Durban-Segnini Gallery in Coral Gables (Miami) is showing "Cesar Paternosto: Painting and Sculpture, 1970-2008", which opened in November. The gallery is located on a residential and commercial side street, next to a designer plumbing store.
The gallery's small lot was completely full; I figured they must be busy with show preparations or experiencing a sudden spurt of business. Soon after entering, I was greeted by a friendly gallery employee, who politely left me to look around alone for a few minutes. I noticed a small group of people in the open office, lounging and chatting. (This would probably explain the crowded parking lot.)
I found only three paintings and two sculptures by Paternosto, although I'd like to think there were more at the opening. The paintings must be viewed at multiple angles, for the artist utilized three planes of the canvas: front and two sides. Paternosto's unconventional use of gesso and bare canvas as part of the work itself challenges notions that a painting is finished when the entire surface is covered in paint. The paintings acknowledge their objecthood, obtaining a physicality and pushing the limits of the pictorial space. Paternosto, like American artists of his generation, went beyond the confines of painting and sculpture, arriving near the ultimate limit of form. Later another employee made a polite attempt to assist me but there was a language barrier: she spoke almost no English, and I speak very little Spanish. She called over the first employee to take over again and ask if I was looking for anything special. I said I was an artist and writer interested in Paternosto's work. Realizing I wasn't there to purchase, she gave me a catalog, smiled and briskly walked away while I was in mid sentence, to rejoin the group. Well, it's not a museum after all.
As a result, the information I've gathered on Paternosto is from my visual interpretation, the catalog, and the internet. Ricardo Martin-Crosa on Paternosto's work, "Las formas del silencio", Confirmado Magazine; Buenos Aires: Agosto, 1978: "Silence can be the strongest word. Utter void can mean utter fullness. Extreme concentration can attract the highest revelation. An overwhelming charge of references can be erasing and eliminating the discrimination of the signs which express it, reducing it to a perfect, undifferentiated unit which is both container and contents at once. Nobody counts the waves in the sea." [If we are] "waiting for its meanings" [there is another approach which was] "not to ask for its contents. To let ourselves be drawn in, as by a mandala, a point of reference to empty us out inside. After all, who knows whether here silence does not signify itself."
I've added the gallery's link (click on post title), although to date, some of the contents are not current.
Hollywood, Florida's cultural district hosts an Art Walk every third Saturday night of each month. Area businesses are open late, featuring recent paintings and sculptures by local artists. Before the economy went south, this historic area was beginning to experience a revitalization, with a melting pot of old and new boutiques, pubs, wine bars and multi-cultural restaurants. I was curious to see if the boom had faded. Pedestrian traffic did appear to be thinner than a year ago, but a few restaurants were full and there were plenty of people milling around, dining, drinking and socializing on this drizzly, cool Saturday night.
I found very little in the way of art on display. I wasn't sure if that was due to the economy or merely the fact that Hollywood is not exactly known as a hot spot for dealers and collectors. What I did find of interest was painter Julio Green (below) and his work at Comfort Zone Studio and Spa. Green is a Honduras-born artist living in Fort Lauderdale. Julio described his process to me, which consists of using unexpected textures, runs and drips (I like that), and somber neutrals with soothing greens and muted colors. Julio applies hemp for texture, globs of paint and circular shapes stamped on with found objects. The painting we saw was haunting and drippy, with multiple paint layers. It was very "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"-esque. Portals XI by Julio Green
Miami Art Museum's exhibit titled "Neo HooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith" brings together artists from cultures of the Americas who explore spirituality in their work and challenge notions of "insider" and "outsider" art. Director Terence Riley states, "The artists whose work is on view in 'NeoHooDoo' are drawn from throughout the Americas, which makes it an ideal exhibition for Miami Art Museum. It complements the museum's role as a bridge between continents and cultures."
Each work's meaning seems to fluctuate according to the context in which one views it. My friend and I arrived at multiple interpretations of this piece by Pepon Osorio, some whimsical, others haunting and sobering. Photo source Pepon Osorio, Lonely Soul. Wood crutches, wheelchair wheels, fiberglass, styrofoam, wood, resin, photographs, 1000 pines, human hair, wood, metals.
The exhibit is mostly installations that employ found objects such as scrap wood, cardboard boxes, piano keys, silk flowers, marlin swords, shoe laces, sheepskin, signage, golf bags, and a blanket sprinkled with album dust. I was hoping to get some photos but was told "no" by a member of security. I didn't feel like getting thrown out of the museum, so I obeyed the rules, unlike some of the other museum guests. Whoever took these photos, press or not, thank you. I hope no one was kicked out of any museum for it. I'm sure no art was harmed in the process. Anyway, forgive me but once again I've succumbed to poaching the images, sources cited here.
