Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Green Man

Danny Kern directed a video that won honorable mention in Herman Miller’s 2012 student video contest. The theme for the contest was “What Makes Your Campus Green?” Below, the green man will let you know:

Maurice Sendak 1928- 2012

Sadly Maurice Sendak died- best known probably for his book, ‘Where the Wild Things Are‘. He  has written and/or illustrated more than 100 books during his career. He was also a very charismatic and articulate when talking about his life and work. Posted are two interviews that played on National Public Radio. The first was in 2003 and delves into his younger memories which inform a lot of his writing for children. He has been described as transforming children’s literature as he addressed the ‘psychological intensity of growing up’. (2003 interview)
The second interview is from 2011. The interview initially sets out to talk about his latest and last book, Bumble-ardy but ends up in reverie. Just a warning, it’s a tear jerker but worth while listening to. (2011 interview)

(Thanks Chris for introducing us to his interviews)


Oz blog

Bermagui is a small town (population 1500) on the south coast…that is, south of Sydney, Australia.  Seven hours south of Sydney, eight hours north of Melbourne, three hours east of Canberra. It is reasonably remote (it’s my family’s home). There is art. Surprisingly there is a small art community that is fighting to be thriving.

One of the places I have visited is Narek Galleries. The building was originally a church built in 1899 (that is old for Australian history) and is now a gallery that supports and displays established and emerging artists. Karen O’Cleary, the owner and curator, moved to the area, already established in the gallery world, with connections and an established clientele. She wanted to prove you can run a high quality gallery in a remote area.
                                         
She bought the space saying you need to own your space if you’re going to make it as a gallery/ studio. Also, the road was about to be paved- travelling to the area was made easier. Tourists from Melbourne and Sydney were starting to make the trek. There was a group of artists practicing in the area. Reasons, she believed, that would support the venture.
Like all small towns keeping talent in the area is a problem. People typically are heading off into the wild blue yonder in search of opportunity. Karen, along with five or six interested art entrepreneurs got together and wanted to do something to lift the game of arts in the area- they created created the Living Artist Award.
The Living Artist Scholarship was set up to provide on going support for talented artists from the Far South Coast. The major objective of Living Artist is to provide opportunities for visual artists to develop excellence in their practices by providing mentorship, education, and financial and marketing support in a bid to retain them in the region whilst they work towards supporting themselves from their own art practice!
Approximately $30,000 is raised in the local community every two years. This is not done with grants or government assistance- it is purely with the assistance of other artists, donors, sponsors and volunteers.
The artist has 12-18 months of assistance and then has an ‘outcome’ event or show.
The artists who have received the award are ceramicist Poppy Benton, print maker Tanja Riese and painter Matt Jones.

Poppy Benton
Matt Jones
Tanja Reise
I’m inspired by the art community creating their own opportunities- worldwide.

Thomas Kinkade 1958-2012

Thomas Kinkade died in early April at age 54. 
You may know his work? ‘Sentimental scenes of country gardens and pastoral landscapes in dewy morning light that were beloved by many but criticized by the art establishment.’
Reviled by the art establishment,  a kitschster without rival,  mall-art…. 
I don’t like Kinkade’s work- at all. However, I almost didn’t like it before I had even seen a single image due to classroom joke’s and derogatory references.( I also didn’t understand the references to Bob Ross either ). I would usually snort and nod in agreement and then write the name down so that I could look the person up that night on the internet. I hate the idea of disliking someone and their work intensely without, in Aussie terminology, giving them a fair go. Like a good critique. 
So I looked him up on the internet….

He was practically a local, born and raised in Placerville, CA. He studied at the University of California at Berkeley and the Art Centre College of Design in PasadenaWhen he was young he traveled by boxcar from Californiato New Yorkwith fellow artist, James Gurney, sketching the landscape along the way which they had published in 1982- “The Artist Guide to Sketching”. I looked it up and it seems it has become a bit of a collectible since his death. Amazon has it ranging from $499 to $950! 


The sketch book helped him land him a job creating background art for the animated film, ‘Fire and Ice’ by by Ralph Bakshi and and Frank Frazetta. Bakshi wrote ‘Thomas Kinkade was for me at his very young age already a brilliant painter…. I gave him the job of painting backgrounds for my movie. He nailed it, which really was impossible for anyone else with no experience – but not for him.’  

283 Ralph Bakshi remembers Thomas Kinkade and his work on FIRE AND ICE
Kinkade left, Gurney right
Paul Chadwick, an old roommate from the Art Centre College also wrote recently “His frontier scenes, in the manner of John Stobart and his Bierstadt  influenced Yosemite paintings, were great.  Anybody repelled by his shining, cute cottages should reserve final judgment until they’ve seen these…the guy could paint….”.

I can’t find images of these paintings. However, he did paint under the ‘brush’ name of Robert Girrard (1984- 1989) for awhile, in order to to experiment with impressionism.

River Seine
Robert Girrard piece

Robert Girrard 
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early self portrait

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early work called ‘Two Cats’
In the 1980s  Kinkade became a born-again Christian. The change coincided with a shift in his career path- he moved his focus to retail, not on the  traditional gallery system. He sold his work through a franchise of galleries, cable television home shopping networks, and eventually online. He made no apologies for commercializing the art.
Apparently a Kinkade picture hangs in one out of 20 American homes. His images are reproduced in books, on posters, canvas prints, hand-signed lithographs, collector’s plates, postcards, calendars, coffee mugs, puzzles, snoglobes, home furnishings and, the pièce de résistance,  agated community in Vallejo!
Sales for his works and associated products were reported to have reached $100 million annually.

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So why was (and is) he so popular?????
Perhaps the most succinct summation I have found was from the Daily Beast- ‘He captures, with chilling accuracy, a strangely American combination of blinkered nostalgia, blind complacency, and a ferocious resistance to change. And then he packages and sells that vision within a no-holds-barred consumerist culture that you wouldn’t think compatible with pictures of commerce-free townships twinkling by snow light.’
In the past couple of years Kinkade has had dubious business dealings, galleries have declared bankruptcy and people have gone unpaid. 
Knowing more does not change the fact that I find his work insipid….I do wonder though, if I hit upon a ‘winning formula‘ would I pursue it so formidably?