Color as Line:  REOPENING Friday, May 29th 

Color as Line is reopening on Friday, Mary 29th, 2020 and will run through Sunday, June 7th 2020.

new paintings, ceramic & prints that explore the simplicity & complexity of color

 

Pirate Contemporary Art

7130 W 16th Avenue

Lakewood, CO 80214

 

Opening & Artist Reception: March 13, 6 to 10 PM

Hours: Fridays 6 to 9 PM, Saturdays/Sundays Noon to 5 PM

Color can be an important factor in how human identity is perceived by self and others. This includes color that is self-chosen, color that is innate, and color that is assigned by others. Three prints in the exhibition Color as Line, explore these facets of color.

 

Division: chosen color

Teams in the National Football League (NFL) choose two main colors for their football franchises. These colors are used to: identify the team, differentiate team players from other teams on the field, and promote sales of team merchandise. Division includes team colors of the Denver Broncos (denim blue and orange) and those of their division rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs (red and yellow), Los Angeles Chargers (sky blue and gold), and the Las Vegas Raiders (black and silver).

Do team colors lose much of their meaning unless they are shown with those of other teams? Does wearing a team jersey change how both players and fans are viewed as people? How do “color” and “pride” become connected ideas? How does wearing team colors enable a sense of belonging? Can wearing team colors be seen as a threat?

 

Consensus: innate color

The US 2020 census is beginning. A primary demographic collected through the census is a person’s race, expressed through a somewhat stereotyped color-based choice (American Indian: red, Asian: yellow, African-American: black, Caucasian: white, Hispanic: brown).

But what is the meaning of these choices in an increasingly multi-racial society? How does an individual view their “color” vs the “color” perceived by others? How does cultural identification influence race-based color choices? How does culture-based clothing and hair style change the perception of racial color?

 

Caution: assigned color

Prior to the beginning of World War II, Jews in Nazi Germany were mandated to wear a yellow Star of David. This served to identify, isolate and stigmatize Jews, and facilitate their rounding-up to send to concentration camps.

To a lesser extent, non-Jews were also sent to the camps. In the camps, these people were assigned color badges to identify why (and to justify why) they were there. Badges were in the shape of the “caution” road sign (an inverted triangle) to indicate “danger”: red: immigrant, blue: political opposition, green: criminal, black: lesbian, pink: gay/bisexual male, purple: religious pacifist.

If these colors were applied to you, how would you be considered “dangerous” today? How do government policies serve to create “others” that then can become targets of online (and real-life) demonization? When would/do you embrace your color/s as part of your own identity?

Why Primes?

With this series I wanted to say something new about color and space, yet initially was unsure how. Letting things stew for a while, one morning I woke from a dream with the phrase “adjacent prime numbers” stuck in my head. That ended up being the inspiration for this series of work.

A prime number is a whole number that cannot be formed by multiplying two smaller whole numbers (e.g., 2, 5, 41 are all primes). They occur in non-predictable sequences. That is, there is no mathematical formula which can accurately determine the next prime number after the previous one. Still, at least early in prime number sequences, they seem to follow a pattern before departing from that pattern. As such, I saw the use of prime number relationships as a way to introduce both pattern and exception.

Prime has additional meaning as well. I’ve always liked the look of gesso (a canvas primer material) and wondered why it needed to be covered up. This seemed redundant and wasteful when gesso itself could be used as ground. In the series, gesso is a prominent material in each work.

I’ve also taken prime as a call for quality, spending focused time at each step of the process from design to stretching of canvas to painting to applying varnish, striving towards a level of analog precision in the craft of the paintings. I’ve aimed for a sense of quality that while not perfect, is as good as reasonably possible from a human point-of-view without involving digital tools. This idea of the works being human-centric extended as well to the math involved in calculating figure/ground percentages and paradigms for color placement. All were done with a pencil without the use of calculator or computer. Showcasing human qualities also involved using solid colors and hard-edged straight lines, things rarely seen in nature.

Finally, prime connotes a sense of uniqueness. Within the series all colors, with the exception of black and white, are custom mixed. Titles include the prime numbers that were used in determining paradigms that apply to each work. For example, 1.2.3.5 (A) follows the same paradigm as 1.2.3.5 (B) and 1.2.3.5 (C), using a rule-set from where the percentage of figure/ground (as well as other features) are the same, but making each work different within the boundaries of the rules. Conceptually, this is an extension of Sol LeWitts proscribed wall drawings but permitting a broader range of artistic choice than LeWitt would typically allow.

So a lot of words, but ultimately my goal for the series is to make work that is vibrant, engaging and visually interesting that can bring some respite to our hectic, digital lives.

Pouring Acrylic

In my poured works I apply acrylic paint to raw unstretched canvas in order to create composed works of high-impact color. This involves controlling the flow of acrylic through changing the viscosity of the liquid acrylics and using strategies to apply resistance to the flow of paint.

In doing so, I may angle, contort, or flatten the canvas. As paint streams, action is taken to divert its natural course or stop it all together. Paint mixtures are formulated so they glide on the top layer of the canvas rather than fully saturating it, leaving behind a history of the path of each flow of paint.

I accept the randomness inherent in using a liquid medium where gestures never show a 1:1 relationship between intent and achievement, and follow each new pour with time for reassessment, providing an opportunity to take further action, or non-action, to achieve compositional balance. The presence of a single color may include one, or more than 15 individual pours of paint.

Conceptually this work both draws from, and departs from, that of the color field painters Ellsworth Kelly and Morris Louis. In the case of Kelly, I adopted Kelly’s concept of using color for color’s sake and Kelly’s approach of making abstract shapes hard edged, but depart from Kelly by co-mingling colors to highlight contextual differences in color perception. In relation to Louis, I use similar techniques in the pouring of acrylic media onto raw canvas to create swaths of high contrast colors, but depart by increasing color opacity and in the deconstruction of form.

Philosophically this work explores the intersections of random and planned action and I view it as a metaphor for attempting to live with intention while accepting unforeseen events and finding a new balance to live well.

Aurora

A month before the Aurora theater shootings I was working on a mixed-media series about societal expectations for boys, using covers from 1960’s comic books. The back cover of one of my comics was an advertisement by the Aurora Plastics Company, whose collection of models included superheroes. I completed a piece in which the Aurora Plastics logo was pasted on the head of the character Batman and placed it aside. A week after the shootings, I found the artwork, and going through my collection of comics found more back covers with Aurora Plastics advertising, which prompted this series. Each piece, constructed from a single comic book cover, including period advertising and public service announcements, evokes some aspect of the shootings, asking viewers to consider their own feelings and thoughts in response. Ray Rinaldi’s Denver Post review provides additional perspective about the series.