Talent Scout

Archive for the Category Creative Conversations


I Have A Dream

Annjetta and I were busy making art in my studio this weekend.  Since we had such great success collaborating on the New Years topic we decided to pick the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination as our next project.  I know it sounds a little dark but Annjetta jumped at the idea and I was interested in hearing and seeing what she would help create.  It turned out to be a juxtaposition between what life was like in 1968 and about hope for today and in the future.

At 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968, a shot rang out. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had been standing on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN, now lay sprawled on the balcony’s floor.

" I Have A Dream", Mixed Media, 36" x 36"

Annjetta has a generous heart.  Much of what she wrote was about fairness, having friends and helping others in need. She is also very aware and grateful that freedoms she has today are a result of these efforts.

"I Have A Dream" (Detail)

I have a dream to have…”more space and friends to play a game” –written from the girls voice in the photo.

"I Have A Dream" (Detail)

I have a dream to have shoes, friends and something to eat…

"I Have A Dream" (Detail)

“Turn Me Around”,  a civil rights song that Annjetta sang to me.

First-ever TEDWomen Conference

How are women and girls reshaping the future? The first-ever TEDWomen invites men and women to explore this question in depth. From the developing world, where a single microloan to a single girl can transform a village, to the West, where generations of educated women are transforming entire industries, women are powerful change agents, intellectual innovators and idea champions.

No surprise to anyone that I’m already a Ted fan but I’m seriously looking at joining the webcast associate series.  It allows you to stream live for $100.

Powerful stuff: “Women are Heroes” by street artist JR

I was introduced to JR’s work in 2008 when he started work on a project called “women are heroes.”  After reading about this artist in a recent issue of Fast company, I’m still drawn in, happy and troubled by his “women are heroes” project. I can only hope that JR’s recent recognition from the 2011 Annual TED prize goes back to these women. The prize is given to “exceptional individuals” devoted to changing the world. The TED genie grants those prize recipients One Wish to Change the World — as well as $100,000.

JR creates art that spreads uninvited on the buildings of the slums around Paris, on the walls in the Middle-East, on the broken bridges in Africa or the favelas in Brazil. People who often live with the bare minimum discover something absolutely unnecessary. And they don’t just see it, they make it. Some elderly women become models for a day; some kids turn artists for a week. In that Art scene, there is no stage to separate the actors from the spectators. JR owns the biggest art gallery in the world. He exhibits freely in the streets of the world, catching the attention of people who are not the museum visitors. His work mixes Art and Act, talks about commitment, freedom, identity and limit.

Brilliant Storytelling

The Anthropologist is one of those emails that I can hardly wait to open.  It is always interesting, entertaining, thought provoking and usually introduces me to something I haven’t already seen in a multitude of places.  In other words it is original.  At the same time it frustrates me because this is how I envisioned the content on my blog.  My goal is to introduce you to the stories of artists that I meet.  I realize I need to give myself some credit given they have the support of a corporate sponsor, Anthropologie and probably do this as their full time job!  Still, when I see something great I want to share it.

Enjoy the story of true craft.  PE Geurin is the nations oldest decorative hardware company.  Artisans craft intricate metalwork just as they did when the company was first founded in 1857.

Sign up for their regular email at the Anthropologist.


Pretty Cool People Interview with Miranda July

First I want to introduce you to the Submarine Channel which features Pretty Cool People Interviews that are short portraits of creative innovators who are breaking new ground in contemporary visual culture.

Capturing them in their natural environments – be it the streets of Barcelona, the confines of a darkened special effects studio, or the lofty heights of a skate park – the interviews move beyond a simple “talking-heads” format, to offer viewers an insight into the creative processes of established and upcoming creators across the spectrum.

There were many interesting interviews but I chose to feature Miranda July. Miranda July was a prolific performance and video artist in the 1990s who stepped into the mainstream limelight when her 2005 film Me and You and Everyone We Know became an international hit. She now is making exhibitions featuring do-it-yourself art taken from the ever-expanding Learning To Love You More project, an ongoing collaboration with Harrell Fletcher.

The Learning To Love You More website features 65 creative assignments, as well as the reports from people who completed an assignment. With over five thousand reports and counting, the website has become an amazing archive of personal creative endeavors by people from all over the world. Browsing the pictures, drawings, and videos that were uploaded, you kind of feel a connection to them, which is due to the nature of the assignments. Learning To Love You More is a project for and about other people and, as Miranda says in the interview, it’s a great source of inspiration for her and keeps her sane.

