I’m always pondering religion and how it affects my work, because in so much of what I do there are a lot of blatant religious references. I think my POP GOES THE BIBLE show asked as many questions as it answered for me personally. I’m upstate for a few days visiting the family for Easter. I went to Catholic school for grades K-5, it sucked, I hated every second of it and couldn’t wait to get to public school, which as it turns out wasn’t much better, but I digress. So it’s Easter and my Mother (who at 84 has far more energy than I) is doing Easter things, and she put together little Easter baskets for the anticipated dinner guests, which in itself is very sweet and suddenly I had an artistic epiphany!!!
Take one part Of This and add one part of this…
…And you end up with this…
Everything seemed very clear and a lot of what I do in my work suddenly became more clear in my head. As I looked at all the shiny candies wrapped in bright, colored foil paper I was taken with how much they all looked like my paintings, and mixed with the images of Christ on a cross that were drilled into my head by vicious, frustrated Nuns and Priests all through my earlier years, it hit me why I am so comfortably able to meld together religion into art! I figured out how I got from there to here!!! I still don’t know what all this candy has to do with Christ dying, that will perplex me forever. But at least a few questions have been answered today.
This may not seem like a big deal to anyone reading this but for me it was a staggering revelation (no pun intended). These thoughts have plagued me over and over and have for years. But today, on Holy Saturday, I had my own religious and artistic awakening. My beliefs, or lack of, or confusions about religion aren’t any clearer, but why they figure into my work so prominently do. The horror of of the bible stories mixed with shiny candy=markdemaio.com! WOW….I wish I were eloquent enough to really put into words what I’m trying to say here but I hope you’re able to get what I’m driving at. So kids, I wish you a Happy Easter, or Passover, whatever you celebrate, if anything at all.
Went to the Cindy Sherman show yesterday at MoMA and it is brilliant. First of all MoMA has done another amazing job of staging a massive amount of work by one of the most creative and prolific photographers of our time. This is a huge show spanning several galleries on the 6th floor of the museum and everything from the flow of the work to the choices of wall color in the different galleries is exceptional, and as much as the museum shines, it’s the work that staggers the imagination.
If you’re not familiar with Cindy Sherman’s work you will be pleasantly surprised to discover a new artist to admire, and if you are familiar with her work then this show will be a real treat for you. The crux of Sherman’s work is her ability to chronicle the lives of women from ALL walks of life using herself as the model. In the late 1970’s she became famous for a series of black and white photos that were made to look like movie stills. They spanned the gamut from film noir, to musicals, campy 60’s cinema, high art and bad dramas. Although no specific film is recreated the series of 70+ photographs are so perfectly created that you would thing you’ve seen these movies (which don’t exist).
From Sherman’s work in the 80’s, the most powerful grouping is her Centerfold series. A collection of disturbing images created to look like the worst of the 70’s and 80’s “men’s magazines’. There is no nudity in these photographs and yet they convey a creepiness and exploitation of young women so dramatically that the use of nudity might have made the images less shocking. The fact that Sherman ONLY uses herself as the model for ALL her work is astonishing, but her ability to transform into all of these different women is simply mind blowing, and her attention to detail in creating these works is genius.
There is too much work for me to really mention in detail but the show closes with her collection of Society Women. Here Sherman poses herself as women of means and a certain affluence, degenerating women who refuse to let go of youth that escaped them decades ago. The suggestion of horrible plastic surgery, over done botox treatments and opulent clothing bordering on comical, coupled with a chilling sense of entitlement and arrogance is picture perfect (no pun intended). When we were there yesterday afternoon the museum was filled with these women and I can not imagine what was going through their heads as they looked at these photographs that so expertly captured their own lives, that some F’d up shit! What makes all the work so great is Sherman’s gift of being able to capture the humor and horror of any situation, and treat both with equal respect.
This is one of the best shows I’ve seen in a very long time, staged on such a large scale. Cindy Sherman is a brilliant artist, thankfully she is still working and turning out amazing work as a gift to us all. Please take the time to get to MoMA and witness this for yourself.
