Category Archives: Thinking on Why

Don’t Tie Me Down

Sculpture Foot Roman Fountain (2002), January 3, 2013

Sculpture Foot Roman Fountain (2002), January 3, 2013

What would you call yourself now if you had to give yourself a label?

I don’t have to give myself a label. What I can do is say ‘no’ to certain things. For example, if I’m invited to do a photography show, I tend to say no. The medium itself, I find, is a relatively boring context. You never see a show about acrylic paint. If it’s that kind of understanding of the medium, it’s completely uninteresting on an intellectual level. I make art. I don’t come from a photographic background and I try to stay away from contexts where the work is diminished down to how it’s made. For example, I wouldn’t do a show about Fuji film.

– Thomas Demand, quoted in an interview in Image Makers/Image Takers.


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Filed under Inquiry Project, Process, Thinking on Why

This Beautiful World

If you asked me the sum total– what is your ambition?…Basically it’s just to make you a little more aware than you were the day before of how beautiful the world is. It’s not saying that I know what the world should look like. It’s not that I am rebuilding the world. Basically what artists do is to teach you how to exercise your own potential– they always have, that’s the one thread that goes all the way through.

– Robert Irwin, quoted in DIA: Beacon.
20121231-185020.jpgAccidental Self-Portrait, waiting for Subway, 2012


Filed under Inquiry Project, New Work, Thinking on Why

Perfect Beauty

Vignetted Lake Yellowstone (2005),November 2012

Vignetted Lake Yellowstone (2005), November 2012

Does the contemporary art world find something dangerous in beauty, something radical about that?

I think a lot of contemporary art is very nihilistic. It’s not able to deliver anything beyond the idea of paucity–of the sensory deprivation that we feel. I think a painting is an important opportunity to deliver something, to transport the viewer, and it’s not necessarily about physical notions of beauty versus the sublime. It’s about a certain activity or exploration where you come back with something….I don’t think I’m cynical at all about what I do; I don’t think there’s any alternative to believing in the infinite perfectibility of each and every one of us. For me there is no alternative to that. If that can be held in a painting, that is what I try to achieve.

–Philip Taaffe, being interviewed by David Coggins.  Art in America, October 2008


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Filed under Inquiry Project, Inspiration, Thinking on Why

I Am Not Alone

I have spent a couple of days at the National Alliance for Media Arts & Culture conference here in Minneapolis. I got into it as a volunteer after running into the event coordinator at the co-op.
For me, it was a two-day dip into the waters of public art making. Not only did I get hands-on advice about using LED lights for an installation, I listened to producers, artists and arts administrators from all over the country talk about concerns and initiatives happening in support of public art. I usually feel like I might be the only one mulling over such things…It was especially fun to see and meet other artists who are working to make stuff happen. Glad I went to the co-op that day…

September Sky, 2012

After a full day in the artificially lit world of the conference, the sky was huge, open and dramatic.

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Filed under Other Art, Thinking on Why

Constraints as Freedom

I enjoyed this short video from the Idea Channel about Twitter as a medium of literature. The idea being that the character limitation of the media gives a focal point for creativity. There is a broader point that caught my interest; that constraints free the artist to create. I have thought a lot about this over the years, and have recently been feeling it more especially regarding this blog – which is sort of an unlimited forum. I can actually feel a little unfettered and too free, if that makes any sense.

The next months I will be working on my upcoming solo show at Susan Hensel Gallery – opening in January of 2013. Standby for details. This will necessarily constrain me, and I look forward to building the show within the given framework. It will be fun to have the blog going as well; a counterpoint to the determined focus the show will require.

Here: I am channeling Edward Weston a bit – shopping the market for photography material. I bought this Massive sunflower head, and as I made my purchase a man stepped up and said, “What are you going to do with that?” I replied, “I am going to photograph it, and then I’m going to eat it.”

Mammoth Sunflower #1, September 4, 2012

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Filed under Process, Thinking on Why

Densities: 11

Stapled Relic #9 (Invert), August 2012

Fruits of more looking. My son just walked by and asked me “why are you making the lightpole art?” Here is what I came up with: this series is allowing me to use photography to make art that is mysterious and not a lot like photography. I set out to find patterns and fell upon a wealth of subject for abstraction, reversal; opportune for breaking the image down to compositional elements. Making a wonderful thing that is other than the documentation of staples on a lightpole, but inherently meshed also with that tactile history. This makes photography exciting for me. What can I do with it? That is the question I am always asking myself.

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Filed under New Work, Process, Thinking on Why

Is Involvement Key?

There is a lot of focus in new art on involving the audience in the creation of the work. Participation is being assigned as a key element in the fruition of the art.  I think this is both interesting and possibly problematic. I think there is definite excitement in participatory tasks – where they are meaningful (I have written a little about this before). Unfortunately, participatory art is out of reach for a lot of artists, as it requires the means to have an audience. This is a moving target with mobile and internet technology – so the inventive can get through this obstacle. I think it is possible to have it both ways, and my work exemplifies this. I like making images, and I like installation and projection work. Installation and projection work is much more financially demanding than making images. Luckily, I can do the latter while working for opportunities that interest me to do the former. Further, I firmly believe that the mental/emotional process of a ‘static’ viewer, whose only task is to take it in, perhaps to comment, is a real extension of artwork and valuable experience.

From the Winter’s Deep Collection, 2009

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Sparkling Thought

Thistle, June 2012

Check out this amazing 12 Minute Video about creativity and education. As Sir Ken Robinson describes the educational crisis and the importance of ‘divergent thinking’ a cartoonist follows along making an excellent graphic representation of the talk that illuminates it even more. Really worth the time.


Filed under Agonism, New Work, Thinking on Why

Imagination + Action = Fruition

G’s Strawberry Jam, June 15, 2012

Creativity. How is it born, fed, and enabled? How does it take hold and become so fulfilling that is becomes a pursuit in itself? Fruition is a key. Taking an idea and making it possible to complete. Working the muscles of imagination and action results in creation. Trial, error, try again. Make, enjoy, repeat.

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Filed under Process, Thinking on Why

Thinking on Why: 6

Untitled (Flowering Plum #1), April 2012

I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed. 

Garry Winogrand, as quoted in On Photography by Susan Sontag.


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Filed under Inquiry Project, New Work, Thinking on Why