Saturday, July 29, 2006

Art Movements: Ownership of One or Many

Jackson Pollock at his peak burned his past conditioning and present turmoil, his very identity and character as a man, and he burned them clean. There’s nobody to recognize. That’s why it can be hard at first sight to tell a true Pollock from a fake. He prepared us to believe that absolutely anything was possible for him. What determines authenticity for me is a hardly scientific, no doubt fallible intuition of a raging need that found respite only in art." The New Yorker 07/24/06

In a true art movement, does ownership disappear? The importance of making art universally accessible, by both artists and viewers, can occasionally lead the great innovators of contemporary art movements towards simplification and over-repetition in their process. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but is it an unconscious decision by the leading artist to attract disciples?

What made Picasso bigger than Pollock? Picasso and Braque certainly had their followers in the Cubist movement; but afterwards, no one could keep-up with Picasso’s ever-changing whimsical style. Picasso continued to grow and had a continuing general influence over the art world; but his major claim to fame was the Cubist movement – and that was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. On the other hand, Pollock worked his way toward the “drip” style and ultimately never strayed too far away after achieving his legendary status. Did Pollock value the concept of “art movements” more than Picasso? Was either artist more absolute in their approach? – DN

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Essence of Painting

Excerpt from "Remembrance of Things Past" by Marcel Proust

I feel that there is much to be said for the Celtic belief that the souls of those whom we have lost are held captive in some inferior being, in an animal, in a plant, in some inanimate object, and so effectively lost to us until the day (which to many never comes) when we happen to pass by the tree or to obtain possession of the object which forms their prison. Then they start and tremble, they call us by our name, and as soon as we have recognised their voice the spell is broken. We have delivered them: they have overcome death and return to share our life.

And so it is with our own past. It is a labour in vain to attempt to recapture it: all the efforts of our intellect must prove futile. The past is hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, in some material object (in the sensation which that material object will give us) which we do not suspect. And as for that object, it depends on chance whether we come upon it or not before we ourselves must die.

Recordings, reproductions, documentaries – how many ways do we try to capture the essence of inspiration? I don’t own a video-camera; I rarely think to even pull-out the old point-and-shoot for taking pictures of friends or family members. Yet I have both physical and digital albums full of photographs and recordings of places. What is this obsession with place that draws a person back from whence they came? We can’t relive the past whether it is lifestyle or friendships – yet we continue to try simply out of love (or a misplaced sense of duty) to the locale. Like the above passage from Proust says – maybe we are trying to contain the essence of those that fueled our own sense of purpose by holding fast to the memories and physical reminders we collect along our journey. Is this, in itself, the fundamental nature of painting? – DN

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I was recently added to the NY Arts Magazine's "List of Artists" in their on-line website - every little bit helps.

Click here to see.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Art by Committee

"In the romance of the Western imagination, art is proverbially fashioned in solitude, the writer scribbling away, forlorn in his garret, the painter at work in his atelier. But the exceptions touch some of our most beloved arts: movies, TV, rock music and theater. They're all concocted by that notoriously ill-fated process: the committee." Chicago Tribune 07/23/06

Films are predominately written by one or more individuals then later revised by a handful more. Television shows are notoriously handled by group sessions of writers on a Monday morning. When does artistic ownership come into play?

I recall an adventurous conceptual art show that I served as curator for while still a gallery director in Missouri. The artist’s work consisted of framed burnt pieces of toast, preserved in shellac. The idea was that they were to be mounted on the wall much like trophies so that the value of food could be put into perspective with regards to world hunger. I proposed that the work be taken a step further in its presentation by covering the gallery floor with a protective plastic covering, then hauling in roughly four inches of wall-to-wall dirt to cover it. Next, picnic tables were to be set-up at the opposite end of the gallery, so that visitors during the opening would have to trudge through the dirt to reach the wine and cheese. Even now, I still like the advancements I feel we made by presenting the show in such a fashion; but was the show any longer the sole property of the artist?

