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Episode 7
Author Carolyn Schlam and Artist Terrell James

  • 2 min read

Episode Description

1:10 - Author Carolyn Schlam discusses her new book “The Joy of Art: How to Look At, Appreciate, and Talk about Art”. Schlam has set out to write a book that guides the art viewing experience from an artist’s perspective.

27:19 - Artist Terrell James discusses her work. James is a master of colorful abstraction based on the influence of landscapes. Her work is exhibited worldwide and can be found in major collections like MFA Boston, MFA Houston, the Menil Collection and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

69:45 - The week’s top art headlines

Transcript

Craig: [00:00:11] This is Art Sense, a podcast focused on educating and informing listeners about the past, present and future of art. I'm Craig Gould. First up this week is my conversation with author Carolyn Schlamme regarding her new book, The Joy of Art How to Look At, Appreciate and Talk About Art. Schlamme has set out to write a book that guides the art viewing experience from an artist's perspective in Segment two. I speak to artist Terrell James about her work. James is a master of colorful abstraction based on the influence of landscapes. Her work is exhibited worldwide and can be found in major collections like MFA, Boston, MFA Houston, the Menil Collection and the Whitney Museum of American Art. At the end of the episode, I'll be wrapping things up with some of the week's top art headlines. But first up, the joy of art.

Craig: [00:01:13] Carolyn Schlamme, thank you very much for being willing to join me on the podcast today to to talk about your new book, The Joy of Art, How to look at, appreciate and talk about art,

Carloyn: [00:01:26] Thank you so much, Craig

Craig: [00:01:26] Yeah. So can you kind of give us an overview of your book?

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Carloyn: [00:01:30] My first book was published in Twenty Eighteen. It's called the Creative Path. It was a book I created for kind of an inspirational book for artists, for creative people, and it's about the creative process. And oh, once I once I completed the book and got it published and went through the whole process, I was eager to go again, right? And I happened to that year. I was. I live in California now but I'm originally from New York and I had the opportunity to be in New York. It was a Picasso sculpture exhibit at the time writer.

Craig: [00:02:10] I remember that

Carloyn: [00:02:11] At MoMA and I was really looking forward to it and I happened to be there just at that time. So I went to the exhibit and it was packed. It was impossible to get close to any work and and everyone was. There were crowds at every key snapping photos with their smartphones, and it was so frustrating. And I started to wonder what are all of these eager visitors going to do with all these photographs and does it make any sense, you know, they're going to just do they really see what they were came to see? So the idea was born at that moment, and it developed into my original title for the proposed book was called at that time come to the museum with me and artist looks at art and my concept. Of course, publishers always these days want to change titles to make them, you know, pop up on the web. So anyhow, but that was my working title, and the idea was to really take a look at art and to write a book from the artist's point of view. Not a not an academic book, not a treatise, not art history, but just a kind of an art, a toolkit. That's really what I had in mind a toolkit for looking at art. I was thinking of all those people at the Picasso sculpture exhibit. And so actually, you know, sometimes ideas come into your head and make it seem very doable at the time. Although now looking back on it, that was quite an ambitious goal to attack the whole of Western art. Sure. And the organizational problems. But I lit into it and the my publisher was eager to do a second book, and he liked the idea, and I sold the book on a just a description. Wow, that was that was great. And the book finally, we had a took a couple of years, the entire process of writing the book, going through all the copyright issues. And finally, it was published in 2020. It came out in April 2020.

Craig: [00:04:36] Of course, the world was a little distracted in April of 2020, right?

Carloyn: [00:04:40] Yeah. Yes, that was not the most advantageous time to have a go, although in retrospect, now thinking about it, and it actually was quite excellent time because there are people at home with, you know, a lot of extra time on their hands. And people started picking up the book and it started selling. And it has actually amazed me how well the book has done. It is now. I love to go online and see where it is, where it's and I've seen it in South Africa and Singapore and Malaysia and all over the world. And just a few weeks ago, I had the great honor of selling the book to a Chinese publisher. It's already about to be published in Korean, and now it's going to be translated into Chinese. So the joy of art is now making its way around the world, and it's very exciting.

Craig: [00:05:43] Instead of it being necessarily an Art 1 classroom sort of textbook, it sounds like you're trying to help novices appreciate and view art from the eyes of an artist. Is that is that about right?

Carloyn: [00:05:58] Yes, you've explained it very well. You know, I I wanted it deliberately not to be, you know, it disturbs me as an artist that art is such an elitist. It's not an elitist pursuit because there are plenty of starving artists pursuing their careers as artists. But the purchasers of art and the admirers of art often fall into this elite group, and my goal was to make my passion for art really accessible to the many, many, many people who get off cruise ships and go into art museums and really enjoy looking at art. And there are so many people. So I wanted the book to be very accessible, not I. I don't believe in it. Even when I write books for children, I like them to be high minded. I like children to have to stride. I use a complicated vocabulary. I don't, you know, I have respect for my reader. And so there's a lot of information in the book. You really do get a toolkit for what to look for when you step up to a work of art. What you are looking at and the book also I I imagined it almost as a like a seminar class in a sense where readers would be. We'd be in a room of 15 students and myself and we'd be looking at art and we'd be conversing about it and noticing things and and asking questions. So even though my audience is not with me, I do ask many, many questions in the book, and there are many thought provoking issues for readers to grapple with and to make it really fun. I added a section at the end where you can test your new knowledge with a whole bunch of games and exercises. I made up for you to see if you really if you if you've really gotten it, that's great.

Carloyn: [00:08:19] It sounds like we need to create an app to go along with your book to, you know, test people's knowledge.