Well Kids, I finished two more of the black and white ink drawings. These detailed drawings are driving me insane! I have a perpetual headache from staring at the paper so closely and doing these tiny little drawings, to create one big piece! There are two new ones here, the first is called ” MORE SPRINKLES, PLEASE” and the second one is ’ MY HEART IS FULL”. I hope you like them…as always please feel free to leave me comments on the blog!
“MORE SPRINKLES, PLEASE”
“MY HEART IS FULL”
I’ve taken a break from painting and I’ve been drawing a lot and having a bit of fun with it. This is the first “real” drawing I’ve done in a while, it’s called THE JESTER’S RAT KING! It’s filled with countless faces and has to be looked at from all four sides to actually see how many faces, eyes, noses and mouths are in the pieces, as well as a few scattered words and numbers.
The Jester’s Rat King, 2012 Ink on Paper 24x18”
I was so proud to again be asked by Trail Blazers Executive Director Riel Peerbooms, to donate some work for this years art auction to benefit Trail Blazers Camps (trailblazers.org). This is an amazing organization; they do wonderful work with kids and deserve all the help and assistance they can get, and by the turn out at tonights event at The Recess Gallery in SoHo, hundreds of people agree! The gallery was packed with artists and art lovers and it looked like a lot of the work was purchased…how great!
Executive Director Riel Peerbooms and Mark DeMaio, Trail Blazers Art Auction.
This was a great night and it was just so much fun, there were so many amazing artists and photographers who generously donated their work that you couldn’t help but feel good. I attended the show with my publicist Geffrey Yabes of GSY Media. Geff is the one who hooked me up with these great folks a couple of years ago and I couldn’t be happier to be able to help, and would be honored to do so in years to come. I’m donating a couple of paintings but these people really give of themselves, their lives and their time. It’s very nobel work, so Bravo to all involved.
My crazy publicist Geffrey Yabes of GSY Media in front God And Adam
The lovely Tiffany of Trail Blazers.
I let Riel have his choice of work to show and he chose God And Adam, from the Pop Goes The Bible series and he also chose the portrait of Oscar Wilde from my new works, The Writers Series. Wise choices on his part as both pieces sold for the full asking price, I was so excited, it’s always great to sell work but it’s even more so when the money is going to such a good cause. If it can’t go to my first favorite charity (me) at least it’s going somewhere totally worthwhile. We pulled up at the gallery and were surprised to see Oscar Wilde in the front window, and it looked great if I say so myself.
Oscar Wilde in the front window of The Recess Gallery.
Once we cut through the crowd and said our hello’s to the TB people and got a drink, we started to make our way through the show. One of the highlights of the night for me was finding out that body paint artist, Danny Setiawan (denart.com) had painted my painting of Oscar Wilde on the beautiful model Amanda Alston, he did an amazing job and she looked just incredible.
Amanda Alston wearing my Oscar Wilde via artist Danny Steiawan.
Amanda Alston, Mark DeMaio and Oscar Wilde.
I really had a brilliant time and I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Dorian Warren of Columbia University who purchased the Wilde painting. He and his really, really charming girlfriend (whose name I forgot…please forgive me) love the painting and bought without hesitation. These are two really lovely, and generous people and I could not be happier that OW is going home with them.
Mark DeMaio, OW with his new owners Dorian Warren and his lovely companion.
I also know who bought God And Adam, but I am reluctant to say without his permission. If he doesn’t mind my saying so, I will amend this tomorrow. So kids, big fun was had by all, hopefully a lot of money was raised for Trail Blazers, and some great people went home with some wonderful art. Just another night in New York City!
