german

Painting

Q&A: Quappi Projects


“We have more knowledge than at any time in human history, yet not only do we not seem comforted or buoyed by that knowledge, we have - or some of us have, I suppose - begun to openly reject knowledge, experience and even commonly agreed-upon facts.“ – John Brooks


Artist, John Brooks

Artist, John Brooks

Q&A with John Brooks about Quappi Projects

‘Quappi’ was the nickname of Mathilde von Kaulbach, who was married to German New Objectivist painter Max Beckmann (1884-1950). It was derived from the similarity of her surname to the German word Kaulquappe, meaning ‘tadpole’.

It is a singular phrase with no other formal meaning, which seems to delight Louisville artist John Brooks, and so he chose it as the moniker of his new exhibition initiative, Quappi Projects. Occupying most of his current studio space at 1520 B Lytle Street in the Portland neighborhood, the mission is to showcase four artists each year from in and outside of Louisville. The inaugural show will be work of Adam Chuck, a Cleveland, Ohio native, now living and making work in Brooklyn, New York.

What motivated you to devote some of your studio space to exhibition space for other artists?

"Diogo In Pink" by Adam Chuck, 5x7in, oil on mylar

"Diogo In Pink" by Adam Chuck, 5x7in, oil on mylar

Running a gallery is an endeavor I've long been interested in, but it was difficult to imagine a way in which I could maintain a studio practice, run a gallery, and afford to do both. I was between studios in 2015 and spent the summer in Berlin. Part of that time was spent studying under the German artist Norbert Bisky, whose work I've admired for a long time.  We discussed a lot of things, including lamenting the difficulty of finding avenues to show and share work. He advised that I (or anyone!) should just "start my own thing;" so I've had this bee in my bonnet for a couple of years. Since January 2016 I've shared my Lytle Street studio space with another artist, and when he decided to move out I knew that this was my opportunity. The space is perfect - clean, bright, white, and with enough room to allow me to continue my studio practice and to exhibit others' work in a proper way.

As an artist, I know how difficult it can be to find arenas in which to show your work, and I am thrilled by the idea that I can provide that opportunity to other artists. Also, I've been fortunate to live in both London and Chicago, and have traveled the United States and Europe fairly extensively, so I feel like I have a broad range of art-related experiences and knowledge that I can rely on to help inform the direction of the gallery's platform.

"Baptism" by Adam Chuck, 4x7.35in, oil on mylar

"Baptism" by Adam Chuck, 4x7.35in, oil on mylar

How did you become aware of Adam Chuck's work?

"Hand Palm" by Adam Chuckn, 5.5x7in, oil on mylar

"Hand Palm" by Adam Chuckn, 5.5x7in, oil on mylar

Adam Chuck paints primarily images from social media; fittingly, we "met" quite randomly through Instagram a few years ago. Though we've never yet met in person, we have developed what I consider to be a real friendship, which speaks both to the power and possibilities of social media but also the power and purity of his work. When it became clear that Quappi Projects was really going to happen, I knew I wanted to inaugurate the gallery with a show of Adam's work and happily he said yes. I'm a fan (and a collector) of his work and am so excited to be able to share it with the Louisville art community and the city at large. At first glance, Adam's work might seem to border on the salacious, but I think it creeps up to that line and then walks back. Most of the work is tiny, phone-screen-sized, owing its existence to social media platforms such as Instagram. The work is intimate, sensual and extremely honest. Each work is an exposure, really; it is essentially about reaching out, about the deep desire to connect, and represents an attempt to know and be known. In an age of terror and big fears, Adam's work seems infused with knowledge of those fears, but speaks more to the fundamental needs and basic human fears of need: to be desired, to be loved, to be seen, to be considered.

Tell me about the term "quappi"? I know the Beckman story, but what does it mean to you?

I believe very much in the transformative power of art. I have experienced this enough times in my own life to understand and value its merit, and I firmly believe that the highest function of art is to allow human beings to know ourselves more deeply. My own work has been concerned with the emotional resonance of particular experiences and what Max Beckmann described as "the deepest feeling about the mystery of being." Quappi Projects' goal is to exhibit contemporary art reflecting the zeitgeist, and the zeitgeist is mighty strange. Perhaps all times are strange, but I don't think there's any arguing that we are living in very strange times.

"Bildnis Quappi" by Max Beckmann

"Bildnis Quappi" by Max Beckmann

We have more knowledge than at any time in human history, yet not only do we not seem comforted or buoyed by that knowledge, we have - or some of us have, I suppose - begun to openly reject knowledge, experience and even commonly agreed-upon facts. I find that very worrying. I think the experiences of 20th Century German artists like Max Beckmann (and others) are relevant to us today.  Beckmann didn't consider himself a political person, yet his entire life was thrown into upheaval because of politics. He considered political concerns to be secondary to the concerns of the spiritual or metaphysical. Although I am a political person (and have a BA in Political Science) I agree with him and certainly find most explicitly political work too narrowly focused. At the same time, I think the best art reflects the times in which it was created, so it must have some element of the political. Take Velazquez' "Las Meninas," for example - artistically, it is a masterpiece, but it also tells us so much about the Spanish Court and what was going on at the time. I find that balance fascinating, and hopefully we can show work that is interesting in the same way. Even if we fall just a little short of "Las Meninas," we'll be very successful!

I plan to alternate non-Louisville-based and Louisville-based artists have a great series of artists lined up: Baghdad, Iraq-born artist Vian Sora, who now lives and works in Louisville; Louisville native Whit Forrester, who lives in Chicago and just graduated with an MFA from Columbia College; wood artisan Michael James Moran, a central Kentucky native who now lives and works in the Hudson Valley; and photographer Ryan Tassi.

"Raven Wings" by Adam Chuck, 5.5x7.25in, oil on mylar

"Raven Wings" by Adam Chuck, 5.5x7.25in, oil on mylar

Beckmann credited Quappi with keeping him going, keeping him on task and inspired. I think we're living in times when we must keep going, be on task, and be inspired. It's very easy to want to give into the notion of being quiet and comfortable, but I think we must resist that. We must be open, communicate, and connect. I'm hoping the spirit of Quappi can help me do that.

Adam Chuck / Instant Gratification

August 18 – September 29
Opening: Friday, August 18 / 5:00-9:00pm

Quappi Projects
1520 B Lytle Street
Gallery open by appointment only
www.quappiprojects.com

"Portrait of Les" by Adam Chuckn, 3.25x4in, oil on mylar

"Portrait of Les" by Adam Chuckn, 3.25x4in, oil on mylar

Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Drawing, Painting, Sculpture

Vignette: Bailey Roman


“I understand the rules that have been presented to me, take the previous results into account, then more-or-less throw them out.” – Bailey Roman


Artist, Bailey Roman

Artist, Bailey Roman

Looking at the work of Bailey Roman raises a question: are these faces, with their contorted, lopsided visage, a deliberate deconstruction of conventional beauty? They are certainly distinctive and full of character, personalities that feel pulled from the fringe of society, malformed outcasts demanding our compassion.

Roman juxtaposes self-awareness and subconscious feelings against modern societal standards. “I also tend to take a lot of idioms way more seriously than their original intent; for example, in the past I have used the phrase ‘the lights are on but nobody’s home’ and used it as commentary for society’s various criticisms and standards for intelligence.”

"It's Only The Second Semester and I'm Already Emotionally Exhausted; Maybe I Should Eat a Burrito" by Bailey Roman, 24x24in, oil on canvas (2017)

"It's Only The Second Semester and I'm Already Emotionally Exhausted; Maybe I Should Eat a Burrito" by Bailey Roman, 24x24in, oil on canvas (2017)

“I draw influence from German Expressionism, Post Impressionism, contemporary media and, most importantly, the greats from stop motion puppet fabricators such as Francesca Berlingieri Maxwell and Henry Selick. More recently, I have been stretching the boundaries of what my chosen mediums. I understand the rules that have been presented to me, take the previous results into account, then more-or-less throw them out to see what new two dimensional effects, tactical textures, and interactions the viewer can have with my work.”

“In ‘Logan’, I use the polygons as a tool to highlight the first things the viewer would typically notice from the piece. I also take the liberty of using influences from both Pop Art and Golden Age comic book art. I use the two periods and place them into a more contemporary anatomical study.”  

