Saturday, February 28, 2009

New Blog from Local Andy Cook

Local photographer and man about town, Andy Cook is driving around the United States, meeting people who have lost their jobs or have otherwise been impacted by the recession. His new blog is intended to be a compilation of their stories.

Take a look: Faces of The Recession

Thursday, February 26, 2009

This Weekend

FANTASTICAL IMAGININGS at Loyal College and Maryland Art Place

A traveling exhibition featuring fourteen artists whose work is oriented toward fantasy, creating imagined worlds full of intrigue, excitement and discovery. Fantastical Imaginings originated at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts and is curated by J. Susan Isaacs. The exhibition is featured at MAP and the Julio Fine Arts Gallery at Loyola College from February 19 through March 28, 2009.
Participating Artists: Laylah Ali, Roberley Bell, Paul Chidester, Amy Cutler, Marilyn Holsing*, Mark Hosford, John Karpinski, A.D. Loveday*, Claire Owen, Serena Perrone*, Hiro Sakaguchi*, John Shipman, Anne Siems, and Lee Wilkinson

Julio Fine Arts Gallery
Opening Reception: Friday, February 27, 2009 6pm
Gallery Talk: 5pm
Opening Reception: Friday February 27, 2009 8pm
Gallery Talk: 7pm

Black to Our Roots (Subira, 2008) at The Creative Alliance
Presented by CA, BlackOut Studios & HABESHA
Friday, February 27, 2009 Doors @ 7pm, Film @ 8:30pm

The Creative Alliance

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Art's unique role is that of guiding the individual to a personal vision of the world, and his place in it... Art is always a vision, an attempt to express visibly- I am tempted to add: and tangibly- what a particular age, a particular society, a particular person has viewed as the true nature and essence of reality, the essence of both man and his relations to significant aspects of the world."- Bruno Bettelheim

Friday, February 20, 2009

Studio Visit with Melissa Webb

A studio visit with Baltimore fiber artist Melissa Webb at her Load of Fun work space.
Interviewed by Jaclyn Paul

JP: Would you mind telling me a little bit about where you come from? Are you originally from Baltimore?

MW: I'm from Westminster, which is 40 minutes north of here. I lived there until I was 17 and moved here to go to MICA, and I've been here ever since!

JP: So what made you stay in Baltimore? I feel like graduating from art school there's pressure to go to these “art centers” -- NYC, etc.

MW: Well, there are a lot of reasons. Family is one. I felt like I had a good network here, and it's inexpensive. I was able to move pretty quickly into the [H&H] warehouse space. I couldn't have gotten that kind of space [in New York] and lived off the very little money I was able to make when I got out of college. I also felt like New York would be too fast-paced for me. Philosophically I've always believed – and I was a lot more hardcore about this when I was younger – but I was like “who the hell does New York think it is?” You know, art is for everyone, and I want to spread it around here. I don't want to be like everybody else and run up there and try to stand out in this crowd of thousands and thousands of people.

JP: As someone relatively new to Baltimore, it seems to me like there's a great art community here.

MW: It definitely paid off to stay here because there's so much going on, so much good stuff. I think it rivals many places right now, the vast, rich amount of different mediums people are working in and how they're making hybrids of all of them. Everyone's collaborating, it's neat.

JP: So were you able to do your work full-time right after graduating?

MW: I've only had the opportunity to do that here and there over the years. But I got right into learning a craft. I worked for A.T. Jones & Sons, which is a masquerade and opera costume place on Howard Street, so I was able to learn how to sew really well there. That's what I wanted, and it was feeding my art. Then I got into theater. For about 10 years I was doing theater in either permanent positions or working commissions.

JP: So where are you now?

MW: Right around 2003, I was working at Everyman Theater. I met my current boss there, who is a company member and he also has a drapery company. They needed somebody in management. It was great because it was much better money than I'd made in a while and I didn't have to worry about it after I left. I could just go ahead and work in my studio or do projects, and since my boss in an actor, all of the hours are set up so he [can] go run tech. We have off Friday-Saturday-Sunday..and we get off at 4:00 so he can go to the theater. I've been there for almost 7 years. They're wonderful people and I get all kinds of [free] fabric and trims from them, so that's really good.

