I curated a painting show titled Three Painters at Duck Creek for the Arts Center at Duck Creek. The show went up on August 8th, 2020. It will be on view through August 30th, 2020.
Last year, there was an exhibition of my own paintings at the barn at Duck Creek. It was challenging, but it was also very rewarding. The warmth of wood, the irregular elements of patched walls and the natural elements of the historic site define this attractive venue. I live seven minutes away from there. I care about the place and I wanted to organize a show that people in the community could truly enjoy.
To me, the process of painting involves honesty, dedication and patience. It allows us tremendous freedom, but it also forces us to work with all elements with fairness, keen observation and a broad view to grasp the wholeness. We become one with the momentums, dynamics and mechanisms within the visual structure, which is built by our dialogues with the visual elements. Our paths become the work. The work therefore is authentic in a way, and it can capture a profound something that can resonate with our soul.
The work of the three painters that I selected for the show somehow share the above quality. They can be complex but they also convey solid cohesiveness. These three artists are versed with their own visual languages and they all speak to us in their own ways: but as they harmonize colors, shapes, lines, and layers, they reveal profoundness that goes beyond the framework that binds us as “civilized” beings, yet often as alienated beings. Their paintings have the power to move us unconditionally if we care to listen.
I thank Duck Creek for giving me an opportunity to organize this show. It has been rewarding on many grounds.
In order to introduce the artists to the Duck Creek audience, I interviewed the three painters. We talked about how they get started, their processes, their philosophy on art, and more.
At the Duck Creek barn, the interviews are available in a booklet format.
Elliott Green (b. 1960 Detroit, Michigan – email@example.com). He attended the University of Michigan, where he studied World literature and Art history. He moved to New York City in 1981 and has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, the Jules Guerin Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, a Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Residency, a The Peter S. Reed Foundation Grant, a residency at the BAU Institute, Cassis, France, a MacDowell Colony Residency, and three residencies at Yaddo.
Eric Banks (b. 1954 Brooklyn, NY – firstname.lastname@example.org) Brooklyn-native, Banks lives and works in Rhinebeck, NY. In 1977, he obtained his B.A. from Queens College of the City University of New York, NY. After receiving his M.F.A. from Maryland Institute College of Art, Hoffberger School of Painting in 1981, Banks was awarded the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, Edward Albee Foundation Grant, and Walters Fellowship. Banks has exhibited nationally; most-recently, his work has been on view at NYC galleries, such as Amos Eno Gallery and Sideshow Gallery.
Sean Sullivan (b. 1975 Bronx, NY – email@example.com) lives and works in the Hudson Valley, NY. He received the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts Grant in 2017. He has participated in group exhibitions at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz, NY; the Markus Luttgen Gallery, Cologne, Germany; and the Museum for Drawing, Huningen, Belgium.
Here are images from the show.
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I’ve been asked to participate in an outdoor exhibition titled Drive By Art organized by Warren Neidich. It takes place on the eastern end of Long Island where I’m located. Artists come up with unorthodox ways to show art, and hopefully the event generates constructive discussions on the extraordinary situation we are in. This gives me an opportunity to try placing three of my sculptures outside, which I haven’t done before. Yesterday, my wife and I looked around the woods by our house and discussed how we go about it. We went ahead and placed one of the pieces at a spot my wife noticed. It was eye-opening to see the piece liberate itself at the spot. What a way to interact with nature. Of course, this is hardly new—countless artists prefer to show their work outside—but it’s better late than never. Oh well. We plan to place one right by the road,and we haven’t decided about the last one yet. Pretty exciting. The event takes place on May 9th and 10th, Noon to 5pm. Around 50 artists will participate. I will also make my recent essay available hoping that it will generate some discussions among us.
Please go to the website for more info:
Two of my oldest pieces #1 and #2 have been added to my site. I remember starting to work on #2 while I was in the graduate program at University of Maryland in 1995. I remember continuing to work on it at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Although the pieces were added to the sculpture section at the site, when I started to work on them I had no ambition of embarking on making “sculptures”. I was merely moved by phenomenon after phenomenon appearing and disappearing on the work surfaces. I was interested in an object-like quality—as opposed to a window to look into an illusionistic-paint scape. I was taken by texture, scratch marks, peeled paint and chunky paint blobs. Instead of working on canvas, I started to work on wood panels (hollow core doors were cut into appropriate sizes with the ends refinished) so that I could dig into them, staple them, bore holes and bang on them. I also built the surface with burlap and plaster for more texture. The layers and my improvisation on them revealed many intriguing visual narratives. It completely captivated me that I could speak with my work. #1 was documented with slide film so it has the soft, grainy look. Remember shooting slides, making dupes and sending them out? All the rejection letters? Lol.
