The Studio of Eric Valosin

Sunday, June 30, 2013

New Class - Register Now!


Making and Meaning: The Art of Conceptual Mark Making

Saturdays in July from 1-4 (starting this coming saturday) I'll be teaching a 4 part class at The Collective Art Tank in Asbury Park! The class is geared towards artists looking to add conceptual depth to their practice, and experiment with new materials!

Just $15 per class, or $50 for all four! Come bolster your skills and then enjoy a day at the beach!

Session 1- Experimentation: In the first class we will experiment with how materials and mark making can dictate meaning through a hands-on drawing workshop.

Session 2 - The Medium is the Message: In the second class we will learn some of the historical and theoretical precedents for this type of art-making, and understand where we fit into this art-historical trend.

Session 3 - Conceptual Mark Making: The third class will then parlay what we've learned in the first two classes to an intentional application of conceptual mark making in a hands on workshop.

Session 4 - Making and Meaning: Finally, in the fourth class, we will learn how to harness this knowledge for each student's individual interests and practices!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A New Meditation

When in doubt, work very small

I may be temporarily homeless (as far as studio space goes), but that seems to me to be the perfect excuse to work on some smaller scale drawings! Armed with a folding table and a spare corner of my living room, I broke out some pens and began contemplating (in the Eckhartian sense, of course).

As a part of my Meditations series, I had wanted to make a mandala that was itself entirely a QR code for a while now. So that's exactly what I'm doing. I'm continuing to work with the randomizing QR code from Meditation 1.1. As our beloved critic in residence Matthew Nichols suggested, "if you find it to really be the most successful solution at the moment, there's nothing wrong with sticking with it." Perhaps I'm still married to the traditional formats a bit more than I would like - still keeping one hand tentatively on the wall of the pool while I test with my big toe just where the drop off to the deep end starts - but as I proceed on with the series I'm contented by this current challenge. Besides, the deep end is full of other endeavors, like my ongoing Circle or Cosmos on Gray projects.

I enjoy getting sucked in to the detail - to meticulously fitting the nib of the .005 micron pen ever so delicately into the corner of what will be a lavish QR pixel - and I think often of my distant Tibetan colleagues (who probably wouldn't name our relationship as such, even if they did know I exist).

After carefully gridding out the QR code, I began laying out the design, which would borrow from Meditation 1.2's intersecting mandala forms. My aim is to de-center and heteromorphize this code, while maintaining the balance and visual allure of traditional, radially symmetrical mandalas.

As you can see, I'm also merging digital and analogue symbolism and imagery. 


Holding true to the naming system I've developed for this series, this one will be called Meditation 2.1 ([something to be determined]; Omnipresent).  Contrary to conventional software version numbering systems, the numbers are not sequential but rather representational. The numbers correspond with the parenthetical name, which describes the format and function of the piece. 

The "2." in "2.1" refers to the overall format. The first one, "1." was "thusness, elseness," referring to the the Yamantaka or "thusness" mandala form that I then pushed away from the notion of being thusly anything at all concrete (therefore not only "thus," but "else," or "elseness"). So "2" will be the QR code as the meditative image itself. I'm still thinking of the correlating name (the first part of the parenthetical name). The ".1" in 2.1, as it did in 1.1, is the "omnipresent" part of the name, describing the function or destination of the code, in this case choosing a randomized website and therefore sending you to any/all cyber-locations.

Someone recently asked if I use a magnifying glass for the finest detail, or if I prefer just going crazy, but I really feel a lot saner when I'm present in the contemplative moment of a small detail. Maybe it helps supplement the reality of the larger details that I more often focus on, like the fact that I'm working in the corner of my living room...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Post Graduate Stress Disorder

Transitioning out of graduate school is a very strange thing.

There's a sort of re-naturalization process that has to take place, and a good amount of post traumatic stress that needs to be overcome, but mainly I find that the balance of work and family life becomes ever more precarious. Going from essentially 2 or 3 big things that take up 120% of my time to 3,000 smaller things that take up 97% of my time, takes some getting used to. And every time I sit down an enjoy that 3% of unaccounted for time, I kind of feel like I'm cheating death...