Photo source The Things that Drag Me by Miami artist Jose Bedia
Miami New Times' Carlos Suarez de Jesus writes: "Jose Bedia, an initiate of Palo Monte — an African-derived religion practiced in Cuba — literally raises the hair with his powerfully charged installation The Things that Drag Me.
"Bedia has painted a double-headed, spectral figure on a wall and placed a toy bridge to span the distance between its skulls to imply that opposing minds think as one. Bedia is also a student of Native American beliefs. On the chest of the looming figure, which symbolizes Bedia himself, the artist has collaged four archival images of Lakota Indians or Kongo priests engaged in ritual ceremonies.
"The photos are placed on the upper torso in spots where cuts for ritualistic blood offerings are made during the Plains Indian Sun Dance ceremony and Palo initiation rites. Chains are anchored to these metaphorical wounds and stretch across the gallery space; they are attached to a pair of wooden boats powered by unseen forces that drag the figure to the unknown.
"The boats brim with a mysterious arsenal of ceremonial objects such as a bison's skull and bundles of sage or jagged wooden sticks and bottles of aguardiente. One of the boats relates to Afro-Cuban tradition, the other to the Native American. Both are loaded with items pregnant with religious and cultural meaning. They seem to suggest that we carry our beliefs as a blessing or burden wherever we go."
Wherever we go....there we are. There we are with our blessings and burdens.
We got a kick out of Brian Jungen's golf bag totems. At approximately 15 feet tall, the bags were deconstructed and reconstructed around a cardboard tube. Photo source
The exhibit runs through May 24, 2009 at the Miami Art Museum, 101 West Flagler Street.
Every third Thursday of each month, Miami Art Museum hosts JAM, a happy hour with cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and music. It's a fun place to gather after work--great for people-watching, socializing, career-networking (whether one works in the art world or other domain). The museum and gift shop are open late, giving attendees a chance to view the museum's current exhibitions and browse. Museum members get in free; non-members pay $10. Either way, it's well worth attending.
Current exhibitions include "NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith" and "Recent Acquisitions".
Radcliffe Bailey, Storm at Sea, 2007 Photo source From the exhibition "NeoHooDoo"
Alexandre Arrechea, Architectural Elements, 2005, Two color photographs, Collection Miami Art Museum
I am back in Miami for a couple of weeks for career development and research. Yesterday, I had the rare honor of attending a lecture by leading American Post-Minimalist Richard Tuttle. The event was held in conjunction with the opening of Miami Art Museum's exhibition "Recent Acquisitions". On view are Tuttle's Loose Leaf Notebook Drawings (1980-82), among 50 works given to the Museum from the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection.
In this public setting and to a nearly-full house, Tuttle spoke sensitively and fondly of his admiration for the Vogels, and specifically on the life of Herbert Vogel as seen through the eyes of a long-term friendship and mutual love of art. In response to a comment from the audience, Tuttle mentioned the vital role of collectors, in that they complete the cycle of art-making. Without them the creative process is incomplete.
Tuttle also talked about the idea and process of making his calligraphic Loose Leaf Notebook Drawings. These watery drawings appear delicate and fragile (they're on lined notebook paper, not acid free). Poetic and ethereal, unassuming and completely unpretentious, these small works are somehow profound.
The following quotes are from Richard Tuttle: "In our culture there is a job for art, because we can't experience reality anywhere else." “I just think that people who have art in their lives have better lives.”
After living in the Caribbean for eleven years, the novelty has naturally worn off, as novelties tend to do. That's not really a bad thing; it's what keeps us searching for the next inspiration, the next adventure...growing, learning, living. That said, I never, ever tire of looking at the turquoise water. It continually inspires my palette and direction. Happy Sunday, everyone. I think I'll head out for a hike in the hills and down to the beach with the dog...
Ahhh, the Caribbean. Sun, sparkling turquoise water, colorful and charming architecture, caressing sea breezes, rustling palms, lively music. There's another frustrating side to this near-perfect scene, where I call home.
I'll address the insufficient communications, which are mainly due to mismanagement within the island's infrastructure. Recently, we've experienced a higher than usual frequency of random power outages, which makes conducting business much slower and more challenging than usual. My website designer is so behind on projects, and frustrated enough with the situation, that he's finally buying a noisy and expensive generator.
And there's our wireless internet. Like most artists promoting themselves, a lot of my career-related tasks are done via computer and internet, including networking while I'm far from any "art city". The wireless been very spotty for two days. Yesterday I was unable to use it at all until quite late when I played catch-up, staying awake til 1:30 a.m. working. Today it's on but slow. I've been unsuccessful at uploading photos, and have simply given up for now.
I've been trying to call the States from my cell phone, and keep getting "All circuits are busy." This has been all day. My provide says they're having some problems with outgoing overseas calls. The customer service agent said they'd check my account and get back to me later. No...I'll call them. Being proactive is the way to get things done. (Using online calling, such as Skype, is not an option today, with internet being so slow.)
