Monday, December 12, 2011

Tap Room Poetry Series

Want to hear some hip contemporary poetry? The Tap Room is one of Lawrence's leading venues for poetry readings.  The Tap Room Poetry Series is a monthly event where both local and national poets come to read poetry.  I've been going on a regular basis, and would recommend it.  The readings and drink specials have been good! And, of course, we love the bartenders at the Tap Room.

Last night's performance included local poets who presented works in various types of spoken word.   A duet sang a folk poem worthy of an Alan Lomax recording.  Another performer read a poem about pillows in her bed reprimanding her for not having a lover (she silenced her pillows with a threat of a trip to the dumpster).  Frederick, the bartender at the Tap Room, revealed his real life experience of dealing with a suicide of a quirky high school friend, and, years later,  talking to him in his dreams.

After the local poets performed, poets from New York and North Carolina presented poetry from their new books.  Although I liked all of their poems, one of my favorites was a poem by Sampson Starkweather called Self Help Poems, where he gives helpful advice for everyday living including touching a whale if it is beached, because "when else can you touch a whale?"  I also liked the dreamy poems of Emily Pettit.

The next poetry reading for the Tap Room Poetry Series is Sunday January 22.  Here is the link to the Tap Room Poetry Series Blog:

Friday, December 9, 2011

deKooning Love Fest #2: What is deKooning's signature style?

Where is Willem deKooning's place in art history? Is Willem deKooning under-represented in art? These were topics of two lectures and a panel discussion at the November de Kooning symposium at the MOMA in New York.

The work of Willem deKooning is hard to pin down into a signature style.  This makes it difficult to put deKooning into an art historical context because a sole paragraph in an art history survey would not be complete.  There is no easy style cliche for deKooning. Pollack is '"the drip guy" and Mondrian is " the squares guy." DeKooning worked in many different styles.  There may be a variety of interpretations within the same work.  His subject matter changes, including representational and abstraction.  His influences include classical Renaissance artists and pop culture.  Works include elements of sorrow as well as humor. To put it into pictoral terms, it is difficult to hold an image of a duck AND an image of a rabbit in our head.

However, the real question should not be where deKooning fits in art history, but rather why should we care? Although inconvenient, William deKooning's work may be elusive. But that is not a bad thing. A little complextity is, of course, is what makes his work so intriguing.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More on deKooning: Work Style: Let's Play with Paint

Why do we care about deKooning in 2011? Even though deKooning painted decades ago, as a present day artist, I am interested in his playful and explorative working style.  I went to a day long symposium in November at the MOMA in New York to learn more about deKooning as an artists from people that have researched his work extensively, and from some who worked beside him. I was delighted, ( yes, delighted) when speakers reported meticulously how deKooning worked, and the materials he worked with. DeKooning worked relentlessly, constantly revising his work, with dozens of major re-works of canvasses.   A flurry of activity was followed by refinement, a kind of editing.

DeKooning's work process in the 1980’s was documented well.  One of the people who visited his studio during this time was Tom Ferrara.  At Elaine deKooning's request, he photographed the stages of deKoonings paintings. Ferrara was lucky enough to be around when dekooning was working steadily, creating up to a painting a week.
At the symposium, he showed several paintings in their various stages.  The following is part of a documentation of one painting (I wish I had the accompanying photographs,  but you can get an idea):

1.   Started with a charcoal drawing and reoccurring theme of figures in a landscape 2. Ignores drawing that he started with.  Goes in with the paint. 3.If wasn’t happy, deKooning would scrape down.  Made surface receptive to the new paint. 4.Go back in with charcoal, reorganize and define the composition. 5. When falls apart, turn upside down, and try again. 6.Refining, editing, and eliminating signs of process (a departure from earlier work). 

Above portrait of deKooning taken by Ferrara in 1984

According to Ferrara, deKooning was very interested in Matisse during the 1980’s. He was trying to pull free of the structure of influence of Picasso and Cezanne. He wanted a "floating quality."

Although complicated, deKooning’s approach was not static.  Sometimes he started with a sketch, but other times he started painting directly. Pinholes indicate idea possibilities pinned to works, a process of cut-outs worked out on the painting. He experimented in different oil mediums, such as safflower oil, to introduce new tactics.  He sometimes sanded the canvass to make it more receptive to the paint.  He later added foam board behind to canvass to create the “give” of the canvass he desired.

Because his working style is well documented, it is almost like we are there with the artist as he is creating.  We can look to his playfulness and allow experimentation and patience with our work. 

