As much as I enjoy interviewing artists, I think I enjoy more reading what art historians have to say. I don’t believe this reflects the popularly perceived rivalry between artist and art historian. As an art historian myself, I learn so much more from many artists than I do from other art historians. But the writings of and conversations with art historians often reveal the aforementioned rivalry as myth with their words of genuine love and care for artists and art.
ArtWord: Lori Ellison
“It is not important how the artists feel about their work while doing it, but how they think about it after it is finished.” — Lori Ellison Lori Ellison is an artist and writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY. Much of her work includes notebook paper drawings and gouache on panel [...]
ArtWord: Bernard Klevickas
Bernard Klevickas is a sculptor who utillizes industrial processes in an expressionist manner to create objects of meticulous refinement with an interest in exploring the possibilities of surface and form. As an aspiring artist developing his own sculpture over the past 22 years Bernard has at various times fabricated sculpture for the artists Jeff Koons, [...]
ArtWord: Betty Tompkins
The large scale photorealistic paintings of heterosexual intercourse which Betty Tompkins made between 1969 and 1974 were practically unknown when they were exhibited together for the first time in New York in 2002. Knowledge of Tompkins’ paintings immediately broadened the repertoire of first generation feminist-identified imagery. More significantly, their materialization made manifest an unacknowledged precursor [...]
Art Word: CJ Nye
CJ Nye was born and lives in New York City where she has been painting in oils for over twenty years. She studied and received her BFA at the School of Visual Arts and an MA in Arts Administration at Columbia University. Looking at her work, one may see many stylistic influences. Yet her work [...]
ArtWord: Corrine Bayraktaroglu
Embroidery Face Corrine Bayraktaroglu was born in the Northeast of England, went to high school in London, married and came to America in 1978. While she has always done crafts and learned embroidery from her mother and grandparents it wasn’t until the age of 40 that she took her first formal art classes. She came [...]
An article in the NY Times tells of the reopening of the Yale University Art Gallery. The story focuses on the role of the academic museum as a teaching venue where “art appreciation meets education.” The gallery houses a variety of works from different periods and genres curated for the purpose of teaching. And its Levin Study Gallery invites professors from all academic departments to include pieces from the collection for their classes. This gallery is also open to the public.
Educators and curators at all art museums have been working hard to encourage the public into seeing their museums as a place for learning about a number of topics other than art. Art education department in museums work with curators to create programming that teaches museum patrons as well as school students. The Cincinnati Art Museum (not a university museum) also has a wonderful series for educators. This series instructs local school teachers on how to use the permanent collection and visiting exhibitions to enhance their curricula.
In the past ten years or unfortunately, the trend to promote art museums as places of entertainment has shrouded this educational role With this, too many art educators have had to include party coordinator as one of their skills.
It is wonderful to see this institution value their collection not only as a financial investment, but as an educational one. I do hope this is a sign or at the very least a cue for art museums to refocus their attentions to the curator and art educators as those important links to public education. And the first thing to teach is that the museum is more than just party centers.
The Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times at the Cincinnati Museum Center, opening today, presents hugely important and intertwining histories everyone should see and know. Since visiting the exhibition, I’m reminded again of the relevance of our shared human histories to our lives today.
As with many of the visiting exhibitions to the museum, the Dead Sea Scrolls opens with lots of drama and theatrics. This can be a bit annoying for a museum goer like me, who’s eager to see the artifacts, but I understand the importance of presentation and audience engagement to exhibition designers. I do have to admit however, introducing the Dead Sea metaphorically as a piece of antique pottery holding objects of our past, is very intriguing and truly a perfect visual for the place.
I was pleased to find unlike the Cleopatra show last year, many of the galleries are better lit making the artifacts leading to the scrolls much easier to see. Being able to see the markings on the pottery and the detail of some of the other sculptural pieces is so important to recognizing the cultural and symbolic significance of the artifacts.
