September 30, 2003

Saturated Hues

I'm sleeping with the boots on again. I'm agitated. Paint is mixed, the surface is ready. I'm girding my loins. A little grumpy. I stare. I mess with the computer to anticipate the painting. I pace. I'm not happy but I'm full af good anticipation. It would be wrong to throw the paint around prematurely, but this pause is getting too long. The preganant pause....

I remember something about Martin Luther spending hours on the toilet, struggling with the devil. Oh yea, it was a movie starring Stacy Keech. He was great.

It's something like that, I suppose. But different.

Posted by Dennis at 8:23 AM | Comments (2)

September 29, 2003

The Next Painting

I want to paint the next painting with the qualities of this painting ("Silent") with the qualitites of this painting (Dante):
I'm looking for roiling dark waters...
And I'm going to paint on these older, nearly abandoned panels:
These two panels were stretched around seven years ago, part of the previous category of work I was painting I called "Glaze Paintings". I wanted to paint atop these with this alla prima wet technique of my subsequent work. I liked the sandwich of the two eras. I liked the reclamation of two solid stretched panels.

They have been primed with gesso, mat resin, and they have a provocative underpainting in alkyd resin, the same material I use to prep my paper work.

I remembered that the canvas on them are not glued to the panels, an important detail if I wanted to avoid a sag in the surface from the weight of the paint. So, over the weekend, I had to pull off the stapled canvas, glue and reattach them to the panels. Price: glue, brush, aching bones, two cuts and one big blister. Good deal.

Posted by Dennis at 4:50 PM | Comments (3)

September 25, 2003

Cataloging, Boxing, Crating

It's been a few days since the last post, all of them filled with mundane, yet important stuff needed to get the paintings out and off to their destinations.

First, the issue of naming. But this is too big of a topic, to be discussed later.

Second, pulling the work together into a catalog of information: names, numbers, dates, dimensions, photography (now digital)... and figuring out what goes where and how they get there.
Third, boxing the works on paper. I took a couple of days to get them to the shippers. These first three photographs tell the story of how the boxes go together. (And how they should come apart.) They're built tough, double walls, and lots of reinforcing inside them.

I sent them off via the U.S. Postal Service. It's a little unconventional, but they are reliable to the EU, fast and inexpensive relatively. Other shipping methods are upwards of four times more expensive. And everything I've sent has gotten to their destinations without incident (knocking on wood).
ANd today, the art handling company from Ft.Worth, "Displays Unlimited", are here installing the paintings into the crates and getting the work ready to ship out for the openings next month.
Cross your fingers!

Posted by Dennis at 6:37 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2003

Chris Jager

Young artist Chris Jager will visit the studio today. We met at Gallery Owner Barry Whistler's party, Scott Barber's post opening party. Chris studied in the Pacific NorthWest, out of school for a couple of years. He's from Dallas, and he's returned home to build a studio and a body of work to sally forth with.

Looks like a good afternoon for conversation.

Posted by Dennis at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

Thanks Aaron

I wrote Aaron a thank you note for the Relyea and I wanted to share the wealth.

(...and the picture above isn't Aaron, it's Maurice G. Dantec, as you will read of presently...)


That was great! Thanks for the X-tra. Lane's article made me want to renew my subscription.

I concur with most or all of it. (I'm trying to understate here, trying not to gush.)

There's a website I linked to the surfers recently that echoed Lane's thinking:


"In Laboratoire de Catastrophe G?n?rale (general catastrophy laboratory), you're providing the reader with "a few basic rules concerning metastable mobile warfare and hypermobile tactics against the Matrix, the first draft of a comprehensive 'survival guide in ground zero'". What is the Matrix and how can you fight against it??
The Matrix is the contemporary post-modern "society", or rather let's say its media-cultural metamorphosis. It's a metaphor for the huge factory producing nihilistic viewpoints that have become fully objectified, in which we are living, it seems. Of course that was a reference to Gibson. I was trying to show how the "network" and its possible future developments were also a metaphor come true. The nihilism-producing machine has turned into an objectified nothingness that creates machines - by machines I mean human beings, human beings who are slaves to themselves - in a vast and reticulated "self-regulating system". How to fight against it?? This question comes back to me each time I write. I only have scraps of answers that I picked up from a short wave radio. I sometimes try to retranscribe them, as I did during the process of writing the two volumes of a journal I started for that purpose. That made a lot of people laugh in Paris, I believe."

What I didn't like about "Public Offerings" was it's thesis of the totalization of the artworld by the artsystem, that it itself is the entire subject and predicate of what art could be today. This is what I was uncomfortable about in school: if the art object dissipated into the context, what are we, who are we as artists? Lane suggests that now, all we can do is contemplate. I'm elated that he militates against it.

