August 31, 2003


It's funny how I look for intention in the work, striving to make sure every mark made has qualities of pristine virginity (that they are not overworked, labored) and determination (that a mind directed them).

And every so often, after striving for so much, feeling a little inadequate... I then look down to my tools and I see so much beauty. A gift from G-d.

How do you manifest the things you see outside your intention, intentionally?

Posted by Dennis at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)

A Desperate Fling

So here I was working on paper, thinking of how to enter the next painting.

It was something about coming in from the side. The left side. I was looking at a Twonbly painting, digging how the clouds of color spook in from the left, with his sgraffito marks puctuating spots to the right.

I was squirting paint into lines that I flatten into ribbons, making rings... and screeding over it from the left again in a way that empties the field. I was hoping to move the action to the center that way, screeding and editing my way over.

But it was a mess.

So I scraped it off... and I decided to keep it on the drywall knife I use (for the "screeds" mentioned before). Then, I went into it again with ochre, and a few monads ,my term for the spiky balls. It wa about then I decided to tack from the ochre to a blackened purple and layed that down as a sheet over the majority of the paper.

Then, I flung the wad scraped previously. I knda liked it.

Who was the Greek who flung his rag at the canvas in frustration (thus painting clouds serendipitiously)? Does any one know?

Posted by Dennis at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

Postal Service

The return from Los Angeles had me expecting to jump into a the last few panels I had left for the two shows. After the requisite staring at blank panels, imagineering the varioius entries into the next painting... after the little errands that can't be ignored, after the unexpected fires to be put out... It was late Wednesday before paint was moving onto a support. Thursday was futile. Then it was late Friday when things got into a groove. The next few posts will catch you up on things.

A tougher week than I expected. I guess I'm a sensitive flower.

Posted by Dennis at 10:18 PM | Comments (1)

August 27, 2003

Fragments of Paradise

This is the image of the invitation card for a show curated by my dealer iin Z?rich, Mark M?ller (Gallery): Fragments of Paradise.

The invitation:

Kunsthalle Palazzo

30. August bis 12. Oktober, 2003
Vernissage: Freitag 29. August 18.30, 2003

Fragmente des Paradieses
(abstrakte Malerei)

Urs Frei, Dennis Hollingsworth, Jonathan Lasker,
Bernd Mechler, Judy Millar, ?Adrian Schiess,
Christine Streuli, ?Toon Verhoef und Robert Zandvliet

kuratiert von Mark M?ller, Marina R?ttimann
und ?Markus Weggenmann, Z?rich

F?hrung: Sonntag 21. September 2003, 14.00 Marina R?ttimann

?ffnungszeiten: Di - Fr 14 - 18 Uhr, Sa/So 13 - 17 Uhr

Kunsthalle Palazzo, Bahnhofplatz,
Postfach 277, CH - 4410 Liesthal BL /
0041 61 921 50 62

Die Ausstellung wird unterst?tzt von Kanton Basel Landschaft, Erziehungs- und Kulturdirektion, Bundesamt f?r Kultur, Art Council of New Zealand und Mondriaan Stichting (Mondriaan Foundation).

You can check out Mark's website at:

There's several aspects that I like about the show. First, I'm in great company... especially with Jonathon Lasker in it. Then, the juicy image of seashells and the notion of Paradise evokes Nature's perfection. Much of the form in which I find in pigment comes from the thick liquid physics of the paint itself and this is sympatico with nature's formalism.

The idea of fragmentation reminds me of a trip to Guanajuato, Mexico back in '88. There, I saw the work of Rivera (Guanajuato is his childhood home) and I became aware of the birth of the Modern sensibility in Mexico. The artists at that time (and I'm thinking of the muralists Ozorco and others seen the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City) were wrestling with the products of new technology and the debris of the former classically traditional world. I remember a drawing that assembled fragments of girders, classical busts, reinforced concrete... They were more wistful then, but wrestling with the persistant dislocation of Modern life will always be with us. At least we are less wistful now.

Another affinity with the image of seashells: I grew up playing in sea water as a kid. My family traveled a great deal and we lived in many tropical places. My dad was into the Jacques Cousteau thing, and he strapped diving tanks on us in our early teens (us, being my brother and I). So, the snorkel view of the world is a natural one for me. People have identified this in my work... but I try not to play it up too much.

