May 18, 2016
The time has come to bid a bittersweet farewell to the beloved Sans Comic. Eric F. Avery, whom I have shared the space with for the past 6 months, is off working his magic and making his art in NYC. I have depleted my remaining resources and can no longer retain a full time studio/work space. And, as I embrace the transition of my practice to a much more dynamic and penetrable space (Dreamsland) I cannot help but feel a little sad about leaving. Like many artists, my individual and family micro economy keeps the dream of renting a studio beyond what is financially feasible.
I have appreciated 18 months of concentrated work and attention to production, a return to oil painting and experimentation with new materials and techniques like encaustic, having a space for group wood carving sessions, hosting artist exhibits, drawing neighbors portraits, and generally having a large space for ideas and seeds of projects to spread out and co-mingle. I’ll miss hanging with the neighbors out back, Al and Samantha always dropping in to see what is cooking, or to have a beer or some whiskey. I leave with still more to do, semi finished projects or seeds of new ones. It feels really exciting and hopeful to be stretching as an artist and to still be able to push my practice at this stage in my career. Over the next few years I will build on this opportunity and continue a slow, quiet, local set of creative threads while looking to challenge myself on a larger scale.
July 19, 2015
I have so much artwork sitting around collecting dust that I no longer want to store. Most of which I would never sell because they were made through volunteer interactions with people out in parks. There is no reason to keep these paintings in storage, particularly when they could live on a wall somewhere in a neighbors home.
So, I’ve finally posted a free art space on the north wall of the Sans Comic building at 3100 Cedar Ave. S. Over the course of the summer and fall I will place a piece of original art up for the taking. Once the artwork has been taken a new one will appear. My hope is that the art will be taken by the people that comprise the heavy foot traffic along East 31st Street and Cedar Ave.
July 18, 2015
The studio was hit by the massive power outages over the weekend. I did not get much work done in the space without power tools so I helped the neighbors in back install a screen door.
Andy Sturdevant wrote up a nice piece about artists activities along Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis and included Sans Comic in the piece. http://www.minnpost.com/stroll/2015/04/along-sturdy-cedar-avenue-new-cluster-artist-space-grows
The past several months have brought lots and lots of thoughtful discussion, challenging dialogue, and some good head-scratching. Johanna Burton and Anne Ellegood were in town recently as critics for the McKnight Fellowship. They gave some really great, generous feedback about my current (messy) parallel practices and even gave me some good homework assignments. I’m moving into newer uncharted territories and it is exciting and a little daunting. I even applied for a exhibition program in a museum, which contextually feels like a different hemisphere. I know the chances of securing such a opportunity are scarce but the act of even considering this endeavor, and the task of articulating an argument for how my work might even be in a meaningful conversation with that world was a interesting exercise. I think revisiting the act of painting (in direct relation to community practice) has opened up a lot of questions for me about art making (particularly painting) in 2015.
I am re-examining my work spanning the past 5-10 years and now am looking at my practice in relationship to history painting. What if I call myself a history painter and how does that trouble my process/practice? I am not positing this to be flip but rather to truly explore if that is the best (current) way to describe myself as an artist (that exists and is part of a social and community networked practice).
Questions for the new year:
Does an investigation of formalism, or strategical production in art equate to being a race traitor?
Is Social Practice Art/Artists served (well) by museums?
The question for me is not “does it belong?” because yes, it does belong as much as any other social sphere. It seems like an obvious, and even lazy, place to start given the enormity of the world and people within it to “practice” along with. For me the questions are directed more towards whether or not a collecting institution truly supports and serves the needs of Social Practice Artists and Art? How can this work be supported, collected, archived, and even purchased in the same manner to support the artists, and should that even be a relationship that is fostered? And then there is the even larger question of whether or not the social sphere of Museum is the sphere in which an artist wants to practice. For me, this is deeply problematic given that the work would engage one of the whitest spaces in contemporary society.
When and if we “practice” art in a nearly all white context, or operate within that set of cultural terms, does the art suffer?
As producers we all operate within a variety of markets. My primary art market happens to be a not-for-profit artist market where practice and production flows through philanthropic channels verses a traditional commercial gallery or museum market. I’m curious about how these two markets intersect, collide, and support or refute one another and how that impacts how contemporary artists define their practice today.
Do I believe these differing markets share the same criteria for quality, or should they?
Is being off the radar of white millennial taste-makers mean i’m doing something right?
It has been a productive month in the studio, which seems odd given the craziness that the holiday season brings. I’ve been very happy to have had the time to engage a new body of work, more specifically a series of paintings for a larger installation.
