Friday, January 13, 2006

A comment more than worthy of it's own post...

In regards to my post directly below, this wonderful anonymous comment:

The death of painting has been proclaimed for forty years, at least, not ten. It's just something jejune some people like to do in order to declare absolutes. Sometimes I think it is just that painting is the medium singled out to discuss the arts and their place in our culture.

Painting is the most expressive, elastic, visceral art. Gooey liquids can become anything. Paint may depict, it may express, it may abstract. It may do any and all of these at once. It may appear wet or dry, loose or tight, rough or smooth. The physicality of paint is one of its most alive and engaging characteristics.

The simplicity and directness of painting, traditionally a shape of canvas or board usually hanging on a vertical surface (wall) belies the complicated experience of a painting. Painting is a silent challenge no matter how beguiling its surface or image, no matter how innocuous its presentation. Your experience, intellect and perception directly confront that of another, the painter. But there's more: painting, like people, may contain contradiction and confusion, as well as any range of emotions. At the same time it states an individual view of the world. This may be the physical, social, cultural or intellectual world. Mostly, when painting is good, it tell us something about all of these aspects of living. It tells us about an actual experience of being alive at a specific time and place.

In order to understand this the viewer actively and imaginatively engages with the painting. It is not a passive experience. You bring nada, you take away nada.

Painting carries on an additional dialogue. The dialogue with all painting created before it. That requires a viewer with some education and lots of experience to perceive.

Ultimately, the thrill of painting does not lay in recognition or understanding. It resides in the religio-magic roots of painting which are as potent today to us as they were in the caves of Lauscaux to our ancestors. Wish fulfillment? Conjure? Instruction? Explanation? Either way, imagination is the very foundation of taking a tool and some viscous liquid to make a window on a world.

That imagination is cured in a furnace of ability and desire. Skill borne forth via technique. Maybe only other painters are interested in the "how die he/she do it" question. Anyway, it comes last for the viewer, if at all, but is inextricably part of the painters view.

Then there is a purley formalist perspective. This is an entirely abstract approach to the appreciation of painting. I leave you to learn about that on your own.

Locally, we have some thrilling painters: Brian Fick, Carla Knopp, Steve Paddack, Ed Sanders, Becky Wislon, Marc Jacobson. Maybe you could schedule studio visits with these painters. You could see a greater breadth of their work than would be available to you in a single exhibit.

27 Responses to “A comment more than worthy of it's own post...”

Anonymous said...
January 14, 2006 at 1:26 AM

It does not have to be painting! I am a card-carrying IMOCA member and, by labelling, a painter. If you really need to be shuttled around to appreciate good art, I offer my services...but, I don't think you need that. Warning! Painting will sneak up on you when you least expect it. If for no other reason, and while there are thousands of better ones, a painting in your home greets you like a cup of coffee...a whimper from your dog whining to be let out...a tug on the leg from a child...not tantamount, but worthwhile and pleasantly constraining. You don't press don't stub your toe on's easier, but in that good way, not the lazy one. It can be challenging and fulfilling and low maintenance and wonderful and mysterious and in just the right place when you need it to be there.Do you get what I am saying? It is not dead unless it renders itself as dead. And it has not.

Anonymous said...
January 14, 2006 at 9:00 AM

Talk about overexposure...The commentator above knows all about it.

Anonymous said...
January 14, 2006 at 10:50 AM

"Painting is the most expressive, elastic, visceral art." That is a very presumptuous comment. Maybe in your opinion it is, but let's leave that assumption to the individual. All the other things you discuss can be applied to any other medium whether they are drawings, etchings, lithos, sculpture, and yes, even installation.

I feel a response is needed to your list of "thrilling" painters in Indianapolis. Yes, perhaps twenty years ago in the early days of Mass. Avenue these painters were considered "Thrilling," but that was a long time ago and the 431 and InVivo Galleries have long since closed their doors. Brian Fick's work while technically adequate tends to be highly decorative in nature to the point that it reminds me of high-end wallpaper. Carla Knopp - is she still around and/or producing? I haven't seen her in an exhibit in years. Steve Paddock is still doing landscapes - hardly the stuff of excitement. Ed Sanders and Becky Wilson I might agree with you on. Both have produced excellent, thought provoking exhibits in the past couple of years. Marc Jacobson, hmm, cityscapes and landscapes, again, not so thrilling.

