Monday, December 21, 2009

Dap Where It's Due: my mom's woolderful pillow

I didn't make this, my mom did. She made it out of an old wool sweater. I'm just posting it here because I think it is really cool and I think she should make more of them and try and sell them somewhere. More on her here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mining the Refuse Pile:

Contemporary Art as it Relates to the Past
Brian James Spies

Recently Gary Carrion-Murayari, a senior curatorial assistant at The Whitney Museum of American Art, was quoted as follows in reference to a burgeoning trend in contemporary art, “We’re at a particular moment now where there have been drastic changes across the country, so many younger artists have been looking back to history for guidance.” ( 12/11/09). I could not agree more, both in reference to the work of my peers and especially regarding my own work. I believe one of the defining characteristics of artists of my generation is a sort of sponge-like ability to absorb the past 2000+ years of art history as well as ambivalence to the baggage that often in the past has accompanied it. Whereas the previous generation (aka the Pictures Generation) viewed modernity and its leaders (i.e. Clement Greenberg et al) inextricably linked, my generation is able to see the sermon and the preacher as separate entities. We may not agree with the overarching message of modernism but we nonetheless see in it a wealth of inspiration and an unending reservoir of ideas waiting to be mined. So whereas the generation before us mined things such as consumer culture and mass media we apply the same post-modern sampling technique to the aforementioned 2000+ years of art history. In my own art I find it perfectly natural to cite sources as varied as Cha├»m Soutine and Richard Prince, often in a single piece. I find inspiration in the use of text by artists like Ed Ruscha and Jasper Johns but will combine this with a painterly approach out of Joan Mitchell and a color palette borrowed from Jeff Koons. I am inspired by how artists both of the past as well as the present use color and form and mark to evoke a sensation in the viewer and to communicate a narrative or universal truth. I may reference a mark from say a Paul Gauguin painting without making any conceptual mention of its source. Much like Run DMC sampling Aerosmith not because they were fans of their oeuvre but because they liked the beat; I treat all of art history as an endless supply of marks and forms and color palettes to populate my work with. Furthermore, unlike previous generations that railed against the museum system that they saw as out of touch with a post-modern ethos that eschewed the sacredness of the “art object”, I feel as comfortable at a Blockbuster Retrospective as I do at an alternative space. Although I define myself as a painter I nonetheless have a broad definition of what a painting is. I don’t feel limited by the constraints placed on previous generations of artists. At the same time, make no mistake, I am a painter and I make paintings. I am not interested in dipping my toe in many ponds; I merely feel that as a painter I approach every work of art that I produce as a painter would so regardless of the medium or method the work I produce is a painting because I, a painter, produced it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mikey's First Time

Acrylic On Canvas
h: 36 x w: 48 inches
$750.00 + Shipping

Recently a friend of mine has taken to commenting on how innocent I am. Although I dispute aspects of that assertion, I mean how can someone who frequently showed up to high school drunk really be called innocent, I can't ignore the fact that in someways I am about as innocent as fresh ivory snow. I think this is rooted in a degree of ambivalence on my part when I came to the more carnal of things. Drugs and alcohol always did it for me, but sex was too much work. This has resulted in me being an unabashed 30 yr old virgin. However, as I get older I do sometimes wonder what I might be missing, not as much from an hormonal / orgasmic standpoint but more from an intimacy standpoint. The truth is that even the most social of drugs are in the end a selfish experience. Drugs don't make you want to share, you don't get higher by sharing your pot with your friends. However, beyond the fact that sex requires two people I am apt to believe that by it''s very nature sex actually benefits from giving as opposed to taking. Sex is a binary experience, it is all about give and take. I guess what I am saying is that as I get older and begin to find more value in things like community and fraternity I am beginning to desire the intimacy that only sex can create. This thinking inspired this piece which is ultimately about my extremely late sexual awakening and all the excitement and anxiety that produces in me.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Contact (Can't I Get Some)

Acrylic On Canvas
h: 36 x w: 48 inches
$700.00 + Shipping

I painted this painting recently when I was in a place of real despair. I have a long history of mental illness and I have struggled with depression most of my life. Art always came easy to me, but human relationships have always been like pulling teeth. I am beginning to think that the reason I struggle so much with people is because more than anything all I ever really wanted was a simple normal life with a wife, a dog and 2.5 kids. I have travelled all over the world, hung out with my heroes and the thing I really wanted was to be just a regular guy. I think that has caused me to be over eager and to try too hard in social and romantic situations. Whereas painting comes as naturally to me as breathing, people and relationships are a real struggle. I'm beginning to understand that the reason paintings are easy for me is because when I pick up a brush I know what I'm doing. With people, especially women I like and respect all I can think about is what it would be like to be married to them and to have a simple, domestic life. I'm never in the moment and I think that makes me seems equal parts severe and alienating. Anyway, this painting is about the process of me trying to figure this all out. I hope to continue to explore this process on canvas.

Contact: a work in process stage 2

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All That Glitters Is Gone But The Memories are Gold

Site Specific Ephemeral Installation
Mixed Media on Wall
Various Dimensions

This is my first installation piece. With it my goal was to explore a moment in my personal autobiography. A few years ago my Grammy, whom I was very close to, passed away. The previous October the whole family came into town to celebrate her 80th birthday. It was, I believe, probably the happiest day of her life. Family meant everything to her and she loved being surrounded by all her loved ones. We celebrated her birthday by giving her a gold charm bracelet and a charm from each family member, which in a large Irish Catholic family like mine really adds up to a lot of charms. My Grammy always loved gold and you could always hear her coming by the sound of her gold bracelets jangling. By the following October many family members would not be speaking to each other and it would be a year or two more before the scars would even begin to heal. However, I choose not to focus on what happened after her passing but instead focus on the memories of spending time with her and the joy she brought me.