Monday, January 07, 2013

Steven Cushner Interviewed by George Hemphill

Steven Cushner Interviewed by George Hemphill, December 2012

GH How is it that you came to irregularly shaped paintings, or why did you abandon traditional rectilinear canvases?

SC If I think about how I came to challenge the traditional format of painting, I think there were a number of threads that at some point came together. As a kid, I spent a lot of time in the contemporary collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and three pieces in the collection really got to me. One was a Ben Nicholson geometric relief, one was a small wood construction by Jean Arp, and the third was a Claes Oldenburg soft drum set. I also began to look at the other pop artists, particularly early Tom Wesselman pieces, which combined real objects and collage, along with painted images. At the time, I did my own versions, multiple canvasses creating unusual shapes, three-dimensional objects resting on them, things like that. By the time I got to RISD in 1972, it was accepted truth that painting was dead. Most of our conversation was around the question of what painting could be if it wasn't what painting had been - flat, square or rectangular, a picture of something. Since this kind of painting no longer existed, we didn't learn how to paint, we learned how to think about painting, to think about painting as color, as shape, as object. We also thought it was our responsibility to create a new painting (ego). This was certainly in the air - you had Frank Stella, Elizabeth Murray, the whole Pattern and Decoration thing, and here in DC you had Sam Gilliam, who I had the opportunity to study with in graduate school. I started tentatively - building my own frames, decorating the frames, and framing with fake fur - things like that. At some point, I began cutting up my canvasses, collaging them back together, thinking about the canvas as an object, working from the inside out (not unlike Stella’s early Black paintings). This seemed like a new way to think about painting, not relying on the size and shape as a given, a field to work in.

GH Following the shaped paintings of 1991 to 1993 you returned to the traditional rectilinear stretched canvas. Why? 

SC At a certain point, I realized I wasn't going to redefine painting, I just wanted to be a painter, and I wanted to be a good painter (not an artist, not a revolutionary, just a PAINTER). I also realized that there were many kinds of painting that I hadn't addressed, or had ignored, or was ignorant of, and I needed the space to try them, and I needed the format, the tradition, and history of PAINTING (not art, photography, installation, sculpture, ideas - just the history of painting) to work from, to work against, to bounce off of.

GH Would you ever return to working in an unusual format?

SC I can't really see changing the shape of a painting now. At the time, the decision seemed to be not a choice, but a necessity - there was a need and an urgency to work that way. If I were to make that move now, it feels like it would come from a different place, and a false place - a contrived move, a choice, perhaps for novelty, but novelty is not as compelling as urgency.

If I returned to shaped canvasses I wouldn't paint them the same now, but I would certainly reinvestigate the ideas and motivations that generated them, and I am constantly revisiting these ideas and patterns and gestures and places. I think what is different for me now is that I am no longer thinking too much about the bigger art world and how my paintings deal with, react to, accept or reject it, and I am no longer at all interested in or attempting intentionally to make work that is subversive, aggressive, in your face. Those thoughts came out of youthful, teenage somewhat immature (in a good way) attitudes. My paintings may still be aggressive or not easy at times, but probably as a result of still trying to surprise myself.

GH Do you consider your work to be pure abstraction or is there a subject?

SC I'm not sure what is meant by pure abstraction - these definitions get tricky. I would say these paintings are not non-objective (as we would describe classic Mondrian or most of Frank Stella's paintings: paintings referring to no thing). They are most definitely abstract - abstracted from many things - the gesture the body makes, curves and arcs; repetition (of shape, line and movement, and things I love to do again and again and again, not just in painting but in daily activity); and abstracted from things I see or feel in the natural world (the flow of water, the pattern of waves in the ocean).

GH Walter Hopps once suggested that the most significant American contribution to art may be the various refinements of abstract painting and that there may be an end to American abstraction. Might you be the last abstract painter?

