IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative- Eric Beltz

Featured

This show features the work of nine Koplin Del Rio artists and completes the series of three IDENTITY exhibitions introducing the gallery’s artists to a Seattle audience. Curator Eleana Del Rio grouped these artists together because they share a common interest in pictorial narrative. They all invite the viewer to interact with the imagery and engage with the work in a manner that allows two narratives—both the artist’s and the viewer’s—to play out over time.

Featuring David Bailin, Eric Beltz, Shay Bredimus, Wes Christensen(1949-2015), Josh Dorman, Tim Lowly, Michelle Muldrow, Len Paschoal, and Fred Stonehouse

November 3 – December 23, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, November 3, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #61: Eric Beltz

 

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1. What is your ideal working environment? – space, music, lighting, etc.
What I have learned is that I can work almost anywhere – which I recommend: embracing a flexible attitude about your circumstances. I just need a little room because my set-up is simple: easel, taboret, clip lamp, bookshelves. My first studio was in my backyard in an old, partially-converted storeroom. My ideal location would be near where I live. But this place was far from ideal. When I turned on the lights at night, mice leapt off tables and chairs. One night a cockroach crawled out of my pocket when I sat down. I found a black widow under a rag on the floor. The final straw, what ended my ability to work there was that I developed an intense allergy to the Chinese Elms that surrounded the property which produced burning snot each Spring. So no Chinese Elms.

I also need natural light. Sky lights create the feeling closest to being outdoors because of the direction of light. I had a studio for a year with no windows at all. To make it worse it was lit with fluorescent lighting. Working for eight hours a day without natural light depressed my dogs and me too. Working in black and white didn’t help either. But this set up a vividly overwhelming color experience once I went outside at the end of the day. I never knew there were psychedelic shades of gray asphalt! Dirt glowed, chain-link was radiant, rocks and leaves pulsed with life, and of course the sky felt like an infinite, undulating blanket of blues. I have retained the ability to recall these sensations but I don’t miss that studio at all.

A little room. Natural light. And if I could I would command birds to flutter around outside a large picture window during the day. A variety of urban finches and sparrows are fine. But I would like scrub jays and mourning doves too, and somehow for turkey vultures and crows to join in as well. The double benefit of this is there would be no need for music or the radio. And at quitting time I want a Great Horned Owl to land on a large Sycamore by a creek and tell me goodnight as I leave.

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2. Is there a specific motivator in getting you into the studio? – after morning news? coffee? after family is asleep at night?
Routine and necessity. I work the day shift now in the studio where I once worked late into the night and early morning. Having a studio outside of the home has created a necessary separation between home and studio life. Studio life can become all-life which is unhealthy as it tends to encourage a little too much self-referential thinking. So I do not wonder when or why to go to the studio. It is a daily labor of my vocation and an integrated part of my life.

3. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?
For over ten years now I have worked only with graphite on Bristol. My drawings take months each so I work on just one at a time. Although I have a large wall covered in sheet metal where I hang with magnets a variety of sketches, written ideas, reference material, and doodles for future projects. I always keep an eye on the future while being present and fully engaged in my current drawing. I don’t know how long this graphite-only thing will last – it wasn’t really planned. I recently had to buy $500 worth of my favorite erasers because they stopped making them and I cannot draw without these specific types of erasers. So perhaps when I run out I will try something new? I have a vague plan to eventually work large and in oil pastels once my eyes can no longer focus on the small details in my drawings such as the minute reflection on the tiny eye of a half-inch tall quail.

4. Is there anything you would like to share as personal interests outside of the studio – outdoor activity, cooking, reading, museum/gallery hopping?
It has been hard for me to have interests outside of what I do in the studio because everything is inter-connected. When I read I do not read for diversion I read for learning and inspiration. Most things I do I have my studio mind still active so it disallows my attempts to relax really. The only activity that takes me fully away from the studio is cooking. There is no wishful thinking in cuisine. Especially if you are cooking for others. I take a measure of pride in my abilities and enjoy serving others with something I made that is intended to make them happy. It is a much less selfish enterprise than drawing at least in the short term because your work is immediately and perhaps more objectively judged right there in front of you. Nice wine helps too. Pretty soon I will be finishing off my last 2007 Sanford Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir which was a great year for that region as was 2012. 2014 is looking like it will be great too perhaps because of the drought and the vineyard’s ability to fully control irrigation.

