Archive for August, 2015

Shara Hughes painting, Hot Hot Sun 2015 oil on canvas

Shara Hughes “Hot Hot Sun”, 2015, oil on canvas, 36″ x 30″

Spirit of the Dead Watching is the title of an exhibit at Dan Devening Projects + Editions in Chicago.  Opening August 30, 2015, the exhibit will be on view until October 17.  It’s a show of younger artists, whose work appears to be in conversation with Modernist movements and sub-genres like Cubism, Fauvism, der Blaue Reiter.  According to the press release: “Annie Hémond Hotte, Austin Eddy, Bradley Biancardi, Shara Hughes and Tracy Thomason are all builders; organizing shape and material where characters, people, and humanness emerge. Each artist works within an invented symbology, and uses it to imply a sensation, illustrate an event, and/or create a world.”

Enough to make me curious about the work and these artist’s ideas.  How is it that a group of younger artists from different backgrounds come to a way of making that harkens back to forms invented by European and American artists over a century ago?  MWC decided to ask each of the five artists to respond to some questions about their work, their background and the thesis of the exhibit.  In the discussion that follows, it is quickly apparent that all five artists find purpose through process.  This allows for a practice based on sincerity, genuine search for forms that might express basic universal concepts, and freedom to pick and choose the ideas and theories that are relevant to the work.  I want to say thank you to each of the artists involved in “Spirit of the Dead Watching” for participating.  Here’s the discussion: (more…)

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As a follow up to our roundtable discussion on the survey of Sharon Patten’s work at the Daum Museum in Sedalia, here is a post of installation shots and details of the paintings.

Sharon Patten Signal

“Signal”, oil on canvas, 1988-1989

Following our previous entry about the work of the late Kansas City based painter Sharon Patten, we present a selection of details from her paintings.  All images taken at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art during the course of the exhibit, Sharon Patten: An Independent Visionsummer 2015. (more…)

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Sharon Patten ReceptionSharon Patten, “Reception” (installation view at the Daum Museum), 96″ x 84″, oil on canvas, 1994

Sharon Patten’s paintings are currently the subject of a survey at the Daum Museum of Art in Missouri.  Most of these paintings date from the last decade of Patten’s life. At the time of her death Patten was starting to receive national attention for her large-scale, thickly painted work.  Sharon Patten died in 1995 at the age of 52.  She was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, was showing  in New York City and Kansas City, and garnered positive reviews from Art in America.  A native of the small town of Sedalia, Missouri, it’s fitting that the Daum Museum there is currently the foremost resource about her life and work.  Sharon Patten: An Independent Vision is on view until August 30th, 2015.

Patten’s paint is heavy, applied with a knife and so thick that the paintings frequently look different up close than from a distance.  Figure and ground relationships that seem insistent from 10 feet away dissolve when the viewer moves in for a closer look.  An outline can be literally obscured by a passage of impasto.  And for all the physicality of the paintings, the role of design seems critical to the experience of these paintings.  As does the role of metaphor.  Patten herself was clear about the importance of metaphor in her work.  It’s discussed in a quote from the artist posted on the gallery wall, and in titles of many of the paintings: “Concurrence”, “Experience”, “Aplomb”, “Success”, etc.  For Patten abstraction was a form and a behavior.

Given the physicality and surface complexity of these paintings, I felt the only way to write about them was to open up a conversation with other painters also able to see the work in person.  It was the excitement of Boonville, Missouri-based artist, Chris Fletcher, that prompted me to make the drive out to see the exhibit.  Fletcher then suggested an artist from Columbia, Missouri, Jennifer Wiggs, to be the third voice in our conversation.  The three of us exchanged a few emails discussing our experience of Sharon Patten’s work.

Christopher Lowrance:  To start, I’ve been thinking about my drive to work, an hour through the countryside, and the way that, after 8 years of it, I know the land. It’s not the particulars, which are always changing. Trees fall down, buildings (more…)

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