Tag Archives: art

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.

State of the Art Criticism

MJ&D cropped 2015

Artist Margaret Pettee Olsen, art critic for New York Magazine Jerry Saltz and Director of the Clyfford Still Museum Dean Sobel at ‘A Critical Conversation’, Ponti Hall, Denver Art Museum, February 12, 2015

I’ve been away from my blog as I’ve been planning and then moving my studio to a new, much larger space. A flood forced the move, but it turned out to be an excellent one. So I have some catching-you-up to do. Here’s a quick recap of what’s been of note to me outside the studio–albeit kind of late. This February, Roberta Smith, art critic for the New York Times, and Jerry Saltz, art critic for New York Magazine, paid a visit to the artists, collectors, curators, dealers and art lovers of the Mile High City to talk about the state of the art of criticism today. The Denver Art Museum’s Ponti Hall at(DAM) provided a venue for the attendees. The Clyfford Still Museum (CSM) sponsored the event. That CSM was able to entice both of these critics out to for a talk was terrific—perhaps a first for Denver.

Speaking as an artist, i.e., one who naturally spends a lot of time in the studio playing this one person sport of painting, I knew I had to go listen and maybe even discuss art with this word-wielding duo. Since Jerry Saltz invited me on my Facebook wall to “stop by and say hello” in person, I made sure to take the trek from my studio way north of uptown Denver to the DAM. Dean Sobel, Executive Director of CSM, opened the evening’s talk, A Critical Conversation, with a quote by Clyfford Still, whose opinion of art critics was, let’s just say, less than glowing. Sobel’s humorous opening remarks called to mind the complicated relationship between critics, artists and the rest of the art world and set the tone for the evening. Jerry Saltz, comic-showman-critic that he is, kept the room thinking about responses to art in a fresh, anti-academic manner which complimented Smith’s unapologetic and focused approach.  Together, their repartee would be the source of dialogue on art that evening, not any preplanned structure. Mr. Sobel did not moderate, there were no cue cards—nothing like that—just two critics with a no-holds-barred, on-the-spot thinking approach to art criticism.

While there was no prescribed format, I did notice that both critics addressed the artists in the audience, asking about how they might fit defining qualities of an artist, from personality profiles to really odd habits such as having a ‘good luck’, sort of fetish object– something to carry wherever one goes. Of course, being an artist is much more than any profile could paint, but I appreciated the direction of the talk: Artists first.  Roberta Smith was upfront in discouraging anyone from choosing the life of an artist unless they absolutely “had to”, and with that, the discussion about the state of criticism and contemporary art began.

I was encouraged to hear that Smith saw painting as a medium very much alive with possibilities today. In her opinion, there were too many artists who were ‘hiding out’ in performance based work. While I have no problem with artists who find good and meaningful direction in ‘social practice’ it was good to hear that her ideas broadly reflected mine regarding the importance of painting today.  I was also pleased that Smith caught my meaning in a question I pitched during the Q&A, “What is next in contemporary art considering how the landscape has changed and our view is one of a layered, multi-faceted, global and information-compressed world–a world where there are many threads of thinking–not just one?” Saltz threw up his hands and exclaimed, “Well, how the hell do we know that?” taking my question, in that moment, at face value, while Smith noodled away at what I was asking—understanding my question demanded stepping back and looking at the direction whole system(s) are moving in now, how art and criticism is changing, and that these changes are altering the very way we see art in context. Near the close of the talk, Smith aligned herself with one attendee who asked if she saw, “important and interesting work happening in many places around the country.” She agreed but added a caveat: “criticism still lives in New York,” she said.

As a onetime Brooklyn artist, I mused a bit more on her comments on criticism in New York, took a few more notes about ideas that occurred to me during the talk, but mainly I tried to listen.  On the way out I thanked Jerry for visiting us far-flung artists, and then I approached Roberta: “Thanks for getting my question.” “It was an important one,” she offered as I packed notes and a sketch into the well-worn black leather bag I’ve carried since I came to New York just out of art school. That satchel’s a well-worn, paint-splattered thing, but I carry it wherever I go.

Now, post flood, panic and studio move, I think about that talk on art criticism, but leave it all at the door  when I walk into the large white studio with cement floors and freshly prepared canvases. I put down a steaming cup of coffee, glance at my black bag in the corner and begin work. Then again, I don’t really have a choice—now do I?

 

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.

Searching For A Name For This Painting

I’ve been considering a number of titles for this work and have decided to put it to the public for inspiration.  Any and all suggestions will be considered. Please submit your ideas in the comments section below. Click to enlarge image.

Thank you for stopping by.

—Margaret Pettee Olsen

60″ × 56″ × 2″, Acrylic and reflective pigment on canvas, 2012

New Works In Progress

“Open Source”, 54″ × 42″ × 2″, Acrylic and reflective pigment on canvas, 2012

On top of a number of projects on the horizon and new engagements, several larger-sized canvases are in the works. I’m very excited about the evolution of these new pieces. Stay tuned to hear about the next show, as well as ‘meet-ups with the artist.’ Plus, I will be spending quite a bit more time on my blog this coming year, posting exciting news and continued sneak peeks of my work, and more. In the mean time, please add me to your RSS newsfeed—it’s simple, it’s easy, and you don’t even have to think about it to keep on top of what’s happening.

