destruction of art, iraq

Join me for a stroll through a minefield: What do Chuck Close, Michael Jackson, Robert E. Lee, T.S. Eliot, Joseph Stalin, Christopher Columbus and the Taliban have in common? Answer: They have each been on one end or the other (sometimes both) of calls for the destruction or erasure of art.

 

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The River is Rising, by David Slader, Artist

This painting was named by a text message. While working on the initial drawing, I received a NOAA alert that the Upper Nehalem River behind my studio was approaching flood stage. This is a fairly common winter event but still always worth grabbing a hat and venturing out to the edge of the bank to watch the rushing water.

 

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That pretty much sums up my goal making art—and the reason so much ends up erased. Not just by me. Many artists destroy more work than they keep. When the English artist Francis Bacon died, his studio contained over 100 canvases he had slashed with a knife. Why? My guess is that they bored him.

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The moose shines bright
The stars give a light,
And you may kiss a porcupine
At ten o’clock at night

This nonsense couplet by Daniel Pinkwater makes me laugh. When I look at my most recent painting, I see a woman throwing her head back to let out a raucous hoot, so I shared the rhyme with her. She agreed Moose Shines would be a fine name. Perhaps we are laughing at the same silliness. Although, I must admit, there have been times when I thought she was crying. Take a look, decide for yourself.

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talking paintings

When I am asked, “What are your paintings trying to say?” I reply, half-teasing, “The moment one of my paintings starts to say anything, I’ll turn it into a still-life. That’ll shut it up.” The fact is that I am uncomfortable with the notion that art needs to make a “statement” and that artists need to intend a message. Mine doesn’t and I don’t. Clearly, my work reflects something about me at the time it is made, but I’ll be damned if I know or care what it is.

This painting is “Landscape with Four Houses.” For several months I have been wrestling with her, pulling her nature from a flat surface of shapes and pigments. She has bedeviled me, emerging in fits and starts—without either the guidance or the limitations of a plan.
Landscape with Four Houses – David Slader
What am I looking for? There must be some reason why so many creative decisions are erased and why it can take months of trial and error until I am satisfied enough to scratch my name in the paint. A painting that works asks you to ask, to stop, wonder and inquire: Have we met? Join me for a dram of Scotch? It becomes a character in a story—and once that painting is off my easel, it lives only through the person looking at it.

But, how does it all start?

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reflections and gratitude

watched by ArtsWatch

Owen Carey and I owe special appreciation to Bob Hicks who brought his keen powers of observation and expression to an extensive review of InkBodySkinPaint+Fire in Oregon ArtsWatch. I was especially taken with this paragraph:

In their own ways, Carey and Slader’s work in InkBodySkinPaint+Fire is at once boldly declarative and mysteriously elusive: We see “what,” and get only glimpses of “why.” … I find this apt and comforting. The artist’s role is to explore the mysteries of life, not solve them. A little taste, a door opened, a new perception, a new possibility. That’s art. That’s life.

If we artists can open a door and begin to explore some of the mysteries of life, well then, we just might be worth keeping around.

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thank you for joining us!

Over 200 friends and art lovers joined Owen Carey and me for our Preview Reception and First Thursday Opening of InkBodySkinPaint+Fire last week. Thank you. It was a blast.

And a special thank you to Katie Watkins and Samuel Pederson of the performance troupe Risk/Reward who posed as talking, tattooed artist models on First Thursday. The art was not just on the walls. It was also projected by these two exceptional performers who added their fertile imagination and creativity to the evening.

InkBodySkinPaint+Fire continues at Gallery 114 Thursday-Sunday, noon-6:00pm, through March 30.

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InkBodySkinPaint+Fire

OPENING THIS WEEK

David Slader & Owen Carey
Please join Owen Carey and me for
Preview & Artists’ Reception
Wednesday, March 6, at 7:00 p.m.

First Thursday Opening, March 7, 3:00 to 9:00 p.m.

David Slader, paintings and sculpture
Owen Carey, photography
at Gallery 114

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InkBodySkinPaint+Fire

Coming to Gallery 114 in March

sparkle and candy corn

A Forest of Redbirds Around Her Song, by David Slader

In “What is Glitter? A strange journey to the glitter factory,” New York Times writer Caity Weaver described glitter as “the inside of a potato chip bag meeting the aurora borealis.” How can an artist resist that line?

Since the search for knowledge is its own justification, I figured I had license to explore many choices. I am not prepared to reveal hard-won proprietary information, but I will say it turned out to be a caramel corn bag (well, many caramel corn bags) that eventually found their way into the background of “A Forest of Redbirds Around Her Song”— all ten feet of her.

Here is a detail of one foot.

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David Slader, Owen Carey - art letter no 2 2019 feb

InkBodySkinPaint+Fire

March 2019, Gallery 114

having too much fun

I have admired the work of photographer Owen Carey (the older looking dude above) for over twenty years. Now I finally get to share a show with him—this March at Gallery 114. If you are a lover of local theater, you’ve seen Owen’s work. He has been shooting actors and performances for years, bringing to each job the eye and heart of an artist.

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