A critical theory: Artist Identity

Critical Theory – Artist Identity

by Dave Holmander-Bradford

June 2017

Everyone has influence which affects their outlook and orientation about the world in which they live. These become formative consideration how we develop as a person but are particularly acute for the artist who would reveal the subtleties in their work. This paper is about the identity of that underlying inhibition in which the artist is uniquely opportune to expose. As a case in point we will look at an artwork toward the end of this discussion, but first set in-part a case for individual identity.

Why should we care about Identity?

Identity could be defined in a narrow constrict of singular personhood. I know I am a person because I self-exist, I feel, I can smell and eat, talk and hear. But seeing our reflection in a mirror or leaving evidence behind in space once we leave it isn’t what this conversation is about.

The true to self-contemporary artists concern with identity is more comprehensive when speaking to multiple considerations. Their work may self-identify with social changes and injustice directly or inversely. By direct we mean those reflection embedded with a specific value which conveys a personal passion. Inversely, i.e.: “the well-observed inverse relationship between disability and social contact” i The notion of “social utility” is almost for certain anything which artist find offensive and affront to creative works and voice to the consciousness of modern, civil and freely open society. “Social utility is a service, or characteristic, that benefits most of the population of any given society. For example, a service which benefits about 80 or 90% of the population at the cost of the other 10-20% considered as a social utility. In short, minimum cost but maximum benefits by a service for the society is a social utility.” ii

So, it is here at this intersecting of identities in a work of art we perceive and express ourselves. Factors and conditions of sex, ethnicity, eco/social placement and physicality likewise will define our identity. In these conditions, the artist may speak the loudest for the least.

Sociologists have identified five different approaches to specific types of identity.iii They include individual, social, collective, multiple, and stigmatized. It is therefore not too difficult connecting these cognitive functions to the larger issues in which contemporary society faces considering current economic, social and political disparity. Jeff Chang talks at length on the changing identity of American life beginning in 1963 through present day in his award-winning book Who We Be. The very essence of the civil rights movement to our current state of affairs’ have centered around different cultures and our identity. About multiculturalism, he cites Richard Bernstein, “considerable confusion about who exactly we are, how worthy we are, and whether we have things in common”. Chang continues with Paul Beatty’s reference to “homosexual right, radical feminism, and environmental extremism. And he closed with a story, likely apocryphal, set in the ashes of the Los Angeles riots, whose endless televised stream of images of fire and chaos seemed to evoke antebellum nightmares of some vast colored people’s vengeance” iv (p121) At the core of this discussion then is as an artist we do not come as a blank slate or empty pail. Each one a conditioned frame of reference which at its source is not original to self but a formation from the individual origin. Conversely, equally true each artist will have decided for a personal identity based upon some systems of values either by adoption thereof or by a rejection of the status-quo. It will be important for the artist has come to grasp this understanding in which they identify for the betterment of their medium, but also to manifest a clearer articulation of the voice by which they chose to speak.

I didn’t know that. Off course not, no one ever told you. (false foundations)

For a moment, let’s pose the question in relation to how it is we find ourselves at this juncture, and present social conflict. Could we say that if there is a problem in societal identity (culture wars) the fix must ultimately address the source/origin from where it systemically came?

There is little disagreement on what the acute issues are cited by Pat Buchanan who “captured the spirit of the growing backlash … decried the across board assault on … Anglo-American heritage. He said the combined forces of open immigration and multiculturalism constitute a mortal threat to the American Civilization.” (p119) However, counter Buchanan perspective which finds great populous with certain demographics it is not reflective of a growing majority of the American citizens who find the new multiculturalism uniquely American and core to a maturing of national identity.

Beginning with the civil rights movement, and continuing with Feminism, Gay rights, and gender issue, immigration, disabled persons, etc. the list might seem endless. These social injustices have been largely litigated with broad public discourses. Unfortunately, most approached to resolving them are bandage solutions because it is almost impossible to correct them without addressing the underpinning issues upon which Western Civilization was constructed.

A closes point of clarity and refinement might be construed by Adrian Piper Article the Triple Negation of Colored Women Artist. Although she is specifically addressing a matter concerning black women artist, issues she raises have a much broader implication. She contends, “American society (keep in mind it is built upon the foundation of Western Civilization) is now imposing a Euro-ethnic, Christian, heterosexual male ethos on all of us to maintain a uniquely American identity against the incursion of other, … similarly, the art world is reasserting a Euro-ethnic, heterosexual male aesthetic on all of us to resist the incursion of gays, colored, and practitioners of outlaw sexuality into the inner sanctum”. v Her terminology is slightly dated but her focus point targets to the core of the issue. The inherent male dominance of all Western society. Some have called this the male gaze. It’s the prism how persons condition in the west view the world.

In this context, we need them to ask what will it take to correct this misconception? How did we get this way?

Every undergraduate should remember taking History of Civilization as part of their core curricula. They will have learned that the three pillars of Western Civilization are, the Greek City/States, the Roman Empire, and the advancement of Christianity. These three formed the triad upon which American society stands. From the Greeks, we get our democratic ideology, the Romans individual citizenship, and unity through brute strength, and from Christianity our authoritative moral underpinning. “To the Graeco-Roman world, Rome was the Eternal City.” The apex of this moment in time might be characterized when Rome was dub “The City of God” 410 A.D.(C.E.) “it was St. Augustine who, in the wake of the Visigoths capture of Rome devised the phrase to represent the rise of a new Christian society … that the community of the Most-High would endure through the greatest city on earth had fallen.” vii (p121)

What if one of these three has not been represented correctly? What if the paradigms of Christian morality are not representational of true Christianity. It is my contention that the male ethos to which Piper addresses is a possibility the results of the moral imperative being prejudicial and inconsistency with the Biblical narrative. And, if this is so the process of correction must be at its core origin. Therefore, we need to deviate momentarily and look at the biblical account and decide for ourselves if the Christian morality and the male’s promenades have been faithfully transmitted to contemporary society. The process and understanding may give a stronger argument for those who are endeavoring to correct any imbalance in today social structures.

Whether you agree with the biblical account of the origin of species it is irrelevant to this discussion. In a discussion on Christian dogma Christian Theology, by Millard Erickson a renowned conservative contemporary Protestant theologian he writes in the subsection The Universality of Humanity, referenced Both Sexes I provide the following redacted account.

“Women have at times been regarded as, at best, second-class members … While to some extent the Old Testament (Christian “Holy Bible” and “The Torah” for Jewish persons) did not overturn this situation (the interpretation of the sacred writings has been by mortal human being, thus here a miss guided understanding became a perpetual ideological paradigm) from the beginning there were indications that in God’s sight women have equal status. These indications increased as time went on and the special revelation moved to progressively higher levels.

Already in the creation account, we find an indication of the women’s status … Genesis 1:26-27 … (the) emphasis, seemingly to ensure our understanding that women possess the image of God, just as does the man. … Karl Barth and Paul Jewett contend that we have triadic parallelism …

A second noteworthy feature … Genesis 2:18 … (some have implied) she is a helper to him as if this term implies some sort of inferiority or at least subordination of the women to man. … The expression helpmeet, used in some older versions, actually translates two Hebrew words nֲֲeged, means corresponding to or equal to … The word

rendered help “ezer” is used by God in several places … This would suggest … not inferior in essence … Rather, the helper is to be thought of a co-worker. …

Donald Shaner has summarized well Jesus relationship to women: It is striking that Jesus did not treat women as women but as (a) person. He took them seriously, asked them questions, encouraged their potential, and lifted them up to the dignity they deserved. “ viii (pp 563 – 566)

In an analysis of Erickson writings, I am suggesting the current conception of the male-dominated society linked to the bedrock of Western Civilization and at its origin is not to be found in core Christian teaching if we are to be true to the narrative. We must ponder with what the difficulty it is to move forward. An ardent feminist may never accept anything less than an all-out assault on religion of any sort; however, within this backdrop, an artist might find and enlarged a social hypothesis from which to address age-old issues of injustice, racism, and discrimination etc. An identity must find ways to address the inconsistency of arguments set forth by the status-quo while quilling the Euro-ethnic mainstream as Piper has expressed.

Where do we go from here?

To thwart the agency of the American imposition previously noted Piper now set forth a threefold outline as a path forward specifically as it related to the CWA; but, we may also extrude a broader inference to the populist at large and contextualizes it intentionality applicable to artists in general. She cites, “a CWA who expresses political anger or protest political injustice in her work may be depicted as hostel or aggressive.” Equally true, “a CWA

who deals with gender and sexuality in her work may be represented as seductive or manipulative”. The broader application here being what is arbitrated toward CWA artist is often implicated of all artist who does not conform to the given ethos of any period which proves the point. “When the art itself stymies the imposition of such stereotypes, the Euro-ethnic viewer is confronted with a choice … which will naturally require a concerted effort of discernment otherwise the variant will return to the comfort of Euro-ethnic stereo-type” thus rejecting the work as reprehensible. ix (p241

The great fear here is while all women (and all disenfranchised people groups) have made great gains across a broad spectrum of society there is ever present those forces which would reverse this course. The compendium she offers could serve a guide to keep the focus on the necessity to be ever vigilant all the while acquiesces that in some fashion women have of necessity engage in the zero-sum game of the Euro-ethnic art tradition.

In addressing head-on mainstream self-perpetuation, she offers the following perspective specific to the CWA. “First, this work has no halcyon past to mourn. Instead, it offers an alternative art progression that narrates a history of prejudice, repression, and exclusion, and looks, not backward, but forward to a more optimistic future. … competing for the truth. Second, it refutes the disingenuous Euro-ethnic postmodern claim that there is no objective truth … (or) testimony of the truth about prejudice, repression, and exclusion. Third, it belies the Euro-ethnic postmodern stance that claims the impossibility of innovation, by presenting artifacts that are, in fact, innovative relative to Euro-ethnic tradition – innovative not only in range and use of media they deploy but also in social culture and aesthetic content they introduce.”x (245 – 246)

What do we see

David Salle author of How to See might be an appropriate entry point. In his introduction he says, “Art is more than a sum of cultural signs: It is a language both direct and associative, and has a grammar and syntax like any other human communication.” xi So, when we look at the work of William de Kooning xii What is it that we are looking to see, learn, know, understand?