—Margaret Pettee Olsen

Happy Birthday James Rosenquist

Brandeis National Women's Committee Serigraph by James Rosenquist

This is a print I pulled with James Rosenquist in 1988. The limited edition serigraph was for Brandeis University National Women’s Committee. I had just moved to Manhattan and was pleased to have been introduced to adjoining print shops where I worked printing and assisting a variety of artists. Rosenquist was one. Happy Birthday James Rosenquist!

Art Business As Usual?

I was recently out of town when I walked into a ‘reputable gallery,’ thinking if I found a small ‘gem’ I might buy it. Yes, as an artist, I like other work as well as my own and will trade with an artist or, on occasion, buy another artist’s work. As I walked into the beautiful space, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, the owner placing her hand on the forearm of her assistant as the assistant stood to grab the artist’s cheatsheet, the owner stopping her in mid-reach and clearly indicating that I should not be approached, shown, and/or told any information about the artist. I walked around the gallery perusing the art, taking my time. Had I found something I’d have considered owning that day, based on what I witnessed of the gallerist, I would not have made the purchase.

On my way out, I walked over and asked, “Excuse me, do you know what time it is?”  As the dealer looked at her watch, I said, “Oh, never mind. I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t the roaring 80s anymore. For a moment there, the way you chose to ignore me or perhaps anyone you surmised wouldn’t buy or shouldn’t have the art, I thought I was in a time warp.” Despite the fact that I am likely a little younger than she is, I gave her a gentle, almost grandmotherly smile, as if to say, “really, honey—this is how you conduct your business?” She was speechless. I walked out.

I wasn’t at all surprised to hear the following month that the gallery had closed. For a brief moment, before leaving the gallery that day, I thought about telling this dealer my “Elaine de Kooning story,” which could have have been helpful to her, but I’m afraid I just didn’t fit her profile of someone worth listening to, let alone speaking to. I do not mean to suggest that building a mystique about an artist or a gallery is wrong, obviously.  The question is how to do it–with good or ‘bad magic,’ to quote the character Queegueg from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

This case was very sad really, as the artists she carried had obviously been neglected for quite some time. So, the moral of the story is—for artists—act as a potential buyer at a gallery with whom you are considering having a working relationship as an artist. Witness all of it, or as much of it as you can. Pay attention to the way and respect with which the dealer handles the artwork, as well as she how handles (or neglects to handle) potential buyers. Talk to other artists about how they are treated. Gallerists, I love you and what you do for artists. You can be such brilliant storyteller-sales people, elucidators and promoters of artist’s work. You are very important to many of us. However, if you don’t know my “Elaine de Kooning story,” you should. Eh, but what do I know? Who the hell do I think I am, anyway?

(If you want to know my ‘Elaine de Kooning’ story, send an inquiry—I’ll post it.)

Update: Several readers expressed interest in hearing the Elaine de Kooning story. I have posted it here.

A Familiar Print

In Sante Fe I visited with my old friend Carter Walker who came down from Albuquerque to go look at galleries with me and my friend Bernadette from Aspen.

I looked at galleries all week,  among them Zane Bennett Gallery.  It is located in The Railyard District which I happened by and saw a Sam Francis work in the window, causing a flashback  of my times at Petersburg Press Gallery. I chatted with a director and the exhibitions coordinator who, upon seeing my surprise when I came up the flight of stairs and face to face with a Motherwell print my husband had pulled and I had assisted with in 1988, showed me through the stacks, and other works in storage.   Together we perused the Motherwell catalogue raisonne first, then other works on paper and canvas.    Seeing that print was a time traveling experience which took me back to 1988 in Manhattan on Varick Street, near Canal.
If I ever get the chance to see Robert Motherwell’s works on paper I take it. He was brilliant painter, a marvelous editor of his own work.

After this trip down memory lane I felt unusually energized. I wanted to go back home and paint.  But I hadn’t yet finished  with what Sante Fe had to offer.  I wanted to time travel further back.  The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, a block and a half from my casita, which the manager told Bernadette and me, had been US Officers Quarters (during the Mexican American War?)  was only a three minute walk.   I tend to get visually overwhelmed after looking at art for too long so I had planned to visit the museum at intervals during the day.  During these periods of visual digestion I’d walk back to my casita and stare at the ceiling in the darkness.  Then, off I’d go again to see Georgia O’Keeffe’s work or photos of her by Alfred Stieglitz and other of her friends.  The museum guards began to  recognize and greet me each time, with announcements of  “back again!”  I’d wave and smile, miming my passion for her work.  Interestingly, as a very young artist I was never taken by O’Keeffe.  I knew her as a painter of flowers, however clever.  But it wasn’t until I looked at her work in person, in Sante Fe… well… there was so much more.  Recently the works were part of a newly curated exhibition  called Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction at The Whitney.  It’s about time.

Still,  understanding just a little bit more about this strong, slender woman, afraid of nothing, with her muscular hands and will of iron, I began to sense how she felt alternately imprisoned by her times, yet through her wit and great talent alternately vindicated and freed from stereotypes about women in general and women artists in particular.  She kept people amazed and willing to look  in new ways- at the world at large and beyond that to the world and history of painting.