But yesterday I received a very affirming email from a member of our church who took her family to go see the thesis show in Chelsea. Here's an excerpt of her email, which gave me that warm fuzzy feeling and reminded me why I do this all in the first place:
We were so intrigued by your piece and now I am reading your thesis monograph, which is -- wow -- slow going for me, but I am so very intrigued. You share your story, your journey, from your particular perspective ... and your experiences connecting with Hegel and Heidigger, and your conversation with Caputo (wow - that is so remarkable -- this is all so new to me) are "unhinging" me -- if I may say so! [shameless monograph plug]
 ... Actually, we found all of [the art] socially profound, with messages from the artists who all are alerting us to what is before us. We felt sad, scared, horrified (you know which ones did that to us!) and yet lifted up by the awareness and creativity of each artist. ... Kudos to you all and to your faculty, and for helping us peel back the scales in our eyes, unhinging us from that which hinders us, and for shedding light on the paths ahead. You are one very remarkable group!
And this coming from a woman who happens to be the wife of a retired pastor, no less. How many sermons she must have heard, how many theological conversations she must have had; I'm humbled and honored to hear her speak of being "unhinged" by my work, quoting from John D. Caputo. If I can offer people this sort of experience with my art - unhinging them to think deeply, feel deeply, and see afresh their relationship to their God and their world - then my work is not in vain, regardless of how many pieces I sell, or how many collections I get into.

But today the thesis show at Magnan Metz came down, and I've been feeling struck by the reality of life after the MFA. Time to take off the training brushes and put on my big artist pants, I suppose.

I believe I'm officially now homeless, artistically speaking, so that's a start I guess. I've moved out of my MSU studio, and have filled every nook of my house with art supplies as I await my next studio space, which will hopefully soon come from one of the 3,000 things I'm filling my time with:

I'm now serving as the Coordinator of Fine Art Initiatives for a non-profit called Gravity, catalyzing community revitalization through the arts. We're working in Dunellen, NJ right now, and looking to acquire a warehouse space in the near future. Until then however, my sunroom will be uninhabitable and smell faintly of old Gesso.

Next week I'll be showing a few drawings at an event Gravity is sponsoring, and we'll be gearing up for a big street fair in September, plus some potential involvement with Newark's Open Doors festival, and all kinds of other great initiatives that I'll have to go into in another post, so keep your eyes peeled...

I'll also be teaching down in Asbury Park at The Collective Art Tank. Well, I would have been teaching there this Saturday, in fact, however enrollment was low and the class had to be cancelled. Come on people, sign up and learn some art!

[Shameless Plug - Saturdays in July]

And of course, a substantial part of my 97% is my family (which is good, because if the MFA were a 3 year program I'm fairly certain I would no longer have a family). Yesterday was my son's 1st birthday, so naturally we let him get extremely messy with a cupcake, and even messier with some paints! Here's a glimpse of his first ever painting!

I'm proud to say he even used a brush (in addition to his hands and eventually feet). Coming by his artistic inclinations honestly, he painted for a bit before turning the brush handle-down and scraping the paint away in a fury of subtractive mark making!

And next it's my turn. With the studio move, a bunch of logistical and PR type distractions, and events associated with the 3 shows I've been in (two of which are still up at the Morris Arts Council and the Arts Guild NJ), I really feel the hankering to get back into the studio. I've got to order more vellum and get back into the ritual - there are more circle drawings calling my name, and I've got a hankering for another complex QR mandala drawing, not to mention a couple projection projects up my sleeve... I guess all the networking and writing and self-promotion is a good and necessary interruption, but an artist can only go so long without making stuff before he starts to feel a bit depressed. I'll have to take another gander at that email, flip on some Radiohead and break out the old folding studio table, and once again life will be good!

...Now if only I could get to it in that sunroom...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Art Around the Park

Quick announcement:

Tonight, from 5-8, Morristown, NJ is hosting Art Around the Park. I will be at the Morris Arts Council (14 maple ave) speaking about my work, which is currently on view in the Rites of Spring show. Come on by for food, drinks, and most importantly (at least I think most importantly) art!

Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Some Press and a Great Thesis Opening

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Hot off the presses, here's an article published about my work for the Fresh Meat show at the Arts Guild NJ in the Home New Tribune, Courier News, and Asbury Park Press, written by Ralph J. Bellatoni! Check it out:

"The Art of Subtraction"

And of course, thank you for a fantastic opening for This Show Means Right Now

After a very rigorous and treacherous week of installing, the MFA thesis show came together very nicely and got kicked off to a great start with a fantastic opening! The place was packed, spilling out onto the street! Thanks to all of you who came to support our work!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

This Show Means Tomorrow Night

Twas the night before Thesis and all through the house, not an artist was stirring (paints), not even for a house (...because I used Behr house paints... ahem... ok, nevermind)

Tomorrow is the opening of This Show Means Right Now, our MFA thesis show at Magnan Metz. After day 1 of install's series of unforseen adjustments, I was prepared for a difficult day 2. I was not left wanting.

in the window, E. Dannielle Slaughter's Fishoil performance installation, a slew of MFA recipients with pizza in their bellies, Jamie Levine's "babies," and Jay Roth's post-apocalyptic sculpture.

it started innocently enough, painting the projection after having taped it off on the wall

all painted, with the masking tape still on. projected color blocking out the painting

removing the tape
voila! Easy enough, right?...

...Well... that's where things got complicated. The lighting in the room ended up being just too bright. In calibrating the projected color so that it negates out into gray, the lightest I could make the darkest color was always still darker than I could make the lightest color. It was just way out of whack, and would not come close. So bad I couldn't even bear to take pictures of it. The lighting was the problem, so I first tried taking out the fluorescents in the back room, leaving only the spots.
 We brainstormed every possible solution, even down to sending me out to build an 11 foot wall to partition that back room and cut out the light from the fluorescents (not another Home Depot run!). With little more than 24 hours to go and still a project to complete even after any walls are to be built, I was starting to worry I would have nothing to show (at least nothing I could be proud of).

At long last it came to light (pun intended) that really the only one who had a strange, unyielding affinity for the fluorescent lights that were causing all the trouble was Andrew, our director. The rest of us, including the gallery staff, unanimously preferred only the spots. And that would pretty much be the only way to save my work. Thankfully our curator, critic in residence Matthew Nichols, talked some sense into him and the lighting all came together. Next I just had to build yet another pedestal compartment to house all the wires. Time to go home, gather more supplies and anxiously await the next day


I arrived early to build the pedestal. Last day of install, and I'd began calibrating the projection and cleaning up the space big time.

Meanwhile, my MFA cohorts were quite busy as well

Dana Hemes drilling into the floor for Marta Kepka's saline drip installation
John Vigg's drone photography

Kevin McCaffrey and Jamie Levine (and the remnants of the show prior) 
With everything in place, it should have been a piece of cake. And yet, when calibrating the projection, this is as close to grayed out as I was able to get. Acceptable in a pinch, but nowhere near what I had hoped for and have been able to accomplish in the past.

 Finally, at my wits end, I found the solution to my projection problems. Solely, I think, a result of the prayers of my wife who was receiving my frantic and pessimistic text messages for the past 2 days. Turns out I was using the wrong color setting on the projection all along. "Dynamic", though brighter, did not provide the proper color range. I should have known better, since in all my previous installations I always set it to "sRGB." Sure enough, once I did that and reworked the calibration, it all started falling into place!

Like in other projection negation installations I've done, the lighting fluctuates throughout the day, and it is calibrated to a certain privileged lighting condition (somewhere between 4 and 5 pm on a mostly sunny day in early summer, in this case) in which it most thoroughly grays out. Privileged viewing time = virtually invisible work.

And so...
I'll be sending up some similar prayers tonight for Marta's leaky mister (as in that which mists... it's not a euphemism, I swear!) and then it looks like we've got a show on our hands! (knock on wood)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Day 1 of Thesis Install

Installation has begun for the MFA thesis show at Magnan Metz! It's already been full of surprises and adjustements, but I suppose a gray hair or two is a fine price to pay for fine art (I'm more and more convinced with every installation that MFA stands for Master of Fixing Accidents, or something along those lines). I'm very excited with the way things are turning out though, despite the bumps in the road...

