April 24, 2006


Hand off day.

Since I wanted to minimize the handling of the paintings, I kept them on the wall, and therefore I left the job of signing and scribing the titles onto the back of each one -for last.

Two fellows from Gallery Services came by to crate and ship the work to New York for my show that opens on Thursday, the 11th of May at Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery. I hovered and advised, reminded and cajoled the guys to handle the paintings correctly. So much can go wrong at this stage. Even though this marks an end to the tension of preparing for the show, I won't be off the hook until the paintings arrive in the gallery safely next week.

Process photos as follows: 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

On the Subject of Titles.

It's time to make the list of works bound for the show. My numbering system is straight forward. Titles, though. Titles require an investment.

Here below the fold, is a list of works, each keyed to the source in the blog.

I've flown the flag that the blog is a bibliography for the paintings, a virtual stuido visit. When I first concieved of this, I was accomdating an intuitive impulse to blog, fitting the function of a diary to the practice of painting. I wanted to massage the inscrutability of non-objective or abstract painting, trying to respond to the reflexively insistent question: "What does it mean?". At the same time, a bibliography is in a posterior inferior secondary position in this telling, and therefore in service to the paintings.

I write this to acknowledge my belief in the expressive potential of the online diary even as I subordinate (sublimate?) it to the paintings. A rival after all, this I acknowledge.

It makes the painting a kind of literature, a desire to be seen as a product of scholars.

Oh, what pride lurks in that sentence.
This could be vanity, yes.

Then double or nothing: would it be vain to quote -myself... again?

Temerity is an occupational hazard for artists.

(Ante up: That feels sooooo good.)

What follows is map to the genesis of the titles.

Titles, hyperlinked.

Here they are:


Born Under Saturn

"Born Under Saturn.... a good title..."

Magical Thinking
"This, an excerpt from KCRW's excerpt from Didion's recent Year of Magical Thinking..."

Wave After Wave and then the Sea

"The great thing is that here in Chinatown, multiple generations are cross pollinating. Easily. Wave after wave and then the sea."

Things Must Change, Things Must Stay the Same

"The message of the suburban rioters: Things must change. The message of the students: Things must stay the same..."

The Antihero Might Frown

"Our age of the anti-hero might frown on this..."

Jungle Patrol

Take care, people..."


"The crowd is a tapestry, an abstract pattern of color and shapes; or it is something like an engulfing sea of humanity that threatens to overwhelm. Within those two categories, there are other choices..."


"Oh yea, and Steve: I'll work on that deer/creek/snow/mountain/moon painting right away."




"I'm squinting, coming out of the studio."


UPDATE: Chris Jagers writes in:


Congratulations on your new show! I really like that you are really trying something different with every painting. Thanks for the studio shots...helps me connect to you and your process. So few artists have the confidence to do that. How do you feel sending off these paintings?


Thanks, Chris!

You're right. There's a risk in subverting the mystique of the "great painter" with an online diary that appears to tell all. The cliche that "familiarity breeds contempt" must be based on reality to some extent. Maybe I'm relying on the stubborn fact that there's plenty of life that escapes the capacity of a blog to tell either through prudence, kindness (there's a lot of knuckleheaded folly to relate out here), a discipline to stay on topic (painting instead of the endless distracting minutiae of life) or ultimately the reality that every medium has limits and inevitably cannot avoid ellipsis.

I have mixed feelings over the ship out: I'm relieved that the nut of work for the show is finally cracked, and I can tend to the many other parts of life I have had to let fray. There are other paintings that I have been thinking of in the past week: little portraits andself portraits on store bought stretchers; a long horizontal that I want to hang in our house; another long one made vertical that I want to collaborate with Joel Mesler with; another green (yes) near-monochrome, dappled with little (what name can I apply to them?)... flowers.... (the process involves blowing gently with puffed cheeks into the forms that... flower up... from the rocking motion of of my improvised dauber tools -what fun). I will surely attend to these little inspirations eventually, but now they will not beneft from my monomaniacal indulgence. They will have to jostle with other necessary, albeit satisfying projects in the next month or so. But it would be a strange kind of wonderful to continue the momentum and slide into those other twitching notions for projects in painting.

On the other hand, the deep studio submergence is eventually oxygen depleting:

Jacques: You go down to the bottom of the sea, where the water isn't even blue anymore, where the sky is only a memory, and you float there, in the silence. And you stay there, and you decide, that you'll die for them. Only then do they start coming out. They come, and they greet you, and they judge the love you have for them. If it's sincere, if it's pure, they'll be with you, and take you away forever.

(Image Source)

Posted by Dennis at April 24, 2006 4:17 PM

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