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My exhibition Coronae at Long View Gallery was honored with two recent reviews.
The Washington City Paper writes, “Berman’s prints are just abstract enough to allow your mind to wander, perfect for an afternoon exploring new landscapes on your own.”
(click image below to read full review)
The Washington Post writes, “Printmaker Laura Berman takes inspiration from the Flint Hills region of Kansas, which her Long View Gallery statement calls “a vast landscape of nothingness.” If that sounds like something from the grayest of Samuel Beckett, Berman’s monoprints actually are colorful and sometimes airy. Her “Umbra” series arranges multi-hued, wing-like rhomboids as if they’re fluttering on the white backdrop, and her “Starbursts” explode elongated triangles from a central point. Shiny metallic inks amplify the pictures’ force.”
Read the full Washington Post review here (scroll to bottom of exhibition list)
KCAI has an opening for Director of Alumni Relations and Development.
Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City is seeking a part time entry-level Visitor Services Team Member.
The Missouri Arts Council seeks a Community Arts Specialist
Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) seeks a Marketing and Constituent Services Coordinator
Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas is looking for an adjunct to teach Printmaking 1 and Art Appreciation (a lecture course) for the fall semester of 2014. Both of these classes meet on Tuesday/Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:40 a.m. and 10:50 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. back to back. Interested applicants can emaiL Christa Kagin, MAET-ATR firstname.lastname@example.org their resume and contact information ASAP!!!
Real Estate Developer in Overland Park is need of an artist with 3D imaging expertise or other ability to create color images of Multi-Family Development project for our test website. Send resume and portfolio to email@example.com
Constructing Media Marketing Group is seeking graphic artist for Kansas City-based marketing group. Exceptional creativity and great portfolio requested. WordPress experience and web design experience will win the job.Please send resumes to Kirk at Kirk@constructingmedia.com
The Kemper Museum has an opening for a part-time Museum Protection Officer, submit resumes to Jean Hanover at firstname.lastname@example.org or deliver to their East Office Building.
KidsTLC INC is looking to hire a new Street Outreach Specialist is responsible for providing community outreach, assessment, support and referral to community resources for homeless youth. The position requires some on-call time.
Printing company located in Merriam is looking to add a pre press operator to their staff.
10 POWER Marketing needs a graphic/wordpress designer.
A vehicle graphics company is looking for a full-time graphic designer.
Graphics and T-shirt artist position.
The Daum Museum of Art in Sedalia, MO seeks a part-time/ on call installation staff. A full background check will be required to work in collections storage areas. Please forward a cover letter and résumé to Matt Clouse, Registrar/Exhibitions Coordinator (email@example.com). No phone calls please.
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has several openings including a full-time curator position.
The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft seeks a Director of Community Outreach and Development.
Galerie Gabrie, a contemporary fine art gallery in Pasadena, CA, is looking for a Gallery Assistant.
Looking to relocate to Miami? Here is a Art jobs board for the city.
Gestalt Residency: Day 5 [The Crest of Enkidu]
“Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand Still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.”
Today, as I move through the land on this last, and uncharacteristically cool, grey morning, I’m drawn to the above poem. I’ve often read it during ceremony, or referenced the article ‘The Wild Human’ by Bill Plotikin from which I first found it. As I’ve had the pleasure this last week of spending my mornings speaking to this land, and doing some thinking about that idea of re-wilding, I’m drawn to thought of Enkidu, the friend and equal of Gilgamesh. He who after being stripped of his ability to run among wild things by lust and distraction, becomes the foil and grounding force for the god king, who upon Enkidu's death would face the idea of his own mortality, and the humility needed to correctly and justly govern his people. But, I continue to wonder if Enkidu, not Gilgamesh is really the more important of the two, or at the least where the line exists between the seeming disparate modes of being: that of the wild and the civilized, the natural and the arbitrarily conventional.
The way I know how to best frame this would be in falling to Emmanuelle Kant, and his notion of categorical distinction. He literally divided philosophical epochs by bypassing both empiricism and rationalism in his assertion that all experience and thus ideological progeny was inherently phenomenal, as opposed to noumenal. In other words, the world that exists outside of our perception is the ‘natural’ world in its most literal sense, and to get to it we must first process it as phenomena, thus being subject to all the twists and turns of our selves. This idea was not to be taken lightly, that empirical inquiry can indeed give us aggregate data, but that at the end of the day, that data only tells half a story, that the mystery and character of our day to day interactions with the world and each other fails to be constrained or catalogued by facts in and of themselves.
Thomas Reid, went further to differentiate natural from artificial language, more importantly to identity that there was a system of communication that existed a priori, and if not for the sake of which, we wouldn’t have been able to craft our cultural conventions that nest atop it.
However these ideas were championed most fiercely by John-Jacque Rousseau in his ‘Education of Emile.’ He believed that civilization as it was juggernauting through history, most specifically in the form of a burgeoning industrialization, stripped man of a vital authenticity, one championed in the noumenal sense. He was a believer in the weight and urgency of a call back to ‘natural man,’ one that attempted to navigate a balance between the authentic and conventional worlds.
