Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays everyone.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Is Art the wrong term?

I have just come back from the Galway Arts Centre's exhibit of Dan Shipsides & Neil Beggs installation. The installation is said to have used Matthew Barney's "Drawing Restraint 14" as the inspiration for this work. The GAC website states " The piece examines the obstacle as a metaphor and suggests that its presence is intrinsic to the creation of an artwork." After seeing the installation my question is not about whether the obstacle is intrinsic to the creation of an artwork. But whether this installation is Art.

Installation shots: Dan Shipsides & Neal Beggs
Does our language limit us? Are installations such as this wrongly labeled? Is it art? If it isn't, then what is it? Because its in a Gallery is that the determining factor? Should we look for a new term, a new word to describe these constructions, these performances, these events? Has the practises of today outgrown the original term? What is Art? Well, thats a big question, and hard to nail down.
For al intents and purposes Wikipedia will work in a pinch for our description.

"Art is the process or product of deliberately and creatively arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions."
or this by britannica online
"the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others"
for me the key word here is aesthetic. Art needs a foundation of aesthetic appeal. Even the Ugly-realism of the 70's is relevant because for me it responding to the desire for the aesthetic in art.
So is this installation, art? or does it fall under a yet to be created term? Why is it art? Is it time to hammer out the parameters of what art is? To stoically say yes, that this over here is art and no, that over there is not. What are we trying to do through art? But then again maybe its the term Art that needs to be changed. Maybe ART is outdated, old, redundant.
Well, I can't answer that. I often find that I am contradicting myself. I fool myself into thinking, Ok, I got it. Here is what is going on, only to find myself confronted by something that confounds me.
But art is most certainly not a static thing, and it becomes boring without those that push its boundaries. I often find myself as an artist defending the works of those in my field. And to be honest, sometimes I have no idea what is going on. I sometimes fail to answer the question, is it art? and if so why? I enjoy challenging work, work that engages the viewer. Work that sometimes demands the viewer take some more time with it. I will often go back to exhibits to have a second or third look. Give the exhibit that extra bit of time. Possibly even to change the context in which I am viewing it. See the work in different experiences. I want the work to affect me, to move me, question my established preconceived notions even. But there are times when I walk into a gallery and think. "Shit, what the hell is this"
The wonderful thing about art is it can cover so much ground. An artwork can be simply a visually appealing and engaging work or at other times more challenging, not relying strictly to an aesthetic response. It can be witty, cerebral, politically charged, socially relevant all of these things or none of them. So does the Shipsides/Beggs show fall into these concepts? Sure, at times. As a whole though I question whether we should be calling it something other than Art?


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cordil Construction dumping ground next to my complex.

Around the corner from our place

Across the street from our place.

Have to admit I have not been very motivated in the studio recently. I have hit a wall with the most recent paintings. I am excited about them but we are just not seeing eye to eye right now. So instead I will throw up some pics of my still new neighborhood.


Friday, October 17, 2008

So Ireland is cruising along quite nicely. Well not the economy, I was implying that my own experience in Ireland is progressing nicely. The current state of Ireland seems to be on the same bus the rest of the western world is.
I have converted our spare/guest room into a temporary studio. The above in-progress piece is one of currently 6 paintings I am working on. It is getting a little crowded in there. Before I left everyone predicted that Ireland would be a great source of inspiration for me. I don't doubt that, but I also don't want my work to fall into common Irish-isms. So are my new paintings an aversion to expected Irish cliches? I don't think they look very Irish? or maybe they do? I'm new here so I don't know. I will have to see where they go.
We found a great little (well its not that little, really) pub called The Cottage bar. Well, I guess its more of a bar than a pub as the name states. Its located on the way to Salthill, just west of where we are located. As with most things in Galway, its about a ten minute walk. If you come and visit us we will take you there and you will say "What a great pub, this is!" Trust me.
I just finished reading my friend's blog about our recent election. I was rather disappointed that it was a record low voter turnout this time around. I gather that this means the majority of (non)voters are happy with the current political climate. I'm not. My wife and I voted from over here in Ireland. I dont really know what else to say. I think voting is important. Its a hard won right (privilege?) that seems to be taken too lightly today.
Speaking of Michael Byers blog, I have to say his artwork always inspires me to pick up a pencil or pen. Actually Ryan Price evokes the same response as well. But after a few moments it dawns on me that maybe some things are best left to those who know what they are doing. Those two have some wonderful skills with the pen and paper.
maybe I'll give it another go...


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Just read the Margaret Atwood piece from the Globe & Mail today on the Harper cuts. Its a good read on a frustrating and critical subject, please check it out here

For more information about the cuts, a great site can be found here

Back to Ireland, well actually Scotland. I tracked down a new catalogue release of the artist Joan Eardley. I have enjoyed her work immensely for quite some time now and haven't found a whole lot of information about her. So I was thrilled to find out that the National Gallery of Scotland just had a retrospective of her work and published a new book on her. Her figurative work is gritty and harsh and falls in the vein of social realism, but it also captures some really delicate moments beautifully. Her landscape work is where Eardley starts to play with abstract expressionism and you have to spend some time really looking at the paintings. Unfortunately all I have is the catalogue to look at for now. I will have to get out to the gallery while I'm here.

