New Books

I’m always on the look out for new books to add to my collection. As an artist and educator, I know there is something wonderful about the physical feel of a book, the way the pages smell, and the beauty of a really high quality reproduction. Recently I’ve added the Diebenkorn Catalogue Raisonne, a wonderful investigation of Hilma af Klint, and some other texts. A few of the new books are listed below.

Riva Lehrer – Circle Stories

Riva Lehrer is a profoundly important Chicago-based artist who has worked on disability and identity for her entire career. Circle Stories, put out by Gescheidle in 2004, is a wonderful way to introduce her work to my students and to commemorate the power and presence of her work. The portrait of Rebecca Maskos (above) is particularly special to me, as one of my daughters has osteogenesis imperfecta.

I appreciate the leanness of the book. The statements are direct and clear. The images are evocative and give an indication of the passionate work and depth of feeling that Lehrer brings to her painting.

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Chester Arnold – Evidence

I love Kelly’s Cove Press, a small publisher focused on California and Bay Area artists. Their Squeak Carnwath and Diebenkorn books are, to me, essential viewing for painters. I REALLY hope they plan to publish something on the drawings of Manuel Neri or the wonderful paintings of Kim Frohsin sometime soon.

In this book, the work of Chester Arnold is featured. There is a wonderful play between smaller works and larger, more realized pieces in the design flow of the book. Covering a number of decades, this is an ideal introduction to Arnold’s work for those of us who aren’t as familiar with it. Frankly, I was blown away when I received the book. Arnold’s handling of narrative structure and symbolic force is rare. So much of contemporary representational painting pays lip service to story and metaphor without the depth necessary to deliver an image of lasting power. Chester Arnold really hits home with these paintings, and he’s been doing it for decades.

Arnold’s manner of painterly facture, compositional array, and use of symbolic objects and associations strongly reminds me of the great Maine-based artist Robert Barnes, as well as the frenetic interiors of Gideon Bok (also working out of Maine). What an interesting show these three would make together.

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Emil Ferris – My Favorite Thing Is Monsters

Ms. Ferris is a force of nature, and her first graphic novel is set to become legendary.

Every single page is a wonder to behold. The story moves with a familiar strangeness, recalling the moodiness of fellow Chicagoan Chris Ware’s work. It’s also an ode to the Pulp Era and Hammer Horror films. The artwork feels so close to the artist’s hand – the line quality and the sense of notebook paper (complete with “holes” for a 3-ring binder) are astounding. Ferris’s use of ballpoint pen exists here as both a limitation and an extravagant, magical tool.

I also really love how Ferris constantly brings art history into her work as a real player in the story. She does this particularly with art that’s readily available to be seen in Chicago. The city, its buildings, its people, and its art are all palpably present.

My suggestion would be to listen to the fantastic profile conducted by NPR here. I think you’ll find yourself as compelled as I was, and you won’t regret picking up this phenomenal book.

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A Couple Early 2017 Highlights

This Friday, a show of my collaborative works created with the great Joel T. Dugan goes up in Brooklyn, at es ef eff gallery. Head over to 893 Bergen Street at 7pm this Friday, February 17.


Above: a work from the exhibition, “Crest” – Acrylic, oil, pastel, colored pencil, and graphite with woodblock printing on paper mounted on panel. 11 by 11 inches, 2016-2017.

I’m also pleased to share that the Manifest Gallery painting anthology I was selected for has finally been published. It’s a beautiful volume (buy it here).



Above: one of my personal favorite paintings, beautifully reproduced. The INPA6 book features some amazing work by a lot of great artists, as well as friends and colleagues… like Nathan Sullivan and Melanie Johnson:


Above: detail of a Nathan Sullivan work from the book. Below: Melanie Johnson’s included work.


Pretty cool stuff! I’m thankful! There are a number of additional events happening this year that I will share soon – exciting times!

Museum Show!

