Empty white spaces, red marble satyrs

2 Jul

If you missed Jerry Saltz’s utterly on-point Facebook rant about museum starchitecture, which was prompted by Steven Holl Architects’ acclaimed — though not by Saltz — 2007 addition to the shockingly wonderful Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (he loves the museum but hates the addition), read it, especially if you care what happens when Holl and crew design the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s new modern-and-contemporary art building. And be sure to click on the pictures he took of the interior of the Bloch Building, like this one:

The Bloch Building's endless airport lobby. Photo: Jerry Saltz

The Bloch Building’s interminable airport terminal-style lobby. Photo: Jerry Saltz

There’s a reason Google Image searches on “Steven Holl Nelson Atkins” overwhelmingly turn up renderings of the building’s exterior, which has rightly been praised for the unassuming manner in which it connects to the Nelson-Atkins’s 1933 classical temple-of-art building. The problem, as Saltz notes, is that once you get inside, the “Bloch is all lobbies, ramps, ridiculous angles, emptiness, atria, and almost no art. I walked more than two football fields to reach the art. And this space is three floors tall. …”

As with Renzo Piano’s giant lovely atrium-filled addition to Chicago’s great Art Institute – a space fit only for pharaohs, trustees, architects, and parties, a space all but empty of art for thousands of square feet of three vertical floors – at the handsome Bloch we get white spaces, corridors, construction details, slivers of window here and there, but NO art in sight. It’s more like an airport or a mall. There should be 50 to 60 works here – even if the space isn’t built for art.

And let’s face it, it really isn’t built for art. The most important painting in this gallery, for example, Willem de Kooning’s knockout Woman IV (1953), gets swallowed by the space (it’s on the back wall):

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… and for some reason hangs adjacent to a small staircase leading up to a window that looks into the airport/mall you thought you’d finally escaped.

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Granted, the de Kooning is large but not monumental — but that’s just another way of saying that it made more of an impact in the old building. In fact, since the MFAH abandoned the clusterfuckery that used to characterize its Ab-Ex-and-friends gallery, its abstract expressionist presentation is more powerful than the Nelson-Atkins’s, even if some minor-work creep has returned to the MFAH gallery since I wrote this article hailing the welcome changes to the space. (One hopes that’s because a chunk of the MFAH’s American holdings are currently traveling across South Korea.) And the MFAH’s big, dark Rothko makes the Nelson-Atkins’s Rothko look like a non-entity.

All that said, there’s some great stuff in the Bloch Building including this Richard Diebenkorn, this Fairfield Porter masterpiece, this classic Tom Wesselmann, and this:

Kerry James Marshall , American , b. 1955 , b. Birmingham, AL. Memento #5, 2003. Acrylic and glitter on paper adhered to unstretched canvas banner. 9 feet x 13 feet (274.32 x 396.24 cm). The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Purchase: acquired through the generosity of the William T. Kemper Foundation---Commerce Bank, Trustee

Kerry James Marshall , American , b. 1955 , b. Birmingham, AL. Memento #5, 2003. Acrylic and glitter on paper adhered to unstretched canvas banner. 9 feet x 13 feet (274.32 x 396.24 cm). The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Purchase: acquired through the generosity of the William T. Kemper Foundation—Commerce Bank, Trustee

But for me, the best thing about the Bloch Building — and a key factor distinguishing it from whatever Holl comes up with for the MFAH — is that, in addition to allowing the Nelson-Atkins to show works that would otherwise sit in storage, it frees up at least some room in the old building to show even more art from its incredible collections (I’ve got tons of photos on Facebook). In the Nelson-Atkins’s main building, you run into fantastic art no matter where you turn, including this great red marble sculpture on loan from Rome’s Musei Capitolini through Sept. 29:

Fauno rosso (red satyr), Roman, 117-138 C.E. Red marble. On loan from Musei Capitolini, Rome

Fauno rosso (red satyr), Roman, 117-138 C.E. Red marble. On loan from Musei Capitolini, Rome

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Standing in the presence of this red marble satyr, all peeves about the Bloch Building and starchitecture just melt away. That said, here’s hoping Holl’s approach for the MFAH, which hasn’t had the greatest luck with buildings, is to let grand architectural statements play second fiddle to the art instead of the other way around.

