“A wonderful thing about drawing a line is that it can be any number of things. One line is not necessarily any more important or informative than any other line. We might assign a line a representative value, it may become symbolic. Line as an idea drawn, can be a beautiful thing in all of its imperfect representation. – Matt Niebuhr “
I am pleased to announce new work on exhibit showing through the month of September.
Notes concerning an “Information Show”
“In conceptual art, the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all planning and decisions are made beforehand. The execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.” – Sol Le Witt – Paragraphs on Conceptual Art, by Sol Le Witt – Artforum (June, 1967).
This collection of drawings is evidence of my explorations of a question concerning conceptual art that the idea or concept is the fundamental experiential element of a work of art.
Ideas are, strictly speaking, intangible. They exist as a mental construct and have no form. In this sense, ideas do not take up space. Ideas and concepts float only in the space of the imagination or “mind’s eye”.
Ideas can be made tangible in a number of ways. These drawings are examples of an idea for a work of art. When ideas are translated into another medium the intangible is made tangible. The idea is described through execution, a translation from the “minds eye”.
Some of the ideas executed in the exhibit are not my ideas. Some are. To me it makes no difference.
Only when the idea is translated into a physical form can it be shared. Whether an idea is spoken, sung, written, or drawn, it is only in this translation where the idea can be exchanged in some way with another person. The intangible is made tangible. The idea can be apprehended by another person.
Execution of an idea is not a perfunctory affair.
How it is made, why it is made, what it is made of – and then making (process)are essential questions and actions that must be decided upon. Each decision has a profound effect upon the execution and ultimately the form that expresses the idea. Means and methods influence the perception of the idea immensely.
“… while objects may be perishable, ideas need not be…” – Sol Le Witt.
Ideas in art (and life) are potentially useful but have little value until acted upon.
Objects in art are quite useless, but of great potential value.
Your time will be rewarded with some very nice prints from Mark Steinmetz‘, Greater Atlanta. This is Steinmetz third photobook forming a visual trilogy about the area from which the series takes its name. South East, and South Central are two previous books related to the series and were released and printed through Nazraeli. With each copy, the quality is very high as can be expected, at least from everything I’ve ever seen coming from Nazraeli.
Rt. 316, Barrow County, GA, 2005 (Greater Atlanta series)
Gelatin silver print
Having picked up my own (signed) copies of the books back in early 2009 and being able to look at them as a group for a while – it is terrific to finally get to see select prints up on the wall from the Greater Atlanta series. The prints are both stunning and modest – much like what I might project upon the people, landscape, and urban scenery that Steinmetz presents.
I have to say that having the books and being able to see how well the prints are represented in the book as compared to the prints on the wall means that for my limited means, the books are absolutely valuable and worthy representations. I can’t stress enough how terrific it is to be able to look again and again and again through the trilogy to appreciate the photos. Each time something new seems to catch my attention.
Barrow County, GA, 1994 (Greater Atlanta series) Mark Steinmetz Gelatin silver print
In some ways Steinmetz’ Greater Atlanta series – recalls parallels to some work by Robert Adams – sensible, in the moment pictures, that seem to be almost too perfect in composition and with a similar sort of dignity and presence held still within the pictures. These are “candid” shots – it seems mostly that the subjects in the pictures clearly recognize a picture’s being made.
My best at describing what I like about the series (my projection) is this: If, I was trying to describing what my place might look like to an outsider, I’d do well to show them these books about my neck of the woods. But, it strikes me that unless I told them where I was from before hand, the stranger might miss a lot about the locations of the pictures. Something I imagine that I probably am missing as an outsider to the south.There is an interesting passage in “Beauty in Photography” the collection of essays by Robert Adams, published by Aperture. From the essay “Truth and Landscape”, where Adams is describing how making photographs has to be a personal matter, somehow the photographer has to be in the picture…
“…what we hope for from the artist is help in discovering the significance of a place. In this sense we would in most respects choose thirty minutes with Edward Hopper’s painting Sunday Morning to thirty minutes on the street with what was his subject; with Hopper’s vision we see more…there seem to be moments of revelation…there is a sense of comprehension.” – Robert Adams
Adams goes on a bit before this into the three elements landscapes should offer: geography, autobiography and metaphor – the intensity of which these three are present raises the artistic act of what we all “work to keep intact – an affection for life.”
Mark Steinmetz work on the Greater Atlanta series, as a group of photos, presents a lot more than just a picture of the “south” – and for this reason, I keep affectionately returning to the books.
More from Mark Steinmetz – website
West Virginia, by Daniel Shea from the series Removing Mountains 2007
Removing Mountains and Coal River
March 6th through 29th
Opening Reception: Friday, March 6th 7-10pm
Artist Lecture: Saturday, March 7th, 12pm
Newspace Center for Photography
1632 SE 10th Ave. Portland, OR 97214
I’m hopeful to get to see / hear about Daniel’s work – been watching it for some time and to find out it’s coming to Newspace is wonderful news. Get out and see it!
Shea’s images flirt with his stated interpretation in the vein of a social documentary narrative and at first glance for me are simply quite beautiful photographs. It will be fun to see the group of photos in context and in print.
It’s an interesting consideration and challenge to pursue making contemporary pictures with a strong sense and execution of a current contemporary aesthetic to convey a sense of place and people.
Shirtwood Phenomenon; Maine 1963
I’m very excited about the opportunity to participate in the upcoming show “The Altered Landscape” opening up tomorrow night at The New Space Center for Photography. The Altered Landscape is an exhibition culled from over 200 local, national and international entries. Photographers were asked to submit depictions of an “altered landscape”. I’m happy to offer up my own attempt – I’m even more interested to see what others have pictured and explored.
Hill [Pre-Illinoian Glacial influence, East Central Iowa]
Matt Niebuhr – 2006
This old hill, an apparent remnant of glacial action, is located in Eastern Iowa between the boundaries of the Illinoian glacial limit and the Late Wisconsin glacial limit – likely formed during pre-Illinoian time.
The time interval between 310,000 and 128,000 years ago is referred to informally as Illinoian time. The time prior to Illinoian time (more than 310,000 years in age) is referred to informally as pre-Illinoian time. Several pre-Illinoian glaciations occurred during pre-Illinoian time. I grew up in Iowa – much if not quite most of Iowa was at one time or another forever altered by the ebb and flow of glaciers – way before any human touch – but now just how different it has become from that which I experienced some brief 37 years of my life. And so the subtle shapes of the land of my childhood – deeply embedded in my most brief existence and memory – have been and will always be altered landscapes.
Come to the show – see what you see – First Friday opening reception is tomorrow night already – Feb 8th – 7 – 10 pm.
The show runs February 8th through 26th.
Newspace Center for Photography
1632 SE 10th Ave. Portland, OR Monday-Friday 10am-8pm