At what stage do curators and artists remain creatively separate and when do they become co-committee members? – DN

Friday, July 21, 2006

Living the West

Yesterday afternoon, while re-shooting some of my scrolls with improved lighting, I noticed a Black Widow sleeping in its web, at the edge of the white canvas drop cloth I use behind my paintings when photographing. I immediately dismounted camera from tripod and closed-in on the arachnid for the telling shot.

Occasionally, excitement overrides fear as well as sensibilities. It had been a while since I felt even the slightest rush of danger and I suddenly recognized what had been missing these last few months. While living in Montana on the eastern front of the Rockies where the prairie crashed into the mountains, I often recalled the song “Dry County” by Jon Bon Jovi. I lived in a town that had survived seventy of the last hundred years on the wealth of oil and natural gas. Even the rain had been bountiful to the point that the farmers would compete over who paid the highest taxes, as a source of pride; but then the wells suddenly ran dry and the droughts began:

I came here like so many did
To find the better life
To find my piece of easy street
To finally be alive
And I know nothing good comes easy
And all good things take some time
I made my bed I'll lie in it
To die in it's the crime

You can't help but prosper
Where the streets are paved with gold
They say the oil wells ran deeper here
than anybody's known
I packed up on my wife and kid
And left them back at home

Now there's nothing in this paydirt
The ghosts are all I know
Now the oil's gone
The money's gone
And the jobs are gone
Still we're hangin' on

Down in dry county
They're swimming in the sand
Praying for some holy water
To wash the sins from off our hand
Here in dry county
The promise has run dry
Where nobody cries
And no one's getting out of here alive

– “Dry County” by Jon Bon Jovi

During the daytime I often have trouble remembering exactly why I chose to live in the desert. Besides the random loose dog, I don’t feel the overwhelming power of stereotypical western freedom in Santa Fe - a town that is doing everything within its power to become the new Hollywood. I’ve learned it’s quite normal to bump into the random celebrity while shopping in town. I also realize that movies now come first in this high desert region, as my wife recently found-out when traveling to the nearby town of Las Vegas (New Mexico, not Nevada). The first couple highway exits had been deftly closed for the purpose of filming a new Coen Brothers flick. This newly-found safety and sophistication of Santa Fe (and its neighbors) and its “evolved” society are sometimes too much to bear. When the intermittent interruption via danger to life and limb does not occur, I have to get my giggles other ways. A long day of painting that makes me forget about dinner often draws me back into my inner-world where action-painting is coupled with contemplation. This combination, I best enjoy while realizing my landscape works; maybe because it most easily returns me to the Sumi-e roots of my earlier Montana paintings that were marked with the distinction of completion in a single sitting. I have a couch set-up a few feet back from where I paint. Once a work is done, I sometimes sit for an hour or more partaking in a drink and a drag while digesting the completed scroll.

Ironically I now reside in another set of made-for-consumption lyrics by the same author-

The spirits they intoxicate me
I watched them infiltrate my soul
They try to say it's too late for me

I swear I'm gonna live forever
Tell my maker he can wait
I'm riding somewhere south of heaven
Heading back to Santa Fe
It's judgment day in Santa Fe

Once I was promised absolution
There's only one solution for my sins
You gotta face your ghosts and know
With no illusions
That only one of you is going home again

When I meet my maker
When I close the book
On the hearts I broke
And the lives I took
Will he walk away
'Cause my soul's
Too late to save
– “Santa Fe” by Jon Bon Jovi

Its after moments like this that I find myself staggering like a drunk as I fumble with the studio door and slip outside to watch the hours of darkness pass and embrace more stars than I ever knew existed. I have to admit there is more than the random hint of magic as I look across the wide-open night sky and feel the cool evening desert wind awaken my tired lungs. In Montana it took the vision of nearby mountains to make me feel; in Santa Fe, I only need a clear sight of the constellations to remind me to believe. – DN

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Joy of Art (Imitators)

AGFRAG Entertainment Group is developing “The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross” as a game on the upcoming next-generation Nintendo system. The game is currently scheduled for release on the PC, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo Wii. Though still in the design phase, actual game control is currently unknown but developers are predicting a scenario where one uses the controller as a paintbrush (or a spray can). A spokesman stated, "to remain competitive with our products, we can't share that information at this time. Control will be intuitive and easy. Watch the Bob Ross TV shows, and you'll start to put two and two together."

