Thursday, December 13, 2012

2012 Holiday Gift Guide for the Art Lover on Your List

I am the proverbial kid at Christmas every time a shipment of art books arrives here at Offramp. Writing about art books and stocking them for the bookstore makes it seem like the holidays year round. I've compiled this list of our best-selling titles hoping some of my enthusiasm rubs off to help you with your holiday shopping. Some are old, some are new, but all are guaranteed to satisfy the art lover on your list.

Not in the holiday spirit yet? Check out this stunning time-lapse video of one of the world's oldest Christmas markets.



 


Natural Fashion by Hans Silvester

The images are a magical portal to childhood fantasy and play, to a lost world of unfettered, unfiltered imagination and creativity. I found it hard to believe that there weren't stylists and make-up artists off camera staging this fantasy fashion show -- beautiful brown faces and bodies vibrantly painted with abstract motifs in ochre, red, yellow, green and white, and adorned with colorful headdresses of flowers, leaves, pods, mud, fruit and feathers. Click here for more.

Paris: Portrait of a City 

Taschen has had its way with me again. This time it's
Paris: Portrait of a City, a voluptuous oversized volume of photographs of the city of my dreams, a visual feast covering 150 years of Parisian history and culture that put me in a prolonged trance-like state. Glancing at my notebook afterwards, I saw that I had jotted down notes about so many events, artists, writers, photographers, entertainers and architecture that I had almost re-created the index -- that's how rich this book is. Click here for more. 


Joseph Cornell's Manual of Marvels

While rummaging through a second-hand bookstore in Manhattan in the early 1930's, Joseph Cornell came across a French agricultural manual full of black and white engravings and advice for farmers. He bought the volume and over time altered it -- adding collages, origami pockets and drawings, crossing out text to make puns, cutting through pages to reveal hidden images, inserting photos from magazines, hand-coloring images and even making a flip-book of page corners. Click here for more. 



The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson

A fascinating look into the machinations of the high-end of the contemporary art world, this book is a real eye-opener. What exactly possesses someone to pay $12 million for a stuffed shark? It's all here, from the personality and ego-fed branding of gallerists, artists and auction houses, to the collectors who blindly follow them, competing for the right to pay millions for work they neither like nor understand. I highly recommend this book as a must-read for artists and art-lovers alike. Click here for more.


The Innocence of Obects by Orhan Pamuk

Nobel prize winning author Orhan Pamuk's 2009 novel about lost love and the obsessive collecting of objects, The Museum of Innocence,
was conceived simultaneously with the idea of creating a bricks-and-mortar museum to house the objects collected while writing and researching the novel. The museum, which opened to the public in Istanbul earlier this year is housed in a modest 19th century house. The Innocence of Objects beautifully catalogs the museum's collection and in Pamuk's own words, tells the story of how the museum came to be. Click here for more. 


Hiroshige: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

As soon as I saw Taschen’s luscious volume
Hiroshige: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo in a museum gift shop, I knew I had to have it. I don't have a big budget for luxury items these days, so I was delighted to find how affordable it was. Released in 2010 as one of Taschen’s 30th birthday “Golden Books,” reprints of luxury books at affordable prices, this volume packs a lot of bang for the buck. Encased in a box depicting a detail of Hiroshige's iconic grey tree limbs and white plum blossoms against an organish-pink sky and fastened with faux ivory toggles, this book is a must-have for art lovers. Click here for more.


Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity by David Lynch

Have you ever wondered where the dark genius of filmmaker David Lynch comes from? Lynch's 2006 book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity gives rare insight into his creative process and how 35 years of Transcendental Meditation have helped him along the way. The book is comprised of 85 short chapters, some as short as a sentence, describing how Lynch captures ideas and turns them into reality through filmmaking, from Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks to Inland Empire. Catching the Big Fish is a charming, easy read and gives us a refresher course in where our own creativity comes from and how to stay connected to it. Click here for more.


Upcoming at Offramp Gallery

Closing Reception & Artist's Talk with Elaine Carhartt & James Griffith
Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm

Offramp Gallery will be closed January & February 2013


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Joseph Cornell's Amazing Manual of Marvels

Before I tell you about an amazing new Joseph Cornell box/book, I want to talk briefly about art fairs again. In my ongoing quest to get to the bottom line about whether or not participating in fairs is a money-making proposition, I recently had what I thought was a Eureka moment. The booths are hugely expensive ($6k-$15k for the smallest ones) and just coming up with money does not ensure you entrance. The organizers of the fair don't give you any information on ROI (return on investment), other than talking about exposure, leaving you with second-hand anecdotal accounts of profit/loss. So I decided to get scientific.