In his work Door to the River, (1960) what probes the mind. Let’s state the obvious first. Its genre is abstract, and its style is abstract expressionism. It is an oil painting in which the artist has employed impasto. I frankly am quite fond of it and for obvious reasons is why it’s the point of discussion though in many ways I am more interested in de Kooning as a person.

Of himself, he says, “I’m not interested in ‘abstracting’ or taking things out or reducing painting to design, form, line, and color. I paint this way because I can keep putting more things in it – drama, anger,

William de Kooning, Door to the River, 1960

pain, love, a figure, a horse, my ideas about space. Through your eyes, it again becomes an emotion or idea.”

“Heavily influenced by the Cubism of Picasso, de Kooning became a master at ambiguously blending figure and ground in his pictures while dismembering, re-assembling and distorting his figures in the process.” xiii

The work in question here is not obviously controversial or is it, yet we must ask place ourselves in the work to understand the work. What does he mean, door to the river? Where is the river? Is the river a noun? If so, is it beyond the door or is it running through the door? Are we in a river town and through this door we go to the river as opposed to another door which might go to the road. It’s abstract so we are to allow our mind to wander. Or are we viewing this from a Euro-ethnic perspective trying to press this work (maybe all his work) into our stereotype box which we have been precondition do? De Kooning’s work doesn’t want to fit into our nice little-compartmentalized box. It must be bad, so we should shun it just like the work of CWA.

We have viewed this work in the context of ekphrasis which is to say the image causes us to view the work as a rhetorical activity of an adjectival nature, It is a graphic, and dramatic piece of art. But perhaps for the viewer in the 21st century, it is not enough information provided yet his use of impasto, could it be some hint or carryover from his sculpture inspirations?

We should consider a more formal analysis based on the visual structures. The work has balance points and coherence of color palate. He used a large brush and leaves an impasto surface texture. This quality is an enabler for reflexive light. Compositionally, he has followed the conventions of good painting. Point is met with a counterpoint. Volumes and contours are declared boldly. The sight line evidence but not obtuse. His process conveys good perception with the visual intent.

I see this work as not just the door to the river but the door to opportunity. Where did the river come from and where does the river go? Perhaps the viewer is being enlisted to journey on the river to some distant place. Or perhaps passage through the door is an escape from something amenable. What we see here in the work is that contemplation will require a decision.

Herein then is identity, the work an artist reflects is the expression of self through abstraction, but for art to be real there requires a viewer to engage and become part of that identity, thus we see ourselves.

Work cited

I http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/

ii https://quora.com/what-is-social-utility

iii http://sociologytwyham.com/2012/06/25/different-types-of-identity/

iv Chang, Jeff. Who We Be, The Colorization of America, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2014, Print

v Piper, Adrian, The Triple Negation of Colored Women Artist, Chapter 28 pp 239 – 246 Manchester: NHIA MVF803 Seminar 3 noted supplied by the instructor. June 2017

vi The male gaze is a concept coined by feminist film critic Laura Mulvey. It refers to the way visual arts are structured around a masculine viewer.


vii Wallbank, Walter T., Alastair M. Taylor, and Nels M. Bailkey, Civilization, past & present, Fourth Edition, Glenview: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1975, Print

viii Erickson, Millard J., Christian Theology, Second Edition, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1983, Print

ix Piper, Adrian, The Triple Negation of Colored Women Artist, Chapter 28, Manchester: NHIA MVF803 Seminar 3 noted supplied by the instructor. June 2017

x Piper, Adrian, The Triple Negation of Colored Women Artist, Chapter 28, Manchester: NHIA MVF803 Seminar 3 noted supplied by the instructor. June 2017

xi Salle, David, How to See, New York: W. W. Norton, 2016, Print

xii William de Kooning was a Dutch-American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands and moved to New York in 1927

Landscape Theory- How & What we Paint

Landscape Theory-

How and What we Paint

Paper Number Three

June 5, 2017


Dave Holmander

The third and final paper about Landscape Theory as it relates to my specific body of work focusing on rail/trails. It will consider the medium of painting and the utility of its applicable use to create an encompassing virtual illusion stratified intensity. Additionally, in a more sublime way will consider the relevance of place and how artist specifically are involving in that process through suggestion.

While this paper is addresses specifics, which focuses on landscape I am not suggesting that it is comprehensive or all-encompassing. Given space and time I have tried primarily to discuss this subject only in the context as it may relate to my own body of work.

Painting Matters:

“Painters today have a wide array of image sources from which to paint.” When it comes to subject matter how does an artist determine what it is that he or she paints. It would be difficult in any case to pursue a lasting endeavor in any art form if there were no intrinsic and personal quality employed all the while presenting contemporary relevancy. For the painter, specificity I might suggest that subject matter is of paramount importance without such aesthetic quality and obvious conceptual intentionality will suffer. In other words, a good composition does not just happen but is intentionally planned.

In considering painting as an art form it has parallels to which may be found in a variety of artistic expressions. For a moment, consider the evolution of music, as Jan Swafford has noted in Language of the Spirit.

“Wherever and whenever we find people, we find music. Likely an integral part of human life from the beginning, music has left its traces in instruments and in art dating back to the dawning of our species … All the arts have a primeval connection to magic and mystery … Animals painted on the walls of caves … Instruments and songs and painting and poetry and dance probably evolved together … linked to a mystery, the uncanny”. (p3)

The earliest known cave painting date more than 35,000 years ago. It was a mixture of dirt, charcoal, spit and animal fat. The canvas was nothing more than a rock wall. In more recent times came the alchemist to our present-day convention and luxury of purchasing prepared pigment. More specific to this discussion now is the actuality of the paint and painting referenced to landscape.


African-Musicians-1939-by-Samuel-Haile.-Copyright-estate-of-the-artist-and-York-Museums-TrustAfrican-Musicians-1939-by-Samuel-Haile. -Copyright-estate-of-the-artist-and-York-Museums-Trust

However, before moving on it is noteworthy to simply mention that quite frequently many museum exhibition will often have an installation with an accompanying sound track to height the viewing experience or may be an integral part of the work.

How it is that we paint:

There are two general concern to be addressed relative to painting in this discussion. Firstly, is the continued dialogue about the current utility of painting as a valued medium of expression in the 21st century. Secondly more specific to my work is the contextual aggregated process in application and apparent visual surface quality.

As an artist who paints there is one recurring and dishearten theme that will not go away. Previously mentioned in paper number two photography released painting from the bond of historical preservation with pictorial moments thus free to explore new areas of visual expression.

In Painting, edited by Terry R. Myers virtually the entire introduction is spent reviewing in a convoluted fashion the “painting is dead” movement articulated first by Eugene Delacroix journal May 15th, 1824 or more specifically “the end of painting” assessment surmised and conjectured by Douglas Crimp. Myers reviews several features and suggest a resolution.

“Painting since the end of the nineteenth century is inextricable from the … story of the perpetual cycle of its death and rebirths in the face of photography, conceptual art, installation, digital imaging technologies, the world-wide web, or plan lack of interest,” (12) Myers continues citing other voices with a suggested rerouting. “Crimp’s provocative essay on The End of Painting and … David Joselit’s comparably timely observations on present condition in Painting Besides Itself (2009) … painting has always belonged to the networks of distribution and exhibitions.” (13) With this result one must ask why is it given that so many an artist turn to painting as a chosen medium in which to create? Perhaps the answer must be one of personal choice but perhaps the intuitiveness of the artist is more insightful than the critic or curator. Myers does however, provided to positive thrust to the future. “My hope is that the … necessarily paradoxical state of contemporary painting alongside the expansion of its material and philosophical conditions – and, less definable but crucially, the continuation of everything about which still not … said”. (19)

To simplify Myers and the lethargic discussion he proposes I suggest a more metaphorical summary. Painting is cyclical not necessarily in it economy but in nuances’. Put another way it’s the gift that keeps on giving if not to the purveyor certainly to the artist.

An artist who paints does so not by accident:

If you are an artist who paints you know the feeling and the texture of paint, the smoothness of the pigment between your fingers, the smell of the oils and cleaners, you become one with your work, you feel your work, you apply paint with great detail and emotion. You love what it is that you do and it never becomes boring or laborious. To borrow a simile from bicycle racing, when you stop loving it stop racing. The same could be said about painting.

While I do wish to speak directly about the spreading of the pigment. I believe it’s uses and application are critical to conceptual landscape achieving a lasting and continual life-cycle. However, the overarching intentionality for any progressive art work must as Myers has suggested considering complex material infusion, pigment being only one these. A recent example can be found in my own work Cardiff by the Sea principally a study. Here incorporated an insertion of found object by way of a piece of copper film used to create the road way. Another unique example was in the MFA graduation (January 2017 NHIA) project of James Obrien with the insertion of electric lights with variable intensity signifying the moons luminous brightness throughout the evening hours. Also, repeated here again “philosophical conditions – and, less definable but crucially, the continuation of everything about which still not … said”. It is in this context wherein the artists will be able to address and answer questions of “how do you wish to locate … new paintings in terms of a theoretical backdrop” while creating a contemporary viewing experience. We should not conclude here without referencing the use of music or other audio as an enhancement tool.

13 holmander dave cardif by the sea - Copy

Cardiff by the Sea

We should be cautious of those who say painting is dead; however, always cognate that there are those critics but ever determined to prove otherwise understanding that artistic specificity in panting is ever a continuum of the recreative process finding new voice, form, and audience.

