Cryptical Envelopment

The Estlunds’ “Out of Nowhere” is an invitation to embrace the unknown

["Surfacing," by Shannon Estlund; mixed media; dimensions unknown.]

[“Surfacing,” a Shannon Estlund piece to be featured in “Out of Nowhere”; oil and enamel on panel; dimensions unknown.]

While CoRK Arts District is best known as being the home base to sixty artist studios, the complex has also introduced an engaging Artist-in-Residency program. In February of this year, New York-based multimedia artist Rachel Rossin was the flagship visiting artist-resident at CoRK. Rossin’s spiritually-inspired piece “Holy See,” was an installation that combined 2,500 hollow eggs and curtains of holographic light into a fully immersive experience. The following month, Brooklyn, NY-based artist Casey James was invited to stay and work at CoRK; the North Gallery was then home to his multimedia show, “Nawth Ta South.”

“The reason for the Artist-in-Residency program was to bring in new and different perspectives from other artists and art communities around the country,” explains sculptor and CoRK main man Dolf James. The CoRK AIR program offers a modest stipend for travel and materials, a private studio for the visiting artists, and then culminates with an exhibit of their work in one of CoRK’s available galleries. “We wanted to see what they were doing, thinking and experiencing, and for them to do the same with us. Building these relationships extends the reach of our community and helps keep a fresh flow of ideas moving.” James is quick to cite Aaron Levi Garvey as the chief curator of CoRK’s AIR program. “There is absolutely no question this program would not be happening if it were not for Aaron.” James explains that Garvey is essentially the one that attracts, communicates with, plans, promotes and ultimately takes care of all the details for the resident-artist coming to CoRK. “The idea behind having the artists come to Jacksonville is to give them a studio/exhibition experience out of their usual experience,” says Garvey.

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Adhesive Forces

The subconscious and grotesque stick together in the art of Russell Maycumber

Russell Maycumber's "kclub," ink on Post-it Note; year unknown.

(Russell Maycumber’s “kclub,” ink on Post-it Note; year unknown.)

Since the early nineties, Russell Maycumber has been documenting his life, travels and interior reality onto three inch, yellow squares. Introduced by the 3M Company in 1980, the Post-it Note is a small square of paper with an adhesive backing – initially introduced as an office-friendly product that could be used to jot down reminders, appointments and upcoming tasks, and then applied to any available flat surface. Yet Maycumber uses these ubiquitous pieces of sticky stationary to create images that explore memoir, humor and the phantasmagoric, creating them systematically, if not compulsively; a kind of hypergraphia barely contained in magic marker and yellow paper. The 44-year-old Maycumber admits to owning “volumes” filled with these images that date back to the early nineties. But rather than having them tucked away on some shelf in his house, the St. Augustine-based artist creates massive installations and sculptures that can contain hundreds upon hundreds of these carefully arranged Post-it Note drawings. Viewed in mass, the small squares can have an overwhelming effect: these images of chimerical creatures, people captured in mundane activities, classic automobiles, flying skulls, sexuality and playful demons seem to exist in a weird realm that splits the difference between the subliminal and the obvious. Some images feature cryptic text, while others offer little help in deciphering the odd, miniature graphic. Maycumber’s work seems to find company in the fever dream-styled imagery of artists like Francisco Goya, Edward Gorey, Max Ernst (especially the surrealist’s pioneering, 1934 collage work “Une Semaine de Bonté ,” translated as “A Week of Kindness”) or even underground comic raunch lord S. Clay Wilson. Yet Maycumber’s concepts and delivery are wholly his own, blasting these images at the viewer in the form of a mob of hundreds of pieces of visual shrapnel, aimed for the bull’s-eye of the viewer’s retina and mind.

