Fill 'er Up

Billboard wall in Chelsea 

Who could have known that this billboard wall on 21st Street in Chelsea would be a metaphor for the jumble of stuff in the galleries right now?

At the Barbara Gladstone Gallery, Thomas Hirschhorn, inspired by the Italian cruise ship that ran aground feet from shore, has created his version of the listing banquet hall inside the inaptly named Costa Concordia. There's no sense of urgency or disorientation here, but it is an awesome spectacle.

Thomas Hirschhorn, Concordia, Concordia, at Barbara Gladstone Gallery in Chelsea, up through October 20
Detail below

Tip of the iceberg: At the doorway of Sikkema Jenkins on 22nd Street, where Leonardo Drew's installation is visible.
There's another apocalyptic vision at Sikkema Jenkins, where Leonardo Drew reportedly took the entire summer to install this season opener, a burnt offering of detritus from nature and industry. But for all its destruction there's something Phoenix-like about Drew's enterprise, for he's cobbled together an entirely new vision out of the ashes of the old. It's up through October 12. 

Installation view of Number 161 in the large main gallery
Detail below

Standing at the periphery of the main gallery, with the installation snaking around behind us and into a second space, we're looking at Number 159 on the far wall
Detail below, where riveted metal and assemblaged wood meet

Katerina Marcelja, Wet Wings and Wooden Sails, at Giacobetti Paul Gallery in Dumbo
In the 111 Front Street Gallery building in Dumbo, Katerina Marcelja took the detritus of a house that was deconstructed for remodeling and turned it into an installation, the largest work of which is this  menacing mountain of snapped lathing. The show is up through September 30. (Truth to tell, I went to see Mark Dagley's show at Minus Space next door, and I will show you those pictures soon.)

 A steamroller in a tight space
At Dodge Gallery on Rivington Street on the Lower East Side, sculptor Dave Cole has shoehorned a steamroller into the gallery's below-ground-level gallery. No he didn't drive it in. The disemboweled steamroller was taken apart and placed section by section into the tight quarters and then reassembled. The unusual thing about this steamroller is that it's now a musical instrument. See the protrusions on the drum and the metal fingers on the wooden sound box attached to the front? Yes, it's a music box. (The song? My Country 'Tis of Thee. I might have preferred Jimi Hendrix or maybe Bach, but the one who does the work gets to pick the tune.) The show is up through October 28.

Dave Cole, The Music Box, 2012, Installation view. Photo, Carly Gaebe. Photo from the gallery website
Stay tuned over the next few weeks. I have a lot to show you of the new season in New York. As always, I welcome an annual voluntary donation of $20 to keep this blog going. Look for the money request in red on the sidebar and the Pay Pal link just below it. Thanks.


Marketing Mondays: "Good Art-world Citizens"

