Eva Wylie: A View From The Ledge

(For more information about the “Viewfinder Project” click here.)

Eva Wylie’s “Viewfinder”- Relief Print, String, and Book Board Ledge

Eva Wylie was the only artist who sent back a “Viewfinder” in parts as a sculptural project. She wrote to me saying that her work evolved through many stages including one that involved sewing. The end result is a shelf like display for a “Viewfinder” that she ultimately cut apart. Below is a descriptive drawing she sent as part of a letter.

For a long time Eva’s shelf rested on my desk. However, it is this summer when I fully felt its relevance. While at a six week summer teaching job, I live in a cabin that has several simple shelves that allow me store necessities.  Below are two images from this cabin.

After considering these shelves, I realized that they function like a pedestal and a kind of three dimensional viewfinder. The ledge 
frames and organizes the image within a rectangle providing a context for the objects. Also, the conventional use of a shelf creates norms in which objects that are alike in either form or function are grouped together. Eva’s small sculpture inspired me to consider how the everyday objects around me can be framed by conventions of three dimensional display. It seems that a shelf can be as powerful a prompt for organizing an image as the most traditional viewfinder.

Although Eva Wylie often uses print, sculpture, sewing, and installation in her artwork, her more involved projects usually build from many prints and break out of the rectangle or square. Below is an example from Wylie’s website.

A detail of Eva Wylie’s installation titled Roaring Garden

Everywhere A View Is Found

(For more information about the “Viewfinder Project” click here.)

Last week I was in New York City and went gallery hopping. Toward the end of my visit in the gallery district of Chelsea, I noticed signage (seen below) for an exhibit titled Viewfinder at Artgate Gallery. Though I have been unable to find a statement about the exhibit online, I get the sense that the show has little to do with viewfinder devices. Rather, the title has to do with finding new talent through the Nars Foundation International Artists Residency Program. Although I took a nicely composed picture of the window displaying the exhibit announcement, complete with a reflection of the building across the street, I did not get many pictures of the exhibit (related images can be found in the links provided above).

Even though I know that my ideas are not completely original and feel that originality is finite, I felt something jarring about seeing an exhibit that also borrows the concept of a viewfinder. Am I just writing a series of reviews that present a view of specific artwork or can something conclusive be said about the way artists approach seeing and observation in the twenty-first century? Everywhere there is a potential view. So, what is important and how is this determined? Because I have many more “Viewfinders” to review, I wonder if it is inevitable that I will lose focus? Will I veer too far away from how a view is found and focus too heavily on what is in each unique picture?

Although I know that conclusions are inconclusive and I understand this paradox, I am still determined to make conclusions anyway. If one believes that the universe is an interrelated entity, then conclusions will also be beginnings. Thus, conclusions may be as relative to human interpretation as having an artistic view. However, it seems like it is the boundaries, both mentally and physically, that keeps us from drifting in a sea of random visions. Having a view is a first step toward an artistic conclusion. For me, as a writer, having thirty five to forty “Viewfinders” to review means taking a lot of small steps as I work toward a conclusion to this project. This leads me to know that patience is a requirement in gaining an insightful perspective.

Susanna Bluhm’s “Viewfinder”, Ink Drawing, 6″ by 4 1/4″

The “Viewfinders” featured above and below tap into a kind of randomness. I did not give very many requirements for the “Viewfinders” I mailed out. In the case of the work featured here, I mailed out “Viewfinders” to two artists I knew who both live at the same address. I received back one of the drawings from an addressed artist and the other from an artist I had not solicited (this was fine with me). I suspect both “Viewfinders” were made at the same time and quickly as if they were made as a part of a game. I feel that this mode of working led to a spontaneity and playfulness that a traditional view finding device (the kind typically designed for art making) seems to psychologically inhibit.

Amy Lin’s “Viewfinder”, Ink Drawing, 6″ by 4 1/4″

Two final notes: Susanna Bluhm has a wonderful website and will be exhibiting work at Michael Rosenthal gallery in San Fransisco. Lastly, in the note written on Amy Lin’s drawing (“Winnie is a naughty dog”), Lin is ironically and humorously referring to Susanna’s lovable pooch.

