Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Ten for Ten: Ben Meisner
2010 is over but we are still taking stock as we gingerly march into the new year. Art or Idiocy? has invited ten guests to each contribute a list of ten items. Earlier contributors include Steve Ruiz, Danielle Paz, Nicole Mauser, Thea Liberty Nichols, Marilyn Volkman, Anthony Stepter and Uriel Orlow.
Ben Meisner is an artist and co-founder of the project space GENERATOR. He spends most of his time in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Marfa, Texas. Meisner previously wrote for Art or Idiocy? about his experience meeting Agnes Martin.
Ten for 2010 in no particular order:
Blinky Palermo at LACMA
- Blinky Palermo at LACMA: It was nice to see a large group of Palermo works without having to travel to Europe. As much as I like the large series that DIA has in Beacon, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the funky shaped paintings, sticks, and cloth pieces. This show delivered.
- John McCracken Sketchbook: Though this book was technically released in 2008 (and the original sketchbook in “Sketchbook” is from the mid-1960’s), I finally bought my copy in 2010. This amazing facsimile document puts you inside McCracken’s head as he moved from his icon-type paintings to his classic planks and sculptures. McCracken continues to use the old sketchbook as a reference and it is nice to see the notations he has added to the original sketches over the years. Highlights include; lightning bolts around the first drawing of a leaning plank and comments like “s-h-i-t” and “blah” in reference to earlier notes and drawings.
- Charles Burchfield at the Whitney: For some reason I had always assumed that Burchfield’s psychedelic landscapes developed after his ashcan-y depression-era period. The show at the Whitney set me straight on that one with an entire room dedicated to the early vibratory landscapes of 1915-1917. Starting around the 40’s Burchfield went back and added on to some of those paintings, carefully splicing new sheets of paper onto the originals and creating masterpieces at the scale of Abstract Expressionist canvases. Also revelatory were the extensive archives Burchfield established to document the progression of each painting.
- GENERATOR: This past summer David Leigh and I established a new project space called GENERATOR in downtown Albuquerque. The space is small. There is no electricity or running water. The outside is painted with a mural owned by the city that we can’t touch. Our programming thus far has been (in my opinion) awesome.
- Leslie Wilkes: This year Wilkes unpacked her dense, psychedelic gouaches expanding them into a series of large-scale oil paintings. My weekly email updates of her progress are at times heartbreaking (with subject lines reading “going, going, gone” and “Wiped-Out”), but the finished paintings are worth her struggle. Wilkes plays with pattern and nuanced color with the elegance of a 50’s Karl Benjamin and the funk of the Hairy Who.
Left: Charles Burchfield • Right: Leslie Wilkes' studio
- Steve Roden: I met Steve while he was an Artist in Residence at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa. Our shared interest in Frederick Hammersley and Myron Stout started a great dialog that has continued through the year. Roden’s recent 20-year survey at the Pasadena Armory has helped shine some light on his multi-faceted oeuvre. He is also a prolific writer on his blog Airform Archives, and following our visit to the Palermo show he wrote an insightful imagined dialogue between two artworks for LACAMA’s UNFRAMED blog.
- Sam Chung: Watch out for this guy. Chung pushes porcelain to new heights. His recent exploration of the properties of China paints and his rigor in relating the shape of the vessel to his applied lines and colors puts him way out in front in a field I know nothing about.
Top: Steve Roden • Bottom: Sam Chung's "Cloud Vase" • More Pictures
- Since it was quickly going out of print, I finally bought the monster 560-page catalog for the John Wesley retrospective at Fondazione Prada. The book gives a thorough year-by-year account of his activities and development via writings, quotes, reviews, and an “I don’t care if the image is pixilated we need it in the book for the record” attitude.
- Gamblin Fast-Matte: It is oil paint. It dries fast (real fast) and it is matte.
- Completion of Judd Concrete in-painting: For approximately 9 months I stood outside in the scorching heat, blazing sun, howling wind, and freezing cold while I color-matched new concrete patches to the original concrete surface of Donald Judd’s kilometer long sculptural epic at the Chinati Foundation. There was something oddly existential about flecking in faux aggregate along the edges of Judd’s cast concrete panels with a toothbrush as the antelope quietly grazed around my bicycle.