There is a an suggestion of utopia, and not the idea of incarnating a perfection on earth, but the grounded suggestion that we can get only fugitive fragments of that paradise here and now in our very fragile... very mortal life. This seems to me an idea of a life that is very present but strung taut towards a better tomorrow. Fugitive, fragmentary, fragile... but not futile.

A saving grace.

I write this, thinking of my commitment to paint from the affirmative, my Oedipal rejection of the art world I learned of in school at the end of the 80's. I remember Lawrence Wiener's words: "We questioned the answers that were given to us in school."

(This, I write all before reading Mark's curatorial statement.)

Posted by Dennis at 7:33 AM | Comments (2)

August 26, 2003

Knock on Wood

Stephanie and I are back to Dallas after a harrowing week. Her father has bounced back from surgery to remove a tumor from his cerebellum and he looks great. He even has a little swagger. The hospital let him out early and he?s recuperating at home in Santa Clarita. Now, there?s the next hurdle: a combination of chemo and radiation therapy to beat down the other cancer sites in his body... then, his immune system can take over once the 'lil Bin Ladens are whittled down to size so the T-cells can finish off the job. The trouble with this is that his body is beat down too, and if he doesn?t beef up his immune system all the while, it won?t have the strength to do it?s critical job.

Diet and exercise become the big issues now. Stephanie is reading a book: ?Beating Cancer with Nutrition? by Patrick Quilliin and it is a readable, practical guide to this task. A tight summary: lower or eliminate the sugar (and starches that turn to sugar), eat fresher foods, and oxygenate your bodies with exercise. Friends, family and co-artworlders: good guidelines for anyone afflicted or not.

Posted by Dennis at 1:03 PM | Comments (0)

Back in the Saddle

Back in the studio for the next five week working interval. Emails, some coordination for the shows. Got to buy plane tickets soon.

These are the panels, drying as I smooth the surfaces.

I'm listening to FM 105.7: "Flashlight! Everybody gots a little light, under the sun!" Funky old skool.

Posted by Dennis at 1:01 PM | Comments (2)

Thinner, Slicker.

Here are the thin panels I finished before going to LA the second time this month. I?m going to trowel a smooth coat of modeling paste, then gesso and sand it to as smooth a finish as possible. Marble dust would be good now, but I don?t have a clue as to where to get it. Six panels.... I don?t know how many I can paint before I hit the wall at the end of September.

So far, so good.

Posted by Dennis at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2003

Late Last Nite

OK. Relax, I'm not going to call this one: "Satan's Anus". Cool name, tho.

At this crest of the swing towards the maximalist, I feel a tug for the antithesis... a light touch. One one hand, on the other hand...

So, for this day before I travel to LA to rejoin Stephanie and her family, I'm going to build out a few panels that I've been thinking about for some time.

I've noticed the difference between the works on paper and this current group of unusual bleached antique linen panels. Namely, the former is smooth and the latter is rough. The roughness prompts thick, stubby wads of paint, whereas the lack of tooth in the paper prompts more nuance per flick of the wrist. On a smooth surface, the repertoire of paint applications is wider, an image is an interleafed compilation of many kinds of marks/daubs. A rougher surface requires fistfulls of paint pounded one atop the other. The exception is a multilayered trowel of a smooth surface, filling in the weave... but even with this, brushstrokes cannot flick easily across the surface. There's something about the proximity of the substrate that provides the spring for a flicking brush. A loaded brush drags differently on a thick bed of paint.

So, I'm going to build a few panels that will be stretched with canvas that will be gessoed over a layer that smooths and fills the weave of cotton duck with modelling paste. A slick surface, in other words. I'm going to build the panels differently, too: I'll lay the 1x2's on their sides for a thinner cross section. Flatter, thinner, slicker...closer to paper than the panels of old.

Here's a series of close ups of the recent painting:
Another lunar lander approach.

The Eagle has landed.

