The Goods: Weekend News (11.18.11)

Sarasota Visual Art’s round up of exhibitions and events for the upcoming weekend. This features the weekend of Friday, November 18 through Sunday, November 20.

Week in Review

FRIDAY – November 18, 2011

Small Works – Towles Court Art Walk

Third annual juried show held at Towles Court Art Walk with special guest Joseph Spinella and juror Joseph Melancon.

Ke Francis comes to Ringling College of Art and Design

Experience the work of internationally recognized artist Mr. Key Francis this week as he showcases his inventive cross medium productions as a printmaker, painter, ceramicist, bookmaker, installation artist, and writer.

Injured Figure and Tuning Fork / Woodcut - 30 x 40 inches

SATURDAY – November 19, 2011

Art Meets Agriculture – Farm City Week

Palmetto Art Center (PAC) will celebrate, through art and music, Manatee County and the City of Palmetto’s association with its agricultural past. PAC wraps up the week long celebration with an enlightening art show entitled ART meets Agriculture.

John Ringling’s Asian and Cypriot Art

As the story of the Ringlings unfolds in this, the hundredth anniversary of their arrival in Sarasota, researching and examining the Asian art they selected can perhaps provide us with more insights into their artistic taste and collection development.

Going to an art opening this weekend? Email us your pics of art openings at


Featured Artist: Jason Mitcham

No ideal form is thought of. Rather than transcendency, contingency is paramount. A mark’s purpose is to bridge the one before it and the one that will follow it.

Currently, Art Center Sarasota is presenting a fascinating exhibition in the galleries titled Material Matters: A Look at Medium and Method. Given the sheer breadth and depth of each work this exhibition is a must see. Participating artists include: Lauren Garber-Lake, John Westmark, Malaika Zweig, Erika Mahr, Leslie Robison and Jason Mitcham

1. What sort of art critic are you? Or, asked differently, who is your favorite art critic?

Much like the rest of the art world, criticism has become increasingly splintered since the birth of postmodernism. Some of my favorite critics have competing ideas on art. I have a huge respect for the criticism of Hal Foster. I think he is one of the last critics to have been able to give a summation of the interconnections of movements within the art world up until about the 90’s. At the same time I have a great respect for the moral founding that I see in Robert Storr. Although one might look at him as a more conservative critic in regards to his defense of painting, I think he comes from a much needed standpoint, where the critic/curator actually makes some work themselves, and in so doing has a greater understanding of the reality of the whole situation. As do I, he believes that art should have an urgency, and if it does not, it probably doesn’t need to be made.

Painting by Jason Mitcham

2. What aspects of contemporary art would you change, if you could?

It’s a frustration that has been voiced by many, for many years, but I too have concerns with how market-driven much of contemporary art is. So many times I am let down with the work I see in the Chelsea art district of New York. Galleries show work that they know will sell, and with the recent strains of the economy this has become even more evident. More often than not, I find exhibitions to consist of either very conservative and derivative work, or of work from older, heavily established artists…which is often amazing work…I’m just already familiar with it and have seen it many times before. This, along with the cost of living and making work in New York City gives me great concern for my generation of artists in this city trying to produce thoughtful, challenging, and formally engaging art.

Painting by Jason Mitcham

3. How did you arrive at the structure of your work?

Looking back, the animations that I am making now came from a number of indirect sources in my past, none of which I thought would influence my work directly at the time. One such source was working as a land surveyor for my father’s civil engineering firm. Working on different sites, it was interesting to really get to know a space, and then see it transformed through the grading and construction process. I remember at the time questioning some of the ethics and quality of design/work that went into changing these landscapes and spaces. Another source was the animations of William Kentridge. I spent quite a bit of time researching and studying his work and process for a film theory seminar in graduate school, and although I immediately fell in love with his work, I never thought I would have any interest in making animations, much less even be able to try. Once I realized that I needed to show time within site-specific landscapes, both sources became crucial in shaping the way I constructed the animations.

Head Full of Doubt (still 1) by Jason Mitcham

4. How do you see the societal role of the artist evolving?

I think that the internet and globalization have blown things wide open. Artists don’t have to rely on the traditional gallery approach to get work out to the public, and with tools like the internet, one might argue these approaches may bring the work in front of a larger audience than a gallery or museum ever can. In the broadest sense, I see a shift happening over the past few decades where the artist’s function is less controlled by such institutions. Instead of making work geared for the white cube space of a gallery or museum, to be seen by only those who go to such spaces, the artist’s work can take the form best needed to develop their ideas. Land and environment-based artists such as Robert Smithson and Gordon Matta-Clark pioneered such forms in the 1960’s and 70’s, and we have seen this continue today with artists like Allora and Calzadilla. I think the challenge is to keep a functioning theoretical dialogue as this happens (especially when the audience experiences the work over social media outlets such as the internet), and most importantly, to figure out how physical work, such as painting or sculpture can still be experienced in person. If this can be navigated, I think the artist can truly function as a catalyst for social change, and to bring awareness to both local and global concerns.