I gathered the email addresses of over 300 galleries who were listed as having participated in fairs last year in three major US cities: New York, Miami and Los Angeles and sent out a simple one question survey -- did you make money, break even, or lose money? I hit send and sat back to collect the responses.

I got exactly three. One gallery said they broke even, one said they lost money and the third said "I think that most galleries would not want to give you the honest answer to this question and that is why you do not have a clear answer."

So much for my scientific method. I'll keep you posted on any further insights I have on the subject.

Click here to purchase from Amazon.com
Now, on to something far more uplifting: Thames & Hudson's recently released Joseph Cornell's Manual of Marvels: How Joseph Cornell reinvented a French agricultural manual to create an American masterpiece. (Click here to purchase from Amazon.com.) While rummaging through a second-hand bookstore in Manhattan in the early 1930's, Joseph Cornell came across a French agricultural manual full of black and white engravings and advice for farmers. He bought the volume and over time altered it -- adding collages, origami pockets and drawings, crossing out text to make puns, cutting through pages to reveal hidden images, inserting photos from magazines, hand-coloring images and even making a flip-book of page corners.


All works of art by Joseph Cornell © The Joseph and Robert
Cornell Memorial Foundation/Licensed by VAGA,
 New York, NY. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of
the Joseph and Robert Cornell memorial Foundation, 2002.
The volume was discovered in Cornell's basement soon after his death in 1972 and is now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The actual book is far too fragile for all but a few to see first-hand, making this new publication all the more exciting. Getting this one in the mail and opening it was early Christmas for this art/book lover. The Manual of Marvels comes in a specially designed box with a magnetic closure that opens to reveal two books and a DVD. Pulling on a shiny red  ribbon lifts the books from the box.


The first volume is a facsimile of 60 of the pages altered by Cornell, replete with pages-deep die-cuts, an origami pocket that opens to reveal the head of a bull and end-papers so faithfully reproduced that you think Joseph Cornell actually signed your copy in pencil and left you his address in Flushing should you care to contact him.


All works of art by Joseph Cornell © The Joseph and Robert
Cornell Memorial Foundation/Licensed by VAGA,
New York, NY. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of the
Joseph and Robert Cornell memorial Foundation, 2002.
A fold-out of a diagram of a Russian ship has been collaged to show cats hanging laundry on the ship's rigging and reads "Runaway Pussy Cat." A list which mentions a "M. Couteau" has been altered in pencil to read "M. Cocteau." An engraving of strawberries has been hand-colored and altered to read as an elegant headdress for a young beauty.

The second volume in the box is a collection of essays about Cornell's work, edited by art historians Analisa Leppanen-Guerra and Dickran Tashjian. Also included in the box is a DVD showing all 425 pages of the manual, with buttons that allow you to skip to the more than 160 pages altered by Cornell, many of which are annotated. All in all, countless hours of discovery, education and enjoyment are assured. It is the perfect gift for the art/book lover on your list. Oh, and get one for yourself as well.

Click here to purchase from Amazon.com

Upcoming Events at Offramp Gallery

Patssi Valdez: Mementos
through December 23, 2012
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm


Elaine Carhartt: Portraits
through December 23, 2012
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm


James Griffith: Natural Selection
through December 23, 2012
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm

 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Videos: Bosch and Brueghel get Animated for Halloween

If your need for the macabre this Halloween goes beyond cute kids in costumes and Hallmark notions of creepy, this animated look at two giants of art history, Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder, should transport you to those depraved depths you crave.

We'll start with a jaunty video by Eli Rosen based on the drawing Big Fish Eat Little Fish by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.





This next video, by Dobromil Nosek, is based on Bosch's Seven Sins. Unfortunately, we only get an enticing glimpse of three of the seven.





Ray Koefoed's music video, A Plague on You, is based on Brueghel's Triumph of Death and ups the ante on the creepiness factor.




Ready for more? Andrey Zakirzyanov's edgy Break the Silence music video is a mash-up of Bosch and Brueghel imagery with a cameo appearance by a certain someone from the work of Leonardo da Vinci.
 

