Archive for April, 2010

Serigraphy and MFAs

April 27, 2010

Recently I was the company of people who had “studied art history”,  some claimed to have MFA’s, and some were art collectors.  

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge Serigraph by Phil Dynan

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge Serigraph by Phil Dynan

It is always interesting for me to be around people with “art educations”. There is so much to learn and it is comforting to converse with people who appreciate the life I have chosen as an artist.

But I found it a little  disturbing on this recent occasion to come across at least three people who were stumped when I told them I’d worked in “serigraphy” for about 25 years, in addition to painting in oils and acrylics. “What is Serigraphy?” is a question I’d expect from the UPS delivery guy – not someone who has studied art history or has an MFA.

But since I seem to be one of the few who knows what serigraphy is, I thought I’d share. Of course, I’m in good company with my minority knowledge of an apparently marginal art form. (Joined by Warhol, Haring,  Albers, West, Laddon, Blue,  Motherwell, Stella, Indiana, Pollock and Rauschenberg, among other artists.)

I have a detailed and illustrated definition of Serigraphy at this web page (click here).  But for those in a hurry, serigraphy is sometimes referred to as “screenprinting” or “silk screen”.

The above piece was commissioned by International Management Group for the San Francisco Marathon. I put a lot of time and effort into the concept, style, detail and the hand-pulled edition. And I was more than amply rewarded.  Serigraphy, in its current form, has only been around about 100 years, and is an art process that few ever master.

Interestingly, it is an art form used in many “third world” countries, because it can be an inexpensive and effective means of producing colourful posters in small quantities. (Of course, modern ink jet printers will probably replace this art form with inexpensive POD technology.)

Some more of my serigraphy and an explanation of the techinque can be found by clicking here. On that page there is also a link to the book “Best of American Serigraphy” which includes a chapter on my work. Enjoy!

Yes, I have an MFA…and I know how to use it, too.


Kyle Knobel at the Harwood Gallery

April 26, 2010

Oppression-Repression-Depression-Obsession line drawing by Phil Dynan

Kyle Knobel is currently showing in a solo exhibit at the Eleanor Harwood Gallery, 1295 Alabama Street, San Francisco. It is an exhibit worth visiting…but, in context…
Kyle’s drawings in this exhibit are nicely executed. At the beginning of his explanatory talk he showed us a set of keys and told us that everything in his exhibit was found within his home and that each thing had a “story”.. “This is a house key. My wife had it made for me.” It had a pink rubber edge guard. “This is a key to a storage locker. I store things there…” and so on, illustrating the idea that every object had a story.
Having just walked down Balmy Alley and having studied some of the murals there, I couldn’t help but make a comparison in my own head. The story of a key, a “cute” expression, or regret over not using a pointless and outdated camera. . . OR, life and death issues involving complex relationships, intense political/social issues, and international intrigue….like in the murals in the Alley. Maybe if I hadn’t walked down Balmy Alley, I wouldn’t have made such a contrasting comparison. But probably I would have. I think real art has deep meaning and on many levels. Like the murals I’d just seen. Not like the cartoon-style one-liners in the Harwood exhibit.
At the end of the day, I think Kyle Knobel may have a very talented hand at drawing. But I think he is in search of something to ignite a passion for painting. I think he really wants to go somewhere and do something meaningful. But he hasn’t found it yet. And until he defines what “success” means to him, I don’t think he will.

My apologies for this next part. Please don’t misunderstand my intentions. These are two drawings (one above and one below) I’ve done, sorta based on Kyle’s exhibit. These are ordinary household objects that I have editorialised.

Jean Paul's Existentialist Aspirin

Jean Paul's Existentialist Aspirin line drawing by Phil Dynan

They are parodies of the exhibit work….but not meant as “destructive” criticism. They are made in the spirit of the exhibit. My intention was to try and better understand Kyle’s concept, not to mock it. And in the end, doing this work did give me a better understanding and feeling about Kyle’s work.

