Ellen C. Caldwell

September 24, 2014, 9:49am

Edgar Arceneaux’s “A Book and a Medal” at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

Edgar Arceneaux’s “A Book and a Medal: Disentanglement Equals Homogenous Abstractions” opened at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects earlier this month. Challenging and compelling, the show is a triple threat of musts (must-see, -feel, and -experience) all in one.


Edgar Arceneaux | installation view of PLATONIC SOLID’S DREAMING/DETROIT’S SHRINKING (Dodecahedron), 2014, Paintings on mirrored glass, graphite and ink on vellum, layered over colored paper, in a hand crafted steel frames. Courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.

The exhibit features the contents of a partially redacted 1964 letter from J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI and part of the “Suicide Package,” blackmailing Dr. Martin Luther King by referencing his extramarital affairs and encouraging him to commit suicide. Another letter that serves as the former’s bookend came 50 years later as Bernice King, MLK’s daughter, urges her siblings not to sell their father’s Nobel Prize and bible (objects for which the show is named). Arceneaux explores the complexity of iconicity and monument-making; history and storytelling; and forgetting and memorializing. Using mirror installations and the shape of the redacted letter as a recognizable and repeated template throughout the exhibit, he creates a mood of intrigue, redundancy, and disjuncture. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

Listed under: Interview, Review

September 09, 2014, 9:50am

A Smile That Ain't A Smile But Teeth: New Works by Umar Rashid

In A Smile That Ain’t a Smile But Teeth, artist, performer, and storyteller, Umar Rashid opened his first solo show under his aforementioned birth name this past weekend at the Reginald Ingraham Gallery. In the art world, Rashid is better known as “Frohawk Two Feathers”—his nom-de-plum and alter ego (NAP #73). This Homeric and Tolkien-esque raconteur is known for reweaving and reinventing a master narrative based on the supposition that France and England had united as “Frengland.” In his painted and sculpted saga, Two Feathers invites viewers through tales of woe and into bloody battles, introduces them to traitorous heroes and lost loves, and amuses them with his wit, humor, and biting sense of irony. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor


Umar Rashid | installation view of “Post Physical Slavery American Negro Archetype Numbers 1-4,” acrylic and graphite on canvas, four canvases - each 36”x 48.5”. Photo by Ellen C. Caldwell, courtesy of artist and Reginald Ingraham Gallery.

Listed under: Review

September 02, 2014, 9:49am

Museum Admission: “Gyre: The Plastic Ocean” at the Anchorage Museum

Plastic and its lasting after-effects have been a recurring topic of conversation over the past decade. News about the accumulation of microplastics, the drastic effect of human consumption and waste, and the seemingly permanent lifespan of this man-made material fill our newsfeeds, social media, and minds. I think many of us have been aware with the problem of plastic for a long time (artists too), but it wasn't until I saw Gyre: The Plastic Ocean, curated by Julie Decker, that I really considered the extensive, massive, and exhaustive issues at hand in a more poetic and profound way. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor


“Gyre: The Plastic Ocean,” installation view of
Mark Dion’s “Cabinet of Marine Debris” and Andy Hughes’ UFO Plastic Gyre Series Circularity Series at the Anchorage Museum. Photos Courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell.

Listed under: Museum Admission

June 10, 2014, 8:57am

The World Wide Archive Revisited: Gavin Bunner, Penelope Umbrico, and Dan Gluibizzi

After my April review “Dan Gluibizzi and the World Wide Archive,” painter Gavin Bunner (NAP #65, #97) and I discussed the process of sourcing images from the internet. Bunner expressed curiosity about whether Gluibizzi and Penelope Umbrico (also mentioned in the review) have noticed any changes in search engines over time and we wondered how these changes have impacted or inspired their work.

And so began this roundtable conversation with three artists, all who use the internet as a source of primary material for their work. Both Gluibizzi and Bunner are painters who find their source images online (Gluibizzi often using Tumblr and Bunner preferring Google images). Umbrico uses photography as both the medium and subject of her work, tapping sites like Craigslist, eBay, and YouTube for shared tags and similarities.

Though the three artists’ end products vary drastically in look and feel, they all capture something of the cultural zeitgeist pulsing through the world wide web. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor


Gavin Bunner | "Cactus Patch", Gouache, Sharpie on Paper, 38" x 30", 2013. Courtesy of the Artist.

Listed under: Interview

June 09, 2014, 8:51am

Delicate Details with Allison Watkins

Allison Watkins (NAP #109) uses hand-stitched embroidery to bring her drawings of clothing to life, creating a sort of trompe l’oeil effect where her textile “paintings” are imitating and standing in place for other textiles.


Allison Watkins | Hers and His
, hand-stitching on fabric, 52x64 (life-size), 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

Watkins uses her own clothing as source imagery and inspiration for her work, which is why there is probably such a feeling of warmth, comfort, and familiarity embedded in the very fabric and overall feel of the pieces. In her works, each item of clothing hangs fantastically in an undefined closet as if floating in an otherworldly space where it is just us—the viewers, and the clothes. These items take on a life of their own, calling attention to the uniqueness of our clothing and the delicate details that differentiate and define our very own dress and style.