SC I love this question about being the last abstract painter - I remember reading Philip Guston on this. He said Pollock wanted to be the last painter, and that he (Guston) wanted to be the first - I think by this he meant to go back to the beginning and start again, which is pretty much what he did. Probably in 1991, I thought that perhaps I could be the last abstract painter (ego talking), now I am much more interested in the beginning of abstraction - how did we get to it, and am constantly curious about those artists that had to figure it out - Matisse, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Stuart Davis. Clement Greenberg would also probably believe that there could be a last abstract painter (he was in for a surprise). And since I hope and think that my painting keeps developing, I hope there is no LAST anything. 

GH It has been over 20 years since you created the work being exhibited in the Hemphill show in 2013. Twenty years later do you think viewers will see the work differently? 

SC It’s an interesting question. Is it possible to not think of them as from the past, because we know they are of the past (1991 - 1993)? Does this change our response? Maybe if I can answer the questions for myself  - how do I see them? Are they alive for me? Would I do the same paintings now? They are very much alive for me and I react to them the way I react to most of my successful paintings  - did I do that?  I know that a painting is finished when I no longer see it, it no longer bothers me or calls out  " hey, this part isn't right, this area is unresolved." Until the painting is finished, it is constantly tapping you on the shoulder or biting at your ankles, asking to be paid attention to. So, when a painting is finished, it kind of disappears, and when you see it again, it seems surprisingly alive.

GH How has the art world changed in those twenty years? 

SC We all know how the market has changed, and this is not of much interest to me obviously. But artists have also changed. The whole idea of a painting being the result of an activity seems to have vanished, and I don't mean the idea of activity like Sol LeWitt. Maybe it is this idea that defines my generation of painters, or my neighborhood.

GH For you it’s the activity of painting not the painting itself?

SC I am thinking about how this has played out in literature. David Foster Wallace talks about Pynchon and the plotless novel, multiple possible non-endings, non-narrative structure, the reader completing the narrative, a non entertainment (Foster’s term). What followed is novels like The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, a novel about not being able to write a novel based on a marriage plot, or On Beauty by Zadie Smith, about the non resolution and opposing schools of thought about beauty and aesthetics put into an entertainment. I think this is perhaps the kind of painting I am after - one that recognizes that it is about painting but still a painting that has to fulfill all of the functions of painting - entertain the eye, spark the imagination of the viewer, and get into the ring with the entire history of painting.

GH Outside of the art world what has been the strongest influence on your work?

SC I have always said that I am much more influenced by my friends than by the larger art world. It happens that most of my friends are painters, but they are friends first. I have learned from all of them to go to work every day, because you never know what may be a good day in the studio, and you better be there just in case. I have learned to look at, pay attention to, and experience as much as possible. And I have learned to have an open attitude, to not predict or assume, and to take what comes along. Of course, these are great painting lessons, but they work pretty well for everything else too.

© 2012 HEMPHILL Fine Arts

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Just sayin'...

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Artomatic 2013

Artomatic - Email Header
Artomatic l January 2013    FBTWFLYT
By artists, For everyone.
Happy new year! We've got lots planned for you in 2013. Visit us at the Artists' Inaugural Ball on Jan 20th, check out new ways to be involved, and stay tuned for more soon!

White House Party II: 2013 Artist's Inaugural Ball

Artists Inaugural Ball 2013 Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 9:00 PM
Rock & Roll Hotel + Gallery O on H
1353 H Street NE // Washington, DC

Artists & Volunteers

We need artists and volunteers to exhibit work and help run the event! If you're interested, sign up here!

Details & Tickets Here
Ticket Code: THEBALL 

Ticket special: $50 for Artomatic fans!

Artomatic Marketing
We're looking for new volunteers on the Artomatic Marketing Team!
If you're interested in leading the marketing team, or want to help on specific aspects of marketing for Artomatic events, let us know. 

