Things That Kill- Fred Birchman

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Things That Kill curated by Norman Lundin

“Consider, for example, such varied assassins as leaded water, pills, red meat, too much sun…. Consider, for a moment more, that of the many things that kill, countless are appealingly beautiful as well as lethal, seducing artist and viewer. How to handle these “killers” in such a way that the intended expressive implications are conveyed, is as formidable an artistic challenge as engaging the more overt content implied by the show’s title.” -Norman Lundin

Including work by: Fred Birchman, Brian Blackham, Marsha Burns, Joe Crookes, John Fadeff, Ellen Garvens, Jim Holl, Michael Howard, Amy Huddleston, Caroline Kapp, Dianne Kornberg, Riva Lehrer, Brian Murphy, Elizabeth Ockwell, Anne Petty, Glenn Rudolph, Graham Shutt, Kathy Vargas and Evelyn Woods

September 1 – October 29, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, September 1, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #6 Part 3: Fred Birchman

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1. In what way is your work a reflection of the theme “Things That Kill”? Is your work for this show in line with or an exception to your usual way of working?
All of the objects are quite literally and obviously, “Things That Kill”. This was definitely not a stretch for me or outside my usual way of working in that I started with a kernel of an idea and riffed on it. It is a bit unusual for me to work thematically, but not too much of a stretch.

2. How did you approach the subject matter?
I took the theme (or the “objects” of the theme) and used them as a basis for the work. For “Overture”, I took the trappings of targets and target shooting and used those elements as an abstraction of sorts, hopefully subjugating the loaded (no pun intended) content. Same for “Hatchet Job”. An axe handle and blade are quite beautiful as objects by themselves and by detaching the pieces, that is a bit more evident. It’s probably no accident that a person could read certain things into the separated objects, such as the detachment of the head from the “heart”, but I view that as an ok subliminal response. Icing on the cake, if you will.

3. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work  in “Things that Kill”?
I used to work as an illustrator for my day job and working with themes and content were a given. Conversely, I usually resist narrative or story telling with my studio (fine art) work. That’s hard to do when working with such charged content.

One thing I should admit is that, “Witness” was really Norman’s idea. He was responding to the wrecking balls that I have in many of my current drawings and he suggested I use that. My normal response is to immediately reject that kind of advice, but somehow it stuck and I like what turned out.

Things That Kill- Riva Lehrer

Featured

Things That Kill curated by Norman Lundin

“Consider, for example, such varied assassins as leaded water, pills, red meat, too much sun…. Consider, for a moment more, that of the many things that kill, countless are appealingly beautiful as well as lethal, seducing artist and viewer. How to handle these “killers” in such a way that the intended expressive implications are conveyed, is as formidable an artistic challenge as engaging the more overt content implied by the show’s title.” -Norman Lundin

Including work by: Fred Birchman, Brian Blackham, Marsha Burns, Joe Crookes, John Fadeff, Ellen Garvens, Jim Holl, Michael Howard, Amy Huddleston, Caroline Kapp, Dianne Kornberg, Riva Lehrer, Brian Murphy, Elizabeth Ockwell, Anne Petty, Glenn Rudolph, Graham Shutt, Kathy Vargas and Evelyn Woods

September 1 – October 29, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, September 1, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #51: Riva Lehrer

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1. Are you a full time artist, if not how do you support your art?
I teach figure studies and anatomy.

2. When did you consider yourself an artist?
When I figured out I wasn’t going to med school…

3. What are your influences?
The artists I feel the closest to use figuration for social justice. There are too many to count, but include Christian Schad, Kathe Kollwitz, Felix Nussbaum and Otto Dix from many decades ago; Leon Golub, Bailey Doogan, Betye Saar, William Kentridge and Kerry James Marshall moving towards our current moment.

4. How big is your studio, what kind of lighting?
It’s what would be the dining room in a typical apartment in my building. There’s track lighting and an overhead fixture, but not a lot of natural light.

5. What is a typical day in the studio like for you? Do you listen to music, radio or tv in your studio?
I start work in the mid to late afternoon. I usually have Netflix on; something kind of silly, because anything really good makes me watch, when mostly I just want to listen.

6. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?
For the last four years I’ve mostly been drawing, often with collage elements. I started painting again for my recent solo show in Chicago. It felt so good that I want to make sure I never take a long a break from it again.

7. Do you have any special or unique tools, devices or process that you use in your art making?
Yes – I have physical impairments. I’ve devised quite a number of structures and processes that let me work, while accommodating the impairment’s demands (too complex to go into here).

8. What do you do outside the studio, aside from a job?
I curate, I read, I spend time at the lake, I write and perform my writing at theatrical events. Both my partner and I have busy careers as lecturers/visiting scholars/artists. We often travel together for tandem gigs at universities and conferences.

9. In what way is your work a reflection of the theme “Things That Kill”? Is your work for this show in line with or an exception to your usual way of working?
My work centers on depicting the vulnerability and resilience of the body. The majority of my studio practice as a portrait artist deals with subjects who live in non-normative bodies. I reserve the darkest images (in regard to literal or metaphoric pain) for my self-portraits. “Adhesion” is personal, though it does not literally depict the nature of the threat.

10. How did you approach the subject matter?
I aimed for wry.

11. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work in “Things that Kill”?
There are many ways to read a woman’s bound yet signaling hands. I’ll leave that open to the viewer’s own signing language.

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“Adhesion”, 2016, acrylic on panel, 6 x 12″

Things That Kill- Jim Holl

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Things That Kill curated by Norman Lundin
Fred Birchman, Brian Blackham, Marsha Burns, Joe Crookes, John Fadeff, Ellen Garvens, Jim Holl, Michael Howard, Amy Huddleston, Caroline Kapp, Dianne Kornberg, Riva Lehrer, Brian Murphy, Elizabeth Ockwell, Anne Petty, Glenn Rudolph, Graham Shutt, Kathy Vargas and Evelyn Woods

September 1 – October 29, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, September 1, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #50: Jim Holl

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1. Are you a full time artist, if not how do you support your art?
I have supported my art making over the years as a graphic designer. Currently I am the coordinator of the Graphic Design Concentration at Marymount Manhattan College in NYC.

2. When did you consider yourself an artist?
I understood to be an artist could be a career freshman at the University of Washington in an art class taught by Norman Lundin.

3. What are your influences?
In the early 70’s my main influences was the “west coast figurative school,” Diebenkorn et al.

The mid 70’s was the apogee of conceptual art.  This influence began with Duchamp.

4. How big is your studio, what kind of lighting?
I have a summer and a winter studio in Catskill, New York and a summer studio in Manchester Washington, and  a storage shed to put it all in, all of them small.

My studio lighting is mixed, mainly tungsten.

5. What is a typical day in the studio like for you? Do you listen to music, radio or tv in your studio?
I wish I had more typical days, when I do I spend the mornings in Catskill, sitting in the screened-in porch working on the computer. In the afternoon I am across the field in the studio, and running errands. I dine early and am in bed by nine! In years past when in NYC I spent the day doing commercial design projects at an office in Manhattan and made artwork in my Williamsburg studio until the wee hours of the night. My music of preference is ambient. Reminds me of nature.

6. What is your preferred medium?  Do you work on one project at a time or several?
I prefer oil paint on board. I have experimented with many mediums over the years and found it wasn’t the mediums that made my art better. So I settled on a medium that does not call attention to itself.

I work on a few paintings at a time, going back and forth as they call me for attention.

7. What do you do outside the studio, aside from a job?
I go to art shows, dinner with friends, nothing unusual, I work all of the time. Life is short.

8. In what way is your work a reflection of the theme “Things That Kill”? Is your work for this show in line with or an exception to your usual way of working?
I was wondering that myself when Norman asked me to be in the show. I have been working on a theme I call “All the Living Things.” I choose plants as the subject matter for their organic and many times simple forms. The images rendered close up can easily cross into abstraction. I think all paintings are still-lifes, lives that have been stilled. The organic forms I have been exploring enliven the compositions. This and the contrasting colors express a vibratory quality that complements the stillness of the paintings. In addition I prefer the work to express an ambiguity, for uncertainty is innate in nature.

All of this was crossing my mind while having lunch with Norman. Norman replied, “Why not poison plants?” I thought, what a great idea!