LUCAH: A Poor Way To Promote


“For we see so many works of art,
we read so many criticisms —
mostly written by very ignorant persons,
but written in fine pompous language,
in sonorous phraseology which dazzles us –”

~Edouard Lanteri
[quote segment 1 of 3]

 

I’m an idea incubator. Often an idea comes & I go:
Okay, that’s odd. & risky. But wouldn’t it also be interesting to see fleshed out?
This post is one such experiment.

So my partner & I opened a business on 8/2/19.

The concept for LUCAH is an eclectic mashup of fine antiques + one-of-a-kind finds + contemporary art. And by contemporary I mean: made as recently & as now as possible.

We have regular business hours 6 days per week. We keep the shop/gallery clean. We’re congenial & engaging when folks visit. We have a social media presence. We can accept credit card payments. Those are all great business practices.

Probably what is not a best practice: posting crappy pics of the items we carry. But, alas, that’s what I’m fixin’ to do.

Six weeks into this venture, we’ve been surprised at the amount of local art & other recently handmade goods buyers have taken home. That’s interesting to us. We’re feeling our way through this whole process, learning as we go, remaining nimble.

“…that we are every minute
distracted from our own road…”

~Edouard Lanteri
[quote segment 2 of 3]

 

While manning the shop one day last week, I decided to take some photos. Sorta chronicle a sampling of shop things–both new & old–as we’re heading towards a substantial revamp for October. Some of the pics turned out pretty alright. Others are just dang janky.

Can blurry photos with distracting reflections be art in & of themselves? I say: yes. Is there something beautiful, perhaps a deeper capturing of some ethereal aspect of a piece, in unpolished photos of those pieces? Sure, why not. Or maybe it’s just poor lighting, substandard equipment & horrible photography skills. Can’t that be an artistic choice?

Yes, I hear the grandiloquent mumbo-jumbo in those ^ words. I get that it sounds all conceptual-ish. Okay.

 

 

“…and occasionally it becomes impossible
to find ourselves again.”

~Edouard Lanteri
[quote segment 3 of 3]

 

I kinda dig this raw format. It feels like me. It feels now.

If you’re interested in any of these pieces (although 5 pictured items have sold already) let me know. I can send better pics, dimensions, artist’s details, prices, etc. I’m experimental most the time but can even be solidly ~professional~ when I need to.

[EXPERIMENT COMPLETED SUCCESSFULLY]

Funky Potboiler Pumpkins


Pumpkins1

Funky Potboiler Pumpkins – Early Stage

Last month I was walking through an art gallery. This sudden thought hit me, or maybe it was more of a gut-punch:

“I’m sick of 2-D art.”

 

Now, that’s a weird thing for a mainly 2-D artist to feel down deep.

I’m not exactly sure where that thought came from. Something about the particularly static 2-D art I was surrounded by at the time? Some sort of flatness in my own life, my own paintings? A need to create pieces that engage with space, art that possesses a tactile quality? Some major shift in my own artistic vision?

Well, I’m still making 2-D art. In fact I’m in my studio daily working towards a solo show that opens October 7th. I’ve got a dozen fresh paintings in various states of completion working toward that end. The disgust I felt in that art gallery moment is gone, but the phrase lingers.

Related: I’m back on the clay.

I took a pause from clay for a couple months while launching a downtown shop with my partner. LUCAH has been open for over a month & is now on auto-pilot. Interestingly, we’ve sold just as much local art as antiques.

So, clay.

Pumpkins2

With 25 lbs of dirt to work with, I decided on a series of Funky Pumpkins. They’re seasonal, easily recognizable as distinct objects, and are decidedly not 2-dimensional. They allow me to play with variations on a single form, all with the shared techniques of wheel-throwing closed forms, altering, refining until they’re smooth, unique & magical.

Are these pumpkins craft or are they art? That’s a conversation I love having with folks. Where is this imaginary demarcation? What makes one thing High-Brow and another Low-Brow? At what point does this line blur so that the arbitrary distinction is rendered moot?

I consider all my creations as Uni-Brow. 

