CANDY JERNIGAN : SONGS OF PAIN, LAUGHTER and CONTENTMENT

About influences, sharing and unexpected discoveries

by JUDY FISKIN, FIONA CONNOR and ROSANNA ALBERTINI

“Art should make life more interesting than art”
Robert Filliou, quoted by Annette Messager, quoted by Sheryl Conkelton and who knows from how many others

 

9512426_orig

 

Los Angeles. It was friendship that pushed us around Candy Jernigan at the same moment, and for the first time. Three women drinking her potion from a pink cup slightly twisted, offish. Pencils stand by not less reluctant to be touched. Their scrawny bodies curved by life, and their shadows, spread a sense of pain. Blue things cannot be on the same page: they would bring in liquid sparks of infinity as the sky and the water, the inner sensation that something larger, and intangible, goes around life but nobody can grab it. Candy’s images are small parenthesis in the big picture. The musical modes of her mood reflected by simple, quotidian object friends. Mostly, her name and art sit quietly on their parenthetic couch, waiting. Somebody might lift the plastic sheet.

A vague description floating in her memory, of an art piece from the Whitney collection that was on display at the New Whitney: made with something found, small papers with colored lines… Fiona Connor was chasing the artist’s name. She asked Judy Fiskin and me. Like a waltz by Gabriel Fauré, not too cheerful and not fast enough, the hunting started between the three of us, questioning, asking other people, getting lost. Soon Fiona found the name and sent it to us with a link to the anti-product web site: it was Candy Jernigan. She died in New York at age 39 in 1991, the same year I moved to Los Angeles. Eight images on the screen.

 

1404464_orig

 

2253542_orig

 

2449987_orig

 

3259623_orig

 

3516461_orig

 

7913593_orig

 

2318305_orig

 

Found online images. No captions, no dates. Yet, striking. I couldn’t stop looking at the artwork. Same reaction from Judy and Fiona. “Would you send me your response to Candy Jernigan’s work, for The Kite? I will add mine,” I asked both.

Judy Fiskin

Here is my response to Candy Jernigan’s leaves from Père Lachaise:

img_4315

 

Fiona Connor

I went up to the Laurel Doody’s last week to stay on her house boat and found this board. I have become obsessed with casting it in bronze. I love this chopping board – it is perfectly shaped by somebody, it has scars, it is hard to pin down.

I think I responded to Candy’s work because it is about mapping the world, being out there exploring as her modus operandi, choosing a single thing to help make sense of it. At this moment a practice that does not try and sum it up or say it how it is directly feels good. There are life lines in her work.

I ordered her book. I will hopefully show it to you on Sunday, Rosanna.

I am wondering about collecting and drawing works – will they always be deemed minor? Can they survive being brought into full view when they become something that an artist does, their thing? Do they require a sort of ‘childs eye’ or naivety on everyones part?

Is this important probably not. Some bile in our romanticism.

I forgot to take your book the other day Rosanna, I have been reaching for it.

Did another Newspaper Reading Club readings at the Getty courtyard this week with Billy Woodbury he read Le Monde it was very powerful.

Judy I love your photo and I am so so so excited for your iPhone film. Fuck.

A response, some news.

There is another artist I want to point you to Yuji Agematsu. He walked round New York for a year and filled the plastic sheaths that come off of cigarette packets with bits of rubbish from the city’s floor.

Love from,

Fiona

img_0317

 

My response, R. A.

She was not just a collector. She picked up and took care, gently, of pieces of garbage and discarded used objects that somebody’s fingers had touched and tossed. She attached her treasures to a thick paper or drew them with precision as if honoring their existence: nicely, in order. Wraps and prints and labels and matches and found dope from the city life, a blade of grass, a leaf in the country. She organized her relics in a space of quiet.

I’m attracted by her need of order. I wonder, was her imagination “pressing back against the pressure of reality?” (Wallace Stevens) No doubt as an artist she revealed her ‘nobility’ which is spiritual depth. “Nothing distorts itself and seeks disguise more quickly. There is a shame of disclosing it and in its definite presentations a horror of it. But there it is.” Nobility makes art possible, helping to feel each day as a gift, every thing as a custodian of vibrations, changes, expressions. Candy Jernigan’s cans of beans dance her homage to Goya.