Carloyn: [00:08:26] It could be a, you know, if you look at the reviews of the book have been really excellent and everybody seems to feel that they are really getting something out of the book because I'm not talking down to them. Some of the material is difficult, but it is written in a very engaging and conversational, I guess you would say, style, which I want to. What I want to do is to converse with my reader, even though they are far away in Singapore and South Africa. And some of these folks actually get in touch with me and talk to me about my books. As a matter of fact, I had a reader contact me recently who told me, imagine this as an author that this person had read my book twice and wasn't once was not enough. She read it again, and she it's so increased her zest for for art that she started to think about making some art herself. That's great. And I I I've done some workbooks for children or workbooks, and I have now decided to create a series of workbooks for adults. That's great. I don't know. I don't know if the concept and and prototype is with my with my agent now. I don't know what success she will have trying to sell it, but it's, you know, one thing leads to another.

Craig: [00:10:10] Sure. So I know from from an education perspective, there is this principle of scaffolding. You kind of cover one set of ground and then you come back and talk about it a little bit more in depth and keep kind of going up the ladder. Where do you did you feel like you needed to start in the book to give people kind of a foundation before you started getting deeper?

Carloyn: [00:10:33] Ok, well, first, I always start with the language because with the vocabulary, there's a whole vocabulary of art, and if you don't speak the language, you cannot. There's a limit to how far you can go in appreciating and understanding of it. So we start with the vocabulary and I explain the vocabulary of art and various artistic practices and make them understandable. And then I turned to, well, I came up with. A chapter called 20 Questions and one more for good measure and in which I posed. Twenty one esthetic questions and an answer, then in short form, not lengthy, extremely lengthy answers and and I provided them more as kind of food for thought. Ok, that for the esthetic questions for the the new and budding art level lover to consider. These are things to think about that are generally so you have the 20 questions. Then in the book we turn to, I have some quotes from famous artists and explain them in context. The book takes a I decided to take a formalist approach with a book. In other words, if one was taking a contextual approach, the other alternative I would explaining the work in the context of their period. The particular movement they were part of, et cetera.

Carloyn: [00:12:25] I chose and two to talk about the works of art. There are a hundred and fifty photographs in the book, so you get to look at a lot of art from all different periods. But I chose to look at them from a formalist point of view. In other words, in and of themselves, right? Regardless of their context. And it is an interesting way to look at things because there are things that were done hundreds of years ago that are incredibly modern and you would not even believe were accomplished so many years ago and vice versa. Sure. So that's the basic approach to the book. I go into the general criteria for for viewing and appreciating and understanding art and then very specific criteria that relate to the specific genre or the art form, et cetera. And then I have lots of secrets and things you may not have known about your favorite artists and clues to why they did what they did. Ok, from an artist point of view, you have to remember I've been I've been there. I've been at the funeral trying to resolve these, these questions and problems, and I I kind of give you the inside view.

Craig: [00:13:50] What are some of those inside views that you narrowed in on?

Carloyn: [00:13:54] Well, I have a great story about Kandinsky. I don't know whether it's apocryphal or not, but I read that Kandinsky, who we know as an abstract artist, was actually decided one day to take a walk and he his made was cleaning the studio. And when he returned from his walk, his his maid had turned the piece. He was working on sideways and upon looking at it and seeing it as if for the first time, he gasped and he said, That's amazing. That's the way it's meant to be painter and an abstract art that's created great.

Craig: [00:14:42] So I imagine you know you you describe the elements of art line form color. Have you gotten any particular feedback from readers as to parts of the book that they especially resonate with them?

Carloyn: [00:15:00] You know, I I've I'm trying to think. The book is very cohesive, you know, so what? Each chapter leads to the next and you know you, you learn, you learn about the general criteria for looking at art, and it kind of gives you the framework when you turn to the specific genres you kind of you have you have some backing as to, you know, it just takes off very sequentially and develops at the end. One of the last chapters, which I think I think I think about, probably this is the one that people seem to like the best. It's called Chapter 13. It's called a closer look decoding works of art. What I did was I took work in state with a similar subject, similar theme, color, whatever. And there I think there are 10 different examples, and we compare and contrast using using all the language we've learned to this. Point, having looked at now a hundred pieces of work you now have, you have the vocabulary, you have the references, you, you, you, you're able to. And we compare and contrast. We decode, deconstruct in a sense how how it's very difficult to especially with painting to understand.

Carloyn: [00:16:34] I try to explain this in many ways. It's very difficult to deconstruct a painting because when we look at a painting, we only see the final version. Mm hmm. It has been constructed piece by piece, but we don't get to see all the pieces we only get to see. And in many cases, all the construction lines and so forth have disappeared. So it's it is difficult to read. It is difficult to read. But once you know all this that you've learned about how a how a painting is made, when you get to this chapter of decoding works, you actually can pull it apart. You can actually are able to deconstruct it. At least that's what I attempted to do, and people have told me that they, you know, that they enjoyed that chapter, that they got a lot out of it. And and the best, very best thing of all is that many people who have written to me and also who have written reviews of the book have said that they're really looking forward to going back to the museum now that they've read the book.

Craig: [00:17:42] That's great. You're you're a painter, right? I believe you do. You do figurative portrait type of work, correct?

Carloyn: [00:17:49] I am well, currently, I am a painter and a glass artist. But I was. But I also worked in what many artists I have worked in ceramics. I've sculpted in wood.

Craig: [00:18:04] Sure, we will. We will call you interdisciplinary. How about that?

Carloyn: [00:18:08] Most artists are interdisciplinary because we can't resist. You know, we love all these great materials.

Craig: [00:18:13] Absolutely.

