Interviewed on "Whiskey with Mark"

Mark Davis is a good friend of mine, and a central figure in Eugene’s downtown tech scene via his brainchild Eugenetech.org (I designed their logo a couple years back). He’s got a podcast he does with local members of the community, and asked me to sit down and talk about what I do, and my experience working in the local arts scene. It’s a fun conversation and we talk about where tech and art can connect in a more meaningful way in Eugene.

He creates a visualization and video out of this notebook that connects to the audio recording. So, like, he’s writing on paper, and the app tracks his notes, while it records the… anyway… tech guys and their gadgets.

Speaking of podcasts, I’m starting one myself with my collegues at Eugene Contemporary Art. Sign up on our website if you want to get the announcement for the launch this December.

A fixture in the Eugene art scene talks about current projects and new directions

Ugh. Why is this broken?

Blogging. Nemisis or necessity in this wired age of ours?

I read an old interview of Led Zepplin’s Jimmy Page this week by Chuck Klosterman. He noted Page’s irritation to talking about his work - it’s not like Led Zepplin needs explaining - or explaining anything he’s done in his career.

Klosterman wrote

“His mind still resides in an era when media exposure only served as a detriment to artistic aspiration… Page still assumes answering questions about his music can only erode its interpretative potentiality.”

Granted, Page was of the level of artists who had the luxury of this opinion. Even though interviews like this function largely as marketing for any band, he existed in a space, and had a fan base, that didn’t need any help.

Just the other night, I was interviewing a friend for a new podcast I’m working on, and he drew the distinction between art and marketing for artists. We had been talking about social media’s purpose, and how some artists are hestitant to engage in “marketing efforts”. He said, “making artwork is the important thing, social media is merely the voice.” This made sense. To me it says, “Don’t think so hard about it. Just use it as a tool.” But it still captured the essence of what many artists struggle with - that the work itself is the voice. The work is the thing that speaks for me.

And to counter a counterpoint, with another counterpoint - “If an artist painted all the trees in the woods, would anyone be made aware enough to criticize their color choices?”

I don’t know. If twitter found out about they’d be fucking pissed. That’s for sure.

In the meantime, I’ve told myself I should try using social media to speak about my work. Being able to talk about it is the important thing. Channels be damned. I had given myself the goal of writing on my long-ignored blog this weekend. I had no specific point to make. I just needed to rip the band-aid off.

Band-aid ripped. End scene.

New work in Old Bones Upon the Valley Shake

New collaborative work in an exhibition all February

I've been so slammed between the day job and getting new shows ready via my ECA project that I've not had time to sit down and update all my personal channels (except Twitter).

So here goes.

Opening tonight, Feb 4th, 2017, at The Barn Light East in Eugene, Oregon, I'm participating in a collaborative poster show with three other artists I've gotten to know over the past couple years.

The video above features studio visits with myself, Julia Oldham and Jessie Rose Vala.

The show is titled "Old Bones Upon the Valley Shake" and it features digital prints of collaborative work the three of us made together. A cross between Layer Tennis and Exquisite Corpse. Read about it on the ECA website, and if you are in Eugene, stop by the Barn Light East between now and Feb 26th. 

 Prints up at Barn Light East through the month of February.

Prints up at Barn Light East through the month of February.

ECA has a few more shows planned for the Barn Light event space, so get on our email list if you want to stay up to date. This upcoming May, I'm having a one-person pop-up show at a friends studio over in Springfield, but you can bet I'll post more about it here, and send an announcement out via my personal email list

On being an independent artist

I really enjoyed this conversation between multimedia artists Jeremy Bailey and Rafaël Rozendaal. Both artists deal with the intersections of technology, performance and the web in interesting ways. I'm particularly interested in any artists who also operates in the world of commercial digital design (Jeremy Bailey is a designer at Freshbooks - the online bookkeeping platform). Both artists have a very practical approach to what it means to be an artist in today's internet-driven world. 

"Nobody reads an artist's statement" and other practical tips on being an artist

 

The above speech, titled “On Amnesia, Broken Pottery, and the Inside of a Form,” is a 2013 keynote address to the graduating class of artist Teresita Fernández's alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts. Here ten practical tips on being an artist are listed below.

 

  1. Art requires time — there’s a reason it’s called a studio practice. Contrary to popular belief, moving to Bushwick, Brooklyn, this summer does not make you an artist. If in order to do this you have to share a space with five roommates and wait on tables, you will probably not make much art. What worked for me was spending five years building a body of work in a city where it was cheapest for me to live, and that allowed me the precious time and space I needed after grad school.
  2. Learn to write well and get into the habit of systematically applying for every grant you can find. If you don’t get it, keep applying. I lived from grant money for four years when I first graduated.
  3. Nobody reads artist’s statements. Learn to tell an interesting story about your work that people can relate to on a personal level.
  4. Not every project will survive. Purge regularly, destroying is intimately connected to creating. This will save you time.
  5. Edit privately. As much as I believe in stumbling, I also think nobody else needs to watch you do it.
  6. When people say your work is good do two things. First, don’t believe them. Second, ask them, “Why”? If they can convince you of why they think your work is good, accept the compliment. If they can’t convince you (and most people can’t) dismiss it as superficial and recognize that most bad consensus is made by people simply repeating that they “like” something.
  7. Don’t ever feel like you have to give anything up in order to be an artist. I had babies and made art and traveled and still have a million things I’d like to do.
  8. You don’t need a lot of friends or curators or patrons or a huge following, just a few that really believe in you.
  9. Remind yourself to be gracious to everyone, whether they can help you or not. It will draw people to you over and over again and help build trust in professional relationships.
  10. And lastly, when other things in life get tough, when you’re going through family troubles, when you’re heartbroken, when you’re frustrated with money problems, focus on your work. It has saved me through every single difficult thing I have ever had to do, like a scaffolding that goes far beyond any traditional notions of a career.