Visiting the Minus Space gallery in DUMBO last week, I chatted with Matthew Deleget and Rossana Martinez, the artists who founded an online platform for reductive art which became the bricks-and-mortar gallery we were standing in. Deleget mentioned that all of the artists the gallery represents “give back”  in some way, whether it be teaching, mentoring, curating, or writing.
Deleget and Martinez were too modest to mention it, but "giving back" at Minus Space starts with them. As I was on the F train heading back into Manhattan, I remembered a recent Village Voice article Christian Vivieros-Faune wrote on Chuck Close, in which he quoted the eminent artist on the importance of being a “good art-world citizen.”
“Close's constant civic-mindedness has resulted in his appointment to the
President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, as well as his recruitment to mentor struggling schools for Turnaround Arts—a recent administration-led arts-education initiative that closely echoes the artist's own oft-quoted precepts,” writes Faure.
While most artists will not be involved with projects that are quite as high profile as lobbying the President while photographing him, there are many who have been and continue to be good art-world citizens, which is the subject of today’s Marketing Mondays post.
When I think of “good art-world citizens,” I think of sculptor Nancy Azara and painter Darla Bjork who were instrumental in founding and teaching at the New York Feminist Art Institute in SoHo in the Seventies, and who continue to host intergenerational salons for women artists; of dealer Edward Winkleman who offers advice to artists on his blog; of critic Jerry Saltz who hosts an online salon for his 5000 Facebook friends, most of them artists. I think of the artist and writer Chris Ashley, who maintains Some Walls, a curatorial and writing art project open by appointment in his home in Oakland, California; Ashley mounts four to six solo exhibitions a year and writes an essay for each exhibition. 
I think of the late Ivan Karp, who always took the time to look at artists' work and offer an honest assessment of what he saw. (His memorial will take place in a few weeks; see sidebar right.)
I think of Richard Frumess, painter and paintmaker, who started a small paint company in the basement of his Brooklyn building, moved it upstate to Kingston, grew it with partners, and for 20+ years has been dispensing technical and best-practices information to artists, along with creating a workplace that hires artists and gives those artists room to create workshops and curate exhibitions in its gallery, both of which serve an international community of artists; yes, R&F Handmade Paints is a for-profit company, but it gives back much to the community which supports it. This kind of generosity is true, too, for the Golden Paint Company, which gives back in similar good spirit.
I think of Paul Klein, Chicago art force and eminence gris, who sends out an arm-around-your-shoulder newsletter each month reporting on the Chicago gallery scene; of Philadelphia artists Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof who have chronicled, supported, and cheered on the Philly art scene in their terrific Artblog; of Sharon Butler who takes time out of a demanding studio practice and teaching career to report on painting in New York City and elsewhere with her Two Coats of Paint blog; of artist Austin Thomas, whose community gallery, Pocket Utopia, was the first kid on the Bushwick block and is now on the Lower East Side.
I think of  painter Julie Karabenick who, driven by a passion to chronicle abstract geometric art, has created an ongoing curatorial project, Geoform, which is both an international resource and a living testament to the power of geometric abstraction. I think of Jackie Battenfield who founded a gallery in Brooklyn, ran the Artists in the Marketplace in the Bronx, and  nowtravels around the country offering advice and inspiration to artists at all ages and at all professional levels.
I think of all the artists who donate artwork, occasionally or regularly, to the endless good causes for which they are asked (though I rail against donating). I think of the artist curators, usually unpaid, who create exhibition opportunities for their peers. I think of tenured artists who teach in schools and universities, and especially of the hardworking but poorly paid adjuncts and art center teachers who encourage and inspire.
"Giving back” doesn’t necessarily mean giving it away for free (though good art-world citizens are rarely rolling in dough); it simply means returning some of your hard-won experience, mentoring, generosity or energy to a community where there’s never enough to go around.
Feel free to toot your own horn, acknowledge another’s effort, or comment in whatever way you choose.

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Josef Albers: Painting on Paper

  1. Josef Albers, Color Study for White Line Square,
    oil on blotting paper with gouache, pencil and varnish; The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, 
    inv. no. 1976.2.22 29.53 x 29.66 cm

Josef Albers painted over 2000 paintings in his Homage to the Square series between 1950 and 1976, the year he died. What is less known is that the paintings--which took only a few hours each to execute--were preceded by intense color studies in oil, or sometimes gouache, on blotting paper. 

Unlike the pristine paintings on masonite or board, the sketches are loosely painted. Most are notated in the margins, sometimes even on the paint itself, with the information of their making: the names of paint brands and colors Albers used, and daubs of related hues. Sometimes the sketches are divided, and we see how one set of hues worked in relation to another, or they reveal his attempts to find the perfect gray foil to the hues already selected. Albers chose blotting paper for his sketches so that it would absorb much of the oil, leaving intensely pigmented color on the surface.

Fifty of these sketches are the subject of a splendid exhibition at the Morgan LibraryJosef Albers in America: Painting on Paper, through October 14. It's the only American venue for the show, so if you're an Albers devotee (and who isn't?) get over while the show is up. 

A catalog is available if you can't get there, but it doesn't begin to convey the intimacy of the small gallery and the color radiating from its walls. I wasn't allowed to photograph, so I can't convey it here either, but these images will give you a little taste of what's in the exhibition.

