Sunday, December 18, 2011

Larry Walker Tells the Stories that Drive His Art

Larry Walker's speech was beyond impressive yesterday. I was actually mesmerized. If I could have scooped up his paintings and taken them home with me, the walls in his section of Mason Murer would have been absolutely bare.

As he said, he is in his paintings -- and Walker is a man given to deep thoughts and humble, passionate emotions. In many of the pieces on display, there are multi-level images that speak to the complexity of life. His view of the human condition is even reflected in a masterful, charcoal drawing of a cactus. With mortality on his mind, he pointed out that an aged, dying cactus drops its "arms" and exposes its insides to nourish the young. Walker the professor, the nurturer of artists, is a man who cares and it is part and parcel of his body of work.

At one point, Walker looked at the wall opposite him where three of his drawings were hung. Those are me, he said. Walker, a tall man in his seventies stands sturdy and straight. The figure in the drawings looked much, much older and frail, bent and leaning on a cane. As we age, there is the sense that we are on the downhill slope. Walker expresses without any disguise a deep sadness that the game is coming to an end.

He said that his work always comes back to the figurative, no matter what the medium. Even if you catch him waiting for an appointment or a meeting to begin, Walker is ever the artist who cannot resist sketching the people around him.

Early in life, Walker lived in New York and grew up with buildings and walls around him. These walls show up in a great deal of his work. Negative and positive space,
flawless composition, all elements of Walker's work that ultimately is about the human condition. The tragedy of slavery and the abuse of people who were dragged here from Africa are part and parcel of that view. One painting with shackles hanging from a canvas that is sliced in half reminds us that Walker is very, very aware of the issues that have plagued the South. While there is beauty in his work, thought and meaning drive it.

He admitted that he doesn't start out with a full-blown concept. It develops as he works and titles are attached afterwards. It is a fluid process, one that can easily be compared to the masters.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Art that makes you want to laugh and cry

Friday night I was one of the fortunate people invited to the opening of Alan Avery's exhibit, The Glass Ceiling, and after party. The man knows how to put together a show and he knows how to throw an awesome party.

Dancers from GloATL were part of the entertainment. They wove in and out of the crowd, edgy, opening questions that teased the audience without providing all the clues. This is a company that never has a down performance.

Art by the likes of Louise Nevelson, Helen Frankenthaler and Kara Walker were the impressive attractions for this celebration of Avery's 30th year anniversary of his gallery. A survivor by any measure. I have to admit I was in awe of Nevelson and Frankethaler. History was on the walls.

However, it was Kara Walker's work that took my breath away. This woman manages to create beautiful silhouettes of black people in motion. She exaggerates their features so you know they have to be black. And while their grace and delicacy are literally gorgeous, the stories they tell make the heart ache. These are masterpieces. What Walker has done negates the current trend that elevates the vulgar and the ugly. She has trashed the theory that exhibiting skill and beauty is out of fashion. Not surprisingly, most of her pieces had red dots next to them. Smart collectors? Probably. People who simply fell in love with the work. Just as likely. I did.

Thank you, Allen.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

UncensoredfromAlpharetta: "Noplaceness, Art in a Post-Urban Landscape"

UncensoredfromAlpharetta: "Noplaceness, Art in a Post-Urban Landscape": "NOPLACENESS, Art in a Post-Urban Landscape" is a beautiful book that references art in Atlanta,translates the essays by its three authors i...

"Noplaceness, Art in a Post-Urban Landscape"

"NOPLACENESS, Art in a Post-Urban Landscape" is a beautiful book that references art in Atlanta,translates the essays by its three authors into Portuguese and Mandarin and attempts to comprehend the globalization that is resulting from our internet connections. In concept and realization, this volume published by Possible Futures, Inc. is the brainchild of Louis Corrigan. Louis has been putting his own money, time and energy into getting the world to notice the creative talent in Atlanta.

How do we make sense of the new connections we are making? How do we get noticed in a world that is moving so fast? Is anyone listening? What is happening out there?
The authors, Jerry Cullum, Catherine Fox and Cinque Hicks all contribute their views in an exceptionally challenging fashion.

I found my mind spinning in response to the heavy questions that are posed in this very thoughtful work. It hits a depth that we don't often encounter. Corrigan's thinking in the preface is on the mark. We have to look to where the world is going, not where it's been. How can we keep up is left as an open question. However, the reality that we have to reach out and work together is obvious. It is not the same world that it was. News outlets don't function the same way. They are fading and being overwhelmed by the internet. And who can catch the waves of that information? It is so very random.

Read the book. It will challenge you. I can promise you that.

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Give Me Color! Give Me Life!"

The title almost says it all. Strong colors, gentle colors, a variety of techniques. The colors set the mood. While I can't be accused of being totally abstract -- there are images that appear here and there -- I've turned my back on strictly representational work. Anyone with a moderate amount of skill can do that. I want to do something that is worth doing because it stands alone and makes a statement. It should get to you and make it worth looking into its depth.

My paintings are on exhibit at Montfort's Fine Art Gallery, 41 Church St., Alpharetta. Tomorrow the little village on the street will be making a festival day of it. It should be a lively scene.

When I paint, my inner thoughts and emotions spill onto the canvas or paper. No secrets, no hidden stories. It's all there for you to see. The interesting thing I've found over the years is that everyone sees my work from a different perspective. You bring your own experiences and find reflections. It is almost strange how that works.
One night a young man stood in front of one of my paintings and stared, almost incredulous. He finally turned and said, "That's me!" For him, it was.

Launching on 11-11-11!

May this date bring us luck! I want to write about all my talented friends and let the world know we're here. It certainly is time.

Today, I just sent out a couple of messages about Helen Rule. She is such a talented young woman. Her work is on display at Two Rules Gallery on Church Street off the square in Marietta. She created Japanese samurai armor and helmets that can take your breath away if you are at all impressed by craftsmanship. This is sculpture and design. Some of it is based on authentic, historical design, some of it pure whimsy.

One of my first thoughts was that film people need to know about her. A visitor to the gallery stood in front of one of the helmets and stared. He had seen similar originals in Beijing, but he said they weren't as perfect as theses.

Helen also does chain Maille jewelry. Think painstaking perfection. I used to make silver jewelry and I know what it takes to have every link exact. The concentration has to be there -- and the control. Beyond that, her designs are exquisite.

I have a video I shot, but still haven't edited. It will go up later. In the meantime, a couple of photos are my contribution for the day.