Archives for category: Art

IMG_8613.jpgWhen I lived in Philadelphia, I lived in a five story walk-up. Red carpeted, very nice, cheap apartment. That last floor to my apartment was steep. Killer actually. I knew some wall writers. Some graffiti artists. They were very young, bad ass kids. I thought it would be a great idea if they painted my bathroom with their tags. I bought pizza and soda and some cans of silver, neon oranges, pinks and greens and gold spray paint. I think they brought their own markers. I taped the tile with newspapers so all they would be marking were the walls above the tile. Graffiti as an art form was not well known then.

In fact I found out recently, that Philadelphia started it all, with a kid who tagged with the name, “Cornbread.”  He wanted his girlfriend at the time to remember him; He wrote “Cornbread” with a crown over the letters all along her bus route. It even shows up in the video of Bruce Springsteen singing the soundtrack for the movie, “Philadelphia.” Springsteen walks right by a “Cornbread” tag.

Enjoy this picture of Greg Davis. Also known as “T-Bone.” His writing as well as “Meanstreak’s” and “Eyeski’s” can still be seen from all the trains and buses in the Philadelphia area.

Oh, when I found these black and white photos, the “kids” went crazy with excitement.  That night, I took the photographs with my single lens reflex 35 mm camera, which happened to have black and white film in it, 400 ASA.

It’s kind of like a happy ending to the story of Peter Pan. The kids are all grown up now. The work of Keith Haring, Basquiat and Cy Twombly has sold for millions. The wall-writing technique in their paintings are in museums and auction houses today. But these three young graffiti artists, although now far away from the artistic agility required to be an effective sneaky wall writer, still consider themselves Bad Asses.

IMG_7930In my room. Senior year at Moore College of Art and Design. Having my best friend and her husband over for dinner. The dinner I cooked in my room at twenty years of age. My best dinner was: canned green beans, noodles, ground beef and canned stewed tomatoes all mixed together. Fruit salad. Accompanied by a drink of homemade kaluah and ice cream, which was called a Polar Bear because of the color white the drink turned when I added ice-cream to the already vodka soaked liqueur. I was certain this dinner was a winner. Also my everyday ( even for special occasions ) outfit was Army Navy bells with an Army Navy turtleneck sweater. That was it. In my youth, what I didn’t know was vast. I wish I were that naive and at the same time, so certain of things as I was then.

As art students, we carried our cameras everywhere. But we only took B and W’s which we would develop and print later. If there was dust on the enlarger ( as is in this print ), we would hit it with the correct shade of spot tone. ( I had no patience with that. ) There are no photos of my best friend and her husband at this dinner. However she insisted that her late husband’s FAVORITE dinner was that canned green bean concoction.

Sadly, my best friend and I lost touch. I don’t make kaluah anymore. And I don’t do that electric fry pan green bean thing anymore either. I have grown more food-sophisticated, more clothing aware, but I have to say, nothing in the world can come close to the bursting enthusiasm of being twenty and the ever-expanding years of possibility and adventure ahead. The Army Navy sweater and pants combo, not bad either. That, I would wear today.

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“Dressed Right for a Beach Fight,” 2015, 39” x 29” (framed with a mat), charcoal and pencil on paper. The drawing will be in a group show at Ceres Gallery, 547 W. 27th Street, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001, June 20th-July 15th. The reception is June 22nd, 6-8 PM. The name of the group exhibition is “My Favorite Things.”

Originally, I did this drawing for a solo show. My work for the solo show was related to clothes and how much I crave them, remembering events in my life by what I was wearing at the time. Since, I have decided not to do an exhibition based on clothing.

Therefore when the Ceres group show came up, I wanted this drawing to be in the show because I still catalogue my memories in this way and it goes very well with the theme. The title of the drawing is strange, but if it confuses you or seems to evoke questions or need explanation, just think of it as “Drawing Number One.”

fullsizeoutput_2868 This is the finished “mixed media” painting-number 10 of my series of crosses. When I showed the series in New York last year, “The Cross Series”, I only showed nine. Actually nine was the perfect number for the gallery. I did this one this year. I think this painting reflects the political climate of the time. It is definitely more frenetic and complicated. It took longer to resolve.

There is a lot of work for me to do. I am planning on doing four smaller paintings, each assigned to a different venue. The deadline for these is in about six weeks. Sometimes, my best work is work done very quickly. Less overworked, less second guessed, more spontaneous. Hope I don’t have the same struggles with these as I did with the above work.

The good news, is, the freeway in Atlanta is fixed! Or will be by next Monday, therefore I will be going back into town more often to work. No more clogged surface roads, clogged sinuses due to bad ventilation in the basement. Everyone was using the backroads causing sinkholes. More blocked traffic. The world, at least locally will return to the way things were.

IMG_7528.jpgAbove is what is called “a Work In Progress.” I thought it was far enough along to show. (What you can see of it, anyway.)

My daughter took this photograph while she was doing a video of me working on the painting. The camera went off and bam, not prepared, I have this to post.

