November 2009

In researching artists whose practice combines photography and constructed landscapes, I found some interesting work by Vanessa Marsh.  Last May, she had a solo exhibition, Always Close But Never Touching,  at Ampersand International Arts in San Francisco.  One of her pieces from that exhibition was Incomplete Highway On-Ramp, Seattle, WA.


Incomplete Freeway On-Ramp, Seattle, WA


Installation View: Incomplete Freeway On-Ramp, Seattle, WA


Vanessa Marsh’s Artist Statement

It was in high school that I began to find my true artistic vision. It started with a basic photography class and my mom’s old Nikon E series camera. The next year I had my first car and would take long drives out onto the edges of the Seattle suburbs. Wandering through the damp richness of Washington State, I rediscovered a landscape I had grown up with; flooded fields and medians overgrown with blackberry bushes, evergreens dripping with water and rivers always at capacity. I found myself fearless with my camera, exploring defunct industrial sites, climbing past “no trespassing” signs, keeping my eye out for security guards and taking as many shots as I could. I’d let myself into abandoned houses decaying with mold and half heartedly boarded up, looking for the perfect pile of detritus to photograph; an open fridge in the backyard or a baby carriage overgrown with blackberry vines. These buildings were all on the edges of fields that within a few years would become Wal-Marts or a sea of cookie cutter houses, not yet torn down, but no longer functioning as they were originally intended. They were places where I shouldn’t have been but where there was no one left to tell me to get out.

The idea of spaces between meanings became a fascination for me whether regarding the physical landscape, in considering memory or in making art. I think about ways that my art can tell a truth and yet be rooted in imagination simultaneously. My practice of model building began as a means to create a certain kind of photograph, an image that was at once real and surreal. As I worked more with miniatures I realized that the experience of looking into a model was similar to the feeling of being in abandoned places: of being an unintended visitor in a place that is at once somewhere and nowhere.

The models are built referencing snap shots and many details are filled in from my own imagination. When I build the models I am thinking of the places I’ve explored on the outskirts of Seattle, places on the brink of evolution and extinction – between meanings.

Building the models is an attempt to fully embrace my own sentimentality of where I grew up; the home where I no longer live. The environment where I feel the most comfortable yet choose not to be. The models are about recreating something important again that has been deemed unusable and outdated. In building them I am creating on a miniature scale a part of my own history, exploring the ways in which memory and identity are tied not only to location but also to one’s own imagination.

For  an interview with Vanessa Marsh by Matthew Hughes Boyko:  Click Here

Sea Metal Moon No. 1


Paul Kenny’s Artist Statement



I have for many years made studio works using material gathered from the landscape, stones, shells, and driftwood etc. In common with many people, I have always brought home “treasures” from the sea pebbles, shells etc. They act as an “aide – memoir”, bringing the landscape into your home so a mere glimpse or touch might recall the feelings of being alone on a remote beach.

Realising that I (naturally) tended to bring back to the studio particularly beautiful objects to photograph, I began to make works out of increasingly insignificant material collected at random rather than highly selected. In 1999 I made a series of works called “A day at the beach” which were studio works made from (literally) a random handful of beach material collected after a walk on a beach, arranged and photographed in the studio.

Out of this work came the idea to find the most trivial and insignificant thing from which to make beautiful and thought provoking work. I started to bring sea water back from my trips to remote beaches and it took about four years to fully develop techniques where I can construct a negative made of sea water dried and crystallised in an organised manner on clear acetate or glass plated. They take many days to make, repeatedly applying drops of seawater and waiting for it to dry. I call them Seaworks.


Blue Cheswick Moon



Full Moon Over Mayo



Flying Over Colonsay

Hilly-Island-in-Wolf-Country (Manhattan) 2009 by Peter Edlund

Hilly-Island-in-Wolf-Country (Manhattan) 30" x 60" Oil On Canvas.


Peter Edlund is a painter who uses a split canvas technique to juxtapose contemporary and ancient views of the same landscape.  One of his latest works, Hilly-Island-in Wolf Country, is on view through November 29th at Wave Hill’s Glyndor Gallery in an exhibition entitled, The Muhheakantuck in Focus.   Edlund presents a simultaneous view of lower Manhattan island near Trinity Wall Street and the same area as a pristine wilderness before Henry Hudson’s arrival in 1609.  The title of the painting is derived from the original Lenape Indian name for the place:   “hilly island.”

For this exhibition, senior curator Jennifer McGregor chose artists whose work explores the importance of the Hudson River to native peoples before and after  the arrival of European settlers (Muhheakantuck is Lenape for “the river that flows both ways”).  Edlund’s work is about more than the name of a place.  His historical juxtaposition raises difficult questions about the political and military power dynamics that brought the island under European control, eventually displacing the native population.


Hilly-Island-in-Wolf-Country (Detail)

Hilly-Island-in-Wolf-Country (Detail)

Hilly-Island-in-Wolf-Country (Detail)

Hilly-Island-in-Wolf-Country (Detail)

On the cover of the November 5th edition of  The Brooklyn Rail is a drawing by William Powhida, taking aim at New Museum over its plan to allow Dakis Joannou, a trustee, to exhibit his Jeff Koons collection next February.  New Museum’s arrangement has generated considerable criticism and is compounded by the fact that Koons himself will curate the exhibition.  The situation came to the attention of a wider public this week in a New York Times article that cited  Tyler Green among others for helping raise awareness of the issue on his blog (Modern Art Notes).

As a non-profit institution, New Museum is sanctioning a collector/artist collaboration to exhibit work that has already been validated in the marketplace and which only stands to bolster the market position of both.  Wouldn’t the institution be better served in returning to its stated mission of showing original work by unknown artists who take risks and deserve recognition?  It is time for New Museum to exercise better judgment.  Powhida’s humorous and critically insightful drawing with accompanying text, slamming curatorial cronyism, makes this point clear.

Drawing by William Powhida:  Front Cover of Brooklyn Rail (11.5.09)

Drawing by William Powhida: Front Cover of The Brooklyn Rail (11.5.09)

For a high resolution image: click here.

New Museum of Contemporary Art

New Museum of Contemporary Art

From Modern Art Notes (Tyler Green’s Modern And Contemporary Art Blog):

This morning’s New York Times features a front-page Deborah Sontag and Robin Pogrebin article on a story that MAN has been aggressively covering for six weeks: The New Museum’s self-made ethical problems regarding its exhibition of a trustee’s collection. (Click here for a roundup of links to MAN’s coverage. Click here for an op-ed I wrote for the current issue of The Art Newspaper.).

For Tyler Green’s full post: click here

Tintype Abstraction 3

This image is from Tintype Abstractions, a new series of digital prints I have been working on during the fall.  The patterns are from chemical reactions  that are part of the wet plate collodion photographic process.

This abstract image on an aluminum plate is the result of chemical reactions using the 19th century wet plate collodion process.  I scanned portions of the plate surface to a high resolution, revealing intricate patters that suggest the topography of another world.