Laura McPhee: Worth the fossil fuels

1 Jul

There’s nothing like flying to the beginning of your road trip to feel like you’re not only cheating — like a marathoner taking a cab to the midpoint of the race — but maximizing your carbon footprint. So perhaps it’s fitting that the first art I laid eyes on in Kansas City (after flying from Houston to St. Louis, where I rented my car) was Laura McPhee’s extraordinary series River of No Return, which is on view through Sept. 22 at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

Laura McPhee, Judy Tracking Radio-Collared Wolves From Her Yard, Summer Range, H-Hook Ranch, Custer County, Idaho, 2004; chromogenic print, 94 x 72 inches; Collection of Alturas Foundation and courtesy of Carroll and Sons, Boston, ©Laura McPhee

Laura McPhee, Judy Tracking Radio-Collared Wolves From Her Yard, Summer Range, H-Hook Ranch, Custer County, Idaho, 2004; chromogenic print, 94 x 72 inches; Collection of Alturas Foundation and courtesy of Carroll and Sons, Boston, ©Laura McPhee

Using an antique 8-by-10-inch camera, McPhee shot the monumental photographs — each measures six by eight feet — in the Sawtooth Valley of Idaho during 2003-2006 as the initial Alturas Foundation artist-in-residence. (She’s interviewed about the series by Kemper curator Erin Dziedzic on this podcast.) The series poetically documents the complex interactions of various humans — ranchers, hunters, environmentalists and recreationists — with the vast landscape, and more subtly with each other. As such, the series extends the thread of her work with which I was previously most familiar, photographs she made in collaboration with my former teacher Virginia Beahan, with whom I took an unforgettable intermediate black-and-white photography class at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston back in the 1990s.

Beahan, a powerful presence with a booming voice, couldn’t remember my name, even when it was much more low-maintenance than it is now, until the end of the continuing-ed course. But when I presented my bad-Robert-Frank-meets-bad-Nan-Goldin photos that I’d slaved over all semester together with text passages I’d written the night before, she read every word, took off her glasses and seemed to look at me for the first time. Then she tried to talk me into going to RISD so I could develop my writing through cross-registration with Brown University. I ended up matriculating at MassArt instead because it was so much cheaper, and that’s where I met McPhee, who’s a professor there. I wasn’t around long enough to study with her — I got it in my head that I had to move to San Francisco before I turned 30 — but she joined my color photography teacher Barbara Bosworth to critique our final presentations. This time I presented bad-Nan-Goldin-meets-worse-Nan-Goldin photographs I’d slaved over all semester together with text passages I’d written the night before. McPhee, like Beahan, raved about the writing before adding: “I just wish the photographs were better.” You and me both, McPhee. You and me both.

I can’t say the same about her photographs, which were thrilling to see in person. Like the landscape she documents and the issues surrounding it, they’re bigger than you are and are perhaps most achingly beautiful at their most frightening. I just wish my writing about them was better. Maybe if I’d taken Beahan’s advice and gone to RISD it would have been.

Turrell in heavy doses

28 Jun

Kelly Klaasmeyer‘s and Rachel Hooper‘s takes on James Turrell: The Light Inside at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston both praise the show overall while raising issues about constrictions the retrospective format — and in some cases, Turrell himself — impose on viewers’ experience of his work.

James Turrell, 'Rondo (Blue),' from the series Shallow Spaces, 1969, neon light, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of the estate of Isabel B. Wilson in memory of Peter C. Marzio. © James Turrell

James Turrell, ‘Rondo (Blue),’ from the series Shallow Spaces, 1969, neon light, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of the estate of Isabel B. Wilson in memory of Peter C. Marzio. © James Turrell

Klaasmeyer notes the duress required to experience the show’s most all-consuming installation, End Around (2006) from Turrell’s Ganzfeld series:

Getting into End Around is not unlike going through airport security. You wait in a roped-off line until the guard lets you enter the anteroom to the installation. In the anteroom, another guard points you to a pile of paper booties. The MFAH is requiring you to remove your shoes and wear the booties directly on your feet. I understand that the museum is trying to maintain the pristine white floors of End Around, but may I just say that having large numbers of Houstonians taking their shoes off in the heat of summer is a horrifically bad idea. The entry to Turrell’s stunning, otherworldly environment smells like a freaking locker room. Seriously.

