Saturday, December 23, 2017

Article in the HT about my double show...

Thank you Bloomington Herald Times for covering my current show with a nice article...


I wondered if people would find my double show just very strange, arbitrary, self-indulgent, hard to understand.  As far as I can tell, that's not a problem at all for people.  It seems to make good sense to people.  I think the work itself explains the approach I took, which is how it is supposed to work.

Thank you HT and Jenny Porter Tilley.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Paintings and Palaver: Paul Kane discusses his Dec. 2017 show...

This is my first attempt to make a video of myself discussing a show, with the help of Madelyn Ritroski (thank you Madelyn!)...

It went pretty well for a first attempt, but you can tell I was very nervous when we did the video!  I mean I'm always goofy but I'm super goofy here.  Still I kind of like it and Dave Colman's comments at the end are brilliant. Colman co-runs The Venue Fine Art and Gifts gallery with Gabe Colman and always has something really insightful to say about art in his gallery.

This is an interview with Paul Kane done by Jared Winslow last spring...
Thank you Jared.

This is a slide show I created for my Dec. 2017 show...


...I seem to be learning, little by little, about the multi-media world, even though I'm generally more comfortable with a paint brush in my hand!

The show continues through December!


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Yin Yang of a Bilocation Show

Madelyn Ritroski took some great pictures of the current show at the  Bellevue Gallery at the Farmer House Museum, showing the Bellevue's part of Paul Kane's bi-location show PAINTINGISDEADLONGLIVEPAINTING.

The Bellevue Gallery is an artists' coop, a gallery run by artists for artists.   Its first exhibit was in 1987, so 2017 is the 30th anniversary of the Bellevue Gallery.  Although the Bellevue's existence has been peripatetic, it currently resides at the Farmer House Museum, where it presumably has a permanent (and cozy) home.


The other wing of Paul Kane's bilocation show, PAINTINGISDEADLONGLIVEPAINTING, is at The Venue Fine Art and Gifts ...
The Venue Fine Art and Gifts

Hosting Paul Kane's show at two locations allows a yin yang sensibility to express itself, where darker paintings are on display at The Bellevue and more whimsical paintings are on display at The Venue Fine Art and Gifts....
The Venue Fine Art and Gifts


 The Bellevue wing of PAINTINGISDEADLONGLIVEPAINTING is darker, thematically but still full of light.  This is probably the darkest painting in the show...

I think it is partly about the cruelty of life, but it is also about something like shamanic transformation.

Both wings of PAINTINGISDEADLONGLIVEPAINTING are cozy and encourage spending time with paintings...



                                        

Farmer House Museum curator Emily Purcell has created a beautiful and very complimentary holiday display, which features an Artisan Tree, covered with ornaments made by Bellevue Gallery artists, which can be purchased ...


Spend part of your holiday by the friendly hearth at the Farmer House Museum!



Sunday, November 26, 2017

Celebrate the Birthday of Painting Everyday!

My December painting show, opening at The Venue Fine Art and Gifts and The Bellevue Gallery at the Farmer House Museum (both in Bloomington, Indiana), entitled PAINTINGISDEADLONGLIVEPAINTING, is the best and most important show I have done.


 It's a statement about the importance of painting not only in art history but also today and in the future.  Many of the paintings in the show are homages to famous paintings from the 'traditional' canon of art history, though you don't have to know this to appreciate the paintings.  They celebrate what for a long time was known as THE Tradition and now is known more appropriately as A Tradition.  They also poke a little bit of fun.

For example, this painting is an homage to a painting by Cezanne...
Making a Point, by Paul Kane


I wanted to achieve the same feeling that Cezanne achieves (I think), that these two men have been meeting this way a long time.  With Cezanne one gets the feeling that the two guys never talk.  My two characters talk a lot I think.

I think of the paintings in my December show as fairy tales.  The beautiful thing about fairy tales is that they can be very sweet and playful, but they can also  be very dark.   I explore both sides in this show, sometimes in the same painting, sometimes in separate paintings.

This is one of my favorite paintings in the show...

Dragon Wagon by Paul Kane

Why is a centaur boy pulling a child dragon through an enchanted forest in a little red wagon with his father looking on protectively?  Only in dreams can that be explained.

Another painting in my show seems to me more mythological, or even shamanic...

Learning to Fly by Paul Kane

I think of the painting as depicting a gathering of birds (and other animals) whose purpose is to remind human beings of their connection to nature.


