Saturday, February 26, 2011

Power of the Brush

Walking through the Center for Visual Artists to view the last days of exhibiting VISUAL DOCUMENTS by Juie Rattley III, it is impressive to note the impact each brush stroke has on the work.  Oil on canvas, spread with long caressing strokes evokes a sense of compassion for the sleeping woman, while short thick jabs of dark colors evoke distain or perhaps simply imply something coarse and unrefined about the man seemingly looking past the viewer.

A grouping of self-portraits depicts a series of reactions to hearing of the death of a friend.  With bold colors and an obvious mixture of brush strokes it is easy to see the progression of shock to outrage to confusion to grief.  It is the combination of bold, dark colors and the visual tracing of the brush strokes that gives each piece a distinction beyond the expression and stance of those in the paintings.

One painting stands out of the entire collection, drawing you back repeatedly.  Blue is the dominant color with white, black, brown and a hint of yellow.  However it is the brush’s touch upon the canvas that is the fascinating aspect of note.  Each color is dabbed in a loose cube-like manner giving the whole painting an almost pixilated feel.  It is detaching, yet engaging at the same time.  It is easy to spend so much time entranced by the texture and to become startled to see that the subject of the painting seems to be studying you just as intently.

-Veronica Ibarra

Friday, February 25, 2011

French's Time Capsule

As a resident of Charlotte I am happy to see this city grow and change. In the three years I have been here I can honestly attest to the fact that every time I take a walk through this city there is a new restaurant, a new shop, a new pub that has popped up, and somehow they are all brimming with people and functioning as if they have been there the whole time. Each brings a different vibe, and each makes up a small piece of this ever-changing, ever-growing puzzle known as Uptown. You can’t ignore the art here, because it is everywhere: from the unique and funky décor and signage of the establishments, to the live jazz band that plays on the streets and fills the city with rhythm and life, to the people that cross every intersection.

I met David French the night of the Uptown Christmas Tree Lighting, in the market across the street. He had a booth there, amongst other artists and entrepreneurs selling their artistic specialties: fresh foods, seasonal décor, off-beat gifts and the like. I loved the fact that his booth represented all there is to enjoy in the QC. Many of his paintings were of favorite hot-spots and other local attractions, and for me, this took “local art” to a whole new level. Two paintings of his in particular caught my eye. They were similar in style in that they were the artist’s interpretations of both the intersection of 6th & Tryon, and the intersection of Trade & Tryon. The colors are what drew me in initially, and once I got closer I noticed the beautiful drawings of the statues that box the intersection in the center of the city. Even though I have passed these statues every day, for some reason they seemed even more beautiful in French’s painting. I wasn’t planning on purchasing them, but I was enjoying checking out the detail. Then, a couple came over to look at the paintings. They loved them, and for a moment I was nervous that they would purchase them. The man's complaint: “Hmmm…these would be great, but they are missing some important buildings – the Wachovia Building, The Vue, and the Avenue. That stinks.” The woman quietly nodded, and off they went.

I took a few steps closer and noticed that he was right – those buildings were in fact missing. The artist must have painted these before those buildings broke ground. It put into perspective for me how fast this city was growing, and as a result, his paintings became a time capsule of how this city looked before I called it home. Sometimes when a road is re-done, or a new building goes up, it’s hard to remember what it looked like in the first place. One credit card swipe, two nails and one hammer later, a frozen snapshot of what once was the Uptown skyline now hangs on my wall and serves as a constant reminder of a work of art – even if it is a work in progress. 

-Alessandra Macaluso

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fleeting Ownership

The looting in Iraq was infamous. In the frenzy of the occupation, museums were ransacked and archaeological sites were damaged. It still happens in Iraq today but it’s taken in stride as collateral damage.

And now, as political unrest pops up everywhere, it begs the question: what cultural keepsake will be tainted next by political strife?

