Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Oldies but goodies, part 3 in a series

Detail of "Chorus 1"
This installment of the "Oldies But Goodies" series is devoted to "Chorus 1," an important painting for me in a number of ways: technically, conceptually, and career-wise.

When I made this painting in 1999, I had been experimenting with various combinations of acrylic paint, acrylic gel medium, and spray paint. I discovered a number of interesting effects were possible using this combination. These included spraying directly onto a wet layer of the gel and then brushing certain areas lightly in order to remove some but not all of the color to leave lacy, broken marks.

This painting was made directly on unbleached stretched canvas, which gives it an air of both modernity and freedom. I felt like I was simultaneously emulating Morris Louis (spontaneous application directly onto an untreated surface) and flouting the rules (who says you have to cover every inch of space?). By isolating the painted areas in a sea of raw fiber, I was creating compositional emphasis as well as exploring what for me was previously uncharted territory.

Once the image was complete, built up from lines drawn with spray paint and patches of smeared paint, I felt as though the circles represented a kind of written description of sound. I saw the repeating O's and imagined I could hear a voice singing "oooooooooo." The mixture of circles on the left-hand side of the canvas, in varying sizes and configurations, might represent a kind of harmonizing or musical group effort. Hence the title, "Chorus 1." (There was also an accompanying painting created titled "Chorus 2."

When the painting was finished, I began submitting it for various exhibition opportunities, one of which was the "Ninth Triennial" at the Fuller Museum of Art in Brockton, Massachusetts. This was what turned out to be the last of a series of juried exhibitions for New England-based painters and sculptors at the Fuller, which soon thereafter would change its identity and mandate to become entirely devoted to crafts. But this last hurrah for the fine arts was juried by the venerable Carl Belz, former director of the world-class Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University. I was more than honored to have "Chorus 1" selected for inclusion in the exhibition. I found myself exhibiting alongside 70 of the Boston area's best abstractionists, most of whom already had long and respected careers. And in the gorgeous setting of the Fuller's spacious and light-filled architecture, "Chorus 1" was displayed to its fullest advantage. Also, I was pleased to see my artwork mentioned in the Boston Sunday Herald's review of the show.

The Ninth Triennial remains one of the most rewarding exhibition experiences of my career. And "Chorus 1" remains a major breakthrough painting for me.

"Chorus 1," acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 28" H x 68" W, 1999

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