February 16, 2014, 6:44pm

The Quest of a Painterly World: Q and A with Cable Griffith

It is hard not to like Cable Griffith’s landscapes. They invite you into their fantastical scenes with a bright sense of familiarity that permeates the patterned, pixel-like worlds and is almost instantly recognizable from one of recent generations’ favorite past times—video games. Quest, the artist’s new show at G. Gibson Gallery in Seattle, continues the digitally-inspired lands for which the artist has become known, but buried beneath the solid, white clouds and systematized, geometric trees, a more serious pursuit reveals itself.  As Exhibitions Curator at Cornish College of the Arts, Griffith has an abundance of experiences and networks that parallel the complexity of the landscapes he builds.   I caught up with the artist to uncover more about Quest and to talk about an exhibition of northwest painter Robert C. Jones’s work on view at the gallery he oversees at Cornish. — Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor

Cable Griffith | Terra Terma, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 18 x 18 inches, image courtesy of G. Gibson Gallery.

Listed under: Interview

February 14, 2014, 8:41am

Material Concerns: Q&A with Mitzi Pederson

To say that JPEG images don’t do justice to Mitzi Pederson’s work at Ratio 3 (3:43, open through Saturday, February 15th) is a bit of an understatement. Her exploration of materials finds her once again working with tulle, a fine netting that is lightweight and translucent and seemingly fragile from up close -- good luck capturing that with your DSLR. Sculpturally, Pederson continues to work with simple arrangements of cinder blocks on the floor that are formally reminiscent of Carl Andre. On the walls her assemblages are clear references to painting -- squint your eyes enough and Pederson’s color palette might remind you of Monet’s Rouen Cathedral, step back and you’re sure to find a connection to Rebecca Morris’ whimsical abstractions. I recently had the chance to email Mitzi a few questions about her show, her materials, and her interest in painting. Her answers after the jump. -- Matt Smith Chavez, San Francisco Contributor

Mitzi Pederson | Untitled, 2014, Tulle, ink, 35 x 31 inches. Courtesy of Ratio 3

Listed under: Interview

February 02, 2014, 9:36am

The Relativity of Black: Q&A with Laura Judkis

Laura Judkis (NAP #100) doesn’t make black paintings. Sometimes she doesn’t even use black in her compositions at all. Her work is pushed by the dark theatrical narratives that are associated with the color black, and even though she often works with other colors these associations tend to persist -- in her work white becomes the absence of black, pink becomes its twisted hyperactive relative, etc. It all points to the cultural imprint that black leaves on our psyche. Ultimately, black may not be the color that we see in front of us, but the color that we imagine when we look.

Installation view of Laura Judkis’ work in Group Show (2013) at sophiajacob in Baltimore.

Over the last two weeks I’ve spoken with artists that work with the color black. Two weeks ago I spoke with Vincent Como about the connection between his paintings and modernism. Last week I chatted with Sean Talley about his interest in using black as a means of investigating the material properties of his compositions. This week, in the final installment of this series,  I speak with Baltimore-based Laura Judkis, whose dark narratives evoke black even when she avoids the color all together. My conversation with Laura after the jump. -- Matt Smith Chavez, San Francisco contributor

Listed under: Interview

January 29, 2014, 10:30am

Through the Rabbit Hole: An American Arts Writer in Melbourne

Last week, Lauren Gallow and I wrote about our adventures in and our emerging philosophies behind exploring the art world via Instagram in Art & Instagram: Falling Down the Rabbit Hole. And fortunately, one of my recent travel adventures began with lazy bedtime falls down the Insty rabbit hole and ended with two wonderful studio visits in Melbourne, Australia…

LEFT: Ghostpatrol, Wall mural collaboration with Sean Morris, November 2013, Brisbane. Courtesy of the artist. RIGHT: Lucas Grogan, THE CONSTELLATION 2013 ink, acrylic and enamel on archival matt board 100 x 100cm.  Courtesy of the artist.

I had been planning a holiday in Australia for over a year, but it only occurred to me a few months prior that I might want to start exploring Aussie artists on Instagram.  Luckily, I had already been following a couple and from there, my Insty-Aussie-artist network expanded exponentially.  This was also about the same time that Gallow and I began tracking and recording our Instagram feeds, forays, and falls (mostly through screenshots of artists we were feeling big time).

The month before my trip, I began looking up some of my favorite local artists, to see if they had any current shows, and to more seriously immerse myself in their work via gallery and personal websites.  Shortly, I was able to contact two of my favorites to arrange studio visits while I was in Melbourne.  – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

Listed under: Interview

January 26, 2014, 7:08pm

The Relativity of Black: Q&A with Sean Talley

Long time critic David Levi Strauss proposes that art criticism “involves making finer and finer distinctions among like things.” Sean Talley’s most recent body of work makes a similar kind of assertion with regard to color. For every black surface in Talley’s work there’s a blacker still, an ever finer distinction among like things. And while black may sometimes be considered the absence of color, in Talley’s case it can remind us that chromatic variations result from surface and material properties. As Ad Reinhardt explained, there’s “a black which is old and a black which is fresh. Lustrous (brilliant) black and matte black, black in sunlight and black in shadow.” Black, it turns out, is a multiplicity of colors.

