I am going to China! and doing a spot of fundraising :)

Posted on | 8/14/11 | No Comments

Hey everyone, I'm doing last minute fund raising for my trip to China :) I'm selling art cards OR post cards for $5 (payable via paypal). They are hand painted, your choice style & up to 5 colors, your choice subject matter (gimme a photo reference or a clear description of what you want). I will paint & ship up to August 29th (day before my flight). Here are a few examples of my work. You can contact me via the button under my bio on the right of this post. I will respond with the pertinent details. I could reeeally use the extra money right now. Thanks!

Art model resource

Posted on | 3/7/11 | No Comments

I didn't plan to post again today but I came across this excellent resource and thought I should share it. I'm sure many of you are aware of how difficult it is to find how quality art models, particularly if you are too broke (like me!) to pay for your own live model. This site has both male and female models and photos taken at 360 degrees (from every angle) of the same pose. Each set has around 24 hi res photos for only around $4. So, if you are as serious as I am about anatomical drawing, you definitely should check out this site.

Rainforest Art Projects

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Currently I'm visiting beautiful, sunny, tropical Puerto Rico and have been wanting to do a related post on it. I wrote this article for another publication but I think you guys will also appreciate it. I am also going to add in photos from my time here in PR and examples of rain forest related artwork (click on the paintings to go to the website I found them on) to inspire you. 


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Hello faithful readers! I’m sorry I’ve been unable to post for the past two weeks but I have returned with more exciting new posts. Expect an interview with artist Scott Garcia this week, as well as two new tutorials: How to draw using pen and ink & Basic Intro to painting with watercolors. There will also be one extra-long post this week and another next on  Behind the art: Installing a world class piece of art. There will be one about Pepon Osorio and the other about Amalia Mesa Bains. I hope you enjoy this week’s posts and please leave a comment if there is something you want me to cover in the coming weeks.

Coming next week

Posted on | 3/4/11 | No Comments

Just checking in to let you all know that I will be one of Pepon personal helpers assisting with set up on Monday 14 and Tuesday 15 from 9-5pm. :D & I will be taking a few days off here because I am also preparing to fly from Albuquerque to Puerto Rico on Wednesday the 16 so I'm taking this next week to get as much work done as I can.

I will, however, have a ton of new articles, how-tos and reviews for you next week. I'm working on about 30 articles for the blog right now that I will be adding periodically so expect some new content soon.

Sorry about the wait regarding artist of the week. Josue is busy with his band "Ser.es" but as soon as he answers the interview questions I will post them here. In the meantime I am preparing 2 more artist of the week specials. One will be about a carver named Scott Garcia and the other is El Moises.

Introducing: El Moises, Artist of the Week February 14-21

Posted on | 2/17/11 | No Comments

I met Moises in late 2010 at a barbecue for artists given at the home of Scott Garcia and I was super excited by his stimulating, textural and graphic style. This interview was given on February 13, 2011 and you will find even more awesome pictures after the break.

More of Moises' art! and an update.

Posted on | 2/14/11 | No Comments

So, today was the first day of set up for the show. It was exhausting but a lot of fun. I took a ton of photos of every step of the process so you all can see what goes into setting up an installation of this scale. It will be a few days before I get a chance to edit the pics and write the post, so expect it next weekend. See more art below:

Announcing Feb. 14- 21 Artist of the Week: El Moises

Posted on | 2/13/11 | 3 Comments

Hello all!
Today I am happy to announce this weeks Artist of the Week is El Moises (image is of the artist with a piece):

El Moises is a kicka$$ contemporary artist based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico but originally from Phoenix, Arizona. His work is visually exciting, graphic and textural (as well as being some of the most exciting work I've seen in a while).
I will be putting the interview with him up on Wednesday but in the mean time I plan post a picture of some of his work every day of this week. Here is the first:

516arts show update

Posted on | 2/7/11 | No Comments

I contacted Rhiannon Mercer, the assistant director of 516arts and told her of my interest in helping to set up this show and specifically with Pepon if possible. She is making up the schedule today and I will definitely be participating with set up in some way although I don't yet know if I will meet or work with Pepon personally. I will try to get some kind of interview with him if at all possible. Excuse my fan girl behavior but I'm super excited :D
I will keep you all informed of everything that happens. Here is some of Pepon's art for you to enjoy in the mean time.

