OIL PAINTING PROGRAM Fall 2019

This course includes:

  • A detailed list of materials to get started.
  • Everything you want to know about the materials and mediums, and how to paint without solvents.
  • Best practices, from setting the table to thinking in three dimensions.
  • How to set your practice up to build a body of work

The class, which will be limited to a small number of students, is accompanied by live weekly sessions to review the material and works in progress. Starts September 23.  Enrollment open September 9th.

About the Fall Oil Painting Program

 

PODCAST: with Erika B. Hesse

I am excited to share this episode with you because it is packed with such great content! Kimberly Brooks is a Renaissance Women who is a painter, researcher, writer, teacher and all around wonderful mind.

In this episode, we talk about David Hockney and his use of technology, the history of technology in painting, the book her father wrote “Art & Physics” and how she edited it during her teenage years. We also discuss her studio practice, work, color and how she became the founding editor of the Huffington Post Arts section.

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BOOK: Oil Painting: The Essential Guide

I remember the first time I ever painted in oil as if it were yesterday. Already an avid sketch artist and having dabbled in acrylics, I was initially hesitant to use the medium for 2 reasons:​  ​First​ly​, I put it on a pedestal, as if one needed a right or permission. ​ ​Second​ly​, I knew it involved materials that were somehow dangerous.

But I did it anyway. I knew then that I would be using this medium for the rest of my life.

Ten years in, I started to feel funny from the solvents.​ ​At the end of every painting session, I would have a weird taste on my tongue. I moved to “Odorless Mineral Spirits”, but barely felt better.​ ​If only I knew then what I’ve since learned during the illuminating journey of writing a book about the subject of everything I wish I knew at the start, the wonder of the history of pigments and particularly how to paint without solvents.

The dearth of knowledge about materials and craft among painters is an unnecessary epidemic. Either instructors assume the students learned it in a previous foundational class that no longer exists or were never taught themselves.

I’m so excited to announce that I created something I wished for my younger artist self: a little black book just for oil painting of all the materials I would need and why.

Oil Painting Safe Practices, Materials, & Supplies: The Essential Guide is a culmination of knowledge I’ve gathered over twenty-five years of painting with the last decade focused on how to paint in the safest way possible. It is a perfect shorthand for me to teach about materials and enabling anyone to mix their own mediums, reduce toxins, save time, live longer, and create more art.

Thanks to Chronicle Books, it will be widely available to painters worldwide soon. For now, I’m making it available and use it as a text book for my students

Oil Painting Safe Practices Materials & Supplies: The Essential Guide
by Kimberly Brooks
An overview of every facet one needs to know for an oil painting practice, including pigments, mediums, surfaces, brushes and how to paint solvent-free.

Buy Now

 

PRESS: ART DAILY

artdaily.org

LOS ANGELES, CA.- January is about cleansing the past and making new starts. But since the early 1990s, independent polls have shown the rapid growth of those without a religious affiliation. So where do people go to confess, if not to a higher power? Two curators thought … perhaps an art gallery?

On Jan. 5, 2019, Durden and Ray in downtown Los Angeles celebrated the start of the year with an exhibition that allows people to cleanse their souls through the art of disclosure.

Curated by Dani Dodge and Alanna Marcelletti, “Disclosure: Confessions for Modern Times” features artists Kim Abeles, Jorin Bossen, Kimberly Brooks, Joe Davidson, Dani Dodge, Donald Fodness, Kathryn Hart, Debby and Larry Kline, Conchi Sanford, Ed Tahaney and Steven Wolkoff.

For this exhibition, Dodge and Marcelletti decided to play devil’s advocates and create a space where the participants can disclose transgressions and progress unfettered into 2019 through art. The exhibition includes interactive confessionals, each designed by different artists, and figurative art exploring the experience of being human through relationships, tragedy, translation of autobiography and Barry Manilow.

The show is a contemporary take on the sacred and secular acts of confessing sins. Conchi Sanford’s confessional is composed of two see-through cocoons that allow people to whisper secrets to each other. Steven Wolkoff channels Bart Simpson with a piece on which people write what they will not do. Inside Kim Abeles’ confessional, people hear the sound of audio she collected one minute every day for 1440 minutes, or 24 hours, and Dani Dodge’s formal wooden confessional flashes “CONFESS” while inviting people to put their sins on display through Post-it notes.

“It’s not as if we aren’t aware of our own failings,” said Alanna Marcelletti, who identifies as a vague Catholic. “With our pervasive attention to social media, we witness the rampant documentation of repulsive things that people do to each other. And we are acutely aware of how much those terrible acts relate to who we are in secret.”

The figurative works in the show acknowledge the burden of unreleased guilt. Aesthetically, they are divided by the curators into their ideas of heaven, hell and in-between. Kimberly Brooks’ abstract figures exist in a heavenly realm, while Donald Fodness hellishly disassembles Barry Manilow. Debby and Larry Kline play prophet by mapping impending tragedy for the planet referencing Biblical plagues as they foretell natural and man-made disasters. In between are the paintings of a disconnected relationship by Jorin Bossen, and Ed “Celso” Tahaney’s vibrant take on the personal disclosures of Hollywood luminaries. Joe Davidson memorializes a life lived through concrete castings of the insides of his own shoes, while Kathryn Hart reveals her personal form of survivor guilt with a sculpture that includes found bone, which she refers to as a private confessional.

Dani Dodge, who was raised agnostic but has spent much of her life exploring different faiths, previously did a performance piece taking confessions and giving twisted penance at an LA Pride Festival.

“You have to wonder how the religious and secular populations reflect on, illustrate and purge themselves of guilt when confession is reduced to hashtags on social media.” Dodge said. “When Alanna and I put together this show with various takes on confessionals, and figurative works that drill into the heart of our guilt and fear, we wanted to addresses the abundance of guilt by attempting to satiate the audience’s appetite for repentance.”

The exhibition closes Feb. 2, 2019. Durden and Ray is located in the Bendix Building in LA’s Fashion District at 1206 Maple Ave., #832 Los Angeles, CA 90015.

LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS

Kimberly Brooks integrates figuration and abstraction to explore a variety of subjects dealing with history, memory and identity.  Exhibitions include Mom’s Friends, Technicolor Summer, The Stylist Project, I Notice People Disappear, Brazen and most recently Fever Dreams, a midcareer survey, at Mt San Antonio College (2018). Brooks received her B.A. at UC Berkeley (Literature, Valedictorian) and studied painting at Otis and UCLA. Upcoming exhibitions include Paintings from the Interior at UC Riverside and the Untitled Art Fair in San Francisco 2019.

LA WEEKLY Interview with Shana Nys Dambrot

Meet an Artist Monday: Painter Kimberly Brooks
by Shana Nys Dambrot

L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?

KIMBERLY BROOKS: I knew I was an artist since I was little. I had a set of markers in kindergarten that I kept incredible care of, and every few years I would get more colors. When I was 13, my father took me to New York’s MoMA, and when I saw Malevich’s White on White I had so many questions and it filled me with determination. That same moment also led my late father, Leonard Shlain, to pen his first book, Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time and Light.

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Art & Feminism: Kimberly Brooks Speaking & Moderating Panel at the ACE Hotel Saturday

Art+Feminism
2:30-3:45 PM
Ace Hotel
Art+Feminism is an international public project established in 2013 in response to the gender gap on Wikipedia. A DIY project, A+F developed materials and methods so that anyone can organize in-person, communal editing events on content pertaining to women and the arts. Since the first Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon in March, 2014, 4,600 participants have gathered at 280+ events worldwide, creating and improving 4,600 articles. A+F is based in New York at The Museum of Modern Art. You can learn more on the project website: Art+Feminism

Moderator: Kimberly Brooks, artist
Jacqueline Mabey, independent curator and co-founder, Art+Feminism
Michael Mandiberg, artist and co-founder, Art+Feminism
Stacey Allan, co-founder & executive editor at East of Borneo
Kai Alexis Smith, Academic Research Librarian, Cal Poly Pomona

Click here for more info and sign up/RSVP >

You are invited to join us at Ace Hotel for Wikipedia Day Los Angeles 2017, a Wikipedia celebration and mini-conference as part of the project’s global 16th birthday festivities. In addition to the party, the event will be a participatory unconference, with plenary panels, lightning talks, and of course, open space sessions.

Art + Culture Print Exhibition, NY, NY

"Portrait of Layla" "Portrait of Arjun" Limited Edition Prints

Art+Culture Projects
51 7th Ave (between 13th and 14th Streets)

We are delighted to introduce work by Kimberly Brooks in our new exhibition, curated by Kathy Battista, I’ll Be Your Mirror, featuring new limited edition prints by Betty Tompkins, Cheryl Donegan, Cindy Hinant, Lucy Liu and Narcissister.

Kimberly Brooks prints are from her exhibition “I Notice People Disappear”. Brooks is an American painter who blends figuration and abstraction to focus on a variety of subjects dealing with memory, history and identity. Born in New York she now lives and works in LA where she studied painting at UCLA. Solo exhibitions include: Thread and Bone, The Cooper Building, Los Angeles (2015); I Have a King Who Does Not Speak, Roosevelt Library, TX (2014); I Notice People Disappear, ArtHouse429, FL (2014); Thread, Taylor de Cordoba, Los Angeles (2011); The Stylist Project: Los Angeles, Taylor de Cordoba, Los Angeles (2010); Technicolor Summer, Taylor de Cordoba, Los Angeles (2008); Mom’s Friends, Taylor de Cordoba, Los Angeles (2007); and The Whole Story, RiskPress Gallery, Los Angeles (2006). Group shows include: Mirroring: Refraction Through the Female Gaze, Mirus Gallery, San Francisco (2013); Forest from the Trees, White Box Gallery, San Diego (2013); Sense and Sensibility, Mt. San Antonio College, CA (2013); Incognito, Santa Monica Museum of Art, CA (2010); Women of Women: The Female Form, Taylor de Cordoba, Los Angeles (2010); ArtHaus: Los Angeles | Berlin, Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen, CA (2009); and Made in California: Eight Artists, Santa Monica, CA (2009).

We will also be showing limited edition artwork by Sarah Cain, Anna Sew Hoy, Betty Tompkins, Monica Majoli, Ruby Sky Stiler, Virginia Poundstone, Liam Gillick, Scott Reeder, Alejandro Diaz, Tony Tasset and Yinka Shonibare. Proceeds from the sale of these works will benefit our cultural partners MCA Chicago, RISD Museum, Los Angeles Nomadic Division, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and Artadia.

Art+Culture Projects is a publisher of print editions and multiples produced in partnership with artists, curators, cultural institutions, non-profits, museums and commercial galleries. Our mission is to broaden awareness of the artists who are shaping our cultural legacy while creating a sustainable source of income for both artists and the programs – whether non-profit or commercial – that are showcasing innovative artistic practice.

All artworks are available to view and purchase now at artandculture.com. To purchase prints click here. For further information please contact helen@artandculture.com

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Q&A Kimberly Brooks: Fashionable sculpture for historic Cooper building

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June 11, 2015

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The historic Cooper building sits in the heart of downtown L.A.’s fashion district, and now a new sculpture hangs in the heart of that heart: The Cooper announced Wednesday it has permanently acquired artist Kimberly Brooks’ 8-foot-tall uncoated steel pendant “The Ephemerality of Manner,” which evokes a Victorian-era hoop skirt housing a woman’s muscled legs kicking outward.

The piece, the first art to be permanently added to the 1927 building, is part of Brooks’ site-specific installation “Thread and Bone,” which can be seen through July 24. It stitches together video, collage work, textile pieces, performance and the welded steel sculpture, the centerpiece. As it dangles from the lobby ceiling, casting shapes and shadows in the windows, the sculpture is shot through with subtle complexities and contradictions traversing fashion, feminism, architecture and art history.

Brooks, who teaches painting at Otis College of Art and Design in L.A., recently attended the Museum of Contemporary Art’s rocking gala, joined by her husband, the actor Albert Brooks. But more work lies ahead: She is creating four new sculptures for other fashion district buildings. “Thread and Bone,” commissioned by the Cooper, was a co-production of the Do Art nonprofit public art foundation and the Sage Projects consultancy. A closing performance will take place later this summer, after which the sculptural element will remain. “It just looks like it belongs here,” Brooks said during a recent conversation.

This is such a site-specific work. How did the space inform the piece?

The Cooper had asked me to do a painting show. But I walked in and instantly saw an installation with this gigantic sculpture and a video. The walls are so high that a bunch of paintings, with these giant cement pillars, would just feel dwarfed. I felt like you needed something to anchor the space on a big level, and you needed textile because this is the fashion district. I knew I wanted tall, dramatic drapes to soften the cement pillars. So in addition to the steel sculpture and the video, I bought bolts of this gray linen in the fabric mart to make the 20-foot-tall curtains around the room and used the same material to stage a performance piece the night of the opening.

How did the people in the Cooper building, and fashion itself, factor in as you were conceptualizing the piece?

This room, the lobby, was completely white and bare but the people were these walking works of art. So I sat down and just watched. All these people walking around here are so hipster fabulous, they’re very stylish. I began thinking: What makes fashion interesting other than being a language within painting? And that is: It sort of binds us and frees us at the same time. I kept going back to this time in history when fashion was sort of at its most exaggerated with these crinoline, large forms — they were undergarments made of wire — so I started scouring for imagery that evoked this form.

I took my paintings from my The Stylist Project. I have very high-resolution images of them — they were oil paintings — and I literally cut out the fabric that I had painted and draped it over the forms. I created these digital prints of collages integrating photography and painting.

The centerpiece of your installation, the metal sculpture, is both abstract and narrative at once, casting geometric reflections in the building’s windows and nodding to fashion history. Can you tell us about it?

It’s welded steel, 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide. I worked with a fabricator to create it. But before that stage, I used metal sheets of copper that I cut into thin strips to create these little maquettes to work with when designing the sculpture. They’re amazing to work with, different than wire. That’s how I created the thickness and the legs and the angles I wanted them to be at. I wanted the legs to be muscular, not dainty. I wanted it to be sort of fierce. Fashion so much expresses the state of the rights of women at the time, and I wanted to tilt on its head your recollections of this era, in the late 1800s, when women didn’t even vote.

What were you trying to say with the title of the piece?

I called it, initially, “The Ephemerality of Style.” Because I loved the fact that it would last forever — the material, itself, is so permanent and brutal, uncoated steel. Then I thought “style” isn’t quite the right word. I renamed it “The Ephemerality of Manner.” I wanted to remind people walking through the building that right now X, Y and Z is in fashion in their minds, but it comes and goes quickly. I wanted to show something that is totally out of fashion now — a Victorian undergarment — but that will be here forever, both ephemeral and permanent at the same time. And this was all before I knew they’d be keeping it in the building as a permanent sculpture.

The video portion of the installation — black-and-white imagery depicting giant scissors in tiny hands working through ripples of gray silk — is this sort of textured, almost sensual counterpoint to the steel sculpture that hangs opposite it. Why add the video?

This is a historic building, the heart of the fashion district. People come here from all over the country. The video of sewing and cutting is about the root of what goes on in this building. It’s a 2 minute, 18 second video piece called “Labor.” I shot it on my iPhone. Those are my daughter’s and a bunch her friends’ hands. I bought gray and black fabric because I wanted to get that reflective quality, and I used big, thick needles and thread so you could really see it.

We’re so removed from how things are made now. We’re constantly looking at our devices, and I wanted to just kind of go back to the roots of the beginning of how things are made when you talk about fashion: somebody cutting and sewing. And that provides a juxtaposition to the outcome of what walks back and forth through this building, all these people wearing all this stuff — and they get to see that.

What are you envisioning for the new fashion district sculptures — and what inspires you about the downtown L.A. landscape?

Members of the Downtown L.A. fashion district BID [Business Improvement District] saw the Cooper installation and are now commissioning me to do four new sculptures at four different locations on Broadway including in front of the Ace Hotel. It’s a project in partnership with the Think Tank Gallery.

I’m envisioning a combination of steel and a weather-tolerant fabric that will provide shade, even a sanctuary. What inspires me about the downtown landscape is the streamlined and curved lines of the Art Deco architecture with the rush of modern bohemia that has transformed the entire area in the last decade.

You’re also working on a book?

I’m working on a coffee table book, a catalogue raisonne so to speak, that comes out in February. And I’m also writing a book about painting. I think there’s a book that’s missing in all the books that you buy about painting. This one is more about artists. It’s about being a painter and the kinds of things that you have to work with beyond just the practical techniques in the studio, but also as they relate to the world and your mind and the whole process of making art.

Is there another meme you’re plumbing, beyond fashion, for future art works? And how is that taking shape, practically?

I’ve been exploring memory as something really fluid that you can have as your own or tap into other peoples’, even people who have died. Even this piece — dipping into another era to articulate something today, the swirling of memory, history, identity, fashion, everything. As an artist, you’re building a vocabulary, always. So every language that you perfect becomes like a player on a stage in your mind. I’d explored portraiture really deeply, and that was like a character in my mind; I explored my own past, my distant past; then I explored fashion. Now memory. All of these things start to build and that’s why as artists, we keep hopefully getting better and our work evolves.