 

Nearly 25 years ago I lived in Killeen, TX. My wife was stationed at Ft. Hood. I was a “Full-Time Artist” & stay-at-home dad. Surrounded by all things military, I of course sought out creative connection. Artists are always around if you look hard enough.

I got involved with the Killeen Civic Arts Guild. They had a co-op gallery nestled in your standard American mall-gone-downhill. One Saturday while working my gallery shift with another artist, she said something that still resonates with me after all these years.

No, it wasn’t: “I’m sick of 2-D art.”

Her name was Ramona Newell Batchelor. She’d been mentored by a guy who made highly detailed technical drawings for NASA or some such. Her realistic art showed a precision. The image that sticks out is a pencil-drawn cowboy on a horse. Both animal and rider twisting in motion. Bodies taut. Dust swirling around hooves. Lasso curling in space around the cowboy.

We chatted about art. About making a living at it. About the tension between manifesting the passion inside us wanting to be freed, versus what might actually sell.

Her mentor, the one who maybe worked for NASA, once told her something. Years later, she told me. I’ve passed this idea on many times to many artists.

“There are the things I have to create. The things that come from here.” And she pressed her fist into her chest, over her heart. She held it there for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 whole silent seconds. “Those are the things I must make.”

She dropped her hand. The intensity in her eyes faded a little, but her sincerity remained the same. “Then there are potboilers.”

I can still feel the confusion on my face.

Ramona Newell Batchelor smiled. “There are your passion projects, yes, always. But then there are other things you can make. Works that people can easily buy. Works that make enough money to keep the pot boiling. Little things that earn the electric & water payments so you can keep boiling potatoes and eat, so you can buy more art supplies.”

“The potboilers allow you to keep making your true art.”

 

So these are my funky potboiler pumpkins. They’re pleasurable enough to make. I’m excited to see what glaze colors & surface decorations I come up with to make them truly funky. [Hopefully I don’t go so funky as to make them un-potboilerable.]

Early interest at this stage tells me these pumpkins might just help me keep the pot boiling. But I’m in no way convinced that they are craft at all. In fact, they feel as true as any other art I’ve ever made – 2-D or otherwise.

 

p.s. I searched for Ramona Newell Batchelor online. I sent her a message out of the blue letting her know how much that single day ~25 years ago still means to me. Check out some of her art here: Ramona Newell Batchelor Art

 

 

 

Art: Live Figure Drawing 1 of 4


Figure Drawing 20190711 02

“Snoozing Nude w/ Tattoos”

Last week I took my first ever Live Figure Drawing class. Well, it wasn’t so much a class as a session. The model was there, artists were there, and we sketched away without instruction.

Going into this experience at the Mansfield Art Center, I had somewhat of an idea of what to expect. A nude person. Charcoal. Fast sketches.

Beforehand, I asked for input & tips from others who had either taken a live drawing class or modeled for one. Some quoted tidbits:

  • “I love doing live figure drawing!! My advice is to just let go. They change up the times for each pose. Sometimes you might only get 1 minute to sketch. Sometimes 20. It’s incredible brain training.” ~Andrea Wittmer
  • “Naked people make me nervous. Probably post-tramatic-commune-living-disorder.” ~Tim Gorka
  • “Loosen up with quick 20 second sketches done with something unerasable like a Sharpie, go for capturing gesture with long lines first, then horizontal lines for shoulders and hips (capture how the angles look, the way the weight is carried) avoid a quest for likeness perfection in the beginning. As you get more comfortable with the process and executing the basics quickly you can build on more detail as time allows. Life drawing was my favorite in art school.” ~Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
  • “I modeled for 10 plus years and rather enjoyed it. I was always amazed at what was created.” ~Bryan Gladden
  • “Life drawing really helped me in understanding anatomy. Body parts are larger than I thought. Like heads, the shoulders, torso, feet. And men are more challenging. As for the nudity, the first time was a little adjustment, but then it was no biggie. I’d try charcoals to start with because they can be wonderfully goof-proof and make great shadows. And have fun! Now I want to go.” ~Anniston Jory

So the model posed. I sketched. The 2 hours went by quickly. I ended up with maybe 7 sheets of varying sized paper with 1 – 12 figures slapped all over them.

