Lois Dodd

JS: There is a confidence and singularity that characterizes your path, especially your choice of subject matter. How have you been able to maintain this?

LD: Well, you are always influenced by the people around you. How do you find out who you are if it isn’t from other people? But painting may be the only thing in life that I’ve been confident about.

You have to have something that you don’t ask anybody else about. I’ve always been aware of that with painting. No one else can really help you, or say whether it’s good or bad. It’s just you and it, and that’s great. You can handle everything else in your life much more easily, because you have that place where you are on your own.

From an refreshingly unpretentious interview between painter Lois Dodd and Jennifer Samet on Beer With A Painter.

The Flag

I always think to Diane Arbus when I consider the American flag. Maybe due to the era of when they were taken they seem more authentic to me. Maybe the earnestness in the portraits gets to me.

Yes thinking about the flag today when our political landscape is changing rapidly.


This one by photographer Mary Ellen Mark is perhaps more poignant.

Dennis Hopper plays with an American flag, “Apocalypse Now”, Pagsanjan, Philippines, 1976

As I felt inclined to record in the post math of 9/11, “Nostalgia is undoubtedly more comforting to the mind than reality.”

Was Sherrie Levine an Inochrome Abuser ???

My friend Chris asked me this evening if I’d seen the Humans of New York GREAT ART MYSTERY POST (I had not).

Seems to have riled up a bunch of people. Panties in super tight wads. Without reading the comments on the HONY site I wrote her back my thoughts and then since I’m lazy thought I’d plop it here too.

(Dear Chris)….Just a few thoughts. So this is a whole kettle of fish. First of all, bully for Dwight for getting out there every day to do that. There are many people who sit and sketch at the MET and well I would think it would be kind of a grind, although I wish I had done it at least just once. But then I hate talking to strangers and people in general.

So I believe the issue here revolves around the authenticity of his work. It made me immediately think of an art movement in the late 80s called Appropriation Art, where people* were basically becoming infamous by copying or reframing other people’s (famous) art. That is not this guys intent but it gives me pause because art can be interpreted on so many levels, in so many ways. I’ve never heard the terminology inochrome that he uses, but then I am not a printmaker.

Apparently Dwight is basically starting with a coloring book. But then he adds his own thing. And he is sitting and making an art work of something that is already in the MET I assume. So we have various levels of copying going on here. So what.

There have been many uses of blow-up projectors and other mechanical devices to initiate art work. One of the most renown and meticulous painters Vermeer ( 17th Century) allegedly used optics, a camera lucida to assist his paintings….so this is not by any means a new argument.


(above is a Vermeer)

I going to put myself in Dwight’s camp. So be it if it’s not original. People sketching in the MET are not sitting there to be original. They are making representations of something that already exists. I’ll eventually have to go read the comments that the HONY readers left, but I’m thinking give the old guy a break.

On a side note I wish I had two to three days to sit in the MET adding details to things.

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Footnote 1: From the MET on policy: 

Sketching and Copying

Sketching, in pencil only, is permitted in all the permanent collection galleries of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sketching is also permitted in most special exhibitions; please inquire at the Information Desk in the Great Hall about current exhibitions and guidelines.

The use of ballpoint pens, ink, markers, fountain pens, or watercolors is not permitted at any time. Crayon, pastel, and charcoal are permitted only on Museum-supervised tours that specifically authorize their use.

While sketching, please do not hinder visitor traffic flow in the galleries.

During periods of high attendance, the Museum reserves the right to make any necessary adjustments to this sketching policy.

Footnote 2 *

Sherrie Levine is the most famous example of an Appropriation Artist that comes to my brain.

For the record her art still annoys me because I am not sure after all this time what the point of it is, besides to get a lot of attention. Clearly I could be talking out of both sides of my mouth, as I think what Dwight is doing is innocuous and what Levine demonstrated was obnoxious. Or worse yet plain boring.


Footnote 3 

Just attempted some of the HONY comments on Facebook, a veritable troll-about-free-for-all. Don’t read the comments.

Ten Questions…..About Painting


In compliance with Flash Arts somewhat recent questionnaire (here are the others):

1. Q: What is painting? A: Mark making with oil laced pigments. My interpretation any way.

2. Q: What is your favorite color? A: Chartreuse.

3. Q: Which artist or painter has influenced you? A: I keep thinking about Bonnard. For someone recent, I can’t help but admire Amy Sillman’s work.

4. Q: Is there a work of art you would like to have in your home next to your own work? A: Sure, how about Matisse’s “Interior with Goldfish”.

5. Q: What is the best way to exhibit a painting? A: A nice wall with no competing details. Thanks. Please keep away from the wood paneling.

6. Q: What are the limits of painting? A: Only the one’s the artist puts on them self. Okay, and what ever surface support that can reasonably fit through your studio door frame.

7. Q: How do you start a work — do you have any rituals? A: Lots of puttering, reading, doodling, throwing darts and then it happens.

8. Q: Is there a future for painting or you are one of the last survivors? Q: Never underestimate what drives humanity. We still have books. We still have paintings. We’ll continue to have both.

