Aug 9, 2010

West End Backside, bricolage no. 2

"West End Backside, bricolage no. 2" 2010
Oil on canvas, found object assemblage. 24 x 44 in.

This painting was entered in the 2nd annual juried exhibit at the Trillium Arts Centre in Travelers Rest, SC. It was awarded the 1st place honors at the show's opening and will be on display through September 11th. The piece includes the other two 16 x 20 inch oil panels which, together with their companion piece, West End Backside, bricolage no. 1 (see below) was conceived as a triptych landscape panorama. These two were made into a diptych and combined with artifacts from the location. No. 1 is currently on display at the Fuller Gallery Featured Artist Exhibit, SC Botanical Gardens.

I am also gearing up for a show at the Studio@620 gallery in St. Petersburg, FL opening the 13th of November. Here is a statement I developed for this piece:

In this present work I have combined two visual art traditions; realist urban landscape, painted entirely on location through direct observation, and found object assemblage of artifacts, collected from within the space pictured in the painting. This painting/assemblage is the second one from this location.* Together, they form a triptych arrangement of this view.

In using this process, I have tried to form a more complete sense of place. The paintings themselves could be viewed alone for their surface content; a painterly “moment” of time and space at a specific location. However, when seen together with the other objects in the assemblage, they become part of an abstract composition. Lines of motion, shapes and color in the painted image inform the arrangement of pieces of debris. The physical process of painting affords me the opportunity to study and observe over long periods of time.

I spend about 2 and a half hours each day sitting at the location and during “stretch breaks” I walk around in the vacant areas and in between buildings, helping myself to any discarded things which capture my attention. Some objects are just purely abstract in terms of color, texture and shape. Others are more literal, or sometimes more metaphorical in their relationship to my perceived understanding of the natural environment and human presence. Creating the paintings "on location" adds my own presence to the historical reality of that place, and the canvas and paint are transformed into yet more artifact. Together with the found objects, all are combined and on display become a form of contemporary urban archeology.

Because this work refers to a specific location, the surface representation often evokes stories and reflections from viewers. I learned, for example, that the building on the right (with the wooden staircase outside) used to host some pretty wild Halloween parties. One passerby told me of the prevalence of brothels in this part of town, many decades ago. I enjoy hearing stories like these.

I started this work in early December of this year and completed the first of three paintings by early spring. When I returned to finish the other two in this series, a building had been torn down and I was confronted with a large sumac tree which had decided to grow dead center in the composition. I kind of like that tree now, having gotten to know it so well.

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