SUSAN MAASCH GALLERY
I grew up in Southern California, and did a lot of bodysurfing as a youth. I love that feeling of rushing with the wave – which is bigger, more powerful and more ancient than you or I. Marriage is our major remaining ritual, and one is carried along in it in the same way. You can be intensely aware of your individuality, the personal meaning of the ritual. At the same time, it is a ritual as old as our tribe, which lifts us and carries us, and we play our part. But when you look back from the shore, the next wave is rolling right behind with someone else's intensely private experience, and another wave behind that one.
This aspect of identity interests me, not the ritual. I am captivated by the contrast of our powerful, private experience and the rhythmic reappearance of ourselves in ancient roles.
Where did you study art? Which professors had a direct influence on your work?
I attended Dartmouth, which had a surprisingly good studio program. I learned from everyone around – students, assistants, professors, in particular Ashley Brian, Varujan Boghosian and Gayle Immamura. And after Dartmouth I learned more from artists, poets, dancers, chefs, hair stylists, physicists.
The art world is full of long running, passionate arguments. I haven't been able to work up much interest in those arguments. I try to follow from a sense of duty. But the people around me arouse my curiosity endlessly.
Did you family encourage and support your decision to study art?
They are quiet, proud New England people. They are pleased and appalled at the insecurity of it. My father often says that the reason I chose art was because everything else came easily, and art I really had to fight for. He is essentially right. For art one can engage everything one is.
When did you begin making art? (as a child?)
We all begin as children, and not badly, either. I had a touch, then. But I began when my family spent a year in India. I was 16, and suddenly all my social understandings were like painted scrims in front of other painted scrims (scrims are those semi-transparent, thin cloth settings used in theatre. They seem solid until a light shines from behind – then you see right through). I reacted by beginning to draw – it is for a reason we use the word 'see' to mean 'understand.' And I began by drawing myself, my eye really, over and over, I suppose because seeing starts with the self and its eye.
What artists have influenced or inspired your work throughout your career?
This is a great time to make art. Rules have been so thoroughly broken that breaking them surprises only the uninformed. As a result, an artist can do whatever is meaningful to them, using or ignoring convention as necessary. Raymond Saunders, a California artist, is one of my favorites, and Donald Baechler, Robert Rauschenburg, Kim Abeles, and many lesser known artists who deserve more sunlight.
Have you seen any shows recently that you feel have influenced your work?
No. I have seen some wonderful shows of living and dead artists, but my work is on its own path now. Other artists often inspire me to continue working, either through the beauty of their vision or anger at their wrongheadedness.
What can you tell us about the materials that you incorporate into your art? What is it that draws you to mixed media?
I feel more and more that the concept of 'the artist's vision' is a misnomer. Each of us has an experience and interprets it. And each has a different interpretation. So we may be in the same room having the same conversation, but we are not in the same room having the same conversation after all. In much of my work I try to cope with this reality by allowing several viewpoints to be present at once. Collage and the use of multiple layers and textures are very useful.
Also a painting has the opportunity to appeal in several ways. Why wouldn't we take advantage of texture to reinforce the presence of the work, just as a chef is concerned with aroma or appearance as an indispensable part of the taste?
Where do you think your work is going next?
Well, time is running out, so . . .
Does Ted Arnold have another passion besides art?
I need a full life – my painting is concerned with questions of our broad, shared humanity. I could not survive without making art, but neither could I be content without my family, music, food, friends . . . everything is part of everything. I do not seek to pare down to the minimum, but to squeeze in whatever I can until I am forced admit that more has at last become less. But until it becomes less, more is much more.
CATHARINE CLARK GALLERY
CATHARINE CLARK GALLERY
Ted Julian Arnold (born Princeton, NJ, 1956) received his BA in Visual Studies from Dartmouth College, Hanover NH. He has been exhibiting with the Catharine Clark Gallery since 1991.