At the Ratner

The Ratner Museum in Bethesda will be showing its new ‘Multiple Visions’ exhibit from Jan. 6 - 28. The museum, located at 10001 Old Georgetown Rd., is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sundays and from noon until 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

The exhibit, curated by Stella Bernstein, features works from D.C. area photographers Danny Conant, William Flanagan, Michael Ian Goulding, Jackie Hoysted, Jean-Louis Monfraix, Joanne Miller, Larry Rood, Roy Sewall, and Andrew Zimmermann. There will be an artists reception from 1:30-3:30 p.m. on Sunday Jan. 13.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Auction loot

Remember the Art2Art Auction late last year, and which was held at Project 4 Gallery (which I once approached a loooooong time ago seeking representation!)?

The auction supported the DC Collaborative’s flagship program, Arts for Every Student, which provides arts experiences for 30,000 DC public school and public charter school students each year to attend Washington’s world-class art and cultural institutions.

Anyway, my donation in now in a happy home...


Thursday, January 03, 2013

Professors of Print

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"Celebration" by Carolyn Pomponio
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Want to see more art in the New Year?  Check out our 2013 Exhibition Schedule and get it on your calendar!

10 WPG artists along with their mentors or mentees at the Brentwood Arts Exchange   through January 26. 
Opening Reception Saturday for:
10th Annual January Invitational: Professors of Print

featuring the work of: John Carr (Mont. College), Georgia Deal (Corcoran), Donald Depuydt (NVCC), Elizabeth Klimek (Corcoran), Kay McCrohan (Mont. College), Dennis O'Neil (Corcoran) and Justin Strom (UMD)

and in the Press Room:
Rilievi by
Maria Sofia Caligiuri
Minimi Rilievi  
Both Exhibitions run January 2-27
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 5, 1-4 pm
Artist Panel Discussion: Saturday, January 12, 2 pm
(Please arrive early for seats)

Show Pics Here! 
Washington Printmakers Gallery
Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, 2nd Floor
8230 Georgia Ave | Silver Spring, MD 20910
301.273.3660 |

Charles Krause Newtown Project

Beginning Jan. 20, 2013, Inauguration Day, CHARLES KRAUSE/ REPORTING FINE ART will exhibit the work of artists who "respond to the gallery's Open Call for paintings, drawings, installations and video art supporting the passage of meaningful gun control laws"

The work submitted for the juried Exhibit will also be made available to groups engaged in public education campaigns favoring gun control legislation. 

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Jan. 10, 2013. Jurors to be selected by The Millennium Arts Salon, Washington, DC. 

EXHIBIT: Jan. 20 to Feb. 18, 2013

Details here.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Don't even...

Don't even try to tell me that they are not all cut from the same cloth: Obama, Boehner, Reid, Pelosi, Biden and all those professional "fooled you once, fool you all the time pros..."

Makes my head hurt....

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

At the fridge...

The Fridge DC


The Fridge Presents
Davis McLane Connelly’s Individuation

Opening Reception Saturday, January 5, 7 – 11pm
Artist Talk Sunday, January 6, 2 - 3pm

On View through January 27

Davis McLane Connelly’s newest drawings of youthful figures in lifelike, yet surrealistic scenarios will be on view starting this Saturday, 7 - 11pm, at The Fridge. Davis will also have an artist talk on Sunday, 2 - 3pm to talk about his techniques as a draftsman as well as the psychological concept individuation, the Jungian term for each person’s path to becoming whole, that drives this series.

Davis draws iconographic stuffed toys, anthropomorphic animals, and figures in various states of physical maturity to engage nostalgic and curious viewers in a dialogue concerning the regret of lost youth and the struggle for personal expression.

Davis says, “I want to make work that is visually accessible, and I believe it’s important for everyone to be able to form their own interpretation of my work. I aim to make my drawings aesthetically pleasing so that they appeal to a wide range of viewers. Beyond the immediate aesthetics, there are references to greater topics. For example, the words on a magazine, the direction in which light is cast, or the arrangement of the composition will hold clues to a deeper meaning."