HE LIVES!!!! I have a knack for running across aesthetic shams and being personally insulted by them for the rest of my life. As mentioned in previous posts, I feel the same way about Thomas Kincaid. My folks love this guy, which burns me to no end. Unfortunately, their not the only ones, that’s why he’s so famous. I ran across some interesting online profiles while trying to understand the “follower” of this type of almost-artists. I believe my personal favorite was a home-schooled teenager from Wisconsin (beautiful state) that listed God and Thomas Kincaid as her favorite authors.

Are you freakin’ kidding me? - DN

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

When Collectors Hold Art for Ransom

Neue Galerie Scraps a $50 Offer to See Its New Klimts


Less than a week after announcing a special $50 opportunity to view its newly purchased Klimt portrait on a day its doors are normally shut, the Neue Galerie canceled that plan yesterday, saying the offer was misread by the public.

A museum spokesman, Scott Gutterman, said that a wave of callers had contacted the Neue Galerie yesterday leaving the museum with the impression that some found the price objectionable. The Neue Galerie had described the $50 ticket, which was to be offered each Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. starting today, as a way for visitors to avoid crowds. “It was originally intended for members, who can get in for free,” Mr. Gutterman said of the Wednesday viewings. “But then we thought that we would offer the public a chance to come on Wednesdays for $50, when it would be less crowded.”

Museum members will still be welcome free on Wednesdays, he added.

He said the calls began after an Associated Press report on Monday afternoon called attention to the $50 offer.

Regular admission to the Neue Galerie, normally open from Thursday through Monday, is $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. An individual membership is $275 a year.

Ronald S. Lauder, the cosmetics magnate and a founder of the Neue Galerie, recently paid $135 million for the Klimt painting, a 1907 gold-flecked portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, a prominent hostess in turn-of-the-century Vienna. It is viewed as one of Klimt’s most magnificent works.

The painting went on view in a second-floor gallery at the Neue last week along with four other Klimt paintings that had been in the possession of Austrian museums for decades. Descendants of Ms. Bloch-Bauer had argued that the works had been looted by the Nazis during World War II and rightfully belonged to the family. After a long legal battle, Austria returned the works in January to Ms. Bloch-Bauer’s niece, Maria Altmann of Los Angeles.

The five-year-old Neue Galerie, in a Louis XIII-style mansion at Fifth Avenue and 86th Street in Manhattan, can accommodate only 350 people at a time. The gallery where the Klimts are on view can fit only about 70 people comfortably, Mr. Gutterman said.

The Neue Galerie’s about-face on the $50 viewing comes at a time of growing debate over the rising cost of museum tickets. Last week the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it was raising its suggested adult ticket price to $20 from $15, effective Aug. 1. The fee is not compulsory, but the Met, without giving specific numbers, says that many visitors pay the full suggested price.

The Museum of Modern Art raised its admission fee to $20 in November 2004 when it reopened after an $858 million expansion.

The Neue Galerie’s $50 offer is not without precedent. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has occasionally charged a higher admission price for viewings of special exhibitions on its normal closing day. Last fall it charged $50 for Monday tickets to a popular exhibition of van Gogh drawings.

So far about 4,500 people have visited the Klimt exhibition, which runs through Sept. 18, Mr. Gutterman said. He added that lines had formed sporadically.

