Sunday, December 19, 2010

detail of new triptych

"Night Parade of a Hundred Demons/ Kasha with DDT"

15 1/4" x 31 3/4"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My friend Leah Friedenrich, SCC Librarian and Japanese art aficionado, organized this educational display of the making of my woodblock print in Tokyo, over the past year, and the history of Japanese Ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) from the mid-nineteenth century until the present. Thank you, Leah!

Friday, October 8, 2010

A watercolor painting of mine ("Heaven and Hell III") and my first Japanese woodblock print("Blue Moon") will be on display in an exhibition entitled “SugiPOP!: The Influence of Anime and Manga on Contemporary Art.” The show will open next week at the Portsmouth Museum of Art in Portsmouth, NH.

The show will run from October 13th 2010 – January 16th 2011. It's a collaborative effort, co-curated by Beau Basse of LeBasse Projects in Los Angeles and Katherine Doyle,a wonderful figurative artist and curator of the Portsmouth Museum of Art.

I met Kate and her husband Simon on the beach in Waimanalo, Hawaii in 1985, where I lived at the time, as I apologized profusely for my dog having blissfully booted sand into their beautiful plein air oil paintings. Happy they didn't hold it against me! Anyway, the Sugi-show features the work of approximately thirty artists tracing the origins of manga, the rise of Japanese Contemporary Art, and how the art forms have influenced artists around the world.

Sugi, the Japanese word for ‘too much,’ represents the extreme characteristics of Japanese manga and anime, which have merged with the American phenomenon of Pop, to become SugiPOP – a blend of Japanese and American contemporary art shaped and defined by over-the-top pop.

The exhibition features an international roster of artists including Japanese historic icons Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Kuniyoshi in a display of original Edo period (mid-nineteenth century) ukiyo-e (woodblock) prints, depicting Japan's traditional 'floating world' of beauty and entertainment.

The exhibit also features Japanese Contemporary artists Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Yoshitaka Amano, Mr., Ai Yamaguchi, Junko Mizuno and Hisashi Tenmyouya.

International artists contributing to the exhibit include KAWS, Gary Baseman, Simone Legno, Natalia Fabia, Tomokazu Matsuyama, Yumiko Kayukawa, Moira Hahn, Seonna Hong, Hush, Morgan Slade, Edwin Ushiro, Luke Chueh, Andrew Hem, Mike Shinoda, SharkToof, Yoskay Yamamoto and others.

In addition, the exhibition is complemented by original cels from some of the most significant anime ever made, including Cowboy Bebop and Princess Mononoke.

The Portsmouth Museum of Art is located at One Harbour Place in downtown Portsmouth. Admission is free.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Jean Leon Gerome at the J. Paul Getty Museum

Visited the Getty yesterday to see the Gerome exhibition, on view through September 12th.

Fantastic show.

I've seen a number of these paintings in person, at the Tate Museum, in London, 3 years ago (Orientalism exhibition, January 2007) and, throughout my childhood, at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore (permanent collection). This, however, is a more comprehensive survey of his subjects and media, including sculpture.

Primary emphasis is placed on Gerome's oil paintings, his primary artistic milieux, spanning over six decades from portrait commissions through historical tableaux, mythological and religious subjects and Orientalist fantasies.

Gerome may have been one of the first 19th century French painters to take full advantage of photography in preparation for his work, from the 1840s through the early years of the twentieth century.

Several rooms are devoted to photography and printmaking, both with reference to Gerome's use of photography to plan his paintings, and to how photography of the completed art formed a basis for derivative lithographic prints and coffee-table art books made from the paintings, which added to his fame, wealth, and criticism at the time for being too 'commercial'.

Then as now, some critics considered the use of photographic references 'cheating'. One can't imagine how any artist could create works with this degree of pictorial complexity and accuracy without the use of photography, but art critics, of any day and age, require something to write about.

I'd have liked to have seen drawings and more preparatory studies. If there were any drawings at all, I missed them. A few painted 'sketches' are included.

The paintings' composition, color, patterns, use of light and attention to detail are mind boggling. Gerome's drafting and painting technique and the anatomical perfection of the portraits and figures in most of the work is amazing and exciting.

I'm sure his work reflects all of the prejudices of upper-class French social strata toward the 'exotic', 'hot-blooded' cultures portrayed. One would expect that, it didn't detract in the slightest from my enjoyment of his imagination in composing tableaux of Roman, Moorish, Egyptian and Turkish worlds. I'm fascinated not only by what artists paint, but by the filters that form their judgment of what is worthy to be painted and how the narrative should be presented to viewers...the lens that informs us. One sees similarly coupled juxtapositions in Bodmer's studies of Native American tribal life, modeled (by Bodmer or his publisher) after Neo-Classical French historical painting by David and Ingres.

Looking at Gerome's subjects from the context of contemporary American values, his depictions of women are far fewer than of men, and almost always emphasize their sexuality and objectification, entertainment or slave value. One senses his closest friends were men and wonders if he so much as knew any women artists.