In my studio, I’ve been working on paper lately. I’m fascinated by the way that working on paper — with ink and wash and watercolor, even oil — forces you to be in the moment. You can’t go in and change it if you don’t like it. You can’t scrub it away like you can on canvas or even linen. So I think where I’m going with my artwork, is about exploring collage and paper and painting as they come together with technology.

But to me, really, the world we live in, everything, is fodder for making art, whether it’s fashion or the wheels of a car. Everything on some level holds fascination for an artist.

 

 

SOLD OUT: 1 Week Summer Painting Workshop ANDERSON RANCH ARTS Center in CO, July 6 – 10, 2015

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PAINTING – D0608

Kimberly Brooks

DATES: July 6 – 10, 2015

SKILL LEVEL: I – II

CONCEPT: If painting is a grand mansion with the foyer being realism, we walk through the door, and explore the surrounding rooms of figuration to abstraction. Students are exposed to practical techniques involving building different types of grounds, color mixing, and when to employ tightness vs. looseness. We look at techniques for keeping ones’ work as fresh as possible, simultaneously the scaffolding to create bodies of work for an exhibition.

MEDIA & TECHNIQUES: With an emphasis on safe studio practices, students learn techniques for oil painting (used by Rembrandt and Velasquez) that minimize exposure to toxic chemicals. As modern technology is a painter’s powerful ally, computer technologies will be incorporated for students who are interested in integrating digital tools with their practice.

ACTIVITIES: We will begin with initial technical instruction and demonstrations and then move on to produce multiple paintings from beginning to end over the course of the week.

FACULTY: Kimberly Brooks is a contemporary American painter that blends figuration and abstraction to explore a variety of subjects dealing with memory, history and identity. Kimberly exhibits nationally. Her work has been showcased in numerous publications and exhibitions. www.kimberlybrooks.com

Tuition: $920 OR Tuition + Studio Support Donation: $1120
Studio Fee: $75

Workshop Registration begins January 2, 2015

REGISTER >

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SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS: Brooks allows viewers to fill in details in her opulent paintings

san-antonio-express

Nov 28, 2014

 

In Kimberly Brooks’ recent paintings, filmy, oppulently dressed figures from another age float in silk-draped salons and leafy estate landscapes.

Like a cinder caught in the mind’s eye, their facelessness fires our imagination — much as we internally draw characters while reading dusty novels, filling in our own details.

“I love the unfinished,” said the fortysomething Los Angeles painter, whose exhibition “I Have a King Who Does Not Speak” continues through Jan. 14 at Roosevelt Library, 311 Roosevelt Ave., on the city’s South Side. “It’s always the areas of a canvas that are least finished that I’m most attracted to. I have to resist the urge to complete.”

Ancestor

Brooks, a graduated as an English Major at UC Berkeley, calls on literature, history, theater, portraiture and abstraction to create her cryptic visual narratives (see “The Myth of What Happened by the Tree and the River”), which tweak memories that remain just out of reach, like thoughts on the tip of the tongue.

Paintings such as “Parlour Room” are sumptuous and mysterious. Sunlight sweeps into a dark-paneled room from large windows, creating dancing patterns on the floor, yet leaving a standing figure — a woman in a long scarlet-colored dress — in shadow. And who is the kneeling figure in the foreground?

“I wanted to capture the feel of mahogany and velvet and iron,” Brooks said.

Paint runs and loose brushstrokes are evident in “I Was There and It Was Devine,” a scene of ghostly women in a ballroom. Brooks conjures a melancholy sense of a wonderful evening winding down — and all these women are going home alone.

“I wanted to capture the mood of silk in that painting,” Brooks said.

She explains her work as “resuscitating the memory of some great moment and holding it still.”

gallery

The title of the exhibition refers to those voices from art history that speak to contemporary artists — whether they want to hear them or not. Painters as varied as Courbet and Dali echo in Brooks’ work.

“As each painting teeters between abstraction and representation, Brooks’ work touches on her own understanding of how painters see and process the visual remnants of history,” said exhibition curator Alice Carrington Foultz. “It’s like taking something old and bringing it back to life. And I just love the way she applies paint. A dress can be a few brushstrokes. It’s almost transparent, but the colors are so rich. That’s hard to do. And of course I love the way she is able to leave spaces for the viewer to fill in.”

Florida artist and curator Bruce Helander, who recently organized a Brooks show at Arthouse 429 in West Palm Beach, said Brooks creates “guilty pictorial pleasures.”

In an essay on Brooks’ art, Helander wrote that she “lays down an eccentrically handsome collection of quasi-surrealist strokes inducing the sensation of reliving a vintage portrait snapped from another time, like a recollection of sitting next to a dapper dinner guest at a black-tie event and wondering about his ancestry.”

The centerpiece of “King Who Does Not Speak” is undoubtedly “Unknown Ancestor,” a portrait of a vaguely Victorian woman in a white dress reclining in an outdoor setting rendered in wild brushstrokes that evoke an emotional physicality over what is a calm setting. Two small strokes evoke eye sockets, and that’s all we get of the face.

“When we read, we create pictures in our minds,” Brooks said. “And usually your mind will be pregnant with scenes from someone else’s memory. I want to acknowledge my own imagination while creating images that allow viewers to fall into them and create memories from their own imaginations. It’s the lack of clarity in the work that moves me.”

SENSE & SENSIBILITY, Mt. SAC, CA 2013 Curated by Fatemeh Burnes

"A Soul Selects Her Own Society" Kimberly Brooks

“Sense & Sensibility” Mt. San Antonio College, Curated by Fatemeh Burnes, Sept 2013
Artist Panel: Sunday Sept 15, 3:00 – 4:00 pm
Artist Reception: Sunday Sept 15, 4:00 – 6:00 pm

CARL BERG KIMBERLY BROOKS SCOTT CANTY SETH CURCIO SHANA NYS DAMBROT AMIR FALLAH PETER FRANK JULIE HENSON MARGARET LAZZARI DAVID MICHAEL LEE MATTHEW MAY MICHAEL MILLER CHRISTOPHER PATE KATHRYN POINDEXTER MAX PRESNEILL JOHN SEED HK ZAMANI

Gallery Director & Exhibition Curator: Fatemeh Burnes
Gallery Staff: Cynthia Orr, David McIntosh
General Information (909) 594-5611, ext. 4328
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Thurs, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Tuesday, 5:00 – 7:30 pm
Exhibition Catalog Avail
Art Gallery Admission: Free

Mt. San Antonio College
Art Gallery
1100 N. Grand Avenue
Walnut, CA 91789

IMAGE: “A Soul Selects Her Own Society” Kimberly Brooks

Rockstars, Orphans and Rescue Missions

As I write this, I’m sitting on a stool in the middle of my studio. My solo show is less than five weeks away. I have over fifteen canvases of all sizes strewn about, the finished ones hanging on the walls, the rest facing the walls. I’ve divided the paintings into three categories: Rock Stars, Rescue Missions and Orphans. There’s nothing like a deadline to align all the atoms of the universe so I can see with crystal clarity.

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Kimberly Brooks Studio Five Weeks and Counting

Unlike a typical triage unit on a battle field or hospital where you attend to the worst first, I do the opposite. First I must recognize and admit when a painting is not working and kill it or let it die. This is never easy. So I focus on the Rock Stars– the ones that fly out of my mind (my heart) and onto the canvas with ease. Even if I hit turbulence I know I can still get out of it and it will make it on the gallery wall. I’m jamming when I’m painting them. I’m confident about what’s happening, the palette, the composition, then surprises that always happen in painting are bonuses. They make me feel like a Rock Star. I focus on these first.

Next, the Rescue Missions. They were Rock Stars. What happened? That hand doesn’t look quite right, the palette needs fixing, the detail not enough or too much. But there are Rescue Missions and then there are Rescue Missions. I have one Rescue Mission that I’ve been painting on and off of for five years. It was once the basis for an entire show. Someday, it still will be, but now I work on her in between. Leonardo Da Vinci carted the Mona Lisa around with him for twenty years, touching it up until his death (and to think it started as a commission!). Like Jean Le Feo’s ongoing and never finished painting “The Rose,” or Jacob Wrestling the angel, I don’t know when she will be ready for the public, but I’m not giving up.

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Jay De Feo’s “The Rose”

How many times in my life have I spent too much time on a rescue mission? With the wrong relationship or a lousy job? Relationships, work and ideas– they are all things we have to nurture. I take note of what’s going well. Life is short and I don’t want to spend all my time fixing things.

There’s a common misconception that artists are focused on process and it’s all about “the journey.” Certainly the journey’s great (and challenging and circuitous and rewarding, etc.), but I want beginnings and endings. I want results. Nabokov wrote that there can be no art without facts and no science with out fancy. There’s nothing more satisfying than fact of a finished painting and the dream that it will somehow embody an ultimate aesthetic self.

But truthfully, thinking that any painting might represent the whole vision or spirit of anything is as impossible as attempting to hug a tornado. Rather, each painting or idea represents a single moment and angle of that tornado in motion– it’s early crosswinds, it’s fury, the occasional flying cow or car– it’s just just one piece in a life time of work.

2008-04-04-3.jpg
Detail from “Technicolor Summer” Oil on Linen

Yet the urge to strive for the ultimate “Hero” painting is irresistible. My artist friends and I joke about the “Magic Painting” that we’re going to put on the postcard for a show. As if one painting can summarize an entire show and bring more people in. Which reminds me, I have a solo show in less than five weeks. Time to get back to work. Back to the studio. I have a jam session to attend.

First Person Artist is a weekly column by artist Kimberly Brooks. Her solo show “Technicolor Summer” opens May 10th in Los Angeles at http://www.taylordecordoba.com”>Taylor De Cordoba. Come back every Saturday for more Kimberly Brooks. You can view more interviews and essays at www.firstpersonartist.com

Vanity Fair: Kimberly Brooks Shows Her Oil Paintings at Taylor De Cordoba Gallery in L.A.

….Brooks’ latest oeuvre abandons the Hockney-like light-saturated planes of color and the Matisse-like flat decorative patterning that she deployed so skillfully in my portrait. Driven and prolific, the artist within a year has moved on to a darker, more deconstructed mood, to a Bacon-like paring down to ripened, abstracted essences. The new oil paintings—you can almost smell the fresh pigment, even in reproduction—are on exhibit from September 10 to October 22 at the Taylor De Cordoba gallery in Los Angeles. The show’s title, “Thread,” explains Kimberly (who loves fashion as much as paint), alludes “to the thread we use to weave, to adorn us in our clothing and what also connects us together, regardless of time period or culture.”

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Exhibition: Kimberly Brooks Miniatures, April, 2011

“Ginnifer Study” 6 x 8″ Oil on linen 2010 Kimberly Brooks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Taylor De Cordoba is pleased to present new works by Kimberly Brooks as a part of their 5 Year Anniversary Exhibition.   For years Brooks has painted tiny canvases before creating larger paintings as an excersize in palette and composition.  The resulting loose brushwork and abstractions provide an embrionic view of later paintings but are works in their own right.  The exhibition will run from April 9 – May 14, 2011, with a reception on Saturday, April 9 from 6 – 8pm.   In addition to the miniatures, the gallery will feature one new piece by each represented artist, whose visions have shaped the face of the gallery including Sasha Bezzubov, Kyle Field, Timothy Hull, Charlene Liu, Melissa Manfull, Danielle Nelson Mourning, Chris Natrop, Claire Oswalt, Jeana Sohn, Frohawk Two Feathers.

Taylor De Cordoba opened its doors to the public on April 15, 2006. Since then, the gallery has mounted over thirty exhibitions, participated in numerous art fairs, and launched a lauded bi-monthly reading series. Taylor De Cordoba and gallery represented artists have been featured in local and international publications, including: Frieze, Art in America, Artforum, Artweek, Art LTD, V Magazine, Elle, Vanity Fair, W Magazine, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, LA Weekly, Beautiful Decay, C Magazine, Whitewall, The Huffington Post, LA Confidential, Angeleno and more. Los Angeles natives Heather Taylor and Alex de Cordoba co-own the gallery. Taylor De Cordoba is located at 2660 S La Cienega Blvd in Los Angeles, CA and is open to the public Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-6pm. For additional press information, please contact Heather Taylor at heather@taylordecordoba.com or (310) 559-9156.  www.taylordecordoba.com

INCOGNITO Santa Monica Museum of Art

Santa Monica Art Museum:
INCOGNITO Exhibition and Art Sale
Saturday, April 30, 2011, 7 to 10:00 p.m.

Kimberly Brooks will have a piece in INCOGNITO, an art exhibition and sale at the Santa Monica Museum of Art featuring works by hundreds of acclaimed artists from Los Angeles and across the globe in an 8” x 10″ format. “Trust Your Instincts” to guide your selections, as everything is signed on the back, and artist identities are revealed only after purchase. Proceeds directly support the Museum.  Participating atists include John Baldessari, Laura Owens, Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger.  INCOGNITO includes a festive reception.  http://www.smmoa.org

New Museum, NY, Art & Design Panel with Dror Benshetrit

Nine months ago the Arts page launched on the Huffington Post, and just five months that Huffington Post Arts’ Design Thursdays went into full flight.  At a three pronged evening at the New Museum on Bowery in New York City,  Kimberly Brooks, artist and founding arts editor along with Yvonne Force Real of the Art Production Fund and artists Richard Phillips and Josephine Meckseper, hosted 60-80 special guests, NY-based bloggers and editors at the New Museum’s Sky Room overlooking downtown New York City.

Afterwards, HuffPost Arts joined IDNY to celebrate Design Thursdays with Guest Curator Jacob Slevin for a presentation at the New Museum theater where Dror Benshetrit unveiled QuaDror in front of guests of the monthly IDNY lecture series.  HuffPost Arts’ Kimberly Brooks, Designer Dror Benshetrit and Linda Tischler of Fast Company  lead a Q & A session together for an audience of about 150 industry professionals.

Painting Evolution: Liat Yossifor

“Falling Into Ends” New Paintings by Liat Yossifor. June 11- August 30 Galerie Anita Beckers, Frankfurt Germany | Frankenallee 74 | D-60327 Frankfurt a. M.

Powerful art and extreme nature have a lot in common. This spring when the Icelandic volcano grounded all European planes and the most arresting images cascaded through my internet browsers – so much so that I had to catch my breath – my mind immediately went toward the work of painter Liat Yossifor.

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Smoke erupting from Eyjafjallajokull volcano. Getty Images 2010

The last time I wrote about Yossifor’s work was 2007. Southern California was engulfed in smoke from the wildfires and the palette of the sky has descended into a muted orange grey — the entire region was thrown into an altered state. At the same time, the daily casualties of the war in Iraq streamed through our televisions and for those of us not in the military– it was all perfectly the abstract. It was through Liat’s paintings of battle scenes in her exhibition “The Tender Among Us” — with the twisted bodies below a similarly muted atmosphere — that I started to feel a connection to the war.

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“The Tender Among Us” 62 x 72 in. Oil on Panel 2007. Liat Yossifor

Yossifor has created a technique where she paints portions very thickly but moves the paint around with a fine sturdy brush which renders the surface more like sculpture. The reflecting light and the painting itself change with each step as you walk toward and around it. While some artists’ work stay within the same series of notes, Yossifor’s work steadily transforms and each exhibition captures a state of that evolution. That her latest body of work has figures emerging from black as thick as the tar washing up in beaches off the Gulf of Mexico is surely a coincidence, (or is it? one never knows), in person she is not dark at all, but a bright, fiery burst of energy and intellect — a painter’s painter. I caught up with her while she was finishing a three month residency at a Kunstverein in Frankfurt and just opened her solo show at Anita Becker Gallery in Frankfurt.

KB: You have been a recent resident at the Deutsche Borse Residency Program at the Frankfurter Kunstverein for three months. What was the program about and what was it like for you?
LY: The residency program hosts two residents at a time: an artist and an art historian, a writer, or a curator. My experience here has been a rich one — from the people I met to the collections in the museum row in Frankfurt to the Kunstverein’s own programming to much more. For example, I finally saw Beckmann’s The Night at the k21 museum in an exhibition entitled Silent Revolution, and I completely lost myself in front of the most beautiful blue and black Rothko. The Städel Museum, just minutes from the residency, has a room with all my favorites: early Baselitz, Kirchner, and Dubuffet. I also love that this particular Kunstverein in Frankfurt exhibited works by Max Beckmann when he was still unknown.

KB: How has this experience affected your new work?
LY: Before coming to Germany, I felt that a shift in my work was coming, and in my mind, I saw the new paintings, but I also felt a little crippled in my LA studio, going back and forth between old and new processes. Then, I came to Frankfurt and encountered the new studio, new light, new experiences, and new materials (I began working on rough linen). All of these changes contributed to the shift in the work.

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“Falling into Ends” 71 x 63 inches. Oil on Linen. Liat Yossifor Courtesy Gallerie Anita Beckers

LY: In some ways I believe that, in Los Angeles, I was making black paint surfaces on panels that were condensed and object-like, while in my stay here I became more interested in pictorial space. The heavy black texture element in my new work is done in layers that are on top of thin layers on linen; whereas before, the thick layer of paint was done at once and all over, sealing the surface tightly. I am not crossing out the heavy object-like “walls” that collapse inward from before for the new thin layers on linen; rather I am imagining them together. There just seems to be more possibilities now.

