Friday, November 23, 2012

Beer with a Painter: Ellen Trumbo

with Ellen Trumbo, in front of her Grand Haven Landscape
photographs of us by Tyler Loftis

Ellen Trumbo’s paintings are (like her!) full of light and painted with an absence of showmanship.  She lives in Grand Haven, a beautiful town on Lake Michigan.  She and a small group of fellow painters have created an aesthetic sanctum of creative energy in the Midwest, and I like to visit, write, collaborate, and feed off their inspiration. 

Ellen is the kind of woman who quietly runs everything in town – and by that I mean she manages five restaurants, co-directs a gallery, and fundraises for multiple cultural events per year.  She is also the friend who can play a mean game of trivia and doesn’t flinch when I get competitive at beach soccer and nearly break her toe.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beer with a Painter: Judith Linhares

Photographs by Elizabeth Kresch
Read our interview here on the Hyperallergic Weekend Edition...  

Judith Linhares’s painting has been on my mind since I saw a show of her work in the spring of 2011 at the Edward Thorp Gallery.  At the time I was thinking about both contemporary figurative painting and gestural abstraction, and these solidify in Linhares’s work with a rare conviction.  

In her paintings, hippie couples, twisted sisters, and talismanic animals cavort and tend to their cave-den, dream-cove environments.  For all the fantasy, there’s a metaphoric truth to their space and light, a connection to the natural world, despite the wild way she gets there – complementary, high-chroma bands of color succinctly and fluidly describing bodies and surroundings. 

Born in Pasadena, Linhares studied in the Bay Area in the 1960s and 70s, and has lived in New York since 1979.  She has had close connections to a panoply of artistic traditions including Bay Area figuration, California assemblage, outsider art, the Chicago “Hairy Who” and Mexican ritual objects.  But it was a nice surprise to realize she and I share an interest in some of the New York figurative painters as well, especially Louisa Matthiasdottir.

I invited Linhares to talk painting over beers at her bar of choice.  She’s in the process of moving, but already had her eye on the beautiful century-old Brooklyn Inn, in her new neighborhood of Boerum Hill.  Everything was amber-colored on that autumn early evening, from the wood bar to our Spaaten and KelSo of Brooklyn IPA.

Thank you Judith and Hyperallergic editors John, Tom, and Hrag.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Beer with a Painter: Rackstraw Downes

Originally published on Hyperallergic Weekend Edition, October 14, 2012

Rackstraw Downes, “Sand Hills with Cell Tower, Presidio, TX, P.M.”(2010). Oil on canvas, 20 5/8 x 35 7/8 inches. (All Images Courtesy of the Artist. © Rackstraw Downes, Courtesy Betty Cuningham Gallery, New York)
Rackstraw Downes’s recent paintings are currently on view at Betty Cuningham Gallery. Born in 1939 in Kent, England, Downes now lives between New York City and Presidio, Texas. Well known for his panoramic landscapes, Downes works for months on site in both urban and rural surroundings. He is often described as a realist but this term is perhaps better applied to his subject matter than his technique. Through his sustained and intensive outdoor working process, his paintings empirically draw attention to the true nature of the 21st Century landscape. They are places we don’t necessarily linger, but are nevertheless our environments.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Beer with a Painter: Clintel Steed

Before the tape started rolling, Clintel Steed and I had a pretty epic conversation. We met at a happening—and loud!—bar restaurant in Harlem, the Corner Social, a few blocks away from where he lives and works.  It was one of the last summer nights, and the neighborhood was pulsing with energy.   Too loud to record, we avoided the subject of painting, instead just catching up. 

There is no small talk with Clintel, of course.  I’ve known him for years, running into him at the Met on Friday nights and events at the New York Studio School. This past spring, Steed had a solo exhibition at Art Amalgamated.

Steed is passionate and intense and I like to accuse him of being a mind-reader (or, as our mutual friend puts it—he is just very perceptive—after all, he’s a painter!).  So, we talked about romantic love, the home, the idealization of it all, and the things that get in the way.  Like our phones, of course, interrupting us, penetrating our private time and space. The thing is, Clintel’s work is all about the same issue.  Broken-up space, fractured forms, and the resulting rhythms.  The potential and scope of what we can see, and the complex tumult that ultimately organizes it all. 

Beer with a Painter: Dov Talpaz

Photo by Naomi Lev

Full disclosure: Dov Talpaz is one of my favorite people on the planet. I have known him for years, through the painters I’ve written about, like Paul Resika and Rosemarie Beck.  But we became close friends more recently, after I wrote a catalog essay for the Painting in New York group, which he is part of. I was going through some transitions myself at that time – personally and professionally – and Dov, Chris, and Tyler were pretty much convinced that having beer with painters (them!) would cure whatever ailed me.  And, yeah, it kinda did.

There are a few rules to having beer with them: 1) They always pay, as in, really, your money is no good here! 2) You are going to be drinking on an empty stomach, so, get used to it! Hunger pains will eventually go away, after enough beer. 3) You are going to be talking about painting for most of the night, as in, who is the opposite of El Greco, quick! 4) Photos will be taken, so make sure you look decent. Looks are important, because life and art are all about beauty, right?*

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Beer with a Painter: Sharon Horvath

During a recent trip to Cape Cod, I met with painter Sharon Horvath.   She showed me her work in the studio she was renting from Hayden Herrera in Truro, and then took me - and a picnic of beer and snacks - to the “Coast Guard Beach,” where she had been making works on paper. 

After our chat, she invited me to hang with her for rest of the evening.  We met up with her friend Elaine Souda and dashed around Provincetown to all the openings.  

The two know pretty much everyone in town, and whomever they don’t know, they find a way to meet (including the New York Times food writer Mark Bittman. I was too star struck to do more than introduce myself, but he and Sharon had a nice chat, while I begged to Elaine take surreptitious photos!)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Beer with a Painter: Matt Phillips

I met Matt Phillips in March, when he was part of our gallery's project at the Scope Art Fair.  Not only am I crazy about his paintings, but he is also an incredibly fun and enthusiastic person to talk to, about everything from eccentric baby-calming techniques, to seltzer water, to Ani DiFranco.