R. Allen Jensen Assemblage
R. Allen Jensen speaking to those gathered for his 70th Birthday
I was reminded after seeing Robert Yoder, and reading Chris Jagers post on Saturday, of a professor I had at Western Washington University: R. Allen Jensen. I thought it might be interesting to introduce some of you to R. Allen Jensen, it seems a bit due, as he had a great impact on my work, the ways in which, to this day, I still work, and my choice to attend WWU back in the late 80's. I recently went up to see Bob at his home/studio near Arlington Washington to celebrate his 70th birthday with him and some friends. He still produces work, and his eye is as honed as it ever was, as you can see from the above pictures. R. Allen Jensen's theater of art making was one of negation: negation of the avant-gardist concept of originality, negation of logic and reason, negation of the desire to assign uniform cultural meanings to diverse phenomena. His was the craft of making art that would become a record of a performance, mixed with very autobiographical references, and very universal ideas. In the 70's and 80's Jensen often did live performances with the works he created. He created works that were almost macabre, lifesize crosses that he would crucify himself on, nude, in the dark except for some clip lamps laying in and around the floor of the piece. From the pictures he showed us in class, the works looked powerful, well crafted, and always physically and mentally daunting. I came to see R. Allen Jensen's artwork during a faculty show in 1987, I was searching all the faculty shows in Washington state colleges at the time, looking for something, a trigger perhaps? I had been reading and coming to grips with the work of Joseph Beuys at the time of all of this, and was drawn to both the physical nature of his work, and the underlying meanings in materials that are associated with the artwork. R. Allen Jensen's work fit what I was looking for physically, and I decided to sneak in and sit thru a class if I possibly could. I did, and was hooked immediately by his direction, references, and style; he was wearing a vest and a hat in the same vein as Beuys might have. I signed on, and enjoyed two incredibly challenging years in his classroom. He pushed me hard, doubled my work load in contrast to others in the same classes, and I loved it! He often had my head hurting after a critique, and the information he passed along at times I felt was beyond me, but it always came around, whether later that same day, later in the week, or sometimes years later. He was my guide, showing me how to cut down things in my way, directing me towards a place I needed to go, whether inside my head, or in the world at large. I can still hear him in my ear, pushing me, asking tough questions, and showing that one can take any object, and pull it into our world and call it art, but you better have it down, it better be like your hand, drawn well, and executed for purpose.
Robert Yoder at his talk on Thursday at the Frye Art Museum here in Seattle. He created a work entitled Sluice Gate, and it is currently on view in the entry way of the Museum. It is always great to catch up with Robert, and catching up is a rather difficult thing these days with my old friend. He's been very busy making work, knocking out shows, and most importantly keeping his vintage Mercedes Benz running, which he informed me was working great and that seemed to make him very relaxed before the talk. Robert has always been really forthright about the sources of his inspiration, whether it be from images of the land as seen from the sky, or architecture that he finds arresting.
He's come a real long way from when he was fighting Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma years ago, and I think that his experience with that disease focused him like nothing else ever had before; he does seem to live each day championing his work and has gone on to exhibiting regularly and having shows nationally and internationally. We started out at the same time at the Linda Farris Gallery, and Robert has been a source of inspiration to me since I first met him when he and I worked at Daniel Smith Art together. I cherish knowing him, and calling him my friend.
Ongoing progress here in the studio, and I thought I'd let you all in on the not so secret, secret, I use blue painter's tape, ahhhh, gasp! Still warm as a wool blanket in here, all windows open, no air going thru, oh well, enjoy it while I can, I occupy a place with no heat, except for a wood burning stove, that is very old. Winter will be here soon enough!
Well, on with the night, it's when I work best! On a lighter note, had a fun shout out in Dennis Hollingsworth's blog; I do think, somewhere down the line, we are blood, too many simularities in common. Was your dad a "join the military" kind of father as well? I get the feeling that he might have been. My father was Army, his brother was Navy, and my middle brother Mickey, well, Air Force. Johnny [my youngest brother]and I, went to college, kinda makes us, undiciplined I suppose. Johnny and I were in several bands in our college, and post college years, sort of simul..aammmm, I'll stop there...
