Tag Archives: Abstraction

Westword announces Colorado Women in Abstraction

Westword, A Village Voice Media newspaper covering Denver and surrounding areas, announces Colorado Women in Abstraction at Center for Visual Arts, MSU, Denver, Friday, July 15.  My work, “Vortex” is featured (below).

http://www.westword.com/event/colorado-women-in-abstraction-7923758

Colorado Women in Abstraction

 Colorado Women in Abstraction
Courtesy of the Center for Visual Art/MSUD Margaret Pettee Olsen,”Vortex.”
 DETAILS

Women artists, long victims of the grip of critical subjugation, are beginning to get their due, thanks in part to groundbreaking exhibitions like Gwen Chanzit’s Women of Abstract Expressionism at the Denver Art Museum. With a national show of that scope on the local lineup, Cecily Cullen of Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Center for Visual Art decided to do something similar for Colorado’s healthy contingent of female abstractionists, andWestword critic Michael Paglia, a scholar of abstract art with a unique knowledge of who’s who in the state, was the clear choice to curate the CVA’s satellite exhibit. The result,Colorado Women in Abstraction, opens with a reception at 6 p.m. on July 15.

The exhibit includes a diverse cross-section of work by more than thirty artists — a “wonderful take on different approaches to abstraction,” according to Cullen — and has an educational bent, as well, with a comprehensive slate of panels and talks scheduled throughout its run, including one moderated by Paglia on August 25 and a lecture by Chanzit on September 13. “We’ll have a lot of opportunities for the community to hear from artists and experts and really learn about the abstract-art movement,” Cullen notes. “And it’s beyond time to set aside the ridiculous notion that men and women have different skills or levels of talent. Women are now being recognized for their skills as ‘artists.’”

Colorado Women in Abstraction runs through October 1 at the CVA, 965 Santa Fe Drive. For a schedule of events and more information, visit the website at msudenver.edu/cvaor call 303-294-5207.

FILE NOT FOUND work by Margaret Pettee Olsen + Brian Kane

Gallery EOSS postcard cover_o

 

FILE NOT FOUND

Work by BRIAN KANE and MARGARET PETTEE OLSEN

Curated by Alexander Castro

OCTOBER 15 2015 through NOVEMBER 14 2015

Opening Reception: OCTOBER 15, 2015, 5-10 pm

Gallery EOSS

91 Hartford Ave., Suite 105, Providence, RI

718.501.4155

https://www.facebook.com/galleryeoss/

Gallery EOSS welcomes BRIAN KANE and MARGARET PETTEE OLSEN for its November show, FILE NOT FOUND, an exciting combination of work that walks the line between digital and physical.

 

Pettee Olsen is an accomplished painter whose brushwork offers much to contemplate and absorb. Her large canvases are blatantly abstract but so rich in color, texture and gesture that one finds traces of the figurative. Her mark-making evokes image-editing software with graphic overlays, howling blank space, and chaotic trails of paint that weave sometimes fluidly, sometimes jarringly, through one another.

Kane, meanwhile, enjoys toying with the stuff of digital matter: he’s covered billboards in nature imagery, balloons with hashtags, and people’s eyes with black privacy bars. Both artists thus deal with artistic technologies. Pettee Olsen layers paint until it achieves a kind of controlled chaos, eventually approximating the feeling of what she calls a “media-driven version of experience.”

Kane has a different response to this data-driven life: his IRL Photoshop masks, OMG and hashtag balloons, and real-life Photoshop ‘cutouts’ seem to be attempts at materializing what has largely been a digital world. Both artists navigate a world drowning in formless data, but ultimately produce physical objects.

Data may appear at first invulnerable, intangible and out of harm’s reach, but it often depends on a physical host. In this intriguing show, Kane and Pettee Olsen search for new forms to host the wild hordes of zeroes and ones we encounter in our daily lives.

 

 

 

Alexander Castro

Alexander Castro (b. 1992) is a freelance journalist and arts writer living in Attleboro, Mass.

Facture — Finding My Way in Paint

details of recent work energy 2013 Above, Waves (detail), 2013, polymer, reflective and interference pigment on canvas was sold to a private collector.

 

For years I’ve been inclined to put down subtle washes that I would build, layer upon layer.  I was immersed in the recognition of fast painting for so long during the eighties I reacted by defying painterly-ness in its most plastic form–thick layers of expressive oil paint.  When I began printmaking for a living, working alongside and with the last of the printer painters of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism, as well as pop and conceptual artists, from Willem de Kooning to Barbara Kruger, my head and hands were in ink and everything I considered about making art was examined under this new lens of printmaking.

I recently began considering how printmaking had an effect on my art when professor of printmaking at Brooklyn College and onetime printmaking colleague, David Lantow, visited my studio last month. David said he could see printmaking’s obvious impact on the evolution of my imagery and the manner in which I made art.  My use of thin, relatively even layers of pigment and concerns for building texture graphically were indicators.

Oddly enough, I had never given this any serious thought before. The idea was liminal, but soon after our visit, I was reminded of what artist Mike Cockrill once posted on Facebook when discussing an artist’s misplaced search for an authentic voice, “Behold the core”, he said.  An artist doesn’t have to worry about finding his/her ‘voice or style’ . The hand of the artist is always there in the work–no need to go looking for it.

Printing provided a mechanism for me to slow down my thinking and to hold me to task in considering every mark.  Printmaking had helped to forge my visual vocabulary.  What was I doing by painting? I began my latest canvases with a fresh, one pointed focus in mind: facture through painting.

I began to think back to other possible influences to see if they might lend clues to my essential concerns. As a onetime performing artist I found myself looking to ‘gesture’– again. It made perfect sense…’Behold the core’. In my gut and in my bones, from all those years of dancing (see Biography),’gesture’ in all sorts of space and light was central.  But how did this fit with painting?

