Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for September, 2011

Charcoal, September 20 - 26

Charcoal, September 20 - 26

Moving from canvas to drawing paper deleted the concerns of color.  The images are easily erased so corrections can occur … even repeated corrections as the erasures make the surface of the paper have a glow. The kneaded eraser is as important as the charcoal. These are about Line and Value. The ideal is to make a mark which perfectly expresses the item or idea you are trying to convey … like calligraphy … however!  if the line fails ERASE!
“FREEDOM’S JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE”  —  Janis Joplin song

Closeups:

The Cemetery

The Cemetery

Charcoal Drawing

Charcoal Drawing

Charcoal Drawing

Charcoal Drawing

Charcoal Drawing

Charcoal Drawing

The drawing on the 4 foot black paper (below) is titled ” Back to the Future” … it is about the eventual disintegration of this technology strangled culture … and we are all back to living in huts in the forest .. .a huge sunspot could return us to the forest in a minute of time.

Back to the Future

Back to the Future

Read Full Post »

Manuel Lince

Manuel Lince

Manuel moves easily between the two cultures … Mexico and America.  He taught himself the art of carving wooden masks and entered the MFA program at UTPA. He already has a couple of graduate degrees.  As I asked him the same questions I have asked others he came up with the following answers :

1. What is your definition of success as an artist ?
“I cannot answer that question .”
2.  What is your definition of a successful work of art ?
” A successful piece is one which, when you see it, you must stop and look.”
3.  At what age did you know that you wanted to be an artist ?
” I began to draw at age 12 and have continued since … I had a responsible job for years and that entailed many meetings. Of course I “doodled” constantly in those meetings.  It improved my skill and kept me interested. I went to a woodcarver in Mexico to train.  He gave me a piece of wood to carve and I worked on it until satisfied. Days later,  when it was time to leave,  he told me that it was custom to go up into the mountain to find a tree and replace the wood I had used.  Up we went … him hustling along and me trying to keep up. We got near the top and secured a few pieces … at which point he said I would have to give him three to replace one.  Three for one!  I staggered down the mountain with them on my back as he sauntered down carrying his easily.  Good wood to carve is hard to find.  I learned a lot.”

In response to a homework assignment Manuel Lince bought some cowhides in Mexico, carved a wooden mold,  and made two masks. Rena Vela is wearing one …

Manuel Lince Mask I

Manuel Lince Mask I, modeled by Rena Vela

and the other was donned by Manuel himself.

Manuel Lince Mask II

Manuel Lince Mask II

 

Manuel contemplates his carving of the crucified Christ

Manuel contemplates his carving of the crucified Christ

… Manuel had never carved a figure before. I thought the blemishes in the wood really emphasised the suffering and destruction of the flesh the subject required.

Crucified Christ close-up

Crucified Christ close-up

Read Full Post »

Vulture Woman

Vulture Woman

The work of Rena Vela is informed by her experience in life. In discussing the painting of the woman turning into a vulture she emphasized that slowly the thoughts of the woman were becoming “vulture thoughts”. Rena says in her artist statement “My art is both truthful and secretive. I want to state truths but to do so in the form of fables and riddles.”

A summer art student trip to Italy inspired the work on Mary Magdalene (on the right). “Look at the submissive posture of the figure”, Rena said. ” There were many paintings in Italy with halos of gold so I wanted to use this in my work. I did the piece using bleach on black paper and later use of colored pencils and gold leaf.” Next to it is the early stage of a work featuring a woman climbing out of her own skin. In the sphere of “making a living” Rena is a dedicated art teacher working with children.

Rena shares her studio with Jill Carpenter. Here is their studio door:

Studio Door

Studio Door

Read Full Post »

Two students who are ready to graduate from the MFA program this semester:

Eduardo Quintero

Eduardo Quintero

Eduardo Quintero ushered me into his studio and showed me his work.  His big painting covers the whole studio wall and he has smaller canvasses stapled to the big one.  He said he is angry at the policy on immigration and that his art work reflects that anger.  The words scrawled across the canvas are from the lyrics of Motley Crue, a heavy metal band formed in the 1980’s which is still in existence. “I’m on my way just set me free … you can’t kill me cuz I’m already inside … Home sweet Home” … On the front of his T-shirt it says “I WANT YOU GRINGO !”

Eduardo Quintero

Eduardo Quintero

Contrary to the above he is affable, educated, and well-spoken.  “The loss of land and second class citizenship has made the people of this region a poverty-stricken minority … I have chosen the media of drawing, painting, and collage to express my cultural identity as a Chicano.”

tiVictoria Hidalgo

Victoria Hidalgo

The other candidate for a MFA is Victoria Hidalgo …a vivacious young woman bursting with energy.  Her artist statement says “My paintings are a reflection of the emotional experiences in my life; the joy of living life, never regretting the past, and embracing all that life has to offer.”  ….

Victoria Hidalgo

Victoria Hidalgo

“Color is another way that I am able to inject vibrancy into my paintings.”
The joy and goodwill glowing from her face is delightful !

Read Full Post »

Diego Sanchez Sculpture

Diego Sanchez Sculpture

Diego Sanchez Sculpture

Diego Sanchez Sculpture

How about these very simple and striking ceramic sculptures? Produced by Diego Sanchez, an intense, thoughtful man from Colombia who is in the MFA program at UTPA, they evoke animal horns, sea anenomes, and other organic forms. He specializes in low-fire pieces.

Diego Sanchez

Diego Sanchez

His artist’s statement says : “In much of my work, I passionately search for ways to express my love for nature, especially with clay … What can be more earthy than dirt ? What I like most about working with clay is the ability to control the form.”