5. In what way is your work a reflection of “tradition by way of ‘method’”?
I have a greatly simplified view of art history but it grounds me to a general understanding of where the kinds of techniques I use and teach have fit (or not) within the Master Narrative of the history of art. The way Jansen’s tells it, the ‘beginning’ or at least a major turning point of Western Art is obviously the Renaissance in Italy. And what is the evidence? It is the figure and it is perspective. It is fidelity to the visible world in art. Both setting and characters. Western Art History had its precursors of course but this was the trajectory hitting its zenith. Immediately after, however, is the beginning of the next phase of Western Art. Once some artists proved a kind of objective representation was possible, others began questioning whether this efficacy produced unnecessary limitations so they started tearing apart elements of the figurative tradition and perspectival space. This phase of the narrative which involved challenges to the figure and depictions of space hits its high note with Cubism and then nothing really follows a linear order and art history becomes a matter of cataloging the multiplicity. Through much of this history the illustrators and cartoonists kept their focus on depicting the figure and the space within which it could be made to share. Mid-20th Century cartoonists like Burne Hogarth helped to bring the techniques of the Renaissance back into circulation by using them in comics like Tarzan but also by teaching and writing books. The history of tearing the figure apart was shown to have a counter-narrative and a history of artists who continued to adapt and apply the old lessons rather than to simply reject or attack them without a concurrent desire to keep at least part. So in a way, to draw something as I do is to attach myself to an alternate current in art history.

6. With the examples of your work represented in IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative, are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight into your artist vision to a new viewer?
When Jesus Swims He Becomes The Ocean is one of the first and few drawings so far that I have done that have an internal picture frame. That is, the image touches a crisp edge where the drawing abruptly stops. For most of the past decade I have let the image stop near an invisible edge or blur and fade along a softer line. I never wanted my drawings to have to deal with a consistent space in all parts of the drawing but to be able to float as a patchwork of connected pieces- usually connected by a central figure. I also liked the tension of a drawing acknowledging its own limits by stopping before it got cropped. As I move deeper into what I think I am capable of, as I expand my toolbox, and as I continue the need to challenge myself further, this was one compositional device that I had not yet explored. It has significantly expanded the ways I can deal with space development and try to connect pieces that don’t really go together logically.

In When Jesus Swims there are four zones: the landscape, the foreshortened water pattern that touches the shore, the surface of water that Jesus’s head emerges from that supports the floating birds and otter and that also includes the white water pattern that surrounds the bottom of the drawing, and then the window into the underwater area of kelp and fish. These all sort of connect spatially but not really. The foreshortening zooms forward at one pace from landscape to Jesus but then slows down significantly continuing forward to the bottom of the draw. The foreshortening completely stops with the underwater part which is parallel to the viewer. There is an exciting ambiguity in representational techniques and it is fun to play with them like this. I developed a greater appreciation for this ambiguity when teaching and studying absurdly convoluted perspectival processes: like mapping out reflections for instance. You have a lot of freedom to choose how these seemingly rigid concepts get applied. You can do them correctly to fool the eye or you can make a mess and fool the eye some other way. I find it very rewarding to find places in my work where I understand the forces I am manipulating just enough to steer them with confidence while also surprising myself with the results. I had little understanding of what this drawing would look like until I finished it which I think is hard to understand looking at something that looks so well-planned and ordered. It is and it isn’t. I have a notion, I have faith, and I have patience.

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“When Jesus Swims He Becomes The Ocean”, 2015, graphite on Bristol, 46” x 33” framed

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“Andean Condor”, 2015, graphite on Bristol, 30″ x 22″ framed

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“California Condor”, 2014, graphite on Bristol, 22″ x 24″ framed

 

IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative- Len Paschoal

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IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative, curated by Eleana Del Rio

This show features the work of ten Koplin Del Rio artists and completes the series of three IDENTITY exhibitions introducing the gallery’s artists to a Seattle audience. Curator Eleana Del Rio grouped these artists together because they share a common interest in pictorial narrative. They all invite the viewer to interact with the imagery and engage with the work in a manner that allows two narratives—both the artist’s and the viewer’s—to play out over time.

