Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mac, Cheese, Bacon, Rain

I hope I didn’t jinx those poor men and women in the field, but it poured rain today. I let the kids get totally wet, they were so excited.
Didn’t feel well, so Kid.01 made dinner. Had a little issue with burned bacon, but on the whole, it was pretty good. His recipe (he’s writing a cookbook, Kid.02 is illustrating):

Mac & Cheese

This ain’t your ordinary mac and cheese.
What you will need:
1/3 cup butter
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup cream
2 T flour
3 scallions diced
5 strips of cooked bacon, chopped
1 cup mozzarella cheese
3 T parmesan cheese
1 pound pasta
Set heat to 350.
First boil pasta. Strain and set aside for later.
White sauce:
Melt butter in a sauce pan. Then add flour and stir. Pour milk and cream in slowly while stirring your white sauce til thick. It’s cool.
The dish:
Put half of pasta in a large baking pan. Dish half of white sauce evenly on the pasta, put half of bacon and scallions on layer. Then put ½ cup of shredded cheeses. Do the same process on top of that.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cut and serve warm and enjoy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wild Life

Riding my bike, I often pass through a field. It’s bordered by a freeway, a commercial district, homes and a wildlife sanctuary.
I see many homeless people walking into and out of this field, carrying water and bags. There must be dozens, sleeping under large bushes and between depressions in the dirt. We’ve had no rain in years, it seems, so it must be dry and sort of nice, compared to sleeping on sidewalks.
I never see any cops or raids of the field. I hope the people are safe. I’m thankful not be among them, as we all could—easily, with just a few bad circumstances.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

You Cannot Out-Paint the Paint

When you do realism you have to decide what degree of realism you are going to attempt… I am not trying to duplicate something that I see in nature because you must always compromise—it is always going to be paint, you cannot out-paint the paint.

Neil Jenney
Swimmer and Reflection, 1970

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Early Works of Hannah Wilke

Wilke (1940-1993) is one of my favorite contemporary artists. A feminist working in multiple media in the 1960s, she was rejected by some because she used her own image in photos, and happened to be extraordinarily beautiful.
She died of cancer, documenting the collapse of her body in her final photographic works. I don't know if a museum bought these photos, they were so devastating.
These are the two works shown at MOCA, a pastel and mixed media from 1961, and wall sculpture from 1975.
My intent in developing a specifically female iconography for both sexes in the early 60s was in direct conflict with a society that prohibited its citizens from using the words fuck, cock, and prick... creating a positive image to wipe out the negative consequences of pussy, cunt, box. --H. Wilke

Friday, November 20, 2009

When You’re Feeling Badly about Art, See Great Art to Put Things Back in Perspective

Saw the first half of the 30 year anniversary show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Very inspiring. Wall text for each work has a quote from the artist.
Here’s Ed Moses, LA artist I follow:
The rational mind constantly wants to be in charge. The other parts want to fly. My painting is the encounter between the mind’s necessity for control and its yearning to fly, to be free from our ever-confining skill.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Slowly Falling off the Cliff

Emails have been circulating among some colleagues about students “working” for free. We often get requests from people in the community who want a student “intern” to do an illustration job, work in a gallery, or shoot photos, etc. The offer is credit or experience in exchange for the work.
My tenured colleagues think this is terrible, that students should be paid for their services, and in a perfect world, they’re right. You wouldn’t expect a plumber to trade for services, why should artists do it?
Well, plumbers and artists are not the same. Here I am, with tremendous skills and experience, and there is no market for what I do. I should be at the height of my career, but there's no career there. It’s sort of disingenuous for me to discourage students from taking non-paying work, when I work for “free” all the time: for my resume, for the contacts, anything to help me make ends meet.
Friends have told me that my paintings are too cheap, but really, I can’t sell a painting for $100, let alone $1000. I should give up my studio because I can’t justify the rent, but I’m loath to do it.
Am teaching about Medieval Europe, explaining to my students that when the centralized government of Rome broke down, and feudalism became the dominant economic force, very little art was produced. When people are starving, can they make art? When educational systems disappear, as they will in California, will anyone care about painting or dance or serious music?
Sad, sad, sad.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Sort of pathetic… was skating yesterday and misjudged the wind. My return trip was against it, I got tired, and suddenly I was off the bike path, down. Was wearing wrist guards, luckily. Anyway, today I’m a wreck. Have to be more careful.
Then again, maybe it's swine flu...
Finished a painting, can’t tell if it’s good or not. When your brain is jarred, the eyes don’t see.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Still Gazin'