Carloyn: [00:18:14] So but predominantly I started well. I saw I studied for many years from studied from life and then. But then my early years in the studio, I did most of the abstract work. And then little by little, I began, You know, as you develop as an artist, you begin to zero in. So I kind of zeroed in on figurative work. I love to draw from light from the live model, but I also do studies and sometimes work from photographs, composites of photographs. And so I do predominantly figurative work. But I am actually now trying to, you know, I always describe this, that the difference between abstraction, semi abstraction and realism. I describe them as stops on a train. You always every piece starts in abstraction. So every piece is abstract. And then more and more you particularized and specify. And eventually you can come up with the data on a nose and it can be as as total photo realism, but it starts. Every piece starts as an abstract work. So I, you know, now I'm kind of retracing a bit. I'm doing still doing figurative work, but with the abstract elements more exposed, I would say they're always there, but more exposed. Sure.

Craig: [00:19:49] And so were you able to include some of your work as examples in the book?

Carloyn: [00:19:54] Not only was I able to include my own work and this I think people will really appreciate because I, my publisher, would not permit me to buy copyrights and you cannot. Most of the work of artists who are have not been dead 75 years are still under copyright, right? I couldn't include any modern art. How could I? How could I write a book of that art and not have a Picasso and a Matisse? I was. I couldn't figure it out. Well, the book was delayed because of the pandemic, and as a result, a Picasso and a Matisse came off copyright. Wow. So that made the book. But because I couldn't use that many modern artists and a number of foundations would not agree to, a few did. The Diebenkorn Foundation gave me to and corners to put in the book. She's a favorite of mine. What I did was I suddenly realized it's nice to have, you know, familiar works of art in the book when you're talking about art. But really, why any work of art can can. We can discuss the elements of. More than any worker, for sure, so I decided I would just include some of my favorite people who are still living. There you go. And my favorite changes, so Jimmy Ray. He was a friend of mine. He made the book with one of his self-portraits. I saw a work online by a ceramicist that I liked very much. I called her up and if she liked to have a piece in the book. So that was very thrilling to me that I was able to include. There are some pieces of my own and and I was able to include other living artists, and there were very, very grateful. And so was I.

Craig: [00:21:52] That's great. And so, Carolyn, where where would people find your book?

Carloyn: [00:21:57] Well, I hate to say that Amazon, but it's really sold the joy of art. How to look at, appreciate and talk about art is sold everywhere. It's in small bookstores. It's obviously on Amazon. It's on at Barnes & Noble.

Craig: [00:22:12] It seems like a great fit for the museum bookstore or the museum gift shop.

Carloyn: [00:22:17] Oh yes, absolutely. I would love to. I years ago I was a member of the Museum Stores Association. They put out a newsletter I'm about to put an ad in their buyer's guide for the book. Yes, it would be great. And I just in my recent search, I found out that the book was even listed in the Harvard bookstore. That's great. The college bookstore, which is really thrilling because it means the book is being used by my college students and and I love to do a sequel. I'd love to do something. Who knows what will happen? And we'll see how you know you have. One has to prove oneself as an author. But I think that sales in China is going to help quite a bit.

Craig: [00:23:04] Well, Caroline, I really appreciate your time today. Is there? Is there a website where people can keep track of of your, your written work and your artwork? Like, how can people follow you?

Speaker2: [00:23:18] There's my website, carolynschlam.com. And if you just Google my name Caroline Schlam, you'll find lots on the web. And but my website is the best place and Amazon has. I have an Amazon page, you know, Instagram. All the rest. Just my name. That's all you need to know. So thank you so much, Craig.

Craig: [00:23:42] Yeah, it's been a real pleasure talking to you, and I know how intimidating this this whole field can be for someone that is totally new to it. And I appreciate you cracking the door open to let people come in and really feel like they can own an artistic viewing experience.

Carloyn: [00:24:04] And so thank you. And let me just add, if you don't mind at the end that please anybody who wishes, I always respond to people who write to me to fans of the book or people who just have questions, whatever I love to hear from folks. So, you know, just write to me through the website and you'll get a quick answer and thank everyone in advance. And I hope you enjoy the book.

Craig: [00:24:32] Wonderful. Well, thank you for your time today. The other day, I was having a conversation with my son, Josh. Son, how old are you? 15. And so what kind of things are you interested in

Josh: [00:24:48] Filmmaking or stuff like that?

Craig: [00:24:52] A lot of times at bedtime, you come to the office at night and we talk about things, right? Yeah. And so sometimes we talk about art. Yeah. How do those conversations usually start?

Josh: [00:25:02] I point to a painting and you know, what's that or who did that?

Craig: [00:25:06] And so what sort of conversations have we had like that?

Josh: [00:25:08] The ones where it's the portraits of Goliath's head by Caravaggio but Caravaggio's head is Goliath's head

Craig: [00:25:17] That takes us down the path of trying to find out more information. And didn't you have a question about the Caravaggio painting?

Josh: [00:25:25] Was there a welt on his head? Because the first one where David's just holding his head, it's very dark, like it's in shadow and he has really long hair. But I think there's like a spot of blood like trickling down his face, but it's hard to see it. And I also asked, did David really, you know, cut his head off because that seems very violent for someone like.

Craig: [00:25:48] Right. So we had to go back to the original source because neither one of us remembered the whole beheading thing. And and sure enough, we found in the Bible where it said that David cut his head off and held it up for everybody to see, didn't he?

Josh: [00:26:00] Yeah.

Craig: [00:26:01] So the great thing about this story is that Josh and I have these moments where we bond over art, and these conversations always seem to start with images being displayed on my Canvia. So the Canvia is a 17 by twenty eight inch digital art frame, and Canvia is full HD display provides unmatched detail. There's a technology called Art Sense, just like the name of this podcast that samples the ambient light in the room and automatically adjusts the display to heighten the sensation that you're looking at a real painting or print, unlike a frame. The goal of the Canvia is an authentic viewing experience. Your Canvia provides you access to thousands of historic artworks in premium members have access to a host of contemporary artworks as well. If you want to learn more about Canvia, head over to Canvia art and check it out. And now my conversation with Terrell James about colorful abstractions and stone paper.