"Anubis, The Dragonfly and the Warrior" by Bailey Roman, 15x7x10in, ceramic and glaze (2017)

"Anubis, The Dragonfly and the Warrior" by Bailey Roman, 15x7x10in, ceramic and glaze (2017)

Roman is featured in From the Sculptures That Look Like Drawings series at The Tim Faulkner Gallery, and she will be included in Louisville Artisan Guild's 44th annual exhibit From the Soul of the Artist that will be held at Kore Gallery July 5 through July 30. There will be an Artist Reception July 13th, 6 – 8 pm.

Age: 19
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: Ballard High School (honors program graduated 2016) Murray State University (Studio Art major, currently working on my Bachelor of Fine Arts with a minor in art history)
Gallery Representation: The Tim Faulkner Gallery
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/RamRenard/

"Touch Of Death" by Bailey Roman, 14x14x14in, ceramic, acrylic, plaster (2015), $315 |  BUY NOW

"Touch Of Death" by Bailey Roman, 14x14x14in, ceramic, acrylic, plaster (2015), $315 | BUY NOW

"Logan" by Bailey Roman, 22x28in, ceramic and glaze (2016)

"Logan" by Bailey Roman, 22x28in, ceramic and glaze (2016)

"GPF" by Bailey Roman, 9x9.5x11in, ceramic and glaze (2017)

"GPF" by Bailey Roman, 9x9.5x11in, ceramic and glaze (2017)

"Day N Night" by Bailey Roman, 11x14in, ink on paper (2017)

"Day N Night" by Bailey Roman, 11x14in, ink on paper (2017)

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Q&A: Sid Webb


“Art is a creation that aptly describes its time and place.”
— Sid Webb


"Untitled #1" by Sid Webb, 6x18in, ash and honeysuckle (2016), $350 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled #1" by Sid Webb, 6x18in, ash and honeysuckle (2016), $350 | BUY NOW

Sid Webb is a Lexington native who studied journalism at the University of Kentucky and attended the Atlanta School of Art. He came back to Kentucky to be the first art director at the Kentucky Educational Television network (KET), where he was an early advocate of using the digital canvas to create art and to make gicleé prints. He created a 13-part show for public television called Sid Webb’s Digital Studio, in which he demonstrated several ways to create art and paintings on a computer. After many years at KET, Webb turned to travel and editorial photography.

When did you first think you would be an artist?

I was convinced at a very early age that I would be an artist…maybe 10 or 12 years old.  I had done some freelance work for the new IBM plant in high school and local TV stations plus some other work in high school. Sometimes clinging adamantly to such an idea can lead one astray, as it did me. I joined the Air Force after my freshman year in college. At that time the military was very sensitive to the criticism that they were assigning recruits to the wrong jobs and they had developed an elaborate test to discover one’s potential military vocation. I insisted that I wanted to be a graphic artist and passed the test with a near 100 percent score. No portfolio was required. Just several hours of reading questions and guessing at answers to questions like “Which Speedball pin tip would you use to letter a diploma?” Even though I had passed the test, there were few graphic artists needed in the Air Force. No openings were available. There were plenty of openings for cooks and cops, however, and those occupations were in the same category as graphic artists for some reason. I opted for cop.

"Urn" by Sid Webb, about 11in tall, cherry wood (2016), $1200 |  BUY NOW

"Urn" by Sid Webb, about 11in tall, cherry wood (2016), $1200 | BUY NOW

If you could do anything else but make art, what would it be?

Fortunately, during my career I found several creativity roles that were very fulfilling. After college and art school, I came back to Kentucky to work for KET just as it was going on the air. During those early years I did set designs and construction, make-up, newsletters, ads, photography…you name it. Later, I became director of production, and then created and headed a department that sold and distributed KET programs to stations in other states. Surprisingly, that time was perhaps the most fun and productive. We were distributing GED and adult literacy programs and I tried to break new ground in reaching those who could benefit from KET’s creations. I had workbooks translated to Spanish and programs subtitled. I looked for ways to make the content work on computers and audiotapes. I looked for ways to help adult education centers.  Perhaps most importantly, I explored ways to get the message of “help” to those who needed it. In the process I met some very talented and wonderful people and felt gratified. 

You were an early practitioner of digital art and the use of computers for reproductions. What do see as the future of digital art?

I had one of those "ah-ha" moments sometime ago. I was thinking about the artwork and photography I have done over the last few years.

Early on, I became enamored with the possibilities for digital printmaking and the computer as an art-making tool. I also knew that inkjet prints would face stiff opposition from galleries and buyers. I thought the process needed to be elevated and legitimized, so I invented a new term for it: "digitography".

I pat myself on the back for seeing the need, and kick myself for not being outrageously inventive.

For my intended purpose, any word that too easily revealed its derivation like digitography did was destined for the scrape heap, where it soon found itself. The word that emerged and quickly claimed proper respect among the art community was "gicleé". It was a flash of brilliance.

"Untitled #2" by Sid Webb, about 11in tall, spalted maple and catalpa (2016), $800 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled #2" by Sid Webb, about 11in tall, spalted maple and catalpa (2016), $800 | BUY NOW

It didn't matter that the true definition could be easily discovered, which is "to spit," or "to sputter". What mattered was that it had a nice ring to it.  The beauty of the choice was that it is a French word, always nice sounding; and it helped that France was the birthplace of modern, avant-garde art. Also, it helped that the definition of gicleé, even when discovered, did not immediately reveal its connection to the mechanical and digital aspects of computers.

That leads me to the "ah-ha" about what I have been doing.

I have been doggedly creating "paintings" on the computer that looked as though they were created with traditional media. Again, I wanted to legitimize the computer as an art tool, and I have been trying to do it by demonstrating that my approach worked as well as other tools by inviting comparisons.

The epiphany was the realization that every new medium first gained legitimacy in this way. For instance, early films and radio productions "translated" books and theater before it found firm artistic footing of its own.

Even though I am someone who adopted the computer early on as an art tool, others have moved beyond "translations".  I decided I would, too.

What advice would you give a young artist just out of college?

The challenge is how to pay off the student loan, pay the rent, and have enough money left over to create art the way you want to do it. Facing this reality is often shocking and overwhelming . . . and defeating. I have a lawyer friend who told me that in law school he learned the law but left school with no idea how to practice it or run a business. That’s so very true of young artists just finishing their degrees. How to sell art is the very first thing a graduate needs to learn. I suggest an internship with a successful artist or photographer. Working in a craft shop or gallery is also a great option. 

Tell us about an important moment of transition for you as an artist?

Retiring from my day job freed me to explore the world around me . . . libraries, museums, friends, travel. I was usually free to spend as much as I wished on my art projects. I had no deadlines, self imposed or otherwise as a rule.

"Untitled #3" by Sid Webb, about 16in tall, wood (2016), $180 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled #3" by Sid Webb, about 16in tall, wood (2016), $180 | BUY NOW

What's your favorite place to visit?

Tough question. I love France because I have an insatiable appetite for great food, and it is hard to find mediocre or bad food in France. France, like so many other places I have visited, is candy to the eye and fresh air to the inner spirit. I am able to see and feel that which has become too familiar to local people. I do love my home but there lives within me a need to see beyond the next horizon.

What's the most challenging part when starting on a piece of work of art?

How to create the next piece and push beyond my “style”. My style is like my shadow. It is glued to me and I have little control over it. I can walk around a room with a single light source in the center of it and my shadow will mutate, but I still own it. I can’t shake it. But I try.

How long do you usually spend on a specific piece of art?

It depends. I may spend less than an hour to several days. Sometimes the pieces that take less than an hour to create have taken shape in my head over days.

Does art have a purpose? If so what is it?

It defines us, our place in time. Our culture. Our beliefs. None of this is too obvious until we travel and become aware of what surrounds us.

A few decades ago, André Malraux wrote a little book titled “Museum Without Walls” and I used it to make a compelling case that art is dead. Malraux thesis was that the industrial age had made it possible to exactly duplicate fine works of art so that people no longer had to flock to the museums of the world to see and appreciate them. 

In his view we needed to disconnect the ideas of “original,” and “art”. In other words the fact that a piece is an original or part of a limited edition may make it costly, but its cost doesn’t make it art. 