#1, plaster, tar and wood, 24″ x 19″, 1995
#1 detail view
#2, acrylic, burlap, enamel, plaster, tar and staple, 36″ x 36″, 1995
#2 detail view
#1 detail view
I’ve started making a new large sculpture a few months ago. It’s still at a planing stage but I am quite excited about the it. Making #82 taught me a lot in terms of the material and how to express two dimensional drawing as a three dimensional object. Right now, I’m still struggling with a model. Here is a drawing of it.
I was so frustrated with this one that when I finished it the sense of relief overwhelmed my sense of accomplishment. But it’s always profound to capture something indescribable speaking so decisively. Practicing art making gives us courage to face the unknown, embrace it and appreciate it. If there is truly an essential meaning in “art education”, that’s what we can offer—to see the world for what it is, with the unknown, complexity, bigger dynamics, smaller dynamics, layers, interconnectedness and all to be constructive. Such an angle helps us to be a part of harmony for all, instead of a part of exploitation and subjugation for few.
Each artist has his or her own focus in one’s own visual expression. The paths we pave in pursuing our practices in our studios define our angles, aims and results. While we go separate paths, we also have the ability to share and talk about what we do with our own vocabularies, which are usually exchangeable in our conversations because we go through similar problems in our material reality.
In a way, we the artists have our own language that allows us to share our most intimate struggle, joy, surprise, sense of accomplishment and so on.
Such a discussion can engage us deeply regardless of our backgrounds. We get to face each other as artists—as those who attempt to capture the essence of life as mortal humans with limited human capacities.
How does Phyllida Barlow’s sculpture embrace our perception with such an intense grip? How does she let the materials go so wild, yet manage to come out with a resounding wholeness? I can tell that she has a very different approach than mine. It’s so fascinating that there are so many paths to get to those familiar unknown places to which we strive to arrive somehow.
Images from Phyllida Barlow exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, 14 Nov – 22 Dec 2018, New York, 22nd Street
Here is the 7th Piezography print. I’ve struggled quite a bit but I am very happy with how it turned out. The whole struggle with the print project is to express subtlety, gentleness, warmth, tangible mass of black emerging from actual ink hitting the paper as opposed to how we perceive the image on screen. Doing so with a digital software is certainly a challenge that requires more time and trials and errors. It has been very rewarding and educational, and very much humbling as well.
I had an opportunity to talk about being an immigrant, Japan, our society, politics and so on with Jeff J Brown. I think the interview turned out to be a very good one. I got to talk about making art as well.
Here is an excerpt:
“I think corporal punishment given to school kids when I was growing up in Japan taught me how a hierarchical order can be maintained for the sake of having the order. The resulting order can operate without meeting the needs and desires of subject populations, sort of like schools or prisons. And capitalist society also maintains itself by economic punishment. What’s prominent about an order maintained by fear, threats, violence and so on, is that it forms itself regardless of each individual’s intrinsic connection to self, to others, to communities, to nature and so on. It is a way to form a social structure, but it is also an effective way to detach subject populations from their true human nature. This is a crucial step in commodifying basic human rights to be turned into profit. This is why capitalism is so effective in forming and perpetuating a hierarchical order while dehumanizing the population drastically, without even their knowledge. I think we as a species should be able to do better than that. The survival of our species depends on it, I think.
Also, the art making process has taught me that in order to come up with a profound solution for a given work, one needs a certain amount of humility, ability to observe elements, openness to accept change, willingness to trust, accept unknown elements, patience to learn the systematic mechanism and so on. These conditions often contradict each other, and they push and pull each other in the process, however, the key to grasping a working mechanism is to understand how the elements act according to their intrinsic characters and their guiding rules. They do not come to a profound formation according to the punitive measures of a master mind. I mean, I can just chop up my canvas and sell them as materials, but that would not realize the potential of the elements. So, what I sense is that we need to incorporate that sort of building process in our society, which truly accounts for the needs of the people, in order to go beyond the neo-feudal hierarchy of exploitation and subjugation. The harmonious whole, with its meaningful mechanism to move our beings does not result from an authoritative coercion. Having honest dialogues with facts placed in objective historical contexts can be a good start for us, I believe. As an artist I can feel that there would be profound results waiting for us.”