can a robot create?

The 12-week artist residency at the Tempe Center for the Arts has come to an end. Most every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon you would have found me working alongside or talking with artist Bobby Zokaites. Today I welcome Bobby as guest writer.


My Name is Bobby Zokaites, I’m a local sculptor here in Tempe Arizona, my tag line is, “Engaging the imagination through the creation of large scale objects and spaces.” This summer I participated in the Tempe Center for the Arts exhibition and residency “Draw.” For those in the know, sculpture cannot exist without drawing, in fact most sculptors are very proficient drawers. However, I was included in the exhibition because of a project that, on the surface, seems to challenge the very notion of what it means to draw.

The premise is simple: can a robot create art?

I began this line of inquiry in 2005 during a sophomore painting class at Alfred University and in response to the ever-ubiquitous self-portrait assignment. The history of art is littered with self-important, foreboding and grandiose articulations of the portrait and myself, being 19, of course wanted to join this history. By asking a robot to make art, I had the idea I was creating a portrait, an expression, an illustration, of a generation growing up within the digital revolution.

And so, I purchased a robot—a Roomba vacuum cleaner. Equipped with propulsion, preferences and aversions, the Roomba was already well on its way to being an artist, but lacked the tools needed for painterly expression. To provide it this, I simply removed the vacuum components and added a very basic foam brush and paint reservoir, creating something akin to a homemade marker. The first painting made was such a rush, my mission after that was to get out of the way to let the Roomba do just whatever it was going to do. Large black brush strokes combined with delicate tire treads on a white background these first paintings, produced using India ink on gesso-ed panels, existed in the tradition of Abstract Expressionism; Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, and the like. I felt that reexploring this canonical aesthetic with contemporary technology would be fun, and it was, I thought that updating this aesthetic with contemporary technology would be fun thing to do. Which it is, fun, the public likes it because they have a different way into the paintings. For me however, with every successive painting I lost more of my own control, agency, creativity, my own self-expression; I had given it to a robot and so, the process became very existential and surreal.

I was still a student and incredibly young so I set this project aside to focus on becoming a sculptor. I took work as the site manager at Franconia Sculpture Park, learning the pragmatic skills associated with the production of large-scale sculpture. Sculpture became my way of regaining and developing my voice, and gave me the opportunity to have visible impact on my immediate surroundings. I became an educator, teaching others how to use tools, to manipulate materials, and to develop their own agency. Currently, I’m involved in several municipal projects, in a way I see this as being involved in governance, a way to add a unique flare to the urban environment.

In 2016, I was asked by the Center for Science and Imagination at Arizona State University to readdress the Roomba paintings. I dug out the now-decade-old robots and made a very large painting, this time on canvas. We produced a 4-minute video in which we decided to bring the relationship of artist, human, and robot to the front on the conversation.

“Draw” has allowed me the time to further address this relationship. I’ve broken the process down into its components: where do I have choice, when do I need to react, and when do I hit stop? Conversations with Monica Martinez and Kyllan Maney, the two other artists-in-residence, have helped with the transition back into thinking towards two-dimensional output. Considering aspects as simple as how colors lay on top of each other, composition and line weight, to those factors as detailed as the viscosity of paint and pigments, I’ve become a painter. Although to study these things I’ve had make more paintings resulting in more failures; some winding up so far gone that I’ve painted over them right in the gallery (much to Monica’s initial dismay). Over this summer, I’ve changed how I think about these painterly concepts several times, using different aids and brainstorming techniques. Dr. Seuss has the most amazing grays, and since his books are well-known for inspiration, I made four paintings using his color palettes.

In addition to the ‘shop talk’ between artists, large school groups would stop through providing several other opportunities to re-examine and re-explain the conceptual parts of the story. Now that I’ve identified where my choices are in the process, I have more involvement and the paintings are more collaborative, less reactionary. Engaging a larger community in the process has brought new points of view, new conundrums, new humor. In keeping with some of the light-heartedness of the project, Tricky, TCA’s preparator, even named the Roomba, “Mayhem”.

