Wednesday, November 28, 2012

$$$$$$$ & Painting & Wine: an Overly Long Face Painters Gchat

Damien Hirst with his 2007 work, For the Love of God. The piece was made with platinum, 8601 flawless diamonds, and human teeth, and is currently valued at $100 million.

Katelyn has joined

Adair has joined
Bruna has joined

Adair: YO

me: you guys i am so hungry and all i have is BIS [brazilian chocolate wafers]
so i keep eating BIS
for all meals

Adair: that is probably not the healthiest life choice

me: haha
i could make some ramen fast

Adair: ew, no
where is bruna?

me: dunno i invited her
said she joined

Bruna: hi
I am ready for whatever. I have wine though.

Adair: i bought champagne!!!

me: my wine is the "No. 1 wine in italy"
it was $5

Bruna: nice!
I am ready for this.

Adair: Should we capitalize?

me: however you want

Adair: okay, good, keepin it casual

me: totes

Bruna: ok

Adair: i was gonna shorten casual but didn't know how to spell it

Bruna: hehehhe

me: haha i don't know but i wish i did

Bruna: hahahhaa

me: ok first question: what do you feel when you think about money, in regards to your practice or your life?
just talking about feelings right now

Bruna: It seems like money and art are two very different things that do not come together very often.
We are just realizing that, after waking up from this dream of being in school for our entire lives.
*We, I mean, I,....but I believe we are all understanding in our own lives how difficult it is to marry money and painting/art.

Adair: off the top of my head (and heart), i think that it bothers me that paintings are so expensive to buy  
like i know of so many people that would want to buy more paintings if they were more accessible

me: i saw a painting online the other day and i really wanted to buy it but i knew i couldn't. it frustrated me, i felt locked out
i'm sure a lot of people feel that way

Adair: but on the other hand, we need to be paid properly for our work

Bruna: But as artists we need to give value to our works. Artists usually only get 50% of the price.

Adair: yes, exactly, this is why i'm torn
it just bugs me that the people who can afford to buy paintings are more likely to be people who won't really appreciate them

me: you guys are on the same wavelength!
such a polarized world, which we all know
for instance, this grossed me out the other day:

Bruna: Dang.

Adair: right-- when the numbers start getting that high, it is no longer about the painting as a painting

me: because what makes a person appreciate a painting? in part, maybe, a sense of what it means to be making art under conditions which do not allow for financial excess

Adair: the painting is just property

Bruna: But then it's not even the work--it's the status to have a painting and, of course, the buyer is paying for the historical meaning.

Adair: i am so far removed from that sphere- where paintings are seen as investments

me: how do you put a value on something like that? it's so hard to say how much it's worth when it's so full of things we don't understand

Adair: yeah, the intangibles
the mysteries

Bruna: How does that affect our practice?

me: i almost wish there was a different system of value
a system of mutual gifts
but that's a whole other thing of course

Bruna: Seeing this article, broke after grad school, painting because we love to paint...

me: ugh!

Adair: well, i never think about selling things when i make them, so it hasn't affected me very much. but, of course, as students, you don't have to worry about that.
should we ever worry about it?

me: i never used to, but after school i have begun to be aware of it
and in school it was just a different kind of capital

Bruna: How do we make a living as painters?
Because this article and articles like this affect our practice and our living....
We can continue to be in our home-studios and think that way when we make paintings, but I often wonder what is it in the actual painting that has such a value of millions of dollars....

me: i know

Bruna: (other than status, media, curators writing about it), but what is it in the actual painting?
Is there something in the painting that indicates that it is better than the paintings you guys make?

Adair: well, it's typically people who are 1) dead and 2) who have already be established as art historically significant
oh, i see what you mean

me: the thing in the actual painting that is worth something is not worth money
it's a feeling, a power, and we've applied capitalism to it to try to understand it
but that's not what it is

Adair: honestly, i don't think people are looking at the canvas when they buy a painting in the millions
they are looking at the info card

me: they aren't
but it starts somewhere
it's a complicated social thing mixed with an art thing

Bruna: So, as painters, the actual painting does not matter? Is that the message that you get?

me: i think it matters but it's compounded by a lot of other factors
man, there is so much shitty art that makes millions, it hurts my heart

Adair: true!

me: but we all know that
sometimes it bears repeating

Bruna: Well, but I think people don't look anymore. What gives value are words, right? Art historical meaning, writing, etc.