This of course leads back to the question of “what is art?” To be candid, the answer is a moving target with philosophical overtones. The layman’s answer often is “I don’t know what art is, but I know what I like.” That usually puts an end to the discussion as the remark is often intended to do. But there is a measure of truth in it. 

"Untitled #4" by Sid Webb, about 16in tall, wood (2016), $180 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled #4" by Sid Webb, about 16in tall, wood (2016), $180 | BUY NOW

The German word “gestault” describes that measure of truth. But the best way to think about it may be by using music as an analogy. Most people know when a singer or an instrumentalist hits a sour note or is off key. The ability to detect harmonic sounds is built into our physical make up, at least in most of us. We are painfully aware of singers who are off key or hit a bad note and we know when the rhythm is not quite right. But being aware of the correctness of those essentials of music doesn’t determine the kind of music we enjoy or make us good critics. 

In a general way, what most of us think of as good music has to do with lots of other things. If we play an instrument or sing in a group we are certain to pay closer attention to music than others who don’t. The music we grew up listening to affects our appreciation of it and how we feel about music outside of that genre, too. 

As with music there are physical attributes we humans have that determine our feelings about art. Perhaps surprisingly, one is in our inner ears that keep us balanced and on our feet. Gravity and that liquid in our inner ears keeps us keenly attuned to weight and what’s up and what's down. 

The physical mechanics of the way most of us see color is another factor. Some people are color blind or “tone deaf” to color, but most of us know when colors clash. It takes only a little experimentation to sharpen ones sensitivity to the harmonies of color, but as with music, our taste in color has much to do with our cultural background and where we live. 

So in both music and art we humans share common tools for creating and appreciating them. From there, defining what is good or bad, great or worthless becomes a stroll in the wilderness of philosophical thought that leads to questions like these: 

"Untitled #5" by Sid Webb, about 16in tall, spalted maple and walnut dowels (2016), $325 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled #5" by Sid Webb, about 16in tall, spalted maple and walnut dowels (2016), $325 | BUY NOW

— Is craftsmanship important or necessary? 
— Can utilitarian objects like knifes and forks, pottery, etc., be considered art? 
— What’s the difference between arts and crafts? 
— Is folk art really art? 
— Is performance art, art? 
— Should commercial art be considered as worthy? 
— Does museum ownership make it art? 
— Must an artist know art history to create “real” art? 
— Should photography be considered art? 
— If a sculptor creates a model that someone else casts into bronze, should the piece be considered art? 
— What if the sculptor intends that only one piece be cast but two are actually made. Is the second piece art? 
— Must a work have lasting value to be considered art? 
— Are movies to be considered as art?

Twenty-four images a second pass the shutter of a movie projector. Should we select only a few of the frames to consider as art or are each of the frames to be considered art? 

I could go on, but you get the idea. 

Music is also exposed to these same sorts of questions when trying to separate “great” music from the commonplace, but the answers are usually less vague and troubling. We all know what music is; because, it seems, we trust our ears more than our eyes, and because the word “music” never took on a double meaning as the word “art” has. It makes the discussion about great music easier. Music is also less complicated in other ways. Utilitarian items crafted by a master can be considered art, but elevator music remains merely utilitarian. 

Various details of Webb's work.

Various details of Webb's work.

Art critics will say that you cannot know what “art” is until you have immersed yourself in it. On the other hand I suspect many artists would tell you the process is more important to them than the product. 

In Kurt Vonnegut’s book, “Man without a Country,” Vonnegut, in his usual direct and pithy style, cuts to the chase on the subject. An artist friend told him the way to recognize great art is to look closely at a million pictures. Then he would know what art is. He told his daughter this and she agreed. She told him that after working as an artist for years she could roller skate through the Louvre going “yes, no, yes, no, no, yes,” confidently assessing the value of the works as art. 

I have my own definition of what “art” is that’s fairly encompassing but leaves a few corners uncovered. I choose to think of it as a creation that aptly describes its time and place and sometimes foreshadows its successor. 

I fill in the blanks from the gut.

Name: Sid Webb
Hometown: Lexington, KY
Age: 74
Education: Majored in journalism and political science, University of Kentucky; Atlanta School of Art (High Museum)
Website: http://www.sidwebb.com/

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