I will have several pieces in an upcoming show that explores science, technology and art. The opening reception is on Saturday, September 28th at 1pm. I will be there so I hope you will stop by and say hello.
Christine Weir and I meet at stARTup Art Fair at a retro 1950s hotel in San Francisco. Her room is filled with the most intricate graphite drawings I have ever seen and she is super friendly. We get to talking and it turns out that she has a little boy. I decide to follow-up and interview her for the blog. I call her and it turns out that she lives in L.A. and her little boy is not so little, 12 in fact. This is exciting for me because Christine has already been through those early days building her family and her creative career. I soon learn she has an absolute wealth of knowledge on the subject.
Years ago, Christine had an innate fear of flying and largely stayed away from airplanes. One day her father-in-law fell ill and she had to fly east in the middle of the night with her 3 month old baby. This emotional experience led her to look out of the window of the aircraft when she otherwise wouldn’t have. She was looking at the lights thinking of what was happening in her life and other people’s lives below. She started thinking about how to capture those emotions. The seed was planted for her first series of drawings for which she used Google Earth to observe features in the landscape that reflect certain emotions. I find it fascinating that a single event fired up her artistic practice. I also can’t help but wonder whether the emotional rollercoaster that is postpartum had something to do with that wonderful burst of creative energy.
Many years before that flight, Christine had earned a Drawing Degree and a Masters in Art History in addition to working at a major auction house. As someone who had grown up in a very small town in Pennsylvania, she welcomed the opportunity to see art face-to-face and to delve into technique. Graduate School in New York and more specifically, her time working in the Auction Business expanded her understanding of different kinds of art. Of this time handling thousands of pieces of work, Christine says; “Those years of working with art really helped me be who I am today, figuring out who I was, what was good and what wasn’t.”
But interestingly, during that time in her career the actual creation of work paused. It was six months after her son was born that she started to feel creative again and that she had something to say. It seems to me a pattern is emerging as I am interviewing creative moms whereby life and more specifically motherhood, inspires art.
There’s something about Christine that I wish I could have more of and I think it has something to do with her energy and focus. In the second year of raising my little girl full-time, I find the accumulated lack of sleep and high output of her energy quite exhausting. Sometimes ‘Netflix and Chill’ in the evening becomes the way of my present tense. But when I speak to Christine, her early career and family days were spent filling nap time and evenings with drawings.
How does she achieve this and still have the energy to work as a mom full-time? “I sit down and I just start. When I’m struggling I just make myself draw”. Says Christine. When one idea ends and no other idea presents itself, she draws. When there is no studio to draw in, she sits in the lounge room while her husband is reading and she draws. She puts the time in and makes the most of the space in between.
From the age of two and a half, her son went to preschool and the chance to have three solid hours, three times a week opened up. Now that he’s at school and the family is in a carpool, five-hour days are the norm. It’s a commitment and it’s about being really economical when time is available. She also comments that real life and everything else kind of needs to fall to the side in order to put that time in.
Along with this persistence, Christine seems to have a healthy sense of self-esteem, she doesn't take rejection to heart and that allows her to keep at it;“Working in the auction business and seeing the volumes of work, I don't take rejection personally; I like the work that I’m doing.” If you’re not going to say that about your own work, who is?
What’s also valuable to hear is her experience. It was humbling to pick up some new ideas on setting realistic Fine Art career goals. For example in the early days, Christine built her CV by applying for Juried Shows. She got her work out there by looking online at show listings and balancing her work output with the number of shows she was involved with. Her networks grew and then group shows and a solo show became possible. Now she’s looking to the mid-level L.A. gallery scene. This is over a period of 12 years of course, which really puts things into perspective. A Fine Art or creative career is not necessarily about the overnight successes presented in the media and it’s really good to see an alternate, more tangible and realistic example of someone’s practice.
As for the work, it’s growing. Bigger. The most recent drawings look at chaos, fluid dynamics, time and space, taking upwards of six months to produce due to their scale and intricacy. Christine feels successful because, in her words; “I get to do the work and I like the work, I’m happy doing what I love on a day to day basis. A lot of the shows that come about for me are from people calling up and inviting me to show. For me I’ve succeeded because people think of my work.”
I, for one, will be one of the people who remember her work and her generosity sharing these insights.