Figure Drawing 20190711 08

“The Elbows Have It”

Afterwords, a few of us did an informal show-and-tell of what we created. The model peeked over our shoulders. For one piece, I added green & blue pastel to match her real-life hair. She loved that one.

I signed it, snapped the pic below, and gave it to her. It was the first time she’d ever received one of the sketches from any of her modeling.

Life Figure Gift

“Chilly Nude”

Once home, I looked back through my work from the evening. Some parts of some sketches were pretty okay for an initial attempt. Other parts were downright horrible, off, screaming with their bad proportions, lack of model likeness, room for improvement. But that’s why I need the sessions.

As I do, I started thinking: “Hmmm… what if I push these ‘throwaway’ sketches a bit further? Develop them into finished pieces? Add to the composition with acrylic?”

So that’s what I did. I further challenged myself to make these pieces feel current but also like they could’ve been created in the 1960’s or 100 years ago. Kind of a non-vintage vintage feel. For my palette, I chose muted colors that would help convey this.

Three of these reworkings are now signed & framed.

Figure Drawing 20190711 03

“The Body Is A Boat”

This was session 1 of 4. I’m hoping to see personal progress by the end. After each session, I’m gonna work at least one of the sketches into a “finished” piece.

And, I reckon, soon I’ll be able to offer input/tips for another artist giving Live Figure Drawing a shot for the first time. My first tip: just go for it.

 

Art: Blank Encyclopedias


Blank Encyclopedias - Blank

This poor, neglected site. I tell ya what.

I’ve had a lot going on. Been making tons of art, writing & submitting too much (apparently) unpublishable poetry. Basically I’ve been enjoying an extended period of experimental creation. Plus my partner & I are opening a store. <— [Much more to come on that last one later.]

I think we all make this plans, resolutions-of-sorts. Like, I’m gonna do this, commit to this, and this time I’m gonna follow through on every bit of it. And, well, occasionally that works out.

So one of those things I’m gonna do, is post my art more regularly. I mean, I make plenty of it. Might as well chronicle, throw it out there, get my creations seen by a few eyes other than my own.  It feels like maybe I’ve made this plan before…?

Well, I’m making good on it in this very moment anyway.

Blank Encyclopedias - A-Z

This series is titled Blank Encyclopedias.

The concept is that they’re a set of encyclopedias, templates, that need to be filled. Writing, sketching, collage, etc. Stick to entries that begin with the letter on the cover? Or select one based on the first initial of your name and just go hog-wild with the content. Whatever. They’re blank until someone fills them.

The artwork is acrylic on canvas-covered blank journals/sketchbooks with unlined paper.

Process-wise, I gave myself permission to just go freeform with the imagery, no planning. This is me playing with hand lettering & typography, directly applying stark-white acrylic to the black covers, making bold marks. I then added neon washes for color.

I decided to make these Blank Encyclopedias 2-sided. So if the A is flipped over on a short edge, the Z is upright. The same with the B and Y. And so on. [I’ve filled a few of my personal journals like this: writing on only one side of the page, flipping the journal over & then writing on the back.]

Yes, these are for sale. Once 7 are paid for, my costs will be covered.
Art sure ain’t gonna make me rich. Yes, I’ll ship them to your front door.

Small Blank Encyclopedia – 4″ x 6″ – $10
Large Blank Encyclopedia – 5.5″ x 8.5″ – $15

I’m thinking these might be perfect for jotting down this plans. Shoot, some those might even come to pass.

 

Membrane Constellation #004 – Virtual Gallery


MC004

It all began in 2017.

During an art opening at La Luna here in Mansfield, a handful of us stood chatting. The conversation between Aurelio, Jo Westfall, Orie Rush & I turned to Jo & Orie’s recent art show way up in Cleveland.

