Joshua Abelow is an artist represented by James Fuentes Gallery.
You and MacGregor Harp were both in a show with Sadie Laska that just closed, right? When were you introduced to him or his work?
Yes, yes and Adrianne Rubenstein. The four of us had paintings intermingling at David Petersen Gallery in Minneapolis last month. I don’t remember the first time I saw MacGregor’s work, but the first time I heard his name probably had something to do with 247365.
Last winter, Emily Ludwig Shaffer and I curated a group show inspired by Twin Peaks at The Suzanne Geiss Company and we included a large wall painting by MacGregor. One of the things I like about MacGregor’s work is that it is stylistically diverse. Yet, there is something soulful and thoughtful in all of it.
How do you balance creating artwork, curating shows, and posting to ART BLOG ART BLOG? Is balance even the right word? I imagine it’s an integrated life.
Have you ever read Paul Feeley’s “Bennington Art Policy,” which was written in 1959? It’s a list of twenty objectives. The last one reads, “To emphasize the notion of the study of art as a way of leading to a way of life, not the study of art as the acquisition of a vocational technique leading to immediate success.”
You’re pretty stringent about documenting and archiving your paintings. Why is this important to you? Do you see it as a separate component to the art-making? Do you encourage other artists to do this or is it more of a personal habit?
I do it out of necessity – the only way for me to keep track of my life and my work is to be organized. My approach to art is, in a lot of ways, analytical. I’m interested in the relationship between things. How does painting relate to blogging for instance? How does writing relate to photography? How can a group of drawings change the interpretation of a group of paintings? What is the difference between the documentation of an artwork and the original artwork? How does the circulation of images and text on the Internet inform or alter meaning? The blog is an extension of my interest in organization, documentation, daily ritual, and communication with an invisible, ever-present audience. There are over 12,500 posts on the blog and each post marks a specific moment in time. I’m interested in marking time in a variety of ways.
I loved your book, Painter’s Journal. You also write poetry. How is the writing thought process different from visual art – say, a line drawing? Or is it?
Thank you. I worked on Painter’s Journal, off and on, for about four years before it was published. Although my style is simple, everything I write goes through several iterations before completion. My drawings, on the other hand, are immediate and I never edit or revise. Painting is a combination of the two. All these activities occupy different parts of my brain, but they are interconnected.
Your show just opened with Gene Beery at Bodega in New York and also at Freddy in Baltimore. Can you tell us a bit about these exhibitions?
I discovered Beery’s work about three years ago. Since that time we have become friends and he has been actively contributing photographs, text, and paintings to my blog on a weekly or monthly basis. We did some art trades, which lead to a conversation about a two-person show. Rather than a straightforward painting exhibition, we thought it would be more interesting to do some collaborative works. So, in addition to showing our paintings at Bodega, we made about 100 black and white photographs – I shot the photos in New York and then Gene added text in response to each image from his home in California. Ten of these photographs are on view at Freddy in Baltimore. The show in Baltimore presents photos of the show in New York – a Dada inspired gesture that is intended to be somewhat confusing.
Do you purchase and/or live with artwork? If so, what?
I’m the proud owner of two “Lung Cancer Ashtrays” by Becky Howland – wonderful ceramic pieces from 1984. They were in a show with MacGregor and Robert Loughlin at Freddy a few weeks ago called Freddy’s Addiction. I don’t hang much in my apartment – my entire art collection is at my mom’s house. Some good stuff on the walls – Keith Mayerson, Eddie Martinez, Katherine Bernhardt, Tisch Abelow, Michael Berryhill, William Crawford, Gene Beery, Cheryl Donegan, MacGregor Harp, Van Hanos, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Nicholas Buffon, Ella Kruglyanskaya, Joe Bradley, among others.