Visit Christine’s website at: www.christineweir.com and instagram: @christineweirart
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Images courtesy of Christine Weir.
Come visit me in room 310, Hotel del Sol, San Francisco. For more info: https://www.startupartfair.com/sf/overview/
Save the date: opening reception Saturday, May 20. More details to come!
I'm honored to have been chosen for a 2016 Emerging Women Artist Fellowship from Peripheral Vision Arts.
"Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time? That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future."
— Hermann Hesse
Christine Weir depicts rivers soaring through space, their crenellated contours in sharp contrast with the luminescent orbs that hover behind them. She charts lines of human construction--from the rectilinear progression of airport landing strips to the frightening geometry of nuclear power plants--as they cut into our planet's surface. She also portrays the glowing lights that illuminate our cities, scattered like diamonds across the velvet darkness of the night.
Aware that she was an artist since early childhood, Weir trained in both studio practices and art history. She began her career by working in auction houses where her research on hundreds of historically significant artworks underscored their physicality. When she left the auction business and re-ignited her passion for making art, she returned to the medium that had dominated both her childhood art making and her college classes: drawing with a graphite pencil on the white surface of paper. (It was not until sometime later that she turned from paper to claybord, that is, birch wood panels with smooth kaolin clay drawing surfaces.) Inspired by how the earth appears from airplane windows, she decided to make such panoramic views her subjects. Today, she peruses the satellite imagery of Google Maps for visual sources. She has produced several distinct but related series of increasingly abstract drawings.
NASA's Defense Meteorological Satellite Program has photographed our entire planet in order to map urbanization. Weir uses such photos to portray city lights. She draws tiny circles of light strewn across the darkened land, each orb carefully surrounded by silvery haloes. Seen from above, the glowing spheres resemble pearls scattered over inky fields. Weir deploys such images conceptually, exploring the ways our electrical devices reflect the geography of our existence.
Another series is more overtly concerned with environmental issues. The artist examines the way human presence marks the planet's surface. Her drawings of airports and power plants function as "rifts" on the reductive geometry of Early Modernism. (There are echoes of Vassily Kandinsky, Frantisek Kupka, and Kazimir Malevich in some of her compositions.) But--as with all good art--these drawings are rich in their multivalent allusions, referring to ecological concerns as well as aesthetic ones.
One might imagine that aerial views of the planet's surface must be based on modern technology. Nineteenth French photographer Nadar took the first aerial photograph from his immense hot air balloon; Google Maps imagery was developed out of distance mapping technology developed for twentieth century war machines. But topographical drawing of riverbeds as seen from above goes back to the Renaissance. Leonardo da Vinci created two astonishing renderings of riverbeds. His 1473 drawing of the drainage basin of the Arno, the river that runs through Pisa, is a remarkable precedent for Weir's recent oeuvre.
Like the Italian master, Weir observes the undulating delineation of land and water with an almost scientific precision. Then she carefully arranges the river's serpentine curves across the surface of her composition, juxtaposing the geological variations against the austere geometry of a circle (or circles) of white light. Sometimes the riverbeds seem to erupt like bursts of molten lava. At other times, they drift like thin ribbons against a dark sky. Still others are grounded and solid, like sections of a dense landscape.
For this viewer, the riverbed series evokes visions of outer space. The glowing circles evoke the generated light of suns or the reflected light of planets. And the rivers recall the newly discovered streams of hydrogen that swirl through outer space and provide the gasses which spiral galaxies like the Milky Way employ to create stars.
Weir's emotional titles for the river series underscore the expressive potential of even such objectively observed phenomena. Titles such as The Painful Eagerness of Unfed Hope (Despair), Having Had and Lost, What I Now Know, and The Unraveling remind viewers of the profound poetic potential of images, however fastidiously accurate and observational they may be.
All of Weir's drawings share one important quality: all must be viewed in person. Photography flattens out the carefully limned surfaces of her work. The various textures and thicknesses of the drawn lines are leveled. The sometimes-glossy appearance of the graphite is made matte. In short, the adamant physicality of Weir's drawings is not visible in reproduction. Digital copies lack the poetic yet tangible impact of these graphite drawings of eccentric riverine currents caught in the blaze of stars.
