May 28, 2010

s a n . d i e g o

robert irwin

recently, we made a trip to visit influential teacher, theoretician and conditional artist robert irwin, a seminal figure of the light and space movement, and a giant of the american art scene.

having abandoned studio practice for 30 years, he had now turned the gallery into a studio, using quint contemporary art gallery in la jolla, san diego, as a workshop for a number of new site-conditioned pieces. these installed works in progress were revisited over the course of the exhibition — up until the very end — with irwin coming and going during the day, making judgments, adjustments, and otherwise discussing the pieces with patrons. a pretty incredible process to witness.

i was first introduced to bob irwin's work at the pace gallery in 2009, and then through lawrence weschler's seminal biography, 'seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees'. containing the wealth of 30 years of interviews, the book tracks irwin's development from average LA kid to abstract expressionist painter at ferus gallery, to 'sculptor', installation artist, getty central garden and DIA : beacon designer — site-conditioned artist. it's an infinitely compelling read, and so clearly tracks a trajectory of thought and action, is really required reading for anyone interested in art, theory, and perception. 'this is a simple, infinitely complex and completely remarkable world,' irwin seems to rediscover and restate:

"Sitting there in the Whitney's coffee shop, Irwin pointed through the glass wall up at the play of shadows on a building facade across the street. "That the light strikes a certain wall at a particular time of day in a particular way and it's beautiful," he commented, "that, as far as I'm concerned, now fits all my criteria for art." At the terminus of Irwin's trajectory, when all the nonessentials had been stripped away, came the core assertion that aesthetic perception itself was the pure subject of art. Art existed not in objects but in a way of seeing."

this sounds simple enough - that beautiful things are beautiful, that seeing them is the thing - but by the time you reach this paragraph, 190 pages into the book, you've come to an incredibly layered, rich understanding of this 'way of seeing,' as something intensely pure, pristine and ecstatic; completely accessible, but a powerful human freedom often unconsciously passed over. it's a quiet, ego-less vision; a rare and incredible thing in this world.


robert irwin's art is about perceiving ourselves perceiving — the process of creation, the insight gleaned from just being attentive. this idea is far reaching and links everything from finding the sun spot on the couch, to realizing the thing you love about the thing you're drawing; walking down a familiar street and suddenly seeing it with new eyes, watching a movie and realizing, while experiencing it, that you're being moved; talking to your mom and simultaneously realizing your closeness and your distance; noticing a kid play hide and seek with a dachshund. this is the attendance of ray and charle's eames, of robert henri, tino sehgal, olafur eliasson, and yes, disney's nine old men, who, with honesty and wonder, studied the beauty of simple motion and emotion and in it found the tremendous complexity of life. isn't that wonderful? isn't that enough?

"Malevich, of course, back around 1915 pared everything down to those empty white squares on their white ground. Everybody looked at those and moaned, 'Oh no, everything we love is gone.' And instead he replied, 'Ah, but we have found a desert of pure feeling!'—an incredibly philosophical thing to say. One could have easily equated those empty squares with the loss of God, the end of culture, the horror of death, and there's a whole artistic tradition that, in effect, does that: the existentialist tradition. But I'm convinced that Malevich was drawing on the opposite tradition: the phenomenological. Instead of angst, he's telling you, 'Wonder! Wow! A desert of pure feeling!' And he's not talking about emotion—or anyway, not just about emotion. He's talking about texture, about experience, about quality, about taking the feel of things."

the human responsibility

the show at quint was intimate: there were four pieces in the gallery, all composed of florescent light bulbs and colored gels — the simplest of tools from which mr. irwin derived the most remarkable combinations, changing as switches were flicked and, just as joseph albers demonstrated with his studies on the temporality of color perception, allowing new, remarkable life to spring from what your mind had fixed in place. the whole thing was wonderful and its implications were great, for wasn't this phenomena visible at any flashing neon sign? at any place with changing light? wasn't this beauty available to us everywhere, every day? so then we went to the beach.

"What I'm saying is, God, it's all already out there...