It is the tenth Cross Painting, adding to the nine painting series shown in New York about a year ago. I thought I would even the series out to ten, as I am currently applying to a variety of venues for which I’ll keep the series in tact.

As you might know, a few weeks ago, Atlanta had a fire underneath a major intersection of freeway. The fire burned through the steel support beams melting the pavement, destroying the highway, preventing any traffic to cross over. The estimated amount of vehicles passing daily through this particular span of freeway is 450,000. Also worth noting, is the fact that this span of road is necessary for most commuters to get to and from work everyday. And this has caused commuter time to triple due to everyone taking surface streets to circumvent the accident site.

Virtually, Atlanta is crippled.

Therefore, for now, I am working at home. Not that I stay exclusively out here. I do brave the ungodly slowed-down traffic to do some work in my “real” studio at least once or twice a week. But, in this little home studio in the basement, it’s fine for the majority of work that needs getting done immediately. There is a minimum of clutter around. Just my tackle box full of paints, some favorite artist reference books I consider important to this project, an extra glass pallet and brushes, all of which I toted from my studio on the other side of the forbidden stretch of road.

I enjoy working at home, but I do believe I am better off if I physically separate work from home. Painting is such an immersive thing, both mentally and physically. I get Turpenoid all over my hands so that they tingle at night, even after washing them a million times. And I feel so dirty. Of course I work longer hours, being at home. But the time spent working, could be the time spent decompressing, as my drive home does for me. A nice ride to make my brain come to attention and get the darn Neil Young songs out of my head.

Let’s hope the road is fixed soon. And I can enjoy my spacious studio time on a steady basis again. But for now, I am lucky to have such a small, perfect space at home where I can keep moving on my work. Get it? Keep Moving?

My husband and I have gained some weight recently, and in spite our daughter’s pleas, ”Accept that you’re fat. Don’t buy a new scale,” we bought a new scale. A digital one to replace the one with the numbers on it. The old scale had this red needle that waved back and forth with uncertainty. We both felt confident we would know our true weight with the new scale. And surely it would tell us that losing weight would be easy.

It is a Weight Watchers scale. Well, having had a career in marketing before getting into the “art world,” there had to be some sort of catch. You know, “fish while the fish are biting.” Make people sign up when they know they’re getting fat.

Doug got on first. He had no idea he was that heavy. My weight, too, was way more than the old scale told me it was. Okay, we accepted it. Didn’t join Weight Watchers, but tried not to eat the fries.

The next day, Doug came down the stairs, exclaiming he had lost ten pounds! Oh, I guess Weight Watchers figured we would join after the first weigh-in. Then it would throw us a bone of encouragement the next day-hey this weight loss thing is a piece of cake! (so to speak)

My weight continued to drop one pound a day. Even though, on a routine trip to the doctor, the scale had me demoralized again. One day, our new digital scale read me the original first day weight again, and I yelled at it, saying, “What??? I thought I was losing weight?” And then, when I got on again, the scale read the lesser weight it had registered the day before.

Artificial intelligence is making its way into our lives. We are all nervous about it. We fear the power that computers may have over us. But none of us figured on it being easily conned. Like when I yelled at the scale, it was easily bullied. How about that?

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A friend of mine on Instagram recently asked me about my art rituals. The things I do to get into the frame of mind to work. I decided to write a blog post about it, since it couldn’t easily be put into a list. And being obsessive compulsive, I had to get it right.

Working at a studio 45 minutes from my home (although I have a second studio in my basement- another story-another set of rituals) I live in a culturally different place from the tattoo/piercing and cannabis servicing places – the little section of town where my “in town” studio is located. This space is in an old school house, built in the very early 1900s. I have an entire classroom to myself. I have painted the floors white to match the walls.

To get to my studio, I switch my thinking over to work. I take the backroads, never the freeway. When I get there, I open the door, take the dehumidifier down the hall to empty it, since I have no running water, turn off the fume eliminator, and take my jewelry off. I place rings around my watchband, fasten it and put bracelets in a formica tan/brown patchwork salad bowl on my long table. This is the table where I sit to contemplate the work I am doing at the time. The work is always about 15 feet in front of the table, on an easel. There is a row of waist high big tables beside the easel, upon which I put the paints, glass palette for working in oil paint, many containers of acrylic paints, assorted meat trays and yogurt containers for mixing the acrylic paints with plastic spoons. There are mediums and brushes and a huge plastic bucket for water, which I keep on the floor. I have to go down the hall to fill this, if I am working in water based paints that day. I always stand to paint. I never use a stool or table.

I believe that I am a channel for the work I do. I believe it does not come from me, but from something outside myself. Therefore, to achieve entry into this parallel universe, I put on some music made by someone who also believes a “zone” has to be reached in order to do good work. The music has to be loud.