They tried to smile as they spoke. Obvious disappointment pierced their carefully selected words. They’d created pieces, priced them, lovingly packed them in a car, driven 2+ hours one way. They were excited, hopeful. They’d done the work, made an honest effort, hustled to make their 2-person show happen in a distant city.

Access to the venue was down an alley. Signage leading to this out-of-the-way spot didn’t do all that much to coax or entice people in. The opening was poorly attended. Ya know, overall, the experience was meh. Again, my friends tried to put a positive spin on the experience somehow. But they were deflated.

I know that feeling.

Most artists who find the courage to put their stuff out in the world know the grab-bag of emotions that comes along with that bravery.

You make art. You keep working it until you feel pretty okay with the results. You frame it, wire it for hanging. Struggle to put a price, a monetary value, on something that’s an extension of who you are. You load this stuff into a car. Drive it somewhere. Unload it. Then you let it go. Drop it off. Fingers crossed.

Maybe a juror judges your creation as either good enough to include in an exhibit or so ~horrible~ it’s rejected. Or your art’s displayed on a wall or pedestal so a bunch of strangers can view it & decide if it has any value. Is it worth anything at all? Is it worth buying, snapping a selfie with, telling a friend about? Does anyone even give a shit about the thoughts in your head & the thumpings in your heart made manifest?

So back in 2017, in the midst of a conversation with an undertone of heartbreak, an idea came. What if we put together a local group exhibition? No jurors. No rejection. No entry fee. Artists of all skill levels welcome. Newly created work only.

Eventually a name came: Membrane Constellation.

We held 3 shows in 2018: February/March, June/July & September/October.

Our first opening, there were over 300 people in attendance. Like, whoa.

Now with our initial show of 2019 currently up, we’ve had 4 shows & counting. So far, nearly 90 artists have participated. Not a single one was rejected. And while, yes, the art is displayed & a few have been sold or traded, the richest benefit is the community aspect of creative folk coming together, loving & supporting one another.

For many of the artists, this is their first attempt at showing their work outside a school setting. As organizers, we’ve been mentoring along the way on things like: how to frame & wire a piece, pricing, providing the information a gallery/venue needs, taking that next step in artistic expression.

Some descriptions we’ve used to try to describe these shows:

  • “Exclusive view of the newest & freshest works of Mansfield’s premier underground artists.”
  • “The Membrane Constellation Exhibition features artists from all walks of life who are bound together by their passion to create.”
  • “These exhibitions are intended to merge artists from all walks of life and to encourage artists to challenge themselves by constantly creating.”

A lot of folks have put in hard work to make the behind-the-scenes stuff come together: Aurelio Villa Luna Diaz, Kathy Fetzer-Goodwin, Jason Ned Kaufman, Orie Rush, Victoria Hoefler, Alison Rae Bach, etc. (And I’m sure I’m forgetting folks – forgive me – let me know & I’ll add you right in.)

Honestly, it’s all about the artists & their art. Giving them (us) a place to belong. Mansfield’s richly diverse. Our Membrane Constellation Exhibitions serve as tiny cross-sections of this beauty. Each show is a window into what’s happening in the here & now.

These shows go up. They stay for a month or so. Then they come down. They’re ephemeral that way. And I suppose the point of me creating this post is to capture, in some small way, a sense of that experience.

MC-004 is as beautiful & varied as the 3 shows that have gone before. Our theme was “Rebirth/Blossoming” & artists had to incorporate the color green. This time around, I asked a photographer friend, Scott Smith, to help me chronicle the amazing collection.

Title cards are included in the pic of each piece. If the technology works as it should, you can click on a pic & zoom in. If the info’s still too small to read, and you’re interested in the artist or their work, let me know & I’ll do my best to connect you.

 

 

 

 

Ceramics: Drawing In Thin Air – Virtual Gallery


My March/April show at Blake Anthony Gallery focused on wheel-thrown ceramics.

I’m new at this clay thang. Many of the pieces are pretty janky: fat bottoms, uneven lips, glazing issues, etc. For each piece, I included a tag detailing my intent when beginning the piece, how that intent changed as reality or inspiration hit, the methods used & the imperfections.

