Works from former east Cobb resident on display at Museum of Art through March 24February 20, 2013 12:38 AM
James Yarbrough, 74, brings to art the unexpected. His diverse subject matters and striking detail will enchant the eye.
Yarbrough’s works are mainly in pastels, acrylics, egg tempera, and oils. His paintings include streets of Venice, dancers, musicians, fish, history and myth, fantasy and diabolic conflict. Through March 24 his paintings are exhibited at Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, titled “Yarbrough: 53.9 Years & Still Unpredictable.” The museum is located at 30 Atlanta St. in Marietta.
“I am an intuitive painter even though I work with some standard techniques. You can’t be quite sure what I am going to be doing six months from now,” said Yarbrough, a former east Cobb resident who now lives in Atlanta.
Though some of Yarbrough’s paintings appear traditional, he enjoys pushing the visual edge. Among his recent visual experiments is a painting of a woman floating under water.
“I’ve never done anything like that before. It’s different from anything either that I’ve done before or that I’ve seen before. The way they looked different from what I expected is what intrigued me,” Yarbrough said.
Born in Chattanooga, Yarbrough moved to East Point as a child where he live until he married in 1960. At age 4, he received chalk and a blackboard from his parents.
“I was in art from there on,” Yarbrough said.
During high school, he explored art through various means. He attended the Junior School, a professional art school, at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta for three years during high school. “I was always wanting to draw and paint,” said Yarbrough, who is married to Jeanne.
After completing his studies including time in Paris he taught at the High Museum as well as privately until 1980. In 1980 wanting “more hands on” work he painted murals and wall treatments for interior designers. Now retired, Yarbrough focuses on painting.
“I enjoyed drawing ever since I was a little boy. Painting is just an extension of drawing,” he said.
One of Yarbrough’s interesting techniques is his use of egg tempera that he estimates dates back to pre-Roman times. “Since I make all my paints from dry pigments you just add a mixture of egg yolk and water to the pigments and they’re ready to paint,” he said.
“There is a renaissance of egg tempera painters. It was the standard best way to work on a panel until the 1500s,” he explained.
For Yarbrough, painting is an extension of himself. “You think in visual terms more than verbal terms if you spend time in visual arts. Painting is way to see what you think about this that and the other,” he said.
To view Yarbrough’s works online visit http://www.2021collectionsgalleryrodin.com
The Hudgens Prize, now in its second iteration, is a competition of Georgia artists, curated by noted museum professionals, and in their first year they selected an artist whose work bears no relation to my own, and speak poorly for my chances in this type of competition. But I often like to be rejected by different art professionals, just in case I meet one I like.
I got in just under the wire on this one. Last year I applied for something that took weeks to prepare for, and then I missed the deadline by a day.
My artist statement follows:
A gallery setting of these five entries would have the viewer encountering a shaman, alone in the center of an intimate space, interacting through the volume with mythic women on the four walls around him. Physical aspects that others view with horror and revulsion, the shaman understands as essential and expressive; badges of experience and valor. Neither victim nor victor, the shaman is a third type of male, who by his study and self knowledge develops mastery and autonomy, earning the right to stand as equal and adjunct to these elemental females in dynamic dialectic.
The two-dimensional works represent strong archetypal figures interpreted in rich mythical symbolism, expressing their innermost struggles vividly, invoking primal forces in the working out of their destinies.
These women perform a counterpoint to the musing shaman, who stands apart from them, but also between them, and inside of them. He journeys, in his shamanic vision, deep into the mysteries of life and death that these women embody, repeatedly merging with the maelstrom of female energy around him, always returning to himself as the stillpoint in the center.
As the artist, I symbolize my personal journey among the mysteries of life and death. This current series does not sum up my career, but represents another branch in my continuing investigation. It is a collaboration between me and my wife, also an artist, as we explore our encroaching decrepitude playfully, pre-enacting scenes of demisement in Judith, releasing the inner demons with Medusa, viscerally exploring the intimate circle of death and rebirth at the hands of Kali, surrendering to the tide of oblivion with the Sirens. The Shaman, as himself, incessantly explores death’s contours, its metaphors and meaning, its lessons for the living.