Though I’m not the first person to use robots as a way to produce art— American artist, Roxy Paine uses robots to produce a variety of sculptural objects and Leonel Mora of Portugal even has robots that sign their own drawings— my own contribution is in the realization that a commercially available robot was, even 10 years ago, sophisticated enough to produce its own paintings; proving the mantra, “any significantly advanced technology is synonymous with magic.” Along those lines, many people are fond of Frankenstein, Blade Runner, and the Terminator as cautionary tales of technological advancement and morality. However, with the Roomba project I’ve always gravitated to the earlier example of John Henry, the steel-driving man. His story, is one that pits man against machine, in a race to build the transcontinental railroad. All of these stories present a dichotomy when in reality man is not in opposition with machines. Modernity, with is mechanized metaphor, encourages us to idolize efficiency and progress, and in doing so, reduce individual labor. The paradigm of this train of thought has put me in an interesting head space: on the one hand I can anthropomorphize the Roomba, reducing my own self-importance, or I can claim authorship and be seen as an “artist” and “painter”. Truthfully, my preference is still “sculptor”, though I would accept manufacturer as well; both of these terms place importance and thought on to the tools and processes associated with production. With the Roombas as a tool, I can create an infinite number of composition.

sims lab – the practice

Invited to visit the Sims Lab at the Phoenix Biomedical campus, I think – mannequin designed to simulate human vital signs – things like breath and pulse. I don’t imagine a complete hospital environment – including sounds – High Fidelity Simulation. I can’t know I’ll meet numerous mannequins including smaller trainers.

Briana walks me into an area that’s ready for an OB lab. She refers to the trainers, I assume she is talking about students in training. I see no students. A trainer, I learn, is a tool, equipment and/or technology, shaped like a human body (full or partial) aiding in the teaching/learning process in medical school. Briana  pulls out a couple of them and explains their use to me.

We move into another room and come across a full body mannequin on a hospital bed, in what appears like an operating room/lab. Briana apologizes for the mess. Mess? I see sterile and clean. She points to things that are out-of-order. In an emergency situation where seconds matter, equipment and tools are in their place.

I touch the mannequin. I’m relieved he doesn’t feel real, at least not the skin surface. Briana helps me to feel organs and bones.

We head down the hallway to meet Victoria (below), a birthing mannequin. Yes, a mannequin that gives birth. Here is where I get a better sense of what high fidelity simulation means.

Briana explains the mechanisms while I note a 2-way mirror.  Medical students learn to respond to a full birthing experience, including sound. As in real-life each birth, and so each simulation, is unique. It all goes smooth or it doesn’t.

We come across placenta sitting on a table (of course we do).

Briana: It is birthed 35-45 minute after baby.
Me: Are there contraction?
Briana: Yes.

Briana mentions placenta brain. The phrase, not necessarily the explanation, brings a visual to my mind.

Me: I understand it’s a part of the secondary endocrine system.
Briana: It carries all the hormones that mom and baby need.

Right at this point I notice Briana is pregnant. We talk about various cultural norms concerning placenta. She explains it is also freeze-dried, ground and encapsulated, so mom (and nursing baby) may continue to benefit from the nutritious placenta for a good while after delivery.

Across the room I see 2 more mannequins – male and female. As we exit, I’m glad to know Victoria isn’t alone.

Briana: Let’s go see the kiddos!
Me: Kiddos?
We enter a smaller dark area. Lights come on bright and for a second I feel like I’m backstage at a theater production.  

Briana: Victoria’s bellies are hidden back here.
Me: Victoria’s bellies?!
Three fabulous bellies! As I write this I don’t recall if Briana says this or I do. I think she says it and I feel it true – they are fabulous! …and in various stages of pregnancy siting across the narrow table.

I learn about Leopold’s maneuvers.

And then I meet the kiddos… I hold one and as directed I roll it tightly in my hands like it might be while in utero. It is smooshy, flexible and surprisingly heavy. Average weight, Briana notes.

She then opens up the less common vertical C-section belly (below) and calls out the layers. Particularly interested in fascia, it’s the only layer (white) I focus on.

Off to stage right is the plug-in station …
I don’t say this but i think it. Babies, they lighten everything up.

We walk into a few more mock hospital rooms that include infants and young children on gurneys. Briana wipes the eyes of one of the mannequins and cleans the mouth of another. I sober up understanding the elements in these environments are for training students before they meet real people in real events.

Completing the tour, I ask about the student’s emotions and reactions. Yes, these are also part of the learning experience. It’s all about the full practice of medicine.

