January 25, 2006

The Best Fit

I've just returned to the studio after a lunch with an old friend, Troy. He wanted to see what was on Chung King Road (a short pedestrian street, anomoly in LA), how it had changed since last he visited years ago. ChinaTown has grown quite a bit and in an interesting way: measured, with a lot of original Chinese-American stakeholders (business and landlords) keeping the place real.

We bumped into Black Dragon Society where we encounter Bettina Hubby. Introductions were made and I described Troy as a childhood friend. And then my intro had to be finessed: "We met in College, but we were kids then." College was the school of archtitecture at CalPoly S.L.O., back when San Luis Obispo was just shaking off the seventies (that was the early eighties, Madonna, MTV and Sting). Troy became an art director and I'm.... painting.


We then ate dim sum after we toured the galleries. He found a couple of festive Chinese dresses for his daughters. Daddy comes home with gifts for the girls. I should have taken pictures.

So here I'm back in the studio. Here I sits with dreams afloat and a storm of thngs to do and projects in the making and lists and calendars and promises to be kept... spinning, the room is starting to spin ...real slow at first.

Solution: flip on the iTunes playlist titled "Shake Booty", click on "The Popcorn", James Brown, Soul Pride 1960-1969 (Disc 2), turn the Bose powered speakers voume up real high and...

...move on to the first-things-first:

It's time to title the paintings.

SO what's the deal with titles in my work, you might ask? (C'mon, you just might.) I have been... growing... my titles... in this blog.

Sometimes, words will occur to me as I paint and these are natural titles. This is rare, though. I usually avoid predetermining a subject and title and content before an artmaking experience. I won't rule it out, it's just not my way. I don't like the reduction of art to communication. This definition forgets the imaginative element, which is the heart of art. I like the discovery thing.

I remember reading about Michaelangelo's sculpture when I was a kid. He would look into the quarried stone and see a figure inside the pattern of vein and grain. Sculpture was a task of freeing the figure within. Painting might be thought of in the same way, but with the "stone's grain" changing with every touch of the canvas.

I want to find the subject of an artwork along the way. And I believe in titles. At the very least, they are conceptual handles so we can deal with them. At the most, they are road signs indicating the direction of content: "...subject matter that-a-way...". I've titled paintings in many different ways, but siince I've kept a weblog, I've adopted the practice of finding my titles within the period of time I was painting them. So today, I'm harvesting a few of the best for my recent work.

Here is a list of three painttings bound for New York:

"The Long View"
oil on canvas over wood panel
160 x 180 cm / 63?x71?
The blogpost from the time I had just finished the painting ended with these words. There was an image of a flood of green monochrome that started the whole thing, a boundless green.

"Tussle Over Chocolate Mountain"
oil on canvas over wood panel
160 x 180 cm / 63?x71?
I felt verbose and spilled the beans in that blogpost. This title was easy and fun.

Update: When it came to scribing the title onto the back of the painting, I omitted the first two words, leaving "Chocolate Mountain" as the official monniker. I know that with this, I'll hazard the question: "Where's the chocolate? Where's the mountain?" I guess I'll have to refer these people to the blog. Maybe I should title it "http://www.dennishollingsworth.us/archives/000883.html".

"One or the Other"
oil on canvas over wood panel
160 x 180 cm / 63?x71?
Unlike "Kind of Red", I wanted the color red to be something that takes us to something else. A centralizing geometry seemed to fortify the singularity of color the red delivered, and a kind of one-ness seemed to be the target of my curiosity. So, finding the words "When one is the numerator, the other has to be a denominator. One or the other pays a price." in this blogpost feels like the best fit.

Posted by Dennis at January 25, 2006 5:05 PM

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