The Klimts were previously exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

They include a second, more conventional portrait of Ms. Bloch-Bauer from 1912 and three landscapes: “Birch Forest” from 1903, “Apple Tree I” from 1912 and “Houses at Unterach on the Attersee,” from around 1916. - NY Times, Published: July 19, 2006

I remember years ago speaking to my friend Ohio-Greg after he had returned from what I believe was his first trip to Memphis. At the time, the Brooks Museum of Art charged some hefty prices just to enter the door. He was appalled at the thought of paying admission to a public museum and I must admit I’m right there with him. I suppose exceptions can be made for special exhibits but I still believe the purpose of museums, like libraries is to share knowledge and culture. I appreciate the fact that the Neue Gallerie is honestly just a private party masquerading as a corporate collection tax-right-off, deceptively acting like a “real” museum.

So who is responsible for this debacle?

Ronald S. Lauder, the cosmetics magnate and a founder of the Neue Galerie, recently paid $135 million for the Klimt painting, a 1907 gold-flecked portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, a prominent hostess in turn-of-the-century Vienna. It is viewed as one of Klimt’s most magnificent works.

Does having money give Lauder the right to hold culture for ransom? The Neue Galerie only repealed the $50 fee to squash an oncoming public relations nightmare. Everyday, corporations seem to come closer to establishing themselves as feudal lords. This is just proof that monetary wealth doesn’t always equal enlightenment. - DN

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sham Exposed

Print dealers banned from Frieze in London
Specialists may also be excluded from the Armory in New York

Posted 13 July 2006

LONDON/NEW YORK. Specialist print dealers have been excluded from London’s Frieze fair, and are likely to be barred from the Armory show in New York next year.

The organisers of Frieze have sent a letter to print publishers such as Alan Cristea, Paragon Press and Two Palms saying that “a certain category” of exhibitor will not be admitted this year. The reasons given are that “prints don’t look good in a fair”, and that the dealers do not have “primacy of representation” of the artists they show.

There are also indications that the Armory show in New York may follow suit. The fair’s communications director Pamela Doan said: “We will be discussing with the Selection Committee how to maximise the space for participants. We do not have clear plans to announce yet about how we will include print dealers in The Armory Show 2007. It will probably be different to 2006, though,” she said.

“It is completely ludicrous,” says Alan Cristea. “Art fairs are full of multiples: sculpture, photography, even a lot of paintings incorporate printing techniques. This excludes all the people who have the specialised knowledge.”

“This is an sign of an overheated, cliquey market, and it is incredibly short-sighted,” says Charles Booth-Clibborn, founder of Paragon. “Buyers often start with prints: they are a seedbed for future collectors.” David Lasry of Two Palms is “fuming”. He said: “This is the way the entire market is going, they want to push us out to make way for paintings dealers.”

The irony, notes Mr Cristea, is that Frieze’s main sponsor is Deutsche Bank, noted for its fine corporate collection—predominantly of prints. G.A. - The Art Newspaper 07/13/06

What Charles Booth-Clibborn of Paragon Print Publishing does not say is that the actual value of a print (not pulled by the artist) is 1/100 of a cent (just like grocery coupons). Sure there are issues of material costs and such… so lets say that you pay the actual costs of these services. We’re still talking in the ballpark of less than $50. Any price above that is mark-up. Prints are a fine way to spread the “love of an artist’s work”, unless people are solely buying prints as opposed to original work. Then everyone loses, the buyer loses because they have spent money on something with absolutely no resale value and the artist has lost the opportunity to find a permanent home for an original piece of their work. The fact that mechanical prints and print manufacturers are even represented at places like the NY Armory Show is a disgusting symbol of passionless corporate America. – DN

Monday, July 17, 2006

Revised Statement

The most difficult aspect of writing about one's own work is the concept of making the statement all-encompassing not just for past works, but also to cover any expected journeys of which one may choose to branch-off during the process of creating. My newer works have less to do with missing faith and more with the freedom of the American West that allows one to explore heritage and culture. This is the revised statement I decided upon to fullfill this other path:

The large hanging scrolls that I construct are painted representations of the American West as I experience it - in CONSTANT MOTION. While each painting is an opportunity to explore both my subject and medium, the work is from direct contact with the environment it represents and is often created in one continuous process of layering paint, ink and various binding-mediums in the spontaneous SPIRIT of traditional Sumi-e drawings. I am not attempting to recreate Sumi-e paintings and drawings, I am interested in producing work that focuses on movement as a representation for the evolution of past knowledge.

