California is having a Seattle kinda day, with chilly wind and cloudy skies, that tension of impending rain just seconds away that never actually breaks, and my mood reflects that melancholy steel gray sky. With some soft, slow jazz playing, the work of Federico Infante fogging up my mind, I’ve settled into a lack of clarity. Just letting the mist settle in and falling back into it is liberating in a way. Infante’s work pulls you into that same state, letting you be part of a quiet mystery; telling just enough of a story to involve you while leaving room for your mind to reach out on its own into the corners of the tale. I’m gonna continue to drift through this haze — it’s a nice vacation from the normally frenetic avenues of my thoughts. Thanks to the weather and Infante for this break.
I don’t know what you think running this website is like, but in case you’re suffering under the assumption that I am inundated with emails day in and day out from new artists wanting to be seen, let me put those fears to rest. I am not. I get maybe one or two emails a month. Which is just dandy by me, because I’m busy with millions of other things from forging hammers to lying in the grass with my friends. Email doesn’t rank very high on my list.
A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a young artist from Barcelona, Núria Farré, and surprising even myself, I stopped and read it. And she’s good. Not a huge body of work at this point, but she definitely likes to challenge herself. Anyone that chooses to paint water is a masochist in my book, and that’s something I can respect in an artist. I especially enjoy her paintings of dead birds, which are a little softer, and a little more sparse. She’s young but she’s talented, and she’s tying her emotions into her work. I don’t think you can ask much more from anyone. And to top it off, her paintings make me want to go lay in the grass with my friends. For once I’m glad I opened an email.
Letting the bastards tie me down.
A little while back I was internetting as I do when I was reminded that there is a giant warehouse space here that teaches classes for most of the industrial arts — welding, glasswork, neon, woodwork, machining — including blacksmithing. I have my moments where I’d much rather make something than buy it, depending on how lazy I feel that day, so blacksmithing appeals to me. There are also the added benefits of learning a lot of new things, including a useful skill, as well as feeling pretty badass. So smithing has been pretty large in my mind lately, especially tool and knife making. Enter Jarkko Niskanen, viking enthusiast and blacksmithing artisan, who made his own steel, and forged a knife from it. I mean damn. There’s a lot more I could say about his work and the inspiration it provides, but I’m just gonna let it speak for itself. Hear that hammer’s ring, ya’ll.
I have spent the better part of a day pouring over the clever maps of Andrew DeGraff, and simultaneously reliving some pivotal moments of my childhood. DeGraff has created works of art that track the paths of characters through the Indiana Jones and Star Wars films. Beyond their cleverness and beauty, the real magic of these maps is that they follow something deeper and more meaningful than just actors in a film; they bounce around to all the emotions I felt as a kid watching those movies. I can feel my hands clench as something daring and exciting happens, and I’d say that speaks highly to both the movie and the artwork. Here’s a film saga that was so real to me as a child that it still resonates with me on an emotional level when I relive it. And here’s a map that’s so accurate and intuitive that I can’t help but relive each scene of my favorite films. Andrew DeGraff, I am high-fiving you so hard right now.
Winter is a time of secrets. It’s a time when the foggy mornings, the cold, crisp air, and the creeping darkness freeze the tongue before it can speak. The world retreats back into itself to sleep a long, silent sleep, and it takes you with it into the night. The fires in the still-beating core die to a warm glow, and we’re happy in our new quietude. Settai Komura paints these soft sounds and the world in which they slowly echo, wearing the mantle of Winter melancholy, unmoving but changing all the time. These are the paintings I tell my secrets to as I keep warm in the dusky haze of a flame, and in return they whisper to me their sad stories of forgotten Spring.
Given a choice between tranquility and chaos, I’d have to say I prefer chaos. Looking out over a perfectly calm, glass-like lake in the still of the dawn, I am just as captivated as most people, but after about 30 minutes of quiet reflection I want to cannonball into that lake and shout my head off in guttural animal cries. Tranquility has no where to go; it’s already achieved the ground state. And what’s interesting about that? I even find myself arguing in favor of things I don’t support or have no opinion on as an exercise in chaos. The storm of ideas and tricky thought it conjures in my brain, and the loud, passionate discussions it causes in my conversational partners are my rewards. Artist Anton Vill embraces that same noise, fighting the calm, white blankness of paper with as much visual information as possible. His work is the ripples spreading away from our bodies as they disappear into the lake, and the howls that shake the sky to let the world know that we’re alive somewhere. Each drawing beautifully encapsulates the organized chaos that comes with being a living, breathing, animal — all the fear and desire tearing us apart little by little. Entropy claims first our bodies, and then our spirits.