Promoting Someone Else.

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Or why I write about other galleries and artists not affiliated with “A Small Art Gallery” (and why it should matter to the guy on the street.)

Resources are frankly limited when it comes to a small art gallery, especially a contemporary one in Prescott. Time, money, advertising design, and space on web pages and social media are precious commodities when you’re starting up and doing everything yourself. So why give a second, a sou, or a column inch to someone else? Because it matters.

It’s a little bit of enlightened self-interest to point out how great the art is in Prescott, to help raise all boats, to let everyone know that culture and the arts are as good (maybe better) in Prescott than in the more commonly thought of places in Arizona. I also firmly believe it.

Oh, I know that’s what the tourism department is supposed to be doing and for the most part they do the job we would expect a city department is capable of, namely, institutional and pretty broad. Here’s the difference. This is personal.

Everyone talks the talk that “word of mouth” and personal recommendation are the best referrals, the best advertising, that telling someone what you really believe is trusted more than any Madison Avenue, slick, high circulation advertising will ever do. I just have the opportunity now to do it.

I see a lot of art over the course of the week. I read a lot about it and sometimes it’s there in my sleep. As I have said before here, I’m no New York art critic, but like the guy on the street, ‘I know what I like’ and I do know quality and potential. Why not share that? Why not tell as many people as I can that the Yavapai College Gallery has a great show or that the artists at Electro or Krieger/Marcusen or the Shed Project have something special to see? Have you been to the Prescott College Gallery lately or PCA or Mountain Artists Guild? Do you know that next door to A Small Art Gallery is a fairly large collection of East Indian, Himalayan art at the Vigraha? HAVE YOU BEEN ON THE 4th FRIDAY ART WALK?

And the person on the street? Why should he or she care? If it were only because of the commerce it would probably be worth it and important, but it’s much, much more. Whenever we feel good about ourselves, our family, the place we live, it makes life better. When someone tells you that you live in a place that has great art, that your town is a cut above many when it comes to quality of life, when people are envious that you are surrounded by a stimulating community in a fantastic natural environment. You can’t help but feel good. And when you actually participate in it, that’s even better.

Prescott is diverse in its culture. We have heritage, myth, tradition and innovation. Some of it goes elsewhere and some of it remains undiscovered. You can pick and choose what fills your spirit. If it’s cowboys and cattle, it’s here. If it’s new and quirky, it’s here. If it’s something a little more refined, Prescott’s got it too.

I just think saying something about it is a good thing.

Learning from the Ancients

I think we should look at ancient history not so much to learn about peoples of the past but to study ourselves.

 
Ancient history in this case meaning 1930 to 1960. I’ve just finished reading “Clement Greenberg, A Life” by Florence Rubenfeld . Greenberg’s personal, political and social skills aside and acknowledging that he was something of a misogynistic, arrogant bastard, my interest in his theories is piqued enough that I have taken out two of his collections of essays on art and culture. “Perceptions and Judgements, vol 1 of Clement Greenberg Essays and Criticism” edited by John O’Brian and “Homemade Esthetics” by Greenberg.c greenberg

Although he has plenty of detractors (easy target actually) I think I need to know more about the “Great Clem” and his own words may fill in more depth than second hand quotes. Several things struck me and need answering: How did he meld the analytical aspects of his criticism with the very personal dance that he did with each painting he reviewed? How did he “see” art? And what did he really mean when he said that current art (at that time, Pop and Minimalism) were less ambitious?

I have had no pretentions while opening A Small Art Gallery. It has been borne of an interest and deep desire to remain within an Art environment rather than from a deep deep foundation in art theory, academic rigor or slick art commerce. I also believe there is a need to make available additional options to the art presented in my city. To fill in the holes in my art education I can only believe that I will be well served by understanding Greenberg, Hughes, Rosenburg and others.  Any other suggested reading?

Past Exhibit Oct-Nov 2013 Brice Wood

 

Brice Wood will be showing his work at A Small Art Gallery from October 5th to November 15th. Brice lives in Jerome where he and his wife, Carol, have designed and built their home. A wealth of life experiences along with exposure to an art education beginning at Cooper Union in 1958 and continuing at the more formal School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, informs his abstract paintings, collages and constructions.

In his words:

The “Night Blue” pieces are built on a limited number of visual concerns. The key element in most of these pieces is the contrast of dark blue with black. This combination makes your eyes focus on two planes at once, and it automatically creates a tension. I like that this happens in near–dark.

I’m trying to represent the experience of being in an environment with very few visual clues. It is nighttime, and it is also inside your head. It is starlight on snow, a dark room with a crack of light showing under a door, the patterns fading on your retina when you close your eyes.

These pictures are mostly calligraphy. Brush painting. I’ve found ways to control acrylic paint to produce almost photographic-looking textures. The biggest task in making these images is the slow weeding and combining process. I’m looking for a kind of resonance: a visual tension and drama.

One of the techniques I’ve learned recently, which is represented in the new work, is gel transfer printing. This is a trick that allows me to design and layer brushstrokes with a degree of precision that could not be achieved any other way.

 

A few words about the folding screens:

These screens are from a series called “Mingus Mountain Repeater”. They are ink on paper on hinged panels. Most of the panels are monotypes but there are also collotypes, intaglio processes, stencils, and direct applications of ink. All the materials are of archival quality.

The central, recurring, image is a microwave repeater tower. There are iterations of the tower image, representations of radiation, nature and geometry, and star maps. The screens are related in scale and effect to Japanese folding screens.

 

Re the reliquaries and dream theaters:

The reliquaries are part of a series that is concerned with Christian imagery. I am fascinated by the way religious sentiment is expressed in roadside memorials, bumper stickers, and other popular media. I was out driving and a cross made of welded horseshoes caught my eye. How strange, I thought, to combine a good luck symbol with the crucifixion. The image seems to me to contain a potent tension. I explored the idea in a series of pieces including the “Rabbit’s Foot Reliquary”.

Historically, Christian reliquaries appeared after the Crusades. They were vessels meant to display Holy Land artifacts of a sacred nature: hair and nail clippings from saints, bits of cloth, even fragments of the True Cross. The great cathedrals were built to show off these wonders and be destinations for pilgrimages.

The dream theatre pieces are more modern but also concerned with interior states. But instead of the icons of Christianity they explore psychology. They look like puppet theatres or set design models. But what is going on? The viewer is invited into a space that looks a lot like the inside of her or his head.