March 5, 2010

Opening Day: Squared Away

Today marks the opening of the second installment of my exhibition, "Homage to Squares: The Poetry of Paintings and Mosaics." The down side of not selling much work at an exhibition is that it can be difficult to cover exhibition costs, let alone make a profit. The up side is that the artist still has a body of work available to travel to a new venue. If one is lucky enough, another gallery/museum will host the continuing saga of the ever growing body of art.
Regardless of the fact that I could just recycle the same exhibition in a different setting, I generally pull some old work out and replace it with some new things to freshen it up. In the case of Kansas City exhibition, pragmatism prevailed in this regard because everything had to be shipped to location. Small works on canvas were ideal for shipping but even mid-range mosaics, with their plethora of stones and ceramics, were problematic. As a consequence, only five of these were shipped out. What I made to fill the wall space usually taken by these heavier works were a series of small square collages weighing just ounces each. I took as inspiration for this small run of collage work, the paintings of the abstract expressionists I had reacquainted myself with when I taught this subject at the Columbia Museum of Art last August. Using a decidedly automatist technique, I painted small square non-objective compositions with acrylic on paper then mounted these onto a tinted museum board base. I then reinterpreted elements of the painted colors and composition with painted papers cut in various shapes and sizes. These were pasted onto the background in mosaic designs, sometimes tessellated, other times cut in haphazard patterns. There was something very peaceful about the act of assembling these small compositions in the joy of working only with shapes, textures and colors. Objects are fascinating but sometimes worrisome for artists- having to get something that reasonably evokes recognition.
The first square in this series is influenced by Gottlieb - the rounded forms with their definitive black outlines. But the color palette is decidedly different, more earthy. The painting to the left was purposely done in counterpoint to the first one, in soft pastel colors redolent of the comfort of flannel pajamas. I will look forward to having these paintings back again but would rather they find homes in the midwest.

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