What the Maurice G. Dantec site seems to promise to me is a linkage to the idea of slavery I hazarded to you and others recently: When your happiness is dependent on the actions of another, you are their slave. Translating/transferring Owens: if the "...references became more interesting than the painting...", and interestingness can be equivalent to happiness, then the artist becomes a slave of the art system.

What Dantec seems to do too is sound like Smithson in his scat and dish of different interests scientific and cultural, and his willingness to make a hybrid of the analytical and the imaginative. He's having fun. And he's making war too, on nihilism. It's a big topic that I've got a desperate grasp of it like a handful of tiger's mane... but there's something about how morality comes from overarching connections, the wholeness and unity thing... this, from Lane:

"...To snap sensibility back into alert unison, one exercised judgment. Postmodernists, who borrowed from anthropology a view of culture as a structure of binary terms, sees an exactly opposite threat: the worst that could happen is that culture becomes too unified, implacable, unassailable, that there exists no loose joints in the meaning system, no slippage between signifiers and ideological signifieds. To sow fissures in such a system, one exercises ideological critique. Disunity threatens modernism, whereas unity is the threat perceived by postmodernism."

What I'm seeing is that Postmodernism succeeded too well, and not for its' own good, either. As a result, we became blind to nihilism, Dantec: 'The nihilism-producing machine has turned into an objectified nothingness that creates machines - by machines I mean human beings, human beings who are slaves to themselves - in a vast and reticulated "self-regulating system"' Am I dreaming when I see Lane saying the same thing, that we have become slaves to the art system?

Like the "Parallel Cities" idea of my early years, the solution isn't one or the other Mod/Pomo, it's finding a way for both. Suppleness.

I see so many connections, but I can articulate only so much. Thanks again for the Relyea.


Posted by Dennis at 9:36 AM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2003

Lane Relyea's "All Over and At Once"

My very excellent and impeccable friend Aaron Parazette (an accomplished and remarkable painter living and teaching in Houston, Texas, he and his wife Sharon Englestein - a fabulous sculptor- we're old friends* going back with me to grad school) has sent me the recent four part article by Lane Relyea in the Fall issue of X-tra magazine.

I was riveted. Much of what he wrote parallels and is identical to what I've been thinking about the artworld since art school, with roots going back to my undergrad experience in architecture school in the early 80's.

Essentially: There's a totalizing aspect to the postmodern project, and a simplistic return to earlier modernist coordinates is impossible. (Lord, there's so much to write about this topic...) As Lane writes at the beginning of the fourth part: "So where do we look today for help in negotiating our way beyond this impasse?"

But today, I only have the time to post a transcription of selections from his piece:

(more from me on this later)

?...The collapse of art into the culture industry and the complete defeat of the critic?s function- these have become the subjects of a growing number of books and magazine articles. We seem to no longer recognize art apart from a very general circulation of distribution and consumption, an evermore far-reaching and tightly efficient cultural economy, now that art objects, no matter how densely material and specific, have been dematerialized into digitized images stored in dead archives without end and now that the galleries, museums, art catalogs, and magazines have all become indistinguishable from the ceaseless, overwhelming, flow of mindless entertainment programming and information.

Welcome to the world of the allover.?

?...Allover and at-once. These terms are associated with post-war art in the United States, particularly color field painting. They?re thought to be complementary, together describing pictures that make of their entire, allover surface a single, all-at-once image. But these terms in fact relate to each other very uneasily, if not in outright opposition.

?...The pervasive sense that artworks rely on chains of explanation residing outside themselves. that they are a sub-species of theory, that they depend for their legibility and legitimacy on discourse, that they are most fully revealed in books and magazines, in the dual-slide-projector lectures of classrooms and artist talks, in informed discussions among artworld insiders, did much more to erode conviction in the single, framed, all-there-at-once image.?

?...If either model of criticism- modernist or postmodernist- exists for us today, it?s as a shriveled up version of its former self. The postmodernist critic no longer sounds so triumphant when skeptically shifting focus away from the artwork to the contexts and contingencies that underlie and determine it- many are tenured art historians now, nested in the system, and continue to limit their attention to such long canonized senior artists as Ryman or Richter, artists whose quality hasn?t been in doubt in decades. And on the other hand we have the true judging critic who can feel but can?t think, whose expertise has dwindled to a mute albeit heartfelt and supposedly authentic thumbs-up or thumbs-down gesture. What?s left is a postmodernist view of the system that isn?t so much critical as conformist, and a modernist model of the self that?s too incapacitated and dim witted to act.?