Sean Talley | AIILCI, 2013. Graphite powder on paper. 14 x 11 inches

Last week I started writing about the relativity of black -- black can mean everything at once or nothing at all. I recently had a chance to speak with three diverse artists about the way they use black in their work. Last week I talked to Vincent Como about his monochrome paintings and their relationship to modernism. Today we post my conversation with Oakland-based artist Sean Talley. Next week you’ll be able to read my conversation with Baltimore-based Laura Judkis. My interview with Sean after the jump -- Matt Smith Chavez, San Francisco Contributor

Listed under: Interview

January 19, 2014, 2:39pm

The Relativity of Black: Q&A with Vincent Como

We’re all familiar with Spinal Tap’s ruminations on the color black. In this memorable scene of the mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, the band gathers around their manager as he reveals the jacket cover for their new album, Smell the Glove. There’s no text or any other adornment on it. It’s simply black -- understated and confusing for a 1980s hair band. “You can see yourself on both sides. It’s like a black mirror,” a bewildered bassist mutters. “Well, I think it looks like death. It looks like mourning,” complains the singer. “There’s something about this that's so black. It’s like ‘how much more black could this be?’ And the answer is none. None more black,” observes Nigel, the lead guitarist.

It’s all rather comical. But it’s also kind of profound -- black is death, black is the absence of anything else, black is mystifying, black is stupid. Ad Reinhardt, who was the “black monk” of the New York School, may have agreed most with Spinal Tap’s guitarist. For Reinhardt black was purely an aesthetic-intellectual pursuit and hence the negation of all symbolic meaning -- “none more black,” as Nigel put it. Color, on the other hand, is always making assertions and striving for meaning, and in that sense, Reinhardt added, “it may be vulgarity or folk art or something like that.” -- Matt Smith Chavez, San Francisco Contributor

Vincent Como | The Temptation to Exist 002, 2013. Acrylic on Canvas with Wooden Shelf. 66 x 5 x 7 inches

Listed under: Interview

October 15, 2013, 8:00am


It was hard looking at Stuckey’s paintings in his Highland Park studio and come to terms with the visual noise and muzzled whispers in the work. The paintings are horrible in their rampant tramping of imagery and id, intriguing for the same reasons; washed out and fuzzy details similar to staring at static snow on a television. Word association gets me to the vinyl copy of Television’s album Marquee Moon that hadn’t left the record player since I arrived at Stuckey’s LA apartment. Lyrics come to mind:

I spoke to a man down at the tracks

And I asked him how he don't go mad

He said "Look here junior, don't you be so happy

And for Heaven's sake, don't you be so sad"

Stuckey is the man down at the tracks and it is you/me who is asked to balance ourselves otherwise we will not make it through the abrupt narratives in front of us. The newest works offer a visual reference for the clouded mind. “Clouded” also points to Stuckey’s use of white, used not to obfuscate but rather to steady us the way ones foot must hover over the brakes while driving through dense fog, attention heightened.  In preparation for his solo show PRIMA MATERIA at Anat Ebgi in Culver City, Stuckey and I had a conversation. Arthur Peña, Dallas Contributor

Listed under: Interview

October 01, 2013, 8:00am

A Landscape of Industry: An Interview with Nina Elder

If you’re like me, you probably drive past them all the time and never give a second thought: cell towers, radio antennas, power lines, fracking structures and electrical substations–all part of a larger infrastructure that we rely on to connects us to a variety of systems and grids to sustain life as we know it. Santa Fe-based artist Nina Elder (#96) has been documenting the intersections of the natural and man-made in the American landscape for more than a decade. In her most recent body of work, Power Line, currently on view through October 25th at the Inpost Artspace in Albuquerque, Elder continues her thoughtful examination of our relationship with these architectural oddities through the lens of landscape painting. I recently caught up with Nina to ask her a few questions about her work. – Claude Smith, Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor

Nina Elder | Hawthorne Munitions Depot, 2012, acrylic on panel, 48 x 60 inches; image courtesy of the artist

Listed under: Interview

September 30, 2013, 8:00am

Disappearing Act: Jaq Chartier’s Climate-Changing Paintings

Jaq Chartier’s (NAP #13, #31, #61) paintings like to pose as objects other than paintings. The Seattle artist and cofounder of Aqua Art Miami is best known for Testing, an ongoing that physically experiments with her materials and processes. Chartier integrates paint with saturated inks, stains and dyes she designs to evolve over time, creating large, hyper-saturated canvases that pulse with patterns and forms that reference the imagery of contemporary science—DNA strands, glass slides, microbodies— and ultimately behave as visual experiments themselves. - Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor

Jaq Chartier | Lettuce Coral, 2013, acrylic, stains, paint on wood panel, 28 x 36 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Platform Gallery.

September 16, 2013, 8:30am



Located in the Dallas Design District, Circuit 12 is run by husband and wife team Dustin & Gina Orlando. The Orlando’s sharp and ever searching eye brings a national and international freshness to a sweltering  arts community that’s thirsty for a new flavor. What sets Circuit 12 apart is what could be thought of as the “cult of color” that the gallery presents.  The space offers a crisp, brash and theatrical flair to a community that, at times, treads lightly. The gallery extends invitations to curators for their Regional Quarterly series that opens the space to experimental exercises from Texas based artists, exposing work that might not otherwise make it to Dallas. For their current show, Circuit 12 mounted Tripper, a solo show from Chicago based artist Josh Reames. The paintings in Tripper flicker light and are full of an absent neon glow that references your local corner stores cheap beer signage. Unlike the trap of a promised R&R scenario that those signs offer, Reames’ work never takes a break. It’s in constant motion and only interrupted by abrupt, painfully ordinary images. In their blatant dumbness the works beg to be dismissed as trite, formulaic approaches to painting. But Reames’ masterful sense of space and line pull these out of the naïve conversation. After recognizing their formal power, the paintings reminded me how Sean Penn’s understanding of his craft allowed for Spicoli to exist. Reames, like Spicoli challenging the oncoming wave, surfs abstraction; “Surfing's not a sport, it's a way of life, it's no hobby. It's a way of looking at that wave and saying, ‘Hey bud, let's party!’" Indeed. Arthur Peña, Dallas Contributor

Listed under: Interview