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Entries in Amarillo Museum of Art (5)

Thursday
Aug142014

Side by Side Exhibition

The "Side by Side" exhibition at the Amarillo Museum of Art closes this Sunday, walking through yesterday; I reflected back on the project. The title, "Side by Side," can be read literally; it is two photographic artists, Christopher Pekoc in the south gallery and Romy Owens in the north gallery. The exhibition is a comparison and contrast of a similar technique - sewing on photographs. The stitches are also side by side, weaving in and out of the paper, and making individual images become one (forever side by side). Both artists have created their own meta-language to tell their story, but this is where the similarities end, and differences begin.

Romy Owens work is subtle and elegant, hand sewn photographs with a stitch that is perfect as a machine. Creating color fields that modulate like a Rothko painting, the images are abstract landscapes sewn together from photographs taken while visiting Amarillo. Owens' installation even mimics Palo Duro Canyon; in the center of the gallery is a large-scale piece that cuts the room in half, much like the canyon divides our landscape. Another aspect of this piece is getting the opportunity to see the front and back of one of her images. This is a rare and wonderful treat because every time she ties a knot, she records the date, time, and what she is doing on the back of the prints. At first, these were just notations to help her keep track of the hours spent on an image, but for the viewer it is like reading someone's diary, and the images become a story of her life.

In contrast to Owens' quiet radiating images, the other side of the museum is the filled with the work of Christopher Pekoc. His large-scale figurative images are visually stunning and at the same time dark and disturbing. His photographs are printed in black and white on transparency, which allows him to place other materials behind the images. He starts by deliberately distressing the materials with hammers and torches and punches, and then uses the stitch of a sewing machine to sew it all together. In the essay, "The Beauty of Damage," art historian, Henry Adams described his studio as "... Dr Frankenstein's laboratory, where corpses are sewn together into strange half-human creatures. This is Pekoc's alchemical laboratory, where bits and pieces of scattered things are fused together into works of art." The sewn photographs are of birds and snakes, hearts and hands, faces and bodies, the palette is filled with gold and red and black, and Pekoc looks for a gesture or emotion in the photograph that resonates. The resulting images are powerful and provocative, and written in a symbolic and highly personal language.

The museum received an NEA grant for the project, which included an outreach to the Visual Arts students at Amarillo College. Students researched artists that sew on photographs, and learned a variety of techniques. One afternoon the students led a Skype interview with both of the artists, they asked some great questions, and the responses were inspiring. In the weeks afterwards, I was fascinated by the students' thoughts and comments about these interviews, they learned a lot about creating art from this experience. AC students also created images that included stitching on photographs, and submitted them to a competition that was judged by Christopher Pekoc and Romy Owens. This work is also on display on the third floor of the museum. While the students were stressed out creating their projects and meeting their deadline, the night of the opening reception they were all smiles - all night. Rightly so, it was a big night for them. Owens and Pekoc both came to the reception and spoke about their work, announced the awards, and afterwards  talked with the students, and of course everyone got pictures.

This was such an amazing project and I am grateful to the museum for giving me the opportunity to help with the planning and research, proud of the AC students for accepting the challenge, and thankful to both artists for sharing their artwork and mentoring the next generation.

This is a must see show, and the last day is this Sunday, Aug. 17. Admission is free.

Media available on line:

 

Photo Credit: Romy Owens, "Everything is funny, as long as it's happening to somebody else" (detail)

 

 

 

Wednesday
Jan222014

Achievements in Art: The Bidwell Collection on Display


AC Students in front of Ueli Alder, Detonation series, AMoA

Every year, the Amarillo Museum of Art (AMoA) has an exhibition in January that celebrates collectors of art, by having an exhibition of their collection. Last Saturday night I had the honor of attending the Gala and meeting Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell, this year's honored collectors. On Sunday, the Achievement in Art Exhibition: Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell's Collection of Photography opened to the public.

Having photographs from their astounding collection on display in the High Plains is an incredible opportunity to talk about contemporary photography. Yesterday was the first day of class, and I took the History of Photography students over to view the show. They stood in awe in front of these photographs, and for some it was the first time they had ever seen such a display. We spent about an hour and a half looking and discussing the photographs.

Vaughn Wascovich's giant pinhole print, Detroit, Superior Bridge (Veteran's Memorial Bridge), 2012, fascinated them, and during the conversation they considered technique and how this added to the visual language. When I finally explained the process, I could tell developer was going to be splashed around the darkroom this spring.  They also spent time discussing Ueli Alder's, Detonation series, and Hendrik Kerstens photographs of his daughter, Paula. Also of interest, was one of Abelardo Morrell's photographs of a camera obscura image. While standing in front of his photograph, we spent time discussing their first group project, which is to build a camera obscura. I was so impressed with their observations as they worked together to analyze images and reach conclusions about how and what the images communicated. I can tell this is going to be a great class.

The Bidwell's collection is unique in that it consists primarily of works by emerging photographic artists. Methods of making images vary greatly and include analog and digital prints, but to me the techniques employed are always in service to the expression of ideas, and the exploration of concepts in this photo-based collection.

For the duration of the exhibition, I plan to write more about the artists, and their projects on display, in this fantastic exhibition. I highly recommend getting to this show early, because you will want to go often.

The show runs through March 23

AMoA website for more info

Thursday
Apr122012

Recycle Arts Festival

 

I totally forgot to mention the Recyle Arts Festival at the Amarillo Museum of Art on my blog before the event. This is the piece that I had in the show. When I went to pick it up, Alex Gregory told me it sold! Yeah! It's always great news to hear a piece as sold, but I will miss the cuckoo bird harvested from an old clock that has sat around my studio for several years waiting to find a nest. I hope the next owner loves her as much as I did.

 

Image Credit: Rene' West, Time to Fly, cuckoo bird and mechanics, wood, cyanotype, paper, 2012

Saturday
Nov052011

AC Students Make Teacher Proud!

For the past year, I have helped the AC Student Government Association and the Amarillo Museum of Art make the exhibition, Aftermath, by Joel Meyerowitz, a reality. It was funded entirely by the students of Amarillo College, and the reception on Wednesday was amazing. They are all so proud of this exhibition, and they should be, they own it. Congratulations to all of you, what an accomplishment.

The reception was for Jonathan Safran Foer, author of the Common Reader for 2011-12 school year. He was on campus all day, and gave a lecture that evening. Videos of the lecture and Q&A can be found here, here, and here. He was a great speaker.

What an exciting and busy day.
Sunday
Aug072011

AMoA Recycle Show

This is my piece for the Recycle Art Exhibition at the AMoA. Show runs through August 14th.

Image Credit: Rene' West, Art Through the Ages, mixed media on a kitchen cabinet door, 2011