Monday, August 29, 2016

The Great Milton Resnick

-Milton Resnick

Milton Resnick painted himself out of the picture. To paraphrase his famous quote. It has a lot of meanings. Long story short.

Like his paintings those meanings are, among other things, layered, inscrutable, crusty, thick, severe, and ambiguous.

Pollock was in his pictures. De Kooning was in his pictures. Maybe you couldn't see it, but you could definitely feel it. I would argue that the same is true of Resnick's paintings, although I think that what he was trying to say was that he removed himself from his paintings, that they were something other than him, not just about or of something other than him.

Ultimately there is something of a great paradox at work here. By removing himself from his paintings they became suffocatingly him, every fiber, ever brush stroke, every breath of air.

Every painter asks this question, how present am I, have I managed to step aside, is it too much about me, all about me, how much "I" is there? Enough? Too much? Is it just a point of view, or something more? How much can you get away with, how much can you get away without?

Monet's Water Lilies. He isn't in them but you can't separate them. He owns them. Anyone else who tries to paint them has to pay a toll.

There is the artist's presence. But there is also this other thing. Ego. Pride, if we go pre-Freudian. I think Resnick was indeed talking about the latter. Painting his ego out of the painting. The I. But also the pride and even the presence.

Again, I would argue that if he said, show me where I am, show me a single mark, find me, I dare you, I would say, you are everywhere.

He was the man behind the curtain. That as much as he made his paintings about all things, about even God, it was according to him, his all things, his God. His work is that powerful.

Milton Resnick gave us these vast, numinous paintings like gardens or night skies or deserts where we could lose ourselves. That blanketed us in something greater than ourselves, that dwarfed us, even removed us, someplace where we weren't just insignificant, but where there was no reflection looking back at us. So you see, in a way he didn't just paint himself out of his work, but us too. Maybe we didn't like that.

The other picture that he was talking about of course was the art scene, the art world, of the 50s and 60s and 70s and 80s, his time, his moment, where what was prized and fashionable and celebrated, and on everyone's lips, and minds, and walls was not him, not the great painter. Not the household name like 50s Cedar Bar mates Pollock and de Kooning.

Those people just weren't drawn to him in that way. Which may explain why he tried to paint himself out of his paintings. That way, even if those people didn't like him, they might still like his work.

In his later years he softened just a bit. He put himself and us back into his paintings. It is hard to know what if anything we can make of this or learn from it. Maybe some things are more important than being great or famous. Maybe that is how you really paint your self out of your paintings.

Addison Parks
Spring Hill, Late August, 2016

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Artist Notes: Douglas Abdell

In the last few years I have been producing much less work. Here you can see the last work that I have finished:

" Código del Mediterráneo " 2009 - 2010, mármol de Makael, Almeria, madera, cm. 57 x 144 x 90

I have been living for the last 13 years in Southern Spain ( Malaga area ), before I lived several years in Madrid . The wood in this sculpture came from Madrid ...the wood is steps from a building over 250 years old ....if you look closely you can see that they are worn by people stepping on them for so many years. The marble is from Makael, Almeria.

P.S. here are two webpages of different periods if you have not yet seen them

Monday, August 15, 2016

Artist Notes: Pamela Granbery

Large photo of Pam Granbery and performance in Virgin Islands

Pamela Granbery, Performance photo, Virgin Islands, The Gallery, Borrego, Ca

"I have been reworking ideas from the late 60s, some of which have text. They are all performance pieces situated in the environment. I also had a gallery The Gallery in Borrego this winter, the glass case has costumes and artifacts in it."

Pamela Granbery is a painter/performance artist who lives between Rhode Island in summers and California in winters. A graduate of Bennington College, and the Whitney Program, she worked with the likes of Helen Frankenthaler, bounced on the knees of Rauschenberg and Tony Smith as a child, and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has been widely shown and collected in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, and beyond.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Dennis Cowley: True Photographer

Alec; pin hole photograph

Dennis Cowley has a sense of the particular. It defines his photographs. It defines his vision. It defines him. Indeed, Dennis Cowley's photographs are all about definition.

