Blank Canvases and Jonathon Hornedo and Claire de lune
I called from the street at 10:05 AM, in my dyslexic way I mistook 1952 for an odd number, and so I was looking on the wrong side of Clinton for Jonathon Hornedo’s gallery/studio. Hornedo answered fairly quickly and after some confusion he met me at the grill covered door, he wore a dress jacket, a polo shirt and a pair of worn corduroy trousers – urbane and gracious, he was ready to discuss the intellectual properties of art objects, his fondness for jazz, the local bar scene, and the current exhibition in his skylit, basement rooms.
Using his hands as well as his voice – in fact moving dramatically as though on stage – Hornedo led me from painting to painting, offering insights to the work, skillfully leading me to ask questions and generally representing his artists with dry wit and passion. When his performance became mannered, as in such situations with professional dealers it sometimes does, it seemed that my guide recognized this, for with a self-deprecating laugh he waved his hand as though to sweep away dust and turned the conversation to his project of being an artist playing a dealer.
The panels themselves were quite well-made, I found none of the bunched layers of canvas at the corners that appear in paintings of lesser quality. The canvas was tight against the panel and the lines were sharp, not rounded, not fat. The hand-made canvas Set For Jazz Trio – made to accommodate an impromptu concert played at the opening – was also well finished and interesting, it had a pre-Modern, Constructivist feel, and – as with the show – no one part intruded into the whole.
“Seamless, yet full of evidence” is a phrase that comes to mind when I think of the show and the larger project. Perhaps if I share our exchange – this artist’s and mine – it will elucidate my statement.
Yeah, I liked our little chat too. I don’t know how I managed it because I had just awoken upon your arrival. A fine example of my professionalism.
Thanks for your analysis and questions about this project! It feels like you have a very clear sense of what this show can suggest beyond my “explain-all” press releases.
Yes, I replicated an aspect of the art world. It’s a world I have come to know a bit about after interning professionally at art galleries for the past two years.
The “seriousness” of the project is merely my brand of dry humor laced with parody. Why are comedies so lacking in the art world? Art is hilarious! Humor, I think, even when presented with a straight poker face, is a highly potent and efficient form of communication. What I learned in organizing this project was how to use humor, skillfully.
Your analysis regarding the folkways of our community is accurate. At every moment while organizing the show, and throughout its run, I snuck in small, almost subliminal details that would further suggest the stage, the fiction, the theatricality of the entire enterprise. Those details had to make me laugh, at least a little, to justify my use of them. I even hired an assistant! She barely spoke english and her presence (and her mistakes!) also rounded out the self-reflexive (Through the Looking Glass) aura during the opening reception.
Delegating the burden felt great, as cashing checks always does. Does a blank canvas demand respect? Only when it’s made with the finest materials and craftsmanship.
The burden I spoke of is a significant point of interest for me. I can’t answer it fully here. But if we combine the “burden” with “support”…
Thinking about this show in terms of what my “job” is, or role, feels appropriate because the whole enterprise was predicated on being laid off. So although the show is centered around art world relations, it’s also about economics and being unemployed in 2012.
My role in this project shifted with each phase. Although I’m always the “artist”, I’m also a method actor who learns his role on set. Like a method actor playing a method actor in a movie. I played the craftsman, the gallerist, the art dealer (I sold John’s painting the other day!). My on-the-job training happened live. I’m not really an art dealer, but I had to do it. For the opening in Part 1 my job description consolidated into craftsman-artist-dealer. In part two I’m more of the dealer, which is why I decided to recede into the background a bit, giving the individual artists the attention, being supportive to their needs and schedules to get the show together on time.
And sure, we can combine whatever “gallery support” and “painting support” connote. Sounds juicy.
I don’t have a statement. I stopped writing artist statements a year ago, but feel free to use the content of this email however you want.
Let me know if you have further questions.
Can you remind me when our next appointment was? Was it this Wednesday?
Thanks again for meeting with me – I really enjoyed our conversation! Will you send me images of the work? I do have the checklist and press release(s) already. I am pleased that Karisa Morante’s painting has sold – congratulations! I also appreciate that you noted this fact in red ink on the checklist. Everything is like a Through the Looking Glass duplicate of the art world. This is part of your thinking, isn’t it? To replicate yet make different? Somehow the seriousness with which your project re-enacts art world commerce and relations makes clear to me how much the folkways of our community (being in this case the mercantile art world) are false, or at the very least are shared presumptions that have no purpose beyond reinforcement their own existence (and the profit of the elites whom they serve).
In the initial PR for the Blank Canvas show, you talk about “delegating the creative burden onto (your) collectors.” How did this feel? Everyone took your burden very seriously and evidently they each adopted it for their own. Is there something about a blank canvas that demands respect? Is this the burden of which you spoke? You mentioned to me being pleased that several of the artists chose to leave plain canvas as part of the work, you took this to be acknowledging your joint authorship I imagine.
Reading now the PR for Canvas Panels: Part II, you announce that the show “belongs to them now, not me.” speaking of your collectors. So although you claim the creative authorship of Blank Canvas I panels, during either the purchase or as your collectors painted, ownership and authorship was transferred to them, hence your listing on the checklist of artists names and not your own. So is your making still present but subsumed underneath these other creative agents? Does this make you the support? Or your work, perhaps? Or (your) artistic “genius” (that being the mystical energy that an artist places in the work). Haha, after all the years of artists making work about the “support” in paintings, I do not know an example such as this.
I am looking forward to talking with you again next week!
Please send those photos if you can, and if you respond to my questions I will be thrilled. In fact, if you have anything you’d like people to know, or would like to issue as a statement, please let me know!
All my best,