What’s in a Name?

The Contemporary Florentine Realism exhibition received some criticism for the title. Some of the participating painters objected to the term ‘realism’ and on the Rational Painting forums the title sparked a thread questioning the need to use the word ‘contemporary’. Granted I did not spend a great deal of time thinking of the name. I just needed to come up with an all-inclusive title to describe what we do in the least offensive manner to all parties. Sometimes talking with other realists reminds me of what some wise man once said: ‘there is no greater cause for ferocious argument than a subtle difference between two abstract ideas’ (along those lines anyways, I can’t find the quote).

Most art movements were given their appellations long after the fact but in today’s soundbite-driven world, we should probably have a catchy name. Its interesting to think that some art movement names were originally insults, such as Baroque, Macchiaoli or Fauvism. Odd Nerdrum has been going for this approach by adopting ‘Kitsch’ to describe his painting, you can read his ideas on the subject on his website.

When I was studying, Classical Realism was the blanket denomination for traditional painting. It always seemed too ivory-tower to me, however, as many of my favorite artists are painting very modern subjects albeit with traditional methods and much of the plein air work I admire has nothing really ‘classical’ about it.

‘Slow Art Florence’ was an early choice for the show’s title, especially as the Slow Food movement it pilfers the name from is very popular here. Greg Hedberg has already used ‘Slow Painting’ for his show at the Oglethorpe University Museum in 2006 (Aristos had an interesting critique of the name here). Though it’s a good idea, a quick google search for ‘Slow Art’ turns up a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with this show, and I paint pretty fast anyways.

Two of the best ideas for a title were from the Rational Painting forums. The first was Graydon Parish‘s ‘Post-Contemporary’ art, since the word has already been corrupted to mean a style and not a time. The other was Mark Diederichsen‘s ‘Reconstructionism’, a play on Derrida’s Deconstructionism which has influenced so much of Postmodernism. Unfortunately, once again, a quick browse through google turns up exhibitions of Post-Contemporary art (which appear to just be more of the same), and Reconstructionism is already a hard-core Christian movement advocating a return to Mosaic law.

Back to the drawing board. If anyone has suggestions, post them in the comments please.

Update: For the time being I’m using ‘Post-contemporary’ for the show title on the door, I find it too amusing to pass on.

Spam Filter Problems

Gmail’s spam filter has become over-zealous of late and is sending lots of real emails to the trash (including family and gallerists who I would never mark as spam). I’m aware of the problem now and have been digging through the muck to find your unanswered emails.

Just so you know I’m not ignoring people and will get around to replying very soon.

Blog Mechanics

My mobile blogging set-up.

My mobile blogging set-up.

A few artists have asked about the technical side of doing a blog so I thought I’d do a quick post. This blog is running off the free WordPress software and its all hosted on Bluehost, which I have been happy with. Bluehost has all the tools you need and is pretty easy to get running, and its cheap. It won’t handle getting on the front page of reddit, but you can sign up at MediaTemple for twice the price if that’s a possibility. The theme for the blog is Simplex, and the gallery plug-in is NextGen Gallery which, to be honest, is less than stellar, but its the best gallery of the ones I’ve tried.

For the hardware, I try to only buy gadgets and computer gear that have a large community of online users as I find active forums better than relying on the manufacturer’s support. The camera I’m currently using is a Panasonic GH1 as I want to start adding more video to the site, the active forum I follow for it is DVXUser. For blogging while I move around, I have a small Dell mini 9 which is souped up and hackintoshed thanks to the guys over at the MyDellMini forums. The cellphone is a Nokia N82. Its a good phone with real GPS and a decent 5MP camera (and it geotags the photos), it also doubles as a mobile wi-fi spot using JoikuSpot which is the most useful data-tethering program I’ve found. (It takes your 3G data connection and broadcasts it as wi-fi, much easier than fussing with cables and drivers. It works with all smart phones, except the iphone of course -ha ha suckers). My home computer is home made and built around a Gigabyte EP45-UD3R motherboard which I love, 8GB of ram, 2.8 ghz core 2 duo (Wolfdale), 2 TB of storage in Raid 5 and dual boots windows7 and osX.

Utrecht’s 60th Anniversary Art Competition

Piazza Tasso in Feburary

Piazza Tasso in February

My plein air painting of Piazza Tasso in February won first place in the oil painting category of Utrecht Art supplies 60th Anniversary Art Competition. I never really enter painting contests so this is pretty cool for me.

The painting itself was the largest plein air cityscape I had done at the time. To get the view I wanted I also had to stand in the road on a rather busy street which made things difficult. As the subject was a commission I first tried to get the Piazza with sunlight on it but, like painting flower gardens, to get the colors to come out it was actually better on overcast days. To paint the empty parking lot meant working on Sunday mornings every other week because of the street cleaning.

The great failure for me in the painting is the white car, which everyone recognizes immediately as a Fiat Panda, but it was a Fiat Uno and I botched the shape.

The blog ate my website

I’ve been very impressed with WordPress for the last six months but I’ve been trying to figure out how to get the blog to fit into my existing website. A couple of days ago I realized I should just merge the whole website into the blog.

The fact is that WordPress has developed a very powerful platform for presenting information and, while I don’t have the free time to learn to code for it, the free plug-ins and add-ons make it much easier to update other aspects of my site (besides just the blog).

Quite a few artist friends have asked recently about setting up a website and I would advise people to look into a blog format.

Next winter when I have more free time, I’ll try to get around to learning how to code a custom theme. In the meantime, be sure to update your bookmark to the new address.