Capacity of Color – Class Curated Art Show at PAFA

During the spring semester of 2019 I was enrolled in a class called Exhibitions & Curatorial Visions taught by artist Alexis Granwell. Our assignment was to come up with an art show concept, put out a call for art, curate and install in PAFA’s Anne Bryan Gallery.

We chose the broad theme of color, choosing to privilege this element over all others and titled it Capacity of Color. Every student in the class took on a specific job that goes into throwing a successful art show. I did most of the advertisement collateral: art show flyer, instagram images, press release design and so on.

Capacity of Color was an overall cohesive and successful exhibition. The space, a basement gallery with low ceilings and no natural light, was used effectively. The low placement of many of the displayed sculptures, cleverly created an intimacy between the viewer and art. Other installations, like Suji Kanneganti and Jessica Aquino’s fabric pieces, flowed from floor to ceiling to create an effective upward flow, leading the eye from the floor pieces to the two-dimensional works on the walls.

There was a large number of small pieces in the show, stand alone and in groupings. I believe, if installed in a standard way, the pieces would have been overwhelmed, but instead, they were staggered which helped make a more interesting space and saved each piece from being swallowed by the white walls and basement shadows.

There were a few pieces in the show that I did not feel played well with the rest of the show, and if I was able to change things, I would have left some works out and instead juried other submissions in. I believe that the less representational works were, the more they fit into the overall exhibition.

I learned a lot from the experience and will jump at chances to curate in the future.

The Capacity of Color is a student-curated
exhibition of sculpture, site-specific installation,
painting, drawing, printmaking, and works on paper
from the Brodsky Center Archive. This exhibition deals
with 2D and 3D work that communicates the language
of color in terms of the optical, the symbolic, the
aggressive, the delicate, and the tactile. This grouping
of work pushes the boundaries of the capacity of color
in an expansive and exciting way.

Exhibiting Artists:
Alicia Greco – Ashley Garner – Bernadette Colburn
Bryon Kim – Claire Tenhula – Emma Keller – Iris Padilla
Isabelle Schipper – Jessica Aquino – JP Calabro
Kelly Micca – Kemeys Goethe – Kiki Smith – Nasir Young
Neill Catanguy – Rebecca Giles – Sally Richards
Shane Lowder – Suji Kanneganti – Jiatong Tian

Woolworth Walk – Asheville Art

I had a hometown friend visiting me in Asheville last week. Even though I was working everyday I did my best to show him around town. One of the spots I walked him through was Woolworth Walk, the art and craft gallery/old fashioned soda fountain. I’m guilty of speed browsing these type of group galleries, but this time, for the first time probably, two artists’ work grabbed a hold of my short attention span.

First there was John Nebraska’s gallery space. I don’t think I have it in me to wax poetic about his work. To put it simply, it made me happy. I wasn’t sure of his methods or medium, but after looking him up online, it appears he is a commercial illustrator. His commissioned work seems to be digital. His fine art, the pieces I was looking at, are a mix of acrylic paints, pastels, collage, and probably more.

Part of the joy of finding Asheville art I love is knowing that the person who created it is part of the small world I’m living in. They are walking about, thinking about creating their pictures, anonymously, quietly. I don’t know them, but they are puttering around town beside me.

And then pottery, for the first time ever, caught my eye. I don’t mean I don’t like or respect pottery. I absolutely do, but it’s not what usually pulls me. As a painter, I think I naturally enjoy looking at and inspecting the flat.

The cups and plates of Mud Stuffing Pottery really amused me. I think it was the clean shapes and whiteness, layered with what I assume is a collage and glaze type technique of found images. There are layers to the simplicity.

Art in Asheville – ALLIGOODART

My plan for a while has been to blog about local art I find in Asheville, and not just from white walled exhibitions. There is a lot going on here. Most businesses seem to try to incorporate local art into their decor. Below are some pieces I’ve seen on display at Harvest Records, a local indie record shop near my place in West Asheville. It took me a while to figure out who the artist was. There wasn’t any attribution tags below the works which was a bit frustrating. Maybe if I was truly a local I’d already know who she was. I stumbled across her work looking at other local profiles on instagram. She goes by Alligoodart and you can see more of her work on her instagram feed. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume her name is Alli Good.

It’s interesting to me that I immediately had the gut assumption that this work was created by a man. The grotesque stylization and bright, acidic colors are things I associate with male artists. It reminded me of work by Ryan HeshkaTravis Lampe, and Gary Basemen, but then I realized another artist it reminded me of was Camilla Rose Garcia, a woman, not exactly of course, but they are all in the same extended family. The detail on the turtle necks, painted patterns of strawberries and cherries, should have clued me into the work being created by a woman. I remember growing up wearing such things usually paired with too tight corduroy pants.

In the end though, it doesn’t matter what the gender of the artist it. It’s just interesting to examine your immediate assumptions about anything.

Please check out her instagram feed. She seems to update it very frequently with not just paintings, but tons of ink drawings. Hooray for gross art! Our bodies are itchy and prickly vehicles that makes all sorts of funky fluids and noises. Girls are especially under pressure to deal with monthly weirdness all while expected to pretend our bods are fragrant and soft spring meadows. Okay, I’m being silly, but it’s true. I just like art created by girls that pokes fun at bodies.

Asheville Adventuring Around

I had a super awesome time last week visiting North Carolina’s Asheville area as a fact finding mission. I was put up by artist and designer Chelsey Barnes and her boyfriend(and their pug, Fig Newton)for the week. Staying with friends makes trips so much easier on the psyche and wallet!

I visited my future instructor, artist Angela Cunningham at Marshall High Studios, a renovated and repurposed former high school building in Marshall NC in the middle of a river, divided into studio spaces for artists of all kinds. I took photos but did a terrible job due to my lack of picture taking skills and the gloomy skies. Visit the above link to learn more about the space.

River Arts District

I feel like I only skimmed the surface. The combination of my horrible sense of direction and the dismal weather kept me to cozy cafes, darting out here and there in order to lurk the many open studios in the reclaimed industrial section of the mountain town. On my way out of Asheville I was sad to realize I was driving by several other working studios that I hadn’t discovered during my visit…next time I suppose, and that won’t be too far in the future. Asheville is not a perfect place, but there is something very appealing about it. There is a lot of art being made there, not all of it great, but more importantly there is a centralized community. At least I think there is. It felt that way. In general the spaces were very walkable, the people were interested and there was a distinct feeling I came upon again and again. There wasn’t a cagey sense of competition when speaking to other artists. There seemed to be an understanding that not everyone was vying for the same audience and dollars, or even if that was the case, it didn’t feel like it mattered. 

Please forgive my sad iphone photo skills.

Daniel Mcclendon at Lift Studios was a pleasure to talk to. The space was beautiful and completely full of his paintings, both complete and in progress. 

Wedge Studios was a fun space to explore. It was a hive and I liked that. Below are pictures from that section of building. I am not able to identify every artist represented, but will edit as I discover who did what and so on.

Pictured below is the entrance to artist Julie Armbruster‘s work space. She was also kind enough to chat with me.

I really dug the airy feeling of Melanie Norris‘ section of the building.

Curve Studios, another cluster of buildings seemingly dedicated to ceramicists, metal smiths and fiber artists.

Phil Mechanics Studios was pretty much deserted when I visited, but I was still able to wander around the building’s floors and cement stairwells.

I traipsed through a few open studios on Clingman street, shown below…

Odyssey Ceramic

I stopped into the Pink Dog Creative stretch of buildings and talked a while with artist Mary Webster who was kind enough to tell me about her experience in the area since moving there. 

Not much further down the street I met artist Richard Christian Nelson. Again I was amazed at the willingness of the people I met to put aside their work for the moment in order to talk with me. He was especially enjoyable to talk to considering his work was closer to what I’m hoping to learn while studying with Angela in Marshall NC. He also teaches workshops in Asheville, emphasizing anatomy and observational skills.

I popped into Cotton Mill Studios. I appreciated the atmosphere in Studio G. Below are pictures of what appears to be a life drawing class set up and master copies by Bill George.

