From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Archive for the ‘LA’ Category

Art Los Angeles Contemporary

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One side benefit of being in LA this weekend for the installation was being able to swing by Art Los Angeles Contemporary.  I’ve heard artists and others in the art world say that it’s best to stay away from art fairs.  It’s easy to see what they mean- art that should be seen in a very specific environment or with lots of space around it is crammed together in a very commercial space with lots of other hardly related art.  It’s a rough environment for anything.  I am sure that being in one of those booths as either artist or gallerist, with the pressure to sell, the fluorescent lights, the all-day intensity… it has to be rough.

On the other hand, as an artist if I can let go of some of that, it’s kind of like a gallery Tapas bar with a spread of artists, galleries and art.  I get to see who else is out there in a bite-sized format.  Who is exploring similar ideas?  Who is using similar materials?  What is there that I like?  What can’t I stand and why?  If I like a work, I may actually be able to speak with the artist.  That’s the best.I had two brief but excellent conversations with artists, one of whom I would love to collaborate with.

For the galleries, it’s window-shopping.  I have yet to really approach a gallery.  It’s like getting married, and I’m only just thinking about dating.  Right now at each art fair I go to, each gallery I visit in LA or New York on SF I look at what they are showing.  If I like the collection of artists, if I feel affinity for the gallerist’s vision, I talk with them about the work they are showing.  Then I see how they talk about the art.  Are they passionate?  I watch how they treat visitors and if they are there the artists.  Are they people I would want to work intensively with?  Would I trust them with my art?  If the answer is yes, I watch the gallery.

Here are some of the artists that hit me from this show.  Sadly some of the photos are rushed and blurry (gives a sense of the place in itself), but I came away with new thoughts and new people to watch.

I think I was on a particular 2D/3D perceptions of materials, what are our expectations of what we see sort of kick while I was there.  Also intersections of digital with cloth and wood.

In Dan Gunn’s work I really enjoyed the way he was taking such a classic painting element as drapery, flattening it with a photo and then making it simultaneously have dimension, flatness, and the quality of cloth while being the unexpected material of wood.  I appreciated the material surprise of Ara Peterson’s “Loyal”- also in wood, but made to look soft and gooey, yet still digital.  Pae White had as broad a range of materials in her work as I do, but the piece that was there to grab me was a giant computer-woven tapestry that looked like metal.  Digital, fiber, and flat things pretending to be sculpture and a material they are not… yes, right up my alley (sculpted canvases, fiber work, digital work).  The artist I got to talk with briefly who also had a huge range of work that related to mine in all kinds of places was Clara Montoya.  What caught me first was her “Momento” piece.  At a distance, or on the screen of your phone, the flesh-toned squares begin to resolve into a face.  She is exploring the boundaries of representation and abstraction.  The human face is the thing we seek out in all things, the first thing we visually recognize, so it’s great territory for this.  I loved how the piece was also a puzzle that will get mixed up over time, just as a memory degrades each time you examine it.  Wonderful.

Written by Mary Corey March

January 28, 2013 at 11:17 am

Identity Tapestry at Pepperdine’s “Reel Stories”

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This has been a great process and the piece went very well.  It was tricky, knowing that I would only have a single day to set up in LA after flying in the previous night from SF, but I knew I could do it, especially with help.

IMG_4089This is in my studio in SF.  It takes me hours to arrange where the posts with the statements about Identity go. Since I knew I would have limited installation time I did a sort of map on some butcher paper that was the same size as the panel.  It worked perfectly.  We taped it over the panel during setup, drilled right through the paper, screwed in the posts, added the labels and tore away the paper.  🙂  I love when things work.  Also, this gives me a process that I can potentially pass on to a curator.

LA was unfortunately getting a ton of rain on the day of the installation and event.  The Reel Stories organizers were scrambling to get tents and other last-minute rain protection.  After some hiccups and problem-solving, we set up a wall to withstand the wind, protected from the rain.  They got the lighting in and everything was set up beautifully.

