Oct 31, 2010

the collaboration habit

These collaboration paintings with Hamlett Dobbins are currently on exhibition at the Marxhausen Gallery of Art at Concordia University in Nebraska.  

Collaboration has been a part of Hamlett’s art making for as long as I can remember.  A couple of years ago when he asked if I’d like to trade sketchbooks, I was happy to have the opportunity to exchange marks with a painter I’m such a big fan of.  How it works is we start with two sketchbooks, make a bunch of drawings and then trade back and forth.  Late last spring he asked if I’d like to crank it up a notch and participate in a show of collaborative paintings and works on paper.  I really enjoyed the sketchbooks, so naturally I said yes, at which point he brought over about six canvases on board and a big stack of drawings.  I worked on them a little here and there over the summer until I finally decided the best way to get it all done was to clear everything of mine out of the studio and focus solely on the collaborations for awhile.   

Hamlett and I work out of the same school of painting.  We both paint abstractly and make certain parallel choices in our work.   We also look at a lot of the same painters for inspiration, historically standing on the shoulders of the likes Philip Guston, Joan Mitchell, Thomas Nozkowski, etc.  When we initially began collaborating, I was curious to investigate the commonalities in our work, but what I found was the contrasts far outnumbering the similarities and a lot more fascinating to discover.  Each time I painted inside, around and on top of Hamlett’s work, it revealed something new about how I make paintings.  When I saw what he did to my work, I learned even more. 
What’s amazing is that Hamlett did a body of work not just with me but with four other artists for this show - Joshua Huyser, Tad Lauritzen Wright, Jamison Brosseau, and Douglas Degges.  I see why he loves it so much.  After doing all of this work, I find myself falling into a ‘collaboration habit’, as Twyla Tharp calls it.  Sometimes, as I’m admiring another artist’s work, I think how great it would be to draw on their work and let them draw on mine.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the opening.   The images of the installation are borrowed from Hamlett. 


Oct 24, 2010


These two paintings are by the great Memphis artist Jan Hankins.  They've put quite a lot energy into our house since we hung them a couple of weeks ago.  Jan obviously didn't know it when he painted the one above, but it's a portrait of my husband, albeit the late middle-aged version. Here's a man with a pencil sitting perfectly upright determining perspective, something James is a natural at, literally and figuratively. Then to the right are machine parts floating in the air, an image Jan said he pulled from an illustrated parts catalog, another connection to James since he draws and writes aircraft parts catalogs for a living. It couldn't be more perfect. The one below really needs no explanation.  I hung it in the studio.  (Click on them for the bigger view.)

Oct 23, 2010

still life

Drawing feels good.  I believe that artists go back into the studio, the kitchen table, to the sketchbook, and do it over and over and over again because it triggers a pleasant chemical reaction in the brain. The irony for me is that I spend so much time thinking about what my art means, where it fits into the greater scheme of object making, what I'm trying to say, blah blah blah.  The truth is that I keep doing it because I know that when I'm working my mind will end up in a wordless empty place.  

Even though I draw a lot, I don't draw from life much.  Sometimes I'll cluster stuff together, or as an after thought I'll have a look around the room and draw a chair or a pair of shoes on the floor, but mostly I just draw from my imagination.  James and I were talking about still life drawing and how we should have a corner with a small one set up ready and waiting for when we wanted to go and  'have a draw'.  He set up this one with a milk crate, foam, a tube and some cord.  I haven't drawn it yet, but I enjoy passing it by every time I walk in the studio knowing it's there when I'm ready.  

Oct 12, 2010

Oct 10, 2010

scenes from the broad ave. art walk


When I was just out of high school and coming into Midtown Memphis from East Memphis, I spent a lot of time with 'art academy' kids on Broad Avenue.  There was a biker bar called Fred's Hide Out where bikers, punks, art school kids and dead heads would all hang out.  They happily served drinks to young girls like myself.

The street has indeed evolved.  It still has some of the 'edge of nowhere' charm about it, but because of a few forward thinking folks who have bought buildings in the last ten years, the street is home to lots of artists, crafts persons, the Urban Arts Commission, a decent bar and a new diner.  Memphis is really starved for this type of transformation, one that seems to have integrity and quality behind it.

About the pictures.  The top one was from a show at Odessa, where it looked like someone cleaned out their dressers and closets and hung all their crap on the wall.  I'm not sure who the artist was, but always the voyeur, I enjoyed looking at the 'this and that' of someone's life. The second photo is from Gadsby Cresson's exhibit of bike rack prototypes at Urban Art.  And the last one is from the Rozelle Artists Guild wonderful sketchbook show. 

Oct 3, 2010

crunch crunch crunch

This weekend we hiked trails and hung out with friends in the woods.  I forgot my camera.  The leaves are starting to change and fall off the trees, so  hikes have that autumn crunch under foot.  The light is changing too.  For the last few days the sun and moon have been visible in the sky at the same time until almost 11am.   When the earth, sun and moon are in that position it's like a big "you are here" sign in the sky.