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!


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


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.


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.


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.

Decision Point

In January of 1997 I was a 20 year old kid working for a landscape design company. My job actually involved parking lot maintenance using a street-sweeping truck or trailer attached to a pickup truck. I worked all over the central New York region, but mostly in the area triangulated by Rome, Utica, and Syracuse.

I was fairly aimless after high school. Having grown up in Upstate New York the very idea of going to college seemed distant and was, in many ways, discouraged by the people who surrounded me… “What are you gonna do with that?” scoffed the wire mill workers who frequented the gas station where I worked a day shift. That was my life: gas station in the day; empty parking lots for the overnight. But I’d been working on something else, and something else had been working on me for a long time.

I’d spent the previous 6 or 7 years actively studying the foundations of art-making. The first few years I used Bert Dodson’s fantastic Keys to Drawing (thanks Grandma Clara!), but eventually moved on to self-directed work from observation and imagination. I was writing and reading a lot, listening to CDs of classic books in the cab of my street sweeper on those late nights, and dreaming prayer-like dreams into the night. I was also smoking like a chimney, singing Pantera songs at the top of my voice, and popping caffeine pills to stay awake; I generally worked from 11pm through til 5 or 6 in the morning. It was a surreal life. I saw and experienced more than I can ever describe to anyone who wasn’t there. I needed to go through it all. The questions and desires that grew within me during that time were necessary to who I would become.

So there I was after 18 months on the job, driving my truck through a mall in Mattydale just north of Syracuse, on an icy cold January morning. It was 2:30am. Why I was there I’m not sure. With all of the lake effect snow we’d gotten there was no way I could “sweep” the parking lot. And my regional boss had taken my sweeping truck and left me a sweeping trailer attached to an old Ford Ranger. What I would soon learn was that the hitch on the sweeper was a different size than the ball on the pickup…

This is the place where the trailer jumped the ball… I took this photo last week at the very spot where it all began (I was in Syracuse visiting one of my former students, Jake Crook, who is an MFA candidate at SU).

Of course, this grate and the pavement surrounding it are all entirely different now. At the time, however, the grate was a huge divot in the ice-covered pavement and it tossed the loose trailer off easily. As I l knelt in the freezing slush and figured out how to jack the trailer back up, bend the hitch back around, and chain it all in some semi-safe fashion to get it the 50 miles home, I made a decision. I knew I had to at least try this whole art thing. I knew I didn’t want this sort of event to be the measure of my ability. I knew that I didn’t want to wake up in a decade and wonder what the hell I had been doing with my life. I knew I didn’t want to just get by. I knew I would make an attempt at something different.

The next day I applied to Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute, an extension of Pratt. After a couple years I earned a scholarship to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

I ended up doing and experiencing a lot of wonderful things. A lot of hard things. A lot of humbling things. A lot of true things. A lot of astonishing things. And every single thing that’s happened to me – going to Ox-bow, spending time in Italy, earning an MFA, getting married to my best friend, publishing essays, having shows all over the world, having the amazing and humbling joy of working with students, all of it – are a result of laying in that snow and ice with the orange sodium-vapor glow shining down on me. I needed that experience to come to a point of decision.

I’m really thankful for that hitch coming loose. I’m thankful that the ball was too small. I’m thankful that the wind was cold. I’m thankful that I was over-tired and pissed off.

I think God was close by that night.


By the way, my latest essay, Standing Beside Gods, is available on Neoteric Art. Click to read it.