And while I'm here, I have a few comments about this site as well. Overall, this exchange of information, opinions, and ideas is a great thing. It is something that Indianapolis has needed for a long time. However, the "blog" format may not be the best format. As it is now, the "blogs" written by three individuals totally control the direction of the discussions, while the comments might contain important and interesting dialogue, I bet many people don't read them because of the format in which they are presented. They are not readily accessible, and therefore, often missed. The current format is unorganized and topics seem random. I would like to see this site turned into an all out forum with usernames (with the ability to see their comment history - it could still be anonymous) and Categories - gallery reviews, Museum Reviews, general discussion, promotion, etc. An excellent example of this type of format is The art site would not have to be quite as extensive as IMN, but it could be a good model to follow. It would allow for a broader range of topics and subjects. Which can be added by anyone, not just the "Three Supreme Rulers" as it is here. Isn't there already too much power and influence allocated to too few people in this city already?

Christopher said...
January 14, 2006 at 11:29 AM

In regards to the format of our website, thank you for the suggestions. I agree with you that a blog by it's very nature is not the best way to disseminate information. It is, however, very inexpensive, requires very little technical skill, and most importantly, much better than nothing at all.

And Quincy, I really liked what you said above. Thanks.

Anonymous said...
January 14, 2006 at 12:09 PM

This blog is overexposed.

Christopher said...
January 14, 2006 at 12:13 PM

that's funny.

Liriodendron said...
January 14, 2006 at 12:59 PM

I am an IMN addict...but that site/forum takes a lot of time, work, and a bit of $$ too. This blog IS much better than nothing, which is what there seemed to be before, so I appreciate it very much. :)
I enjoy taking the time to read the different writings, and sort thru the comments that sometimes follow. Because I'm not "in" with this crowd of painters, I find it interesting and insightful. It's fun to (politely) pipe up with a different opinion every now and then, to mix things up. I like to communicate...thanks for the opportunity!

Anonymous said...
January 14, 2006 at 1:14 PM

Talk about presumption! It isn't presumptuous for me to state my aesthetic response to painting. No, I do not believe all else I wrote about painting is applicable to all other media. The experience of a scultpture is essentially different than the experience of a drawing, and so on. This is not about heirarchies it is about differences.

What is this time restriction you use to negate the work of the few local painters work I profess to like? How is it that landscape is "high-end wallpaper"? Since when is landscape an invalid subject for art? You have a number of idiosyncratic rules that influence your outlook.

Also, you may wish to revisit the paintings of these artists because you appear to have missed their significance.

Fick's work consciously borrows from the language of decoration, specifically decorative painting. He generally uses these motives (the plural of motif) as a kind of framing element. Sometimes he overlays the entire surface of a painting with scrolling rinceau or whatever. His painting is gestural even exuberant landscape. The decorative motives serve as a heirarchical device in the paintings. The purpose of this device is not merely contrast of opposites. The purpose is a metaphor about seeing and the nature of experience. This is a proposition about the nature of art. Since when is that invalid?

Paddack also uses landscape in metaphors about visual perception. His most recent paintings appear to be evolving a theme he explored in a show some years ago. Of course he style has changed. His surfaces have become much more controlled, deliberate, almost self-effacing. And this changes the perception of what he is painting. He is painting the kind of odd, happenstance tricks of vision - the thing you thought you saw out of the corner of your eye. The thing that jerked you from inattention to rapt attention. These incidents are often mistaken visual perceptions, momentary self-deceits, just plain visual gliches. In painting these isn't Steve asking us to consider the nature of visual perception? Fick and Paddack's work offer an interesting contrast on a subject.

Carla Knopp is still alive and painting her excellant, quirky, lush narratives. And she brings such a mastery of space to them. Also, she brings such a great sense of humor to a kind of pathos. Too rare.

I wonder what it could be that you see in Ed and Becky's paintings when you so thoroughly miss the boat with the above three painters.

carla said...
January 14, 2006 at 1:45 PM This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Scott said...
January 14, 2006 at 4:13 PM

"Do you really want to so readily dismiss an artist, any artist, who stays and continues to put out year after year?"

Carla- I think this is a very valid point. There is something to be said in the steadfastness of artists doing what they love year after year.

Anonymous- About the format of the site i agree with many of you points about the limitations of a blog format and perhaps over time our format will evolve. Thanks for your thoughts and advice on that subject. About the "Three Supreme Rulers", perhaps you are being sarcastic. Though, i would like to state that we have been actively scouting out the talents of more writers with diverse backgrounds and interests and we also allow for guest writers to post on occassion. It is my hope that this will keep things at the site fresh and not one sided or our writers viewed as a clique.

All- I have been enjoying reading the dialoge and opinions here but please, try to keep things respectful. Thank you.

Christopher said...
January 14, 2006 at 5:05 PM

Scott said respectful. He's no fun.

carla said...
January 14, 2006 at 6:05 PM This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Jim said...
January 15, 2006 at 1:08 AM

also, as Scott mentioned a little earlier here, Big Car Gallery has a forum set up on its site that people can use. There, they can start their own discussion or whatever and there's nobody in charge. At the main page go to the forums link that is on the left side about half way down... it is getting some use already ...

