Sunday, June 22

Paintings Edge


Fred Tomaselli was a guest lecturer tonight at Idyllwild Arts as part of the Paintings Edge workshop. I have been keeping my eye out for lectures to begin for the Hot Clay Ceramics Workshop, but when I looked at the calender tonight at saw Fred Tomaselli's name I had a minor freak out; he's a pretty big name in the art world right now, and rightfully so.

The first time I saw Fred Tomaselli's work was at the MOCA exhibit Ecstasy: In and About Altered States. Tomaselli works mostly in large scale, multimedia collage; newspaper clippings, pressed leaves, pills, and paint coated in resin. The multiple layers of items, seen through the resin, appear to float above the wood surface. The first reaction of most, non-museum trained, visitors was to reach out to touch the work in order to investigate the illusion. I remember a guard, placed directly by Tomaselli's paintings in order to prevent this. I had always thought that the reason his work was in the exhibit was because of this drug like visual effect and the cannabis leaves, and pills embedded inside the resin. However, now I know that part of the reason he was included in the show is that is works often explore the way people choose to escape reality; he uses the pills and leaves to visually alter perspective rather than alter perspective through ingestion of those substances.

Here is one of the works that was featured in Ecstasy, "Hanging Tree"; this piece is about 6'X 8'.

This piece "Avian Flower Serpent" was done for Tomoselli's son to commemorate the hawk they saw swoop down and grab a snake to eat.

"Migrant Fruit Thugs"

I most appreciated how thoroughly Tomaselli knows his art history, this work "Guilty" is a good example of that. It is a work inspired by "Expulsion from the Garden of Eden," a title that has been assigned to many works by many artists including Masaccio,Thomoas Cole, Michaelangelo, Durer, and William Blake. To see an article in the New York times translated into such a classic theme impressed me.

Mostly I enjoyed listening to an artist that has truly made it, but still has life in perspective. He told us that, as an artist, he always expected to have a day job in addition to doing what he loves. Now his day job IS his art, but before that he was also a mechanic and a wood craftsman. When a member of the audience asked, "What's it like to be a famous artist?" Tomaselli responded, "What does that even mean? That no one knows who I am except you guys?"

7 comments:

girlvomit said...

I think the end response Fred gave to what its like to be a famous artist is more an answer to the idea he is not a definition to other peoples ideas of what is and is not.
He does not want to be locked into a view of a mindset that we use in language to communicate. He needs to be his art as much as we need him to be an artist.

Kelly Visel said...

Actually no, it was a joke; he laughed after he said it. Nothing more implied than "I am not famous to anyone but the art community. I'm a normal guy, I create...as do you. Ha ha ha."

girlvomit said...

A laugh is a common way to love. Art is the map to that place. His laugh is just an escape you could not follow. He is an existence that is outside a room full of people and to escape such he has to appear as they do. He remained in character and gave you the starting point of love. You were the mind set that he must escape in order to work at art and not go from your idea of what is and back to his as a life style.
"He told us that, as an artist, he always expected to have a day job in addition to doing what he loves"
By calling him an artist you are saying he is "as an artist" and he has not forgotten what that will do to his life style of love. Like his art at the gallery has a guard to protect it, he, in person has to do his own protection. A laugh will defend anyone from anything, that is why we call upon God as the defender of what we have in common in America, the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, a laugh being a sudden arrival at that point God holds for us, a laugh.
After you laugh you must recall the comment "what does that even mean" I think it means to be an artist, you must escape being an artist. Be a" normal guy",every fifteen minutes and the rest of the time be a famous artist.

Kelly Visel said...

I will say this once; the laugh being an escape "that I cannot follow" is not the issue. The issue is that what you want and what reality is are very different. You say that what "you (girlvomit) think it means to be an artist" is to be famous most of the day. Well that is you, not Tomaselli; his statements throughout the lecture were pretty clear that he doesn't see himself as a famous artist. I did not interpret that he needs to escape from normalcy to create art; he blatantly stated that he always thought he would have a day job, but he has now reached the point that he can survive on his art alone. He was discussing art as a trade commodity, like his work as a mechanic. He, personally, sees himself as a normal guy. He joked about it throughout his discussion. My instant thrill at seeing his name on the calendar, my reaction to his celebrity, is different than his own reality; to him, the reaction of the public is strange. He expressed it on several occasions during the lecture. Now, as for your statement that he was performing normalcy, no, simply no; Tomaselli is not a performance artist, he's a painter. Not every action of an artist is infused with meaning. Historical critics like Vasari have elevated the artist to an almost god like status. You are falling into the trap of believing that the artist is above human behavior. It's ridiculous to assert such things. As an art historian it is my goal to allow artists their voice, to interpret them as closely to their true selves as possible. It is wrong to discard everything an artist has said, and use something flippant in order to turn them into something divine to worship.

girlvomit said...

Art follows life as does life follow art.
Fred is Clark Kent. metaphorically speaking. There is no way you are going to see any more than that as long as you play the role of Lois Lane.
One of Freds paintings is called
" Kirk."
If you have not seen the painting, you may as an art historian need to, in order to understand the idea that you are on the receiving end of a complete unknown.
The fifteen minites of fame is Andy Warhol's comment not mine. He was unable to convince people he was normal and got shot in the stomack as a result.

Kelly Visel said...

Not surprisingly, you are interpreting yet another artist poorly. Warhol's idea of fifteen minutes of fame was about fleeting celebrity. Everyone has their chance in the spotlight once before the media spotlight moves on to something else. It's not about a way of life it's simply a quote analyzing the media. When you remove artists and their statements from context you can make them say whatever you want, which is disrespectful to those artists. Also, Warhol was not shot because he couldn't convince people he was normal, he was shot because Valerie Solanas felt like he had too much control on her life. She was a radical feminist making a statement on, what she felt, was an overbearing patriarchy. Now, as for Tomaselli being Clark Kent to me, that means he is Superman to you. Like I said before, it's a common mistake to turn artists into gods/superheroes. Vasari did it during the Renaissance, and many historians have done so since. It's a mistake I won't make no matter how many meandering fortune cookie sayings you put on my comment board. So please go vomit on someone other blog.

Anonymous said...

what does "girlvomit" mean? is it like word vomit only from a girl?