A Thin Line: New Paintings by Ted Julian Arnold are not works of traditional easel-sized dimensions nor painted on a conventional surface. Arnolds latest works are in three formats: singular panels, diptychs or triptychs, and they combine oil paint and collage. the panels are actually chair backs, which when presented as a group at eye level suggest a thin line of ribbon encircling the gallery space, and lead us to believe we are looking beyond the gallery walls. Most of the works are rendered in either earthy organic hues or brilliant blues coupled with metallic leaves. In the late 1980s and early 90s, Arnold painted abstract canvases with "keyholes" of realistic renderings. Now his newest paintings are, in a sense, the keyholes of representation removed from the context of their abstract surrounds. The work in A Thin Line explores the intimacy of domestic moments and the physicality of relationships. The paintings offer a glimpse into the often unnoticed beauty of banal human interaction. The confined space of the chair back provides only enough room to render a portion of a facial element: eyes, mouths, brows: figural references: the slope of a womans back, arms embracing a torso, a pink shoulder. The restricted scale of the painted chair backs refer to the narrow band of information which were able to absorb in any given situation to create a cognitive reality from the excess of visual stimuli. The fragmentary nature of our visual experience and disjointedness of memory and recollection are here captured leaving the larger context in which these situations occur up to our imagination while emphasizing the beauty of ordinary moments.
Sunday Telegram, Sunday, November 4, 1999
Ted Arnolds exhibition of paintings and sculptures at Davidson & Daughters on High Street is a feast for the eyes and the imagination. The title, "Knowing a Little," belies the extent of Arnolds knowledge and understanding of our inherent humanity.
A wedding ceremony is the leitmotif of most of the works on exhibit. To Arnold, the ritual of a formal wedding process is pure theater and rife with symbolism. As he views it, each person in a wedding party is in costume and performs a specific role that is contrary to his or her normal way of being. The bridesmaids and groom are perceived as symbols of youth and beauty, and the bride and groom are idealized beyond what they are in everyday life.
Deceptively simple pieces such as "Groomsmen on Silver Check" depict the real story. Arnold empathetically captures those small, off-guard moments of tense anticipation, fidgety awkwardness and unconscious distraction.
"Groomsmen," painted in oil on a slender arched wooden panel, focuses on the necks and shoulders of four groomsmen, in white tuxes and shirts. His keen intelligence and acute attention to the small details brings the fragmented moment to live. A red boutonniere is not quite aligned in its buttonhole, and a slim bow tie is slightly askew. chins just in the frame, facing different directions, indicate inattention.
There are no faces. None are needed. The natural representation of this tiny snippet of a moment is enough to light the imagination and evoke the entire scenario according to our own conjectures and preconceived notions.
Therein lies Arnolds gift, to imply a fuller story by rendering a tiny part of it. Hence, "Jeans, Lace, Dior," a collage of oil and mixed media non a large wooden disk, depicts the bride in an elegant white gown - her groom and possibly his best man slightly behind and beside her in full regalia - hints of the live that preceded the wedding day. Barely discernible, collaged in the swirling edges of the skirt, are a necktie, pieces of tissue and wallpaper, textured fabric, grains of sand and even the inner security foil of a peanut butter jar. More apparent are a pair of patched denim cutoffs along with a piece of delicate lace. A mans arm caught mid-motion, the contrasting sweeps of brush strokes and the flow of the lower part of bridal gown fill the piece with energy and swish the viewer into the momentum of the moment.
Particularly enchanting are the oils done on rejected crowns of chair backs that were given to Arnold by the Bradco Chair company in Lisbon Falls. (He used to draw the workers) In " The Anniversary," several are joined to form a circular piece that curls around a wall. Painted figures twirl and whirl around the dance floor on both the inside and outside of the curl. The curved crowns seem to add rhythm and movement to Arnolds painted narratives.
"Traffic I" and "Traffic II" also painted on crowns, capture pedestrians caught on a curb, stilled by a traffic light. There is a jaunty sway to the womens bronzed bare shoulders painted on the curve. The white Strapless dresses dazzle in the coppery hues that evoke the heat of a summers day.
What makes Arnolds work so strong is that underlying his narratives is a commentary on the lives we lead, a feeling that there are rich complex lives behind the images.
There are sculptures too. The most striking, "Social Adjustment," is constructed with found objects. A large wood screw is attached to a wooden block to replicate an old-fashioned book press. The block is painted with a babys face that has one ear flat and one protruding. If the screw is turned, the block is lowered into a copper cylinder. If turned too tightly, the sculpture becomes unstable. Pause for thought.
in a small enclave of the gallery, is a charming collection of exquisitely
painted teacups. Bits of music scores form the background of one or two
of the more decorative cups. With these paintings, Arnold takes us away
from the whirligig of his vibrant fragments of life and gives us a chance
to catch our breath and enjoy a moment of quiet contemplation.