Just several days ago, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo reopened after the protests happening right outside its door forced them to close. As patrons entered the museum on Sunday, they were greeted with roses. But beneath the rosy surface, Egypt’s antiquities minister tries to salvage the many items that were stolen during the protests. Art is just one of many faceless victims of changing times.

As in Iraq and countless nations where laws are blurred in the fog of war, people loot because they feel an ownership for something. They may not have painted it or sculpted it but being a looter is a sign of being a survivor. They are in the nightmare of it; you are not.

So, who owns the art of the dead?

Ownership is a tricky subject. But, the important thing has never been to argue about who owns an item, it has always been about protecting items for future generations.

Art belongs to future generations.

-Alex Clark

Monday, February 21, 2011

Abstracting With Lori Love Penland

  • After receiving a Facebook invite to the entitled 'Showdown', (a competition) exhibition of varied artists at Hart Witzen Gallery event I couldn't pass up the opportunity to not only attend a surprisingly unknown to my knowledge gallery in the area but also artists whose names were new to my ears and work to my eyes. 

    So there I am, confronted with a card at the door with a list of the artists names featured in the showing with empty boxes beside each name to puncher after viewing to cast your vote of choice for favorite artist to be inserted in a raffle box. But little did I know walking in, that the first viewed collection that looked to be inspired by the Rorschach test used to subject perceptions of inkblots for psychoanalysis would be my vote right away without any further consideration or curiosity of other works. After submitting my ballot I visited other mediums and concepts and fortunately I remained without regret - l know what I like. 

    Penland's mixed media abstract almost existential analysis on nature combined with sophicated composition and intelligence swooned me. Especially, the work on light boxes in particular. It's the kind of pieces you would even want to see in the dark and thanks to modern contemporary design being three of her canvases you can. The fascination of the human mind/nature with the play of the inkblot like forms give not only the eye constant evolution through shape from angle to angle but a perspective interactive. 

    Lori Love Penland's collection was featured at Hart Witzen Gallery from February 4th-18th. 


    Q - Out of curiously and not to 'kill the cat' but do you have a background in psychology? 

    A- I like to say that I have a background in the human animal. My first two years as an undergraduate student were spent in a premed program. I was infatuated by the human body at a cellular level, the level the human eye cannot see without the aid of microscope. However, that infatuation waned somewhat as I began to pursue interest in philosophy, psychology, sociology and the social sciences. I actually did a fellowship at a University in England studying the writings of Marx and Lenin.

    Q - I read a bit of info on your site and it quotes "My work as an artist is one of continual struggle whereby I attempt to narrow the chasm between vision and reality." and "Many of the paintings in the Human Touch series are based on images from photographs, newspapers and magazines documenting the state of society and the often overlooked emotions of shame, grief and despair as exhibited by addicts, the homeless, the institutionalized, and other more vulnerable elements of modern society."
    Would you then say that your work is conceptual in a way being that your last collections medium differentiates from your most recent? Does subject matter evoke what to do/use next?

    A- Let me just say that I see my art as a journey and like every journey, there's the actual physical, that which can be measured whether it be space, time, shape, color, etc..and then there is the metaphysical or the nature of the mind in relation to the physical.

    My latest series is really an attempt to marry these two worlds together. I think that the medium used in this body of work has taken me one step further in that journey in that I am attempting to bring others along on their own journey, realizing that while the physical may be common to all, the experience is unique to the individual. 
    For me as an artist, these pieces convey a certain conceptual completeness in my vision. They are organic, yet structured, a certain yin and yang, which again is very much a part of the human experience and particularly the human psyche.

    Q - When/Where will your work be featured next? 

    A- Currently, I have a duel exhibition scheduled to open in August of this year at a gallery in Gastonia. All the details have not yet been finalized. "In the Beginning" has also been juried by Nathan Trotman, Curator for the Guggenheim, as a semi finalist for a show in NY in late March. 

