Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Art Renewal Salon: 2006

Evan Wilson

This is the kind of show that no bourgeois Brahmin would ever curate
(so it would never appear in any major museum,
although something like it is now circulating among those small,
unclean midwestern cities that are beneath Brahmin contempt)

(Note: I'm applying the caste system recently
presented here by an internet savant named "Mencius Moldbug"
I haven't really given this schema
a whole lot of thought,
but isn't the internet, if nothing else,
the best place to try out half-baked ideas?)

So, continuing on a Moldbug line of thought,
The Art Renewal Center(ARC)
is un-apologettically Vaisya - where:

"status among Vaisya men is conferred by productive employment,
generally defined in monetary terms"

Indeed, they're secular evangelical Vaisya's,
i.e. Ayn Rand objectivists,
and their artistic catechism reads as follows:

The artist takes elements of reality and rearranges them in such a way that he makes perceivable an idea, a concept, an impression of the world. In other words, it is the artist, a human being, who is doing the selecting - not nature and not chance.

..where the convincing/accurate representation of that
"element of reality"
is the special, technical skill that is required.

.... because the Renaissance project is still ongoing --- i.e.,
in the words of John Berger

Oil painting, before it was anything else, was a celebration of private property. As an art-form it derived from the principle that you are what you have.

Oh, how those Vaisyas love their private property !
and how firmly they protest that
catechism of early Modernism:

Oil painting, before it is anything else, is marks on a flat surface

Evan Wilson

Despite being a certain kind of Brahmin myself
(the peasant kind -- who lives in remote areas)
I like private property, too,
and the paintings that I enjoy
can easily be said
to be more than just marks on a surface


The consequence of making
a concept/idea/impression
prior to making a visual arrangement
is usually (but we can't say always)


for which the ARC Salon
provides more than ample
(and more than tolerable)


Following the example of Sir Gawain, however,
nothing ugly will be shown on this site.

So.. what I am showing are my picks from
among winners and finalists of that online exhibit.
(too bad the thousands of losers weren't online as well,
I probably would have liked some of them as well)


The sculpture was all a disaster,

(i.e. zero sensitivity to visual design/impact)

and the drawing nearly so...
(as they made their fearful, meticulous charcoal renderings)

and most of the paintings were far worse (more insipid and lifeless)
than the photographs which they imitate

but foremost among the painters

I enjoyed Evan Wilson

Here's the Evan Wilson to which
ARC gave the highest marks.

It's got that big bedspread
fresh from a photo-display
in a mail-order catalog
(and I'm sure it's top-of-the-line)
That's why they like it ...
but that ugly little kid turns me off.

I enjoyed the effects of the first two
much more -- where the design is
actually making the scene interesting
(rather than just pleasantly acceptable)

Especially that girl at the top,
whose un-attractiveness
(especially in contrast to the fabrics)
--and un-approachableness
(pulling that knee over her groin)
makes her feel so real to me..
so I can actually imagine myself in
the space with her
(and that's what I want from all landscapes --
or bedscapes)

Julie Tsang

Here's another un-approachable,
problematic woman
(who's not just a model in the studio)
..and that's why I like her
("don't touch me or I'll tear your head off")

Elizabeth Mowry

I'm giving this landscape the benefit of the doubt,
since I didn't like any of the other landscapes,
and I'm hoping that in person,
that sharp foreground/blurred background
would make the space large and inviting
(and maybe it wouldn't look so purplish)

Michael Debrito

And I'm liking this fine example
of American magazine illustration,
because, of course, it's selling something,
but god knows what.

I just have to smile every time I see it.

Aldo Balding

While I like this illustration for similar reasons,
i.e. it's telling a story,
and seems to be full of conviction,
(the title is "Exodus")
but god knows what it's all about.
(though anything that happens in the piazza
in front of an old Italian church
has got to be important)

Albert Handell

Wait! --- there was one more landscape
that I liked,
and this was it --
by the dean of American pastel painters,
and I like how it feels
to look through the eyes of
my parents' generation

Alexander Tyng

A tribute to the
blue collar Vaisyas ?

