Cold Wax Maestro Jerry McLaughlin; So You Want To Be in Pictures?
About midway through our interview for Under the Radar this Week, Jerry McLaughlin confessed that he didn’t feel he had the right to call himself an artist until well into middle age. This in spite of a successful career as a photographer in Denver, and in spite of shows with artists’ co-ops in the Bay Area. “Then one day I realized that life is short and if I don’t jump in and own this thing, I’m never going to be an artist and do what artists do,” he says. “So I started telling people, ‘I’m an artist,’” What really sealed the deal was his discovery of cold wax and collaboration with fellow Vasari21 member Rebecca Crowell a few years back on a 320-page comprehensive sourcebook about the medium. Along with greater confidence as a painter and shows at Jen Tough Gallery in Vallejo, CA.
It’s an interesting dilemma, When do you summon the moxie to call yourself an artist? Some seem to have it from a very young age; others require public acclaim and the validation of gallery shows and reviews. And maybe there are those who blanch at using the term but go right ahead and make art anyway. As I’ve confessed, I dabble as a painter but I would never ever call myself an artist. Perhaps some art historian of the future will unearth my oeuvre and announce the news on her twitter feed: “Forgettable Taos Artist Better Off Forgotten.”
For a couple of weeks, I’ve been researching the subject of how and what art makes it into the movies and TV shows, and I now have some answers on the subject. I did not find out some of the pressing points raised earlier: Like what that Pontormo was doing in Carmela and Tony’s bedroom on “The Sopranos” or why the Rothko in one of the “Mad Men” offices was so patently phony-looking, but I did talk to several set designers about the art they choose for major projects and ways you might get on their radar. The money’s not great (at most you will probably get paid for reproduction rights) but it could be a thrill to show up, say, in Jennifer Lawrence’s
Mark Rothko on the walls of Bert Cooper’s office in “Mad Men”
As you may have seen on Facebook and Instagram, we held a Vasari21 party at the Santa home of Sheila Miles, and a lovely time was had by all. What was the point? I have so many terrific members in the area that I thought they ought to get to know one another better. Future get-togethers are in the planning stages for L.A., the Hudson Valley, and Taos, NM. Now if only I could attract a significant membership in Rome….
Ceramics artist Erik Gellert with collectors Walt and Louise Rosett and Sheila Miles with her portrait of the only smoker at the party
And now on to members’ shows….
Donald Martiny, in affiliation with the Sponder Gallery, will be showing at two different venues next week: At Volta NY (Pier 90, March 7-11) and at Art on Paper in Boca Raton, FL (March 8-11, booth 415). As I noted in my profile of the artist, his larger works are like giant disembodied brushstrokes, which use about 30 to 40 gallons of paint mixed with polymer medium and transferred to an aluminum backing that can then be affixed to the wall. I had the pleasure of introducing his works at Lorna York’s Madison Gallery in La Jolla, CA, about a year ago, and though I haven’t seen the works on paper, it looks to me like they pack the same punch on a smaller scale.
Donald Martiny, Untitled (2017), polymer and pigment on paper, 37-1/2 by 29-1/2 inches
In honor of last night’s Academy Awards, Linda Vallejo’s show “The Brown Oscars” at the Mezz Gallery at the Montalban, in collaboration with bG Gallery in Los Angeles, offers “an exploration of the Oscars and a place where Vallejo hopes to inspire, incite dialog and action about the beauty of being brown and the importance of casting and hiring people of color in Hollywood,” says bG Gallery’s director Om Bleicher. “Like much of Linda’s work, this series opens doors to deeper conversations. The work is a celebration of Hollywood nostalgia while at the same time creating an alternate reality where color politics have been switched and past Oscar winners have all become brown.”
Linda Vallejo, “The Brown Oscars,” El Bello Travestido (2018), photograph from the internet, acrylic paint
Though March, Betty Carroll Fuller is part of a two-person show (with the late Shirley Mossman Nisbet) at the Cotuit Center for the Arts, a two-floor gallery on Cape Cod in Cotuit, MA. “Shirley and I both lived in North Falmouth on Cape Cod, halfway between the art communities of Provincetown and Boston, and we were friends an colleagues for 25 years,” Fuller writes. “Outliers of sorts, we enjoyed our solitary pursuits in our respective studios. But art does not exist in a vacuum, there’s an ecology that its necessary to thrive—intelligent art writers, good galleries and museums and significantly you need your peers to talk with, share information, materials, contacts, etc. We had always wanted to have a two-person exhibit together but it never quite happened. Two weeks before she passed away Shirley arranged with David Kuehn, the director of the Cotuit Center for the Arts to bring that to fruition. He enthusiastically arranged it and titled it ‘A Moment.’ Shirley was able to pick out all of her work she wanted to be in the show. For my part, I wanted to exhibit some new pieces; I work very personally and living on the Cape I’m drawn to -those unexpected moments when nature just takes your breath away. This is where October Sky comes from.”
Betty Carroll Fuller, October Sky (2017), oil on canvas, 54 by 66 inches
From March 8 to 11, Brenda Goodman will be showing with Jeff Bailey Gallery at the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) at Skylight Clarkson Square in West SoHo, New York. NADA bills itself as “the definitive non-profit arts organization dedicated to the cultivation, support, and advancement of new voices in art.” I don’t know Brenda’s work well (I’ll soon do a profile of her), but I’ve been a fan of what I’ve seen on social media and she’s contributed generously to the site for posts on subjects like “Artists’ Block and How to Beat It.” I’ll be bringing you more about this highly esteemed “artists’ artist” very soon.