James Turrell, 'End Around: Ganzfeld,' 2006, neon and fluorescent light, (2007 installation at Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, California), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of the estate of Isabel B. Wilson in memory of Peter C. Marzio. © James Turrell / Photograph by Florian Holzherr

James Turrell, ‘End Around: Ganzfeld,’ 2006, neon and fluorescent light, (2007 installation at Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, California), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of the estate of Isabel B. Wilson in memory of Peter C. Marzio. © James Turrell / Photograph by Florian Holzherr

Klaasmeyer also addresses the control-freak factor inherent in presenting Turrell’s work in secular institutional settings:

Maybe it’s because the show just opened, but the MFAH’s host of apparently newly hired twentysomething guards seemed to go beyond protecting the work and the visitors to micromanaging their experience. There are always rules with art; the open-air pavilion of the Twilight Epiphany skyspace at Rice University doesn’t allow food or drink or talking or cameras after the show starts, and quite rightly so. But it also doesn’t allow anyone to lie on the inviting, grassy slope that surrounds the pavilion, as one student attempted to do. I don’t know if this is Turrell so much as it is the keepers of his work. I just wish viewers were allowed a little more leeway to be human. Perhaps the Live Oak Meeting House is a perfect situation. In a place of worship, you expect to be quiet, sit still on a bench and be reverential. And in fact, the Quakers are the most relaxed and welcoming keepers of the Turrell sites I have visited. They invite viewers to get up and walk around and children to lie on the floor to view the skyspace. On a recent visit, I observed practically supine couples lounging on the padded church pews, contemplating the darkening sky.

Meanwhile, Hooper calls the retrospective format into question. Is more-is-more really more when it comes to Turrell?

The exhilaration of a Turrell installation can be addictive, and the retrospective promises the ultimate fix of awe-inspiring harmony between vision, emotion, and light. But seeing many of the artist’s works gathered together in one place had the surprising effect of diminishing rather than enhancing the force of the artworks. The cumulative effect of the retrospective does not leave as powerful of a visual impression as the individual installations. The whole is not equal to the sum of its parts, which is a challenge not only for the visitor’s experience but also the common assumption that perception is all that there is to a Turrell. …

The unintended consequence of the optical intensity of works like End Around is that his small scale projections and tall glasses fall flat in comparison. An understated work like the linear Rondo (Blue) (1969) might be stunning on its own, but with other more immersive spaces close at hand, it seems like merely a teaser or sketch for the larger works. Turrell’s tendency to outdo himself makes it hard to see each installation unto itself. His spaces are at their worst when measured against his greatest achievements, and his ambition knows no end.

What sets the MFAH’s Turrell show apart from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art retrospective and the Guggenheim’s exhibition is that the MFAH owns all the Turrells it’s showing, which only represent about half the installations in its collection. (This is thanks largely to the late Isabel Wilson, a former Houston Post reporter who, when I once sat next to her at a society function, regaled me with stories of climbing stairs in the federal building to get her scoops and fighting off ass-grabbers in and out of the newsroom. That’s not where her money came from; she was a daughter of industrialist George R. Brown.) Which does raise the question of why the MFAH felt the need to present so many Turrells at once instead of, say, rolling them out in smaller doses throughout the year. Was it really necessary to synchronize the timing with LACMA and the Guggenheim?

Not that I want to complain too strenuously. Like Hooper, I found the heavy concentration of Turrells in the Mies van der Rohe-designed Upper Brown Pavilion — which presents its usual share of thorny-to-insurmountable exhibition-design challenges along with its grace notes — unexpectedly enhanced my appreciation of The Light Inside (1999), the walk-through Turrell in the Wilson Tunnel that connects the Law and Beck Buildings. Hooper:

The experience of one Turrell after another like this drove home how radically I was letting go of my other senses in order to experience his work. The alienation from any physicality outside of my eyes started to disturb me. In this respect, I gained a newfound appreciation for the namesake of the exhibition, the tunnel that runs between the Law and Beck buildings at the MFAH. I seem to always strike up a conversation there and enjoy the change of perspective when walking from one end to the other. I now understand how exceptionally social and physically present I feel in that place.