Adair: would you guys even want to make that much money?

Bruna: I would--but I don't even know what it means to get that much money.
But if I did I would want it to be about the that even possible?

me: we can't control it
we can't make it just about the painting
we let it go

Adair: i think it's partly about the painting and partly about the mythology of the artist

Bruna: Yes. But what about the painting? I mean, that is what I try to understand.

me: painting has a lot to do with money, in the sense that we live in this world where capitalism infuses everything and we lose boundaries and talking about where those boundaries might be helps us deal. but painting, like PAINTING in that other sense, doesn't have anything to do with money

Adair: do you mean the act of painting?
like when you're in that moment

me: and the object, which holds onto the moment
michael just made me pasta and i'm going to eat it so i'll be typing slower :)

Adair: hahaha ok!
i always think that if you gauge your success by what you sell, or if you're making things to sell, you are setting yourself up for disappointments because the art market is driven by taste and subjectivity
you just gotta keep doing what you're doing

Bruna: I remember in Linda Geary's Color Class something about Jerry Saltz saying that green paintings are difficult to sell. I wanted to make a green painting so badly after that. But I felt really silly because I was still seeing it as "going against" the market.

me: haha
jerry saltz

Adair: what?! that's so weird!
why is green hard to sell???

me: hahaha

Bruna: I don't know, you love green!!!!! HAHAHA


me: green is great

Adair: but yeah, exactly, so maybe people hate green right now. does that mean they will hate green in a year, ten years, 100 years?

me: your green is especially great
you have a green yes

Adair: greeeeeeeeeeen

me: like yves klein

Bruna: (We should post a picture of Adair with his green hat and his bedroom's green curtain).

Adair: i have a green!

me: yes!
every time i think of jerry saltz i think of that awful work of art show hahaha
and i just laugh
at the absurdity of the art world

Adair: ugh, i'm so mad right now about that green comment. FUCK SOCIETY'S TASTE LEVEL.

me: preach it

Bruna: Come on, a green painting at your Penthouse in Manhattan? That is so uncool.

Adair: yeah, if i walked into your mansion and saw a green painting, i would walk right out
ok well let's go back to selling our own work, because obviously we are pretty far away from christie's or sotheby's

me: btw how is the wine going guys

Bruna: yumm

me: ew how do they get those names, christie's, sotheby's

Adair: right?? who are these people?

me: that little apostrophe s is like a dollar sign

Adair: i want to meet Mr. and Mrs. Sotheby

me: haha me too
i'd like to see mrs. sotheby in a public bathroom somewhere
say "excuse me"

Adair: hahahahaha

Bruna: I saw hundreds of them at Miami Basel.

Adair: it's all just so fake and forced

me: do they know what this means to us?
do they think they're supporting the arts?
"the arts"

Adair: right, "the arts"

me: like it's a thing that lives on its own
do they pay taxes on that shit

Bruna: We are in a different universe than these people.

me: but if we think of them as in a different universe we can't hold them responsible

Adair: i really appreciated the genuine reactions to my work at the MFA show by people who weren't artists or even necessarily exposed to the art world
they were laughing and enjoying my paintings
a family member of monica loved them and said she would love to buy one but she knew she couldn't afford them!

me: ugh yeah

Bruna: :(

Adair: because that is the kind of person i would want to have them!
but we can't lower our prices because then we won't be taken seriously
i'm not naive- to sell a painting, of course i would need to be paid enough to make my money back on materials and compensate me for my time

me: this posturing game is so fucked up
and who is watching?

Bruna: hahaha

Adair: everyone is watching!

me: ahhhhhhhhhhh

Bruna: Maybe we should relax a bit about all these things.

Adair: hahahahaha, probably. we don't want to become bitter.

me: "bitter" is my nightmare scenario
that word keeps coming up, like "DON'T GET BITTER"
whatever you do

Bruna: Yes, the art world is about money and will always be, because art is not a necessity, it is a luxury....

Adair: i have to say, i HATE openings, but one of my favorite openings was with keith boadwee's drawing class.
so--- in that class we just made a fuck ton of drawings then had a one-night show where we sold them for $25 bucks a piece

me: yeah!

Adair: it was amazing because people actually bought them!

me: that's so great

Bruna: that is a fantastic idea.
I wish I was in that class. The drawings were really great!

Adair: but it was different, because it was a class, and they were all made by 7 people working collaboratively

me: you know, going back to what you just said bruna, i think art is a necessity, not a luxury, but we don't treat it as such
a cultural necessity

Adair: yes, i agree. can you even imagine all of the cultures that ever existed on earth without their art?
we would know so little about the past

Bruna: But, it is a luxury. We don't need art to survive--it is not food, shelter, etc. It is something we do that is very much part of who we are, it's so much part of our identity that I understand how it can become a necessity for us (artists).

me: social structures aren't food or shelter but they are still necessary for a society to function
art is the same way i think

Adair: it's not a basic necessity
but still necessary

me: i mean, are we talking our physical functions?

Bruna: Yes. Necessity is something you cannot live you really think without art/painting you would die?
Adair: hahaha, yes, if i didn't have food or water, i would not need art

me: there are bodily needs that can manifest as non-necessary but are more complicated than that
thinking about depression or other psychological illnesses for instance

Bruna: Yes. I understand. Psychological needs.

me: but so wrapped up in physical
i know we need food and water and shit but these things are so connected that i can't pull them apart

Bruna: Maybe we cannot because we don't live in a society that lacks these know?

Adair: but humans also need happiness!!! we need entertainment and art to give us things to think about and preoccupy our minds while we wait around to die

me: haha
maybe we should veer back toward $$

Adair: yes, we are lucky to live in a place where we can afford to have these problems

Bruna: For example, now that our country is going through so much economic turmoil, what's the first thing that doesn't get funding?

me: yeah. which is awful and misguided

Adair: well, not to get too political, but romney would've taken away even more!

me: for SURE
i shudder

Adair: dodged a bullet there
going back to the elite who buys paintings for millions, who we see as "them", then there's "us", who can barely afford to even make our paintings. i think there's a middle group of people too, though.
maybe earlier we were generalizing too much.

me: i think...i'm kind of thinking and typing together...but i think our country engages in the kind of emotional/psychological/physical mythmaking/fiction that exists in art, but in dangerous and horrific ways, like creating narratives to support national security bullshit
about the middle group: yes true!

Adair: ok wait, we have two thoughts here
let's go with yours first

Bruna: Well, it was so funny watching Hollywood movies growing up.....I could catch that as a young girl.
America is associated with coolness.

Adair: of course, because if something like war is going to make people uncomfortable, feed the public a story and it will go down easier
i do love a good story, though
just not when it's happening to me

me: if we, as a nation, let ourselves feel and explore those kinds of urges/cognitive dissonances/fantasies in art and self-expression, maybe we wouldn't need these larger political fictions that lead to tragedy

Adair: yesss

me: that kind of need has to come out somewhere

Adair: it's weird how so many people view art as a childish thing
like how everyone grew up drawing in kindergarten

me: yes

Adair: but if a group of adults got together to draw it would be weird

me: which denies us something we need

Adair: i would like to see that alternate reality where drawing/art is mandatory all the way through high school

me: me too
but when we say that it sounds like we're wishy washy artists

Bruna: People would be more accepting of themselves.....probably more sincere too...and not so scared of showing emotions.
It's our unconsciousness working--when we become adults we can't engage in this impractical activity.
It doesn't make money.


Adair: but it CAN make money!
it's not impossible!

Adair: do astronauts make money?

me: hahaha
i think so?

Adair: no, i mean, does exploring space make money?
like, what is the point of exploring space other than to explore?
WE ARE DOING THE SAME THING! exploring! except we explore onto a canvas or paper or whatever

me: NASA is an example of a need and a narrative strong enough to pull in the money
though less so lately

Buzz Aldrin on the moon, 1969

Bruna: But painting is dead!
Painting is not technology!
Painting was a way to pass information in the past and that is why it was more valued
But now painting has changed in our generation's context.

me: it's still a way to pass information
it just isn't information we deal in anymore
but we recognize it
me: in small ways

Bruna: Sure, it is, but before it was one of the only very few ways.

Adair: i get what you're saying, bruna

me: yeah

Adair: in the past, people were illiterate, and to pass on bible stories, they looked at paintings

Bruna: Painting has changed. The value of painting has changed.
But that doesn't mean it is dead.
On the contrary!!!!

Adair: now we have books. now we have computers. now we have iphones.

Bruna: It really speaks about something unknown and mysterious to us.

Adair: you can't quantify emotions

me: it's such a different kind of information and a different way to accessing it that it can't even be compared in my mind

Bruna: This something that nobody knows where it comes from.
Sure, but then comes time (time is money?)
Painting takes time.
to make and to look at.

Adair: ugh, i hate that saying!!!

me: "time is an element of painting" -- martin mcmurray

Bruna: HAHAHHAH good one Katelyn! I remember that list.
But you can see some other way....
Time as "it takes time" to absorb, to be involved...

me: maybe we should bring this down to a practical level
how do WE deal with that need for time

Bruna: Geez, I feel like we got to the bottom of it.
Painting = time = money
Something like that

Adair: but i hate that money is the end point
how about this
painting = time = money = more painting

Bruna: HAHHAHA. Okay.You win!

me: yes!

Adair: because honestly, i don't need extraneous riches! just enough to keep making work and live comfortably

me: yes, that's how you make a life

Bruna: Yeppp.

Adair: money is not the goal, just a necessary thing, like fuel for the car
me: which makes us so much more financially reasonable than all those people dying for cash gold money
but we're considered the frivolous ones

Adair: that's because our country has been brainwashed into being suspicious of producers

me: ugh true

Adair: just look at BLACK FRIDAY, it's all consume consume consume!

me: i have to work retail on black friday

Bruna: We are consumers before citizens (or beings)

Adair: i'm sorry! i'm locking myself in my room and not leaving all day

me: yes, and it's sad

Adair: yeah, so just by making things, we're already going against mainstream

me: god

Bruna: But, I still think that money is not bad!!!!! It is how we see it that it is bad!

me: of course it isn't bad, we'd all love it

Bruna: But even in the arts.

me: but not the structure

Bruna: *"The ARTS"

Adair: hahaha

Bruna: Yes. That's the problem--the structure.

Adair: of course! i don't believe in such a thing as "selling out". people who call other people sell-outs are just jealous. UNLESS you change your principles or do something that you don't want to just to make money.

me: i finished my wine...


me: start it!

Bruna: hahahaha

Adair: i wanted to pop the cork with you guys!

me: haha you should have known we'd dip in early
the lushes that we are

Bruna: hahahah

me: ok i want to ask a few SIMPLE questions

Bruna: ready!

Adair: there is no simple with us!

how does the cost of materials affect the kind of art you make?

Adair: good one.

me: think about it. i'm getting a beer.

Adair: ok i'm gonna think about it as i open my bottle

me: haha

Bruna: I did affect me before a lot and it still does. If I am not making money, how can I buy supplies? I don't buy the best stuff, but I get what I can afford. 
I am just now making small paintings--having affordable sizes has affected my choice too.
I would try more and more large paintings if I had more space too and space is

me: space is money
like video of philip guston slopping around on huge walls
tons of paint, tons of space
such excess

Adair: There are certain things I will skimp on and certain things that I want the best of. Buying stretcher bars is actually more expensive than making your own. I would prefer to make my bars from scratch, but I don't have the space to do that, so I'm forced to take a hit in my budget.

Bruna: I mean, right?