If you would like to make a donation to Trail Blazers please go to trailblazers.org and read all about them and the great work they do, and if you can, send them a few dollars, they will be eternally grateful. Until next time…
Two years ago after I completed the ABSURD NOTIONS show I went through a bit of an artistic meltdown, I couldn’t concentrate, I was at a loss for ideas and I was really floundering. After trying countless ideas, including painting fruit (back to basics) mixing kitty litter into the gesso, mixing spray paint and oils and acrylics on canvas, and on and on, all with mixed results I recognized the religious theme of all my work and POP GOES THE BIBLE came barreling out. All the while I was working on those paintings there was a fear in the back of my mind. Was this going to happen again once the show was up, was I going to suffer the after show crash again?
I was spared the agony this time around and I jumped right into designing and silk-screening my annual Christmas Cards, once they were done and mailed I had the brilliant idea that I was going to work in encaustics. Well, that was a double-edged sword. I learned a great deal (which is always great) about working in pigment tinted wax, I jumped in head first, took a class, invested in all the materials to work in wax and all I got out of it was one really good painting…which I gave away. The one thing I really learned about encaustics is that it is the most horrible (IMHO) medium of all time. It’s a HUGE pain in the ass to work with, it’s fantastically messy and the results aren’t all that rewarding.
This brings me to the WRITERS SERIES of paintings. I love writers, I wish I could write, really write (hence this blog). I envy those who can sit and churn out poems, novels or plays, I think it is one of the greatest gifts someone can have. I decided I wanted to pay tribute in my own humble way to some of my favorites. Sadly 99% of them are dead so I couldn’t have them pose for me, so I had to rely on photographs. I was lucky enough to have an emerging talent, my friend Eric, a playwright pose for me—so having the luxury of a living and talented writer available, I painted him twice. The way these work is quite complicated and VERY time consuming; I am taking a writers work, in book or play form and deconstructing them (gently tearing them apart) and adhering them to a canvas with an acrylic gel medium, coating the pages several times until a smooth surface is created, and the pages become one again. I am then painting the portraits over the author’s own work, ultimately achieving an homage to the writer.
“EB…Lost In Words” 36x36” Oil/acrylics,paper,canvas
“VW…A Sheep In Woolf’s Clothing” 36x36” Oil/acrylics,paper,canvas
“JG…Querelle, Enough Said” 36x36” Oil/acrylics,paper,canvas
“AG…Read The Letters” 36x36” Oil/acrylics,paper,canvas
“EB…The Writers Submission” 30x40” Oil/acrylics,paper,canvas
“WB…Junkie Melting” 36x36” Oil/acrylics,paper,canvas
“EAP…The Dripping House Of Usher” 36x48” Oil/acrylics,paper,canvas
“OW…WILD” 36x36” Oil/acrylics,paper,canvas
So, these are the first eight. I’m working on Patti Smith and Sylvia Plath now and more to comeI hope you like them and if you do not that’s great too. Let me know because I love feedback and comments. There is a comment button on the upper right hand page here to leave thoughts and comments and I beg you to please do so! Thanks for reading this and for looking at the paintings…we’ll talk soon.
Saturday March 10th was Beat Nite as ten different spaces throughout Brooklyn transformed into pop-up galleries from 6-10PM. A one night only event, and a pretty cool idea. I was fortunate to be asked to show a piece at COJO Art Space. An artist himself, CoJo (artsucks.com) generously converted his live/work space into a gallery and curated the Ridgewood section of the show, and he did an amazing job. It’s hard enough to straighten out your place when you’re having people over, but to do it when you’re hosting a couple hundred people is another task altogether…Bravo CoJo!!!
Mark DeMaio and CoJo at the show in front of my piece “Drawings Of Paintings”
The event was a great success, the turnout was pretty amazing with a lot of fun, kooky artists and art lovers coming out to support the night. What more can you ask for? The theme of this portion of the night was mainly line art and photography, and there was some really wonderful work being shown, in all mediums. It was an impressive collection and I have to be honest, it was hung as thoughtfully and professionally as any “legit” gallery. I took some pictures to share with everyone. Like I said, all of the work was great but these are a few pieces that really caught my eye.
