Finger sketching on the phone is hard with figures.
I’ve been looking at Supersons, the DC team-up of Superman’s and Batman’s kids. I’m not very interested in much that is superhero—despite enjoying several of the Marvel movies—but for some reason this really grabs me.
The boys are struggling with their own identities, not just because of the privilege of power (and wealth), but also abilities that are just beginning to develop. This might be worth exploring, but I don’t know if I care about getting into the series so much. Something like it, somewhere, though.
Things like the things you make may have been done before, but that’s been true for thousands of years. We remake the images and thoughts and ideas we’ve always made, filtered through one small, unique lens that can only be our own.
Seriously, it’s a never-ending stream of treasures, if you aren’t subscribed already. My three favorites from the last day:
Amrita Sher-Gil, a painter who seems to me to have focused on women and their daily lives
Meredith Woolnough, who crafts beautiful, vibrant allegories to natural forms, skeletal and structural
And my favorite, Kumi Yamashita, whose work you may have seen in viral photo shares of her intricate nail & thread portraits or the same made with credit card rubbings. She works mainly with light and shadow, though, and those simultaneously delightful and disturbing sculptures are just amazing.
Every bit as genius as several of the abstract expressionist leaders was Thai painter Tang Chang, and his work is the subject of a retrospective at The Smart on the U of Chicago campus. When I look at Chang’s work, including “concrete poetry” (I need more of that in my life), it’s easy to see how narrow my view is—even with some significant effort, both in school and out of it, to broaden it—of what works and artists are important and need to be remembered, versus what we’ve been told.
It’s not that the wacky bunch of brooding white dudes didn’t do amazing things. It’s that they weren’t the only ones, and weren’t always the best or first doing them. There’s always a massive pile of feverish creation going on at any given moment. We share the same penchant for art, all of us humans.
Chang was halfway around the world from Jackson Pollock and de Kooning. If we’d had the internet in the 40s, would his stuff be exhibited with theirs? Would his name be mentioned alongside theirs? I think it’s important to keep searching for an expanded view of art history, and who has languished in obscurity while we lazily hold up the same set of dudes as our important icons. There’s a lot out there to know, discover, and understand.
I’m preparing to move everything I own and everything I am across the country. It’s only one state, but that first leg north is a big one. So, while changing homes may not be quite as stressful as pop psych has cracked it up to be, it does feel traumatic in some ways. I distract myself, which you probably already could tell.
Punch Brothers released a new album today, and I’m playing it right now. If you like Nickel Creek or bluegrass or Chris Thile, you’ll like this.
New Yorkers got a marvelous bonus this week when library card holders also gained free access to local museums, and they booked the hell out of them. Here’s hoping that success spreads to other cities.
News and social media can wear you down. There’s nothing for it but to step back a bit, or completely, if you can. Unless you’re a journalist, there’s not much point in staying up-to-the-minute on the relentless news cycle. You have things to do. This is good right here, a real slowdown for the mind: The Last Ambient Hero
The art world is weird. Big exhibitions like Art Basel can get even weirder, but I try to find the public works every year, the big stuff and the things tucked into corners, away from the main sales bustle. These are often funny, evocative, striking works, including performances, and I wish we did this everywhere, putting creative expression amidst commercial and residential mass production and sameness.
As you focus on process over end result, it’s good to remember to have an end in mind. You need a point on the map to head to, even if you change it midway through.
Lots of projects never gets done because there’s no specific point to shine the red dot of our attention on. Focus is good, and it helps get lots of things done. What’s less discussed is that you can always shift that focus.
Life is crazy sometimes. You never know what random chance will bring. It’s good to be able to seize opportunities when they present themselves. Sometimes that means starting over. But if the thing you’ve been working hard at isn’t coming together, move the dot, refocus, finish the thing now. Naturally, you can’t just do this for every whim. But sometimes you were wrong about what the work meant or what was important about it.
I try to think about how I’m constructing this blog, and the scheme I have for its posts, whenever possible. I wonder if it’s part of a search for something new beyond the massive undertaking going back to school was eight years ago, when I determined to finally finish the biggest thing I’d left undone.
After that push and effort, after all was said and done and I could at last tick off the box [metaphorically] labeled “Bachelors Degree,” I couldn’t figure out what to do. I was Wile E. Coyote in the middle of the air, having run straight off the edge of the cliff. But I wasn’t dropping.
It occurred to me today that an extremely valuable aspect of art school—again, as of school in general—is the forced exposure to things and ideas you’d never have found on your own in such a compact span of time. This might be a thing worth paying for, albeit not necessarily worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and the commensurate stress of the debt burden.
It’s as easy to get stuck in an aesthetic bubble as a political one, staying focused on the narrow band of favorites you’ve treasured over several years of loving and experiencing art of whatever form. But at school, if you have teachers of any worth, you have a myriad of unknowns thrown at you, and you not only have to experience their work, but also to understand it, analyze it, and put it into some kind of context.
This is important to do as an artist for the rest of your days. You’ll gain insight and depth, even if you don’t like some or most of the stuff, if you take it in broadly.