Graphic order is the first thing I was taught in school: we drew little apples, or triangles, all around the page guided by a grid of squares. We weren’t yet able to read and write. We had to follow the grid, and be precise. To be literal was obligatory. (My school was a rural school in Northern Italy, with one teacher for two classes in the same room and countryside children using ink as a weapon from the tip of the nib.)

In the end we had made ‘una greca,’ a decorative frame recalling Greek borders. But Greek was only a word and we didn’t know what it meant. La greca was our decoration and nothing else. The forms we used though, reproducing flowers fruits or geometric signs, were part of the visual experience in our messy daily life, but these images were not as attractive as real pears or apples. We couldn’t eat them. I guess we discovered the images’ misery when they are not art. And in that time after World War II, we really were hungry.

Influence —I think it’s a sort of nourishment you take from other artists— it’s like the little sparrows, they are needy like that. When you’re young, you take in from a lot of sources; and afterwards, with all you’ve seen, you never know where it all comes from, where you stop and it begins.
—Annette Messager

Bibliography:

Wallace Stevens, The Necessary Angel, Essays on Reality and Imagination, New York, Vintage Book, 1942

Arthur Schnitzler, Relations et Solitudes, Aphorismes  Transl. from German by Pierre Deshusses, Paris, Rivage Poche, 1988

Annette Messager, Catalogue by Sheril Conkelton and Carol S. Eliel, Copyright © 1995 by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

 

WAR IN THE EYES


Northern Italy 1943-45

Uncle and Niece: ROSANNA and ALBERTO ALBERTINI

HUMAN EYES AND THE EYE OF A CAMERA

A Panzer IV of the Waffen SS "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler" division in Milan, Piazza del Duomo, immediately after the German occupation that followed the September 8, 1943 armistice

A Panzer IV of the Waffen SS “Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler” division in Milan, Piazza del Duomo, immediately after the German occupation that followed the September 8, 1943 armistice. (Wikipedia)

1325-PERSONE-EPOCA

Rosanna Albertini (niece) – I was born in the new days without war in an Italian village near Milano, and grew up with stories that nobody was able to forget so they were told over and over like an exorcism. For two years, before my living time began, the space between Milano and the Swiss border was a confused arena of bombing and killings. Large numbers of people were filling the streets, especially in Milan, manifesting collective feelings, raising their heads against military occupation and lack of jobs and food shortage.  To see the end of fascism in person was a way to become witnesses, to be sure there was an ending to bring home.

September 8, 1943, after the armistice, Milano was occupied by the German army.
April 25, 1944, under the directions of the partisan command of Northern Italy, Milan was liberated.
April 28,1945, Mussolini was arrested and killed. His collaborators had the same destiny.

I was an outcome of the war. By hope or by accident, I will never know. The doctor taking care of my mother’s pregnancy lived by the lake. Mother was eighteen. In no way our transportation could be safe: they still used horses and carts in December 1945: the horse was old, maybe the driver was drunk and the steep road toward the lake covered with ice. Despite the fact that details about the accident have been steadily hidden from me, I do know that I did do the first somersault of my life. I did not break from her body that day as the terrified members of my family expected. Christmas was approaching, I stayed warm where I was until the 28.

Alberto Albertini (my uncle) – In the early 1944, the dying regime tried to save little pockets of power. Placing blockades near the borders, for instance. Besano, our village, was four miles on a steep road up from Porto Ceresio, where the Swiss border starts, and the blockage was mid-way between the two villages. Because Besano’s city hall was in Porto Ceresio, to go to Porto we had to show a permit with identity photo. As I was the only one in the village doing photographs, I did portraits of everybody. I only saved a few of them. A curious thing: the blockage controllers were a special auxiliary police whose members, on April 25, merged into the partisan forces, as if such a decision were normal.
        The same happened with the customs officers. I was supposed to enlist with them exactly for this reason. I never did, the X hour struck. On the way home from Milan, I had to wait for the night to find a train. But I also wished for a lift from some truck. There was none. Not far from me, a bunch of young black shirts was hanging about. One of them was my age. I basically told him: ‘What a heck are you doing wearing a fascist uniform that is now against the law, when the war is lost and everything is falling apart? And the guy felt smart enough to tell me that his name was Felice Mascetti and he was happy (Felice) by name and by fact… when one has an idea! Comic and tragic facts followed. The guy was from Varese, he had tried to score with my girlfriend (I learned it when the news appeared) and died in a small fight against the partisans. The corps of fascism, already decayed, enlisted young and very young boys who might feel proud of themselves thanks to weapons and uniforms.

