Published: February 2, 2012
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Has it really been less than a year since the folks at Community Arts Partnership hosted the 2011 MARK program administered through the NY Foundation for the Arts here in Ithaca? A lot has happened since that time, so in some ways it seems a long time ago.
But before I talk about what I'm pursuing these days, I need to take care of a couple of other things. First, depending on how large the photo of me displays, I might briefly describe its contents. It's a very truncated panorama of my studio from the computer area to the table where I paint my pictures and on around to a wall of bookshelves. The shelves contain my reference library (papyrus edition,) art supplies, software boxes, my "electronic friend" (the TV that's usually on TCM for those late night painting sessions,) and several hard-to-dust collections: toy robots, cowboy hat ashtrays, and absurdly detailed models of antique racing cars.
The second thing I hasten to
mention is how pleased I am to be one of the five who were awarded CAP artist
fellowships for this year. Though it's nice that it's a no-strings-attached
award, in that it is not tied to a particular body of work, I have been using
it to keep my upcoming show schedule on track. As all artists know, it is expensive
to mount shows; buying the supplies to produce a body of work and then prepping
the work for display, whether you frame it yourself or hire a professional to
do it. The bottom line is, I'm happy that I can use the funds to support other
local businesses and enable them to help me reach my goals.
As to the work itself: some of you may have seen it, and some have not, so I'll try to describe the process and where my inspiration comes from. Because I have a background in graphic design, words play a major role in my work, both in their meaning and as visual elements in a composition. Some paintings are done with a specific goal or outcome in mind, (the Autoiconography series, or "Alive Bones Alive" painted as a tribute to an ancestor who happened to be a famous white-face clown with Ringling Bros.) But the majority of my work is developed through a stream-of-consciousness way of proceeding. I'm constantly writing down words or phrases that come to mind, and will often include them in pieces I do later, regardless of whether there is an obvious connection to the rest of the picture. I let my subconscious determine "meaning." In that way at least, there is a connection between what I do and the work produced by the Dadaists and Surrealists.
The physical appearance of
my work is singular, I believe, in that there is a great deal of surface
destruction that goes on after the painting appears "finished" to most eyes. I've always loved the look (and often obscure
references) of those hand painted advertisements that used to adorn old brick
buildings; many times they have been painted more than once which adds a
delightful amount of chaos. It's this sense of imperfect perfection I try to create with my paintings. To remove
just enough of the work that I've so carefully executed, without going so far
as to ruin all my effort, is always a challenge, as well as a bit of a thrill
because you never know if you've gone too far until you have.
I've recently begun working again with an old friend: plywood. Most of my work is painted on masonite because it can withstand the abuse, but plywood has such an interesting and unpredictable quality to it, that I may make a semi-permanent switch. If any surface easily adapts to the look of what I think of as "see what I just found in the weeds," plywood is it.
And speaking of old friends, I'm currently collaborating with another artist whom I've known since elementary school on a proposal to do a joint exhibit. Untitled as of now, it would represent the first time we've shown together since we were college undergraduates. Since we've shared most everything from educational background to early careers as graphic artists, it only seems fitting. Names, dates and venues will be announced on my web site (www.stevecarver-art.com) when there is something concrete to report.
As of now, my next scheduled solo show is not till spring of 2013 at the Houghton Gallery at 171 Cedar Arts in Corning, NY. It sounds like a long way off, but given the number of pieces I need to fill the gallery, that time will be here before I know it. I hope to fill the gap with additional juried shows and other smaller opportunities.
(Steve Carver's work can be seen next in the exhibit Made in NY 2012 at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center in Auburn, NY. The show opens March 31st and runs through May 20th, 2012.)