Friday, December 22, 2006

Airport Journal No. 3

Dec. 22, 2006

I'm in the thick of it now.

There's something very meditative about repeating a set of actions. I'm aware of myself and what I'm doing for a while and then, somehow, I'm not. I love this feeling.

What I've tried to do with this work is return to a superstructure and allow myself to improvise within each section of that. It's not a new idea but I will make it my own. Each block is an individual. Remember that and I should be alright.


Airport Journal No. 2

Dec 4 2006

I talked with Andee today. The space is enormous. Two 20 foot walls are separated by a walkway 125 feet wide. She will send jpegs this week or next. Call to follow up.

Big update:

The two paintings will now hang on the opposing walls, separated by the walkway. Each will be connected by continuous line images spanning the entire width of the space.

Andee recommended talking with Brian Bostic in BG. He suggested using solid core electrical wire for the images. It can be purchased in bulk.

Follow up: Brian is a great guy. He suggested solid core electrical wire.


Airport Journal No. 1

Monday November 27th, 2006

After more than a month of preparation, I'm ready to actually begin painting. The construction, took longer due to the cold weather but the real delay has been in finalizing the composition.

As in the accepted proposal, two 4 x 5' paintings are hanging side by side in landscape orientation. Each is filled with vertical bands of color, representing people passing through the airport. The left painting is titled "Departures" and the right, "Arrivals".

The real joy has been incorporating golden proportions of 1 : 1.618 throughout the composition. Most obviously, the canvas area is segmented into 576 golden rectangles 2.5" wide by 4" tall. Each rectangle will in turn, house a representation of one person either painted in silhouette, carved in line relief or abstracted into an organic shape. Various golden rectangles may also be grouped into families of larger golden rectangles, most commonly 4 (2x2) at 5 x 8" or 9 (3x3) at 7.5 x 12". [Not incidentally, the two canvases would make one giant golden rectangle if placed one on top of the other at 5 x 8'.] Superimposed over the entire 10 foot span will be an arch of white rectangles ascending the first canvas and descending the second, giving the work it's title, distance-value and multiple meanings.

The composition's underlying foundation is a reminder that airports are filled with real people with real stories. Structure and organization insure safe, dependable travel but human beings give an airport it's vitality and worth. The golden proportions, arch (also pyramid and sine wave) reference divine intervention, the sun's journey across the sky in a solar year and spiritual themes of resonance and rebirth.

The space between the hanging finished work will be critical as it represents the time people are suspended in the air during travel (between terminals). My thinking is this should be close to 2 1/2, 5 or 10 inches to preserve the golden proportions as closely as possible.

On a personal note, I've experienced more random acts of kindness in airports than anywhere else. Is it the expectation of adventure, the mutual bond of fear in uncertainty or the exclusivity of traveling by air and seeing the world from a fresh perspective? I don't know but I'm happy to be part of it.

Now, I put the brush to canvas. The rest is color and texture. I have one month to finish.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

One Nil

A friend emailed last week asking for new music. Well, the following isn't necessarily new but it is a good list of must-have music.

Neil Finn One Nil (One All in U.S.)
my favorite solo cd

Sondre Lerche Faces Down

Ambulance LTD LP
NYC, think the la's meet my bloody valentine

Broken Social Scene You Forgot It In People
Montreal scene, large ensemble

Kings of Convenience Quiet Is The New Loud
Norway's simon & garfunkel meet antonio carlos jobim

American Music Club Mercury
classic americana, eitzel is a sad genius who predates elliott smith, froom & blake produce

Mark Eitzel 60 watt silver lining
jazzy, mark isham guests

Elliott Smith Figure 8
electric elliott is a very good thing

Thom Yorke The Eraser
nigel godrich with johnny as well

Ron Sexsmith Other Songs
soft spoken, brian wilson pop, froom & blake

The Doves Lost Souls
beautiful, dreamy, mbv

Rufus Wainwright Poses
jon brion produced

Aimee Mann Lost In Space
jon brion produced

Jon Brion Meaningless
jon brion!

Brendan Benson Lapalco
jason falkner produced

Andrew Bird The Swimming Hour
brilliant, 60's vibe

David Poe The Late Album
brad jones produced

Komeda What Makes It Go
very much like stereolab but a family favorite

Bloc Party Silent Alarm
drums and wires period XTC

Built To Spill Keep It Like A Secret
doug writes shorter pop tunes

The Decemberists Castaways And Cutouts
portland via montana, irish songs about the sea, think pogues

The Postal Service The Postal Service
ben gibbard (deathcab for cutie) electronica project

I Am Robot And Proud
happy bedroom electronica inspired by spanish Dot Tape Dot but easier to find!


Monday, October 30, 2006

My vote.

"The Birches" 48 x 60" acrylic on canvas 2006

Dennis Hopper once once said in an interview on collecting painitngs "I don't care what the artist's intentions were. If I see something I like, I buy it." This from a man who has an extensive collection of contemporary work from artists known and unknown.

