Monday, November 30, 2009

it's been awhile, sorry friends, and dana dart-mclean

Heart Stickers 2009
oil on canvas
26x 20”

Violet 2009
(Illustration from book, Catalogue of Variable Essences by Ashby Collinson and Dana Dart-McLean)
graphite and ink on paper
8”x 11”

So, I saw your work for the first time recently, @ the Vaguely Paperly show here in Chicago. I was immediately drawn to them for a few reasons, but the prime reason being that in "As Moving Mental Blocks" has the word "asmoving" right down the side, that fucking baffled me (in the good sort of way), as did the monstrous gauge of your signature which is far less important.

Anyhow, let's start by talking a bit about your text elements. They're mysterious. They force the viewer to investigate your image further since there is no immediate, obvious connection. There is also the way of linking the words together via their first/last letters that forms this sort of word play or line of association. Or these vague messages like " I Am Okay". Mysterious. Can you tell us about the text components to your work?

I’m into using text for several reasons.Sometimes, I bring in text because the uniformity and clarity of language seems funny combined with the obscure style of my visual rendering. A lot of drawing for me is about the process of failing to accurately render. In words “a” is always “a,” but pictorially what is dice and what is moon? The clarity of the language form is easier to cross-reference.

Text flattens and sits on the surface of paintings, making everything else appear behind it. I wonder if that is a pervasive relationship between langauge and experience. I know I am constantly being tripped up by trying to follow written instructions despite their imperfect accuracy. Just yesterday I was in a bathroom in a bar and there was a sign on the inside of the door that said, “Turn up for Lock. Turn down for Unlock.” The lock was just a button on the doorknob and could only be pushed in. I stared at it for a long time trying to reconcile the words with the visual.
In “As Moving Mental Blocks Beautiful Possible,” I tried to frame the picture with words that both are and contradict a picture. Removing spaces between words or forcing words around corners shows the words divorced from meaning but as a visual element. Signatures are tricky. I ended up painting over those big signatures.

Raymond Chandler 2006
Ink, gouache and graphite on paper
24x 20 inches

I like the idea of you taking on the role of "false interior designer". This is an interesting idea, to make work from the vantage point of an unreal character or something your are not. It also seems funny to me that in a world you completely control, you have decided to assume a role that is pretty uncommon for people to fantasize about. Like using wish on something totally obtainable.

I also wonder, how does this role change your approach to a piece? Do you have rules for yourself that you normally wouldn't or a different way of thinking about spaces?

Not sure exactly why I am drawn to taking on a role like false interior designer. In my fetishizing of the role, an interior designer clarifies how we mediate private and public space by deciding what is right for a private space now. Decisions like, “Where should this vase go?” symbolize contemporary aesthetics scaled to comfort or convention, talking about class and taste but also about domestic life and love (as motives for materializing comfort). I painted the first interior designer piece in 2003; a small painting showing the lobby of a nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. The levels of concentrated effort and decision that went into making that reactor (and it’s famous malfunction) seemed interesting made into a metaphor about object placement, a picture of a lobby with bouquets and paintings. I wanted to look at uses of energy, on the chemical level of nuclear reaction to create electricity, a political level dealing with the debate on nuclear armament and nuclear power, the social level of energy of lives devoted to occupations and dividing personal and professional spaces, and my own energy as a younger person, thinking about assuming a role of “artist.” I wonder if much of that comes across in the painting.

Tree 2008
acrylic, ink, gouache on paper

Thought Police 2008
Collage, ink, acrylic, gouache, and graphite on paper
50” x 32”

Memory is another important element of you work. You mention that the works are an extension of memory syntax study, with you as the model. Could you elaborate on that some?

My relationship to memory in my work is developing slowly. One reason I’m interested in memory is the psychological narrative of emotion draining from events as time passes. Like something profoundly emotional or traumatic becoming normalized in memory over time. What is left? Imagery and association, clues that add to a picture or story but with parts left out or new parts added. That sounds like a not very sexy description of surrealism. I do love Magritte.

Red 2009
(Illustration from book, Catalogue of Variable Essences by Ashby Collinson and Dana Dart-McLean)
graphite and ink on paper
8”x 11”

How do approach a blank surface? Where does your palette come from? How would you describe your drawing style? Where did it come from?