KB: How would you describe the new work compared to “Tender Among Us” or your other work?
LY: I am using a lot more symbols than in my previous work. I have a large collection of images at this point of statue-like national monuments, of soldiers from various wars, and of paintings of soldiers (specifically from post war I German painting). I think of these references as documents and archetypes and also as ideas that are nostalgic and broken, like painting itself. I see painting as a medium that abstracts and confuses the “subject” — nothing is specific or hierarchal; a shape is a shape. Also, in painting, the idea of a return is not linear because history is always present. My attraction to these qualities in painting is how nothing stays fixed, so the most stubborn symbol or idea falls apart. When I decided to work with old strategies (such as post-World War I German painting), I was not aware of how troubling a relationship it would be. In a way, it made me very aware of today’s post-war reaction in art (or the lack thereof), and things came around to full circle, which was interesting — to be connecting identities (mine and German) across time.

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“The Monument” 180 x 160 cm Oil on Linen. Liat Yossifor. Courtesy Galerie Anita Beckers

LY: (cont.) Ideas flip in my head; for example, the monument is not just a failed idea, but also a shape that still impresses me. I’m working with thin cadmium red lines that separate large black shapes in the paintings. One tiny red mark in a black painting changes the whole composition. Then, when I insist on repeating a small red line, it becomes a “thing” too, not just a guide or a line. It’s fascinating for me at the moment, to allow these symbolic color combinations – often used for propaganda – to mess with me, to let them manipulate the way I see space, and to see the red mark gaining more and more power compositionally as I repeat it and see it deepen. I am painting the soldiers freely in the sense that their medallions, uniforms, hats, and flags are a mixture of various styles and origins. I find myself making a mass of bodies, where the soldiers melt into each other, and are grouped together for the sake of the overall structure of the painting. They seem to me to be celebrating an end of a war, or its beginning; moreover, they seem to be gathering but it is not clear for what. For me, their state of becoming “one” is both heroic and pathetic.

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“Falling Into Ends” Detail 1

KB: I think of your work as one that requires a slow viewing. Has that changed? How do you approach the viewing of your own work now?
LY: I am thinking right now about two experiences when viewing the work: one that is immediate and structured, such as bright red lines separating black space, ultramarine blue peeking through black shapes; and the other that is the experience of making up the slight differentiation between one black shape next to another and of the figures that are trapped in there. The bright red and blue lines work like a quick grid and an armature — they get the eye moving fast. I have been resisting the quick viewing of art for a while now because I wanted to slow down the act of seeing and to challenge myself to accept information in layers. This reminds me that I was just looking at a black Ad Reinhardt at the Falkwang Museum. It was so quite to slowly see the grid, and I felt like the surface was very flexible still, maybe even still wet, because it was changing so much while I was looking at it. But over time, for my own work, that has begun to be less interesting for me, and maybe even a little stubborn of me to continue to focus on slowing down time when seeing can happen in many ways and tempos at once. What’s wrong with fast? Or more accurately, why not have multiple (simultaneous) tempos to view the painting?

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“The Lovers (Soldier and Mask) 70 x 35” Oil on Linen. Liat Yossifor Courtesy Galerie Anita Beckers

KB: What’s next for you?
LY: My next show will be at Angles Gallery in Los Angeles, January 2011

“Falling Into Ends” New Paintings by Liat Yossifor. June 11- August 30 Galerie Anita Beckers, Frankfurt Germany | Frankenallee 74 | D-60327 Frankfurt a. M.

INCOGNITO Exhibition and Art Sale


Santa Monica Art Museum:
INCOGNITO Exhibition and Art Sale
Saturday, May 1, 7 to 10:00 p.m.

Kimberly Brooks will have a piece in INCOGNITO, an art exhibition and sale at the Santa Monica Museum of Art featuring works by hundreds of acclaimed artists from Los Angeles and across the globe in an 8” x 10″ format. All are on sale for $300 each. “Trust Your Instincts” to guide your selections, as everything is signed on the back, and artist identities are revealed only after purchase. Proceeds directly support the Museum.  Participating atists include John Baldessari, Laura Owens, Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger.  INCOGNITO includes a festive reception.

Made in California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Made in California
Kimberly Brooks will be participating in a Group Show in Santa Monica featuring California Artists “Made in California” June 25th to July 12th

Peter Alexander
Stan Bitters
Kimberly Brooks
Jamie Daughters
Laddie John Dill
Ed Moses
Samuel Moyers
Daniel Wheeler

The Art of The Headshot

As I navigate the web, both as an artist and a new media person, I think about the images we use to present ourselves. Other than movie stars and professional personalities such as Oprah and Martha, real estate agents were actually the first profession to use headshots as one of the means of conveying who they are and what they would be like to work with. In the marketing and advertising world they call it “branding”. But since that always makes me think of seared flesh on a cow’s ass I tend I stay away from that expression. Whatever you call it, we’re all doing it now.

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Sharona Alperin, Real Estate Agent Extraordinaire

Take my friend Sharona, for example. Occasionally I receive postcards or web announcements with her face smiling at me. She’s smart, confident and looks it. When I see her picture, I also instantly hear her signature sexy voice. I think to myself, “Man, if anyone is going find me a great house it’s going to be her.” As realtors go, she’s pretty low-key. (She also has the curious distinction of being the namesake of the Knack’s famous song “My Sharona” so she doesn’t have to sell as hard.) But most real estate agents take it much further, putting their faces on everything from billboards, bus stops and print ads. I often wonder when the trend started. It must have been in the seventies, and some blond babe, probably here in Los Angeles, an out-of-work actor, perhaps, thought “I bet if I put a picture of myself on every business card and bus stop, billboard and sign outside the house, people would rather buy a house from me.”

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Special attention must be given to “Bijan”. There’s a corner on Sepulveda and Wilshire Blvds. in Los Angeles where he’s always there spread across two billboards of this major intersection. His face and image are in every picture, always laughing and getting out of a yellow Ferrari or private airplane with his name slathered on it. It’s fabulously ostentatious and not to be missed.
So what is the significance of that single image that you project and how everyone perceives you? When I was college intern working in an international design firm (pre-web), I saw a lot of resumes coming in from around the world. Unlike the American applicants who just submitted resumes, the designers from Europe affixed a passport photo size headshot on the corner. It stunned me how much the picture overrode any impression you could have of how they had spent their entire professional career. The impact on the mostly men who did the hiring was equally poignant. A pretty girl? Who cares where she went to school? Now we all confront it all the time, whether we read the blogs here on Huffpo or whether surveying friends of friends on Facebook.

Whether an activist, writer, blogger, student or artist, everyone is now a real estate agent. Once we admit or embrace this idea, let us examine a couple rules, shall we?

Activists Probably Shouldn’t be Smiling and Baring Teeth.
If your goal in life is to be helpful, like, say, for a real estate agent, smile away. But I’ve always found something a bit aggressive about baring teeth and looking straight into the camera. It must stem from primitive days one animal signaled another not encroach on his meal. Once, an environmental activist friend of mine used a smiling headshot but all words she was writing were “Hey, the Earth is On Fire and We Gotta Do Something About it!” It was a disconnect and when I pointed it out she changed it.

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For years when I read the New York Times, I never knew what Maureen Dowd looked like. Suddenly, on the web her picture appeared. At first she looked like how I expected her to look. For a while however, the photographer made her smile and when I read her column on the web it annoyed me. Now her picture looks like wry and witty like her writing again. I can’t imagine reading Virginia Wolfe’s To The Lighthouse and have her smiling at me either.

The Artist’s Image
When I think of Picasso, I think of this black and white photo below. It captures the intensity of his gaze and something even deeper.

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Picasso

The artist’s image is intrinsically linked to portraiture. Before photography, the image of the artist was usually a self-portrait and hence in a state of scrutinization ~ a portrait of the artist staring at their reflection in order to depict his own image. Like this one of Albrecht Durer. My initial self portraits are equally intense.

 

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Albrecht Durer, Kimberly Brooks (Self Portraits)
So then, what kind of image should an artist put out there? Let’s take out the teeth entirely. Artists shouldn’t be smiling, they should be suffering, no? I was recently selected in a juried exhibition in print called New American Paintings which required each artist to submit a picture. When the book came out, most of them were brooding and or looking away. Choosing a picture isn’t easy. I blame modern photography on the frustration– its shutter speed can capture an infinite array of nano emotions but then somehow miss a larger essence.

The Scientist’s Image

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My favorite scientist’s image is this one of Einstein, hair messy, sticking his tongue out. He looks perfectly wacky enough to think of something as out of the box and crazy the Theory of Relativity. My brother-in-law Ken Goldberg is an artist and Robotics Professor at UC Berkeley. His Facebook portrait (below, right) is waiting-for-the-explosion wacky. Now he’s blogging for the San Francisco Chronicle and uses the picture on the left.

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Ken Goldberg, Scientist, Artist, SFGate Blogger
 

For some reason, bloggers like to show a happy version of themselves. Even I did it on this post. But is that the real me? I dunno, sometimes maybe. It will never be the right picture. As I tunnel through this thought experiment, I’m still figuring out the other professions. I’d love to know what you think.

***
First Person Artist is a weekly column by artist Kimberly Brooks in which she provides commentary on the creative process, color, fashion, technology and showcases artistswork from around the world. Come back every Monday for more Kimberly Brooks.

Exhibition: All Under One Roof: A Selection of LA Artists

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: ELIZABETH WILLIAMS (213) 627-5100

Exhibition: All Under One Roof: A Selection of LA Artists

Guest curator: Yasmine Mohseni
Dates: April 10-May 8, 2009
Reception: April 10, 2009, 7-11pm
Location: Tarryn Teresa Gallery, 1820 Industrial St, #230, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Monday-Friday 11:00am-5:00pm, Saturday 11:00am-4:00pm

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Tarryn Teresa Gallery is pleased to present a group exhibition by guest curator Yasmine Mohseni. The themed exhibition examines interpretations and representations of homelands. Adopted homes. Native lands. New homes. Temporary homes. The 10 exhibiting artists of varying ages and backgrounds examine this personal theme in different media and aesthetics. Where we are and where we are from are inextricably linked to our identity and the way we see the world. And all these artists live under one roof, the city of LA. Read More

Michelle Obama, Master Colorist and Me

There is a riot of color issuing forth from the First Lady’s closet and I cannot wait to see what she wears next. Say what you will about whether or not it was “appropriate” to wear a cardigan to meet the Queen or whether that balloon skirt was flattering, Michelle Obama is a Master Colorist — and I as well as my artist friends could not be more ecstatic.

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A Collage of Michelle Recent Outfits

A woman’s journey through fashion is a life cycle in and of itself. As I look at the bold strokes of Michelle’s color sense today I reflect upon Michelle’s journey in fashion and color as one that might parallel my own and other women like her.

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Behold Matisse

As a young girl, I thought of fashion and color as a means to make myself more attractive to the opposite sex. My grandmother once told me, “Red and yellow, catch a fellow; pink and blue, keep him true.” My entire sense of fashion was about sexualization and objectification. I essentially wanted to make myself look pretty for the boys I had crushes on. At camp I would look at Seventeen, Vogue, Cosmo and Bazaar. But when I went to college, I got serious about my studies and great literature and momentarily shunned fashion or looked down upon caring too much about it. This was not just because I didn’t have any money to pay for it. It was also due to the culture inside the Ivory Tower — and I believe many other Ivy League-type schools — which mostly eschews fashion in exchange for the idea that the main purpose of our bodies is to provide a container for our brains. So while I may have I swooned over the finery described in words during a Proustian night at the Opera, fashion stayed in my head whereas Levi’s, a comfortable Gap t-shirt and a cool leather jacket was my uniform.

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Obama, Matisse and J. Crew

It is often after women leave the university and enter the workforce that a different sense of fashion emerges and we pick up the magazines again, first for ideas and then reading them with new eyes. I started to become more cognizant of fashion as a language. Navigating the workforce was confining for me at first and my leftover sexy sense of fashion led to unwanted passes. Even though my first job was in the design industry, it was a very macho, male-dominated environment, not unlike Mad Men. There was a need to balance looking creative, smart and tough if you were to be taken seriously. I opted for a reinvention/upgrade of my student self and learned that black boots or heels and a crisp white shirt is better for negotiating a room full of men. I lived in San Francisco. It was often grey and cloudy. And with the exception of an occasional red sweater, most of my wardrobe was black. It was very easy to go shopping. While I only touched color with cool scarves, I had unwittingly become a student of the silhouette. Languages, after all, must be learned one word and one phrase at a time.

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Obama, Cezanne, Narcisso Rodriguez

And this is where a lot of us working girls sleep walk well into our late twenties. We’re finally earning money and can afford a fabulous shoe. For me, I had moved to Los Angeles and the working girl uniform from San Francisco was no longer cutting it. (The different fashion styles of San Francisco and Los Angeles is a subject in and of itself.) I suddenly no longer saw fashion as a weapon of either sexuality or power in the work place, but rather as a universe of fabric, texture, color just as vibrant as the ones on my palette in the studio. I often dived into one color at a time, learning what works, what makes sense together and what looks best on me. After gaining a certain confidence, women learn to really celebrate themselves and life itself through what they choose to wear. That is what Michelle Obama is doing with color and so much more.

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Obama, Matisse

In reality, a woman’s journey in color and fashion is a sign of a healthy society. All the most oppressive regimes towards women cover them in black. I don’t care what the faux religious excuses of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan are. The silence of color in an entire culture is emblematic of the suppression of women’s spirit and influence on it’s culture. Michelle Obama’s use of color and fashion is empowering and enlightening to the women in this country. It is the fashion equivalent of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” and awakens in all of us the beauty of life and every day. As an artist, I am doubly appreciative of splashes of chartreuse and yellow, purple and green as fly across my television and computer screen. As an American Woman, I am filled with pride and hope it spreads like a California Wildfire.

***First Person Artist is a weekly column by artist Kimberly Brooks in which she provides commentary on the creative processtechnology andshowcases artists‘ work from around the world. Paintings from Brooks’ recent series, “Technicolor Summer”, will be on view at the Tarryn Teresa Gallery April 10 in a show curated by Yasmine Mohseni. Come back every Monday for more Kimberly Brooks.

Dancing With Divorced Men

My parents divorced when I was fourteen and I used to play evil tricks on my father for the years he was dating and I still lived at home. When a woman called and said “Is Lenny there?” I would say in the sexiest voice “No, I’m sorry, he’s busy right now” then whisper, ‘Stop it!’” then giggle and hang up. During high school, I often accompanied him to the symphony or an art show, and on more than one occasion he would have to explain that no, I was his daughter and not his date. My parents divorce was probably one of the most significant and difficult experiences of my life. Any one who has also been through a divorce would probably agree. It was even the topic of one of my first art shows. Until both my parents remarried, I always felt a bit uneasy until they settled down, as if I were the parents of wayward high school grads who hadn’t applied to college.

When I attended the Miami Basel fair this last winter, I walked by a booth that had a video showing an attractive young woman dancing in a living room of an apartment with a man. The clip would then jump to the same woman dancing with another man, then another. At first glance, I thought I was looking at an engagement announcement. There’s a happy couple surrounded by wedding photos. On closer inspection, it was evident that they didn’t look very comfortable together. And in reality, the couple in Kaufman’s “Divorced Men” series isn’t really a couple a couple at all. After Kaufman’s parents got divorced, Kaufman began to explore the void that is left when someone is removed from a relationship–both emotionally and physically in the sense that there is a real void in the emotional and physical space of the home.

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Allison Kaufman, “From the Divorced Men Series III”, C-print, 16″ x 20″, A4.

 

In the “Divorced Men Series,” Kaufman traveled into divorced men’s homes and took portraits with them and danced with them. In the hours of their meetings, they opened up to one another. In the process of taking the portraits and filming the dancing, Kaufman taps into the emotional vulnerability found not just with the divorced men, but also with the artist and men’s mutual desire to explore a human connection. I find the work both humorous and deeply explorative and touching.
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Allison Kaufman, “From the Divorced Men Series I”, C-print, 16″ x 20″, A2.

Kimberly Brooks: What was your inspiration behind this project? There are so many facets of experiencing divorce, was there a moment when it occured to you to make divorced men your focus?

Allison Kaufman: Visiting my newly-single father’s apartment for the first time was a very significant experience for me, one of many that led me to an artistic investigation of divorced middle-aged men, a demographic I am still working with. It’s very strange to visit the home of a newly-divorced parent and see what they choose to surround themselves with when they are living on their own for the first time in a long time, or possibly ever. Experiencing a major change, particularly in mid-life, necessitates forming a new identity to some degree. Vulnerability, disappointment, and hope, among many other things, are all part of that process and are emotions I’m fascinated with, both in my subjects and myself. In my work, I’ve been interested in the domestic–and its promises and failures–as a site of inquiry for quite some time, and seeing men navigate what is considered a predominately female domain is particularly poignant. The willingness of strangers to participate in the project and be documented in their homes reflected their desire for a sense of connection, something I was certainly looking for from this population for myself and what I believe the work ultimately is about.
<> B1.:



KB: When I found out the concept behind the work, I saw you as taking the place of a phantom limb; as if you were proxy-wife/girlfriend or daughter filling in the void for that instant. What did you take away from the experience of working with these men?