Posted by Dennis at 9:24 AM | Comments (1)

August 19, 2003


Every so often, I move paint with my tools and I look down at a happenstance of beauty. Sometimes, perhaps many times.. there is more beauty on the tool than the surface upon which I intend to deliver it. The trick is how to paint intentionally, with the things you find outside your intention.

So often, I stumble over amazing things.... then I try to stumble again, mostly with sad results. What was the name of the Greek painter who was so tasked with painting clouds, that he threw his paint soaked rags onto the canvas and... LO!

(If you know, tell me in the comment button below, ok?)

But, you just can't expect to turn the corner everyday... and, LO! The second best thing is to turn the revelation into part of the arsenal of daub/mark making: the monads, the prints, the flings, the screed, the impact craters, the stomps...
So this is a shot of the current painting, about three quarters of the way through maybe. I'm driving down Maximalist Road, and there's no U-Turn allowed. Right about this moment, I have to ramp it up and go way over the top before I can hope to get anywhere good. I like this jpeg image better than when I'm standing in front of it. When I'm standing in front of it, it seems to be weak, too simple and plain.

I haven't read the Inferno by Dante... but I've heard that to get through Hell, he had to jump through Satan's anus. Is this correct? (Signal me at the comments, too.) Jumping through the nastiest anus imaginable is the parallel of the moment of throwing the rag in frustration. (Maybe not, the former is willful... the other is will, broken.)

Anyway, it's jump time.

Posted by Dennis at 4:28 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2003

Lift Me Up

This is the painting finished jsut before we left Dallas for LA.

It's maximalist, taking the idea of the last painting and extending it closer to the edges, in effect, cropping the last painting. Going into it, the colors were to take their cue from the first painting of this group. My intention of spreading the green strokes all over the surface was thrown out by the difference of the thick bed of thrown paint and how the "Sap Green" differed in that context. I shifted to black for contrast. I stomped into it with the pinkish amalgam of colors that became more mixed than I originally intended.

The title, "Lift Me Up" came from a song title from "Gospel at Colonus". More on that later.

Believe it or not, this is about the light touch.
Lightness, in this case is the limited nuber of actions taken to push paint against paint.
In all of the work, there is an accumulation of paint applications, "marks" knocking into "marks", each cropping and deforming and hopefully accentuating all other "marks" made in turn.

Posted by Dennis at 4:29 PM | Comments (0)

Out of the Blue

We recieved a phone call at five o'clock on the morning last Tuesday. Calls like that are rarely good. My father in law was in the hospital.

We flew to LA the next day after a day of telephone calls. We visited Stephanie's Dad in the hospital and digested a raft of new medical information. I flew back to Dallas Friday, and I will rejoin Stephanie in LA this Thursday for the weekend. Surgery will happen this coming Friday. This is a time to keep tight about the unfolding events, they are so personal, so intense. It's enough and I hope not too much to say that the diagnosis is a level 4 cancer and there is a chance that we can beat it back to buy some time.

He's had two previous bouts with cancer surgery, but this one has metastisized and the doctors say we have passed the possibility of a "cure"... But I now think that with cancer, the idea of a cure is questionable. Level 1 is the first and only cancer detected... but there is a threshold where the doctors cannot see the cancer cells. So when do they know they exist, other than when it is too late? How is it possible that they can declare a cure at all?

It is possible that we all are born with nacent mutinous cancer cells that go into large scale operation like Bin Laden's terrorist's. The idea of a cure now seems ridiculous to me, just as the idea of returning to the world before 9-11.

Posted by Dennis at 4:03 PM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2003


Can you dog ear a jpeg?

Posted by Dennis at 7:31 PM | Comments (0)

Note to Self

The next paintings could be:

1. Something like the cropping action seen in the last post. Instead of isolating the action in the center, extend it to the edge. It's similar to the approach to the work seen in the last show at Nicole's in New York.

2. I've been thinking about a canvas filled with a succession of episodes. Patches of smaller paintings, a mosaic of quick sketches, filling the surface of a larger canvas.

3. A return to "Ragpicker", the first of this series.

4. A return to the very first two paintings I did when we first arrived in Dallas.

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre..."

Posted by Dennis at 7:28 AM | Comments (0)

August 9, 2003

First week of August.