Downtown Co-Ops and Galleries

Downtown I enjoyed how clustered the local galleries were together and near the Asheville Art Museum. They all shared space and together most likely pull crowds from place to place…which is how it should be! I was impressed with how pulled together the co-op galleries were. None felt like a flea market. The work was diverse, hung well on clean modular white walls. They felt inviting and professional without being sterile.

Blue Spiral Gallery was beautiful inside. It was a three floor gallery full of contemporary work and what appeared to be a traveling collection. The lady at the front desk informed me the gallery was designed with the help of a local architect. My favorite pieces seen there were the lil’ organic sculptures created by Amy Gross and paintings by Charles Ladson.

The Satellite Gallery was another space I am happy I got to explore. It’s a smaller space but efficiently used. I popped my head in late last Thursday to find the owner busy hanging a show, but he was kind enough to allow me to look around.

I am eager to go back this coming May. There is a lot more for me to see and knowing that is exciting and gives me hope. It was especially interesting considering all the effort to create an artist district here in Downtown Norfolk. You can read about the project efforts on it’s facebook page, Norfolk Arts District. Being essentially art tourist in Asheville has made me want to approach Norfolk as one as well for another photo blog post. Asheville’s arts district has a working grittiness to it that I’m not sure Norfolk would embrace, but that I think isn’t something they’ll be able to avoid if in fact they want it to work here. Painting, sculpting, glass blowing, et cetera doesn’t happen in pristine spaces. It’s work and messes are made. It’s those messes that make the spaces relatable and appealing, at least it does to me. I hope Norfolk at large doesn’t remain afraid.

influences and inspiration – historical to contemporary

Below are examples of artwork from the past and present, antique and contemporary, that especially appeal to me. I think it’s important to have influences, and even more important to be aware of what they are.

Above from left to right – Death the Bride by Thomas Cooper GotchMemento Mori by Tom Bagshaw. Bagshaw’s halo in the above piece reminds me of details from Paul Delaroche’s paintings dealing with the subject of death. Bagshaw’s work is an example of what painterly effects can be achieved through digital media.

Drained by Lori EarleyThe Sleepwalker by Maxmilián Pirner.

Daphne by Hubert von HerkomerYou Don’t Sing to Me Anymore by Caryn Drexl. Caryn is a very talented contemporary photographer who I wished lived near me so I could collaborate with her!

La nuit by Auguste Raynaud, Evening Mood by Bougereau, The Morning Star and the Moon by Carl Schweininger. It’s pretty clear that I am a sucker for floating bodies and gauzy vapor and/or fabric.

Below are some links to some sites that sustain me a bit, especially when it comes to breaking down the process and solving technical issues. Though I have to be careful not to let myself get too sucked into reading about painting and drawing rather than actually doing it.

Underpaintings

Paintings Stuff to Look Like Stuff

Portraits of Painters

DG Oil Painting Techniques

David Kassan

Art of the Scam

The topic of art theft has come up A LOT lately. This past Art Basel in Miami Jason Levesque walked into a gallery space in the SCOPE tent and came face to face with artwork straight up traced from old photographs of his and North Carolina photographer Marie Killen, by ‘painter’ Josafat Miranda.

In Jason’s own words…

Walking around Art Basel, this weekend I came across a few pieces in the Scope show that looked pretty familiar. There was a sampling of 3 pieces presented by the Robert Fontaine Gallery all by the same artist. I recognized my photography in two of them and the third was a copy of my good friend Marie Killen’s photo. When i got home a quick google search reveled that nearly his entire body of work was comprised of other peoples photography. No credits were given, though that wouldn’t have put the artist in the clear. Josafat Miranda hadn’t bothered to change the composition or content in any appreciable way, even though that too would not have put him in the clear.
For me, photography was a hobby, something I did for fun. But it was art. These weren’t candids, they were carefully composed, edited photos. The model traveled, did her makeup and helped style the shoot. Put simply, it was a collaborative artistic endeavor by me and the model Tracy P.