AK: While working with divorced men, I came to realize that the most potent part of our exchange was the temporary relationship that developed during our shoots, which usually only last a few hours. I wanted to record this in some fashion, and to literally make myself part of the work, vulnerable alongside the subject and forced to negotiate issues of persona and performance inherent in all photo/ video. I asked the men to choose a song and style of dancing and I essentially followed their lead, creating an appropriate female counterpart from their cues, and made “Dancing with Divorced Men”.

The project is about the need for human interaction, the search for it and the insecurities around it, in an increasingly cyber-connected yet emotionally disconnected world. For just a few hours, I offer these men the opportunity for human connection and the possibility of feeling a sense of hopefulness, healing and forgiving that I, too, am looking for. Reflecting on the voids existing in my own relationship with my father, interacting with men that function as a surrogate allows me a sense of healing in some way. I realize that the act of meeting these men and dancing with them will not always or entirely fill my desires or theirs, and it is perhaps the tenderness in trying to do so, and the potential for the success or failure of the connection that I am interested in, for it mimics the potential success and failure of all of our most intimate relationships.



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LEFT: Allison Kaufman, “From the Divorced Men Series II”, C-print, 16″ x 20″, A3; RIGHT: “From the Divorced Men Series IV”, C-print, 16″ x 20″

KB: How did the focus on divorced men take it’s form for you? How did it evolve as you got more deeply into it?

AK: I think like most artists, my process is conscious and subconscious simultaneously. Ideas and insights come from in-depth conversations and critiques with fellow artists and friends, and also arise at completely unforeseen, random moments when I’m in the middle of something I would think is unrelated. My work usually evolves over a long period of time and I try to look at a project from many angles–where I start is not very often where I end. I use the camera as a way of sketching, I suppose. When I need to feel creative and active I’m out with my camera making initial investigations into topics, and as I narrow my vision to what is most potent, I return with the equipment that seems most appropriate for that particular project.


KB: Is there a work of art that inspires you or that inspired this project?

AK: I’m drawn to a number of works, undertaken mostly by women, where artists form temporary relationships with strangers and attempt to illicit a genuine, emotional reaction. The pieces often use a relatively simple and sometimes light, or even humorous, structure that still seems to speak of complex issues of connection and loneliness. Prior to making “Dancing with Divorced Men” I was looking at a lot of this work and had not yet realized that this particular investigation of mine could function in that way. Examples of these artists and works are Gillian Wearing’s “Signs That Say What You Want Them To Say And Not Signs That Say What Someone Else Wants You to Say”, Shizuka Yokomizo’s “Strangers” series, and the video piece “Karaoke Wrong Number” by Rachel Perry Welty. All of these works deal with issues of the public versus private, our need to be seen or understood in some way, and our willingness to engage with strangers as a means of connection.

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Gillian Wearing, “Signs That Say What You Want Them To Say And Not Signs That Say What Someone Else Wants You to Say”, 1992-93.
Images found at Tate Collection, courtesy of Maureen Paley/ Interim Art, London

Allison Kaufman is a photo and video artist living in New York City. She received her BFA in Film and Television Production from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2000 and her MFA in Photography, Video, and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts in 2008. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States at the Aqua Miami and Affordable Art Fairs, Broadway Gallery, ZONE: Chelsea Center for the Arts, Artists Space, and Brooklyn Borough Hall, as well as Galerie Scherer8 in Berlin. Kaufman is the recipient of the Paula Rhodes Memorial Award and an Alumni Scholarship Award from the School of Visual Arts and has been an artist-in-residence at the Constance Saltonstall Foundation of the Arts and Penland School of Crafts. She has taught at a variety of institutions and is currently an adjunct professor at Berkeley College. Updates on Kaufman’s work and exhibitions can be found at www.allisonkaufman.net.

Exhibition: ArtHaus 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Exhibition: ArtHaus 2009
Jan 24 – Feb 24
Opening Reception
5:00 pm Saturday January 24th
Dogtown Station
700 Main Street, Venice, CA
www.arthaus.us

Los Angeles, CA — Venice-based painter Kimberly Brooks was selected to exhibit among twenty five artists from Berlin to Los Angeles in a group exhibition, “artHAUS” curated by Thomas Schirmboeck, director of Zephyr Gallery and Associate Curator of the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen in Manheim, Germany.

The theme of the show: Confrontation:Collaboration concerns “…how can we make the world of culture work easily and distinguished together and help it find its expression.” notes Schirmboeck.  “Two related but often enough misunderstood parts of the world meet in a fest for art.  Abstract painting is confronted with self reflecting photography, sculptures which give us the idea to understand the world of creatures meet aerial photography; falling artists meet in VideoArt the false beauty of the Oktoberfest. Art is always about the world and how to see her, transform her. This show brings splinters from different kinds of art together and lays them out like a mosaic in which colors, techniques and materials stand together.” Read More

New American Paintings


December/January 2008-2009

Kimberly Brooks was one of 40 artists selected from 1600 to be selected for latest issue of New American Paintings, No. 79, Pacific Coast Edition . With over five thousand artists reviewed annually, it has become America’s largest and most important series of artist competitions.

Juror Rita Gonzalez, Associate Curator of The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, noted that “…the hallucinogenic possibilities of painting seem more and more the new state of mind”. New American Paintings is a juried exhibition-in-print. New American paintings works closely with renowned curators in order to select those artists whose work deserves to be seen by a wider audience. Painters selected in the exhibition receive international exposure.

The Publication is available at bookstores and newsstands nationwide.

“Technicolor Summer” selected cover of “This One is Mine”

Los Angeles, CA — One of the paintings from Venice-based painter Kimberly Brooks’ recent solo show, “Technicolor Summer”,  was selected to be on the cover of “This One is Mine” a new book by Maria Semple published by Little Brown.  The painting is entitled “Mulholland Drive” and features a woman sheilding herself from the blinding sun.  The book, similar to the painting, is about the journey of a who lives on Mulholland Drive.   Described by critics as “A Modern Day Anna Kareninina”, the book has numerous rave reviews from The LA Times. Novelist Maria Semple previously wrote for Mad About You and Arrested Development.  The book is available on Amazon at bookstores nationwide.

Electric Cool-Aid Acid Test, Mike Quinn

This week is the 40th Anniversary of Tom Wolfe’s famous “Electric Kook-Aid Acid Test” and I thought it would be high time we take a small moment to reflect upon the influence of drug use on art and culture. In an interview with Time Magazine, when asked if Wolfe thought that the drug culture had been stripped of its intellect, he replied:

“Ha! That’s assuming that it had an intellect–particularly in the case of LSD, which everyone assumed opened the doors of perception. We’ve since discovered that it does the opposite.”

I have to say I heartily disagree. For better or worse, there are ample byproducts of drug culture’s intellect, including, according to Israeli researchers, the Old Testament, where the drug in a popular drink of the time called ayahuasca induced “the seeing of light and profound religious and spiritual feelings.” And anyone who thinks that the Disney illustrators who created Mickey Mouse’s frantic repetitive broom exploits in Fantasia weren’t on anything are frankly, as we say affectionately to someone who is clueless, “smoking crack”.

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Charlton Heston as Moses and Timothy Leary In Photocollage

Certain art, if done properly, can induce an effect reminiscent of a drug trip just by the experience of the space. Rhythm via repetition can imbue art with a rave-like electronic effect and make the viewer feel like a small part of a larger continuum. It can even recreate the weird battery taste that happens in ones mouth after taking hallucinogenic mushrooms or L.S.D…. not that I would have any idea what I’m talking about with regard to such an activity.

But it’s not all bright and technicolor and this is highlighted in recent work of the artist Mike Quinn. Quinn creates installation pieces, sculptures, and paintings using pain killers, pills, anti-depressants, cigarettes (and cigarette packaging), alcohol, soda and more to literally chart the eternal search for happiness and betterment that often plays out through hindrances and impediments while attempting to diet, get happy, move forward, and progress.

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Mike Quinn, Keeping Up Appearances Can Be A Drag (Installation Views), 2007 – 2008,
Cigarette packs, varsity basket ball pins and paint pen, Dimensions variable, Courtesy of Perry Rubenstein Gallery.

Kimberly Brooks: You’ve recently been creating large wall installations. What do they signify to you?

Mike Quinn: They both have a very rational component (the math /physics element) and a very chaotic component (the addiction / the drugs / the need to escape). Using the inherent rationality of math and physics as a way to look at and depict the irrationality of addiction and chaos in life has been successful. In “March Mad Addiction Descent,” there are 31 panels, all with pages from sports sections painted with drugs, installed according to the way a basketball would fall to Earth. It’s kind of math in a vacuum though, so we take some liberties – my dad is a physicist and he helps me with the numbers. We make it work for the idea or the space that we have.

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Mike Quinn, MARCH MAD ADDICTION DESCENT (Installation Views), 2007, Mixed media, 31 framed panels: 14.75 x 11.75 inches- each PRG 979-08, Courtesy of Perry Rubenstein Gallery.

MQ: March Mad is about waiting for something great and exciting to happen and then watching as it ends how your life goes back to how it was and you have to find ways to cope again. In the “Keeping Up Appearances” piece, I had a gravity line that went around the gallery. I used USA Gold cigarette packs to represent this ever-present force that keeps things grounded. Then we calculated the drag force on a basketball as it falls to earth. This was represented by small gold varsity basketball pins with the prescription code for Welbutrin, an anti-depressant, written on them. The reason I like this work is that it makes loss appear like gain. The drag force increases as the ball falls. And drag and gravity are the two forces that impede things from going up which I think makes sense with my work. Things that impede progress. Here there is also a dialogue about self-medication and prescription medication to achieve happiness.

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Mike Quinn, A Few Minor Victories in a Year of General Failure, 2007 – 2008
Cigarette packs, coffee, Sominex and Benadryl packets & streamers in custom plexiglas vitrines, Diptych- Overall Dimensions: 23 1/2 x 45 1/2 x 3 1/4 inches

KB: Was there a single moment that you were inspired to pursue the idea of escapism in your work?

MQ: In 1987, when Jordan was 24, he won the NBA dunk contest. The next year, during the 88 season, the All-Star game was held in Chicago, which must have added another emotional component to the equation for #23. He came out and won it again, this time with a dunk that has become legendary. The image of him taking off from the foul line and soaring has sat in the front of mind since. I remember the next morning going to the basketball court behind my house. Familial dysfunction is difficult, especially to children, and I would go there to escape. I remember being conscious of something, maybe for the first time – that my life and life in general was not fair – that there is hardship and pain and suffering, and that you have to find things to escape into in order to make it all tolerable. Jordan was that for me. While I have several different, concurrently developing bodies of work, they all, in one form or another, began with what Jordan did in ’88, that image and how I have processed it since then.

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Michael Jordan, NBA Dunk Contest, 1988.

KB: Do you have a process of working that might be unique or curious?

MQ: My practice is not relegated strictly to the studio as I’m sure is the case with most artists. I suppose it is less a traditional practice then most however. It sort of takes place at my therapist’s office one night, Madison Square Garden the next, then a bar, then alone in front of the TV watching a game, my parent’s house. The work happens inside all of this. The materials I use in the work are not traditional either. They are the things I use or abstain from. Things we all use. Vodka, codeine, crushed benadryl and sleeping pills, diet coke, beer, robotussin, tobacco, coffee, Mylanta. And I use the left over packaging too. I paint with this stuff, use it in sculptures. Keep it around and see what happens over time.

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Mike Quinn, Jordan Addiction Painting- Steep Decline, 92-96, Four Years As an Indian (For Kevin), 2008
Mylanta, vodka, gouache, pva and crushed sleeping pills on museum board, 23 x 16.5 inches

KB: Which artists inspire you the most?

MQ: I love and hate a lot. I am a sucker for painting in NY from the 40’s through the 60’s. Larry Clark. Fred Tomaselli. If there is someone whose body of work has helped me see that it is OK to make work about the things you love and that it is OK to talk about losing it is Werner Herzog. He is so passionate about his ideas and his subjects. He sees value in struggle and how beauty can be terrible. I find the main characters in his movies to be the kind of losers that I appreciate. Tragic men who are trying to achieve, usually end up failing, but inside that failure something else happens. That is a lot like the discourse that I try and develop in my work.


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FRED TOMASELLI, Airborne Event, 2003, mixed media, acrylic paint, resin on wood, 84 x 60 x 1 1/2 inches

Mike Quinn was born in Hartford Connecticut in 1978 and he received degrees in Art History and Studio Art from NYU. Quinn has had two solo shows in the past year–one at Vanessa Buia and one at Perry Rubenstein. Most recently, he showed his work with Perry Rubenstein at Art Brussels and he is currently in a summer show “Opportunity as Community: Artists Select Artists” at Dieu Donne in NYC with a Closing reception: Friday, Sept. 5, 6-8 PM.

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Artist Mike Quinn


First Person Artist is a weekly column by artist Kimberly Brooks in which she provides commentary on the creative process and showcases artists’ work from around the world. Come back every Saturday for more Kimberly Brooks.  

Artist as Exhibitionist

2008-06-13-nytimescover.jpgMuch has been made of the recent Memorial Day Weekend Issue of the New York Times Magazine displaying, not a war veteran, but former Gawker editor Emily Gould languishing on a bed sporting a wife-beater and tattoo. It is not about the blog culture so much as an 8,000 word autobiographical tale about her experience in it. She paints a portrait of herself as a compulsive over-sharer where she describes, in great detail, how she blogged about her every thought, told amusing stories of boyfriends, skewered media insiders and experienced total humiliation by Jimmy Kimmel on live television before being ousted from New York’s subculture and media world. Aside from babes on beds selling more magazines, the repentant pose begs us to pity the entire generation of bloggers who expose too much of themselves online. “Poor, poor generation…“, say the editors “See how naughty you’ve been? Just like the tattoo, you’re gonna regret it!” Meanwhile, there she is, the “recovering exhibitionist” lying half naked on the bed. The joke’s on us and especially the NY Times. In fact, I think this picture I found of Emily is far more apt:

2008-06-13-emily2.jpg Emily Gould
As an artist, I was captivated by the piece on several levels. The narrative details Emily Gould’s journey piercing through the event horizon of celebrity culture and going from being the observer to the observed. What fascinated me most, however, was the x-ray view inside the mind of someone who craves the attention of strangers. As the entire spectacle of her feature betrays, Emily Gould is a masterful exhibitionist. In a sense, the second picture summarizes the ideal attitude you need to have to be an artist– act like you don’t care, but do it half-naked and look hot (i.e: express/expose yourself and make great art).

For fine artists, often solo creatures, it’s easy to get lost in the monastery of the studio (except for those artists with factories of people who paint for them, such as Damien HirstTakashi Murakami or Kehinde Whiley) and frankly shocking to suddenly then have to lift one’s head above the walls and care what other people think. I suspect there are more artists of talent and skill uncomfortable exposing themselves than artists with less talent that are and the latter always gets more action.

I am not an exhibitionist by nature. Yet writing here has taught me a great deal about getting over the fear of vulnerability. I started writing this column on an intellectual dare from Arianna Huffington, a friend and collector, who always told me “Dahling, I love the way you think, you have to write it down, you should blog about it!” “But I’m not a writer, I’m a painter,” I would protest. Writing is hard for me. Unlike painting — which I can get lost in — I don’t get lost in writing. I squeeze out every sentence. If I do get lost, it might be for a paragraph, but then I have to bludgeon it into spontaneity until my arms ache.

Although I certainly don’t write about my shampoo or my dog, writing online gets easier each time I do it and I start to understand the compulsion. I think of it like this: if I could take all the pages and pages of confessional material on the web and plaster it on the interior of a gigantic dome, I can envision this universal mind, and I start, by putting something out there weekly, to feel my place in it — as if I represent a couple of neurons or glands and if I stop I might make the mind lose the abliity to see the color red or find its keys.

2008-06-13-firstpainting.jpg Kimberly Brooks. “The Conversation.” First picture at an exhibition.
I painted for years in silence before showing my work. The first time I hung a painting at a group exhibition, I was as nervous as if it were a first date. I arrived late and saw people standing around and talking about it. I blushed and laughed behind them. I assumed that they would know it was me who did it, like they could tell. The Internet was far more terrifying. The first time I uploaded my art work, I created a password-protected website. I then handed out postcards with the password on it and attempted to control who viewed the work. The thought that anyone could look at it anytime was akin to someone watching me take a shower. I finally took it off for the world to see.

I keep relearning the concept of the artist’s impulse and the need to share; that the desire to express and loving the Zen of process are separate from seeking and desiring the admiration of strangers. Now I’ve come to see acquiring an ease with attention itself as just another tool of the trade, like turpentine or a good studio space. As an artist I remain an exhibitionist-in-training. As for Emily Gould, in that regard, anyway, I tip my hat.

The Painting Whisperer vs The Anxiety of Abstraction

Take for a moment the spectrum of Realism and the raucous jazz of Abstraction in painting and slide somewhere in the middle. Over to the left is realism flexing its technical prowess, and it is impressive– posing in the sun like a young Arnold Schwarzennegger. But once the painter leaves it, when reality is tweaked or cracked open and abstraction seeps in, the mind wanders inside the crevasses and when done right, it sets the viewer free, free to interpret or imagine something greater than even what the painter had in store. The longer I paint, the more I leave realism and revere painters who ride that certain edge in between. Arnold looks so silly in that bathing suit anyway.