    -Amanda Medina

Sunday, February 20, 2011

More Heaven Than Earth

"Whenever I am on East Boulevard in Charlotte, I always make it a point to stop in to Red Sky Gallery. The artwork here never disappoints, and the space that houses it serves as the perfect canvas. Some galleries are meant to have soaring ceilings, large open spaces, and blank, white walls - this is not Red Sky. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Although Red Sky chooses art work to fill its walls, there is a strange feeling that the art here, even the rotating exhibits, seek out the gallery on their own and call it home. And home is exactly what it feels like.

The Red Sky building is a house, with separate rooms, staircases and landings - even a kitchen. Behind every corner, around every turn, up every step is another surprise to greet you and engage your senses. The current exhibit here features new works by Devon Burgess and Paul Hastings. Burgess is a glass artist, and Hastings, a painter. Upon first glance of the exhibit I can't help but wonder if these two have met. If their personalities mesh as well as their works, I think they would get along famously. Burgess's glass works are sleek and mysterious, and their shapes seem as if they are fluid and natural, and freshly poured. His vases are so striking and gorgeous all on their own that you wouldn’t even want to interrupt them with a flower.

Upon walking up a flight of stairs I was greeted by a gorgeous canvas, fittingly titled "More Heaven than Earth." The detail of the piece appears to only take up the very bottom of the canvas - about one quarter of the piece. The top three quarters is filled with nothing other than a blue sky. A gorgeous blue, but really, that's it - just a wide open blue sky, not even graced with a single cloud. 

Hastings' paintings got me thinking about how we limit ourselves, box ourselves. They gently remind us to look up once in a while, to jump into that space and make something happen. It's very easy to become wrapped up in our "worlds", and when we forget how small we really are, we lost perspective on how big the world is: what really matters, how to be happy, how certain instances just aren't important in the grand scheme of things. Appreciate the beauty in the little things, and make sure you are grounded. But every once in a while, don't forget to look up. After all, there's more heaven than earth.

-Ali Macaluso

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Getting Up Close to Art through Technology

Wouldn't it be great to take a trip to the National Gallery in London or the Museum Kampa in Prague? How awesome would it be to get up close to a Van Gogh painting - so close you could see the texture of the paint and follow each brush stroke?

Well, the Art Project, powered by Google allows you to do just that. Utilizing their Street View Technology, Google has partnered up with museums from around the world to allow you to view art in places you may never have the chance to visit, and get closer than you would ever be allowed in person.

As a study tool for any artist, this could prove invaluable. The zoom application of this site provides an opportunity to see the detail of the techniques and materials used. Study the works of an artist at your leisure, any time, day or night--even if those works are housed in different museums. The site allows you to create and save an Artwork Collection of your favorite works viewed at the zoom level of your choice with the option of adding comments, which can be utilized to make special notes. These Artwork Collections can also be shared providing artists a way to collaborate and compare study notes.

From paintings to photographs to sculptures and more, this site allows any artist the opportunity to study art more broadly than they may have the ability to do otherwise.

-Veronica Ibarra

Keeping Up with the Jones.0

Of what use are museums when technology takes over completely? Will we bulldoze the art museums when the Internet age matures? Perhaps we will use the ghostly halls of washed-up museums to hold massive servers and supercomputers where digital memories of once-great pieces of art will be entombed forever.

Thankfully, we’re not there yet. But skeptics and hopefuls alike know the embittered war between the horny, slavering monster known as the Internet and those that prefer to stay in the “technological dark age” is already over. Yankees or Red Sox. East coast or west coast. Blondes or brunettes. We could have never imagined that the debate as to whether or not technology is good for us would join the list of great debates of modernity.

There is salvation at last though. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum are spearheading a peace operation between the two. Attempting to reach some sort of harmony, both the Met and the Brooklyn Museum are looking for ways to implement technology into the museum experience to attract patrons otherwise uninterested.