I've saved the most gruesome for last, Buckethead's video for Spokes for the Wheel of Torment. Based on several paintings by Bosch, it is not for the faint of heart. You have been forewarned.





Happy Halloween!

 







Upcoming at Offramp Gallery

Anita Bunn: Detour
through October 28
Closing Reception & Artist's Talk: Sunday, October 28, 2-5pm

November 3-4, 2012

Benefit Exhibition & Sale for Lisa Adams
Be among the first to select works at benefit prices by Los Angeles luminaries such as Laddie John Dill, Ed Moses, Kristin Calabrese, Larry Bell, Chuck Arnoldi, Iva Gueorguieva, Anita Bunn, Susan Sironi, Jim Ganser and many more.

Patssi Valdez: Mementos
November 18 - December 23, 2012
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm


Elaine Carhartt: Portraits
November 18 - December 23, 2012
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm


James Griffith: Natural Selection
November 18 - December 23, 2012
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm








 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Art. Books. Art Books. Book Art: An Embarrassment of Riches

 
Click here to buy from
Amazon.com


Art. Books. Art books. Book art. I have lived most of my adult life near the intersection of these two worlds, as an artist, diarist,  voracious reader, art-gallery/art-book-store director and blogger about art and books. You could say it is my happy place -- and for the last two weeks my proverbial cup runneth over!

Artists, always sensitive to cultural changes on what seems to be a cellular level, have turned to books as medium, just as books are losing their dominance as conveyors of information, while maintaining or perhaps even gaining importance as aesthetic objects. Book Art: Iconic Sculptures and Installations Made from Books, published by Gestalten in 2011, features the work of 46 artists who use books as a medium -- cutting, slicing, carving, gouging, stacking, suspending, rolling and otherwise manipulating these mass-produced works into one-of-a-kind precious objects. (Click here to buy Book Art from Amazon.com.)

In her introduction to Book Art Christine Antaya states: 
 

By Gene Epstein from Book Art,
Copyright Gestalten 2012
"Artists who have opened their eyes to the interplay of structure and format within the book, a feature largely taken for granted until texts became available through different media, have been exploring this using the scalpel and the knife. Sentences are cut and peeled out to create new contexts and more fluid meanings for narratives; words are erased; the shapes of books are returned to the organic matter from which the paper they are printed on first came."











Another happy foray down the art/book rabbit hole is an exhibition I attended last week, Pages, on view through January 13, 2013 at the Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery at Art Center College of Design here in Pasadena. Pages displays the work of contemporary artists who use books and pages as mediums, alongside manuscripts, documents, doodles and other forms of written or printed pages from the 15th century to the 21st.

New York artist Robert Kushner’s Scriptorium: Devout Exercises of the Heart consists of hundreds of drawings and paintings of foliage and flowers on antique book pages and covers, and is hung salon style with pins on a wall that spans the entire depth of the gallery space. Opposite the wall is a row of six vitrines displaying pages from 15th and 16th century Herbals, the neat calligraphy and herbal illustrations quietly foreshadowing Kushner's impressive installation.

Three stunning wall pieces by Echiko Ohira made from cardboard, tea-stained paper, glue, and tea-stained sketchbooks provide sophisticated visual counterpoint to objects such as a placemat from a restaurant in Altadena covered with handwritten scientific formulae by Nobel prize winning physicist Richard Fineman, and large wall-hung copies of pages from a first edition of Mark Twain's Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County with Twain's handwritten edits and marginalia.

All of which brings us to my third and final harmonious convergence in the art/book matrix. In my last post I wrote about Nobel prize winning author Orhan Pamuk's recently released book, The Innocence of Objects, a catalog of his museum that opened last spring in Istanbul -- a museum that Pamuk conceived in tandem with his novel, The Museum of Innocence. I told myself I didn't have time to read a 500+ page novel, then immediately downloaded and devoured it. It is a mesmerizing tale of lost love and obsession. Having the museum catalog to refer to is icing on this masterful cake. (Click here to buy The Museum of Innocence from Amazon.com. Click here to download for Kindle.)






Upcoming at Offramp Gallery
through October 28
Closing Reception & Artist's Talk: Sunday, October 28, 2-5pm


November 3-4, 2012
Benefit Exhibition & Sale for Lisa Adams
Be among the first to select works at benefit prices by Los Angeles luminaries such as Laddie John Dill, Ed Moses, Kristin Calabrese, Larry Bell, Chuck Arnoldi, Iva Gueorguieva, Anita Bunn, Susan Sironi, Jim Ganser and many more.