Just some thoughts - DN

Friday, July 14, 2006


An insurance company is selling a new policy that insures the ownership of art. "Their brainchild, art title protection insurance, 'transfers risk to a third party so that people can buy and sell art with the confidence that there is not a World War II claim, an import-export issue or a lien or judgment against the artwork'." Los Angeles Times 07/14/06

Click here to read the entire article.

Where to begin? Are these types of policies designed to protect the artwork or are they simply to protect whoever pays the premium? I believe I can safely say that most artists don’t care about their own physical property rights (we dig the intellectual ones, though) or even so much that of their collectors. We are more concerned with the longevity of the actual piece of artwork in the public mind. A famous story of eighties' artist Basquiat describes how he guilted a patron into returning a previously purchased painting so that the artwork would have the opportunity to be sold to a more distinguished collector. Anyone that knows much about the history and personality of Basquiat understands that his actions were not motivated by money. At this stage in his career, he had money (though he rarely spent any). He only cared about legacy.

To whom does the stolen artwork go if all relative family members that could claim ownership are extinct (for example: WWII did wipeout over 6 million Jews)? Does the work stay with the current incorrect owners or does ownership revert to the surviving family of the artist? What if they are gone as well? Stolen inheritances are always suspect, because who is to say the current plaintiff would have actually been named to inherit the work if the war had not occurred. That’s the point though, isn’t it? The war did occur and disrupted history. I pay enough in sales tax, property tax, vehicle license fees, and income tax… do we need to add a reparation tax? Reparations are mostly associated with concepts of back-pay for slave labor; but stop to think about the money spent to track-down the provenance of questioned artworks. Who profits from the chase? Attorneys. Detectives. Art Experts. Attorneys… did I mention Attorneys? The fear of WWII’s anti-Semitism forced many surviving Jews to convert to Christianity; their descendants lost an entire culture due to the war. To whom do they direct their lawsuits?

What is worst that Klimts painting was stolen by terrible people in a war and now hang in national museums or that Klimt paintings were destroyed? What is more important the survival of ownership or the survival of culture? Why is it that the owner of Klimt's now-destroyed painting "Women Friends" has never stepped forward with a lawsuit for losses inflicted by war and invading forces? Its not that I take a cavalier attitude towards the importance of art so much as it is an indifference to ownership. As an artist, what do I care which individual has claim to my work? As long as I am alive, I can always produce more. I only care that the piece is still in the public eye after fifty or a hundred years. Dwelling on the pure monetary value of artwork is a problem when the importance of a painting has more to do with the current auction rate, rather than the cultural significance. – DN

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Summer Distractions

I've mentioned having innumerable summer distractions... these are the big three.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Self-Assassinating Artist

How many of us actively work against ourselves in our fine art career goals? I received a letter last week inviting me to be part of another “list” in an arts magazine. I have yet to respond. I entered some juried shows, a couple months back and received notice from one the last week of June that they could not open the jpeg images on the CD-Rom I submitted. I have until Aug 1st to get them either a new CD-Rom or physical slides of three of my Diptychs. I have yet to act on their request.

My portfolio website… My scrolls are just a bit too long for the aperture of my digital camera, so they tend to go dark near the top and bottom edges; so over a month ago I purchased new photo lamps in order to re-shoot all my scrolls for the website. I have a handful of new scroll paintings that no one has yet seen, because I was waiting until after I got the new lights to properly shoot them. Needless to say none of this work has occurred as of yet.

