Monday, October 29, 2007

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Poets on Painters will open at the University Galleries on the llinois State University, Normal campus on Tuesday, November 6th ( In preparation for the opening, Stacie Johnson's Painting II class at ISU asked Travis and I, via email, several questions about the exhibition.

What, if any, connections were you trying to make between contemporary painting and contemporary poetry?
~Neal Vandenbergh

Travis: There weren't any explicit connections we were trying to make beforehand--I think we were pretty much just interested in how setting works from the two genres side by side could work--but there were quite a few that we noticed after the show was finished. Like how both mediums in their contemporary form deal with accessibility ("narrative" in poetry's case, "figuration" in painting's, as I see it). Which is not a rejection or an embrace, but a kind of looking askance. I'm very interested in the line in poetry, so I saw many correspondences between how a poet deals with a line (is it a sentence? a phrase? a thought? a moment?) and a painter.

Which poem/painting combination do you think is the most successful and why?
~ Johanna Weichsel

Travis: It's really hard for me to say since I believe that the show is very audience dependent, so what I think is most successful could completely leave someone else cold. I love how Eric and Mequitta's work corresponds, Dorothea and Dana's, Monica and Amy's, Jeff and Monique's. I would be much more interested to know which one's you think are most successful and why, Johanna. Let me know.

Katie: That’s a hard one for me too. The combination I think works best is always changing. Right now I really love Jeff and Monique’s, doubly so because this pairing was initially the most troublesome for me (during install I was so caught up on how Jeff’s text would look on the wall that I barely registered how beautiful and completely smart and fitting it is in relation to the painting).

It seems a lot of the work in the show is rather flat. Did you intentionally choose works with this aesthetic similarity? What kinds of work did you exclude from the show?
~Jenny Jacobson

Katie: That is a good question. And I am assuming that by “flat” you don’t mean boring, but rather, that they all take on a certain style that is more flat-footed and less interested in direct slick representation. The way I chose the paintings was really not calculated at all. I basically thought to myself, “What contemporary painters would I like to put in a show?” I also considered works that I thought had truncated narratives, or had something that a writer might be able to latch on to.

I put most of the images together and sent them to Travis. And it actually was Travis who pointed out to me that they all had a similar feeling—a feeling I think that has a lot to do with contemporary painting combing elements of both representation and abstraction. Once I noticed this thread it was clear to me that Amy Sillman and Laura Owens needed to be in the exhibition as I see these artists as really the forerunners of this style.

Was your decision to include Lamar Peterson’s painting influenced by his racial or political subject matter? If not, then what was your reasoning for including this work?
~Jenny Paul

Katie: I’ve liked Peterson’s work for a long time. That’s all I was interested in. That other points of view are represented in the exhibition, of course, is important, but not something I base my criteria on. I do think, though, that while this was not at all intentional, it’s interesting that more than half of the artists in the exhibition are women.

If the exhibition was inspired by Monique Prieto’s text painting, how does Whiting Tennis’ painting of his sculpture “Bovine” fit in?
~Natasha Konstantinovic

Katie: I wish I had a more complex answer for you but really I just love Tennis’s work. He’s an incredible artist living in Seattle. I saw his work at an Art Fair with Stacie and knew immediately that I wanted him in the show. You can listen to a terrific interview with him here:

I notice that Nina Bovasso uses the grid, but in an unconventional way. What do you think about her use of the grid?
~Janet Pulido

Katie: That’s an interesting observation. I think that Bovasso might be using the grid as a tool in creating an abstraction. A playful abstraction, that certainly does not adhere to a grid structure (just now I am thinking of all the grids in the show: Tennis’s wooded bovine, Gualdoni’s shiny building, Patch’s windows, Balincourt’s floor, Prekop’s abstracted city, and even Ahuja’s work creates another grid when hung on the wall).

In many of Sandra Scolnik’s paintings she has multiple figures depicted as her own self-portrait. Why did you choose to exhibit this painting which only has one figure? I also found out that Scolnik intentionally makes her paintings so that part of the painting will eventually flake off to reveal a new environment for her figures. Was this aspect of her work important for you decision to include it in the exhibition?
~Katie Sullivan

Katie: I saw this painting at the Kemper Museum of Art in Kansas City a couple of years ago and immediately thought it had a really strong internal narrative. I was interested in what a poet might make of this narrative.

On the art slant web site they spoke of a show that Abel Auer was having with Dorota Jurczak at the Contemporary Art Center in Long Island, New York and refer to Auer's work as being a combination of Central European iconography and the vivid color schemes of the late-1980s and early-1990s skater culture. What do you think plays a bigger role in Auer's work? The influence of pop culture or historical works of fine art?
~Dave Teichmiller

Katie: Oh, that’s an interesting way to think of his work. I hadn’t really thought of skater culture before. I think both could be applicable—I’m not sure if it is skater culture he is looking at exactly, but I do think he is thinking about flat forms and combing these forms with the mysticism of old world painting.

Do you know if any of the painters in this exhibition incorporate personal experience into their work? Do you think personal experience informs contemporary painting more or less than it has in the past?
~Amy Gajdos

Katie: I think that Mequitta Ahuja incorporates quite a bit of personal experience into her work. I think personal experience, to a degree, must always inform art. After all, it is a person making it and doesn’t that person have a history? Although, I don’t think that history is always apparent in the work, or should always be the most important part of the work.

Does the size of James Franklins’ paintings take away from or add to their impact?

~Meghann Post

Katie: I think it definitely adds. They are these amazing glossy tiny works that remind me of a reliquary or a good luck charm


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