Ray Fiero “Untitled Portrait” 2011 Charcoal/acrylic thread 23x36”
Cojo “Art Juggernaut” “(S)ea” 2011 acrylic on canvas 36x 97”
GiGi Chen :The Clean Bee” 2010 Oil/colored pencil on wood panel
There are so many talented artists working here in the city, and we’re all so wrapped up in our own thing that it’s nice to be able to not only be in a group show but to get a chance to meet new and interesting artists. It was big fun being a part of this. Like I said there were so many talented people showing. Im listing all of their sites, so when you get a chance please take a look at their work and PLEASE leave some comment here on The Aestheticist!
Like I said in the “first post” of this thing, my reason for doing a blog is to have the freedom to show and say anything I want, and have the luxury of featuring friends. Well this is the first “real” post about someone, a friend, a fascinating man, and a really gifted artist…really gifted!!
“The Other Side” ©2012 Michael Alan
MIchael Alan’s work is unique on many levels. When you look at a piece done by him, it’s abundantly clear that you are looking at work by Michael Alan. There is no mistaking it for anyone else’s. Much like when you see an Andy Warhol, you know who did it, same with Picasso or even Jackson Pollock, it’s the same thing with Michael’s work. It doesn’t need to be signed, the work itself is the signature.
“I Am God” ©2012 Michael Alan
The controlled chaos of Michael’s painting is what makes it so engaging to look at. On a first viewing the lines and color and collage elements may seem scattered and random, but on closer inspection you can see that every line, every spot of color, it’s all very deliberate. I can tell you as an artist myself, there is no greater feat than making something seem spontaneous, especially if you’ve been working on it for six months. Michael manages this with the skill of a master magician.
“Barnacles” ©2012 Michael Alan
Michael’s art isn’t confined to 2D work. He is also very well known for his mesmerizing performances “The Living Installation”. These performance pieces involve the artist creating living art out of models by installing vast mixed materials onto them, and turning the living into living art. It is almost like tripping watching this process. The shows are carefully orchestrated and Alan oversees every detail with laser like focus, from the music the the construction and eventual deconstruction of the work, it’s masterful and impressive to say the least. The Living Installation is on a temporary hiatus due to other artistic commitments but please check michaelalanart.com frequently for the eventual announcement of the next one. Also check back here, I’ll be making you all aware as well!
Like I said earlier, Michael is a friend, and a constant inspiration to me. Please make yourself familiar with his work, you’ll thank me.
Update!! Michael is actually doing a couple of really interesting events and as promised, here is the info!
Proud to announce with Gasser Grunert Gallery:
Solo Booth for the VIP Art Fair
8 featured works and potential Live Feed for the Living Installation
April 21, 2012
Dinner Party for 2-Special Event!
Saturday March 31st | 8PM
My Studio, Chinatown
Check michaelalanart.com for all the details!!!
p.s. I know it was selfless of me to write about someone other than myself first but this seemed fitting, warranted and well deserved!!!
If you’ve decided to read this you might be thinking to yourself, what the hell is this all about, is this guy really so self involved that he thinks people want to read whatever it is has to say? The answer is obviously, YES. But what am I going to say, well I’ll tell you. I have a lot of friends in the arts which isn’t a surprise to anyone, and as a working artist myself, i am exposed to a lot of creativity in many forms. I attend plays written or directed or acted by friends and acquaintances. I go to many art openings, some just to check out what’s getting shown in the galleries and others specifically because an artist or photographer friend is showing. I go to live music events featuring friends (or a relative, but he doesn’t need my help! LOL) or sometimes it’s just a concert by someone famous. I have an opinion on all of these things and I want to make them known. Maybe for no other reason than trying to bring a little more exposure for myself and my friends. I also really want too be able to share my thoughts on something if I think it’s great and more importantly I really want a platform to call out shit if I think something is shit, and thatsthe real fun of something like this. So thats the basic idea behind it all. I should let you all know that I am very wise and nosey and I love to dole out advice so if you’ve got a question about anything at all and need someone to talk to and hope they offer you the advice and wisdom that comes with a lifetime of success and failure, ask away!!!