The first is called: “Oppression – Repression – Depression – Obsession” Draw your own conclusions. The second is called “Jean Paul’s Existentialist Aspirin”. Again, draw your own conclusions.
My Initial Impressions written right after visiting the Harwood: I don’t know Kyle and I just walked into the Harwood Gallery and listened to him talk about his solo exhibit there. I came away thinking he was kind of a repressed individual. He indicated during his talk that he had no idea of how to define “success”. My conclusion, based on this one brief encounter, is that he is a very frustrated artist. He spoke of “painting”, but then qualified that work as “house painting”. Thinking about it afterwards, I felt like he is an individual in search of something to paint, in search of a passion, and someone who is hanging on to superfluous baggage that is further contributing to his repression.



San Fran Galleries

April 25, 2010
Spent Saturday on an “insider’s tour” of Art Galleries in San Francisco’s Mission District (Tour sponsored by Sacramento’s CCAS). Starting out with some local cuisine at Taqueria Vallarta about a dozen of us were joined by an equal number of pigeons while dining inside the open restaurant. (“Sorry, only one pigeon to a customer”.)
On to the first stop at the TripleBase Gallery, and met up with Directors Dina and Joyce. The current group show was based on work done in the JB Blunk Residency. Blunk was a master of the Chain Saw school of wood sculpture, among other things. And one of the current pieces is a chair made out of Cypress was definitely done “Blunk Style” by Brit designer Max Lamb (who specialises in chair design).
Cypress Chair and Table by Max Lamb at the TripleBase Gallery

Leaving TripleBase, after seeing a video of Lamb create his Cypress Chair, we headed down the street to the Eleanor Harwood Gallery.
But first we strolled down Balmy Alley, which is covered in murals…beautiful, thoughtful and thought-provoking murals. There was one in particular that hit home with me – with the picture of a woman holding a letter that spoke of the hardship in physical separation of the family due to coming to California to work as farm labour. This walk down Balmy Alley was perhaps our exposure to some of the best art we would see that day.
At the Harwood, Eleanor was off on honeymoon, but current solo artist Kyle Knobel was on hand to talk about his exhibition of line drawings based on familiar objects around the house. After Balmy Alley, it was a bit difficult to accept the “meaningfulness” of Knobel’s “stories” about everyday objects. By embedding humerous one liners in his line drawings they were more like cartoons than meaningful “art”. But nicely done. (Next Blog will talk more about this.) On to Southern Exposure…
On the way to Southern Exposure (Gallery) we stopped for ice cream at America’s most popular ice creamery – Humphry Slocombe – where people tried flavours like “Peanut butter Curry”, “Foie Gras”, Guinness Gingerbread”, “Balsamic Caramel”, and “Bourbon Cornflakes”. Personally, I liked the “Vietnamese Coffee” flavour. The place was queued up for miles with people sitting and standing everywhere, inside, outside and along the sidewalk. If bored tho, one could view “Campbell Soup” paintings of some obviously “failed prototypes”, like “Fetal Kitten Soup”…..
Last Gallery Stop was Southern Exposure, a large nonprofit exhibition space. The current shows included video and installation art, as well as a look into Alison Pebworth’s “Beautiful Possibilities Road Show” exhibit. Alison is worth googling, and her 5 month Road Show begins shortly and will be touring the US, starting up the Coast and Heading North.

Final Stop of the day was at Art Aficionado Joe Rodota’s place. Joe has a beautiful and varied collection of paintings, about 20 on hand that day. My favourites were two serigraphs by Robert (Clark) Indiana (the guy who did the LOVE poster in the 60’s). The two five x five foot pieces dominated one wall in Joe’s front room. They were from the early ninetie’s Hartley Elegies series. And of course, it was fun to watch out a giant picture window and see below as Giants fans scrambled down 2nd street towards the AT&T Ball Park where the Giants had won the night before. Great conversations. Especially enjoyed hearing from Joe’s neighbor, Sang, about a bicycle road trip that he and his partner made to LA from SF. Cool stuff.

