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Archives for abstraction


48" x 60", 2010, acrylic & ink on wood panel

Oxygen, 48" x 60", 2010, acrylic & ink on wood panel

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Dark blue snow

I just visited the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, where I saw, among other things, a couple of Rothko paintings and a Barnett Newman. Maybe that’s why this installment of the continuing Yellowstone day is more colorful than previous ones (see parts one and two).

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Ultimate abstractions

Kazimir Malevich painted his Black Square in 1915, and it was soon followed by White on White. I had thought this was pretty radical, but I’ve just been reading of three earlier works along similar lines, created by Alphonse Allais in the 1880’s. Alas, no images seem to be available on the web, but I’ve approximately re-created them from descriptions in Kirk Varnedoe’s Mellon Lectures.

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Black water

I guess it’s natural for a photographer working in black and white to notice where things fall on the continuum between the two. Though all shades of gray are lovable, it’s more the extremes that seem to win my heart. It’s the attraction of pure yin and yang. It’s therefore a special delight when winter brings a reversal of this duality in one of my favorite subjects, namely streams and their ilk. Once there’s snow on the ground and ice forming on the bank, the water itself turns dark, just the opposite of the typical summer pattern of white water amid dark rocks or ground. Since a trip a couple months back along a local stream after the first big snowfall, I’ve been contemplating a series I tentatively called Black water. The early images didn’t seem especially promising, but I never found time to take a good crack at it.


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Pattern and Decoration, a reprise

“Pattern and Decoration” (P&D) is the name of an art movement that had its moment of visibility in the post-modern pluralism of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Its practitioners include Valerie JaudonMiriam Schapiro, Joyce Kozloff, Kim MacConnel, Tony Robbin, Robert KushnerRobert Zakanitch, and many others. P&D often serves as an unheralded theoretical base for the quilted arts that I am familiar with.

Robert Zakanitch, Red Watercolor, 34 x 36, 2007

Pattern and Decoration: An Ideal Vision in American Art, 1975 –1985 is the printed catalogue of an exhibit held at the Hudson River Museum in 2007 -2008. The catalogue has excellent essays by Anne Swartz, Arthur Danto, Temma Balducci, and John Perreault, as well as including short biographies of the artists and plates of the exhibited art. Most of the words which follow come from the catalogue.

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Corners of the City — Some text about some painting

The Jolly Roger Bar, 12th and Madison. Oil on board, 12 x 16″

As you know, I’ve been painting around Portland, here and there, returning often to sites to note what else is there, what I may have missed, what more is available for turning into paint.

These paintings have a certain “feel” to them — a style that fits with the record of my visits. I work on-site and then tweak and fiddle in the studio. I also find myself making larger, stranger, studio-begot contributions to the sets of pieces.

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Not the kitchen sink

An ideal blog post should be a nutritious snack like a granola bar: a little filling but not too heavy, containing a few sweet nuggets, and hopefully good for you. Well, you know how there’s usually a little spilled flour, a sticky spot of honey, and a few escaped raisins lying around after a cooking stint? And possibly a few items from earlier efforts? Welcome to my clean-up post.


One stray ingredient is one I deliberately left out of last week’s post on some modern Chinese abstract artists, for reasons of space and time. But Che Chuang’s painting of a head, shown above, struck a real chord with me. It reminded me strongly of two heads of my own that have appeared in these pages. The level of abstraction, original color, and even shape are not so very different.

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