Adair: i wasn't trained as a painter, so i was never taught to value different kinds of paint over others, so it doesn't bother me to buy cheaper paint. paint is paint.

Bruna: But, of course, there is something about the intimacy of small paintings and I think it is also related to not having so much excess.

Adair: i actually like mixing cheap paint with expensive paint anyway, because i am interested in the material aspects of paint.

Adair: (i just popped my bottle)

Bruna: hahha

me: yes
for as long as i can remember i have been dependent on people in my life, mostly men, to support me
for this reason i paint small and with what i have inherited from my mom, with some additions from bruna and others
which feels more like my own. and because i simply couldn't get the big stuff. i see huge oil paintings and they contain more oil than my whole stash, which i've been conserving and loving for 7 years

Bruna: Yes.

Adair: i love that you have a stash!

Bruna: I feel like a patron for giving you my oils!!! HAHAHAHA

me: haha you are!
i know which ones are yours

Bruna: The really bright colors! I see them when you use them in your work too. I love recognizing them in your work!

me: i love that each brand is different and so many of them are fucked up from age and i have to perform surgery on them to get the paint out in small slivers from slits i cut in the sides

Adair: but i don't think all large oil paintings are wasteful and excessive

me: i don't think so either, not at all
but in my situation they have never been possible
and i'm someone who has had a lot of support and privilege over the years, so i shudder to think about painters who don't even have that
but we all work within our boundaries

Adair: it's interesting how our different upbringings affected our views on this though
how you inherited supplies from your mom
and i grew up surrounded by huge oil paintings

Bruna: It's weird for me because I am really drawn to small paintings more than any other size lately. I went to this show in Brazil I told you guys about and saw a lot of medium size paintings, but when I saw Vuillard, it was so refreshing.

Adair: give me an image of vuillard, i'm unfamiliar

me: me too

Adair: i think that large works and small works have a lot in common

me: and we have different bodies
painting big or small has a lot to do with what kind of spinal cord you have

Adair: really??
how funny

me: haha i mean in a general bullshit i'm-not-a-doctor way
but something you might see as intimate could be huge to me
or the opposite
because of the way we stand, the way we move
our vision

Adair: yes, extra small and extra large work makes us think of our bodies' relationship to the painting
in different ways

me: gorgeous!

Adair: yeah, great!
and they're tiny?

Bruna: very
they are like max 18 inches

me: WOW
i love that
i found a blood brother
so many painters these days paint big!
thanks booboo

Bruna: He is amazing. AMAZING. There are a few pieces at the Norton Simon in LA too. They are usually small.

Adair: well, different sizes require a different skill set. like full arm movement vs. finger dexterity and wrist movement

me: yes
oh adair, i forgot to tell you, we put your painting up in our living room :)
i'll send you a pic

Adair: oh my gosh!!!!
so flattered!!!!!!!!!

Bruna: <3

Adair: i can't believe that you look at it everyday! that is crazy!

me: i love it

Bruna: Not difficult with that painting, Adairie. It's incredible.

me: those two are my buddies

Bruna: P.S.: I think someone just started a band in my neighborhood. I feel like I am part of that TV show Freaks and Geeks.

$$$$$ END CHAT $$$$$

Monday, November 26, 2012

Painting Narratives: Untitled 1 (Portrait Series)

Bruna Massadas, Untitled 1 (Portrait Series), 2012. Acrylics on panel, 18 X 24.

He told her to meet him at 5 PM that rainy afternoon. She arrived at the coffee shop at 5:10 hoping she wouldn’t have to wait. She looked around and he wasn’t there. “Maybe it’s the traffic,” she thought. She walked to the cashier, ordered a caramel macchiato, and dropped the change on the tip jar. She carried her coffee to a table as if she was wearing heels (although she was not). As she sat down, she positioned her body diagonally from the door and tried not to look at the door so often. She kept her eyes at her watch, allowing herself to look directly at the door every 30 seconds for 2 seconds. As she saw him opening the door from the corner of her eyes, she dipped her index finger in the coffee and slowly licked the whipped cream off. She was ready to tell him that she didn’t see him coming. But it wasn’t him.