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October 2009

Harry Sudman

Harry Sudman' s recent paintings explore how style and fashion evoke reaction. One’s eye is drawn to the subject by its iconology while the monochrome background allows it to be the center of attention. It is the color in the background and the placement of the various panels that create the environment and motion. The work, whether one feels it to be positive or negative, is meant to be confrontational. This is enhanced by the realistic painting technique I use. In the end, it is up the viewer to assign meaning according to his or her own personal attitude”.
Hs_ty-&-fender Sudman's work is available through the Black Maria Gallery in Los Angeles.

Vebjorn Sand

Vebjorn sand
Vebjørn Sand is a Norwegian painter who brushwork is reminiscent of 16th Century painting. 
His background includes three major public art projects in Oslo, Norway including the Leonardo Bridge Project. Mr. Sand is also a highly regarded painter whose work is included in collections worldwide. He studied art in Oslo, Prague and in New York at the Art Students’ League.

Mr. Sand’s work on the Leonardo Project began with his discovery of Leonardo’s tiny drawing in an exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s engineering and architectural ideas in a museum in Sweden. He presented the idea to the Norwegian Transportation Ministry and was able to inspire them with the historical significance of the project and immediately secure their okay.

Mr. Sand possesses an ability to build strong alliances capable of executing his public art ideas on a large scale. His ability has been proven through the process of erecting the Troll Castle Project, the Kepler Star Project and, finally, the Leonardo Bridge Project.

Mr. Sand is deeply influenced by the traditions of the Renaissance and Baroque painters. His phenomenal success with three major public art projects in Norway has made him an influential figure of Norwegian cultural life. He divides his time between Oslo, Norway and New York.   

William Thierfelder

708_THEN_IN_MY_FRESHMAN_higher-resolution("Then in My Freshman Year")

William Thierfelder is as close to a renaissance man as I have ever come across. He is/was a professor at Dowling College and is also an artist whose work "Then in My Freshman Year" reminds me of Louise Nevelson on crayon. His biography on his site tells his evolution from student to professor to artist in all shades of lavender.

Truthfully, I wrote the above paragraph before I read the article about him on Art Online who describes him as, yes, a New Age Renaissance man. Here is Ed McCormicks fine appraisal of Theirfelder's work:

The late graphic master Saul Steinberg once stated that he felt more like a writer than a visual artist, since he was most comfortable drawing on the scale of his handwriting. And William Thierfelder, an artist and a recently retired Professor of English at Dowling College, in Oakdale, N.Y., whose work can be seen on his website (http://www.thierfelderwilliams.com), would probably concur. For like Steinberg, Thierfelder prefers drawing to painting.
“I craft drawings,” he says. “This is a conscious choice, as is the size of my work: Few are larger than 20 x 30 inches; many are smaller My authentic self as an artist is a poet at heart; I speak best in smaller, succinct, compressed forms on basic paper with basic tools ilk pencils, crayons, and colored ink pens. I am creating for the eye that wants to examine a cross section or explore a visua poem, even if that route puts me against popular trends.”

In fact, in the tradition of William Blake, Thierfelder is a double threat, being a writer as well as a visual artist. He publishes poetry and short stories under the pseudonym T. Richard Williams, and that some of his writings make their way online makes his website more interesting in a literary sense than most.

“The majority of my work is a response to specific events, dreams, or emotional states, using a deliberately chosen ‘alphabet’ of shapes, colors, and designs,” he says. “Each drawing is a narrative, a unique piece that tells the viewer something about me as well as the object or event being explored, whether it’s a performer at Carnegie Hall, a song, a piece of classical music, a nightmare or an hour of meditation. Geometric forms, especially circles, rectangles, and triangles, spermatozoic shapes, handwriting strokes, etching marks made with knives, pencils, smudges created with erasers, along with a bold color palette, form my basic language.” Although Thierfelder’s materials and methods might suggest a so-called “outsider,” the innate sophistication of his personal iconography prevents his work from being relegated to that specialized ghetto of contemporary art marketing. Rather, the Byzantine intricacy of his mazelike compositions and the intensity of his colors can be likened to those of the eccentric Austrian painter Fritz Hundertwasser, while his range of subject matter and willingness to experiment with a variety of forms and symbols on an intimate scale is more akin to Paul Klee. Indeed, the sheer diversity and richness of his oeuvre can be seen by comparing the iconic simplicity of a piece such as “In My Dreams, I Free Myself,” with its primitive floating figure, to “And Then in My Freshman Year...”, wherein a plethora of brilliant geometric and organic forms evokes a veritable universe in miniature. Other complementary contrast can be seen in the bejeweled baroqueness of a crayon composition such as “Beethoven Piano Concert Three” and the emblematic boldness of works such as “Study 9” and “Study 10,” in which the artist uses prints of his own male nudes as a starting point for vibrant coloristic excursions, combining photography and drawing in innovative ways.

Brett Manning

Brett Manning is a Chicago based artist and illustrator whose work is exhibited at the Black Maria Gallery in Los Angeles.

