Ceramic sculptures by Kathy Butterly

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I saw an impressive display of ceramic work by artist Kathy Butterly at the recent Armory Show. You can see the way her work was displayed in the booth of Tibor de Nagy Gallery below. Scroll down for more …

ceramic sculpture by Kathy Butterly

Butterly thinks of herself as a painter who happens to work with clay in three dimensions, as opposed to utilizing the description of potter or ceramist. The work does begin as symmetrical cups or vases, but she then prods them into unique biomorphic shapes. I can certainly see biomorphic references in the works below (titles unknown; I didn’t see a checklist or labels for the works at this show). For example, in the piece below left, the opening at the top makes me think of a fish’s mouth, while the handles make me think of the big droopy ears on a Buddha. I’d guess that those are not really her intended visual references here, but the fact that the piece elicits those associations tells me that the piece is making me think. I especially like the piece below right; the pink shape on top seems like some sort of bug or decorative abstract spider crawling on top of this squished white shape. I also like the color of this “creature” on top as it brings to mind the color and weird shapes of the structures in the center panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights.”

ceramic sculptures by Kathy Butterly

To learn more about Kathy Butterly, check out her page on the Tibor de Nagy website.

Using a chunk of snow as a prop in my own Barbieri scene

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art project, Art That Makes You Go "Huh?", Found art, Photography

When I get a little bored with my day job, I am prone to finding excuses for creative distractions, and I’ve got one for you today. I was taking out the garbage, and found a chunk of snow/ice positioned between my garbage cans that had some clean edges and looked like a mini mountain, so I picked it up and placed it on my deck table to get a better look at what I had.

block of snow that looks like a mini mountain

Even though this chunk of snow is only about 8 inches tall, there was something about its shape and the way the light created shadows that put the idea in my mind that if taken out of context, this form could look a lot more massive than what it really is. Considering that I was just writing about the artist Olivo Barbieri the other day, I thought it might be fun to see if I could make a convincing Barbieri-like image in Photoshop. I can’t say that I consider this a wildly-successful attempt, but here’s what I came up with:

Photoshop created scene of mountain climbers in the Alps

This is not the first time I’ve procrastinated by playing around on my deck in the winter … here’s a look at my “frozen bubble experiment,” and here’s my discovery of an ice spike, and here’s some additional ice art, all on my covered deck table.

It’s also not the first time I’ve created a Barbieri-inspired image from my immediate surroundings – here’s one I made from snow on the skylight in my office.

Okay, I think it’s time to get back to work now.

Anna Betbeze turns shag rugs into art

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Artist Methods, Artist Spotlight

I saw these paintings on shag rugs at the Independent Art Fair booth of dealer Jay Gorney a few weeks ago, and wanted to learn more. They’re the work of Anna Betbeze, an artist who received her BFA from the University of Georgia in 2003 and her MFA from Yale University in 2006. Betbeze currently lives and works in Brooklyn. I read several places that a prime source of inspiration for Betbeze is the work of Robert Morris, but these pieces also had a feel of abstract expressionism, in my opinion. She paints the wool rugs with watercolor and acid-based textile dyes using brushes, buckets, and even her hands, and – in the case of some of her older work – she has left the acid dyes on the rug long enough for them to burn through the surface. (the artist is pictured in front of some of her work, lower right).

I can’t find a personal website for the artist to share here, but here’s her page on the Yale University School of Art website.

wool rug art by Yale lecturer and artist Anna Betbeze

Peanut Butter and Jelly Art

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art That Makes You Go "Huh?"

ESPN had a fascinating story on how players throughout the NBA are obsessed with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and the image created by Dwight Eschliman (pictured below) reminds me of Wayne Thiebaud’s series of paintings about food. It got me wondering, is there other peanut butter and jelly art out there? Scroll down for more.

trend of having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the NBA

Sure enough, there is some entertaining peanut butter and jelly art – let’s take a look. One of the first ones I found – and a new favorite right away – was this “Double Mona Lisa (Peanut Butter and Jelly),” 1999, by artist Vik Muniz.

Double Mona Lisa with peanut butter and jelly by Vik Muniz

Below left we have Margaret Thorn’s watercolor painting “Peanut Butter and Jelly,” from 2013. Below right is “PB & Jelly! (#29),” by an artist who goes by the name … “Sunny Avocado.” Really? Yes!

paintings of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

Starry Night by Van Gogh, both inside and outside MoMA

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Photo of the day

As I was making the rounds of the permanent collection at MoMA last weekend, I found a big crowd congregated around Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpiece, “Starry Night,” 1889, below left. This was literally as close as I could get to the painting, standing 3 deep with a limited view … it’s not like these people were looking and then moving on to the next painting, they just stood there, and stared, and took pictures, and stood there some more.