Sorry for the vent but such inefficiencies and lack of customer care really get to me in a country that is deemed the richest in the Caribbean. Don't tell me I'm lucky to live in a pretty place; tell me I'm crazy, ruggedly adventurous, gutsy, deluded or unrealistic instead. It'd like to think it's a combination of some of the above.
Why talk when you can paint? A fellow art student used this as her mantra. I liked it. But as a working artist, it just doesn't fly.
I spent a good part of last weekend updating my Artist Statement. Why? Because. That's why. Because this:
1. The Statement is important. It's a written accompaniment to the visual work, or so one is told. The artist comes to a fuller awareness of this as his/her career developments. 2. My present Statement was not descriptive enough. See #3. 3. I recently had an epiphany about my creative path, my work's focus. An update was needed to reflect this. 4. Quiet contemplation about my work--what I really wanted it to communicate, if I could express it in words--revealed some new truths. 5. Inspiration presented itself, in the literary sense. I had to put into words those thoughts about the artwork, lest they disappear. Surely every writer can relate very well to this. 6. It helps to put into words what the work is "about", so the artist becomes more adept at speaking publicly about his/her art.
The Statement is vital for one's career, whether emerging or mid-career. Those "late"-career artists (it this really an appropriate term? It's a bit like "late" life. Another topic....) Anyway, those late-career artists or young artist rock stars don't appear to use or need the formal written Statement. By the time they've reached a phase of their career- successful artists with mature bodies of work and impressive resumes- they've been interviewed and reviewed so many times, that having to produce a Statement might seem like career back-tracking, redundant in a way. The art world knows who these artists are, and it's well aware of their work. Interviews, lectures and other speaking engagements, texts- articles, books- become enough to render a written "Artist Statement" obsolete for these late-career and young rock-star artists. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. I'm merely making an observation.
So here's mine:
Throughout my career, color has been the main vehicle for expressing content. I am interested in the aesthetics of color and color’s potential for communicating the intangible. I paint intuitively, guided by dynamic interrelationships of color to space and shape; and by experience, place and time. My vibrant palette is influenced by years of living on a Caribbean island, where the light is intense and colors are used with abandon.
The Paradise Project is my ongoing body of paintings divided into three groups: The Monochromes are made from multiple paint layers of a single hue, with subtle nuances- uneven ridges, shapes or patterns left during the application process, or in the medium as it dries; areas of thick and thin paint; and varying degrees of color saturation. The Shapes are comprised of schematic color contrasts forming lines, blobs, squares and biomorphic shapes. My brushwork is informal, as evident in the uneven edges and drips. Positive and negative space, figure and ground, are equally resonant. The Block Paintings are composed from small monochrome paintings attached to larger painted panels with cradled sides. As three-dimensional works, the Block Paintings are rather like sculptures- blocks of lush, vibrant hues. In each of these groups, either the painting is an image (The Monochromes); it contains an image (The Shapes); or both (The Block Paintings).
Titles are critical to my work. I use surf terminology and tropical references as metaphors to elicit a guided response, thereby establishing connections between art and viewer, triggering associations and connotations. I view titles as an opening to further thought processes about the work.
Informed by cultural elements, personal experiences and visual stimuli, my art is referential, alluding to escapism, isolation, perception, and longing.
Creative expression is the poetry of life- a record of one’s dedication, obsession, meditation and reason.
Photo, an image in progress...I was working on this image to use in a mixed media piece.
The creative process is a forceful thing. It can pull the artist towards a new direction, tempting one to explore new media or content. It can cause one to set aside all rational thought and good reasoning. Creativity is freedom, but it can be tough to manage, and truthfully, what working artist can afford not to? The reality is that there has to be directional exploration.
I've been wanting to expand my media experience, while maintaining content, aesthetics and thematic direction. In other words, I wanted to keep working as a painter, but add installation and other media to the body of work. I had some very specific ideas, laid out in sketches and documents- materials I needed, projected costs, space requirements, etc. The plan was to write exhibition proposals with the goal of obtaining a few gallery and museum commissions. I could see the usual challenges, plus a few new ones, and I welcomed them. I was feeling oh, so inspired and enlightened. Only, I forgot my main focus in the process, which is on gallery representation; but in the recesses of my mind was this nagging realization.
And then...then a force within the force of creativity stopped me in my tracks. What are you thinking? You are a painter. So what if the installation, photography and digital media ideas are there; it doesn't mean you must branch out in all these areas to say what is already being said in your paintings. Focus, focus, focus. That is all.
Particularly in this economy, can I afford for my work to be what dealers may perceive is "all over the place"? I think not.
I make no apologies to my creative self for putting media exploration on the back-burner...way back.