James Turrell, 'The Light Inside,' 1999, neon and ambient light, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum commission, gift of Isabel B. and Wallace S. Wilson. © James Turrell

James Turrell, ‘The Light Inside,’ 1999, neon and ambient light, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum commission, gift of Isabel B. and Wallace S. Wilson. © James Turrell

In that sense, maybe there’s something to be said for experiencing the oppressive side of Turrell; perhaps doing so better helps us appreciate what we find special in our happier encounters with his work. Still, once the hoopla of the summer Turrell extravaganza has died down, I hope the MFAH doesn’t let its other Turrells languish in storage, but instead unveils a new one on a semi-regular basis. In the meantime, MFAH members or those who go on free days to bypass the $13 general admission fee (the MFAH retrospective is also the cheapest of the three presentations to visit) should consider going back multiple times over the summer to take in a Turrell or two at at time. I’m also determined to get up early enough one of these mornings to watch Twilight Epiphany at Rice greet the day instead of bidding it farewell.

Pardon our dust / statement of repurpose

27 Jun

Now that my Art League Houston residency is finished and I’m done exhibiting for the year, I’m ready to get back to blogging regularly about art — in Houston and beyond. I enjoy writing my stories for Arts + Culture magazine, such as this review of the Menil Collection’s Byzantine Things in the World exhibition and my Loose Ends column on the reunification of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s European galleries, but they always leave me with more to say than I can fit on the page, and I end up kinda-sorta blogging on Facebook or the comments sections of other writers’ posts — e.g. Harbeer Sandhu’s welcome Houston Is Insipid // Enmired State of Mind screed — so I might as well try to systematize things.

Henri Matisse, 'The Windshield, On the Road to Villacoublay,' 1917. Cleveland Museum of Art

Henri Matisse, ‘The Windshield, On the Road to Villacoublay,’ 1917. Cleveland Museum of Art

Ideally I’d go through a site redesign and “rebranding” before reemerging, but as has become my custom every time I do a performative art-meets-art-criticism thingy, I’m about to embark on another road trip, so this blog’s early history as a travelogue will be revived minus the sex-worker part (I’ve been re-retired from the world’s oldest freelance gig since February). I’ll be flying to St. Louis on Saturday to start this one. Tentative itinerary: the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Des Moines w/the folks (unfortunately the museum will be closed while I’m there), Walker Art Center/Minneapolis Institute of Arts, possibly museums in Madison, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS OR BUST, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University, and the Saint Louis Art Museum.

The trip was inspired by the possibility that Detroit’s creditors might try to force the city to sell off the Detroit Institute of Arts’ by-all-accounts superb collection. This article by Nicholas Wapshott explains why that move would amount to giving up on the city:

… [E]ven if the estimates reflect only half the money that may be raised, it is only going to provide half the money the city needs to become solvent. If there were no other considerations apart from monetary, however, putting a collection of publicly owned art up for auction would be a sure, if undignified, way of raising cash.

Economically, however, it would be a disaster. Art is not like gold, which has few uses except as a store of value. Sell gold and you can buy back gold. Sell rare masterpieces and they can rarely, if ever, be recovered. Fine art has a value way beyond its mere price. To liquidate the DIA’s art would be a short-term fix that would soon redound on those who say they have Detroit’s best interests at heart. …

To sell off the DIA’s collection in a hurriedly arranged fire sale would send a clear signal that Detroit is washed up, a dead end, an urban experiment that did not survive the rigors of the market. Could Detroit endure a long and virulent campaign by art lovers all over America portraying the Motor City as the broken-backed capital of philistinism? Investors would conclude that Detroit is finished and take their money elsewhere. …

As Tom Campbell, director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum, put it, “Even in the darkest days of New York City’s fiscal crisis of 1975, and the national economic meltdown of 2008, the cultural treasures closely identified with our own city were never on the table — never considered an asset that might be cashed-in during a crunch to bridge a negative balance sheet.”

Unfortunately, cries of “save the DIA’s art” are all too easily satirized, as Detroit Free Press business columnist Tom Walsh demonstrates:

Many attendees at the Detroit Regional Chamber gathering were buzzing with anger Wednesday evening over earlier statements by Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr that DIA artworks could possibly become entangled in a Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceeding.

Rich people will stop bequeathing art to the museum, they wailed. Swell traveling exhibits will skip the DIA, which will cease to exist as a respected art house if its treasures are peddled to creditors at a bankruptcy garage sale.

Really? Is it possible, I thought, that otherwise intelligent Michigan people still don’t get it, that a massive financial collapse wreaks drastic change throughout the institution?