?...We?re concerned that artworks are being too completely absorbed into the various contexts they?re threaded through, the magazines, coffee table books, discourses, slide comparisons, mega-Biennial group shows, Vogue lifestyle layouts, boutique architecture, the designing of experience. Artworks seem knitted at their sides to other works, references, lists, contexts, captions, commodities, product environments, etc., and these chains circulate perpendicular to us, to our attention, like internet data or TV programming, all just flowing by, a parade we?re from and only contemplate. Stopping a work, framing it, having it hold itself before us and challenge and reward our engagement with it- this is no longer a given for art but a stake that needs to be declared, fought for, pushed, risked, secured. Indeed, it?s a struggle for criticism as well, as criticism stands for the unfolding for rewards. or lack thereof, of serious attention to art.?

(you can find X-tra online at:

but they don't have the Relyea article up yet.)

*OK, five adjectives... and they're worth it.

Posted by Dennis at 1:06 PM | Comments (3)

All the Ladies, All the Ladies

All the ladies, all the ladies in the house... courtesy of Gail Sachson, who is an art consultant in Dallas. Her company is called "Ask Me About Art" and she is what I call a bumblebee, those irreplacable people in the artworld that go from one secluded white box to the other, cross fertilizing. This time, she brought a second group of distinguished ladies to my studio to see the work before it goes out to LA and Z?rich.

I enjoy the public speaking thing, even though I feel awkward and incoherent. I usually get a good response, but I suspect a lot of it is charitable. I shall persist until familiarity grows and hopefully I get better.
This time, I was just getting started and the allotted time ran out. The ladies probably wouldn't want my whole routine anyway. We had a little trip and fall. Everything turned out well, and the lady was a lady, very composed and dignified. The other ladies swarmed and we applied first aid with band-aids and a bag of edamame I had in the freezer.
That's Gail above in the flower print and clenched enthusiasm. The ladies said I had to be a nice guy because my dog Juno was so loving. Yup (she's loving, alright). Texans are canine connoisseurs. Juno gets compliments continously out here in Texas, from people of all stripes. Californians don't give a damn.

Posted by Dennis at 10:08 AM | Comments (1)

September 16, 2003


A young lad, an artist in Texas and I have been exchanging a few emails lately. I appreciate the conversation and the opportunity to reach out across the generations.

At the same time, my gallery Chac Mool has been crafting the press release. That's got be a tough project, sketching someone's lifework in two paragraphs.

Toward this end, I'd like to upload my recent email (with a couple of nips and tucks) to the young artist and maybe there might be some gold in them thar paragraphs in inspire the lovely and talented writer at my gallery in LA for the press release.

" Question for me is, what is the question?... I would really like to know what you where planing to talk about on figuration and abstraction? What are your thoughts on abstraction? How do you define it?"

Hello *****:

Sorry for the delay. I gave my full attention to the last painting to be done for this cycle or brace of work to be done for the upcoming shows. It was consuming. Now, this week is all about cataloging, photographing, documenting the work. I don't put much stock in astrology, but they say mercury is in retrograde, causing many glitches and goofs this month. So far... all true.

Thanks too for the emails. It's good to see you in the mix.

Now, for the big fish: abstraction.

Much have been said and written about abstraction. The best way to start is straight ahead into a dictionary definition: "having only intrinsic form with little or no attempt at pictorial representation or narrative content " and therefore it is material form, in-of-itself as opposed to the imaginative conveyance of representation. This is the simplest, most direct way to think of it.

Now, there are plenty of curlicues to ponder. The base of the term is latin for to pull away, to drag from, to draw.... and this leads to the first definition: "disassociated from any specific instance" and isn't this what the conscious mind does in the act of apprehending representation? Or if art has a destiny away from representation, then isn't Judd's "specific objects" the ultimate in this regard? Or are the monochromists on track with their pure opticality and purportedly unbiased eyes? Or is the act of representation itself the acme of intellectual apprehension? I mean, our normative idea of the world isn't the "real" world at all: we filter out many inputs and groom a lot of information to smooth out our everyday conception of the world. We would vomit if we dealt consciously with every-single-thing we experience.

I worked in the operations center aboard ship, and it was only in the later years that I thought of the ship metaphorically as an individual groping his way into the world, assembling a picture of that world with the various sensors at hand. Later, as I graduated from architecture school, I read Gombrich's "Art and Illusion", where I had a vivid impression of the feat of how we assemble a picture of the world in our heads, one that we update moment to moment through our various sensory inputs. A couple of years later, I remember drawing an interior design for an office building where I wanted to convey the design through a series of perspectives shown as one steps out of the elevator. As I mechanically drew the successive perspectives, I realized how the edges go wacky, and how the mind must interpolate these wild vectors constantly. Representation is a marvel.

