Thursday, December 30, 2010

My wish for a new year

Mural on The Berlin Wall

International borders are abstract concepts, little more than lines on maps that we imagine upon the earth. Existing outside of the real world of rivers, mountains, or deserts, political boundaries have no bearing on ecosystems. ~Art against the Wall by Scott Nicol.

In the last decade, border controls have tightened so much that frequently artists are denied entry into countries. Take, for example, the denial of 5 Iraqi artists into Britain last April, who were part of a prestigious art show in Manchester, and the two artists that were refused visas into Scotland in 2009.

It’s not just a security issue however. The strict border laws are also motivated by economics. Last summer, Asheville performer Claire Elizabeth Barratt was denied entry into Canada – a country she has visited several times in the past – because of a discrepancy concerning her teaching a workshop. The border patrol didn’t like the idea of Barratt receiving payment in Canada so they denied her entry.

This is a real tragedy because artists and intellects are being denied collaborative opportunities and the exchange of information. While information transmitted via Internet has never been greater, vital face-to-face collaborations are being threatened. And it’s not just amongst visual artists: musicians, writers, Nobel Prize Laureates, dancers, athletes and intellectuals all face a growing epidemic of tightened border controls.

My wish for the new year is that the collective consciousness will actively reject ideas of borders and hierarchies of power. As artists we will take on more collaborative projects that harbor cooperation and creatively challenge cultural notions of "us" versus 'them."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

PUSH: the major motion picture

Here is a teaser for the locally-produced skate movie, PUSH now available on DVD ($10) at PUSH Gallery in downtown Asheville at 25 Patton Avenue.

Read more about PUSH:
Locally produced skate film puts Asheville on the map Mountain Xpress Vol. 17 / Iss. 22 on 12/21/2010

I really like this addendum written by Nathanael Roney that appears in the printed version of Mountain Xpress:

"Skateboarding has always been an insider's game, and though exclusive in practise, the very essence of its form has always remained culturally relevant and attractive to the external. Like jazz, skateboarding is an art in response to rule, rather than the commonly mistaken sport, whose laborious mastery of said rule is unable to communicate with and for itself. It's a rabbit-hole language with one point of entry, indifferent to the outsider's endorsement."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Neal Ashby

A while back I had a fun telephone interview with designer Neal Ashby to discuss his career achievements, the evolution of graphic design, and his creative inspiration behind Thievery Corporation’s Versions CD package.
the full interview here.)

Along the way I asked him if he has pursued any visual arts interests and he admitted that he has recently begun teaching himself how to paint. He said he had found some discarded oil paints while teaching at The Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington DC and began after being inspired by an artist for whom he was designing a book.

I paint. It’s embarrassing because I’m not very good at it, and I paint what you probably would never imagine me painting. I actually like to do landscapes. I like to paint very minimalist landscapes of the Eastern shore…serene waters, lots of land, big skies, dark moody stuff.

Everything was inspired by an artist in Maryland, Kevin Fitzgerald, who does these paintings and is an expert at it. He came to me and asked me to design a book for him, and in doing that I completely fell in love with his paintings.

It’s strictly on the hobby level. That’s what makes it special – it’s not done to impress somebody or make a statement – just for the sheer enjoyment of creating something visual. It’s cool to do something like that where the only person you have to please is yourself. ~Neal Ashby

Monday, December 13, 2010

Jessica Stoddart

Antique tricycle

“A lot of who I am is where I came from,” says Jessica Stoddart, 32, who grew up in rural Tennessee, the daughter of artists. “I was raised in a ‘Little House on the Prairie’ kind of way,” she says, recalling a childhood spent chopping wood and riding horses. “I love tools, but I’m also a girly girl.”

Yellow Dress

Stoddart began incorporating paper dress patterns into her paintings about five years ago as a way to distinguish her work. “I’m constantly drawn to the masculine and the feminine in everything,” she says. “For me, the patterns seem feminine but have a masculine, architectural feel.”

Earlier paintings depict arrangements of old-style dress forms — an artifact Stoddart was compelled to draw because, she muses, “it’s not human and it’s not mechanical.” Two such vintage mannequins from the 1920s hang out in Stoddart’s studio these days; she still uses them in her work.

Excerpted from
The Peculiarity of Knowledge, published in Carolina Home and Gardens Winter 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Molly Courcelle

Made Glorious
Molly Courcelle's painterly abstracts really speak to me, and I've been admiring her work for several months now.
Her paintings are on display at Atelier 24 in downtown Asheville and her website indicates a show at Clingman Cafe in the River Arts District in 2011.

Memory Abides
My work is as much about the process of painting as it is about the final image. Each painting is its own unique experience. ~M. Courcelle

See more at