Layne Meacham, Wild Man Artist
by Kent Rigby
"Capybara Walls and Painting with the Emotionally Ill" is the "tongue-in-cheek" working title for Layne Meacham's
upcoming show at Palmers Gallery, January 19 through February 9, 2007 (Capybara Walls
is the gallery title).
Meacham is a first class abstract expressionist, a paint slinger who attacks the canvas with his fingers, hands, elbows, sticks, dried-up old paint brushes, screwdrivers, bricks . . . literally anything that happens to be close at hand when he is in the "zone." When executing his usually large, heavily textured, paint-encrusted canvases, Meacham stands on the built up masses of the collective history of modern abstract art, "from Kandinsky to the New York School," as well as what was going on in France with Dubuffet's incursions into Art Brut and the Art of the Insane.
Marks and gesture are the essential ingredients in a Meacham painting, built upon a dense surface structure. He creates a thick impasto for several reasons, primarily so he can incise his marks into it. He is also fascinated by built-up layers, like old public walls which have evolved over time with layer upon layer of cultural "marks" that are then slowly revealed by the passage of time. After Meacham has created the background and some of the images are placed, he sits in front of the canvas and stares at it until the inspiration strikes; he then walks over to the easel, picks up something and makes a mark with it. He doesn't care much what it is he picks up (he used to have a huge piece of graphite he got at Phillips Gallery, which he called his "heathen" stone because of the crude looking marks he could make it), almost anything close at hand will do. Then he sits back down and stares. The process is repeated over and over again until the entire surface is filled up to his satisfaction and the composition is complete.
Special Feature: Essay
Criticism in the Moment
by Geoff Wichert
, a recent biography of the dominant critic of modern American art, is sub-titled "The Rise and Fall of Clement Greenberg." I take pleasure in these words, and particularly in the word fall
. Every critic dies, every critic is diminished by subsequent discourse; but not every critic can be said to fall
. Yet I was born the year Greenberg broke through with his assertion of the importance of Jackson Pollock, who still sits atop the heap of American painters, and he has shadowed my entire life. And while Greenberg remains an insightful critic and, like another discredited "great," -- Sigmund Freud -- a wonderful writer, I am gratified to have outlived his inhibiting impact on the practice of art. And while we're celebrating (if you choose to join in, that is) let's add another dominating source of critical smoke-and-mirrors. Whether you think of it as French
, or Post-structuralist Criticism
, the same sorting of baby from bath water now characterizing the reading of Greenberg can also be applied to the tsunami of contrarian criticism that reached America twenty years after Greenberg began his rise. This isn't the place for a systematic critique of either of the critical hegemonies that, with their deliberately opaque technical prose, have dominated the art world for six decades, let alone to propose comprehensive alternatives. But it might be a good time to at least glance at recent criticism and see how things are changing.
Exhibition Reviews: Park City
Out of Hibernation: Park City's Art Scene Rustles to Life Again
Cheryl Warrick, Patricia Kimball, Emily McPhie, Cassandra Barney
December 29th marked the end of Park City's autumnal hibernation. Every fall, after a relatively busy summer season climaxing with the frenzy of the Park City Arts Festival, Summit County's art scene settles, like the bears who used to roam their mountains, for a period of denning, not completely dormant but far from active. Few galleries hold openings during this time, waiting for the winter season and the arrival of the skiers to show off their star artists.
With the opening of their January exhibitions last week, Park City's art mammals have come out of their burrows and are ready to engage the local and national public with a slew of exhibitions. Many galleries make up for their dormant months with a bumper crop of exhibitions in these winter months (Meyer Gallery has a new opening slated for every week in February and March). For now, however, the galleries are easing themselves into the frenetic busy season (where they have to collect enough nuts and berries to last them through the late spring months) with a number of fine, month-long exhibitions.
The Park City Gallery Association has over twenty members, not to mention the unaffiliated galleries and shops, so to look at every show would be a feat, for writer and reader alike. Consequently, the following is merely a sampling of what you'll encounter if you make it to Park City this month -- do so quickly, before the baseball capped, dark-shaded invasive species of mammals takes over at the end of the month.
At the top of Park City’s Main Street, the Meyer Gallery
opens their winter season with an exhibit by Boston-based artist Cheryl Warrick
. Warrick's exhibit fills the upstairs gallery space and spills onto one of the downstairs walls. It consists of a group of mixed-media paintings that interchange a series of recurring motifs and painterly methods on an irregular grid pattern resembling a patchwork quilt. Warrick calls these pieces "a search for wisdom." Warrick's visual methods shift between landscape painting, transferred designs, abstract paint mixing and hand-scrawled notes. In her search for wisdom, no one style or form is given precedence.