Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Michael Sellmeyer: Things That Mostly Go Together

OK, last time we were hanging out,  we were talking about Lauren Boilini's Rabid Habits exhibit at the VisArts Center in the Rockville Town Center. And I took you through the exhibit and then got too excited and took you upstairs to calm down. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, but would like to know, read this post.)Then I did something unexcusable. I left you. I said I was coming right back tomorrow. And then I didn't come back. For three days. Sorry about that.

So when we left off, I believe Anita, the volunteer coordinator, had directed us to the awesomely named "Paintings, Drawings, Prints, That Mostly Go Together" by Michael Sellmeyer.

Cloud of Consternation

I didn't really know what to expect here, as the only piece the Washington Post really described was called "Cloud of Consternation." I don't love "dark" art, so I was a bit trepedatious as I entered the exhibit that it would be full of angry black, scribbly paintings. Not really my thing. I looked around the corner and started smiling because I saw this:

The only dark piece in the show was the one the Post mentioned. Silly reporter.

The rest of it is fun, colorful, and/or engaging. Especially when you start looking at what he used to make them. Laser toner? It's there on the list for one of the pieces on this wall. 

Give me an unusual medium and I go from interested to riveted in about 2 seconds.

Let's take a closer look at the "toner" piece, shall we? It's actual title is Of That Ilk.

Can you see how laser toner could come into play here? Neither do I. Let's look closer.

detail Of That Ilk
I don't know enough about the medium to even recognize it in this usage. But I do know a but about the nature of the other mediums. "Acrylic, ink, graphite, laser toner, paper" are what Sellmeyer listed. The acrylic is the thicker chunks of color. I bet the ink is the colored runny stuff. I wonder if the graphite is the spots where the paint is scratched away? But the toner? I'm still not sure about that.

Hmmm. I wonder if there is another piece that could shed a little light here? Let's check out Sunshine Trot and Your Favorite Half.

Hmm..I still don't know. Let's take another close look at Your Favorite Half.

My guess is that the toner is the runny, lighter black rivulets. But that could also be ink.

Or maybe Sellmeyer printed a base design on the paper with his printer and then painted over it? I really have no idea. My best guess is the black, powdery runny stuff.

Isn't this fun? 

I LOVE trying to deconstruct what an artist did! 
 And the harder it is, the happier it makes me. 
Because that means I could never think of it. 

And if I would never think of it, it becomes far more interesting to me.

Wanna see my favorite piece in the whole show?

Agree To Melt
I love it. 
I wish I had the $500 to buy it. Seriously.

I would put it on the wall near my desk so I could look at it when I got stumped or bored. 

I think the appeal for me is a tie between the colors (aqua and cobalt blue and periwinkle and chartreuse are my absolute favorite colors! Especially when they are together.) and the technique. I would never have been able to even imagine this piece, let alone create it.

It might be the pencil lines. It looks like something my 6 year old used to do when she was 3. And I loved it there too. There is just such freedom and pleasant wandering in the piece.

As I kept looking around the show, I felt like I was missing something. So I decided to do the practical thing. I read the directions. Well, in this case, it was the artist's statement.

I was so impressed, I took a picture so I could read it again later.

His pieces are experiments in "What happens when I do X?" or more specifically "What happens when I use X to make this mark or to spread my paint or to scrape off my paint?" I love the freedom and exploration of that! It's so fun.

I am coming from a place where everything I've been working on is something I committed to a year or 3 ago. There has been very little exploration or spontaneity involved with my creations for a long, long time. 

The idea that the purpose of a piece was exploration hit me like a lightening bolt! 

I totally need to do this. In fact I have a few ideas brewing right now. They are nothing like Sellmeyer's stuff, and I have no idea when I'll get to them, but I think this philosophy may guide my work for the next while. I promise to keep you posted. I also have to warn you, it may be a while. I have to finish my taxes first.

The Good Empties

But wouldn't it be fun to use a bike wheel to paint something? Or stamp something? Just to see what happened? And then see if you could blow paint through a straw on top of it? Seriously, doesn't that sound so stinking fun? I feel like this man has opened a whole new vein into my creative subconscious.

detail A Slice of Twilight

And this, my friends, is why I like to go see other people's art. It seems to tap into my greater creative source and give it a poke. (That and I apparently love yearning to own things I can't afford. I swear I need to get a larger body of quality work, so I can start swapping with people.) I always get cool ideas when I see other people's stuff. And I'm not talking about stealing their ideas. It's a lot easier to recreate something that you have seen already made. I'm talking about taking a teensy idea from what I am seeing and using it in a completely new way. A way that even the artist I got the idea from wouldn't make the connection that their art was the inspiration. 

Seeing other people's art is often a gateway to the NEW for me. 

It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. I really do have to be careful not to go too often if I'm in the middle of a complicated piece because it messes with what I am doing so often. Funny, huh.

Anyway, here's a bunch more of Sellmeyer's work. Just for fun, try to figure out what unusual tool he might have used to create each piece. I'll list the title and mediums to give you a head start.

Peer Stricken

The Sky is Done
Acrylic, ink, graphite

Ghost Diary

 Geometric Bliss
Acrylic, ink, graphite, laser toner, paper

So what did you guess? 
And what do you think when you see other people's art or projects? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think.

Talk to you soon,
CM Shaw

PS: There are one or two more things I want to show you from my VisArts visit. But you'll have to wait until next time. I'm not specifying this time. Life has a way of interrupting even my best intentions. And it's snowing, which means all kinds of mayhem here in VA.

For more info on the VisArts center, check their website here.

For more info on Michael Sellmeyer, see his website here.


1 comment:

  1. Wow, Michael Sellmeyer's artist statement is something, isn't it? It's so cool how he takes a physical inspiration and then thrusts it away from him for the sake of exploring... or texturing... or whatever he's in the mood for. Artists are such delightful and moody creatures (only speaking of myself). I love his Slice of Twilight and The Sky is Done... those speak to me but I have no clue how he made them!

    And booyah about your Exploration realization, there's something so viscerally exciting about it, isn't there? Like you can capture the idea that nothing can limit you... how do you resolve that? It's so the opposite and yet the exact intention that your above artist has captured. So beautifully paradoxical and human.