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An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

 
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Three original works of art by Scott Greene:

c. Scott Greene

Fodderland

c. Scott Greene

Exhaust

c. Scott Greene

Head Long

c. Scott Greene

Channel Babel

An update on Romanticism

—Keiko Ohnuma, Signpost 

For his Albuquerque artistic debut, Scott Greene has worked more than six months on a large painting of an Old World sailing ship being battered by a stormy sea (as they tend to be pictured), its decks littered with junk and… garden flowers. In fact, the ship appears to be made entirely of the white criss-cross garden fencing that spells suburbia, its foliage dancing cheerfully over the waves.

The sheer size and realism of “Ship Shape“ is likely to stop people in their tracks at the “Albuquerque Now” exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum, and suggest why Greene has not been (as he delicately puts it) “a good fit” for New Mexico. His painstakingly executed, undeniably bizarre renditions of typical Romantic genres—stormy seas, pastoral scenes, impressionistic landscapes—come loaded with complex imagery and wink-wink art-historical references that most people are just not going to get.

It’s not that the artist is trying to be obscure. “I do want people to be engaged in the work, to make people stop and think about things—the environment, politics,” he says earnestly. But Greene’s way of moving people has always been just this: to construct a fantastic illusion seeded with winks that play against its stereotyped reality.

Greene says he actually fights this tendency in himself, to be a painter who cannot “just paint a tree” without making references to all the ways that painters have depicted trees in the past, and what they meant by it. “But there are a lot of voices in my head,” he grins. “And I have to be true to them.”

Easily misunderstood as cynical pastiche, an art-historical mash-up that draws mustaches on the Mona Lisa, Greene protests that his work is completely sincere. In fact, the sheer effort and technique that go into it suggest that he is not just making a reference to an historical painting style, but actually inhabiting it. Maybe that’s because he believes in it—or wants to.

Raised in Denver, he grew up fascinated by art and went straight to the California College of Arts and Crafts, completing his BFA in painting at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1981. Both schools struck him as disappointing, however, for their traditional focus on technique in drawing and painting.

Greene wanted to do something more “contemporary.” At the time, he was making images of cars, trucks, and tires, part of the daily landscape of living in California—but in a dreamy impressionistic style suggestive of Monet’s lily pond. He credits the 1982 movie “Koyaanisqatsi“ with setting the tone: “There was something about that idea that I felt like I needed to express—life speeding by, things wearing down.”

Greene continued painting cars for nearly a decade, as he and his wife moved to New Mexico in 1989, settled into a converted winery in historic downtown Bernalillo, and he earned an MFA at the University of New Mexico in 1994.

It was the art history classes at UNM that influenced his next direction. “I found the structure under all that work I had been doing unconsciously,” he says of his car paintings. “I wasn’t (consciously) looking to Leonardo, but he was (also) painting atmosphere. What he did is still revolutionary.”

Awakened to the historical connections between style and impact, Greene discovered in his constitution what he calls the “sickness” of nineteenth-century Romanticism, and applied it to the world around him. In his hands, a pastoral scene of sheep grazing by a river might include fifty-five-gallon drums of radioactive waste or burning tires. His thesis painting “Exhaust,“ gargantuan at eleven by sixteen feet, references Theodor Gericault’s instantly recognizable “Raft of the Medusa,“ but with the unfortunates clinging to a sinking semi truck cab spilling household goods and consumer waste.

Romanticism, in other words, becomes contemporary again with Greene—not as a wry postmodern reference, but as an aesthetic and political position that declares itself as current and fresh. Romanticism’s revolt against the scientific rationalism of the Industrial Age, in favor of emotional extremes, the fantastic, and the sublimity of nature “fly in the face of the avant-garde—the newest thing,” Greene says with a touch of contempt.

He has never been drawn to abstraction, in fact, favoring a realistic painting style precisely because he believes in the power and promise of illusion—while also apparently unable to exclude from this dream the sad objects and tattered hopes of consumer society. “It’s the idea of making the best of what’s still around,” he says.

Another thematic development came the year he spent in the Roswell Artist in Residency program in 1996. That’s when satellite dishes began popping up everywhere in his paintings, because “it struck me as a traditional subject, like an ear in the landscape.” After seeing a few of these paintings, I promise you will start to puzzle over the satellite dishes in our landscape, too.

The oil baron who funds the Roswell residency, Don Anderson, helped put Greene on the map when he purchased “Exhaust“ that year and hung it prominently in his Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art. Greene has since had multiple solo shows, mostly in the San Francisco area, where he is represented by perhaps the city’s most respected gallery for contemporary art, Catherine Clark. He has been on the cover of New American Painting, was featured in Harper’s magazine, and has appeared five times in ArtWeek.

In New Mexico, though, Greene remains a relative unknown. He and his wife Ann, also a painter, operate a printmaking business called Hirsh Greene Press that specializes in intaglio and relief printing of fine art. The industrial-size equipment dominates the main area of their barn-like home.

Greene acknowledges that moving to New Mexico (because land was affordable here) somewhat determined his artistic obscurity. But he can’t separate that from what this place has contributed: “Roswell, the big studio, my wife having a nice garden,” and a rural place to raise their eleven-year-old daughter.

