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. 


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