My recent work, titled WHENEVERWHEN, is a series of abstractions. A few days after I awoke from my heart attack I began to make drawings; from then on I worked almost exclusively on the WHENEVERWHEN series. The first images I created are below. I made them laying in my old room in my mother’s house while convalescing. I worked on them within two weeks of my cardiac arrest. All are available at $75 each, unframed ($100 gets you one custom framed). Email me at mattballou(at) gmail (dot) com to purchase. Click to enlarge the works.
My friend and student Simon Tatum has had an amazing year as an artist. From representing Mizzou at the SEC Symposium on Entrepreneurship and Creativity in Atlanta to a lengthy study abroad trip in Europe (not to mention the many shows he has been in), Simon has really stepped into a professional artist’s world. And he’s still an undergraduate!
Recently Simon left the Midwest to head down to the Caribbean for a residency in Aruba. Simon is from The Cayman Islands, so he’s a part of the culture of the region and his work deals directly with situations unique to that part of the world. The Caribbean Linked Residency is an awesome opportunity for artists connected to the Caribbean to network, create art together, and foster a global awareness for the power of Caribbean-based work. Here’s more about the cohort Simon is a part of right now.
One of the locations Simon is working at on Aruba. (Photos courtesy Simon Tatum)
I’m really excited for the work Simon will do at this residency and so pleased with his thoughtfulness, professionalism, and dedication to his ideals and worth ethic. And he keeps up with the sighting and measuring!
Simon drawing on location in Aruba.
I hope you’ll take the time to check out Simon’s work here. As he sends me more photos of his time at the Residency, I’ll update this post.
Yesterday my good friend Marcus Miers and I added to our collection of trips to view art together (here’s Dallas/Fort Worth and here’s the Milwaukee Art Museum) by trundling off to Saint Louis, Missouri. We took in two locations: The Saint Louis Art Museum and the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, which is known for its extensive mosaics.
Before heading to see the art we stopped at SweetArt Cafe (located at 2203 S. 39th Street, St. Louis, MO 63110), a place of vegan and confectionery glory. HOLY. MOLY. SO good!
Here’s the meal I had at SweetArts – Tom’s Throwback Veggie Burger and Kale Salad. Really great!
Marcus enjoying his burrito!
After the food we headed to the SLAM.
Marcus enjoying Guston…
…and the elevator.
We particularly liked Andréa Stanislav’s installation piece about Saint Louis.
We also enjoyed Andy Goldsworthy’s Stone Sea installation piece.
After the SLAM, we headed over to the Basilica. I only recently learned about this cathedral from my friend Billy, and wasn’t entirely prepared for how awesome it is.
I really responded to the visual dynamics of the various designs, especially at the smaller scales along the columns. See below:
The overhead archways and exquisitely detailed geometric mosaics up there were glorious:
Here we are, looking intently at our social media devices and preparing to document the art.
It was a great time. As always, laughter and deep conversation were had. I’m really thankful for Marcus, his weirdness, passion, and sense of humor. Another awesome trip in the books!
I’ve got a new show up at Imago Gallery and Cultural Center in Columbia, MO right now. The show, titled WHENEVERWHEN, is a group of abstract pieces I’ve been working on over the last year, including after my heart attack.
I’m posting some details and a few full images below. Please come see the show at Imago; my talk will be at 6pm on June 10th. Imago is located on the corner of Broadway and Hitt in downtown Columbia, MO.
Illicit. Oil, oil stick, spray paint, oil pastel and colored pencil on panel, 26 by 26 inches, 2016.
The Unfold (Detail). Oil, oil stick, and colored pencil on panel, 26 by 26 inches, 2015.
Osmotic. Oil, oil stick, spray paint, oil pastel and colored pencil on panel, 26 by 26 inches, 2016.
Sigil. Oil, oil stick, spray paint, oil pastel, colored pencil and bas relief on panel, 16 by 16 inches, 2015-2016.
Sigil (Detail). Oil, oil stick, spray paint, oil pastel, colored pencil and bas relief on panel, 16 by 16 inches, 2015-2016.
