Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January Artist's Critique

Parker Sketch organizes these monthly or bimonthly Artist Critiques at Barefoot Spa (801 Virginia Dr.) I was running a bit late. I parked a block away and walked down Virginia Drive away from Mills. Belly dancers were rehearsing in a dance studio. I almost had to stop but I was late, for a very important date. I could see from the street that Barefoot Spa was packed. People were standing in the doorway. Luckily, I had my own artist's stool so I pushed to the front of the room and set my chair up in a corner right next to Parker. Ken Austin was sharing some of his more abstract watercolors and I got busy sketching. I had recently had a chance to meet Ken on a group trip out to the Museum of Arts & Sciences in Daytona Beach and then I bumped into him giving a demonstration a few days later at Crealde.

Paul Martin is the artist seated to the right in the sketch with a baseball cap and flip flops. He went to UCF in the 90's and then went to Miami. The Miami arts scene is thriving but he felt he wasn't making headway. He returned to Orlando where he is combining new medias with old media. He presented a painting of a Chinese flag on Plexiglas. When he traveled in China he took photos of any graffiti he could find. It was rare and hard to find. He scrawled this graffiti onto the Chinese flag painting. He plugged the painting in and three small video screens played footage of the American Flag waving in the wind. Someone in the room wondered if the video screens had been manufactured in China. There was an irony to the piece and an underlying social comentary. Paul pointed out that a client over time might decide that new video might be needed and this painting, like software could be upgraded for a price. China Flag 2.0. Love it. Everyone in the room was mesmerized. Americans can't help but watch a video if it is playing. That in itself says something about our culture.

Matt Charlan is new to Orlando, having come from Boston. He presented a large painting of a smiling baby's face. The face filled the canvas and was offset a bit to the right. Matt talked about how he liked to paint in the dark using just flashlights. For him the act of creation is meant to be a struggle. When he paints, he actually doesn't look at the canvas. He has a video camera set up across the studio and he looks at a laptop computer to see the brush strokes he puts down. In a way he is a voyeur to his own process. He uses the cheapest house paint he can find along with pastels, white spray paint and fixatives. He started painting on uneven surfaces to heighten the effect of catching the video vantage point. While in Boston he painted a portrait of Steven Colbert on a couch. The portrait can only be seen from one vantage point. If you move, the image breaks up. A video was posted on YouTube and it got three million hits. That is huge, like instant viral fame! It gained him instant notoriety in the Boston Arts scene. Yet the couch never sold.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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