Friday, May 22, 2015

Art made out of books

I went to the fine art fair at Fort Mason and was struck by the lack of pure painting that Galleries were showing. There was a lot of great wall art, a lot of layered stuff, but not a lot of painting. The newer paintings I saw seemed under-thought and under-worked. The art fair exhibit with the biggest buzz was David Eggers' silkscreens; drawings with funny or interesting sayings on them. Drawing seems to be still cool. Painting just seems to be out.

Some of the best stuff at the art fair was art made out of books and cut paper. And it's fantastic. But it's making me crazy. I saw some lovely clocks made of books and a bookshelf made out of encyclopeodias at the Studio Gallery.  At our recent Hunters Point salon, paper became a theme. Kim Smith sells old prints from books and makes pretty collages out of leftover scraps (especially the lovely old end papers). I collect the kind of books she is cutting up! Dolores Grey showed us her fantasy dresses and corsets partly made from used sewing pattern paper. Finally, Leslie Lowinger showed haunting traditional prints on paper but she gave us book bags.

I love books. When I see book art, I love it! But I still wish I could pry off the glue and read the book. I can't walk into a library or bookstore without wanting to read a bunch of books. Books used to be precious. Abraham Lincoln walked miles for books.

I noticed many of my college students don't read or can't read well. (California public schools?)

Books, now, may as well be bricks to build a house with. A cool art material. It's like the barbarians are taking over civilization. It's shocking.

I just painted a book, trying to get that delicate feel of pages in the breeze that Singer Sargent accompished. I want to paint more books now.  But to paint a picture of them, not actually paint them.
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I visited the Scottish exhibit at the DeYoung and there were some real highlights. There is a Singer Sargent, a show-stopping D├ęgas and I was quite taken with the Van Dyck's. I saw them in Edinburgh but it was good to see them again, so many years later. I was struck by how dark so many of the older paintings were. I think I will try lowering the values of my shadows.

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