Hands of Diego Sanchez

Hands of Diego Sanchez

He goes on to say, ” My intention with my art work is to express and preserve that personal need to be in contact with nature.  I create my pieces only for the joyfulness of my spirit and use them as a constant search and exploration for that organic essence in this geometrical man-made world of shapes that we live in. What I offer the viewer with my work is an opportunity to look closer at nature and an invitation to spend more time with it.”

Read Full Post »

Paul Gauguin: “In every country I have to go through a period of incubation; each time I have to learn to recognize the various species of plants and trees, of all nature, so varied and capricious, never willing to give away its secrets, to yield itself up.”  I feel the same way … for me, the weather, the soil, the river needs to feel like second nature … that my life is in “tune” with my surroundings. Texas is a separate “country” … so different from California. We are going, each morning, to the State parks on the Rio Grande River to see the native plants, birds and butterflies.  The names are great: Cenizo – Mexican olive tree  – Huisache tree.  We shall learn their names, learn their habits, soak in the ambiance of this desert valley located on a river, the Rio Grande River.

As I walk thru the campus a loud buzzing arises from the trees … it gets louder … louder.  I look up … around … No one else notices the background noise so I ask a woman “Do you live here ?”  She nods.  “What is making this buzzing, scraping, sound ?”  She smiles and says ; “It is the cicada – at this time of year – (early Sept) – they hatch, produce this sound, mate, and die.”   I thank her, sit on a bench in the hot, humid air, and wonder – and then at the MFA orientation Josie de la Tejera states that her entire art work is based on the cicada.  She shows us slides of the insect … it grows for 17 years in the ground before emerging.  She compares it to a teenager who emerges from childhood.

The work refers to a poem by Matsuo Basho.
A cicada shell
it sang itself
utterly away

Black Cicada

Black Cicada

Black Cicada, represent it singing itself to death, hence the black color.

Cicada Shell

Cicada Shell

Cicada Shell is an image of the shell left after the cicada molts and flies away to live its remaining few days.

Cicada Transformation

Cicada Transformation

Cicada Transformation is representation of life changes and stages, similar to the cicada molting its shell to transform into a new being.

Read Full Post »

… The door opens onto a living room with one wall completely taken up by white canvas … unstretched and tacked to the wall.  The couch is covered with more white canvas as is the armchair … the surface of the coffee table is a rectangle of white canvas with long-stemmed red roses lying in a state of dehydration … still some color, but fading.

Mark Cloet

Mark Cloet

Mark gestures to the canvas covering the furniture and says he will use the canvas in the future.  The marks from daily use and unforeseen circumstance will become part of the finished piece.  I idly think of spilt red wine and black coffee … the marks of childish shoes … a charcoal drawing pencil dropped.

Mark Cloet Work Table

Mark Cloet Work Table

He has a drawing on a work table … it revolves around “borders”.  Being from Belgium, borders are a reality in the lives of people.  Here in the Rio Grande Valley the mention of borders elicits a passionate response. Which side of the border you are born on has a dramatic effect on your choices and the quality of your life.  Everyone has an opinion on borders and immigration.

Mark has written on the drawing “standing on the borders of two totally different cultures, one side considers me a stranger … the other side considers me as different.” He is exploring the idea or concept of borders.  It is poignant that he dwells in McAllen, Texas across from Reynosa, Mexico. He is here on a Fulbright scholarship for 9 months … at the University of Texas in Edinburg.

My questions, and his answers ( as best I can relate ) are as follows :

  1. Are you a painter?  …a sculptor?…  a performance artist?
    “I am a painter/sculptor.  Performance is an act.  I perform in daily life.”
  2. What is your definition of a successful work of art ?
    “Not relevant. ”   … ( at a later time he said “Art is never a winning thing, but it is knowing that and still resisting it.”*  * a reference to B. Oosterlinck, Belgian artist.
  3. What is your definition of success as an artist?
    “I refuse to answer this because there is no definition.”
  4. At what age did you know you wanted to be an artist ?
    “At 18 I went to a Theater School in Antwerp.  After that I went to a school for the plastic arts, which in Belgium is the Education/Social major.  It leads to being a teacher.  As I decided not to pursue teaching I became financially independent of my parents. ”
  5. How have the financial uncertainties of being an artist affected you and your family?
    “As an artist you can make your own choices, … but it is dangerous. Your audience can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ which will affect the way you proceed.  It is difficult to know how to manipulate this aspect of art.  A person needs to understand the economy, the way to make a living, and to laugh but have knowledge.  For my family, they are in a position of being surrounded by rich and poor.  This is not easy for children to swing between the two and understand it.
    There is also the political situation which artists need to understand. I refer you to Francis Ponge, an artist who wrote only on soap.  He wrote the Book of Soap in which he analyzed the situation in which he found himself living … the society he lived in … the interactions of the community. Everyone understood his references to the ruling government  which was unable to arrest him.
    My description would be what it is to ride a horse … actually the horse is riding with you … to go forward or backward you must communicate with the horse … you must respect the horse …  just as the artist must respect the community he works in.   You do not want to be dependent … I would say you wish to be available on your own terms.”

You can see Mark’s work by visiting this link: www.markcloet.be

Finally :  After this interview ( or interaction )  he asked me … now WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF IT ??
I interpreted this to mean what art work will I produce as a result of thinking about these concepts. What I took away with me was the pleasure of having met a formidable intelligence … and the comfort of knowing that he exists in my world and is working on many levels to improve it.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »