-eater that I am, I usually don't fall into staring at a painting for very long, moving on after a respectable couple of minutes or so, but Rae's works are so packed with technical virtuosity, with seemingly every kind of iconography and painting language imaginable thrown into each canvas, that I was drawn over and over into immersion in these works. Completely spellbound. Though it is not so apparent in these pics, much methodical care is taken into masking off varying spots, using stencils, airbrush, splatters, spills, and loading brushes with varying colors to attain those sensuous waves of multi-hued strokes.  It really boggles the mind how much tedious grunge work (even perhaps when working with assistants, though I'm sure that's welcome!) goes into creating these opulent, explosive, merry, scary extremely fun paintings.  A deep curtsy and hats off to this British painting legend.  I hope you too enjoy these pics but damn they rock in person. (Not so big, though, only about 50"x62".) These works contained a whiff of Easter, which is when they opened, as indicated by the detail of the little bunnies above.
Before I go today, just want to highlight a couple of other impressive artists, one of whom is veteran painter Shirley Jaffe. She also had a show going on in the same building as Fiona Rae.
The other is all-time favorite Beatriz Mihazes, whose new work (at least shown here) was much more simplified and graphic than her usually more ornate style. But, I'll take it.


  1. Wow! I feel like I'm there. :) Our block is lonely without you, but it looks like your NYC studio is pretty great!

  2. This is a great post, Kim! I'm trying to figure out when/whether I can come visit while you're there. It would be great to hit some galleries together.

    The force of your writing makes me wish I could hop on the plane and come visit now...!