Patssi Valdez: Mementos
November 18 - December 23, 2012
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm

Elaine Carhartt: Portraits
November 18 - December 23, 2012
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm

James Griffith: Natural Selection
November 18 - December 23, 2012
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Orhan Pamuk's "The Innocence of Objects:" An Amazing Catalog About a Real Museum Based on Fiction

Click here to purchase The Innocence of Objects
from Amazon.com
In a week that has strongly reinforced my belief that large international art fairs, however else you want to defend them, are the worst possible, most sterile environments ever conceived for viewing art -- the amazing book that I now have before me, Orhan Pamuk's The Innocence of Obects (click here to purchase from Amazon.com), makes me want to stand up and shout! It is a triumph of intimacy over sterility, depth over superficiality and humanity over inhumanity. It is also the most perfect intersection of art and literature that I have ever encountered.

Nobel prize winning author Orhan Pamuk's 2009 novel about lost love and the obsessive collecting of objects, The Museum of Innocence, (click here to purchase from Amazon.com) was conceived simultaneously with the idea of creating a bricks-and-mortar museum to house the objects collected while writing and researching the novel. The museum, which opened to the public in Istanbul earlier this year (click here to read The New York Time's coverage of the opening) is housed in a modest 19th century house. The Innocence of Objects beautifully catalogs the museum's collection and in Pamuk's own words, tells the story of how the museum came to be. Pamuk writes:

"The more objects I collected for the museum, the more the story in my mind progressed. Sometimes I'd spot a teacup I wanted in an acquaintance's house or inside the old cupboards where my mother kept the pots and pans she no longer used, her porcelain, her sugar bowls, and her trinkets for display, and one day I'd take it without telling anyone that it was destined for the museum."

The museum consists of 83 numbered display cases, each referring to a chapter in the novel: assemblages of bric-a-brac, items rummaged from junk stores in the back streets of Istanbul, photography of old Istanbul by Turkish photographer Ara Güler, illustrations by Pamuk himself (a former painter) and others, and convincing molded plastic food made especially for the museum.


The Museum of Innocence, Istanbul, Turkey, photo credit: Refik Anadol. Abrams.
Pamuk writes about conversations between himself and the novel's main character, Kemal, taking place in the museum's penthouse, an actual bedroom that the fictional Kemal inhabits -- so convincingly that the already fuzzy lines between reality and fiction become even more blurred. The caption beneath a photograph of the bedroom reads:

"Kemal first told me what he had been through over the course of three hours in a restaurant. When I decided to write a novel about his love for Füsun, we inevitably became friends. On many a night over the seven years between March 2000 and February 2007, I sat in the attic on the chair on the right and listened to his story."



Box 22. The Hand of Rahmi Efendi. The Museum of Innocence, Istanbul, Turkey,
photo credit: Refik Anadol. Abrams.

In his tale of how he came to create the museum, Pamuk asks himself the question: "Why has no one else ever thought of something like this, of bringing together a novel and a museum in a single story? . . . If someone made an Anna Karenina Museum, finding a way to display the material world of the novel, I'd come running." He decided that if he were going to realize his museum, he needed to write a manifesto. What resulted is an 11-point " Modest Manifesto for Museums" that everyone in the art and museum world should read. I will end with the last last two points:

10. Monumental buildings that dominate neighborhoods and entire cities do not bring out our humanity; on the contrary, they quash it. Instead, we need modest museums that honor the neighborhoods and streets and the homes and shops nearby, and turn them into elements of their exhibitions.

11. The future of museums in inside our own homes.

Click here to purchase The Innocence of Objects from Amazon.com.

Click here to purchase The Museum of Innocence from Amazon.com.


Upcoming at Offramp Gallery

Anita Bunn: Detour
through October 28
Closing Reception & Artist's Talk:
Sunday, October 28, 2-5pm

Panel Discussion: Contemporary Art Conversations #13
Sunday, October 7, 4-6pm
Contemporary Art Conversations #13 will include critics Shana Nys Dambrot, Ezrha Jean Black and Peter Frank, artist/writerJohn O'Brien. The panel will be moderated by art historian Betty Ann Brown.