Head Full of Doubt (still 2) by Jason Mitcham

5. One of the most complicated aspects of being an art maker is the “Life Work” balance: making important decisions on when to start and when to stop and where to separate things. Do you have any advice for other artists, based on your own methodology, on how to balance a life’s work?

After graduate school, upon moving to New York City, I decided to put making art first and foremost in my life. This required (and continues to require) a lot of tough choices. I started to structure my life in a way that my schedule and finances allowed me as much time in the studio as possible. I try as often as possible to cancel out things in my life that are not helping me achieve my goal of being a self-sustaining artist. Unlike many of my friends and colleagues who teach, or work in other art-related professions, I wait tables. I work doubles in a restaurant so that I can have 4 days a week in the studio. Although it is a hectic schedule, I can make enough at my other job where I never have to rely on sales of my artwork to support my practice. This in turn has allowed me to venture into realms where selling the work is not really an option.

My advice would be to have a general idea of what you want as an artist, and then just start directing everything in your life towards that. Eliminate things that hinder your advancement as an artist, and replace them with things like reading theory, more studio time, and just considering what kind of work you want to make, and how it will function within the art world. Eventually you will start to build some momentum.

Artist Statement

“There’s a paradox about the survival of works of art- I mean in our society, where art doesn’t serve any ritual or didactic purpose. The motivation to do it is the doing of it, the excitement of solving problems, but problems of a kind that can only be solved through actually making something, so that, at the end of the process, there’s this thing, the residue of activity. Now, once having made that thing, the artist really might as well destroy it, but usually they seem to prefer to let it go on existing.” -David Sylvester, from the Francis Bacon Interviews

These animations began from a need to incorporate time into a painting involving a specific site. I had two aerial images of Levittown, NY, one from 1945, and the other from ten years later in 1955. I wanted to animate the changes in the site within a painting. However, as the roads continued to grow, overlap and interconnect, the notion of Jackson Pollock’s paintings became apparent. The painting process allowed for this association, and the animation became an abstraction that eventually obliterated itself.

When a painting becomes a field of narration, the artist’s mindset about constructing the image changes. No longer are marks made with the ultimate, final state of the image taking precedence. Rather, every mark creates the animation, so only the next movement matters. No ideal form is thought of. Rather than transcendency, contingency is paramount. A mark’s purpose is to bridge the one before it and the one that will follow it. More than likely it will be overlaid later on, by other marks needed to tell another part of the story. As the animations develop, the paintings themselves become topographic “terrains” of built up layers, correlating to the sites they depict.

In discussing the suburbs, Robert Smithson writes about them as “rising into ruin.” They exist without a past, at least in any real sense, and thus have no hope for a lasting future. As they are being built, their immanent decay can already be predicted. The sites in these films, some fictional, some real, adhere to that idea. They are in a state of constant change, only cognizant of their present state, and the decisions made pertaining to their design show little regard for a past or distant future. These non-places constitute the definition of “nowhere”, yet they are everywhere.

For more information about, view Jason’s personal website:

Interview with Kim Anderson: Material Matters

sVA had the pleasure of speaking with artist and curator Kim Anderson of Material Matters: A Look at Medium and Method, about the show.

Opening November 3, Art Center Sarasota will present a fascinating exhibition in the galleries titled Material Matters: A Look at Medium and Method. Given the sheer breadth and depth of each work this exhibition is a must see. Participating artists include: Lauren Garber-Lake, John Westmark, Malaika Zweig, Erika Mahr, Leslie Robison and Jason Mitcham

Malaika Zweig

sVA had the pleasure of speaking with artist and curator Kim Anderson of Material Matters: A Look at Medium and Method, about the show.

sVA: What criteria did you use when selecting the artists and/or artwork for Material Matters?

KA: I wanted to show work by artists who push a material or conflate unexpected media, but who also demonstrate a devout investment to the execution of their work. It was important to me that the artists dedicate a significant amount of labor and energy to their work. I also selected artists whose work would be new to Sarasota.

365 Pages by Erika Mahr

sVA: What should the public expect from Material Matters? Do you think this show will appeal to a particular audience?