JP: How do you feel about living and making art in the same space (vs. having a separate studio)?

MW: I've done it a lot, in fact this is the only time I've had a separate studio from where I live since I was in school and I like it both ways for different reasons. I like getting away from home, and I like the fact that when you're in your studio, you're going to work because you're making time for it. But then again, it's out of sight out of mind sometimes. Before, my art was all over – it was, like, my d├ęcor in my house, so I was inspired. Then I lived at H&H, and that was cool. We had shows, and I had a full studio with my room there, and I was definitely very productive. I think if I could go back to that in a more adult form – as in, buy a building and rent out parts of it – and have a nice loft space with work area, living area, that would be the “winning the lottery” kind of dream.

JP: So tell me about this space at Load of Fun.

MW: This is a great space because there are a lot of other artists in here. It's a bit of a support network and you can kind of bounce ideas off of each other. It's just a lot of energy, you know? There is so much going on in this building.

JP: What's the strangest experience you've ever had here? Any late-night studio oddities?

MW: Well, there was one time we had a dance party in here, and I had made these gnome costumes a while back for a piece. We ended up putting on the gnome hats and dancing for hours, and I have these great pictures of it. And there have been so many..several-floor shows. We had the Transmodern Festival in here, and that's weird, lots of cool stuff going on there. There hasn't been anything bad-weird. Just fun, good weird.

JP: Speaking of pictures, I was looking at your Baker Artist Awards portfolio. I was interested especially in the Enchanted Forest photos and your decision to photograph your work there.

MW: That was a really neat experience. That place is so mysterious and beautiful in a way, and I've always been into the idea of nature taking back things that humans make. That was so poetic because that place is supposed to represent nature in a lot of ways. There's a lot of natural forms in there and it was integrated into this forest landscape and it's actually being eaten by the forest now. It's been abandoned and nature's crawling all over it, consuming, and it's just a fascinating place because of that. The people who were in my costumes, that's aminibigcircus, this group I've worked with for many years and we've done a lot of live performance and film. We just went there, put the costumes on, and sort of improv-ed and took pictures. It was an organic process. Then we wrote a story to go with it and made a video, so it wasn't like we said “let's go do this, and we'll do these actions, and then we'll show it.” It was the opposite way.

JP: So where do you feel like the real essence of your work is? Is it in the process, or that documentation, or the actual performance?

MW: I'm very process-oriented and I'm a fiber artist, so the exploration of materials is the most important part of it for me. But then, they're all great! Usually the kind of work I do with collaborators turns out to be situational, sort of a setting up of an environment, a set of motions or actions we're doing but everyone's sort of improv-ing. So all the performers are creating...and defining what's happening in the moment. That's a beautiful part of the creation and it continues the process into the performance for me. Then, the documentation is awesome because...I love the still image, I love the fact that you can say “this is what I want the world to see, this moment, right here.”

JP: So, if someone is just seeing photographs of your work, what do you think is the most important thing for them to know?

MW: What they're seeing is just a window in on a moment, and they did miss the the action. It's really hard with a photograph because you have to create context with this kind of work, just so they have an idea of what it is that they missed. That's why I can never just have one photo of any piece because that will not do it, it has to be a series. That way you get an idea, and at least there is the beauty of the photograph.

JP: So what's the toughest time you've ever gone through with your work?

MW: You know, there have been different ones, but they're all kind of hard! It's wacky because I do this big stuff and I work with lots of other people, and that's not easy. Collaboration is a big part of my work: working with my friends to create something bigger than we could have done on our own. It can be a little terrifying, and sometimes it can be exhilarating. At times it can be just like the heart of creation is right there with you and everyone, and sometimes it can be like “no, this isn't working!” That's good as long as there's something happening, but there have been times when there's nothing happening for long periods of time.