1320-PERSONE-EPOCAvarie epoca041-119

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1319-PERSONE-EPOCA

1310-PERSONE-EPOCA

rev.GENTE 104104

1318-PERSONE-EPOCA

1322-PERSONE-EPOCA

1324-PERSONE-EPOCA

1327-PERSONE-EPOCA

1326-PERSONE-EPOCA 

1321-PERSONE-EPOCA

Technological war-craft: making the camera for portraits.

For lack of money and tools Alberto adapted 35mm film to a 6×9 camera, borrowing parts from a cheap Ferrania.

  1. he added a plate adaptor, as if the 6×9 camera were a plate camera.
  2. made a 35mm drive in the Ferrania and a piece of wood pressing on the film to keep it in the right position.
  3. Then he made by hand a small, indented wooden spool connected to a spring, so that at every perforation he could hear a ‘tac’ while rolling the film.

DSC_2421-21 DSC_2422-22 DSC_2425-25

 

Post scriptum by RA

It is difficult to read those eyes. They drank the war darkness and maybe kept looking at the bottom of their glass. What do they bring to me, to us, in 2016? Do I see their pain because they are my tribe, from the village where I was born? Is this the same pain of all those who survived years of war? In Palestine, in Africa, in Afghanistan? Is ours a completely different time? There is a layer of photographic or filmic splendor in the war images we share  today. Even a video recently made by a Palestinian girl about life in her refugee camp in Jordan is just beautiful. Images versus reality? The homeless’ eyes around me in Los Angeles are not as desperate as my people’s. I don’t have an answer. A vague sense of real things in my guts tells me that the war eyes are still like the ones in the identity portraits made by Alberto. We don’t see them in the newspapers. Maybe we like better not to see them, to keep them out of our walls. More than ever we need artists, hands showing the real thing, creating a new visual grammar, and new words, tearing off the lies of illusions. 

The greenness of night lies on the page and goes
Down deeply in the empty glass. . .

Look, realist, not knowing what you expect.
The green falls on you as you look,

Falls on and makes and gives, even a speech.
And you think that that is what you expect,

That elemental parent, the green night,
Teaching a husky alphabet.

WALLACE STEVENS, Phosphor Reading by his Own Light – From: Parts of a World, 1942-1951
in Wallace Stevens, The Collected Poems, New York, Vintage Books, 1990.

R. AA COORDINARE 017

Alberto Albertini using the camera he had built for the identity portraits.

 

PAPER WINGS and BRONZE DECOR

NAOTAKA HIRO 2012-2015 Los Angeles

HIRO.Rosen201516

“The bronze piece is titled, Red Olive. It is a life cast of my right arm from chin to fingers, holding a testicle.  The testicle is painted red.” (Red Olive, 2015, bronze and acrylic paint, 24″ x 14″ x 12″)

“I had a bald spot back of my head, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, almost for a year.  It seems to have resulted from severe stress. Even though the spot was rather big, I didn’t notice it until a friend told me. In Japanese folklore there is a monster called futakuchi-onna: it is a woman with two mouths: one located on her face and the other on the back of the head, underneath her hair. Having her in mind I split open a face of my head-cast mask and cut a hole in the back. Then I stuck my head into the mask and breath through the hole.  I was interested in the shape, blackness of the pit, and, like a black hole, its unknowability and uncanny nature.” Naotaka Hiro.

