Sunday, September 22, 2013

PAFA MFA 2 Fall Week 4: Ann Gale

I have sailed past the 1/4 mark in my fall semester already with this week into the record books. It's been a real world wind and I am super busy between all of my various demands of teaching, working on various commercial gigs and being in school. I feel like I have fallen behind where I want to be painting wise in production of new work, but I guess that's just the way it will be for a while. I did work on new work in gather photo sources and collaging in photoshop as well as some small studies. I did have a critic meeting and got some good artists to consider in my process.

However the biggest and best thing this last week was the visit by Ann Gale to PAFA via the Visiting Artist Program. Gale is a teacher at the University of Washington School Of Art. Gale is one of the leading figurative painters today, the "Secret Queen of Painting" as I called her when we met. Like Edwin Dickenson she is a painter's painter-- and a painter who might fall under the "perceptual painting" umbrella. At school there are several artist like Scott Noel, Peter Van Dyke as well as his wife Carolyn Pyfrom who also work in that mode or designation. In short I have been a huge fan of her work for several years now, coming across her work in my undergrad, and she certainly was  fave of many of my Dirty Palette buddies. So I was stoked for her visit, they don't often get artists in the program I am that excited to see, the last one I was this jazzed to see was Daniel Sprick who visited PAFA in 2009. I have been requesting her as one of the visiting artists for a while now and made sure i was waiting for the sign up sheet to come out so I could be first in line to sign up for a studio crit with her.

The talk Gale gave for the school was really a painters painter talk, she brought work that spanned her career as talking points to discuss her priorities and issues as she developed as a painter, examples of what she was doing in grad school at Yale to the last piece she was working on in her studio. So we could see what she was thinking about and interested in at the stage we are in as students in grad school and how it was really the same yet deepening conversation she was still interested and talking about decades later. Some painters come and give a sort of general overview of their career and work, which is nice, but not always a lot of meat.

                      Gale talks with Al Gury the head of our painting Dept and Jeff Carr the Dean

Gale dug in right to the heart of what painting is, she talked about the different experiences of color as it moved around a painting, about painting the light, the atmosphere, about how important the space between things is, the space between her and the model, making  or following currents of marks, highways of vision through the work, how important something like the space between something like the chin and chest can be, what is similar as well as what is different between the figure and the background. How does it communicate or interfere with a the painting. Allowing herself to react to this and how the speed of the mark can open up something visually very dense or create chunks of space and light. Could she painting something before she could name it. This is something that Noel talks about a lot in his work and maybe that is a common link with the perceptual painters.

                             Ann Gale and Alex Kanevsky  I think are exchanging contact info

Gale's work has a lot of slippage, the background at points asserting prominence and sometimes the figure, sometimes it seems both at the same time.  Gale talked about how moving studios and the light changing forcing a different way of thinking. How at points her early painting felt like sculpture at times. She also talked about working from her drawings into painting and back and forth, drawing from her paintings. In short, it might be the best talk by a painter I have seen at school. In a world that often says painting is dead, or asks why paint, Gales answers those questions like a thunderclap in her work, which is both contemporary but clearly connected to the tradition of painting, seeing, giving you an experience of looking at the world through the eyes of an artist that is unique to painting. Her choices are ones only a great painter can make and convince you with each stroke or passage that they are right and are giving us a glimpse of a very personal world unmediated by anything but their eye, skill and unique artistic personality. What a breath of fresh air, a meaty mimetic joy in a world of non-retinal BS!

                                  I hauled in a lot of work from home into the studio for my talk

In my studio we had a good talk about formal issue, about using color more to move around my painting, maybe simpler areas vs more dense ones, about drawing from my paintings. She I think liked my drawings the most and talked about trying to achieve the same density of marks and channels

                                                        A pic of yours truly with Gale

In my paintings I have in my drawings. We also talked about how I feel that things like plein air painting are just not appreciated in the MFA, and how at times I feel pressed to move in directions at are artificial, or unnatural. Like most painters when they see the variety of things I do, comics, animations, etc, it does bring a different view on what I do. She also encouraged me to stop working on commercially made surfaces. She gave me artists to look at and that some some my images are a bit frightening, but that you have to be willing to make work that people might find disturbing. There was a lot of great talk and ideas that I am sure will continue to cook in my brain for a long time! I felt drained and excited at the same time, and I haven't been that excited about anything in art school for a long time, so it was a great week.

1 comment:

Josiah King said...

Hi Mike, do you know of a recording of this talk? Thanks for sharing your experience.

Fellow artist,
Josiah King