No title yet for this one either. It just has to insist itself on me.

With this painting, I wanted to throw my now regular approach out and start with the monads, then knock the paint in a big slatherfest and stomp all around until it's done.

Typical to all the work, there are special features of each action of paint application that I want to protect. It's a cumulation of actions that renders a set of features, each collected in turn so that the number of possible moves that can be done... without destroying the previously noted physical features... diminishes.

I hope that made sense to you. It's perfectly clear to me.

This painting is simpler than one painted before, but it was much harder to finish. It's a combination of indulgence and restraint. I kept the colors muted and closer to the bleached linen support, which is amply exposed due to the start off with the monads.

And now, the details:

Carnitas. The wonder of flesh animated by something called the spirit.
A sucession of edits. Each action trimmed of distracting, lesser aspects.
A testimony of physics. A frozen explosion of material in dynamic motion.
A collection of natural form, peaked at maximunm strength.
Paint as an internested set of mutable, quivering actions as physical fact.

Posted by Dennis at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

The Other Night

This is the view out the window above the door.

This was in the middle of last week, middle of the night. I was working with colors that dry faster than 24 hours... or at least form a skin. Alla prima with a faster timer.

I changed up the project and started differently. Many hours were expended to monad (the sea urchin like paint objects) the surface in the beginning... nothing too hectic, but a little time consuming. I flashed on the convention of working with assistants. I could train an intern to make the monads. I could task them thusly and head out for a drink... or even do something responsible. But the placement, color and magnitude of each would be made with another worldview... and no matter how well trained, it wouldn't be my attention that structures the painting.

I hear Jonathon Lasker has assistants to execute his preparatory sketches (meticulous plans scribed on index cards with office depot type equipment). But it would bug me when the assistant would inevitably insert a foreign sensibility into even the most minor application of paint. Jeff Koons has an office pool sub-contracted to paint his work, the remote hand that he's proud of. His authorship takes form in what seems -from this distance- to be an overbearing managerial style. I'd hate to be "the hand" with his hot breath over my shoulder, micromanaging me into his art history glory.

No. I don't see how I could use an assistant. Maybe to label my slides. I hate doing that. Yea, I could use an office assistant instead.

Posted by Dennis at 6:15 PM | Comments (0)

August 8, 2003

Reading Material

Today's the second year of InstaPundit's reign as the blogger supreme in the internet. An excerpt from a recent letter to a dear friend:

"I stopped reading the LATimes months before we left LA (as you might guess, I don't trust the reporting there anymore, plus, they're NYTimes wannabe's)... and since coming to Dallas, I check out the NYTimes after my landlady is through with it. After the Howell Raines/ Jason Blair debacle, I don't trust the NYTimes either. Sure, there are exceptions of reportage in both papers... but I have to be convinced they they've cleaned house and have seen the light before I do.

I think the paradigm has shifted for the news, as it has for a whole host of things: careers, family, modern life. For me, it started with websites like that are windows for many newspapers all over the world. The paradigm I'm talking about is the single news authority, now I like to interpolate several news sources. Then, the blogs supercharged this very activity, they're amazing.

The one thing a newspaper can do is expose you to the unexpected article, since movement within the web is more like a tunneling than a harvesting. So, I subscribe to the Economist Magazine for a worldwide sitrep, it's kinda like Time or Newsweek on steroids. "

I might have spun my take on the LA/NYTimes a bit hard there... but the general sketch holds true for me. The blogs opened up a whole world, where we all can check the sources. The major news media can no longer control the frame, a major leap in our information age.

Many bloggers are singing hossannas for Glen Reynolds aka InstaPundit. Here's one good one:


Books I'm reserving at the Dallas Central Library:

"Princess Monoke" (Video and book)
Stephen deBeste is a mad engineer who has a blog, and of his many interests, is Japanese anime.

"Director's Cut: A Moses Wine Novel" by Roger L. Simon
I heard his interview on Hugh Hewitt's Radio show, and I've just bookmarked his blog.

Posted by Dennis at 6:15 PM | Comments (0)

August 6, 2003

Tossa in August

The Grand Playa webcam in Tossa de Mar in August. About six in the afternoon, 90F/32C degrees hot. The beach is full, the bars are hopping, the sidewalk restaurants are on... oh yea.

