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, January 28, 2010

Laurel Roth

Laurel Roth is a former park ranger whose love for and obsession with nature is obvious. But her choices of subject matter have as much to do with man as with animal. Her work is divided into very specific projects, each different in medium and approach but often involving man's influence on the animal and/or the animal influence in man. Her two series of exquisite skulls depict animals raised for food, and dogs whose forms have been wildly manipulated by selective breeding. She crocheted a series cozy wool suits for pigeons to resemble birds driven to extinction largely or entirely by the acts of man. She constructed a dazzling pair of mating peacocks from the paraphernalia of human display: fake nails and nail polish, fake eyelashes, barrettes and jewelry. Her work is often highly conceptual and she has very specific messages in mind. There are a lot of artists these days who approach art in this way, often more concerned with the concept and the grant application than the art itself. And a lot of it collapses under the weight of it's own pretension. But Laurel Roth's work is sustained by her commitment to craft and her passion for her subject.
See more at loloro.com

"Food #4, Pig" 10" x 6" x 7.5" vera wood, gold leaf, swarovski crystal 2008

"Man's Best Friend - English Bull Dog"
hand carved and polished acrylic 2007

"Biodiversity Reclamation Suits for Urban Pigeons: Carolina Parakeet" 8" x 9" x 13" crocheted yarn, hand carved pigeon mannequin 2009

"Birds of Paradise"
50" x 50" mixed media including fake fingernails, nail polish, barrettes, false eyelashes, jewelry, walnut, swarovski crystal 2009

"Birds of Paradise" detail

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kevin Cyr

Kevin Cyr's primary angle of approach to art is to document small commercial vehicles that have seen better days. He takes those vehicles out of their, obviously urban, context and paints them as affectionate portraits. Not unlike a number of famous painters from the 19th century on, who decided that the poor average worker made as suitable a subject as the rich and famous, Kevin Cyr seems to say, and what about these working class automobiles? Their dents, rust and graffiti are only the accumulation of character. He's clearly having fun with the subject and not taking himself too seriously, but he has another very promising alternative expression: designing, painting and actually building satirical alternative mobile dwellings. In addition to the mobile bike home below he has also designed a shopping cart camper!
Check out all his vehicle portraits and more on his website: www.kevincyr.net
Thanks to the folks at Vivianite.net for introducing me to his work.
(and don't forget to click on the images for larger views)


"Glorious Work. Happy Life."


"Scaling the summit"

actual camper bike

blueprint for camper bike

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mark Wagner

Mark Wagner works in several different forms but his most prolific is collage, using only US $1 bills. Some of these are fairly large and so the material cost alone is not insignificant. Of course using the dollar bill as material adds a layer of meaning to almost every image. The dragon below evokes Chinese imagery, bringing to mind the current economic conditions and our dependence on China's vast holding of US currency. It is also eating its tail like the mythical Ourobourus, the great serpent that encircles the earth symbolizing the beginning and end of everything... hmmm.
And is that a portrait of Chuck Close? I'm not 100% but if it is, then it becomes a fully loaded commentary on one of America's most successful and well known contemporary artists. The shrimp however does not imply anything overtly economic to me but does demonstrate the artist's delight in his medium.
To round things out I've also included a very wry book art piece, a collected set of either/ors, quite useful, no doubt, for hours of idle speculation.
Spend time browsing through his rich website: www.smokeinmydreams.com
(titles, dates and dimensions are not given on the artists website)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chris Mars 2

Chris Mars the painter is also Chris Mars the Musician (formerly of The Replacements), as I was informed in a comment to my previous post (July 23, 2009). Both are still hard at work. The painter has a couple solo shows coming up including one in Wisconsin that opens this Friday, the 22nd at the Phipps Center for the Arts (wait... that's tomorrow).

His paintings are powerfully dark subconscious rants at the world about labels and identity, the truth about ourselves and what it means to be different. People in our culture like to think of themselves as different, as oddballs and individualists, but in reality our conformity brutally dismisses those who truly are. Chris watched his older brother go in and out of horrific mental institutions, abased and humiliated in a process more concerned with statistical outcomes than actual people. So he has an idea what it means to be be labeled different. Chris Mars paints monsters because they represent the other, and that's where his sympathies lie. The real monsters may be us.
See more at chrismarspublishing.com

"Something Empty"

"Anxiety the Clown"


Monday, January 18, 2010

Scott Radke

Scott Radke's creations are an odd race of humanoid creatures dressed in all manner of disguises. They peer out from long cloaks and tall pointy hats or from the bodies of birds, fish, cats and various unnamed beasts. Scrutinizing their intensely expressive faces, you expect them to twitch and skitter about at any moment, or start making low mewling sounds from their place on the wall. Perhaps this should be no surpise, since he began (and continues?) making masks and marionettes for theatre productions. Real human beings would bring his works to life on the stage. Having seen his work animated by actors for so many years has apparently given him the instincts necessary to infuse his creatures with a living spark, like some post modern Gepetto.
Wander through his menagerie at scottradke.com and on flickr, or follow his blog for the latest.