  1.   Josef Albers, Color Study for Homage to the Square, oil and graphite on blotting paper with varnish; The Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop, inv. no. 9/433 30.5 x 30.5 cm

  1. Josef Albers, Three Color Studies for Homage to the Square, oil on blotting paper; The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, inv. no. 1976.2.192 20.9 x 47.6 cm 

Josef Albers, Color Study for Homage to the Square, oil on blotting paper; The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, inv. no. 1976.2.336 33 x 30.4 cm

  1. Josef Albers, Study for Homage to the Square with Color Study, oil on blotting paper; The Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop, inv. no. 9/434 44.3 x 30.2 cm 

A little background: With his wife Anni (famed in her own right as a weaver of geometric tapestries developed during her time in the Bauhaus), Albers made numerous trips to Mexico between 1935 and 1955, taking in the light and the color and the geometry of the adobe houses, which were horizontally rectangular in shape and featured two vertical doors on either side of the central axis. He did a series of color studies using this motif, as well as individual paintings that relate to pottery and fabric patterns. “Mexico,” he wrote to Nina and Wassily Kandinsky in 1936, “is truly the promised land of abstract art.” 

  1. Josef Albers, Study for a Variant/ Adobe (I), ca. 1947, oil on blotting paper with pencil;  The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, inv. no. 1976.2.270 24.1 x 30.6 cm
    All images courtesy of the Morgan Library 

The iconic nesting-square format likely derives from this geometry, though it was simply a device. “Color,” Albers said, “is the means of my idiom. It’s autonomic. I’m not paying ‘homage to the square.’ It’s only the dish I serve my craziness about color in.” 

I recommend the entree.


Marketing Mondays: The Art Neighborhoods . . .

. . . In Your City
Today’s post was inspired by this reader email: “I'm from Saugerties [New York], although I live now in Chicago. I have watched from afar the wonderful transformation of formerly down-at-the-heels towns into vibrant art centers.”
The reader was talking about the towns in the Hudson Valley/Catskill area, about 100 miles North of New York City, which I have written about more than once: Hudson, Kingston and Castleton, all the way up into rural Washington County, east of Saratoga Springs. As artists and dealers pushed northward, some with country homes, others in search of more space for less money for year-round living, a thriving art region has taken hold.

Her comment led me to think about the changes we’ve seen in art real estate in New York City and elsewhere. Everyone knows about SoHo, a downtown area of Manhattan that fell into desuetude after light manufacturing fled the magnificent cast-iron buildings south of Houston Street, and was reincarnated in the late 60s and early 70s as a neighborhood of artists’ lofts and then of galleries. When the clothing and home furnishings stores barged in, around the mid-Eighties, the rents went up and artists and galleries went on to colonize elsewhere, although a handful of galleries remain.
Cast iron facades reflected in the window of OK Harris Works of Art on West Broadway, still going strong after 40 years. Image by Hubert J. Steed from the Internet

Tribeca, farther south, was the next stop. Developers who lost out on the real estate killing of SoHo almost immediately turned it into loft-condoland, attracting the big-money bohos who would make it the wealthiest zipcode in the city. The galleries came and went quickly.
Chelsea followed. Formerly home to taxi depots, auto garages, light manufacturing, SROs and, er, “gentlemen’s clubs,” it attracted artists and dealers with its spacious warehouse buildings and storefront spaces. With the renovation of the High Line park and new buildings, rents are on the rise and many galleries are on the move (though the area still hums with gallery activity from 19th Street to the low 30s, from Tenth Avenue to the River.)

The meeting of old and new in Chelsea: A steam-fitting company cheek by jowl with the Paul Kasmin Gallery on 28th Street

The High Line Park, a greensward on the old elevated railway, has brought a bit of the country to Chelsea--and with it, escalating prices. There are still hundreds of galleries here, but many are decamping for places with lower prices and ground-floor spaces on the Lower East Side

Below: a view of the park

Now the Lower East Side, a cobblestoned neighborhood east of SoHo, once and still home to thousands of immigrants and ethnic businesses, is undergoing a similar transformation, spurred largely by the presence of the New Museum and an ever-growing number of galleries.

99 Orchard Street in the 1930s. Image from the Tenement Museum via Trace|, the Center for Archeology, Columbia University
Below: A few doors down at 55 Orchard Street, McKenzie Fine Art, formerly of Chelsea, has just opened its streamlined doors


In Boston, it’s the SoWa district—the area south of Washington Street in the Historic South End—which has embraced artists studios and lofts, galleries, and now restaurants. It’s Beantown’s answer to Chelsea—plus there’s parking. Of course the Newbury Street gallery area remains, smaller but vital, a small-scale 57th Street with much more charm.
All of this has meant huge profits for the developers from formerly unused or underutilized spaces, but that’s not the point of this post, which is Marketing Mondays. For the art world these transformations have meant more opportunity: more galleries, which in turn have offered more visibility for more artists, coupled with easy geographic access for those who view art--and equally important, access for those who would acquire the art: collectors, museum curators and commercial designers at all levels and of all types. (Yes, I know, there are still more artists than gallery opportunities, but there are more galleries than ever before, along with more co-op galleries and DIY spaces.)
The story repeats in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Santa Fe, San Francisco and elsewhere.