Briana works at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in the Center for Simulation and Innovation. Her background is in Cardiology and Cardiology Intensive Care.
She heads off to a meeting and I return to my studio.

Photo from the Tempe History Museum currently on view – 4th floor HSEB.

Note:
While I walk across the hall and take the 4 flights of stairs down – again I can’t help but think about being an artist. I especially appreciate the unusual experiences my work brings me. I could not have imagined any of this in all my years of art school.

Thank you Briana. We both have newborns in the planning – mine will be in 2D (probably on canvas) while yours will show up in 3D (real-life). Best wishes!


My artwork – Nothing In Stasis (solo exhibition) is on view through the first week of April.
Monday-Friday, 9-5

At the Health Sciences Education Building
Phoenix Biomedical Campus (PBC)
435 N. 5th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004-2230
Map (PDF)
Parking Information

Health Science Education Building

value the work, value the process

Artists are makers of objects and creators of experience. And as for the rest of it – who really knows.

sold

I’ve talked to many artists about sales and selling art. Lately, the conversation comes up more and more. How does one make a living in the arts? How does one sell work? What about pricing? How do you find collectors? It’s natural to want sales. It’s valuable to have them. Though I think there are other things that get my attention more.

I think it’s work (verb) and Work (noun). Work through ideas. Draw, paint, sculpt, make art. Organize experience and share it. And if someone is drawn to something, wants to own it and live with it – great! I believe if you continue to work, and pay attention to your craft, you can trust some things will sell. But I’m just not certain that should ever be the reason you make art.

Artist Robert Irwin, in the book Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, comments – from early on selling a work of art was never a thought in his mind as he created. The considerations were/are idea, experience and process. Think about that for a minute.

Irwin values and follows his curiosity. For him – questions lead to experience, which lead to more questions – and on it goes – that’s his work. The process is organic. Some things pan out to his satisfaction, others do not. He moves on to new experience/new work. He teaches at various points in time, and questions that process as well.

Back to selling…
There are practical things to consider about the sale of art. There are books and workshops on the subject. Nowadays we have many tools at our disposal. As I talk to artists about the subject I usually note one unique idea they consider doing. It’s different for everyone.

Figure out who you are, what purpose you serve, what you are willing to do (and not do), who is your audience (who are you serving) – and move out from there. Do it yourself or let someone else do it for you. I suspect most art reps and spaces deal with the same thing.

In my experience, I wish for things to flow natural. I want opportunity and space to show my art. I want a certain quality of experience for the viewer. I don’t necessarily want sales, but if I have them – I am certainly pleased and appreciative. It’s complicated for artists – this idea of selling their art. I don’t like to talk about it, and yet I do.

I told my husband years ago that his occupation was easy. There was a set path he could rely on and markers of success were steady. But that’s not so for artists, I said. There is no set up. He responded by agreeing with the markers – things like salaries, raises and promotions. But the trail I thought was laid out before him, was only in my imagination. He was figuring it out every day, and all these years later, it’s still true.

I pulled the quote below from Facebook.  My friend Mark posted it. He’s not an artist. This is simple and applies to anything you want to do and be good at.

Success. It is everything that it sounds like. But to achieve it you must do something outstanding, regularly. Outstanding comes from many sources. Of course it comes from super talent but few have that. For the rest of us it comes from wanting to do what you are doing, spending time on it, thinking about it even when you aren’t doing it. And there is nothing like spending time on it. Fantastic ideas don’t come often and the problem is when they don’t come at all, or they aren’t followed through. Have you had a great idea lately and pursued it? The rewards will come. It never comes from short cuts, cutting out early or arriving late.

Aghhh…I hated writing this. And yet, I enjoyed it.

joshua rose, a look back and a look present

Perhaps I am just in awe of everything when I settle down to really look at things.  Joshua Rose


Book of Hours (the first set), 2002

Looking at Joshua’s thirty year retrospective, the first thing I note is the incredible energy contained in all those many years of art making. The word practice comes to mind – thirty years of steady practice.  A lot of life springing off those gallery walls. The variety is rich, exciting in color, shape, form and intensity. Some works are loud, others are quiet, most is large, some – very small, and some are surprisingly realistic though much of it abstract.

