Second Nature: An Exhibition by Former Students of Darra Keeton

May 29, 2013

One of my paintings is included in the exhibition Second Nature which opens this week in Houston. This show, organized by the mammoth efforts of Corwin Levi, features the work of Darra Keeton‘s former students. This show is happening parallel to In My Nature, retrospective of thirty years of Keeton’s work. The show is up through the first week of September. Peruse the catalog capturing the work in this show.

Second Nature: Catalog Cover



Rice University Media Center: Houston, Texas
May 30-September 8, 2013
Opening reception May 30, 6-8pm
Closing recepton September 6th

Educational Complex Edit: Videos from the Students of Mike Kelley

January 20, 2013

Promotional Flyer for 'Educational Complex Edit'

Promotional Flyer for ‘Educational Complex Edit’

To kick-off 2013, some of my graduate work is included in a show at TAG, the Art Gallery at the  University of West Florida, organized by Art Center alum, Joseph Herring.

“TAG UWF will consider the influence of internationally renowned artist Mike Kelley (American, 1954-2012) by presenting video work from his students during his tenure at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California from 1992 through 2007. The exhibition will run concurrently with the large scale retrospective, Mike Kelley: Themes and Variations from 35 Years, opening in December 2012 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.”

You can catch the opening on January 24, 2013. Complete details can be found on the TAG Blog. If you are in New Orleans, the show will travel as a reel to the Zeitgeist Multi-disciplinary Art Center later this year. I chose to include the video aspect of Chrome Dome for this show. By the time I arrived at Art Center in the summer of 2005, Mike Kelley was on his way out. While he still appeared on the masthead as ‘Core Faculty,’ his presence was limited largely to thesis show critiques and an occasional studio visit. His persona and presence, however, still loomed large. ‘Chrome Dome’ is the first show I exhibited in grad school about which I wish I could have had a direct dialogue with Mike.

A New Piece at LACDA

June 12, 2012

'Ring Stack' hanging at LACDA

An unframed print of my new piece with the working title 'Ring Stack'

I have an unframed print hanging at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art during the months of June and July. You can catch the opening reception on June 14, 2012 from 7pm – 9pm.

This was a great opportunity to realize a physical print of a piece that had previously existed only on screen. The working title is ‘Ring Stack.’ (It’s featured in the center of the image just to the left of the corner.) I’m excited about this image because it is the first I’ve made that I feel is completely constructed. Rather than capturing a moment in time, I assembled this image into a whole from various parts. Its refinement and completion took place over several revisions spanning the last couple years. Thus, it feels like more of a beginning than an end. More to come.


In the spring, the little goat will eat melon.

July 24, 2011

It’s hard to know how to feel about being part of the Chain Letter Exhibit at Shoshana Wayne Gallery.

I arrived at the gallery about 4pm on Friday to deliver my piece, so I missed the morning action which some are now calling ‘Artmaggeddon.’ It wasn’t all that crazy, but the gallery staff was turning people away and had closed official entries because of the morning rush. I went in the gallery anyway and asked a couple people talking if I could speak to a curator. It happened to be none other than Doug Harvey. I showed him my piece, which is small, and asked if I could include it. He walked outside and got me a number and a form. I have to say it was nice to feel a little luck fall my way. LA has a way of making a small triumph like this one feel significant. You can now find my piece nestled between the pink casting of female genitalia and an Easter Island head.

It is certainly a strange show. What struck about it was its overall orderliness. Rather than piles of art stacked together, it felt like a carefully arranged garage sale. It has none of the chaos of, say, a Jason Rhoades installation, although I think some would like it to feel like his work. In this sense, all the content was still “precious” and certainly commercial. That said, you have to give it Shoshana Wayne for letting things get just a teeny weeny bit out of hand. Believe me, there is some, shall we say, lower quality work in the space that would not have otherwise had access, so it was really this act of saying, “OK … I’ll show up.” The LA Weekly Blog Post does a near perfect job of capturing the ‘YES’ spirit of the show.

Submission for 'Chain Letter'

The piece I contributed to Chain Letter is a high heel I had bronze plated; a piece fitting for a show of one-offs and oddball works. I found the shoe itself in Lawrence, Kansas on January 1, 1996. It was a gray, cold Midwestern morning. This single high heel was laying on its side in a row of empty parking spaces in the downtown. At the time, it was a pretty nice Steve Madden shoe that was clearly lost while partying the night before. It intrigued me that there was only one and it was new. At the time, I tossed around some romantic notions about reuniting it with its owner and this being some sort of “Cinderella” way into a new relationship.The method for reuniting involved a poster and an official process.

High HeelI never fully undertook the effort, so this high heel became a sort of metaphor for a new relationship and generally moving beyond the past. I’ve taken it everywhere I’ve moved and finally realized it into a finished piece. The title is a translation of a Persian saying that my father-in-law taught me to say in Farsi, in large part because it involved a goat. Its spirit seemed to match up well with the metaphorical value of the piece.

