His cigarette is the sins.
The snakes are the initials
For better or for worse.
Yours truly and a better half.
Contemporary Southern American Art
It's that time a year again, the beginning of the giving season. This time though, I don't know, feel burned-out or something, not much to give.
I get a few inquires if I have this, that or anymore of this or that. I usually don't though, this or that has been long gone-painted over or owned by another far away...hopefully hanging somewhere nice.
And it's getting cold in this old house, just a wood-burning stove. My hands get stiff and I can barely work at all. The beanie stays on the head until, if, the day warms up.
Like a good hair day however, what I have never lasts long. It gets gone one way or another.
There are some reoccurring themes I just like to do from time to time. The evolution is apparent to me and something I find enjoyable to experience. There is no going back, like a story, an image can change over time. It should change over time.
The icing on the cake is getting a message from a collector of my art, an image of their wall in their home, a painting long forgotten about-an old new reoccurring theme.
And a very rare one on Georgia barn tin.
When did I do that Man Fighting A Snake? I think it was 2007 or so. I need to find the image of the Cat Fight that I painted like this. I think it is somewhere in Seattle.
I went through a little period there, the novelty of Cubism I suppose, Cubish at least.
That period never went away. It just got buried under everything else. Maybe Cubish Cat Fight 2 can be something here soon. The naked lady there was another jaunt around that time.Another on-going on-going. More linear expressive, like the art I made twenty something years ago.
I miss the old place at Red Mud Studio #2. The walls were some sort of sheet rock materiel though, plus we rented so I could neither staple works in progress to the wall or sling paint like crazy. There was a good many paintings and even more videos made there. Some of my finest characters evolved in that room. It was as well, right there against that wall that me and Artist Dolan Geiman settled on the name American Ruralist Movement, when he came through from Chicago.
So, without too many other ways to make art, I would end up laying a big door on a coupe of saw horses and do my work. Many idea and titles would get jotted down on the doors. This one really stood out. The details and little notes & gestures had an importance to me at the time, some still do. This door now hangs in my hall-one of my favorite works I ever made. I have another one in storage. There just is no place to hang it.
My solution to my art/studio space challenges resulted many times in me just working with graphite. Ambrocious Cat is another residing now in my hallway. I feed from myself, my art, some of it I just can't sell.
Here's some more of my past paintings. This one is one of best and favorites. I believe it resides in Nashville now. I did it when we were living for a few months in 2010-11 in what I like to call The Treehouse. It was sort of a garage apartment in the trees. One bedroom, three people. A nice deck and a cluttered up garage with a chicken coop outside. We were trying to save money while our daughter started High School. I was able to make small area to paint down in the cluttered garage full of the landlords boxes of bric-bac and furniture. I didn't do too many there, but the ones I did do were all home-runs. Maybe it was the circumstances at the time and the pressure of no room to move, much less be an artist. Sometimes I'm at my best though, when things are at their worse. I wasn't in the best shape physically either. This was a couple years before I discovered hiking and a 100 pound weight loss.
So I am trying to finish this Banjo Rattlesnake Cobra Joes. It's been sitting unfinished for over a year now. I just can't get to it, when I do, I'm not there. I have kept some of my best paintings, mainly to study. I have no idea how I've pull some of them off. There are times, many, that I wish I had a few back-at least for a while to study.
Or maybe just a road trip to Nashville will suffice.
As I promised on a past post I am now getting down to the daunting task of posting some of my past works. There is always a story with them. I figured I better get these up before I completely lose my mind and memory. These paintings are in most cases long gone either to a new home or were painted over. I only have so much space here physically and mentally. I am going to go on a blitz here, try to, and get these post of older work up so I can move on to new things. I really wish I had left my initial blog up. Getting all this back up is a major pain in the neck, doing anything on the net for me these days is. All these "improvements" in technology and operating systems geared towards cell phone technology has made it too cluttered and hard to do what I used to do with ease on the net. I have never owned a cell phone, can't stand them. Now I hate them even more so. I would rather just make art and leave it at that.
So when I did this painting back in 2011 it was dealing with a photograph I obtained believed to be that of a young Charley Patton. If it is, it would be one of only two to exist.
I was approached by a fellow over the net who wanted to visit me and this painting as well as another large masterpiece I had recently completed at the time.
We welcomed the visit, and Charley Patton Rattlesnake Blues found a new home.
I am making my Grandads famous hash recipe at the moment (the kind you eat, not smoke). It takes several days to make and sometimes involves the abuse of certain spiritual substances. He made it, canned it, sold it. He made it every 4th of July at the family gatherings in South Carolina. I am the only person he taught this recipe to.
I'm planning on opening a little place here serving it and fine southern art. Or I might just put the recipe in an envelope and list it on Ebay so somebody else can make a fortune on it....opening bid $500,000...that sounds about right.