Photo from 30 Year Retrospective

Photo from 30 Year Retrospective

Photo from 30 Year Retrospective. These two vertical paintings, Joshua notes, are "Homages to my parents and the smaller one is an early portrait of Jacklyn (his wife) from grad school."

Joshua Rose is an artist based out of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Once upon a long time ago, he was my graduate school advisor.  I can’t say I’ve known Josh for many years. A more true statement would be to say, I’ve known his work for many years, at least 20. We reconnected in 2007, when I was invited back to NMSU, as a guest lecturer.

I recall arriving on campus, and soon I was standing in his (still) familiar office, in the art department. He showed me some of his paintings that had just come down from exhibition. They were leaning on a wall. The paintings on canvas were very different from what I’d remembered while a student. His work was large, that hadn’t changed. Everything else about them appeared new though…light texture and patterned dots that moved in colorful swirls. Even in the dimly lit office, I could see the light in them. It changed as I moved (They changed, as I changed). They’re iridescent … reflective. Is that…glitter? I say out loud. Yes and some metallic paints, he responds. He smiled and quickly noted how strong they’d shown in the gallery, under good lighting. I saw some sort of excitement move through his body as he said that.

White-River

Today, as I begin to put this post together and narrow down images to include in it, the word yoga keeps coming to mind. Yoga – the union between body, mind and spirit. I also think of the elements: earth and fire in the early work, water and air in latter work. I mention to him it somehow all reminds me of the ‘Eight Limbs of Yoga’. Its’s all there! he says.

I look and think for a good long while. Here’s my impression of why Yoga (the Limbs are  Sanskrit)…

The body of work I’m focusing on here is personal and yet universal, the titles and compositions allow me to feel this.  They imply years of practice and involve the present – that’s the Yama and Nyama.  The control in the work, suggests several things, but especially a balance of logic and emotion – that’s Pranayama. The more recent works feel effortless, though I know they’re not. Josh comments on the process of multiple paint layers, the first with dots and the geometric ones with taped edges, all are quite time-consuming. No doubt. The paintings themselves are vibrant and physical – Asana. Not only can I sense the concentration, I’m drawn into it, I look closely – fostering awareness would be DharanaPratyahara, controlling of the senses – most certainly, they captivate. Dhyana, the art is meditative and all about devotion. I don’t have to say more do I?

9 am-2002-9x6

9-pm-2002-9x6

(2002)
The two art works above, are the first appearance of pieces titled Book of Hours. I’m especially drawn to them (the series is the first image in this post), they appear like relics. I appreciate all the subtleties. The irregular edges give me the hint that they are on hand-made paper. The size impresses me as intimate, a form of journaling perhaps. The methodical dots, and the grid formation are reminiscent of time. Lights and darks, days and nights – he’s marking time.

I ask about the reference to time in the titles of the Book of Hours (older – above, and newer- below). I did not do them at any particular time of day but resolved to do 24 paintings that hung together as “a show” since they take a few days to do (even the small dot paintings) the name i.e. 9PM, is simply the name of the painting. 

(2011)
Though time has passed and the work appears different, these larger newer 2011 paintings are a continuation of Book of Hours. A serendipitous moment occurs as I upload these next photos. I hear birds chirping in my yard, I see the birds in the compositions.
For more of this series, click here.

5 am

5pm

Joshua’s words: The current work is in many ways an extension of what I was doing with the dot paintings. In those works I was thinking in terms of a crude understanding of quantum physics where particles can be waves and vice versa depending on when and how the observer looks at them. I was and am intrigued by their dual nature. Of course I am not a scientist but an artist and can therefore mix it up with all kinds of different ingredients to suit some inner fancy. Science has to follow laws.

3 am, Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 24", 2011

12 Midnight, 24 x 24", acrylic on canvas, 2011

Below are 2011 works. For more of the series (still in progress), click here.

ZigZag, 36 x 36", acrylic on canvas, 2011

slipknot, 36 x 36", acrylic on canvas 2011

He calls the next set simply 6 x 6 inches. I could have pulled numerous ones, it was hard to make a choice.  To see this series click here.