How should paint look:

It is the paint which make painting possible without such we could create no visual image. The paint is more critical to the work than the canvas. You can literally paint on anything but you must have paint. The question how is it that you apply? What is that which you want to accomplish with paint? These beg to visually and a kind of ascetics. How you lay the pigment on the object matters and create reflective qualities, penetrations of depth and surface variation. We might include value discernment but that not the focus here.

How paint should appear on one hand is obvious a point of subjectivity and personal taste. It is however, not limited in this context. In conceptual art with respect to landscape either representational or abstraction or some variant form therein I contend it is very important and any given artist should approach their work with the greatest of care and intentionality. It is in the surface texture of paint which has been indiscriminately layered to create landscape the artist may find their greatest strength second only to composition and conceptualize of idea. (composition and conceptuality should be view as two complimentary features in contemporary landscape)

In a conversation between Gerhard Richter and Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, again from Painting, edit by Myers, to Richter, Buchloh ask, “What about the objectification of the process of painting itself? You paint your big pictures not with artist brush but with decorator brush: isn’t this all part of atomization and objectivization of the painting process, along with permutation and ‘chance’, color relations and compositional organization?” (p58)

Richter answers no to the question, Buchloh was suggesting a disconnect between artist intentionality and objectivity and the instrument. In this case, the brush was that disconnect. To the contrary, the brush or palate knife, roller, etc. become an extension of the artist. The size of the brush is a factor of utility to the scale of the work and its brush stroke effective visually is still determined by the artist.

Brush stroke, use of pallet knife or in the case of some very large works wherein Richer uses a screen print emulsion spreader it might appear simple enough. But how should we factor in the work of Sol-LeWitt’s wall paintings? It is simpler than we might realize. In the case of Sol-LeWitt his brush is his pencil, his diagram, his specific measurements, his instructions thus his commission to a collaboration of other artist. As part of Mass MoCa’s permanent collection an entire exhibition is given to Sol-LeWitt. Upon close examination, it is evidence that the paint which was applied to the wall by a collaboration of artists was taped off, and either rolled or more likely applied by spraying. It shows hard lines and district ridging build at the edge but a very smooth mirror like surface area. The intuitiveness of the artist is evident because the intentionality of Sol-LeWitt was purposeful that other artists would finish the final image.


Isometric, Sol-Lewitt 2002

It is in the artist domain to determine how their work must be seen.

In consider my own body of work on Rail/Trail the very nature of the subject matter is rooted in landscape. This has posed several questions because of the base composition. How do you take something which is historically a common place image and create a contemporized conceptual viewing experience which address present day cultural and social issues?

There are three specific area which might be addressed. Two reference the composition and the other it’s visual impact. So, it is David Salle proposes,” What is this thing about art that speaks to us? How to account for the feeling for the recognition we have for art, almost as if the work were waiting for us, anticipation our engagement with its deeper music?” (6)

Regarding the composition, if we intend to create contemporary landscape conceptual art then we must dismiss any notion of grandiose serine overviews etc. The landscape (backdrop) is quite secondary to the composition. It is a frame wherein the subject (idea) rest. It is the conveyance of the idea how it speaks to the cultural, political and social currents of a specific place. The scape itself should have a very narrow focus else one risk it become the focal point. However, the strength of the idea will be lost unless there is a strong visual impact. This is where the painter greatest strength will be shown.

Returning to the application of paint and its use in my rail/trail project. It is in the paint where we may show emotion and energy. While landscape inherently will be painting a site-specific place the artist should never feel compelled to represent it as it exists.

My current body of work incorporated very heavy layered up brush stroke, dabbing with the pallet knife, scoring with handle, variant mediums and solvent mixture. Also, the field of vision and perception of depth contrast against bold and distinct color. I have strived for heighten reflective light contrasting ridges and valleys and a strong intensity at the vanishing point. I have taken total liberty with place; whereas, actual place was a beginning place but my work isn’t about that specific place. It’s about what the viewer see and how they perceive the work. I want them to gaze into the depth of the work and imagine what’s beyond what cannot be seen. If they are a cyclist they will immediately identify with the bicycle and gaze forward imaging the ride they are about to embark on.


Gerhard Ricter

The artist drives the paint:

Painting is not dead, we look at Gerhard Richter painting about. It’s the paint and painting which makes his work. It is how the artist handles paint which will distinguish great art. Once again, Salley, “One way to look at painting – and I use that word as shorthand for visual art in general – is to notice as you take its measure what it is you find yourself thinking about, which may differ from what you imagine you’re supposed to be thinking about.” He is suggestion that visual art is as much about what is seen, but also what the image evokes for both artist and viewer. Thus, our seeing is with the eyes but also the mind and it is the paint in is onset which will drive this point.

How do we know if our art is successful? I think Salle has touched on it. If our art makes people stop, ponder and think. Painting optically with passion will help convey the artist intention very effectively.

Conceptual Landscape: Earth-Mapping:

Bringing this final paper to a close respective to landscape theory it is worth noting that artists are offering contemporary society an alternative way of seeing landscape. There is a long history of artist in mapping the earth through cartography. Moving forward again regarding my rail/trail at its onset the project in retrospect was much a mapping project as shown from the works from my first residence.

Painting does offer some interesting perspective for today’s artist. For example, in Jasper Johns Map 1961 or William de Kooning, Door to the River 1960

Edward S. Casey on painting the earth, “the postmodern artist is engaged in letting the invisible become visible, bring the obscure into the very light of day, into sheer visibility … The point of painting that receives this inspiration is to re-create a qualitative aspect of the earth in the painting, where it is re-presented as a landscape; however, difficult its recognition may be part of a given scene in the world of perception.” (XV) “As with … artist” such as “Jasper Johns by proceeds … paradox in his painting. The major … case … is sheer fact that he yokes painting and mapping together in one vivid complex work, play one-off against another so that the intrinsic virtues of each are highlighted by ironic contrast with those of other.” (129) It is here at this apex a convergence wherein landscape abstraction of place, social conscience and optics will define balance for the painter and earth mapping such is a way forward for painting. In somewhat a more retrospective way though my work lends itself a closer tie to representation than abstract, it does provide the base qualities of the structures set forth by Casey.

Willem de Kooning Door to the river, 1960

William de Kooning, Door to the River 1960

Work Cited

Casey, Edward S., Earth-Mapping, Artist Reshaping Landscape, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005, Print.

Casey, Edward S., Representing Place, Landscape Painting and Maps, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002, Print.

Myers, Terry R., Painting, Documents of Contemporary Art, Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2011, Print.

Salley, David, 1.2.3. How to See, New York- London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016, Print.

Swafford, Jan, Language of the Spirit, An Introduction to Classical Music, New York: Basic Books, 2017, Print.


Zuck, Roy B. Interpretation, Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991. Print

Ammwe, Manuel, Achim Hochdorfer and David Joselit. Painting 2.0, Expression in the information Age. Munich: Museum Brandhorst, Muumak, 2016, Print.

Atkins, Robert. Art Speak, 3rd edition, A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1945 to present. New York: Abbeville Press, 2013, Print.

Bayles, David, and Ted Orland. Art & Fear, Observations …(and)… Art making. Santa Cruz: The Image Continuum, 2001, Print.

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: BBC and Penguin Books, 1972, Print.

Christopouls, George A. The Olympic Games in ancient Greece. Athens: Ekdotike Hellados S.A., 2003, Print.

Cosgrove, Dennis E. Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1998, Print.

Cosgrove, Dennis and Stephen Danils. The iconography of landscape. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988, Print.

DeLue, Rachael Ziady and James Elkins. Landscape Theory, (The Art Seminar). New York: Routledge, 2008, Print.

Elkins, James. On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art. New York: Routledge, 2004, Print.

Elkins, James. What Painting Is. New York: Routledge, 1999, Print.

Kagan, Jerome and Ernest Havemann. Psychology: An Introduction, Second Edition. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. 1968, Print.

Kilbride, Phillip L., Jane C. Goodale and Elizabeth R. Ameisen. Encounters with American Ethic Cultures, Tucaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 1990, Print.

Kwon, Miwon. One Place After Another. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2004, Print.

Livingston, Jane. The Art of Richard Diebenkorn. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1997, Print.

Menand, Louis. The Metaphysical Club, A Story of Ideas in America. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001, Print.

Scheiber, Laura L. and Maria Nieves Zedeno. Engineering Mountain Landscapes, (An Anthropology of Social Investment). Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 2015, Print.

Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History. New York: Prentice Hall, Inc., and Harry N. Adams., 1995,

Print.Zuck, Roy B. Interpretation, Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991. Print

Landscape Theory: How we see, paper #2

Landscape Theory-How and what we see!

Paper Number Two

April 2017 


Dave Holmander

This paper continues to build upon landscape theory begun in paper number one. Whereas the first paper discussed more foundational element relative to the development and social implication of land scape in western civilization pursuant to a visual synthesis here we focus specificity of place and engineered configuration and the visual qualities of seeing and the illusion of perception as it is impacted by social variables and changing cultural norms.

As a visual artist is it enough simply to paint or photograph a certain place? Now for a moment add in conceptual and/or abstraction to the illusion? It starts to get complicated very fast. For some artist, it may be satisfying enough to go no further.  However, for the more deliberative anything less than a thorough examination of place, how it came to its current configuration, the resultant historical and social uses cobbled together make for more discerning and impactful conveyance of the visual influence and interpretation.

Though the result for the artist is the visual image others will see, his/her world view of reconciliation of the final work is much larger and must be defined by more than the image. Landscape in more broadly defined term is determined social activity and how its historicity has been preserved by what others have written. This therein requires rightly or wrongly interpretation of past and current activity respective of place and culture.