Turning people on to the world, in this view, means turning them on to the single most beautiful thing in the world: the human capacity, the human responsibility, for perception."

please click here to see a lecture by robert irwin \\\\\\\\\\
to learn more about the show at quint contemporary  \\\\\\\\\\
and to read seeing is forgetting \\\\\\\\\\

May 24, 2010

p e o p l e . a s . p l a c e s

new home
sexy ponies
flour + water
trouble coffee
celebrating yale
drinking by the hob
five years of mollusk
preliminary furniture plan
kanoa zimmerman freediving
corn nuts at magnolia gastropub
backyard, backalley, offocean photoshoot
business meeting: one manhattan, two pocket squares
and the most incredible introduction to erich mendelsohn

May 19, 2010

h o m e s p u n .

i am very proud to introduce you to alexis petty: artist, designer, gallerist and art/world facilitator. i met her on a couch in a living room on a cliff once, then in a 7-11 parking lot, later at night on a beach. she's one of the truest people i know.

her most recent endeavour, the upper left ethnography project, was recently selected by local artist-run center southern exposure as a recipient for their 2010 alternative exposure grant program. in partnership with her kind and talented collaborators lana porcello and sarah fontaine, a small community of artist-ethnographers have formed, aiming to explore place through an expanded practice of portraiture, focusing their energy on the beautiful, bountiful and mysteriously historic neighbourhood by ocean beach in san francisco called 'the sunset'.

i am very pleased to announce that i will be a contributing artist to their project and in about a month's time will open a solo show out of their gallery space, the carville annex. it's going to be really exciting. expect to hear a lot more about this in the near future! it's time to start building...

May 16, 2010

s a l a d . d a y s !

when we are green in judgment, cold in blood...

i recently organized a party in celebration of the spring of our lives, entertaining guests from england and canada and around the bay area, and, in honor of youthful idealism,  enjoying a number of commissioned works. let me introduce and thank my co-conspirators and briefly describe their contributions:

a meal from erin's kitchen including delicate and hearty handmade tortellini, nettle pesto, borage-miner's lettuce salad, croquetas de jamón and street foraged herbs; an embarrassing-revealing close-eyed arms-up question-answer game from najeeb; beautiful ocean-spring paintings by talented illustrator christian robinson (see the photo above and stay tuned for more!); homemade meyer lemon and strawberry ice creams from blake and margaret; and an inspired ukulele performance of 'salad days' by vegetablist and recent mcsweeney's contributor katrina dodson. everyone came together to make it a really wonderful night—not the last of its kind. let's have kat sing us out, and cheers! to  your, to our, salad days.

Salad Days

Lettuce take you away to a place that’s green,
Where the mint runs wild and ginger is queen.
Foxes play a tune on the fiddlehead fern;
Silly goats are lickin’ garlic just to make their lips burn

‘Scape with me up the ramps to the river.
We’ll pluck chanterelles ‘til our hearts start to quiver.
And spice things up with our arugula ways,
Then lose ourselves in these salad days.

Salad days dressed with lemon sunshine
Lying in the grass drinkin’ dandelion wine
We’ll bury our noses in parsley and sage
And lose ourselves in these salad days.

Turnip the beets, you oughta shake that fennel;
The flowers on the wall’ll get stung by nettles.
Oh the clover is swinging and the carrots say peas
Won’t you sing our fava song; it’ll radish the bees!

Endive with me to the bottom of the pond.
We’ll paddle like frogs to the artichoke frond,
Then cool things down in a nasturtium haze
And lose ourselves in these salad days.

Salad days dressed with lemon sunshine
Lying in the grass drinkin’ dandelion wine
We’ll crown our heads in parsley and sage
And lose ourselves in these salad days.

May 13, 2010

n e w c r a y o n s —

this has been and continues to be, for a variety of fortuitous reasons, a year of collaboration, and i'd like to introduce you to some of the wonderful people i've been working with.

first, please meet mayon hanania, shoe designer, artist, and parisian! we recently started a blog to share sketches of our life and travel; a drawn journal. mayon draws a lot and wonderfully, delicately well. she's always flying around somewhere and surrounds herself with active, creative people. i'm very happy to be drawing with her, and very excited to see us side by side!

visit her blog, mayonscrayons and us at 20e & mission!

May 06, 2010

a + d 4 : o p e n i n g n i g h t !

more to come! photos courtesy of the good dan blank.

May 01, 2010

a + d 3 : t h e d o g p a t c h


around the same time as the sculptural form was coming together, i began thinking about how it could be finished and mounted. as a ribbon-object with long, faceted surfaces, i had the idea of gilding a single side, and also of adding some sort of base to supplement the one included—something to offset the clean, light material of the wood and to make light reference to sculpture's longer-lived historical materials, metal and stone; also, to give some bounce light.

we rode bikes down to the dogpatch to pick up some marble slabs and old panes of glass, ceramic tiles and little bits of debris; over bridges, through parklands, past warehouses, to rusty, dusty junkyards.