Saturday, August 31, 2013

Umberto Eco - "The Infinity of Lists"

I packed Eco's illustrated book on the history of art and literature in relationship to the list to once and for all read and conquer during my residency. Mission accomplished!

Eco differentiates between "practical" and "poetic" lists, an area I found fascinating. From page 374: "A restaurant menu is a practical list. But in a book on culinary matters, a list of the diverse menues of the most renowned restaurants would already acquire a poetic value. In the same way, one might daydream about an abundance of an exotic cuisine on reading (not with a view to ordering, but for aesthetic reasons) the menu of a Chinese restaurant with its pages and pages of numbered dishes."

Rosa Klein (André Rogi), Bonnard's Palette, 1930 (from Coherent Excess)

Eco included Wislawa Szymborska's Possibilities (1985) in the section on "The Rhetoric of Enumeration":

I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love's concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms' fairy tales to the newspapers' front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven't mentioned here
to many things I've also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.

He breaks down the list into 21 categories including the visual, collections and treasures, mass-media, coherent excess, and the "ineffable." I was reacquainted with my love of the wunderkammer and know that I will probably make art about that subject matter again (hello site specific installation).

Friday, August 30, 2013

Hans-Peter Feldmann's "Katalog Catalogue"

I am notorious for packing far too many books than I have time to read. For this eleven day residency, I brought five - thank goodness for Fed-Ex shipping a big box to Clearmont, Wyoming. I perused Hans-Peter Feldmann's Katalog Catalogue at the New Museum in March and fell in love with it as an archive, a collection of an artist's work and influential images, and most significantly, the multitude of ways flat objects are photographed and displayed. Here are a few highlights:

Demonstration 1: Hands in Action

Demonstration 2: Hands as Props

Framed (gold, wood, metal)

Human as pedestal emulating the subject matter (left), meticulous wrapping (top right) and keeping the unnecessary remains (bottom right)


Suitcase as storage and display (left) and photograph of framed art at an awkward angle (right)

The Picabia quote (above) and the caption from the collection of car radios (below) were too good not to share.

The hope is to incorporate more variety in how I photograph the pile of lists that now line the studio wall and table.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ucross Residency: Clear Water Sample Conclusion?

Editing, shooting, more editing, reshooting. I am coming to terms with the fact that there wasn't much of a concept to begin with therefore it's time to conclude this series. I am debating whether or not to include the physical specimen jars but I will decide that when I return to Muncie. In the meantime, I never thought I would include three photographs taken at Ucross. It is quite convenient that a creek named Clear flows right outside my studio window. I traipse down there regularly to dip paper into the water, inadvertently scaring deer and a great horned owl.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wyoming in Three Photographs Plus One Indirect Reference

The summer of Roger Minick continues...

Roger Minick, Moose at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 2006

Roger Minick, Viewing Platform at Minerva's Terrace, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 1980

Stephen Shore, Flat Creek, Jackson, Wyoming, 1979

Rebecca Norris Web, Ghost Mountain from the series My Dakota, 2012

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Faculty Evaluations Part 2

Sadly, the Faculty Biennial was cancelled this year. I had planned on photographing my installation in the gallery to post here as Part 2 of the previous entry. It was the first time I created work specifically for the faculty show ("an evaluation of faculty by faculty" or so says the artist statement) and it was non photographic ("drawings" and sound). Alas, all that hard work before leaving for my residency was for naught. Maybe it will make an appearance next year but I sense that its time will have passed before next fall rolls around.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ben K. Voss' "Cities"

Ben K. Voss, Untitled (all the cities and towns cut out of an atlas), collage on paper, 96" x 96", 2006

Ben K. Voss, Detail of Untitled (all the cities and towns cut out of an atlas), 2006

One thing I know about Ben is that he loves obsessive activities (and possibly maps) as much as I do. His Untitled collage makes me wonder: 1) how many cities and towns are represented? 2) did he copy the backs of maps (as the cities would overlap the fronts) to ensure that everything was represented? 3) how many hours did this take? and 4) what is the minimum population that constitutes a town? I do not need to know the answers to all these questions because the ingenuity of the piece stands on its own but I do like to wonder....

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"A Tale of Two Obsessions..." is now finished!

Sixteen months later (with a lot of help from my friends), I finished the cat claw card / ode to Arline Conradt. It is not possible to accurately count all the claws as there are small bunches of nail cuttings that are too small to determine. There are two kitten teeth, however (courtesy of James Luckett and Tanya Maus).

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Last Days of Summer

Stephen Shore, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, 1979

When I think of summer, this is the very first photograph that comes to mind. Perhaps it reminds me of camping along a river in Idaho. I can feel the temperature of the water, the sand in between my toes. This is the weather I long for most and a landscape that reminds me of that elusive place called "home."

 Joel Penkman, Fabs

Thanks to Miss Hannah Barnes for the birthday present that screams, "Make me!" at the end of the summer and Joel Penkman for painting a version that lasts well into the winter.