I am currently thankful for:
– painting. Yes, painting. It is so slow. The process of building up content using techniques that are hundreds of years old forces me to remember that I truly love being in a relationship with something that evolves over time (which today could mean anything longer than a facebook post…). In this current case I have given this new work a nine month timeline, mainly because that is when I will have to give up the studio because I will no longer be able to afford the rent.
– great discussions about art and practice. Just recently with Jenny Schmid to add to many other thorny and good conversations with Wing, Natasha, Stephanie, Peter, Monica, J. Otis, Molly, and Xavier.
– turning the corner on a new year. I’m looking forward to 2015 being intense, challenging, revolutionary, and full of a lot of difficult introspection and learning.
Over the weekend Stephanie DeArmond had a one night pop-up exhibition of some new pottery. It was a pretty fun night over all as there was lots of little kids in the space, neighbors dropping in randomly, and people purchasing her work.
I’ve been going around and around a bit, trying to find my way back to my studio practice. It has been difficult, mainly because I generate lists of projects, ideas, or things i’m curious about exploring… and then I generate more ideas, lists and on and on. I started a huge painting, public project which I have now abandoned (at least for now).
I’ve finally landed on something that has given me hope, and some direction for the next several months. It was drawn out of a 4 day work/retreat/personal research process in Philly at the Asian Arts Initiative. There, I was asked to participate in a intensive artist/curator retreat around some fairly large scale public programs in and around the Chinatown community. It was an interesting opportunity to look into another mid-sized arts organizations planning and development processes in relation to community engagement, artist and community curation practices from the Wing Luke Museum, and other projects by local independent social practice lab artists or the curators/organizers at Temple Contemporary. I was glad to reconnect with Kemi Ilesanmi and learn more about what she has spinning at the Laundromat Project and to meet and learn about Sue Bell Yank’s writings. The artists and staff at AAI were doing some really great work in and with their cohabitants in Chinatown, and running a excellent arts based youth program.
Gayle treated us to the highlight meal at a funky little Korean BBQ in North Philly. They were serving up some of the best short ribs I had ever eaten!
Anyhow, i’m finally working on a new project and feeling like it has some legs to stand on. I should know more in a few months after I have committed some real time to it. All I can say is it will probably have more of a direct dialogue with the capital “A” art world than I have had in the past 15 years… which is not necessarily a bad thing, just different. 10/14/14 I am still recovering from a great, exhausting weekend of outdoor family time, studio work, a robust guest critic/curator discussion with Hesse McGraw, and super heavy meal at Haute Dish with some of the Fellows, and some drinking and cigar smoking with Sam Gould and Aaron Spangler. I take away some good questions and ideas to ruminate on for a while: Having a visit with John Singer Sargent? Making paintings again. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. career suicide – as a body of work. two worlds still very separate. the intersection. what happens to “social practice’ artists when the inevitable shift happens away from funding them? That will be the most interesting/telling moment for the “field” and this…
Had a great start to the month.
- I am now really working in the space, getting messy.
- i figured out how to get the furnace operating.
- I’ve have a list of projects way too long to actually accomplish (focus Mike, focus…)
- I’ve been ruminating on some interesting ideas with great folks; Monica Sheets, Peter Haakon Thompson, and some great conversations with Molly Van Avery.
- I am working on a project involving the Minutemen’s epic album Double Nickels On The Dime
- I got my hands all up in a big old bucket of paper mache.
- Feeling like i need to embrace that I am in a maker mode, and not try to hustle. We all spend too much time hustling and there is little soulful work in that.
The McKnight fellows are having a first round of visits with outside critics. This should be an interesting weekend. I am contemplating and unpacking a idea of a series of work that I am currently calling career suicide.
All moved in and the space is about 90% completed on the inside. In a short few weeks I’ve painted (with help from the Wed. crew), cleaned, removed old fixtures, built a accessible ramp, and built some benches for the front of the building. The first artwork created in the space was a 15′ long ink painting by my daughters. I’ve had some great inquiries about other uses of the space by artists Eric Avery, Stephanie DeArmond, and Moonear Khar. It was also a staging area for the Powderhorn Porchfest musicians and organizers. I’m hopeful that folks in the community will help activate the space for the neighborhood. I’m looking forward to exploring and having a creative relationship with the space, both internally and externally.
Wow this took a while. I finally secured a space to use as primary work, engagement, multipurpose laboratory. I was close to landing a few different spaces but they just did not pan out. I finally found a workable space that should suit my needs for the next year, and possibly beyond. Dwayne whom is the owner purchased the building and adjacent house in 1969 and sold carpet out of the building for decades. He outfitted the place in some funky little touches and I think he will be a great landlord. I’m looking forward to be in working relationship with a set physical space, to dig into some projects, and to invite the community in to share in creative activities.