Latest Essay – On Robert Henri, Subjectivity, and the Nature of Being

My latest essay, Subjectivity and Robert Henri, was published this week over on the Neoteric Art Blog. I’m really proud of the piece. It challenged me while writing it and I think it’s something I’ll go back to again and again.

Check it out here.

I have to say that Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space were major influences in the essay. Here’s to good thoughts and words, ones that reproduce (even if only in some small way) after their own kind.

Drawing 3 Student Work

In my Drawing 3 (basically Life Drawing) course at the University of Missouri, we have a series of projects that focus on developing drawings that have a dynamic, shifting arrangement of bodies and spaces. The goal is for students to hone their ability to combine observed form and light with a knowing, thoughtful editing of the overall structure in order to create/direct the psychological environment of the picture. In earlier projects, students are asked to create a drawing of a model who, after a certain period of time, shifts part of his or her pose. Students have to adapt their drawing, learning how to react the experience of seeing rather than freak out that everything isn’t the same (as if anything stays the same anyway). Later on, we work on a longer series of poses over the course of 8 or 10 class periods. Using up to three different models who strike a couple different poses, the class develops larger drawings that incorporate the combination of the different figures in some kind of invented, yet observation-based, pictorial framework. Below are a few examples of what students have done. Keep in mind that none of the models posed together, and often very little of the stage arrangement was the same. I could go on and on about how I believe these projects really strengthen the students to have an EXPERIENCE of art rather than simply executing an exercise, but I’ll let their work speak for them. Click on each for a larger version.

by Lindsey Cole

by Dan Jimenez

by Roxanne Kueser

by Charlie Hostman

by Jared Fogue

by Marcus Miers

by Mallory Parsons

by Derek Frankhouser

A Note on Andy Goldsworthy

´╗┐Andy Goldsworthy functions as an artist in a continuum of what I would call shamanistic principles: permeability, density, liminality, derivation, change, and transformation. That is, he manipulates and transforms the materials of the environment in some dynamic sympathy with them. This sympathetic approach is one that makes him keenly aware of his communication with and orientation toward the world. Because of this the work is in a very real sense suggested by the environment, the work’s parameters of possibility defined by the environment, and the artist’s intuitive making directed by the environment. There is very little “manhandling” going on here, very little ham-fisted, blundering action. His art is not an image of mankind dominating or playing flippantly with the world, but rather one of the sensitive investigator being moved forward by suggestions from within the investigated schema. His message is his articulation to the environment, not in some sort of neo-pagan hippy vagary, but in action, physical touch, biological aesthetics (i.e. basic 2D design and shape dynamics, which extends beyond the 2D into the 3D via his spatial and sensation-based investigations). The message isn’t linear like literacy or mathematics. It’s kinesthetic and alchemical. Zero irony, total being-ness. Awesome.

Get more info on Goldsworthy here and here.

The sketches I post here are ones I made during a visit I and my cousin Chris (a photographer) made to the Storm King Art Center in New York State to see Goldsworthy’s Storm King Wall. The trip was inspirational; I highly recommend making a stop at SKAC if you’re in the area.

Update (December 17, 2009): There’s a great piece on the ART21 Blog about Storm King that discusses the history of the place, how they think about acquiring/installing new work, and other interesting tidbits. Check it out.

Pillars of the Earth

ballou-shoulderAbove: “Shoulder (Grindstone Cliff, Fall 2009)” Click the image for more info.

I love the Grindstone Nature Area here in Columbia, MO. There are a series of cliffs located there, and several of them are within 5 or 10 minutes walk for me. I often go there to draw or read or think.

I’ve gotten some nice drawings out of my time there. One I did a while back can be seen here.

Good stuff.

Your Favorite Lego Piece

going to warpThere’s an interesting piece over on The Morning News about how families who play with Legos often develop their own vernacular terminology for the specific types of pieces. See it here.

I won’t get too specific, but my favorite bits are the fiddly pieces that let me join the female sides of two pieces together…

DSC05547Seen in these images is a Star Trek-style ship I made of Legos. Rock. Or rather, Clip, Snap.

Microsoft Thinks You Are Ugly…

…and believes you wish you were someone else. Someone more attractive. Someone who conforms to the distorted notions of western cultural ideals. Is this REALLY the way to sell operating systems?

Apparently this woman…
Picture 9

wishes she looked like this:
Picture 8
and this man:
Picture 5
wishes he looks like this:
Picture 2
while this woman:
Picture 11
believes this version of herself is more attractive, desirable, beautiful, or acceptable:
Picture 10

See for yourself here and here.

Basically, Microsoft thinks you wish you were something other than you are and that this wish for otherness will lead you to their products.

Thinner. Airbrushed. Whiter. Wow. What a horrific marketing campaign. People often condemn Mac users for being too-cool hipsters who pay top dollar for their gadgets… at least they aren’t marketing self-hatred.

Dodecahedron Bronze, Part 5

BallouPour02This past week I was able to participate in the actual pouring of the bronze for my sculpture. Above, the small furnace containing the crucible for the small amount of bronze needed for my piece.










The images above show the pour in process – it really was unbelievably hot.




Love that glow!




This image shows the beginning of the breakout process…




Starting to show through…




An inspection… The process is nearly complete. After all of the casting material is removed, we’ll sandblast the bronze, then polish to achieve a final look. We’ll also have to do some welding, in order to connect parts that were cast separately. My thanks go out again to Chris Morrey, who has helped out for the entire process, and to Jim Calvin, who stepped in as an experienced hand to actually conduct the pour.

Lutz Art, Ox-Bow 2001

general_lutzart_onthewigglerIn 2001 I had a 3 month Fellowship Residency at Ox-Bow, a summer program associated with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

We did a lot of stuff there, made a lot of art, raised a lot of hell, ate a lot of food, etc, etc, etc, but we also made Lutz Art.

My understanding is that the Lutz no longer exists… so here’s to the Lutz and the art we made there that summer so long ago.

Skippy loves the beef!

For more on Ox-Bow, go here.


Neil Gavett, Model Extraordinare

The Columbia Daily Tribune is running a feature on Neil Gavett, one of the primary models I’ve used in my work over the last couple of years. He’s a pretty cool guy, has an interesting back story, and a staggering plethora of tales to tell. Neil is also a professional art model; he’s posed for nearly 10,000 hours and has been working consistently for over a decade in the Mid-Missouri area. Below is the first painting I ever did of Neil (Fall 2007).

neil I’ve been honored to get to know the man. In working with him, I have tried to create images worthy of the symbiotic relationship we’ve developed, a relationship that could never happen without his deep intention and purposeful action as a man and a model.

Here’s to many more pictures, Neil!

UPDATE: Here’s a related item from the New York Times today: “In the Altogether.”