JP: So what have you been most proud of, in terms of your collaborative work?

MW: I'm proud of so many things. The thing I'm most known for, and I think it was the most successful, is this piece called Uppity Ladies which you can see on the Baker Artist Awards site. That was me and M. Jane Taylor, and a company of performers that we got together.

That was a beautiful piece and people loved it. They wanted to see it again and again, I mean, it's too big and crazy to put on again but we did things where we took the gnomes out to different places and did continuations of it. And that collaboration was a really nice one, so I feel like it's the most successful thing I've done in a long time.

JP: If you visited one artist to interview, who would it be and why?

MW: One? Oh my gosh...

JP: Well, how about two?

MW: Well, I'm a really big fan of Kristen Grey's work. She knows how much I love her work, it's just gorgeous and she's such a professional artist. She's got this great self-exploration in her work. I think it'd be neat to pick her brain about where she gets her ideas.

Also, Laure Drogoul. She has such a vast variety of things she's done over the years and it'd be neat to hear her stories of all the different projects.

I know I'm forgetting some important people, too. I'm friends with a lot of the people whose work I really respect, which is neat, I think my friends are talented.

See Melissa's work at the Transmodern Festival, April 2-5, 2009 at the H&H Building in Baltimore.

To See More:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This Week

Involving Violence
at School 33
Friday, February 20 – Saturday, April 11, 2009
Opening Reception- Friday, February 20, 2009 6 – 9 pm
7pm gallery talk

The artists included in this exhibition attempt to negotiate contemporary, historical, and personal events, hoping to resolve and come to terms with the actions of modern society.
Visit School 33 for more information

at Area 405
Monday, February 15 – Sunday, March 29, 2009
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 21 7–10 pm
Curator's talk: 7 – 7:30 pm

Curated by Stephen G. Dewyer
An exhibition featuring works of
Neal Reinalda, Ding Ren, Glenn Shrum and Elena Volkova.

Additional information can be found

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Studio Visit with Christine Buckton Tillman

Interviewed by Rachel Sitkin

Christine Buckton Tillman is a local artist. She teaches at The Park School in Baltimore. She exhibits her work frequently in the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond, including exhibitions at Transformer in Washington DC, Current Gallery in Baltimore, Redux in Charleston SC. She has work currently at Goucher College as part of RESPOND and is preparing for an upcoming solo show, General Merriment, at Material in Memphis, TN.

RS: So where are you from?
CBT: The Northern Chicago Suburbs, that’s pretty much where I grew up.

RS: And where did you go to school?
CBT: I went to the University of Iowa for graduate school.

RS: And for Undergrad?

CBT: Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

RS: What are you working on right now?

CBT: I have a solo show coming up at Material Art Space in Memphis and an artist's talk at Rhodes College in Memphis too. So for the show I’ve been making this mylar weaving that will lie on a wood grained table. I’ve been making these individual weavings and I’ll attach them so there will be a gradient from mostly red to mostly silver.

RS: Like a quilt?
CBT: Well they’re held together with tape, not really quilted but patchwork so yeah “like a quilt” but it will be more like a tablecloth.

And then I’ll be showing this group of drawings arranged in a grid on the wall. It will become more sculptural. I like how the drawings become bigger than they are individually when they are shown together. Illustrative of the bigger idea.

I’ve also made this banner out of model airplane wood that says “high five” in the style of those happy birthday banners people hang.

I’ve been working with these banners a lot lately. The real banners have these pieces that make up the spaces in between each letter, and I was thinking, “what if the whole thing was made out of those spaces?” I’m working on one piece that is comprised of a chain of bows, each cut out from “failed” drawings. But if there are nice drawing moments that I want to save I can cut them out and incorporate them into this decorative banner. I’m not really sure where it’s going but it will probably get a lot bigger (currently about a 5ft. long chain of 4 inch silhouette bows).
Artificial nature is one part of the work and the other part is the party stuff-the banners and streamers and bunting that people bring out to celebrate.

