Many of the collectors I’ve gotten to know over the years have been keen to engage in conversation. Beyond the pieces themselves, collectors often want to talk about the ideas behind my work. They’re interested in learning about the sources and motivations that animate my process, and the bodies of work these bring forth. This kind of back and forth with collectors is one of my great joys as an artist. So, here are a few thoughts about my work to get our conversation started.
In making art I often think about value, structure, measurement and proportion. For example, A Measure of Art, a series of data visualizations of artists’ markets expressed in the style of the artist being considered, looks both at the valuation of art objects, and at what kind of art is valued in our culture. By putting the market in the art, rather than the art in the market, this project asks you to consider what you value, and what lenses you peer through when looking at art.
I work quite differently with value, structure, measurement and proportion in other bodies of work. The Golden Drawings, for instance, small intuitively made collages composed in gold and silver paint, employ the materials of monetary value and currency. The composition of these drawings is often driven by questions of proportion. A funny thing I discovered is that for these drawings to be successful, their proportions must be measured by my hand and eye. As soon as I bring in a ruler or other mechanical device they lose their zing. The proportion that matters in the Golden Drawings derives from a distinctly human sensibility.
If you’d like to explore more, please make an appointment to swing by my studio, or join me at an opening.
Image: An Alma Thomas painting from A Measure of Art shows her top ten sales over the twenty year period from 1997 - 2017.
The galleries I work with are sometimes drawn to a particular series in my larger body of work; sometimes to a specific medium, and periodically to representing the broad spectrum of my art. I enjoy cultivating and developing relationships with galleries where my work resonates with their program, their aesthetic perspective and collector base. As you consider my work, it may be helpful for you to know what draws the strands of my work together, and how its elements can be functionally separated.
The structural warp underlying the diversely woven weft of the many series I have created is a penchant to explore and to ask questions. I follow my nose like a novelist wandering down the garden path of her own life, then proceeding through the garden gate and into the woods. An early series of photograms of everyday objects was an ethnographic look at the tools and objects of our culture, developed through extensive exploration in the darkroom.
My Measure of Art series arose from a set of questions and feelings about how I look at art and the larger world, and how this way of viewing differed from my mother’s, a financial analyst, who saw it through the lens of money and markets. Other series, like In My Mother’s Garden, are more intuitive, drawing on my meditative side. In sharp contrast to the serene, uplift of the color planes that emerge from these botanical photographs, my recent large-scale computer-modified composite photographs of artists in their studios, rigorously engage other artists’ work and thinking. These composite images investigate their creative process by entering and deconstructing their spaces, and presenting how artists work and move in their spaces over time. These images prompt us to ask what does it feel like to produce work while standing in their shoes?
With this connective warp in place, let’s consider what sets particular series apart. The dynamic Golden Drawings light up the gallery with glowing tones, turning a white cube into a golden chamber. Shown in small numbers, they feel intimate like a string quartet playing Bach; in large numbers, their gathered effect is grand and shining, like an orchestra playing Benjamin Britten—in both cases, the drawings sonorously transform the spaces in which they hang. While the Golden Drawings relate to music, my recent ink drawings read as pages from novels. Rooted in internal dialogues, the underlying content of these drawings ranges from arguments to love affairs to memory of family members with strange predilections. By contrast, pieces from A Measure of Art with their underlying data visualizations and methodical structure, subtly appeal to people’s mathematical sensibilities and desire for underlying order while challenging conventional assumptions about whether art contains markets or vice versa.
Images: The large red painting is an Alma Thomas from A Measure of Art that compares her sales in oil with those in watercolor. The surrounding word paintings are from my Christopher Wool Works. Below is Abijah from In My Mother's Garden.