The gallery holding the scrolls is perfectly lit. The scrolls themselves are protected and under dim lighting, but the translations and explanations are brightly displayed along side them in a large circular cabinet in the center of the gallery. The viewer is able to walk around this windowed cabinet to see the scrolls and read the translations very easily. More artifacts are included in this gallery as well. These and the signage continue to contextualize the scrolls in a very dynamic set of histories.
This is a huge exhibit with so much information to take in. While the shows does a good job of recognizing and reminding the viewer the Dead Sea is a cradle shared by Islam, Jewish and Christian beliefs and presenting them equally, all of this is really so much information to take in during a single visit. My concern is the average museum goer may walk away without learning and really being fascinated by these histories. There are really a number of “aha moments” in this show, but may require more than a single visit to experience them. I do recommend visiting this show. When you do, be prepared for lots and lots of reading. There is an audio tour available (I’ve not used it), but I think you would get the most out of it if you can view The Dead Sea Scrolls with a tour guide.
Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times opens today, November 16 and will run through April 14, 2013. Plenty of time to visit more than once.
“It is not important how the artists feel about their work while doing it, but how they think about it after it is finished.” — Lori Ellison
Lori Ellison is an artist and writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY. Much of her work includes notebook paper drawings and gouache on panel paintings, but she has worked in enamels, egg tempera and glitter. the intimacy of size and the precisioned focus of repeated patterns on an intimate scale (all works included here are 8 1/2 x 11). The intensity of her visual work is found also in her written voice, particularly in her aphorisms. These aphorisms can often be found on her Facebook status, inviting those of us to engage in a linguistic lyrical truth similar to that expressed on canvas. Ellison says her interest is in “Proportion based on the lyric, not the epic – that is where the juice lives….Art that is the size and resonance of a haiku, quiet and solid as the ground beneath one’s feet…A discreet art, valiantly purified of the whole hodgepodge of artist’s tricks and tics.”
art snob: With such a meditative repetition, I wonder if contemporary viewers, forced to stop and spend time with your work, are willing. While beautiful to simply view, do you think the average viewer (whatever that means) or the contemporary eye for design is able to engage in the meditative quality of your work?
Ellison: I have been told many times that they are meditative. I have no idea how much time they have invested in looking at them. I also get the word obsessive a lot. Isn’t it interesting that they call up two opposite poles of a frame of mind?
artsnob: I’m not sure I see that as opposing poles as much as I find the term negative and perhaps offensive. I suppose this is why I question a contemporary viewer. Do you feel the need then to correct this notion of obsession? I wonder how many are willing to consider what you do instead of writing it off as an obsession. Why not precision?
Ellison: Precision is a good word. I have been at times a very obsessive though so I recognize those two poles and don’t really mind if people say obsessive. I was in a show at a space in New Jersey that was titled Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and thought that was an unfortunate title for a show. An even better word might be meticulous.
artsnob: With each of your drawings and the aphorisms you post on Facebook, I am increasingly fascinated with the fundamentals of drawing and writing you employ in your work. I would even say I become nostalgic. While I am so excited, as a Facebook friend, to be able to see your work and read your aphorisms in “realtime,” I sometimes long for an intimacy your work celebrates. I do wish to share the space with the work. How do you think the fundamentals of drawing translate in the online media? Also, your aphorisms and the quotes included on your Facebook status come from an earlier form of textual messages….those of fortune cookies. As the artist, do you at all feel the disconnect I try to describe here?
Ellison: I finally related the aphorisms to my drawings by coming up with a special way of writing them and drawing a repetitive motif and have them as a drawing series. I had never had much outlet for the aphorisms until Facebook with its status updates. Although I got them published three times on a blog run by James Geary, who has written and compiled two books on aphorisms. I don’t feel a disconnect having turned them into word art which I had done in the past in other ways. I also write poetry.
artsnob: Do you share your poetry online or have you had it published? Or do you read it as a performative art form? I imagine how all of these would become part of a solo show in the gallery. Do you see this work as translatable in more traditional art spaces?