According to an article on the New York Times website, the Met has already created its first app to accompany one if its exhibits, which itself is a reflection of the times—collection of cool guitars, no biggie, even the Director of the Met called it a “teenager’s wet dream.” Times sure are changing. The Met is also looking to hook the entire 21-building compound up to Wi-Fi, allowing patrons to enjoy customized tours on personal electronic devices, depending on “levels of sophistication.” Please don’t rate my sophistication, Met.

The Brooklyn Museum is experimenting with the way viewers make snap distinctions of paintings with their new exhibit titled, “Split Second: Indian Paintings.” The premise would make Bill Gates warm inside and no, I’m not referring to the microchips that power him. Participants who signed up viewed a collection of paintings for seconds at a time and were asked to make a judgment about the quality of the painting based on what they noticed in that short span of time. The result: a final ten pieces were chosen based on the people’s choice. Ah, there is room for Internet critics after all.

At least some out there are making the effort to meet the demands set forth by a rampant technological age but who really knows what the future holds. For now, you can still enjoy a trip to the museum the way we have for decades. Take your time with it; walk aimlessly, allow yourself to get lost and feel awed, even stupid in the presence of genius. You know, unplug from it all.

And if you have to, go ahead, use technology to supplement your journey. At least you’re not sitting at your desk, looking at paintings on Google.

-Alex Clark

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Thousand Word Commentary in a Composed Image

Wandering through the art exhibit (Dream Team | Works from 1995 to 2011) featuring the work of the photographer, Fatimah Tuggar, utilizing photo collages to juxtapose Western and West African cultures can impress upon one the stark contrast of perceived beauty and wealth, and how both are associated with power.  Seeing a rail thin model in a gorgeous dress next to a bone thin starving child is a harsh dose of reality: one working so hard to achieve an idealized state of beauty while the other works diligently to earn enough sustenance to survive.  What power does the wealth of jewels and gold hold when placed next to smiling family and friends?
These images are meant to make one think, but how do they make one feel?

Perspective of the viewer is just as much at play as the perspective of the artist, and even the perspective of the subject.  The pictures featuring predominant images from one culture and only a few images from the other provide a heightened contrast of disparity.  However, the images that seemed to balance the two showed similarities that one might not otherwise consider.  For instance, just as some Western children see sports as their way to a better life, so do some West African children. While there seemed to be some elements of the ridiculous to the combinations, that only served to emphasize the influence of technology on life, as the artist intended.  Every image with its placement in space has meaning.  

In art, there are no accidents.

-Veronica Ibarra

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wintertime Blues

I'm not gonna lie. This entire weekend I had a serious case of the winter blues. But as I wandered into the Charlotte Art League Gallery on Sunday afternoon, I couldn't help but notice a change in the air. The current exhibition here is called "Blues," and featured are several different artists and their interpretations of what that word evokes in them - an oil on canvas of a rich, enticing blue sky; a gorgeous photograph of the Blue Ridge Mountains; or, my personal favorite, a close-up photograph of a guitar with a cigarette (Gene Lazo's "Smokin' Blues.")The vivid colors and lush textures drew me right in, and I loved how the focus varied from dreamy hues to instruments. A dose of the "Blues" cured my case of the blues. Who knew?

-Ali Macaluso

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Introspection at the Mint

I go to the Mint Museum on a rainy day in February. The museum is empty without the occasional security staff floating through and on the second floor, there is an exhibit titled, “The Shape of Life: Contemporary Native American Ceramics.” The room is rectangular and white and aseptic and somewhere near the room, maybe in the walls, something mechanical drones as ambience. Encased in glass around the room, an assortment of ceramics sits barely perceptible. That is, until you stop and notice them.

The ceramics are of various shapes and sizes and each jar, bowl or vase is painted with deep browns and earthy reds, sharply contrasting blacks and whites. They are aptly referred to as vessels as they truly are vessels through which something deeper is transported to the third-dimension. It’s difficult for me to imagine that these impossibly intricate vessels aren’t formed in some machine and mass-produced miles away from trees and dirt and rivers. I’m humbled to learn—as noted in the plaque on the wall—they are all handmade without the aid of a potter’s wheel.