So why would an artist want to evade it? It's not that representation is something to avoid, it's a choice among others... and the one I apparently chose is abstraction, intrinsic form. Or better, this: I think that our Western minds are formatted to make distinctions. Remember my grandfather's strange benediction? "I forgive you for being half American." We in the West give primary value to the individual, not to the family as in the rest of the (pre-modern) world. Our engineers have a conceptual tool called the "free body diagram", where they can take a beam and isolate it from it's context and analyze the forces that act upon it. This tendency to individuate a member from its' context (family) is the marvel of Western engineering and science. It gave us this modern world. But it compels us to make hard distinctions that are tough to shake.

To wit: abstraction and representation are parts of a singularity. Like the back of the hand versus the palm of the hand (a model I love to truck out in presentations to art audiences), abstraction (the back of the hand like a bitch slap: "WAKE UP!") and representation (the caressing palm of family) are two sides of a larger reality: PAINTING.

My favorite Joan Didion quote:
"We tell ourselves stories in order to live... we look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of the narrative line upon disparate images, by the "ideas" with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience." (from "The White Album")

Where does this lead us and what relevance does this have for your questions? Your experience, your insight, your epiphanies are critical, primary. And the entirety of the art-academic-historical is secondary. This doesn't mean it is lesser, but that the legacy of the chatter should serve your curiosity rather than form it. It should reinforce it, it can strengthen it by questioning it, it can widen it with other arenas for experience.

When I taught, I would tell my students that I was the serpent in the garden. They were the first people, innocent and ignorant of their nakedness in their bliss. I was there to give them the apple of knowledge, to facilitate their fall from grace. For it is only after they have assimilated this knowledge and have fought for years to reclaim their innocence, to recapture their grace, can they claim to achieve a status as creative agents. This is the struggle. It is good that you are reading widely. Take big bites out of the apple.

One of my last architecture studios was taught under the regime of a department chair who was new and wanted to remake the school according to the legacy of a theoretically hip school nearby. He paired me up with the theory teacher, and the mandate was to import ideas from the new canon and verify the installation with architectural designs that conformed to them. This made my skin crawl. My ideal is opposite. Every student has a unique perspective, a singular consciousness. As a teacher, the task is to shine the gems. As an artist (and too for young architects), our duty is to realize one's affinities and make them vivid to others. The entirely of the history of philosophy, aesthetics, art and everything else must serve this curiosity.

Here is your question: what are you curious about?


Posted by Dennis at 4:33 PM | Comments (1)

Weekend Warrior

Yea, yea... I know that in the last post, I indicated a schema that I would use to go after this painting. And I did use it, after much hesitation. I was wary of simplistically forcing a mere rendering of that earlier work on paper. I didn't want to automatically scale up the schema and I didn't want to muscle paint aimlessly on the larger panel in the fruitless hope that the charm of kismet will find me again. So, I stared at things in my studio, in between short bouts of practical procrastination (cooking/eating, listening to music, some tv, surfing the internet), all the while foregoing social engagements and other extra-urban recreation. I didn't want my focus to drift, the imperative of the studio to wane. Even though there were mundane distractions, I wanted to be stuck to the task at hand in the studio like flypaper.
(This image shot with lights on either side.)

My thoughts ricocheted between two directions:

The schema (the octopus like image of the last work on paper): slapping on white, then black over a pink ground... with the circles of brushwork reinforcing the (gravitational) inflection of the horizontal with tendrils of the "little stomps" hanging below, driven into the blackness.
Versus the impulse that animated the last work on paper, which was the intermixing slap of troweling, flinging, stomping, printing, monading... something that is closer to the work done and seen on the August 9th blogpost.

So what I did as the hour went nigh, was to lay down the pink base, following the rails of the schema. As the pink went down, then the white, then the black, I knew the August 9th painting option was gone. The spread of paint over the whole surface undercut the spirit of that direction. And as I began to make the subsequent moves: brushwork and tendril-stomps... I realized it was a dead end.
I had to stop and reassess, I had to find a third way. The pink base was down, the black was strong. Those little stomps were strong, too. I took those qualities and ran.

I covered the surface with the black, then a black tempered with burnt umber to deepen the field. Then I changed the direction of the stomps to the horizontality that the seam of the old linen compelled. A small gaggle of stomps soon filled the surface, pulling back from some edges so as to not to presume an absolute totality. All other "moves" on the surface would have to be subordinated to them. Little highlights of green were flicked in the heart of each little stomp. Paler green monads edited distracting extraneous detail. Then finally, thin blue ribbons were flung to underline the horizontality and animate the field of little stomps.
And soon, I had something remotely resembling a monochrome. But I know nothing of that world (many other painters in my gallery in LA seem to live and die by that term). All I know is that there are objects and there are fields for our mind/eyes that makes sense of the world. This time, what made sense for me, what seemed inevitable, what had the feel of kismet, was a field of little stomps.