— Betty Ann Brown
Haunted Landscape, Art Share L.A., 801 E. 4th Pl., Los Angeles, CA, 90013, 7-10pm, Saturday, June 6, 2015
Thanks to Eric Minh Swenson for this video:
Christine Weir: Life on Earth
Analysis of graphite drawings rarely contains observations on texture or any mention of impasto -- such qualities are the province of painting. But the first of many surprises in the work of Christine Weir are the acrobatic surface variations she achieves using only graphite. Working on paper or on the trickier medium of clay panel, which yields more nuanced results but is physically quite finicky, Weir surgically modulates a seemingly infinite array of degrees of hand-applied pressure, resulting in differences in mark-making that range from gossamer invisibility to steely patina to thick accumulations mimicking pigment. This tool kit of textures demonstrates an equally dynamic range of heterogeneous tonalities within the grey scale. These unexpected dimensions of graphite are deployed to construct and build up an eclectic lexicon of organic and geometric abstract shapes juxtaposed in vertiginous layers and furrowed grounds.
Weir’s hard shape/soft ground/vice versa topographies are perspectival, aerial, abstract, architectural, fractal, and puzzling. The patterns are her own design (more on that later); the shapes are culled from Google Earth, where she trolls for man-made structures and landscape manipulations extreme enough to be visible from space. This includes reservoirs, circular farming fields, dams, airport runways, canals, cities at night, and other man-made scars and evidences of destruction. The show’s title “Signs of Life” started out as a series of compounds and nuclear testing sites in Nevada and Russia. The rivers and waterways she depicts are polluted with waste. The nighttime urban lights are a bit less ominous and more about beauty and ingenuity, but are still artificialities and culprits of energy consumption. Admitting that “these images are reserved, cool, and distant observations of decay in society and on earth,” Weir acknowledges that despite their apocalyptic character, the lack of color does help keep more volatile emotions at bay.
The pattern drawings she first lays down demonstrate an extreme repetition in mark-making that astonishes with its marvelous and intimidating precision. To Weir it’s meditative and something of an emotional release; to her audiences, it often elicits gasps with its minuscule monumentality. There’s open talk of OCD. Like her narratives and allegories, her style does come from kind of a dark place, which in the finished works somehow reads instead as joyful, patient, and disciplined in its balance of control and spontaneity. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the realization that there is no white, empty, or negative space in the drawings. Passages that look raw or blank from afar are in fact just as full of lead as the rest of the compositions -- formulated using the lightest of marks, whispers really, so that you have to get right up to the paper and give your eyes a moment to adjust. Like Malevich’s Suprematism, the work exhibits a level of subtlety, a white-on-white back and forth for the eye, brain, and hand, that the like earth’s atmosphere is invisibly full, and like Google Earth reveals its secrets to the obsessively patient and curious.
--Shana Nys Dambrot
Los Angeles 2014
Amazon #1, this year's auction piece by Los Angeles-based artist Christine Weir, is the first in a series of drawings in which she depicts the Amazon River in its entirety.
Weir begins her process by culling images from Google Earth, selecting aerial perspectives of specific rivers, reservoirs, farming fields, and airports. She then draws the network of lines and patterns of the organic and manmade designs as viewed from space. At the heart of Weir's work is an environmental consciousness, exploring large-scale geological effects of human intervention on the landscape such as global warming, deforestation, pollution and technology, leaving what the artist describes as "visible scars."
She works exclusively in graphite, using a range of pencil leads from hard to soft, creating luscious, tactile textures and achieving a gamut of grey shades. The surface ranges from dark, velvety matte to a steely luster. If you look closely, you can see the laborious results of repetitive hand made markings and even the glowing white area is filled with tiny, faint pencil marks. The nocturnal atmosphere may reflect a toxic setting and foreboding silhouettes, yet it also radiates an alluring and meditative ambiance.
Weir received her MA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. She has exhibited her work throughout Southern California at St. Mary's College, Barnsdall Art Center, and Vincent Price Art Museum. Galleries that have exhibited her work are Coagula Curatorial, Richard Levy Gallery, den contemporary, and Curve Line Space. - DN
Connect & Collect, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, 560 S. First St., San Jose, CA 95113
September 22 - October 25, 2014, opening reception to be held on October 3, 6-8pm, auction will be on October 25, 7pm.
The Eye in the Sky, June 14, 2011
Eagle Rock's Curve Line Space presents "Vertical Viewpoint" by Christine Weir.