Skilled designers find that my art functions a key layer in the creation of a well-curated space. The recent placement of my Leon Polk Smith piece from A Measure of Art, an eight-foot stack of teal, black and silver oval color-field canvases, in a San Francisco living room brought clarity and sophistication to this formal space. In a nearby house, a dreamy horizontal blue piece from the series In My Mother’s Garden, scaled up for the house’s large dining room, established a sense of invitation to linger at the table because the night is magical and the company so engaging. Looking down on a dining table in the Napa Valley, my witty and irreverent “5 out of 7 Ain’t Bad”, a word piece showing five of the seven deadly sins, is a wry addition to a dramatic room that sophisticated dinner guests will not soon forget. In the entryway to a Sonoma retreat, 24 of my Golden Drawings transform the space with a shimmering golden light. I love working with designers to help them discover pieces among existing work that richly serve their vision, as well as collaborating with designers and their teams on commissions and signature site-specific installations.
If you’re an architect or designer eager to work with an artist who understands and loves the process of integrating original art into your larger vision, let’s talk.
Image: a grid of Golden Drawings installed in the entryway of a Sonoma residence.
I enjoy working with art consultants in corporate, hospitality and health care spaces, and on residential placements of my work.
The variety and range of my work, and my capacity to develop site specific work on commission facilitates a close pairing of my art with your vision, and to the needs and interests of your specific clients. To illustrate, financial and tech companies feel an affinity to the Measure of Art series as it employs data visualizations of markets. Adventurous firms enjoy R&D abstract paintings for their bold colors and lively compositions. The energy of these fresh paintings that vitalize the picture plane mirrors the excitement of working with new technologies in a rapidly expanding business environment. On the quieter side, the tranquil photographs from In My Mother's Garden fit well in spas and medical settings, as they heal the mind and offer beauty and solace. A doctor told me that looking at the dreamy blues and greens of "Theophilus" from the Garden series calms his patients facing difficult health issues. Businesses can make a distinctive statement with installations of my Golden Drawings or Ink Drawings. I’d love hear about your upcoming projects, and show you the range of my work in person at my Sausalito studio or share files with you online.
Image: Gerhard Richter Painting 1989 - 2009 from A Measure of Art installed in an office building lobby.
Museum curators have frequently collected works from my Measure of Art series, my data visualizations of artist’s markets made in their own styles. They have taken interest in these pieces in part because the work uses data visualization to express and invert the relationship between artist, art and auction markets, and in part because the pieces curators select complement work by the artist in question already in the museum’s collection. By analogy, material from Clouds for Comment, my photographs of clouds incorporating viewer’s comments on them from social media, pairs interestingly with Hudson River School paintings.
At present, I am showing my photographs of artists and their studios in nonprofit galleries and museums. I began the series in 2017 with single photos made in artist’s workspaces and then extruded in Maxon Cinema 4D, a 3D software program, to create a strong illusion of cubism with depth in the picture plane.
About a year ago I put the artists into the picture as well, and expanded the images into composites of multiple photos that became installation works ranging from 5 to 70 feet in length. Dramatic and immersive, these new works speak to issues in photo theory, from the organization of sequential time, to the presentation of space from multiple viewpoints. For a 2019 show at the West Gallery at Red Brick Center for the Arts in Aspen, I photographed 3 Colorado artists in residence at the Red Brick, and made both single and composite 3D extruded images of each.
While these composited and altered images can be read superficially as mediated depictions of artists in their studios, the works are fundamental inquiries into the creative process. They allow the viewer to experience something of the feeling of being an artist by bringing multiple views of the studio into a composited larger image. Though contending with the larger question of creative process, these images are vigorously location specific. They recognize and celebrate local artists, and integrate my vision and process with the local scene.
I am very interested in continuing these collaborations with local artists and regional museums, and would love to discuss with you projects and exhibitions we might mount together. If you’d like to see one of the larger installation works, the 70 foot Judith Kindler in the Studiois currently installed at St. Mary’s College Art Museum in Moraga, CA and will be on view through December 8, 2019.
Image: large detail of an Ed Ruscha painting from A Measure of Art.