Friday, December 18, 2009

December Notes

Work above by Cynthia Robertson.

If you missed our holiday party last Sunday at Cynthia Robertson's house, you missed a very yummy treat. She served us the best Gumbo I've eaten recently along with a large pot of greens (mustard, I think) and on the side, corn bread of course and a pot of pig tails and necks. Soul Food Yum!!!
Of course we all brought yummy appetizers and dessert but the Gumbo (chicken, sausage, shrimp, crab, maybe oysters too) deserved 5 stars. Cynthia sent a bowl of gumbo home with me and it was even better the next day. My mom, who made wonderful gumbo too, said hers always tasted better the next day. Both days were good for me. Well, I loved the greens too. Southern and Soul!

Thank you, Cynthia, for your wonderful hospitality and yummy food.

Members who attended brought a small encaustic painting to swap. That was fun too. I came home with one of Cynthia's paintings. See top of post.

Work above: Julia Koivumaa, Atlantis; Encaustic Collage on panel

Scroll back to Thursday, Dec. 10 and the talk at MFAH, How Artists Think.
The talk was part of a summer education program at the museum for patrons wanting to learn more about how to look at and better understand contemporary art.
One of our own, Julia Koivumaa was one of the artists on the panel of four. Julia's presentation was precise and to the point, (she was third to speak and was encouraged to speed up the process because the previous two artists had taken a bit more than their allotted time.)
She works mostly with the medium of encaustics (beeswax and damar resin) and photography. The works she presented this night were mixed media encaustic paintings with collaged photos.
Ideas referenced in this series of new work are time, memory, changing attitudes.

It took the others a bit more time to get to their point but certainly they enlightened us about their thinking and creative processes as well.
Nerves get in the way sometimes and it is just plain hard to be literal about non-literal information. Perhaps that was a good thing for the audience to see....just how hard it is to speak about conceptual work and how difficult it is to speak directly about a process that is so non-linear.

Along with Julia on the panel were artists Jason Dibley, Armando Rodriguez and Nathanial Donnett.
Jason Dibley, artist/photographer is Program Coordinator at the Houston Center for Photography here in Houston. Jason stages his imagery with sometimes real objects and sometimes cut-outs that he has made himself. He directs light on the objects casting shadows on the wall. These cast images are what he shoots. The relationship of the particular objects (size and scale, etc)projected in shadow juxtaposed with a bit of drawn element plus the title, create a sort of visual pun. The photographs from the series he talked about, like the one below, are all quite small.

Image above: Jason Dibley, The Engineer, 2006.
Silver Gelatin Print. 5 x 4 1/2inches (Image from Artist profiles HCP page, click image to go there for more images)

Armando Rodriguez works in various media including photography, printmaking (etching, lithography, and monotype), graphic design and bookmaking. In addition to teaching at Art League Houston, he also works for the Houston Chronicle and in the education department of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Armando said he enjoys the mystery of working intuitively, not knowing just what the final outcome will be.

Work above by Armando Rodriguez (Image from Art League Intstructor page. Click image to go there.)

Nathaniel Donnett says his work has been influenced by the conceptual work of Joseph Kosuth. He pays homage to that artist making use of some of Kosuth's visual strategies but the shift in imagery and use of object Donnett utilizes directly references his own agenda. Clicking on Donnett's name will take you to a Youtube video of Nathaniel talking about his work.

The artist talking part was my favorite part of the presentation of the two hours but the slide comparisons that Chelsea Schlievert and Lauren Fretz, educators in the MFAH's Education Department presented was also very interesting and informative with audience participation encouraged. It was sort of a mini art appreciation course condensed in one evening. The works they compared were works from the MFAH collection and available for us to see in person. Comparisons paired two different artists use of color or line or compositional strategy, etc.
Amedeo Modigliani's portrait of Leopold Zborowski, c. 1916 and Cesar Augusto Martinez's Bato con Sunglasses provided one such comparison.

The third element of the two hours was at the end when the audience was broken into four smaller groups and sent out into the museum with one of the artists from the panel to discuss a couple of paintings (that artist's choice) in the collection.

Thanks to the MFAH's Education Department, Chelsea Schlievert and Lauren Fretz as well as to the four artists on the panel for this program.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How Artists Think

Julia Koivumaa, TexasWAX member will be one of the panelists in the How Artists Think discussion this Thursday evening Dec. 10th, at the MFAH. Admission is free but space is limited so please make a reservation by sending it to You will receive a confirmation from them via e-mail.

Meet in America General Conference Room, Mezzanine of Audrey Jones Beck Building.

This talk is a follow up to the How to Look at Contemporary Art classes held this summer. How Artists Think invites museum visitors to think about not only their relationship to a work of art but to the artist as well.