He says "I love to draw and I draw what I love. My work reflects my personality and the things that are most meaningful and sentimental to me. Man-made vs. Nature and the connection of all living things are common themes I enjoy illustrating. Combining that with my passion for texture, balance, pattern, fashion, and femininity, my work can become quite surreal and dream-like. Charming juxtapositions and fantastical, sometimes made up symbolism and allusions dwell within most of my art, but telling a story though my work is not a high priority, rather I find it more interesting when the viewer creates their own meaning. It is also not my intention to create an exact likeness, rather, while drawing a portrait, I try to capture their essence, what I believe to be his or her most pure, and enlightened, even awkward form. Drawing is very meditative for me, and when I am creating, I feel calm and at one with my surroundings, specifically with the art work, thus it becomes part of me, almost like a view into my brain at any specific moment, and strangely autobiographical... Ink and colored pencil have become my medium of choice, but I also work with graphite, oils, and watercolors when the mood strikes. ... It’s pretty simple…. But very complex…. And completely absurd. I also love coffee, chocolate, cats, and 1960’s tunes."


Elmer Bischoff

Elmer Bischoff  (1916–1991) was a San Francisco-based painter renowned for his figurative paintings from the 1950s and 1960s. Bischoff is considered part of the first generation of Bay Area Figurative painters, who, along with Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, and James Weeks, deployed the lessons of non-objective, expressionist painting—the importance of gesture and the use of aggressive color—as a means of reengaging with reality-based subject matter.

Elmer bischoff

Bischoff's figurative paintings are prized for their emotional intensity. Bischoff himself placed an emphasis on "feeling" in his work, stating that "a 'unity of feeling' is the principal end. …a condition of form which dissolves all tangible facts into intangibles of feeling."1  Bischoff's masterful use of color and light to convey psychological states and his integration of figure and landscape contributed to the subliminal meaning and mystery expressed in his paintings. 

Born in Berkeley, Bischoff received his BA (1938) and MA (1939) from the University of California, Berkeley. In the early thirties and forties, he painted abstractly, exploring synthetic cubism and surrealism. After serving in the Air Force during World War II, he returned to the Bay Area and joined the faculty at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco (now the San Francisco Art Institute) in 1946. Bischoff taught alongside fellow teachers Park, Diebenkorn, Hassel Smith, and Clyfford Still at a time when non-objective painting dominated the curriculum. Already an accomplished abstractionist, he embraced abstract expressionism. In 1947, he received his first solo museum exhibition at San Francisco's California Palace of the Legion of Honor.

In 1952, Bischoff resigned from CSFA in protest of Hassel Smith's dismissal. A year later, he moved to Marysville, California, to teach at Yuba College for three years.  It was during this time that Bischoff left abstraction and began painting figuratively, a move that he likened to "the end of a love affair."2  Over the next twenty years, Bischoff created a body of work that married the lessons of action painting to with the emotional and psychological possibilities inherent in figuration. He returned to the Bay Area in 1956, chairing the graduate department at CSFA and later becoming a professor at UC Berkeley. By 1960, he had reached his most mature phase in which daring, inventive colors are combined with dashing, gestural brushwork that calls attention to the medium.  In a 1960 group exhibition of Bay Area art at New York's Staempfli Gallery, Fairfield Porter called Bischoff “the most magnificent performer of all the Californians seen in this city who have given up abstraction in favor of realism.”3

In the 1970s, Bischoff returned to abstraction, painting large acrylic abstractions that are notable for their lyrical arrangement of architectural and organic forms and their sophisticated palette. Bischoff retired from his professorship at UC Berkeley in 1985 and died six years later in 1991. Elmer Bischoff's paintings are held in major public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Oakland Museum of California.

Anthony Ausgang

Anthony Ausgang was born in Trinidad and Tobago in 1959 to a Dutch mother and Welsh father. The family moved to Houston Texas in the early 1960s, a particularly difficult time for an immigrant family to parse American culture. Nevertheless, Ausgang's father made brave attempts to assimilate by attending custom car shows and demolition derbies.


After a short stint studying art at The University Of Texas in Austin, Ausgang succumbed to the myth of California and moved to Los Angeles where he began classes at The Otis Art Institute. Disappointed to find out that the curriculum there didn't include target practice, admiring cars or watching surf films, Ausgang dropped out to start showing his artwork to as many galleries as would tolerate his frequent visits. Finally accepted by the infamous Zero One Gallery, a combination of after hours nightclub, gallery and crashpad, he had his first official sale, to a drug dealer. At his solo show later that year Ausgang sold to a more diverse and socially acceptable crew as collectors and critics began to take notice.

