That old culprit Life has gotten in my nonsequitur way once again. Timeliness has, for the moment, somehow drifted to the back burner in my chaotic little world. I am annoyed by the irresponsibility, the flakiness this quality seems to demonstrate. Yet I find that the right hemisphere of my brain has, once more, overpowered the left: is this not every artist’s timeless dilemma?
All the same, I need to filch a quiet personal moment and get this ephemeral information down while it still feels fresh; I need to organize it and capture it in a freeze frame. Shorthand. Snapshot.
The luxury of time.
Time, time, time.
When there isn’t an adequate amount of it, time seems to be a frustrating hindrance to executing the writing itself (when can I ever find enough?) a hindrance to completing the work that I need and want to do. A wealth of information continually occupies what I like to call my own disorganized idea bank or mental sketchbook; abundant new experiences have endowed me with countless perceptions, items and issues, all running rampantly through my thought infused / besieged mind. Traveling does this to a person, always providing a superfluity of new sensations, impressions, conceptions and observations. And these are continually horded, gathered and carelessly assembled inside that bone encrusted thinking capsule of mine; limitless purviews with regard to art and life. Must seize this fleeting thought stuff and materialize it before it floats away to be captured elsewhere in another way, perhaps another instant and by someone else. Drat that nagging old sense of urgency that spurs us creative types ever onward!
So the impetus of discipline compels me to offer the following bit of news, which is certainly of note and well worth sharing, albeit delayed in coming to Scribbles’ readers. I must profusely apologize for my lethargic punctuality, mustn’t I?
Let me collect, arrange and reveal the chaotic cache of my memory for you before it is too late…
A recent visit to the University of Arizona in Tucson allowed me the opportunity to view the master’s thesis show, which exhibited work from the School of Art’s Master of Fine Arts candidates. Presented in the university’s Joseph Gross Gallery, the exhibit runs until May 14, 2006. Having studied studio art there for a year in 1974, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the curriculum at U of A has finally moved into contemporaneousness. Overall, the work was fascinating and reflects the quality of education now practiced in that venue.
The art itself made me do it: I was compelled to spend quite a bit of time with all of the work in the MFA thesis exhibit. The depth and intensity of its’ varying content invited the viewer to take a moment to listen and see. And there was a great deal to see and to think about. Personal and intelligent revelations and an satisfying gallery/museum experience.
Of particular note were the paintings by Michael Nolan who has transformed the communicative format of two dimensionality into a modern commentary on life (in Arizona?). His work is a reflection of the times and of the artist-as-painter’s role in the 21st century, recording in the age old medium of oil, the everyday events that sculpt daily life in a poignant and colorful depiction. Technically (and there is a desire for well-honed exhibitions of technical prowess in art these days), the realism of Nolan’s imagery is dramatic, comical and still carefully -- shall we say even masterfully? -- executed.
“Bob’s Big Boy stint as a photographer was short lived after he challenged MJ to a hatchet fight”
Pulling everyday objects, obsessive drawing and intelligent aesthetic concerns together, David Saling exhibited a intriguing wall piece installed in the gallery, entitled “Seven Eleven Sandwich Bags with Massage Tool”. One was able to wander quizzically through the intimacy of various hand drawn images, rendered dramatically on a collection of white paper bags from the Seven Eleven stores. Using a modular format (the Seven Eleven paper bags) for continuity, the work was accessible, attractive, visually comfortable to peruse while at the same time disturbing and privately autobiographical.
Seven Eleven Sandwich Bags with Massage Tool
Detail: Seven Eleven Sandwich Bags with Massage Tool
Detail: Seven Eleven Sandwich Bags with Massage Tool
And of course, there was video done in the genre of the 1970s. Somewhat reminiscent of Bill Viola is Robert Orser’s poignant video installation, “The Mouthpiece”. The colors, the plasma screen framing (nice touch), the silk covered walls, the sounds and the audio orchestration were a compliment to the show as a whole, providing an almost soothing and beckoning tone to the space. Upon further inspection, the video piece stands unfalteringly on its’ own as a quietly provocative commentary on the current political climate.
Collectively, the artwork was worthy of an exhibit of master's grade caliber. The School of Art's graduate students have each found a voice and are actively talking to us on a personal level. If nothing else, and particularly in these times, that attribute alone fulfills the specific function of art in the current culture.
In the mid 1970s, if I remember correctly, Tucson was a unique little place of semi isolation, of dreams and perhaps a pleasant, even magical refuge from the real world. At present, I am happy to observe that the city seems to be evolving, growing up and wearing a slightly more sophisticated set of duds. A fine place to see, experience and make art, methinks.
Remember these names, this artwork and follow it forward. Art in the 21st century stands to benefit from these intelligent thinkers and the resulting inspired manifestations.
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