When I started trying to promote my own artwork online I kept coming across other people's art that amazed or compelled me in one way or another. This blog has been a way for me to practice thinking and writing about art, as well as learning more about my peers and all the incredible art that is being made out there.

Search for an Artist on this blog (or cut and paste from the list at the bottom of this page)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Charlie Burk

"Nature's Glory"  oil on panel  49" x 97"

"Harmony"  oil on panel  48" x 48"

"Untouched"  oil on panel  48" x 24"

"Sundance"  oil on panel  72" x 96"

Sometimes a single subject completely overtakes an artist. In general I think this is unfortunate. Because what begins as an obsession can quickly become a trap. But it's hard to argue with a trap so delicately and subtly realized that you don't mind residing in it at all.The beauty and real magic of Charlie Burk's
mesmerizing grass studies is how they flirt along the boundaries of abstraction. They're painted on panels allowing the brush to define the long flowing shapes with sharp clarity and the layers are built up with a smooth varnished depth. As a kid I used to lay down upon the grass peering down between the blades to watch ants and other insects scurrying about their business. It felt like peering into a completely separate reality. And there is something of that feeling in these pieces as well. I'm not sure where the artist intends to take this work but I can imagine the hints of sky and horizon gradually vanishing and abstract chaos of all those flowing lines taking over entirely.
The artist does not have a website but you can see more pieces at Winterowd Fine Art, his gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Michael Beitz

"Dining Table"  wood

"Dining Table"  wood

"It's no Picnic Table"  wood

from "Body/Brick"  cement

from "Body/Brick"  cement

Michael Beitz enjoys a visual joke. But the humor is not just silliness. He's playing with the ideas of organic and man-made form, juxtaposing the two in a variety of ways in order to reconsider their meaning. When a table is no longer a flat surface is it still a table? What if the walls really did have ears? Or noses? The artist seems less driven by consistent intellectual inquiry than by whim and whimsy, turning what-if doodles into realities. This is not a criticism. Artist's sometimes get a little too full of themselves, believing that the rigor of their intellectual thought can sustain the aesthetic of their creations. It usually does not. Better to explore with open wonder and see what profound ideas emerge from the chaos. That is the real wellspring of art. Craft, discipline, intelligence, and critical thinking are all important tools for any artform, and if undeveloped the art will fail. But they should never control the art. They should become like muscle memory, acting to realize the artist's playful imaginings. In this sense Michael Beitz's work occasionally succeeds brilliantly. There's not a whole lot of work on his website but there is a tree with hinged branches, a house frame that gently folds up,  a pair of giant hands operated by bike pedals that will slap the operator and more, so it's worthwhile taking a look. I look forward to seeing what he does next.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dan Tague

"Reality Sucks"

"Hope in the Whitehouse"

"Resistance is Futile"

"The Almighty Dollar"
"American Muscle" 1969 Firebird Hood

Well to day is Black Friday - that commercial flip-side to Thanksgiving. For those outside the US, I'll just say... it's a long story. But it's a perfect day to post these. Actually, there's a lot more to Dan Tague's work than cleverly folded US currency. There's all kinds of conceptual work, installations, graphics, and so on. But the folded money is what first caught my attention and it neatly captures the overall tone of his work. Which is to say, both highly cynical and slyly humorous at the same time. The money pieces are presented asquite large glossy prints, simply matted and framed and make an arresting presence in person. The bills are generally photographed on a black background, the one exception I found being "Hope in the Whitehouse" photographed on white,  presumably because it was the only one expressing anything optimistic. In general his work reflects a highly skeptical view of American politics and history, and this themes overlap his personal experience as a resident of the famously flooded ninth ward in New Orleans. Much of the work since then has dealt directly and indirectly with the government's response to the disaster. To look through all of this for yourself just go to his website: dantaguestudio.com
or his gallery's website: Civilian Art Projects.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Z.Z. Wei

"Raven"  oil on canvas  48" x 36"

"Coastal Retreat"  oil on canvas  48" x 36"

Ocean Ahead"  oil on canvas  40" x 30"

"Awaiting Arrivals"  oil on canvas  60" x 40"

"Approaching Storm"  oil on canvas  36" x 48"
Z. Z. Wei came to the pacific northwest of the U.S. from China when he was in his thirties. The landscape he found here so enthralled him that he's been painting it ever since. These are not landscapes based solely on observation. They are narratives, about nature, memory and yes, nostalgia. His entire approach to painting had clearly been defined before he found the subject matter that would constitute his life's work. There's more than a hint of the early twentieth century in it, especially the graphic stylization that vaguely echo American artists like Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood. So perhaps it's not surprising that he fell in love with the American west. The nostalgia might strike some as sentimental, but the emotion is real. The nostalgia conveyed is not for some idealized American past, but rather a more complex brew of love for a landscape by someone who chooses to immerse themselves in it but can never be completely of it. It is the nostalgia of someone who is and always will be very far from home, by choice. While the rewards of a new life in a new place may make the pangs of homesickness bearable, the homesickness nonetheless may linger. Now if all that sounds to you like a load of romantic drivel I suspect you won't much care for these paintings. All I can say to that is, your loss.
There's not a whole lot of work to see on the artist's website: zzweiart.com
Instead take the time to look through his work at Patricia Rovzar Gallery and at Attic Gallery

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Daniel Ochoa

"Night Shift Retrato", 48x36in, mixed media on canvas

"Modelo", 24x18in, oil and mixed media on canvas

"Naufragio with Gold", 36x36in, oil and mixed media on canvas

"El Covered Wagon Study", 18x18in, oil and mixed media on canvas.