Went and saw the work of Carolyn Zick, whose show Pale Sun is up for another week at Shift Studios. I took some pictures of the show and of Caroyln which are on display above. This body of work was created while Carolyn was an artist in residence in Listagilio Center in Akureyri, Iceland. If you are in the area[Seattle], you should really take a look at the show! It was really wonderful to visit with Carolyn, share a few stories about her residency and what informed this body of work. For me, it was as though I was transported thru an abstracted version of a room or display that one would possibly find in perhaps the American Museum of Natural History, rendered thru the mind of a gifted artist. I had an enjoyable time seeing and taking in Carolyn's show, sharing stories and remembering that I once worked with Carolyn at Daniel Smith Art. She was holding up well considering the heat in the gallery that day, we don't air condition here, so a 95-98 degree day is a bit of a mind fryer in these parts. It's seems a far cry from the days when Carolyn was probably making this body of work, which I imagine from what was told to me was a dark, cold, and lonely experience there in her studio in Akureyri. The work shined, and it inspired a very good night here in the studio, even given the heat. For me that is always a good sign from a show, one that charges my batteries and made me want to get to work! Nice to travel with you Carolyn.
Went out for a long ride after work today, we hit 96 degrees today, so taking a ride out around Lake Washington, and up thru Beacon Hill and back thru Downtown was a pleasurable distraction to sitting here in the studio. The air in my loft is so still, so warm, but the paint is drying fast, so I have to take advantage of this. Will have some pictures soon of the newest things brewing here in the studio...but for now, some much needed long runs on the lammy...
10 - the Radio Dept. - I Don't Need Love, I've Got My Band *got into several conversations this week about current Swedish pop music, and this band is my personal favorite right now...
9 - the Clean - Cellblock No. 5 *been working with a gentleman from New Zealand, he's been in several New Zealand bands, and he knew so many of the people in several of the bands I'm about to list that I haven't stopped listening to the next 3 for about a week now...
8 - the Bats - Miss These Things *a continuation of the idea in #9...
7 - the Jean-Paul Satre Experience - Own Two Feet *more vintage New Zealand pop on the iPod this last week...
6 - Boyracer - No Tears *I went for a scooter ride to the local record store in my neighborhood[Sonic Boom], and picked up my friend's, Stewart and Jen's new disc, "A Punch Up The Bracket" and it's so good, this song will be moving up my personal chart, but I wanted to make sure it had a running start, some scooters need that, even though this engine is tuned just right!
5 - Syd Barrett - Love Song *nuff said...
4 - The Fall - The Steak Place *when I've had a rough afternoon in a truck hauling art, well, The Fall are like a shot of Scotch on my ears...
3 - Guided By Voices - No Sky *sentiment is like skin, I seem to wash it all the time, yet I keep getting dirty...
2 - The Darts - Alky Burner *in my other life I'm a race car driver, not a current one though, this personality lives in 1967, drives a Lotus F1 car against the likes of Graham Hill, Jim Clark, and Jochen Rindt, with the real likely chance that being killed was just a bad turn away...
1 - The Sentinals - Tor Chula *after seeing Dennis Hollingsworth diving in Spain to build a reef for the fish, I reached for my Big Surf II CD, and besides that I'm currently reading Devil's Teeth by Susan Casey which is getting me informed on the Farallon Islands Great White shark population, so enjoy the water!
[click the link here to download Top Ten]
I've been thinking about the road again today. I was remembering the road surfaces in California when I was down there last month. I took some pictures[one sample above] of the tar filled cracks in the black-top as source inspiration here in the studio. We don't have this here in Seattle, well at least not that I've noticed yet. I've been going back to these pictures, looking them over, reminding myself that it's funny sometimes when you aren't looking for something, and then, you look down and Robert Motherwell's work is suddenly right in front of your [eyes]. Seeing some of what my blog/artist/peers are working on as well, like Chris Jagers, Carolyn Zick, Steve LaRose, and Dennis Hollingsworth among many, is reminding me of the road as well. I keep traveling to their blogs, making sure that I'm not alone making things, thinking of abstract ideas, seeing the ground below me. I'm looking forward to driving or even scooting some distance soon, it clears me up inside and when I get home here I'm interested and re-charged again. These blogs that I follow from my fellow artists are like towns and roads traveled, and I keep driving thru, seeing what's in the windows, and taking note. I'm enjoying the journey, seeing the streets, looking down the road, seems that's always been my lot. It's good to remind myself of this, and to stay curious, I think it keeps me interested, in all forms, and the simple journeys that one can take.
