Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Latest Addition

My wife and I have been putting together a modest collection of original art over the last few years. In this case "modest" means that we buy within our means and usually stick to smaller works, often by local artists. In the process of building our collection we've maintained a "wish list" of artists whose work we appreciate and would like one day to own. Paul Emory has been one such artist.

So, it was our good fortune that we managed the winning bid for his painting "Tonya" at a recent Ohio Art League fundraiser.

If you're not familiar with Paul Emory's work...well...honestly it's hard to talk about. I say that because the words that one might be inclined to use (words like weird, naive, creepy, and childlike) can make his paintings sound...well...unattractive. Similarly, the works themselves present something of an acquired taste. The first encounter with them can be jarring. In his narrative paintings, haunting, stylized figures exist either in dreamlike interiors or shabby small-town tableaus.

His fauna series depicts vaguely anthropomorphic animals crowding the foreground and gazing directly at the viewer as if sitting for portraits.

Beyond first impressions though, it's clear that Paul Emory knows a lot about painting and a lot about art history. Looking at "Tonya" it occurred to me that one could present a pretty comprehensive lesson on painting from 1860 to 1930 using just this single work.

Tonya 2003 

It has the impressionistic brushwork of Monet, the flattened figures of Manet, Matisse and Modigliani, the creepy Surrealism of DeChirco and Balthus, the patchwork of patterns favored by Bonnard, and the fractured compositions of Cubism. Going back even further, it's hard not draw the connection between the mischievous children in "Tonya" and the putti who appear in many classical and renaissance works.

For me I suppose that's part of the attraction of Emory's work. It carries on a dialog with painting's past while presenting a vision that is both refreshing and singular. I'm thrilled to finally have one we can enjoy in our home.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Anyone who's lived in the University District more than a couple years knows well the seasonal patterns of the flock of migrant students who reside there.

Football season brings wandering bands of scarlet and grey clad bros sporting traditional Natty Light crowns.

Winter break sees a period of relative calm, punctuated by the backyard pyrotechnics and dumpster fires that signal the start of a New Year.

Summer sees the great exodus as students return to their ancestral homes.

And the end of summer? That's moving season; the time when leases expire and the annual game of musical apartments begins.

A major part of this seasonal change involves an effort to "travel light"  by jettisoning anything non-essential to the move. That usually means filling the campus area alleys with mattresses, TVs, chairs, couches, chests of drawers, and just about anything else that's either too heavy or too unfit to move.

To many, this accumulation of trash is nothing more than a seasonal eyesore. Me? I was taught that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade! So it was with great excitement that I welcomed the appearance of this single mattress propped against the dumpster behind our house.

I understand that the untrained eye will see here waste at the very best and a health hazard at the very worst. To those of us versed in contemporary art though, this is opportunity!

The annals of contemporary art are filled with readymades, matresses, mixed-media, found art, and the attendant transformational flourishes that accompany all of the above. Put another way, when I saw this mattress propped so perfectly against the dumpster I immediately recognized in it the essence of Sarah Lucas' now iconic sculpture Au Naturel.

OK. Lucas employed a queen sized bed, so there's that. The color's not exactly right either. Also, hers was in a gallery and associated with one of the most important movements in 20th Century art. It reached (and  spoke to) an international audience of art aficionados.

Still, how can one deny the Spirit! The Essence! The laconic posture of a filthy and unadorned mattress in full repose! Who could resist? (Plus, as Donald Rumsfeld so famously said, "You don't make contemporary art with the mattress you wish you had, make contemporary art with the mattress you have").

Needless to say, this morning I hustled up a couple of oranges and a cucumber and unveiled (You're welcome!) Au Naturel - Male (after Lucas).

A couple notes on the execution and presentation: This work is less a copy of Lucas' piece and more of an appreciation. Given the matress was a single, certain compromises had to be made. The selection of the male form over the female form should not be read as anything more than a choice borne of convenince. Similarly, the selection of a traditional North American cucumber (over the European/English variety favored by Lucas) should not be seen as a particular endorsement. Each variety has its own merits and should be judged accordingly.