Do we not recall that the General Motors had to ditch its Saturn, Pontiac, Hummer and Saab brands, fire its CEO and wipe out all of its common stockholders as part of its bankruptcy and bailout?

For years and years, as Detroit kept piling on debt to an unsustainable level of $16 billion, it was popular to blame the mess on mismanagement, intransigent labor unions, poor employee morale and assume those culprits would pay the price when the reckoning finally came.

But, gee, now it has suddenly dawned on the C-suite executives — and their foundations that support the arts — that some of their pet interests are endangered, too.

Sigh.

It takes some nerve to advocate total capitulation to the unregulated market, which has been fueled by the same creditor class that screwed Detroit and is now turning the screws on Detroit, and then to try to paint that viewpoint as the stick-it-to-the rich position. But Walsh is joined by Virginia Postrel, who tries to sound like less of a philistine by advocating that DIA artworks be sold to the Getty, which gets more tourists, as if tourists should take precedence of a museum’s service to the people of its city.

But why wouldn’t Postrel take that view when the interdependence of the travel industry and arts organizations, whose funding is often tied to their ability — perceived or actual — to put heads in hotel beds? Why wouldn’t she advocate selling off the DIA’s holdings when she can point to statements by its former director?

In 1931, the man who built the collection, director William Valentiner, argued for continued city funding by citing how much the works’ value had appreciated. “The Brueghel painting we purchased for $38,000 is valued at more than $150,000,” he said. “If the city were to sell, piece by piece, the objects of art it has purchased, they would realize more than five times the amount paid for them.” Valentiner certainly wasn’t advocating such sales, but his statement demonstrates that they weren’t inconceivable.

As Postrel shows, when art boosters use economic arguments to talk about the importance of art, it’s only a matter of time before somebody comes along and says, “Hey, you know what would really make an economic impact?”

Still, if ever a city could use some cultural tourism right about now, it’s Detroit. And people who were tweeting their support for the DIA from Venice in between shots of the fabulous time they were having at La Biennale shouldn’t wait for someone to organize a biennial to get to the Motor City, visit one of the country’s best museums (and what appears to be an interesting emerging art scene) and spend some fucking money in Detroit and make sure Detroit knows you’re why they’re there.

I expect the ways in which cities use and misuse art to tell the world stories about themselves to be one of this blog’s ongoing motifs. Another will be looking at what museums are and aren’t doing to make their collections more accessible to their cities’ not-so-well-heeled residents. Another will simply involve posting pictures or videos of, and thinking out loud about, the art I see, sometimes relating all of the above to what else is going on in journalism and in the world. I’ll probably do a fair amount of cross-posting on A+C’s website, especially as we work on retooling things for the fall. Follow me on Twitter (@dbhypend) to keep up with it all. In the meantime, pardon our dust while I gradually repurpose this blog, taking away some pages and putting up new ones and fiddling with the appearance.

Wrapping up the residency

25 Jun

The deeper I got into my Art League Houston residency, the less I cared whether anybody saw what I was doing in (semi)public; therefore, the more lax I got about documenting it. (By the same token, I had increasingly amazing conversations with the people who did stop by, either while I was working in the gallery or during the closing reception.) So if you were following through this blog rather than Facebook or Twitter, sorry about that, and here’s your catch-up post.

Devon Britt-Darby, 'Broken Glass (Brockton Police Department Arrest Report Case No. 04008183),' 2013. Acrylic, glass microspheres and enamel on unstretched canvas

Devon Britt-Darby, ‘Broken Glass (Brockton Police Department Arrest Report Case No. 04008183),’ 2013. Acrylic, glass microspheres and enamel on unstretched canvas

Devon Britt-Darby, 'Broken Glass (Brockton Police Department Arrest Report Case No. 04008183)' (detail), 2013. Acrylic, glass microspheres and enamel on unstretched canvas

Devon Britt-Darby, ‘Broken Glass (Brockton Police Department Arrest Report Case No. 04008183)’ (detail), 2013. Acrylic, glass microspheres and enamel on unstretched canvas

Devon Britt-Darby, 'Pepper Spray (Brockton Police Department Arrest Report Case No. 04008183),' 2013. Acrylic, glass microspheres and enamel on unstretched canvas

Devon Britt-Darby, ‘Pepper Spray (Brockton Police Department Arrest Report Case No. 04008183),’ 2013. Acrylic, glass microspheres and enamel on unstretched canvas