Featuring David Bailin, Eric Beltz, Shay Bredimus, Wes Christensen(1949-2015), Josh Dorman, Tim Lowly, Michelle Muldrow, Len Paschoal, Fred Stonehouse, and Yuriko Yamaguchi

November 3 – December 23, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, November 3, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #60: Len Paschoal

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Len Paschoal  outside Francis Bacon’s studio

1. What is your ideal working environment? – space, music, lighting, etc.
My ideal working environment has to be the quietest possible except when I feel like listening to music, which cannot be just background music. I take it seriously. I despise anything pop/electronic. As you can imagine by now, music to me is serious. I go from the Early Baroque through the 20th Century. Some of my very favorite composers: Wagner, Bruckner, Alban Berg, Webern, Bartok, Beethoven, Schubert and the list is very long. I do pay attention to what I listen while working since after the image is complete the work is just mechanical.

2. Is there a specific motivator in getting you into the studio? – after morning news? coffee? after family is asleep at night?
The only motivator is to finish the work. I need discipline and I do have it.

3. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?
Oil and pencil.

4. Is there anything you would like to share as personal interests outside of the studio – outdoor activity, cooking, reading, museum/gallery hopping?
Outside the studio: my long morning walk wherever I am at, cooking, watching old films especially Antonioni, Bergman, British police series, Scandinavian and German films.

5. In what way is your work a reflection of “tradition by way of ‘method’”?
I need imagery, clean, practically clinical.

6. With the examples of your work represented in IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative, are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight into your artist vision to a new viewer?
As in life I need to have everything orderly, although within this orderly world I enjoy objects and humans trading places and space just for the fun of it, just like creepy crawling.

The works for the show are two. They consist of two homages. One, is my homage to Rene Magritte. The other, is my homage to film director Michelangelo Antonioni. Both under Icelandic light.

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“Icelandic Midday Light”, 2016, oil on linen, 27.5″ x 25.5″

IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative- David Bailin

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IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative, curated by Eleana Del Rio

This show features the work of ten Koplin Del Rio artists and completes the series of three IDENTITY exhibitions introducing the gallery’s artists to a Seattle audience. Curator Eleana Del Rio grouped these artists together because they share a common interest in pictorial narrative. They all invite the viewer to interact with the imagery and engage with the work in a manner that allows two narratives—both the artist’s and the viewer’s—to play out over time.

Featuring David Bailin, Eric Beltz, Shay Bredimus, Wes Christensen(1949-2015), Josh Dorman, Tim Lowly, Michelle Muldrow, Len Paschoal, Fred Stonehouse, and Yuriko Yamaguchi

November 3 – December 23, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, November 3, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #58: David Bailin

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1. What is your ideal working environment? – space, music, lighting, etc.
I can work in most environments as long as they have long unencumbered walls and no windows. The caveat is that whatever the environment, it has an impact on my work. It determines in not so subtle ways my approach to my work every time I enter it.

I had a theater in NYC and my method of writing and directing my plays has remained with me. When I am developing a series, I inhabit the character(s) I draw. I become them. Paranoiac, or senile, or anti-heroic – I build my drawings as both director and actor, controlling the handling of the charcoal to reveal the actions of the characters or the mood of the environment. So the studio is both an antagonist and protagonist within my technique.

The best studio I had was a basement studio that covered a half city block. I was able to work on complete series at once. I grew accustomed to the artificial light and serious lack of ventilation. Subterranean and bolt-locked, it was a physical construction of the themes I dealt with at the time.

Currently, my garage studio is a crowded space, open to intrusion and attached to house distractions- filled with boxes, old rolled up drawings and paintings, webs of extension cords, miscellaneous piles of materials encroaching on my working space. It is a perfect studio for the late series dealing with cubicles, work routines, hoarding, dreams and dementia.

My ideal studio, though, the one I have dreamed of since middle-school, is a barn studio. My mentor, who was a liturgical artist, had set up his studio in a barn outside of town. It was wonderful – huge open spaces, unencumbered wall surfaces, massive storage areas, and isolated. Someday I will find one just like it.

2. Is there a specific motivator in getting you into the studio? – after morning news? coffee? after family is asleep at night?
I don’t have any specific motivation for going into the studio. I arrive there by habit. The start is always the problem. I spend a lot of my time thinking through ideas and working on translating those ideas into images. I am not an artist who starts by playing with the materials or with some kind of ritual. Every drawing is a deep hole I’ve dug, climbed into and then attempted to get out of.

3. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?
I work almost exclusively with Grumbacher #16 medium Vine Charcoal on paper prepared with a taupe (Bailin Gray) eggshell acrylic paint and enhanced with coffee staining, kneaded erasers, rags for wiping off images, and occasionally pastel, oil or acrylics. Though I prefer my drawings to be clean of special effects, and dislike multi-media as a technical copout, I use it when necessary – specifically to create contrast between forms, to move the narrative, and to play with visual weight. I work large because I like drawing from the shoulder rather than the wrist. I concentrate on one series at a time and work on several pieces when space allows.

4. Is there anything you would like to share as personal interests outside of the studio – outdoor activity, cooking, reading, museum/gallery hopping?
I have an anemic life outside of the studio. My interests are limited to my family, running, reading and listening to audiobooks, watching movies, teaching drawing and theory, and collecting images torn from newspapers.

5. In what way is your work a reflection of “tradition by way of ‘method’”?
What could be more traditional than drawing? But while I like the idea of finished drawings, the best drawings I have seen, the ones that move me, remain in the traditional meaning of drawing – a study for something else, a practice in description, or impression of something, a suggestion. Most drawings, whose surfaces show no fractures, seem self-conscious to me, or overworked and tired looking. I prefer the unfinished to the finished, the underdrawing to the final, the raw to the cooked. Because drawing is so raw, so close to pure idea, so sincere, so linked to both thought and mechanics, it lays bare all kinds of correspondences and emotions. I find it a shame to cover all that up with technical polish.

6. With the examples of your work represented in IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative, are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight into your artist vision to a new viewer?
I have been watching my father succumb to Alzheimer’s. These drawings use my father’s and my common memories as a starting point to translate dementia into a drawing method. The frustration of drawing in and erasing out images to fit my narratives mimics what I see happening to my father in his effort to recognize in the moment his own personal narrative and memories.

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“Raking Leaves”, 2016, charcoal, pastel and coffee on prepared paper, 72 x 79″

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“New House”, 2016, charcoal, pastel and coffee on prepared paper, 72″ x 80″

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“Lake”, 2016, charcoal, pastel and coffee on prepared paper, 79″ x 85″

IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative- Tim Lowly

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IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative, curated by Eleana Del Rio

This show features the work of ten Koplin Del Rio artists and completes the series of three IDENTITY exhibitions introducing the gallery’s artists to a Seattle audience. Curator Eleana Del Rio grouped these artists together because they share a common interest in pictorial narrative. They all invite the viewer to interact with the imagery and engage with the work in a manner that allows two narratives—both the artist’s and the viewer’s—to play out over time.

Featuring David Bailin, Eric Beltz, Shay Bredimus, Wes Christensen(1949-2015), Josh Dorman, Tim Lowly, Michelle Muldrow, Len Paschoal, Fred Stonehouse, and Yuriko Yamaguchi

November 3 – December 23, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, November 3, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #57: Tim Lowly

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Tim Lowly, photograph by Ben Scott-Brandt (2016)

1. What is your ideal working environment?
I like to work in a meditative space. Ironically, that space might be a public space: as artist-in-residence at North Park University I have on occasion worked in public contexts such as the gallery or the library. I love to listen to music while I’m working: usually of the contemplative sort (a favorite being Arvo Pärt’s “Alina). Light from over the left shoulder.

2. Is there a specific motivator in getting you into the studio?
An upcoming exhibition. Nothing is more motivating.

3. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?
I primarily work with Golden’s matte acrylics. After many years of working with egg-oil emulsion tempera I moved to matte acrylic as a medium I could handle more aggressively and adventurously.
I often have multiple projects en route conceptually, but usually focus on making them one at time.

4. Is there anything you would like to share as personal interests outside of the studio – outdoor activity, cooking, reading, museum/gallery hopping?
Teaching and curating (primarily as a professor at North Park University) are more than my primary sources of income: they are a great joy. Writing and performing music is a serious secondary pursuit.

5. In what way is your work a reflection of “tradition by way of ‘method’”?
I’m very interested in art as a way of deeply engaging the great community of artists, both present and past. Most of my works are in conversation with another artist’s work.

