Sunday, January 13, 2019

Impressionism in the Age of Industry @ the AGO

I've already booked my train tickets!

Claude Monet, Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare, 1877
oil on canvas, 60.3 x 80.2 cm

This exhibition, Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissarro and More is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, and runs from February 16 to May 5, 2019.

It brings masterpieces from around the world to the AGO, including over 100 great paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs and films from the period. The show also includes holdings from the AGO's permanent collection, showing them in a new light.

Says Caroline Shields, the AGO's Assistant Curator of European Art,
"Bringing these works together will offer a new perspective on Impressionism, which is more often associated with leisure activities and sunny landscapes. These artists were equally fascinated by the modernity of industry. Their art celebrates the changes occurring around them and the people who made it all happen." 

Camille Pissarro, Le pont Boieldieu à Rouen, temps mouillé, 1896
oil on canvas, 73.6 x 91.4 cm

For more information, visit the AGO website.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A day in the studio

Some days in the studio are not about creativity, but about taking care of business.

In a few days I will deliver twenty-seven cityscapes to the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum for an exhibition. So today was set aside to...

  • go over the work with a lint roller, 
  • snip loose threads, 
  • glue down corners that had lifted,
  • touch up the black paint on the canvases, 
  • assemble cardboard boxes, and
  • pack and label boxes.

...and more to come

I was glad to have the company of an excellent audiobook for the day. Have been sampling the writing of Ian McEwan recently, and this crime novel fit the bill nicely. The narrator of the story is a 9-month-old fetus, who witnesses (in utero) his mother and uncle plotting the death of his father. Now, is there something about this storyline that evokes memories of high school English class? What if I told you the mother's name was Trudy and the uncle's name Claude?

Exactly. Nutshell is a modern take on Hamlet. (Mother Gertrude, Uncle Claudius.) I was quite pleased with myself for picking that off.  And no, I am not going to reveal how the story ends. 

Sometimes a good audiobook is just the kind of support you need to get through a day of routine tasks in the studio.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Upcoming exhibition @ the MVTM

Brooklyn #6, hand-dyed cotton, 24 x 24

I am delighted to have been invited to participate in a two-woman show at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum, in Almonte, ON. Some twenty of my cityscapes will be on display, along with the work of British textile artist Anne Kelly.

The show will open on Saturday, January 19, with a reception from 2 - 4 pm. Anne and I both plan to be on hand so please consider attending.

The museum is a national historic site, and its permanent exhibit showcases the history of the textile industry in Eastern Ontario.

The museum's second floor is filled with artefacts from
the area's history as a centre for textile manufacture.

Almonte itself is a charming example of small-town Ontario, so plan to spend a little time there, checking out its cafés and shops.

The museum's winter hours are Tuesday - Friday 10 am - 4 pm and Saturday noon - 4 pm, closed on Sunday and Monday.

The show continues until March 23, 2019.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Anni Albers @ Tate Modern

Sadly, it is unlikely that I will be able to visit the current exhibition of Anni Albers at Tate Modern, which ends January 27, 2019. The show has received rave reviews from The Guardian and The New York Times.

But visitors to the Tate Modern site can learn about Albers' life and career, and get a sense of the powerful visual and tactile impact of her weaving.

Scroll to the bottom of the Tate site and more resources appear, like the reflections of Sheila Hicks on Albers' oeuvre, or even Seven Life Hacks from Anni Albers.


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Art Critique for Dummies

Well, here's a bit of humour to mark the year end. If you go to this site, and enter a random five digits, you will be rewarded with a bit of nonsensical "art-speak". Some sample results:
"It's difficult to enter into this work because of how the internal dynamic of the negative space endangers the devious simplicity of a participation in the critical dialogue of the 90s."
"Umm... the optical suggestions of the spatial relationships seems very disturbing in light of the exploration of montage elements."
 "I'm surprised that no one's mentioned yet that the metaphorical resonance of the facture makes resonant the essentially transitional quality."
Mix and match as desired....


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Robert Genn's criteria for judging art

October Song, Robert Genn

For years I have subscribed to The Painter's Keys, an e-newsletter formerly published by Canadian painter Robert Genn and, since his death in 2014, continued by his daughter Sara, also a painter. The newsletter covers a broad range of topics of interest to artists in all media, and to art aficionados. Often an older post is pulled from the files and re-published.

A recent post, originally published in 2005, outlined the criteria that Robert Genn proposed to evaluate a work of art. Occasionally, Genn served as a judge or juror, and he would score the entries using the following "evaluation points":
  • compositional integrity, 
  • sound craftsmanship, 
  • colour sensitivity, 
  • creative interest, 
  • design control, 
  • gestural momentum, 
  • artistic flair, 
  • expressive intensity, 
  • professional touch, 
  • surface quality, 
  • intellectual depth, 
  • visual distinction, 
  • technical challenge and 
  • artistic audacity. 

