Archive for February 29th, 2012

Nano-Interview with Joe Wardwell

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Imagine for a moment the Hudson River School painters depicting the immense magnificence and power of nature. Now think about the primitive power of loud, guitar-driven grunge, punk and metal music. Combine them, and voila, Joe Wardwell (Painting Fellow ’12) has struck a gnarly power chord with his bold paintings. Take a listen with your eyes:


What do you listen to while you work? I listen to pretty much everything but I would say the most common genres that I indulge in would be stoner metal or doom metal with a little psych rock thrown in. I have had a serious long term relationship with early Black Sabbath and have been a long term devotee of “The Melvins” and “Earth.” Recently have been obsessed with a Japanese band named “Boris.” “Boris” is an amazing band that is great studio music but have also have been a source of inspiration for my work.

How loud? Very. The music I listen to needs to be loud and luckily at my studio I can play it really really loud.

What artist do you most admire but work nothing like? Tom Friedman. Rodney Graham.

What are you currently reading? 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, I have about 200 pages left. Murakami is one of my favorite authors.

Have you ever revised your work on once it’s been hung in an exhibition? Not yet. Once it is done and been up somewhere it always feels complete after that. When I just finish the painting, I feel like there are tons of mistakes that if I had more time or I was a better painter I would be able to fix. It is a totally defeated state. Then after it gets shown, or have decided it is done and sits around a while. I can’t really see what was getting to me so much and the painting usually feels as it should be.

Do you secretly dream of being a) the fifth Beatle? No, I went straight from my dad’s Willie Nelson records to hardcore punk to metal to grunge and then out into the abyss. Never had a Beatles phase, never owned a record and probably never will.  b) a tax collector, No
and/or c) a paperback writer? Definitely.

Which color(s) do you least like? It’s the spectrum. Love it or leave it.

Ipod, cassette tapes, record albums or 8 tracks? Ipod and Record albums but never at the same time.

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled: “Never liked the Beatles”

What’s next?  In the studio, I have been most excited by the larger paintings that are on view at the deCordova and LaMontagne Gallery. They just feel right. I am planning on continuing to develop this body of work. The work feels like it has been gathering momentum for a while now and I want to run with it as long as I can. As far as exhibitions go, I am planning to do a show sometime in 2013 in Seattle at Prole Drift Gallery. The gallery is run by the amazing Dirk Park who organizes Aqua Art Miami with his wife and artist Jaq Chartier. Having lived in Seattle for a long time I am very excited to show back in the home town.

Big Disgrace by Joe Wardwell
On View at LaMontagne Gallery
March 3rd – April 11th, 2012
Opening reception: Saturday, March 3rd, 6 – 8 pm.

Image credit: Big Disgrace, and Maybe Just Happy are courtesy of Joe Wardwell.

What’s the Essence of a Portrait?

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

We’ve been asking artists about issues they encounter in their work, and recently, we asked three artists exhibiting in Portraits at Drive-By Gallery (3/1-4/7): What’s the most essential element you try to capture in your portraiture?

Laura Chasman (Painting Finalist ’04)
To capture what is felt, as well as what is seen. Each one of my portrait paintings is a personal journey that explores the humanity that is all around me. I am especially drawn to the youngest and oldest persons. I lose myself in either their primal exuberance or the still waters of their wisdom and fortitude. My need to paint is driven by my need to see these subjects clearly. However, like a mirage it often disappears upon completion and I strike out to do it all over again.

Andrea Sherrill Evans (Drawing Fellow ’12)
I don’t always think about my drawings first and foremost as portraits, but as in the case of this show, it is an interesting way to frame them. By using my husband and myself as figures in the work, I root my investigations about relationships and interactions with the larger world in personal experience, within the bodies that I know best. As portraits/self-portraits, I am always seeking to capture the right expressions and particularities of our bodies.

But in many ways, I see these drawings as functioning more as a portrait of a relationship, rather than of individuals. They are about a kind of balance and negotiation that comes with intimacy and closeness. I hope they can speak to more than just our particular relationship, to the struggle inherent to any relationship: the desire for, and impossibility of a complete connection with another. So in effect, these portraits/figures have the potential to be inhabited by other bodies. Because ultimately, what is it that we look for in a portrait? Some mysterious, ambiguous aspect of that person, made visible in the rendering of their face? Perhaps also some kind of recognition of a bit of ourselves as well, of the things that connect us and of what we share in common?

Helena Wurzel (Painting Finalist ’10)
I explore the layers and complexities of femininity, physical beauty, and the reality and imagination inherent in this realm. The lives, rituals, and introspective moments of myself and my friends are an integral part of the subject matter.

Read part two of this post, where we pose the same question to a photographer, a filmmaker, and a composer.

Images: Laura Chasman, DOSALENA (2012), gouache on museum mounting board; Andrea Sherrill Evans, PLAID SHIRT #4 (2011), silverpoint and watercolor on prepared paper, 14×11 in; Helena Wurzel, SHE’S GOT LIGHT IN HER EYES (2012) Oil on Canvas, 12×16 in. Portraits, an exhibition of work by these three artists, can be seen at Drive-By Gallery in Watertown March 1 – April 7, 2012. Helena also has a show (One Is Always Forgotten, with Ariel Freiberg) at Laconia Gallery (3/2-4/22).