From a review of “The Female Gaze: Women Look at Women,” at Cheim and Read, Sept. 2009, by Sarah Valdez, Art in America:
My women’s group met to discuss our upcoming exhibition of “Women by Women,” and two different members brought in this article. The New York exhibit included work by Nan Goldin, Tracey Emin, Alice Neel, Catherine Opie and Marina Abramovic.
It’s odd to call an exhibition with excellent examples of contemporary and historical female artists work a failure. But the work in it failed to accomplish its goal, which is anyway dated to say the least, of “reclaiming the traditional dominion of the ‘male gaze,’” as stated in the press release. Even if the appealing images in the show are of and made by women, who’s to say they defy the male—or anyone’s—gaze?

Instead, it proved only that women too can create commonplace—sexy, but not necessarily sexist—images that serve mainly to foreground women’s sexuality and beauty.

This opening paragraph of the review is upsetting. To use “failure” twice is strong language, especially when most of the artists listed above are fantastic in their various media and conceptual projects. Valdez was probably not the right person to review the show, if she thinks that considering the male gaze is “dated to say the least.” Most of the members of our group feel it is possible to defy the male gaze, or try, anyway. We approach it many ways: outright defiance, rejection of traditional stereotypes, working subversively within those stereotypes, creating power within existing tropes and ideals.
Women creating “commonplace,” “sexy” images to celebrate women’s sexuality was radical in the not-so-distant past. My images were recently rejected because they are “improper” (not the word used, but you get my point), so at least in SoCal, people can still be shocked by what a woman paints/photographs/sculpts, etc. The male gaze exists as ever, we experience it every f--ing day, and that Ms. Valdez doesn’t think defiance is important makes me wonder about her.
OK, let’s put on a show, girls…
(image by Rasmus Mogensen)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Funhouse Painting

I’ve been painting a lot recently, several hours straight each day.
For the past two days it hasn’t gone well: colors and light not quite gelling, paint not the right consistency, texture too precious. I worked on a different painting each day, trying to stay loose, knowing I wasn’t improving the pieces, but pushing through. I have to figure out how to salvage these two paintings, which could work if edited well.
Tonight I opened my studio for the monthly public showing. Didn’t want to waste the hours, so I threw up a new painting. After about 30 minutes it dawns on me I’m painting well, that it’s so easy, that my brush picks up the correct colors each time, even thought I’m being interrupted by people asking questions and friends stopping by. I love that little creeping feeling that I can’t make a wrong mark, and as confidence grows, I paint better.
There’s no clear reason why I painted well today and poorly yesterday. I just have to accept my rollercoaster abilities, be happy for the highs and work through the lows.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Hellenistic Canon of Proportion

A friend picked this catalog up for me at ComicCon, knowing how much I’d love it. It advertises an anatomy doll to help artists and designers with drawing the female figure in action.
As you can see, this is no average girl. She’s a super model, super-hero type, 8:1 body to head. What’s the problem, you may ask? This doll is not “Art.” This doll, and others like it, could inform the anime drawings of a generation. This doll is not making fun or idolizing the female form, but “represents” women as they are.
Kloe can handle a beautifully grotesque photo of a woman in an art gallery, and possibly a Photoshopped woman in an advertisement, and even Barbie, but not this.
By the way, I haven’t been able to find out what is happening to my Bratz sisters, but there are many less of us for sale on the toy shelves. Mattel is crazy to cut us—there are no dolls that compare to Bratz, in my humble opinion.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I am a Painting Machine

Know this doesn’t really look like my work, but did it for a friend. Sort of like it, in an Ikea-esque way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Trade Show Update

I just received word that the "Trade Show" may be exhibited in Ankara! It came down last week in Istanbul. So cross your fingers…
And even more important, many congrats to M on the publication of her dissertation—she’s now Dr. M! Will send the chipotles...