Craig: [00:27:03] Terrell James, thank you for joining me today on the podcast. I'm I'm a really big fan of your work and your paintings. Maybe we could start with you. Sometimes I have folks, you know, kind of start with, you know, how would you describe your work for the person that has never seen the work of your hands?

Terrell: [00:27:23] Well, thanks for asking, and it's my pleasure to be with you, Greg. Well, you know, work in a lot of different media. I'm mostly known for two dimensional work painting, and I've done a lot on paper printmaking of various kinds. Then work in clay, three-dimensional work, cast bronze, all sorts of things. I love experimenting with different materials, but I guess the thing that most all of my work has in common is some sort of exploration into form that interests me. A lot of times it seems to be organic and looking at nature, looking outdoors and go, it's very abstract. So I think a lot of my work is about light and how light hits certain forms, whether that's being brought through paint or even mashing my thumb into a lump of clay. How does the shadow here?

Craig: [00:28:37] Are you trying to create works that are purely abstract or do they emulate something that you're seeing? Or are they inspired by something you, you see, but come from a purely abstract realm? Does that question make sense?

Terrell: [00:28:54] It makes a lot of sense, and it's something that I would say I have several answers for. But one of them is, yeah, for the most part, I'm just starting with color line, something that might be coming from my own unconscious, but it's all from what I've seen consciously. I mean, there's this knowledge that comes from looking right that our our eyes form as babies, and at first it's all a big blur, and then we get to see more and more contrast. And then, I guess, with the study of developmental psychology and children, we learn we've learned a lot about how, how we learn to focus a lot of times when people have written about what they see in my work. They mention the idea that there is some image that almost presents itself or almost speaks its name or says, you know that this is a some sort of rock or quarry or landscape tree detail on the tree. So, right, I think a lot of times, you know, I am looking at those things like sometimes I might even feel like I need to become more fresh in my work and I'll go work outdoors.

Terrell: [00:30:19] I might go to the arboretum and work on a drawing from trees for two hours. Then I often come back and think it looks too, I don't know, descriptive or narrative or tight and go back over that with washes of ink and you end up just seeing little slivers of the precision that still might say tree bark. But, you know, so there's this sort of effort. I think one of the things when I was young I used to be adamant about, you know, someone would say, Well, I think I see a Tyrannosaurus rex here in the corner of the painting, right? And I don't think that is not fair. I certainly didn't mean that. Now I like it when people engage and see things in the painting that might be there, might not be there. I think if you see it, it's fine to say that it's there. Sure. And you know, the word images in imagination. So I think it's kind of cool if someone engages with an abstract image and see something.

Craig: [00:31:33] I've been reading this book called Reductionism in Art and Brain Science and in there, this neuroscientist is a fan of the arts as well as brain science, and he's kind of paralleling the two. And there's really interesting texts in there about what in art makes our brain fire like. What are we enjoying and in? He's especially looking at, you know, Abstract Expressionism in pure abstraction. And I guess. One of you know, we talk about as an artist, there's, you know, our intention, but that only goes so far. There's the beholder's share the kind of the joy in the reading and the meaning that the viewer gets in, you know, from from the work. But in the in that book he was talking about, the best abstraction is kind of free from any structure or form because our our brains as a viewer are really trying to find a pattern. It's trying to find structure, it's trying to find form. And in the purest abstractions, you can't find it. You're having this experience where your brain is firing on all cylinders to try to find something in, you know, I'm guessing. And I think I hear it in part of what you're saying is that sometimes do you have to fight that battle to squash things that become a little too literal in your work?

Terrell: [00:32:59] Oh, certainly every once in a while, I'll come back in and look at a painting that worked on the day before, and suddenly there is a, you know, a clown head with a nose to get rid of that because it does, you know, sometimes you don't see things right away. And I often change the orientation of the canvas and I'm working on. So one day I might look at it upside down and see something that is to too much of a narrative. But you know, it's interesting. Maybe some of the joy of looking does have to do with the newness of something and how how there's a kind of perplexity. It's a strange thing because paint itself is such a fabulous, malleable material and color. I just I just love working with paint, and I think there's so many different elements that appeal to different senses of our senses like, you know, texture and seeing the way light breaks across a bumpy part of a painting or the way we might actually paint shadow or create shadow through an impostor paints. So I'm there to be seen, but I think there is this participation on the the other side, the viewer being involved, and that's important to I think it's important for artists to remember that it's good to show your work to. It's kind of the other half that has to do with the urge to communicate something outward. And, you know, for abstract artists, people who work abstractly think it's a little more important to give people a way in to understand what it is.

Terrell: [00:35:05] So titles, for instance, are important for me. And you know, I read a lot. A lot of times I'm using phrases I might have even jotted down from poetry I've read or. Ideas and novels that strike me so, you know, just to give someone a way in. Also that earlier question about whether I work abstractly from try to be purely abstract or make references. You know, I think that there are a lot of sources that are white. You can notice them and identify them and work. And in that very long piece, I sent you some images up earlier today called terrain. You know, there are actually things I have collected throughout my life that are quite visible, like there's a very large pine cone that appears not 50 feet into the trees. The piece is one hundred one feet long, and it's on the stone paper that's really fun to work on. It's made from crushed marble dust that basically it's a big roll, and you can see within that, you know, things that I have in the studio fossils I've had since girlhood or, you know, things I've unearthed and found. So I guess in a way, it's kind of pulling things from my own history, and maybe that will also connect to people who have had interests in things like minerals and landscape geology. I don't know. Sure. How do you see things like that?

