Archive for September, 2013

Lenka’s lovely mosaics

Self-Portrait, Lenka Brazinova, mosaic

Self-Portrait, Lenka Brazinova, mosaic

When we became friends in London, at the Persona Art Festival, where we were both showing work, my nickname for Lenka Brazinova was Lovely Lenka. I hadn’t heard from her in well over a year, yet she submitted a comment to represent yesterday, and suddenly I had a chance to catch up with what she’s been doing the past couple years. Despite the struggles she has gone through, and she’s been through many, her cheerfulness and her playful personality tend to light up the room–you can feel it even in her emails–so it was a treat to hear from her and great to know that she’s happy and productive. She’s deeply serious about her work, and she’s painting full-time right now, to the exclusion of any concern about money, and any other kind of work. She lives in Kosice, Slovakia, not far from the Ukrainian border and  hopes to move to London soon and  enroll at the Slade School of Fine Art. The word lovely applies just as much to her work in mosaics, a few examples of which are on view at her website. I’m fascinated by how the requirements of mosaic force her to refine her images until they’re about as simple as a Matisse cutout and how the medium itself creates intensities of color that rival oil. I’m hoping she will do lots more of these. And the examples of her work with mosaics in collaboration with street artists are very cool. Bravo, Brazinova. Stay in touch.

Art I love

Lisa Breslow.Summer Light.oil and pencil on panel

Lisa Breslow.Summer Light.oil and pencil on panel



Cover of Dawn of Midi, by Dysnomia

Cover of Dysnomia, by Dawn of Midi

A track by Dawn of Midi sounds like samples of Pinback, before the vocals start, looped–with just a hint of Erik Satie dubbed in, now and then. Very hard to turn off, once you start listening. The cover of Dysnomia, though: it’s a Tao symbol, and a nest, and a whirlpool circling the drain, and, again, a Taoist wheel with that central hole. A nest that draws you down into the void at the heart of it all. Nicely done. You can see more of Fabian Oefner’s photography here.


More moonlight

The Moonlight.Yong Yongliang

The Moonlight.Yong Yongliang

A post in reference to Yang Yongliang’s statement at White Rabbit:

“A longtime student and devotee of shanshui, or landscape painting, Yang Yongliang has watched in dismay as a China hell-bent on modernization tosses its traditions on the scrap heap. But there is no way to stop this 21st-century anti-cultural revolution, he says—older art forms must keep up with the changing times or fade away. Yang Yongliang’s approach to saving shanshui is based on retaining its inner essence while updating its subjects and media… They also parallel the ‘despair and sadness’ Yang Yongliang feels when he contemplates what is being lost as Shanghai erupts into the 21st century.” —Twisted Sifter

Last chance


Les Indes Galantes. Johannes Muller Franken.oil on canvas

Last chance to see a wonderful show around the theme of illumination at OK Harris. The work is diverse and, without exception, of the highest quality. The show, illuminators, was on view in July and is still up for only a couple more days this month, until Sept. 7. The gallery curated the show essentially by scouring the web and inviting artists it liked to participate. The reproduction above doesn’t capture the uncanny level of detail and accuracy in this painting, as well as in the other work by Johannes Muller-Franken in the show. If you see the actual painting at the gallery, you’ll marvel at the raindrops blistering the surface of the car, visible in the moonlight.

Hard work and money


From Canadian singer Dan Mangan’s website,  back in April. Love the detail about the level of work that had to be invested before he could get even a tiny break. He’s replying to a blogger who was critical of FACTOR, an organization that grants money to musicians, almost all of whom these days are struggling for ways to make money:

You’re painting a picture where the ratty punk bars your band plays are the only places where truth can live. Sometimes it does live there. But for god sakes, man, open your eyes.

As for FACTOR “insiders”, I’d like to tell you a story. It’s my story. This isn’t meant to be a “LOOK WHAT I DID” story, it’s meant to be a reality check on “knowing the right people”.

It’s about a musician from Vancouver (approx. 4,381km away from the FACTOR office) who applied twice to FACTOR for support on his first album, and was denied both times. That same musician applied for touring support at the time and was denied. That same musician spent four years flogging that shitty first album to anyone who would listen.