Patssi Valdez: Mementos
November 18 - December 23, 2012
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm

Elaine Carhartt: Portraits
November 18 - December 23, 2012
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm

James Griffith: Natural Selection
November 18 - December 23, 2012
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Short Takes: Kaleidoscopic Wonders

According to Wikipedia, the term "kaleidoscope" was coined in 1817 by its Scottish inventor, Sir David Brewster, while he was performing experiments on light polarization. Brewster arranged for manufacture of his invention, intended as a science tool. The kaleidoscope was an instant hit -- over 200,000 sold in London and Paris in the first three months. After its initial success, Brewster believed he would make money from the kaleidoscope, but unfortunately, a fault in his patent application allowed others to copy his invention. 
 
Today's sophisticated computer imaging allows for endless experimentation with kaleidoscopic effects. In the following clip, Not As It Seems, video segments are manipulated with kaleidoscope and mirror computer effects to create wondrous new worlds.



If you prefer something more low tech, check out this beautiful video by Spanish designer Osman Granda.




This next video is from the American Folk Art Museum. Senior curator Stacy Hollander introduces us to artist Paula Nadelstern's amazingly detailed kaleidoscopic quilt.




It's almost impossible to think about moving images and kaleidoscopic effects without
Hollywood movie director and musical choreographer Busby Berkeley's musical extravaganzas coming to mind. I found this wonderful montage of Berkeley choreographed film clips set to the music of Artie Shaw.



What would a blog about kaleidoscopes be without a trip to the world's largest one? If you've ever travelled through the Catskills, you've no doubt seen the signs -- and some of us have even stopped to experience this Woodstock-inspired wonder.

Upcoming Events at Offramp Gallery

Anita Bunn: Detour
through October 28
Closing Reception & Artist's Talk: Sunday, October 28, 2-5pm

Panel Discussion: Contemporary Art Conversations #13
Sunday, October 7, 4-6pm
Contemporary Art Conversations #13 will include critics Shana Nys Dambrot, Ezrha Jean Black and Peter Frank, artist/writerJohn O'Brien. The panel will be moderated by art historian Betty Ann Brown.

Patssi Valdez: Mementos

November 18 - December 23, 2012
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm

Elaine Carhartt: Portraits

November 18 - December 23, 2012
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm

James Griffith: Natural Selection
November 18 - December 23, 2012
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm
Closing Reception & Holiday Party: Sunday, December 23, 2-5pm
 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Film and A Book Shed Light on the Enigmatic Francesca Woodman

Click here to purchase
The Woodmans
from Amazon.com
We see a naked young woman lying on the floor in the corner of a sparsely furnished room. Generously sprinkled on the floor all around her is a white powdery substance. As the young woman begins to rise she turns back to look at the black silhouette her body has left on the floor. She gets to her feet, walks toward the camera and out of the frame. We hear someone whisper "what a wonderful shape" and then louder with a girlish giggle, "I'm really pleased!" In that instant it becomes apparent that the girlish voice and giggles of the model are also those of the creator of the intriguing short video, photographer Francesca Woodman.

In a few short years, at the age of 22, Woodman would end her own life.

The fascination with Woodman's suicide has added to the allure and mystique of her reputation but also clouds our understanding of her work. Was she a precocious prodigy who began shooting photographs at age 13 and within a year was working on a mature, masterful body of work? Or was she the main character in a gothic tragedy that has reached mythic proportions? Or perhaps both?

Francesca Woodman, untitled, Boulder, Colorado, 1976

In the 2010 documentary, The Woodmans, Francesca's parents Betty and George, both artists themselves, reflect on the life and death of their daughter. The film is lushly illustrated with Francesca's photography, videos and journal entries, as well as interviews with family members, classmates and friends. At the beginning of the film her father states:

"I think it's hard to draw a line between Francesca being a provocative person as a choice -- I'm going to provoke -- and simply being provocative by her nature. I think she had quite a vivid sense of being an actor in her own drama, and that sense of being an actor in a drama gave her a skill in terms of, how should we say, organizing drama, making it work."



George gave Francesca her first camera when she was 13 years old as she was going off to boarding school. By the time she entered the Rhode Island School of Design three years later she was already well on her way creating a very sophisticated visual vocabulary. RISD Classmate and friend Sloan Rankin recalls:

"She came with the idea that she was a photographer, nearly everyone else who comes doesn't know what they're going to be yet and they choose from the 19 different areas of study. She came knowing. She was a photographer and she didn't want to take 2-D and 3-D Design classes, so she had some hideous moments in class and even the teachers would ask me to go and rescue her from running away from these classes."

