Thursday, January 28, 2010
My comrade Rob Katkowski finished his suite of four foot by four foot paintings for the hotel being constructed in downtown Pittsburgh. It was a pretty sweet gig, and he knows it despite all his bitching.
He had some people over to his studio to show them off before they were transported to the hotel for display. No one we know would be able to afford to see them there.
I've seen them a few times in progress over the past eight or nine months. Working with such pragmatic purpose and with a bureaucrat's watchful eyes upon you changes your process. It can leak into the studio like a toxin, but not to the detriment of the work if you've got any vision at all.
Rob rolled with it. They don't all look completely resolved, but the strong ones show the evidence of pushing on to a broader field. I like the one that starts to look like it's jiving on Milton Avery's work. I never imagined Rob going that direction, but it fits. It's more candy-like and less playful (somehow) than Avery's powerful musings but such are the ways of filters and desires.
Rob's surfaces get more fleshy as time goes on. He's been working on thicker and I've been struggling to get delicate thins up to par in my crucible.
Milton Avery "Island"
Rob's intense but polite. He paints with purpose and he always gets me excited talking about technical things. Brass tacks. That's his new obsession. He's gotten down to brass tacks. Ha! Kill me now. He's sold me on it, too. Luc Tuymans uses them on the edges of his surfaces. Rob saw his show in Cleveland but I missed it because I'm a boob. And Mike Ninehouser is a pushover for women. No, I'm just a boob. I should have made it there. Rob and I have both gotten very energized by Tuymans only lately. We warmed up to him in the past few years, but now we're fairly agog.
Luc Tuymans "Rabbit"
Do people take Rob seriously enough? Who knows. Some do. I take his work ethic very seriously, but he's a sweetheart and won't fess up. Look at this kid:
Friday, January 1, 2010
I happened upon an art opening at The Spinning Plate art collective. Or whatever it is. Some people I just saw last night at a friend's New Year's Eve party were in the gallery space milling around. I met most of them just then.
It was Mike Ninehouser's apartment. The party that is. He's funny. I've been hoping his art would get more of that and less flimsy seriousness that doesn't need to be there anyway. He's starting to do it. Less of that Pittsburgh artist's tendency to make mythic images of stylized figures and animals and more fuck you in the surface. A really pretty relentless surface of paint a little like a course Tuymans with all the gloominess and some confounding sense of seriousness. This despite tits and wolves and extremely clumsy paint handling. He's pulling it together. There's an almost accidental relentlessness. He tells me that he's trying to loosen up the paint. I don't really believe that but it's sitting there in a much better way that it was before.
It's a tidy show. Not as much variety as would be beneficial. There were some sculptures by a fellow named Gabe Felice. I saw him on the way into the show. Oh, I thought, there's that kid I blew off at a New Year's Party four or five years ago when I was in a dark place like I am sometimes. I gave him the cold shoulder equivalent of "go eat your own shit." But Mike pointed him out as the maker of the two assemblages to which I really responded. "Time Machine" is some sort of chairs in a coital pile painted blue with a painted head panel and a tape recorder painted silver that makes farty moaning noises when you twist the nobs. Up above is a mechanic's light. It's kind of superb. It sold for nine dollars. Funny and cobbled together but sad too. I recall I apologized to him some months after our rocky first meeting. He sat in a chair against the far wall with his girlfriend looking like someone who thought he wanted to go the school dance. But he didn't.
His other piece I liked less was on the floor really low. It's painted white. It was less than a meal at McDonald's too. Somehow they seem like they should look dated and like someone's been gumming the nipple of Rauschenberg and Johns but they don't. Shit, I don't know. Kudos to him.
Another guy was Jason Rosemeyer. Someone told me he was an outsider artist. Ok. Anyway some of his things were alright too. I liked this one because it looks like Shell Silverstein designed a record cover for some British group in 1962.
Everyone seemed like they were friends. Ashley Andrykovitch's pieces were interesting at times too. Still a little too typical of that Pittsburgh Wes Anderson "I care in a tender but unattached way" in some ways though. Everyone's work had a similar feel in this children's learning experience sort of way. A lot of clunkiness and bad surfaces. Not necessarily in a detrimental way, but not always helpful. A lot of blue.
I fished a framed photograph out of the trash in the corner. A really tacky and badly composed image of a sexy girl in a slinky dress showing off her legs on a stairway. The artist was there but I didn't tell him I took it. It was so trashy that I had to take it. Good cheese and crackers there too.