"Burrowing Owl" 24"h x 11"w 2009

"Burrowing Owl" detail

"Goat" 17"h x 11"w 2009

"Tutu #2" 40"h x16"w

"Tutu #2" detail

Title and size unknown, from a commissioned multi-character set.

Tamara Muller

Tamara Muller's faces are almost always her own. They are stylized but rendered with an uncanny realism. Other parts of the canvas may be blocked in with simple brushwork or even left unfinished, because it is those faces that matter. They are not self portraits in the basic sense. Each one is a role although the role itself is sometimes vague, flickering between man, animal, woman, child, seducer, victim, sometimes combinations of two or more. There is a tension in them, between the presumed innocence of youth and the transgressive desires and guilt of adulthood. This disturbing psychological dichotomy is carefully balanced by a visual sense sense of wit and humor.
Many of her paintings remind me of the work of the American artist Alice Neel, whose deceptively simple technique was capable of capturing intense psychological portraits. The comparison is limited at best. Alice Neel painted other people. Tamara Muller's work is an unfolding and unflinching portrait of the self. And the accumulating body of that work is continually adding weight to its depth.
There are plenty of paintings to look at on her website: www.tamaramuller.nl

"Deleted Scenes 2" 100x100cm 2008

"Chapter 2" 150x120cm 2007

50x50cm oil on canvas 2005

50x60cm oil on canvas 2005

"Beast (birds)" 100x120cm oil on canvas 2005

"Beasts" 150x150cm oil on canvas 2005

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Heiko Müller

Heiko Müller's work taps into nature, folk art, comics culture, and the apocalyptic religious visions of the northern renaissance (of course!). On top of these strange amalgams he sprinkles little circles of confetti color like fairy dust transporting us through an unseen window into an alternate world. all this results in a wide variety of imagery that is not fully represented here. As with many artists there is a cumulative effect one gets from looking through the entire body of work that is greater than many of the individual pieces. And those are really good.
Wander around in his world for a bit at www.heikomueller.de

"Lost in Switzerland" 47"x47" oil on canvas 2009

"Bambi Chronicles 01" 27"x27" oil on canvas 2009

"Winged Doom" 8"x8" mixed media on paper 2008

"War of the Worlds" 8"x8" mixed media on paper 2007

"The Last Goodbye" 8.6"x8.6" colored pencil on paper 2009

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Justin Gibbens

I fell in love with birds and birding when I was about 11. Shortly after that I fell in love with the paintings of John James Audobon. Later on I developed a deep love for the fantastic in both literature and art. So it's no big surprise that these paintings by Justin Gibbens immediately grabbed my attention. His injection of fantastic elements into what at first appear to be 19th century scientific illustrations, are just subtle enough to cause a quick double take. The joy is that the longer look is equally rewarding because his technical skills are up to the high standards of his source material and his clear love of the subject matter belies his finger-poking humor at myth and science.
See more at his website: justingibbens.com

"Bird of Paradise III: Asp-necked Flamingo"
2007 watercolor, graphite, gouache, oolong on paper 40x26 inches

"Bird of Paradise XII: Medusa Anhinga"
2008 watercolor, graphite, gouache, colored pencil, oolong, on paper 40x26 inches

"Bird of Paradise IX: Truly Magnificent Frigatebird"
2008 watercolor, graphite, gouache, oolong, on paper. 40x26 inches

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tetsuya Ishida

Tetsuya Ishida should be a another contemporary artist, someone out there currently trying to promote their work. Unfortunately he died in 2005 at the age of 31. His paintings reflected a profound disconnect with the crowded and technological world in which he lived. Seeing himself as a mere cog in that world, he incorporated self-portraits into urinals, conveyer belts, wheel-barrows, shelf-holders, forklifts and microscopes. While his drawing seems at times naive, it serves only to accentuate his acute need to visually convey his alienation and turmoil. It seems disturbingly ironic that he was hit by a train but tragically unsurprising that it may not have been an accident. While he apparently had some success in his native Japan, his untimely death has launched a remarkable surge in interest globally.
See more work at tetsuyaishida.jp or for a quick survey got to toxel.com

Thanks to Aron Wiesenfeld for bringing this artist's work to my attention.







Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Mioke (or sometimes Moki) is a german artist with a peculiar combination of influences and interests. Her deep rooted love of mysterious landscapes combines with a gentle surrealism and introduces an odd cast of mythical creatures, all of this influenced to some degree by animé so that there appears to be a distinctly Japanese flavor to her work. Her visual ideas meander a good deal making it difficult to pin down specific themes. She obviously intuits her way through her imagery, leaving it to others to interpret, which explains her insistence on not titling her work (although I do wish she would provide sizes). Some pieces remind me of the artist Dan May (and I wonder if one influences the other in any way). While Dan May's work is focused almost exclusively on the characters of his imagined mythology for Moki there must always be a landscape, a secret and hidden landscape, in which her characters appear or disappear for it defines and contains them.