The show closes in late August. It’s worth a visit if you find yourself on the Westside.



New Work included in OneShot2k9

December 22, 2009

Screenshot of OneShot2k9 Website

Screenshot of the OneShot2k9 Website

My year ends with work included in a sort of group exhibition captured in an online publication published today under the title “OneShot2k9.” Audrey Cottin, a friend and colleague studying at the HISK Institute in Belguim, proposed the project early in the spring of this year. The publication takes the form of a PDF file containing the work of eight artists: Matt Sheridan, Miraures, André Catalão, Laura Huertas Millan, Zoé Benoit, Jay Tan, Alexis Argyroglo and myself.

The central premise of the project involves our response, and collaborative dialogue with another artist involved in the project, to the phrase “reality sinistered / sinistered reality” that Friedrich Nietzsche mentions in his text, The Antichrist. After much casting about trying to navigate the waters of this phrase, the project really began for me when Alexis Argyroglo initiated a dialogue with me in the form of a rather remarkable letter on the subject. You can read his original letter, my response and the work of the rest of the artists involved in the project at the temporary website, (site no longer available), or by downloading the high resolution version of the PDF file from the page I’ve devoted to capturing my contribution to the project on my site.

A Tiny Bit of Press for 365plrds

September 26, 2009

365plrds MarqueeEarly in April a correspondent from the Times of India contacted me to discuss 365plrds for a story about photography projects. After a number of  email exchanges, the article was complete by the end of the month,  but it was just published today. It’s a short article with a minute reference to my project. (Download the article as PDF) Our exchange, however, was significantly more elaborate. While almost none of it was included in the article, it was a valuable opportunity for me to reflect on a project I made more than a decade ago and formalize my thoughts about the project now. I’ve included his questions, as well as my emailed responses to them, below.

What made you start this project?

It’s an art endeavor and, like most works of art, a meditation of what it’s like to be in the world. This particular project, 365plrds, grapples with my experience of the passing of time. At this particular point in my life I felt time passing quickly without a sense that I was accomplishing much in its duration. Breaking its passing into visual parts, or units, was a means for me to digest it, reduce it and make its presence smaller. Moreover, this project became a way for me to demarcate time in a unit of measure that was personal (the “plrd”) rather than general (clock time), public (Gregorian calender) or scientific (solar cycles). As I hint at the end of my essay, I also understood at its completion that it brought a daily awareness of my own mortality; each image (plrd) was evidence of life lived and the promise that it would continue.

What were the main problems which you faced for continuing the project or for its successful completion?

June 14, 1997

The ongoing challenges were pragmatic. My camera couldn’t fail, as I only had one, and I had to have at least one Polaroid exposure to capture my waking day. There were several occasions when I had to make a trip to the local Wal-Mart to pick up some more Polaroid Spectra film to capture that day. The image from June 14, 1997 was one of those nights. There were plenty of days when I just didn’t feel like being in front of the camera, but feelings like these were nuisances and never any real threat to the project. I was very serious about being faithful to the program I had set myself for that year.

Did you ever face any internal conflict for bringing your personal life into public gaze?

No. I can’t say that I did. First of all, I don’t feel the majority of the images are very personal, or revealing for that matter. For example, any of the ones that show skin only reveal my torso. While it’s inevitable that some of the images will show my private life, I think there’s a certain distance in the way I went about presenting it. I’m only showing so much. There are some images I feel are intimate and others where I felt vulnerable, but this common in photography and often a quality that makes a photograph compelling. I should also note that while I finished the project in 1997, I didn’t display it publicly or publish it online until 2002. Thus, the primary viewers until then were friends and fellow artists. By today’s standards, with sites like Flickr, this project seems especially mild. I’m surprised that some users who share images publicly aren’t conflicted by what they reveal.

What do your friends and employer say about the project?

The response has been positive on both fronts. I’ve particularly enjoyed the conversations I’ve had about the project with a wide range of people who are interested in it for different reasons. People seem bothered that I’m not smiling more often. But who smiles that much when they are alone?

What are the social effects of this project? Have people started recognising you just because of the project? Is the project affecting your personal life?

After I launched this project online, and displayed it physically in Houston, I did have a couple people recognize me in public. In the context of the fourth largest city in the United States, and the even bigger context of the Internet, it didn’t have a big enough audience to create significant notoriety for me.

What makes you continue with the project?

In terms of execution, the project is complete. Having done it for one year, I haven’t had the desire to do it again. While there might be some interest in comparing physical appearances and experiences from one year to another, I really think about this project as a discreet experience. It was valuable, but not one that needs to continue. In other words, adding duration doesn’t make the project more compelling in my mind. It’s just this sort of dialogue with you that makes the project “continue.”

Do you think there is any other social relevance of this project, or it is for only personal fulfillment?

When I undertook this project, it was several years before digital photography became widely available. Therefore, the Polaroid photo was the only technological means to realize an image more or less immediately. It was important to me that I have the finished photo on the day it was taken. This way I had physical evidence, or a document, of the project’s progression in time. Looking back I find this project an interesting precursor to the daily digital documentation that is so common today on the web (daily photo projects, blogging, Twitter, etc.) In a certain sense, I think my impulse to do the project was the same as the impulse people have today but the tool, the Polaroid, is so different. Maybe 365plrds is the prehistoric visual analog to Twitter?

Secondly, there are at least three individuals I know of that completed the project in subsequent years using my program *exactly.* I call them the 365plrds franchises (Marcel Molina Jr. | David Chien | Lisa Cheng Smith ). What’s exciting about this for me is how radically different each project is. It’s a demonstration of the richness that can arise out of even the most rigid of programs.

Do you see the advent of digital photography, and the emergence of photo sharing websites, as a generalisation of art? If photography is an art, then unlike old times there are several photographers now and, similarly unlike the old times where exhibitions were the only way to get audience, photo sharing websites not only provide platform to these artists but also guarantee an audience.

I’m not sure that I would call most of these projects “art” for the simple reason that they generally don’t forefront quality as the main objective. There are documentary, informative, open-ended. Thus, I see their main objective as communication. The concept of time and the strict procedure I lay out in the supporting essay distinguish 365plrds as a work of art. Moreover, the project also, of course, still exists in a physical form. There are 365 Polaroid photographs (not prints). As is true for paintings, there is only one version of each photograph. The online aspect of this project is merely a digitized extension and presentation of the real thing. In this sense, 365plrds belongs more closely to the traditional sense of art. Most digital projects exist only virtually, or the physical realization is a byproduct.

I want to reiterate that I am contextualizing 365plrds as a “precursor to digital documentation” from my vantage point in the present. I don’t want to make any claims that I conceived of this project as “visionary” at the time. Instead I feel that my sensibility, intent and choice of medium (the Polaroid) are in the same spirit as the kind of daily documentation, both visual and written, that people are involved in so regularly today with new digital tools at hand. Dating each image and noting the location where it was taken was fascinating for me in the same way EXIF data in the digital image or being able to geotag a digital image to locate it spatially in the world is fascinating. The more I think about the spirit of this project recently, the more I’m seeing it as a sort of primitive, visual analog to Twitter. It captures the ordinary things I was doing that day.

Does it also identify the importance of idea over skills because the time series with the photographer himself as the subject would not be technically superior but the idea itself fascinating enough to catch the attention of audience?

Yes. This project ultimately always forefronted the quality of the idea over the quality of the photographs that constitute it. While there are a handful of images I consider to be good photographs in terms of the aesthetics of photography, the vast majority are merely descriptive and, together, serve the larger idea. They make sense as a whole more than as individual images. Those that have been interested in this project were drawn to the concept and the ideas that drive the project rather than my “skill” as a photographer.

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Artist Talk: Rice University

November 7, 2008

Announcement Design for Artist Talk at RiceNext week I will be visiting my old stomping ground in Houston to visit with current students and faculty at Rice University. On Monday, November 10th, I will participate in a critique with John Sparagana‘s afternoon painting class. On Tuesday evening I will give a talk at the Media Center about my recent work, as well as my experience as a graduate student at the Art Center College of Design. See the news section of the  Rice University Visual and Dramatic Arts website for additional information.

November 11, 2008


Rice Media Center
VADA Film Auditorium
6100 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005

>> View Map / Get Directions

I hope to see some familiar Texas faces during my visit.

Interactions: Armory Artists & Their Art

April 12, 2008

Interactions: Armory Artists & Their ArtMy work is included in an upcoming exhibition sponsored by the Armory Center for the Arts that includes art by MFA students and graduates participating in the Armory Center for the Arts Fellowship program. As artists, we talk to visiting school classes about our own work and personal process. Students then interact with us in a unique hands-on art workshop based on the work in the exhibition. Artists include Carly Steward, Sergio Hernadez, Janice Gomez, Malisa Humphrey, Melissa Manfull, Chelsea Dean, Asad Faulwell, Amy Mauck, Scott Sheldon and Andy Walker. Lorraine Cleary Dale, Armory Director of Professional Development, curator.

View images of my piece in the exhibit here.

April 13, 2008 – June 15, 2008
Gallery Hours: Thurs. – Sat. / 12pm-5pm

Opening reception, Sat., April 12, 2008, 3pm-9pm

2948 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, CA

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MFA Thesis Exhibition (Capra Bovidae)

November 10, 2007

A black and white photograph of a goat standing on a rock.

My MFA Thesis Exhibition is currently installed in the Goodan Family Graduate Art Gallery at the South Campus of the Art Center College of Design. Please drop by if you’re in the area or come help me celebrate at the closing reception on Saturday night, November 17th.

View images and video from the exhibition here.

Gallery Hours: 12pm – 7pm daily

November 7 – November 17, 2007
CLOSING RECEPTION: Saturday, November 17, 6pm – 9pm (and after)

Art Center College Of Design
South Campus, Main Graduate Gallery
950 S. Raymond Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91105
T. 626-398-4222

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