Posted by Dennis at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2003

Tip the Bucket

I think this is the way to go. I guess I'm using the paper to "tip the bucket" and the canvas to prove it out.

So what am I seeing here? What might be hard for you to see is the many "little stomps" into the black on the bottom. A horizon implied by the boundary of white and black. The pink underbelly. Marks, organized into something closer to creature-pomorphism. I think I can scale up into the larger canvas while keeping the schema... and the scale up itself will introduce enough new problems to keep the spontaneity going strong.

Posted by Dennis at 11:03 AM | Comments (1)

Ring of Fire

Johnny Cash.jpg
I remember my folks' stereo back in the 60's. This was around the time of Kennedy, I remember the day of his assisination too, kids running in the hallways of elelmentary school, screaming . We were stationed in New Mexico, Clovis Air Force Base. Life in the desert: the sky azure, the endless sea of sand, tumbleweeds, Dairy Queens, horny toads, the Carlsbad Caverns.

The stereo was a big piece of varnished furniture, a blond cabinet with a lid, speakers behind a frontal coarse cloth . Under the lid was the turntable, knobs, dials, swingarm, and a pile of record albums.

And my dad's favorite album: "Ring of Fire". He would sing along in self mocking baritone, a wink and a smile curling from the corner of his mouth.

Love is a burnin' thing,
And it makes a fiery ring
Bound by wild desire --
I fell into a ring of fire.

I fell into a burnin' ring of fire --
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher,
And it burns, burn, burns,
The ring of fir, the ring of fire.

Johnny Cash was my dad. The two merged for me. Or better: he was my dad's avatar. Loners. The red bead of a cigarette glowing in the morning's dark before dawn... as the coffee's percolating music bubbles me awake.

(Rest in peace.)

Posted by Dennis at 8:55 AM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2003

Circling, Circling...

Today, there was a visit to the studio by Displays Unlimited, the art handling company who will shepard the paintings to there respective destinations. Three people were here, which was surprising. I guess they are a little spooked by the special handling requirements of my work... but aside from the need for secure attachments within the crates (which are already made), there's not much more to consider but to make sure that the shipping agents aren't gorillas. I guess this is the get acquanted period. Nice people, all.

Circling, circling in a widening gyre... I've reconciled myself to the reality that the "ThinSkins" panels prepared recently won't be candidates for the shows. It was an overcompensation, a little ambitious.

I paint first in my head. That is, I feel I'm at my best when I have a sense of how I'm going to jump into the work, rather than a random tip of the bucket and to let the train of actions follow. That's not to say that the bucket tip doesn't have its' charms, but that the rate of failure (paint scraping) is high and I'm not sure the reflection derived from action is any better than the reflection derived from repose (an eyefilled meditation). Also, there's something good about having a purpose, as opposed to getting into the thick of trouble and getting yourself out. On one hand, you're on a mission... on the other, it's a barroom brawl. I've known some brawlers in my time... don't like them much.

I've been trying to fuse two approaches: the painting of August 9th and another one that I can only describe as "many little stomps". I'm working on paper. Once I get a handle on this, I can engage the last big canvas.

Posted by Dennis at 1:08 PM | Comments (2)


Sad day. It's overcast too. Raining.

I've downloaded music from Apple's iTunes Music store:
Nina Simone's "Sinner Man"


Oh, sinner man, where you gonna run to?
Oh, sinner man, where you gonna run to?
Oh, sinner man, where you gonna run to?
Oh, sinner man, where you gonna run to all on that day?

Run to the moon, "Moon won't you hide me?"
Run to the sea, "Sea won't you hide me?"
Run to the sun, "Sun won't you hide me all on that day?"

Lord says, "Sinner man, the moon'll be a bleeding."
Lord says, "Sinner man, the sea'll be a sinking."
Lord says, "Sinner man, the sun'll be a freezin' all on that day!"

Run to the Lord, "Lord won't you hide me?"
Run to the Lord, "Lord won't you hide me?"
Run, run, "Lord won't you hide me all on that day?"

Lord says "Sinner man, you should've been a praying."
Lord says "Sinner man, you should've been a praying."
Lord says "Sinner man, you should've been a praying all on that day."

Posted by Dennis at 1:03 PM | Comments (4)

September 9, 2003

Light Touch

This work on paper was painted before the last big painting, inspiring the whole lighter touch thing. In the big canvases, a lighter touch is different... and a more elusive for me.. to be honest. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction follow in such rapid succession for me in them...