I'm interested in hearing about the art and gallery neighborhoods in your city or region that have revitalized the area.  Please share what you know! To make this user friendly as well as geographically interesting, please note URLs that provide information about the areas you mention.


What I Did This Summer

Studio shot, taken this week. Series is as yet untitled
I don't usually show unfinished work, and certainly not crowded onto one wall and shot with my iPhone. But after a summer series that featured the work of many other artists here on the blog, I wanted to give myself some equal time. Plus I'm really digging what I have done . . . and I want to post it now.
Summer is my time to work on paper. It's a personal tradition I look forward to. The studio is cool. I feel about as relaxed as I'll feel all year, so what comes out is what has been percolating. I knew I wanted to continue my work with the diamond. I did the Soie series in a previous summer, culminating in a solo at the Marcia Wood Gallery in April 2011, and since then I've worked on Diamond Life paintings for group shows.
 Left: 2011 Diamond Life solo at Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta; painting and framed works on paper
Right: Lush Geometry group show at DM Contemporary, New York City, this past May-June, with Diamond Life 18, 2012, encaustic on panel, 22 x 22 inches, below. It was a short conceptual leap from this . . .

. . . to this
As yet untitled, about #10 in a series of 24 on 300-lb. Fabriano hot press, 30 x 22 inches
So, back to paper. I love the feel and weight of 300-lb. hotpress, I love its creamy whiteness and the soft thunder it makes when it ripples as you move it. The 30-by-22-inch size is perfect, a nice change from the equilateral proportion, square or diamond, I normally work with. The challenge I set for myself was to work achromaticallynone of that color that I slip into so comfortably–and to limit myself to graphite suspended in alcohol so that I could paint it on. Compositionally, I focused on one primary shape, the diamond, and a secondary shape the square, sometimes used as a grid.

As yet untitled, #1 in the series 

As yet untitled, somewhere about #8 in the series. Notice how a square slipped into the composition? Sometimes, you know, you just have to give the picture what it wants 

I set the diamond into an indeterminate space. I wanted it to spin, advance, recede, hover, spit, kick, explode or float without denying my formalist, minimalist impulse to be clean, centered, reductive. I got into the yin and yang of it. As for the grid, it defined the picture plane, pushing the diamond visually off the page; other times it sucked everything in.
As the work progressed I decided to introduce one more material element into the work: iridescent pearl, a micaceous pigment in a stick of oil and wax. Over graphite it is reads as silver when the light hits it just right, otherwise gray. In addition to painting, I also got more physical, rubbing the graphite or pigment stick into the paper by hand, sometimes sgrafitto-ing the surface to achieve a weave pattern.
Above and below: as yet untitled
Toward the end of the series I used more pearlescent pigment. I love the surprise of it. From head on, it's gray, but from the side, there's a silvery refraction. See what I mean?  A small elongated diamond diamond worked its way into the series toward the end, too.

A new series beckons, inspired by the bottom-row-middle work you see in the opening picture. It's the diamond set into a square. Actually, I'm thinking print. I'd love to be invited to do such a series (hint, hint). Wherever it goes, you'll see it here eventually. Thanks for looking.