And that’s the point, at least for me, here and now in this moment. As I get ready to pack the last of my things had head out West for a week, I sit with how to continually re-integrate those two pieces of a whole, and how my work might offer narratives that compel this dual inquiry within those who interact with it into the larger conversation about authenticity and the merit of as simple a fact as dirty hands.
And so here, on this spot, one that I plan to construct a place of meeting and ceremony, I give blessing, and gratitude to the land, to its genius, and continuity. I lay down the crest of Enkidu and I give thanks.
As for the rest, who the fuck knows about that.
Gestalt Residency: Day 4 [Sine Labore Nihi]
In going over materials, and thinking about process vs product, the tools that we use, and the different manners of art in relation to work, I reread some work I did a few years ago, and it seemed wholly relevant for today’s practice:
In Alchemy the ultimate end more important than and necessary for the transmutation of base metals into gold, is a purification of the self. The journey towards an axis point of the many selves we present to others, and ourselves. It is both a charge and warning to and for the initiate that this is not a process to be undertaken frivolously. Just as Dante passes the threshold into the underworld so too must man accept that to ‘know thyself’ is to acknowledge a great many demons.
Eliphas Levi, one of the first modern magicians described it thus: “The Great Work is, before all things, the creation of man by himself, that is to say, the full and entire conquest of his faculties and his future; it is especially the perfect emancipation of his will.” In each of us there is good kindling, fresh flint, and the possibility for flame. All that’s required is the proper application of friction. I think he would agree with Alexander Pope’s heed: “die of nothing, save the rage to live.” Or Ferdinand Toennies’ assertion that there is no greater expression of individual will than our work. With the right eyes we can see our lives and choices as an unfolding of that will. We each are given a choice to take assessment of who we really are, and from that swirling pool of possibility and potential much like Luther’s vocation, choose to refine what “calls” to us.
I read a book when I was young, a novel by an author who in recent years has come under some pretty heavy scrutiny. The book was “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand, and in it there are a great many fallacies, prejudices and misconceptions just as there are in nearly every book of the human cannon. And while I do not advocate or even agree with many of her ideas, I believe in the heart of what is written there, which is a strong and able protagonist who lives his life by a code. In it is one of the most eloquent and explicit depictions of the passionate and dedicated life I have ever encountered. In the opening pages, a young architect who knows himself and what he believes is being let go by a school who would ask him to work against those beliefs. In response he says: “I have, let's say sixty years to live. Most of that time will be spent working. I've chosen the work I want to do. If I find no joy in it, then I'm only condemning myself to sixty years of torture. And I can find joy only if I do the work in the best way possible to me. But the best is a matter of standards.” Those standards are the borderlands between meaning and chaos. For truly to ask what work is, is also to what end, and thus purpose we undertake it. It is to ask if there can be meaning in the universe and thus inevitably what that may be.
After the enlightenment we lost the final cause from the nature of work, moving from asking questions like what is a thing for, to how quickly, cheaply, and plentiful can we make it. The process thus became wholly epistemological IE moving from a focus on ontology and being to pure process. Thus the question remains, what are the long term costs of taking the guiding question of purpose out of the dialectic? I cannot stress enough here the fallacy of believing apples are oranges or that square pegs can fit into round holes. I would in fact argue that taking the why questions out of culture and replacing them with hows based on reductionism was the single most detrimental choice in the history of mankind.
To leave only the efficient cause as an adequate stopping point is to blatantly invite a vacuum. It’s like taking a drug addicts supply and replacing it with placebo, putting your faith on the dependency being ”fooled” into believing everything’s the same. It’s to invite base consumerism and entertainment, gluttonous excess and environmental degradation to become our new distractions, our new tickets to salvation. But we know better, in every breath we know that our feet are resting on a sphere that’s spinning at thousands of miles per hour hurtling round a burning star in a solar system and thus universe so infinite we cannot begin to fathom it. And the distractions inevitably fail us, because our instincts scream the truth, there is no such thing as a free ride: Sine labore nihi: nothing without work. It is hardwired into every neuron to search out the meaning in our lives, and to know that that meaning comes most often in the times of struggle that demand the best from us, that push us to problem solve and apply what we have learned: not simply to “do”, but to do so creatively.
Brass tax: Nothing is free, however the produces, processes, currencies, exchange rates, and qualities are entirely up to us.
Gestalt Residency: Day 3 [An Etiquette of Place]
Today is the day for a story I don’t speak to often, one that enlivens the way I came to Know one of my dear mentors, Akiko Musuda, in a small town called Wailea, on the Big Island of Hawaii. While teaching myself how to ride a small engine motorcycle, I had reason to travel the back roads around where I lived, and one day after passing through some dense jungle, the bananas thinned into trimmed lawns and about ¼ mile of houses and shops that looked straight out of the 30’s. One of those was a small complex with an open studio called the Motonaga Gallery, named after the Japanese man who first purchased the property in the early 1900’s when the town was kept afloat by a now dilapidated sugar mill.
