Recently I was notified that one of my drawings, "Inner Struggle", has been chosen for a juried exhibition at First Street Gallery in New York. There were over 500 submissions, so I’m pretty excited about having been included.
“Inner Struggle” is a seminal work for me & one of my 3 or 4 most favorite pieces ever. It represents a major departure that continues to this day. There’s a sort of serendipity that just happens when a work flows out perfectly; not a usual occurrence; most pieces are indeed an “inner struggle”. This one, as it developed, indicated a whole new direction for me that I could go, & I’ve been trying to live up to the huge directional shift ever since. I have a copy over my mantel at home; it reminds me daily of new possibilities.
My work is kind of a synthesis to everything that’s happened over the last hundred years in art; my spin on it thru the late 1800s right through the postmodern movement. I can look at this particular work & find little bits of Picasso & de Kooning, & Bacon, & Dali, & Lucien Freud, among others, rattling about in this picture. It’s a form of organic cubism; all said & done probably the most influential art movement of the 20th century. Inherent in this movement is the ability to see on a two-dimensional plane a multi-dimensional image. Without cubism, there could have been no surrealism, no abstract expressionism, & there never would have been a need for pop art.
Though I don’t particularly like the name “Inner Struggle”, it fits. It also is for me a major intellectual & technical work. The piece itself functions so well on multiple levels, each with a subtle intonation of the other going on simultaneously. It’s the best integrated piece I’ve ever done. There’s no dominant personality in the work; it has 4 different personalities going on at one time, & it holds together. I’ve never been able to do that in any other piece. It has lots of compassion without any sentiment.
The truth of these pieces lies in the combination of facility & rehearsed emotional spontaneity. All in all, I’m flattered someone has noticed just how good the piece is & very pleased to be in the show.
“The exhibition, “Strange Paradise” is juried & curated by Steven Harvey from Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects in the Lower East Side. David Cohen, Editor & Publisher of the online journal artcritical.com, has called First Street Gallery ‘the most consistently energetic of the several veteran artist cooperatives that have migrated to Chelsea.’
An artist-run gallery, First Street's dual mission is to exhibit and promote the work of talented artists and to provide the public with an opportunity to see and learn about contemporary art in a more accessible milieu than that offered by commercial galleries. The gallery remains focused on the presentation of art in the figurative tradition but embraces a wide diversity of styles, media, and interpretations of 'figuration'.
The opening reception for “Strange Paradise” is Saturday, June 27th, 3-5 pm. The exhibition will run thru July 18th , 2015 at First Street Gallery, 526 West 26th Street, Suite 209, NY, NY
I am very excited about my upcoming show this weekend at Paul Daniel Gallery in Eureka Springs. It's called "The Girls and Boys ... a study in being Human", & for the first time ever, a show will focus on my life drawings rather than my more esoteric personal pieces or my animation work.
A curious thing happened in the cartoon business, midway thru my career in animation. It used to be all about how well you can draw. Then there was a strike, & 90% of the people in the industry lost their jobs. When the strike was over, I was pretty much the only one in my age group left, alongside the old guys who had been working in the biz for years, who slowly dropped away. Since animation is basically life drawing, it set me up well for a fine art career in the years ahead & I’m grateful for the years in which I developed the skill. Now that animation is pretty much all computer skills, life drawing is not a criteria.
These life drawings were created from 2008 thru 2013, attending drawing classes around Eureka Springs, using local models. I put on a few of the classes myself for a couple of years, then Robert Beauford took over from me & carried the classes forward. There was a core group of about 5-6 people. In any given week, any one of us could be “on” that week, really able to generate good work & inspire the class. Everyone in the group notices when that person is “on”; they can feel & see the energy & huddle around to watch.
Life drawing is an exercise in keeping the communication lines open between your hand & what you see. If you don’t practice as often as possible, it becomes rusty, so I feel that for me, it’s really mandatory to keeping the skills up. My eyes and my psyche are attached to my drawing hand.
I think people respond to the compassion of character which comes thru in a different way in life drawing than it does in my more esoteric pieces. The empathy that I feel for the individual comes thru clearly, not just as an exercise of my facility.
The life drawings in this particular show are favorites of Paul Daniel, the gallery owner curating the show, chosen out of a large selection of possibilities. I look forward to seeing how he presents them.
The opening reception is from 6-9 pm, Saturday June 13th, at Paul Daniel Gallery, 125 Spring Street, Eureka Springs, AR. It will run thru July 11th, 2015.