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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Looking at Chain Letter

I used to have a recurring dream. It was at a time in my life when although I was working in a creative position, I wasn't having the opportunity to express myself authentically. In the dream I had discovered a building full of odd things. Perhaps this was an abandoned manufacturing warehouse, for everywhere there were fascinating objects or discarded toys and each had a story to tell, or represented an idea, or evoked a feeling, or sang, shimmered, glowed, or lit up. In my dream the discovery of this forgotten place was like finding a secret treasure trove and one of the best parts was that it seemed to just go on and on, one room opening to another. Each time I had this dream I would find something new.

Viewing the installation of Chain Letter at Shoshana Wayne Gallery reminds me of this dream.

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http://youtu.be/aVncSWHm3Zk


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chain Letter Los Angeles Installation

Line of cars at the Cloverfield exit on the 10 Freeway

After wavering on the idea - like many I dislike crowds and lines and traffic - and wondered what work would I want to put into a show so anonymous and so crowded? I decided to at least try to install a small piece of artwork in the Chain Letter Los Angeles edition at Shoshana Wayne Gallery at Bergamot Station. I also had the privelege of installing on behalf of two artists who could not be there in person that day, yet reserving the option of bailing out if it was too much.

Experience has taught me to avoid Michigan Avenue when traveling to Bergamot on any day that there might be an unusually large crowd, so I parked north of Olympic in a paid structure and walked a block and a half. Fortunately the three artworks I carried were very small. I arrived shortly after 10 am to see a line that ran from the gallery door east, then south, and then west alomg the perimeters of the complex. I took my place at the end behind a man with a dog named Pete (or maybe the man's name was Pete and the dog's name was Buddy) and started filling in the submission forms for the artwork using my Kindle as a writing surface. The sun came out from behind the morning haze all too soon, so I opened my umbrella for shade.


The line kept slowly moving, friends and acquaintances arrived and took their places in line both behind and ahead. Information circulated and by 11:15 or so we learned that the gallery was full. I was surprised. I'd read on the Chain Letter Facebook page that the stacking of artwork might occur and I was picturing a vast pile of work, so how could it be a pile already? They opened a second space, a smaller space, perhaps we would be in that space so we waited. Some people bailed out. I stayed, the man with the dog named Pete stayed, the woman ahead of us who had lived in Ohio stayed. We muttered to each other that we must be diehards. The line inched forward. The man with the dog went for a sandwhich and water for his dog and returned. Information came around about a third space opening and we were getting closer to the head of the line. When I finally got there the woman at the desk said "Thank you for waiting" which made me laugh. She numbered my submission forms and gave me three corresponding numbered yellow stickers for the art and told me to install in D2 since the work was small. The larger pieces were being sent to the third space in F1. My work is number 761. It was 1:15 pm when I left. Almost a thousand more pieces were installed after.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summertime and Chain Letter


The 405 closure - and successful early reopening is behind us. I can't help it if some civic pride creeps into my voice - I'm so amazed at how well a huge city full of car dependent people managed to make Carmageddon a non event. The road ahead is clear for another kind of gridlock happening this weekend at Bergamot Station. I will be participating in two group shows; the Summertime show at TAG Gallery, featuring the work of 40 artists and across the parking lot at Shoshana Wayne,  Chain Letter will also open, featuring the work of ....well, hundreds, if not thousands of artists.

The premise behind Chain Letter is that 10 artists were invited and instructed to each invite 10 artists they admire and so on, and on, and on. The work will be installed on the floor, possibly stacked, so I'm choosing to bring something small and sturdy to contribute. I'll leave it to you to imagine what kind of traffic nightmare could occur as everyone descends on the gallery on Friday the 22nd to install and again on Saturday the 23rd  for the opening. 

This event has already started in several other cities. An account of how it went in Boston can be found on Joanne Mattera's blog.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Synthetic Paint Brushes

Passing Through work in progress  ©2011 Katherine Kean
24 x 36" oil on linen on panel

Since removing animal products from my diet, I've learned more about all the ways that animals are used and abused to make not only food, but cosmetics, clothing, shoes, furniture, and even art supplies, As I wrote about here, I started to research new products to replace the non-vegan supplies I've come to rely on all these years. I'd been taught that the best brush for an artists must be a natural bristle brush, preferably a sable. No longer willing to buy and use a brush derived from killing animals, not to mention abhoring the cruel trapping and farming practices, I started looking for a synthetic substitute.

The first brushes I tried out were okay, far better then the ones made years ago, but just not quite as responsive as the natural bristles I've become used to. I've wondered if I would have to learn to make do and adjust my painting style accordingly. Whenever I'm in an art store I look at what they are offering in the synthetic bristle category and recently while browsing in a Utrecht store, I picked up a synthetic mongoose brush made by the Princeton Art & Brush Company. I didn't have high expectations and didn't even try it out for some time. It just sat there on the easel shelf, all clean and new.

Then the other day when I was about to begin painting the numerous twisty branches in the painting started above I decided to try it out and what do you know - it was fantastic! It did everything I would expect from a natural bristle brush. It carried a good load of paint, so I could start out on a long, broad stroke, follow through all the twists and turns and end with a fine point.

This one was a number 6 round. What a joy to paint with. The next time I'm buying brushes I plan on getting some more.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

New Work



I've updated my website with new paintings. I finally got the "stay inside" weather I needed, just not in the form I expected. This year we had a spectacular spring with regular rain and a nice mixture of sunny and overcast days, not too hot, not too cold. The garden displayed a sequence of color for the entire season, daffodils, hyacinths, foxglove, amaryllis, allium, jasmine, hydrangeas, gardenias, and roses. A nice treat considering how many seasons past the flowers have come out only to be withered and blown away by Santa Anas. But not this year. This year it was just too nice to be inside and working on websites when the weather was so perfect for digging and trimming and mulching (and sneezing). It finally came to an end, right on schedule by the calendar, with a heat wave - just too hot to garden or hike, but perfect for staying inside and working on websites.