9. Q: If you were about to be reborn, what would you like to be — still a painter? Q: I guess I found that out by starting and stopping and missing it, so yes, still a painter.

10. Q: Do you think painting is under-appreciated today? A: It certainly isn’t front and center in the mainstream world like it might have been in prior decades. I think it depends on what kind of company you keep. I don’t know if most people actually think much about painting on a daily basis, but during my lifetime I don’t know if they ever did. That being said, it seems like everyone wants to be an artist these days, which of course is open to interpretation.

AsideThe Modern Arts Podcast this week starring the above mentioned Amy Sillman is superb. I literally, like Bonnard’s wife lay in my bathtub Thursday night with my eyes closed and listened to it. Sillman is funny, thoughtful and not shy of commenting on things in her work that some other painters might not own up to. For instance she pokes fun of herself for having a skill set that would allow her to paint cute quite well if need be. She tasked herself with an assignment to paint only adorable subject matter for an extended bit of time (which she discusses in the exchange with Tyler). She stresses (as she has in other interviews) that drawing is central to her work. I’m already a large fan but it is always a delight to hear people talk about their work so candidly.


I’m particularity fond of a painting that’s in the catalog  One Lump or Two  from her current survey show at the Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston. Sadly no cross country flights planned for this one in the near future. In that parallel universe of a perfect life I  would very much choose to see the show with my own eyes, up close and personal.  At any rate, the painting is titled Them, 2006 (pg. 79). It would go nicely with the Bonnard at the top of the post. The catalog is beautiful and I’m still working my way through the essays.


More things about Amy. Her website also gives you access to some of her non-painting projects such as her spot on zine Visiting Artist and video shorts made on her iPhone.

Garden of Earthly Bytes

I know I have been beating this drum to death, but this whole 35mm vs. digital situation continues to intrigue me. Last week somebody told me that Kodak has stopped making 35mm slides. Perhaps they meant slide projectors, which they discontinued last fall. So I came across this little story about a gardening club lectures and how it appears people are embracing the bells and whistles of PowerPoint and leaving their clunky projectors in the dust bin.

First of all there is still the argument invariably by the experts that the digital specimen just doesn’t hold a candle to the venerable slide. At a grant workshop a few weeks ago, again it was stressed that you can utilize digital images to represent your work, but a projected 35mm slide is going to win quality wise every time. I guess we are now looking at our watches and biding our time when this too becomes arcane information.

Back to the gardeners:

In large auditoriums, where duplicate digital projections can be made, and in rooms that cannot be fully darkened, digital images are on a par with or better than slide film, said Rick Darke, a landscape photographer, writer and speaker based in Landenberg, Pa. Darke, with a library of 75,000 slides, plunged into digital photography five years ago and sold off all his film equipment on eBay two years ago.
His early digital equipment included a then-$4,000 digital projector, knowing that the venues where he would speak may not be geared for PowerPoint. Now, he says, it is the speaker arriving with a carousel of 80 slides who has to worry. “They’re scrambling around to find a slide projector and often it doesn’t work very well: the gate jams, the bulb has got a crack in it. What’s out there is quickly getting old and obsolete. The average venue isn’t going to be putting money into repairing that.”

By the way according to the article, Fuji and Kodak continue to make slide film, and have no current plans to end production.

Speaking of digital, fun (are you allowed to use that word?) to see Ivan embracing Flickr, I must confess I like it. The possibilities of what could be done with that software seem large.

What to do with old work?


I have been sifting through the stacks that have piled of old work. What to do with it?

I have some really large drawings that I did in after living in NYC for 3 or 4 years. I had become obsessed with nature, feeling particularly deprived. I did these large charcoal drawings of bird houses- at human scale. I only showed them once, at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis. So I think I still like them-they’ve been rolled up in a tube since- moved from one storage place to another.
After that wall space or floor space to produce work at that scale was non-existent as I closed that studio making tiny panel paintings in a small corner of the apartment.
Should the drawings languish?

Sometimes I hold on to old work just as a reminder of what the hell was I thinking or on the flip side the piles of life drawings from this era remind me I wasn’t totally stagnant. Other times I just get rid of stuff I really hate-or in practical moments I’ve turned large panels (actually hollow doors) over and used them as worktables.

Cleaning up the studio-these are the times I envy writers or those that follow less “thing oriented”, conceptual work. To those that can place their entire life’s work on a CD or just cart around a laptop, I am envious. Us painters and drummers hauling around all that stuff- then just add a little turpentine to the responsibility. For gods sake, I won’t even go into the needs of sculptors. I live with one who hung up his sculpture hat and always threatens to take a load to the dump. No! I say.
Still one wonders the burden of these things we make.

Things to not think of in the studio:

Artists are often concerned with the archival quality of their work, yet museum storerooms continue fill up with unseen works and landfills pile high with discarded work. As a young retail clerk in an art supply store I remember being pointedly amused by people buying shopping carts of acrylic paint and stacks of foam core only to tell me at check out to “save the bag— to save a tree”.