Jennifer McClure, From the series Music from a Farther Room

I love everything about this photograph from Jennifer McClure.

Clay Lipsky, Kind of Blue

This image reminds me of driving around Tucson at night with the windows down listening to a Nogales, Mexico radio station.

Friday, August 23, 2013

San Solomon Springs - Balmorhea State Park

From the Texas State Park website: 

"Dive into the cool waters of the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool, which covers 1.75 acres and stays at 72–76 degrees year round. Scuba divers love the clarity even at a 25-foot depth....Fed by San Solomon Springs, 22 – 28 million gallons of water flow through it each day. At 25 feet deep, and with a capacity of more than 3.5 million gallons, the pool has plenty of room for swimmers and offers a unique setting for scuba and skin diving."

Texas was the first place I lived where touching water was not an option. I was convinced that water moccasins lived in every bayou and was horrified at the thought of immersing myself in the opaque brown liquid of the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston. Brown water is not enticing, nor is it refreshing or a sought after location to spend time near. Growing up, brown water meant flooding - the swiftly moving excess that required sand bags and the hope of containment.

When I was in Marfa last month, I realized that Balmorhea (with the exception of San Marcos and Barton Springs) was one of the few clear and enticing bodies of water I had visited in Texas. As simple as it seems, it is not merely about the water, but the context of the place around it. Balmorhea is not like its surroundings - the muddy Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park or the Pecos River curling through the sagebrush covered hills.

In 2009, I dove off one of the white "pillars" into the cool water and swam to the other side. There were fish all around me and scuba divers underneath. The temperature of the water fluctuated with the depth and it was clear for 25'. This was the first place where I swam outdoors in Texas that felt like "home" and it was one of the most refreshing experiences with water I have ever had. In 2013, I repeated that action with far less people and cooler weather.

Its proximity to absolutely nothing amplifies the desert oasis description. Balmorhea is a difficult place to visit and its remoteness makes it more special.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Personal History Tour of Marfa with Sam Schonzeit

While visiting the Marfa Book Company, I encountered Sam Schonzeit's exhibition Art Fair. He was living in the gallery for the month of July, huddled behind a laptop in the corner. His actions resembled a gallerino more so than the artist.

It wasn't until exiting, that I took the time to read all the notes on the walls and discovered that he was giving Personal History Tours of Marfa for $25. Intrigued, I walked back into the gallery and asked what this entailed. 

On the previous tour, Sam took his party to all the places he lived in Marfa (I think it was seven) - some of which they could enter and others they could not.

We arranged a time - the next day at 2 PM. I was excited as this was the first piece of performance art that I had ever purchased, a great opportunity to see a new side of Marfa and meet a new artist.

We met at the Marfa Book Company Gallery and he took on the role of chauffeur. I sat in the back seat of his car as he stressed that "this position was important" in the role of tour guide.

First stop: Pueblo Market to pick up the last week's batch of posters for his exhibition but they had already thrown them away. This was his way of showing the artist's process. He bought me a beverage after making a recommendation: Bob Marley Mellow Mood (green tea with honey, decaffeinated with valerian root). I went with water because it was the desert and an immediate thirst quencher.

He drove seven miles on Highway 67 - his normal bike route. I learned about Sam's job and his relationship with his boss.  Sam is an expert ping pong player who took lessons from his father, a photo realist painter who gouged his eye out when he was five years old. He is 71 and likes to talk about his own artwork a lot though he is generally supportive and buys Sam tools.

We drove around the cemetery and ended up at Sam’s house which is dominated by wood paneling. He has lived there since May and is finally going to paint it. He said he wanted to "put it all out there" and showed every room in his house with informative comments like “That is not a sex toy but a foot massager.” “This is broken yoga tool.” 

The best part were the examples of his recent postcard collaboration (more on that later) and a peek in his garage studio where he spray paints his postcards. He is venturing into non toxic methods though so that may be a medium of the past. 

I learned that he is allergic to cats though he likes them. He has an Architecture degree at UT. He left Soho in 2002 (he grew up across the street from Donald Judd's Spring Street house). He has lived in Marfa for four years and is a little tired of not making a living here.

He drove along a "nice walk he usually takes to see the sunset." We ended the hour long tour at the courthouse cupola where he witnessed a wedding with seven people (he proceeded to open up the windows because it was hot - a kind gesture considering it was a public location).