Ellison: I had toyed with the idea of making the poems into drawings like the aphorisms. But I will probably do it much later. I have been published in the upcoming issue of Gargoyle Magazine. I have also read aloud, but only on rare occasions. Facebook was very good for me “coming out” as a poet. There is a blog called Buddy of Work by Henry Samelson that matches artists’ main work with a passion on the side that published one of my paintings and one of my poems.
artsnob: Similarly, it is difficult to recognize your work as small when presented online. So much of the writing about your work stresses the diminutive size of all of your pieces. Until I looked around at gallery images, I wouldn’t have realized this. The size of your work seems to be an incredibly important element in what you are trying to achieve. How do you maintain this conversation online? Or does exhibiting your work online permit a different or more welcome discussion about form and pattern?
Ellison: People online do not tend to discuss the work they see. They tend to use one word like Nice! or Wow! or free associate. One of my friends on FB started a group called Critical Analysis to remedy this situation. It was lively and refreshing at first but has been inactive the last week or so. People frequently ask me what the size of my work is. As to working small, I prefer the intimacy – and have written an artist’s statement/essay on it titled On Humility.
artsnob: I suppose this is the weakness of Facebook to which I refer in the previous question. I’ve not seen the Critical Analysis group (though I may look for it), but to push this issue again, does your work with aphorisms, language, text, even conversation find Facebook ironically unfit for discussion of your art?
Ellison: There have been some very good discussions of art on Facebook and some worthwhile commentary on the drawings and paintings I share. I was reviewed by James Panero of The New Criterion and he noted my use of social media. I am so pleased with who I have met and what discussions there are since joining Facebook about two and a half years ago. And it is a good break from my incessant drawing and painting.
artsnob: I see your abstractions as so incredibly connected to a sort of spirituality in process and form. Many have compared your forms to Eastern or tantric styles. I see similarities as well in medieval church decorations of stained glass and mosaics. Each of these aesthetics point to what I see is pure form and a path to truth (for the viewer). Does your process reflect similar ideas for you, the artist? Keeping with the religiosity of the comparison, do you see your work as prayerful or communal?
Ellison: One of my aphorisms is Spirituality is in the inner eye of the beholder. If someone finds spirituality in my work I am delighted and even moved by it. I believe it is not my place to claim spirituality for myself, as many would also see no connection, or don’t believe. All of the sources you mention above I have loved to look at. My mother was a medievalist.
artsnob: More about your process. I mentioned to you earlier about how as a knitter I find yet another access to your work. The repetition of knitting is very meditative, yet the required precision of the stitches point to something that is far from random. Do you find truth in combining these elements of art making or perhaps you seek truth in this way?
Ellison – There are many truths but it feels true to me.
The Clifton Cultural Arts Center is opening a new series of events called Sunsets at the Center. This series celebrates the arts in Cincinnati, including music, literary, visual, and culinary arts.
Check out the series on their website.
These may be the best tickets to an artful autumn.
I wonder if we could get a local artist to create large wheat paste stamps and tag all of these murals around Cincinnati with “$25,000 Fine.”
After 26 years as director, with one of the longest tenures of any art museum leader in the country, Dr. Mitchell D. Kahan announced to the Akron Art Museum’s Board of Trustees that he will leave January 2, 2013 and assume the title of Director Emeritus. In addition, Janice Driesbach will join the staff on August 20, after a year-long national search, as the museum’s new Chief Curator.
Under Kahan’s direction, the Akron Art Museum enjoyed significant institutional growth: from a 25,000 square foot facility to 83,000 square feet; from an endowment of just over $2 million to well over $20 million following three endowment campaigns; from a collection of 2,000 objects to over 5,000; from a staff of 22 to over 50; and a capital campaign that raised $44.8 million surpassing the final goal of $42 million. Most significantly for future generations, Kahan raised almost $5 million in permanent endowment funds for purchases of art; there were no funds for art purchases when he arrived in1986.