2

8

He continues… The new geometric work is about similar things to me (as the dot works) except that lattices and lines and geometric shapes take the place of the dots. It is as if I decided to use a different level of atomic organization as the ingredients for the stew. Instead of particles I am using fully formed “elements”, crystals, molecules and the like or what the dots might come together to make at a higher state of organization. Instead of waves, wavelengths that denote color within a framed allusion to a deeper space; instead of referencing rivers, they reference structures and window reflections and human created architectures of impossibility.

9

When I look at my work it is about “path” and not the external accretion of “meanings”.

And that’s what I resonate most with, that’s the yoga.


Joshua Rose is represented by Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, in Santa Fé, NM.

You can see more of his work at his website joshuaroseart.net.
He also has a couple of blogs. One includes his poetry…
Joshua Rose: Musings, Memories and Other Stuff
…and the other includes his photographs.
Daily Snaps: Photographs, Joshua Rose
He’s a creative character for sure.

a personal note:
After receiving the first set of jpegs for this post, I find myself feeling nervous.  I feel like a grad student, preparing for a seminar class and Josh is professor again. Am I prepared!? Snap out of it, I tell myself. Yeah snap out of it! Joshua says, That relationship ended the day you graduated (20 years ago?) and since then we are two artists swimming in the same wide ocean…

…to clarify… I never studied painting with Josh.  I was a drawing and printmaking student. He was my advisor and I met with him regularly. I appreciated his direct and practical nature. During a critique he told me… Payne’s Gray and Burnt Umber make a richer dark. He suggested I get a few paints, try Golden. I did take a class with him my final semester called ‘Methods and Materials’. He introduced me to pigments (color). Consequently I credit him for giving me a love of Egg Tempera, Casein and Guache.  And here I am now, twenty-one years later, a painter
swimming in that wide ocean…and it’s Cobalt Blue.


what goes on and what takes place…my turn

The artist Monica Aissa Martinez (that would be me…)

Awkward. Doing it anyway.

Materials
←In my hand is a jar of cadmium red dry pigment.  I’ve had it since grad school.  Good quality pigments go a long way. I mix dry pigment with egg yolk, and make my own egg tempera. I give the how to, plus a bit of history, both mine and its, in an early post. I write about my framer who once gave me a duck egg, and an ostrich egg (gag) to try out.  And I tell you about my other favorite medium, Casein, yes…the protein. For more about my choice materials click → a little egg, a little milk.

And even though I use paint, brushes and canvas, I identify myself as someone who draws.  It may have something to do with the fact that I never took a painting class. And I teach drawing. Or it may have to do with the fact that I use line, and connect the ends to make shapes. Then I fill in with more line. I wrote about this too → Notes on Drawing and Painting.

My other materials are drawing supplies…pencil color, artist crayon, graphite and large rolls of Arches paper, along with smooth sheets of BFK rag (drawing and printing paper).

The Studio

Well come in…

My messy bookshelf…I bought it at least 20 years ago, from an estate sale in El Paso, for all of $12.00.  It’s crossed 3 state borders, it holds books and special stuff. Best investment I ever made. Books…reading…influence my daily work.  I get an idea from an event: personal or social…react, research, paint. Curiosity. Why do we/people/society/I do the things we/I do?  Who? What? and Why?…read, write, draw…reread, rewrite, redraw. Realize.

Current reading material Rollo May’s, The Courage to Create. So I’m interested in creativity.  I do wonder if there is any originality anymore?  Does something mean anything?  Is anything sacred? The media would have you think not.  I beg to differ.

The Work
I’ve written about my current work as it presents itself, take a quick view if you’re inclined. If you’re not…no fret, see the work in its completed stage next February.

The idea presents itself.

It continues.

Grounding down.

More grounding.

The trunk.

If you did look…fyi…it’s all completely different now.  No, the whole design is not resolved. It’s being finessed. And retitled. I’ll hold that info for a later date.
One of the things that I do most of the time, is make more than one of everything. I work things just a bit different in each instance, I want to know my options before I commit. This is probably how one new work evolves into a series, in my case.

Back to What Goes On and What Takes Place. ↓

In some larger way this is all about where we stand as creative creatures (and/or destructive).  In this case, we choose to create for the good of all of us. The creativity is in the form of a visual, an evolving idea, community, slow but steady progress, a process, a give and take that’s natural, mutually respectful, and consists of continual interaction. Given the political culture these days, I’m sure there’s a societal lesson in here somewhere.