Posted by Dan Kimpel
The view from an airplane soaring 30,000 feet in the sky terrified Christine Weir so much that she decided to do something about it. Attending “Fear of Flying” classes not only helped her deal with her anxieties but also inspired the Silver Lake artist to create a series of drawings from an in-air perspective.
“Art gave me power over phobias,” says Weir. “My process helped me get through my issues.”
This past Saturday, an exhibition of Weir’s graphite pencil on paper drawings opened at Curve Line Space, an art gallery and custom framing store on 1557 Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock. Titled Vertical Viewpoint, the exhibition is open during gallery hours, Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., through July 16.
Using Google Earth as a starting point, Weir discovers man-made patterns—farms, reservoirs, airports and government sites, which she employs as a basis for her drawings.
“These images can be cathartic, obsessive and controlling,” her artist’s mission statement says. “They can relate to a newfound power over my phobias, but also to my continued vulnerability. They are my expelled neuroses; ideas that are a menace to me, encroaching on my happiness. At other times I feel as though I am channeling a ‘character's’ mindset—an armchair explorer, a paranoid, a stalker, or a conspiracy theorist.”
A graduate of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, with a Masters degree in art history from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, Weir worked in Los Angeles in the auctioneering industry. In 2006, she left to become a stay-at-home mom for her son.
“I knew I wanted to draw again,” she recalls. “I would do it every day at one in the morning when he was asleep. Now he’s at school, and if I get five hours to work, that’s lovely.” She adds: “Sometime my husband will take him out and I will get seven hours.”
For inspiration, Weir listens to recording artists such as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey and Portishead. “When I draw, I am fixated on the music I’m hearing, and will sometimes listen to the same record every day.” The music complements the drawing: “I go into a zone where they feed off of each other.”
Staging the show at Curve Line Space was a perfect fit, according to the gallery/framing store’s owner, Tim Yalda. “The monochromatic feel of graphite, charcoals or ink seems so honest,” he says. “Even black and white photos I respond to more than color.” Yalda has four additional events planned through the end of 2011, all featuring drawings.
In the gallery's airy expanse, the drawings’ deep textural elements are enhanced by perceptions of light and shadow. Within their black and white spectrum, a luminous glow echoes atmospheric origins. “On a purely visual basis, I am looking to create a surface texture and tactility that is most often found amongst paintings,” explains Weir. “They are abstracted nocturnes broken into simple forms, as visualized most prominently by the radiating circles representing light.”
While these images allow Weir to explore modern mythologies, the artist emphasizes that interpretations are truly in the eyes of the viewers. “I want people to enjoy these pieces,” says Weir—“to examine the small details and to get something out of it for themselves.”
Sat, Feb 05, 2011
‘Staccato’ is a visually striking exhibition in contrasting black and white featuring four artists who use thousands of distinctive marks to create arresting works. At den contemporary through March 5.
Staccato’ features graphite drawings by Los Angeles-based artists Jennifer Celio, Haikuhie Tataryan, and Christine Weir, and mixed media sculptural installation by New York-based artist Julia Westerbeke.
The artists utilize an unorthodox approach to “drawing.” Rather than using extended lines or broad strokes and curves, their technique is more physically demanding with minute mark-making to create the imagery. With their own take on the use of “line,” the movement is more disciplined, the energy abbreviated and repetitive instead of the extended push/pull of the pencil and pen. The artists embrace the challenge of the process and shift the viewer’s perspective of scale with their visually complex work.
Jennifer Celio renders imagined landscapes tapering off into fields of pure white to depict urban deterioration and renewal. With multitudes of tiny pencil lines, the work portrays a sad beauty in the evolution of the suburbs and focuses the viewer’s attention on some aspect of the city that is often overlooked.
Haikuhie Tataryan’s graphically compelling work depicts elaborate narratives of realistically executed subjects, addressing a combination of current events, political issues, and the artist’s personal concerns with them. Her technical use of dense cross-hatching in the imagery pushes the drawings toward the richness of an etching.
Christine Weir confronts her fear of flying in her mysterious-looking aerial view drawings of actual aqueduct and reservoir patterns with haphazard lines and branching networks. The seemingly abstract compositions become silhouettes in a nocturnal atmosphere of velvety graphite, balanced by perfectly shaped circular rings glowing in the background.