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Class Action

Jacksonville University now offers MFA in Visual Arts program

 Northeast Florida’s current spate of artistic activity is surely due in no small part to the art and design programs offered at local colleges and universities. The Art Institute, Flagler College, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida all offer programs geared towards students seeking an education and guidance in creative careers in a variety of disciplines and media. These same schools certainly benefit by featuring faculty members and instructors that are as serious about their respective artistic disciplines as they are in sharing their experience and wisdom with their students.

Jacksonville University (JU) is now stepping up their game with the implementation of a Masters of Fine Arts in Visual Arts degree, the first of its kind ever offered by a local college. Continue reading

Graphic Language

Donny Miller creates provocative text-fueled imagery for the 21st century

InTheAge

Donny Miller has a message for you. In fact, for the past two decades the L.A.-based artist has been creating thought-provoking images that combine clip art, self-branding and even pictures of the cosmos with messages that run the gamut from sardonic observations, to social commentary and even encouraging affirmations. In one Miller piece, a still life image of wine, cheese and fruit acknowledges, The hardest thing to do in art is something original. In another, a man and woman reveling in a cloud of confetti and party balloons are sprawled into over-sized champagne glasses, crowned with the header, Enjoy ignorance. A dark-haired woman adjusts her hair, seemingly deep in thought: I’m making new memories because I don’t like the old ones.   Continue reading

Pressing Through

Three artists champion the power of expression with Hero or Non-Hero?

Expression Necessary to Revolution

“Expression Necessary to Evolution”

Hardship, grief and loss are universal experiences; inevitable moments of being that can be as heartbreaking and painful as they are life-altering and even transformative. Yet like their positive counterparts, such as joy, love and success, these times of change can redefine us and even make us stronger. Perhaps the people we consider heroic are in a sense those who can accept these unavoidable highs and lows of life with equanimity, practicing an almost uncanny acceptance of both the shadows and light that color our existence. These same heroes become an example to others and their epitaphs are ultimately inscribed on the lives that they touch.

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Holy Lotus Breakdown

Tom Catton, "Dharma Opening of the Heart," and Bea Austin. August 2009; meditation retreat in Estes Park, Colorado.

Tom Catton, “Dharma Opening of the Heart,” and Bea Austin. August 2009; meditation retreat in Estes Park, Colorado.

In 1986, I was a confused 14 year old boy, fucked up like a soup sandwich. Two events merged into one in my then trembling field of being. Through a mediocre Jim Morrison biography I had discovered the Beat Consciousness – Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, etc… They were part and parcel of my simultaneous awakening and corruption. They in turn introduced me to Buddhism (and the romanticizing of drugs). I spent many teen nights trying to decipher the Tibetan Book of the Dead (the only book I ever stole – catch that Karmic irony!) and the Diamond Sutra with burning pot smoke curling up into my eye. The Beats took Buddha off of the takeout menu and centered him into my psyche. Kerouac made Christ sound like the original beat, assuring me that “Walking on water wasn’t built in a day.” Buddha spoke of suffering, but as a young teen I simply took this as this: “all life is shit.” Fair enough. At one point I even had the grandiose plan of one day going to the Naropa School in Boulder, CO., to study at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, whatever the hell that was. I went as far as to order the Course Catalog, excitedly showing my Dad as he nodded and tried to look interested as the UK Wildcats played on the TV.

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A Hateful Child on a Night Watch Spree

1987; aged 15.

1987; aged 15. At one point, I was prescribed so much Lithium that I referred to myself as the “Human Salt-Lick.”

(This is an edited memoir excerpt that I had originally posted as a note some time ago on FB and had also been previously posted on a website devoted to spirituality and recovery. I wrote this four and half years ago in an attempt to summon my precise mindset during my 14th and 15th years, after being diagnosed with having Bipolar Disorder. At that time in my life, I was prone to these nightly walks that were as senseless as they were somehow mandatory. Looking back, I think I was simply in a manic state and maybe that constant motion helped me keep one step ahead of the pain I could never seem to elude. If the writing or sentiment seems like that of an adolescent, then I have succeeded, for that is the very voice I was trying to both resurrect and reconcile in this piece.)

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