The School of Visual Arts 2007 (Part 3)


When last we left our hero, he was drawing Cathleen at SVA. Let's skip around a bit and talk about some of the other people at SVA when I was there. I'm continuing in no particular order, although I guess it's sort of geographical based on where their studios were.

Next door to Cathleen and Ling was Kirsten Magnani. Kirsten is a little Italian-Scottish sprite, always chipper, energetic, and chirpy. She was never not glad to see me lumber up and always had a smile. I'll remember Kirsten for her two sets of dimples: One set high upon her cheeks and one set of dimples of Venus that were to die for. Alas, she refused to let me immortalize them in pencil or Conté.

Kirsten Magnani, studio view, SVA 2007

Kirsten working on her really big drawing.

Kirsten started out fooling around with little drawings based on sea creatures. At some point she got a really huge piece of paper and painted a giant version of one of the drawings. Then she fell into pouring arcylic paint out onto wax paper, waiting for it to dry, and then peeling it off. No one, least of all Kirsten, had any idea what she was going to do with this stuff once she made a whole slew of them; in the end she ended up hanging them to make layers of curtains. The result was this sort of undersea pinkness.

Marcos Chin, studio view, SVA 2007

Marcos' studio during the Open Studios.

Marcos Chin, studio view, SVA 2007

Marcos' studio during the Open Studios.

Marcos Chin, studio view, SVA 2007

Marcos' studio during the Open Studios.

Marcos Chin had the studio across from Kirsten's. Marcos is so talented and so attractive I made it my goal to get him to pose for me. I figured it'd balance out all the naked women I'm always painting. But he wouldn't pose for me -- he wouldn't even take off his shirt. I don't understand this; if I looked as good as he does, I'd walk around naked all the time.

Marcos comes from the illustration world, so he's used to other people telling him what to make. Coming in to SVA, where he had to invent things, he decided to follow someone's advice and do what interested him. So he began by drawing men and sausages. He moved on to doing these great drawings of kind of ambiguous renderings of orgy-like penetrations. I loved them; they were so sexy. These mutated into smoky swirlings which were even more ambiguous and alive but less grounded.

He also kept a couple of books of Tom of Finland's work lying around. They're enough to make any man feel inadequate, and I avoided reading these more than a little.

Jonathan and Marcos, SVA 2007

Jonathan and Marcos have a cold one at the Open Studios.

On the other side of Ling from Kirsten was Jonathan Friedlander, who you can see here in the photo with Marcos. I hardly ever saw Jonathan or spoke with him and so can't say much about him.

studio view, SVA 2007

A big tampon rug during the Open Studios.

Across from Jonathan was Pooneh Maghazehe. She spent the entire four weeks cutting tampons out of their applicators, dipping them in paint, and arranging them. I have no idea what prompted this, but the result was very beautiful, since the tampons soaked up the paint quite well. The largest thing she did was place the tampons out into an Islamic-style geometric pattern. I'm sure you could read some kind of obvious theme into this: Islam, Iran, women, tampons, and so on. But I'm not sure Pooneh meant it that way. I'm pretty sure she just had this idea and ran with it. I liked it because of its Crayola intensity.

Pooneh is, by the way, stupefyingly beautiful. Cathleen suggested I ask her to pose for me, but I knew if she actually did, I'd just die. She is also very sharp and very dryly humorous at times. At one point I overheard her and Joshua Harris talking at the sink. She mentioned that she liked one of his works; at the time he was making penises and vulvas out of fabric.

"So you like my penis," Josh said.

"Yes," Pooneh said, without any inflection at all. "I like your penis."

But then, I imagine Josh gets that a lot.

Let me talk about Josh for a bit. He used to be a store dresser for Abercrombie & Fitch and now he's making the switch to fine art. He attends SVA during the school year. He is arrestingly handsome. His face looks like it could have been carved by some boy-loving sculptor of ancient Greece with its full lips, small flaring nostrils, and large eyes. Broad-shouldered and tall, he's a brilliant male specimen. He wouldn't pose for me, either.

Joshua Harris' studio view, 2007

Josh's studio showing his portrait of Cameron, his girlfriend, who is just as good-looking as he is. Makes me sick, really.

Joshua Harris' studio view, 2007

Josh in his studio. Photo courtesy Greg Coates.

Joshua Harris' Thing, 2007

Josh's, um, thing.

Josh is also wildy talented, but like any good student, all he wanted to do was experiment and play. At some point he brought in this fabulous portrait, with this fantastic John Singer Sargent kind of thing happening, and I asked him why he wasn't doing that any more when so many painters would kill to be able to do that. "It's too easy," he said. So instead he spent his time hauling in weird stuff he found in the trash -- orange plastic fencing, pie tins, a hunk of 1930s door frame -- and playing with it. Here's a torso made out of plastic fencing. Here's a few penises and vulvas made out of scraps of cloth, fur, and zippers. Here's a doglike animal made out of crushed pie tins -- along with crushed pie-tin poop. All he did was make wacky stuff the whole time. Those jars you can see in both photos each have something -- mostly cute little stuffed animals -- squeezed inside and then filled with EnviroTex Lite.

Despite his apparent artistic insanity, Josh is one of the nicest people I've ever met. Just a great guy: funny, friendly, open, smart, all those wonderful things really good-looking people can be because no one's ever mean to them. Only Josh was such a good person, I couldn't even be mad at him for that.