How art begins

Roy B. Zuck in Interpretation makes the following observation because culture effectively alters landscape.  “culture includes what people think and believe, say, do and make” and “includes their beliefs, forms of communication, customs and practices, material objects such as tools, dwelling, weapons” Additionally, it involves “Religion, politics, war, … agriculture, architecture, … and the geography of where one lives and travel”. (79) Why begin here? Because though Zuck speak to interpretation of the holy scriptures and the importance of contextualizing past culture to modern society the literary critique of the past is significant when we understand much of the historic landscape in western culture is derived from the social narrative and interpreted by artist and designer of any period. In iconography of landscape Denis Cosgrove and Stephen Daniels cite Erwin Panofsky argument which is to suggest what is created is the resultant interpretation of a narrative imaging or in layman’s terms, picture words. “That designer of gothic cathedrals began to conceive of the forms they shaped, not so much in terms of isolated solids as in terms of a comprehensive picture space, just as contemporary Church

Notre Dame Paris

Norte Dame in Paris 1180 CE (A.D.)

Fathers were conceiving of their textual apologetics as tightly articulated summae … (such) structure … could be read off from the table of its contents and textual subdivisions”. In the same manner, various dissections of the cathedral design could thus be read “as a mode of literary representation, a treatise in a stone, an architectural scholasticism”. (3) It is here one might then suggest that creativity/intentionality in the landscape geographically, architecturally, and ultimately visually that a narration implicated by social consciousness and interpretation must first find its place for artistic expression to evolve.

Symbolism of Art

In Encounters with American Ethnic Cultures edited by Kibride, Goodale, and Ameisen Jennifer Krier speaks to the subject of art and cultural identity. Simply put every social/cultural group sub-group etc. has some ideocratic expression which manifest itself musically, literarily, performatively or visually. In her research of Ukrainian-American culture folk art is symbolic of ethnicity. Thus, to arrive at the correct understanding of their social mores it is necessary to grasp the psychology and semiotics of the people group. Such then it must be said that every culture has a system germane to self-identity and thus will be reflected in some expression of art. For the contemporary artist, he/she must set aside their own by typical of many in the west. Here Krier asserts Clifford Geertz conclusion “Most scholars he contends, try to study art in their own Western-value terms of formal properties, symbolic content, affective values, or stylistic features; this leads not to an understanding of the role of art in a culture but to an externalized conception of the phenomenon” (135)

Ukrianian egg art

Ukrainians are noted for their Easter Egg Folk Art

In her research Krier considered the very large Ukrainian population living in Philadelphia. She understood the importance of being specific to place which is evidenced in her conclusions. Thus, she states, “(1) Art has social meaning and works to communicate or articulate, through symbols, social experience; (2) Ethnicity is, in some context … self-ascribed cultural identity that serves to distinguish an individual or group of individuals from others and thus creates a dichotomy between members and non-members and (3) Ukrainian-Americans have a strong sense of ethnic identity … a synthesis of these ideas … represented in … hypothesis … that practice of traditional art is a manifestation and reinforcement of ethnic identity” (136). The obvious conclusion and take away for the landscape artist or designer specifically is not to underscore importance of socialization and place both in the narrative and visual context but it is also a reflection of norms and nuances in society.

Taking a Good Look

The title suggests there is more to seeing in visual images than what is supposed.  It has long been known that a good storyteller portrays in words mental images of the mind to the listener. Thus, it is not a very big leap when one then suggest there is a connection of between the psychoanalysis of Freud, visually of the image and primary articulation. Historically, it can be said the painted works of pre-twenty centuries require no father interpretation whereas the norms of interpretation seemed to be established and universal.  For example, John Berger has remarked “images were first made to conjure up the appearances of something that was absent”. (10) He bases this on an earlier comment. “The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe”. (8) Seeing then as Freud suggest perhaps the most rudimentary functions of human conceptuality. We see first before we speak or any other social function, we learn to speak and walk eventually but seeing is forever implanting a human memory historicity which will ever be a foundational template for all that follows.

With respect to visual images i.e.: painting, the context is very narrow. Only the wealthy and church in western society could afford to commission work thus what was offered reflected a class status most often portraitures, possessions and pastoral landscape.  The alternative was the overtly religious motifs implicit of the divine supernatural which bring us back to Freud.  Artist where therefore completely reliant on a personal interpretation of the biblical narrative for which there was no actual image from which to create an imagine or a replication. This brings us full circle to the word picture and the cultural bias from which no farther refinement of the “mystification” (21) is required. These visual rendering were therefore not only completely illusionary but accentuate the artist deliberate and inescapable subjectivity (psychosis: inability to evaluate reality objectively).


Virgin and Child, 4th century, Rome

The single deviation from the status quote is on occasion probably because an artist had no active commission they would venture in the commonality of peasant class society and paint their daily routine engaged in work or play.  This example brings us to the whole point of seeing what we paint and what the viewer perceives.  In Frans Hals 1580 – 1666 double paintings of Regents (Regentesses) of the Old Men’s House, Hal is dependent of public welfare to get through the winter month and paints these two pieces of the folk whom he is dependent upon for his charity.  Thus, it is unknown if he paints into the work his expression of bitterness and strife upon the faces of his subject with smerky smiles dually because he needs their benevolence yet despise them as the overseers or inspire of his personal circumstances. From the vantage point of the 21st century this is unknowable.

It is the invention of photography which both changes and enlightens visual art forever. Whereas, in painting, printmaking etc. it is the artist interpretation and skill replicating an image captured in time.  It is and can never be anything other than such thus characterized as an illusion. Photograph on the other hand is a mechanical representation of that exact moment in time and space able to be reproduced numerous times limited only by the skill of processing the negative, lighting and various other manipulations of value to create different moods and effects, but the lines and shape remain constant. Thus, in a convoluted way photography set painting free to explore new and creative images because it no longer need to serve as a vehicle/medium in the preservation of the historical moment no matter how imperfect they were.


Regents of the Old Men’s Alms House, Franz Hals


Regentesses of the Old Men’s Alms House, Franz Hals


Image p 17 Ways of Seeing, John Berger

  Engineered Landscape

Antiquities is only part of seeing, it must be said in a sense all-seeing of all that is seen is looking to the past. Seeing of the presence is but for the flicker of the moment. Futuristic seeing is limited only by the lack of imagination. Thus, for the visual artist one only needs to look at anything or any direction or any perception and the visual experience becomes obvious.

In terms of landscape, engineered landscape likewise we view it both literally and conceptually three dimensionally. However, for this discussion with a very narrow focus only historical perception of landscape and a singular example is considered.

Dennis Cosgrove in The Iconography of Landscape regarding Mother Nature suggest the following. “This inter-dependence of nature science, theology, and art … (is) … reflected in architecture”. (20)  Specifically, he is speaking about geography in its natural setting. How this plays out may or not be intentional but implied most assuredly an engineering accommodation of the natural environment to the perceived need in design and functional respective to creative and social utility.

For an example of this concept I refer to Engineering Mountain Landscapes by Scheiber and Zedeno.  It is Maria N. Zedeno and her chapter 2 Central Places in the Backcountry who connect the social necessity to survive and attain a quality of livelihood among Blackfeet indigenous American Indians and their association with Beaver Lake encampment.

In her research, there is no question that the locality of place became very important to the Blackfeet. The uniqueness of the terrain with resultant location of water source, hunting camps, other food sources like paint and root gathering areas, salt licks frequented by wildlife, easy access to these within the specific region, and religious sites, etc. Thus, they set about designing their encampment with very specific landscape intentionality.

Beaver Lake (1)

Though her research specific may be dubbed archaeological in nature the application of the work parallel to my rail/trail project is direct in its origin. “By integrating the concepts of place

centrality and social investment, we elucidate how Blackfeet hunters engaged and modified Beaver Lake in the negotiation of their reservation-era identity, resulting in a reprioritized cultural geography.” (7). Additionally, “principal place fulfills a specific range of human needs … (and) to its topology or location relative to other places … in terms of factors that makes a place central its spatial breath, and its temporal depth” (8). Thus, we can safely say that much of the visual portion of her research focused on the evidence to its historical past.

Therefore, in a parallel manner my rail/trail (originally, Northern Rail Trail) project though momentously change and redirected began much as an examination of engineered landscape and what could be visibly observed.

Mile 11b NRT Turntable Franklyn

Oil on canvas, Dave Holmander 2016

Mile 10a NRT Old Mill Frankyn

Oil on canvas, Dave Holmander 2016

 Being one of New Hampshire’s earliest and longest railroads running 69.9 miles between Concord and White River Junction, Vermont. In it’s onset three (3) different route conceived a southerly shorter and a more northerly without grade route proposed, but then the more middle route selected a comprised route based on grade and distance.

Mile 08b NRT Gerrish Depoy

Oil on canvas, Dave Holmander 2015

Today functioning as recreated purpose use recreational trail for cyclist, walkers and cross country skiers. It would be difficult not to considered it’s past, present and future use and the impact of landscape engineering and design codifying social and environmental implications.

Site Specific Controversy

Without doubt one could make the argument that the rail/trail in its originality could be a variant form of site-specific art and locational identity as Miwon Kwon has perhaps coined. However, given the scale of such a project and intentionality which must be called into question I suggest that this is not what’s in mind in One Place After Another.

While on the one hand this conversation is about site-specific art, I believe it may address or open for a discussion a larger issue pertaining to all art.

Briefly, let me try and summaries a few of the finding the book offers.

Since its emergence in the late 1960’s site-specific art has undergone several iterations and is outline in detail without bias in the book.

In its base origin, germaine to its locality irrespective natural or man-made but adapted to a specific environment.

She proports, in her introduction, “site-determined, site-oriented, site-referenced, site-conscious, site-responsive and site-related.  These are some additional terms that have emerged in recent years among many artist and critics to account for various permutations of site-specific art”. It calls to question the relationship of the actual work created and its relationship to its surround. In site-specific art’s conception, the environmental context was critical to the success for the work as in Robert Smithson’s Partially Buried Woodshed, 1970 on the campus of Kent State University.


However, it became clear to all but “idealist hermeticities” (13) that this model of site-specific art could not be sustained because of it immovability. Such as in the words of Richard Serra’s dictum. “to remove the work is to destroy the work”.  Other anchor to site-specific work where sculptures work placed among city-scape utilizing the light and shadows projected from building capturing certain kind of reflective value.