Monday, November 09, 2009


Collaborating on a project was, once again, wonderful. The process was challenging, and somewhat frustrating at the start, but that made the successful result more satisfying. I feel we all got what we wanted from the piece: I got to paint, my friend got to do more conceptual body “prints” (created with East LA dirt), a third friend suggested the initial "Home Depot" idea… and the final product was bigger than all the parts.
The magazine loved it (but they said they loved everyone’s work… very encouraging guys).
For my part, I had a great painting day, where everything flowed like magic out of my brushes. I finished the entire triptych in about four hours. Rather, four hours plus 25 years of painting…

Saturday, November 07, 2009

1 Day of Art LA

Am participating in a 24 hour project with about 15 other artists for (t)here magazine. We all met last night to be interviewed and pick topics out of a hat.
I’m doing the work with a close friend I’ve been collaborating with for years. We picked “underground.”
Which caused us about four hours of panic.
We’re not exactly participants of underground culture, and does it even exist in LA, where everyone’s privacy is displayed on reality tv? Thought about digging holes to see what we could find, but we wanted to make craft as well as do something smart conceptually.
Of course, it was our choice to add difficulty—the time-based surprise plus working in partnership.
Late last night we settled on underground labor. Shot photos today, photoshopped them, drew, painted, conducted interviews… work continues… sort of fun!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

No Confidence, or at least, Not Enough

I’m having some success writing proposals for exhibitions for groups of people. Maybe I have more confidence when I’m not the only artist, or maybe I write stronger concepts pieces for my colleagues.
I’m not having much luck getting accepted to show my work on its own. It’s frustrating, but I’ll just have to keep on trying. I know figuration is not popular in my little corner of the world, especially in the academic arena and the “high art” gallery scene.
I’ve heard rumors that a young friend, who hired a publicist to promote her work six months ago, has lined up a studio visit for the curator of one of the best galleries in town, a gallery I would not dream of approaching cold. I have to wonder, how much would I spend/invest to get such an interview? (Which doesn’t mean I’d be picked up by this gallery, whose stable has very few figurative artists.) I'm wishing my friend luck.
OK, am hanging in LA this weekend. And doing a 24 hour project for (t)here Magazine. Should be exciting.
Photo of Anna Zappoli Jenkins, working on Edgeware Gallery wall.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Spreading Pain

As you know, I’ve been complaining loudly about how college students and adjunct professors are faring in California’s disastrous economy. One dean called upper-division courses “boutique,” as in, “we are eliminating our boutique classes” such as life drawing, printmaking, advanced anything, and art history that doesn’t cover at least 500 years.
That’s not college, that’s high school continued.
I haven’t considered the tenured faculty much. After all, they can’t be fired. Yes, they’re on furlough, getting 10% less pay while working at least 20% harder. I’ve still thought I’d trade with them, any day.
But I’m starting to hear about how devastated many full-profs are. Some have spent entire careers building up fields of study that have been axed totally. They can’t teach their specialty or anything near it. They have to fire their friends, and deal with furious students and parents.
At least we out-of-work adjuncts can use our “free” time to consider our next career moves, and get the hell out of academia.
I’m starting to sympathize.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Saw this at Fahey/Klein gallery on La Brea. Rasmus Mogensen's "Perfectly Natural" photo exhibit of very tall, thin models, made taller and thinner by Photoshop, was perplexing. How should a feminist react? The artist didn’t hide the fact they were creations, and monstrous, but many in the opening crowd didn’t seem to understand them as altered. We are so used to seeing the supermodel image, we accept it as fact, although unreachable.
After looking at the huge prints for a while, and not feeling outraged or intimidated, I decided they were so foreign that they had become objects to worship. These were not to be hidden in the bathroom or bedroom, but displayed in modern living rooms or above the brave boardroom table. The angle from which they were shot, the smoothness of the skin, the impossibility of their existence, made the women strange angels.
The next show I’m curating will be “Women by Women.” I want to explore a specific vision of womenhood in Southern California. Do we buy into the perfect form because we are surrounded by it? Do we rebel against it? As third-wave feminists, can we embrace the erotic while not commodifying it?