Bent Icon (Detail). Oil, oil stick, and colored pencil on panel, 26 by 26 inches, 2015.
Click here for more info about these pieces and a few other images of them in process.
At Indiana University back in 2003, I began graduate school with an amazing cohort of artists and learners. We found a fiery mentor in Barry Gealt. The first day that we met as a group in a restaurant in downtown Bloomington, Barry gave us an orientation document full of questions and assertions. I present it below for posterity (and because Matt Choberka‘s request caused me to go dig it out of my long dormant graduate school notes).
And here’s a PDF of the whole thing if you’d like to save it: BarryGealt-GradOrientation2003.
I was honored to be able to give a couple talks, hang out with students, and enjoy time with my former graduate students Ian and Natalie Shelly at Western Illinois University over the last couple of days. The second iteration of the exhibition I curated, Subject and Subjectivity, has been on display at WIU for January and will go on through most of February. As I did when the show went up in Baltimore, I have taken some detail shots of some of the work. See below, click for larger glory, and follow the artists’ names to find out more about them on their websites.
If you want to see one of the talks I gave – titled We Are All Sentimental – click here to see the video on YouTube.
Anne Harris, detail from Figuring Ground.
Megan Schaffer, detail from Eagle Bluffs Trail to Overlook.
David Campbell, detail from Death Transmission.
Peter Van Dyck, detail from Richard’s House.
David Jewell, detail from Still Life.
Aaron Lubrick, detail from Autumn on the River.
Matt Klos, detail from Those Nights Then.
Carolyn Pyfrom, detail from Studio Mirror.
Christian Ramirez, detail from White Bull.
John Lee, detail from Submariner.
Matt Ballou, detail from Portrait of Cai Qun.
People make year end lists at the end of every year. They are the throw-away columns of many a blog, magazine, and newspaper. Rather than protesting, let’s just make a few of our own. For mine, I shall embrace my own sentimentality and opinions – which is really what’s going on in all of the other lists anyway.
Here we go.
TOP CNC ROUTERS OF 2015
- X-Carve by Inventables. Follow this blog for more projects coming in 2016.
Above: a bit of debris from a recent routing job.
LIST OF STAR WARS FILMS AS OF 2015 IN RANK ORDER WITH LETTER SCORE
- Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back ~ A
- Star Wars Episode 6: The Return of the Jedi ~ A-
- Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope ~ B+
- Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens ~ B-
- Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace ~ C
- Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith ~ D+
- Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones ~ F
MOST BULLSHIT EVENTS OF 2015 (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)
- Bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan (by illegal coalition [i.e. US] forces, continued after multiple calls for cease fire).
- Death of Sandra Bland (unarmed and in police custody – no indictments).
- Death of Walter Scott (unarmed and running away, evidence planted, caught on video).
- Death of Freddie Gray (unarmed and in police custody).
- Charleston, SC church massacre.
- Mass shootings ~Roseburg, OR; Chattanooga, TN; Planned Parenthood, CO; San Bernardino, CA; Paris, etc, etc, etc…
- Donald Trump.
Image above by Brandon Loving. Click the image to see his website, or check out his stuff on Instagram here.
BEST MUSIC I DISCOVERED THIS YEAR (MEANING IT COULD BE FROM OTHER YEARS, YO)
This band is worthy. Go Listen.
2. Dubb Nubb. “It’s Weird in This World” is the album. “Sister’s House” is the song. Check it out here – then buy some tracks. Good stuff.
3. The Go Round. “Hard Tellin’ Not Knowin’” is the album. “Headless Horseman” is the key track. Get to them here.
TOP PHYSICAL DISTRESSES OF 2015
- That time I had chest pain and went to the ER and they took an awesome ultrasound of my heart muscle and valves.
- That time I was forced to rest for 3 solid days because I threw my back out and, perhaps, finally herniated a disc (this item is ongoing).