KA: I believe art has the capacity to reach different audiences for different reasons. I hope that those engaged with the art making process will have an appreciation for the commitment these artists have to the studio, and that others might uncover an unexpected idea for what a painting or drawing could be; an alternative presentation for painting, or how a drawing can be monumental and intimate simultaneously.

sVA: What are some of your expectations for the show? How do you think it will be received?

KA: It is my hope that the individual work supports and enhances the whole. It’s hard to say until everything is installed, so in that sense there are always variables. Some of the work is more nuanced and some bolder. I wasn’t interested in a stylistic thread, yet I am hoping for cohesiveness. What I like about the work is that it reveals itself over time. There is an immediate allure on first impression, but in each of the works the artist presents opportunities for extended contemplation. In terms of how it will be received, that will have to be determined.

Unsettled by Erika Mahr

sVA: As curator of this show, how is this show important to you?

KA: I found just as much of a creative satisfaction curating the show as I get from working in the studio. Curating gives me an opportunity to think differently about my own working process and ultimately how my work might be received.

sVA: How does your work as a curator inform your practice as an artist and vice versa?

KA: I am fortunate to be working with a talented and cooperative group of artists. I think this definitely gives me insight into what a curator is looking for from an organizational standpoint. Most of the work presented in the exhibition is different from my studio practice, and I appreciate the variety of creative approaches each artist pursues.

Jason Mitcham

sVA: How important do you think the discourse of contemporary art is?

KA: I think that is what art is about. Art is about asking questions and engaging a dialog. By challenging or investigating conventions contemporary art helps promote an on-going sense of discovery, contemplation, and understanding. I think these are all important things.

sVA: What role does this work play in our community?

KA: I think that the work is accessible, while it is also challenging in its execution, use of material, or exploration of a concept. I hope that people will feel motivated to begin looking more closely or be invigorated to reengage their own studio practice.

Lauren Garber Lake

Material Matters – Art Center Sarasota

November 3 – December 31, 2011
Art Center Sarasota

Art Center Sarasota will present a new exhibition in the galleries titled Material Matters from November 3- December 31, 2011. The opening reception, which is free and open to the public, will be held on November 3 from 5-7pm. Physically, and/or conceptually, material is integral to the creative process of all visual artists. Material Matters celebrates the use of materials from our modern world in the visual arts.

In the galleries: Improbable Fruit: Unfinished Explorations in Pursuit of a Materially Complex Built Environment (Architect Mark Weston’s laser cut wood sculptures); A National Show of Encaustic Work, curated by Elena De La Ville; Material Matters: A Look at Medium and Method, curated by Kim Anderson; and Material World- the all media, juried exhibition.

A National Show of Encaustic work (WOMEN AND WAX) will feature the works of leading artists in the field that are dedicated to the innovation of contemporary art and ideas. The aim of the exhibit is to provide a platform for dialogue and education while increasing the understanding and appreciation for encaustic art in Southwest Florida.

Encaustic is one of the oldest forms of painting where beeswax, resin and pigment are layered and fused to produce a luminous surface that captures and transforms light. These artists melt, layer, scrape, and sculpt, creating their individual visions in wax.

Invited artists: Karen Freeman, Joanne Mattera, Jane Allen Nodine, Nancy Natale, Neverne Covington, Binnie Birstein, Lisa Pressman, Laura Moriarty, Diana González Gondolfi, Catherine Nash, Elena De La Ville

Material Matters: A Look at Medium and Method curated by Kim Anderson
Participating Artists: Lauren Garber-Lake, John Westmark, Malaika Zweig, Erika Mahr, Jason Mitcham

About Art Center Sarasota:
Art Center Sarasota offers creative opportunities that are affordable and accessible to the entire community with approximately 27 exhibitions, 100 classes and educational programs for youth and adults and special events each year. Art Center Sarasota engages the entire artistic community by providing educational programs and exhibitions for the novice to accomplished artists and those who simply enjoy the visual arts. The Center showcases hundreds of emerging and established artists through curated and juried exhibitions throughout each exhibition season. Through an extensive education department, learners at Art Center Sarasota can take advantage of many art classes, workshops and artist demonstrations with nationally known and popular local instructors that appeal to every age and skill level. The education department also offers various programs such as lectures, panel discussions and films. Youth programs and Creative Kids Summer Art Camp nurture young, developing minds. The youth outreach program, Slice of Art, is an interactive experience for students K-12, is funded by grants and donations at no cost to the schools. It has become a valuable tool for arts educators.

Art Center Sarasota
Gallery Hours:
10am – 4pm Tuesday-Saturday
Closed Sunday and Monday

Art Center Sarasota
707 N. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34236
Phone 941-365-2032
Fax 941-366-0585