Kahan plans to continue living in the Akron area with his partner Christopher Hixson and will focus on foundation management, arts journalism and making art.
Driesbach, a native of Lakewood, Ohio, has worked as both a curator and museum director. After an undergraduate degree in art history and political science from Allegheny College, she received her M.A. in art history from University of Iowa, where she studied with art historian Frank Seiberling (son of Goodyear founder F.A. Seiberling). She later worked at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento as Curator of Art and held two museum directorships, at the University of Nebraska’s Sheldon Museum of Art and The Dayton Art Institute.
Her specialty is American art, and she has spearheaded numerous collaborations among cultural institutions on a variety of topics. Driesbach helped to develop the collection of American contemporary sculpture at University of Nebraska and in Sacramento expanded institutional holdings of regional art, a dual approach that mirrors Akron’s commitment to both regional art and developments elsewhere. She is delighted to return to her first love, curatorial work. Her husband John is a printmaker and is a retired professor of art from California State University-Sacramento, where he earlier served as chair of the art department. Their two daughters live in Chicago and Fort Collins.
I really cannot remember the last time I visited a local gallery or museum here in Cincinnati. I keep saying I will, but instead I drive right by the art museum in Eden Park and head straight to the pool in Mt. Adams. I’ve tried to tell myself, “it’s summer, I’ll wait for the new season to start.” But I know my lack of interest rests on the success of the gatekeepers of the city’s local art scene to call everything art: hula hoopers, jugglers, fire eaters are now grouped with musicians, ballet dancers, and painters. And to maintain the city’s aging art theme, the venue is the street.
I think this push to engage as many people a possible in the arts is meant to encourage people to visit traditional art venues and ultimately support (with $$) our art institutions. I’m not sure how well it works. The message instead seems to be, “art is everywhere” so you really don’t have to visit an art museum or gallery. Perhaps that’s why I’ve not visited the museum in a long time. I got the message.
Cincinnati’s art world has become a circus so I’m hanging out at the pool.
Bernard Klevickas is a sculptor who utillizes industrial processes in an expressionist manner to create objects of meticulous refinement with an interest in exploring the possibilities of surface and form. As an aspiring artist developing his own sculpture over the past 22 years Bernard has at various times fabricated sculpture for the artists Jeff Koons, Louise Bourgeois, Frank Stella, and others. He has a manufacturing certificate in CNC (computer numerical control) machining and manual lathe and mill operation and a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His sculpture has won many awards and has been shown indoor and outdoor in numerous exhibitions in New York City, the New York Hudson Valley, Chicago Illinois, West Palm Beach Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Dallas Texas, Istanbul Turkey, Venice Italy, and Bermuda.
Here I have an opportunity to talk to Klevickas about how he sees space in waves and how his process refuses to be constricted by hard flat surfaces of his chosen media and the spacial grid in which we and his work reside:
1. I am most interested in your focus on waves as the dominant spacial form. So often in art and thoughts about space, the grid in the foundational element. This is true of painting, sculpture, and architecture. I trust your time in school required your working within the confines of the grid. How did you move from it? Perhaps I should ask, have you moved from it? Does working in public spaces require a certain amount of recognition of the grid? Perhaps your “waveform shapes” and curves permit a sort of freedom, though like painting (canvas) there is an implied set of special concerns that may imprison. Is there some confinement in your work?
Waves are a way I can think of space. A surface is 2 sided, 2 dimensional and a barrier wall, floor or ceiling but if it has ripples or curves within it becomes 3 dimensional, it then moves into sculpture.