By the way, deKooning's brand of paint was Winsor Newton. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Amber Hansen:New Show at the Arts Center

The Lawrence Arts Center has three new shows that are all worth seeing ( December 2-January 14).  Work from Amber Hansen is in the front gallery.  The inspiration for her work comes from her inner child, and memories she had as a child, layered with consciousness of the artist.  In a brief statement at the opening for this exhibit, Hansen described a memory she had when she was seven.  "Suddenly I realized that there was a difference between adults and me. At that moment,  I told myself not to forget what it is like to be like to be seven." The installation includes intriguing video work.

Here are some pics from the opening on Friday.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dr. Sketchy: Muriel A La Mode

Dr. Sketchy's website says "Muriel A LaMode will be coming in from LA to entertain us in a daredevilish way.  Put your sketching supplies into your bindlestiff and join us by the train tracks for this not to be missed event. "  Sounds fun.  I'll be sure to be there.  The date is Sunday December 4,  The cost is $6.00, and the place is 1331 Union Avenue in the West Bottoms.  The time is 6-10

Here are some photos from the last Dr. Sketchy where there was a special Thanksgiving Day theme. Ilsa the Wolf was our great model.

These are my quick sketches:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Open Drawing at KU on Saturday

KU's Open Drawing is this Saturday.  Bring drawing supplies.  The session is from 11:00-2:00 in room 405 of Art and Design.  It is free and open to anyone who wants to come.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Artist Talk: Alex Lukas, Printmaking/Drawing

Above Print: Alex Lucas Okay Great

Printmaker Alex Lukas is at Spooner Hall at 7:00 Thursday.
He works in a variety of media in Philadelphia.
While visiting, he will create an etching plate at KU's print studio today, and critic graduate student work on Thursday.
I met him at a gathering last night. He is amiable, and loves Lawrence.

Monday, November 14, 2011

deKooning Love Fest

This past weekend, I went to an all day symposium for the artist Willem deKooning at the MOMA in New York.  The exhibition was amazing in itself, but the lecturers and panel discussions for the symposium were interesting.    
Here are some major ideas I walked away with:
1.   de Kooning was a complicated artist and created complicated art.
2.   Because his work is complicated, it is difficult to generalize his work and attach a cliche.  Examples of other artists: Pollack, the "drip guy";  Mondrian, the "squares guy". 
3.   Because it is difficult to generalize his work, it is difficult to put him in an art historical context.
4.   He worked in a process that was always changing. 
5.   The notion that de Kooning was a misogynist has “Petered out.”
6.   Critics, historians, conservators, curators, and writers have much more to say about de Kooning than New York contemporary artists.
7.   Although he had Alzheimer’s, and the works are simplified,  de Kooning’s later works are not an indication of a decline.  
In the next few weeks, I will post more from the symposium. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Quest Begins

We're Packing a bag for New York.  Foremost on our list is to visit the MOMA, where there is a retrospective of Willem de Kooning's work that we will tackle room by room. We've prepared for this journey for years, studying de Kooning's works, and reading books about the artist and abstract expressionism (a label he detested). This may seem like a parallel universe to Cline's new book "Ready, Player One." The exception is that the egg that we are searching for will not produce riches, but a deeper understanding of de Kooning's work, and possibly the nature of art itself. (Yes, the PBR Book Club selection has had an influence on my everyday perception and reality).

Updates will be sent from New York.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Random Art in the Halls of Art and Design

Today, I'm posting random art hanging in the halls of Art and Design.  I  don't know who made these, but thought they were interesting.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Best Place to Draw: Dr. Sketchy

Dr. Sketchy is the best place around to draw.  Located in the West Bottoms in Kansas City, Dr. Sketchy has models to draw, drinks, and a DJ.  Many model/performers are from the KC burlesque scene.
The model/performer for this Sunday is Eartha Delights, a Kansas City favorite.  She is great to draw.

The time is 6:00-10:00 on Sunday, November 6. The cost is $6.00.  Bring your own drawing supplies.  The location is 1331 Union, KCMO.

Here is the link to Eartha's blog:

Here are some photos from the last Dr. Sketchy in October.

Artist/Sculptore TJ Tangpuz draws with us 

Angela Davis circa 1968 makes an appearance.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy All Souls Day

Today is All Souls Day, and second day of Days of the Dead in Latin American Countries.  On this day, the living and the dead can communicate. This holiday may seem obscure to some, but many families I know from Mexico still celebrate this holiday.