Image of Amalia Mesa-Bains piece for the show from 516arts website

For your convenience!

Posted on | 2/6/11 | No Comments

I'm working hard to clean up the look of this blog, create good content and use decent hacks to make the blog easier to use. Check out the new share buttons I've installed to make it easier for you to show the blog to your friends.
Let me know what else I can do to make this blog better using the contact me button on the left side of the page. :)

Pepon Osorio at 516arts in Albuquerque, New Mexico Feb.19th - May 14 2011. OMG!

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So, through a fluke of fate or luck or gods know what, I entered the wrong search parameters into google when finding links for my last post and randomly discovered something amaaaazing. The local gallery I love/hate and volunteered at is participating in "Latina/o Visual Imaginary: Intersection of Word & Image" a show running from February to May as part of the "East Coast/Southwest—Latino Literary Imagination: Narrative Voices and the Spoken Word" biregional conferance. By some vile quirk of fate this show opens just 2 days after I leave Albuquerque forever to return to Puerto Rico, before moving to China. This sucks, to put it lightly and has got me a bit down. I cut ties with this gallery in disgust with some of the IMO crappy shows they were doing about a year ago and boy am I regretting it now. I am trying to suck up to a few pertinent people to see if there is any way I can help with the installation this but I'm not counting on it. I will let you know if I manage to participate though and will try to get an interview with Pepon Osorio if possible!

If you want to learn more, go here for more information. I can guarantee you that this show will be excellent so you should definitely go in my place! Let me know if you attend and gimme all the details!

Concept art: is it really that lame??

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Whos Afraid: of Conceptual Art?
 Today’s musing is going to be about concept art. I know many people outside the art world do not see the value of concept as art but I am absolutely convinced that art is no more than a pretty image without an “idea” behind it. So today I am going to tell about how I met Pepon Osorio (with no clue of how important he was) and fell in love with installations and concept art.

Once upon a time after I had been studying poetry writing at the UPR for a few years I randomly found a flier advertising the opening of the new art building. There would be a workshop on installation building with Pepon Osorio. I decided to go and met a hyper active, grouchy, bossy older man (Osorio) who was constantly shouting. It was more an assistantship than a workshop but I did learn quite a bit. We started with conceptualization and the idea that the piece should be silver. We used recycled materials and built a large chandelier type thing and covered rocks in tin foil. This was the point where I began to realize that anything and everything could be art. It was also where I learned about the art school I eventually attended. I did not enjoy the experience at the time and have only recently come to understand how valuable the experience was and to what extent it shaped my view of art.

I think (this is purely my view and probably not shared by other artists) that conceptualization and intent is an essential part of any art piece. But when it comes to concept art, the idea is everything. The physical aspect of the piece can be anything but without that idea (usually expressed in the choice of name) the piece is meaningless and IMO, without any value. The thing I absolutely hate about concept art is that it has become an excuse to show crappy, half assed work with no thinking behind it. The industry seems willing to accept anything under the term “concept art” without analysis or thought and this, to me, is immensely stupid. The whole POINT of concept art is to make you think, analyze, question, justify, rationalize and even argue about the art. It is not to write a 7 page rationalization or justification of your crappy piece. If I can not find a meaning in a piece with the name, observing it and reading the same short blurb any other piece would get, well, the piece was probably not very well conceptualized and it isn’t clear. I mean, we don’t all have to come to the same conclusion or perspective but we should all be able to come to A conclusion or perspective without reading some long rationalization.

