Friday, October 16, 2009

Art List

Michael Tole is showing some paintings at Conduit Gallery this weekend (details below). He was kind enough to sit down with WeShotJr for some bone-crushing art opinions.

Richardson Heights: You've written one of the few artist statements I've ever read that doesn't suck. Can you tell us the intentions behind the Faberge Egg and expensive knick-knack paintings?

Michael Tole: Thanks for the compliment. The Faberge Eggs are such over the top baroque objects, it's impossible not to find them beautiful, but they come with a lot of baggage in terms of history, class, and as class signifiers today. The eggs I've painted are sold in a curio shop for thousands of dollars, and I find it interesting that people still use these as markers of class in today's society. It says a lot about who we strive to be. I snap hundreds of photos when I go to this shop and I shake the camera while I'm doing so. About one in a hundred of the photos comes out with amazing double images and tracers that make the eggs even more baroque than they are in real life. I then translate that back into a traditional media, namely oil on canvas with an exacting technique that revels in all those weird little chance happenings of the blurry photo. In this upcoming show I have some intaglio prints of the eggs, but I also have some beautifully strange paintings of Chinese camel bone carvings I found at various Ripley's Believe it or Not Museums around the country.

These camel bone carvings are amazing objects. Most are about 6 feet wide, 3 feet tall, and just a few inches deep. I've taken about a thousand photos of these sculptures, but unlike the eggs, I've used a combination of photographic, painted, and computer generated tricks to create fantastic landscapes and dramatic vistas that reinterpret the original bone carvings into technicolor dreams. They are conflations of tradition and technology, American pop culture and Chinese high culture, Eastern imagery and Western media. My paintings in this show embody that very American habit of taking the exotic and projecting something American onto it making a new reality that is loud, original, entertaining, but not authentic. These paintings have all the authenticity of sesame chicken or the Pai Mei sequence from the Kill Bill movie... but I love both those things, and I love these paintings. Authenticity can be boring. Mistranslations hold worlds of possibility.

RH: Your paintings are so meticulous and photo-realistic -- how do you know when you're finished with a painting?

MT: It's easy to know when I'm finished with a painting. I begin in the upper left hand corner, and I'm finished when I get to the bottom right. I usually paint in one layer, but even if I use two, I start the new layer in the upper corner and work across...when I get to the opposite corner I stop.

RH: How, if at all, do you fit in to the Dallas / Fort Worth art scene?

MT: I've shown with Conduit Gallery for seven years now, so I'm friends with many of her stable of artists. I've also had a studio at Art Motel (behind Marty Walker Gallery) for a couple of years and have many friends there. I try to stay in touch with everyone, which is harder now that I have a daughter, but I manage. I feel very comfortable here and I hope I add something to the artistic diversity of this area. My work is based very much in the unique local culture of DFW, which may sound like a strange thing to say, but the more I travel the more I realize how distinct it is. This metroplex is a sponge that sucks up culture from everywhere else, and sometimes forgets its own past in the process (not that there's much past to forget). We end up being a one of a kind combination of visual styles, languages and cultures with little sense of indigenous culture, especially in North Dallas and the Northern suburbs, but I like the fluidity of this milieu.

RH: Can you tell us an unusual or unique studio process you currently use or have used in the past?

MT: This is a little embarrassing to admit, but my most unusual studio practice is probably the fact that I listen to audio books all day long... only the unabridged versions though. I feel like I'm cheating a little bit by not physically reading the books, but I'm in the studio 40 hours a week, and you can only listen to NPR for so long, and I prefer stories to music. This way I get to read all the books I should have read in college while I work. I'm especially fond of Russian authors because their books are so long. One Dostoevsky audio book lasts me for weeks.

RH: What is your studio situation like? What kind of environment do you create while you work?

MT: As for my studio environment... imagine how pristine and exacting my paintings are, then imagine the total opposite of that precision and you have my studio. It's a slovenly mess. There are three clean things in my studio, my canvas, my coffee mug, and my hands, the rest is feral.

RH: Please describe a favorite piece of art in your personal collection.

MT: My personal art collection is pretty small right now, but I'm very fond of a Ted Kincaid line drawing I have, and a digital print by Todd Camplin who is currently a grad student at UNT.


White Rock Lake Artist's Studio Tour
October 17: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
October 18: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
more info:


Digital Sense - Reception
W.J.T. Mitchell
Michael Fried
Walter Benn-Michaels
@ CentralTrak
800 Exposition Ave., Dallas, TX 75226
October 16 : 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

All people with wikipedia articles instead of their own web sites. I will be at this. Come say "hi"! Oh, wait.


Jay Maggio
Steve Seinberg
Scott Carroll
@ Craighead Green Gallery
1011 Dragon Street, Dallas, TX 75207
October 17 : 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Michael Tole
Joe Mancuso
Mimi Kato
@ Conduit Gallery
1626 C Hi Line Drive, Dallas, TX 75207
October 17 : 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM

This Would Be A Big To-Do In Georgia
Jim Burton
David Willburn
@ Gallery 219 at Eastfield College
3737 Motley Drive, Mesquite, TX 75150
October 17 : 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Not sure if the show title is meant as an insult to Georgia. Here are an installation photo and some more details.

To Be Someone Must Be a Wonderful Thing
Erick Maybury, Alejandro Diaz, Bryan Ryden, Rachel Strum
@ HCG Gallery
1130 Dragon Street, Suite 190, Dallas, TX 75207
October 17 : 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Archiving Eden II
Dornith Doherty
@ Holly Johnson Gallery
1411 Dragon Street, Dallas, TX 75207
October 17 : 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Eminent Domain - Mark Messersmith
Fractured Form - Philip Evett and Ansen Seale
Collage of Coincidences - Dean Corbitt and Curtis Scott
@ The MAC (more on this show here)
3120 McKinney Avenue, Dallas, TX 75204
October 17 : 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

All Natural
@ Marty Walker Gallery
2135 Farrington Street, Dallas, TX 75207
October 17 : 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Home Grown: Recent Paintings
Charlotte Seifert
Kyle Ragsdale
@ Norwood-Flynn Gallery
3318 Shorecrest, Dallas, TX 75235
October 17 : 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Out of My Mind Ellen Frances Tuchman
New Works Joe Ramiro Garcia
@ PanAmerican ArtProjects
1615 Dragon St, Dallas, TX 75207
October 17 : 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

So much going on this weekend! It's never been easier to get drunk for free!

Image courtesy of Michael Tole.


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