Art is hard

 Pointless legitimacy: "Art is Hard", 2016, 11"x14", spray paint on paper.

Pointless legitimacy: "Art is Hard", 2016, 11"x14", spray paint on paper.

This is not a complaint. Merely and acknowledgment on a Monday. Also I wanted to smell paint while I was working on a client project.

This image popped in my head the other day as something I wanted to say to someone, after hearing them talk about a struggle with a new set of pieces they were working on. I literally pictured it as tossed-off spray paint on paper or a wall. Deliberately non-art, as most blunt communication is.

I made this today, before I started work. One of the best things about a dedicated workspace is the narrowing of time between idea and execution. Even if it's a silly mental image you need to get out of your brain, so you can move on with your day. 

 

Op-ed piece gets a shout out on Hyperallergic.com

A few weeks back I wrote an op-ed piece for our local weekly newspaper. Hyperallergic.com just posted an article by one of Eugene's own writers, Suzi Steffen, covering the current drama surrounding the latest gallery closure in Eugene. The mention of my piece kicks off Steffen's article.

Of course I wish I was getting covered on one of the biggest art blogs in the country for artistic reasons. Ha. My opinion's flow a lot easier than the artwork however. 

I was also interviewed, along with several others involved in Eugene's art scene, for a big piece in this week's Eugene Weekly. While the author raised questions regarding, and advocated for, a city funded arts center, the best thing about this piece was letting people know the Public Art Committee (of which I'm a member) is not taking in as much funding as other cities our size, and our "1% for art" revenue could be increased. 

Hopefully by this time next year, our city will be getting national arts coverage because of some as-of-yet undiscovered arts funding innovation or cultural break-through.

Here's to hoping.  

Op-ed piece for Eugene Weekly - No money for the arts

Op-ed piece for Eugene Weekly - No money for the arts

Last week I wrote a post over on ECA's blog in response to comments I was seeing online regarding the closing of yet another gallery. The Eugene Weekly asked me to expand the post into an op-ed piece and I was happy to oblige. The entire text is featured here, or you can read it on the Weekly's site. Check out the original post on eugenecontemporaryart.com.

 

Guess what? There's no money.

Seven steps to make the Jacobs Gallery closing not matter at all

Arts funding is important. Without it, even our longest-running institutions close. The Jacobs Gallery at the Hult Center is the most recent in a string of examples.  

People wring their hands when yet another art venue closes in Eugene, and the standard frustrations are conveyed: “There’s not enough funding!"; “I can’t survive as an artist in Eugene!”; “Nobody buys art!”; “Someone should step up and donate!” 

All of those statements may be true, but they don’t get to the heart of the issue. The art-going public in Eugene has made it clear for years that the experience of supporting art is not worth the time or money. If people don’t show up to see it, if they don’t make their end-of-the-year donation, or purchase work for their collection, it’s because they aren’t compelled to do so. Plain and simple. 

The voters don’t show up to the polls if they already think it’s an ineffectual process. 

Our art scene sucks.

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David Salle on his own work

I recently came across this great lecture by painter David Salle from 2010, speaking at AFA Christie's.

In opposition to most critical writing on the contemporary art coming out of NYC in the 80's, he asserts that while critics saw a distinct divide between the Neo-expressionist painters and the culturally and politically critical conceptual artists, these artists not only knew and worked along side each other, but didn't view their own work to be at odds with each other at all. 

He makes his points by talking about an exhibition he co-curated that put the work in mention alongside each other for the first time. He also argues that successful painting, in his mind, blend pictorialism and presentationalism.

As someone who studied art history, but pursues painting, I find this really refreshing to hear. It's easy for critics and theorists to separate conceptual thinking and the practice of painting, but hard to reconcile in painting. Salle is a prolific writer and critic himself, so his ability to articulate his thoughts will be helpful for anyone who thinks about the critical value of their own work. Especially if they are a painter. He understands the theory, but it is a painter down to his core. 

Recent work - "For certain undamaged lemons II"

image.jpg

"For certain undamaged lemons II" 2015, 38"x40", mixed media on canvas.

This one is new, and the first completed in the studio space (I've moved my painting out of the garage). Some different moves here that came as a surprise. There is definitely an affect that comes from working in a new space, let alone one that is more open and comfortable. I've also added some new materials to my kit, namely spray paint and graffiti pens.  These have little to do with street art, but I have always perceived my canvases as a space to collect the markings of "a passerby". This is always me. The way the surface can collect the debris of working, and the building up and tearing down of layers has been a consistent theme since I began painting in earnest in the early 2000's.

 Detail of 3 of my own skateboards from the 80's and 90's.

Detail of 3 of my own skateboards from the 80's and 90's.

Recently I found myself describing my love of the way a skateboard collects the markings of it's own activity. A once pristine graphic illustration, most likely silk-screened or heat transfered on, meant to instill the identity of the pro rider who's name is on the board, quickly gets taken over my the insistence of the boards rider. His stickers have been added, and scared by curbs and pool coping. It becomes something new, merely by becoming a mediator between the rider and surface.

I might hate it tomorrow. Right now I still like it. 

We are what we purchase

 "Our Motivated Demographic" by Courtney Stubbert, 11"x14", graphite, market and collage on paper.  

"Our Motivated Demographic" by Courtney Stubbert, 11"x14", graphite, market and collage on paper.  

Finally getting my studio back together after hosting a couple pop-up events in my space. New collages, drawings and paintings are on the way.