RS: So are you interested in describing objects with contrasting materials?

CBT: Yeah, totally. This woven mylar that I’ve been working on- the mylar used to be flowy and active and by weaving it, it becomes static. For a previous project I made these slip-cast porcelain party banners. Because, you know, those things would probably survive a hurricane, the plastic is so durable but people think of porcelain as being super fragile and delicate.

RS: You seem to be a very busy person. What is your studio practice like?
CBT: 90% of my work can be done in 15 minutes chunks while I’m on the phone. That’s the nice thing about having a studio at home, you know. I don’t have to commit my whole Saturday. I can work for an hour before dinner or draw while Robert (my husband) and I watch TV. But I do draw a lot, considering that I work like a 50 hour a week job, I also make 10-15 drawings a week. I am a maker of things, and sometimes those things are stupid, but mostly they keep me active, keep me working. They are never pre-planned and I always have a bunch of drawings that I work on at once.

RS: Do you draw to get the ideas out, see how things are relating?
CBT: Yeah. The constellation shape that I work with originated in a drawing, then it became (embroidery on felt) sculpture then reappeared in the drawings. And the plaid patterns came out of knitting.

I used to knit but had to stop because I’d gotten tendonitis. The grid was an attempt to replicate that pattern via drawing. Things like the speech bubble came out of a formal need for a black shape, not really out of some content driven thing.

RS: I saw on your Flickr site that you had a “draw everyday” project going on last year. What sparked that project and what did you learn/ how does it affect your work?
CBT: The sketchbooks were a way to keep myself working while I work on some of the other labor-intensive long-term projects. The books made drawing a long-term project too. It’s given me the freedom to make a lot more mistakes.

When I hear professors talk about how their students influence their projects, I generally think it’s pretty lame- something they say because they think that's what they’re supposed to say. But this project was really that for me. I make all my students keep sketchbooks to kind of solidify a relationship with their practice.

But I’ve been not only keeping these sketchbooks, which is documentation of life, but also documenting the books too since 2006, going on 4 years now, which is kind of insane.
The internet has made visible this part of art making that's really good and really democratic. Exposing the process and the product. I really like Art 21 for that reason. Anyone can relate to the act of human making. Like I am obsessed with Martha Stewart magazine because it’s about making and doing instead of buying. I know some of it can be unrealistic but if I want to make venison risotto, I can.
You know… I’ve been wrestling with my artist statement right now, because it’s a lot headier than my experience. My experience is really just FUN. My relationship to my work is more enthusiastic than those things are supposed to be. It’s really nice to just make stuff without having to prop it up.

RS: Tell me about the last great/inspiring exhibition you've seen?
CBT: This is hard for me because its more like individual pieces that I find amazing- rather than shows. Right now I can't get Christine Gray's paintings out of my head from when I saw them at Towson this fall they're really whimsical and focused at the same time. I just love that the Felix Gonzelez Torres water piece is finally up again at the BMA and The Cia Guo-Qiang show this spring at the Guggenheim was a show-stopper.

RS: If you could visit the studio of any living artist, who would it be?
CBT: Can I have three? Oh, I kind of have a lot. I’m a very very big fan of Thomas Demand. He’s a photographer. He recreates these photographs, mostly news photos. I saw him give a talk at the BMA a few years ago and it was probably the best artist’s talk I’ve been too. I’d also like to go to the studio of Polly Apfelbaum. Her work is very fun and delightful. Seeing her work has given me the permission in my mind to be as light hearted as I want to be. I think she’d be awesome to hangout with. And her work seems much younger than she is. I don’t know exactly how old she is but I think she’d be surrogate mom style. I think I’ll actually leave it at those two so the list doesn’t get to long.
But I want to visit Morandi’s studio too.

RS: I went to the Morandi Museum in Bologna, Italy during college and they have a room set up like his room. You can’t walk around but you can look in and see all of his stuff, all of those jars and vases that he painted.
CBT: Yeah, I guess I just need to go there. And I want to go back to Disneyland really soon. Does that count? I forgot how influential “It’s a Small World After All” was for me as a child. It’s amazing! I think I want to go there!