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2015 Pencil, watercolor, 17" x 14" Courtesy of the artist and Misako & Rosen, Tokyo

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2015 Pencil, watercolor, 17″ x 14″ Courtesy of artist and Misako & Rosen, Tokyo

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2015 Pen, watercolor, 17" x 14" Courtesy of the artist and Misako & Rosen, Tokyo

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2015 Pen, watercolor, 17″ x 14″ Courtesy of the artist and Misako & Rosen, Tokyo

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015 Graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9" x 12"

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015  graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9" x 12"

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

 

“THERE MUST BE SOME WINGS ON WHICH TO FLY”* by Rosanna Albertini

Because humans do not have wings, and their minds are stuck in their bodies, they never cease questioning their own substance, the density of their thoughts like a fog over a buzzing busy hive of cells and organs, veins and pumps that we detect in biology books. Naotaka decided to dive into his own blindness, to visit images of the unknown carapace, of gestures, not to mention the invisible motion/emotion ejected through hands drawing without knowing, not really knowing what’s appearing in images a l’impromptu, and yet the artist doesn’t miss the spot he has found in some curves of his brain, creatures swimming or multiplying in chemical ponds. They are in him, not clear at all if they are him.

 

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9" x 12"

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen watercolor on paper

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

Naotaka Hiro started to send out of his body from fifteen to twenty drawings a day five years ago, when his son was born. As if proliferation couldn’t stop? And every new born on paper is “his double” —he says. A supernatural disease? A human trying to capture the most fleeting, indefinite motions of his being. Sheets of paper are not mirrors. Light, light shadows, grab them before they melt, before they harden in ideas, visions, words. Movement is their natural birth, coming from any part of the body, wrapping forms recalling exterior limbs having the same delicacy of the interior skins but forms are not right, they look free from bones like new branches sprouting from a tree not yet aware they will have bark and leaves one day. Images of these drawings forget they had been conceived in an organism, a place of functional cooperation.  They show us the mysterious story of inner impulses asking to emerge and then feeling surprised there is inhuman space out there; “there must be some wings on which to fly.” Rebellious and gregarious at the same time.

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 6" x 8.5"

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 6″ x 8.5″

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9" x 12"

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9" x 12"

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

Those papers the artist covers with colors and water and delicacy extreme could be wings of desire floating in his mind. Sculpted and drawn hands look like an alien presence, four fingers, not five.

The hand is a bronze thief that holds a red fruit picked up from sexual organs. Something that might. Rigid, its power is lost.

On paper, creatures of water find a presence which is not supposed to last, the birth of an instant stabbing the artist with the force of an instinct, defenseless, already becoming something else.

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without man feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy,
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches,
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

WALLACE STEVENS, Of Mere Being, in Opus Posthumous, 1990

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9" x 12"

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

* Wallace Stevens, Adagia, in Opus Posthumous, New York, Vintage Books, 1990.

OUT OF THE RIGHT PLACE

WHERE THE RIGHT PLACE IS AN ILLUSION:

LOS FELIZ
an art/film by Edgar Honetschläger, 2001-2016

by Rosanna Albertini

LOS FELIZ. The scroll has become a film, a Babel of spoken and visual stories sometimes shed like tears in the form of raindrops; images struck by sounds or submerged in silence, dragging fears and fights for control along with a deep sense of how meaningless they are. And yet LOS FELIZ is an art piece gnawed at its heart by desire. An art piece longing for a space in which BEAUTY escapes the torture of being used to seduce the public, and becomes lively and lovable in a pot of grass.

Los Feliz1

The visual stream built by the artist stretches and transforms reminiscences of Edgar’s journey between three faraway pots of civilization: his personal experiences in Rome, Los Angeles and Tokyo. His own displacement in the back of his mind, he fills the screen with an undefined space of waiting, searching for and letting go, as if the few persons involved in the fictional trip were figures wrapped around an inner empty hole, measuring the distance that keeps them far from their own lives. Symbols, only looking like humans.

Los Feliz1-1

Los Feliz1-13

Los Feliz1-3

I travel, instead, through the remains, I would say the ruins of his spiritual and intellectual digging for thirteen years into the solid ground of places and people, until he resets and expands in the now their visual presence through a different story, in a rarefied as well as imaginary world. The question: “Does what we see or understand have anything to do with things as they really are?” wears certainties away. I better avoid truth as a word. I can’t avoid seeing the display of episodes in and out the blue car like parts of a long painting, mostly gray: the remains of a feast on a long table, they make me think of André Derain’s late still lives.

Los Feliz1-2

The image of the three ridiculous cardinals each standing on each other’s shoulders while turning the wheel of the entire story, shifting gears while not much happens in the characters’ inner journey, throws humor over the process. Guns and violence look as absurd as the false teeth of the prelate blocking the gears of a possible new story. Nonetheless, although feelings are vanished from the thread of the story, images and sounds hold on them, strongly.