I found myself looking even closer at the surface of my canvases: swaths of thin white, and interference pigments, recorded trails of sensually flipped brushes on both dry and slippery surfaces over transparent-primed linen. But the soft warm grey of the canvas fiber was where I really began my inquiry.  My pallet, though not dramatically changed, now seemed to ask for a spectrum of greys, warm and cool, between iridescent, translucent and opaque whites and dark glossy and soft matte blacks. I exaggerated the feathering of bleeding pigment on linen, blending the grey of linen and the grey of paint , co-mingling these ‘stitches’ inside broad gestural strokes, sensing the need for a wiry outward wending  from vortexes of visual detritus drawing line back in.

Fragility of form, the power of gesture, the dissolution of drawing, traces and steps, edge and edge-less-ness, line of sight edits, a berth of vision– this is what I’m still after in paint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another In A New Series

“Tandem Wakes”, 48″ ×  72″ × 2″, acrylic and metal pigments on canvas, 2012.

Okay, here’s a sneak-peek into the studio today. This diptych is one of several moderately large pieces I’ve been working on. The fracturing, floating, fogging imagery has my head going to places that spawn new ideas before I’ve even finished the piece in front of me.

Several New Directions

I’ve been working in several directions lately. This large detail from a recent piece represents one. My use of reflective and interference pigments is employed to address concerns of ‘worlds within worlds,’ occlusions, modifying purchase and perspectives. However, some of these images are making their way into new media, and with that shift, another sort of emphasis on these concerns is being made. I will post more on these exciting developments as they happen. (Please click the image below for a larger version.)

Thank you for taking the time to look at this work in progress.

—Margaret Pettee Olsen

Clipping From The Archives: Susan Rothenberg Visits My Studio

Clippings from the archives-Susan Rothenberg visits my studio

From The Archives: ‘Before I Left The Figure Altogether’—A Visit With Susan Rothenberg

While preparing a PowerPoint about my work for an upcoming talk in Aspen, I discovered an image from the archives: Susan Rothenberg visiting my studio. This image was taken back when my work was more figurative. As I remember, we talked about how the figures almost lost there identity as human forms and became suggestive of S’s or fives and other numbers, letters and glyphs, a connection with and off-shoot from Jasper Johns’s work, she suggested. (Unfortunately, one can’t see all the paintings we talked about in this photograph.) For a few years, I teetered there, between figuration and abstraction, before I left the figure behind altogether. Now I am conceptually re-contextualizing abstraction, using reflective and refractive materials in my painting, with titles and discussions surrounding the nature of the 21st century and the many-layered Art World.

Helen Frankenthaler – Painter Who Breathed Big Life Into American Abstraction, Dies At 83

I had seen her work in New York, though what I saw was rather narrow in scope compared to what she made throughout her career. Last year, when I was up at Anderson Ranch in Aspen, I sat down in the library and perused a book of Helen Frankenthaler’s complete works. The catalog captured the many nuanced directions within Color Field painting she explored. Page after page, diluted yet rich pigments dissolve and seep into nearby haloed soak-stains. Lingering lines in turn became more defined while flowing through narrow necks of one-time wetness into new residual pools. Each neighboring mark seems to impregnate, either by definition or by dissolution, other areas of the canvas with visual interest.

She created worlds at once colossal and fast while also subtly complex. Her hand and brush seemed to know when to take hold of the direction of the painting and when to let gravity and the painting itself lead with full reign. Helen Frankenthaler, brilliant Color Field painter who breathed big life into American Abstraction, died on December 27th, 2011 at the age of 83. She is still an important painter—still offering bridges, vaporous trails for me.

Thoughts On Cy Twombly

Even the sound of his given name is an onomatopoetic expression for the way his hand worked a canvas. Cy Twombly: light caresses over surface-—made more spacious by places of scripting, paint-scraping, wrist-rolling, reaching, stain-making, raking—straight white drips coupling with gray. Layering, over scribbles, scumbling, laying down more layers till blood orange kisses an unbleached white. These shapes–they swim, they play, suspended like jangled jelly fish, like hovering sea birds—Uccello Marino—tracing infinite loops in the sky—until a wing-dipping stroke transforms me again, and I am no longer treading wind, but tumbling, tumbling—pelvis-over-head, once again—to see.

—Margaret Pettee Olsen

Cy Twombly defied categorization as a painter working among the abstract expressionists.  He died in Rome, Italy July 5, 2011.  He was 83.

 

Power And The Language Of Abstraction

The language of abstraction can address a model of the universe that’s slippery and fluid; exquisitely accurate and irreducible on the one hand but inconceivably colossal on the other. We live in a world wherein the smallest stuff is neither energy nor matter—and yet both. Abstraction can allude to the conceptually unwieldy intersection of these disparate realities like no other visual language.

Abstraction, because it is so conceptually wide open, is relevant to art now because we live in a world which increasingly defies codification. Abstraction can be broad while also intimate. As visual language, it references the known while simultaneously alluding to the unknown. While abstraction can be a viewed in a formal sense, without any other references or associations, it can also be something that takes you elsewhere—if the work provides and you let it. Abstraction can call to the surface very deep-seated unconscious experiences. I’m gonna brag here a little to make a point: This story is about an ‘explosively powerful’ painting: a painting that threw a man in the air like a land mine.

A while back, I was painting large abstracted vortices that suggested a kind of light pouring through them. A WWII vet saw one of my paintings and literally fell backwards. When a friend came to help him up and asked him if he was alright, he staggered to his feet and said, “yeah, I’m okay. It’s just that that painting was an experience I had in the war.” The man’s friend said to me later, “you are one powerful painter!” True story.