I just came across Art Review magazine's new (well its new to me) online version of their periodical. here
Its really quite amazing. I will always prefer to physically read a book or magazine but the selection in Galway is, well its horrible actually. I have really been spoilt in Guelph. So to be able to digitally turn the pages of a magazine that I cant get here is the next best thing I suppose.

Went for my first ride yesterday. As a result I must commend the cyclist of Galway for their bravery. I was forced (yes I admit it, out of fear for my life) onto the sidewalk. I abhor cyclists that ride on the sidewalk. It drives me nuts. But in this case due to the narrow-ness of the roads and the large trucks that used this artery out of Galway, I felt it was necessary. Once I was into the country-side I felt quite a bit more safe and the ride turned into an adventure. The back roads (paved ones only this time) are a feast for the eyes. Walled Fields everywhere. I will post some pics shortly (i forgot to bring my camera) I felt that the first ride was a tester :-)
Anyway, thats all for now.


Sunday, September 21, 2008
Just saw a clip for the movie/documentary Beautiful Losers. If your unfamiliar with this travelling exhibit check out this website or pick up the book (its worth the purchase).
Seeing as I am in Ireland at the moment I don't think I will be able to see it anytime soon. But after seeing the trailer I have to say, definitely go see it if it comes your way.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thought I would put up one of the two commissions I had this summer. I dont usually do them, but in this case they were friends of mine who asked and I had a lot of freedom with the work. The tentative title for this work is 2 boats and some hope, oil and enamel on board 4x3'. I am missing the easy access to great artwork one had in southern Ontario. The great variety of artists found right in Guelph and the close proximity of Toronto. There was always something to take some time with.
So, I went back to the Galway Arts centre to spend some more time with the photo show they have on. I new it needed some more perusing. The main floor work was still a little weak in my opinion but the second
floor work came out stronger on the second visit. The photo show was by Ruby Wallis Titled: Other Madonnas,
( ) An exploration into domestic relationships specifically the mother and her daughter. I found some works to reveal an unforced strength of character, while others seemed desolate and lost and one piece a little too staged. Wallis states an influence of Dutch genre painting. One sees that when you look at how she lighted the subjects. I suspect my previous visit was probably rushed, as the more I looked at these images the more I was drawn into them. The photos are quite beautiful.

On my way to the centre I had to navigate Galway's unique
sidewalks. Some are quite wide and accommodating others well actually most of them are very narrow. What I have also noticed is the relationship between Galway drivers and pedestrians. One of those relationships is sidewalk usage. When one needs to park, sidewalks will do in a pinch.

Its hard enough getting by these guys, but I thought what if you were in a wheel chair? Yep the city is definitely geared towards the auto. Some additions to alleviate the average pedestrians plight might be cross-walks....that work. Fines for those creative parkers. Larger sidewalks? Just some thoughts.
Anyway, as you can see from the car pics we are having an incredibly sunny day today. We had lunch outside and I believe Fish and chips on a patio has been suggested for this evening.
Still looking for a studio space over here. I just mailed off an application to a govt. funded Artspace ( ) for a studio. I spoke with them before. It looked great, so we'll cross our fingers.
Thats it for now.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Some random musings;
So we landed safe and sound in Ireland. Getting settled in, Galway is going as planned. Working on some houses. Going to attach them to walls (more pics to follow) I'll elaborate more, soon. Nina and I have been in Galway for about two weeks
now. We need to explore so much more. There are so many small independent stores hidden down side streets and back alleys. Galway is a tourist destination so you overhear a lot of languages and accents, Russian, French and Polish seem to be the rank the highest. We have learned that the main strip (Quay St, High St, and Shop St, which are really all one street) should be avoided on the weekends. It becomes a bit of a zoo.
The car / pedestrian relationship is best summed up as cautious. Approach a street crossing with caution. The roads are small and the side walks are smaller. When crossing a street, look right then left then over your shoulder, right again, then run like hell.
Stopped by G126, an artist run gallery last week. They have a nice program set up but are situated well out of the way.
The other significant art gallery here is the Galway arts Centre
A nice space found right downtown. They have a photo based show on right now. I didnt think much of it. I didnt think the quality of the images was that good but I will go by again and take some more time with it. We just missed the Galway arts festival by a couple of weeks so Nina and I will catch that next year.
The Cats,
Bringing our cats over from Canada was a chore but well worth the trouble. New adventures now are finding food and litter. Cats don't seem to register too high on the Irish pet scale and that means a rather poor selection of food and ridiculously small bags of litter in most stores. Obviously they dont know our cats and their daily output.

till later,