I have long cultivated the thought of artist as Painting Whisperer; that the better artist possesses some secret frequency to channel the right moves. When one can tune in better, the paintings will just fly out like songs or messages from a distant galaxy. Or like a novelist whose characters develop minds of their owns and “write the rest of the story” themselves. This is also a common fantasy among the critics and viewers not in the trenches. Perhaps Irving Stone helped start it in The Agony and the Ecstasy when he depicted the young Michelangelo coaxing the figures out of the marble slabs, setting them free. But it’s not so simple. How many film students studying Godard revel in some bizarre effect, only to find later that something spilled on the camera lens? It was an accident, dammit! But a great one, like discovering penicillin from the mold on cheese.

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Annie Lapin, “Cast Halving”, 2008, Oil on panel, 96 x 69 inches, Courtsey of Angles Gallery.

Annie Lapin is one such artist whose work lies somewhere in that amazing middle. Her recent paintings deftly disorient and bend the pitch of reality just enough to make you fall inside them. When I look at Annie’s work, I had projected that she must talk to her canvas, how else must these scenes come into being? I’m fascinated by what gets planned and tossed and when. But in talking with her, I learn, she is no painting whisperer– she is not the passive recipient of some canvas telling her what to do. No! She is Charlie Sheen starring in her own version of The Apocalypse, where every possibility is fraught with consequences, and each stroke, like Chaos’ butterfly wing, causes rainstorms elsewhere on the canvas. So the real conversation, then– the whispering– occurs less between artist and canvas and more between the viewer and the final work, which is exactly what great art should do. Her show, “Gruppology” opens tonight at the Angles Gallery in Santa Monica, CA.

KB: How do you start a painting, Annie? I see remnants of photographic imagery and reality but am not convinced that you’re looking at anything when you make it.

AL: On all of my larger works, I work from my head. It is a process of reacting to the image… layering, and allowing it to develop is if it were a photo in emulsion. I also do a lot of watercolor exercises, which tend to be diptychs on little pieces of paper. For these I often paint from photos of current events or other things that seem prevalent in the media. By doing this I get to recharge both my mind and my hand with the tropes of realism, quotations of photographic lighting and reformulations of the images that we all think we know so well. Then those things come out naturally when I compose my larger works on canvas, and I am more able to subvert them because I am not looking directly at a photograph.

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Annie Lapin, “Couple of Narcissists”, 2008, Oil on synthetic canvas, 51 x 30 inches, Courtesy of Angles Gallery.

When you’re working on the bigger canvases, do ever get the feeling that the paintings talk to you while you’re making them and tell you want they want done to them? Like a novelists who invents characters that start having minds of their own? When does that happen? All during or never?

AL: I wish my paintings would talk to me, but sadly, radio silence. It’s a process of trial and error as I search for that unique solution which will allow it to resonate in the way I am after.

KB: No kidding. I have full-blown arguments, wrestling matches and make-out sessions. I’ve been aspiring to be a “Painting Whisperer” trying to listen to the next move as much as I want my mind to control it.

AL: I wish it were that way, but it is definitely not a “painting whisperer” process. I have way way way too much anxiety to be a “painting whisperer.” I always feel the painting could go a million ways, I choose one, and typically, after the initial high, I feel miserable about it. And even after it’s “done” I could see a million ways to destroy it or subvert it, which I often feel compelled to do if the image is too resolved. Once the painting is “done” I am always sure there was another way I could have taken a painting… but I comfort myself by looking at it and just superimposing those ways on the canvas in my mind.

Rather, let’s just say I am an “illusion junkie,” rearranging and recombining shapes and forms like a heroin addict searching for veins that haven’t been used in order to give myself the best fix I can manage of a satisfactory imagery. And that satisfactory image tends to arise from notions I have about the way the mind works and tries to settle questions about what it’s seeing. I relate more to neurological and cognitive experimentation than I do to a personal dialog with the work. The goal of my experimentation is not something I can readily put into words beyond saying that I strive to encounter the process of cognition through playing with the construction of meaning. That is where I get my high.

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Annie Lapin, “The Players”, 2007, Casein and egg tempera on panel, 56 x 43 7/8 inches, Courtesy of Angles Gallery.

KB: That’s clearly some very good stuff. What is the source of inspiration for your show, “Gruppology”, opening tonight?

AL: I often think about an emotional experience I had when I was sixteen in response to the novel The Moon and Sixpence, by Somerset Maugham. It documents the life of a painter in his journey away from his entrenchment in bourgeois society to arrive finally and metaphorically on a remote island, completing his rift with “civilization.” There he ultimately contracts leprosy and spends the final two years of his life in a single room, alone except for occasional visits from his wife. He goes blind, but over those two years he fills the room from ceiling to floor with paintings. Reading Maugham’s description of that room basically launched me into a visceral and intellectual panic attack that lasted for about a month! Suddenly I found myself grappling with a sudden mistrust in my perception of the world. I saw this painter who created, lived in, and finally died in this painted room, as any human being, living in the world of sensation. I’m not sure how this happened but suddenly I felt like the world I lived in was also just a painted room! At 16 I’d never even heard of deconstruction or phenomenology, which allow us to intellectualize such concepts, so this was a highly emotional – and very strange – experience for me. I think the current work speaks to some of that same anxiety I had back then — that the vision of the world we think to be so stable is as thin, frail, and constructed as a painting and visa versa. On the flip side, there is an optimism if not a euphoria about painting: that it can reflect the whole world and more.

KB: Does the euphoria come from reflecting the world or discovering or being able to depict things you never imagined? I say this because your paintings have a surreal/imaginary quality to them.

AL: I am less interested in the depiction of “things,” real or imagined, than I am in the way certain images play with our minds at various points in history and culture. In my most optimistic moments, I sometimes believe that painting has the capacity to provoke a confrontation with the process of cognition, on both an individual and a societal level. The imaginary or surreal quality of my work probably is a natural bi-product of my experiments toward that elusive end.

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Annie Lapin, “Land Gods”, 2007, Mixed media on panel, 14 x 11 inches, Courtsey of Angles Gallery.

KB: What was your inspiration behind “Land Gods”?

AL: I have a reverence for the constructs of visual illusionism, because I feel that they are constituents of a much larger mechanism, which connects each of us to what we perceive in the world. When I made Land Gods, I was thinking very specifically of the work as an icon to perception and cognition. It gains power and an air of the sacred through its layers of illusion. It is small, about 14″ x 11″. And yet it contains a deep landscape. Additionally there are overlapping images in this painting. The deep space of the landscape also stacks vertically on top of itself to create another image, composed of large faces, that is on a plane that basically parallels the surface of the painting. This component of the painting, the face painted without depth, alludes to Byzantine iconographic space, which was reserved for holy imagery. I call the work Land Gods, because I think that this painting also reflects the multiple ways that people look at the land, as something alternately animated, sublime, or simply as real estate. All these ideas about the landscape haunt our minds any time we conceive of or look at the terrain around us. They are like ghosts… or gods.
KB: Is there a work of art that inspires you?

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AL: Here is an image of a painting I had on my bedroom wall as a child. I spent years staring at this image as I lay in bed, never imagining that there was an artist behind it, or that it was meant to depict something specific. I didn’t think of it as a work of art with an intention. Instead, it was a constantly changing thing as I projected various interpretations onto it. I think most of the time I imagined the two large forms at the end of the road were two hulking monsters, lumbering along together, sometimes with good intent, sometimes bad. Other times I focused on the abstract forms and the symmetry of the image. Though it generated many stories in my head, this thing had no clear meaning to me. I suppose it scared me sometimes, but mostly it was just fascinating. I often feel as if I am trying to recreate my experience with that little landscape painting as I encounter forms on the canvass, and sometimes in the world around me.
Before receiving her MFA from UCLA in 2007, Annie received her BA from Yale University and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She will have a solo exhibition at Grand Arts in Kansas City, Missouri, in June, 2008. Her work has been exhibited in group shows at Angles Gallery, Roberts and Tilton, Daniel Weinberg Gallery, and the L.A. Weekly Annual Biennial. Gruppology is Lapin’s first solo exhibition at the Angles Gallery, running from 17 May – 21 June 2008. Angles Gallery: 2230 Main Street, Santa Monica CA 90405

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Artist Annie Lapin

First Person Artist is a weekly column by artist Kimberly Brooks in which she provides commentary on the creative process and showcases artists’ work from around the world. Come back every Saturday for more Kimberly Brooks. You can view more interviews and essays at www.firstpersonartist.com.

Summer Loving in the Golden State



Just in time for the warm weather (not that we’re getting so much of that today in New York), L.A.-based artist Kimberly Brooks brings her dreamlike canvases to Culver City’s Taylor De Cordoba gallery for an exhibit called “Technicolor Summer.” The new series of oil paintings, which focuses on a family grappling with illness in the midst of a California summer, features Golden State backdrops such as Yosemite National Park’s forests and the Pacific Ocean. “Unlike other shows that have very specific ideas tied to them—like a musical artist releasing an album, where each painting is a song—I think I will be painting this show, in some form or another, for the rest of my life,” says Brooks. “Technicolor Summer” will be on view from May 10 to June 14.

– Victoria Namkung
Kimberly Brooks, “Canon Drive,” courtesy of Taylor De Cordoba

Photography Undergoes a Sex Change

Over the last ten years, the art of photography has undergone a sex change. The rather masculine act of capturing or “shooting” a moment (“the hunt”) with a sound subject and composition has evolved into one where the real art comes in the editing, not the capturing. The initial “kill” gets skinned, dressed and prepared for a meal by the wonderful witchy post production tool known as Photoshop. The photographer, like a woman putting on make up at her vanity before going out for the evening, edits reality: the best features and colors are enhanced and sharpened, and a new, hyper-realistic art form, with a nod to surrealism of last century, is born.

Of course, there’s no question that a digitally manipulated photograph cannot compare to the majesty of a single moment captured 4 x 5 or 8 x 10 film. In truth, manipulating images with lenses or the dark room has occurred since photography was invented. But the difference is that working in Photoshop overtakes the camera as the instrument of creation. Some art schools and galleries still hold a fundamentalist/purist view that such imagery is not authentic and therefore not art. But the reality is that labs are harder to find, Leica is out of business, and Photoshop’s sorcery are shaping a new aesthetic which is finally being taken seriously as an art form and is injecting itself into the mainstream culture. Limited editions by some artists such as Loretta Lux (below) fetch up to $100K per print and her style was happily ripped off by none other than Van Cleef and Arpels for their recent ad campaign.

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Left: Loretta Lux “The Red Ball” ; Right: Van Cleef and Arpels, Advertisement

The rise of this aesthetic trend is wonderfully chronicled in last week’s New York Times article on Flickr, where the writer documents the exploding popularity of photostreams by artists who manipulate their photographs rather than the ones who upload shots taken “as is.” In fact, when one prankster uploaded a picture by Henri Cartier-Bresson of a bicyclist riding past a circular stairway as his own, unwitting commentators pilloried the “photographer” saying “When everything is blurred you cannot convey the motion of the bicyclist…. “Why is the staircase so ‘soft’? Camera shake?” and “Grey, blurry, small, add crop.”

As a painter, the first time I experimented with Photoshop, I thought I had entered a secret world where anything was possible at an unimaginable speed of realization. Articulating what I could see in my mind instantaneously and in any variation made me feel as if I was handed magical superpowers like becoming invisible or the ability to stop time. More than just an enhancer of images, like making eyes bluer or elongating a supermodel’s neck, Photoshop is an outstanding collage tool. Making collages is most painters’ first art school exercise– to cut images from a random stack of magazines and then assemble it into as a maquette for a painting. For this reason I find the name “Photoshop” woefully inapt, like it should be called “Painter’s Heaven” or “Wonderland’s Magical Cabinet of Potion’s Where Anything Can Happen,” but that’s perhaps too long.

But like any art and especially in this new “transgendered” form of photography, there is a fine line between over-manipulation, and a tilted authenticity. But when it’s done right, it opens the narrative field and transports the viewer into another reality where double takes are welcome. One such photographer is Tom Chambers. In his “Prom Dress” series of younger women donning tulle in strange and disjointed natural settings, he practices his craft in Photoshop to a haunting hyper-realistic extreme that warrants close attention.

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Tom Chambers, “With the Pack,” 2006, Photomontage, 3 sizes, Image courtesy of Wall Space Gallery, Seattle.


Kimberly Brooks: Tell us about your most recent body of work and how you use photomontaging and photography to express it.

Tom Chambers: Most of my work is very influenced by Mexican religious art. Years ago I traveled through Patzcuaro, Mexico and came across a basket full of ex votos (or retablos) painted on tin.

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“Ex Voto” Sample

Ex votos are Mexican folk art paintings often created on tin, copper or wood. They illustrate an occasion when in response to a prayer for help or guidance, the prayer was answered or a miracle occurred. These hand-painted miracle paintings honor the power and mercy of the saints. The subjects of ex votos range from common daily occurrences to truly dramatic events. All ex votos contain a picture of the miracle, an image of the saint to whom the ex voto is dedicated, and a brief description of the miracle. I had been working on photomontage photography at that time, but upon seeing the ex voto paintings, I thought, “Why not push my work in a similar direction, create photographs with magical or religious overtones.” Later, I discovered that this type of artwork is a genre commonly known as magic realism.

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Tom Chambers, Prom Gown #3, 2005, Photomontage, 3 sizes, Image courtesy of Wall Space Gallery, Seattle.

KB: Can you show us an example of where you’ve used several different images to create one? I would like the viewers to see the source material and how it was turned into its final incarnation.

TC: Okay, below is an image derived from three different sources. I have been intrigued by Native American Indian burials, particularly ones using burial platforms in the desert. So I decided to create an image involving a burial platform which would have religious overtones. Because I wanted the viewer to feel the power of nature over humankind, I created a sacrificial image, as if the subject was presenting herself to the heavens. Using a prairie backdrop taken in Yellowstone National Park, I positioned a girl in a gown whom I had earlier photographed propped up on two stools. Then, adding photos of poles made it appear as though she was propped up off the ground. This final photomontage was fairly simple to create, but resulted in a powerful image which was selected as the 2007 Santa Fe PhotoArts poster.

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Pieces of the Process: Chambers combines his photographs of water and salmon to create the finished “Plymouth Rock” below.
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Tom Chambers, Final Image: “Plymouth Rock”, 2004, Photomontage, 2 sizes, Image courtesy of Wall Space Gallery, Seattle.

KB: How do you start the process? Does it always start with the photograph or do you draw first?

TC: I initially sketch out a concept or idea I have for an image. Then, I photograph each piece of the image using a medium format film camera, generally a Mamiya Pro TL or a Fuji Rangefinder, being careful to make sure the light intensity and direction are similar in each of these shots. This process may take as much as a month depending upon how quickly I am able to get all the shots and sort through them, picking the ones which work best together. “Pieces” of the final image might include the landscape or background, often shot in sections, as well as the sky, a human figure, an animal, or another object. The processed film is scanned at a high resolution, approximately 80 megabytes per frame. Then, using Photoshop software with a Macintosh computer I combine each “piece”, thus creating the final image. Lastly, the image is printed with an Epson printer using archival pigment inks and paper.

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Tom Chambers, Prom Gown #2, 2005, Photomontage, 3 sizes, Image courtesy of Wall Space Gallery, Seattle.

KB: Ah, it is clear to my eye from the quality of your images that you’re capturing your source material on film before going digital. What artist in history inspires your work?

TC: Andrew Wyeth… Although his work might be criticized for its overt beauty, the work contains strong emotional currents, symbolic content, and an underlying abstraction. I appreciate his color palette (browns and blacks), use of texture, and winter scenes as backdrop.

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Andrew Wyeth

KB: I’ve always found it sad that overt beauty gets criticized. Indeed, I find your works beautiful. What mood do you hope to impart to your viewers when they see your work.

TC: I would like my work to elicit an emotional response, a moment when the viewer connects, and the story unfolds from within–based on one’s identity and feelings. I am not asking my work to be believable in any literal or representational way, but I am hoping it encourages the viewer to consider my work on an emotional level.

Tom Chambers was raised on a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and at age 18, he joined the Navy and was immediately sent to Vietnam. After his military discharge, he spent five years hitchhiking around the U.S. and Canada, as well as working his family farm with his four brothers. Later, he attended art school in Florida and eventually moved to Virginia, where he found work as a graphic designer. He began experimenting with photography using the computer equipment available through his work. For the past twelve years he has created photomontages, using photos taken during travels throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Recently Chambers’ work has been featured in large Expos such as Photo LA and Photo Miami and Art Madrid (February 2008). In 2007, he had solo shows in Santa Fe, Seattle, and L.A. Currently Tom Chambers is represented by several galleries including “Photo Eye” in Santa Fe, NM, “Wall Space Gallery” in Seattle, WA, “Chase Gallery”, and “Galeria Clave” in Murcia, Spain, exclusively for Europe. His current show in Boston is at the Chase Gallery and opened May 2nd and runs through the month of May. Chase Gallery, 129 Newbury Street. 617-859-7222.