In the studio there were two giant steel buoys sitting in a vertical line of pebbles [sort of post-modern rock garden], and I knew immediately that I was in love, and that before I left the island I needed to make something in that space. Long story short, a 76 year old Japanese woman named Akiko, who guaranteed, can lift more weight in a wheelbarrow than you, me, or that friend who lives at the gym, invited me to come and talk with her.
Within 5 minutes of sitting down this bolt of electricity had asked me questions more personal and open ended than any girlfriend I’d ever had, and let me know that if I wanted to make work here, or even photograph the space, I would first need to get to know the spirit of the place, to learn its etiquette, and that started with sitting.
Sitting, sounds innocuous enough, but this wasn't your grab a chair and relax kind of sitting, this was sitting as a practice, this was zazen [traditional Buddhist meditation] in which you sit for 1.5 hours, then try, often in vein to lift your limbs that are screaming with pins and needles and walk a centimeter at a time in a complete circle around the room, chant mantras in languages I didn’t even know were possible, and then, do it all over again. So for 7 days I sat, I tried to repeat the words, I walked, and it was excruciating, and also absolutely wonderful.
Not because enlightenment jumped off a cliff and took a nosedive into my chest [it didn’t] but because, she had a point. You are never more aware of the smell, the light, the character, and dialect of a place, than when you are forced to attempt emptiness, to run clear like water, within it.
When I came back with my camera to begin getting a feel for the materials, and to begin thinking about the work, the ways in which I approached, I was aware of the place in a different capacity. We like to throw around phrases like ‘placemaking’ or ‘genus loci’ without ever really invoking their character, but in this I was forced to consider the place as subject, that any action I might take in that place as dialog, an exchange, as equivalent as I was willing to make it, a space in the Bachelard sense of the word, one that through mannerism, etiquette, and enacted ritual was pregnant with a glory and vision just waiting to come through any given moment, to be channeled into action, through work, as the made.
And so now, here, in this land, in which I again come to a purity of intent and action, I am forever changed in the way I approach space, place, and land. Today I walked the space I have chosen to build; to make place within, and the work begins with a greeting, with a nest, the dwelling that is both temporary and permanent.
At the end of the 2 to 3 hour sessions, we would always end with the same phrase:
"Every moment is an opportunity to deepen our practice and ourselves, to be better human beings and to be of service."
In 2013, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., embarked on a project to discover “the most compelling American art being created today.”
Over a period of about 10 months, museum president Don Bacigalupi and assistant curator Chad Alligood crisscrossed the country. They traveled more than 100,000 miles — by plane and car — and stopped in the homes and studios of nearly 1,000 artists.
The result of this epic journey: 200 artworks and 102 artists selected for the exhibition,State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now, which opens in September. Bacigalupi calls it “a glimpse into the state of art in our nation at this moment.”
There’s sculpture, ceramics, painting, photography, video, site-specific installation, and more. The artists range in age from early 20s to late 80s, from every region of the country, including 27 from the Midwest.
Five artists in the exhibition are based in Missouri, including Miki Baird and Calder Kamin (Kansas City), Jamie Adams and Tim Liddy (St. Louis), and Julie Blackmon(Springfield). There are also two artists from Kansas: A. Mary Kay (Lindsborg) andRandy Regier (Wichita).
“We looked for engagement with issues and narratives that underpin our everyday lives, as well as an ability to manipulate material in manifest or beautiful and accessible ways,” Alligood told the Los Angeles Times. “We talked a lot about appeal. Contemporary art is vital and important and can reach a wide audience; it’s not hermetic, not closed, not purposefully obfuscating.”
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, designed by architect Moshe Safdie, opened in 2011. It was founded by Walmart heiress and arts patron Alice Walton. The museum’s permanent collection spans five centuries, from Colonial times to the present.
Gestalt Residency: Day 2 [H is for Heuristics]
A heuristic is the cognitive tool that enabled us to move beyond direct visual observation as our only means for ‘knowing’ a thing or better in solving a problem, a shortcut. When asked how many sides a square has, I will tell you 4. It doesn’t matter if I can see the square or not, because I know conceptually, relationally, through precedent, that a square has 4 sides, and if it doesn’t then it’s simply not a square.
In the same way we usefully engage heuristics to make value judgments based on our available information. One of my favorite lessons in heuristics comes from a course taught by one of the best lecturers on the planet, Daniel Robinson. In speaking to heuristics in relation to functional fixedness [or the tendency to use a concept or behavior that has worked in the past non-contextually or willy-nilly], he speaks to a pedantic tool that a friend of his uses when teaching a class on the very subject: The professor enters the classroom on the first day of class through the window, he then asks his students is that a window or a door?
As stated yesterday the point is that, we learn through instruction and example how to use a thing. The challenge then both in relation to artistic practice and everyday life is to take stock of both the heuristics and algorithms that we implicitly rely on, and to see them in tune with those values and dogmas with which we would choose to be associated in the first and all instances after, as in Kant’s moral imperative, or the Thomas Paine's idea of fidelity.
It also means being able to look past those that do not serve us or do a disservice to us and to move past the limitations therein.
A window can be a door, though it might not make pragmatic sense to use it as such, to let our creative faculties free to rethink use, is often the only way to find inspiration, and indeed innovation.