Some site-specific art was never meant to last, however the defining moment for site-specific art (reference to public art) created in one place was asked to be viewed in another place at great distance. The drive behind this was “museum culture and the art market” (33) Since the scale of this would be too costly or logistically improvable to move the only practical solution was to recreate the same work and visual impact in another location from drawing sketches and photos. And on occasion the artist who envisioned the work would not even be present.

Herein, this brings into question what is the actual art we create.  Just like the camera changed painting, a redefining of artist and their work specific to site-specific art forces a redefine (clarity) not only about site art but all art on a broader scale.

I believe we once again could draw a parallel here regarding conceptual art. Since we have concluded that conceptual art for the visual art in painting, prints and photograph is primarily about the idea, we then may conclude that site specific art isn’t about the actual object but the artist/creator’s conception and its visual impact on the viewer.  The practicality of much site-specific art, specifically public art will require much hands on by others to accomplish the project.

I have largely glossed over the material presented by Kwon because I want to convey that singular point and its ultimate connection to conceptual art. There is much social context to public art and how it defines or fits a community. Also, questions of suitability and identity to specific space need to be addressed. To the larger point in her work site specific art need to reflect a commonality both in its environmental setting and the community it serves else it is unsuccessful. Thus, we may safely conclude even if we are doing create site-specific art there is much we can learn from it about ourselves and the people with whom it’s is attached.


There is an old adage seeing is believing. There are however many ways to see. We may see with our eye, but also with or ears and hand. If you smell a roast cooking in the oven, does it bring back a memory for a once upon time family, a visual image embeds forever?

“Only those cultural practices that have this relational sensibility can turn local encounter into long-term commitments and transformative passing intimacies into indelible, unretractable social marks – so that the sequence of sites that we inhabit in our lives’ traversal does not become genericized into an undifferentiated serialization, one place after another” (166). So, it is with my rail/trail conceptual rendering of place I wish to accomplish.

Work Cited

Zuck, Roy B. Interpretation, Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991. Print

Ammwe, Manuel, Achim Hochdorfer and David Joselit. Painting 2.0, Expression in the information Age. Munich: Museum Brandhorst, Muumak, 2016, Print.

Atkins, Robert. Art Speak, 3rd edition, A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1945 to present. New York:  Abbeville Press, 2013, Print.

Bayles, David, and Ted Orland. Art & Fear, Observations …(and)… Art making.  Santa Cruz:  The Image Continuum, 2001, Print.

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: BBC and Penguin Books, 1972, Print.

Christopouls, George A. The Olympic Games in ancient Greece. Athens: Ekdotike Hellados S.A., 2003, Print.

Cosgrove, Dennis E. Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1998, Print.

Cosgrove, Dennis and Stephen Danils. The iconography of landscape. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988, Print.

DeLue, Rachael Ziady and James Elkins. Landscape Theory, (The Art Seminar).   New York: Routledge, 2008, Print.

Elkins, James. On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art. New York:  Routledge, 2004, Print.

Elkins, James. What Painting Is. New York: Routledge, 1999, Print.

Kagan, Jerome and Ernest Havemann. Psychology: An Introduction, Second Edition.   New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. 1968, Print.

Kilbride, Phillip L., Jane C. Goodale and Elizabeth R. Ameisen.  Encounters with American Ethic Cultures, Tucaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 1990, Print.

Kwon, Miwon. One Place After Another. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2004, Print.

Livingston, Jane. The Art of Richard Diebenkorn. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1997, Print.

Menand, Louis. The Metaphysical Club, A Story of Ideas in America. New York:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001, Print.

Scheiber, Laura L. and Maria Nieves Zedeno. Engineering Mountain Landscapes, (An Anthropology of Social Investment). Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 2015, Print.

Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History. New York: Prentice Hall, Inc., and Harry N. Adams., 1995,

Print.Zuck, Roy B. Interpretation, Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991. Print

Mail – DavidHolmander@nhia.edu

Lux Art Institute – Artist Pavilion Gallery

Lux Art Institute – Artist Pavilion Gallery

1550 South El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024
January 2017
Dave Holmander
The Lux Art Institute and Gallery is a unique find in an unlikely location. Tucked away (almost) on the buzzy El Camino Real nearing the end of a very fasted paced roadway heading toward Cardiff by the Sea and among mixed businesses but mostly moderately prices homes. It happens that on my visit quite by chance I was riding my bike and decided to turn. In actuality I met Sheri Coury Visitor Services Representative who had just arrive to open the gallery pavilion.  She invited me to explore and specifically that cyclist got free admission. (really?)
The image of many museum in a historical context is broadly know as repositories for date and antiquated work from past centuries regardless the artist. It was therefore refreshing to learn about LUX progressive stance so depicted in the Vision and Mission statements.

Lux Art Institute is redefining the museum experience to make art more accessible and personally meaningful.


At Lux, you don’t just see finished works of art; you see the artistic process firsthand, observing internationally recognized artists in a working studio environment. Lux education programs support community in developing a creative voice through exploration, experimentation, and discovery.

As part of this mission, Lux works to:


Support emerging and established artists in the development of new projects through a seasonal residency program.


Exhibit finished works from Lux residencies alongside the artist’s other works,


Engage the community to foster an appreciation of the living artist and creative process.


Encourage creative and critical thinking through inquiry, reflection, and discussion of contemporary art practices.


Implement a project-based learning method with the philosophy that the process is as significant as the final artwork


Nurture interdisciplinary learning by integrating new media and common core principles into our onsite and outreach programs

The current gallery pavilion show featured their resident artist SIRO Cugusi who currently works in Sardinia, Italy.  Sardinia is the second largest island of the west coast of Italy with very rocky coastline. The show is on exhibition from January 21, 2017 thru March 18, 2017.

SIRO b 1980 earned a BFA from Academy of Fine Arts in 2004 and has exhibited in 2011 Venice Biennale and more recently soloed at Dean Borghi Fine Arts, NY 2016.
 His inspiration for art is found with the desire to develop a deeper character of reality, the life of nature and the muse rambling through many notes enveloped. What I find very interesting is his tenor for decomposition and alchemic transformation of elements. Also, he adds biomorphic and surreal form arranged objects presented as his personal interpretation with a hint of cubism.
On a more personal note I examine his brush stroke which is very heavy showing intensity and passion.
His work is largely untitled using only Arabic letters and numbers to signify each work and thus there are no titles included here.
 Shown here are only a few of the larger works. SIRO also had some smaller works and prints.

I provided these last two pictures to provide a sense of the scale of the work and it curation within the gallery.

avant-garde in America today

avant-garde in America today


Dave Holmander-Bradford

07 January 2017

“Is it still possible to have an avant-garde in America today in a time of post-polemics (Communism Vs. Capitalism), a time in which all artwork is continually co-opted by an advanced economic apparatus that seeks to monetize it ?”(Stopa 2).

In “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol” (From A to B and Back Again) by  Andy Warhol; herein, he begins chapter 10 Atmosphere in typical Warhol memes. “B: I wanted to make a film that showed how sad and lyrical it is for those two old ladies to be living alone in those rooms full of newspapers and cats. A: You shouldn’t make it sad. You should just say, This is how people today are doing things” (Warhol 141).  Thus here is intention to bridge the once what was with the what is par-excellent neo avant-garde of present.

It is not lost without any trepidation that the evolution of art beginning in the mid 19th century to present is a complex mosaic of rhythms and nuances variance the nature of social/political abridgments and competing delineations that contemporary contextual art find itself once again affront greater conflagration verses historical identification. Neo avant-garde face no less challenge than that which is now seeded into referential frame. History and institution will by it’s default nature always critique and attempt to invalidate,  but at this onset let it be said recognized or not avant-garde is always present has been and always will be for as Warhol said, “This is how people do things”.

There are two ways to read a good story. One way is to begin at the beginning and always wonder in great anticipation what will happen next. The other is read the last chapter first and go back to the start to find out how that happen. Both are valid but for our purpose I have chosen to start at the end of which I have already indicated a sense of conclusion.

Hal Foster in referencing The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century concludes that there is a connectedness between all the various period since the onset writing of Marxism and Freud psychoanalysis social/political influence and implications to Duchamp’s Urinal 1917 to avant-garde in the 1910’s and 1920’s collage, assemblage readymade, girding ,monochromatic paintings  and sculpture to an emerging neo avant-garde in the 1950’s and 1960’s likeness in repetitious works attributed to Warhol and others. It is here we see the commingling of devise and the non-autoimmunity of art to the disdain of formalist. However, it is the 1960’s he see this paradigm distinction elusive of the former with it’s Dada but clearly bridging a modernist, structuralism theory and hint division neo-avant-garde I  and more current a present neo-avant-garde II which renders an “epistemological rupture“ (Foster 32).  According to Foster the break with the avant-garde of the earlier part of the century is not total but distinct.

Thus we can understand a rupture inclusive it yielding of an expansion wherein a neo-avant-garde II catapults to the fore.

To the novice who many never have conceived the notion of avant-garde such refines may seem a pointless irony. However, to the more astute the transformative qualities of such understand allow a skilful work of Marx and Freud it’s influence on social/political conventions and the manipulation of medium to serve a more subversive end.

Without distinction “avant-garde”  French for “vanguard” English  commonly used in it transliterated form signifies a broad scope of intentionality with respect to art, culture and society. It is in the expanding limitless boundaries of innovation, creativity, radical intentionality avant-garde finds it place. With no surprise and in this vastly progressive context the avant-garde identified itself with the tensions between Communism and Capitalism.

