PHYLLIS ODESSEY

i really need a dog

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Leaves of Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

“After the events of last week, I really need a dog.  I’ve been going on pet finder.  So, if anyone in the audience knows of a dog, please let me know.  I think I want a dog like Benji.” This was one of the most unusual openings for an artist talk I can ever remember.  Spencer Finch was at the New School last night to talk about his work, and specifically his current installation, Lost Man Creek at Brooklyn MetroTech, a Public Art Fund Project.

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Painting Air. 2012 Photograph courtesy of James Cohan Gallery. Installation at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art and Design. This installation, 112 glass panels is result of Finchs visits to Giverny in France, Monet’s garden. Finch on Monet’s garden:  “The whole purpose of this incredibly elaborate setup – the pond and flowers and gardens and trees – was to explore the transparency and reflectivity of the water.” Finch

Finch walked the audience through 45 slides, a history/evolution of his work.  The auditorium was filled with laughter, because Finch is humorously self-deprecating.  “I want to see something that is my own.” was a line Finch repeated throughout the evening.  And this seeing involves using scientific methods.  He is acutely aware of light and color in the landscape- in clouds – in fog – Finch uses technological systems to make his observations/ experiences of the landscape into works of art.

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The Color of Water, 2010. Folkestone

The above photograph is a piece Finch created in 2010, The Color of Water.  The piece overlooks the Channel at Folkestone in the UK.  His intention was for the public to match the color of water to pantone chips placed on the wheel.

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close-up of color wheel at Folkestone, The Color of Water, 2010

For those who were ‘too lazy’ (Finch’s words) to walk to the seashore, flags were placed in the town on a daily basis indicating the changing colors of water.

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The Color of Water, 2010. Flags indicating the color of water changed on a daily basis in the town park.

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Drawing of stone wall

Finch uses GPS technology, color meters and temperature gages which give him precise read-outs.  “A stone wall is not just a stone wall.  There is a lot going on in a stone wall.”

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Stone wall after applying temperature gage to the wall.

The above painting is the result of applying the temperature gauge to the wall and translating those readings into color.

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Sky over Coney Island, 2004

This piece, which was installed in Miami Beach, is about the color of the sky at Coney Island.  Violet Balloons were inflated inside cobalt balloons to match the color of the sky over Coney Island.

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Lost Man Creek Installation

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Lost Man Creek, Brooklyn Metro Tech, Spencer Finch, Public Art Fund

I came to this talk expecting Finch to talk about his newest work, Lost Man Creek. Besides the facts: 4,000 Dawn Redwoods saplings, 1 ft to 4 ft. tall,  planted at a scale of 1:100 on a 4,500 square foot area, using foam core, landscape fabric and soil to sculpt the area and special irrigation to keep the trees alive, Finch had little to say about this Bonsai Forest.  He did not make the connection between this project and his past work.  Finch quoted Emerson ” A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”  That put the matter to rest in my mind.

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Walden, Spencer Finch, 2007. Finch used GPS technology to measure the depth of pond as he rowed around  the pond and the 298 tags on floor of the gallery represent the coordinates of different depths in the pond and paint dots represent different colors of the water

Finch ended his with talk quoting the last stanza from the poem, Strangers by Philip Larkin:

Keeping the soul unjostled,
The pocket unpicked,
The fancies lurid,
And the treasure buried.

After the events of last week, this bit of urban entertainment was appreciated by all.

P.S. Finch mentioned the W.H.Auden poem, Thank You Fog in relation to his work observing Fog.

Thank You, Fog
by W.H. Auden

Grown used to New York weather,
all too familiar with Smog,
You, Her unsullied Sister,
I’d quite forgotten and what
You bring to British winters:
now native knowledge returns.

Sworn foe to festination,
daunter of drivers and planes,
volants, of course, will cause You,
but how delighted I am
that You’ve been lured to visit
Wiltshire’s witching countryside
for a whole week at Christmas,
that no one can scurry where
my cosmos is contracted
to an ancient manor-house
and four Selves, joined in friendship,
Jimmy, Tania, Sonia, Me.

Outdoors a shapeless silence,
for even then birds whose blood
is brisk enough to bid them
abide here all the year round,
like the merle and the mavis,
at Your cajoling refrain
their jocund interjections,
no cock considers a scream,
vaguely visible, tree-tops
rustle not but stay there, so
efficiently condensing
Your damp to definite drops.

Indoors specific spaces,
cosy, accommodate to
reminiscence and reading,
crosswords, affinities, fun:
refected by a sapid
supper and regaled by wine,
we sit in a glad circle,
each unaware of our own
nose but alert to the others,
making the most of it, for
how soon we must re-enter,
when lenient days are done,
the world of the work and money
and minding our p’s and q’s.

No summer sun will ever
dismantle the global gloom
cast by the Daily Papers,
vomiting in slip-shod prose
the facts of filth and violence
that we’re too dumb to present:
our earth’s a sorry spot, but
for this special interim,
so restful yet so festive,
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Fog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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