I don’t remember the grid being brought up much at school. Maybe it is so ubiquitous everywhere that I didn’t consider it then. School was so long ago. I drew and painted at first but did feel confined by the rectangular and flat surface. That was before school. I started making shaped canvases then I started using sewn together pieces of fabric (patchwork) as the shaped edged, but still flat canvas surface. Then I started making soft sculptures from the patchwork, which was happening during art school. After school I drifted back to metal which was in my background because my father had a metalworking shop in the garage (actually more of a machine shop with a lathe, but that’s getting technical). As a kid my father showed me some of the techniques for metalworking but while in art school I focused on different materials. Afterwards somehow the two merged. I became interested in making a hard surface bump and curve (look soft?).
Perhaps confinement and freedom play off of each other repeatedly to create patterns and for me one of the best ways to present this is the waveform. I did not follow a logical set of literal guidelines to end up making the kind of work I make. It was much more of feeling my way through it. Confinement is the edge of the shaping tool and freedom is in using it to shape things. Like most anything, you start from a very limited area and you learn to find the boundaries then you learn how to push those boundaries out further or to your own design.
Regarding art in public spaces- there are certain issues to abide by for safety so things don’t collapse and people don’t bump their heads on things sticking out or trip over low things or climb on certain surfaces, but it does not require a grid. The setting may often impart influence on the artist because the art often visually interacts with nearby architecture and much public sculpture may utilize grids or symmetry more out of an ingrained desire of reflecting the order surrounding the art.
2. Your choice to work in metals seems equally constricting. The results however are absolutely fantastic. The polished and colorful surfaces seem to emphasize the nature of the material even as you change its form in ways we may not always imagine. Further, your viewers’ own personal familiarity with metals adds to the awe-inspiring inquisitiveness of each of your pieces. One can easily compare the appearance of your work to that of Frank Gehry’s buildings after years and years of beautifully spectacular steel skyscrapers designed according to the grid and showcasing the strength of the metals. Architecture however requires a certain amount of utility in chosen materials. As a sculptor, you are afforded a bit more freedom. Is there sculptural medium other than metals that permit similar exploring of space and surfaces?
Any material has its limits. Clay Dries and gets brittle, fabric rips, paint fades, wood warps. Metal does have plasticity but it takes a lot of effort (usually with heavy machinery) to shape it. My polished, colorful work was inspired from automobiles, generally the fancy ones. Influences like the curve on the fender of a porsche. I like the way light bounces off the surface. Frank Gehry was an early influence, though his buildings, Bilbao for instance, appear more like curling ribbons than waves. A flat sheet of paper or metal can be wrapped into a tube rather easily, but it cannot be curved in multiple directions quite as easily, like in a bowl or saddle shape. It is possible for metal to do this though and car manufacturers have been doing it for years, but attention is rarely payed to those engineers compared to a starchitect. John Chamberlain is also an influence but the process he used was rather uncontrolled.
I use computer modeling and sometimes clay and paper mache to experiment with forms.
3. Understandably, you speak about your work in predominantly organic forms. Wrestling with the metals that result in undulating forms illustrate this living and movement in lived spaces. We speak of abstract painting in similar organic/geometric terms. Is this a visual language in which you speak of your work, or do you see your works as living pieces sharing lived public spaces with trees, flowers, people.
Interesting question! I enjoy the process, so on that level to me it is process art, and making the art is something of a performance (usually done in private). It is a very long drawn-out type of action. However, I do it with the end game in mind: that there will be a physical object inhabiting real space for others to see. It is and isn’t a visual language: “language” suggests to me that it is understandable with words and I do not think that it is. It is a visual experience and embedded in the object is the culmination of the knowledge and everyday stuff that makes up who I am. As Pollack said “I am nature” I feel I understand what he meant and this is what I try to do in my way. The objects, though, are just things, perhaps they buzz with some residue energy I put into them or maybe not. I abhor the thought that they are nothing more than the dialogue around them but if that is so then I hope that the dialogue is about the craft and labor involved and the influences from our more common functional industrial objects in which we rarely consider what was involved in their making.