Kathryn Nova Williams' studio view, 2007

Kathryn Nova Williams' studio during the Open Studios.

Kathryn Nova Williams' studio view, 2007

Kathryn Nova Williams' studio during the Open Studios.

Back to going in roughly studio order. Next to Pooneh was Kathryn Nova Williams. When my wife came to visit, it was Kathryn's paintings she fell in love with immediately. They were striking and fun. Kathryn wasn't shy with color and she was looking to capture, at least partly, the sense of vibrancy and movement you get from, say, seeing a city at night, or a casino in full swing. Her paintings were masses of swirling neon and flashing lights; Kathryn told me once this was how the world looked to her just before she got migraines. I can understand that -- I don't get migraines, but there are moments I feel so overwhelmed by the vast seething whirl of the city I can't even stand it.

Kathryn also showed me the paintings she'd been working on before SVA. She showed me two incredibly subtle and detailed drapery studies -- bed with pillows in shadow -- in a flawless Old Masters style with a lot of glazing.

Kathryn Nova Williams' studio view, 2007

Kathryn Nova Williams' studio during the Open Studios.

Then, as a companion piece, she built a "chandelier" out of brightly-colored extension cords and wires. It weighed a couple of hundred pounds and when she mentioned she'd spent over four hundred dollars on cords for it (apparently the pretty-colored ones are more expensive) I was amazed. I think she took my amazement for "I can't believe you spent four hundred bucks on that piece of crap!" but it was meant more like "I can't believe you spent four hundred bucks on extension cords! I didn't think that was even possible!" Also "I can't believe you spent four hundred bucks on a single work of art, since I thought paying a hundred and thirty for a panel to paint on was insane!"

Kathryn Nova Williams, 2007

Kathryn in her studio. Actually, that's Stephanie's studio behind her. Photo courtesy Greg Coates.

Chris Rywalt, Kathryn, 2007, oil on illustration board

Kathryn, 2007, oil on illustration board

Kathryn is a very tall, thin woman, with the perfect figure for wearing those elegant, glamorous dress styles I usually only see in the movies. I was so taken by the way she stands -- hip stuck out, back curved in the model slouch -- that after watching her smoke in front of the building during a fire alarm, I went back and painted her. (I'm not sure why I made her blonde.) I gave it to her on our last day.

Stephanie Mora, 2007

Stephanie Mora in her studio. Photo courtesy Greg Coates.

Across from Kathryn was Stephanie Mora. Stephanie is from Venezuela and we had a couple of chats about the weather -- apparently it's not as hot in Venezuela as it is in New York City in the summer despite the fact that the Equator just about runs through the darn place -- but not much beyond that. She made some things with bicycle wheels and maps and shortly before the open studios she went around stenciling "DON'T LOCK YOUR BICYCLE HERE" and "NO CYCLING" on the floors and walls in Spanish.

I didn't mean to ignore her but somehow we didn't talk much. I'm sorry.

Erika Ranee, 2007

Erika Ranee in her studio. Photo courtesy Greg Coates.

Next to Stephanie was Erika Ranee, another artist who I didn't see much and barely spoke to. She pissed me off during the group critique (more on that later, maybe) by suggesting I objectify women. Actually, that wasn't all of it; it was also, not only do I objectify women, she suggested I don't even realize I'm doing it. I don't mind being called a sexist pig -- I probably am -- but I do mind being called ignorant. Anyway, that's not why we weren't friendly -- by then the residency was almost over -- but it didn't make me feel really good. For all I know she walked past my studio on the way to hers whenever she came in and thought "Sexist asshole." That's okay; I didn't think her work was so hot, either. Well, these things happen.

Christin Hutchinson, 2007

Christin Hutchinson in her studio. Photo courtesy Greg Coates.

Across from Erika was Christin Hutchinson. I really like Christin's work. She does these photo-like (but not photorealist) acrylic paintings where the forms are all built up through stippling. She uses stencil brushes to get her effects. Her work even inspired me to try some stippling in my work, at which I failed miserably. I have no idea how she does it. But the effect is a surface which looks like an enlarged photo: It suggests a lot of detail which swims away as soon as you try to focus on it. During her time at SVA she was working on very, very narrow panels such that you could barely tell what was in any one of them; they gave off an air of erotica, or of close-ups of body parts like eyes, but steadfastly refused to get any wider or let you see any more. They were like very narrow keyholes.

Christin Hutchinson's studio, 2007

Christin Hutchinson's studio during the (second) Open Studios.

Those works were intriguing but even better was what I saw when I went back for the second Open Studios: Christin had taken her sliced photo idea another step forward and built an entire panel to look like a shredded photo. It blew me away with its combination of inspired surface -- she even curved the panels out from the wall -- and virtuoso stippling. Absolutely stunning!

Looks like I'm going to have to write a Part 4. Coming soon.


The tampons look like a traditional quilt pattern to me (ohio star) - I'm not getting the Islamic reference - I'm seeing midwestern grandma (gives a whole knew meaning to the term "string quilt").

Muslims have been using star patterns for much longer than Ohio grandmas. Islam forbids graven images (just like Judaism) so Muslim art took off in the direction of geometric tilings. The Persians have a long, long history with tiles, too, both in geometric design and in figurative work.Apparently the tilings were also mathematically advanced.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris Rywalt published on August 13, 2007 3:12 AM.

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