In sculptures and drawing-based installations, Julia Westerbeke creates otherwordly terrains in forms familiar yet curiously alien, toxic yet appealing. A closer observation of the individual forms reveals the finely detailed work, which pays homage to the intricacies and ceaseless regeneration of natural forms.
Glendale News Press
Pondering what can’t be touched
By Melonie Magruder
Published: Last Updated Friday, March 5, 2010 10:11 PM PST
The new exhibit at the Brand Library Art Galleries is a bit like that YouTube video showing images of subatomic particle quarks magnified larger and larger till you see an entire galaxy.
In “Macrocosms & New Topographies,” the four artists explore the physical world from the macro to the micro with fresh media combinations and compelling images that cast an outlier’s eye on our environment.
Christine Weir offers several series of graphite on paper, mounted on panel, that gives new, intense, meaning to pencil work. Her “Lake” series shows a bird’s-eye view of different bodies of water in silhouette (“Lake Summer,” “Cochiti Lake”) laid over concentric circles that could be light sources or could be that proverbial end-of-life tunnel that people with near-death experiences describe.
In exhibit notes, Weir said she overcame a profound fear of flying through special therapy that encouraged her to glance out an airplane window and appreciate a new perspective. Scanning Google Earth allowed her to indulge her attraction to airports, farms, lakes and governmental sites, incorporating all into her art from a distant but focused point of view.
There are many circles and orb-like variations in the exhibit — small worlds seen through the artists’ eyes, and each has a different level of trust in those worlds below.
One of Weir’s series shows vaguely military map-like silhouettes or what look like rifle scopes floating over white lights, with titles like “Basrah” and “Kirkuk.” It’s unsettling and starkly beautiful.
David Jang employs soda cans, wood, wax, oil, stain and even paper towels dipped in resin in his sculptural work, echoing those endless concentric circles like a Slinky on large panels that are tactile and satisfying. You feel he really handled his material, taking it from discarded rubbish to graceful imagery.
Jang said in his exhibit notes, “I find the experience of viewing this material within our environment as a sort of urban formalism. . . fearing that there’s so much trash, people don’t see it anymore.” He fixes that problem by deconstructing the detritus to use as his medium, and his resulting sculpture is astonishing.
In “Novelty,” Jang uses inverted potato chip bags, chicken wire and binder clips to create huge, silver pieces that resemble hydrangea blossoms. Jeff Koons wishes he were as creative.
Jang’s “Provision Plan” is a tower of symmetrically arrayed soda can tops, clipped together and looking like a giant molecular model for a fearsome, environmentally destructive force.
In “Plastic Diamonds,” hundreds of cut and stacked plastic water bottles are arranged like a translucent castle, the raggedy spouts and traces of dirt clinging to the sides being the only clues that Jang was determined to draw beauty and order out of a chaotic, disposable society.
Diane Silver’s splendid freeway series showcases Los Angeles’ famous freeway systems spray-painted onto large swaths of unstretched linen with silhouettes or photographic collages of a downtown skyline.
The grime and disorder of downtown street life are perfectly captured in a triptych, titled “Downtown Love Triptych” of wax, glass and miscellaneous media on board. Silhouettes of a man and a woman are separated by the silhouette of a shopping cart over a kaleidoscope of black and red. It’s the simple things that bring the homeless together.
Silver noted that “Cities are beautiful from afar, but up close their charm becomes less evident.” Her substantial pieces titled “Versailles,” “Downtown” and “LAX” prove that a distant perspective does, indeed, give you the larger picture.
Gary Frederick Brown shows a series of monotypes and drawings that feature circles, waves, sparkles and explosions in space that synthesize Kandinsky with a cosmic eye. The orbs and ripples create a spatial universe, but fill it with what? Perhaps the answer is in the titles: “Trampoline,” “Swamp Gas,” and a gravid piece called “Meshy Birth.
Brown’s monotypes start at the most elemental, like the microcosmic world in “Pee Tree Dish” and soar to the outer reaches of the galaxy with “Universal Birth.” Celestial bodies are connected by an electric life force and illustrate the artist’s statement that, “Far too much is known about physics, science and evolution for me to believe in God as espoused by organized religions.”
This is the cosmos as created by art.