Au Naturel - Male (after Lucas) will be on view in Dixon alley (between Clinton and Maynard) for an indeterminate period of time (Note: this work contains mature themes).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

How to Buy Jeff's Paintings

It occurred to me recently that I don't make it very easy for people to shop for my paintings.

I don't have a gallery.

I don't have an Etsy page.

I don't have a Saatchi Art page.

I don't have an AbsoluteArts page.

I don't have a web site that shows available works, terms, prices, or any of the other rudimentary elements that comprise most free-market transactions.

I should probably fix that at some point.

In the meantime, here's a blog post that will hopefully answer a few of the most common questions regarding "how to buy Jeff's paintings".

Where can I see Jeff's paintings?
  • Jeff maintains a Pinterest page that features many of his completed paintings. That's probably the best place to look. He doesn't post every completed painting on Pinterest, but he posts a lot of them. Some have already sold, but many are still available.
How much do Jeff's paintings cost?
  • Size is probably the biggest determining factor when it comes to price. The smallest ones (5" x 7") are generally $250.00 - $300.00. The medium sized ones (9" x 12") are generally around $500.00 - $700.00. The largest ones are about $1000.00. Pricing is not an exact science, but those numbers will at least get you in the ballpark.
 What does that get me?
  • Well, you'll get the painting (natch). It will be signed and dated too! (By Jeff, on the back). Jeff doesn't sign paintings on the front. He's not really sure why. It might be because the front is where the painting goes. In any event, he just doesn't sign there.
  • Your painting will also come framed in a really nice Hackman Frame. These are handmade and hand-leafed frames. The corners are finished (i.e. there are no visible miter joints) and the painting is "floated" in the frame (unless it's a work on paper. Then it gets matted, put under glass, and then framed). Either way, it's a really nice presentation (if perhaps a bit traditional).
Do I have to buy it framed? Can I buy it unframed at a lower price?
  • Jeff is kind of a stickler for presentation and prefers to sell his paintings appropriately framed. Obviously buyers are free to have the paintings framed however they like once they take possession. Jeff does not recommend this. It's unlikely they'll be able to improve greatly on the work presented at the point of purchase.
So what if I decide I'm interested in a painting and I'm thinking about making a purchase?
  • At that point the simplest thing would be to get in touch with Jeff at jregensb(@) and make an inquiry. If you identify a particular painting of interest, Jeff can let you know if it's available. If it is, the next step would be a studio visit. You and Jeff would arrange a time to meet at his studio to see the work in person. Similarly, if you just wanted to browse and see what's available a studio visit can be arranged for that as well.
So, I should just contact Jeff if I'm interested in his work or in seeing more? Is that how it works?
  • Yep. Pretty much. 
What if I go through all that and I decide I don't want a painting after all. Won't that hurt Jeff's feelings?
  • No
Are you sure?
  • Yeah. Pretty sure.
Is there some way I can buy Jeff's paintings without going directly through Jeff?
  • Yes. While Jeff doesn't have gallery representation, he occasionally has works available for sale in group shows, specialized galleries, or any variety of local auction-based fundraisers. These opportunities come up sporadically, and Jeff usually promotes them through his social media channels. The best way to find out about these events is to follow Jeff's blog, his Facebook page, or Twitter.
What if I don't have enough money to pay for a painting all at once. Can I make payments?
  • Jeff's pretty reasonable about stuff like that. He wants people to enjoy his paintings so he's usually willing to work with them.
Are the prices negotiable?
  • Jeff feels like his work is priced fairly. When one factors in the time, materials, and the cost of framing, it turns out the prices are pretty reasonable (perhaps even a bit low). It's a high-quality presentation too; one that will offer years and years of enjoyment.