Marketing Mondays: The Rules

Well, not these rules. I'm talking about the understood concepts that make the art world run more smoothly, or which provide an easier path for you to travel within it. Image from the Internet
In a small gallery in Tribeca in the early 90s, a panel-discussion with four gallery directors took place on a weekday evening. It was billed as an event “for mid-career artists.” Fifty or so artists were expected. About 200 showed up, waiting in a line that stretched around the block. The age range spanned seven or eight decades. All were looking for the advice that would send their careers soaring. 
After each of the dealers talked about their gallery protocols and how they find artists, one of the older artists rose and said something like, "In art school I learned that success would come at midcareer, so I waited my turn. But now I find that the younger artists have moved to the head of the line." He was angry.
A panelist responded kindly: "Times have changed. What you learned in art school about getting shown and finding a gallery no longer applies. One of the reason younger artists are meeting with success sooner is that they aren't operating under the 'old rules.' They don't know what those 'rules' are. You can't rely on the rules that you followed 20 years ago. Or even 10 year ago.”
“Well,” he demanded, “what are the rules?”
Advance the discussion by two decades. Artist Rob Tarbell emailed recently with the same question: “What are the unwritten rules of the art world? Do they differ by city or region? Do they differ by gallerist, curator and artist?”
This is a job for crowd sourcing—I hope you’ll all comment  below—but let me start off with a general comment. I think there are subtleties from region to region and, personalities being what they are, from dealer to dealer, or curator to curator whatever the region. For instance, there’s a well-respected dealer in Portland, Maine, who is totally open to having you call and ask, “May I bring in some work to show you?” Try that with a New York dealer, and you won’t get past, “Hello.” On the other hand, a new curator even from a major city, is likely to be more open to looking in the early days of her tenure, while she’s assessing the art community and the artists in it.
Here are some “rules” that do seem to apply pretty much across the board. I’ve culled them from previous Marketing Mondays posts, informal conversations with art world friends, and a check of my trusty reference tomes, The Artist’s Guide, Art/Work, and How to Start and Run a Commercial Gallery..

1. Do your homework
One of the threads that runs through the four years of this column comes from dealers and curators: To find the gallery that’s right for you, you have to eliminate all the ones that are not. That requires time spent visiting galleries, going to openings, and following the galleries’ exhibitions online when you can’t visit them in person. You can call it reconnaissancehomework, or visiting the galleries with a purpose. .
Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber, authors of Art/Work, call this “The One Year Rule.” Their advice: “Follow a gallery’s program for about a year before you even think about asking a gallery to look at your work.”
Here’s Edward Winkleman, owner of the Winkleman Gallery in Chelsea, blogger, and author of How to Start and Run a Commercial Gallery, in a 2007 blog post that remains as timely now as it was then: Understand what your potential market is like and find the galleries that target that market. This takes work and research but will pay off your entire career.”
2. Dealers are always looking even if they tell you they're not
Most gallery websites post a “We are not currently accepting submissions” disclaimer (reason: Not enough artists do their homework, Rule #1), but they are always looking. A Midwest art dealer I talked to for How Dealers AreConsidering Artists Now, a Marketing Mondays post from 2009, says this about how and where they look: “The order has changed: One, recommendations from other artists who know me, my program, and the artist they are recommending; two, discovery as I travel to art fairs and, sometimes, other galleries; three, unsolicited submissions, about one in a million.
3. You will be rejected
“No matter how renowned, well-connected or talented, everyone will get rejected from opportunities they want,” writes Jackie Battenfield, artist and author of The Artist’s Guide. Knowing this doesn’t lessen the hurt, but it does put you in good company. Battenfield’s mantra: “If I’m not being regularly rejected, it means I’m not pursuing opportunities.”

It took me years to even be able to talk about my first rejection, but what I learned ultimately is that I ceded far too much power to that turndown. It was one dealer’s response to a small body of work on one particular day.
4. Be professional
This seems too simple to be a "rule" but professionalism is a prime directive in business, and the showing and selling of art is a business. All things being equal, your complete package, timely delivery, positive attitude, good humor, and willingness to work with a dealer or collector will get you more of what you want and need. Conversely, the diva/o who makes everyone's job more difficult, or the guy who writes the mean blog and insults everyone on Facebook are cutting themselves off from whatever opportunities might have come their way. .
5. Represented by a gallery? Don’t sell out of your studio
A dealer, interested in the work of a particular artist, did his due diligence. What he found: the artist’s reputation of selling out of his studio while represented was true. The dealer did not extend an invitation for representation. The full story is here.
Ed Winkleman says this very clearly in his book: “So much of the relationship between an artist and a dealer is based on trust. Nothing tests that trust more that the questions surrounding an artist selling his work directly out of his studio."
6. Keep one set of prices, wherever you’re selling
If you’re a represented artist who sells during an open studio, or if you're an unrepresented artist who sells in a variety of venues, from group shows in commercial galleries, to solos in non-profits, to open studios, keep the same price list. You may make more or less depending on the situation (and you can extend a discount if necessary), but you don’t want collectors seeing your work at a lower price in one venue, higher at another.
Here are Bhandari and Melber: "Make sure your prices are consistent in all the venues showing your work. This is important for several reasons: you don't want collectors bargaining over your work, you don't want dealers competing over prices, and because it's customary for prices to be consistent, it looks like something is wrong when they aren't."
Corollary: Everyone asks for a discount. Make sure your price is set to accommodate the standard 10% “courtesy.” The discount is also a way for your galleries in smaller geographic locations to sell at your New York City (or any large city) price.
7. It’s not easy for any artist to find or make a place in the art world, but it’s easier for men
We all know the statistics: More women than men attend art school; in the galleries, and especially in museums, the numbers flip dramatically. In art sales, too, the selling prices are higher for men. It may be hard to sympathize when a Cady Noland goes for $6.6 million, but here's "S.T.", writing on The Price of Being Female in the blog, Prospero:  "Indeed, depictions of women often command the highest prices, whereas works by them do not."