Installation of the actual piece went more quickly and smoothly than it ever has before.  The organizers and volunteers were extremely helpful and sweet for the entire thing.

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The response was overwhelmingly positive.  The character of the place came through very clearly in the tapestry too.  The most obvious things were the demographic- these were mostly students, and it showed in statements like “I am a homeowner” being almost blank.  Other things about the community came through though- the love of travel, the values of service to others, listening, care-taking… those were all very strong.  The religious and spiritual  background of the school (something I hadn’t know about until I got there) also came through, in combination with a desire for open-mindedness and exploration.  It was clearly a portrait of a unique community.

This is the sixth time I’ve done the piece, but each one before was a more extended group around a gallery or type of place, but never with almost everyone in the same community.  The distinction was visible in the work.

This is still my favorite piece.  It changes every time and I love seeing how different groups of people create it.  Much thanks to Sarah Attar for finding my work online and bringing me and Identity Tapestry to Pepperdine for the Reel Stories film festival.

See more on Identity Tapestry

Written by Mary Corey March

January 27, 2013 at 3:57 am

Dyeing for Identity Tapestry

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IMG_4081To the left you see yesterday’s dyeing work (with the exception of those already wound into balls- those are ones I didn’t use in the last round).  I spent a good 6 hours the day before yesterday taking the skeins of yarn I buy at the store and rewinding them into many small skeins the right lengths for the artwork.  Every single one has to be a slightly different color, with an even balance of colors overall.  Over time I’ve found that for every foot the Tapestry is long I need to give participants at least a yard of yarn.  But I don’t do that, not every time.

From the beginning I felt it was important to make some lengths too short.  I wanted a sense of mortality in the piece- the sense that not everyone gets to do and say everything, that we don’t know when we might come up short.  Others are far longer than they need to be.  The variance is not only seen visually in the color, but in the cards dealt, so to speak.  I still need to vary based on being on either end of a certain mark though, so I am making the majority within a few yards of 12 ft.

This photo contains 110-ish colors.  Another 100-ish or so left to dye tomorrow.  Today I’m re-winding another stack of skeins.  The loose skeins in the bottom right (laid out in lines) are the original colors I started with.  I always keep one each of those too.  Dyeing over a range of colors gives so much more depth to the colors in the end.  I love over-dyeing.  It just makes me want to eat the colors.

Written by Mary Corey March

January 11, 2013 at 5:04 am

Opening Night for TEXT MESSAGE

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A few images from tonight.  The show was well put together and well attended and the piece was well received. There were some interesting differences that came up in which statements were mobbed and which were left untouched.   I’d say a half to a third of the yarn was used during the opening (100ish colors used).  It is the first time I’ve walked away from the piece when there was any statement left undone.  It’s hard to walk away knowing I won’t see the rest of it in action, but photographer friends have assured me they will get more images throughout the show.

I don’t know when I would get tired of doing this piece.  The different iterations make the series more interesting as a whole when you compare them against each other.  Cultural differences between cities really stand out.  I’d love to see it in different countries.

I had a number of enjoyable conversations and was very pleased to meet the other artists.  A good show and a good night.

Written by Mary Corey March

August 19, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Installation Complete

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Here’s my snapshot in poor lighting (and I’m sure the curator would have you know, NOT the lighting for the show).  I took it right after finishing my part of the installation.

I’m looking forward to seeing it in action tonight at the opening with participants!
To see what the piece looks like in action see the photo/video montage.

Written by Mary Corey March

August 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Opening Saturday- TEXT MESSAGE: the alchemy of text based art

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With the help of some lovely interns I finished installing the piece today.

If you are in the LA area you can stop by the opening this Saturday from 6-10PM and participate in a new version of Identity Tapestry.  Gallery link:

Written by Mary Corey March

August 17, 2012 at 10:40 am