Author Archives: kath mcgaughey

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 
early self portrait

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.


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?

Glen Cheriton- BFA presentation images

I’m posting Glen’s presentation images in conjunction with the other great pictures that are in the previous post.

Much of Glen’s work and presentation was a discussion of the fine line between art and science. The meticulous documentation of his work is as much apart of the show, as the show itself. So much of science is the documentation of process. So much of Glen’s art is the experimentation of process- mutual dependence, action and influence- reciprocity, the title of Glen’s blog.

I think I was most caught up in the discussion of time. I have always had a strictly linear view of time- like many, I imagine. Our society and relationships and experiences operate on the premise of past, present and future. However, recently I have come to view time, or emotions in time as being something far more fluid and cyclical in nature. The idea of a linear quality to time is perhaps a construct to deal with the emotional nature of existence.  
Glen’s time lapse photo of the stars (below) gives time an orbit. The images of stars that exist now to us, are potentially long gone. The 16mm film reel loops, no beginning, no end. The cup exists always as matter is exists infinitely. 
In the words of Carl Sagan, a humbling and character-building experience’.

Jessica Hayworth BFA – Every Night a New Ghost

  “I’m interested in what happens to a prominent thought when it’s not in use, because thoughts never seem to leave us or go anywhere; they tend to rise up from somewhere and then sink back to somewhere. And that got me wondering about the subterranean mental space that thoughts could occupy.” Jessica -opening reception for Every Night a New Ghost

Jessica’s multiple images and simple line quality of the voice from the depth of the hole  reference her long interest in graphic novels and story telling. While we (desperately) want to know who or what is in the hole, it is not important – it is more an indefinable space. These images are in contrast with the rich, velvety drawings that seem to explore and grasp at memory,perception and interpretation- those things that become faulty over time.  Two large, neutral colored paintings oscillate between graphic simplicity and the unanchored, ghostly quality of the graphite, echoing our need to understand and resolve the occupant of the hole. 
All the imagery speaks to trying to peek into those places we can’t fully know about- our anxieties, fear, death, the soul- ultimately with a sense of humor….

Beyond the BFA

When giving your thesis talk the question is invariably asked, “what are you going to do now that you’re graduated?”

Like many, I do plan on applying to a Masters program… like many, it may be in a year or two.

I did and do want to keep momentum and find work within the art community.
One of the last classes an art student from SNC will take is Advanced Studio. Among other things we delved into, we explored and developed the tools for practicing as an artist outside of academia.  It can be daunting. It is daunting! Today you have to be diverse and innovative to create and find your niche.
Several years ago, prior to starting my degree, I would not have equated my ski town with having and supporting an art community. I have come to find that the artistic community is surprisingly large, diverse, tenacious, and in places thriving!
I have begun working with  Riverside Studios in Truckee, CA. They are a co-op of women artists and artisans who have created a business from the necessity of needing an outlet for their work.
The co-op was started in 2002 with three people, in a dilapidated house on the Truckee River. Due to zoning restrictions, it was essentially a studio. The space could not be a ‘store’ but could have shows, which they had up to four times a year. Alanna, one of the original members, commented,  “you made a lot of product”, but lacked sales.
In order to have more of a commercial presence, the co-op moved to Brickeltown, a historic area of downtown Truckee, hoping to create a more fiscal outlet. While they still were not able to generate the commerce they had hoped for they did develop a presence and community happenings such as First Fridays. First Fridays was a community gathering for artists to promote themselves and their work. Any artist was encouraged to turn up, bring work and network.
In the summer of 2010, five artists joined together and moved to commercial row in Truckee, again trying to find a better commercial location.

Commercial row storefront

commercial row, Truckee
The studio is presently a co-op of four women who have created a store that showcases their work and that of mainly local artists. The work is primarily handmade and hand crafted. There are two bench jewelers, Sondrea Larson and Mary Guerra, a self described ‘leather lady’, Kahlil Johnson, and a potter, Alanna Hughes. Various 2D artists (painters, printmakers, photographers) sculptors, woodworkers, fabric artists and cottage industry products are sold under consignment.
Heather River, who was a student at SNC, was with the co-op when they moved down town but has recently departed the co-op to open her own store called Bespoke. She hopes to open in early May. She has described herself as a curator, finding ‘one of a kind goods from independent artisans’.
First Fridays is now an established event that is hosted by the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association with multiple business involved.
Riverside Studios now takes the opportunity with First Fridays to showcase an ‘Artist of the Month’. Established and/ or emerging artists are given space to exhibit work. Mary Kenny has participated (and will be ‘artist of the month’ this May!) as well as graduate student Jonah Harjer. Jessica Hayworth will be showing work in early 2013.
Mary Kenny
Jonah Harjer
Jessica Hayworth

I have joined Riverside as shop manager and a contributing artist. I get to delve into the operation of a small business and interact  with a diverse group of artists. I am also learning to create and maintain a studio practice routine and balance new work and production.

I am also this month’s artist. Come down!