All posts by mjhousiaux12

Mr. Caraway and Mr. Carlson Go to Vishnu Bunny

Every artist has their peculiar obsessions. Some keep them hidden, preferring to let them lurk at the margins of their work. Others, like Kevin Caraway and Solomon Carson, place them front and center and render them in big, bold, strokes.

Thus, it is only fitting that Caraway and Carson will be exhibiting together this Friday at Vishnu Bunny, as part of the monthly First Fridays series. With a title like 1 + 1 =!?, one must be intrigued. Continue reading Mr. Caraway and Mr. Carlson Go to Vishnu Bunny

The Art of Doing: Oliver Herring’s Task Parties.

Most of us think of artists as rather solitary figures, toiling away in front of a blank canvas or untouched piece of marble in a desperate attempt to express themselves.

There are, of course, some who still fit this description.  More and more, however, the most interesting and dynamic art is breaking down the traditional barriers between an artist and their audience, allowing everyone to take part in the creative process.

Take Oliver Herring.  One of the great experimental artists of his generation, he has effectively embraced the idea of giving total strangers control over his work

And on more than one occasion, this has resulted in him literally embracing total strangers. Continue reading The Art of Doing: Oliver Herring’s Task Parties.

Blue Is The Warmest Color: The Art of Hilaire Hiler

While some artists (Picasso, Pollock and Warhol) loom larger than life in our cultural memory, it is only a precious few whose names are actually preserved for posterity. This is why, every once in awhile, one should look back at those artists who were lost to history and bring their unique, if limited achievements to light.

Hilaire Hiler is one of the Continue reading Blue Is The Warmest Color: The Art of Hilaire Hiler

Frontier Dreams: The Prairie Art of Harvey Dunn

South Dakota is not exactly known as a haven for the arts. This is not to say, however, that the state does not have its own rich artistic heritage. To find evidence to the contrary, one need only to take a trip to the South Dakota Art Museum.

Nestled on the campus of South Dakota State University in Brookings, the museum recently achieved national accreditation for the fifth time in its history, and there can be no wonder why, given the troves of unexpectedly great artwork stored within its walls.

The South Dakota Art Museum  is perhaps best known for housing the most extensive collection of works by South Dakota’s first landmark artist, Harvey Dunn (1884-1952), all of which were on display until January 10.

Dunn (who was born on a homestead near Manchester, SD and graduated from South Dakota Agricultural College) spent most of his career as a Continue reading Frontier Dreams: The Prairie Art of Harvey Dunn

Portrait of the Artist as an Old Writer: Carl Grupp’s Literary Debut

zandbroz-book-signing-carl-gruppCarl Grupp is a natural raconteur.  As most who know him will attest, the man who many consider to be South Dakota’s greatest living artist is fond of peppering a conversation, regardless of subject, with any number of asides, anecdotes and tall tales.

Therefore, one might have rightly reasoned that it was only a matter of time before Grupp, who came of age during the turbulent Sixties, turned his wealth of bizarre and interesting experiences into a book. And finally Continue reading Portrait of the Artist as an Old Writer: Carl Grupp’s Literary Debut

Art and Electioneering: A Short History of Campaign Posters

In the United States, art and politics have long been uneasy bedfellows. This has largely been true since  the onset of the Cold War, which effectively silenced many artists who had been weaned on the radical, leftist ideologies that had prevailed among the American avant-garde during the Twenties and Thirties.

Today, the trend has reversed itself somewhat.  On the whole, however, art remains more an instrument of personal expression (or simply “art for art’s sake”) than a means for making big political statements.

But even if artists try to stay away from politics, politics is by no means devoid of art. One can see this every election year, when Americans are inundated with paraphernalia from various political campaigns: posters, flyers, buttons bumper stickers, etc. Among these, posters tend to be the most interesting and the most likely to yield iconic cultural images.

So, in honor of election day 2014, let’s take look back at the history of the too-often neglected art of the campaign poster.

The first American president to use campaign posters to great effect was John Quincy Adams, who won the hotly contested election of 1824. They began to take on more interesting forms, however, during the presidential election of 1840, which saw the coming out party of Whig Party candidate and Indian Wars veteran William Henry Harrison.

Running under the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”, Harrison styled himself as a bona fide Continue reading Art and Electioneering: A Short History of Campaign Posters

Kimble Bromley’s Art of Hypnosis

Picasso famously said that “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Kimble Bromley believes he has found one potential solution: hypnosis.

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Last Saturday, Bromley, whose series Moby Dick is currently on display at the Washington Pavilion, conducted a hypnosis workshop intended to unleash the inner child-artist of all those in attendance, including this writer.

Each participant was asked to Continue reading Kimble Bromley’s Art of Hypnosis

Celebrate Halloween: Francisco Goya and Cindy Sherman Style

Halloween is once again upon us, and, while art is not usually thought of as a great source thrills and chills, there have been plenty artists whose work channels the spirit of the holiday.

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One is the Spanish painter and print-maker Francisco Goya, who emerged as part of the early 19th century Romantic movement. Like his contemporary Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) Goya proved Continue reading Celebrate Halloween: Francisco Goya and Cindy Sherman Style

If By Chance: The Ceramic Art of Randy Johnston

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This past Wednesday marked a changing of the guard at Augustana College’s Eide/Dalrymple Gallery.  Newly arrived for a month-long exhibition are the peculiar and entrancing ceramic vessels of Randy Johnston.

Based in River Falls, Wisconsin (where he has his studio and teaches at a local university), Johnston brings a rather unique perspective to his chosen medium. Indeed, ceramics is conventionally thought of in terms of “function”– more as a “craft” than an “art.” And it is too often neglected by Continue reading If By Chance: The Ceramic Art of Randy Johnston

Some Quick Thoughts About Carl Grupp

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Today, the art world is a really big place. In the last few decades, the advent of the internet and the decline of Western cultural imperialism have opened making it an almost global network of creativity.  Major galleries and museums now make a point to feature artists from all walks of life and countries of origin.   If Picasso, a Spaniard, was the world’s foremost artist-celebrity in his heyday, one might argue that China’s Ai Weiwei has inherited his mantle.

But in some ways, the art world has changed for the worse.  Sadly, it is still exclusive and money-driven, prone to excessive hype and bizarre trends. And for all intents and purposes, it is still based in a handful of cultural meccas: New York, Paris, London, Tokyo.

This is why it can be refreshing, even enlightening, to look at the work of artists living in places where the art world has scarcely penetrated, where the creative impulse isn’t overwhelmed by Continue reading Some Quick Thoughts About Carl Grupp