First Person Artist is a weekly column by artist Kimberly Brooks in which she provides commentary on the creative process and showcases artists’ work from around the world. Come back every Saturday for more Kimberly Brooks. You can view more interviews and essays at www.firstpersonartist.com

Technicolor Summer Solo Show, Los Angeles


presents

K I M B E R L Y   B R O O K S
“Technicolor Summer”

May 10th – June 14th, 2008
Opening Reception: Saturday May 10th, 2008, 6-9pm


Taylor De Cordoba is pleased to present Technicolor Summer, a solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Kimberly Brooks. The exhibition will run from May 10 – June 14. The gallery will host an opening reception for the artist on Saturday May 10th from 6pm-9pm. This is the artist’s second solo show with the gallery.

In her new series of oil paintings, Brooks explores the relationship between human and nature. Using the sweeping California landscape as a backdrop, from the forests of Yosemite to the bewildering expanse of the Pacific Ocean, she introduces characters that are unified by the mutual awe for their surroundings. Based on her personal experience, Brooks focuses on a family grappling with illness, where the prospect of death renders every moment vivid, and each meal and sunset matters. The scenes are from a summer experienced in high definition; where every leaf on a tree becomes visible simultaneously, and life is lived in Technicolor.

Taylor De Cordoba is located at 2660 S La Cienega Blvd in Los Angeles, CA and is open Tuesday thru Saturday, 11am-5:30pm. For additional information, contact Heather Taylor at heather@taylordecordoba.com or (310) 559-9156.

The Nudist and the Chemist

As an artist, I consider art on a sort of spectrum in my mind by the manner in which it is rendered. I picture two opposing ends: one a chemist, who has a pristine lab and measures everything in the most precise manner, conducting experiments in a white coat with the thinnest of pipette, a Bunsen burner, and a notepad to meticulously record results. On the other end is the nudist, someone completely of the body who paints without a trace of inhibition, who never decides what to put on the canvas in advance but just instinctually slathers it on with a huge brush or spatula, perhaps even while sipping a glass of wine with the other hand, all while naked. In my mind I call the two types of artists “The Nudist and The Chemist.” With every painting, I fall somewhere in between–with “The Nudist” being my ultimate goal as an artist, like Howard Hodgkin or perhaps the elder Matisse, working in bed into his eighties with yards of fabric, sunglasses and a big pair of scissors.

 

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LEFT: Ethan Murrow, “Lava Collection – Well I definitely heard something” graphite on paper 54″x54″ 2005.

When I first saw the works of Ethan Murrow, I thought they were photographs. I loved the subject matter, the adventures of the people, often the portraits of the artist himself, in the midst of an unknown experiment. Upon second glance, however, when I realized that these are in fact extraordinarily large graphite drawings done with such precision, such sensuality, with a subject matter that deals directly with fear, ambition, and humility, I decided that, nay, he is both a nudist and a chemist and that one can very much be both.Murrow and his wife Vita Weinstein develop plots and film their stories, and then Murrow searches for frames worth portraying by hand. His upcoming show “Dust Mining” debuts March 15th and is his most ambitious to date.

Kimberly Brooks: One of the elements that I find so intriguing about your work is the difference between content and medium. Your medium is highly controlled and photorealistic. Yet the subject is highly dynamic, people are doing strange things with ropes in holes, water and air. How does Marshall MacLuhan’s aphorism “The Medium is the Message” apply to your work?

Ethan Murrow: I think media effects and often controls the message more than most would like to admit, but I don’t think you can say that it always does. That said, media IS often the overarching structure and also the motivation so it’s influence probably outweighs content and concept a lot of the time. For instance, I began these drawing projects in part because of my pure satisfaction with paper, graphite, the atmospheric effect I can create with it, the meditative plodding process, the obsession required and the raw endless simplicity of this approach. But, those things are also very important to me because they relate to my content. Ideas of obsession, perseverance and pig headed-ness are key elements in both media and concept. I like to think the process/media and the content are integrally linked but I do not think one can exist purely without the other and maintain the same effect. In my work content also brought about the media. I aimed to create work that referenced historical documents, black and white photography, monumental glorification and so on. Large scale graphite drawings fit that bill. So the media is at the mercy of the concept too.

 

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RIGHT: Ethan Murrow, “John McCarty, promoter of the mines and professional middleman” graphite on paper 74″x74″ 2007

KB: What was the inspiration behind the way you approached this series, creating a back story in the first place?
EM: In The spring of 2004 I had a chance to do a three-month residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, Nebraska. When I arrived there I was in the midst of projects that dealt with landscape painting and, truth be told, I was somewhat bored with the direction of my work. I spent a lot of time talking with and watching some performance Artists who were also in residence at the Bemis at the same time, particularly the group Bushwick Farms whose work revolves around an extended fictitious genealogy. The simple truth was that they were having a blast, using stories from their own lives to help construct scenarios, events and narratives that engrossed both them and their viewers and participants.

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LEFT: Ethan Murrow at Pinto Brothers shoot in Manzanita Oregon 2005.

KB: What led you to the subject of experimentation?I have always been obsessed by flight and that became my first subject. I began jumping off of cars fences, ladders and chairs, flying through the air in Nebraska wheat fields in front of cameras, embarrassing myself in front of some local farmers as I documented the body in motion. I then brought this imagery back to my traditional processes and used it to create drawings and paintings. The new work was exhilarating because it was chaotic and unknown. At the beginning, I wanted to create pieces that documented my prowess at flying through the air. It took me a good year of fits and starts and mistakes before I realized that the work was at its best when it captured my weaknesses, mistakes and innocent moments, instead of fictitiously glorifying what I could not achieve. I began to create narratives that dealt more with failure and the overpowering and blinding need to succeed rather than success itself. Many could have told me this from day one, but it took me a long time to realize that I am at my best as a performer and storyteller when I am making fun of my own ego. At the core, my characters are self-portraits, craving glory, yet eternally doomed to make mistakes.

 

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Ethan Murrow, “Off of Gaspé, ready to dive for the elusive whale”, graphite on paper 60″ x 96″, 2007.


KB: I am a big fan of mistakes. It’s the most exciting and critical part of making art. What is the story within this particular film and how does it illuminate these themes for you?
EM: The Freshwater Narwhal Hoax documents the exploits and downfall of the fictitious marine biologists Banvard and Barnum Orson. Banished from the scientific community due to fraudulent methods and suspect motivations, they are determined to rebuild their reputations and achieve the fame they have always desired. The brothers delve into highly suspect whale research and begin to weave a complicated and fraudulent tale for the press. They focus their attention on Narwhal whales and assert to anyone who will listen that they have located a pod on the St. Lawrence River. Hefting gear of unknown provenance the Orson brothers attempt to prove their bald assertions. Their story is one of obstinence and drive in partnership with chicanery. Like many of my characters their insistence on success at all costs becomes their ultimate downfall.

The things I keep returning to are failure and obsession. It seems to me that there is a fragile line between reckless obsession and brilliant success. My work resides in this area, applauding ridiculous pursuits and cringing at ill-fated experimentation. To examine these issues I have created fictional narratives rooted in the historical fact that humans will attempt anything. I attempt to give credibility to the ridiculous pursuits of my characters by creating a pseudo documentary world full of black and white photo-realism and fake documentary films about their exploits. I want the work to be believable, insane and humorous all at once.

KB: How did this particular story arise?

EM: Working with my wife, Vita Weinstein Murrow, a frequent collaborator, a story began to arise from our discussions in early 2006 about two people who had been driven to the edge of their profession and so turned to desperate measures. The characters we had dealt with up to this point were obsessed by fame and glory but rarely had this caused them to swindle anyone. We wanted to dig deeper into failure and investigate what happened to people who had nowhere to turn. The Orson’s aren’t horrible people, they just use their drive and grit in inappropriate ways.

 

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Ethan Murrow, “Cloud Collecting with the Pinto Brothers: at the moment of launch, the quick release jammed and Huffaker lost his cool.” graphite on paper 72″x144″ 2006.

KB: What is your process and how do you collaborate with Vita to create your work?EM: Half of my time is spent on project development, reading, thinking, researching and planning. Much of this process includes discussions between Vita and me about different story lines, scenarios and logistics, all leading up to performances. The performances are planned yet disorganized. When we began they were two person affairs with Vita shooting video and stills of myself in a variety of costumes. We usually shoot in remote and difficult settings. The entire Cloud Collecting With The Pinto Brothers for example was shot on the Oregon coast over five weekends in 2004 and 2005. Four of those five weekends it was pouring and windy, the fifth it hailed. For that one Vita was in a tent to protect the technology while I tromped around in the sand with various props getting hammered by the hail. I have always felt like these moments of ridiculousness connect me directly with the characters, who all are depicted in equally problematic scenarios. Once the performance imagery has been collected I begin to cull through it on the computer and think about which images connect best to one another to help tell a full story. I then use the collected imagery to create large-scale graphite drawings and short video pieces.

 

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RIGHT: Vita Weinstein Murrow directs two actors for Dust Mining shoot in Dorset, Vermont 2007.
Now some of this process is changing. Working with Vita and Harvest Films we have crafted a new storyline about a group of miners harvesting dust for profit. We are working with a wide array of actors and media professionals to craft a short film with Harvest for my March show at Obsolete in Venice. This piece will be shot over the next few weeks. It is a big jump, forcing us to more carefully consider every step in story development and opening doors to tools and collaborators we have never had access to before.KB: Indeed, has there been an artist who has inspired you in both your interest in film and drawings?

William Kentridge, who creates stop frame animation films about the history, politics and culture he grew up amongst in segregated South Africa, has probably had the biggest effect on my career. His haunting depictions of characters struggling between dream and reality and cause and effect are all rooted in his own experience and figure (meaning he loosely depicts himself as the protagonist in his films). I admire the way he examines his own role in history through his work and formally I can never get enough of his crude yet completely full and confident drawings. Kentridge collaborates with puppeteers, actors, musicians etc etc. and he has served as a model to me in that realm as I have worked to create healthy collaborations with my wife, Vita, and others in different projects.

 

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William Kentridge, Drawings from Mine charcoal on paper 120x150cm each, 1991.

Ethan Murrow was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts in 1975 and is presently based in New York City. He received his B.A. in Studio Art from Carleton College in 1998, and his M.F.A from The University of Chapel Hill in North Carolina in 2002. Ethan’s upcoming solo exhibition will be at Obsolete in Venice, California, opening on March 15th 2008 www.obsoleteinc.com or Ethan’s website at www.bigpaperairplane.com).Selected recent solo exhibitions include: Winston Wachter Fine Art in Seattle, Washington, Bucheon Gallery in San Francisco, Obsolete in Venice, California, Youngblood Gallery in Atlanta and Reeves Contemporary in New York City. Ethan has participated in residencies and fellowships at the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, Nebraska, the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughn, Ireland and the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont. Ethan teaching experience includes: Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ethan’s awards include an emerging artist grant from Spaces in Cleveland, OH and an Outstanding Student Achievement Award for Sculpture from the International Sculpture Center in Hamilton, NJ. Recent reviews and publications include Time Out New York, The Seattle Times, The Los Angeles Times, Harper’s Magazine, Art New England, Sculpture Magazine and New American Paintings. Ethan’s work is in many public and private collections, including, the Guggenheim Foundation, Twentieth Century Fox, The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Liberty Media and the Burj Dubai, EMAAR.

First Person Artist is a weekly column by artist Kimberly Brooks in which she provides commentary on the creative process and showcases artists’ work from around the world. Come back every Saturday for more Kimberly Brooks. You can view more columns and essays at www.firstpersonartist.com

The End of Polaroid with Stephanie Schneider

Last week, Polaroid announced that it would be discontinuing the beloved Polaroid film. Even if it was expected, I became instantly saddened by the news. With today’s digital “take 50 keep 2″ picture-taking mentality, I know fewer and fewer people who even keep photo albums because the sheer editing task is so daunting.

 

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Stefanie Schneider. Untitled 40.2 x 39.4 inch Limited Edition
 

I will never forget when my parents brought home their Poloroid SX-70 Camera. After “say cheese” we would grab the photo from its mouth and flap it around like angry chickens with the misguided belief that this would help it develop. Then, we watched the image appear like a magic trick before our very eyes. Little did we know then that the real magic would occur decades later, when the colors would fade in a yellow green haze and offer an aesthetic aftertaste even richer than the instant gratification of seeing it develop.

During my last show, “Mom’s Friends,” about my mother and her friends in the 70s, I foraged through old family albums and found page after delicious page of distorted photos that to me signified nothing less than the new born freedom of a generation redefining itself.

 

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Stefanie Schneider. The Princess, 128 x 125cm, c-print, edition of 5

It was around this time when I was researching my show that I discovered and fell in love with the work of the German-born artist Stefanie Schneider. Schneider uses expired Polaroid film and lets the medium’s natural distortions and milky opalescence infuse every frame. She creates narratives with a cast of characters who sizzle in what appears to be imported thirty-year-old California sunlight. Like old film stills, the ensuing dreamscapes provide an ideal stage to watch a story unfold. I caught up with her in her studio in Berlin where we discussed light, love, her new film and the reality of obsolescence.Kimberly Brooks: How are you mourning the news that Polaroid is discontinuing your medium?Stefanie Schneider: It’s an era ending again. No more family pictures developing in front of the children’s eyes. A piece of beauty disappearing….a piece of culture. Polaroid material has the most beautiful quality — the colors on one side, but then the magic moment in witnessing the image to appear. The time stands still and the act of watching the image develop can be shared with the people around you. In the fast world of today it’s nice to slow down for a moment. At the same time Polaroid slows time, it also captures a moment which becomes the past so instantly that the decay of time is even more apparent– it gives the image a certain sentimentality or melancholy. Because of that intensity of the moment it seems to change the interaction of the next moment. The Polaroid moment is one of a kind, an original every time.

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Stefanie Schneider, The Days I Saw Him Last, 125 x 150 cm, c-print, edition of 5, 2007.

KB: You’re from Germany, yet you in many ways capture such a California essence. Did you spend time in California before you conceived of your first show shot there? What was your first California experience?SS: California always had been a dream to me. I guess growing up in the 70s with movies like Vanishing PointThe Getaway, and Badlands formed the need for me to leave Germany for California. I’d never even visited before I moved there. When I moved to Los Angeles in 1996 right away I felt at home. Everything was in place and the dream was alive. California looked it and the Polaroids made it even more real.

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Stefanie Schneider, Untitled, triptych 60 x 70 cm each, c-print, edition of 5, 2007.


KB: In Hollywood, it’s a truism that all the best cinematographers are foreigners because they can see a place the way a native can’t. You capture the essence of California better than most Californians do. At what point did your work with Polaroid start your journey as an artist?
SS: It was all a coincidental life source. When I started taking polaroids I didn’t even have a gallery. But I met gallerist Susanne Vielmetter about half a year after I started working with Polaroids and when I shuffled them out of a box onto the table. She loved them right away and we planned a show together.

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Stefanie Schneider, 29 palms lot, 60 x 60 cm, edition of 10, c-print 1999.


KB: I recognize California beaches and Joshua Tree, in your work. Is it all in California or did you venture out?
Almost all my photographs are taken in California, a few in Nevada like the Vegas series and the photographs for the movie Stay have been all taken in New York, of course. Most of my work is being shot in 29 Palms in the California Desert.

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KB: I saw the photos from Stay (featuring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor). Even though I recognize them as actors, the sequence still allowed me to get lost in the narrative –What were they doing on the top of the building? Why does he grab her arm?”, etc. Have you ever worked on a movie?

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SS: I am working right now on a feature film on Polaroid. In it I explore and document the dreams and fantasies of a group of people living in a trailer park community in the California desert. It will be finished in about five years and is developed online at www.twentyninepalms.ca“. Every year we are having an exhibit to show the bits and pieces already shot. I hope I will be able to finish the film. Due to the closure of Polaroid this project might be in jeopardy. Because I’m working on outdated material I have a little bit more time. This is the first and only film ever made on Polaroid. Right now in Berlin I’m showing the very first exhibition of the project. It’s still on till March 15th.KB: What is the ultimate subject for this medium?SS: Love. There is no past, no future, no present. All seems to be happening at the same time. It breathes a senseless pain that has no place in the present. The ex-lover experiences the residues of love as an amputee experiences the sensation of a ghost limb. It is the tangible experience of “absence” that has inspired this piece below.

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The Princess’ Brother, 128 x 125cm, c-print, edition of 5, 2007

KB: In terms of artistic inspiration, who are some authors or artists you look to?SS: I am more inspired by film, music and books. Like Days of HeavenBadlands2046The Last Picture ShowThe Flaunder by Guenther Grass, the songs by Hildegard Knef and Serge Gainsbourg or Coco Rosie. I am also inspired by the 29 palms, California Group. We inspire each other.

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“Badlands” Movie Still from featuring Sissy Spacek

Stefanie Schneider received her MFA in Communication Design at the Folkwang Schule Essen, Germany. Her work has been shown at the Staedtische Ausstellungshalle am Hawerkamp, Muenster, the Kunstallianz, Berlin, the Institut für Neue Medien, Frankfurt, and the Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden, Kunstverein Bielefeld, Kunstverein Recklinghausen, Museum für Moderne Kunst Passau. Upcoming shows includeBerlin: “29 Palms, CA” <> ), Galerie Spesshardt-Klein, Berlin – 10th of February to 2nd of March 2008 – also shown at the Berlinale / Forum expanded
Les Rencontres d’Arles – Photo Festival South of France, 7th to 13th July 2008, curated by Christian Lacroix
Frenzy, Salzburger Festspiele, Sujet of the year presentation
Sidewinder, Galerie Robert Drees, Hannover, Germany
Sidewinder, c.art-Galerie, Bregenz, AustriaStefanie Schneider is represented by Scalo Guye in Los Angeles, California and Galerie Robert Drees in Hannover, Germany.