In the center of the room between two doors that don’t open, lead to nowhere, a vase the size of a large beach ball sits on a platform. As I move closer, the rest of the room fades away, leaving only the vase and the droning sound as the center of my focus. The vase slightly resembles a headless white swan and although I can’t touch it, I want nothing more than to feel its pearly surface. I circle it slowly and read the description: “Asymmetrical Jar” by Jacquie Stevens. 

First, the artist dreamed of this vase and tried many times to re-create it but her efforts were unsuccessful. She alleged that the vase was a divine gift bestowed only once. The longer you stand there, the more you begin to know it as a gift. It makes you want to break the glass and run your hands over the smooth surface. I read somewhere that introspection is the ultimate goal of all noble works of art and I leave the room.

The rest of the museum is muted after the vase. Walking to the car, introspection creeps up. It’s colder now and rainwater has massed into puddles in the parking lot. I notice the manufactured lines and curves and the advanced paint jobs on the twenty or thirty cars that have now filled the lot. In our world of cookie-cutter models and identical lines and angles, you may seek perfection but flawlessness comes at a price. The vase is a reminder that there is still imperfection in the world and not nearly enough of it.

-Alex Clark

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Taking the Next Step

If you can't beat 'em, have 'em join you.

Due to my less-than-stellar performance at maintaining a modest blog and losing traffic to good writers, I decided to hire one of them.  That decision quickly turned into a plan to hire three writers instead of one.  That's because, in the tradition of Ferdowsi, good writers are worth their weight in gold.  It's a good thing they're not union.

So, I'm pleased to announce that today marks a new beginning for The Artist's Champion blog.  Three new contributing writers will kick start this blog to life starting this week.  The new writers are Alessandra Macaluso, Alex Clark, and Veronica Ibarra.

Here's a few words from each one.  First, Alessandra:  

“Art.” It’s amazing that a three letter word could hold so much meaning. Art listens, interprets, expresses; it makes us feel, connect, grow, and change. And the beauty of it all is that this applies for both artist and admirer. It is no wonder it is referred to as “the universal language.”

I am a freelance writer originally from New York, currently living in Charlotte, NC. I’m excited to have this opportunity with Persepolis. I hope with this blog to discover art, connect art, to be a part of your community, and to build bridges within the art world with words.

Then we have Veronica:  

I am a writer who believes in the power that words have to influence and express, much like art.  My goal as a writer is to convey meaning to engage the reader, as well as to inform.  I am a freelance SEO Writer by trade, but a Word Warrior in my heart.  Writing is my love, my art, my discipline.

And finally, Alex:

Dim the lights, cue the music, and uncork a vintage bottle of whatever you fancy because I for one am excited to be here. I am told we’re here to write about art. The premise seems innocuous enough but it is much deeper than that. We are here to do the near-impossible. We are here to act as liaison between the reader and the art, to charm you with our own “art” to remind you that life is meant to be deeper than six hundred television channels and an endless Internet romp, to show you there is still art in this world and it’s more accessible than you think. Is it near impossible? Probably not, I have faith in you. I just hope you are as thrilled as we are.

As you can see, e
ach one brings a distinct voice, but the goal of their collective effort will remain the same as before - to create a resource for artists at this blog.  Each post will be powerful and short - we're not trying to waste an artist's time here.  The content will be artist-centric and timely.  We invite you to give us feedback on what you'd like to see more and what should be cut out.  After all, this blog is here to serve you, the artists.

Upcoming posts:

A review of a special collection by each contributing writer.

Unveiling by Persepolis Arts Agency of a new platform for featuring artists.

Announcing a new match-making service by Persepolis Arts Agency, connecting artists with figurative models.