Though my practice functions as the artistic equivalent of the shaman’s journey, I tend to see myself as a craftsman rather than as a magician, although the magic is there in the art if the viewer is attuned to the symbolism.”
I share an interest in depicting the grotesque with artists such as Durer, Goya, Bruegel, Rembrandt, da Vinci, and others who painted less than flattering portraits of their fellow humans and got in trouble for it.
As a young artist, I illustrated stories that interested me without any thought of the underlying themes or patterns of interest; following instead the popular comic book themes of the day – war, superhero, science fiction. Absent from art school in the 1950s was the concept of art as the expression of mythological themes. Abstraction prevailed, and we paid attention only to materials, techniques and styles. Nobody wanted to discuss meaning. So I invented my own lexicon, and only gradually recognized the canon of myth and symbol as I discovered Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung in my attempt to explain myself to myself.
This exploration continues in my daily practice.
1. Shaman, acrylic polychrome sculpture with attachments. 6″x33″x6″ 2012
A Shaman sees the world through its mysteries, where everything is reduced to overarching themes of sex and death, light and dark — with a concentration along the edge where one transforms into the other. This sculpture is a self portrait, a shaman with a brush instead of a drum, a student of the unconscious who sketches the hidden and ugly, revealing life as part of an endless and universal Dance of Death — a dance with death.
2. Medusa, encaustic and egg tempera on lenticular panels. 48″x48″ 2012
Medusa has been much maligned as a result of the patriarchal denigration of female strength. I choose to explore that strength directly, incorporating the snakes as metaphors of sexual power, exploring my wife’s image and self-image as she copes with the reality of living with breast cancer.
3. Judith, encaustic on panel. 24″x48″ 2012
Judith has always appealed to me as someone who trusted her own perceptions, and was unafraid to act on her beliefs no matter the opposition. Because of my wife’s acceptance of her cancer, we are able to explore the darker issues of life in our art, encouraging bolder enquiries and enriching our understanding of death.
4. Kali, acrylic on canvas mounted on lenticular panels. 70″x60″x4″ 2011
Kali was a reflection on the death of my first wife and my efforts to build a new life after 43 years. It marks the beginning of a thanatological series that deals more directly with issues I have explored throughout my career.
5. Sirens, pastel on panel. 36″x70″ 2013
Sirens is like my recent Venice Carnival series in that the reality of the person beneath the mask is completely obscured by the costume. In Sirens, the current series, the paintings are photorealistic, but the subject is endlessly fractured and indistinct, and in some of the paintings impossible to tell. But the paintings are all of my wife, giving herself like Ophelia to the emotional currents of the waters of dissolution. The metaphor here is the relentless pull of inertia, mediated through the constant interpretation and reinterpretation of reality that occurs in our minds.
Jim Yarbrough: 53.9 Years and Still Unpredictable at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art.
The night of the opening finally came, and everybody and their neighbors showed up for it. Here are some pictures, and notes on who’s who if we could figure it out.
In this first photo, Paula Stone and Susan Hajek examine the etching “Haunted Carousel” and its copper etching plate.
A genial ambiance.
Jim says hello to Elsa and Jack Sheahan.
Close scrutiny of the miniature paintings proves rewarding.
Estelle Hosch and Bob Meredith discuss working with their hands, in clay and oil paint, respectively.
Margaret Grenleski dashed in to judge the work. Her verdict? Life!
David Brown and Nicole Vincent document the evening’s luminaries.
Even people there doing a job had fun at the opening. It was that kind of event.
There were so many artists at the opening that it got to where we introduced each other by discipline. Jim talks to Lee Staven the painter, while his wife, Laura, is photobombed by Jim’s son Jay.