Read more about Davis' show on The Fridge site

Monday, December 31, 2012

Washington vs The Other Washington

It was bound to happen sooner or later... the iconic Washington DC football team with a storied past would meet the Pacific Northwest's football team from the "other" Washington in a game that means something more than a win during the regular season.

The Redskins is a team with a long history of heroes, Super Bowls and dozens of Hall of Famers. The Seahawks is as close as the NFL comes to having a foreign team in its roster, and whose only Super Bowl appearance resulted in a loss due to the the worst officiated championship game in history.

The Skins stubbornly cling to a name that allegedly offends some people, and it is also one of the most famous and recognizable names in professional sports. As far as Seattle, I don't even know if a Seahawk is a real bird, although someone once told me that it was another name for an Osprey, which is some kind of sea bird that eats fish.

The Skins, even through all of their woes over the last few years, are still the Skins, and you can always count on seeing them on all the highlight reviews. Last night I spent several hours watching football and not once did I see any Seattle highlights in any of the half time, post game or any time of the day shows, after all, who outside of the Pacific Northwest follows that team?

But the one thing that Seattle has always been able to do, in good years and in bad years, is to be able to beat anyone and lose to anyone on any given Sunday. And even in their worst years, most NFL teams would rather play in Beirut, Baghdad or Damascus than in Seattle, and thus the Skins should be grateful that in spite of having a worse record that the Seahawks, they are hosting them at home rather than in Starbucksland.

This will be an interesting game; as in the last few weeks the Seahawks have opened a most impressive can of offensive whoop-ass which is sure to test the Skins' suspicious secondary.

Not only that, but because they might as well play in a foreign country, most football fans (especially DMV Skin fans) are not aware that Seattle is also led by a rookie quarterback, a little guy who may in fact be as good, and in my opinion better, than celebrated other rookie quarterbacks Andrew Luck and (here it comes DMV) RGIII.

The Seahawks' appearances on national TV are counted in dog years, even when they win their division (which in the last few years has been quite often) and thus it is understandable why most people would debate that Russell Wilson is as good as Luck or RGIII - until last week, they hadn't seen Wilson play.

Because he is such a game-changer in a place as visible as the DMV, you can bet the family farm that RGIII will win the Rookie of the Year award. And yet his amazing quarterback ratings and stats are almost exactly the same as Wilson's.

Which is why Wilson will try to outdo RGIII when the two Washingtons meet.

I don't know which team will win; both teams are playing exceptionally well, and both teams deserve to move on.

Go Ospreys Hawks!

2012 ====> 2013

What a great year (for me anyway) this was... easily the best "art" year ever, with the most art sales, including sales to not one but two collectors in the Top 100 Art Collectors List, plus an offer of my first ever museum show, plus my best art fair ever, plus continuing and steady sales of my book (look for a couple more to come out next year)...

But by far the best thing about 2012 was my wonderful family, and it is from all of us that I wish all of you a terrific 2013!

See ya there!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Just saying...

Torpedo Factory Opportunities

Forward to a friend
2013 Visiting Artist Program &
2013 Annual Jury
Artists working
2013 Visiting Artist Program: June - August 2013
  • Call for Applicants opens January 10, 2013
  • Deadline: February 10, 2013
Emerging and experienced artists are encouraged to apply for residencies of one, two, or three months at the Torpedo Factory Art Center (June-August 2013). Visiting Artists are provided with workspace and are able to display and sell original work.