Are there exceptions, yes?  But the rule is what's weighing us down.
Corollary: Ageism. Even for the men. Just wait.
8. Vanity Galleries are the kiss of death
Vanity—aka pay-to-show—galleries bank on the rejection so many artists face in finding a commercial gallery to represent them. But if you pay up front to show, the gallery has no incentive to actually sell your work, and certainly no interest in nurturing and developing your career. The opinion of most professionals: Stay away. I wrote about them here in 2008, and artists are still commenting.
Here’s Jackie Battenfield in The Artist's Guide, on pay-to-shows: “They are not career builders. Reputable galleries do not charge the artist for shows. Your art will be better served if you spend your time and money looking elsewhere.”
Corollary: Artists'
co-op galleries are an entirely different species. Knowing that all galleries will not find commercial representation, artists in co-op galleries, which are maintained by membership dues, work to maintain standards by jurying new members and seeing that all members adhere to co-op rules. The artists are co-operative owners. Moreover, some artists prefer the freedom of a co-op to show work that is not commercially viable. (The whole truth: In a city like New York, they are generally lower on the food chain. But consider that a good co-op with a long history of experienced management and good exhibitions has more currency that a commercial gallery that's opened by a novice and gone in a season.)
9. The taint of “careerism” is past. It’s OK to self promote (but venture outside the undefined parameters and you’re an annoyance)
Many midcareer artists are still laboring under the benighted concept that promoting themselves tarnishes their integrity and ruins their art. Several decades of art school professors willfully or ignorantly promoted those ideas. But it’s a new millennium. 

So, websites, blogs and business cards: Fine. Postcard announcements of an exhibition or other big career event: Fine.
A quarterly or monthly newsletter: Fine, as long as you offer an unsubscribe option.  Daily “Sold!” updates on Facebook: Annoying. And I think you know the verdict on those endless Tweets detailing every career move. Rule of thumb: If someone else does it and you find it annoying, it will be just as annoying if you do it.
Apropos of exhibition postcards, Valerie McKenzie, whose McKenzie Fine Art is newly located on the Lower East Side, whom I quoted in a blog post on Self Promotion, suggests you distribute those announcement cards judiciously in certain instances: "I discourage the obnoxiousness of handing out your own announcement card at someone else's opening! " 
10. Two words: Professional courtesy
So much of the art world runs on reciprocity. Courtesies extended to another are then returned it in kind or in a related way: referrals, advice, reference letters, mentoring and more. My friend Susan is a great example of how reciprocity works. A midcareer artist with a long resume, she understands how to network and she has the contacts to do it well. Because she’s secure in her career, she knows that sharing information or recommending someone will not diminish her achievements. On more than one occasion she has given my name and website to one of her dealers. I have done the same for her. Result: I’m with a gallery on her referral, and she on mine. We’ve each expanded our careers that much more by the simple act .of mutual support. Read more here.
11. Rules change: DIY is no longer a career killer
Indeed, it's a badge of respect. The idea of artists taking control of their careers has never been stronger. Exhibitions, publications, blogs, and curatorial projects are being undertaken by artists for themselves. Want a solo? Find a space and have one.  Have an opinion? Write a blog. It helps if you’re savvy about the system and can self-promote well, but doing it yourself has all kinds of permutations and possibilities. Indeed, many artists are hyphenating—to artist-gallerists, artist-curators, artist-critics, even artist-art fair organizers. I wrote an extensive post here.
I believe the newfound respect for DIY has to do with art-world folksdealers, independent curators (many newly independent as a reult of institutional downsizing) and writers (many freelancing as opposed to on staff)—who are struggling since 2008 in a way that many had not struggled before. "When I see what artists do for themselves, I am in awe," said a dealer to me just after the 2008 crash. (Then he asked if I knew of any jobs.) More here.

