Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A talk with Carin Riley

Molly Stevens: You’re the springy-est chicken that I know, Carin, but in the eyes of the art world, you’re no spring chicken. What do you think about making art after the age of 22?

Carin Riley: Well I started drawing when I was 2. It was just a part of my life. By the time I was 22, I had had some very strong teachers. And I knew that I had a long way to go. Also, there weren’t any women as examples that I could latch on to. There weren’t any women that I could say “Oh that’s me” or that I could emulate. And then, in the 80s, I saw that the art world commodified people in a way that wasn’t going to work for me. So, it has been a winding road. But, I’ve never stopped drawing. It’s always been a language for me, a language that I accept.

MS: Once you said to me that you always thought you’d make your best art at 80.

CR: Yeah. Definitely.

MS: Tell me about that.

CR: Well, sometimes I’d meet a collector who would try and push me into the public eye. But I knew it wasn’t my time. I would just say, “don’t worry, it’ll happen by the time I’m 80.” And I just figured that that was the way it was going to be. Because I was looking for something I wasn’t finding at the time. But I had the hope that I’d find it by 80. I found it sooner.

MS: What makes the time ripe for an artist?

CR: That’s determined somewhere else. A force comes into your life that gives you clarity. I knew in 1992 what I was looking for, but it didn’t come around until this year!

MS: What were you looking for?

CR: I was looking for some kind of strength. I was looking for a Belinda-type force. I drew Belinda in 1992 but I hadn’t met her in person yet. And when I met her last year, she knocked me off my feet. That was it. I found what I was looking for and it was easy. Painting became tangible to me.

MS: So who’s Belinda?

CR: Belinda was – before my father died – the person who came into our lives and really took care of the family. My father was very ill and when she arrived she was very powerful. Her word was her bond. And she would say that, ”my word is my bond.” And she made everything much lighter for us.

MS: So, technically, she’s a home health aide?

CR: Yes, and she was much more than that in the sense that she just took my father to the next level in life. She helped him transition out of life. And she was very confident doing that.

MS: And immediately you wanted to put her into your drawing and painting?

CR: I wanted to be her!

MS: Would you call her a muse?

CR: She was bigger than a muse. She was like a universal force. I’ve never met anyone stronger than Belinda. That’s the truth. Physically or mentally.

(Willem de Kooning, 1950-1952, Oil on Canvas, 6'3" x 58")

MS: Nurses have been a popular subject in literature and art. For example, Richard Prince’s nurses. But Prince’s nurses are pulpy, sexy, flimsy women. And Belinda is definitely not.

CR: No she’s the antidote to Prince’s nurses. She’s an aide and very proud of it. And there was so much honesty and hard work. She had worked since she was a young girl and put her daughters through school. There was nothing fictional about her. So I liked that.

MS: Yeah, Prince’s nurses are fictional.

CR: I mean, I suppose there are nurses out there that are like his nurses. But I wanted something much deeper…There’s one more parallel and that’s de Kooning’s Woman, I. When I was in school they said, “she’s our Madonna, our Mona Lisa.” And I thought that was so unfair to women. I loved the painting but it was so angry.

MS: It was de Kooning who was angry. I’d say it was even hate.

CR: Yeah, so why would that be “our Mona Lisa.” And plus she’s composed of advertising parts. Her mouth comes out of an ad. Belinda has a soft mouth. She’s strong, more compassionate. I was looking to re-visit Woman, I in a way that was not so angry. Hence the liver. With Belinda, the liver is anger and I took the anger out. It’s next to her. When I finished, I thought Belinda is my Woman, I.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Le press release

For Immediate Release:

May 10, 2010

SLAG Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of OUT OF LINE, a group exhibition featuring work by Nils Folke Anderson, Anne-Lise Coste, Elana Herzog, Carin Riley and Molly Stevens, who is also the curator.

May 20 – June 19, 2010

Opening Reception: May 20, 6 – 8 pm

Artist’s Talk by Molly Stevens: June 5, 5PM

The conventional concept of line in visual art is bound to drawing on paper. In this exhibition, however, line is a presence, visible in movement and space, paint and electricity, language and metaphor. OUT OF LINE is a fresh look at a variety of line forms: fresh, meaning vigorous and immediate, but also meaning bold and cheeky. OUT OF LINE takes a risk and speaks its own mind.

Carin Riley
’s large-scale paintings from 2010 are the visual confluence of a personal vocabulary of images. Seemingly disparate elements cohere around fluid line work and a metaphorical logic that struts a bold attitude away from linear narrative.

Anne-Lise Coste
’s tarpaper scroll from 2009 is a bilingual stream of consciousness that is at once frenzied and hilarious. Line is text but also the loopy marks that form handwritten letters and words.

Elana Herzog
’s effortless curtain from 1992 is at once mysterious and plain-faced, solid and delicate, decadent and frayed and, as such, reminds us that lines are not easily drawn. While the piece nods to Surrealism - and also to the Renaissance - it announces the artist’s rich involvement with textiles.

The electric lines of Nils Folke Anderson’s 2009 interlocking neon are bounded by form and released by light. This vibrant orderly disorder provides a model for the show as a whole.

In Molly Stevens’ surging and cockeyed mountains from 2009 and 2010, long currents rise up and down the page, lean into each other and draw apart to form vibrating and off-kilter landscapes.

On June 5 at 5pm, Stevens will present an artist’s talk called “Out of Line,” a subjective survey of what line is and has been in visual art and other domains, including sports, war, language and spiritual practice. The event is open to the public and is free of charge.

Donkey Trail [THAT'S THIS], a year-long blog of thoughts, images and interviews leading to this show, can be viewed at the desk or online at:

SLAG Gallery specializes in contemporary American and Eastern European art and is operated by owner and director Irina Protopopescu.

SLAG Gallery is located at 531 West 25th Street, Ground Floor, suite 10.

(Between 10th and 11th Avenues).

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm.

For press inquiries and reproductions contact Irina Protopopescu, 917 977 1848.

For general inquiries, contact the gallery at 212 967 9818.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What if syndrome

(Amy Sillman, from her current show at Sikkema Jenkins)

One false move and the whole thing could fall apart.

- What if I send the evites too early?
- What if I send the listing to TimeOut too late?
- What if the FedEx containing the piece coming from Detroit gets lost?
- What if I’m watering the plant and I accidentally spritz one of the ink drawings?
- What if my cat decides to try to climb up a wall via the drawing?
- What if I missed a typo?
- What if the fan’s breeze creases the paper?
- What if one of Carin’s painting gets punctured?
- What if the neon doesn’t light?
- What if someone actually does bomb Times Square. Does that mean we’ll still open?
- What if Roberta Smith suddenly dies?
- What if I don’t drop two hundred on a haircut?
- What if it’s actually shit? But I don’t think it is. What if that’s too confident?

Did I forget something?