Posts Tagged ‘Drawing’

The Temple of Blooom at Cinders Gallery

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

The Cinders Gallery on Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg is just closing out one of the more amazing shows of the summer today—The Temple of Blooom is an installation of drawings, paintings, collage and sculpture.  There are too many good things in this show to give an exhaustive description of what’s going on in the space; that such an engaging, inspiring installation could be assembled in the relatively small confines of a storefront gallery is testament to the vibrant energy that runs through the Brooklyn art scene, even during the Dog Days of summer.

Hisham Bharoocha has put together a group of collages that resonate at once with 1960′s San Francisco psychedelic poster art and the dreamlike imagery of Joseph Cornell, or the poignant poetics of the late Joe Brainard’s collage work.  Kelie Bowman’s delicately rendered drawing of flowers arranged in the shape of human forms might easily have been included in this year’s Biennial, across from Aurel Schmidt’s Arcimboldo-esque Minotaur drawing as a counterpoint to some of the Biennial’s brooding pessimism.  The entire gallery has a magical, ritual-like atmosphere, as if one had walked into the after-effects of a Vodun rite.  The black and gold painted papier mache shrine to “the gods of plants” by an artist who calls himself Sto, and John Orth’s mask-like drawings of disembodied, abstract spirit-faces further enhances the mysteriously evocative atmosphere of this show.

Photos and video from Friday’s musical performance by Inferior Amps, Noveller and Brian Chase are on the Cinders Gallery blog,  along with pictures from the closing party tonight.

Click on an image in the gallery to view a larger photo:

Please visit more of Harold’s Sketchbook @ www.haroldgraves.com

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David Dunlap at CUE Art Foundation

Friday, January 8th, 2010
Note: please click on an image to view a larger photo, then click that photo to get even larger:

Notes on David Dunlap at CUE

The CUE Foundation is showing the protean work of Iowa City artist David Dunlap in their Chelsea gallery on west 25th street.  This is an installation by an important and influential artist who has been deserving of larger recognition, at least in the New York art community, for a long while.

For the past four decades artist David Dunlap has been keeping a series of daily notebook journals and sketchbooks–a kind of stream-of-consciousness diary of daily life and reflections on art and the world, which he presents in various formats, each one showcasing a different incarnation of the artist’s ongoing work.

Empty, luminous, dream-like, ungraspable and mysterious:  the current exhibition, Mr. Dunlap’s first solo show in New York City, has as its centerpiece a section of a fifty-foot high plywood house the artist constructed in his back yard in Iowa City.  Inside and around the “house” are numerous hand-made book-cases displaying the many notebooks, sketchbooks and project-scrapbooks that have continued to accumulate like deposits in an ever-expanding coral reef of memories, dreams and doodles.  In the middle of the house is an enigromatic object:  A Device for Detecting the Presence of Martin Luther King, Jr. Along the walls of the exhibition space are displayed individual, framed drawings–many of them small pages pulled from the ubiquitous wire-bound notebooks Mr. Dunlap carries with him, while others are larger-format drawings, often executed with a ball-point pen:  homemade calendars illustrated with abstract doodles and mysterious shapes.  Most any mundane, ordinary event becomes the jumping-0ff point for long, meandering riffs on various fantastic and often funny drawings–abstract patterns that morph into figures and symbols which populate the daily calendar of a life lived with friends and family.  Enigmatic phrases headline and punctuate the sprawling installation of imagery:  Dreaming, He is At Work, Hitler Dream Analysis, Give Us Back Our Flag You Waterboarded, This is Always Finished,  Free Art School!

Egolessness and equanimity are seemingly rare in our world, and this is particularly true in the New York “Art World” where egos are often large and tending towards the loud and self-important.  The spirit of David Dunlap’s work seems to be gently calling us to look beyond our limited view of what art could be about and towards something larger, more wholesome and inclusive–and possibly more fun!–than the self-preoccupation and blustery careerism of much contemporary art.

Equanimity means recognition of our interdependence:  our lives do not unfold in a vacuum, but in a context of relationships.  The poet Allen Ginsberg once wrote, “Art’s not empty if it shows its own emptiness.”   Empty here does not mean nihilistic and despairing, but rather that emptiness is always empty of something:  empty of permanence, continuity and a solid, indestructible, independent self.  Art, like life, is relational, in other words, and the artist’s production arises in interdependence with the environment that the artist works and lives in.  David Dunlap seems to revel in this empty, selfless aspect of his work, often collaborating with others in the seemingly large, rich tapestry of relationships he has cultivated over the course of his life.  “The Men’s Fylfot Cross Correspondence Club” is one such ongoing collaboration of drawings passed between friends, with shapes that mutate and change as each person adds something on to the accumulating imagery, like an ongoing musical jam-session happening on paper.

My only criticism of this exhibition is that it is not nearly large enough to encompass the entire scope of David’s work—indeed, the present (though wonderful) installation is really only a small, modular piece of a much larger, ongoing work in progress.  The largest exhibit of Mr. Dunlap’s work that I have seen to date was at the Des Moines Art Center in 1989, an enormous multi-room installation with wall-paintings, timelines, furniture, and of course the artist’s books.  While browsing through the beautiful, gem-like installation at CUE, I kept imagining what it would be like to fill one of the Whitney Museum’s floors with a full-scale exhibit of Mr. Dunlap’s work, or possibly the expansive Marron Atrium at MoMA.

One of the unfortunate drawbacks of life in the Big Apple is that New York City often has a myopic eye when it comes to appreciating the rich variety of art work that exists in our great country outside the city.  The CUE Foundation and the Reeder Brothers deserve a warm thanks for bringing generous work like this to New York.

Additional Notes from the CUE Press Release:

“His materials of choice come from the everyday – clothes, notebooks, calendars, automobiles, even paint made from mixing walnuts and buckets of water. Yet, while the base components may imply simplicity, they are far from easy to digest. Containing the recordings of thoughts and memories like daily journal entries or logbooks, the work provokes a cryptic sense of voyeurism. Dunlap employs an elaborate and deeply personal symbology in all of his work, linking the seemingly mundane and the profound, the personal and the cultural, the historical and the present. An intimate mythology is generated through his unique lexicon used for documenting his life. Recurring symbols like Martin Luther King, swastikas, dates and flags are found throughout his work, constantly being reworked within new contexts of his own personal documentation. However, Dunlap does not stake sole claim on the work; as with many of the symbols used, all of his work is open to interpretation, redefinition and re-appropriation. Through the resulting installation the viewer is led to question their initial conceptions of these “stock” images, underlining the obstructiveness of readymade thought and ideas.”

Visit Harold’s Sketchbooks at www.haroldgraves.com

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The Brompton Sketchmobile: Harold’s Sketchblog Bike

Monday, December 7th, 2009

My Brompton folding bicycle is a mainstay of my experience as a sketchbook artist & photographer in New York.  I commute all over the city with my sketchbooks, pens, and camera in the shoulder bag that mounts onto the front of the frame.  My “other bicycle” is a Motobecane Nomade from the late 1970′s, which I purchased from a Goodwill store for $40 over 10 years ago.

Sketchblog artist Harold Graves with his Brompton T-6 folding bike on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Sketchblog artist Harold Graves with his Brompton T-6 folding bike on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Visit Harold’s Sketchbooks at www.haroldgraves.com

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More Late Night Drawings

Monday, December 7th, 2009

6 HeadsBally_W_woman

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More Sketchbook Drawings

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Here are some drawings I made while visiting Cambridge a couple of years ago:Here are some drawings I made while visiting Cambridge a couple of years ago.

And here’s a few pen & ink drawings I made this week:

orthodox Jewish manwoman_w_arms_crossedbusinessman_looking_upBally Men's

Visit Harold’s Sketchbook at www.haroldgraves.com

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Veteran’s Day on the A Train

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Veterans_Day

Today is Veteran’s day, and as I was riding the subway I noticed a homeless old veteran, voicing his thoughts out loud about the war in Iraq and the current healthcare debate to a captive audience; we shared the same car all the way from Brooklyn up to 34th street where I got off and he kept on, an elderly African-American man wearing his baggy old leather coat and jeans and carrying a plastic Pearl Paint bag with his stuff in it.  I tried to jot down some of what he was saying in my sketchbook:

“Sometimes it feels like a real mess, don’t it, folks?  The United States is the wealthiest, most powerful nation probably in the history of the world; 95% of the earth’s land mass is within striking range of the U.S. Navy, 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and what do we do about healthcare for our own citizens?  Let them be jack-rolled by the health-insurance industry, that’s what!  Fuck ‘em!  That’s right, you heard what I said:  you don’t have a right to healthcare, honey!  You have a right to a casket and a trip to the graveyard, sweetheart!  Homeless Veterans?  Fuck them too!  They don’t have a right to anything either!

