Sunday, September 25, 2011

Creating from a Dark Place

Childhood Memories. 12"x12" collage

Did I believe I had a clear mind?
It was like the water of a river
flowing shallow over the ice. And now
that the rising water has broken
the ice, I see that what I thought
was the light is part of the dark.
--- Wendell Berry

Ray Johnson, early collage, Untitled, 1957-58

RAY JOHNSON: The story of the life (and death) of Ray Johnson is cloaked in mystery. Throughout his career he was difficult to know and understand. Johnson is known as the founding father of MAIL ART...and as a collage artist. But he was overshadowed by artists like
Andy Warhol and he became more reclusive... mailing his art to his few friends. He had been called the most famous unknown artist in the world.

Ray Johnson was also a performance artist. To try and separate the man from his art is impossible. He lived his art and he thought he was the embodiment of art. Some say his
suicide was his last art performance. When he was 67, on Friday Jan. 13, 1995 he jumped off of the Sag Harbor bridge in NYC. Many aspects of his life - and death- involved the number 13.
His age (67, 6+7), the room number he checked into earlier that day (247, 2+4+7).

There is an award winning feature length documentary (2002) about his life and art directed by John Walter titled HOW TO DRAW A BUNNY. Follow this link to a one minute movie trailer.

Special Note: International Mail Art Exhibition and Swap, deadline October 1, 2011. See details at this link.

HANNELORE BARON: She was a young child in Germany when Hitler rose to power. Her family barely escaped the Holocaust.
Small. Intimate. Personal. Compelling. Moving. Mysterious.

"It is her work's fragility, both physical and spiritual-- the sense of quiet, private anguish expressed through forlorn materials and cryptic, edgy scrawls-- that have often been cited as the defining characteristics of Baron's art." Michael Kimmelman, NY Times, 1993

ANSELM KIEFER: The history of Germany, the Holocaust and the horrors of war also inform Kiefer's life and art. Although unlike Hannelore Baron, his works are often large and monumental, though they are just as personal, and compelling and emotional.

His works are characterized by a dull, musty, nearly depressive, destructive style... deeply textured. "The truth is always gray." --- Anselm Kiefer

Sometimes it takes darkness... while it is painful to experience or endure...
the light that is hard won offers the greatest illumination...and can lead to the greatest

In the early 1990's Kiefer moved from Germany to the south of France where he created a landscape extending over acres--- miles of corridors, huge studio spaces with large paintings and monumental constructions, always growing and changing. OVER YOUR CITIES GRASS WILL GROW is an almost wordless documentary by Sophie Fiennes about this monumental project.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How to Paint a Bird

Oneness, acrylic and collage (including old Japanese map)

Poem by Jacques Prevert, french poet
To Make the Portrait of a Bird

First, paint a cage
with an open door
next paint
something pretty
something simple
something useful
for the bird
then place the canvas against a tree

Elsa's Images at Flickr here

in a garden
in the woods
or in a forest
hide behind the tree
without saying anything
without moving....

Jill Burgess, Bailiwick Designs, more at Flickr here

Sometimes the bird arrives quickly
but he may as well take years
before deciding to show up
Don't be discouraged
Wait if you must for years
the speed or the slowness of the arrival
of the bird having nothing to do
with the eventual success of the painting

Aino, more images at her Flickr site here

When the bird arrives
if he arrives
observe the deepest silence
wait until the bird has entered the cage
and when he has
gently close the door with the paintbrush

Solarixx, more images at Flickr site here

erase one by one all the bars
being careful not to touch any of the feathers of the bird
Paint next the portrait of the tree
choosing the best of its branches
for the bird
paint also the green foliage and the cool of the wind
the dust of the sun
and the sound of insects in the grass in the heat of summer
and then wait until the bird decides to sing

Kate Castelli, more images at Flickr site here

If the bird does not sing
that's a bad sign
a sign that the picture is bad
but if he sings that's a good sign
a sign that you may sign
So, you gently pull
one of the feathers of the bird
and you write your name in the corner of the picture.
-- translated from the French by Yvone Lenard

Elia Mauceri, blog here and more images at Flickr site here