Perfect gentleman Bob Meredith showing his encyclopedic knowledge to his daughter, Scarlett Jimison. You smudge it, you fix it, Bob.
Artist Rick McClung leading all eyes left.
Scarlett Jimison trying to get someone to stand by one of the huge Moses paintings, for scale, with Shirley Yarbrough, Jim’s son Michael Orrin, and Shirley’s 95 year old Aunt Sarah. You go, girl.
Jim and the back of Donna Colebeck.
Nick and Pamela Cole looking at the fine points of Jim’s background techniques.
There they are again, with Jim’s son Michael Orrin looking on, and someone with a cold photobombing this time.
Michael Leidl of Steem Creative designed the banner that hangs outside the museum, and the wall graphics inside; he did a wonderful job, and it looks magnificent. Drive by 30 Atlanta Street, just south of Marietta Square, to see it. The show runs until March 24, 2013.
This is Jennifer Fox, who did the hands-on organizing of the whole show, aided by Sally Macaulay and Kat Bush. She was too busy organizing to stop, and we’re lucky this shot isn’t blurry.
And this is Cassie Lung Stewart and her family. Jim has known Cassie forever.
Photographer Joan Terry and Noel Tillman, with Tomeka Jackson accidentally photobombing in the back.
At the front desk, brave volunteers coordinate the masses of museumgoers. From left to right, Donna Colebeck, Kat Bush, Katie Macaulay, Kelsey Moran, and Laura Surace.
Paula Stone and a friend sample the delights of the goodie table. The mushroom souffle was amazing.
Jim’s son Michael and daughter-in-law Shirley, interviewed by Nicole Vincent.
Laura Staven having fun while husband Lee makes sure he talks to everybody.
Nothing like a crowded art gallery on a Saturday night.
Here’s a family portrait plus. Family friend Andreas Dopheide joins Jim’s sons Michael and Jay for a picture with MCMA’s Sally Macaulay, featuring the youngest James Yarbrough in front, looking oddly like his grandfather.
Joan Terry talks with Kat Bush and Noel Tillman.
Eileen Thompson and Suzanne Dlugosz do more than their fair share of volunteer work.
That’s Bill Needs in the camelhair jacket.
Jim’s son Jay and son Jamie with ex-neighbors, handweaver Lyn and husband Larry Montagne.
They were having a whole lot of fun in the corner. Amelia Rose, Gail Wegodsky, and Kat Burns, up to no good.
Kat Burns with a bronze sculpture in the back, photobombing.
Scarlett Jimison tells off Bob Meredith while Estelle Hosch keeps score.
I’m afraid we can’t identify this couple, even tho they were obviously artists.
Here’s a gentleman who noticed Jim’s tendency to paint himself, reacting to a suggestion that he himself might could have posed for Moses.
Finally, waiting for everyone to leave so they can close up, Sally Macaulay and Shae Avery talk art.
I’m sure there is room for more, but I think that’s enough. If anybody can help identify any of these people, please leave a comment.
Now I’ll post a list of all the art in the show, gallery room by room. That’s 3 different posts. Coming real soon now.
Hanging days always start with everybody looking like they stayed up all night. Vacant stares, aimless gestures, slow spinning in circles looking at the blank walls. But these folks are total professionals and artists, and their minds are busy doing what they do best, which is to take three rooms of very disparate artwork and turn it into an intelligent and thoughtful placement so that no visitor will miss any detail. At times there were lengthy discussions about where a painting could be seen to best advantage.
At this point, in the large back gallery, Jennifer, Sally and Anthony wait for clarity. Jennifer is leaning on a freshly painted pedestal that will hold one of the sculptures. Anthony is responsible for all the painted pedestals, and for the precise placement of the wallcards next to each picture (later on).
In the small back gallery, Sally and Jennifer ponder where to put everything to best advantage. Jennifer calls Terri in to help.
