We recently traveled to Memphis, Tennessee to install an exhibition at the Clough-Hanson Gallery at Rhodes College. While we were there we had a chance to stop by the studios of Hamlett Dobbins, Laurel Sucsy and Erin Harmon.
Tags: Abstraction, Art, Artist, drawing, Mayen Alcantara, New York, Paper Sculpture, Studio Fuse, studio visit
Date: Wednesday, November 2nd
Location: Bushwick, NY
Mayen’s past work has included large-scale installations incorporating wood and paper structures. Present in the studio were several older pieces, geometrically constructed paper relief pieces mounted to the wall. These pieces incorporate different types of paper and mark making absent from the more recent collage drawings and seem to more directly reference the language of topography and maps. Some studio visitors felt that the bas-relief sentiment and construction could be utilized to inform the new collage work.
The group discussed whether a reading of the work beyond an aesthetic, compositional understanding is readily available to the viewer without background information or title. In Mayen’s case, titles help to provide a window into the content of her source materials. What is the necessity of knowing about the source material or background information in order to understand or appreciate a work?
- Amanda Lechner
Tags: about midnight Saturday, Art, Artist, collage, Galerie Zürcher, Matt Bollinger, New York, Painting, Provincetown, Studio Fuse, studio visit, Zürcher Studio
Studio Visit: Matt Bollinger
Date: Tuesday, September 27th
Location: Zürcher Studio, Manhattan, NY
Our visit with Matt Bollinger took place at Zürcher Studio, the gallery where he mounted a solo exhibition about midnight Saturday. There were two sets of media represented in this show: medium to extra-large graphite drawings on paper and a series of works collaged from painted and torn paper.
The discussion started with a description of the largest piece in the show: a graphite drawing on a few huge pieces of paper with accompanying audio housed in an 8-track player and amp constructed out of brown chipboard with real 1970’s vintage head phones. Matt synopsized the audio recording, an interview in which his father describes in detail the events leading up to the near-fatal stabbing that took place the day before his 20th birthday decades ago. Growing up in the same neighborhood where the incident took place, this event became omni-present matter of family lore during Matt’s adolescence. In dark slate-velvet graphite Matt envisioned his father’s account of the event and rendered it as an un-peopled tableau. The details of the elder Bollinger’s descriptions make up the details of the drawing down to the make, model and interiors of the vehicles pictured. Listening to the audio while looking at the drawing seems to create a feedback loop of aural and visual information.
Matt’s collage paintings inhabit an emotional space somewhere between nostalgia and anxiety. Reference to the era of Matt’s adolescence is demarcated through the placement of objects and products specific to the early 1990’s. The group discussed whether these details nail the narrative to a specific generational experience or give surface detail to scenarios familiar to a viewers belonging to any cohort.
This body of work is a slight departure from Matt’s last large body of paintings, which were created through a process of narrative invention and removal constructed from original video source imagery that contains images of young adults. The current work is primarily a product of memory and invention that focuses on the violence and low-level menace inherent in many adolescent experiences. The group discussed the ways in which the making of the work relates to the context of the narrative. The anxious vibrations of color between the ripped, torn and cut paper add a visual weight to the narratives alluded to. The textured flatness and variation between areas of generalization and sensitive detail seem to invite a viewer experience that is like memory from another’s perspective.
- Amanda Lechner
Tags: Amanda Lechner, egg tempra, New York, Painting, Studio Fuse, studio visit, Wassaic, Wassaic Project
Studio Visit: Amanda Lechner
Date: Saturday, October 29th, 2011
Location: Brooklyn, NY
In her most recent series of egg-tempera paintings and ink drawings, Amanda Lechner pulls from the history of optics and art to invent speculative narratives.
Tags: Brian Zegeer, installation art, New York City, queens, ritual, Studio Fuse, studio visit, video
- Studio Visit-
Date: Wednesday, August 17th
Studio Visit Synopsis:
Entering Brian Zegeer’s studio in Long Island City, Queens is like walking into a double-exposed photograph. His studio/domicile is actually a former speakeasy complete with a long wood bar, mirrors and bar stools. Brian projected a series of videos and stop motion animations filmed in the last couple of years on a screen adjacent to a cart made of scavenged materials stacked with a number of potted plants. A work in progress, the cart will serve as a “relaxation booth” installed along the waterfront at the Dumbo Arts Festival. Plants will canopy the viewer as they sit in the cart and are spritzed with water while viewing the lower Manhattan skyline. This mobile oasis of sorts is informed by a memoir The Book of Khalid by Ameen Rihani (1910), an immigrant’s tale that describes a conflicted vision of America. This literary work also informs and provides the text for the narrated voice-over to Brian’s newest work, Book of Khalid (To Man…), a video consisting of shots of Middle Eastern influenced architectural elements and construction sites in lower Manhattan near the world trade center tower site. The group discussed the sound component of the video, a low tone computerized voice-over that reads from Ameen Rihani’s text. Some participants found the computer voice incongruent with imagery of the piece, while others thought that it matched up with the surveillance-like qualities of the video and the rhythm of cuts and edits.
Field Notes from Little Syria, a series of photographs similar in imagery and content were projected along with this video. Brian pulled and combined imagery from these photographs to make digital print work. In some ways the digital print seems to mesh some of the collage techniques and aesthetics apparent in Brian’s animation work with the visual and structural interests of his new video piece.