RS: Final question. If you were me, which local artist would you interview next for this blog?
CBT: Oh good one. Hmm… I’d interview Matthew McConville. He teaches at Goucher College. I think he’s the funniest figurative painter I know, and artistically he’s very opposite from me. Robert and I went to his house last year for dinner and he showed me his new paintings on his computer and they were like the best thing I’d seen all year.

To See More:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Upcoming Events

Respond an exhibit of site-inspired artwork at Goucher College

featuring Heidi Neff, John Shipman, Stuart Stein and
Christine Buckton Tillman
Monday, February 2, through Sunday, March 8
Artist's Reception- Thursday, February 12, at 6 p.m. in Rosenberg Gallery.

Check back soon for an interview with participating artist Christine Buckton Tillman

Megan Hilde at Megan Lavelle's

Thursday, February 12th at 7pm
How We Dwell

Involving Violence
at School 33
Friday, February 20 – Saturday, April 11, 2009
Opening Reception- Friday, February 20, 2009 6 – 9 pm
7pm gallery talk

The artists included in this exhibition attempt to negotiate contemporary, historical, and personal events, hoping to resolve and come to terms with the actions of modern society.
Visit School 33 for more information

Sunday, February 1, 2009

In the studio with Magnolia Laurie

interviewed by Rachel Sitkin

Magnolia Laurie is currently a resident at the Creative Alliance at The Patterson. She teaches drawing at Goucher College. Her work will be included in To The Teeth at The Creative Alliance Amalie Rothschilde Gallery from Feb 5-21, 2009. Opening Reception- Friday Feb. 6, 2009 6-9pm

RS: Do you want to give me a little background about where you are from, your education and what you’re doing right now?

ML: I grew up in Puerto Rico. I moved there when I was eight and lived there until I was fifteen and I think that was one of the most influential elements of my life because it was such a huge transition. It meant me growing up as an American but looking from the outside at the lovely concept of America that Hollywood projects. I had been in several different public schools in Puerto Rico and eventually my mother took me out and I was home schooled for a while. At 15 I wound up moving here with my Grandmother and I went to a boarding school in Massachusetts, the Berkshires. I ended up going to college in Massachusetts as well, at Mt. Holyoke College.

After graduation I was invited back by the boarding school to teach art. I taught for three years there. But I started feeling like all my ideas were turning into ones I proposed to my kids. I wanted to push art for myself. So I went to the San Francisco Art Institute for my Post Bach and had a really hard hard year there. I had never been to the west coast and I moved out there without knowing a single soul. The school didn’t really have a community. It had a different vibe than I was looking for. I was longing for a nurturing community. So I decided not to stay and do my MFA there and I came to Baltimore to go to MICA (Mt. Royal). I came out for the interview and I felt like I was in the twilight zone, they were so welcoming. I’ve stuck around. I kept thinking I’d move back to New York but every year I consider it, it seems really daunting. And in Baltimore there’s a great community of people. There’s a communal element here, maybe it’s because there isn’t a great market so we’re not fighting each other over anything, but I really enjoy it. I moved in here (the Creative Alliance live/work space) right after graduation in 2007.

RS: To somebody whose only seeing photographs, how would you describe your work?

ML: People often assume it’s much larger than it is, it’s very intimate. I’ve been wanting to work larger but there’s another part of me that really believes in the modesty of the scale, that it’s a proposal of a much larger idea. In my head it has a connection to literature or a book or a poem where you'll have this little moment of exchange- but it can open up like it’s an invitation. It doesn’t need to consume you and I’m attached to that idea. It doesn’t have to be large, it can fit in anybody’s home.

And something people are always struck by, and something I enjoy about them is how thin the paint quality is. When they work, it happens in one or two goes. I’ll work on them and work on them and if their not working I’ll keep wiping them down and starting them up again. And so they have to work at a certain moment. I don’t keep going into them after a few subtle adjustments. And I think that translates in person, that it’s a caught moment. They’re painterly. And the color is always off, the color is always better in their real state than in reproduction.