A bust of French actress Sarah Bernhardt, towards the end of the exhibition and the end of his prolific artistic life, seems almost to have been created by another artist. One remembers that Mucha and the Art Nouveau movement dovetailed with the end of traditional Academic French painting. One realises too that Gerome's work was overshadowed by Impressionism, through the last decades of the nineteenth century, and appreciates his wisdom in sticking to what he excelled at, rather than jumping ship for the next critically acclaimed art movement.

Not everything Gerome made 'worked', or at least, what remains to be seen of it. Attempts to tint marble busts with natural looking pigments to create a life-like aura may have faded unevenly. What's left looked slightly cheesy. The uniform, cool brown tint applied to Bernhardt's elaborately coifed 'do', for example, looks a bit like a dead possum. Perhaps a century ago the pigments on the statue were more varied, hadn't faded or gained a layer of soot, and gave a life-like impression.

If you have a chance, hope you'll see this show. Few artists of any age drew, painted, or could put together a composition better than Gerome. His Orientalist paintings, such as 'The Snake Charmer' (detail above)are among my favorites.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

August visit to Astoria Oregon

We had a great time with Wiley in Astoria. The 'Cathedral Tree' trail by the Astoria Column was a wonderful hike!


Working on a large stencil demo for my illustration class, and a B/W t-shirt design kids will be able to color, and a triptych that may take all year to finish, at the rate I'm going. Won't show anything until it's done. LLC is now registered and has a PO box.

My draguar painting:

will be in a museum show in New Hampshire that will open in October.

"Imanganation: The Influence of Anime and Manga on Contemporary Art"

'While Manga and Anime have been widely accepted in Japan as a form of
entertainment for all ages, as have American comic books here, only recently
have the mediums been seen as true art forms internationally. Today we are
seeing the extended influence of American and Japanese pop-culture, driven
by graphic novels, manga and anime, on contemporary art at the highest

The exhibition aims to trace manga, anime and comic books’ uninhibited
progression into contemporary art and international culture. Showcased will
be a multifaceted range of work that offers dynamic insight into the
influence of the art forms - including outstanding examples of traditional
manga, anime cels from groundbreaking films, original art from a series of
international artists, performance art and a selection of film and video.

‘Imanganation’ promises to be an extraordinary glimpse into the
consciousness of the artists influenced by anime, manga and comics- mediums
that are helping to shape today's visual culture.

The exhibition will run from October 13th to January 16th, at the Portsmouth
Museum of Art in Portsmouth, NH.'

-Katherine Doyle, Curator
Portsmouth Museum of Art, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fox Fires on New Year's Eve at the Garment Nettle Tree at Oji

A few years ago, we hiked back to Avalon on Catalina Island and came across a 'herd' of feral cats, eating at dusk. It reminded me of that Hiroshige print.

Art for sale at OC Fair

So I'm selling a number of paintings, prints and posters at the Fair. The least expensive is a signed, framed poster (20" x 16") of 'Raijin Tiger' for $60.

The most expensive is an original watercolor painting, 'Ravens', at $1,500.

There are about 25 works in my show; most are under $300.
Los Angeles painter and print maker Barbara Thomason has an exhibition on view at the Pacific Asia Museum.

Thomason has mirrored the 19th century Japanese master artist Utagawa Hiroshige's Oban aspect ratio, gradients, color and other design devices of classical Japanese landscape Ukiyo-e in portraits of urban Los Angeles, from the well known to the funky and obscure. Felix Chevrolet...Tommy's chili burgers...the Art Deco style 'Coca-Cola' bottling plant. It's all there, and much more.

Her media, appropriately, is cartoon cell vinyl paint, yet one wouldn't guess it to view her luminous paintings, which look more like woodblock prints or perhaps gouache (opaque watercolor) paintings.

Wonderful ideas and craftsmanship, well worth a visit to the beautiful museum. While in Pasadena, you can also catch an inspiring show of the Hiroshige landscape prints Thomason modeled her works after at the Norton Simon Museum.

So I have a painting or drawing in this show at the Long Beach Museum, I think it's in the show "A Light in the Shadow- Decades of Art by Women". I'm not sure which work is in it, the museum has purchased a couple, but will attend the reception this evening and find out.

We buzzed by the Norton Simon Museum to see a retrospective of Utagawa Hiroshige's mid-nineteenth century woodblock prints. I'd seen originals from the series '53 Views of the Tokkaido' and '100 Views of Edo' before; it was nice to see them all together.

I responded most to the last room, views of birds and flowers.

Perused the museum book store, picked up a recent (2006) volume of (mostly historic) Japanese prints focused on kites.

The museum has a lovely garden. Observed several species of dragon flies flitting over the lotus pads. Perfect place to sip an iced tea on a hot day. Or paint.

O C Fair

If you're interested in seeing my show at the fair, just look for the ice cream and frozen banana's quietly tucked into the visual arts gallery behind the concession!

Here's Doug's side, which was a little less obstructed on last observation.

The Fair (and show) were hives of activity two days ago, when I dropped off the art. The crew that runs the art gallery are the best. Enjoyed working with them. Thanks Kirk!

The first hour of the OC Fair today, opening day, is free. I've heard attendees will abandon their cars on the freeway in the traffic, just to get in on time. I wonder how that squares with the bill for their car getting towed? At least they can chill with a frozen banana, perhaps wander into the nearby art gallery to stay cool.