Juror: Maria Karametou

Learn more about the Visiting Artist Program >

2013 Annual Jury for Artist Members: March 18-21, 2013
  • Information Sessions:
    • Sunday, January 20, 2013, 2-3PM in Studio 31
    • Sunday, February 24, 2013, 2-3PM in Studio 31
  • Drop-off Date: Monday, March 18, 2013, 9AM - 6PM
Artists working in fine arts and fine crafts are eligible to apply for the Torpedo Factory Art Center's Annual Jury for new members. Upon selection, the associate artist member is eligible to sublease from resident artists and work toward joining a studio in the future.
Ask questions and learn about the jurying process and its benefits by attending one of two information sessions scheduled for Sunday, January 20 and Sunday, February 24.

Learn more about the Annual Jury Process >

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Drew Storm Graham

(Via) The DC-area knows that Strathmore Hall houses the incredible Baltimore Symphony, but Strathmore is not just for the performing arts anymore - Strathmore features fine visual arts. The organization is in its second season of its Fine AIR program, where the center cultivates local visual arts talent by pairing emerging artists with established professionals in the community in its Fine Artist in Residence (Fine AIR) program and exhibition. Fine AIR residencies last six months, during which time participants expand their craft, build their audience, create a curatorial proposal, solidify their artistic voice and, ultimately, premiere a new body of work commissioned by Strathmore.
"Twisted" Drew Storm Graham
2012-2013 Strathmore class of fine artist-in-residence Drew Storm Graham expands his knowledge of artwork media by working in glass at the Washington Glass School.

Multidisciplinary artist Drew Graham's artwork references imagery steeped in the counter cultures of tattoo and graffiti art. Normally working with airbrushed laminated wood veneers,  under the mentorship of writer and artist F. Lennox Campello, Drew has been exploring new artistic possibilities. 

Drew Graham begins sifting crushed glass powder onto panels of glass for color samples.
Color, texture, patterns, sequence and how depth can be achieved are the goals of the glass workshop.
The culminating Fine Artists in Residence Exhibition  will be on view in the Mansion at Strathmore beginning August 31, 2013.
About Strathmore
Strathmore presents and produces exemplary visual and performing arts programs for diverse audiences; creates dynamic arts education experiences; and nurtures creative ideas and conversations that advance the future of the arts. The hallmark of the arts center is the Music Center at Strathmore, a 1,976-seat concert hall and education complex. The Music Center at Strathmore, located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda, MD, is immediately adjacent to the Grosvenor-Strathmore station on Metro’s Red Line. For more information, call (301) 581-5100 or visit

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Go vote

Trust me... you want to vote; Details here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Go enter something...

than $25,000 in cash prizes will be awarded, and Top Award Winners
will be featured in the December 2013 issue of The Artist's Magazine!
All winners will also appear in a special online gallery. There are 5
categories for you to compete and win. Plus, there's a Special
Student/Beginner Division for new artists. Entry fee. For details and
to enter: Entry Page OR

Prof in Painting beginning 7/1/2013. Artist in painting and
drawing. Salary commens. w/ ed. & exp. Applications incl. cover
letter, CV, state. teaching phil, rep. of prod. & 3 ref. letters in
PDF emailed to Painting Search, Art Department, UCR. Appl review
begins 1/8/2013 until filled. The University of California, Riverside
is an EEO/AA Employer. Details/email for Application: OR

Publications holds Cover and Content Competition with up to $4000 in
awards. Entry fee. Details:

Exhibition: May 1st, 2013 to October 1st, 2013. The exhibition is
located in North America's first and foremost international Peace Park
established in 1921. Peace Arch International Park (border crossing)
is the Western United States' International Gateway between Vancouver,
BC, Canada & Seattle, Washington. Stipend $200. No entry fee. Details:

December 28, 2012 MYSTERY BUILD $15K ART CONTEST $15,000 in cash
awards. Create a work of art using ONLY the materials provided in a
Mystery Build Kit, without knowing what's inside! Submit photos or
videos of what you make to compete for cash. Deadline for entry is
October 20, 2013. The 5 lb. kits are 12" x 9" x 3" and contain a wide
variety of materials. $36 entry fee includes materials kit. Details: OR

