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   Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!

   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006
  the NYC report

It was an unforgettable week of museums and galleries, and lots of walking through many of NY's neighborhoods. Museum highlights included Robert Raushenberg at the Met, almost everything at MOMA, and wonderful clay and metals exhibits at the National Museum of the American Indian. Lots of galleries to see in Soho, Chelsea and uptown. Everywhere I jotted notes, made sketches, took photos, and tried to absorb as much as possible. I actually reached art overload by my last day there and could barely look at a thing without my eyes glazing over.

Other NY experiences included an Ontological Theater production (oh so surreal!) hearing my nephew David Crowell's jazz band, Naked Brunch, play at the Knitting Factory, and spending a day with my e-friend Cheryl Lins (she took this photo-thanks Cheryl.) Lots of great food, art supply stores and book stores. Talking with people on subways and elsewhere--the New Yorkers I met almost were almost 100% friendly, polite and interesting.

All week I was on the go, mostly with my friend Paula who was also on the trip (a yearly event organized by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.) Every day we navigated the subways and busses, and walked for blocks and blocks to the noises of traffic and sirens, and the commotion and bustle of huge crowds of people.

Sunday when I got back home (after a 22-hour bus ride)I took a walk in the spring sunshine along our road. There were no cars at all, and the only sound was of the wind. The space around me seemed vast and calm, the trees just beginning to show hints of spring color in a lovely subtle display. I was happy to be back where quiet is the main event, and the days move at a pace I can keep up with. Lots of great memories now, and inspiration for the studio.
Sounds like a fantastic trip... except maybe the bus part. My wife and I are off to follow in your tracks this weekend; Rauschenberg Combines are calling my name, and the Ron Ehrlich show at Stephen Haller will be another highlight.

Best wishes for a productive spring! --A.
Oh, you must be back by now--what did you think? For some reason I'd always thought of Rauschenberg as a sort of surrealist pop artist (think: "goat and tire") and was not prepared at all for the sheer visual impact of his work, the textures, the painterliness. I found it gorgeous.
The Rauschenberg show was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences... I'm so glad I made the trip! I've always been a huge fan, so I sort of had some preparation; if you can call years of studying little photos of the work "preparation." Nothing could have really prepared me for seeing the Combines up close, though... it was as much a physical response as a visual one, and two hours of looking left me completely wiped out. So much there to take in... they really were gorgeous. And funny. And brave. No Pop in sight.

There were pieces there I didn't even know existed. There were ones I'd only seen from one angle, and got to walk around 360 degrees. There were "brothers and sisters" of pieces I'd been fascinated with, like all the beautiful stuff from 1957. Just amazing.

My big letdown was at the end, when I went to buy the catalog of the exhibition. I'd decided beforehand that I didn't need it, since I already own the big book from the retrospective at the Guggenheim. But finding that there were probably a dozen things I'd never seen before and would never see again, I decided to bite the bullet and invest anyway. Glad I looked through a copy first-- I was *horrified* at how bad the photographs were! Overexposed, underexposed, overly contrast-y, blues headed for green or washed to gray, reds and oranges bleeding out of the pages... hands down, the worst exhibition catalog I've ever seen. I was really bummed. But the long-range tragedy is, this book will be source material for a generation of artists and scholars... and provides the only publicly-available evidence of some of the privately-owned works. Not to be melodramatic, but it really felt like someone had slandered a close friend. I put the book back... because over time, it would've actually distorted my memories of the things I'd just seen. Sad, huh?

On a more positive note, I stopped in at Stephen Haller Gallery in Chelsea, and saw Ron Ehrlich's latest paintings. They were completely luscious and bewildering. I think you would have liked them a lot. And I met Stephen Haller himself... he came out of the back room while I was bobbing and weaving, trying to read the bottom edge of a painting. We ended up having a nice chat, and he asked for one of my business cards (since I'd come un-armed... no portfolio, no images... 'just here for the paintings, mister!') He said he'd visit my website; which would be awfully nice of him. After he excused himself and left the room, I took a few hundred deep breaths and thought, 'well... *that's* a New York story for you."

So it was a pretty good trip, anyway. ;-)
YES I did see Ron Ehrlich's work and it was delicious--I wanted to eat the paint. It would not have been a good thing if Stephen Haller had come upon me doing that! That was cool that you got to talk to him. Maybe he was impressed that an artist would be there just looking and absorbing the work, and not armed with self-promo materials (as I wil admit I was all week!)

It reminds me of an experience I had in Santa Fe where I was running my nose around a painting for several minutes and the person behind the desk said, "you must be a painter." Amazed at her psychic abilities I asked how she knew that. "Nobody else looks that closely," she said.

As for Raushenberg and his catalogue-I glanced through it also and thought it really failed to convey the tactile and visual experience of the show. It occurs to me that my lukewarm expectations of the show before seeing it might be because of reproductions like that, which have been my main exposure to his work. It's funny but I don't recall seeing much work of his in museums in the past. Where have all these things been hiding, or have I just failed to take notice? Maybe the experience of seeing so much of it at once is what opened my eyes. In any case I'm so glad I saw the show, and also that I did so early on in my trip--the first day, actually. By the end of the week I was becoming a bit jaded--I had reached saturation point. The last day I was in the Brooklyn Museum and couldn't handle looking at contemporary art at all--I spent most of the time with in the majesty and anonymity of the ancient Egyptians.

You should really start a blog!! You have such interesting things to say--
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       Rebecca Crowell