I know what needs to be done and I have the time to do it; but there it remains… undone. I’ve mentioned in other posts that you can’t trip in Santa Fe, without falling over an artist. Yesterday, My boys and I got haircuts and the stylist gave us the ‘I don’t cut hair all the time, I’m really an artist; but Santa Fe is such a hard town to do art professionally’. Her statement reminded me of LA and the way their drowning in out-of-work actors and screenwriters. If you can’t make a go of it in Santa Fe, you may be out of luck everywhere. As an artist in Santa Fe/Taos you have two options:

1. Make art that fits within the “southwest” genre and work hard to sell it here

2. Make art in your own style, inspired by the breathtaking environment of rapidly changing high desert colors and light… and work hard to sell it outside New Mexico

So far my main concentration has been on the second one.

Later my wife commented that if the stylist really wanted to be an artist she’d spend more time working on her PR outside of town. The PR work is not fun. It includes all the things I listed above that I have been procrastinating finishing… and a hell of a lot more. But this is a great life we have been given the opportunity to experience. Creation. Freedom. Self-expression. Exhibition. This is the vocabulary of the artist’s life. It seems so much more worthwhile than what non-professional-artists have to hear : Profit-margin. 401k-plan. Corporation. Company-loyalty. Time-clock. – DN

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Night Painters

I’m a night painter self-guilted into painting by daylight. I feel that I have the time, so I should use it to work. Occasionally, the day paintings feel forced; sometimes even rehearsed. The original plan for painting in Santa Fe was to continue my routine of night painting and to use my newly acquired daytime hours for writing and creating public relation materials to promote the artwork. The plan worked for a while, but now I’ve found the onset of summer to be a great distraction. I’ve never created as heavily in the summer months due to increased travel and shorter nights; from what I’ve read on other artists’ blogs, summer is a common cause of motivational issues.

I’ve always written on the side for my own enjoyment, although until recently it too has always been during the night as an alternative to pacing while my family slept. It’s never been anything worth publishing, but rather just a means of keeping in practice. Last November, I started blogging in order to force myself to get into a routine of writing each morning. So what does that say for my lack of recent writing as well? Maybe I’m just in collection mode.

The greatest gift I have as an artist is time, I should use it to appreciate the simple moments and the paintings (and writings) will always come later. – DN

Friday, July 07, 2006


Maybe the issue for many traditionally trained artists trying to fit into a conceptual art world is - we’re not performers. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy performance art or even acting. I like a good story. Whenever I visit somewhere new I inevitably began to create stories in my mind of the places and people. I enjoy searching the small independently-owned bookstores for memoirs by local residents. Later, when I return to the studio, I even tend to paint in a narrative fashion. I recreate these stories and include myself in the interaction; but acting it out would be something all together different. I’m not a performer. I don’t even enjoy attending my own exhibition openings.

I’m not much for labels when it comes to categorizing artists, but I am beginning to wonder if there are basically two types of artists in this contemporary art market – those that can perform on cue and those that create behind the scenes. Another way of phrasing this idea is to group artists by those that create as extroverts within the context of true society and those that recoil from their community to create somewhat alone within a somewhat less-than-honest world of their own making. Is this escapist nature a more fitting tag for the “traditional” artist?

Julian Schnabel is one of our few living art legends - he paints, constructs, writes and directs films. I was, personally, amazed by the transition he made from creating gallery-based work to his two wonderful films: Basquiat and Before Night Falls. However, we do not have any evidence that he can be a performer. It doesn’t make him any more or less of an artist. I’m not saying he cannot adapt his art based on the ability to publicly perform. I’m simply defining the type of work he has created in his career so far. Working from that example, Julian Schnabel isn’t unlike the rest of us “traditional” artists. – DN

Thursday, July 06, 2006


"International pressure is growing on Iran to release a prominent philosopher and writer, Ramin Jahanbegloo, who was arrested two months ago on unspecified charges. is incarceration in the notorious Evin prison has left Tehran's intellectual circles concerned about his fate and their own." The Guardian (UK) 07/06/06

Click here to read the article. - DN

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Painting Will Not Die

I took my children to see the new popcorn flick “Superman Returns”, yesterday. I wasn’t expecting much, so I was happily surprised to have enjoyed it as much as I did. The theme music was the same as the first 1978 Christopher Reeve version; even the design of the opening credits remained unchanged. Furthermore, the resemblance of the new Superman actor, Brandon Routh, to Christopher Reeve was uncanny. The previous campy nature of the “bad guy” characters was gone and the new twists in the story gave the characters a much more human quality.