"Walking Ciudad Study", 16x16in, oil and mixed media on canvas
Daniel Ochoa's work is primarily figurative. But the strength of his style and ability make forays into other subjects equally arresting. Using masking effects to build up layers of juxtaposed techniques and textures, he creates strangely coherent images that simultaneously seem to embody dissonance. A pretty nifty trick. And here's where his biographical info is interesting. The son of a Mexican immigrant father and a white mother, he grew up in a bi-cultural home. He includes both English and Spanish words in his titles. Thus contrast and comparison is no longer an externalized exercise for him but part of his personal identity. Now biographical details like this are interesting, as I said. They can give the viewer some insight into the artist's motivation and process. But knowing these things does nothing to improve the work itself which much be able to stand on it's own with or without those insights. And Daniel Ochoa's work certainly accomplishes this. Even in the most distorted images the strength of his draftsmanship shines through. And if you doubt me just look at these sketches of statues he did at the Met in New York. There are too many artists out there who use expressive techniques to cover the lack of such skill, but they can never completely succeed. Dramatic and striking technical approaches can and often do come across as gimmicky. But rather than merely being a way to appear edgy or different, Daniel Ochoa's technique clearly flows naturally from his desire to create a particular kind of image, images that evoke the haunting power of Francis Bacon and others.
Check out his website: www.danielochoa.com or better yet browse through his blog (dansworks.blogspot.com) where you'll find plenty more. You can also see more work at Hall Spassov Gallery which is how I found out about this artist.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mark Thompson

"furrow" work on paper  14" x 20"  2011

"Furrow"  painting  33" x 46"  2011

"To Turn My Face Away"  painting  33" x 46"  2010

"Zurich"  work on paper  12" x 16"  2010
"Be Lost In Me"  painting  50" x 66"  2009
Mark Thompson is a British born artist who has an intense fascination with wintry landscapes. The kind of environment he depicts is one that compels most people to retreat indoors. Some people must brave the elements out of necessity. But others, like the artist I imagine, are compelled to immerse themselves in it by choice. Such people do so, in part, precisely because others do not. They relish the isolation, the profound and invigorating lonesomeness that suffuses such an experience. There is an intensity of awareness being out in harsh elements. One can feel exquisitely alive in conditions that are not conducive to survival. One is confronted directly with the exigencies of life, the need for shelter, for warmth. Mr Thompson's works are not meant to record particular moments but rather sum up the memories of numerous occasions. His expressionistic rendering of atmosphere and snow create a sharp contrast to his careful architectural rendering serving to point out the difference between man's needs and the whims of environment. They remind me of some of the late winter scenes by Maurice Vlaminck, but he has pursued the subject matter more thoroughly, more relentlessly, developing a style in the very vernacular of winter.
There is lots more to see at his website: www.markthompson-artist.com
I came across his work at the affordable art fair in Seattle last weekend, where his work was represented by www.ggibsongallery.com

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Julian Cooper

“Sawyers Wood”  112 x 152.5 cms  oil on canvas  2009-10
“Kailash North Face, Afternoon”  180 x 251 cms  oil on canvas  2007

“Lower Portal, Torano”  76 x 81 cms  oil on canvas  2010

“Bacino di Torano”  127 x 92 cms  oil on canvas  2010

“Cave Study, Little Langdale”  81 x 71 cms  oil on canvas  2008

Julian Cooper's paintings are about as exciting as a pile of rocks. At least, that's what the artist would like to think. Because he absolutely loves piles of rocks. He loves cliffs and quarries and mountain peaks and geology wherever and whenever its rears it's not so ugly faces. Here's a quote from the home page on his website: "When a piece of land inclines toward the vertical our relationship towards it changes. We can no longer walk on it and it cannot grow food for us. So we either ignore it, or it becomes an aesthetic object in itself, akin to a work of art..." So it sort of follows that you can either ignore this artist's paintings, or you can get as excited about them as he does about those rocks. I go for the latter option. Not because I share his unabashed enthusiasm for the subject matter, but because he brings such skill to the task that he makes me feel like I ought to. And the more I look at these, and the more I think about it, the more I become convinced that maybe I do share his enthusiasm. It's just that I hadn't really thought about it in quite that way before. And THAT is the power of art.
There's plenty more to look at on his website: www.juliancooper.co.uk

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jonas Pettersson

title unknown


"Towards a clearing", Painting, Watercolor, 2012, 45 x 32 cm

"Cracking void", Painting, Mixed media, 2012, 20 x 20 cm

"Frozen", Painting, Mixed media, 2012, 66 x 50 cm
Jonas Pettersson is an artist in Sweden who definitely loves his media. Most of the time that's watercolor, and he's not afraid to go completely abstract, just exploring all the weird things that watercolor can do. He get's some pretty beautiful effects. When all that experimentation and love of the medium is put in service of some simple representation he manages to capture a sense of space and atmosphere with what looks like breathtaking effortlessness. It's rather Zen. Now and then he'll throw in some other materials, just to see what happens. He has some fun with cracking effects, as in the last two images. But his experimentation is not afraid to wander pretty far afield, even using bacterial growth to create patterns on paper. You can see a few pieces here:
There's more to look at on his gallery's website but no information (titles, media or size) is given: