27 January 2009

Tucson Art I Like

It's been a while since I did an "Art I like" post. I'm pretty blessed to know or be associated with some talent in Tucson. So, I think I'll talk about them in my fuddly duddly manner. I also see I'm an "art blog" in Tucson Scene. There are plenty of artists I like in Tucson. These are a few whose art I also like.

Amy Novelli
It's hard to be a girl! It's hard to be a girl that loves to paint and draw horses. It's hard to be a girl who paints and draws horses and has a 'high faluten' art degree with New York friends telling her she should be modern, conceptual, abstract, minimalistic, and avant-garde. It's hard to take having hundreds of public art pieces, grants, projects, paintings sold, dozens of television interviews, nation-wide gallery placement, awards and a hard fought placement in Southwest Arts Magazine and ignore it. And to think, community arts galleries wouldn't consider hanging her stuff. Subject matter, too... where we all live and breathe.

The catch 22 is that beyond Amy being a masterful painter, she also really is an avid horsey girl; has a ranch, rides a rescued mustang, is at the county fair for the Mustang Rescue, and has more public art in our city than, aye, pretty much most anyone. Ever been to Congress hotel on Halloween? It's all her paint. Rodeo parade? Her costume wins first prize. Fan of Obama? She's driving the public arts projects.

In a world that gets more artificial, more academic and less real, Amy is authentic. Authentic cowgirl, authentic Southwest, authentic Tucson. She's as real as it gets.
See some Amy!

Chris Rush
I'm more a fan with great connections. Jane has been nearly lifelong friends with Chris. In the words of somewhat reclusive local art collector John Wells, "Chris is the cities greatest renderer of the human form." I concur. Everyone loves a realist. Like Michelangelo, he gives figurative realism his own style.

What keeps his work edgy and alive is his sense of the weird. He's picky about his subjects. There's a uniqueness he's finding in humanity. A pack-rat that collects anything old, unique and strange, he incorporates these objects into his art and adds to them with his own oil based commentary, commentary made through the face. I think Chris is looking for the people behind the objects of the long dead and wishes them to glow large in a new life. In other pure canvas works, he is looking for the alien, or the perfectly modern take on "getting your photo taken," and the sudden juxtaposition of old and new. Or old and kitsch. Or new and kitsch. He breaks his own laws a lot. Spin art vs. old mans face made a good impression on me a couple years back. His recent show at Etherton Gallery is more proof of an artistic youth that refuses to die.

A prodigy of mentor Bailey Doogen, Chris began with an amazing graphic talent, particularly focused on silk screen. Too big for graphics, he made the jump to fine artist and never looked back. Listen closely, quality and strangeness is king.
Visit Chris.

Mauricio Toussaint
For the years I've known Mauricio, including being involved with Dinnerware Contemporary Arts together during a year of turmoil, he never gave up as the ultimate salesman and perfect shop keep of the organization. Undaunted by the digital world, he seems to have hacked the Facebook application and has a wikipedia entry! Admirable considering his 6th century painting technique of encaustic. Today the technique allows for multi-layered versions of painting that have background and foreground, blurriness and surface rubbed etching techniques. Also, in the world of oils, a surface that dries and can be worked on immediately.

I admit that I only keep up with him when he is in town, but between Guadalajara, Arizona, Santa Fe, he's growing a strong presence. Recently a US citizen, skies the limit.

Mauricio is a symbolist. Trees, boys heads, mazes, houses, ladders, ravens. The symbols are presented without preconception, in a humble plain way. There is a puzzle there though. There is a complexity and sometimes hidden messages. Something that reminds me of life lessons and school book illustrations. At no point do you consider naive in the mix as applied to technique. Mauricio will remind you with a fully finished face and enlightened shading that there is a wizard behind the curtain, who is afraid to scare you off and decides to remain humble. And it just looks cool!
Visit Mauricio.

Matthew Yates
My uncle worked as a photographer for the Chicago Tribune for something like 20 yrs. Most complaining man I know. Made the most money for working the least that I know. He said photography is dead. Yeah man, the journalists are taking the photos now.

Matthew Yates doesn't complain. I've hired him a couple times for (cough) not the most interesting commercial jobs. Matt makes it interesting. Matt is just interesting. His imagination works itself into whatever is in the moment.

His art starts at the idea, begins with a model and a scene and really gets going when it goes into the darkroom. Obsessed with vintage photography, elegant damage to negatives, faulty printing events and aged frames, each print is an event upon itself. If it's too perfect, he stains it with tea or coffee to age the paper and make it more real. He lives in the moment and sees 150 years ago.

Absurd, perverse, mysterious. All things not associated with the early silver tone stoic poses with models that had to sit still for 60 seconds to make an exposure. No wonder they all look so unhappy! Matt is steam punk and doesn't know it. With a worldwide resume as long as your arm, numerous awards, won grants and brushes with greatness that want a call back, Matt is Tucson's most hidden gem of international fame.
Check out Matts work


artdiva said...

thanks, I hope you don't mind that I linked to you! good stuff.

Tom Baumgartner said...

I'm flattered. Rock on art diva!

Pico de Gallo said...

Hey Mr. Tom, pleasant concepts of my work you have, thanks for the remarks. Hope you keep writing, I enjoy your narratives.