It is important to note Foster post-polemic rhetoric which my current tendency is to agree specific to neo-avant-garde 1 of the 1950’s and 60’s in which he focuses “no rules governs of these devises:”  (collage and assemblage, readymade, grid, monochrome painting and sculpture) “no one instance is strictly revisionist, radical, or compulsive. … I will focus on returns that aspire to a critical consciousness of both artist conventions and historical conditions. (Foster 1)  He continues with his montage while citing works of Michel Foucault What is an Author 1969 about Marx and Freud itself referencing the writing’s of Louis Althusser and Lacan. To suggest “after years of existentialist reading based on Marx … this is the scientific Marx of an epistemological rupture that has changed politics and philosophy forever” (Foster 2). This is of paramount important distinction to comprehend and must not be lost in the fogginess of ideological/political/socialism. Whereas, psychoanalysis has meant how after following years of adaptation to Marx problem of adaptation and alienation. Lacan’s linguistic reading dynamically challenges the conventions “ to the language  of our unconscious, not the humanist Freud of ego psychologies dominant at the time” (2).

It is Althusser who defines a lost break within Marx while Lacan purports latent connection derived of Freud who’s “analysis of the dream as a process of condensation  and displacement, a rebus metaphor and metonymy” (2) The linguistic dissection implied an implosion of strata but to the contrary the emergence and application (rebirth) of such is a process when contextualized to the avant-garde.

Structuralism relative to culture must be understood in it’s relationship to the larger overarching systems of human condition. Thus, literary structuralism implies a corollary equivalent process applicable to all medium, thought, and intentionality specific to the post modern contemporary conceptual art from which we may deduce the primary work of the post-avant-garde (II) is to destroy every convention of formalism and all prior encumbrances.

Avant-garde of any period is limited to its historical perspective. As with neo-avant-garde I and its formidable reputations by nature of the prior historical perspective of which it became an enlargement of the prior dissecting specific whilst employing new devices. Thus the threading a needle of ideological intentionality from Marx to Duchamp to Pollock and Warhol to the recently part David Hamilton 1933–2016 (Art Net) it is a continuum of strategy contingency forever connecting the past with the present neo-avant-garde II current innovation. Whereas avant-garde of any period is always governed by the devices of historical limitation, enlarged by currents of information, and technological advancements constrained my social/political/economic moray of the present.

What are the hypothetical implication for an American avant-garde, is there avant-garde  present or is it possible to imagine one? In laying down such a premise might we first examine Foster with regards to the historical and then theoretical where he references “two returns in the late 1950’s and 1960’s (as opposed to the New York School version of formalism) that might qualify as radical in the sense sketched above. The readymade of Duchampian dada and contingent structures of Russian constructivism. In perspective “structures …  that reflect both inwardly on material , form … space…” (Foster 4) etc. and “what relationship between moments of appearance and reappearance do they pose?“ (4). Thus, “are postwar moment passive repetitions of prewar moments, or does neo-avant-garde act on the historical avant-garde in way we can only now appreciate?”(4)  It is only in the present, which I suggest to the affirmative are we able to fully  understand his analysis.

Of the historical he suggest returning to Dadaist readymade and constructivist structures. However, these may be distinctly different specifically regarding aesthetics and political intention he draws a direct linkage because each source “bourgeon principle of autonomous art and expressive art” (4) Thus, this offered North American artist of the neo-avant-garde I an alternative to the more compelling modernist movement still favoring a formalistic singular medium. It is however, the vast majority of artist of the period cling largely attached to modernistic model dominant still embellished in formalist structure of the past as so noted by “Clement Greenberg and Michel Fried” (4) .

Much was centered on “intrinsic autonomy … pledged to ideals of significant form and pure optimality” (4) yet it is the very nature of neo-avant-garde 1 challenge these conventions.

It is in the theoretical wherein advancement pure neo-avant-garde 1 set a stage from which neo-avant-garde 2 will be realized of the present. Russian constructivism one example given to its radical social/political nature base in a revolutionary society conjugates the materialist nature of art repositioning from mundane space-time etc, to social awareness and self attentiveness. We should identify this friction as a continuum ever present in any avant-garde cognate of it’s historical character and attack on institutions and museum. Pre-war and post-war avant-garde influence is inseparable and set the parameter for a clearly American avant-garde of which is earnestly intent to distinguish it own self-identity. Much could be said on the complex and various influences from Burger’s three stage development rooted in Marxism connection of object and understand to the intentionality of greater study in theory process developed throughout neo-avant-garde 1 within the advent of master of fine art degrees.

Looking beyond this to our current condition neo-avant-garde 2 what is the current condition of American art in general versa it’s diversity and economic considerations.

In evaluating the present condition one cannot ignore the very question why we make art and to what is it purposes. Sadly, but true, while many young artist see creating art for the noblest reasons economic fact to sustain a practicable viability often impact decision and career direction. One such outlook from a blogger suggest the following bleak compendium in an article title: The Future of Art in America.

Is your book not selling? Make it about Batman. Having a hard time getting people to go and seeyour band? Make every song about Scooby-Doo. Need extra cash for painting supplies? Paintsomething where you have Mario and Luigi driving KITT, from Knight Rider, off a cliff as anhomage to Thelma and Louise. The more popular references you have the better your art becomes!Art often reflects the society in which it was created and what better reflects our society than anendless mash-up of popular culture? Nothing.

The best way to make it as an artist is to combine two popular characters into one thoughtless andlazy abomination that the public will go wild over. As we are now a nation of perpetual children,you can literally convince other adults that your nerd core rap about DuckTales is high art worthpaying for. Art that appeals to the artist or offers some sort of introspection is a financial non-starter, but inject some nostalgia and you’ve got yourself a sale. If you’re asking yourself why, it’s because every lonely thirty-two year old with a soul-crushing job will shell out twenty bucks for something that reminds them of a time when they still had an imagination. (You Monsters are People)

One need not consider a single blogger’s negative opinion as a comprehensive summary and analysis of the current North American art scene. But it does speak rightly or wrongly to a prevailing attitude which many in the general populous subscribe. What is known in to current market environment are the following observations. First, that for most artists irrespective weather subscribing to a formalist tradition or contemporary conceptual or one of a thousand other variations the old model of distribution through a host of galleries and local showing it is an outdated solo endeavor. Artist business models must include a constant engagement in personal website, social media and plethora technological outlet from bogging to artist webs where there work is banked in addition to professional net working and the usual artist association. So it must be for the active artist self-promotion as Euripides said, “Leave no stone unturned”(Euripides)

A second consideration is Kitsch which is mass-produced economical art using popular or cultural icons. The term coined in the 19th century with aesthetics that favors a sentimentality. Critics consider it to be largely melodramatic.

However, it has never held broad critical review but has found wide appeal to the public because of its contemporaneous  pop-culture style, sometimes-comical subject matter and often social/political messaging.

A third and final consideration is the advent of  major commercial art fairs and conventions which draw national and international attention. Such venues offer both expose to audience, collectors and buyer of major works often created purely and intentional without thoughtfulness, intentionality or individuality for such. In addressing the question posed for this discussion, “advanced economic apparatus, system and monetary gain the sole intent purpose of art. Is that the goal of artist today..?” (Stopa)  Sadly, in many way for some it is, however, this may speak to a deeper issue what make an artist. That is not the purpose of this talk but could be good fodder for future consideration.

So it is in finality of the current conversation we should ask neo-avant-garde two present be define and so identify on the how so?  It is from here I should launch a compendium and possible suggestion perhaps not previously considered but to do so we obviously look beyond all currently acceptable conventions. Where as neo-avant-garde one in the 1950’s and 1960 has ultimately demanded an institutional reform of art museums in particular was necessitated to under go transformation of its historical model in making “ (Foster 17) new space of critical play and prompted new models of institutional analysis. … “It was previously repressed but now freed from it’s past. Thus for Burger’s point the role of the avant-garde is to destroy the institution of autonomous in order to connect with the real of life and art. It is of the present condition I content that there can be no autonomy if neo-avant-garde is to survive. The avant-garde or neo-avant-garde can only survive in and atmosphere of collaboration of artist production and  reception.

Given the present economy we heed to look closely for it is in the collaboration of other artist one might only come to both recognize and comprehend avant-garde.  In an article written by Ian Wallace in which he cites Lian Gillick  “The question is how to categorize art today in a way that will exceed the contemporary. The inclusiveness of the contemporary is under attack, as this very inclusiveness has helped suppress a critique of what art is and more importantly what comes next. We know what comes next as things stand—more contemporary art … Contemporary art is a useless and counterproductive term, because it pretends that the way something avant-garde looks has to be dependent on the way something avant-garde looked five years ago—after all, if everything is “contemporary” then nothing is. Artists need to try to do things that are really, really different and new“ (Wallace). With example on the cutting edge. Cake and food consumable art has been overlooked as legitimate art form. Such innovation bring into new form styles and variations etc. reasoning why it is so. Installations (specially public) and multi mix media will expand in addition to the expanding roll of digital and technology related art. Specifically as aesthetics continues on a path of deskilling found object sculpture and new medium such as light gradation will find new horizons.

Contemporary Art Does Not Account for That Which Is Taking Place” (2010)



“Khhhhhhh” (2012)


Work Cited

ArtNet  http://www.artnet.com/artists/david-hamilton/  2016 web.

Euripides, “Leave no stone unturned.” – ThinkExist.com


Foster, Hal, The Return of the Real. Cambridge: The MIT Press, Forth printing. 2001. Print.

Stopa, Jason, MFV802: Graduate Seminar II. Syllabus, New Hampshire Institute of Art, 2016. Print.

Wallace, Ian, Art Space.com, Lian Gillick,  2014.


Warhol, Andy, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol. Orlando: Harcourt, 1975. Print.

You Monsters Are People., Blog at WordPress.com. ,The Future of Art In America, 2015,  (Specific author unknown)

The Future Of Art In America

On Four Introductions and 1945-1949 Journal Entry One

Dave Holmander-Bradford artist Bike lanes NYC Lower Manhattan, February  2017.  photo by dave holmander Dave Holmander Sept 2016 On Four Introductions and 1945-1949 Journal Entry One The current jo…

Source: On Four Introductions and 1945-1949 Journal Entry One

On Four Introductions and 1945-1949 Journal Entry One

Dave Holmander-Bradford artist


Bike lanes NYC Lower Manhattan, February  2017.  photo by dave holmander

Dave Holmander Sept 2016

On Four Introductions and 1945-1949 Journal Entry One

The current journal entry is divided into two sections with the first beginning the introduction and the second that period 1945 to 1949 and is based upon the textbook “art since 1900” published by Thames & Hudson.