6. With the examples of your work represented in IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative, are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight into your artist vision to a new viewer?
“Study for Shore” is a study for a large work (imagine it being ten feet tall). In preparing this work I invited Chicago artist Maya Durham into a conversation about what the work might be. Her contribution–the upper portions of the piece, depicting fossilized shells–could be a shore or the sky. In the lower half my daughter Temma is seen from above, partially in shadow, looking off to the right. The overwhelming tactility of her hair suggests our intimate presence, but the shadow and her gaze elsewhere questions that relationship. The fossilized shells unmoor the idea of time and scale within the work.
(In developing this work I found particular inspiration in Antonio Lopez Garcia’s, “Woman on the Beach”.)

“Trying to Get a Sense of Scale” – This painting appears to depict a painting or photograph leaning against the wall of a room. The size of the work within a work is unclear. The picture within depicts a woman leaning over an unseen figure on a couch. In the foreground is a wheelchair.

The woman is my wife Sherrie and she is assessing how to pick up our daughter Temma (which is not a light matter!). The reflection on this action / event and it’s depiction as a picture (of indeterminate size) in a picture is intended to function as a metaphor for the task of assessing the scale of a life.

(Art I was thinking about in conversation with this work: Robert Gober’s leaning door in his 1988 installation at the ICA in Boston and the image construction strategies of Michaël Borremans.)

“Tilt / Iron” (currently in progress) is another study for a large painting. The subtle trapezoidal shape of the work alludes to a rectangular work leaning against a wall (as in “Trying to Get a Sense of Scale”). As the title suggests the color / texture of the work intentionally references rusty iron plate, pointing specifically to the large-scale iron works of Richard Serra. Again the subject of the work is my daughter Temma who in reality exists in utter contrast to the grand scaled machismo of Serra’s works. In the painting Temma lies in bed, with her back to the viewer as she faces a window. The possibility of a portal within the painting is complicated by the window’s overwhelming light: suggesting, perhaps, that this woman has access to something beyond our comprehension or power.

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“Study for Shore”, Tim Lowly with Maya Durham, 2016, mixed process drawing, 37″ x 29″

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“Trying to Get a Sense of Scale”, 2012, acrylic on panel, 21″ x 18″

Things That Kill- John Fadeff

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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 #53: John Fadeff

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1. Are you a full time artist, if not how do you support your art?
I have worked a number of jobs; printer, fishing pole repair, store clerk, sign maker, exhibition graphics fabricator, photo spotter, public works inspector, toy designer, and animator.

2. When did you consider yourself an artist?
I always liked to draw and make things.

3. What are your influences?
Well, everything; the good, bad, and ugly. Things often come up in the work that I didn’t recognize till later. It’s foggy most days where I grew up. Some days we couldn’t see the houses across the street, but a few blocks away, there was a declining seaside amusement park and you could hear the screams from roller coaster. A few blocks up the hill is the Legion of Honor Museum. My brothers and I were looking in the door one day and the guard invited us in, telling us kids were admitted free. The Norton Simon collection was housed there at the time along with the permanent collection. It became a regular haunt. The park and golf course around the museum had been a Chinese cemetery, relocated out of city limits in the 1930s, and we occasionally found bones and pieces of skulls. Around the corner was a carnival supply store, Royal Merchandise, that rented pinwheels and festival games, and sold gag novelties and grab bags. We studied that place as closely as the Legion. One of the old guys that ran the place had a padlocked plywood storage room full of shiny hard-plastic masks, floor to ceiling, he would occasionally invite us to view. Unlocking the padlock, opening the door, ushering us in to the pitch-black room, finding the pull-string to a single hanging bulb – a real performance – it was something to see.

4. How big is your studio, what kind of lighting?
I have a 12’ by 12’ room in a former flat that was broken into small apartments many years ago. Two west-facing windows look out at the building next door, late in the day the sun beats on the windows, but I can get a few good hours 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?
It depends what I am working on: drawing, printing, or cutting stencils, or compositing on the computer. I listen to music sometimes, or the baseball game for the pace, and the crowd and the crack of the bat. The street outside is busy, with all kinds of traffic and the panhandle park is across the street. Most times I go with that.

6. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?
I like ink on paper. The light passing through the ink and reflecting back off the paper and back through the ink. Lately I have been making prints for animation and working on stand-alone ink drawings, going back and forth between the two projects.