4 different woman…

Mary, who works with our dessert landscape, organic matter, and new media.  →Myself, who draws and paints the human figure with egg and milk. →Carolyn, who connects to (and connects us to) animals thru her graphite.  And →Sue, who takes all these subjects and more, and freely and deliberately abstracts them

…step out of their comfort zone, to work and share, and create a new experience for themselves and for you, the audience.

WHAT: WHAT GOES ON AND WHAT TAKES PLACE

WHERE: MODIFIED ARTS

WHEN: FEB 18TH – MARCH 12TH, ART DETOUR

WHO: CAROLYN LAVENDER, MARY SHINDELL, SUE CHENOWETH, MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

We’ll continue to share process and progress here, as it feels right to do so.

I don’t want to forget the various other creative forcesinvolved: →Kim Larkin and →Adam Murray, who offer the exhibition venue, →Modified.
And The →Ted Decker Catalyst Fund. The Catalyst Fund will support documentation and marketing materials. (Take a moment to click on the link, and look at the faces of all variety of creative people the fund has supported.)

To see a quick listing of the all the posts connected to this exhibit, go to → Modified’ upcoming exhibition page.

You can catch more of my work…
Now, at the Mesa Art Center, The Store (prints).

August, An Invitational group exhibition titled, →Converging Trajectories: Crossing Borders to Build Bridges, curator: Ted G. Decker.
Fall 2010, a solo titled, Works. Central Arizona College, in the Visual Arts Gallery.

↓if you missed them, continue on to the previous 3 posts…to see each artists studio, materials and workings↓ or click on their names above↑

what goes on and what takes place, the fourth artist

The artist Sue Chenoweth

Sue introduced herself to me years ago, at an opening. She came in early, shook my hand, and delivered thoughtful commentary about my work. Generous. I knew who she was because people had pointed out her work to me.

I connect to her use of color, the way she fills (2D) space, her use of line, her media and recognizable abstractions. I especially appreciate a quality of freedom she represents. This freedom of composition is uniquely Sue’s.

Right Now
Sue’s work is currently filling up space at SMoCA. The exhibition runs through September. It’s an innovative concept which has her art hanging alongside some of the museums permanent works, in an installation titled, Spyhopping: Adventure with Sue Chenoweth. Intelligent and fun, stimulating to eyes and mind.

Skyhopping Exhibit

Skyhopping Exhibit

The Exhibition / What Goes On and What Takes Place
Sue brings lots of energy to our project. Natural, honest, active and reactive. If she doesn’t know what to do…she says so. When an idea comes forth, she shares it enthusiastically.  I wonder if she might paint this way too. I respect her nature…creative, and in the moment.  She has plenty of ideas for the upcoming Art Detour weekend, and how we might interact with Modified visitors.

When she’s not making art, she’s teaching at Metro Arts, or at Phoenix College. She’s in the middle of moving, when the four of us meet for dinner, to discuss working together.

Not unlike the rest of us, she has a home studio. I love it here, she says.  I must  have my studio at home because I work in little spurts… all day long.  5 minutes here…half hour there… I keep it going all the time, that way I get things finished and have an ongoing  relationship with the work.  It Becomes my days.

I feel the same way. I wonder about Carolyn and Mary.  There are pros and cons to having a home studio.

…some photos of her variety of materials and her new studio space.

I ask about the doll house. The doll houses were in an installation called ‘Hold your Cards’ I had at eye lounge a long time ago.  I ordered them off e-bay.  It is funny how I coveted a metal dollhouse like the one I had as a kid and then got a BUNCH of them.

Both Sue and Carolyn were present at the start of eye lounge. She says of the experience, I was not in the very first show, but became a member when they moved into the Roosevelt space.  I was a member with all the original members though.  It was a great group.  I feel honored to be a part of the beginning. I had the very first show in the new building.  I don’t think there was anyone in the east gallery.

At our meetings, Sue expresses she has no idea what she’ll be doing for the exhibit. I jot her words into the upper right hand corner of my paperwork. Unknown to me, Mary photographs the notes. The photo amuses me. Why did this strike me  as something to capture? Because truly, this is the artists dilemma, we don’t know, until we do…know. It’s also the human dilemma.