In a small paper piece, the arrest after a serendipitous action is natural. I have yet to find the naturalness in the larger. more built supports of linen wrapped panels. Maybe it is a question of scale? Simply, mixing and swinging tons of paint onto the surface at greater force? Well, the scale of my pocket book has to keep pace with the ambition of this idea.

Posted by Dennis at 8:01 PM | Comments (0)


Now... I don't really invest my self in astrology, but....

"Most of your problems this month will stem from Mercury retrograde. Mercury is your guardian planet, and when it spins in a backward slide, nothing seems to goes right."

Amen, sister.

Lots of things have been goofing up lately.

Posted by Dennis at 7:50 PM | Comments (0)

Pamela Nelson's Show

These are pics from Pamela's show last week... (I almost had this post ready earlier, but the browser dropped mysteriously and I was swept away) ...She opened at Cindee Patrick Gallery, a venue that's near downtown where other galleries such as (Pillsbury) Peters and others are located. Pamela's work is a colorful assemblage inspired stuff that reminds me of Alfred Jensen's work ( Her paintings use the visual organization of games with a lot of effect.
9-5-03-bill- -Steph-L.jpg9-5-03-bill- -steph-R.jpg
Pamela's husband Bill and Stephanie. Bill was describing Pam's artwork, then I asked them to do it again with feeling and a flash.

Pamela and Bill own the building we live in, our landlords. They bought the building in downtown Dallas in the mid nineties, a former film distribution house for Unitted Artists and transformed it into three lofts, two of which are for tenants. Big spaces, lots of brick and light, street level address, and enclosed garage, the urban center, great neighbors... we can't imagine a better place to live in Dallas.
It's hard to take pictures of the artwork in an opening... even so, I stumbled upon a corona for my wife, celestially appropriate.

(More pics of Pamela's work to come.)

Posted by Dennis at 7:43 PM | Comments (0)


"...and I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back any more--the feeling that I could last for ever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that lures us on to joys, to perils, to love, to vain effort--to death; the triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows cold, grows small, and expires--and expires, too soon--before life itself."

Joseph Conrad

I found it in this article about anti-Americanism abroad (as opposed to at home, which also does exist unfortunately):

The Falseness of Anti-Americanism By? Fouad Ajami

It's a good defense of not just America, but of the modernization that is sweeping the world today. We are living in very exciting historical times, and freedom is spreading. This is a good thing, reason to celebrate (sad too, that this has to be spelled out). So, I confuses me when I see those who refuse to acclaim these good tidings both at home and abroad. Anyway, a hot potato. I don't want this blog to go super political.

This story from Conrad served this writer's purpose in rendering the voice of older cultures as they contend with modernity- our contemporary life here in the West, here in our artworld.

"A century ago, in a short-story called "Youth," the great British author Joseph Conrad captured in his incomparable way the disturbance that is heard when a modern world pushes against older cultures and disturbs their peace. In the telling, Marlowe, Conrad's literary double and voice, speaks of the frenzy of coming upon and disturbing the East. "And then, before I could open my lips, the East spoke to me, but it was in a Western voice. A torrent of words was poured into the enigmatical, the fateful silence; outlandish, angry words mixed with words and even whole sentences of good English, less strange but even more surprising. The voice swore and cursed violently; it riddled the solemn peace of the bay by a volley of abuse. It began by calling me Pig . . . ."

and then I searched and found the Conrad Story (I love the internet):

"I read for the first time 'Sartor Resartus' and Burnaby's 'Ride to Khiva.' I didn't understand much of the first then; but I remember I preferred the soldier to the philosopher at the time; a preference which life has only confirmed. One was a man, and the other was either more--or less. However, they are both dead, and Mrs. Beard is dead, and youth, strength, genius, thoughts, achievements, simple hearts--all die . . . . No matter. "

And in a short story of a sailor's youth, Conrad contrasts youth with the awareness of death that accompanies our later years. Therefore, the pull quote for the face of this post.

Posted by Dennis at 6:30 PM | Comments (0)

September 7, 2003

First Opening, Dallas

Thursday night inaugurated the first show of the Fall in Dallas: David Quadrini's Angstrom Gallery.

He's a super nice guy.
This is artist John Pomara and David Q. (John is represented by Barry Whisler Gallery) The artist whose show was opening that night was Ludwig Schwartz.

I tried to meet Ludwig, but there was no chemistry, so I didn't force it. He takes pictures of offhand stuff and has Chinese commercial painters produce museum sized canvases.
Scott Barber, another Whistler artist was there. He's opening next week.

Posted by Dennis at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)

The Long Weekend

I'm finally in the place where it's time to look at this painting through he blog.