January 4, 2013 LACDA "SNAP TO GRID" OPEN CALL Every entry shown! The
Los Angeles Center for Digital Art seeks artists for an un-juried
international exhibit featuring digital art and photography, Jan 10,
2013 - Feb 2, 2013. All entries will be printed (8.5"x11" on
heavyweight paper) and shown in the gallery arranged in a
grid. Entrants submit JPEG files of original work. Exhibit is limited
to space available, early entry is advised. Entry fee. Details:

January 7, 2013 10th INTERNATIONAL CALL TO ARTISTS A total of $3,000
in awards for the 10th annual outdoor art exhibit celebrating
diversity to be displayed during April - May 2013, in Sarasota, FL. 38
artists will be selected for the exhibit. No entry fee. Details:

January 15, 2013 MIDWEST ARTIST RESIDENCY The Anderson Center, one of
the premier artist communities in the Midwest, is current accepting
applications for the May - October 2013 residency period. The
residency includes room, board, studio space for visual artists and
the chance to collaborate with other artists. Application
fee. Details:

Open to any artist over the age of 18 residing in Texas, New Mexico,
Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. More than $8,000 in cash prizes will
be awarded in 4 categories for you to compete and win. Over 80
selected artists exhibit at the Irving Arts Center and online
gallery. Deadline for entry is February 5, 2013. Entry fee. Details: OR

PHOTOGRAPHY Explore these themes through personal, familial, cultural
and/or universal imagery. This gallery and online exhibition is juried
by Regina Anzenberger. $750 in cash prizes offered as well as
sponsored awards. Entry fee. Details: 970-224-1010 OR OR

Special Invitation to Join a Global Community of Over Half a Million
Creators. You are invited to celebrate your creative passion with an
international community of over half a million members on See.Me. To
inaugurate our global launch, we're offering over $125,000 in awards
to inspired creators like you. No entry fee. Details: OR

receive a total of $2,500 in cash awards and winners and juror's
selections will be presented in a group show at the 69 Leonard Gallery
in the SOHO art district in New York City and an online gallery on the
NYC4PA website with the Grand Prize winning image being posted on the
NYC4PA home page. In addition, an exhibition catalog of the group show
will be available and the gallery show will be listed and reviewed in
a NYC Gallery magazine. Entry fee. Details:!winter-2012

EXHIBITION Less is More: Small Works in a Great Space. Accepting
entries in all media. $2,000 CASH AWARDS. Jurors: Joann G. Moser,
Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Jack Rasmussen, Katzen Arts
Center at American University, Washington, D.C. Online sales
gallery. Open to artists living in the USA and Puerto Rico. Entry
fee. Details:

February 28, 2013 CALL FOR ART BIOLOGIC A thematic exhibition based on
art inspired by the biologic and natural world. Entry is limited to
biologic and nature based artwork and is open to all interpretations
of theme as it applies to landscape, fruits, vegetables, flowers and
fauna; and to human figuration as part of the biological world. The
exhibition will be held at the Limner Gallery, May 18 - June 15,
2013. Entry is open to all artists working in any media. National
magazine publication awards. Entry fee. Details/questions: Limner
Gallery, 123 Warren St, Hudson NY 12534 OR OR

Annual International Competition for $26,000 in publication awards in
Volume 20 of Direct Art Magazine, Fall/Winter 2013 issue. Direct Art
has both print and online editions. The print edition has several
distributors, including COMAG Marketing Group, the distributors of Art
News and Art in America. Direct Art can be found in bookstores across
the USA, including Barnes and Noble. The competition is open to all
artists working in any media. The twenty two awards include the covers
of magazine, feature articles and full page displays. Entry
fee. Details/questions: SlowArt Productions, 123 Warren St, Hudson NY
12534 OR OR

can be found at:

EROTIC ART GALLERY SEEKS SUBMISSIONS Guidelines for submissions can be
found at: