Paradise

Long Exhibition Review

 

“Carlos Mérida”  written in a red graphical font on a white wall. On the right side of his name was a description board about Carlos Mérida. There was an English board and adjacent was a translated board in Spanish. Carlos Mérida was an important twentieth-century artist who left a rich legacy of pioneering art. Born in Guatemala City in 1891, Mérida lived and worked for most of his life in Mexico City. San Antonio Museum of Art has obtained great examples of Mérida’s works, and its collection illustrates the artist’s broad diversity of themes and media –like his Natives Costumes of Guatemala (1940) to his Birds of Paradise (1936).

In the center of the room there was a clear display with a white podium. Inside of the podium there was three lithographs of Carlos Mérida. This piece was called Native Costumes of Guatemala, 1940. They were fairly large compared to a regular size paper. Starting on the left side it displayed the cover/container that held all the lithographs. The lithograph was very decorative with a floral border containing the title, “Native Costumes of Guatemala”,  which almost reminded me of the art nouveau style. It had a sense of style of decorative art and design  by natural forms and structures, particularly the curved lines of plants and flowers. It is characterized by complicated linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms.The following two pieces that followed were lithographs sharing the same techniques and styles as the cover. However, within the border it contained people from the Guatemalan culture. Even though it showed the “Native Costumes” in the center of the page, the print was a strategic work in itself. Lithography uses simple chemical processes to create an image. For instance, the positive part of an image is a water-repelling substance, while the negative image would be water-retaining. Thus, when the plate is introduced to a compatible printing ink and water mixture, the ink will adhere to the positive image and the water will clean the negative image. This allows a flat print plate to be used, enabling much longer and more detailed print runs than the older physical methods of printing. Since it was a lithograph it had crisp and clean edges, but it also contained a lot of organic features and curves. The shapes around the border were very geometric and abstract. The shapes symbolizing nothing but the shape itself. This emphasizes the simplicity yet pleasing composition of these lithographs and not just the work itself but also the print work behind it.  

His final piece was contained in a black border frame like the other lithographs on the wall. Birds of Paradise, 1936 had the most contrast in color and abstract among the rest. There was a sharp line that cut through the top of the painting diagonally and an implied line separating two distinctive colors, yellow and red. This implied the horizon line of a sunset or sunrise. Two black non-figurative objects were placed in the center beside each other. The title of the painting seemed to imply the objects were birds.  It appeared to be a reference to the raven bird since they were both black. The birds were flying towards the horizon line based on the position and direction. Mérida represented this painting in a poetic and experimental way compared to his lithographs. The lithographs had a sense of control and structure in comparison to the painting. The painting had a more loose and cohesive disarrangement. The figures were abstract shapes, but they still held the quality of a lithograph print which were sharp, clean, and geometric with a touch of organic features.

Birds of Paradise reflects how, at this time, Carlos Mérida was incorporating what he had learned while in Europe from painters such as Picasso, Miro, and Kandinsky with his own deep Mayan roots. The two artist who influenced Merida the most was Picasso and Kandinsky. This observation can be made through the relation it has on the work itself. The influence Kandinsky had on Mérida was the abstraction of the objects. For instance, it was the sunset/sunrise and the birds. Mérida worked with lithographs as his medium just like Picasso. His mission was to take abstraction beyond the three dimensions of height, width and depth to a fourth dimension that permitted nonspatial considerations such as spirituality much like Mayan art had done. Above this one work, on the wall there was a quote from Mérida in red and fine lettering saying, “‘ The only interpretation of our vision and our experiences in life that I could accept was through an art with the profound modesty not to reveal itself completely, to close when touched, like the leaves of a sensitive plant.’ -Carlos Merida”.  Having this quote above this work implied he wanted to discover life in a poetic way. Not actually doing the obvious, but finding new ways to explore life. In a sense I can see that is what he was doing in this painting for the viewer. To discover not an obvious sunset/sunrise and birds, but a more abstract paradise that we are not used to seeing. Creating depth and illusion with a lithography quality.

Carlos was a very curious artist with his fascination of the lithographs and the outcome it has with his work. The line and quality was very different from the other different media he used in this collection like painting. However, even with his painting, he kept the clean cut shapes that made it appear like a lithograph. He was very fond of his Mayan culture and embraced it throughout his journey as an artist. He explored and studied the place, the landscape, the cultural fashion and the tradition. However, he still went even further to explore the spiritual beliefs and foundation. He understood that the culture goes beyond what one sees before them, especially in regards to art. It was interesting to see the many ways he interpreted that and modernize it with the styles and medium he used.

 

Word count (1007)

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A Pearl of Wisdom

 

 

Interview with Artist Kimie Flores on Nov. 29, 2016.
A young artist filled with ambition and guts as she finishes her senior year at Texas State.

 

 

Marlene: Why art? What is your background?

Kimie: Well I’ve always done art for a really long time since I was a kid. It was something I was gravitated towards because I was a really quiet kid so drawing was really there, it amused me.

M: Really?

K: But I’ve never thought like… because originally I was going to school for animation. That didn’t work out so I end up coming here to Texas State and they introduce me to the Com Des program which is the closest thing —It is a lot of digital stuff like in compass of that program. So, I started doing that and maybe when I was half way finish with it I took a painting course here. I painting at home a lot and drew a lot of things but I’ve never have done that here. So when I took the course it was what people thought I was a painting major or the teacher was like, “Are you in the program?” and I was like,“no”,and he was like, “What the fuck is wrong with you.”

M: He was like you should!

K: I know! So that day I said, “I guess I’m going to double mayor.”

I was halfway finish but I took on more. It just happened that way. They both give me satisfaction in different ways. So is kind of nice to find the harmony in them.

M: Yeah, so in graphic design do you use your own paintings?

K: Yeah, I use elements of my paintings in them. I feel like as long as you have that touch it will come across in whatever you do. So, I guess it is what relates them or keeps them kind of connected. And too I’m a gemini and I feel like i’m forever seeking balance!

M: Do you see them sometimes fighting each other?

K: Yeah! Because it is like graphic design there is too many rules with type, the golden ratio, compositionally fix. Then, in painting you have the old masters and pre historic times that you can’t do this and that. Then, there is like this contemporary point now where you throw that out and you have to make it fresh because everything has been done. So, now it is just finding things you like just like if you are going shopping. Finding things you like that you know it will look good on you and then trying to make it match with things you already have.

M: Oh my gosh, so it is a lot of balance. Do you sometimes get stuck?

K: Oh yeah! I like, get stuck a lot. Just when I feel I’m pressured into a certain thing. And when I get my own idea going it’s pretty good. Because I know what my aesthetic is and I know what influences me. Whenever I feel somebody else forces or corners me in a direction that is when I feel I get stuck. It is like they are taking a whole on my idea. They try to manipulated into something it isn’t yet, because they don’t fully understand it quite yet. So, that is where I get kind of like, “okay hold on I have to stop”, and reevaluate it and find a compromise. A bit of their feedback —because I do appreciate what people say and I think it is important to know who your audience is. And two, to really stick to what you like, you have to make it. You know it has your name on it you have to love it at the end of the day. It’s not like you’re making it for someone else expectations. It’s good to keep it in mind but not to completely have them to guide you through the whole process.  

M: It’s a lot to take in consideration. So then, how did you come up with this concept [in the thesis project]? Were you struggling?

K: There is like a painter called Roy Lichtenstein and he did a lot of like comic book based style in like the 60s. It was during the abstraction expressionism, and people kept on looking at this like, “What is this?”. And I remember I saw some stuff of his and I really liked it. Just how it was flat and really graphic and I like comics and stuff so I was super into that. I like painting with figure it always been like that. I’m a people person and I like talking to people and getting to know them so I wanted to play around with a picture of my tattoo artist and putting him in a flat geometric environment to see how the contrast would be. The push and pull and I painted that first one and the idea kind of kept going. So with each one I tried to do it in a very different way.

M: So talking about that artist, do you identify with him a lot in your work?

K: That was someone who like in different phases in your life or trends that kind of come and go. So you just go through different things. So even with each painting I felt like I would find artist that would be inspired by the previous one and then I would use the influences in that painting and then just to the another one. Thenn find another artist they like and then tweak it and then the next and kind of use the ones I really liked. So it was a whole of things of different things.

M: Is there like a favorite one that you have? Artist? Or things you grab pieces of that style?

K: I love, love, love Eric Jones. He like an artist of today. He is super big in New York. And Patrick Caulfield has been somebody who I have been interested in. He can paint like his fucking ass off. Perfect, so prestige just beautiful work but he would do like basic forms. It’s like in painting, people think if you can paint realistic you obviously made it. But that is not the case, you can easily corner yourself into this weird little like “that is all you do and that is what you are known for.”  You have to find different things to kind of keep it interesting or it will be stagnant. You don’t always want to make the same thing.

M: Do you find yourself doing that, sometimes?

K: You know, I feel like if I’m doing the same painting for more than 2 to 3 paintings, I feel like I am crazy! It’s like I jump into something else. I’ve always been kind of known for that as a jumper. I jump styles. It’s like a do realistic paintings and then jump to this weird thing I made (sculpted) out of  foam and this frame and then there is this little painting inside of it. It’s just weird. Then I’m like okay I did that now I’m going to jump back to this— and it’s like a cartoon. It is just so weird and I feel like I keep jumping. It is to kind of keep me satisfy because if I keep doing the same thing is just boring.

M: Yeah, and then it also has a lot of variety.

K: Mhm, it’s good. It’s just like shoes. It’s like having different shoes who wants to wear the same dam shoes all the time.

M: Yes! It’s so true though.

K: Right, it is like that. You need different things so like whenever you’re like “no, i’m going to wear these shoes from two years ago they look good again.” It’s kind of like that, where I feel like that is how my brain works. Where this is cool right now and then no and “jump”, and it’s like okay I like this, “Jump”. So it’s like the work I’m going to do after this is like not even going to be like that.

M: Really?

K: Yeah! So i’m jumping into something else.

M: So, is it going to be a different concept?

K: I think I want to do video stuff. Just of… like the animation, go back to the animation and then play around with that. With geometric shapes but in the real world. So like record just people interacting and then placing these things around them and having that overlap I think will be really cool.

M: Oh my gosh, wow! So then, why didn’t you go into animation then?

K: When I graduated I was sixteen I went to this art institute and I saw all these people’s work and I was still like a baby. In my small town I thought I was “oh my God”, but then when I saw their work it scared me into wanting to be better. They were so good at what they did and it was really amazing to see them being so confident in what they were doing. And I didn’t have that yet because I was still really young. So then I took some time off from school and painted and drew. Because honestly, I never want to feel like that again where my work wasn’t…It was obviously high school compared to people who knew what they wanted to do with their career. They were just so focused on that and I didn’t have that yet. Then, when I came here I already had that idea that I’m going to do that stuff but then painting came along and it side swipe me and it just changed everything. I didn’t think that I would take something I did as a hobby so seriously.

Especially it’s really hard whenever you have something you hold precious and you put it out in the world and people judge it. They don’t know you, your aesthetic or anything about you. They just know of what they see. So it is kind of hard to get the point across. You have to know that as an artist, what they get is what they get and that is okay. So, it is that weird acceptance of people don’t completely understand you. At the same time be open to suggestions, be open to their thoughts and it is okay that not everyone like it. Always kind of want to get better don’t ever want to be in the same spot. If you are too comfortable then you are not really pushing yourself as an artist. You always want to be uncomfortable if you want to grow as an artist. So, that is kind of maturity to grow up and learn this.

M: Was it hard at first to understand that?

K: It is a learning process. Of course when you get into critiquing and stuff—it sucks! It feels like you are getting picked on. You feel like people are attacking you but you have to realize it is honest opinion. That is just the real world people don’t agree on the same thing. That is okay because if people agreed on everything even the world would be stagnant. There is a need for disruption or conflict for room for change. So, it just takes learning and experience in that. Nobody can really teach you that.

M: As an artist, what do you want to be remembered as?

K: As a badass paint slinging no..I dont know. I would like to be remember as somebody who did their thing and kind of an inspiration to others. Like I got to consume my life into something that I love. Maybe more people should do that. For example, you don’t have to do something you hate and think that is making it in life. You can still have what you love and still be happy.