(Looking at the next image try to imagine an orchestra of insects in summertime:)

Los Feliz1-7

 

Los Feliz1-4

Los Feliz1-10

 

 

 

 

 

Writing itself, unfortunately, has driven the aforesaid paragraphs into the film logic. I don’t regret it because in LOS FELIZ the artist has embraced the film format in the first place, 102 minutes of a hybrid creature. As God is generated by it’s own name, a bunch of letters makes an absence. My head has been cut off, Edmond Jabès lent me his words for a short while. The world is sound, sound like a head. “Drive,” he says.
Emptiness is your face
Emptiness is your trip
You must carry the film as a sin.
He is talking to Edgar, and to me if I don’t stop writing about the film.
As if it were only a film. It’s also a piece of theater, using the backdrop of ‘miles’ of Edgar Honetschläger’s black and white drawings: the spare profile of the land of freedom as lonely as the universe. It’s a river of music and singing birds and silence and water merging into each other. Almost floating in time, a sequence of accidents in and out the blue car pretending to move from one station to another – the strongest illusion in LOS FELIZ – gives rise to a development that doesn’t go anywhere, very much like in Pat O’Neill’s experimental films. Since the beginning, the idea of a story (Deus ex machina) hovers over the blue little car like a flying stork holding a baby who won’t become an adult. Why the grass? “Oh, it’s NECESSARY,” says Edgar’s shinto goddess. “The necessary angel,” Wallace Stevens would say, and he corrects my Italian vision of angels with wings sitting on clouds. Life is a disturbing storm around, but the artist “merely enjoys existence.”

“The way we live and the way we work alike casts us out of reality.”

“I am the truth, since I am part of what is real, but neither more nor less than those around me. And I am imagination, in a leaden time and in a world that does not move for the weight of its own heaviness.”

Wallace Stevens spoke these words in 1943. Honetschläger’s feeling of flatness is the equivalent, today, of Stevens’ feeling of heaviness. In his art piece in motion LOVE, FAME, FATE become mirages. The more humans rush toward them, the farther away they move. After all, they are nothing but words.

Los Feliz1-9

Los Feliz1-8

Los Feliz1-11

La vie est plus belle que les idées. Life is more beautiful than ideas. Music and sounds are stronger than words: they convey the infinite vibrations, sudden changes, weaknesses and pitches of living things; they adhere to the artist’s body like a second skin made by past and present others: beauty is sharing. As for images, beauty pervades them when they become flat bodies of a moment, sparkles of time asking our senses to embrace them and let them go, in a river of emptiness.

Los Feliz1-5

Mineo Mizuno: WATER DREAMS: FLOWERS

THE SKIN OF A WHITE HOLE by Rosanna Albertini

They all dream of water: the clay, the flowers to be, and the artist who knows too well how life, the fluid substance of life, is more consistent and powerful than ideas. He has made ceramic objects and sculptures long enough to feel the voice of the clay in his fingers. It’s the empirical knowledge of the maker, but Mineo is Japanese despite his many years in Los Angeles, and his sculptural effort doesn’t go against the unstoppable change of every form which is alive. His agreement with reality makes him able to wrap his mind round the growth of leaves and branches, to merge his forms into the passage of seasons. If he must move, his art moves along with him.

He must create his unreal world out of what is real.” (Wallace Stevens)

Who told you matter is inert? I can see the cows who gave their bones to English factories to improve the whiteness and translucency of traditional porcelain; magma from earth’s belly thrown up by volcanos, crystals solidified in rocks, chemical weddings of mineral and animal bodies, and the china clay out of Kao-Ling’s crystals, called Kaolin from a Chinese hill mined for centuries so that Chinese porcelain could be made, and the European as well after a French Jesuit brought to Europe samples of Kaolin in the eighteenth century. There is a long story of migrations, of natural splashing, spitting and dealing with the atmosphere. Humans are part of it. Built up and eroded by space and time, our physical presence is so fragile that we seek protection in our thoughts, as if they weren’t part of the chemistry … and artists pour water on the dryness of words.