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I’ll be giving a talk today at an event for the Mizzou Interdisciplinary Center on Aging at the Museum of Art and Archeology. This talk is on the subject of mediated attention and the ways I try to teach (and learn) through the various technologies that surround us (Click HERE if you’re interested in attending the event – it’s November 4, 2014 at 4PM).

The wonderful thing about this event today is that it’s the first public viewing of an exhibition I have guest-curated at the Museum. This show, called Touching the Past: Student Drawings From the Gallery of Greek and Roman Casts, will be up throughout the month of November and into December. It features 22 artworks by my former students. Student drawings from the likes of Jacob Maurice Crook, Kate Miers, and Allison Jacqueline Reinhart feature prominently. The Museum is open 10am until 4pm Monday through Friday, so come visit the show any time!

S2012_DRW1_CastGalleryStudents working in the Cast Gallery a few semesters ago.

Working in the Gallery of Greek and Roman Casts is one of the most important experiences I can give to my students. I hope you’ll stop by and see works like the ones shown below.

drw1-2013-02Hannah Wallace, Wide Angle Study of Figures in the Cast Collection. 18 by 24 inches, graphite on paper.

DSC07052Kate Miers, Study of Artemis. 24 by 18 inches, graphite on paper.

One special guest I invited to have work in this exhibition is fellow teacher and artist Chris Fletcher. His sensitive, searching drawings from the Mizzou Casts seem deceptively simple. But having spent the last 25+ years studying drawing and painting, I can tell you that they are masterworks of human subjectivity and focused engagement. I love the little marginalia notes he leaves for himself on the edges of the works, and the inquisitive-yet-firm nature of his working. Don’t pass by this small pieces when you visit the show. Really, really great stuff.

List of artists in the Touching the Past exhibition:

Olaia Chivite Amigo

Matthew Ballou

Maggie Berg

Amanda Bradley

Jacob Maurice Crook

Chris Fletcher

Emily Gogel

Terisia Hicks

Rachael Liberty

Kate Miers

Aubrey Miller

Delia Rainey

Allison Reinhart

Tianyuan Ren

David Spear

Andi Tockstein

Duy Tran

Hannah Wallace

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DSC07075Detail of Andi Tockstein’s Study of Apollo… you need to see this drawing in person!

2014 Texas National

Two of my recent works have been juried into the 2014 Texas National Exhibition by painter and professor Jerome Witkin. I was one of 47 artists selected for the exhibition from more than 1,000 entries. My good friend and former student Jacob Maurice Crook was also included! If you’re anywhere near Nacogdoches between April 12 and June 14, stop in to Stephen F. Austin State University and see the show.

8343360049_b8ccb4b338_bAbove: Strategic Influence. Oil on panel, 24 inches in diameter.

Below: Reciprocal. Oil on panel, 24 inches in diameter.

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I have several more shows in coming months. More information later.

In Three Moving Parts at The Evanston Art Center

I have an exhibition that opens Sunday, September 29th at The Evanston Art Center. The show, titled In Three Moving Parts, is a three-person exhibition featuring nine of my own pieces alongside the works of Norbert Marszalek and Timothy P. Vermeulen.

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I traveled to Evanston this week to help install the show. It was a very fast trip – I was only in town for about 12 hours – but it is always a joy to travel those streets. My wife and I spent quite a few years in Chicago and Evanston, and those cities are close to our hearts. If you’re from the Chicagoland area, please consider coming up for the show. The opening is Sunday, September 29th from 1 – 4. Below are a few gray scale shots of the show during our installation. To see it in all its glorious surface density and color, make your way there!

Click the images for a larger view.

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I’ll be leading a workshop at the close of the show, on either November 9 or November 10. Stay tuned for information about that!

Also, I’d love to know what you think of the show – if you go, please leave comment here.

My First Classroom

Click to see a larger view.

Here it is.