By way of starting this first journal entry I want to say that thought out the reading I was particularly pleased to note that thematically it followed and built upon the foundation which was laid in “ Critical Theory MFV801” seminar in the first residency by tying key words to the discussion thus building a bridge from the prior to new material. With it came applicable impacted various aspects of modernist art and specially contemporary abstract within the twenties and thirty with surrealism reference to the theoretical and political of the seventies and eighties feminism; and, “the working of subjectivity and sexuality” (p15) . It is my opinion that “Lynda Benglis, Untitiled, 1974” (p19) is a profound example of the latter.

Social history likewise has been depicted through art and continues today though it is a complex mosaic not always easily identified but is mingled with various strains of Marxism in a more pure form of philosophical inspiration. We might suggest “aestheticism conceiving the work of art as a purely self-sufficiency and self-reflexive experience” (23) espoused by Theophile Gautier. Autonomy served this purpose also which engendered capitalistic logic into the late sixties thus the codification of art to the present.

Ideology played a roll in aesthetics. It was Gyorgy Lukacs speaking extensively about the relationship of Marxism and social art history. Most notably his “key concept was that of reflection, establishing a rather mechanistic relationship between the forces economic and political base and the ideological and the institutional superstructure” (p27) thus Meyer Schapiro concludes “cultural representation is the mirror reflection of idelogical interest” (p28) and this is evidenced in artistic representation.

There is however, a difference in popular culture and it’s appeal to the masses of society.

While to the novice it might appear to be slight of hand to the art historian or critic it is a “question of how so-called high art or avant-garde practices relate to the emerging mass-cultural formation of modernity” (p29). Therefore, particularly with American social art historians there was intense desire to establish it’s own identity after WW2 so formulation of “neo-avant garde” (p31) become critical as it is distinct. Irrespective, the strength of the modernist art movement and the interconnectedness of social causes and the accompanying history for one hundred years lack cohesiveness while emulation some over riding themes from which to build upon.

Roland Barthes, French literacy’s studied semiology as a separation from signs and came to the conclusion that “content has to be replaced by referent “ … “But … axiom are already there … as signs “ (p33). These conflagrations mimics formalism and structuralism where as Barthes intends to point to a historical links of modernism with literary works. While and example of formalism may be view in the work of George Brague, Violin , 1910; this follow the arbitrary nature of Pablo Picasso, Bull’s Head, 1942. However; this process indeed has had it’s limits but nonetheless the foundation of the modernist movement is set in canonical precedent.

The sixties mark once again an attitude of linguistics inroads into the modernity of art and it’s expansion with the enlargement and identification of the “shifter” (p41). Most importantly, the use of “I” and “you” as a mechanism in conduction a conversation between the first person and the second or third person as you might have it, but also in support of work wherein the visual experience is insufficient for the critic or art lover to fully appreciate the work and thus the presence of experience.

Any discussion no matter how brief of poststructuralism and deconstruction would not be complete without some mention of the “perpetual allusion” (p47) which in essence is marked by the term “simulacrum” . A little known or use term yet the very foundation which virtually all of presence day society functions under. The reality of non-reality of living in a mode of non-reality that we think life is or should be. Living life as a fantasy and completely devoid of the possibility of knowing reality. It is the allusion, which the economic forces have manipulated people to believe the way life should be, and failure to realize they are a cog in someone else’s wheel. Thus the impression of representation and it is here where I believe the artist may face the greatest challenge but also the greatest opportunity even to be cutting edge or a new avant-grade.


In 1945 David Smith constructs “Pillar of Sunday” (p364). The subject is not nearly as important as it is a departure from the Cubist who created space on a flat surface but now in real space Surrealist in their free stand works. The period is mark with a great variety of new entries but also breathes new life into prior works like Julio Gonzalez, “Women Combing Her Hair“, 1936 and Pablo Picasso, “Head of a Women“, 1929-30 (365).


In Europe it is still a difficult time after WW2 ended the emotional effect of the horrific war still fresh in the mind . But the short lived “Cacaism” (p369) immerges liken to “Dadaism” (p369) which followed The Great War. Without doubt the major works of this period stems from France and a significant exhibition “Galerie Rene Drouin in Paris in May 1946 “(p369). Most profound is Jean Dubuffet’s “Volonte de puissance” 1946 (p370) which depicts a nude stunted child having survived a horrific experience but emotionally scared.


This period brought forth a desire to move forward and away from the back drop of the lingering effects of war. Though the famous Bauhaus school of modernist design was closed by the Nazis interest in it’s concept finds it way to Black Mountain College in North Carolina with imports like Josef Albers from Chicago but previously from Bauhaus in Berlin. This largely an experimental concept within and egalitarian college, but it brings forth a new dimension to modernistic of expression which is purely Americanized. With Mohol-Nagy, Albers new radical design advance with a dialectical viewing experience as refected in Josef Albers, “Homage to the Square” 1970 (p379).

Continuing that same year and into 1948 “Abstract Expressionism” gains a foothold and latter Life magazine will publishes a photo by Nina Leen title “The Irascibles”, 1951 of a sorted group of artist working autonomously but having been brought together through an exhibition held at New York’s famed Metropolitan Museum of Art and as such their work takes root and has had a profound impact in visual art.


This is the year Life magazine ask it readers select the greatest living artist. They pick Jackson Pollick for his drip painting. His work is intriguing and complex but most notably for it’s “hallucinated literalness” (p387) . It is how light reflect off the work which is unique. His process was to lay canvas horizontal to the floor and make drippings while standing over the work thus as the paint dry there was not dropping of paint on the vertical slop thereby the reflective quality of light on the finished work emulated a more uniform illustrative viewing experience.

1949 also saw another sub division in the modernist movement called “Brutalism”. One was called the Coba group because its proponents hailed from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam where a group of young artist where endeavoring a new direction bring to light African tribal art and untapped children’s art. At the same time with similar goal New Brutalists in England emerged again with the notion to move forward and shake of the past. It was more of a pealing back the veneer of the gilded image and expression the substructure as the grand revealing. This was expressed in the architecture of modern building design a more boxes look of support post and beams are left exposed and window trimmings are raw basic yet it’s expression influences all modern art from collage to metal to sculpture.

Landscape: A Critical Theory

Landscape Theory: Critical Theory & Philosophy by  Dave Holmander-Bradford This paper focus on landscape theory, it’s practice within Western society and the relevancy of using nature a…

Source: Landscape: A Critical Theory

Landscape: A Critical Theory


 Landscape Theory:

Critical Theory & Philosophy


 Dave Holmander-Bradford

This paper focus on landscape theory, it’s practice within Western society and the relevancy of using nature as a base foundation to convey idea and meaning. I will discuss how it applies to my specific body of work. Some questions I hope to answer are what is my practice as an artist? What role medium specificity and genre play in identifying myself within an artist movement?  How specific coalescing subject like social/feminism/economic/political/environmental impact my work? Where do I fit in within contemporary conceptual art?  What specifically is it that I want my art to accomplish?


Think about landscape. Ask yourself the question. What is it? You say that simple, it’s a picture, a panoramic view of the mountains, maybe the setting for a formal European garden. Stop there. You say a formal European, which kind?  Do you mean French formal Garden like Garden of Versailles with its symmetry? What about the Brits? Didn’t they have formal gardens? Have you thought about Stowe Garden with its Rotunda in England? Oh! I forgot about the English landscape parks. But wait, isn’t the Rotunda architecture? So, to such extent that this means there is landscape architecture, which include cityscapes. Exactly! Is not as simple one might think to define landscape. It is being all the afore plus much more, it all inclusive and encompassing. It is where we live both in its natural state and in it reconfiguration by humans. It is something we can never escape nor be separate from.


For a broader understand just for a moment think about what it is not. It is not static. Landscape in its natural environment unaltered by man is ever changing from season, severe weather, earth quakes etc., and the alteration by human activity weather intentional or not by design and calamity. Therefore, when considering a visual image as a painting or photograph we see an illusion of what the landscape might have appeared to be at a moment of time. It’s not possible to consider landscape without the effects of human activity.

Within this context, we might consider a self-reflection. For example, Dennis Cosgrove suggest in his musing from Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape “a way in which some Europeans have represented to themselves and to others the world about them and their relationship with it, and through which they have (commented) … on social relations.” However, James Elkins counters their more limited scope by suggesting “there seems to be a kind of opening now: a sense that it is possible to see beyond that reading if not outside of it” (89)
I believe what is being said here if I might fast forward since the 16th century through early to mid-20th century visual landscape was largely limited to an inward identifiable psychosis which limited European experience of expression and creativity. Therefore, the European model landscape subject matter was largely limited to social and economic activity and pastoral scenic pleasantry with a high concentration expressionistic realism coupling a high concentration of aesthetics.

It is Michael Gaudio  in Landscape Theory  who advances this more fully where he cites
“Art history writing on landscape in the last few decades has made it impossible  not to recognize that landscape is, at some fundamental level, intimately engaged  with ideology.” But he counters this point not to lose sight of the whole point of landscape. “To make a claim, to say that landscape painting is fundamentally or essentially of ideology, runs the risk of losing the landscape itself.” (89)
For the contemporary artist who desired to express conceptuality in their work this intersection of ideology and space converge into a consolidating synthesis.