BEST WIFI/BLUETOOTH CONTROLLED LIGHTING
- LIFX. I tried out a few competitors, but absolutely love these for teaching my classes and for use in my own work. See some examples below:
Above and Below: Two different setups I made this year with my LIFX bulbs.
Above: An in-class demo figure study I made using my iPad and Adonit Jot Touch in Sketchbook Pro. The scene was lit with my LIFX bulbs. Click for enlargement.
Below: Two drawings from an LIFX setup. The first is by Mitzi Salinas Dominguez and the second is by Bri Heese.
- Alison. Long-suffering. Helpful. Sees the grace and the good. Seeks to bless others. A fruitful teacher. A forgiving mother. None of these years would make sense without her.
Neil Gavett is a well-known model for artists in central Missouri, and has worked with basically all of the art departments in the area (click here for an earlier piece about him). In September 2015 he’ll have been working primarily as an art model for 20 years. That’s major commitment to the craft, something Neil describes as “another day, another dangle.” Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Neil in many classes and have enjoyed his hospitality. Neil loves to facilitate shared experiences. In April of 2014 I got to visit him and share a lengthy conversation over an amazing meal (steak and shiitake mushrooms in a bourbon-based sauce) and several choice beverages (rum!). It was quintessential Neil, and I hope you can get a small sense of the depth and intensity of what it means to spend a couple hours with the man through the snippets of dialogue from that day that I share below.
On Cooking With Mushrooms
“Shiitakes are pretty hard to mess up.”
On Spiritual Plugs
“I remember the first time I heard that phrase about ‘many forms of electricity’: you know, something along the lines of, ‘it doesn’t matter which plug in the house you use, you’re jacking into the same thing.’ That was back when I first read Phillip K Dick and had been taking a lot of theology classes. At the time a friend of mine was reading Illusions by Richard Bach. My friend was so excited about it he drove four hours home from college and gave the book to me, saying I had to read it. It’s a book talking about the power of visualization – that the crisper the visualization is in the mind, the more you develop the ability of the mind to visualize, the more easily you’ll begin to manifest your reality. So the ability to be able to stop and count things, or to be able to discern differences in color… those are all in the higher function of the brain. The more you work with that level of awareness, the better your ability to move beyond fight or flight level engagement. So while taking those theology classes at St Bonaventure and thinking about visualization, I got fascinated with the relationships between the theology I was studying and the ritual theater of indigenous religions. It was the idea of symbolic movements and gestures that all have purpose. You can take that right into Roman Catholic ceremony or a Southern Baptist service with the theater of preaching, which both serve to raise the energy in the room. There’s also the laying on of hands or the mechanics of public prayer that focus the energy. The pastor or priest is tying the congregation together to produce the desired effect. The gestures, the facial expressions – they translate across spiritual systems and cultures. Also, there’s the use of specific types of structures. Think about the use of a cosmic axis pillar – the Axis Mundi – whether it’s the plume of smoke in a Native American ritual or a Christian cross or the World Tree for other faiths. There are certain common threads.”
On The Bare Minimum of Ritual
“When I would have friends who want me to perform the ceremony for their wedding (Neil has studied a number of Neopagan rituals and has performed the Handfasting ceremony many times – MB) the basic thing I do is simply give them a framework for what has to be there. I give them the bare minimum of what is needed in order for a ceremony to work. In all of these ritual traditions there are a certain number of things that have to be acknowledged and if you don’t want to do those things you’re not looking for a religious ceremony. You’re not looking for someone who’s at all spiritual you’re looking for a Justice of the Peace.”
“Jung gave us a vocabulary to share with others what was happening in the mind. So many terms and concepts that we use to this day came out of his work. The idea of collective unconscious, in particular, was important to me. And that there are many ways for us to get our minds tuned toward that arena… those small moments where you feel yourself in sync with something greater than yourself. In reading Jung I first grasped the notion that the thing that separated us from the rest of the animal world was the evolution of a sort of meta-consciousness where we realize what our survival costs others.”