Back at the gallery, Sam printed an invoice. This was the best spur of the moment art purchase I've ever made. As the role of the tourist, I felt compelled to ask him personal questions in addition to general ones about what it was like living in Marfa. Sometimes that surprised me as I do not generally probe strangers to the degree that I did Sam. The whole event reaffirmed the fact that someone else's personal experience can be fascinating - the package/presentation is a large component of its success.  It gave me a whole new perspective on Marfa, the art making practice, and introduced me to the work of a new contemporary artist whose work I've come to admire.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Thunderbird Hotel Swimming Pool

• Shallow End = 4'
• Deep End = 9'
• a black line divides the center at the 6' mark
• the edges are scalloped and on the shallow side, two sets of curved stairs with three steps each descend into the pool
• there is a ledge on the deep side - a perfect place to stand in knee deep water and pseudo dive or sit while debating whether or not to jump back in or get out

The sides of the pool and the bottom have brown striations similar to the marks found on a Richard Serra sculpture made of Cor-ten steel. There were water skippers on the shallow end and red dragonflies hovering but not dipping into the water. Reflections of the ocotillo branch fence and white and orange faded lawn chairs appeared depending on the presence of the sun and the position of the clouds.

Pink haunts this pool. Here a deflated raft drifts into the composition.  Everything is greener than I remember, the color constantly changing in direct and diffused light. I kept trying to name the hue and sea green was the closest I came.

I am learning how to use a zoom mic and recorded the sounds - magnificent glugs with roofers stapling tile in the background. I missed the bells from the Catholic church. At this stage, I am collecting without intentions of using the files but who knows what will happen in the future?

I made a list of thirteen bodies of water that have influenced who I am (twelve of which I've visited and one that I dream of seeing eventually). The Thunderbird Hotel swimming pool is meaningful from an artistic end. I made a photograph of a floating doughnut that turned into a series of fake cakes that transformed my process. Not only is it an emerald jewel in the West Texas desert, but a location of great artistic inspiration.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Clear Water Sample: Donald Judd's "Tank"

Here I am, collecting water from dead artist's swimming pools. No need to answer what that means (because I don't know yet either).

Donald Judd's pool is officially called a "tank." It does not have a filtration system nor can it be drained (in other words... yuck).  This evening, I pulled out my Chinati manual and this is what Judd wrote about it in the Selected Texts section:

After Nate and Marni sent me a mason jar full of water from Robert Rauschenberg's pool earlier this summer, it was fitting to do the same in Marfa.

A thunderstorm storm, fortunately, forced everyone on the tour to stand under the arbor not in the rain, so it wasn't difficult to pull the jar out of my bag and slide it into the water on the 8' side.

 I couldn't fly back with it in my luggage so a trip to the Alpine post office was in order. Luckily, the water sample arrived without breaking and now I have two large containers to contend with.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Judd Foundation Block Tour (Belated Post)

This was my second trip on the Judd Foundation's Block Tour (featuring his living quarters, library and "studios" which resembled galleries). There were many differences from the past visit, primarily the weather. It was rainy and cool and the buildings were not faint inducing hot as they were previously.

This time I counted all of Judd's beds and the other dominant feature that I began to look for was his use of orange and cadmium.

Our tour guide, the estimable Eugene Binder, allowed us into the library where seven us stood in the doorway looking at the books curl in the heat and gradually yellow with age. One of my favorites was a college algebra book that was so warped it couldn't stand on it's own. The books displayed on the main table (focusing on architecture and the pyramids of Mexico) were placed in the same position Judd left them in November 1993. In between the book piles was a hat, carabiners, stones, and brushes (to sweep away the dust?). Rocks were commonly featured on the shelves both as display and functional book ends.

[Image via]

Judd undoubtedly had the best prosciutto cutting set in Marfa in full view in his kitchen. The ten person dining table, at the right angle, allowed one to see wax spilled on the wood from twenty years earlier. Three armored knights (2/3rds size) were suspended from the stairway, watching over those that dined with Judd and his family.

I continually marvel at the limited storage space in Judd's buildings. Everything is in sight. Kitchen utensils, bowls, plates, etc. are in full view. Arrowhead collections reside on tables within the living space. He was a minimalist that likes clutter (though it's neatly arranged). I would grow weary of this and want to clear off spaces for breathing room.

The Southwest Studio featured a lot of cadmium and Swimming Pool in the back right [Image via]

It was not difficult to imagine Judd's day-to-day existence, moving from one space to the next, arranging a pile here, taking a nap on a bed there. He had so many of these rooms and in today's age of leaving a smaller environmental footprint, it felt wasteful.

A dominant theme of the artwork in the studios was the presentation of sculptures that Judd did not want in public view. I love the idea of Judd living with the problematic works, not well conceived ones. I wonder what my walls would look like if I hung all the art that was unresolved and how that would change my working process (?).

Faculty Evaluations Part 1

Part 1 of my submission to the faculty biennial (what's this? they aren't photographs!).

James K., Jacinda, and Javy Russell's Drawings on "Student Evaluation of Faculty"
Each 11" x 8.5"

Last year, I realized that many of my brother's and my childhood drawings were made on the back of faculty evaluation forms that our father brought home from the Art Department. I grew up disregarding the text, flipping it over to use the blank side. After contemplating the irony of this action, I wondered whether or not the front could also be an art form?