I imagine Sue will wait to begin working, because some pressure appeals to her. Consequently I don’t expect to get an image of a work in progress anytime soon. But I do!

I have NO IDEA what this painting will be. I just know it is the start of a new series, but also closely relating and advancing on the last Spyhopping series of paintings. I never ever show this early stage of a painting so this is a rare glimpse into the underpinnings of my work.

…one more thing about each of us…we’ve chosen to document our process and make it a part of the exhibition…though we wouldn’t normally do this…rare glimpse sounds about right.

New Work

She continues…I try to make each layer just as good as the last, so as one peers into a work, it works all the way through. This one is a bit rough yet. No under painting. Landscape that is real but not real. Fragments of life and process showing what it is like to live in our world.

 

close up detail

I ask about her materials. She answers quick… All gouache on paper SO FAR.
Working title? I have no title yet. Size? This is just a starting place. The overall painting (on paper) will be 48″ x 50″.

…I only get starting places to begin…. I have been affected by the oil spill but do not want to make paintings about drippy birds etc. I know the oil spill is the beginning. I am looking at artists Neo Rauch and Thomas Hart Benton. Regionalism and in a way Hieratic scale with Benton..Maybe that is the wrong word to use, but it fits for me. I am also looking at the mosaics of Ravena which I often refer back to them. I like the way color shifts in the mosaics. I am trying to paint like that in places in my painting. There is another fresco that I find interesting and that is at the Basilica S.M. Novella in Florence Italy. Called the ‘Allegory of the Church’ the details of ‘Vices and other sins.” Love the way the different scenes are partitioned off so it looks a bit like a doll house.

While I’m completing this post I receive an email from Sue….For the show I  think I am going to make vacuum formed mountains like model railroad mountains but about 19 inches tall.  Some way smaller.  They would sit on the ground as if they are peeking out of the sea.
Another email follows shortly...It is just an idea.  I have to see where I can have these made and IF I can have them made. I am so so glad that we have until Feb to finish the work.

It’s all just an idea;thought takes on form, and becomes experience. Interaction follows. It’s what art making is all about.

We hope through the documenting and sharing of our individual process, you get a sense of all that may be involved in art making. Creating the whole exhibit, is a collaborative project.  Exhibitions will overlap, work succeeds, work fails, visits to the art store, the frame shop (me), the printer (Mary), the mountain maker (Sue)… Life keeps getting lived, gardens get tended (Carolyn), studios get dirty and cleaned, photographs get taken, discussions keep being had, agreements, maybe disagreements, thinking, rethinking, writing, sketching, working and reworking, details come and go…

This is an idea in motion, generated by four women artists.

WHAT: WHAT GOES ON AND WHAT TAKES PLACE

WHERE: MODIFIED ARTS

WHEN: FEB 18TH – MARCH 12TH, ART DETOUR

WHO: CAROLYN LAVENDER, MARY SHINDELL, SUE CHENOWETH, MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

I’ll sum this up next time.  I hope to include my work in the mix. Come back.

Click here to visit Sue’s website.
Read the New Times review of  Spyhopping: Adventures with Sue Chenoweth” at SMoCA Proves Life Is Just a Game

*Sue Chenoweth will be giving a Hands-On  Workshop at SMoCA, on July 1st.  For more info check their website.

Modified Arts.Org

 

what goes on and what takes place…and another artist revealed

The artist Mary Shindell

Don’t even know where to begin writing. Let me warm up.
I met Mary in 2005. We had solo’s in the same month. We got together to stuff envelopes for a joint mailing. She dropped into my exhibit, and I dropped into hers. high above the, was the name of her show. Mary’s not only a current member, but also a founding member of  Five15. Her exhibition consisted of a series of mixed media drawings of Sonoran Cacti. I recall being completely taken in by the drawing. I returned several times to take in all the intricate, meticulously rendered detail, of her Saguaro’s. I knew instinctively, she was also a Printmaker.