Core to the very essence of landscape Anne Whiston Spirn confects in her article One with Nature of the same text, the word itself coveys’ insight into theory and is a derivative of landshap a Dutch word and Old English landscipe. Land meaning region or piece of land inhabited by people and scape referring to association, collective or partnership. It’s use dates to the 1500s. However, earliest wall painting date to 330 CE of the Roman and Greek period and early Christianity. (54)

It is almost impossible for any astute student of art history to not recognize that there is some impact of a Marxist influence on most works of art. Key is ideological meaning, subjectivity, representation and lived experience etc. While it may seem sublime, landscape art almost always conveys some level of class/social/economic/political distinction.  Elkins elaborately distinguishes this reality as being oblivious to most landscape artist.  “I am concerned (of the) … totally dismissing (attitude) the Marxist perspective or attempting to think outside of it is too radical a step, at least if we think of Marxist analysis not just in terms of class… In my opinion this kind of spatial structure challenges first, the assumption about landscape as being purely about a natural, geographical piece of land by pointing out other factors, … at work.” He Continues, “This approach suggests a fundamental reconfiguration of the structure of the representational and non-representational aspects of contemporary cultural (and) landscape.” (117) What Elkins is projecting that even if an artist does not intent to project a social/economic/feminist etc. concern the very nature of the both the aesthetic specificity and spatial constraints which equates to representation work and non-representation to a lesser degree it is ever present. Thus, we must conclude in general terms all ideology in some way equates to a form of Marxism and sub ligates even the most peripheral incidents of visual landscape.


Roman, Virgin and Child with Prophet. Early 3rd c. (7 p6)

To the larger point in this discussion in how we define landscape in contemporary terms it is greater than a flat painted surface or photo emulsion and it is greater than a momentary gaze. Thought it may be convoluted it is necessary to consider the wider implications. Elkins is a master at deciphering intentionality of the landscape artist and these offering are intended to build a greater foundation upon which to process thought and practice.  “What remains unacknowledged within geography (and I believe he is speaking to what happen on it by way of human activity) and art history is the transformation of (the) place of social relations into the space as (it is) shaped and structured by a global flow. Hence the proliferation of landscape metaphors- town-scape, city-scape, motor-scape (and) in contemporary society theory and human culture/geography.”
He continues to define five specific areas of cultural globalization and their economies which impact art.
“finances-scape, …techno-scape, …ethno-scape, … media-scape, … ideo-scape” (117)
It is within this frame of reference that contemporary conceptual artist find their place. It being a given paradigm that no artist works in autonomy it is difficult not to consider individuals not influence by today present globalize community

As we consider American landscape it is necessary to establish an anchor point from which to develop and understanding moving forward. There are three division which I would like to focus on. They are landscape architecture, landscape geography, and landscape as it relates to North American painting beginning in the mid-19th century.

It may seem quite odd but there is very little natural landscape within regions occupied by humans. Therefore, we conclude that most space in contemporary society reveals some evidence of intentional designed landscape whether it be specific building design or urban layout etc.  Each appointment equivocated to landscape and signifies historical perspective. What is of interest with American landscape is it lack autonomy regarding European precedent. It would seem. Cosgrove builds the case in which American landscape architecture is very much a continuum to social event in Europe beginning the Black Death which reconfigured the population of the continent and resultant mind set.  Herein, a restructuring coinciding the opportunity of westward expanding in North America. To which he says, “America was a very concrete reality to be transformed from wilderness waste to a cultivated garden, to be made fertile, to be shaped by tools and practices inherited from Europe and adjusted to the conditions of the American environment”. (161)

What America landscape offered which European could not was pluralistic sociality, large scale industrialization, and urbanization. Though still agrarian mid-19th century by 1890’s transformation of such was underway of the geographical scape. On a grander scheme the real conflict and tensions were competing ideologies of feudalism verses capitalism. (XVI) These models of social organization pose similar yet differing results. On the one hand, they are both focus on material production; however, where they differ feudalism’s goal is to produce wealth for a few while capitalism provides wealth for the masses. It is in this historical context transitioning to a capitalistic economy which American landscape painting find its unique place and character distinguishing itself from all other. The vastness of North American continent and the opportunities afforded to explore the new space provided the foundation for economic growth. Artist were commissioned to paint remote place which in turn a viewing public with their newly formed disposable income could be enticed to visit.

Thomas Moran Tutt'Art@
Thomas Moran Tutt’Art@

Thomas Moran (1837-1926) Tutt’Art@.com. (Hudson River School)


Thus, we conclude that painting and photography are the specifics of this essay but must insist mirroring their interconnectedness to the geography and architectural to provide a full and comprehensive illusion.

Considering my own interest in landscape and it consecutiveness to outdoor endurance activity there seems to be a long history of arts and sports, The Olympic Games were instituted in 776 B.C.E. One must conclude that during this Geometric age such endurance activity was already quite well established as already evidenced during the Mycenaean period with its “primitive spirit of rivalry”. (15) Still earlier evidence date to the Egyptians in the second millennium B.C.E with archeologist finding wall paintings and reliefs. There depictions reveal a sociality of the sporting activity by multiple social class functioning as entertainment. Representation of these events are preserved as visual works of landscape while not limited in category. Architectural landscape form reveal in many ways the intentional design of place some surviving to the present day such as Valley of the Olympia including the Alpheios.


Valley of the Olympia

A purview from a historical perspective is still found utility in works of art throughout the centuries and within this tradition I place my own body of work as a conceptual narrative.

The Olympia event of ancient Greece are recorded in the historical landscape of the space and the visual images created by artist for the conceptual appeal of the populist. Subjectivity they evidence an intensity of training, diet and commitment (thus a social/economic/political commitment by inference) by the participating athletics as a communicative medium to promote the sport and solicit interest from others.


Diomedes, Museo Archeologico and Scene of horse, Paris, Musee du Lourel

As an endurance athlete, I place my body of work within a similar scope contextualized by idea and conceptuality of subject. Examination of specific ideas, subjects and intentionality might take on the following characteristic. Beyond the more obvious consideration such as being a competitive cyclist and much of my current work explores Rail/Trail recreations space. It purports a social/economic/life-style/environmental/political and deliberative feministic skew. I try to convey intentionality in my work and presence of place. Intentionality because it exposes a lifestyle and social reality not advantaged by most people utilized for healthy life-style activity; also, environment concern finding new clean non-polluting activity from once industrialized rail beds. The conversion of these rail beds involve political will and economic funding in the interest of the public. Thus, these efforts are inclusive of all persons, free use and open to all.

The current body of work is not limited to the previous stated intentional and visual observations but within the depth of viewing experience is a passion to express a spiritual dimension. Though my work may not reveal an obvious religious quality to the contrary in a subtler way it intentionally is presented to express a natural setting of a divine essence by an omnipresent eternal creator. It is within the landscape a creator personification and handy work of divine formation is assimilated by a sensory awareness offered to enquiring souls. Here with is religious art. While I acquiesce that one might need a predisposition of faith in an eternal creator to acquire such a conclusion I strive that even the agnostic or atheist will still experience an impassionate outdoors’s point of view presence in the viewing experience.

By way of summary specificity, I concur with Elkins who states, “landscape is a spiritual and aesthetic response to nature … (but he continues by adding) landscape is a product of natural forces, the proper object of natural science or natural philosophy, perhaps altered by human intervention”.  And it is ideological interpretation and especially phenomenological experience.

In What Painting Is James Elkins detail the anguishing work of artist (painter) of an earlier period faced. By far most had to be some variant form of an Alchemist just to acquire their hue and pigment “whereas they shared many substances-linseed oil, spirits, brilliant minerals for color… language of alchemy … vitriol, sal ammoniac and blood”. (19) Here the painter/alchemist must deal with the Prima Materia. From Levity.Com a summary of the complexity is described.

“In alchemy, Prima Materia, Materia prima or first matter, is the ubiquitous starting point required for the alchemical magnum opus and the creation of the philosopher’s stone. It is the primitive formless base of all matter like chaos, the quintessence or aether. Esoteric alchemists codescried the prima, Materia using simile, and compare it to concepts like the anima mundi.”[i]

For the contemporary conceptual artist one can only assume a blessing and convivence of acquiring painting media and supplies from a commercial. However, this does not have to be at the expense of intrinsic quality in the artist experience of connecting with the paint, the brush and stroke. His/her studio will still fill with the aromatics of open paint on pallet and cleaners. The landscape artist will struggle with meaning and meditative courage in pain or adversity. As Elkins puts it the studio is a kind of psychosis. “Liquids are life and so it is particularly important that oil painting takes place between solid and liquid, in the realm of the viscous, the gluey, the phlegmatic” (19). So here in I place my work, a work and undertaking still in progress as it should be as the Alchemist did not know the result from the start my work place within the 21centry is a blend of known and unknown the end results yet to be determined.


Works Cited


Ammwe, Manuel, Achim Hochdorfer and David Joselit. Painting 2.0, Expression in the information Age. Munich: Museum Brandhorst, Muumak, 2016, Print.
Atkins, Robert. Art Speak, 3rd edition, A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1945 to present. New York:  Abbeville Press, 2013, Print.
Bayles, David, and Ted Orland. Art & Fear, Observations …(and)… Art making.  Santa Cruz:  The Image Continuum, 2001, Print.
Christopouls, George A. The Olympic Games in ancient Greece. Athens: Ekdotike Hellados S.A., 2003, Print.
Cosgrove, Dennis E. Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1998, Print.
DeLue, Rachael Ziady and James Elkins. Landscape Theory, (The Art Seminar).
New York: Routledge, 2008, Print.
Elkins, James. On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art. New York:  Routledge, 2004, Print.
Elkins, James. What Painting Is. New York: Routledge, 1999, Print.


Kagan, Jerome and Ernest Havemann. Psychology: An Introduction, Second Edition.   New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. 1968, Print.
Livingston, Jane. The Art of Richard Diebenkorn. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1997, Print.
Menand, Louis. The Metaphysical Club, A Story of Ideas in America. New York:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001, Print.
Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History. New York: Prentice Hall, Inc., and Harry N. Adams., 1995, Print.






[i] Levity.Com. http://www.levity.com/alchemy/atalanta.html