Archive for the ‘Art Review’ Category

Works in Progress

July 16, 2013
Evelina in LA

Evelina in LA

Phil working on the Wedding Celebration

Phil working on the Wedding Celebration

Working on two pieces right now: (1) Evelina in LA and (2)the Wedding Celebration. The first is a collaboration with Evelina Galli, Alice Poghosian, Anastasia Nelson and myself; the second is a collaboration with painter Maria Onyegbule, photographer Natalia Maks, painter Anastasia Nelson and myself. Works in progress.


London Mural

April 8, 2013

London Mural

Shot this on my way to Bethnal Green life drawing session. Nice Mural! Looks just like Aurelio, my neighbor back in California.

Electronica vs. Art at the Tate Modern

February 26, 2013

Electronica vs. Art at the Tate Modern – 122×92 cm acrylics on canvas

Painting almost finished now – do you see the story here?

Street Artist in Tilbury (UK)

February 2, 2013

Street Artist in Tilbury (UK)

On a foot bridge in Tilbury (Essex) a series of portraits by street artists – nicely done. While I was taking the photo, a well-dressed passer-by says “…you call that art?” I do.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

May 1, 2010

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

“P.T.S.D.” is one of my paintings that has gotten a lot of attention. It is a diptych in acrylics on canvas. Each piece is 24×36, so when hung it is about 50 inches across.

PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Syndrome). It can be related to any traumatic life event – rape, robbery, a beating, auto accident, etc. It can also relate to military experience, combat, or capture experiences. You do not have to be a member of the military to experience “military-related” PTSD.

This painting was originally done for an exhibit of mine in Davis, California.

You can learn more about the exhibit by buying a copy of the Exhibit Book or by viewing the website (click here). For the exhibit I collected work from many other people, including artists, military personnel, civilians and journalists who had been impacted directly by war.

After the Davis show, the piece moved to Pomona (LA area) as part of an exhibit with the Society of Layerists in MultiMedia (SLMM). This Society believes that “all things are connected” (as I do) and explores the many layers of meaning that can be found in a piece of art.

This painting is now showing at the Red Bluff Art Gallery, where a new “layer” has been revealed to me. It seems that local teenagers have made this painting one of the “most viewed” in the gallery. The Gallery Director reports that a teen who had come in more than once, offered “$200” for the painting. I’m guessing that was a pretty big deal – a great offer – by someone with limited resources.

My intention was to show two sides (or stages) of a human heart. The first, in an almost Disneyesque-rendering (and colours) is meant to represent the heart in its state at birth. Here the heart is clearly vibrant and without stress or morbid experience. It soon changes, but the second half of my piece is meant to show the heart at about the age of 20. Here it is distressed, has been ripped out, sewn back together, and now the seams are weakening. There are lines of stress coming from a map of Iraq in the lower corner and where the lines enter the heart, there is some darkness (or decay).

I painted this from my own experiences. Although I arrived at adulthood in the Viet Nam era and served in the military then, I have close ties to the Iraq war as well. My book, Brother Eagle, Sister Moon, was thoroughly researched and based on the lives of real people serving in that conflict. During the research process, and afterwards at book-signings and exhibitions, I encountered the pain of PTSD over and over again in the people I met.

I have since done a TV documentary on PTSD; my Exhibit Book has been useful to social workers and to the VA, and to other Vets. It is a journey that started in 1966 and continues each and every day. That teens also see their own struggles (romantic and otherwise) in the painting reveals to me the deeper levels of consciousness that painting allows me to tap.

Sometimes, as painters, we begin a painting and it takes a life of its own at some point. The energy we may have put into motion, gathers steam and – if we let it – expands our consciousness and understanding of life. Painting is a wonderful gift.



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.