10:30 am - arrive to fresh white walls, just waiting to be covered!

and almost-white pedestals...

...nothing some gallery paint can't fix! Did I mention the scenic view of the previous show's work which has not yet been removed (actually quite interesting work), and can't be moved because the person who was supposed to come never made it in? In all fairness, it was technically a day off for the gallery, and they were exceedingly helpful and generous in facilitating our installation as much as they did. Honestly we couldn't ask for a more accommodating and flexible gallery staff to work with. Which is a good thing, because boy did we have our work cut out for us...

I practically packed my entire studio into a piece of luggage. Sort of the artistic version of a clown car (stepping out in oversized red shoes you would see 5 cans of paint, mixers, a hammer, T square, extension cords, exactos, a digital projector, 2 computers and their assorted cords, a roll of paper towels, 3 rolls of tape, a drop cloth, extra bags...).

The gallery was also generous enough to provide a projector and HDMI device for me to use.

Well it seems all the gallery paint must not have made it onto the pedestals and walls because they used it all to paint over all the electrical outlets...

...1 hour and 10 minutes of prying, chipping, and torquing later, I finally got the plug cap off. No joke. Nearly noon and I can now plug in a projector. By this time most everyone else arrives to start working too. 
Gallerist: "how's it coming?" Me: "Well we've managed to make a big mess! ...Now we just have to do something with it..."
An increasingly big mess. They were very kind in letting us do very bizarre things to their gallery, like drilling a hole through the floor to drip salt water through apparatus from the ceiling (Marta Kepka)...
...or lining a wall with sheet metal for magnetic panels to be adhered (Aneta Wegrzyn with the help of Graham Preston), or hanging 300 lbs of knottled clothing from the ceiling (Flavia Berindoague)...

...or controlling all the lighting in the gallery in order to make a wall painting disappear! (Yours truly).

This projection negation piece started with the idea of a deconstructed religious triptych. Historically the triptychs provided a reveal, a sort of epiphanic moment, when the panels are opened. This vaulted stain glass/triptych like image exists in a state of partial reveal, with only on half of what would be the triptych opened. The imagery is then deconstructed, fragmented, and reoriented. Further, the patron of a triptych would have found himself inside of it, painted into the narrative. In mine, the viewer now finds himself by his shadow, which reveals the image itself. No longer is that personal moment limited to a specific individual, either.

And yes, that is a different projector, very perceptive of you! Turned out the gallery projector did not throw the image wide enough (without moving the pedestal all the back into Jamie Levine's creepily realistic hybrid sculpture's living room), creating too small a final result. My projector would work fine, but the problem was that my projector, though capable of exactly what I needed, does not have the proper inputs to work with a thumb drive or their HDMI device.

 Plan B: to use my projector with a different cable connecting it to the HDMI device. Off to RadioShack to buy an A/V cable (6ft is really their shortest one?!) ... that turned out to degrade the image quality severely. After much deliberation, I decide to go with plan C: my projector and my old PC, which would be hidden in a slot in the pedestal.

...now if only the pedestal had a slot... 

Back off to Home Depot to buy wood to build a shelf for the top of the pedestal. And apparently they can't cut lumber in Manhattan, contrary to what I expected, but they will let you rent a jigsaw and carry the 40lb piece of 4ft long MDF through the city to cut it yourself inside the gallery. A few cuts, coats of paint, wood glue, and a shop-vac later, and we're back in business!

 6:00 pm now, and I can finally start projecting the image to be painted (what I expected to start at 11 am)

When all was said and done, I did manage to get the image to project the right size, at the right quality, and get the whole image taped off to be painted tomorrow morning.

And here we are, with tomorrow morning technically having already arrived! Next, to paint and start wrestling with the ambient light. Looking forward to it, believe it or not! I have to say, I'm suppressing a great deal of jealousy towards Kevin McCaffrey, who completely finished installing his fantastic drawings by noon...

Who am I kidding, I would probably just end up finding a reason why they needed a hanging system that would take me the rest of the 3 days to install.