Another former RISD classmate, Catherine Chermayeffeff, recalls:

"There was a real rock star quality about Francesca because she was so ambitious, so talented and so driven and so focused that you, that it was shocking. She had this enormously sophisticated eye and was incredibly original."

Click here to purchase
Francesca Woodman
from Amazon.ecom
Chris Townsend, in his Introduction to Phaidon's lush monograph Francesca Woodman, begins the task of placing Woodman's work in an art historical context:

"Woodman never understood herself as a fully realized artist, even if that is how we see her now. When she died in 1981, aged only twenty-two, she was still learning, still absorbing influences, still exploring what she wanted her work to do and testing the directions it might take. We tend to see the work very differently: what was intended as a student exercise, we may apprehend as an independent project; what was a raw experiment, we may understand as the finished article; we may perceive it in the wrong contexts, or understand it as the work of an artist in full control of her materials and her medium, rather than as part of a process by which she was coming to terms with both."

Other essays in the book look at Woodman's work through the lenses of the American Gothic, Surrealism, Feminism, Post-Minimal Photography and Self-Portraiture.

Francesca Woodman, from Space 2 series, Providence, RI, 1977
So why did this beautiful, talented young woman throw herself off the roof of a building in New York City? We may never know the full answer to that question, and a note she wrote to Sloan Rankin after an earlier suicide attempt does little to add to our understanding:
"After three weeks and weeks and weeks of thinking about it I finally managed to try to do away with myself as neatly and concisely as possible. I do have standards and my life at this point is like very old coffee sediment, and I would rather die young leaving various accomplishments, some work, my friendship with you and some other artifacts intact, instead of pell-mell erasing all these delicate things."

Click here to buy The Woodmans from Amazon.com

Click here to buy Francesca Woodman from Amazon.com



Upcoming at Offramp Gallery




September 16 - October 28, 2012
Anita Bunn: Detour
Opening Reception: Sunday, September 16, 2-5pm









Sunday, October 7, 2012, 4-6pm
PANEL DISCUSSION

Contemporary Art Conversations #13
Moderated by Betty Ann Brown
Panelists: Peter Frank, Shana Nys Drambot, Ezrha Jean Black, John O'Brien


 
November 18 - December 23, 2012
Patssi Valdez: Mementos
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm


 



 

Friday, September 7, 2012

An Interview with Patssi Valdez, An American Painter


Patssi Valdez, Sunday, 2011,
acrylic on canvas, 72" x 30"
 
Los Angeles artist Patssi Valdez has gained international attention in the last few years, primarily from her early performance work as a member of the group Asco. Asco was recognized in a major exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2011, Asco: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972-1987. Post-Asco, Valdez has had a very successful "second" career as a painter. I sat down with her earlier this week in her studio. 

JC: You've gotten quite a lot of attention in the last few years because of your participation in Asco. Let's talk about how you made the transition from the brassy performance-based political art you did with Asco to becoming a painter more focused on your internal world.

PV: Before I met the men that I worked with in Asco, I had grand ideas about being a great painter. But then I worked around Willie [Herrón] and Gronk and they seemed to paint so effortlessly while I had to struggle. I was not a good colorist at all, I couldn’t mix color properly -- I always say that I made mud paintings. So that’s why I worked in installation, performance, and all these other mediums.

JC: And yet my memory is that as a painter, in your first painting show at Pico House Gallery in 1989, you sprang full blown -- Athena from Zeus’ head -- an accomplished painter right out of the box.

PV: When I got out of art school, where I focused primarily on photography, I started teaching kids at Plaza de la Raza and I had to give lessons. They asked me if I would teach painting, so of course I said yes – I needed the job – then I panicked and went to the library looking up assignments, how to mix primary colors – and along the way I taught myself color theory.



Patssi Valdez, The Crying Tree, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 60"
 

Then one day I went to the David Hockney Retrospective at LACMA with a friend and I said, “I think I could do that.” My friend thought it was the funniest thing, that I would have the nerve to say that! It was inspiring. It was like Truth or Dare. So I went home and bought all this paint and canvas and started on this body of work. 

After I had finished a few, I thought “Ok. Who’s the harshest critic in the world? Who’s the friend that will tell you the truth and let you have it?” The answer was Gronk.  

So I picked up the phone and called Gronk and told him I had something to show him. He came over and he was real quiet, pensive looking. All he said to me was “you need more paint.” I thought, ok! that means they’re not horrible, that means they passed the Gronk test, I think I can show them to the world.

