Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Till Death Do Us Part... or... The Microsoft Pledge for any Regular User of Windows

The end of June my laptop bit the dust after three years of duct tape, chanting and Tibetan prayer flags. My desktop computer is an eMachines PC that I bought at BestBuy as a back-up computer for $200, six years ago. Just checking my e-mail now requires scheduling an extra half-hour into my day. Somehow, though, that’s not the worst of it… my Sony monitor needs calibration and the software to perform said-such function cost $120-180… so that seems an unnecessary expense for an eight-year-old monitor. Needless to say, I am hanging on by a shoestring until the fall (after the Morris Graves Museum Show) when I plan on purchasing a new laptop.

The calibration on my monitor has led to some washed-out colors in my images when viewed in “normal” monitors and I have caught myself sneaking into friends’ back rooms to check-out the way my website looks on their computer… I’m sure they are confused when they here loud sobbing drift towards the front rooms. Now that my wife is out of grad school (graduated in mid-May YaaaaaaaaaaHooooooooooooooo!); we were wanting to make the leap from crappy Windows-based-PC to MAC, but looking at the price of replacing over $2k in software (Macromedia Studio MX, Photoshop CS, Office, etc)… I may just buy another PC laptop… no matter how much I dread dealing with the latest Microsoft late-term abortion called “Vista”.

To make matters worse, I had just started-up again on the writing of that novel I started five years ago… when the laptop melted down to a glorified paper weight. Writing it out in longhand on yellow legal tablets may sound quaint, but for now it just looks like another hassle, when I should be concentrating on finishing the paintings for my next show. – DN

Friday, July 20, 2007

Forgotten Paintings

Artists are often the worst predictors of which of their works will be singled-out by a collector or gallery. I have had numerous works in the past that sold, after I only reluctantly placed them in an exhibition or on the portfolio website. Equally, I have just as often found myself hawking the same favorite mountain pictures for years on end with little or no recognition.

The below painting is a perfect example of this misplaced affection for a painting no one seems to want… but me.

"Cervantes: Every Man is the Son of His Own Works", Sumi and Acrylic Inks on Paper, 22"x30"

It’s a painting about one’s place in society, often against the rigors of previous hosts. I loved the Cervantes quote and had it in mind when considering how I came to live in the high desert outside Santa Fe, in the shadow of a mountain scarred by former residents and left burnt for the diminutive solace of a man attempting to outrun his own brief history. – DN

Monday, July 16, 2007

Painting in Context

"Madeline's World, Madeline's Lot", Sumi Ink & Acrylic Ink & Paint on Paper, 22"x30"

My young daughter, Maddie Scarlett, has had the unique burden of having a travel artist as a father. The subject of my paintings is as often in reference to the complexities of a travel lifestyle as it is a representation of the residents and lands we encounter. My wife and children exist within every painting just as they are present for each moment of my traveling life.

I don’t have a “problem” with traditional portraiture; so much as I take issue with any form of painting that takes place without a specific context. Great works such as the “Arnolfini and his Bride” by Jan van Eyck garner their importance from the other activity in the composition, besides the actual portrait. Even the Mona Lisa would not have quite the following if the background behind the figure was mundane. Of course critics believed that photography would unhinge the art world a hundred years ago; many traditional figure painters had delegated portraiture to simple boring ¾ view sittings… one has to stop and wonder if rather than painting was this “ignoring of context in portraiture” actually the original birth of the SEARS portrait studio?

Andrew Wyeth’s 60-year-old painting, “Christina’s World”, was the early harbinger for exactly the type of portraiture I find interesting. Obviously, there have been other painters in the last half century that have created this type of “Portraiture in Context”, but it has not become the mainstay staple of Americana, that anyone would have hoped. So there it is… the evolution of an old dream. Another possibility for changing the American artistic frontier in the midst of a middle America obsessed with bad mall paintings, price-gouging giclee faux-paintings and bad law-office portraiture. - DN

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Calling all Immersion Travel Art Writers

I dare say my travel art movement needs writers as much as it requires painters. The world is already ripe with travel writers, you say, but let me ask this question: what separates a travel writer in an art movement from any group of travel writers in the Frommers’ section at the local Barnes & Noble? I believe it is the fact that an art movement requires bias to have meaning. If there is no bias, no prejudice of partiality… then there can be no movement. No desire for change, no reason to speak when not spoken to… An artist can create mediocrity without passion… but passion cannot live without bias.

I have previously mentioned works by authors/artists such as William Least Heat-Moon. His ability to take a simple trip and radiate the region’s history and social implications has staggered many a reader since his first book “Blue Highways” broke-out in 1983. The most amazing aspect of his travelogue that continues in “PrairyErth” and “River Horse” is the slight hint of fictionalized reality. While his stories are highly accurate from the point of research and actual events experienced by the author; I know that I have often felt, as a member of his audience, that the stories worked because the approach was slightly manipulated via the addition of symbols and personal revelations. Likewise, Kerouac lived and wrote in the same manner. Stylizing his life around an image of purposeful rebellion in search of enlightenment; then writing in a reflective manner that ritualized the transition from impetuous cross-country driving and train hopping to mountain trekking and drunken meditation. I make these accusations with great admiration… you see, the world is full of human experience, but it takes a truly great artist to draw from these experiences a seemingly inconsequential flash of life-altering significance.