I love the honesty in his statement. It's absolutely true. People either feel something or they don't and no amount of convincing is really going to make a difference. So why do I worry about trying to explain myself here and elsewhere?

At the opening of my October show at Tag, I was asked several of those questions that artists hear frequently. One in particular keeps replaying in my mind, the dreaded "what is your favorite?". In this case, the couple was genuine and warm. I liked them. Only, how am I supposed to answer a question like that?

I spent nearly 4 months continuously working to create that show of 20 paintings. Everything was there for a reason. Nothing wasted. How am I supposed to pick one above the others? Any answer I give is going to be subjective. Any answer I give is a condemnation of the other 19 paintings. So what did I say?

I told the truth. "I can't say which is my favorite. It changes on different days. Somedays it's "The Birches" or "Hillside" get the idea. It's not as if I'm going to lie. I ended with a question of my own "does that help?"

It's funny that some people want and need an additional vote of assurance from me personally to buy one of my paintings. Even if I had a definitive answer, why would I want to rob them of the chance to make their own unique decision? How much should one say about what they do? I'm not, after all, a writer.

I've always loved to watch people work, using their hands, making things. I think we all want to see the process revealed. It's why reality television and blogs are so popular. I like to talk about what I'm doing and why. I don't mind trying to deconstruct the process. I'm passionate about what I do! .....but though it pains me to say so, it's not a sound basis for buying a specific work of art.

A painting should move you. If you feel that, don't ignore it. It's real enough without me or anyone else substantiating it. It's no more complicated than buying what you like.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Oct 18 2006

Episode 1

"What are you prepared to do?"
That line from "The Untouchables" is on my mind this week. I suppose the sudden cold turn here has me in a reflective mood. I think back on the last year and all the not-so-little successes that added up to one of my most creative (and most publicly promoted) years as an artist. It's also been a year that has tested me financially and spiritually.

Let's see, I had some great press - the national Blick Studio cover, a full page ad in The Artists Magazine sponsored by Blick, a wonderful critical review by a national journalist who has been published in Art in America and a couple of interviews. Creatively, I've had two major shows - a beautiful spring show in Boise and the current new show at Tag, many new works, new commissions. Finish that off with a lot of teaching, new friends and several new galleries representing my work. All great stuff! If there's been a downside, it's been struggling to find a balance between being percieved as an ebay artist and respected as a gallery artist. Sometimes I feel like I'm juggling quite well, only to find out later that I've been neglecting one for the other.

When Donna and I decided to sell and promote my artwork online in 1999, Ebay was relatively new. We began with a few auction listings and no website. Soon, we discovered a very supportive online community of artists trying to sell work through Ebay. We joined a group of them called EBSQ when there was something like 50 members. There are too many groups to count now and EBSQ is huge.

Artists selling their work online isn't a novelty seven years later. It's an established fact that artists can and should maintain an online presence to better reach other artists and collectors. It's been an evolutionary step for those of us outside the metropolitan centers. I'm not sure I would have been able to get started without the internet and ebay. I'm grateful, honored, flattered and still, I know I have to keep reaching for the next level.

See, our goal was never to short-circuit the brick & mortar gallery system with direct sales. True, many internet artists are completely fed up with the gallery system but I believe it's possible and even necessary to find a path that incorporates both. My partners in this have been my wife, Donna and Jerry Dale McFadden at Tag Art Gallery.

Jerry Dale and I began working very closely together about 5 years ago. We've grown successful with each other and it's been wonderful. In the last couple of years, I've prioritized JD by giving him first shot at all my new canvas paintings. It's worked very well in most ways.

1 Jerry Dale McFadden is ethical. I trust him.
2 I've found a community in Nashville that loves and supports what I do.
3 My canvas paintings are selling closer to the average price of other emerging national artists.
4 I can visit frequently and get inspired.
5 I get immediate feedback on new work.

So everything is moving along pretty darn well, right? Yes and no.

Tag has never looked better. Jerry Dale has the best and best looking gallery downtown. It's everything he deserves. The problem is that I still need to sell online for some of my income and, hopefully to gain more exposure ie: a wider (national) audience. The challenge is substantial as online auctions tend to drive original art prices down, putting the squeeze on galleries and....artists. How do I balance both?

I am an ethical person too and selling work through these very different and competitive systems can leave me feeling frustrated and a little confused. Auction pricing will never be equal to Gallery pricing. There will always be a stigma attached to ebay artists. There will always be a bottleneck in limiting yourself to galleries. Many of my good friends never go to galleries at all...and that's sad because....

Like it or not, galleries are not going to be replaced by the internet. There is nothing like the experience of going to a show, seeing the work in person, talking with the artists and enjoying a great evening with friends. Furthermore, some collectors will never purchase work they can't see in person. Why should they? Galleries facilitate a tangible, kinetic conduit that is central to visual art of all kinds. Finally, galleries also are still the only established way to create a sustainable career as an artist.

That final point is the one that sticks. I just want to keep painting! As I see it, that means continuing to search for the right balance between selling work directly and through honest, creative gallery owners like Jerry Dale McFadden.

James Pearson