Friday, June 13, 2008

"Artists and Models of 2008" @ Panza Gallery, Saturday, June 14th.

Slowly, slowly I'm creeping my way toward the completion of my Book of Life project. I've now been at it for two years, and I'm most of the way through the business section. This may not be especially meaningful for those of you who haven't seen this work-in-progress, but rest assured that it means that I have made much progress and I am finally seeing the end in clear sight. I've never sustained this kind of effort for this long on any work of art. I used to keep a journal, and I continued writing in it for years- but that was an indefinite pursuit not meant for the eyes of others. This blog was meant to have specific parameters, yet (as you've no doubt figured out) it has taken on a nebulous quality.

So now that I'm approaching completion, I've begun to think about how I might eventually display the finished piece. There has been some interest from a couple of gallery owners, and I'll have to be very deliberate about making a choice. In the meantime I've found a couple of opportunities to preview very small segments of the whole. As I've previously mentioned, the next Unicorn Mountain (to be titled The Black Forest) will eventually be released. And it will include a number of Book of Life drawings within the selection of great artwork, from a variety of seasoned artists. I'm proud to have been asked to be a part of that. In fact I would have considered it sufficient exposure for the time being. But it turns out that it won't be the first sneak peek.

Tomorrow night (Saturday the 14th) there is an opening reception for a show at the Panza Gallery (115 Sedgewick Street in Millvale) called Artists and Models of 2008. It features the work of a wide variety of artists that draw at the weekly sessions at the gallery. For almost as long as I've been working on the Book of Life I've been showing up every Thursday to sketch live models. There have been old men, young women, and everything in between. Generally I complete 5-7 pages during each session. I've gotten comfortable being around the ever evolving mix of artists that choose to participate in this time-honored activity. During the breaks we have discussions about art, politics, sex, religion and other miscellaneous topics. It's a community I feel fortunate to be able to participate in.

Most of us have submitted drawings and/or paintings for this show. There is a wide range of styles and media represented, but the content remains the same- the human figure. One might expect a collection of such images to be mundane. After all, literally thousands of people have honed their skills via the "live nude". Everyone is familiar with the human body from a lifetime of observation. What could possibly be exciting or new about such an exhibition? Haven't we seen all of this before? The answer might surprise you. Certainly everything on the walls of the gallery will be recognizable as a human being, but each piece in turn will reveal a specific set of presumptions and proclivities that make up an individual perspective.

As I was walking around before this past week's session, I was pleasantly surprised and delighted by the array of interpretation on display. It was good to be reminded that art is not always about pure form, but rather often deals with the idiosyncratic approaches possible within the artistic imagination. Such well-trodden subject matter is still capable of enlightening the viewer. I began to see these works as representations of the creators rather than simple portrayals of the external stimuli being conveyed. I hope that those who choose to see this show will have a similar experience. These are all windows offering glimpses of greater vistas. Don't just come for the naked bodies.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What ideas do you have for displaying your phonebook series?

I have seen a couple of displays that required wearing gloves and turning the pages of a short book encased in glass but a whole phone book?

JM

1:35 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

I've been making a series of high-quality scans of individual drawings from 'The Book of Life'. These will be printed with archival inks and papers and made available for purchase. At this point, I'd like to keep my specific plans secret. But I welcome any type of suggestions.

12:10 PM  

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