The camera is an essential tool in making Maxi's paintings. Rachel's process begins by making photographs of the landscape around her, which she uses as a kind of sketchbook, selecting single images to develop into paintings. She projects the image onto the canvas and traces the basic lines and shadows of the image. She then completes the painting by matching her paints to the colors in the photograph.
Rachel chooses as her subject matter the urban and suburban landscape that surrounds her -- a terrain populated by ordinary parking lots with neatly trimmed bushes or trees and colorful dumpters washed by the Northwest rain. Shadows drawn out by late afternoon sun over a ordinary, or so it seems, sidewalk. A pool lit up from under the water at night takes on ominous tones in her work. Her neutral, near featureless scenes -- often devoid of any human presence -- of neighborhood streets of Seattle, Redmond, Palm Springs and other communities reveal the deep-seated sense of alienation that characterizes the American middle-class neighborhood of the early 20th century. She's help me really see the ordinary again.
I saw Billy Childish perform a few weeks ago and the show, the paintings and his performance won't leave me. Now granted I've been a fan for some time and if you don't know who one Billy Childish is, well, let me just expand your window a little. Billy Childish is quite the prolific painter, poet, and song-writer of our times. In a twenty year period he has published 30 collections of his poetry, recorded over 70 full-length independent LP’s and produced over 1000 paintings.
Born in 1959 in Chatham, Kent, in England. Billy Childish left Secondary education at 16 an undiagnosed dyslexic. Refused an interview at the local art school he entered the Naval Dockyard at Chatham as an apprentice stonemason. During the following six months (the artist’s only prolonged period of employment), he produced some six hundred drawings in ‘the tea huts of hell. On the basis of this work he was accepted into St Martin’s School of Art to study painting. However, his acceptance was short-lived and before completing the course he was expelled for his outspokenness and unorthodox working methods. With no qualifications and no job prospects Childish then spent some 12 years ‘painting on the dole’, developing his own highly personal writing style and producing his art independently. He has performed with the Milkshakes, thee Mighty Ceasers, The Pop Rivets, the Headcoats, the Headcoat Sect, and now The Buff Medways. His impact on my world has been in full effect since I was in college in the mid-80's, when a friend, dropped a Milkshakes record on the turntable, and I thought it some undiscovered Beatles record! had me ever since.
The night he performed at the Sunset tavern in good ole' Ballard was fantastic; read poetry, performed song songs, and showed some paintings. He lives in our time period but seems to have been shot from the past, paints like a Expressionist who ran into Van Gogh, and paints as good as anyone from that time period. Writes music that rivals the Beatles, the Who, the Kinks, the Small Faces and on and on. Try one of his readings on for size...The Noble Beast
Just another progress report on work here in my studio, I think this painting is turning out very nicely. Having a really loose and fluid time, graphics are almost always my favorite thing both to put together, and to find. I'm loving how in the last few years, photoshop has become a real asset to me drawing things out, and pulling things together, thanks Adobe! So unless I fall into it with a knife, and don't think I haven't done that before, I'm thinking this is all coming together just as I hoped it would!
Here are some more pictures from the Insanity Scooter Rally this weekend, every year this seems to get bigger and bigger, which means more chaos and fun! Fire ring runs, long rides through Seattle with over 300 riders, BBQ's, and of course, drinking! Absolute fun in the sun therapy! Looking forward to more as summer keeps on plugging along!
I just got my Lambretta LIs 150 back from Sound Speed Scooters where Joe has been re-building my bike for the last 9 months, and she rides like a dream! It's been nice to ride with others again as well, since this weekend in Seattle is