Chad Andrews: The Daily View

(For more information about the “Viewfinder Project” click here.)

The “Viewfinder” made by Chad Andrews involves a layered reflective approach to daily events and is similar to other collage work he is currently involved with. Andrews begins by tracing over calendars. Then he draws on top of the tracing. Finally, the semitransparent paper is adhered to thicker paper that includes painted elements. The reality implied by the tracing along with the notes about everyday experiences meld with more abstract wanderings. It is as if Andrews is trying to say that everyday can be flexible and that there are guides but ultimately they are not fixed.

Chad Andrews artwork is an unfolding act and there is fluidity about his work from piece to piece. From 2001 through 2004, Andrews focused on meticulously rendered drawings of cardboard boxes that are juxtaposed with abstract marks and personal symbols. In the past couple of years, Andrews has also installed large scale dimensional drawings made of silicone that have the meandering line quality of a pen and ink sketch. In a certain regard the silicone drawings are unlike his work on paper. However, there are connections in terms of imagery and the continuous line of silicone seems akin to the ongoing connected days visualized in the schematic of a calendar.

Chad Andrews “View Finder”, Size 4 1/4 inches by 6 inches.

Title: My second hand best Graphite and Gouache on Rives BFK – 8 inches by 16 inches 2009

Detail: Going to Philly (West Side)
Silicone Polymer – 8 feet by 32 feet
2009 – Installed: Eckhaus Gallery, Kutztown, PA

Chad Andrews lives on a farm outside of Williamsport, Pennsylvania and maintains a studio in the Pajama Factory in the heart of town. For more information and images visit the website of Chad Andrews. For more information about the Pajama Factory visit my post from last July.

A View of Baker’s Bomb

(For more information about the “Viewfinder Project” click here.)

When I received a “viewfinder” back from Tom Baker, what I got was a bomb in the mail. As a greeting, Baker’s card is a paradox because the image is both menacing and beautiful. The background indicates a elegantly nuanced world of repetitious pattern. It seems unlikely that the world, as depicted in the background, will be shattered. Although we will never know if the bomb depicted will explode (we only know it appears to land in water), it reminds me of nuclear tests where bombs were dropped on the ocean. Ultimately, I do not see Baker’s bomb as threatening. Rather, I view the image as a metaphor for explosive questions that have a revelatory quality and I became it’s target.

Print by Tom Baker (Size: 6″ x 4 1/4″)

Lauren Schiller’s Stereoscopic View

(For more information about the “Viewfinder Project” click here.)

Lauren Schiller’s “View Finder” depicts a stereoscope and a stereoscopic card. Schiller’s work often presents food in a way that creates a sense of longing along with a sense of mild guilt. It is not that sweets like cupcakes or cookies are that bad, it is more that they present temptation. However, it seems that the better a person is (e.g. kinder, more studious, careful, generous, etc.) the more smaller temptations can take on a greater significance. For this reason Schiller’s style lends itself to this perspective. Her pencil drawings and prints are rendered in the most precise manner placing the artist in a perfectionistic category. This also makes the drawings and prints richly ironic since they often deal with such seemingly superficial yet psychologically charged flaws (e.g. enjoying sugar).

Promiscuous Experience of Sweetness, Graphite Drawing by Lauren Schiller (Size: 4 1/4″ x 6″)

In the drawing Schiller sent me (seen above), the viewer’s relationship to the couple and cake depicted is explicitly voyeuristic. The viewer is twice removed from the activity. Through the stereoscope the cake and the couple exist as nostalgia for a time when the cake and the gaze of the lovers were pure sweetness. We can only imagine what happens after the couple turn from each other toward the cake. It does not seem like the image would become sweeter if the cake were being devoured.

Promiscuous Experience of Sweetness, by Lauren Schiller

Below is an etching Lauren schiller made for a 2005 portfolio of prints titled “Guilty Not Guilty”. For more images and information visit Lauren Schiller’s website.

Etching by Lauren Schiller