Judging The Campaigns By Their Colors

I have election fever and everything else I had intended to write is out the window. It has been an all out Red and Blue assault–everywhere the eye can see. Not Prussian or Cerulean blue, mind you, but a pure, pungent royal blue. And the red–the purest cadmium deep– not a touch too orange or blue, the color of a bullseye, the color of blood.

These are the colors of our patriotism. Red is the color of power, passion, aggression, and war. It’s the id that overpowers all colors. Blue is the color of wisdom, calm, hindsight and thoughtfulness. In this light, I love the design of the American flag. Admittedly, I’d love to update it (another post), but it captures what I view as the colors of America. Furthermore, the colors assigned of Red=Republican and Blue=Democrat, undoubtedly by some anonymous graphics editor, seem seem totally apt.

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“Three Flags” Jasper Johns 24″ x 16 1/2″

Artists are constantly thinking color: which ones to use and when, when to make one or two dominant, how they change next to each other. As a painter, the colors form an entire language both spatially and mood-wise–for example, warmer and darker colors push forward on a plane. Cool and lighter colors go backwards, etc. They start to become friends with frequent use and then they hang around in your palette and the studio becomes a never-ending party.

For more than a decade in the nineties I didn’t own a television. Yes, I might have seen it occasionally at friend’s houses, but it wasn’t how I got the news. I read the paper in black and white–”Just the facts, ma’am”. But the first time I saw BBC News on television I was traveling in Europe. I put my hand to my mouth in shock that its branding and backdrops were mostly bright blood red underscoring every story and interview. In my mind’s eye, when I heard their cool objective accented voices on the radio I thought of blue! I wrote a letter to the president telling him it was all wrong–a terrible choice. Needless to say, they didn’t change it.

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Even though blue is typically considered cool and recessive, there exists a hue that has essentially no right to be considered in the blue family. The closest I could replicate it with paint would be Pthalo Blue which is so obnoxious that even a drop will overpower any painting. It’s so hot it rivals red. It was synthetically created in the last century as a replacement for Prussian, a great deep blue pigment favored by Matisse, but Prussian is considered less reliable in that it changes over time. (They call pigments like this “fugitive” and I always picture the color escaping off the canvas and going into hiding.) As a painter, I try and stay away from Pthalo. That said, add a little white and you have something quite divine.

Unfortunately, TV video editors like to bathe themselves in it every morning and this makes my retinas bleed. Fox News is one of the worst offenders, given their hawkishness it’s no surprise. They always use the the strongest most condescending ALL CAPS Pthalo blue and red together–their swirling graphics so spastic it more resembles a drunken peacock then a television station.

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CNN, even if it can be just as hawkish, thanks to touches of Cerulean, seems tad more objective and sobering.

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Barack, who never voted for the war, is the candidate for peace and his website is in various shades of blues. The blue use is respectful and doesn’t talk down to us. Given the red hot passion he inspires, he’s smart to counteract it with his sensible branding, although I do wonder if I can open a checking account.

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Clinton, a Democrat, but slightly more hawkish. She uses a Prussian blue. Note that jacket and the blue screen behind her. It’s not her fault, but once again, shame on those television editors!

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Hillary Clinton’s Website Homepage www.hillaryclinton.com

John McCain, who rides the “straight talk” express, uses black and white, and doesn’t want too much color getting in the way. Although the effect has more in common with the consol of a late 1990s video game with the handy logo serving as crosshairs. In case we might be blind, McCain’s website displays the branding not twice but three times, the ultimate sin. Bang bang! Fire the web designers!

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This is in stark contrast to Mitt Romney who rivals Fox in Pthalo-abuse along side a swooshing logo which makes me want to ask the price of overnight delivery. [Since writing this column, he suspended his campaign.]

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Let’s not talk about Bush. I think he might be color blind. Too much red isn’t good for anyone.

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The election is not close to over, but this artist looks forward to seeing green and yellow and brown, yellow and turquoise again.

Why Artists Shouldn’t Have Blackberries

A few months ago, after an unfortunate incident involving a melted chocolate bar and my cel phone in my car’s console which rendered the latter useless, I decided to try a Blackberry. It was something I’d been debating with friends, family and myself for years. I was extremely hesitant. I would regularly interrogate the people I knew who had them as if they’d just casually used the Orgasmatron in Woody Allen’s Sleeper.

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Woody Allen in Sleeper
“What’s it like? Is it weird? Is it really that great?”

“Oh, yes!” They’d always exclaim. “Can’t live without it. It’s saves me so much time. I could be waiting in line at Starbucks and get so much done!”

I broke down at the cell phone store. I was so ashamed that I didn’t even tell my sister when she was the first one to call and I held the thing up to my head.

I am not a Luddite nor a technophobe. Au contraire, I have always been an early adopter– the first to have email, a website, etc. After all, painting is a technology. The very root “techne” derives from the Greek “art” or “skill.” But when I go to the studio I leave all the gadgets at home. I figure that the people who must reach me will have my cell number. Other than that, I had avoided the Blackberry until that moment.

Around the same time, I watched this year’s Super Bowl. During a break, there was an ad for a Bank–I think Chase Manhattan– which showed a couple rock climbing near the top of a dangerous, devastatingly beautiful mountain that resembled Half Dome in Yosemite. In the commercial, as she dangles from the edge of a sheared cliff, her blackberry buzzes and she cheerily checks it and tells her boyfriend that it was her bank letting her know that her checking was overdrawn, but they fixed it. Blech! Did the ad executives really think that would be enticing? But yet, that was me, checking email after every conversation and at every stop light. Me and everyone I know, constantly in touch all the time.

I returned it two days later.

**

Although I have pondered the effects of technology’s impact on daily life before, I do so now within the specific context of how it effects one’s ability to be creative. I have come of age as an artist during the most accelerated period of connectivity our species has ever known. We have all been drunk on technology and only some of us are emerging from our collective haze. Last week, Mark Bittman of the New York Times extolled the virtue of taking an electronic Sabbath; The Dangerous Books for Boys and Girls fly off Amazon’s shelves because young kids are so wired they forgot how to play; Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Work Week is on the desk of every executive and Frontline’s “Growing up Online” chilling account of the first generation of children to literally be connected all the time where texting is a right, and online exhibitionism is second nature. It’s been a little more than a decade since it started in full force. But alas, it appears that we are finally starting to sober up and reacquaint ourselves with the Here and Now. Rules to navigate are being offered for all walks of life. I’m making one now: Artists shouldn’t have Blackberries and here are four reasons why:

#1 Artists Need to Daydream

When I divided the creative process into eight stages (a la Kubler Ross’ five stages of death), I started with Vision, which happens in an instant and sets an artist on the path of creation. But in hindsight, this was a mistake. The real first stage, the most important, doesn’t have a name. It is silent. It’s when the filaments of thoughts, the subatomic particles of ideas, are just lying around in the primordial ooze of your mind. It looks like a daydream or nothing at all, but this is the first real stage of the creative process.

When I studied biology, I remembered a curious anecdote about cell division. When a cell divides it also goes through five phases — Interphase, Prophase, Meta Phase, Anaphase and Telophase. The first phase is “Interphase” and for years, scientists thought that this was when the cell was sleeping. All the visible action happens from Prophase onward– the nuclei divides within the cell and eventually splits apart to form two. Eventually, when microscopes improved, scientists learned that this first phase was actually the most important part of the process when the DNA replicates. Even when I looked up Mitosis on Wikipedia (to provide you with a snazzy picture), they show imagery of all the phases but don’t bother showing “Interphase” because there’s simply not much to look at.

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Whether within a day or a year or a lifespan, moments and periods of apparent inactivity are critical. We’re always processing and receiving. We can’t do this with constant chatter and interruptions. Like a “rest” in music we can’t make music, or art, without it.

#2 Artists Tend to Be Compulsive

I use myself as an example, but before I create I need to have certain things in my own kind of order. I play certain music, I burn incense, get my materials together. Often I’ll go for a walk. If I want to procrastinate, I’ll clean and won’t start until everything is perfect. One more thing to procrastinate or get off my plate before I begin is a BAD thing. I’ve interviewed a lot of artists here and they all have rituals they go through before they get into their “zones.” Counter to our occasional reputation, artists are generally not mentally slovenly people who get to be flakey because they’re “creative types.” Instead, we have to exhibit fierce discipline and this is a crucial part of the process. When I had the Blackberry, I was corresponding with people all day long and more often even. By not compartmentalizing my accessibility, it became yet one more thing that either prevented me from starting or interfering with the zone that I worked so hard to create.

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Kimberly Brooks’ Studio

#3 Being Slightly Unreachable is Cool

Okay, I realize this is facetious but really, must we be available all the time? Whatever happened to the artists’ mystique?

#4 Real Artists Would Have an iPhone

Let’s face it, any self-respecting artist wouldn’t be caught dead with a Blackberry. If you have any sense of aesthetics, you lust the iPhone instead. Just dismantle the email function and you’ll be fine.

The Macho Art World

I considered writing a piece this week relating relationships and art to Valentine’s Day, but found myself struggling with it. This was not because I knew that papers and the Internet would already be dripping with pink and chocolate, nor because there’s any lack of artists who make love with their subject. Rather, I struggled because I find the art world so inherently macho.

That is not to say that artists themselves are necessarily macho: artists are dreamers and essentially romantic, aspirational people- to even call yourself one and place yourself near the canon of artists before you- is a lofty enterprise. An artist’s relationship to his or her ultimate realized self is often just as essential as it is to other people.

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David Hockney imagining himself being drawn by Picasso, whom he never met.
Artist and Model, 1973-74. Etching, 22 5/8 x 17 1/4 in., Courtesy of the artist. ©David Hockney. All rights reserved. Courtesy of LACMA

It is also not macho because art prices are soaring and it is still so male-dominated. Even this Thursday the feminist group called “The Guerrilla Girls” called on its members to send a letter to BCAM demanding that the museum reconsider the curation of it’s predominantly white male collection.

No, I find being an artist in the art world macho for other reasons. There’s a required toughness to stick it out, get to work and put it “out there” — more exhibitions, more galleries, more museums — constantly pushing to get on the radar. And the most macho part of all is the need to reach thirty feet inside your own guts for content. Picture young medical students eating pastrami sandwiches around the cadaver they’re studying to show it doesn’t phase them.

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Photographic Painting of Gerhard Richter’s daughter Betty

Certainly there are other spheres of the art world that are different. There are painters who paint flowers and sunsets on the weekends. But even within that sphere there are ardent realists who seek to recreate reality down to the molecule. This is especially prevalent in the water color world where first prize winners are often indistinguishable from the photograph it was copied from. Realism is very macho. When my artist friends and I swoon over one of Gerhard Richter’s photo paintings, we undoubtedly stalk and make the same noises as young men admiring a red muscle car.

Combine all this machismo with the feminine sensuality of working with paint and color, then the act of being an artist itself forms the ultimate couple.

First Person Artist is a weekly column by artist Kimberly Brooks in which she provides commentary on the creative process and showcases artists’ work from around the world. Come back every Saturday for more Kimberly Brooks. You can view all the columns and essays at www.firstpersonartist.com

Aqua Art Fair Miami

Image: “No. 7”  36 x 42 inches Oil on Linen. Kimberly Brooks.

Taylor De Cordoba presents new works by Kimberly Brooks
at the Aqua Art Fair Miami 2007

Also Exhibiting works by

Sasha Bezzubov + Jessica Sucher
Kimberly Brooks
Ryan Callis
Frohawk Two Feathers
Kyle Field
Timothy Hull
and more..

No. 221
Aqua at the Aqua Hotel
1530 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Get GoogleMaps directions from Art Basel >

Preview
Wednesday, December 5, 12-4pm
the preview is free & open to the public

Fair dates:
December 6/7/8, 11am-8pm
December 9, 12-5pm

For more fair information: www.aquaartmiami.com

Kim Biel: Technicolor Summer

The paintings in “Technicolor Summer,” Kimberly Brooks’ latest solo show at Taylor de Cordoba, are shot through with vibrant bolts of color: jade, ultramarine and magenta course through the highlights and support the shadows in these paintings that feel like pages from a family album. Drawing again on the snapshot aesthetic that was central to the work in her last show, “Mom’s Friends,” Brooks’ new paintings invite the viewer to dive even further into the emotional experience of browsing through family photographs.

Brooks explains that at the beginning of last summer a member of her family was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She recalls, “Immediately the world stopped. Every moment I was thinking, ‘This could be our last meal together or the last time we have this conversation.’ I started to feel like all the colors became much brighter; it was like living life in high definition. It was one of the more profound emotional experiences of my life.”
The new paintings reflect the emotional tension of this experience as they describe a feeling of muted nostalgia pricked by high-energy details. Though she works from photographs, Brooks rejects the label of photorealist. She says, “I didn’t want these paintings to be about the people; I wanted them to be about the feelings that the people were having. So I distort things in the original photograph and that opens up the field of narrative for the viewer.”

An undulating river of deep bottle green dominates Yosemite River I, while two children playing in the water serve as the tiny keys to unlock the experience of being in this sublime landscape. Brooks adeptly alternates the point of view of these paintings, moving in for a close-up, taking a candid portrait, or looking skyward through a canopy of redwoods as inYosemite Walk II.

Walking through her studio a week before the opening of her show, the feeling was not unlike compiling a selection of tracks for a record. There are strong correspondences between all the paintings in the Technicolor series. The work is not just a collection of greatest hits; the individual images build on each other to create a larger narrative. Brooks says, “I do feel like I’m putting out an album and I have 12-14 songs here that have to work together. But it also allows me the freedom to write a ballad in one piece and use really heavy bass on another.”

Brooks writes a weekly column, “First Person Artist,” for Ariana Huffington’s online newspaper, The Huffington Post. Brooks recalls, “At first Ariana asked me to write about my artwork…every week! And I thought, ‘That’s insane, I can’t do that!’ But it was irresistible for me to have that kind of an audience.” Brooks still occasionally writes about her own work or about her creative process, but the project is largely dedicated to showcasing the work of other artists, in their own words. Since the column began in September, Brooks has interviewed over a hundred artists.
This public persona is something of a new phenomenon for Brooks, who remembers, “I painted in silence, not exhibiting for many years. When I first put up a website with my work on it, it was password protected and I would dole out the password like little crumbs. When I took off the password protection I literally crawled under my desk, like something was going to happen! I felt like I busted out of myself, like I had to stop hiding.” Now that she’s stopped hiding, fans of Kimberly Brooks can’t get enough.

“Yosemite River I,” 2008, oil on linen, 30″ x 30″
Photo: Courtesy of Taylor de Cordoba Gallery

Kimberly Brooks’ new show, “Technicolor Summer,” could be seen May 10 – June 14, 2008 at Taylor de Cordoba, 2660 S. La Cienega Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034 (310) 559-9156 www.taylordecordoba.com

Painting While Female in the Middle East

One step forward. Two steps back.

It has been six years since the U.S. congratulated itself for “liberating the women of the Taliban”, and one week since a nineteen-year-old girl and gang-rape victim was ordered the penalty of 200 lashes in Saudi Arabia for the act she allegedly caused because she was caught sitting in a car with a man who was not her relative.

 

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“The Whole Story” Oil on 16 Canvases. Kimberly Brooks.
 

As an artist and woman growing up in the West, one of the towers that fell on 9-11 was my view of what it meant to view and create art. After the cascade of news stories that brought front and center how my sisters throughout the world live in what I consider to be oppressive misogynistic cultures, I thought deeply about what it must be like where there is no visual representational art, where women are covered from head to toe and not allowed to be seen let alone depicted in any form, where billboards also have the female entirely blackened in silhouette and western art history text books are considered “pornographic”. The closest I’ve come to the Middle East is relatively progressive Dubai–the UAE has just made a deal with the Louvre Museum in Paris to build a branch in the tourist-driven area. And even though you can find a forty foot high image of Paris Hilton in the Guess Jeans store at the United Arab Emirate’s Mall (this is progress!), outside the mall there’s not a painting or photograph of any woman in sight except for the framed photographs of the men who rule the country and some abstract designs in all the hotel lobbies. It’s really really strange.

Suddenly late 20th century notions that say, figurative painting was dead, or that women were finally breaking though the glass canvas of the art world, seemed quaint. So for me as an artist, the act of painting figures, nudes – especially women – takes on another meaning and also an act ofdefiance.

One step forward. Two steps back.

In 2003, an underground feminist art exhibition entitled “Women Talking Back” featured work for and by women showed in Tehran. One of the artists in that exhibition was Abelina Galustian. In her series of paintings entitled The Veil Series, she depicts women wearing lingerie and high heels along with the burka. The curator of the show was briefly imprisoned and all of the paintings were confiscated permanently. Shown here are photographs of the paintings which are all that remain.

 

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Abelina Galustian, Photographs of confiscated paintings from “The Veil Series,”
oil and acrylic on canvas, 2003
 

In her recent series entitled Womansword, Galustian looks to classic 19th Century Orientalist painters. She recreates detailed photorealist paintings reversing the gender. In doing so, she undermines the traditional dynamic of the male gaze and the viewing process while pointing to contemporary issues of representation, and the neo-Orientalism rampant in the cultures the western world seeks to “liberate”.