Dinner at Spengers in Berkeley and a long drive back to Red Bluff…..




en plein aire

April 20, 2010

plein aire painter Phil Dynan in the Black Rock Desert Plein Aire painting is said to have originated with the French Impressionists.

A few years ago I visited one of the first “en plain aire” sites near Atelier Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence. Cézanne had built a studio on a hill and his favourite painting spot was just a short walk away. During the construction of the studio, he included a large “slit” in one wall, thru which he could pass large canvases to take onsite.

Plein Aire painting means, simply, painting in the outdoors and usually refers to painting the scene you are confronted with – or part of, would be more accurate.

The advantage of plein aire painting is the accurate light that is present and the ability to examine details.

My work reflects my own way of seeing things. My “vision”, slightly too colourful for some people, is the way I actually see things. I am not colour-blind. I am extremely colour-aware.

Have you ever had a photo in photoshop on your computer and adjusted the “Saturation” slider as far as it will go? If you have, then you know what colours are presesnt in your photo – though no one will ever “see” them at normal settings. Well, I SEE all the colours and that is how I paint.

Since I paint in an abstract form, the shapes and lines around me are painted as I “perceive” them, not with the exactness of careful measurement. I may see a praying mantis with a powerful personality and make his legs four times the length they are “in reality”. But my painting shows how the insect “seemed to me” at that moment.

Mountains become harder-edged, or softer; cows seem pointless or bristling with personality…it all depends on that particular moment and my perception.

The Missionary

April 14, 2010

Plein air abstract landscape painting by Phil DynanThe Missionary is an abstract plein air landscape, painted in California.

The farm fields that surround the Mission are rich and colourful. They represent life, fertility, sexuality and natural zest for life.

The fields tangent to the Mission are blackened or grey, as the missionaries set out to destroy the zest for life that indigenous people were born with. False doctrines, emphasis on control, power, rituals, and greed for riches are the tools of the missionary. They seek to instill religion as an addiction in the native population, for their own enrichment and control.

The Missionary fails to see the beauty of diversity and resents the natural sexuality of the population. They are repressed and seek to opress others with their thick, black evil doctrines.

Show me a person who shouts “I am a Christian!!” and 9 times out of 10 I will show you a hypocritical, thieving bastard who wants to subvert the true nature and good in mankind.

We have a lying, incompetent pope, who discriminates against women and defends pedophiles. We have local(Chico) “Christians” who recently beat one of their step children to death and put another in the hospital, all the while quoting the bible. We have the “greatest” and most powerful and most natural-resource-endowed country on Earth – calling itself a “Christian Nation” while invading, raping, killing and plundering the poorest countries on Earth.

Show me by example that you are Christian. But forget the fancy robes and “churches” that drip in gold and riches. Your robes only house the Great Serpent.

Well, that is just a little bit of what this painting stands for!

Blue Men Escaping

April 1, 2010

Phil Dynan paints inside a cat's mind Painting and drawing daily whilst visting with the 20 or so cats that live near the studio has resulted in a series of paintings that explore “the inside of a cat’s mind”. Acrylic on handmade watercolour paper (made by a fellow in New Mexico).

I like to combine philosophy and politics with art. Some people like me to explain what it all means. The Truth is that most of my paintings and drawings are multi-level. They can be seen as a “pretty picture” or could be seen as having deep meanings rooted in Universal Truth. Really, it is up to the viewer. I like to think my work offers something for most people.

What do the Blue Men represent? They are seen in many of my works over the past few years. Something to do with Jean Paul Sartre maybe?  What am I saying here? Is my “consciousness” imbedded in my cat? Or is my cat’s consciousness embedded in my mind? Or am I just an artist with a cat? Think I’ll go ponder this and maybe swallow a great big fuckin’ existentialist aspirin while I’m at it. …or I could keep painting.