This painting is the largest in the show at four feet by five feet...

Blinded by the Light by Paul Kane

I see it as possibly a gathering of people around some tragedy, or  perhaps around a religious/shamanic moment, such as Saint Paul struck to the ground on the way to Damascus.

Showing in two locations allows one location, The Venue Fine Art and Gifts, to focus more on  more whimsical work, while the other location, The Bellevue Gallery at the Farmer House Museum, focuses more on darker themes.  Neither side is entirely dark or light, though.  The balance between dark and light might lean one way or the other, but there is always a balance.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Boogie Woogie Tribute to Mondrian



Here is the Mondrian picture I had in mind...


My picture doesn't have the airiness typical of Mondrian, but I think that was part of my inspiration.  This painting is perhaps the least airy of Mondrian's paintings, seeming almost crowded, full of movement, the blocks jostling each other.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

On The Other Side of This Window

.On the other side of this window...

... my vocation as an artist began.


This view shows the courtyard of my family's sculpture studio in Steinheim, Germany.

Truthfully I can't be sure which particular window it was, but I think it was the last one visible, just past the arched doorway.  On the other side of the window was a large bin full of clay.  I used to sit there for hours making little sculptures when when I was six, during a family visit to my Mother's relatives in Germany.

I drew before I talked, thanks to a lot of encouragement from my Mom,  When I was six, Mom took her five kids to visit her family in Germany.  I was enchanted by the family ancestral home.  It was no castle, or chateau, or even a mansion.  Instead it was(is) an ancient inn that had been turned into a sculpture studio in the mid-1800s.

Here is a picture of how the old inn looked in the late 1800s ...

Notice the gaggle of sculptors standing at the entrance to the courtyard (pictured above) behind the old inn building.  The Busch family lived in front and worked in the studio off the courtyard in back.  


Here is a picture of how the old inn building looks today ...




 It was a centuries old inn, complete with  cobblestone courtyard, which was turned by my forbears into a sculpture studio in the mid- 19th century.  Because the family art business had been in decline for many years when I first saw the place,  it was dusty and dilapidated, crammed with cobweb'd plaster casts from which sculptures had once been made for churches all over Germany. 



It was the most beautiful place I had ever been, much better than any castle could be.  I felt at home.  It seemed homey in a way different from the way I felt at home in my parents' house.  This sense of home was something much deeper than a feeling of familiarity.   The Busch family sculpture studio became a symbolic center of gravity for me that would last a lifetime.

There was a clay bin in the studio where I sat for hours, making  little statues, though I had never sculpted before.  Next to me there were high arching windows, which seemed to let in an endless twilight.   Outside  I could see and hear my siblings and relatives playing shuttlecock.  One day I felt left out and decided to join the others in their fun.  There was only one racket not in use, though, set carelessly behind a limestone statue on a windowsill.  I reached for it.  Next thing I knew the statue was lying in pieces at my feet. I didn't see it fall or hear it crash, though it must have done so.

Mom took me to mygrandfather to apologize for breaking his artwork.  He looked at me for what seemed  to be ages, and then our eyes met, and  in that moment I seemed to make a promise to him that I would do my best to make up for what was broken by becoming an artist myself. 

The twisty column is supposedly the oldest thing in the Busch studio, dating back to the 1700s (not made by a Busch though).


I love this picture because it makes the studio look like some ancient underground tomb in the Andes or Etruria...


Way back in the right corner - that  was my corner.


Same view of the studio, more than a century earlier...

Since that moment I've always felt like Opa was with me, encouraging me.  I don't think I could have kept going as an artist without that feeling of support from him.

After we all returned to our home in Boston, my Mom signed me up for art classes at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  The MFA became my second home, maybe my real home.  It reminded me of my family's sculpture studio in Germany.   I came from a big family, but I was a lonely kid.   The only place I really felt at home was at the Museum.  I even had what felt like surrogate parents there, Ralph and Leila Rosenthal.  They ran wonderful sculpture workshops for children, teens and adults that made me feel like I was in the Busch studio during its heyday.  

The Busch family studio in its heyday.


Ralph Rosenthal in particular reminded me of my Opa (grandfather), Peter Georg Busch.  Mr. R was a charismatic person.  He would sit down next to you at your workbench, take your sculpture in his hands and reshape it as you watched.  Today this might seem an inappropriate way to teach, but I loved it.  I'd watch his hands,  enthralled.  There was so much life in those hands.  Then  I'd go back to work trying to feel the clay the way Mr. R  felt it.  