M: Is there any advice you would give to another artist or people who are struggling in the art world?

K: Don’t compare yourself to somebody else. Don’t do that because you will never going to be happy. Be yourself because there is one you and they are just being themselves too. So don’t try to copy because they are already taken. Just do your thing. That is just from experience I remember I used to do it a lot— it just makes you miserable. So fuck it, don’t do it.

(Word Count: 2068)

Buster Graybill: Sala Diaz

Buster Graybill was a very relax and downt to earth guy. This was the first time I can say I shared a beer with the artist in their exhibition. Graybill was very fond of reproduction. That is what he has grown up learning from his grandfather. Instead, of buying the material that is needed his grandfather believe that you can always make the material from scratch. Graybill explained that we have to find the balance between formal and conceptual. We should always reproduce material, whatever we find or have. Anything that exist has another life. Each material that we use has had a history and that history is important. Even if no one else acknowledges that, we as artist should and it plays a role for us in the art world. Whatever we throw away or someone else’s trash we should bring that object or material back to life and bring something new to them a whole new purpose for them.

Graybill explained that he used to be obsessed with material and became dependent in equipment. There were plenty of times, especially after graduating, resources was not as accessible as it was before. He couldn’t create art because he lacked of the equipment. That is where he learned and realized he need to start making art of what you have and not create excuses and wait for the opportunity to come. One can master materials but there is need to find a threshold. We need to make the thinking part of the work. To be passionate but not obsessive. That is what makes an artist. We are soldiers, we are the workers.

 

-Marlene Gallegos

Raw and transparent

Those two words I would describe Sam Sanford. He was our guest speaker last tuesday night for the first half of our class. He grew up in San Antonio and received a degree in Religion. I wouldn’t expect him to have a degree in religion. From then on I knew this will be interesting to learn more about him. He then had a slide show of a very straightforward “about me” facts. He was very blunt as a guest speaker. He openly shared that he didn’t feel like a real artist more like a poser. The best thing he has done for his art is to improve his mental and spiritual health. Later on he went in depth with this. Throughout his time as an artist he realized that the deadlines and exhibitions were taking away from that purpose. Making a living from his art is no longer his goal. He wants control of his art. Honestly, I don’t blame him. It’s his choice, he can rely on it without depending on it and trying to make a living out of it. It’s to find the ambition and standing more firm in your truth. The series of “Dark days”, exhibit in Farewell Books in Austin. These were actually based on his family pictures. He changed his technique in working smaller with glazing it gave him better results. This series shows the darkness in his childhood inside their family. Soon after this exhibition he was severely injured from an accident and he had to stop making art after that. The unfortunate event made him realize things happen for a reason. However, he hopes to return to abstraction but for now he is doing carpentry and framing as job. He advise us all that momentum is important everyday. You have to build up to that. You have to reach to a momentum cliff and after that you will get the inertia to continue.

-Marlene Gallegos

Where does taste come from?

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Tuesday night we had a chance to write on the white board our “Top 5” in film, literature, music and in art. It was quite interesting activity to see everyone’s top favorite and least favorite of each subject. Some were similar and of course some were not. Soon enough we began to discuss our opinions on what was on the board. As we discuss we shared, A. O. Scott review in New York Times, that we get out opinion from personal taste. But where do we get it? It simply starts off as a conversation. It’s the collaboration with someone else then it evolves as a dialog. It is a fundamental social act, and a much as we thought (well at least I did) it is not an individual act. For instance, when we think about who is reading our blog we are thinking of who we are engaging with, that’s how it functions.

Discussing the “Top 5” in music, we were discussing if we were evaluating the music or the artist. The certain standards that appeal to us and why. In one of the levels of taste is how the upbringing of it as we were growing up. It proves that it is not something that comes from within us but the product of the outside. Our parents, older siblings or friends influenced their favorite music or books with us. Because it is more meaningful if you can share that. It is a way to share the experience and it is sharing a piece of yourself to the other person. That is criticism is all about to share the dialog and that gives that work meaning. Even if you don’t agree or like it, it is important to know. You feel connected to that person and/or to the work.

-Marlene Gallegos