7. Do you have any special or unique tools, devices or process that you use in your art making?
The drawings for the exhibit were done with a standard dipping pen on hot press watercolor paper. I start with drawing in pencil, and then hatch against the direction of the pencil lines in ink. Where ink covers pencil, encapsulating some of the carbon, it darkens the ink. Once the inking is done I erase the pencil.

8. What do you do outside the studio, aside from a job?
My partner Rebecca and I have been fixing up our fixer upper, that we swore we would never spend all our time fixing up!

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?
I tried to get a sense of the immediacy of commonplace, internal and external, life and death situations.

Yes, I work this way sometimes.

10. How did you approach the subject matter?
Sort of like the Carnac the Magnificent bit by Johnny Carson. The drawings are in the envelopes.

11. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work in “Things that Kill”?
Many years ago a relative and some of his colleagues had a plan to rob the coin depository from one of the old streetcar companies. On the way they decided to stop and get gas; once there they decided to rob the gas station. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, for many possible reasons.

My great Aunt Maude (given name Hundoume) died before I was born so I never met her. A few month’s ago I was buying tires and noticed Maude’s husband Buck (given name Adolfo) in a photo in the office. I asked the proprietor and was told that Buck was a relative of his and he also knew and well remembered Maude describing her movements and her laugh.

A friend has a theory that the Myth of Scylla and Charybdis refers to the relationship of dialectically opposing forces. The orbit of one draws you inward but if you give yourself over completely it will take you down with it. However, the counter force, like the attraction of the clashing rocks or the current of the swirling waters can carry you back from the brink. The myth emphasizing that there is no middle route, no stasis between the two forces, but a struggle.

Things That Kill- Elizabeth Ockwell

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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 #28 Part 2: Elizabeth Ockwell

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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?
The work in this show is not like the drawings of late 19th century architecture that I usually show. These are closer to the more private work in my sketchbooks and drawings that I did with my School of the Art Institute of Chicago anatomy students at the Field Museum of Natural History. Dover Beach, the Matthew Arnold poem ends: “….we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.” The words Things that Kill brought Arnold’s poem to mind. I decided to reopen a series of drawings that I made in 2000. The series was meant as an elegy for my father, who loved the poem and often read it aloud. It felt appropriate to bring together three things that interest me deeply: drawing the skeleton, handwriting, and maps.

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Elizabeth Ockwell, “Dover Beach No. 5”, June 2016, etching ink transfer, black gesso, nautical chart, 46.5 x 33”

Skeletons of animals that were killed or died, relate to the theme of Things that Kill, but even more directly, the skeleton of the harbor seal, an animal that looks so humorous and friendly in life, has a very clearly carnivorous skull! This skeleton appeared unexpectedly last fall in my local library. It was placed in the library by Seadocs, an organization that concerns itself with the health of littoral regions of Puget Sound. I was delighted to have such a beautiful specimen to draw.

2. How did you approach the subject matter?
I have always liked writing faint little notes to myself on my drawings, but formally combining words and images is more difficult for me because the result often looks self-conscious and stiff. The ink transfer method that I have been using for this series makes drawing and writing feel much the same and smoothes out the difference between images and words.

To make an ink transfer, you roll out etching ink on a large piece of glass, place the paper on the soft wet ink and draw on the back with a broad unpointed pencil. When you lift the paper up, the image is backwards on the back of the paper. The resulting lines are thick and greasy and if you have touched the paper your fingers and hands make prints too. The out-of-control randomness of this works well with the irregular forms of islands and coasts shown on the nautical charts.

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“Dover Beach II”, 2001, mixed media on paper, 33 x 46.5″

This dark, inky, reversed way of drawing is at one with the grief and rage of the poem . It also feels both in tune and in contrast to the violent calligraphy of the landscape recorded and tamed by cartographers.

3. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work in “Things that Kill”?
Here are some sketches that I made when I was working on the skeleton of the Rocky Mountain Goat for Dover Beach #1.

e-RMGoatSkele-R M Goat sk

Both larger finished drawings are about ¾ life-size. The Rocky Mountain Goat drawing was done on large sheets of tracing paper that I taped to the glass of the vitrine at the Field Museum. I did this because it was hard to see through the glass, but mostly because if I moved around, then I could draw every part of the skeleton straight on without foreshortening the legs and hooves.

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“Dover Beach I”, 2001, mixed media on paper, 47.75 x 35.5″

 

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.