Rosenthal was an influential teacher in Boston for decades, important to many famous artists, such as Jack Levine and Bernie Chaet.  He is underappreciated today.  

painting by Jack Levine
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/310255861799303742/

Naturally,  I fell in love with many artworks at the MFA, but I had favorites...
John Singleton Copley
http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/watson-and-the-shark-30998

I think of Copley as possibly the most under-appreciated painter in art history.  He painted secular subjects with  deep religious undertones, implying meanings far beyond the obvious.  I believe that few, if any, art critics and historians have seen this depth in Copley's art, but I've seen it and it's been influential for me.


Rosso Fiorentino
http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/the-dead-christ-with-angels-33615

For me, this is the most powerful painting by the mannerist artist  Rosso Fiorentino, based on a drawing by Michelangelo.  You can feel that  Jesus' body is about to slide down onto the ground, because the angels who are supposed to be holding him are too busy gossiping about something or other.  To me, this Rosso painting is a powerful commentary on society itself.  


Honore Daumier
http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/man-on-a-rope-32865

 Daumier,  like me, was someone  who labored over paintings for years if not decades.  For Daumier, this painting of a man trying to climb (or descend?) a rope must have been a big surprise, painted in a lightning flash.   Just now I'm noticing that it is similar  to the Rosso (above) that I also love.  Like Rosso's Jesus, this figure on a rope seems to be on the verge of  falling, I think, but we see him - unlike Jesus - in the throes of his struggle.  

I always stopped in front of this painting when I walked around the MFA and never tired of it.  I saw in it someone who refused to give up.  I could relate to that.

My biggest inspiration has always been and still is my Opa, Peter Georg Busch...  
I love the simplicity of his style and what I see as its emotional depth.  The angel here is modeled on his wife, my grandmother.  This one too...

Oma (my grandmother) is very present in my Opa's sculpture of her.


My favorite sculpture by my grandfather is this Saint Joseph...
Again I love the simplicity and the emotional depth.  I don't think I've ever seen as beautiful a statue of Saint Joseph by anyone.  There is such emotional resonance between father and child.  

For  me the biggest challenge in art is this - to  bring two characters into a relationship with each other.  I see this as a basic challenge that faces us in life - to somehow find each other through all the chaos and uncertainty of life.  By doing this we not only find more meaning for our individual lives, but we also (hopefully) help bring into being a better society

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Welcome to Sub/Plus - paintings by Joey Like at the Bellevue Gallery

Joey Like is an artist who never fails to surprise, intrigue and delight.  A self-taught Bauhaus enthusiast, Joey sets new 'rules of the game' for each show that he does.  HIs current show at the Bellevue Gallery sticks to this pattern, but, unusually for him, blends organic dynamics with Like's usual geometric methodologies, seeking cellular structures that are both crystaline and living, like coral reefs in an alternate universe.  




Welcome to Sub/Plus is like a show of postcards from a different reality.  Forsaking his usual grid-based structures, Joey Like divides his attention between floating/drifting jewel forms ...




and forms with lattice-lace growth patterns...


According to the artist's playful science-fictiony backstory, his paintings depict a world where jewels and crystals float in the sky.  Particulate rain from these crystal clouds falls to earth, providing food for living structures that combine fungus with coral.  Like's snapshots of this world make the viewer want more.  What else could be on this strange planet?


Sometimes these chrystalline skies seem candy colored.  Other times they seem misty, or sun-drenched or more heavy, loaded with primary colors...



Other paintings by Like focus on the life forms on the ground below the crystalline clouds ...



These gossamer life forms, while seemingly stout and strong, are lace-like and textured with round forms that can only be seen on close examination...


These marks look like cellular forms under a microscope. 

My favorite painting in Joey Like's show comes off almost as a delightful joke.  Joey's work always seems cool and rational, far from expressionistic, but Joey gives us a hint that surface appearances may be deceptive with this painting...


Does it look familiar?


By appearing to quote the uber expressionist, Like creates a marvelous painting while reminding us that each painter works by sets of rules of one kind or another, as if playing a self created game, and each painting is an act of self-expression.  It's as though the artist is saying "I may be a lot Bauhaus, but I'm  Van Gogh too..."