Craig: [00:36:58] Well, it's it's a really good question. You know, I think sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it's hard as an artist to like. Sometimes I feel like I approach a piece and unintentionally, I'm thinking about process. Right? Just because I, you know, am curious about the process of the artist. I remember when I was in college, I had a girlfriend who was in the symphony and we would go to the symphony and I would sit there and I was having a much more emotional experience with the music than she was because for her, it was very it was very tactical, like, are they, you know, are they hitting these, you know, these moments in precision the way they're supposed to in? But I think for me, I think I personally react to to color. I react to changes in the picture plane depth. And, you know, implied space. All the things.

Terrell: [00:38:01] And then there's also that sort of surprise that hits you. I don't know. I've been reading a lot about surrealism lately and sort of the strange displaced image in an unexpected context or how, in some ways, romanticism in art can be glorifying the individual vision. And I think in some ways, surrealism, especially in its birth between the two world wars, was very much about blasting out old traditions and expectations from the salon and anything to do with destruction of the expected. So it's it's interesting to try to understand well how much of people's work is deeply their own. What is it that you know, that other people don't know that you want to bring forward in your work? And I think that that's part of the key. What is it? And I guess when you think about the unconscious, that's really how we're forming these things that cause emotional reaction. The thing that will bring a feeling to you as you're listening to a symphony, you know, whether one of the things that we back into your past and your life and you know, it's interesting to talk about all the senses like hearing and emotion. I understand from reading that the sense of smell is kind of the most elemental, ancient thing that that brings associations for. It's interesting that some people work with smell with scent in their work. And, you know, like Anne Hamilton, I think, you know, a lot of women I've seen works that have to do with bringing the the experience of butter or harmony or bourbon to the picture plane that brings the sense.

Craig: [00:40:18] And so have you ever thought about, you know, hitting other senses like, you know, I've thought about, you know, there's a particular body of work I was working at one point in my mind, it would be best observed in the gallery with the sound of cicadas in the background, you know, and so like

Terrell: [00:40:36] So much on our mind this year, right?

Craig: [00:40:39] And so I'm just wondering, have you ever thought about, well, let's go back to this piece "Terrain". That's that's kind of a site specific piece that you've created, right? And so. So can you. Yeah. Can you kind of give us a background about where that's going to be displayed and how that came about?

Terrell: [00:40:58] Well, it came about because I have been working for about six or seven years with the gallery in London called Candugin Contemporary and mostly shown and their primary space, which is on Old Brompton Road and London. And next door I have coming up as is an October. Well, they have a second space, which is in a beautiful flowery meadow and Hampshire only about, I think, an hour and 20 minutes from the gallery by car. And it's a gorgeous old barn, and I thought I wanted to do a proposal to do some sort of installation there. There's only been a few, and I think it's a great opportunity for me to expand sort of have an experience that's immersive that that, you know? So I worked on this piece and it was on two giant rolls rollers kind of like tubes that that could rotate and I only could work on about, I don't know, 20 feet or have the view of 20 feet at a time on flat tables between the role, the rolls at each end on tables. So I was it's going to be a really great experience for me to get to see it all at one time. So it's going to go into this old beautiful barn that has it'll be hung like a big capital, you. So it really will be kind of like having the thrill of the peripheral vision, and it's going to be a new experience even for me to see it that way.

Craig: [00:42:50] Sure.

Terrell: [00:42:51] You know, and it would be kind of great to involve sound in that. But I would my my approach would be to collaborate with one of my friends who writes music to do a sound that specific or to collaborate with composer friends. But you know, I don't I don't feel, I think, for music, for any kind of soundscape to go with the piece. For me, it would be the joy would be kind of exploring what it's about with another person whose language is music or sound, right? Because I don't feel like that's really my I haven't spent any time in my life working with that. And you know, I think sometimes artists make a little bit of a mistake when they presume they can cover that territory without more work. For instance, we've all seen performance art that doesn't really stand up to, let's say, opera that has a history and evolution that is completely engrossing at every level. So I don't know. Of course, it's always good to explore and experiment and stretch yourself however you can. But sometimes I think we need to also bring in and respect the knowledge of other lifetimes that it's been, you know, as many decades working with safe sound as I have with color or whatever.

Craig: [00:44:28] That installation sounds really compelling, and it makes me think of Monet's water lilies at the Lawrence Array in Paris, right?

Terrell: [00:44:39] It does, in fact, work. We're doing a book about my work, a monograph, and I was so thrilled to be able to do an artist conversation with an art historian named Andrew Marr, who is her field. Her field is mainly French painting and tape Twentieth Century, and she she mentioned that we were talking about terrain, and she said, it's it's really you've got to think about that experience at long laundry right at the Monet water lilies. Anything long and immersive, I suppose, that has any kind of organic field. It's thrilling to even think that there's a connection there because that piece has always meant so much to me. Sure.

Speaker1: [00:45:34] So tell me about stone paper. I feel like it's only been in the last couple of weeks that, you know, things started coming across my desk. I think I got an ad for a stone paper journal, and I really am not that familiar with with what's binding the dust together like. It's kind of it kind of hurts my head to think.

Terrell: [00:45:56] First of all, I was talking to my friend. Tina Tan is a paper conservator here at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. And she said she thinks it's made in Taiwan, where she happens to be from. And she said she thinks that the word paper is a little confusing because it's not a fiber in this piece, you know? And she said, maybe we should call it stone sheets or something like that, right? Basically the way it's described. For one thing, I learned about it maybe 12 years ago from my friend Lori Ross Paul in Portland, who's an artist in Oregon, lucky enough to show in Oregon and have lots of artist friends here and one of her friends who makes paints. I was coming up with a new formula for a water based paint. She said, Why don't you? I want you to be my vehicle to explore this material, and I want you to try it on this paper. So that's how I learned about it. I started using it about eight years ago, and back then it was readily available. Greg, it's not anymore. It's it was something you could even order online, for instance, and now you can't. So it was what happened was the. Distributor the people who made it for art supplies, it was called skin went out of business because I think suddenly the quality control went down and all these people who were selling it could sell the products they were receiving as bumpy or something like that.