Brian’s older video and animation pieces are surrealistic process oriented works that use an abstract language of refuse materials and distorted figuration. These pieces represent for Brian acts of discovery, and in many cases access ritualistic ways of image making. The group discussed ways in which ritual plays into different aspects of Brian’s work. In some pieces Brian seems to create imagery relating to ritual as in Shell Game; a figure (the artist) is wheeled around Queens inside a cart in an assemblage funeral procession, grasping various trash of seeming importance. In other pieces Brian constructs and works within a series of processes that are more like carrying out ritual as in his video/animation Poetics of Ditch Digging, a non-sequential narrative in which, among other phenomena, a sort of trash golem materializes before the viewers eyes.
In a society that has purged ritual importance, Brian’s work may reclaim ritual through materiality, performance and engagement with world history and current events.
- Amanda Lechner
Tags: arch, Artist, Jacob Goble, New York City, Painting, Studio Fuse, studio visit
Studio Visit: Jacob Goble
Date: Tuesday, July 26th
Location: Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Jacob Goble Studio Visit 7/26/11
Since our last studio visit with Jacob Goble over a year ago, he has continued to investigate and hone three primary trajectories:
1) A developing series of abstract linear drawings that are non-repeating permutations of an arch shape.
2) Drawings made from observation in park, museum and domestic settings executed with aesthetically varied and developed mark making.
3) Paintings informed by the drawings, photographs and the book of arches.
While each of these elements of Jacob’s total body of work is produced largely independently from one-another, there is also significant crossover between the three directions. Most commonly the observational drawings act as preliminary work to the paintings. Jacob has also incorporated arches from the books of abstract into his paintings focusing on a particular shape and adding color and brushwork. In some paintings the shape/symbol is used as an overlay on an image of a landscape, in effect, encrypting the landscape language. In other paintings the arch shape is within a wholly abstract canvas, investigations on building an image from formal elements alone.
Jacob described the way he chooses his varied images and content as allowing himself to get attached to an idea or image without committing to putting it in all his work. The group discussed the interplay between nature and artifice in Jacob’s work. There seems to be balance between invention, reference, and removal in each of Jacob’s projects. In his directly observed drawings a level of illusionistic abstraction through mark making is apparent. In some paintings Jacob has combined observed landscape with invented elements and color schemes. In his paintings that are made using observed source material, surface details and foreground/background distinctions pull against the illusion of the image depicted. In the abstract arch books there too seems to be an embrace of a fluid evolution of form.
Perhaps on account of its scale, color palette and graphic presentation, one painting accrued more discussion than the others. The largest canvas in the studio depicted a nearly life size depiction of the Wheel of Fortune wheel positioned as if the viewer was a contestant who has just won a trip to New York. Jacob has edited the image he photographed from his television screen, leaving only the iconic wheel and light colored field below. The group discussed the relatively hard-edged and slick mark making used in this painting and compared it to the small preliminary painting that informed the larger final work. The idea of making a drawing of the wheel was discussed as well as a return to using inks to encourage the mark making exhibited in the observed pencil drawings.
When asked how he would formally exhibit his different modes of working, he answered that he would show the different works together, drawings alongside the paintings.
Tags: Abstract Painting, Abstraction, Marie Walsh Sharpe, Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program, New York City, Studio Fuse, studio visit, Vince Contarino
Studio Visit: Vince Contarino
Date: Tuesday June 28th
Location: Marie Walsh Sharpe Studios – DUMBO, Brooklyn
Studio Visit Synopsis:
Vince Contarino started his studio visit by introducing a drawing project started about a year ago, before he moved into his current studio in the Marie Walsh Sharpe Space program. The project, a collection of small paintings, drawings, works on paper, exists in tandem with photographs and other ephemera produced and collected by Vince. A black shrine of sorts, this intuitively assembled drawing project gives off a film noir-like feeling of gesture. While paralleling and informing the body of work created upon moving into the Sharpe Studio it has thus far remained separate.
Vince is not the kind of abstractionist that takes recognizable images and objects and makes them unrecognizable, but he is not pulling from chaos either. He instead, through a discerning eye, identifies shapes, colors and marks that he then pulls into the work. Thinking of gestures as objects, Vince refers to his painting process as “building a painting”. During his residency at the Marie Walsh Sharpe he has taken the opportunity to vary strategies for making his paintings, challenging size and mark making, and testing the parameters necessary for a painting to “hold the wall”.
Vince states that he does not wish to fetishize paint or to create a “perfect” surface but that his work is should be a dance between gesture and hard edge utilitarian marks.
The discussion on mark making led to a conversation about whether Vince’s marks act as quotes or as “ideas of a gesture”, whether they are a depiction or a demonstration.
For Vince abstraction is based on faith, not in a religious or spiritual sense but as belief in a language and trust in a process.
Abstraction is often an activity of isolation. In the case of Vince Contarino’s practice, he challenges this notion by active engaging the outside world with other artists and through writing and blogging. He is involved in Progress Report and KCLOG blogs and recently co-curated The Working Title, a group exhibition at the Bronx River Art Center.
Quote below from Howard Hurst’s interview on March 21st, 2011-
“Vince Contarino is a New York based painter. His multi-layered canvasses explore the language of abstraction. From first glance there is something illusive in Contarino’s canvases, a tension between the forthright and the concealed. The artist often repurposes forgotten brushstrokes and colors, pasting them into his collages and works on paper. The result is something both beautiful and challenging, a floating soup of the painterly. Contarino’s belief in the ongoing relevance of abstraction is mirrored in his extracurricular activities.”
To read the full interview click on the link below.