Then I start mixing. I start painting. Moving back and forth to and away from the canvas. Pausing, usually, only for a lunch I have made and placed in the refrigerator next to the microwave. Always with a Diet Coke. Sometimes I will sit at the long table and spend time looking. Sometimes I can look for an hour. Sometimes, I get up suddenly and paint a piece of paper and place it temporarily over an area in the painting, before I commit to painting that color on the canvas. Most of the time, I glue the magazine pieces on the canvas as if they are paint, sometimes painting over them, sometimes leaving them alone. Squeegy-ing the glue out from under the magazine paper with a small triangle. And wiping the remainder off with a baby wipe.

After cleaning up, (down the hall), I turn out the lights and start the long drive home. I usually am very tired, and for a while, there was a specific intersection in Atlanta where I routinely had an anxiety attack. For many years, I avoided this intersection by going miles out of my way. Or stopping to ground myself in some store for re-entry into the “real” world. Now that intersection has no power over me. I think, though, it should have a sign that says, “End of Right Brain Thinking…You Are Now Entering The Suburbs. Be Sure To Get Yourself Together. NOW.”

Copyright 2017 Hollis Hildebrand-Mills All Rights Reserved

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Last Friday, I began a collaboration with Grady Haugerud, doing “mixed media” artwork on canvas. Atlanta’s influential, prominent artist, after living and working in New York for a few years, Grady works on his art in Panama now. When he lived in Atlanta, he and I travelled in the same art circles. We knew the same people, artist retreats, galleries and stories. At one time, he collaborated with another painter friend of mine and the results were amazing.

I had never met Grady Haugerud. After he moved to Panama, I gradually got to know him on social media, mainly on Facebook. We would post photos of our paintings and he liked my work; I liked his. We obviously shared the same aesthetic. As well as heritage. He’s half Norwegian and I am close to half.

Anyway, back to last Friday. We met each other for the first time. And for a few days, we worked on the above painting together. It is called “Multiple Gorillas,” oil, acrylic, collage, charcoal, China marker, graphite, pastel and sharpie on canvas, 36” x 48”, 2016.

All Rights Reserved,   Hollis Hildebrand-Mills/Grady Haugerud,  Copyright 2016  

IMG_6693.JPGOff and and running with my new painting series! It’s a series about memories of my clothes. I remember events in my life and the clothes I was wearing at the time. Doesn’t have to be a special occasion. It’s just a little filing system I have going on. Mention a time we were together or a place I visited and I know exactly what I was wearing.

I have finished the first painting. I was humbled and honored when, once again, Jerry Saltz, Senior Art Critic for New York Magazine “liked” the painting on Instagram. I was thrilled! He has 160K followers! How could it be possible he really liked my painting? I continue to marvel at that thought.

Above is the first painting. It is 26″ x 36″. Acrylic, oil, paper, sharpie and charcoal on canvas.

A dear blogger friend of mine believes that every work of art needs to have a title. She is not the only one. A lot of people believe this is necessary to guide the viewer into the work. For years, I was vehemently against this, spewing on and on about how visual art is a visual thing and a title would be contrary to the experience, etc. But recently I had a change of heart. I thought, if I make up my titles at the computer when I am about to send my jpegs off to a juried exhibition or grant application, why not have a little fun with it? Not just “Yellow Flower” (as I am scrounging around in my brain for some written connection to what I am looking at on the computer screen.) I am making up the title anyway.

This first painting’s title is, “Dress Me, I’m Your Mannequin.” I got a smile at the computer! And maybe the viewer can see the abstraction with thoughts of hangers and clothing in mind.

 

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First off, I am very pleased I chose to exhibit THE CROSS SERIES. I think it was my best show. The nine pieces fit nicely in the gallery. The horizontal cross bars of the crosses lined up at the same level, to enable the eye to transition the corners of the space smoothly. I hung the paintings low, so as to illustrate the direct correlation between the viewer and the vertical section in each piece. I think it worked!

I enjoyed the feedback. Although I was only present for half the time during the run of the show, and I missed a very important members meeting, where I would have received direct feedback, the word of mouth was wonderful! Stefany Benson, the gallery director told me that she would overhear pieces of conversation, indicating only positive reactions.

One significant reaction was from one of two of the most important art critics in New York: Jerry Saltz, Senior Art Critic for New York Magazine. He “liked” two of my posts on Instagram. I posted paintings on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, my Facebook page and on my blog here on WordPress from the show during the exhibition’s run, knowing my work would be publicized in the twenty-first century way. But I had no idea someone as important and influential would respond. When I thanked him on Instagram for “liking” my work on the two posts, he “liked” the thank you post as well, a post of a different painting from the series!

My mission with my art has always been to aim as high as I can. My ability will restrict me to the level where I am meant to settle. But the attempt to create the highest art and stick to the purist art I am capable of, is my goal. Sales? At the closing, where I was present, brokers on video chat were roaming around taking video and discussing my paintings with their clients. Who knows?

But for now, Jerry Saltz has me feeling guilty for not working on my new stuff. Pretty much all the time. Isn’t that a good feeling?