In this one, I wanted to revisit the first painting of this group. It's one where I stayed closer to the smoothness of the works on paper, before I resolved to go with the grain of the rougher texture of the linen. This can be overcome with a bed of paint that smooths the surface. The trouble is that the resulting thickness drags the brush. What I can do on a slicker, smooth surface is slap the tools around more with a wrist instead of the shoulders.

So how do you make the wrist at home in a larger surface? I tried for a lighter touch.

There's a few posts to backtrack with. Stay tuned.

I tracked the first painting, but I kept closer to the work on paper (see the July 20 post) that inspired it.
I zero in on these "stomps", but this is the feature the camera can recognize most easily. Let's face it, a camera can't do it all, even though these features are doing it all in this blog.
But they become the figures for the blog.
It's only a problem if you're easily misled.
I'm happy that the camera can't do it all... for painting or for photography.

Posted by Dennis at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)

September 4, 2003

Finished ThinSlick

Yea, but that's not the name.

Pretty rushed, gotta go to an opening: David Quadrini's gallery "Angstrom". I'll report with pics later.

Posted by Dennis at 7:54 PM | Comments (1)

First ThinSlick

This isn't done yet.

I wanted to take a look at it thru the blog.

Posted by Dennis at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

September 2, 2003

Kunsthalle Palazzo

My excellent dealer in Z?rich, Mark M?ller has sent me this link today:

Click on "Kunsthalle" (not on the pic above, but on the clicked site... I dragged the image off the web),

Click on "Mehr zur Ausstellung".

Thanks, Mark!

Posted by Dennis at 3:06 PM | Comments (0)

Parallel Cities

Today, I read this fascinating article by Eugene Miller about technology, it's limits and our relation to it philosophically.

It reminded me of an urban planning idea I had ventured long ago when I was a puppy. I called it "Parallel Cities". So, I emailed the author:

Dear Mr. Miller:

I enjoyed reading your article, very interesting and informative. I have a related perspective that may be of interest to you.

By way of background, I am an artist.. a painter I went to art school at the Claremont Graduate School in the late 80's and early 90's. Then, the artworld was oriented to what they (maybe I should write "we", but this is the degree of my alienation) considered high theory, with an emphasis on the right side of your quadrant-diagram. I am also an architect by my first degree and a license in California. Coming out of undergrad school in the mid 80's, my main concern was looking for an orientation, a vision perhaps, a direction for a practice in architecture. If you are curious to see the work, I maintain a studio blog (a narrowcast) at:

It's not my purpose here to advertise my paintings, but to dust off an old and favorite thought process and offer it to you as another way to conceptualize the simultaneous problem and glory of our Promethean gifts that you so well describe in your article.

Having moved to Los Angeles, I was preoccupied with making sense of the city and cities in general. I felt that architecture shouldn't be thought as a free body diagram is, in isolation of the urban context. Architectural thinkers who critiqued modernism and emphasized human scale were compelling and the ideal they defended seemed worthwhile. Leon Krier wrote a compelling and accessible critique in his slim and well illustrated book: "Houses, Palaces, Cities." Here's the Amazon link:

The problem was: how do you make cities with architectural units that embody human scale? It is apparent that the only way to organize cities today is the modern metastasizing zoned suburbanization that is employed all over the world. There is no other alternative. Human scale has the Disney problem, contrivance. You can't build the cities of old that have inspired us: Manhattan, Paris, London, San Francisco.. because those cities have benefited from the incomparable advantage of the uncontrived limitations of geography and history: being built when technology's scale were not so blown out.

Scale is the signal aspect here. Technology gives us freedom by extending human capacities. It is a prosthetic and as such, transformed the inhabitants of cities from our primate configuration to a robocop kind of creature: automobiles being the most influential scale index. Our cities are made not for humans, but for super humans.

I hope that by now, you can see the parallels this has with your article. The questions I put to my fellow architects: can we choose to build cities within human scale without contrivance? Or are we fighting unwisely against a rip tide of technological transformation that will condemn us to a futile neo-Luddite oppositional position? Can we create within human scale, or are we destined to surpass it to other now unimaginable modes of human existence? Or will this direction simply take us to an inhuman future?

My suggestion was to choose both. I named them the "Human City" and"the "Car City" and i formulated a way for some kind of symbiosis. I liked the apparent simplicity of Duane Plater-Zyberk's town planning ideas ( but I wanted to circumvent their problem of contrivance with a single proscription: the restriction of automobile access. Human scaled cities can be islands within a larger auto scaled urban fabric by transducing the scale of the inhabitants with a ring of garage nodes that are interlinked within a web of trolley infrastructure. (Louis Kahn proposed something similar without the transportation aspect in his ideas for Philadelphia.)

