Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience

My first solo show as a professional artist is hanging right now at Gallery 119 in downtown Jackson until May 7th.  

This body of work is from a series of oil paintings titled "Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience." William Blake's poetry and compositional designs have been very inspiring to me over the years, and the theme of this series comes directly from his work. The concepts of the individual pieces, however, are not derived from specific works of his. I wanted to create a group of poetic narratives in which the "story" in each piece is intentionally left undefined. With this body of work I want to encourage the viewer to spend time with each individual piece, allowing them to interpret the meaning and narrative for themselves. While the images are extremely personal to me, often times being set in my house with my family or friends, I believe that the audience will be able to relate to the situations and emotions presented. The show is comprised of 12 oil paintings, six “Songs of Innocence”, and six “Songs of Experience.”  There is also a collection of drawings, some directly related to the series of paintings and some completely independent from the theme. 

All of the paintings in the “Songs of Innocence” series are on handmade paper. Over the years I have come to value the craftsmanship that goes into the preparation of a painting surface. Beginning a painting on a surface that I have already spent hours preparing, I am more likely to start that painting with increased focus and commitment.  With no training in paper making I decided to do a little research and make the 30"x30" sheets myself. I built the frame and deckle, and because of the large size I used an inflatable kids pool to pull the individual sheets. The pulp is made from scrap newspaper, computer paper, and brown paper bags. The paper is then allowed to dry before each one is primed to accept the oil paint. Because each sheet is unique, I attempt to select the one that has characteristics that will complement the final composition. I let the paper maintain the rough edges when displayed and mount them to the backing with heavy-duty magnets. Symbolically, I want the paper to be seen as representing the delicacy and ephemeral qualities of innocence. The square format represents unity.  

The “Songs of Experience” paintings are all on canvas specifically because it is traditional. I recognize that often as people get older they hold on to tradition a bit more closely. Thought process seems to get more analytical and structural which is why the dimensions of this series are all based on root rectangles as described in Jay Hambidge’s Elements of Dynamic Symmetry.

This body of work comes at a time when I am noticing a shift in my own life. I am married with two young children and see very clearly the passing of my youthful idealism and naivety. Yet I long to hold on to some of it. It is my hope that this exhibition expresses to the viewer my individual struggles and joys at this particular point in life.

You can go to my web site to see all of the work from the show, but here is a selection.  Catalogues are also available for $30.  Just contact me if you are interested.  

10 pm 30 degrees
(Songs of Innocence)

For the hundredth time 
(Songs of Innocence)

(Songs of Innocence)

32nd Birthday
(Songs of Experience)

A dog named Kat
(Songs of Experience)

Sunday afternoon adventures
(Songs of Experience)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lea Barton's Southern Charm

There are at least two great shows currently up right now here in Jackson, if I do say so myself... because one of the two is mine.  I'll post about it later.  First I want to feature the exhibition of new work by the finely tuned collage artist Lea Barton at Fischer Galleries in Fondren.  Barton's work is unapologetically presented from the view of and about the southern woman.  In the hands of a lesser artist this narrow focus may keep certain groups of people at a distance or seem irrelevant, but Barton's witty and sincere approach is inviting.  Her pieces are challenging in the best sense.

With Barton's newest work, the Belle Boxes, I can't help but see a connection to the work of Kara Walker.  The delicate silhouettes of the southern belles are composed in shadow boxes as charming graphic pieces, but like Walker's work they seem to question the importance of the elegance.

This is an opportunity to see the work of a seasoned artist with a long exhibition list including a solo show at Denise Bibro gallery in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood.

21 Hours


Walls of Jericho

Belle Box

Belle Box