Terrell: [00:47:35] But the way it's described technically is that it's good for the environment because it doesn't use trees and it doesn't use paper, right? So what happened? My understanding is that some people were watching a process of some mechanical process of carving marble. I don't know if there were little busts of Thomas Jefferson or small models of buildings in Beijing, I don't know. But basically there were chunks of marble on a floor and you know, it takes we study geology. It's a miracle that this stuff exists. It goes back back back in time. And they thought, Well, this is a valuable thing. This is being swept up and thrown away. And whoever that was had the idea of creating a machine that would use that disused marble wood chips and turned them into little pellets that are a little small, oblong pieces. I think about the size of a Benadryl tablet. And then that is saved and pulverized when it needs to be used. And the binder is some kind of word that starts with the word poly at some sort of plastic liquid binder. And almost everyone listening to this podcast will have encountered this material because its commercial use is like menus in restaurants, that it comes in different weights and you can have very heavy weights that you know it's perfectly able to be cleaned.

Terrell: [00:49:17] It doesn't tear. It's very strong and stable, right? My understanding is that certain fancy stores use it for bags for their own, you know, like maybe take your little Tiffany box out in the lovely turquoise bag and it's made of this stuff. So I did find someone who was going to Taiwan, and she tracked down the maker and there is a distributor in the United States, and he's in California. But the problem is, you know, I wanted to buy some more of this paper, and he said, Well, do you have a loading dock? It's very heavy and he's selling things and skids. So one size there'd be 6000 sheets, another 8000. So, you know, basically, I want to try to talk him into working with some art supply company and allowing it to be made again like this. But sure, the role the hundred foot roll. I was able to work on I. I tracked it down. You used to be able to buy this easily and it was just one left. I could find it in a small supply store in Edmonton, Canada, and they didn't even sell things online. I talked them into letting me have them shooting this the last one I could find, and we'll see.

Craig: [00:50:47] So is it similar? I mean, I know that the stone probably affects it, but is it similar to yupo like, you know?

Terrell: [00:50:56] No, you know what?

Craig: [00:50:57] But I imagine this because like yupo, it doesn't really want to hold on. I mean, it's not porous at all. It really doesn't. You really have to be using like alcohol based things. Otherwise, it just doesn't work.

Terrell: [00:51:12] The trick? Yeah, because I've done work on yupo and a year later, take it to the sink. It just washes, right?

Craig: [00:51:17] Exactly. But but I've also seen people paint with oil on yupo, which is it's beautiful.

Terrell: [00:51:24] And yeah, I I've done that. It's this is different for me because it does have a way of receiving stain and pigment, but it's also different from any other paper I've ever worked on, except maybe when I've done mono prints where you can lift off some of the ink off the plate before it goes through the press. Anyway, this stuff is gorgeous. It looks like polished plaster. It looks like it could be something like a Fresca. So the just the paper alone is beautiful enough to not feel like you must cover it with anything. But also you can lift off because it doesn't absorb quickly and it does absorb that. You can, you know, and it depends on what inks and what you're using. I mean. That peace to reign has about 30 different things on it, including oil and oil washes and about five billion tons of ink and watercolor, and many different Japanese products that are made to be used in calligraphy. Sure. But basically it doesn't look like bow, and it doesn't act like you broke, but it doesn't act like regular thirsty paper either.

Craig: [00:52:50] Mm hmm. But maybe, maybe you could talk a little bit about, you know, in Asian materials, you know, there's like a long history of them creating texts and books that were kind of on these scrolls where they would you kind of roll from one chapter to the next?

Terrell: [00:53:09] There is a connoisseurship of ancient Chinese scrolls and, of course, Japanese landscape scroll painting that but some of the old texts can be treasured and looked at one section at a time. And I'd say a handful of my artist friends who came over to see this piece, they said, Oh my gosh, I really wish you could show it like this because it's got this kind of drama of revealing itself. One foot at a time, you know, and so that you can take it in almost cinematically. And actually, my wonderful photographer and filmmaking assistant did do several important nights in a row of videotaping it, so it can be shown sequentially like that. Of course, it's always different when you're in person with a piece. But it's I certainly did think of that, and several people who looked at it said, You know, this is strange because you're going instead of from right to left the way we read. I did the piece going left to right because that's just how the role was set up on the tables and you think about it. But it does have an Asian orientation that way, and I have been to China and Japan, and I do love looking at that the beautiful history of both of those traditions

Craig: [00:54:50] In my mind. Much of your practice has come from working vertical on an easel or on a wall versus versus down on a surface. In my mind, there's probably this sense of looking out across a landscape versus hovering over a landscape. Do you think you'll sense the piece different once it's up instead of you? Because I think you have you. Have you seen it up on the wall or has the whole thing been on the work surface?

Terrell: [00:55:24] Well, lots of layers of questions there.

Craig: [00:55:27] I know. I'm sorry.

Terrell: [00:55:28] No, I can take it. I've only seen it vertically once and it was only about, I don't know, 11 feet of it. And we had mounted the rollers to have my professional photographer take pictures of it. But it didn't quite work. So I only saw the very end. Like I said, the very end 11 feet vertically and it was beautiful. It looked very different. Being able to back away and see it like that. But what I think makes sense. You know, I have been working on a series of pieces I call field studies, and I started them in 1996, never dreaming. I would still be working on this and twenty twenty one. But but the way I identify them, as I write on the surface and I remember them kind of like when you see a wonderful mineral or sample of rock in a museum and it's got the I.D. numbers on it. So it's now I think I've just finished number seven hundred and sixty two this last week, but I always work on these flat and there does have there's a very different experience when something when you're looking from above, then being able to walk back and forth and seeing it on a wall. This piece that is so large, I think basically has a sort of back and forth quality of kind of a bird's eye view like you're flying over it and then.