About the writer MELONIE MAGRUDER is a journalist whose background in art appreciation was shaped by way too much free time with season passes to museums all over Europe.
"This show of five artists dealing with highly detailed surfaces in a variety of mediums is worth the drive up the hill near the Getty. The common element uniting these artist is an almost compulsive attention to microscopic elements. Each piece works at a distance, but the viewer who comes within inches of the work will be rewarded with exciting visual complexity. Linda Arreola's paintings are rich with symbols and shapes. Richard Bruland works in traditional painting techniques to layer his amazing painting surfaces. Carlo Marcucci's work transcends the media he uses- pasta on acrylic boxes. Gwen M. Samuels sews small film transparencies together to form her interesting work. Christine Weir draws intensely with graphite on paper affixed to panels." - Dori Atlantis 10.17.2009
Interview by Trace Hanson for her website, Trace Hanson Design, July 2009
What materials do you use?
Graphite pencils (from 9H to 9B); rulers; compasses (including an extra-large one, hand-made especially for me by my husband); Arches 140lb hot pressed paper (individual sheets and watercolor blocks); paper cement; masonite-faced, deep cradled, wood panels
How would you describe your work?
Post-minimalist, obsessive-compulsive, sci-fi based realism.
How would you describe your artistic journey up until this point?
Haphazard. I had given up all dreams of "being an artist" after moving to NYC in the early 90s. I didn't have what it took to do anything really interesting so I decided pretty quickly to return to grad school to study art history. I interned and worked in museums, galleries and other non-profits until I wound up with a career as an art appraiser in the auction industry. I worked in that field for about 9 years until I quit to stay at home with my then newborn son. A friend taught me how to knit when my son was 4 months old and I realized how much I missed working with my hands. I was pretty burned out from the auction business but, thankfully, the thousands of artworks that I looked at over the years really gave me a new perspective on creating my own work. Once I was able to conceptualize my creative needs, the work just started to come out.
What inspires you?
Looking at good artwork. Music. Deadlines. Positive feedback.
Which part of your work do you most enjoy?
All phases of it. They each have a purpose and fulfill a need.
Which part do you find the most difficult?
Keeping myself in line - not overtaxing myself to get something done or biting off more than I can chew.
Tell us a bit about you, the parent?
I feel really lucky to have been able to quit my job to stay at home with my son, who is now 3 1/2. My husband is a screenwriter so we are both at home all day, although he does spend his days out in his office (garage). But because we adults don't have to leave the house on a daily basis our family life is pretty close-knit. If I need to get something done or want to go to lunch with a friend, Michael will come in for a little while and let me do my thing. Also, my son goes to a co-op nursery school that is about a minute walk from our house. The parents are really involved, each family has to work there one day a week, and we all have lunch with our kids every school day. I love being able to be there with him, and to be around the other families. It's kind of an old-fashioned community filled with creative, progressive types. So now parenting for me is not as isolating as it was in the beginning.
Are there any other materials and/or techniques you would love to explore someday?
Where are you located?
What do you find special about the area you live in?
So many things - weather, amazing (real) people, access to nature, good food
Tell us about an a-ha moment
Waking up at 3am and finally understanding how to simplify form.
2 random facts about yourself
I do OK on 5 or 6 hours of sleep, as long as it's solid.
I hate shopping.
2 places you would love to visit someday
Iceland and Australia
When not hard at work, what would you most likely be doing?
Wasting time online or tending to my son.
What are you most grateful for?
My family (cliche I know, but true) and LASIK
How would you describe your inner dialogue?
I don't really have a working dialogue. I kind of go on autopilot when I work.
Too many to detail. I'm all over the map.
Do you sell or show your work elsewhere?
Currently I am in a group show at the Richard Levy Gallery in Albuquerque in conjunction with the LAND/ART festivities.
Any bits of wisdom or advice you care to share?
Nothing of any consequence, sadly.
Is there anything you would like to add?
ABQ Journal, Sunday, July 05, 2009
Fresh visions abound in LAND/ART exhibits
For the Journal
Three exhibits in two Downtown galleries showcase the heightened state of contemporary land-based art and launch the six-month LAND/ART project in Albuquerque.