He wrote,
"If you were to assign a maximum value of 10 to each of these fourteen points, an almost impossible top mark would be 140. Loosely speaking, a total of around 50 is often enough for an “in.” My system doesn’t favour realism over non-objective work, but in my jury duty hard-won realism often wins out with these points."

Grove with Yellow Green, Robert Genn, 

While I would have trouble distinguishing "artistic flair" from "artistic audacity", I would not argue with the double-weighting of this quality. The vocabulary of the checklist is helpful when I try to articulate my response to a particular work, whether it is my own or other's.

The original article may be found here. The terms are further explained in a subsequent post.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas postcards 2018

May your days be merry and bright

Once again this year, I have sent out a couple dozen machine-stitched Christmas cards of my own design.

I painted silver ink onto hand-dyed cotton, using a commercial stencil that I masked with a triangular shape. Machine-stitching with silver metallic thread followed. A red paint marker was used to decorate the tree. The three layers of hand-dye, batting and muslin were backed with watercolour paper and the edge was finished with a narrow zigzag of silver rayon thread. 

I get a kick out of sending these through the mail wearing only a stamp, no envelope or protective sleeve. 

And, if you're still reading, I hope that your holiday is filled with days both merry and bright!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

27 Artists on the Worst (and Best) Advice Anyone Ever Gave Them...

artist Marina Abramovic, one of the 27 respondents

An article in a recent issue of New York magazine interviews a number of artists who answer the questions,
  • Who gave you the best advice on being an artist, and what was it?
  • What's the worst advice you ever got?
  • Did anyone ever give you permission to be an artist?
  • Was there a moment when you felt like you'd made it?
  • What was your plan B?
Answers range from amusing to encouraging to enlightening.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Old Town Square, Riga

Old Town Square, Riga, 18 x 24

Completed just a few days ago, this is #20 in the collection of larger cityscapes to be included in my upcoming museum show. In addition, I will deliver seven smaller urban landscapes, which may also be displayed as space allows. 

Fabrics used include a mottled hand-dye for the sky, a range of hand-dyes in neutral colours and, for the terra-cotta-coloured roofs, commercially printed cotton.

The work is inspired by a photo I took while visiting Riga this past summer.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Jerry Saltz: How to be an Artist

Recently published in New York magazine is a compelling article by Jerry Saltz, a self-described "failed artist". Saltz is a well-known American art critic and columnist, awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2018.

His article is subtitled "33 rules to take you from clueless amateur to generational talent (or at least help you live life a little more creatively)".

I found the article well worth reading, and wanted to share it here.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

A New Cityscape

It's true. I declared to my art friends a year or two ago that I would never make another cityscape.

But now I find myself preparing for a show that requires twenty cityscapes, and I am currently in possession of only 18. (I've been very fortunate to have sold most of the hundred-or-so that I have made over the years.)

A visit to Latvia this past summer allowed me to take this photo from the top of the Riga cathedral, using a good zoom lens. Thank you, Lauma, for convincing me that I needed a new camera, and then for showing me the sights in this intriguing city.

I am pleased to introduce my most recent cityscape, made of hand-dyed and commercially-printed cotton.

View from Riga cathedral, 24 x 18

Love those rooflines, the variety of scale, the punch of the reds against the neutrals, the range of value. I think that what I have been learning in painting workshops is reflected in this most recent work in fibre, and I am happy to include it in my upcoming show.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Price of Everything

I've just seen a most thought-provoking and entertaining movie.

The Price of Everything is a documentary by Nathaniel Kahn, recently released for streaming on HBO.

Interviews with artists, collectors, dealers and critics help us to understand the reality of art as commodity. Much as we may disdain the idea of paintings selling in the hundreds of millions of dollars to private collectors, the fact is that one-percenters have a lot of money to invest, and many of the super-rich see art as part of a well-rounded investment portfolio. Museums do not have the funds to acquire art at these prices, and so the artworks are lost to the public. Owners are reluctant to donate their work to museums, even with a tax benefit, if they think the paintings will only end up in storage.

In most cases of hyper-inflated sale prices, it is not the artists who are making money; much of the action happens in the secondary market of auctions. In fact, if an artist's work is subject to a suddenly inflated sale price, it can actually sabotage her/his career, as the prices may not be sustainable. The artist is then deemed to be "old news".

I would recommend this documentary to anyone interested in how art intersects with society.