Archive for the Sharon Butler Category

The Two Coats of Paint blog posted a nice a piece on the Park Place Gallery, on the occasion of an exhibition, at the Blanton Museum, that takes retrospective look at the artists who helped establish the ground-breaking 1960s gallery.

One of the artists, Dean Fleming, was featured in several short posts last year on the Chronicle of Artistic Failure, as an artistic figure who’s long been forgotten by the mainstream art world.

Here’s an interesting passage from the press materials for the show at the Blanton Museum (quoted also by Two Coats…), which is called “Reimaging Space” [emphasis mine]:

Park Place artists were united by their multifaceted explorations of space. Their abstract paintings and sculptures, with dynamic geometric forms and color palettes, created optical tension, and were partially inspired by the architecture and energy of urban New York. The group regularly discussed the visionary theories of Buckminster Fuller, Space Age technologies, science fiction, and the psychology of expanded perception, and these ideas become essential to their work. Dean Fleming’s paintings of shifting, contradictory spaces were intended to transform viewers, provoking an expanded consciousness. Di Suvero’s allegiance was to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and his kinetic sculptures explored gravity and momentum in space.

By assembling a selection of major works not seen together since that era—as well as photographs and documents chronicling the group’s activities—this exhibition opens a new window on the art world of the 1960s. In doing so, it reveals the decade to have been a period of much richer artistic possibility than standard art histories suggest. According to Guest Curator Linda Dalrymple Henderson, ‘Reimagining Space’ is meant to ‘encourage new, more subtle readings of the 1960s and to direct attention to the superb Park Place artists who have not received the critical attention they deserve.’

Two recently published stories by artists raise the issue of artists struggling to find space to sustain their practices.

Sharon Butler, in this month’s Brooklyn Rail, writes:

…in spite of reduced expectations, the compulsion in even unseasoned artists to secure dedicated workspace has persisted…. But circumstances have diverted the obsessive quest for the studio. Today, large inexpensive spaces in acceptable proximity to Manhattan are rare, and artists, both emerging and mid-career, have adapted their art making strategies to meet the challenges of the post-studio era.

Her article surveys some of the constantly shifting realities of artists seeking space, and posits a future (and present) in which artists find ways to work without a true work-space.

As if in response, a concurrent article by Christine Wells this week on mnartists.org posits that “work space doesn’t always correlate to a particular address or piece of real estate.”

It can be a fluid arrangement or, sometimes, even a virtual one. Gabriel Combes [yes, the same self-destructing artist I wrote about several months ago] is an artist who recently lost his home; when we spoke a couple of months ago, he was on the brink of eviction from the apartment where he lived and worked. … Even in the face of impending homelessness, Combs was not particularly concerned about finding a new living space, preferring to crash with friends for awhile. As he pared down his belongings, he remarked that it led him to contemplate how his identity has been reflected in his possessions. As he readied himself for the street, he had to come to terms with letting go of the things that have identified him as both a person and as an artist up to now… Combs indicates that he would still like a studio space that’s “cheap, with lots of light and big windows” if he can find it. He’s looked at a few spaces, and is considering them with an attitude that can only be considered ‘chill.’ If he can find the right space at the right price, he’ll take it, he says; but, until then, he implies that any spot where his stinky paints are accepted will do. For Combs, a more important space consideration seems to revolve around getting his virtual “shop” in order. He uses the web to display, catalogue and sell his pieces online… straight to the audience, eschewing the idea of offering and displaying his work via traditional gallery spaces.