Be it poems or by-lines, novels or short stories humanity requires the written revelations of a dharma bum moving deliberately across the face of the earth. – DN

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Prehistoric Landscaping

“Crowley's Ridge: Rose-tinted Glasses”, Sumi & Acrylic Inks & Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 8”x 21”, $300

Originally titled “Approaching Crowley’s Ridge with Rose-tinted Glasses”, I shortened the name after considering that my recently renewed interest in the area hardly qualifies as a “first-time approach”. Although, only a meaningless rocky hill to anyone else in the world, this ridge is nothing short of the prehistoric vein of life for the entire southeast Missouri region. This seemingly simple ridge, for most is just a beautiful rise from the wetlands to the hills and forest of the southern Midwest. – DN

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Death in the Afternoon... and other moments of lucidity

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” - Ernest Hemingway

I remember a moment in school when a group of track athletes, including myself, were supposed to run two miles across town, from the senior high to the junior high in order to attend practice. As usual, a number of us were trying to find someone with a car that could drop us off a few feet from the front gate and thus hide our laziness. We had located one of my fellow runners that actually had a truck to which we planned on using to get from point “A” to “B”. However, in the last few hours before school was to end, his father had hired an artist to drop-by and paint lettering on the hood in some manner of teenage male machismo, that lives on today in enlarged tailpipes and rear spoilers that purposefully offset-the balance of the ride.

The artist strolled-in after the final school bell had rung… probably more than a few hours later than my friend’s father had expected. He nearly fell from the front seat of his van, than took an exuberant amount of time searching his pockets for the perfect brush on which he had been seated just moments before. A Mason jar, with a Ball lid, half-filled with simple black acrylic paint was still sitting on the dashboard where he had placed it for safekeeping, when he slammed the van door caked with a number of pin-hole rust spots. He noticed it a moment later and started the process again in its retrieval.

In the daze of youth he seemed old as dirt and even now, I cannot recall if there was any actual truth to that assumption. In his disheveled state he could have been on slightly older than I am now and I would have been oblivious to his age. An old man among boys, he had been set-up to fail the moment he agreed to the lettering job. While we stood in a semi-circle around the artist, we mocked his obvious three-in-the-afternoon drunkenness and made non-existent bets on how the lettering would turnout. We spewed hate and degradation at his back, while he ignored us behind a haze of stale beer and whiskey. At the time I didn’t think he heard us, now I believe he was simply resigned to ignoring our young delusion of class distinction combined with his undeniable current situation with a ¼” square brush and truck hood. That recognition, despite its sad consequences… may have been the marker of his intelligence in a moment of hotheads and fools.

Where do we hide our inevitable sense of superiority until the perfect moment of weakness and opportunity is recognized thus encouraging one human to reign over another? On a more personal note… what drives an artist to work as a sign painter? How much distance can exist between the spectacle of public shame and the crutch of a lingering cause? At what point does a lingering career become a cause? …or is it the cause that becomes the career? – DN

Monday, July 09, 2007

Don't Trust UPS with Your Personal Information

Although I am still a strong proponent of DHL as my primary shipping carrier… I have found myself bewildered the past few months as their company struggles to update my account address information from New Mexico to Missouri. I have literally called and formally updated my contact/shipping information no less than eight times since March. Last week, as I shipped out a 90lb crate for the Georgia gallery show, I learned that the information was still incorrect… seemingly untouched by my previous attempts to update.

In my anger I did something, I never expected… I opened a UPS shipping account. Today, I learned the true cost of those actions. It is currently 10:02 am, while I write this and I have already received four telemarketer calls from UPS since 8:00am. After the fourth hang-up, I visited a fine little site titled “whocalledus.com” to find out if this was common practice for UPS account holders… seems it is. Click the link to read comments posted by other disgruntled UPS account holders.

It will have to be a huge emergency for me to utilize the services of UPS in the foreseeable future. Oh yeah… and the differences in the cost of shipping my 90lb wood crate measured 50”x41”x12”

UPS estimated delivery 5-8 days: $140
DHL delivered in three days, including the mid-week holiday: $82

Now if only they’d quit mailing my bill all the way to New Mexico… - DN

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Portfolio Website Updates

I've made some changes to the portfolio website to speed-up load times, etc... drop me a line if you think it improved (sped-up enough on your computer). Click here to view. - DN

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

New Works from the Saint Francois Mountains

“The Teacher's Map Home”, Sumi & Acrylic Inks & Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 10”x 14”, $300

“The Teacher's Map Home, No. 2”, Sumi & Acrylic Inks & Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 12”x 14”, $300

These maps were inspired by the muddy and wooded banks of waters that caress the Saint Francois Mountains near Sam A. Baker State Park. Samuel Aaron Baker was born in the the mountains of the park that bares his name. He was a teacher in the late 1800's and early 1900's that eventually became Governor of Missouri. I have often stood in wonder of the number of early American leaders that started as educators. As an on-again-off-again teacher, myself, I understand the draw of the classroom. I believe that many of these politicians undoubtedly felt nostalgic for the integrity of teaching and a guilty sense of abandon for the students left behind. After visiting the park, I became particularly intrigued by the fact that every biographical blurb I could find for Samuel Baker started with the phrase "American Teacher". - DN

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Work on Exhibit at - ART SANTA FE International

Diptych - "Boxed-In: Under the Sandia"

"Green is for Water Rights"

These two works will be on display in July at ART SANTA FE International. - DN

Monday, July 02, 2007

Works at Gallery RFD in July

Sweetgrass Hills, Prairie Place

Going to the Sun Road

Einstein - Man is Here for the Sake of Other Men

Enjoy. - DN