OK -- I'll buy it,
they look both frumpy and important,
...and sad
(because their tools/materials
are more important than they are)

Johanna Harmon

I like these epiphanies
in the forest,
they feel so Russian,
(and so much like my art
club's very own Rose Frantzen)

Or.. maybe I just like
it's goofy space
(and it is pretty goofy..
I don't think it's three dimensional..
maybe four-or-five dimensional ?..
but at least it's been felt,
which distinguishes it from
all the paintings that I'm not
going to show you)

Dean Mitchell

This was ARC's grand prize winner
..and it is a nice, clean, bright,
wholesome image
(African Americans in church ?
that's where they should be !)
but it feels
just a bit tight, small, and dead to me

(I keep wanting it to break out
and get crazy -- like those Haitian
paintings -- that really do feel
like Africans in church)


Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Apologies for the long post, but I'm back, and you have an abundance of things to provoke response here!


Where to begin?

Fabulous John Berger quote.

Fabulous Chris quote:
"... The consequence of making a concept/idea/impression prior to making a visual arrangement is usually (but we can't say always) A DISASTER..."

Seems like one of the differences between illustration and art -- illustration's purpose is to first amplify/clarify/intensify an idea, and is suborned to the idea; art's first concern is it's own making -- both with the artist making it, and as it's made again within viewers' hearts and minds.


Speaking of disaster, I wrestled with whether to take a photo of the two exceedingly graceless figure sculptures in the lobby of the last hotel of my business trip, but decided it might make your email curl up in fright.

I felt so bad for the sculptor, wondering if they really did like what they made (and if so, oh my gawd) or if they made the work with heavy edits from the hotel chain.


And then, Evan Wilson. If the painting of that momma and kid in bed isn't cropped, the composition (weighing so far to the right, balanced by the pull of the column of light and the highlights on the bedspread) interests me. It's an extreme composition with a very conventional subject and setting.

And then, the plaster-work guys.

At first I thought they were tape-and-float guys but their tools, and Tyng's focus on the cornice-work, gave them away as master craftsmen. But the postures seem to me almost fashionista -- there's little sense in their body posture of their relationship to their work; they could be two guys posing for a catalog cover, perhaps one containing the aforementioned bedspread.

The last piece seems odd to me as well -- something Hans Holbein-ish in the portrait that seems dissonant with the lady's spiritual moment, as if she were a "type" to be studied, not a real person.

Chris, as ever, thanks for helping my mind and eye stretch!

May 11, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

Lori,it's fun going to an exhibit with you !

Especially an internet show, where the images are always available -- and there's plenty of time for the commentary to soak in.

Regarding the bedspread: I think you've described why I like it -- and why I wish he'd have kept it as a still life.

Regarding the plaster guys: Very funny ! I can see the caption now: "100% cotton pullovers in 4 exciting new colors" - but still -
wouldn't this serve as a very moving portrait of that old guy in back ? Wouldn't his family really cherish it ?

Regarding the Holbein lady: Yes, I think all art-familiar people have Holbein in our minds -- his sharply drawn pieces reproduce so well in picture books.

Holbein portraits have gravitas -- but this one ?

May 15, 2007  
Blogger Dean said...

I'm very pround of my painting of Rowena. The fact that it won the Grand Price in the Salon 2006 Renewal was a breath of fresh air to the art world exclusion of our images with dignity and pride. Mr. Miller comments sound a bit shallow and filled with typical ideas of mainstreams ideas of what black culture is. This painting has touch and moved millions of Americans from all walks of life. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if it's negative.

Dean Mitchell

April 21, 2008  
Blogger chris miller said...

Thanks for stopping by, Dean - and I admit that it never occurred to me that this painting was an insider's view of black people in church.

It just seemed like such a sweet but narrow Norman Rockwellian vision of wholesome Americans.

I still don't like it -- but at least I've learned more about it.

April 21, 2008  

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