Cat, taking a break from wordsmithing all the descriptions you’ll see in the show, takes a break while Terri measures the painting and Jennifer works the program to tell them how far and what height to put the nail. Unfortunately, my hanging conventions and theirs don’t really mesh, so there was a lot of remeasuring and eyeballing also going on.
The tools of the trade for modern museum curation. calculator, paper, spreadsheet, drill.
Jennifer, Cat and Terri perparing to mark the wall for the painting’s nail and hang the painting.
here’s the small back gallery all beautiful and awaiting wallcards. The bronze is awaiting its plinth, so it’s still on a dolly.
As soon as one thing is settled, it’s on to the next. In the large back gallery, they have decided that they don’t need three fish paintings on one wall. The smaller ones just distract from the main one in the middle. Here Terri and Jennifer examine one of the boxes of butterfly paintings that are going to go on separate pedestals on either side of the big fish painting.
They wanted to tilt the box up slightly, for ease of viewing. But the lids aren’t meant to stay open at that angle, so I had to go to the local hardware store and buy some stiff wire to prop the lids with. The wire had to be measured, straightened, and painted black, which I let my assistant do, as my attention was constantly being required elsewhere.
In this case, I needed to go around for a final look at all the frames, to see what needed touching up. There were a lot of dings, which always happens when you move paintings, whether you’re careful or not. But just imagine if artwork didn’t have frames. The dings would be on the painting instead.
After they decided to clear out the space around the big fish painting and put in the butterfly boxes, they still had to hang the painting, which is 100 inches long. This meant measuring the whole wall and centering the painting on it. Terri holds the tape measure while Jennifer marks the wall.
One of the other fish paintings was moved to the back wall, where Sally and Anthony are feeling for the nail to hang the wire on, and the other one went back home with me.
The biggest issue of the day was the Jeanne d’Arc triptych. It’s a very heavy set of three paintings, and I usually hang it by individual hanging loops attached to each side, suspended from a ceiling picture rail that I have in my house. But at the museum, they like to hang everything from the center, balanced on a side-to-side wire hung over a nail. And the problem with this painting was that the wire was too thin, and kept snapping. We finally had to rewire the backs of all three paintings in order to get them to stay on the wall, and then the wires stretched to different lengths depending on the weight on them, and the pictures refused to hang even with one another. It took a lot of fussing and frustration, but Sally, who worked to hang it, kept taking them down and adjusting the wires and then putting them up again. And they look wonderful now.
It was such a difficult hang partly because we had to cover a service panel with the right wing of the triptych, and it’s no joke putting nails into hatch doors.
Near the end, the whole thing became coordinated like a dance, with everybody doing their individual tasks in various parts of the gallery. It was exhausting just to see them flow around each other, their minds on their work. In the end, I think we were all exhausted.
Finally it was almost done. All the pictures were on the walls, a nd most of the statues were in place. The ones you can see on the table in the middle ground have yet to be placed on their plinth, and the central figure needed a better, less wobbly base, so I took her home to repair, and will take her back in the morning when I go in with some raw umber to repair some frames I couldn’t get to yesterday (because I didn’t have any raw umber).
I don’t look exhausted, but I am leaning against a wall. Good thing I brought a sandwich. My studio assistant wasn’t quite as forward looking, and figured on a lunch break.
After it was all done for the day, my assistant loaded up the trucklet with all the rejected paintings, including some that it was just too bad we had to disinclude. The bishop didn’t fit, and has to come back with me tomorrow.
At the last minute, they asked me if I had another small painting to go over the miniature case in the front gallery. What was there wasn’t working, a small encaustic and an etching. And of course I have lots of other small paintings, but I picked this one because it’s one of my favorite small paintings, and epitomises my fascination with the Venice Carnival. It’s called Portrait of a Mask, and I love the absurdity of the title, because of course all you see of the person underneath are the eyes, and they could be male or female. This painting is the last addition to the show, and it’s now ready to be finalized.
The show opens next Saturday, January the 12th, from 6-8 pm at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, 50 Atlanta St, Marietta. I hope to see you there.