This musician wasn’t very good at the time. But he played hundreds and hundreds and HUNDREDS of gigs, trying to become a better writer, a better performer, a better person, a better singer and a better guitar player. Then he applied two more times for support on his second album, and was denied. Magically, on his third attempt, he got a grant for about $10K, which was a lot of money. It was well timed, also, because he was about $35K in debt at this point, having racked up various credit cards and bank loans on the costs of touring, recording, etc. over the span of about four years. It was the beginning of the tipping point, and once that second album was released, this musician’s audience started to grow and he now has a reasonably stable career in music.

For whatever reason, I had so much blind, naïve optimism in those early days that I was able to look past my well-acknowledged limitations and keep trying despite the fact that the odds were stacked against me. I’m not special, Paul. I didn’t have insider connections. What I did have was a large serving of gratitude for the opportunities that came my way, and an appetite to become a better musician. I wanted (and want) a life in music – to work tirelessly at a thoughtful and relevant body of work, and to assume that it could always grow and be better.

Since my second album was released, FACTOR has been wonderfully supportive. I wasn’t in your top ten hit list of FACTOR recipients, but had you continued, I probably would have been in the top twenty. Do you know why? Because I kept fucking applying and I showed them that I was serious and worth investing in.

Getting FACTOR funding is HARD. That’s frustrating to young bands. But in a miracle measure of karma, generally by the time a band has played enough gigs to stop being so shitty, they’ve probably gotten their ducks in a row enough to properly fill out a stupid application. There should be a Chinese proverb about delusional young bands who think they’re the god-damned Sex Pistols.


Unknown, Japanese Cranes in Flight, 18th Century Ink on paper, Memorial Art Gallery

Cranes in Flight, Unknown, Japanese, Memorial Art Gallery

Just replace “poet” with “painter” and this works. (As if a poet or painter could “forge a name” in the world now.)

“I once believed in some notion of pure ambition, which I defined as an ambition for the work rather than for oneself. But now? If a poet’s ambition were truly for the work and nothing else, he would write under a pseudonym, which would not only preserve that pure space of making but free him from the distractions of trying to forge a name for himself in the world. No, all ambition has the reek of disease about it, the relentless smell of the self–except for that blissful feeling . . . when all thought of your name is obliterated and all you want is the poem (where)  something . . . realizes itself. That is noble ambition. But all that comes after–the need for approval, publication, self-promotion–isn’t this what usually goes under the name of ‘ambition’? The effort is to make ourselves more real to ourselves, to feel that we have selves, though the deepest moments of creation tell us that, in some fundamental way, we don’t. (Souls are what those moments reveal, which are both inside and outside, both us and other.) So long as your ambition is to stamp your existence upon existence, your nature on nature, then your ambition is corrupt and you are pursuing a ghost.”

–Christian Wyman, Bright Abyss

The slow lane

sarah burnsIf I were still living in Boise, where I grew up, I’d definitely drive to Ashland, Oregon, but alas. Love the humble title of the still life shown above: Copy of Fantin Latour Roses. The usual unerring values, and the color so subtle, it’s easy to miss how good it is. Can’t find any of the new stuff posted anywhere though. That’s a hint. Ashland sounds like that place Gatsby had to drive past, watched over by the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg.

From the email invitation:

Come on down and see my new paintings and drawings at the Ashland Painters Union – 27 1/2 N. Main St, Ashland, on the Plaza downtown, up the stairs between Gold and Gems and Cracker Jax – during the month of September.

Show opens First Friday September from 5 – 8 pm (or later if the party is super fun) – APU openings are always fun: snacks, wine, great conversations, music…  If you can’t make the opening, APU is open 1 – 5 pm Sat and Sun or by appointment.

These pieces were created this year – they are a survey of what I like to paint, landscape, floral, figures.  Life in the slow lane this year has resulted in more art pieces than usual that are just plain pretty and nice, relaxed, refreshing – so that’s what the show focuses on.

Also showing oil paintings is Gloria Kastenberg.  Both of us are inspired by and part of the new classical painting revolution that is happening worldwide.