Terrell: [00:57:18] Some cases there almost feels like it's, you know, a Landsat satellite photograph from way up above where you see patterns of the planet, you know, sort of weather patterns or something going from ocean to desert to avert a patch of green. And so there's a very far away look. And then there are these areas that have quite a bit of detail. Where I'm at might have spent, you know, four or five hours on a one foot area drawing under them. So those. So that could be microscopic and looking at the way molecules bump into each other. Then there are these things that are, as I mentioned earlier, drawn from sources that I look at in the studio. So, you know, back and forth. And I think that's a quality that I've been developing on this paper, but on much smaller pieces, you know, like regular, you know, two to four foot pieces of paper rather than this scroll. But it's it's a lot of fun to just sort of let let your mind wander as you look at it.

Terrell: [00:58:39] Sure. Now the field studies I find really interesting and I feel like I can really identify with because a lot of my work in the past has been figurative work. But there was a point where I guess it was probably about 10 years ago where, you know, I had, you know, a happy accident on my palate and I was like, This is way too beautiful to be just, you know, just. Right, right? And you know, it kind of took me down a path of, I started, you know, doing more of that sort of abstraction from what I learned in that happenstance, right? But but those those pieces are beautiful because a lot of them are just it's pure. I feel like it's pure color study and

Terrell: [00:59:29] It's exactly what it is. And, you know, I named them field studies because I was kind of a pun. I think because it's like a study of the palate in my actual painting on canvas. So it's part of the field of my own investigation as a painter, but it's really a phrase. It's a reference to the Barbizon School, the painters who would go and do specific studies, sketches outdoors and bring those into the studio to work from on landscape painting and the 19th century. So a lot of people I look at either work from those like, say, borrow or later says on who would work directly outdoors. And there's he's one of my, well, my main love, maybe as an artist, it says on the rock and quarry paintings, especially. But there's there is a joy to the spontaneity of those pieces, and I think anybody who enjoys color, it just shows it really does kind of show how the mix and the drag and pull of paint can can open up an idea for a more formal painting, I suppose. I'm glad you like them. I'm glad you get a chance to see them.

Craig: [01:01:02] Absolutely. And I should probably inquire on how to collect those because they they certainly I am some, you know, we were talking about what resonates with me and I. I'm just a real junkie for color in color theory and several, you know? And but you know, the the podcast I've been I've been talking to a lot of artists and curators and folks from around the world. A lot of them are in in the usual suspects of of locations. I want to talk to you about about Houston and maybe because you've you've been working in Houston for a long time. And maybe for those folks that don't know exactly how vibrant an arts community there is, maybe you can describe for us what what the Houston area is like or an artist and arts professional.

Terrell: [01:01:59] You know, I'm happy to talk about that because I am from Houston. My my parents actually were living in Manhattan. When I was going to be born. My mother flew home to have me. Have help, right? Because she lived on a fifth floor, walk out, walk up and Lower East Side. But anyway, I was in New York as a baby. We came back to Houston when I, I think my first memories are pretty much here, and I lived a lot of different places and had studios in different cities over the years. So I I'm lucky in that I have had a chance to experience all sorts of landscapes and studio light and places that are more known for being art centers like New York or Berlin, or even places in Europe. Like in Bologna once, but I basically Hinson is a strange place, first of all, it's it's very open and it's not like everyone feels like they've seen everything before, even though it doesn't. You can come up with an idea that maybe new to you and everyone will encourage that and say, Oh, you know, you might look in this part of town where the studios are just opening up and very affordable. Or they might say, let me introduce you to these different nonprofit spaces that might help you afford to do that project. And it's not like an older city that is kind of ho hum.

Terrell: [01:03:41] We've seen it all, you know? Right. And I think the community is very supportive still. I it's it's an interesting place to work because so much of the place is is open to ideas. We have so many good things going on in theater and music and dance, and it is strangely this the fourth largest city in the country and people don't often don't know that it's a port city. So we supposedly the The Times New York Times said that we have the most international population of any city in the country, though something like a hundred and eighty three languages spoken here. So it's it's quite something. It's a very diverse place for me. I have all these different experiences of the city because I'm also, in some ways, very much from here. For instance, the well, my mother's family, their farm is right in the middle of downtown Houston. So where the public library is was part of a farm in the eighteen seventies or something. So, you know, have that weird experience of hometown knowledge. But boy, it's become so much a more interesting place. I didn't really expect to live here into my adulthood, but different things brought me back. And, you know, I really like it. It's it's an easy place to live. You have. The luxury of space

Craig: [01:05:31] Just have to deal with the the heat and humidity, right,

Terrell: [01:05:35] Well, with being at a southern exposure, I suppose. But yeah, the heat and humidity are not our best aspects. But my friends, who at 18 moved to Los Angeles have much deeper wrinkles in their skin.

Craig: [01:05:51] Right.

Terrell: [01:05:52] So we look good. Exactly. Suffering and complaining, but we look good. Awesome.

Craig: [01:05:58] Well, your your your work looks great also. And so I I really appreciate your time today. If folks want to keep track of of you and your work and what's going on and where you're showing, where's the best place for for someone to to keep an eye on you?

Terrell: [01:06:18] Well, you know, probably my website, which is just my name, terrelljames.com, and I think there's a section that says representation with the various galleries I work with and I try to keep it more or less up to date, though I'm not the best at that. But with announcements of shows, and I guess I'm fool around with other things like Instagram and I don't know. I just try to hope that the world will take note through the gallery's announcements and things too. Sure. But basically, my next my next show is opening, I think, the 11th of September. And then again, a second wave of opening on 18th in Dallas at Very Whistler Gallery. Ok, and then this work at the barn and London will be in October. So that's good and contemporary. And I think, well, let's just hope we can all find each other one way or another, psychically internet wise people who love color finding each other. You know, I do think it's amazing having these systems that we can learn from like podcasts. And I don't know. Just today I was looking at Instagram and learned about three different incredible women painters I've never known who were British in the earlier part of this century and last century, whatever who maybe their prime time was in the 60s and 70s. But it's just such a marvelous tool to learn about other artists. Absolutely. One thing leading to another. So it's nice for me to get to talk to you. And sure, I try to keep talking and finding people who make I keep opening up the world to you, which just sounds like, to me, part of your mission with the podcast. I think it's great.

Craig: [01:08:25] Absolutely. And so,

Terrell: [01:08:27] Well, thank you so much.

Craig: [01:08:27] Yeah, Thank you. 

Craig: [01:08:40] And now the news. If you ever have some time in your hands and want an interesting read. Check out the Wikipedia page for Doris Duke in 1925, at just 13 years old, Doris became the primary heir of the Duke family fortune, a family fortune amassed through monopolizing the tobacco industry and being the first big investors in hydroelectric power at her father's death. Half of the money went to the trust her father had set up prior to his death to support education in the Carolinas. For example, Duke University and the other half went to Doris. Her life became one of extravagance estates in Hawaii and Beverly Hills, multiple penthouses in New York. Her own seven thirty seven with a bedroom that looked like it was from a house and a massive art collection. Picasso, van Gogh, Rembrandt, Monet and one of the most sizable collections of Islamic and Southeast Asian art. Which brings us to the curious events of October 6th, 1966. That afternoon, Duke was visited at her estate in Newport, Rhode Island, by her interior designer and art consultant Edoardo Tarea, who had come to the residence to let Duke know that he had taken a job in Hollywood as a production designer and would be gathering his things. What followed gets a little hazy, but what we know for sure is that Duke hit Terrio with her car and Terrio was dead at the scene. The haziness was compounded by massive amounts of philanthropy that poured from Duke into the Newport community not long after the accident.

Craig: [01:10:24] Now, fifty five years after the accident, the case is being reopened based on research from journalist Peter Lance, who is publishing a book on the events surrounding the accident. Among the inconsistencies is the physical evidence from the scene, which indicates rapid acceleration from a much further distance, causing a much greater impact than what Duke described. And there is the new testimony of a man named Bob Walker, who was a 13 year old paperboy. At the time, he was afraid to come forward in nineteen sixty six with testimony about how, on his way to deliver Duke's newspaper, he heard intense shouting, followed by a moment of silence. The roar of a motor, a crash and the screaming of a man. By the time Walker biked to the scene, Duke was out of the car, assessing the situation. The paper boy asked if he could help her, and she repeatedly shouted that he should get the hell out of there. It's hard to determine what can be accomplished since all the interested parties are now deceased, but perhaps justice can be served in some small measure. Check out more detail of Walker's account and Lance's recent Vanity Fair article, or spring for the upcoming book Homicide at Rough Point.

Craig: [01:11:38] New York has a problem with a massive and expensive public art installation in the answers are not easy. The vessel is one hundred and sixty foot tall honeycomb of staircases designed by Thomas Heatherwick that is the centerpiece of the city's Hudson Yard development.

Craig: [01:11:56] You've probably seen pictures of the piece at this point because of its incredibly Instagrammable structure in the middle of one of the world's most populous cities when under development. The piece was derided for its cost, estimated somewhere in the range of one hundred and fifty to $200 million. And since its opening, there has been questions about handicap access because the structure is all stairs. Those with mobility issues couldn't enjoy the structure. The solution there was the design of a custom elevator, unlike anything else in the world after the fact, to accommodate those that they should have thought about from the beginning. That sounds expensive. But the most damning consequence of building a 16 storey structure with public access is a recent rash of suicides by jumping from the top of the structure vessels being closed to the public since the most recent event last Thursday, while officials evaluate how to prevent future accidents. The problem is, it's not clear how to modify the structure in a way that guarantees these types of accidents don't happen again. Some are calling for vessels destruction. Some are even suggesting dropping it off shore to serve as an entertainment venue for divers. There are no clear answers, so stay tuned to see how this one plays out. The art collection of Dallas oil tycoon Edwin L. Cox will soon be going under the hammer.

Craig: [01:13:17] Cox, his name, is one very familiar to me because of his unbelievable generosity to Southern Methodist University, where I went to college. My MBA is actually from Edwin L. Cox School of Business at SMU. It turns out that Cox left a substantial collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings when he passed away at the age of ninety nine last November. Among those are a highly priced kiboshed whose pre auction estimate is being placed at $50 million, as well as a splendid van Gogh that's expected to go for roughly 40 million and a season that's expected to fetch thirty five. These are accompanied by works from Monet, Sicily and Vollard. It's anticipated that the Christie's auction for the collection will generate international interest from both private and institutional buyers. Hmm. That's all the time we have for this week. You've been listening to art since you can find the show on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. If you've enjoyed this podcast, be sure to subscribe. And while you're there, please rates show and leave a quick review. Your feedback is the key to other folks finding us. If you'd like to see images related to the conversation, read a transcript and find other bonus features. You can go to Canvia Art. You can click on the podcast tab. If you'd like to reach out to me, you can email me at craig@canvia.art, thanks for listening.

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