12. Some rules don't change: It really is about the work
Galleries have their programs, museum have their protocols, and critics have their point of view, but the bottom line is this: It’s about the work, for the artists who are laboring in their studios, and it’s about the work for those who are considering it.  Yes, the physical persona of the artist helps, especially in a beauty-conscious, youth-obsessed, boldface-name culture, but the work still has to speak for you and to the person who is viewing it.

Corollary: Don’t assume the work will speak for itself. Be prepared to advocate on its behalf. When Barbara O’Brien, now director of the Kemper Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, spoke a few years ago at an event I’d organized, one of the comments that stayed with me was the idea that the making of your work, essential as it may be, is helped immensely by you, the artist, in speaking or writing clearly about it and presenting it well.
Over to you. What rules would you add to this list?

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Color: Field and Form, Part 12

Part 4: Von Heyl  
Part 5: Goodwin 
Part 6: Florian 
Part 7: Hicks, Lasserre 
Part 8: Hoke, Kline 
Part 9: Haussmann, Rumford. Derbes, Johnston, Lipton, Mittenthal, Wright, Dancy, Boyajian
Part 10: Hudson Valley: Fishman, Goodman, Natale, Azara, Bjork
Part 11: Shalom, Ramsay, Clippinger  
Julie Oppermann, detail of Moire

We have come to the end of our summer series, Color: Field and Form. And not a moment too soon, as the fall season begins this week. With this final installment, I have shown you the work of 37 artists who have exhibited in 25 galleries and two museums, as well as two studios, in New York City, Larchmont, Boston, Provincetown and Truro, and upstate in Woodstock, Kingston and Hudson. The exhibitions took place through the spring and into summer. Several are still up (Hoke and Kline at the New Britain Musem of American Art, long-term installation and permanent collection, respectively; and Natale at R&F Gallery, Kingston).

In this post we go back to Chelsea in May-June for a three-artist exhibition that was, quelle suprise, about color, field and form. I'll keep my comments brief except to say that the selections and installation made it one of the most visually pleasurable I have seen, with flat fields, carved reliefs and fully dimensional forms that bring together mathematical calculation and organic composition.

Schroeder Romero & Shredder
Sara Bednarek, Julie Oppermann, Karen Waskiewicz
April 26 - June 2
From left: Julie Opperman (detail shown above), Sara Bednarek, Karin Waskiewicz
I'd seen Oppermann's work at Pulse in Miami in December and was delighted to see it again here, where the lighting was more conducive to photographing her brilliant and meticulous pattern. At the same fair, at the Schroeder Romero booth, I saw the work of Waskiewicz, whom Lisa Schroeder and Sara Jo Romero were introducing to the public for the first time. At the time I remember thinking how fabulous it would be to see these two artists together, one energizing the surface with her electric moires, the other excavating her surface to reveal color in compositions with the same kind of fluidity. So you can imagine my delight in learning they would be showing together here. Bednarek was a pleasant suprise, with her geometric precision and full volume. OK, so let's tour the show. We start on the wall to the right as you walk into the gallery

On walls: Oppermann flanked by Waskiewicz, Bednarek on the pedestals

Sarah Bednarek, Torus for C.S.,  2011, paper

Bednarek, A Lunar Hyperdensity, 2012, plywood, paint and epoxy, in foreground

Karin Waskiewicz, Mock,  2011, acrylic on canvas
Detail below showing the excavated surface


Contining around the gallery, with a stop at . . .
Oppermann's Moire 1012, 2012
This image from the gallery website
. . .and swinging around to the south wall

. . . with a particularly lyrical Wazkiewicz painting, Atrophy, 2012

Oppermann on the south wall with Bednarek and Waskiewicz on the wall facing the entrance
The gallery website contains individual images of each work in the exhibition, as well as installation shots far better than what I could take with my lttle point and shoot. Click to see.
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