A toy company named Mezco Toyz sells creepy Days of the Dead dolls,  presumably for children?  The Series 20 Living Dead Dolls each arrive in a coffin box with wood grained graphics and have a death certificate and a poem. Here are some examples of the dolls and the poems that go with them.

Santeria Variant

Date of death: January 20th, 1913

She loved celebrating Dia de los Muertos
so much she prayed it come every day.
The only ear to hear her pleas was El Diablo's
so now once a year she rises to play.

El Luchador Muerto Doll

Date of Death: February 5th, 1984

In the ring El Luchador was king
And all of his opponents dispatched
Until this rudos said adios
And was defeated in a wager match


Date of death is January 20th, 1913

Elegant Catrina dressed for a night out of her grave
Sugar skull cookies are the sweets that she craves
The living have honored her with the altar they made
And she dances her way through the Dia de los Muertos Parade.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Karen Matheis: New Trend in Woodcuts

Lawrence currently has an art trend where final product of woodcuts and linoleum cuts are displayed on the block itself.  Although the paper impression from the block is the standard,  Nicolette Ross displayed relief blocks at the Lawrence Arts Center last year during her residency, and blocks are currently on display in the front cases at Art and Design. 

The technique is somewhere in between a relief sculpture and relief printmaking.  Lines and shapes of the block are cut using a tool. The block is inked, leaving the depressed negative space white. Having the image  displayed on the block shows process and texture that is sometimes undetectable when the image is transferred to paper.

Of course, this process is not a new innovation. Picasso also used this technique in his woodcuts.

Picasso's "Grande Tete de Femme au Chapeau Orne" ( 1962).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ministry of Sculpture Iron Pour

The Ministry of Sculpture has an annual iron pour where they invite people from the community to create a small iron relief.  We were given a small sand based mold that we carved into.  The Ministry prepared and poured the iron.  The cupola to heat the iron to liquid was named "Patches."

  Here are some pics from this weekend's pour.

The name for his helmet is "Hell Fire."

People and Things from October Final Fridays

Here are some pics from the October Final Fridays:

Molly at the Pig

Jeremy at the Pig

Kendra at Wonderfair

The sign for She's Crafty

Fabulous Lawrence art teachers out and about.



Adam at Hobbs

Luke at Acme

 Nicholas filming at Acme

Amber and Jaime at Acme

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fashion: What To Wear for an Upscale Art Opening

Today, I bought a perfect dress at Banana Republic from a line inspired by Mad Men (above picture).
The material and fit are wonderful.

Part of excitement of this find stems from nostalgia. In high school, we bought elegant 1950's evening dresses. We found them in thrift stores on 39th street in Kansas City. We teamed the dresses with our Dr. Martins boots and went to punk shows.

Although a rarity in Larryville, my new dress is reserved for upscale events.

Here are some more examples from the BR clothing line that was launched early fall.


October Final Fridays

I hit the galleries and flash spaces most months for Final Fridays. A lot is planned for the upcoming Final Friday in Larryville, and much of the art looks interesting.  I thought about creating a plan  for when and where to go, but quickly chucked this idea.  I will start at The Pig, then wander around.  I find this is a better strategy for finding unusual works; and it may be the last Final Friday that the weather will be acceptable for meandering in a sauntering way. 

Must see events: Jeremy Rockwell's new paintings at the Pig; Invisible Hand show; Hospital Ships at Dusty Bookshelf; and Fasio Fashion Monsters at the Replay.  Also, unusual performance in Acme's front window involving a large cut out television and skits. 

After a night of viewing art, I plan to draw at Art and Design's Open Model on Saturday.  According to the schedule, the model is Katie. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Open Model on Saturday and Artist Talk

Open Model is at KU's Art and Design on Saturday, October 30. The time is 11:00 a.m.-2:00, but people tend to come and go during this time.  Bring drawing supplies.  The large easels are able to hold large drawing paper. 

An interesting artist talk opportunity will be given at the Spencer Museum by the artist who created the wool dress piece that hangs in the upstairs gallery.  Mimi Smith, who is always described as "a early feminist" is speaking at the Spencer on Thursday at 5:30 in the main auditorium.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Karen Matheis: Dr. Sketchy on Sunday

Dr. Sketchy is this Sunday, October 16, in Kansas City from 6:00-9:00.  The cost is a mere $6.00.

We will be drawing Little Lottie Mayhem and Sarah Lee Shortcake.  Come with your drawing supplies.

Meanwhile, here are some pics from the last Dr. Sketchy with Heidi Delight.

Heidi carefully selecting the winner of the night's drawing contest.  The theme of the contest was "What Heidi wanted to be for her birthday. "