MINEO MIZUNO, FMR series 017, 2015.  Porcelain 13.5 x 21.75 x 13.5in. Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

MINEO MIZUNO, FMR series 017,  2015,  Porcelain  3.5 x 21.75 x 13.5in.
Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

MINEO MIZUNO, Mineo Mizuno, FMR series 018, 2015. Porcelain  7 x 20.5 x 7in. Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

MINEO MIZUNO,  FMR series 018, 2015, Porcelain 7 x 20.5 x 7in.
Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

MINEO MIZUNO, Mineo Mizuno, FMR series 004, 2015. Porcelain  7 x 15 x 7in. Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

MINEO MIZUNO, FMR series 004, 2015, Porcelain 7 x 15 x 7in.
Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

MINEO MIZUNO,   FMR series 010, 2015. Porcelain 10 x 20.5 x 10in. Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

MINEO MIZUNO, FMR series 010, 2015, Porcelain 10 x 20.5 x 10in.
Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

Porcelain time for Mineo. Bone China must bloom. Cow bones almost disappeared in contemporary clay. The newborn forms by Mineo will show their happiness with being free from industrial shapes and patterns of cups, plates, vases and  teapots spread everywhere by the liquid connection between continents, from the Etruscan to the British and Portuguese ages. The new forms are so irregular, their skin so thin and personal that I can’t avoid seeing them as bodies. “Don’t touch me, I can’t be used, I’m already a flower.” Yes? “But I’m credible, my maker made me so, maybe he is also credible, as poets are, don’t you know? A white hole keeps us clear, for mystery is far from us and you can see your flops of faith in each of us, we will never serve you. But pour your dreams in us, they will fly.”

“What the whole world could not contain, did Mary contain.” [A medieval saying] “There is more real sex in that one sentence than in all the so-called erotic literature ever penned. And it is exactly about the principle of matter, whose activity is fully and willingly to receive.” (in Dirt-The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, by William Bryant Logan, 1995)

WHAT’S A REAL STORY WHEN PAINTED N.3

 137ac  JANET LAING

JANET LAING, Untitled, 2015, Oil on canvas 18

JANET LAING, Untitled, 2015, Oil on canvas 18″ x 18″ (round)   Photo: Bianca Sforni
Courtesy of 137ac

Artist Statement

A PERSON VIBRATES, MOVES, CHANGES  By Janet Laing

 “I have been painting for 13 years—ever since I first got sober at 49, and began art therapy groups. Painting is healing and therapeutic for me, it frees my mind of clutter so I can concentrate on what is in front of me. 

I love art because it is such a great tool for self-expression. Both singing and painting are my fortes because through these vehicles I find my inner voice. 

There is something magical about capturing a sound, a color, and the vibrancy of telling a story. It also makes me only too aware of how I must evolve, stretching beyond my comfort zone, taking some risks so that my personal truth can come to light. 

Lately I have been painting in oil on canvas and giving myself themes: People and Pets; Kissing Couples; and Waterfalls.”

TIME HAS A WAY OF BEING FEMALE     I was born in Los Angeles in 1952 and raised in a working class family attending schools in Covina and West Covina.  I knew I wanted to be a professional singer by the age of eight, but was never encouraged in this or any other art form.  In my twenties I did a lot of different jobs, but mostly worked as a legal secretary because my typing was fast.  When I found out my mother died at 38 from Huntington’s Disease, and  I had a 50/50 chance of inheriting the gene, I decided I better work at what I love, singing.

That is when I moved to New York City and sang with the Funktionaries. Later I formed my own female band, Wanda and The Way It Is.  I sang, wrote songs and breezed past my late thirties and forties without getting HD but my two brothers were not so lucky. They both passed away. Me, I was living the fast, wild and wooly lifestyle of an entertainer. It didn’t take long before I was a full-fledged alcoholic.

Recovery brought me to my knees and then my senses were awakened in art, music and writing. I became prolific in all three and recaptured my long lost soul.  My spirit had been pushed down all my life because it was impractical to be an artist. Now I am thriving in all art’s glory. Thanks to Annatina Miescher, founder of 137ac, I have a studio with supplies to paint in and get to work with like-minded people who love to paint. Our collective is innovative and challenging and we are blessed to have each other to inspire. My band, Wanda and The Way It Is, has come full circle as well.