 

[Photo Credit: Scott Smith]

The following is my accompanying Artist Statement (or whatever):

Ohio winters stay overcast, endlessly gray for a month. Then another. And yet another. In the heaviness beneath those cold clouds, I long for that crisp, Carolina-blue sky of “home”. Thankfully, this year, I found something to ground me, a new tool to keep my depression at bay.

These ceramic works are proof of that.

I’ve wanted to take a pottery class for years. In December, I began a 6-week wheel-throwing course @ the Mansfield Art Center. I was instantly hooked. I took my instructor, Jack, up on her offer to use the studio outside of class time. I checked out pottery books from the library & further researched all things clay by binge-watching days of instructional videos on YouTube. Once my class officially ended, I continued learning & exploring through the Art Center’s Independent Study program. (25 more pounds of stoneware clay are waiting for me right now.)

Wheel-throwing is akin to drawing in thin air. Creating something in the space where once there was nothing. It’s not easy. The spinning lump of earth holds memory of its original shape. Clay wants to remain tight & closed. It tries to hang on to what it’s been. But as I find our shared rhythm, thin & coax up the walls, give my vision life, both the clay & myself open in tandem.

Creating a vessel—thrilling & challenging—is only the beginning. Next come the other possibilities: altering the form, adding & taking away, carving, underglazing, sgraffito, wax resist, glazing, multiple firings. Experimentation galore. I get to be potter, scientist & artist.

Patience is required between the stages. Each delay carries hope, an expectancy of what’s to come. There’s a tangible momentum, a cycle leading to completion, the perfect timing required to execute the next step, which tugs me forward all the way through the winter, into bluer skies.

I’ve barely begun the infinite exploration clay offers. I’m in it for life.

These pieces were born in winter. I’m excited to see what springtime’s breezes, sunshine & blue skies birth. To anyone purchasing my art, thank you, earnestly. Your patronage allows me to create, explore & discover what other beautiful things the clay & I can draw in thin air together.

~Lucas Hargis, March/April 2019, Blake Anthony Gallery

 

A half dozen of these have sold. Sweet. I’ve earned back the cost of the class, which means I can keep experimenting!

If you’re interested in price, size or process for any piece, let me know.

 

Original Art: Flora of Gondwana – Virtual Gallery


 

I’m venturing into new territory – offering a little insight into some of the hows & whys behind the art I create. I believe there’s a balance between sharing just enough vs too much. Ya know, like how sometimes it’s cool to just let the art speak for itself.

But I often get asked about technique & intent, so.

For my current show @ Blake Anthony Gallery, I played with color theory. This 12-piece series is my exploration with a limited palette & the way the color of a given atmosphere affects shadows & highlights.

I chose plant life for the subject matter. Mainly because I could experiment with a controlled expressionism (is that even possible?!) with bold, limited brushstrokes.

Conceptually, these are plants I completely made up. Sort of variations of similar species. The series title, Flora of Gondwana, speaks to the narrative behind the whole set.

There’s this theory that, over the long arc of geological time, Earth’s landmasses go through repeating periods of convergence & separation. All the land is at times gathered in supercontinents. The land later divides into separate continents.

You probably remember the name Pangaea from elementary school. And how the eastern coastline of South America mirrors the southwestern coastline of Africa. They fit like puzzle pieces. Like Pangaea, other supercontinents have existed: Ur, Rodinia, Pannotia, etc. One of these supercontinents was Gondwana.

As supercontinents drift apart, due to the new oceans stretching between the continents, plants & animals on these separated continents diversify. They change. Different populations of the same species develop in new ways based on new environmental conditions.

Anyway, that’s getting all scientific & brainy. I often find artistic inspiration in scientific & brainy stuff, tho. They offer as good an inspiration as any other source, I reckon.

I kinda dig how they almost look like prints, yet each is a hand-painted original.

Flora Of Gondwana
No. 001 – 012
Acrylic on paper
11″ x 14″ framed behind glass
$60 each

NEXT MONTH: Clay pieces created in my first-ever wheel-thrown pottery class.