When I started trying to promote my own artwork online I kept coming across other people's art that amazed or compelled me in one way or another. This blog has been a way for me to practice thinking and writing about art, as well as learning more about my peers and all the incredible art that is being made out there.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jackie K. Johnson

Stories Off the Hip #2   2012   oil on canvas   40.75" x 32.75"

Still Life in Fragments     2010  oil on canvas   48.75" x 60.7

Thinking of Shad   2010  oil on canvas   48.75" x 60.5"

Stories Off the Hip #1   2012  oil on canvas   40.75" x 32.75"
"Hand Work"  1993  clay   12" x 7.5" x 8.5"
Jackie K. Johnson has a new show of work up in May at Laura Russo Gallery in Portland, Oregon, which means I get to actually go see it. I'm not sure if I've ever seen abstract art that suggested a narrative potential to me so strongly. On the face of it, this doesn't make all that much sense. How can abstract art be narrative? Clearly the abstraction is not complete. There are representational references, not least of which is the three dimensional modeling of the shapes, suggesting that they are not simply shapes, but things, and things have names. The human mind giddily imposes meaning on everything it absorbs. In some of the paintings I see trees and leaves, hills and waterways, and bits of architecture as if they were aerial landscapes or maps. The reference to landscape is occasionally unmistakable. But they don't strike me as just any kind of map or scene, merely depicting a place, but maps as interpretive illustration, depicting journeys or histories. More recent pieces are organized somewhat differently suggesting some kind of arranged presentation, a still life of sorts, but still grounded in a story of sorts, like Marsden Hartley's famous "Portrait of a German Officer". The fact that they are titled "Stories off the Hip" gives me hope that my narrative reaction to the work is not so far off base. Some of her older sculptural work is more obviously representational but somehow less narrative and more purely visual. But there is a definite visual consistency between them and the paintings. I may be way off base about the whole narrative issue but it hardly matters. At any rate, artistic intent isn't everything. Skill and a practiced hand can lead artists to accomplish things beyond their ideas, and preconception can be a restraint on creative potential. At the very least these are a hell of a lot of fun to look at. I'm looking forward to doing so in person very soon.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Kris Manzanares

"Girl at Rest / Speed"  oil on panel  48" x 32"  2014

"Fight"  oil on panel  14" x 14"  2014

"Eggplant"  oil on panel  14" x 18"  2014

"Leaving Austin"  oil on panel  23" x 14"  2013

"The Mustard Eaters"  oil on birch panel  32" x 49"

This is a post that's long overdue. Turns out I started to write one in 2012 but got sidetracked and apparently forgot that it never went up. I knew Kris in Arizona more than 15 years ago when she was a sculptor. Having children made that work more difficult but she found time and space to paint instead, a difficult transformation that she made look all too easy. It also transformed the very nature of her art, much of which involves metaphorical narratives based on the lives of her children. But her work is as much about atmosphere and technique as well. She combines very controlled drawing and realism with expressionistic brushwork, the backgrounds often dissolving into pure abstraction. There's something about them that really captures the bright heat of summer days in the southwest. But whether she's painting figurative psychological narrative, a simple landscape or a still life, they are all clearly echoes of her personal life, the small moments and seemingly insignificant objects that together constitute a life.
You can see much more of her work at krismanzanares.com
and if you happen to be in the Phoenix area go see her work in person at Paul Scott Gallery in Scottsdale.