The painting here I did reminds me of hog killing time at the farm. It was no picnic. This fellow though has the prize piece, no better meat than what you get of the hogs head.
I've been into southern pottery for a while. My mothers side all come from the Edgefield District going back to the 1700's. I still have family in Greenwood & Edgefield in fact there are a few who live right out in the Phoenix area where Thomas Chander had a pottery back in the early-mid 1800's. Thomas Chandler is said to be one of the potters who trained Dave The Slave Drake. My Dad's side came from North Carolina/Virginia. I did some research a few years ago and determined my Chandler side came from the same area as Thomas Chandler and I might be related to him. This would be odd, because my mother and father met in the 1960's and there are no Chandlers on her side before that. So it is a possibility that my Chandler side and my mothers side were mingling around the Edgefield area a hundred years or more before they finally got together, formed me and I discovered this possible lineage-all due to my art, the mud and some of the great and interesting pottery people who have become friends with me over the years.
So every now and then for the past several years I'll take a notion and paint Dave or some other potter how I think they may have looked-proud, strong, primitive. Dave was an artist for sure, I admire the vessels he made and the poetry he inscribed on them. The history of slavery has always interested me ever since I was a kid and saw the series Roots, it is our American History.
The photo below is some of my family including my great grandad at their store called Dennys in Saluda South Carolina. The photo was taken in 1892. The African American fellow in their was named Uncle Sandy and he was a sharecropper and friend who lived on the family property. I'm sure these folks knew of Dave and most definetly used his vessels at some point in their lives.
I was not raised in the South. I was raised in the Air Force, so when I came to the south to live with my grandad in the 80's to help on the farm, I had more than culture shock to say the least. I was never raised around the "color barrier". There was no room for that in my Dad's business of intercontinental ballistic missiles-everyone who was under his command had to be color-blind. I never could get used to the southern issue of racism, white town, brown town or any of that. I look at the photo of my kin though and feel good that maybe they weren't too bad, having Uncle Sandy in there with them.
Most people don't know this, but the issue of race has been an underlying motif in my art for decades now, it struck me hard as a young man never being raised around it, it still is a weird fascination with me. There is a great deal more to this than just primitive folk paintings and Georgia Red Mud, but I'll save that for the book maybe. Also, those who feel this is inspired by this person or that person, my first and still biggest influence will always be Benton, Lawrence and social realism. When I was a kid and went to the Harry S. Truman library, the Benton murals struck me like nothing else ever has. I was in the third grade.
I've been working on a new series of paintings. This is one of them. There is another one, it's a big one. It's probably too big to show and if I do show it, I'll probably get lynched.
I would hope to have a show with some of this work, but I can never bring myself to approach anyone. I used to and they would look at me it seemed before they looked at the art.
I remember I was working a job at a newspaper in California, so I had to look nice and clean shaven. I took some of my art photos into some dumb coffee-shop one day to see if I could hang my art and the hippy lady in there gave me a head to toe and said no. She never did look at my work-Thank God for that.
Anyway, this new series is about social realism and the things I hear people say when they don't think anyone is listening, it's about what goes on in the mind of anything innate, primitive including the Farmers Dog.
Title: Libba's Banjo Chicken Serenade
Artist: Steven Chandler
Signed: Chandler '14, also signed/ titled on back
Medium: homemade Georgia Red Mud Paint TM, artist paint, graphite & archival sealer on a thick wood board
Size: 17 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches
My first painting of Libba, titled Libba With A Prewar Martin sold a few years ago. Here she is again, done as a Rotunda Painting. My first one. She is gathering the chickens together for the evening roost, what better way to do than then with a fine southern gospel.
I am moving my studio over the border for a spell. I will be roughing it. I won't have net there for a while if at all, but will check in on things from various hot spots or when I'm back here at the homestead. It is very hard to have your studio where you also live especially in this old place that needs constant attention. I need to get away from it for a while and free up my head. This old place has about killed me in the 9 months I've lived here. Again though, I will be checking my messages everyday or every other day, so let me know if you have any questions.
Time to catch up, time to repost some of the older masterpieces and finally get to some new work. So my next round of blogs will be a mix of old and new, who cares, nobody is looking at this blog anyway. I've become bored with the net. I don't update this blog and really don't do much else on here. I'm not promoting myself really, never did that much anyway though. So, despite my health and house problems, coming here and updating for a non existent audience seems pointless. Maybe I do just to document what I'm doing inconsistently. My house and health have been an issue lately none the less.
I finally thawed out from the worse winter in Georgia since the stone-age.
Got pneumonia, pinched a nerve in my shoulder and just last week contacted a horrible case of poison ivy that sent me to the doctor and the emergency room for the first time in decades.
One thing after another, this old place does not want my big garden, not my soon to be chicken coop!
It wants my blood it seems.
I will have Red Mud Chickens!