Outside the island: no or few restrictions, within... one single proscription. I was looking for the way to cleave the issue simply and avoid the tendency for our intellectuals to create a command and control culture as they are wont to do. They tend to suggest worlds where they are the boss. i was also looking for a way to protect simple unadorned human scale. The problem isn't which scale we should choose. What we lack is a way to shift scales and navigate between all these worlds we are creating/discovering.

It is far beyond my capacity to bridge the distance between these thoughts and the intellectual arena of your article. I hope only to set one against the other and see if there is any resonance between them. Thanks so much for your article, and the opportunity to convey these thoughts to you.


Dennis Hollingsworth

Posted by Dennis at 8:43 AM | Comments (0)

Another Window

I discovered another window to see my paintings today.

Usually, I shuttle back and forth between flat (the painting panel on sawhorses) and vertical (against the wall again on sawhorses). All the time, I'm negotiating the optical difference of the viewing angles.

I started to look at my work in many kinds of lighting conditions. I use halogens and I know they cast a yellowish light. (Somehow, I can take good pictures with them.) I paint with and without them, regarding the work in morning noon and evening light... sometimes in the dark.

And now, the blog. The last painting was cool to see in this blog to check out for compositional decisions.

I remember a friend who, in grad school, had the fortune of showing her work to the supersool sculptor, Paul McCarthy of LA -and now worlwide- fame. It's easy to see if a visitiing artist takes a shine to your work, and evidently he wasn't excited. His prescription for her: to look at her work through a camera, maybe set up a videocamera in the studio.

Then I thought, how very postmodern of you, Paul. A regard that was simultaneously admiring and withering.

And I guess the implied critique would apply to me too, If that is the only mode of seeing the work.

Posted by Dennis at 4:24 AM | Comments (1)

September 1, 2003


John Chappell, the great blogger from Kansas, an expat living in Barcelona has stunned me by including me into his blogroll.

I thanked him in the comments section:

Wow, thanks John for my first inclusion on anyone's blogroll! This is truely an honor.

My first intention in creating the blog is to provide my dealers, my family and friends a way to peek over my shoulder into the studio... especially as my wife and I move to Spain soon.

So I called it a narrowcast rather than a broadcast, which relieved me from any possible anxiety for notching my holster/laptop with audience size. But ultimately an artist is concerned that people want to see what they do, and so do I. I just wanted to keep public attention a second intention and the artwork a primary one. I'm still casting narrowly.

I shall certainly return the favor, John... Just as soon as I figure out how to technically create a blogroll!


I've been reading the technical help section of Movable Type's website, and I can't yet figure how to create a blog roll. I've taken a stab at it, by mucking around with the template html language... so dangerous. No luck yet.

I know the internet is a public street, and an artist finds some kind of fufillment by garnering as many eyeballs on the work as possible. Maybe I'm a shy guy. Maybe I know that the the puclic street can be a little dangerous too.

But everyone, check out John's blog! It's a great place to learn about Spain from the inside out.

Posted by Dennis at 7:01 PM | Comments (0)


People like to sit here.

My door is a perfect hunter's blind.

Lift the mail slot and zoom the camera.

Posted by Dennis at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)

Enter Stage Left

The initial attempt in the last work on paper, this is how I worked into this painting:

Paint screeded from left to right a warm white that was close to the bleached linen color, then a blue that reminds me of Goya's skies he painted for his tapestry cartoons... also teh Twonbly mentioned before.

Monads peppering and editing the imperfections of the screed.

Shocks of Ochre lightened with Yellow from the upper left. Monads folded in between the overhand throws with a bigger spatula. One after the other.

A stomp of Green... but I'm less than satisfied.

A screed of Purple/Umber/Lamp Black again from the left. Go ahead, make the association: dark clouds.

More shocks, more controlled. Folding the previous actions like shuffling cards. I don't want this to be a simplistic layering. Isn't the purpose of a shell game is to force innocence? (Btw, this is no grifter's con.)

By this time, 24 hours have elapsed. Life intrudes, my body gets tired. Back again six hours later, the paint is starting to firm up. Stomps in green, but the window for this is closing fast. Still alittle weary.

I sleep in the boots. Only when I'm preoccupied with a wet painting. My wife has long accepted this quirk... I hope it still seems cute.

Back again and the Green stomps are no longer possible. The dark paint dries much faster than the rest. I still need a Greeness to the upper middle, so I drop a loaded spatula, fingers crossed. Risk.

I add pyamidal tiers of paint to edit and add a focus. Another representational engine: anthropomorphism.

This is where I take the picture.

More "daubs" to come... but not much more.

Posted by Dennis at 12:18 PM | Comments (1)