Sometimes it’s good not to change the basics. Superman still had the ridiculous tights, the bad haircut and unbelievable alter-ego concealed only by a pair of horn-rim glasses; but it wouldn’t have been the Superman I remembered without those things.

Every few years painting is declared dead. Take a look at any recent Whitney Biennial and you might start to believe it. Just like trying to envision a new Superman without the theme music I grew-up on, I cannot imagine an art world without painting. My own work may divert from the use of traditional western materials, but the act of creation is in itself still the process of painting.

Does labeling oneself a painter with designs towards tradition, designate the need for a purely realistic style? The majority of the great abstractionist, expressionists and modernists lived and died before I was ever born. Can the term “traditional painting” only refer to realism, any longer? – DN

Monday, July 03, 2006


Tourist is a dirty word to the typical year-long residents of the many locales I visit. Maybe that is why I am more interested in the immersion of living in a place for a brief period of time, rather than just taking a visit.

Artists continuously have to face the challenge of interpreting and describing their ever evolving body of work. Producing artist’s statements are the traditional approach to facing this problem. I’ve written my share of these statements over the years as I have attempted to keep up with my own creative evolution.

My most recent foray described my interest in the community of over 6,000 Jews living in the Santa Fe high desert. As I continued my journey over the past ten or so months, I have recently begun to find my work move away from the landscape and return toward the figure. How much of this has to do with a fear of success? My sales were finally reaching a point of sustainability within these last two years of my painting landscapes. Then again, how much of my re-conversion to this “church of the figure” has to do with an exploration of society from a “less-removed” perspective? Have I stepped forward from my state of watchfulness, to a new and more intimate perspective? Is this what assimilation is really all about? I’m suddenly less concerned with painting the merits of local Judaism in relation to societal expectations. I feel I’ve said my peace on this subject. So under what artist’s statement do my new scrolls fit? Is assimilation the general umbrella for not just the new works but also the past pieces? Can these paintings become rolling commentary on the varied societies across the ever-changing American landscape?

If I can say nothing else about northern New Mexico, the food is phenomenal. I know of few other communities of this size (Santa Fe population: 60k) that can boast quality Indian, Vietnamese, Thai and… of course… Mexican food all on the same street. Last week I even ate at a Hawaiian/Chinese Wok. This variety I love comes from one basic source – the people. The term I most remember from secondary history classes is “melting pot”. It was used to describe America and the manner in which its citizens reside. Ironically, I think in terms of food when judging the cultural-blend of a region. The expression “Melting pot” becomes even more appropriate within that framework.

What does this perspective of assimilation now allow me in the context of creating a conversation in my scroll paintings between the figure, landscape and deeper acknowledgement of a multicultural society? - DN

Life Lessons

“I love you… I’ll do anything for you… I’ll stretch canvas for you” - Life Lessons

I pulled the above quote from a short Martin Scorsese film starring Nick Nolte as an older famous artist facing a looming exhibition deadline as well as a disappearing muse. I was first introduced to the movie “Life Lessons” by a professor while still in college. He said he showed it to us because it was one of the few films at the time to actually show paint being put to canvas.

Over the past ten years, I have frequently used this film as a resource for inspiration. I’m not sure if it is the music or the ability to watch someone else actually “put paint on canvas”; but I occasionally find the film’s level of intensity soothing. – DN

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Studio Pics

A couple views of my new studio in Santa Fe. - DN