Dec 4, 2009

West End Backside Bricolage, No. 1

This painting was just selected for the "Greenville Seen" juried exhibit hosted by the Metropolitan Arts Council in Greenville, SC.
Exhibit opening on Friday, January 15th at the MAC Gallery and will be on exhibit through Feb. 26th.

I've started a new series, comprised of a panoramic view of the West End of Greenville, from Rhett St., behind Main St. and Augusta Rd. This part of town is not often seen and will likely be gone in years to come as new buildings obscure the view. This is the first of the series, designed as a triptych, with a small addition of some artifacts collected behind the buildings at the bottom of each piece similar to much of my recent work. The artifacts are from a wooden drawer and a bit of demolished brickwork with some paint fragments on it. The sky was completed all at once on all three panels. I have also completed the under painting on the other two, and have started the building detail plain air work on the second (middle) panel. I have also posted a new statement at my website DS McCurry Fine Arts Studio.

Nov 19, 2009

Thank you for your visitations

To one and all who stopped by my new studio on the 7th and 8th of November, thank you. This was my first "open studio" experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with over 50 individuals who stopped by on the Greenville, SC circuit. I always enjoy talking about my work and look forward to continued contact with many of you. Stop by again, anytime.

Aug 5, 2009

In Search of the Ancon

(Albert Bierstadt. 1889. Wreck of the "Ancon" in Loring Bay, Alaska. Oil on paper, mounted on Masonite. 14 1/8 x 19 3/4 inches). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

I am beginning a new project which will involve traveling to Loring, Alaska (Naha Bay) to visit the location of the wreck of the steamship Ancon on August 29th, 1889. The wreck was captured in an oil sketch by the American artist Albert Bierstadt. I believe that he later finished the sketch in his studio, likely in San Francisco or possibly in New York. The painting now hangs in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and I have seen it several times.

The boiler tanks (or what is left of them) are supposed to be visible at low tides, and I intend to travel to Naha Bay, stay at Loring for several days and complete some oil sketches of roughly the same size that Bierstadt did (14.5 x 19 inches). This size comes up several times in his catalog of work and is, I believe, the size of his oil on paper sketch work. I intend to use the Schoellershammer oil painting paper (108 lb) which they still make in 14.25 x 19 inch size (10 sheets to a pad).

I am just starting to research Bierstadt's travels of this period. This trip was his third (and would be his final) trip out west to collect ideas for new paintings. He had suffered several major life and career setbacks at this point (the most recent of which was his rejection from the Paris Exposition in the same month as this trip) so he must not have been in the best frame of mind. Robert Campbell also reaches this conclusion in his book "In Darkest Alaska" (2007, Univ. of Pennsylvania Press), noting the somber colors and more realistic scale of the subject and the relatively unmajestic, failure tinged content of the composition. I think the reality of his life finally entered his art-making at this point. The 19th cent. romanticism, of which Bierstadt was a leading figure, owing in no small part to his German heritage and art education, was receding like the tide, which ultimately broke the back of the grounded Ancon and perhaps Bierstadt's spirit with it.

Present day Naha Bay near Loring, with the wreckage of the Ancon still visible off the point. (photo courtesy of Naha Bay Preservation Coalition).

Jul 22, 2009

Final version of "Homeless"

Formal title: Landmark (Swamp Rabbit Series): Homeless. 2009. Oil on canvas, metal, wood, glass, plexiglass, cloth, found objects assemblage. 19 x 35 x 4.5 inches.

This piece finally came together in time for the opening at the Trillium Arts Centre. It went on a little journey for a couple of weeks, on loan to the Eliot Pratt Center at Goddard College for the MFA student show during the Fall residency. The title, "Homeless," is suggestive of my experiences with an individual who took refuge in the rail car for a few days while I was doing the painting. There was evidence of other people using the car for various purposes also, but I will not go into details about that. The small pillow (or mattress as it appeared to one person), hanging from the top edge of the picture frame is after Robert Rauschenberg's work "Canyon." It fit with the homeless theme and reflected the dirty old bedding I found in the car. The archeology of these locations fuels my interest in the subject matter, expanding my understanding of the context of the location. The historical dimensions, as well as the present-oriented realities of real-estate, property and public/private domains, all contribute to the making and presentation of this and other pieces in the series.

Jul 11, 2009

Opening tonight at Trillium Art Centre

Tonight at 7 pm for those in the area is the opening of the Plein Air Artists group show with my special exhibition of work from the Swamp Rabbit series. All of the pieces below, plus a watercolor done along the trail and a few photographs are included. Further information at:

Trillium Arts Centre, Travelers Rest, SC

Apr 22, 2009

New Work: "Landmark (Swamp Rabbit Series): Homeless"

This is a piece I am currently working on. This image is a "rough draft," a sketch, a mock-up, of a possible assemblage composition using the open-air painting of an old rail car on the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, South Carolina. This rail car, standing by itself on rails (all the original steel rails have been removed by now, except for those immediately under this car) really grabbed my attention as I drove over the rail path. I have encountered at least one homeless person who lived here for a brief time, and found many interesting and suggestive object/elements related to this site. I continue to enjoy how this new line of work presents an entry point for learning and understanding more about place and time and space. For example, I wondered exactly what this car was, as it did not resemble any passenger car I knew of, nor did it look like a regular box car for cargo. I learned, thanks to one of the many usual passers-by while I paint, that this one was a steam generator, located up near the kitchen car on the "Swamp Rabbit" passenger line that ran between the upstate area of South Carolina (Travelers Rest terminus) and the regional center of Asheville, North Carolina to the north. Here's a bit of history about the rail line: Swamp Rabbit line and Travelers Rest.

This series of paintings and assemblage work along the Swamp Rabbit Trail (a project supported by the Federal Governement "Rails to Trails" program), starts in Travelers Rest and will proceed through and south of Greenville city. It is quite an ambitious project and will link several important and historical centers in the region.

Sans Souci (which in French means "with no care or worry") is one of those areas which used to be a community, but has now lost its center as a community. I learned a new term related to this: "census designated place," which means it will appear on census or demographic related maps, but one cannot actually find a town center or "place" called Sans Souci. There are churches and a couple of local businesses which still use this name, but the precise boundaries and location are now lost. This location was once part of the "textile crescent" in the area west and north of Greenville, South Carolina, home to many huge textile industry related manufacturing plants and mills. Most of these are now closed, abandonded and deserted. I have located several more places I hope to paint and engage as part of this series including the old Union Bleachery site (most recently branded U.S. Finishing) and the chimneys and mill building at Poe Mills (now used as art studios).

Landmark (Swamp Rabbit Trail) Series on Exhibition

The two pieces showcased below were juried into two regional shows here in South Carolina. "Landmark: Gospel Essentials" is currently in the 30th Annual Juried Art Exhibit at the Pickens County Art Museum and "Landmark: Fertile Ground" is currently hanging in the 34 Annual Juried Exhibition at the Anderson Arts Center, South Carolina.