CCI00004_3fixed

“When we look at the blue sky for the first time, that is to say not merely see it, but look at it and experience it and for the first time have a sense that we live in the center of a physical poetry, a geography that would be intolerable except for the non-geography that exists there — few people realize that they are looking at the world of their own thoughts and the world of their own feelings.

On that occasion, the blue sky is a particular of life that we have thought of often, even though unconsciously, and that we have felt intensely in those crystallizations of freshness that we no more remember than we remember this or that gust of wind in spring or autumn.” (Wallace Stevens)

 

JANET LAING, Swimmers, 2014, oil on canvas  24

JANET LAING, Swimmers, 2014, oil on canvas 24″ x 18″       Photo: Bianca Sforni
Courtesy of 137ac

THE BLUE SKY SHUTTERED IN PIECES FELL INTO JANE LAING’S PAINTINGS

By ROSANNA ALBERTINI

What’s in front of her, in front of us all, is the most malleable scene. Only the mood, and the way we step into the new day will tell if the beach, or the towers downtown are easy or impossible to reach. Los Angeles is in my mind, the place where Jane Laing came from and where I live; a non geographical spreading of trees houses water and sky so expanded and intertwined with different languages and communities that nobody thinks of human nature as something interesting. Human nature is just a drop in the water.

So I’m not sure what disconnected Janet from her nature nailing her fast fingers to a typewriter except the idea maybe that humans are good when they make money and compete with machines. A very diffused feeling around parents of young people of her generation, also in Europe, a sort of after war syndrome. “Tears are not the chorus. Food is not the chorus. Money is not the chorus. What is the chorus. … Anyway there is the question of identity.” (Gertrude Stein) And that also has to do with the cat.

Jane built her living space despite the broken glass around her, perhaps a broken sky. Her cat recognizes her. In the end she became an artist.

Her painted stories are songs of separation: she paints a life pushed down to earth, rocks or asphalt. There is no open sky, no sky at all. Buildings and roads as brown as dirt. They are scenes of movement. Flatness liberates them from realism. Painted life is not reproduced life. It’s her dream of a living place charged with physical energy: human bodies float rather than swim in the ocean because the water does the work after swallowing green and blue and azure and pale blue and she can tell the humans “you know? I don’t care. I’m the strong one.”

JANET LAING, Waterfall, 2014 (?)  oil on canvas Courtesy of 137ac

JANET LAING, Waterfall, 2014,  oil on canvas
Courtesy of 137ac

The painter as well found her voice as if crystals of freshness exploded in her mind, as if she had seen the sky melting in waterfalls so the rocks can wear a liquid dress that constantly changes, at the same time sounding like an orchestra for the invisible birds hidden in the green. Of course, somewhere, there is always a cat.

JANET LAING, Caramela and the Birds, 2014, Oil on canvas  18

JANET LAING, Caramela and the Birds, 2014, Oil on canvas 18″ x 20″
Courtesy of 137ac

Her painted cats are bodies of tense muscles, concentrated: “Shall I jump from the window? mmm… Maybe the birds are too distant.” But a crazy desire spreads from the eye in yellow, follows the birds, becomes a yellow stream from a window… and the azure surrounding the cat like a river, whatever, why should words count?

JANE LAING, Portrait of Jonathan, 2013, Oil on canvas, 18

JANE LAING, Portrait of Jonathan, 2013, Oil on canvas, 18″ x 24″
Courtesy of 137ac

That’s why I love Jane Laing’s portraits. They are silent. Although they happen to be in a particular place, the person’s outline is surrounded by a white halo, maybe a reflection of her/his/whose mind which travels elsewhere, and doesn’t stay inside.

JANET LAING, bicker chicks, 2013, Oil on canvas, 23.5

JANET LAING, bicker chicks, 2013, Oil on canvas, 23.5″ x 31″
Courtesy of 137ac

Let’s go, let’s go girls, springtime is calling. Musicians are ready. “Azure, the afternoon is too azure and too long for me. I might take the train and come to see you. But, the train of my desires and the one of my thoughts go in opposite directions.” What about a lemon ice-cream? “Azzurro, il pomeriggio è troppo azzurro e lungo per me. Quasi quasi prendo il treno e vengo da te. Ma il treno dei desideri e dei pensieri all’incontrario van.” From Azzurro, a song by Paolo Conte.