Anonymous said...
January 15, 2006 at 4:54 AM

self-promotion is so not civil

Anonymous said...
January 15, 2006 at 10:09 AM

Be nice and have fun.....Don't be disrespectful, be civil. Ok, mom. Well my last post about "thrilling" painters seemed to catch the eye of a few. I find it amusing that I am being unrespectful and/or uncivil just because I stated my opinion. I guess I forgot that I am in the midwest and, heaven forbid, you actually say what you think.
Artists in this town can't seem to handle criticism. Thank god there isn't a real art critic in town, if there were, I'm sure most of the artists in this town would be crying in their closets. "Boo Hoo, someone doesn't like my work....blah, blah, blah." So what? Who cares if everyone likes it? Big deal. Get over it.
And to the originator of this thread, who also responded to my earlier comments about the "thrilling" painters. You sure know a lot about each of those painters. Makes me think maybe you are a little "too close"(married, dating, or perhaps you are one of them) to actually have an unbiased opinion. Your spewing of information and "insight" into their work, while somewhat impressive, seems more like justification and rationalization than anything else. I still feel the same way. I don't care for them (the paintings, that is) I find them less than "thrilling," in fact, boring seems more appropriate. Of course, this is just my opinion, which, contrary to the Midwestern way of thinking, I'm allowed to have.

gben said...
January 15, 2006 at 12:09 PM This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

gben said...
January 15, 2006 at 12:45 PM This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Anonymous said...
January 15, 2006 at 1:10 PM

unthrilled anonymous - what local artists do you like and why? (palm extended upwards in a Gonzales-Torres manner)

Scott said...
January 15, 2006 at 2:38 PM

Anonymous- I at no time said or considered anything you wrote to be offensive, unrespecful, or uncivil; if this is what you gathered from my warning, then please forgive me. The purpose of my warning was only intended as a reminder to everyone before things were to escalate to just name calling. I have seen too many forums and blogs shut down do to the overall negative mood of the comments and that is something we dont want to happen. I for one am all for straight forward, honest criticism, of others works as well as my own. As long as the critic is willing to explain their viewpoint, be it good or bad, i find it very useful. "Boo Hoo, someone doesn't like my work... blah, blah, blah." that is funny. One of the setbacks i find from writing is that often tone can be misread, a hazard of the medium. I actually find your posts interesting and agree with some of your views. May the dialoge continue...

Anonymous said...
January 15, 2006 at 3:15 PM

I think all those painters suck including Becky Wilson. Boo hoo now!

carla said...
January 15, 2006 at 4:35 PM This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

carla said...
January 15, 2006 at 4:39 PM This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Scott said...
January 15, 2006 at 6:03 PM

Some of my favorite local artists, though i will admit that many of them are friends of mine as well, would have to be Stacy Novak, Casey Roberts, Anthony Pontius (not so much local anymore as he has moved but he is represented by Ruschman Art Gallery), Emily Kennerk, and Peg Fierke. I will admit that my list of 5 is also guilty of being Herron oriented but many of the city artists stem from there at one point, for good or for bad. And i personally own work by 4 of the 5 artists i named and have plans on acquiring work by the other when i can. I don't think any of these artist have a whole lot in common, style or content wise, and none of there work is akin to the work i make but i love to see there work when i can. I hope to come to know more artists this year whose work i like as much as theirs. I hope to get out and see more shows and open studios this year so that this may happen.

I think that many of the artists i listed, i have had the luxury of seeing large amounts of their work over the past several years. I can see there work in context this way which can sway me. I think this is why i often prefer solo exhibitions over group shows. I like to see the works inform the other works in the show. There are many artists in the city that i have only seen one or two pieces by and often, though i may be excited by, i tend to withhold my judgment till i see more work by them.

carla said...
January 15, 2006 at 6:18 PM This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Jim said...
January 15, 2006 at 9:14 PM

Maybe it would be good for the anonymous ones posting to pick a user name (it doesn't have to be your real name like mine is) so we can keep track of who is saying what as conversations continue.

Anonymous said...
February 4, 2006 at 4:21 PM

Knowing that Christopher West knows my work as a painter, I'm highly ofended about his comments.

Anonymous said...
April 16, 2006 at 11:07 AM

good godallmighty, have you people got blinders on? this town has way more talented and fresh painters than mentioned (NOT herron grads, i might add) and many of them much more compelling than Fick or Sanders...the former's last show here was a god-awful collection of cabinet doors that he swizzled some paint on and thought up clever titles for, all shown about as tackily as I've seen in recent years, and all purchased by close friends (i'm jealous, wish i had 30 rich friends to count on to look semi-successful while i travel the world applying patinas to old architecture). The latter's work is mind-numbingly, near-suicidal depression writ large in muddy oil at it's best. i guess there's a place for that but not on my walls.

out damn spot!

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