December 18, 2013

A Day of Studios

Artists talking studios are like fishermen talking the size of fish. So said one artist of a show on Valencian Artists' Studios we checked out yesterday (now that we've finally recuperated from the flu and extreme coughing).

The recently deceased sculptor Andreu Alfara in his studio in Godella.

The thesis of the show was that an artist's work and personality are inseparable from the organization and feel of his or her studio. Some studios are rats' nests while others are ads for a cleaning service. Some are converted warehouses and some converted farmhouses. Some could be chunks of Piccadilly Circus or Times Square and others the dens of aesthetes. Some stick with an artist for decades and others come and go overnight. Some are light and airy, some dark and murky. Either way, the 46 artists of this exhibition agreed a studio reflected greatly on the work - it was virtually a part of it.

The show was divided into stations. In each was a studio shot, an artwork, an explanation of the artist's art, and the artist's reflections on his or her space - great contextualization and in my experience rare for a gallery of this stature. Kudos to the curators.

Afterwards we headed for Alejandro Casanova's in the hopes he'd open up his space for us. Studios are sanctuaries, designed to escape the world not let it in, the show had explained. Alejandro is a good sport. He shares a large apartment with 7 other artists. They split on the rent. Each gets storage room wherever they can find it, mostly in the halls. After a coffee, Alejandro was happy to open up. Right away a bouquet of turpentine and tobacco hit us. We wandered around and chatted with the other artists. We poked at their work. Alejandro unwrapped a few giant paintings and asked our opinions on them. We left dizzy but inspired for a second time.

Now as for my own studio, seriously, if you measured it from head to tail...

December 8, 2013


So we're back in Valencia and one of our first stops, like usual, was the IVAM, where I discovered the the abstract painter Rafael Canogar. He's known for his "informalism," or work from instinct, that's spontaneous and painterly rather than formal. He says he's avoided "academicizing himself."   

I wasn't allowed to take details but the paint is thick and lush. In some pieces it's applied over handmade paper.

December 5, 2013

Soft Cloud Passing

Just dropped this piece off at The Bartlett Gallery in Alton.  It's my first time showing at the gallery and I'm happy to hop on board.  If you haven't been it's an amazing space with giant windows overlooking a sculpture-bedecked waterfall and exposed brick and cement walls, in the historic Alton Mill.

The title of the painting comes from an Ellen Bryant Voigt poem:

If the dream is a wish,
what does she wish for?

Soft cloud passing between us and the sun.

36" x 48"
Mixed media on board

December 4, 2013


If you're a big nerd like I am and spend time looking up word etymologies, you'll see that "contretemps" comes from fencing originally. It's a kind of psyche move meant to provoke a counterthrust from an opponent. It also means an inopportune occurrence or small disagreement. Curiously, in Spanish it's a setback. And literally, from the French, it translates as "against time."

I used a couple of source images for this painting, one of a woman bending over and talking, seemingly, to a leaf, which I replaced for a squirrel.  I then put the bag in the woman's hand, as if it were contested by the squirrel, and put both lady and beast in a setting that mostly came from my head but looks very much like the laneways near my house.

The painting will be hanging in Strata Gallery in Elora until December 15.

Mixed media on birch
48" x 60"