In a place like New Mexico, a painter can spend six months painting a huge canvas using tiny brushes, adding painstaking detail to an elaborate fantasy, just for the grandness of the vision, the sheer defiance of practicality. A committed Romantic, Greene admits his is “a pretty stressful way to live,” but he clearly believes in the validity—which his life here has done nothing to contradict—of paying tribute to a force greater than money or science: the sublime.


Evgeni Bozhanov

Placitas Artists Series welcomes Evgeni Bozhanov

On Sunday, February 14, 2010, The Placitas Artists Series proudly presents Evgeni Bozhanov, Finalist in the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, 2009.

Evgeni Bozhanov was born in Rousse, Bulgaria, and made his orchestral debut with his hometown orchestra at age twelve. Currently pursuing post-graduate studies at the Robert Schumann Musikhochschule in Duesseldorf, Germany, he earned top prizes at both the 2008 Casagrande (Terni, Italy), and Sviatoslav Richter (Moscow, Russia) competitions. He was the first-prize winner at the Carl Beckstein Competition in 2006, and has performed in several major concert halls in Germany and looks forward to a tour of Italian cities.

This past June, at age 25, he was selected as a finalist in the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, winning the Steven De Groote Memorial Award for the Best Performances of Chamber Music.

"Evgeni Bozhanov...is the most compelling musical personality I've heard in the 3 ½ Cliburns I've covered. He can produce more nuances of tone in a measure of music than most pianists find in a lifetime, but everything seems so organic," writes Scott Cantrell of the Dallas Morning News.

   The concert is generously sponsored by Rondi & Duane Thornton and The National Philanthropic Trust. Preceding the concert, a reception will be held for February exhibiting visual artists Karl and Mary Hofmann, Pam Neas, Rachel Nelson, and Katherine Christie Wilson.

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. on February 14, 2010, at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church; the artists’ reception begins at 2:00. Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concert, or may be purchased in advance at La Bonne Vie Salon and Day Spa in Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas, Ah! Capelli Salon & Color Studio in Enchanted Hills Plaza, Rio Rancho or on-line at www.PlacitasArts.org. Prices are $18 for general admission and $15 for seniors and students.

This project is made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The facility is completely accessible, and free child care is provided for families with children under six. Las Placitas Presbyterian Church is located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242.) For more information call 867-8080.


February 2010 —El Rinconcito español

No hay corazón más negro que el que no sabe agradecer.
There’s no heart so black as an ungrateful one.

Honra y provecho no caben en un mismo saco.
Honor and profit don’t fit in the same bag.

Humano es el errar, divino el perdonar.
To err is human, to forgive, divine. 

Submitted by www.sospanyol.com, Placitas—Spanish instruction that focuses on oral communication skills.


Signpost cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert


Placitas Artist Series

On Sunday, February 14, 2010, The Placitas Artists Series will present the art of Karl & Mary Hofmann, Pam Neas, Rachel Nelson, and Katherine Christie Wilson with a reception at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church.  The works will be on display from the first Saturday of the month of February through the first Friday of the following month.

Karl and Mary Hofmann, who have lived in Placitas for 30 years, are both widely traveled and bring many influences to their pottery, including the Southwest. The Hoffmanns met while studying at Michigan State University. Karl later continued his studies at Columbia University, then earned an MFA in ceramics and sculpture from Ohio State. Recently retired from Sandia Prep, where he was chairman of the Art Department, Karl has given workshops and served as a juror and participant in juried shows throughout the country. For her part, Mary received an MA in painting and art history from Michigan. Her work has been exhibited by the National Serigraph Society.

Pam Neas uses inks, water color, mica and pure pigments to paint with sense memory and from emotional responses triggered by the beauty that is the Land of Enchantment.  She is inspired by our beautiful place, the Chama River, Wheeler Peak, Santa Fe, El Morro, the Navajo Reservation, Ramah. “We are blessed with the color of our light and the fragrance on our winds,” said Neas. “I paint, reminded of where we are and grateful to be here.”

Rachel Nelson was first introduced to the magic of watercolor by a neighbor, who was a professional artist, in her hometown of Alliance, Ohio.  She earned a BA in studio art from Principia College, and continued her watercolor  training with painting trips and workshops.  Since moving to New Mexico in l974, she has been active in the NM Watercolor Society, the NM Arts and Crafts Fair, Weems Artfest, and as an elementary school art volunteer. Although a "purist" in that she uses only transparent watercolors, she chooses a non-traditional surface to paint on. By painting on non-absorbent paper, the watercolor stays on the surface where it can be pushed around to create movement and texture.

Katherine Christie Wilson’s tile designs can be seen in fine homes and business establishments from Philadelphia and New York to Maine. She has produced silk scarves as well as paintings and silkscreen prints. Having recently moved to New Mexico she is returning to her first loves, oil and watercolor painting. She particularly enjoys working “plein air” whenever possible.  She is thrilled to have landed in the midst of a vibrant art community.

