Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Real Quick Bit of Cool


This still sounds to me like an excerpt from a fairy tale but last month, I was part of a super-cool photo shoot with some amazing artists...for Juxtapoz Magazine's June Issue article on the "Art from the New World" exhibition.
I still can't believe I was in the same room as Mercedes Helnwein, Korin Faught, Joe Ledbetter, Gary Baseman, Coop, Sarah Folkman, Mike Stilkey, Jason Shawn Alexander, Josh Petker, Carlos Ramos, Van Arno, Brandi Milne, KMNDZ, Greg Simkins, Travis Louie, and Lola (that is roughly left to right). Here is an excerpt of the article written up about us:


The issue (#113) is out now, so be sure to grab a copy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sketches




I've been taking micro-breaks to sketch during long painting days. One of my next pieces will include dozens of antique perfume bottles in the composition. It was fun and actually quite therapeutic to make those little studies. The floating head in the top sketch is an idea for a drawing series, and the other stuff was just for fun.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Art From the New World" Exhibition

Even though I couldn't make it to the opening in person, the images and coverage of the event indicate that this was, without a doubt, a grand-scale event and an unforgettable night! With a live performance by burlesque icon Dita von Teese, jaw-dropping art installations, and appearances by Gary Baseman's costumed characters, the team behind the "Art From the New World" exhibition made sure the art on display was adequately celebrated with pomp and flavor.


My "Two Spirits" piece.


A glimpse at the impressive gallery installation.


Another shot of the installation.


Liz McGrath's incredible rendition of Cerberus!


The inimitable Colin Christian.


Opening Night.


Crowd shot surrounding Buff Monster's giant ice cream cone installation.


The artists in attendance strike a pose.


Mike Stilkey (left) and fellow artist Ian Francis, next to Stilkey's incredible book installation.


The super-awesome Gary Baseman with his wonderful costumed characters.


Jan Corey and Richard Scarry outside the museum. Along with Bruce Helford, the rest of the CHG staff, and the Bristol City Museum staff-- their incredible hard work and dedication has paid off tremendously! Serious congratulations are in order.


It's all so surreal, but I still can't believe I was lucky enough to be a part of this show. I couldn't include images of all of them, but the works by the other artists in this show are some of the best I've ever seen. Again, for those of you planning on visiting the UK this summer, be sure to drop by and check out this exhibition, as it will remain on view until August 22nd.

Special thanks to the two photographers whose photos I used above: Watermarked photos courtesy of Nathan Hicks. All other photos courtesy of Sven and Arrested Motion. Also, check out the BBC's photo preview of the show, and a behind the scenes look from Daily duJour.

Friday, May 7, 2010

At last


“Two Spirits”
18” x 24”
Acrylic on wood.
Detailed image here


So, the idea for this painting came from a few different narratives that blended together. My friend Francis Willey (a man of many talents, among them photographer, poet, composer, and pianist) and I have wanted to collaborate for some time, so he suggested that I create an image for the cover of his poetry book due out some time this year. His work is very mysterious and magical in nature, and the poems he sent me for inspiration had a common thread of melancholic beauty— stories of love and loss, joy and sorrow— like the ethereal blending of light and shadows that bring life to his photographs. He also sent me some of his piano music, and so with words, images, and music, I had a rich, multi-sensory expression of this visionary artist :)

During the process of coming up with an image, I also came across the story of composer-pianists Robert and Clara Schumann, as told through their love letters and music in a production called “Twin Spirits.” Each of their voices is narrated through spoken word and music, and their heart-rending story felt like a perfect fit with the themes in Francis’ work. They have a very interesting story, but here are some key points:

-Robert studied under Clara's father, and the couple married against her father’s wishes
-They had 8 children (4 of them died within Clara's lifetime).
-Clara enjoyed an illustrious career from an early age, overshadowing her husband’s success during their time. She went on to interpret and promote his music in her own concerts, despite the cool reception to his work from critics.
-Robert was plagued by mental instability and depression. He attempted suicide in 1854 and later turned himself into an insane asylum, where he remained until his death.
-Clara bore all—her musical career, raising children, and managing the household. She was forbidden to see her husband for 2 years and admitted only when he was on his deathbed.

This piece is partly based on those 2 years. Here are some details: the couple appears twice, the image of them at the piano is based on this photograph ; their children line up on the left behind her main figure; a host of haunting but comforting spirits, memories, and music come to life from the wallpaper around her; one of his many letters to her is still in her hand; the sea partly symbolizes the Rhine River which he attempted to drown himself in, and which symbolically separated them for the rest of their lives.

It just so happened that while I was painting this, my sister was overseas for 2 weeks on a business trip, and it was the first time that we’ve been separated for such a long stretch of time. Suddenly, this became my story as well— the main character is separated from a loved one by oceans, memories seem to fade in her long hours of waiting, and with only a stream of letters in her hands, she tries to re-conjure images, emotions, sounds…anything that may remind her of this lost ‘other spirit’, her other half.

And in a different way, Francis and I are connected through this collaboration, but we are geographically distant, so I see this as yet another communication of spirits. :) So, a huge thanks to him for providing so much inspiration for this painting! I encourage you to follow his facebook fanpage, here.

Those of you in the UK can see this painting in person next week at the “Art From the New World” Group Exhibition. The private reception is on May 14th (7-10:30pm) and the public opening is during the opening hours of the museum on Saturday, 10am-5pm. The show will be on view until August 22nd. Contact: jch@coreyhelfordgallery.com

My piece made it onto one of the posters for the show :) You can see it here. There will also be lots of events associated with the opening, which you can learn more about on this page.

Alas...I will be on this side of the Atlantic, busily painting away for my next show and green with jealousy at all of the lucky attendees ;)
Until next time...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sketch dump

So I set my current painting aside this week to do some more research and to start sketching towards my next 4'x 3' painting. Part of the concept for the environment that I'm creating for it involves nocturnal animals, so I collected a folder of images of different kinds. I've mostly drawn aye-aye's so far! Also been drawing from various photographs and from Mucha to practice. If you recognize your photograph below and would like me to credit you here, just let me know (and thanks for providing inspiration)!









Off to draw some more animals, as there are enough humans here :) I hope to have thumbnails done by the end of today so that I can finish the final drawing by the end of the week!