I’ve been messing around with collage/pinhole photo outtakes for the upcoming show (using a bit of acid-free “archival” glue).
The show at Backstory Books finished up earlier this month and I managed to get 7 paintings off my hands and received the first checks for art in a very, very long time. When you price your smaller pieces low – it tends to sell (who knew!). This gives me a little more room to grow and keep working without expecting to always burrow things away forever.
Influences of the month:
Pierre Bonnard – Painting Arcadia : I borrowed a book on Bonnard from work, which is a beautiful catalog from a retrospective show at SF’s Legion of Honor a few years back. Bonnard has always had a special place in my little consortium of favorites. It started about 12 years ago when my color theory teacher, Donna Larsen, assigned him to me for a project (I vaguely recall having to replicate a sample of his painting along with color swatches). At the time, I knew nothing about Bonnard’s work and had initially written him off as boring. But of course his work won me over – his color use and brush work made his paintings have a glow, and it’s a glow I’ve been subconsciously trying to replicate in my own work during the past few years.
The Eva Hesse documentary : I finally watched the film on Eva Hesse that was released last year – once it was over I immediately played it again while I was painting. Hesse died very young from a brain tumor, but she found so much success and recognition as an artist within a short span of time. The part of her timeline that stuck out to me the most was when she returned to Deutschland for the first time since she and her sister escaped the Nazis through Kindertransports as a toddler (her extended family was murdered). Although her parents managed to escape, her mother later committed suicide when Hesse was only nine. Hesse reluctantly returned with her then-husband Tom Doyle after he was offered an all-paid artist’s residency at a former textile factory on the Ruhr River near Essen. Although the residency was offered to Doyle, the 14 months spent between 1964 and 1965 at the abandoned factory served as a launching point for Hesse. She began to transition from painting flat to incorporating sculptural elements into her surfaces like wire and metal scraps she found lying around the old factory space. She returned to NYC after finding her voice, and her work only expanded from there (latex/fiberglass sculptures and works on paper). Over the next five years she produced enough work to fill the entire Guggenheim during her memorial exhibition shortly after her passing.
My superior at work offered me an opportunity to exhibit some of my paintings and pinhole photographs at the Concordia University’s George R. White Library and Learning Center during the months of July and August. More details to come when summer begins.
I think need a break from the Mnemonic Whale for a while. I’m happy with the progress I’ve made on it, but I am ready to work on bigger paintings and make videos. Although the whale is a vessel that is never complete (more side drawers need to be added someday in the future), it is currently fulfilling its duty at Backstory Books. For some of the books chosen from Amanda’s shop (and subsequently placed behind each door), there is a corresponding catalog card in the right side drawer.
I took inspiration from the book The Card Catalog by The Library of Congress published last year. Actual visual examples win me over every time and it was more proof for me that art and library science can be combined. My handwriting has always been the worst. Attempting to fit my bulbous and kinked scrawl onto a 3 inch index card is a little personal challenge of mine (“library hand” penmanship this is not). But practice will eventually make perfect (or close enough) and I hope to learn “library hand” someday. For now, making these little cards are actually helping me with recognizing categories more easily at work. They are free for the taking of course ~
The updated Mnemonic Whale page can be seen here: https://sylviedakotahuhn.com/others/mnemonicwhale/
The Mnemonic Whale will be installed for my show at Backstory Books in early March, which means this weekend I have kept myself indoors and been busy working on it’s next manifestation. For now, I’ve decided to stick with one card catalog drawer (hand-cut without an electric saw) while the remaining space of the side box will be temporarily covered with small paintings. Two of the little paintings include a scene of Oregon’s 1970 exploding whale and one of my earliest sensory memories climbing on a fake one. The drawer will house catalog cards pertaining to each of Backstory’s books that will be for sale behind each subject door. While making room for the drawer in the flurry of sawdust on my kitchen table, a piece of wood/particleboard I ripped out of the catalog box looked like the state of Oregon (or a file icon) – I’ll take that as some kind of sign.
The front and left side of the Mnemonic Whale is completed. For the left end, I added/modified a few tiny paintings I did years ago to the top + silicone, wood glue, gold and red ink. On the front, I sanded down the edges of the doors so they closed completely and I outlined the whale carving in gold ink. Now all it needs is the top layer, right end card catalog drawers, and proper innards (more about that soon).
I will be showing at Tiny’s Coffee near SE Hawthorne Blvd and 12th Ave during the month of September! Installation may be in the next day or so, and I will have an official flyer announcing the reception coming soon (I’m thinking for the middle of the month). I’m currently working on a painting that I’d like to swap into the exhibit later. First solo show in Portland (and in a super duper long time)!
News: The Mnemonic Whale is ready for its next manifestation (whether I am, remains to be seen). I invested in getting the print custom-framed at Luke’s Frameshop to protect it from getting torn further by the cat, but also so I could mount it on top of the shelf.
My goal is to modify a wooden file box I found for free at a garage giveaway by cutting out mini drawers to hold index cards. A recent book I picked up inspired me to try my hand at a card catalog (more on this in later blog posts). The file slots of the box are still up for debate with purpose, but I’m thinking of documents. The box would be attached at the right-facing end of the whale, while a couple small paintings will adorn the left-facing end.
My long (probably remaining life-long) goal is to eventually fill each LOC section of the whale with a book I make. One of the doors may even hold a tiny video and sound display. These are all just ideas that are swimming in my head at the moment of course. But I would truly love to bring them to fruition someday soon.