Dorothea Rockburne's Astronomy Drawings

A distinguished abstract painter, Dorothea Rockburne’s public profile is surprisingly modest in relation to her achievement. The names of her painting instructors at Black Mountain College in the 1950s—Franz Kline, Philip Guston and Jack Tworkov—are more widely recognized among the general public than her own. Nevertheless, her worldwide exhibition record is as enviable as her many prestigious fresco commissions. “Astronomy Drawings,” now on the final leg of a national tour that began one year ago at Wheaton College, is a testament to a long and laudable career. Continue Reading
Early Stage Zoophilia?

The Savannah College of Art is known for its no-nonsense commitment to hands-on studio practice. So their most recent broadcast, announcing an open studio night on May 8th, contained a surprise. There were the expected offerings: wheel throwing demos from the ceramics department; an exhibit of new work from the painting faculty; a print making demonstration.  Slipped in was “Animal Logic,” a student exhibit devoted to “investigating human desire to construct relationships with animals.” The show goes on to explore the use of animals as “a paradoxical metaphor” for humans in contemporary art. Continue Reading
Julie Speed: Not From Here

With so much contemporary figuration built on photography, it is refreshing to meet a painter who puts away the camera. Julie Speed is as much a showman as a painter; the inscrutability and frequent magic of her compositions makes the camera irrelevant. Born in Chicago in 1951, Speed is a lifelong lover of drawing, an evident fact that likely contributed to her impatience with art school. She dropped out early on and makes no bones about it. After a string of oddball jobs, she landed in Austin, Texas, in 1978. Continue Reading
New Life for a Traditional Device

Paul Caranica’s minimalist landscapes—if that is what they are—rank among the most interesting paintings on the contemporary scene. They remind us that freshness is a quality of mind, one that has nothing to do with conventional idiosyncrasy. Caranicas views his own contemporary locales through a compositional device used by Canaletto during his stay in London. Caranicas frames his paintings to the advantage of peripheral vision. He skirts the center of our field of view and explores—no, celebrates—the wealth of overlooked shapes that exist off the center of our gaze.  Continue Reading
For Serious Painters

Maureen Mullarkey Francis Cunningham has gone online! What a good thing, and overdue. He brings to the web all the grace and good sense of his years of teaching at the Art Students League. His website details the range of his work. But it is his blog that is so exciting for other painters. It is a valuable extension of his classes. Here are videos filmed in his own studio. Dick talks as he has to a generation of students at the League about every aspect of painting, from initial design to framing. Continue Reading