Marie Killen is a wildly talented photographer living in North Carolina. Photography is her passion and craft and she does it extremely well. In my opinion she’s one of the best photographers in her genre. Her shoots require far more work and planning than mine ever did. She’s developed, through hard work and practice, a recognizable style.
What Josafat Miranda has done here reveals a total disrespect for photography as an art form. He’s quickly and with very little creative alteration, harvested the yield of someone else’s hard work. What makes a painting strong, isn’t just the brush strokes and the rendering method, more, much more, than that is the composition, the subject matter and the hundreds of creative decisions that go into making an original piece of art.

Jason Levesque, Stuntkid.com

While the whole situation has been anxiety inducing, I’ve somewhat enjoyed the internet conversation this issue has generated Enjoyed AND been baffled by it. It hasn’t been a good experience for Jason, mainly because he didn’t wish to start a witch hunt, but at the same time it’s important to point out wrong actions. Especially if it can be turned into a teaching moment. 

Some may see it as free advertising for Jason, and I suppose to some degree that’s true, but it certainly wasn’t the best kind of exposure. Josafat Miranda traced Jason’s photographs…and that’s what the articles are about. Jason is mainly an illustrator, so he was receiving attention to work that he no longer makes.

He also is one of the most empathetic people I know, and he was concerned about the amount of angry attention Josafat Miranda was receiving. What Miranda did was wrong, but Jason had no desire for the man to suffer unreasonably…yet when you read Miranda’s response in the Daily Mail article you see the strain, but you also see the disconnect with reality. He doesn’t appear to be sorry for what he’s done.

You can read more about the incident at the below links. The below links also show the original works next to the copied versions.

Miami New Times

Daily Mail

HyperAllergic

You Thought We Wouldn’t Notice

The above incident happened in muggy Miami, but it was talked about a lot locally. I doubt that many in our local ‘art scene’ were completely unaware of it. So you’d think…you’d think that local ‘artist’ Rashidi Barrett would have watched that scenario unfold quietly, stealthily hide his own traced works and taken it as a lesson that he was luckily able to learn privately.
(edited to add that in the AltDaily article Barrett claims not to have known about the Miami incident, IMO that is possible but not probable considering the massive and local internet reaction)

Of course things didn’t work out that way. You can read more about the situation in the links below. They sum it up better than I can. The entire thing is incredibly awkward. It’s like an excruciatingly embarrassing episode of Parks & Recreation, and I need to run away from the television.

Old South High

Pilot Online

Alt Daily

Read the comments on all articles linked above. They range from rabid outrage to apologetic. It is amazing and often demoralizing to get a look at how others view this kind of grifting.

I feel that both incidents are a result of several things: the acclaim by those not visually literate, some success too soon, a need for attention and approval greater than the need for the basis being rooted in honesty and earned skill.

I also think art classes should talk about these issues more often, at the very least encouraging discussion about the differences between appropriation and theft or whether there is one at all. I certainly believe there is. An homage is not one if no one knows about it. The copying artist chooses not to reveal their sources or inspiration. I don’t believe school being better about talking about these subjects would prevent it. I don’t believe either Miranda or Barrett took art classes, but I think it would foster art scenes more capable of having an intelligent discussion about it or even more likely to spot possible fraud.

What I find interesting is that both Miranda and Barrett were able to find fans and patrons. I realize this part of my rant could be put down to taste, but I feel strongly about it. Neither, in my opinion, seem to display much skill. (There is a lot of work out in the world that I wouldn’t hang on my wall, but I can recognize the skill and creativity behind it and appreciate it.) There is a disconnect between their mark making, subjects and materials. I can’t explain it very well, but it confuses me when others claim that both are talented…projecting an image you never sketched on a canvas and tracing them awkwardly is not a display of technical skill or creativity. What others see as talent in working artists is the result of hundreds of hours of practice, anguish and struggle.

I realize it’s important to nurture and support fledgling artists, but that doesn’t mean treating them(I’m not excluding myself from this) as genius’ right out of the gate. 

The art world is huge, but the internet is making it smaller. Copying anothers work to learn is an accepted and admirable way to learn. Almost every artist has done it at some point. Representing it only as your own creation is not part of that path.

Whether the above issues are legal or not is not part of my point, and I’m not interested in arguing about that aspect. 

Just because something may be legal, or even normal, does not make those actions ethical or honorable.

Ugh, general overall ickiness!