4. Despite the materials you use, you speak of your sculpture, like every tree, star, and person as alive or in some way a living organism. Do you see metals as a living material? Staying a bit longer with the question of medium, there seems to be a very conscious decision to choose materials (metal scraps or bicycles) that a decidedly “dead” or at least no longer in use. While I’m certainly aware of upcycling, recycling, etc, I wonder if yours is less about environmentalism or more about inviting your audience to see even industrially manufactured things as living. If this is the case, why is it valuable for us to recognize this?
This goes back to my prior answer. The objects we use in our everyday are rarely considered deeply. Where did the metal come from? Who designed this bike frame (for instance) to look this way and why? Who welded it? Who painted it? Were they well paid? Did they inhale dangerous fumes? Industrial manufacturing has become a very hidden process. The raw material was part of the Earth and it will be recycled (metal is by far more recyclable than plastic for instance) or returned to the Earth. Is it living? Not in the sense that the people who work with it are. Metal has peculiar characteristics as does clay or paper. Living in the grand scale of geology, yes, and a galactic star is also living it is as if all of humanity and other animals and plants are living inside a larger living organism called a galaxy living in a living universe but it is much more easy to just zoom down to our human scale and just say for simplicities sake that its probably better not to call the metal objects I make alive, they are things and on the human scale we should focus on what we make and why. and at what cost to others and our environment. Many “things” are not made in the U.S. anymore. It often seems that an argument about outsourcing can often lead to a type of xenophobia and that is not at all what I want to suggest. I wonder that if much industrial manufacturing is no longer happening in the U.S. then what other types of employment are most of us in the U.S. doing? For who and why? It is a nice thought that if a kid needs a bicycle someone in a factory is making one and that the circle is completed. When that circle excludes willing local workers for fair pay over an under paid person working in dangerous conditions 1,000′s of miles away so that a few investors can attain a higher profit margin while requiring more resources just to get the bicycle here; the bicycle is just an example but I do worry that the connection between what we use and how it is made is lost. Sustainability is becoming ever more important and as a society we have to ask who is gaining by the careless waste of resources.
5. Finally, my interest in your work in manipulating metal forms lies in your processes. You say the materials you choose require lots of engineered planning that combines computers and industrialized machinations. I am originally from an old steel town and my memory of the steel mill is mixed with fascination and fear. The large smoke stacks, the smell that pour through the neighborhoods combined with the promise of a strong working class, a thriving culture, life. Concepts of class in art are always sticky discussions and I don’t want to really get into that (I’m not interested in defining higher/lower arts), but I am interested in historical references of spaces shared by class or culture. I’m not sure this is a conversation you look to engaging but do you see your work, not the sculptures, but the process in some way a recognition of a working class presented in spaces of leisure?
Yes. There has to be a balance. Smoke stacks billowing black smoke should not happen anywhere. There are much cleaner processes and methods today, but the concern is and has been the financial cost rather than the environmental cost. This has to change.
Art (specifically what is called High art) is in an odd moment in time right now. Is Art to glorify the rich or can it bring about a greater universal awareness and help lead to a more egalitarian world?
Starting June 26, 2012, the City has been accepting applications from individual artists who work professionally in art disciplines, including but not limited to dance, music, theatre & visual arts, poetry/fiction writing, interdisciplinary/performance art, and media arts.
The applicant must be a City of Cincinnati resident during the entire duration of the program, July 1, 2012 – May 31, 2013. The program is being administered through the Cincinnati Recreation Department. Mayor Mallory has appointed a new Cincinnati Arts Allocation Committee to select the winning local artists. The group has tweaked and streamlined the application and reporting process and will choose up to a dozen finalists to be interviewed in October, before final selection of the seven Art Fellowship recipients.
Councilmember Laure Quinlivan got Council support for $50,000 in funding for individual artist grants and came up with idea to have winning artists participate in two public presentation/performances at the end of the grant period, to showcase their artwork and explain their inspiration.
Please find the application and guidelines The Cincinnati Arts Ambassador Fellowship Program