WHAT’S A REAL STORY WHEN PAINTED

137ac  — PAULA ISAAC

Her statements

November 2014 — Art is what you make of it. It is sexuality, immaturity, advancement, it is a definition of how much you study life and your own feelings, of how you manage your life or self-esteem. For me, it is love of yourself and I am gonna say no more.

January 2015 — All the old masters were the greatest painters of a time men wanted to see themselves as being beautiful. Then Norman Rockwell came along at a time men wanted to feel good about who they were. This artist is my hero. He painted a human life America wanted, and needed to lift American spirit. I paint more informal than he did. I am telling a tale that is more contemporary. My travels are real stories and his was more storytelling.

PAULA ISAAC, Self Portrait, 2014, Oil on canvas, 28" x 22" Courtesy of 137ac

PAULA ISAAC, Self Portrait, 2014, Oil on canvas, 28″ x 22″
Courtesy of 137ac

paula2

Paula’s bio by Paula

I, Paula, am a go getter shy woman born in Trinidad in 1960, a twin in the middle of ten children. Trinidad let me memories of colors. Since age three I drew and made paper dolls and their clothes. I was a quiet child. Dad loved to make masks for the carnival in Trinidad. I would be a plumber if I had listened to him.

When I was 8, we joined my two older sisters in Queen, New York. I saw snow for the first time that year. I went to the High School of Arts and Design; wanting to be a cartoonist, I wanted to draw at least. Then I moved on to FIT, fashion illustration, remember the paper doll dresses? But there was no drawing real people.

At age 22 I decided to be a real artist and got part time work to pay my supplies. At 27 I married Bill and became the mom of Letitia at 32, Bill died of cancer when she was only 5. My time as a mom went by so fast, occasionally I could sell a painting for us to go to a movie or theater. Then I joined the Arts Student League to get my hands back in the arts: survival for my mind. In 2014 I was invited to join 137ac, so I took a chance.

WHAT’S A REAL STORY WHEN PAINTED

by Rosanna Albertini

What comes and go, on the flat land of a canvas, is bodies and time. How they want to be there is the artist’s discovery. A woman sits and looks out of her confinement. Each eye shaped by a different state of mind. The same happens in Woman V by Willem De Kooning. And same stillness. The canvas is where she belongs, fluids and feelings so compressed within they pierce her skin to bleed out. The figure at odds with light perhaps because she can be hit — light, life, pressure of reality. Instead she wants to stay, stay like a brick needs to be in a wall. A visitor asks Paula if the painted woman is a self-portrait. “Oh that,” she answers after thinking a moment, “ that’s my spirit.” It’s Paula’s blue period, brown and blue. It doesn’t really matter the kind of scene that is painted, it’s not a collection of figures in different postures. Objects are absent, humans fill the stage. If they sit, they just sit on their own presence: a woman smokes and sits, it is maybe three times the same woman as in a film sequence. She doesn’t look out of the painting.

PAULA ISAAC, Her, Herer, Herest, 2015, Oil on canvas, 28" x 35" Courtesy of 137ac

PAULA ISAAC, Her, Herer, Herest, 2015, Oil on canvas, 28″ x 35″
Courtesy of 137ac

IMG_20150302_193855

The subject of the painting, like the subject of poetry, is “the life that is lived in the scene that it composes; and so reality is not that external scene but the life that is lived in it. Reality is things as they are […] It is a jungle in itself. As in the case of a jungle, everything that makes it up is pretty much of one color.” (Wallace Stevens)

The blue of the lake, the blue of the sky in Paula’s work. Not only the figures’ body, their mind wears blue, the scene works in blue, moves through time creating distance without perspective. A prominent point has replaced the vanishing optical illusion. Here’s now. I follow the fantasy that Paula thinks blue letting the brush be liquid and flexible. Erasing as well as selecting.

In the studio a catalogue of a Filippo de Pisis exhibition is open on the table. In and out of her paintings, the artist, maybe, can’t really separate them from her life, the internal scene has become a picture of her being in the world. Paula wouldn’t stop reading De Pisis’ painted thoughts, how he painted what remains in his mind of a city, a beach or a bunch of flowers. As she unfolds the Italian painter’s thread I can see hers, and I would cry with pleasure. My inner painting.