Click here to purchase
from Amazon.com
ASCO: Elite of the Obscure:
A Retrospective 1972-1987

catalog from 2011
 exhibition at LACMA
 
I had done a lot of collage work and photography but nothing ever sold. I lived very frugally. Then I had that first painting show at Pico House, with no expectations of selling anything, and suddenly I had people coming up and asking how much was this painting? How much was that one? So many people were interested that I finally said “whoever gives me the check first gets the painting,” and I went home with my little purse full of checks! That was the beginning of making money and selling my work. I never looked back. I was no longer in Asco, I was done with art school and I just forged ahead.

JC: What impact have the museum shows have had on you? Do you feel you have become mainstream?

PV: First of all, I feel it has legitimized me as an artist – not as a woman artist or a Latina artist, but as an artist. 

Have I entered the mainstream? I believe I haven’t. Asco, maybe, but me individually as a painter, my real passion -- I’m hoping that someday I can have a major retrospective of my own. People don’t know the whole range of my work. I’m an installation artist, I’ve been a performance artist, I was a photographer for ten years, I make short films, I do iPad drawings, I sculpt and I paint. I have all these bodies of work and my dream is to be able to see them together in one museum space at the same time. That’s my dream. So, to the museum world out there: Can we start working on that, please? [laughing] While I’m still on planet Earth?

In the following video Patssi Valdez and Vyal Reyes transform a Lexus into a work of art.




JC: What's in your immediate future?

PV: I’m ready to start a new body of work. I have these big empty canvases and I’m reevaluating what I want to say and how I want to say it. I want to find a dealer, representation.

I didn’t have to struggle financially for years, but when the economy tanked, and I was no longer with a gallery, that’s when the trouble started. I had been on a roll for years. Now I’m struggling again. Thank god I have a couple of supporters who believe in me, who believe in me 100%. They make all the difference in the world.

My mother always says to me "you have all these angels daughter." And I say "don't I mother?"

Patssi's upcoming schedule:

Offramp Gallery, Pasadena, CA
November 18 - December 23, 2012
Patssi Valdez: Mementos (gouaches, ceramics and site-specific installation)
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm
 
Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico
ASCO: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972-1987 
03/21/2013 – 09/01/2013

Upcoming at Offramp Gallery


September 16 - October 28, 2012
Anita Bunn: Detour
Opening Reception: Sunday, September 16, 2-5pm










Sunday, October 7, 2012, 4-6pm
PANEL DISCUSSION
Contemporary Art Conversations #13
Moderated by Betty Ann Brown
Panelists: Peter Frank, Shana Nys Drambot, Ezrha Jean Black, John O'Brien


 
November 18 - December 23, 2012
Patssi Valdez: Mementos
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm


 





 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Self-Portraits: When Artists Turn Their Gaze Inward

Summer is winding to a close and Offramp Gallery is ramping up for its fall season. I'll be back blogging full time next week. In the mean time I want to get the ball rolling by re-posting a popular post from March 2011.

-- Jane Chafin


Click image to buy
from Amazon.com

One of the things that distinguishes us as humans is the need to leave our mark behind, to say "I was here, I mattered." We see evidence of this as far back as 10,000 years ago when our ancestors first stamped and stenciled their handprints on cave walls. More formal self-portraits start appearing as early as 2300 BC in ancient Egypt, carved on the tombs of the Pharaohs. But self-portraiture didn't become fully established as an art genre until the Early Renaissance with the advent of the manufacture of affordable flat mirrors. Luckily for us, artists have been gazing at themselves in mirrors ever since.

Phaidon Press's 500 Self-Portraits is a visual orgy, a must-have art book for anyone who is interested in the history of portraiture. This is a book you will pick up over and over again for the sheer joy of browsing. From classical to modern, naïve to sophisticated, mannered to irreverent, haunting to humorous -- it's all here in this one affordable volume.


Caravaggio, Self-portrait as Bacchus. Oil on canvas,
670 x 530mm (26 3/8 x 21"). Galleria Borghese, Rome
The reproductions in 500 Self-Portraits are presented in chronological order from Ancient Egypt to the present day. A new version of a classic first published in 1937, the only text is a brief introduction by painter and writer Julian Bell (grandson of Vanessa Bell), in which he states:

"Self-portraiture is a singular, in-turned art. Something eerie lurks in its fingering of the edge between seer and seen. Looking over the faces collected in this book, we may be disconcerted by the cumulative intensity of so many wary, wondering, self-surprised eyes. Yet what unites the individuals gathered to stare is that they are all artists. People, that is, prepared to set down their self-examination in markings that may be examined by others."