"Air Cube + A Global Perspective," with six artists, and "Earthworks," new paintings by Matthew McConville, at the Richard Levy Gallery, and "Here and There: Seeing New Ground" at 516 ARTS embrace the cross-cultural history of landscape painting, environmentalism and art in general. The shows also offer a fresh international angle of vision.
Landscape painter Paul Cezanne discovered along with the ancient Greeks the inherent geometry within natural forms. The study of Cezanne's explorations led Picasso and Braque to discover/invent/appropriate cubism.
A mere 50 or so years later David Smith, Donald Judd, Larry Bell and many others revisited the humble cube as an art form.
Thus enters Ben Delevoye's "Air Cube 2009" that creates a context for a defined cubic unit of space measuring 20 by 20 by 20 inches. The piece consists of a pure white, 81-inch-tall square column with a 20-inch gap that is lit from within.
In a stroke Delevoye has aligned himself with Malevich's 1919 supremacist painting titled "White on White," and since Delevoye did not build the piece on display he places himself in the Duchamp camp of ready-made art, albeit a bit of a stretch.
Katie Holten offers "Old News (Ghost Forrest)" and "29 Globes" made of newspaper-based papier maché to remind us that we grind up millions of perfectly good trees to make paper pulp for the printed word. Of course recycling mitigates a lot of the impact, but we may want to look at alternative sources for paper.
Part of the charm of Holten's work is its reminiscence of the stage sets for school plays and classroom geography projects made by school children.
There's a bunch of cool stuff in this show, including Christine Weir's graphite renderings of aerial views of river systems and Nicole Dextras' clothes made from real flowers and plants. Her stunningly baroque "Camellia Countessa" has the look of an 18th-century European court painting.
The gallery's Project Room houses Matthew McConville's "Earthworks," a nine-painting series inspired by the early American Hudson River School. McConville is an excellent draftsman and colorist who combines history, contemporary environmental concerns with a sense of political irony.
His view of the Statue of Liberty in the mouth of the Hudson, titled "Liberty Without Fraternity or Equality," speaks to the distance traveled by our democracy and the distance we have yet to go.
Reclamation is the theme of McConville's "Robert Smithson's Floating Island," depicted as a tree-covered barge. The image reminds us of the heroic efforts to remove years of polluted sludge from the Hudson River inspired in large part by the efforts of folk singer Pete Seeger.
Overall both of these shows offer world-class glimpses of what artists are doing and how they think about our fragile planet.
But while you're in the neighborhood, check out 516 ARTS. Director Suzanne Sbarge and many others have launched the LAND/ART Project with the ambitious 16-artist "Here and There: Seeing New Ground" exhibition.
The show includes a film by genius Laurie Anderson titled "Hidden Inside Mountains" that probes the artificial nature of reality, and a tornado made from Hula Hoops by Leticia Bajuyo. In "137.5 Degrees," Katie Holten turned a series of crocheted works done while riding the New York subway into a giant interwoven wall mural. The piece beautifully compresses time and space combined with craftsmanship.
Timothy Horn creates wildly baroque sculpture of candelabras cast in transparent rubber. His "Silk Purse (Sows Ear)" and "Mutton Dressed as Lamb" are two of my favorite pieces in the show.
Peter Seward shows off his skills as an illustrator with his "Stealth Towers," a revisitation of the Hudson River School. This show is way too good to miss and has already launched Albuquerque as a national arts destination through recognition in major arts publications.
If you go
WHAT: Two inaugural LAND/ART shows, "Air Cube + A Global Perspective" with Lisa K. Blatt, Ben Delevoye, Nicole Dextras, Diagram, Katie Holten and Christine Weir, and "Earthworks" by Matthew McConville
WHEN: Through Aug. 28. Hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and Monday by appointment. Call 766-9888
WHERE: Richard Levy Gallery, 514 Central SW
HOW MUCH: Free
WHAT: An inaugural LAND/ART show "Here and There: Seeing New Ground" with Norman Akers, Laurie Anderson, Leticia Bajuyo, Alfred Clah, Cheryl Dietz, Karl Hofmann, Katie Holten, Timothy Horn, David Nakabayashi, Rachael Nez, Pipo Nguyen-duy, Shelly Niro, Lordy Rodriguez, Peter Seward, Leah Siegel and John Wenger
WHEN: Through July 11. Hours are noon-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Call 242-1445
WHERE: 516 ARTS, 516 Central SW
HOW MUCH: Free