My first REAL classroom. I’d done a bit here and there. I’d done some substitution work. I’d done some minor short term stuff. But this was my first place of my own. Room 175 in the The Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts at Indiana University Bloomington. I taught some amazing students there. I cut my teeth, tested my strength, felt out the pace and scope and sequence of teaching. It was good to go back to that room recently – more than 8 years after – and spend time in that space. Snap a picture. Sense the light. Remember the slide of charcoal, the scratch of graphite, and the laughter of willing students.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember why this path I’ve taken is important. In the silent witness of this room there is proof of what I – what so many of us – have tried to express about awareness and presence.

I’m still seeking to be worthy of that task.

Color Drawing, Fall 2012

We’re halfway through another great semester of Color Drawing. Below are just a few examples of some of the standout work from this year. Click for higher res!

Danielle Wallace, Chalk pastel of reflections.

Emily Brewer, Oil pastel study of colored and fluid filled glass.

Emily Brewer, Oil pastel large arrangement of reflective and glass objects.

Jessica Bremehr, Colored pencil study of a lamp.

Jessica Bremehr, Oil pastel large arrangement of reflective and glass objects.

Jessica Bremehr, Chalk Pastel study of reflective surface.

Ginny Algier, Oil pastel large arrangement of reflective and glass objects.

Kevin Moreland, Chalk Pastel self portrait in a reflective surface.

Julie Bennett, Oil pastel large arrangement of reflective and glass objects.

Click HERE to see more of my posts on my Color Drawing class glory!

The Coat

When I turned 18 in 1994, my mother gave me a Swiss Army Trench coat, also called a Greatcoat. If you poke around on eBay or other vintage and/or Army+Navy stores you can often find these high quality coats for $75 or $80; mom got this one for something like $10. They’re all fairly old – mine is around 45 or 50 years old. It’s definitely been the most enduring body-covering item I’ve had, robustly surviving throughout the years with only some minor modifications. Gotta love those official Swiss cross buttons!

Here’s my coat hanging on the door of the Alaskan Oil Konvenience store where I worked for several years before and during my undergraduate time. This shot is from 1997, just a few years after first getting the coat, taken with my father’s ancient Minolta SLR.

Above: Self Portrait with Halo, acrylic on canvas, 8 by 10 inches, 2000. There’s that coat again – obviously I’ve built some sort of persona around it. Forgive my self-aggrandizement. I can still remember the day in my dorm room at SAIC when I began this piece. It was the last in a line of undergraduate self portraits featuring the coat.

Here I am at Salmon River Falls in upstate New York, in a photo taken by my cousin Chris. This image is from 2002.

Jumping forward a few years here – This photo was taken in the winter of 2007/2008 just after I moved to Missouri to start teaching at Mizzou.

And now today in my studio with a dodecahedron below it.

This coat has been a great companion for me. I’m going to celebrate it by following in the footsteps of Diebenkorn, who famously created a series of etchings based on his own old coat for a special volume of W. B. Yeats poems (If you’ve got a few grand, you can purchase an edition – there’s one left – here). I want to dwell on that coat and where it has been with me. Keep an eye open for some paintings and/or drawings to appear soon.

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!! #36years

The Blanket

This is a baby blanket made for me by a neighbor (Mrs Kinney!) when I was born. I don’t have a sentimental connection to other blankets from my childhood, and I don’t even know how much I actually used this as a baby, but this one has always has a presence in my mind. I turn 36 this Friday, so I’ve been thinking about things I’ve had for a long time and what it’s like to have things connected to our existence. I love how John Dewey described this effect. He called it “funding” – that is, the way we create significance and meaning via the experiences we have, then associate those meanings with the objects and spaces around us. There’s something about the color, the shapes, and the idea of the bicentennial of the United States all coming together in this blanket that’s always been interesting to me. Now I’ve got the piece hanging in my studio; who knows what other meanings and resonances it will gather as time continues.

New Mandalas

I’ve created nearly 30 new mandalas in the last few weeks. Each is primarly oil or oil pastel on paper with colored pencil, crayon, or other mixed media added. Most are about 9 inches in diameter. Below are two of the group. Click for more detail.