Kimberly Brooks: Where did you come of age, and when did you start to question what women were and were not allowed to do?

Abelina Galustian: I was born in Tehran, Iran. I am of Armenian ethnicity and moved to the U.S. after the Iran/Iraq war. In the beginning of third grade in Tehran, my best friend, Rama, and I would eavesdrop on women’s private conversations [about their Hymen]. I was too young to understand why young, single women gave the intactness of their hymen such great importance. They shared naughty stories about their rendezvous and extracurricular activities as if they were talking about a sport – how they finally made the “touch down” without being “touched down.” These types of “coffee conversations” continued in almost every circle and age of women I sat with in my cultural context.

I now live in the United States. During my last visit to Iran a few years ago, I was sitting with a group of very wealthy, educated, single women who said the same things I heard during my eavesdropping days. I still couldn’t understand why they were all [still focusing on acting like virgins.] My reaction to this hypocrisy was communicated with the Veiled Series. It was a way of telling women to stop interrogating a woman’s worth by the intactness of her hymen, as it only leads to daughters performing virginity and sons who only accept virgins (or at least they think they’re getting virgins) for wives.

KB: What was the spark that led specifically to the Womansword series?

AG: In February 2000, I was in a New Haven bookstore in Connecticut. I noticed a center display of books about the Middle East. One book in particular caught my eye with its painting by Jean-Leon Gerome entitled “The Slave Market.” Although I had seen Gerome’s painting on many different occasions since studying art in America, it was at that point when I noticed for the first time, the message Gerome intended in his composition. Gerome who is a hyper-Realist and a stickler for correct proportions, painted the hand of the nobleman who is purchasing the slave girl, about three times bigger proportionally. I was so appalled by Gerome’s symbolism that I decided to give a critical response to this painting.

 

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Left: Jean-Leon Gerome, The Slave Market, 1867, oil on canvas.
Right: Abelina Galustian, The Slave Market: Womansword 2000, oil and acrylic on canvas.
 

AG: I purposely chose the Orientalist style and Gerome’s painting by reason of its immediate encroachment to the senses. It was necessary for this particular body of work to retain a direction of communication that would be recognizable, distinguishable, and straightforward. The Womansword series of paintings counterclaim some of the socially ascribed roles through the switching of gender roles, a switch that may at first be read as subtle but actually acknowledges a female’s ownership of her body and debunks its male control.

 

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Left: Stanislas von Chlebowski. Purchasing a slave, oil on canvas, signed and dated 1879 (36.75 x 28.50 in). Right: Abelina Galustian Purchasing a slave: The Womansword, acrylic and oil on canvas, 2002 (5 x 6 ft).
 

In nineteenth-century orientalist works, one theme that was given an encore was the captive woman. The harem and slave-market themes were exploited by various artists. The most distinguished and famous of the Orientalist paintings is Jean Leon Gerome’s “The Slave Market” which shows how easily Orientalism of the day could be combined with the taste for violated innocence and female subjection. Since these chosen depictions are almost iconic, quoting from them with alterations that are explicitly construed as political, generates a double-take and immediate scrutiny from the viewer.

 

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A close-up detail from Galustian’s Purchasing a slave: The Womansword, acrylic and oil on canvas, 2002
 

KB: What do you seek, ultimately, from your viewers?

AG: As a feminist artist, I seek to expose seemingly archaic beliefs that are only loosely hidden behind the mask of political correctness. Works that are tacitly looked upon as classic works of beauty and truth in the artistic canon, interestingly enough, become works of irreverence and perversity once the genders are switched.

KB: As an artist who also deals with female/male issues, I find myself not wanting to be known solely as a feminist painter, yet you claim it prominently in your description of yourself. Do you ever worry about being ghettoized as such?

AG: No. Being “ghettoized” for being a feminist artist is not an issue for me. Everything that revolves in and around my work stem from women’s issues. But Middle-Eastern feminist awareness is not always parallel to the West’s understanding of feminism. In my work, female is not just gender but location, therefore, when talking/painting about the female-feminine and male/masculine I’m also talking about the East and West. At the end of the day, it is my work that speaks, not my label.

 

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Artist Abelina Galustian
 

Born in Tehran with family roots in Tabriz, Abelina Galustian immigrated to the U.S. after the Iran/Iraq War. Here, she earned her MFA in studio arts at Cal State LA, her MA in art history at UCSB, and she is also currently pursuing her PhD in art history at UCSB. Galustian’s work has shown in solo and group exhibits internationally and domestically. Likewise, she has been a featured artist and lecturer featuring her own work and topics such as transnational identities, Neo-Orientalism, and performing culture in Toronto, Dubai, and California. www.womansword.com

Kimberly Brooks Pens Weekly Artist Column on the Huffington Post

Los Angeles, CA

Venice-based painter Kimberly Brooks is hosting a new weekly column featuring herself and other contemporary artists on the Huffington Post.  The column, called “First Person Artist”, is the first column on the Huffington Post devoted solely to art and the creative process. The goal is to provide wide exposure for contemporary artists through interviews, sharing artwork and brief essays that tie the work to current events and everyday life. The placement is found on the front page every Saturdays and all weekend in the Living Section. The Huffington Post is a widely viewed publication with over four million unique visitors monthly (www.huffingtonpost.com).

Longtime collector Arianna Huffington invited Kimberly Brooks to be the resident artist on the site to feature her artwork and her creative process.  “Darling,” Huffington said “you must write about your work, you must show the world your art as you make it.”  Since Brooks felt that exposing the mood swings of her own process in the studio consistently would be a akin to

“skiing naked during a blizzard without poles”, she decided instead feature her thoughts occasionally but to use the opportunity to give oxygen to other artists work instead.  During the time that is required to interview an artist and write a couple introductory paragraphs, Brooks calculates that she’ll lose approximately one-eighty hour painting this year but that it is a worthy price to pay for her fellow artists.  In her post “From Miami Basel with Love” Brooks says, “Artists, in my opinion, should be interviewed more about their own work. And it should be everywhere not just the art magazines.”

A sample of posts that have invited lively discussion range from “The Creative Process in Eight Stages” where Brooks likens the experience of painting to Kubler-Ross’ five stages of Death to “First Person Artist: Defiant Iranian Painter, Abelina Galustian” who paints lingerie-clad women donning revealing burkas whose work was confiscated by Iranian Authorities.  For easy reference you can view all the posts and receive announcements of new ones at www.firstpersonartist.com.

Kimberly Brooks’ work has been featured in numerous juried exhibitions organized by curators from the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art and California Institute of the Arts among others. Her work has been featured in the LA times, Vanity Fair, and Elle among other publications.  Brooks earned her B.A. from UC Berkeley and trained in fine arts at Otis College of Design and UCLA. She lives in Los Angeles and maintains her studio in Venice, CA.  Kimberly Brooks is represented by Taylor De Cordoba in Culver City. For additional information, contact Evelyn Henn at Brooks Studio 310.472.0834 or art@kimberlybrooks.com.

Lemonade Magazine: Artist Feature

Lemonade Magazine: Artist Feature

5/31/07

by Lucy Williams
Kimberly Brooks explores issues of feminine identity, nostalgia, idolization and womanhood in her oil paintings.  In her exhibition at Taylor De Cordoba, she introduced the women she literally “looked up to,” Mom’s Friends.  The show features both watercolors and oil paintings depicting thewomen who helped to form her own identity while growing up in Mill Valley in the 70s.
How would you describe your work?
In this particular series, I sought to capture a time in my life when i was a child … and sort of enamored with the idea of being a grown up.  I have a young daughter and I see the way she looks up at me and the way she tries on my shoes and walks around and wants to play in my make up.  I feel like there’s a very special experience between a child looking up at their parent, and in particular a daughter to her mother, and sort of what it means to be a woman.  It was a way for me to open all these doors that were very interesting about how to paint memory as well as painting the subject itself.
When did you get started as an artist?
I was always painting and drawing as a kid and i was always the person who designed the yearbook and everything like that.   I had used graphite and pencil up until college. So essentially, i was studying issuees that deal with values in black and white.   Once I introduced color it made my work very three dimensional, and that’s the time i feel i was really exercising my strength as an artist.
Do you consider feminist a bad word?
No. My mother and all her friends were raised to be stay-at-home moms, teachers or social workers.  It wasn’t conceivable to them that they could be a doctor or a lawyer or any other kind of profession.  So I’ve grown up very career minded.  In fact, one of the big lessons I felt I learned from my mother and her friends was to get a career in order before you have a family.  Not to the extent that you’re waiting until you’re 40 to start one, which is fine but not necessarily desirable– but you need to figure out who you are before you can start procreating….
What does being a woman today mean to you?
When my mother was starting out it was about family.  Then during their marriages her and her friends sort of woke up and said, Gee, maybe I would like my own identity– hey, i would love a career.  And then most of them ended up getting divorced – including my own parents.  And my show deals with that.  I’m depicting a sort of antediuvian/ before-the-fall perspective when everything seemed so fantastic and shiny on the outside amidst the hot tubs and peacock feathers and the t-shirts that said “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bycicle”.  But on the inside the whole other stage of womanhood was going to emerge, and the victim of that was the family unit….  That was then.  I think we’re at a very pivotal and exciting time right now.  Even though I know there’s great outcry about the bad behavior of the Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohans who are mistreating their freedom, i don’t buy it.   They’re perfect anti-heros.  I think we are at a very exciting and important time for women today.

Brooks Painting Cover of Zoo View Magazine

Venice-based artist Kimberly Brooks’ painting of “Randa”, the Indian white rhinoceros at the LA Zoo, is on the cover of “Zoo View”. For the first time, the quarterly will feature a painting instead of a photograph. It is distributed to over 85,000 households.

The cover was chosen to celebrate the Getty Museum’s Jean-Baptiste Oudry Exhibit featuring the painting of the Rhino “Clara” painted in 1749. In consideration for Randa’s Indian heritage, Brooks drew from her collection of Indian miniature paintings created around the sixteenth century Mughal Empire which she discovered during her stays in India. 10,000 copies will also be distributed at the Getty Museum. The Oudry painting was recently restored by the Getty Museum for their exhibition “Oudry’s Painted Menagerie”. In addition to a celebration with the artist at the Getty Museum, the painting was auctioned by Christie’s Auction House during the Beastly Ball to raise money for the LA Zoo.

Kimberly Brooks has had two sold out shows in Los Angeles in the last year. Her work has been featured in numerous juried exhibitions organized by curators from the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art and California Institute of the Arts among others. Brooks earned her B.A. from UC Berkeley and trained in fine arts at Otis College of Design and UCLA. She lives in Los Angeles and maintains her studio in Venice, CA.

Press Release: “Mom’s Friends” Solo Show at Taylor De Cordoba

TAYLOR DE CORDOBA
PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Kimberly Brooks: Mom’s Friends
Opening Reception: Saturday March 3rd, 2007, 6-9pm

Taylor De Cordoba is pleased to present Mom’s Friends, a solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Kimberly Brooks.

In her first solo exhibition at Taylor De Cordoba, Kimberly Brooks explores issues of feminine identity, nostalgia, idolization and womanhood. She introduces the women she literally looked up to as a child, “Mom’s Friends.” The show will feature gouache studies and oil paintings depicting the women who helped to form her own identity while growing up in Marin County in the late 1970’s.

In the wake of the Sexual Revolution, the model of a modern woman was taking shape. Brooks paints sexy, confident and stylish women in their element: cooling their feet in the pool, waiting at the train station, contemplating amidst the woods of Big Sur and laughing at parties. She invokes the fashions of the time with her representations of luscious furs, bold patterns, oversize sunglasses and unique flea market finds. In the span of a few years, nearly all of these women in her mom’s circle of friends would find themselves divorced as a result infidelity, boredom and the need to establish their own identities. Brooks uses her own personal memories and photographs to re-create the harmonious and utopian moment just before it all came crashing down. The artist takes cues from traditional portraiture, fashion photography, 1970s Polaroids and today’s ubiquitous candid celebrity snapshots to create her modern style.

Kimberly Brooks’ work has been featured in numerous juried exhibitions organized by curators from the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art and California Institute of the Arts among others. Brooks earned her B.A. from UC Berkeley and trained in fine arts at Otis College of Design and UCLA. She lives in Los Angeles and maintains her studio in Venice, CA.

Taylor De Cordoba is located at 2660 S La Cienega Blvd in Los Angeles, CA and is open from Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-6pm. For additional press information, contact Heather Taylor at heather@taylordecordoba.com or (310) 559-9156.

“The Whole Story” Kimberly Brooks Solo Exhibition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 5, 2006

“The Whole Story” Kimberly Brooks Solo Exhibition
Portraits and Contemplations of Women
Solo Exhibition May 5 – 27, 2006

Los Angeles – The Risk Press Gallery, an alternative space for emerging artists, is pleased to present The Whole Story, a solo exhibition of oil paintings by Kimberly Brooks.  The show runs from May 5 – 27, at 8533 Melrose Avenue, Tuesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Kimberly Brooks’ portraits of women investigate the roles of women as artists and subjects of the “gaze”. The artist examines female identity over time, culling her portrait subjects from contemporary women and early 20th century imagery.

The show’s title piece displays one of Brooks’ signature styles of breaking canvases into byte-like squares and installing them out-of-sequence and off-kilter.  The nude subject’s compliant gaze in this painting competes with the impending disintegration of its surface. “Mom’s Friend” captures a past sensuality as seen through a child’s eyes.

In “The John Ashcroft Show,” Brooks depicts a large nude torso, painted in reaction to the then U.S. Attorney General who covered the nude statues at the Department of Justice.

With vibrant colors and unique installations, Brooks often crops or spreads her figures over several canvases, reflecting the historical glorification of women’s body parts into elected zones of pleasure.  By assuming the role of the artist and recontextualizing these images, Brooks’ places women as spectators, making notions of objectification, voyeurism, and empowerment freshly relevant.

About the Artist
Kimberly Brooks works in oil painting and new media.  Her work has been featured in numerous juried exhibitions whose jurors include Jordan Kantor of MOMA, Joan Hugo of the California Institute of the Arts and Chris Burden.

After earning a bachelor of arts at UC Berkeley, Brooks spent a year in Paris painting. She returned to the United States to begin a successful career in design and new media. She founded the design and technology collective Lightray Productions and likens technology to painting with photons.  Brooks studied painting at Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, and new media at the American Film Institute.

About Risk Press Gallery
The Risk Press Gallery is an alternative space for emerging artists that allows them to experience the exclusive showing of their own work. Each month a different artist immerses themselves in the gallery environment. The artists are selected by Chuck Pendergast who founded the gallery in 2003.  The Risk Press Gallery does not require artists to pay for their time in the gallery, nor does it take any of the proceeds from artwork that is sold there.  Each artist is only asked to create a self-portrait and donate it to the gallery to mark their effort and achievement.   A show of artist self portraits who have shown at the gallery will be on display November 2006.

For more information or hi-rez images of Kimbelry Brooks’ work, contact:  Amy Spach at 310-472-0834 or email art@kimberlybrooks.com.

For more information about Risk Press, visit www.riskpress.com

“Mom’s Friends” and New Works

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Vanity Fair Host Kimberly Brooks Exhibition
248 Rodeo Drive
September 28 – Oct 13

Los Angeles, CA – Taylor De Cordoba is pleased to announce that the artwork of Kimberly Brooks will be on view in Beverly Hills from September 28 – October 13.   The exhibition will consist of recent works from her show “Mom’s Friends” and will debut several new pieces which incorporate fashion imagery and textiles from different eras.


“The Conversation: Portrait of Elsa Schiaparelli” by Kimberly Brooks.
30 x 40 in. Oil on Canvas


Kimberly Brooks explores issues of feminine identity, nostalgia, idolization and womanhood. In “Mom’s Friends”, she introduces the women she literally looked up to as a child, depicting the women who helped to form her own identity while growing up in Marin County in the late 1970’s.

In the wake of the Sexual Revolution, the model of a modern woman was taking shape. Brooks paints sexy, confident and stylish women in their element: cooling their feet in the pool, waiting at the train station, contemplating amidst the woods of Big Sur and laughing at parties. She invokes the fashions of the time with her representations of luscious furs, bold patterns, oversize sunglasses and unique flea market finds.

In the span of a few years, nearly all of these women in her mom’s circle of friends would find themselves divorced as a result infidelity, boredom and the need to establish their own identities. Brooks uses her own personal memories and photographs to re-create the harmonious and utopian moment just before it all came crashing down.

The artist takes cues from traditional portraiture, fashion photography, 1970s Polaroids and today’s ubiquitous candid celebrity snapshots to create her modern style.

Kimberly Brooks’ work has been featured in numerous juried exhibitions organized by curators from the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art and California Institute of the Arts among others. Brooks earned her B.A. from UC Berkeley and trained in fine arts at Otis College of Design and UCLA. She lives in Los Angeles and maintains her studio in Venice, CA.

Selected works can be viewed at www.kimberlybrooks.com.  Kimberly Brooks is represented by Taylor De Cordoba in Culver City. For additional press information, contact Heather Taylor at heather@taylordecordoba.com or (310) 559-9156.