I start with source imagery or phrases. When I’m working, I look at source images and try to record the experience of looking at source material, maybe as an exercise in trying to generate an emotional memory. Blank surfaces are very pleasing. I always try to work back to how nice the blank surface was, with mixed results. My palette is all over the place. I really need to get it under control. I use a lot of blue because the medieval illuminated manuscript artists did. My drawing style is intimate and poor. I’ve never been very good at drawing so my drawings are about following that into something that might be good, using the activity as a way of seeing. Looking for lines.

Decorator’s Proposal for Interior of LOBBY 2001
Acrylic on paper
8.5 x 11 inches

Can you tell me about your recent medium shift? You are starting to paint. What is prompting this change? How do you think oils will effect/enhance these ideas you are working with?

Yes, I am starting to paint with oils. The diagrammatic and illustrative qualities in my work are well suited to more flat painting mediums and drawings but there is something I’d like to get across that requires a heavier medium. Oil paint on canvas has a specific history and body that make it heavy-- enables a more aggressive intimacy. I’m starting a series of oil paintings about screen depth—the illusion of depth images convey on TV, movie, and computer screen.

Calvin 2009
Ink, gouache and graphite on paper
23 x 27 inches

I am Pattern, You are Chance, 2007
Ink, gouache, acrylic and graphite on paper
19.5 x 23 inches

What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? What is giving you inspiration to create?

Too many things! Artists who live in Portland like Storm Tharp, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Susan Ploetz, Chris Johanson, and Jo Jackson. My boyfriend’s band, Dragging an Ox through Water, practicing next door. The way he combines song and noise gives me ideas about figuration and abstraction. I am working on several paintings illustrating a book my friend, Ashby Collinson wrote. It’s sort of a color theory narrative in list form. She wrote it in response to some collages I made, so the collaborative process has been fun and interesting. Publication Studio, a non-demand publishing venture that also hosts events to support a growing conversation between books and their readers, prints the book. I’m participating in Ashby’s business endeavor, Interested Party. I’m fabricating some paper dumb bells for her.

Wall Clock, 2007
Ink, gouache, acrylic and graphite on paper
101 x 103 inches

7.Say if it was like 100 years from now, and you are an art historian, how would you classify your work? What movement were you a part of?

New Wave of Northwest Hardcore

Vacation, Hag, the Bird, Birds, 2007
Ink, gouache and graphite on paper
23 x 27 inches

Where do you want you work to go? Do you have an idea or visualization of what kinds of things of want to be doing or making down the road?

I’m working on that series of oil paintings and I’m going to keep making works on paper. I want to work with names. I made a painting on paper with the name, “Calvin.” Maybe through names I can figure out signatures as arbitrators of authenticity. I like using names as a fan’s invocation—distancing and drawing near.

Now Against Before, Now With After (2006)

Acrylic, gouache and ink on paper 
56 x 75 in.

Any exciting endeavors in the near future?

Moving into a new studio and going to the Oregon coast for a day.

Haters Drift, Lovers Stay 2006
Ink, gouache and graphite on paper
23x 30 inches

I always ask this and people rarely have one, but I will continue to try.... do you have a really good story to share? Something crazy you saw?

Alright this story doesn’t beat a demon sighting but maybe is interesting? So, 2 years ago I was out singing kareoke with some friends .My friend Megan put in “when I see you smile,” by Bad English. Before she went on stage to sing, she told me that whenever she kareokes this song disasterous things happen. Last time she sang it a guy had a heart attack in the bar and had to be rushed to the hospital. The time before a huge bar fight broke out in the middle of the song. So she sang the song -- very theatrical and great. Later, my boyfriend, Brian, and I went home and about an hour after we fell asleep we were shocked awake by a huge crash. We rushed out side and the entire street is illuminated by red and blue cop lights and there are like 7 cop cars and 20 cops surrounding this dude in the middle of the street. He’s lying on his face in the middle of the road and they all have their guns pointed at him. One of them comes over to us and is like, get the hell out of here. We’re like what’s going on here? The cop tells us the man lying in the middle of the road led the cops on a drunken 40 block car chase until they finally bumped his car into a parked car in front of our house. The parked car they bumped the drunk into is Brian’s car and it’s completely totalled. No one was hurt and nothing was damaged except for his car. He got the city to reimburse him but it took like 6 months. When I told Megan about it she was completely nonplussed, like yeah, I told you fucked up shit always happens when I sing that Bad English song.

Love Rocks 2006
Ink, gouache, and acrylic on paper
7x15 inches

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