Oliver; pin hole photograph

Most of his work has been black and white dark room photography. A lot of people just don't get that. Not in a digital age. But here is the thing, Dennis Cowley believes that photography is something you earn. Maybe it comes from growing up military. Or Catholic. A question of discipline and devotion. Who knows?  But Dennis Cowley is steadfast in this belief: you have to earn it. With that comes touch, and depth, and mystery, and nuance, and character, and honor, and value, and experience, and above all, truth. Yes, about all truth. True photography.

Each advancement in digital photography only caused him to double down. So, oh yeah, take this "made on an iPhone." Try made with a pin hole camera!

Stacey and Addison Parks, Long Nook Beach, Truro
Pin hole photograph

The particulars in Dennis Cowley's photographs are something he delights in. As a viewer we can as well. It is like beach combing or treasure hunting. His photographs never fail to yield that surprise, that deep satisfaction that comes from close inspection. From discovery. We are always rewarded.

It is a very quiet statement, which is just like him, which is just how he likes it.

Dennis Cowley, Bow Street, Cambridge

Addison Parks
Spring Hill, August 2016

Thursday, August 04, 2016


Plica vocalis gallinae (Vocal cord of a chicken), 2010,
silver halide print, 27 x 20.5 in (69 x 52 cm)

Heide Hatry takes "what you see is what you get" and turns it on its ear. Frankly, it would be very difficult to know exactly what we are getting in her work. And even more frankly, that is just the way she likes it.

There is a funny and telling story about someone unwittingly opening a refrigerator in the basement of her building, where she was keeping one of her pieces, a human head made of meat. Presumably they were hoping they might find a cold beer. What they found instead scared and shocked them so much that they felt they had no choice but to call the police. When it was all sorted out, everyone had a good chuckle about it, including the police, and the guy who was terrified by what he thought he had stumbled upon, but no one got a bigger kick out of it than Heide Hatry. 

What that person experienced was a complete affirmation of everything she is trying to accomplish in her work; if only everyone could stumble upon her work in such an unsuspecting way. And, for the most part, they do. Heide Hatry springs something on the viewer that they do not see coming. Practically ever time. This is no small artistic achievement.

For some 15 years Hatry has used animal skin and what is called offal, animal "by products," as a medium to make her work. Some are sculptures, others installations, some are performances, others are documented in film or photography. Whether portraits, figures or flowers, there is a sexuality about the work that is confident, confrontational, even contentious. It is what it is.

Becci anitum inferioresLower beaks of ducks, Hong Kong, China 2011

That Heide Hatry's father raised pigs on their farm in Germany gives us just enough background. Where she goes in her work is in the best tradition of artist as obsessor, artist as provocateur. Only someone truly driven could accomplish what she has. The results can only be described as awesome and marvelous, nothing less. It doesn't really matter what else we think. What else we think and feel about meat and animals and carnage. Her work transcends disgust for such things. It leaves such things in her wake. Heide Hatry has places to go and things to make happen.

Addison Parks
Spring Hill, August 2016

Martin Mugar and the Feminine Aesthetic

Martin Mugar grew up with three sisters, and a mother who encouraged him to be an artist. You could say that he was surrounded by the feminine aesthetic. It has always informed his work, and it informs it still. Even while at Yale, that bastion of male narcissism, it was a visiting painter, Joan Snyder, and not the entrenched monolith Al Held, that made a lasting impression on him.

What am I taking about? Right at this moment we are faced with a choice between a man who says only he can fix it and a woman who practically coined the phrase "it takes a village."

Martin Mugar's work is not about him. It is about something else. He is not there in his paintings. There is no there there in his paintings. There is no fist at its heart that was Picasso or Pollock or de Kooning, or even Held for that matter. Martin Mugar gives us a place to go. A sanctuary. The kind of sanctuary his mother and sisters gave him. His paintings are all light and spirit and space. I once called them his daughter's box of butterflies. Call it love. Call it nurture. Call it nature.

Martin Mugar's mother had a piece of land in New Hampshire. It didn't do anything. It was just there. A place to go. A place to be in touch with something that the real world of our fathers could never fathom, never touch. A special place. And that's what his paintings are.

Addison Parks
Spring Hill, August 2016