Filmed at MU, a great art space in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, on Friday 24 August 2007, the day of the opening of the Learning To Love You More show.

Alice Neel, She Went Her Own Way

When I started my art practice at the age of 35, I did portraits.  I was inspired by Modigliani and others but one of my very favorites was the work of Alice Neel. I liked her story.  She lived in Greenwich Village in the 30’s and was part of a generation of bohemian artists and writers. During the 40’s and 50’s she worked outside of the mainstream in Spanish Harlem, where she developed a uniquely individual approach to portraiture in a time dominated by abstraction.   Neel’s outspoken personality and her daringly honest portraits made her a cult figure in the art community. I had the rare chance to see her work in person at the Walker Art Center.

Neel’s estate maintains a website for her, with a bio on its home page that labels her a pioneer, an apt description — for she was a brave painter.  She went her own way, no matter what the rest of the art world did and no matter what the world said.

1970 Andy Warhol Oil on Canvas 60 x 40 inches, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Gift of Timothy Collins

Marlene Dumas, a South African artist and painter  describes how Neel painted modern portraits, locating her subjects. Dumas writes:

…She painted people.

Most figurative painting is not about people and seldom about “characters.” Philip Guston painted cartoons. Warhol painted public images. Chuck Close uses portraiture to paint about painting; Alex Katz paints the cool; and Elizabeth Peyton paints dreams…

Dumas also notes that “the unflattering criticism she received about her nude self-portrait at age eighty [below] is unforgivably stupid.”


1980 Self Portrait Oil on Canvas 54 x 40 inches, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

I have this book on Alice Neel and recommend it highly.

Alice Neel

Toni Morrison: Art Is Not A Mirror

Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed black characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon and Beloved.  I haven’t read any of Toni’s books but this interview with Annie Lebowitz has inspired me to do so.

Much of what she says about her readers is how I often feel about viewers of my art.  While she is sometimes disappointed that readers want a quick and happy ending, I too feel viewers want to quickly like something based on the colors, a pleasing image or how it will look in their room.  She goes on to say that she would like each book to create a willingness to surrender, to be in the landscape and make it theirs.  This, in my mind, is where all of the magic happens.

Beauty of the Written Word

Shahzia Sikander was born in 1969 in Lahore, Pakistan. Educated as an undergraduate at the National College of Arts in Lahore, she received her MFA in 1995 from the Rhode Island School of Design. Sikander specializes in Indian and Persian miniature painting, a traditional style that is both highly stylized and disciplined. While becoming an expert in this technique-driven, often impersonal art form, she imbued it with a personal context and history, blending the Eastern focus on precision and methodology with a Western emphasis on creative, subjective expression.

To find out more about Shahzia and other artists, visit Art 21, a fabulous resource for contemporary artist of the 21st century.By making contemporary art more accessible, the Art 21 series affords viewers and students the opportunity to discover their own innate abilities to understand contemporary art and to explore possibilities for creative thinking and self-expression.

A Vacant Mind: Minimalist Artist Agnes Martin

I recently saw an interview with artist Agnes Martin. It was my first introduction to her work.  I loved her simple insights on the benefits of a vacant mind.  After seeing the video (posted below) I did a little more research on her work.

Her signature style is defined by an emphasis upon line, grids, and fields of extremely subtle color. While minimalist in form, these paintings were quite different in spirit from those of her other minimalist counterparts, retaining small flaws and unmistakable traces of the artist’s hand; she shied away from intellectualism, favoring the personal and spiritual. Her paintings, statements, and influential writings often reflect an interest in Eastern philosophy, especially Taoism.  Because of her work’s added spiritual dimension, which became more and more dominant after 1967, she preferred to be classified as an abstract expressionist.  When she died at age 92, she was said to have not read a newspaper for the last 50 years.

Martin worked only in black, white, and brown before moving to New Mexico. During this time, she introduced light pastel washes to her grids, colors that shimmered in the changing light.

Sister Wendy Beckett, in her book American Masterpieces, said about Martin: “Agnes Martin often speaks of joy; she sees it as the desired condition of all life.  The work awes, not just with its delicacy, but with its vigor, and this power and visual interest is something that has to be experienced.”

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