(head, nodding)

Chiparonis and beer, anyone?

Posted by Dennis at 11:11 AM | Comments (1)

August 5, 2003


I've been a bit fitful lately, the past couple of days. I guess I'm sizing up the next painting. I have an idea of how I'm going to proceed, but I'm kind of wrapping my head around it a bit.

So, I've been shuffling around. Staring at the walls. Cleaning tools. Tinkering, ruminating.

This is the painting as seen in the lunar lander close ups of the last post. I don't have the name for it, there hasn't been a "ker-plunk" in my head about it yet.

Posted by Dennis at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

August 4, 2003

Flash Mobs

'And what is, for now, a "raw capability" as Shirky describes it, could easily become a political tool: "All of the organizers of public action who are looking at this stuff now, from the Moral Majority to the Sierra Club, are thinking, 'OK, is this something I can use to accomplish my goal X?'"'

I'm not sure about this swarming phenomenon as a potentiall tool for political or other purposes. This "raw capability" is essential, and it appears to me that the rawness is intrinsic to the capability. What seems amazing to me is the kismet factor... anonymous emails sent out and the marvel is how many and who would appear.

The model for public action (as this article seems to call for) should instead be the military "swarm" battlefield-computer-communications concept. Or a combination of the two: where an highly organized group would, with each member, orchestrate a less oarganized but sub orchestrated swarm... kind of a cellularization of swarms, focused on one event-site. This way, you can have the scale necessary for effect.

Another interesting point of the article is the issue of pointlessness.

What's the problem with pointlessness? The article appears to want to correct the apparent lack of purpose by supplanting it with his own agenda... or as he asserts, any agenda (but I bet he has his pets ready to go). But this begs the question: what's the purpose of art?

I've had a recurring daydream of curating a group show called "Pointless". This is the boogiebear of the artworld... especially the artworld I came from, grad schooled in the very late 80's where teh conceptual was king, a despotic king.. "What's the point?" Once you answer the question, the show as a physical fact begins to disappear.

"Pointless" would be a show about things in and of themselves... without a moral to the story, without the happy ending, without an appeal to a disembodied intellectual authority. Without singularity. What could have been a swarm of ideas, a fountain of associations, a sideswipe of imagination... becomes a totalitarian dictator of one thought, a single idea and it's tribe. It would not be a tease, a withholding of a punchline. It would be a succession of punches, so we can get punch drunk... with luck.

"What's the point?" Once you answer that, the audience can leave, and go to the next exhibit-as-node-as-conceptual nugget. Now, maybe there are indeed a manifold vacuousness out there in the galleries, art that is just a physical operation made by small minds. But art that is made by curious, smarter(?) or engaged minds should be bigger than the abstract (as the abstract for a academic paper). The difference is the quality of the curiousity of the artist, and a dedication to the work as a physical fact combined with the appreciation for the train of thoughts it compels.

Just don't stop the train.

Or maybe this is like the nature of abstraction for me, as in abstract painting. I've been thinking of abstraction as a representation of image whose lynch pin has just been pulled... and the I think of my work as that collapsing image caught sometimes before it hits the floor. This is paint as material for its' own sake, and the flooding associations of images it compels from the humans who behold it.

Posted by Dennis at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)


Meanwhile, I've been wrangling another painting to completion. This is the RagPicker track I've been on since the last painting, taking the source of influence more literally than before. At the same time, I want to take it to another place entirely, kinda like a spaceship using the gravity of a celestial body to slingshot past it to another destination.

So, with the astronaut imagery, here's a lunar lander eye view:


Wide shots in the next post.

Posted by Dennis at 9:08 AM | Comments (0)

August 2, 2003


Last week, a family visit. My brother in law, Al and his wife Robbie with their kids Kira and Sean visit while they transit to Michigan. 36 hours, it was good to see them, to see the kids.
We went to Ft. Worth to see the Cattle Drive at the historic Stockyards. We got a little cowboy flavor, the kids saw "Thomas the Train" and we overheated fast.

Posted by Dennis at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)