“You people want to see a fuckin’ parade?  You want to celebrate something?  Have a fuckin’ parade for Death!  That’s what you should have a parade for!  You know why?  Death don’t discriminate!  Death don’t care what color you is, or whether you is insured or not!  Fuck Veteran’s Day, man!  Let’s have a Death Parade!  You think you’re hot shit?  You think you’re bad?  Then let’s see you end the war in Iraq!  That’s right!  Let’s see you put an end to homelessness!  That’s right folks!  Death don’t respect nobody, not even Michael Jackson!  Not even Michael Fucking Jackson, the King of Pop!  Death don’t respect nobody, no sir!  Everybody gets treated the same by Death!  Let’s have a National Holiday and a ticker-tape Parade for Death!  No shit, man!  Your death is someone else’s holiday, baby!”

Visit Harold’s Sketchbook at www.haroldgraves.com

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A Summer Afternoon on The Brooklyn Promenade

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Man with a Camera

Man with Dog

Schooner

Lower Manhattan Towers

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Doctor Obama’s Waiting Room

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Waiting for Health Care_BW

Woman in a Waiting Room BWMan Waiting_BW

Seated Woman_BW

Waiting Room_BW

I started these sketches in the waiting room at my doctor’s office a while ago, sitting there thinking about what a crisis our nation’s health care system has become.

Later I kept adding to the drawings, so it’s kind of become a series.  I’ve been thinking about some of the narratives I’ve heard from people about their experiences with health care, and how it has affected their lives.  Some of these stories are from people I know personally, and others I’ve read in the news.  I started writing fragments of these different “broken narratives” down in my notebooks, and then adding them to the drawings.  One day I heard someone call President Obama “Dr. Obama” and it suddenly occurred to me that, for many people he is kind of like the “doctor” that everyone hopes will be able to heal the “broken system” that we have now.

Whatever one thinks about the healthcare debate, one thing seems certain:  the present system is not really working for many of us, and it can’t continue.  Whether we manage to come up with a single-payer healthcare plan, or some other public option, or some radical overhaul of the existing setup, something has got to change.  It seems like we’re all sitting in the doctor’s office, “waiting for Health Care Reform,” and at the risk of sounding naive,  I  am hoping that President Obama will turn out to be the “doctor” that can make the necessary changes happen.

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The Art of Seeing: the Practice of Keeping a Sketchbook

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

The New York Times this week featured an engaging article by Michael Kimmelman about the once ubiquitous activity of sketchbook drawing.  Mr. Kimmelman notes that travelers “who took the Grand Tour across Europe during the 18th century spent months and years learning languages, meeting politicians, philosophers and artists and bore sketchbooks in which to draw and paint — to record their memories and help them see better.  Cameras replaced sketching by the last century; convenience trumped engagement, the viewfinder afforded emotional distance and many people no longer felt the same urgency to look.”  Taking the time to slow down and consider one’s experience is an essential part of keeping a sketchbook, and indeed it seems rare to find people actively drawing this way as a regular practice any more.

Drawing has always, at least until recently, been a fundamental basis for most other creative pursuits, whether in architecture, painting, sculpture, or costume and fashion design.  Even dancers have been known to work out difficult choreography with a drawing.  Botanists, anthropologists, archaeologists, zoologists and a whole spectrum of people engaged in “scientific” pursuits made drawings as part of their practice of scientific observation.  Think of Lewis and Clark, recording flora and fauna in bound sketchbooks that they carried with them on their long, adventurous trek into a new world.

Michelangelo, who made this drawing a few years before his death, was asked by a younger man for advice about how to proceed in becoming an artist.  The story goes that the old master’s response was simply, “draw, draw, draw.”  Compared with our 18th and 19th century forebears, touring the continent with their baedekers, pencils and watercolors in hand, we are all probably suffering from technologically-induced attention deficit disorder.  Perhaps my own need to keep a sketchbook handy is an attempt to cure myself of this illness, or to at least create a buffer of sorts that might hold the disease at bay for a while.

One of my sketchbook entries from the recent Caillebotte exhibit at the Brooklyn Art Museum:

After Caillebotte_2

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Museums and Women

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Martin Puryear 1

Seurat at MOMA

MOMA

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