“I miss it. Definitely the most entertaining job I’ve ever had. Tending bar is like throwing a party every night only everybody is paying for their own drinks. And part of the job is being everyone’s friend – ‘the doctor is in’ kind of thing.”
On What he Has Learned Modeling
“Just wrapping my brain around the fact that artists see the world differently. I’ve had to exercise my brain to grasp that – to begin to see the green in a sunset or to see a tree in front of me as THE tree. Yes, that’s the main thing: that artists really do see differently. Through realizing that I started to understand that I was seeing less than I could be. So I wanted to try to learn that mindfulness I saw in the artists around me, their ability to see everything for the first time.”
Eric Sweet – a friend, colleague, and former student (in a few graduate classes) – died Monday, April 6th. It was sudden and strange in ways I can’t really describe. Yet his passing drew out much love and care from the people in his sphere of influence; so much of what remains is truly the definition of bitter-sweet.
Others have spoken much more eloquently than I can about all of this. But I wanted to take a moment here to memorialize Eric as so many of his friends and family have over the recent days. In the hours after he passed I made a few statements, but for the most part have been filled with silence. So here are a few more thoughts.
I keep thinking of his graduate thesis title: Come to Nothing. The fact is that his life was the diametric opposite of that sentiment. He really did make something. He made real impressions (printmaking pun there). Real truths. Real observations. Real impacts. He was the opposite of a taker. He was not an emotional leech. While creating the work for Come to Nothing, Eric gave constantly of himself to encourage other grads and shape the graduate program. He could be forceful in advocating for excellence and understanding, but he did it out of a sense that we all really could be better. He knew that we could all be more thoughtful, more aware. And he helped us do that.
Ideal City (Piazza Della Civilita Italiana), Hand pressed low relief blind embossment, 27” x 32”
Eric and his wife Catherine were the first graduate students I interacted with who really felt like colleagues and authorities from the very first time I met them. I often left meetings with them feeling that they were the ones doing the instruction, not me. This was – and is – a very good thing to experience. I have always felt edified by my time with them, and have loved the way Eric cast such a huge positive shadow over the graduate program at Mizzou. Grace and insightful clarity permeated their discussions. You knew you were getting straight talk from Eric.
That straight talk continued after his death. In going over graduate review notes (faculty who attend a graduate’s review give feedback and vote on the student’s potential to continue on in the program), we noticed some from Eric. He’d been invited to attend review as one of our current Adjunct Professors, and he had taken the time to interact with the ideas of our current grads. Sharp and precise, Eric pulled no punches. He was a teacher right up to the end.
On the day of his Memorial Potluck, I was able to place a tribute to Eric on a large drawing at a local restaurant. If you’d like to see a time lapse of the drawing as I made it, watch below (or click here):
One of the most lasting things Eric gave us was his love for Catherine, which is one of the best love stories I’ve gotten to see up close. Their marriage was a testament to a couple being able to get over themselves in order to become more like their true selves. Their marriage made them more human and more transcendent. What a tremendous gift they pictured together.
I’m grateful to have known you, Eric. RIP.
Sharyn Hyatt-Wade is synonymous with engaged, passionate teaching here in Mid Missouri. If you ask any of her former students, you’ll hear no end of what this woman has brought to her classrooms over the years. Though she recently retired from teaching high school art after many years, she’s currently a part of the faculty at the University of Missouri. Now she’s working with our Art Ed graduate students to help shape them into the sorts of educators who make real impacts on kids’ lives. Too often public education is about the bottom line: teaching to the test to obtain granular data for the administrative types who allocate funds. Teachers like Sharyn live far beyond that simple concept; they aim to change lives, validate individual experiences, and advocate for student-based successes.
Sharyn’s power and exuberance are kinetic and contagious. She has an uncanny ability to get other people around her on board with her almost instantaneously. She’s a true leader and lover of people. I’m so thankful she’s in our community and is still giving of herself to bring better educational opportunities to everyone. What an amazing career she’s had. What a huge impact. Thanks, Sharyn.
If you’re a former student of Sharyn – at any level, in any capacity – I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share them in the comments below if you want to!