Mary draws, makes prints and then some…

It was while visiting her most recent solo, that I realized I wanted Mary to be a part of this project. Initially, the idea was 3 artists, a triad. Mary would make it a 4-person exhibit, a square. What caught my attention… line quality, texture, engaging structure, use of material, and intensity in process. Her use of new media, computer generated imagery and LED lighting, was added engagement. I’d spent the better part of that Saturday afternoon last January, talking to Mary about her process. She’d experienced challenges in both the creating, and the installing of the work. Her husband Rick (Is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. He’s made stainless steel benches and tables for some of the galleries. He also rebuilds classic cars…the latter, is my husbands input…) helped her to design stands for her sculpture, her son helped her with electrical wiring, various tech’s helped her with the fiber optics, and others with the printing. Mary had problems, solutions followed, sometimes creating other problems, for more solution. I remember thinking…it really does take a village.

No woman is an island. Mary works well in solitary mode, and clearly, with other people too. I admire this.  The artist is an intricate part of the community, and vise-versa.

Afterwards, I spoke to Carolyn. She was more than receptive. She talked about feeling a kinship to Mary, from her work in the local art scene, to her teaching residencies, and art making. The grouping of 4 women artist, for our project, was now complete.
Note: Yes, She is the 3rd artist I tell you about, but she is the 4th one to have come on board.

The Sonoran desert-scape is Mary’s most obvious influence. Right now the plan is 2D  and 3D work for this group exhibit. I’m drawn to the attention she gives her drawing, in its entirety. She sees, she puts down! Again, as I’d noted in Carolyn’s work, with Mary’s too, there is a quality to the mark making and a connection to time.   Her 3D work intrigues me not only because of the new media, but also as you’ll see, it’s a direct evolution of her drawing process.

Mary’s process focused in traditional drawing technique.  About the computer influence she comments,  I was seeking a method to assist in the design and production of large public art projects, I set about learning to draw digitally. The vector lines were so fluid and the potential for manipulation and combination so vast that I began devising ways to use the digital imagery in my studio work.

Her studio contains both a drawing area and a digital workspace.

In a not too surprising detailed manner, she talks about materials and gives us a peek into her process. Here goes…

Her materials, traditional in general are acrylic, ink, graphite, pastel and  (BFK) paper. In new tradition, add in a digital pen, a scanner, and scanned photos and drawings,  the occasional LED light and occasional use of styrene.

Note: In photo below, a CD in the lower left corner, on the cart. Remember our dinner meeting? (click here if you don’t) We all discussed music as a necessary studio element. Mary and I both listen to Leonard Cohen in particular ( of course…I’ve written about him too).

Mary mentions things she saves. The photo above is her used pen tips. These are like trophies, she says, I wear them out making little marks and I keep them around as evidence of my work.
I get this, I save all my used paintbrushes and the last bits of my drawing pencils.

About this photo she explains,  I am spraying symbols that I have made from Carolyn’s (Lavender)garden. Graphic designers use clip art or vector graphics to make symbols, mapmakers use them a lot. I cut up scans of my drawings and photos to make symbols. I can have hand drawn imagery in my digital pieces, it makes them more like drawings for me and puts the drawing in a new , less precious format.


…a few material/ process photos…


I ask Mary about the pretty glove in this photo. …my ‘pretty glove’ is something I wear to protect the outside of my hand on the Wacom Tablet. It is hard plastic and after a few hours it hurts, I can also slide on the tablet better with the glove on-I also use it when I am drawing on paper for long periods of time although I never had to use a glove when I only worked on paper so I think it is the plastic tablet that is causing the problem.


This is scrap from cutting out ink jet printed objects, and a Bougainvillea flower, that didn’t make the cut.

Finishing up our process and materials conversation she adds…But I still love the precious so I work on the drawing board on BFK with graphite etc, in a way I feel like I can spend more time on the hand drawn imagery. I didn’t feel that way at the beginning of mixing the two processes.

And so it continues…what more is in this file Mary?
Mixing the two processes…it’s part of her plan for this collaborative exhibition. Come and see what she finely generates.

WHAT: WHAT GOES ON AND WHAT TAKES PLACE

WHERE: MODIFIED ARTS

WHEN: FEB 18TH -MARCH 12TH ART DETOUR

WHO: CAROLYN LAVENDER, MARY SHINDELL, MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ, and one more other.

Stay tuned. One more artist reveal on the way.

Some links below…
Mary Shindell Portfoilio
Five15, Mary Shindell
One final note…Mary Shindell voted #89 of our top 100 artists by The Phoenix New Times. Click here for article.

Modified Arts.Org