Overall, the idea of the work is the idea of building as an innate human instinct. The beauty of that and the danger of overbuilding, that it’s sort of futile and self-destructive. In person you can see the marks, the marks stand for a stick or a log or a concrete brick. What I’m hoping for is a simultaneous gesture or action of building- building the structures within the painting while literally building the painting. This is more visually clear in person, when you can see how light or heavy each paint gesture is.

RS: What are you working on right now?

ML: I’ve started working with this idea of signal flags. Reading and writing is a large part of my process and titles are really important to me. So a lot of times my titles are bits of writing that I salvage. At some point I came across this chart of signal flags. I just loved that there would be these visual cues that would actually be a phrase if I put them together, so Alpha and Charlie if I put them together means “I am abandoning my vessel.” I’ve been making paintings that incorporate these flags for the statements that they make. I love how specific, how direct the symbols can be. I had been looking at knots, at nomadic building techniques, and that lead to temporary boat structures, which is how I stumbled upon these flags.

RS: Did your work change a lot while you were at MICA and if so what did it look like before?

ML: I had been moving so much since graduation- I spent 6 months in Switzerland then 9 months in Boston. Then I packed everything and moved to San Francisco, then I moved back. But the whole time I was making these tiny tiny paintings on cardboard with gouache and they were all interiors that I could install on the wall in segments so they could expand. These small moments of shared spaces, reflecting on time.

When I got to MICA I just wasn’t there anymore. I was disenchanted with making more stuff in the world. I started making these installations that would fall apart- with water and balloons and found debris from Baltimore. I did a lot of that my whole first year. After my year in San Francisco, the whole idea of painting was out and I was exposed to other processes.

What’s funny is that I went to Turkey to TA for the summer. I saw all these temporary structures, these instinctual gestures at the markets or getting off the boat. Being there got me thinking about nomadic structures and growing up in Puerto Rico. And I came back at the end of the summer- a Baltimore summer and my entire studio had melted. Everything was stuck to the floor and it got me thinking, “What am I doing?” So that’s when I started going back to painting.

RS: Did you have any hesitations in starting new projects? Were you concerned at all about there being a continuous line from what you had done to what you were doing?

ML: I didn’t really know what was going on with the small cardboard paintings anyway. I was just making things compulsively and figuring out later what they were about. And I felt very insecure about that. That first year of grad school you kind of lose yourself, because suddenly it’s safe to experiment and it throws you off in a good way. I was in a new point in my life and my work was going to change and I think for the better. I feel much more confident now. I was making work that I just needed to make but didn’t really want to put out there in the world and now I can put them out in the world now and not feel too exposed.

RS: That's all for the heavy stuff. What do you listen to while you’re working?

ML: I listen to a lot. I listen to This American Life because I have a little crush on Ira Glass. I love people telling stories. And I sit down and read little bits in between paintings, all that triggers emotions for me. And lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Baltimore Music, like Wye Oak and Noble Lake and Small Sur.

RS: If you could visit the studio of any living artist who would it be?

ML: That is so hard. I think it’s a toss up, either Luc Tuymans or Mamma Andersson because I love their work so much. But it might be like pulling back the curtain in Wizard of Oz. Do I really love you or do I just love what you produce? On the other hand, someone like Richard Tuttle, I’d just be in a wonderland.
At MICA when I’d be working in my studio, even if she wasn’t there I’d go sit in Mary Beth’s studio and she just had such a different aesthetic, a sensibility that’s so off kilter from mine. I’d just look at where her coffee cup was placed or random bits of paper. I’d just take in these little contrasts. I just needed something else in my brain to help me see what was needed in my work. Sometimes I wish I still had that.

RS: If you were going to interview a local artist who would it be?

ML: Megan Lavelle of ‘How We Dwell” project.

To see more: