Artists I’ve Come to Know

Sometimes it’s kind of fun just strolling down the aisles in the Art Fairs, looking right and left, up and down, til something catches your eye. Along the way, you see friends and acquaintances everywhere. Some of them I “met” at previous fairs in previous years, after all Constant Companion and I have been attending this group for the past twenty years. Some I’ve met at museums in the various parts of the world I’ve been fortunate to have visited. I feel quite privileged with the places to which I’ve been able to travel. Others I just met this year.

Hock E Aye Vi, Edgar Heap of Birds
Hock E Aye Vi, Edgar Heap of Birds

Yet, others I actually have had opportunities to meet in person. Case in point, some years ago Hock E Aye Vi, Edgar Heap of Birds, made a presentation at our International Ethnographic Museums Association. I had already been acquainted with him and his family when I worked as a developer of archeology and anthropology exhibits in a past incarnation. Edgar, as I know him, had several pieces in his usual style at this year’s Art Basel: two small scale pieces that acknowledged the indigenous people of Southeast Florida, the other, in the Meridians section of the fair, was stimulated by a visit to the Dominican Republic .

Hock E Aye Vi, Edgar Heap of Birds

On the other hand, I only met Curtis Talwst Santiago this past week (https://www.curtissantiago.art/). While at the Untitled fair looking at art and clothes, the African textile from Mauritania that he was wearing caught my eye.

Curtis Talwst Santiago

CC and I sought out his display at Art Basel and were amazed by his skillfully constructed miniatures that make statements on life. The figures are all handmade.

Yinke Shonibare is an artist I would love to meet. His sculptures are a statement about many now outdated social structures in our world. This year, two different galleries of his other works.

Yinke Shonibare
Yinke Shonibare

Both Shonibare and Jeffrey Gibson (https://www.robertsprojectsla.com/artists/jeffrey-gibson) were represented in last year’s Meridians section at Art Basel. Gibson’s multi-media work often incorporates his intricate beadwork; it always takes me back to the years I lived and worked in Oklahoma.

Jeffrey Gibson

Who doesn’t love the gently marching people created by Julian Opie whether in motion or not.

Julian Opie

This year, I was introduced to his relief sculptures of French villages, equally charming.

Julian Opie

Another old friend I encountered were the celebrated pieced quilts lovingly constructed by the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. These textiles often bridge the wide gap between folk art and fine art; the aesthetical sensibilities of the women who conceived and made them have straddled that space for quite some time.

Gee’s Bend quilt

And then there’s Do Ho Suh. I feel in love with his large scale woven works that I saw in several museums in South Korea. His current works by contrast were digitally reproduced.

Do Ho Suh
detail

Over the past few days while immersed in so many different artforms, I saw several other examples of digital art that started me thinking about the changing nature of art and how many forms of it is produced.

I was struck by the prints by Canadian artist, Luke Parnell. His practice explores the Northwest Coast Indigenous oral histories of his families. His artworks contains traditional and contemporary symbols, where meaning is related to the materials, methods, forms, and context of the works. His prints are digitally produced. Compared to the handful of prints that we own, I was not sure where the “hand of the artist” was in his works.

Luke Parnell

The other example I saw, after CC had told me that he’s seen them, were several works by David Hockney. The gallerist explained that Hockney first drew the images on an I-pad, then he digitally reproduced them. The gallerist pointed out that it is remarkable that at an advanced age, Hockney was exploring and using new techniques.

David Hockney

Perhaps I, too, at an advancing age, need to integrate new ways of considering art and the work of artists, what it means to have the hand of the artist with a work.

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