After the workshop with Pepon (Textos Entretejidos: Instalacion/Perfomance/Memoria 2004) I did some research on him and learned a bit more about his work. He is an installation artist who makes surprisingly complex pieces and got his start as a social worker. I think this background gives his work an emotional depth that I haven’t seen in other work. His work centers on the family, politics and culture and IMO communicates emotions rather powerfully.

As for specific concept pieces that I find effective, I thought I’d bring up Hirst since I have been researching him for another post. In general I find Hirst work to be very over rated and overpriced but I did come across one piece of his that I liked and a deconstruction of one of his pieces by another artist. “A Thousand Years,” Hirst’s piece in which generations of flies are born and die while consuming rotting meat in an enclosed glass box. The concept is of life and death is one that has always interested me and along with the short, meaningful name, I think it is a perfect example of a well thought out piece of concept art. It is engaging and absolutely commands a response of some kind from the viewer.  The other piece that I was amused by was “Black Sheep” the deconstruction by Mark Bridger of Hirst’s “Away from the Flock” in which Bridger poured black into the formaldehyde tank containing a sheep. I found Bridger’s deconstruction to be more thoughtful and clever than Hirst’s original piece.

Art as commodity: Hirst & the value of "art"

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 I was asked to do a review of Damien Hirst and while I originally planned to do so referring to concept art, my complex feelings towards his work have convinced me to approach him from an easier angle. Today I want to write again about “art as a commodity” and how value is placed on a piece.  I’ve said before that I do not believe “talent” to be essential to become an “artist” and I think this statement is embodied in Hirst. It is well known that much of “his” work is created by assistants, with him doing the conceptualizing. I read on his Wikipedia page that an assistant once asked him for one of his dot paintings and he told her to paint one herself since she had done others. I can’t remember his exact response but it was in the vein of “the only difference between my work and yours is the money” which I think illustrates exactly my point. I personally have a complex view when it comes to assistants although it may simply be because I will probably never have any, though heavens knows that I could be doing much larger and more complex work with a few. My point being that I do believe conceptualization is a major component of creating a piece. On the other hand I also believe that if an “artist” signs off claiming a piece, that piece had damn well better have had some work beyond "I thought it up!" (conceptualization) done by that artist.

How the way people speak of art shows arts role in culture

Posted on | 2/4/11 | No Comments

Graffiti World Updated Edition: Street Art from Five ContinentsI have recently been reading a lot more art news in an attempt to make better posts here on Vagary Art. During some of this reading I came across something that interested me greatly. In a regular newspaper, not an art magazine or art blog, I came across the description of a recent art show in which the artist is described as “creating a dialogue (with the public)” (traer un dialogo). This struck me since it is a phrasing and concept I have never come across when reading English daily newspapers or even in regional art newspaper (although it does come up in arts magazines).  Essentially the idea behind this phrasing is communicating to the common people, not the high art world, that they have a role to play in art. By viewing a piece, they are participating in a “conversation” with the artist or creating a discourse. This concept accepts the influence of viewers on art, a piece of art on other art and society in general while it invites the viewer to respond in turn instead of simply viewing the piece in a vacuum.

The responsibility of being an artist?

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 Image by Theresa Canino for Primera Hora:
 I recently read in Autogiro that Antonio Martorell, a well known Puerto Rican artist had chosen to remove his art from the Puerto Rican Supreme Court in protest of the current political climate there. This brings in a topic that I think I have sort of broached in my other posts: the socio-cultural responsibility of being an artist. Is it our place, as creators, interpreters and communicators of culture (art), to act/protest in an attempt to change society/culture/politic policies?  Is it like that poem:  When they came for the jews, I did nothing… when they came for me, there was no
one to do anything (I’m paraphrasing). Do we, as artists, have a responsibility to use art to make political/cultural/social statements?

See Martorell's art after the break

Coming soon: Artist of the week

Posted on | 1/30/11 | No Comments

Starting this month (February) Vagary Art will have an extensive interview with an artist discussing their art and views on the current state of the artistic industries. I'm hoping to do this at least twice a month. The interviewees will be all manner of artists, from visual arts, designers, sculptors, to musicians, poets and film makers. If you know an exceptional artist, successful or not, contact me using the form on the left or below and drop me a link to some of their work.

I shot her in the face and I shot her in the head...

Posted on | 1/27/11 | 1 Comment

About a year ago I met a soldier, just a kid really. At 21 years old he had been to Afganistan and killed many people. We dont hear about these things in the news. We dont see the coffins of all the dead kids being shipped back. We certainly never hear of all the people we have killed in Afganistan. I say "we" because even those of us who are not soldiers are a part of this and at fault for accepting this situation.

A year ago, Andrew from California turned 21 and went out to celebrate. He told me a story and I recorded it with his permission. I never knew what to do with it but I knew people SHOULD hear it and he gave me his blessing to share it with anyone who would listen. I thought for a while to make an installation with it but somehow that felt wrong and dirty, as though I might benefit from it and that is not what I wanted. I wanted to let him speak his truth, the truth no one wants to hear and the results that truth has on the people who have lived through it. Anthony found out he was being sent back to Afganistan despite his serious PTSD and I never heard from him again after he left town. But to this day I wonder if that boy ended up killing himself and I wouldn't be surprised if he did.

To art school or not to art school: the value debate

Posted on | 1/23/11 | No Comments

Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers Selling Art to the Community, Or Applying the Principles of Publicity to the Department of School Art

In the spirit of disclosure I must admit that I did go to art school although my path to it was rather random. I first encountered art in elementary school, when I lived in the United States. My teacher Melanie Megyassi, thought I was brilliant at a time when my other teachers seriously thought that I might be mentally retarded. Thanks to her, I participated in dozens of children's competitions and won quite a few of them.  In seventh grade I moved to Puerto Rico and the arts are not a normal part of the average student’s education there. I did not have another art class until I was in eleventh grade and in time, I forgot much of my love for art. I went to college to study English language, in hopes of becoming a poet, and it was there that I rediscovered my love of art. I participated in an installation creation workshop given by Pepon Osorio, an interesting artist, but who seemed like kind of a jerk. The experience did give me back the feeling of infinite potential that I had lost.

Should art outlast the artist?

Posted on | 1/22/11 | No Comments

Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications)

I love the ephemeral nature of art, and I'm not just saying that. I believe that the value of art comes from its transient nature. Graffiti artists, concept artists and installation artists seem to understand this nature instinctively. I understand that this point of view is not common to the art world. In fact this industry seems to be geared mostly towards making as much money as possible from as few artists as possible, saving some pieces for hundreds of years. Take Picasso for example. What is his value now? What do his pieces mean? Of course his art sells for millions of dollars, something I find vaguely obscene considering that most artists die impoverished. Then again art is now considered an investor's market because of the very transient nature of art and artists. The fact that artists die effectively limits the supply of their art, which automatically jacks up the price, whether the piece is worthwhile or even good.

The role of art in the rehabilitation of youth offenders

Posted on | 1/21/11 | No Comments

Using Literature to Help Troubled Teenagers Cope with Societal Issues (The Greenwood Press Using Literature to Help Troubled Teenagers Series)inside/out: a Guide to Arts & Arts Education Resources for Children and Teens in San Francisco
I was a volunteer guide/translator and then an intern at a gallery in Albuquerque by the name of 516arts a few years ago. This gallery is (was?) a non profit and focused on education rather than sales. They had a very strong education program. I think the coordinator has since left the art world, overwhelmed by the same sense of disillusionment that attacks so many young artists. But before then I learned a great deal from him. One of his (in my opinion) most important projects was a program he set up with a local juvenile detention center to have groups of these young boys brought to the gallery. These were as far as I know, low level youth offenders, not say, murderers or repeat offenders, so they had field trip priviledges. Sadly, the man from the detention center told us that around 80% of these kids were back in the center before a year had passed. This was seriously crushing for me even though I only saw most of these kids once and I was only able to participate maybe 4 times. Today I am going to describe what we would do and why I believe in this type of project and it's role in the rehabilitation of offenders. I also believe it wouldwork with adults and I hope I get a chance to pursue it again at a later date.

Using animal bones in sculptures

Posted on | 1/19/11 | No Comments

Skulls and Bones: A Guide to the Skeletal Structures and Behavior of North American Mammals
Incorporating animal bones into your art piece may serve as an interesting way to make a statement or start a conversation about topics that might not otherwise come up. Because of the nature of bones (and really any bodily fluid or part), a great deal of significance is typically attributed to pieces that use them, whether that was the artist's intention or not. This is something to consider before you begin. Expect that your piece will automatically make a "statement" on a subject if there is a natural connection. Use this to your advantage by making a meaningful piece of art.

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How to paint in sepia

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Vere Foster's painting for beginners: Facsimiles of original studies in sepia
A course of sepia painting: First series
Sepia, an interesting style done in shades of brown, is most commonly seen in photographs and some colored pencil drawings, but it can be particularly effective and attractive in painting. The most difficult part of painting in sepia tones is finding or mixing the colors, otherwise it would be virtually identical to converting colors to shades of gray. The major difference being that instead of black you will have the darkest red-orange-brown shade at one end of the scale and white at the other.

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Creating an animated movie.

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Artograph 10-Inch-by-12-Inch LightTracer Light BoxPoser 7 3D Figure Design and Animation (Win/Mac) [OLD VERSION]Drawing Cartoons and Comics For DummiesCreating an animation is a simple but labor intensive process. Be prepared to spend days, weeks, months or even years drawing (either by hand or using a digital application) to make an animation that lasts only a few seconds. While it can be a bit of a hassle it can be a satisfying experience to create an animation like those of Hayao Miyazaki, creator of My Neighbor Totoro, or Walt Disney.

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Integrating art into a college prep curriculum

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Human Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of FormOftentimes, arts education falls to the wayside when it comes time for students to prepare for college. Art programs are usually the first to be trimmed from budgets, although statistics show that students that participate in the arts (e.g., music, theater, dance and visual art) are more likely to succeed in school. Susan Sclafani, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education, considers art education to be "Vital to young people's success in school and in life." The arts can be integrated with even an ambitious college preparatory course with relative ease.

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What is the nature of art?

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The Philosophy of Art (Foundations of the Philosophy of the Arts) Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art: The Analytic Tradition: An Anthology (Blackwell Philosophy Anthologies)What is the nature of art?
It seems that there are two different views from which to approach contemporary art. You have one side where all people expect is essentially a pretty image that they can use to decorate space or a wall. On the other hand there is a sort of expectation, in what you could call the more "real art" world, of "deep" meaning being embedded into a piece of art, when in reality that "meaning" is imposed by an external source (by the viewer, reviewer, gallery, etc). I think that this is a throwback to one of the original uses of art (or what we now call art) as a means to show God, for example the prototypical Venus: a wide hipped mother Goddess with pendulous breasts. She was not "art" to the people who made her, but a visual reminder or representation of their gods. Now however, this human tendency to add meaning where there is none is taken advantage of by hustlers and salespeople who market art for the masses. Despite this easily manipulated trait, the art world remains active and possibly because of these hustlers, it remains fresh and ever changing.

A friend once told me that conceptual art is what is made by writers with no talent. I think this is an interesting concept. "Bullshit" is well known facet of the art world. You can find it everywhere from the titles of pieces to excessively long and detailed descriptions of the art and even in how people speak about it. Strangely enough, talent is not a prerequisite for becoming an artist. It is more important for the creator to speak or write well and have the skill to communicate ideas. Essentially the making of art is the practice of making ideas tangible and in some cases physical.