A reception for the artists will be held at 2:00 p.m. on February 14, 2010, prior to a concert by Evgeni Bozhanov.  Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concert, or may be purchased in advance at La Bonne Vie Salon and Day Spa in Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas, Ah! Capelli Salon & Color Studio in Enchanted Hills Plaza, Rio Rancho, or on-line at www.PlacitasArts.org. Prices are $18 for general admission and $15 for seniors and students.

This project is made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The facility is completely accessible. Las Placitas Presbyterian Church is located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242.) For more information call 867-8080 or visit www.PlacitasArts.org.


Trader Joe's

Wooden Cow Gallery and Art Space welcomes back a favorite in “The Artists of Trader Joe’s Version 2.0”

From February 3 through February 27, the Wooden Cow Gallery and Art Space will welcome back one of the most popular shows of 2009. The Artists of Trader Joe’s Version 2.0 brings back the talented and largely unknown group of people working at Albuquerque’s Trader Joe‘s Supermarkets. All of the fifteen featured artists work at the Trader Joe’s stores as bag people, cashiers, meat cutters, or deli servers, in addition to creating some of the most beautiful and intriguing art we have seen! They create art in a variety of media, ranging from painting to sculpture, blown glass to decorative gourds. We proudly once again bring you the talent that hides in one of our local retail outlets.

A gala reception and party will kick off the show on Friday, February 5 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Food, drink, and entertainment will be provided.

The Wooden Cow Gallery and Art Space is located at 7400 Montgomery Boulevard in Albuquerque within the Mossman Center. The Wooden Cow is one of the fastest-growing galleries in the area, featuring up to fifty New Mexico artists producing cutting-edge art in a wide variety of formats and thematics. There are also a large number of classes available at The Wooden Cow wherein students can learn directly from teaching artists how they develop and produce their art. For more information, please contact the gallery at (505) 999-1280 or visit their website at thewoodencow.com.


Miss You

–Bhaskar Mitra

Silence slumbers in its futile sleep,
And the rest of the world sleeps with it, too;
But I can’t close my eyes, my Angel,
Because I lie so far away from you.

I close my eyes and there you are,
But when I open my eyes, you elude them;
Come to me, my image sweet, why do you,
With my eyes, play such a cruel game?

When I am well you run away, always;
Come now at least to my side.
Promise, I shall be a nice boy,
And to all your rules shall abide.

Touch you not, bug you never,
Just witness your divine smiles of joy;
You be the princess in the palanquin,
I’ll be the admiring roadside beggar boy.

Your voice is all that I get to hear nowadays,
The reasons of which I very well know;
But a hundred reasons shall always be there
To stop us both from together old to grow.

Smile one time, then again, and then one more time;
Laugh out loud; and forever shine like a brilliant star;
Because you are the only dream that my eyes can see,
Wherever I may be, and wherever you are.


It‘s strange to be a human

Your toenails grow, your hair falls out
Your sometimes thin, more often stout
Your life outside is prone to ruin
Your arms get tired from too much doing.

It‘s hard to be a human.

Your palms get damp, your eyes mist up
Your brain shuts down from too much ‘stuff’
Your heart is chilled from love that‘s leaving
Your head is hot from too much screaming.

Sometimes there’s joy but not enough
How can we live when life’s so rough
I guess we humans know our fate
Just pucker up and smile—relate
Our time so short for this much grief
At least for now there’s some relief.

The knees get knocking, the mouth gets dry
There is no point but still we try
The void is there—there’s no escape
We chant and pray and meditate
We hope/despair with points between
We love, we lose, we fall and keen
We can’t get by or through or up
We search, we hang, and come up stumped

Where is this place we all should be?
What is the road , the path, the key?
And who can help us find this haven
What is it out there we are craving?

It’s said by those who know this stuff
The answer lies inside—enough
That we ourselves are all we need
That letting all this go can lead
To peace of mind, unending bliss
And after that, friends say, comes p—

I suppose when all that‘s been has gone
We need this crap to carry on
To find the friend to help us through
Let‘s face each other… me and you

We humans need to stick together
The future’s shaky just like the weather
Our skin is thin, our hands too small
To hold the weight of sorrow‘s fall
And so it is each day that passes
Our ears get dim, our eyes need glasses

This pause called life in all its glory
Is just the beginning of the story
Like most good tales the best is last
A point we’ve all already passed

A mystery still for those who care
And pointless chaos for those who dare
To think that life is just a taste
Of all the times we’ve had to waste

And with the passing of each day
We see our minds and teeth decay
Our skin dries up, our bones get brittle
What seemed so huge… now lays so little

And all those thoughts… we had our say
And yes, those too, will fall away
And when it‘s time to know the truth
We see the whole damn thing’s a spoof
A big fat lie just like the sixties
And to think we trusted those g—d— hippies

If that‘s the case, who gives a f—
It could be truth—it may be luck
Whatever, whoever, whenever, who knows
It‘s what comes up, which way it blows

And so from fire this tilting earth
With noise and slop once more gives birth
The whole mad scene begins again…

It’s hard these days to be humane.

(c) Bserk 2009

 

     

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