At the Zero One Ausgang met Robert Williams, who had been one of the main forces at Roth Studios in the 1960's and at this time was the most successful practitioner of the type of art that would later be called Low Brow. As the "official" art world began to accept Ausgang's work so did the commercial art world and he began making record covers and posters and working as a consultant on computer generated animation. In 1993 Ausgang was included in the Laguna Beach Art Museum's seminal exhibit "Kustom Kulture" which investigated art influenced by gearhead car culture. In 2003 Ausgang's paintings could be seen in Morning Wood, a primer of Post Graf art; in 2004 his work graced the pages of contemporary art survey Pop Surrealism and in 2005 Weirdo Deluxe explained his art to the unenlightened. Ausgang draws influence from as many outside channels as possible, preferring the toy contents of grocery store gumball machines over the latest exhibit at the Whitney. Opinionated but informed, he is able to see the beauty in both a Rembrandt and a rat rod. This variety of interest has led him to design his artwork on the computer but complete it on the easel, the perfect combination of new technology and traditional media.
Ausgang now shows regularly in Amsterdam, Holland and Bologna, Italy. Commercial clients include the Boredoms (Warner) in Japan and Apollo 440 (Sony) in England. Collectors include Nicholas Cage, David Arquette and Perry Farrell. His work is currently at the Black Maria Gallery in Los Angeles.

Paul Chatem

Paul Chatem's intricate misenscenes reminds me of Richard Dadd - the eccentric English painter at the turn of the 19th century. But Chatem's work is arguably more interesting and certainly much more contemporary. Paul Chatem was born in Washington State and is currently living and working in the Los Angeles area. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Illustration from the Kansas CityArt Institute, Paul has worked as a commercial illustrator and artistic director in the entertainment industry. Drawing from creative influences as diverse as Dock Boggs, Tom Waits, William S. Burroughs, John Fante, as well as artists such as Jim Woodring and Al Columbia, Paul’s works are notable in their emphasis on narrative structure and story telling ability.

Pc_backtrackin-last-straw-hole-in-da-wall See more of Chatem's work at the Black Maria Gallery in Los Angeles.

Christine Karas

Christine Karas has always been fascinated with the feminine form. Whether painting voluptuous vixens exhibiting their charms or voodoo goddesses casting spells, Karas makes art about female beauty and sexuality. Her pin-up style paintings have been featured in magazines such as Hustler, Chic, Siren and Axcess. She draws upon images and archetypes from the past to create contemporary portraits of women who understand the power of their sexuality and use it to explore fantasy and assert their autonomy.

Ckaras_cabaret-dancer-smoking Her work can be seen in the Black Maria Gallery in Los Angeles.

Anne Seelbach

Anne Seelbach is a painter with a unique vision of nature. There is very limited information about her on the internet - I've decided she is a woman of mystery. What I have found is that she lives near water which is a vantage reflected in her subject matter. She is a painter who treats nature in varying degrees of abstraction, resulting in a lyrical and energetic compostion and novel perspectives. I like her use of color and form as well as admire her interpretation of the natural form.

Anne Seelbach 

Chris Ofili

Chris Ofili Chris Ofili works in painting, sculpture, printmaking, and graphite drawing. Begun in 2004, while Ofili was still living in London, his most recent work, the Afro Margin series, continued after he moved to Trinidad in 2005, and was finally completed in 2007. Known primarily for his bold, large-scale paintings, these intimate drawings reveal Ofili to be a master draughtsman. In this exquisite series, Ofili employs his distinguished “afro heads,” a signature motif he began working with in the early 1990s. Here the “margin” — created by darkened “afro heads” piled vertically into columns and varying in size — suggests gothic towers and aboriginal totems.

With each work, Ofili started by consciously considering the width of the column, discovering and breaking the tension of the blank page. As the series progressed, conceptions of blackness also figured as a way to understand the margin. Moving transformed this idea, as he left a metropolitan center — London — for a place on the fringe of cultural activity — Trinidad. Formally, however, the series was not affected by the changes in the landscape. Unlike much of his other work, he tried to confine the relationship to the structure of the idea. As Cameron Shaw states in the catalogue essay, “Ultimately, the significance is in the arrangement . . . Like an automatic drawing, notebook doodle, or physical meditation, his intention was to disappear into the action, while simply maintaining awareness of its natural direction.”

Chris Ofili was born in 1968 in Manchester, England, and currently lives in Trinidad. He was the recipient of the 1998 Turner Prize, and his recent solo exhibitions include Devil’s Pie, David Zwirner, New York (2007); The Blue Rider Extended Remix, kestnergesellschaft, Hannover, Germany (2006); The Upper Room, Tate Britain, London, England (2005); Afro Muses, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2005); and Within Reach, British Pavilion, 50th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2003).

In October, Rizzoli will publish the first major monograph on the artist. The book encompasses Ofili’s entire oeuvre, and includes over 200 color images. The book includes a foreword by Peter Doig, an interview between the artist and Thelma Golden, and essays by others, including David Adjaye on The Upper Room, Okwui Enwezor on Within Reach, Carol Becker on The Holy Virgin Mary; and short texts by Kara Walker and Cameron Shaw.

Pictured above: Afro Margin Four, 2004, pencil on paper, 40.16 x 26.46 inches, 102 x 67.2 cm