Devon Britt-Darby, 'Victim and Witnesses (Brockton Police Department Arrest Report Case No. 04008183),' 2013 Acrylic, glass microspheres and enamel on unstretched canvas

Devon Britt-Darby, ‘Victim and Witnesses (Brockton Police Department Arrest Report Case No. 04008183),’ 2013
Acrylic, glass microspheres and enamel on unstretched canvas

Devon Britt-Darby, 'Some Professional Mental Health Help (Brockton Police Department Arrest Report Case No. 04008183),' 2013. Acrylic, glass microspheres and enamel on unstretched canvas

Devon Britt-Darby, ‘Some Professional Mental Health Help (Brockton Police Department Arrest Report Case No. 04008183),’ 2013. Acrylic, glass microspheres and enamel on unstretched canvas

Devon Britt-Darby, 'Some Professional Mental Health Help (Brockton Police Department Arrest Report Case No. 04008183),' 2013. Acrylic, glass microspheres and enamel on unstretched canvas

Devon Britt-Darby, ‘Some Professional Mental Health Help (Brockton Police Department Arrest Report Case No. 04008183),’ 2013 (detail). Acrylic, glass microspheres and enamel on unstretched canvas

Devon Britt-Darby, 'New Bedford (Vanload of Art),' 2013 Destroyed paintings (all surviving, unsold works 2000-2009; selected works 2010-2013)

Devon Britt-Darby, ‘New Bedford (Vanload of Art),’ 2013
Destroyed paintings (all surviving, unsold works 2000-2009; selected works 2010-2013)

This piece was created on a loony bin-issued paper bath mat back in 2004; I framed it with one of the paintings we destroyed in the gallery on June 8, adding hinges so people could see both sides.

Devon Britt-Darby, 'Medline, Your Personal Bath Mat – Reorder No. NON24318,' 2004/2013 Ink, magic marker, gauze and tape on paper; linen hinges, wood stretchers with remants of canvas, staples and blue painter’s tape; metal hinges with duct tape

Devon Britt-Darby, ‘Medline, Your Personal Bath Mat – Reorder No. NON24318,’ 2004/2013
Ink, magic marker, gauze and tape on paper; linen hinges, wood stretchers with remants of canvas, staples and blue painter’s tape; metal hinges with duct tape

Medline, Your Personal Bath Mat Reorder No. NON24318, 2004-2013 verso

Then, pretty much as soon as it was all completed, it was time to take it all down. Now the gallery looks as if I was never there.

Art League departure-001

My studio at home, on the other hand, now looks like an episode of Art Hoarders.

Microspheres and vapors

14 Jun

The next step in the painting process involved mixing glass microspheres — the stuff that makes the paint on roads reflective at night — with a transparent medium and applying it to the canvas the same way as I did the iridescent pearl layer, with the mop handle and broom.

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Now, when I’ve worked with this particular medium before, it’s been on a much smaller scale, and opening a window has been enough to air out the room while it dries, which only takes a few hours. I’ve now learned what probably should have been obvious — that when you scale up in size you scale up exponentially in vapors. Long story short, we had to open every window and door in the building and I was asked not to use that medium again, so I’ll be switching to plain old acrylic gloss for the other canvases. I’m not exactly sure how this will effect their final look, but at this point, the bigger point of suspense is whether I’ll be able to finish the whole police report in the week I’ve got left. (I will, one way or another.)

In ordinary light, with the canvas lying on the floor — it will go up on the wall today — you can’t really tell I’ve done much of anything to it since yesterday’s entry. So I shot these photos at night with a flash to give you a vague, though misleading, idea of just how much the painting has actually changed. Here, again, is a before shot of a detail of the painting as of yesterday morning:

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And here’s how it looks under flash with the microspheres added:

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Based on how the iridescent silver seems to work in some of the paintings I showed in part one, I believe the footprints, like the text that will soon be on top of them, should slip in and out of view as you move past them once the painting’s up on the wall and lit. We’ll know soon whether I’m right.

Pearl and silver, broom handles and feet

13 Jun

More progress on what will be my largest text painting — for that matter, my largest painting — to date. Yesterday I taped a brush to a broom handle to add a layer of acrylic iridescent pearl to the (bluish, grayish) off-white enamel underneath — the same enamel that will be used to create the final all-text layer.

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After that dried, I added areas of iridescent silver with my feet.

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