Brenda Goodman, Loving (2018), oil on wood, 20 by 24 inches
Arlene Rush is showing works from her “Silver Linings” series as part of the Art on Paper extravaganza at Pier 16 in downtown Manhattan (AHA Fine Arts, March 8-11). “’Silver Lining’” originated from the series ‘Evidence of Being,’ when I embarked upon a project to archive my career,” says Rush. “The objects accumulated over the course of my artistic career not only represent the strategy of self-historicization, but also an investigation of the fraught and difficult politics connected to artistic practice in New York City. By looking at the practical conditions that artists face, I found these objects became more than the surplus of my practice; they became a lens through which these issues could be shared. I found they raised questions about the nature and importance of being an artist. ‘Silver Linings’ shifts the experience of gloom and despair to beauty and hope. These silver-leaf envelopes, named after the art institutions and galleries that sent me rejection letters over the course of my career, are made into an object of thought.”
Arlene Rush, Silver Lining—Cheim & Read (2018), linen paper, museum board, digital print, resin, silver leaf, wax, acrylic and wood, ), 4 ¾ by 3 ¾ by 1 inch deep
And works from new members
“Everyone recognizes the universal symbol of the circle. We think of seeds, planets, eggs, cells, fruit, which all carry growth, evolution and birth within them,” Amelia Currier writes about her “Bloom” series of monotypes. "Theirs is a world that appears as a unified whole, evolving or devolving from nothingness. My search for a more direct creative path also brought me back to my own primal memory. I am an artist who is a blend of printmaker and mark maker—in love with the natural, the perplexing and the ingredients that equal stillness”
Amelia Currier, Winged Graffitto, monotype and photo collage, 30 by 30 inches
“My work is an aesthetic investigation that explores the writings of D.T. Suzuki and the writings and works of Agnes Martin and Ad Reinhardt. Much is yet to be learned in this area and for me is an ongoing pursuit,” writes Jennie Kiessling. “The material focus of my work is graphite and erasure. My conceptual concerns relate to labor, political upheaval and the liminal space of bearing witness. Ultimately, I am interested in the visceral response. Rhythm, repetition, and the grid are my visual language; it maps my movement. I keep my materials as simple as possible. For me, there are complex subtleties found in engaging with minimal and post-minimal work. The feeling is that of a puzzle with potential. It needs one’s attention and time in order for it to be activated. I am always thinking and feeling about what it is to engage with and to feel an edge.”
Jennie Kiessling, Untitled (2017), graphite on Pergamenata, 39 by 27 inches
In 1958, “enraptured from an early age by art’s power,” Deborah Curtiss says, “Josef Albers told me I should be a painter, advice from which I relentlessly plumbed possibilities with both mixed feelings and results,” She recently relocated to Seattle, WA, from Philadelphia, and the image below is from a series done in the 1980s. Made of three pictorial elements: human figures, landscapes, and flora, "masterfully interwoven and balanced by her astute use of line, color, and space," says critic Diana Whitney. "She paints the relationship between a figure and its ground, the human body as part of its own environment. One line may form both the curve of a breast and suggest the the ocean, symbolically depicting the potential that exists for a natural balance between our environment and ourselves."
Deborah Curtiss, SYNA from the “Synapse” series (1980s), acrylic stained into two canvases including iridescent pigments, 66 by 56 inches
“My studio work draws from the language of material culture, exploring the grammar, syntax, and history through the use of dyes and pigments, textile, deconstructed books, and installations,” says Patricia Miranda. “Projects explore an inchoate sense of mourning and desire, for one another, ourselves, and our environment, the plant and animal world. Each material speaks a unique chemistry, from its beginnings as plant, flower, clay, or insect to its shaping by human culture. These bring autonomous histories and stand as their own witness.”
Patricia Miranda, Tether (2016), cochineal-dyed doilies, oak gall-dyed sisal twine, oak gall dye from foraged galls. installed at I-Park Artist Residency, Haddam CT
“I'm a self-taught artist who is realizing the value of showing up in the studio regularly,” says Julie Snidle. “My studio is my portal, my workshop, my classroom. We all live with uncertainty; my work is about the journey we take on our way to the answers.”
Julie Snidle, Possibility (2018), encaustic on panel, 24 by 18 inches
"Dissonance is one of a series of collages that explore materiality and chaos versus order; as a metaphor for unbridled mayhem and tensions in the world that may contain brief, surprising moments of flow, rhythm, and even structure,” says Karen Snouffer, a professor emerita at Kenyon College in Gambler, OH.”My past experience with improvisational dance brings an acute sense of the body in space that has clearly affected my two- and three-dimensional work. Polarities create visual and psychic tensions, challenging the viewer to become fully engaged.”
Karen Snouffer, Dissonance (2017), paper, acrylic, ink, plastic, glitter, found objects, 24 by 24 by 3 inches
As I say week after week, if you don’t see yourself here, please be patient. Many new members have signed on—a good thing for Vasari21—but I can’t always keep up.
In the works: more on artists’ coaches, the importance of a catalogue, residencies off the beaten path, and many many other subjects.