Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Dinner Party

Got to see Judy Chicago's Dinner Party at the Brooklyn Museum this past weekend.  I've always considered it a little cheesy and overwrought.  Vagina plates!  Tapestries!  Triangles!  Oh my!

Seeing it in person, however, made me review my opinion.  It was really impacting to think of all the hours of hand work involved in the creation of the piece.  I also like that there was collaboration and a focus on female-associated crafts, weaving, ceramic painting, etc.  The stories about the notable women were interesting to read and reflect on, although mostly the place settings focus on white women from the Western tradition. 

I can see the validity of the critique that the work essentializes all these diverse and amazing women - boiling their contributions down to vaginal imagery... but I think it was an influence on my paint brush today. 


hotel, note the foxhunt
 gallery dog!  (he loved jill)

 gin and i
 jill, tim and anne posing at the aperture opening
34 street station ceiling, post brooklyn adventure
(all photos by francis)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pink Corners (better color)

Pink Corners, 2011
water-soluble oil on canvas
20" x 20"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


The New Members Invitational Exhibition at the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors has gotten some good press this weekend. Pam Dillon wrote a review of the show for the Dayton Daily News Life Section. The mood at High Street Gallery seemed more energized according to the gallery sitter this Sunday - let's hope the good vibes continue!

There's even a picture of me (leaning against WWWH, oops).

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Birds (it's for the)

Blue Birds, 2008 water-soluble oil on canvas 53" x 50"

We were at dinner the other night after an(other) opening for a group show that Francis is a part of. It was an extremely pleasant and chatty evening that culminated in a discussion of animal fears. Yes, this is what artists and curators talk about over their neo-Italian cuisine.

One of the members of the party brought up her extreme fear of birds, as in full-on heart pounding terror when confronted with one out in the world. I chimed in with my distaste for birds (sorry bird lovers). I certainly wouldn't consider my feelings towards birds to be a true fear or phobia, just a slight distrust perhaps owing to their reptilian heritage (sorry snake lovers) and to their tendency to peck and poop a lot indiscriminately.

While I and the bird fearer were in the midst of reaffirming each others' anti-bird opinions, another member of the group spoke up and called me out. "Don't you use birds in your work?" she asked. Well, yes I do as a matter of fact. So I sat back and shut up feeling a little ashamed at having been caught in a hypocritical act.

Shame, even a light taste of it, brings out my obsessive tendencies like nothing else. So all the way home and even after that I turned the conversation over and over in the back of my mind. Why would a person who is no real fan of the feathered make paintings of birds?

On reflection, I don't think I care much for birds, at least the actual living, breathing, flying, pecking, pooping animals. My interest is in the popularity of the bird as motif in current consumer culture. My bird paintings were born out of my research for the Candy Store series. Bird as motif saw an upswing in the mid to latter part of this past decade. Fowl seemed to be everywhere: certainly appearing on the printed flannel VS pajamas that were the initial inspiration for the Candy Store work.

The blue bird of happiness has made it's way from
tattoos to stationery and everything in between. This style of bird motif represents a certain vintage sweetness. As a symbol the swallow, robin or wren in flight can range from a more sassy rockabilly feel to a cuteness appropriate for a baby's blanket.

The bird motif that I use in my painting stays on the feminized side - those products being the ones I'm most interested in researching. My bird patterns are certainly not the aggressive male identified birds of prey like eagles or hawks. I'm interested in the things that are sold to women and the overwhelming diversity of choice that keeps us consuming. The bird motif in my work is part of a larger study of feminized motif.

My friend Jessica likes and respects birds and you can tell the difference in her paintings of the same subject. Even though stylized, her work retains specific colors and markings true to the actual birds being represented. You can distinguish between owls, hawks and wrens in her paintings - these are representations of birds from the actual observable world.

Both Jessica and I share an appreciation for boiling a subject down to its essence. In her paintings, however, she uses birds and animals themselves as an inspiration, while in my work, a stylized bird is analogous to a polka dot, a star or a stripe.

Candy Store Grid, detail
water-soluble oil on canvas
135- 12" x 12" canvases
installed at Dayton Visual Arts Center

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New work

Stripe Flags, 2011
water-soluble oil on canvas

20" x 20"

Particle, 2011

water-soluble oil on canvas

30" x 30"

Pink Corners, 2011

water-soluble oil on canvas

20" x 20"

Been working on some new paintings recently...explosions, pinball, clouds, physics, and lots of stripes.