Meanwhile, a reproduction of a detail from “Starry Night” has a nearly unobstructed view (other than those tree branches) outside of the museum, acting as a mini-billboard in front of some scaffolding on the building next door. No crowds standing in front of this view!

Vincent Van Gogh painting Starry Night, on view at MoMA

Getting close for the details on a Rothko

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When I was at MoMA for the Picabia show the other day, I also wandered around the other floors to see the permanent collection. I’ve always liked Mark Rothko’s work, and had an opportunity recently to see a big Rothko show at Pace Gallery last fall, but there was something about this one at MoMA that really pulled me in. What was nice was that I had a chance to get up close and see the brushwork clearly without any interference from other museum visitors (or from the security guard – although I was at a safe distance, so he had nothing to worry about). There’s a big difference between seeing a Rothko from afar and seeing one up close.

painting by Mark Rothko with a close-up detail

This particular painting is titled “No. 10,” from 1950, and is an oil on canvas. From a distance, the painted rectangles seem to float above the background surface, but up close one can see how the paint is applied in a way that the edges kind of bleed into each other – it feels much more flat up close.

I think another thing I liked about this particular Rothko was – compared to most Rothkos where the floating rectangles are relatively even, this one’s bottom white rectangle seems to have a chunk torn out of the upper right side of it. Whereas the rest of the canvas has the rectangles floating out close to the edge of the canvas, this open space reveals much more of the background … you can see two more detailed views of this area in the images below.

two detail views of Mark Rothko No. 10 at MoMA

The stylistic versatility of Francis Picabia

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art Museum exhibitions, Artist Spotlight

I’ve had an interest in the work of Francis Picabia for a while, but never had the opportunity to see his work on a comprehensive scale before going to see his exhibition at MoMA this past weekend. The exhibition, which just closed, was titled “Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction,” and it was the first exhibition in the United States to chart his entire career.

The thing that I took from the exhibition was a new appreciation and admiration for Picabia’s ability to create and excel in multiple artistic styles. His versatility is amazing, from abstractions to realism to machine art and so much more. These four examples of his work can give you a basic idea of his artistic range … would you have guessed that these were all by the same artist if you just saw the images with no background info?

Clockwise from top left we have: “Dances at the Spring,” 1912; “Gabrielle Buffet, She Corrects Manners While Laughing,” 1915; “Gertrude Stein,” 1937, and “Woman with Pink Gloves [Man with Gloves],” circa 1925-26.

4 paintings showing the artistic versatility of Francis Picabia

Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights, brought to life

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art project, Making an art history comparison, Videos

I happened upon this video for the band “Odonis Odonis” which takes Hieronymus Bosch’s masterpiece “The Garden of Earthly Delights” and brings it to life via animation. I can’t find specific information on who did the animation, but the video was directed by Lee Stringle for Odonis Odonis, an industrial punk combo out of Toronto.

It’s pretty cool to see a painting that previously only existed in a static, two dimensional format suddenly come to life via this animation:

Cats at the art fairs

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art Fairs, Art That Makes You Go "Huh?", Kitsch Art, Sculpture

I’m still sorting through pictures from going to a number of the art fairs two weeks ago, and noticed two artists making work with the theme of cats. The first, which you can see below, is a piece featuring three white cats on a pedestal by Alix Pearlstein. The title of this piece is “Cat Object-1 (adrift), Three white supremacist cats set adrift on a new iceberg in a warming ocean … a fragment from Larsen C …somewhere near Antarctica,” 2017. It’s not just a long title, it’s political commentary. But I’m not sure I understand the use of cats to make this political statement … it’s like an internet cat meme come to life as a sculpture.

Alix Pearlstein Cats Adrift

The next artist working with cat imagery is Ryosuke Kumakura, whose t-shirt paintings we saw the other day. I would guess that the placement of these paintings on top of the piles of stacked papers and canvas stretchers is part of the work, but the meaning is not clear, just like the meaning of the t-shirts were not clear. But there’s something about the little black cat painting that I like, the sentimental style of this cute little kitten with a focus on its eyes and white patch of fur on its chest brings to mind something like a feline-only Margaret Keane painting.

cat paintings at NADA art fair by Ryosuke Kamakura