Included are five self portraits by Durer, one of which he did when he was only 13-years-old, as well as a beautiful ink drawing of him completely in the nude, leaving little to the imagination. There are ten by Rembrandt, a prolific self-portraitist, showing him chronologically throughout his life, and two by a very pretty young Elizabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun from the late eighteenth century. Self-Portrait, Turning by Nadar, is an early albumen print foreshadowing the later work of Eadweard Muybridge. It shows the artist in twelve separate panels as he turns toward and then away from the camera. There are two self-portraits by Chardin in his quirky head-gear and spectacles; and one done in 1906 by German painter Paula Modersohn-Becker, Self-Portrait on my Sixth Wedding Anniversary, where she depicts herself partially naked and pregnant.

If you prefer your art history with more explanatory text, then another affordable volume from the Taschen Basic Genre Series, Self-Portraits by Ernst Rebel, may be perfect for you. It looks at 35 self-portraits in depth, ranging from the mid-12th century to the present. Each of the 35 paintings is accompanied by a brief bio of the artist and an insightful interpretation of the work depicted. In his essay, "Artists in the Focus of Their Own Eyes" Rebel provides an historical framework for the paintings and reflects on the changing role of the artist in society.

He states: "Self-portraits are testimonials in which the artist's ego as his own model and motif at the same time relates to other people. Artists depict themselves as they want to be seen by others, but also as they want to distinguish themselves from them."

Self-portraits included are Moses and the Burning Bush, an early glass painting by Master Gerlauchus who depicts himself painting an inscription asking for God's mercy; James Ensor's Self-Portrait Among Masks; Velasquez’s famous La Meninas; as well as ones by Max Beckmann, Diego Rivera, Lucien Freud and many others.
 




Upcoming at Offramp Gallery

September 16 - October 28, 2012
Anita Bunn: Detour
Opening Reception: Sunday, September 16, 2-5pm











Sunday, October 7, 2012, 4-6pm
PANEL DISCUSSION
Contemporary Art Conversations #13
Moderated by Betty Ann Brown

Panelists: Peter Frank, Shana Nys Drambot, Ezrha Jean Black, John O'Brien



November 18 - December 23, 2012
Patssi Valdez: Mementos
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 18, 2-5pm

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hyperrealistic Sculpture: From Death Masks to Madame Tussaud and Beyond

Ever since our prehistoric ancestors first picked up chunks of limestone and carved crude female figurines some 20,000 years ago, we humans have been trying to depict the human form in three dimensions using everything from wood, stone, clay and bronze, to modern synthetic materials such as silicone, polyurethane, fiberglass, and polyester resin. The following series of videos takes a look at some of the processes involved in creating hyperrealistic reproductions of the human form -- from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Seventeenth-century Spanish polychrome sculpture was intended to appear as lifelike as possible. The following video produced by the Getty Museum offers a glimpse into the complex processes involved in creating the life-like statue, Saint Ginés de la Jara.




In 1835 Madame Tussaud established her first permanent exhibition of wax sculptures in London. Wax Museums continue to be a popular form of entertainment today. This Discovery Channel's How It's Made video shows how these wax figures are made. 



Australian-born hyperrealist Ron Mueck's sculptures reproduce the human body in all its minute details while playing with scale to produce disarmingly powerful images. The following three videos give an in-depth look at Mueck's processes. 



Click here for Part II

Click here for Part III

To end on a lighter, if more macabre note, this video by Putrid Pictures gives a twisted take on the time-honored tradition of death masks. From ancient Egypt to modern times, death masks have been created as a way of immortalizing the flesh of the human face before it begins to rot away.




Upcoming at Offramp Gallery

Sunday, August 5, 2012, 3pm
LOU BEACH 420 Characters
Reading & Book Signing
Click here to RSVP










June 24 - August 5, 2012
Lou Beach: Stories & Pictures
Closing Reception, Reading & Book Signing: Sunday, August 5, 2-5pm




 


 
In the Garden
June 24 - August 5, 2012
Jay Willis: Ring of Fire
Closing Reception: Sunday, August 5, 2-5pm