I spoke to Watkins about her art and inspiration, shedding light on her process and plans for future projects. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

Listed under: Interview

May 20, 2014, 9:14pm

“The Territory of Our Longings” with Caroline Sharpless

Caroline Sharpless (NAP #108) paints interior spaces, breathing life into the very heart of the walls and architectural environments she creates. Her rooms oscillate between featuring mundane, muted colors lacking details and interiors highlighting bold bursts of jewel tones with precise intricacies. Both styles tap into and recall familiar memories we all have from the spaces we have inhabited, visited, or come to know.

These spaces seem to carry a human presence, as if some very essence of our earthly being has seeped into their walls. Her paintings remind me of the feelings we have all encountered when packing up an apartment or home. There is always a moment during that process when we stand back and look at the space and see it stripped down to its bare architectural form – furniture, décor, and memories all neatly packed away. And there is always a pang of longing and bittersweet realization, for me at least, that somehow I no longer belong in this space I once called home.

Sharpless captures this mix of poignant and oh-so-human feelings beautifully and seamlessly. - Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor


Caroline Sharpless | Time’s Decision Shook, 30 x 30 inches, oil on canvas.

Listed under: Interview

May 02, 2014, 9:18am

In the Studio: Process of a Painting with Chris Thorson

Thinking back to my senior year of college, I lived in a co-ed rental house with a bunch of guys and I remember the shocking and seemingly exponential amount of dirty socks that would congregate in the living room. In fact, there were so many that I christened a plastic laundry bin as a permanent dirty sock receptacle, living quietly behind one of the leather sofas.

Dirty socks are Chris Thorson’s (NAP #109) recent subject for her three-dimensional cast and painted works. These discarded, twisted forms carry a life of their own that tell a number of stories – where they were that day (mud from a hike or wetness from the rain), what kind of activities ensued (knee-high soccer socks or thin black dress socks), and what kind of mood the wearer might be in (sleeping sloth socks or whimsical polka-dots). For something so ugly, dirty, and potentially smelly, these worn socks carry a beauty that Thorson illuminates in her works.


Chris Thorson | detail from “Bro Series,” mixed media: hydrocal mixture, gouache, watercolor, colored pencil, oil paint, and dry pastel, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.

Listed under: In the Studio

April 21, 2014, 9:16am

The Art and Artifice of Hand-lettering

Is there a reason we’re so drawn to hand-lettering right now? Why are we craving handmade cards, signs, and posters in this moment? Why do we gravitate towards making hand-lettered flyers and signs and cards as opposed to designing on the computer? Maybe it’s just because we don’t know how to use Adobe InDesign and Illustrator… but we think there’s more to it than that. - Lauren Gallow & Ellen C. Caldwell


Gemma O’Brien | “
Better Left Unsaid” installation view at the Freemantle Arts Centre, 2013. Courtesy of the Jacky Winter Group.

Listed under: Art World

April 17, 2014, 9:58am

In the Studio: Process of a Painting with Cary Reeder

Cary Reeder (NAP #108) paints industrial sites in a very particular manner. These normally cold places are made to feel slightly warm because of her attention to precise details like shadow, color, tone, and hue. They are also compelling, as if Reeder is able to call our attention to details that we might have overlooked in our own neighborhoods and cities.

In this Process of a Painting, we join Reeder on her lengthy, complicated, and rather grueling process toward completing “They Still Work.” Follow along with Reeder’s thoughts and insight embedded throughout her equally important visual documentation of the process. – Ellen C. Caldwell


Cary Reeder | “They Still Work,” acrylic on canvas, 2014, 28”H x 36” W. Courtesy of the artist.

Listed under: In the Studio

April 15, 2014, 10:28am

In the Studio: Process of a Painting with Howard Sherman

In this Process of a Painting, painter and collagist Howard Sherman (NAP #60, #72, #90, #108) gives great insight into his process, which is based on experimentation, intuition, and action. Sherman does not have a formal approach to his works, which he feels out as he goes, much as many artists do. His approach is additive and subtractive though, and he finds the end result and the painting’s completion at unexpected moments during this experimental time.


Howard Sherman | "Edgy community of unconventional types", 70 x 60 inches, acrylic, canvas and marker, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.

In his own words, “I have had a long-standing interest in creating paintings that mix muscular abstraction with a playful cartoonist sensibility. The results have been commanding and humorous. My most recent work has included a disruption of my painting’s surfaces with collage in a raw and powerful way.”

What I love about Sherman’s process is that it is not necessarily what you expect, if you’ve only seen his finished works. It’s a fun, investigational journey, resulting in witty, playful, and wonderful painted finishes. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

Listed under: In the Studio

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