The wire had to be measured, straightened, and painted black, which I let my assistant do, as my attention was constantly being required elsewhere.
After a week of holidays, I am ready to go back to the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art to finish preparing for my big retrospective, opening on January 12, 2013. When I say holiday, I don’t mean taking time off. I mean having uninterrupted time in the studio.
I’ve been getting ready to go back in with the repaired objects all week. There were a few things that needed repairs, and had to come back to the studio to be fixed. There were also several things that came back from the gallery that shows my work, and I thought they’d look good in the show, so I spruced them up as well. And I had to make a few frames for things I’d decided I wanted to swap out with paintings already up at the museum.
This is one of the skeletal figurines of acrylic and wire. The base was all broken up, and I had to build it out with acrylic molding paste and then paint it.
This is one of the things I brought back from the gallery, a bronze I did years ago, which, because of unorthodox foundry methods, is a one of a kind – they broke the mold.
And this is one of my shaman sculptures. It has been at the gallery for awhile, and it’s just too strong not to have in the show, so it’s going in on my lap tomorrow, because I don’t dare try to wrap it and lay it flat, and there won’t be any room other than on top of me by the time we’re finished loading my little trucklet.
Altho the curator sent this next painting back, because it truly didn’t fit in with the rest of the paintings, it represents current work, and the show as it is at the moment neglects the work of the last three years. Once I decided to submit a few of my latest works, this picture didn’t seem so outré, so it’s coming back tomorrow.
Along with the new paintings. This next one is part of my recent mythic women series, which includes Medusa, Mary Magdalene, Judith (and Holofernes), and Kali. I call this one Ophelia.
Ophelia is part of an ongoing series of paintings of my model underwater, something that I’ve wanted to do for some time. First I painted the most realistic shots of several hundred I took over two days. But after half a dozen, I find I”m interested in the more abstract figures, like the one below. And it gets even more interesting with the pictures you can’t even tell what are.
I’m quite fond of this next painting, which stars my neighborhood, an old, working-class part of Atlanta that still retains its character into the 21st Century. The scene out the window is a composite of five different locations, and all the furniture is sitting around my house being used even now. The model is almost thirty years older, however.
Another of the Dance of Death series that I did last year, both in celebration of the ‘end of the world’ theme they had going around, but also because I was recently given a lifesized skeleton, and couldn’t resist indulging my love of the grotesque and bizarre.
And I was very glad to decide to include one of the larger dragon paintings that I did in 2010, after being asked to show at Dragoncon. It resulted also from a tour thru the Kerry mountains in Ireland that year, on which I developed the notion that there must be dragon breeding grounds just off the southwestern shores.
So now everything is framed, with hanging wire, and all the frames are well built and reinforced, and the edges are mended and all the same color now. And the sculptures are all cleaned and repaired, oh yes and there’s a tiny miniature portrait of a Venetian Carnival lady that I don’t have a picture of yet. And everything is sitting ready to be packed into the truck tomorrow (including the camera, which I forgot last time). And I’ll be going up to Marietta Museum first thing after the dogs are walked in the morning. It’ll take all day long, I’m sure, but by the end of the day, I should have a show hung up on the walls, almost ready to open.
The opening is Saturday, January 12th, from 6-8 pm, at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art. Admission is $8 at the door, and there’ll be light refreshments and a cash bar. Art sales will benefit the Museum.
I hope you can come to the show. The opening is only ten days away. And boy are my arms tired.
Getting ready for the Marietta/Cobb Art Museum show on January 12th, I decided I didn’t like one of the walls very much, so I’m proposing a few other paintings for that wall, which happen to be paintings I’ve done in the past two years, none of which are represented in this show.
This is the wall as it currently stands
I have sculptures in the show already, and limited the selection to those that would fit inside a glass case. But since they’re not using the case for them, I thought I would suggest some larger acrylic sculptures which I think are more interesting.
The first batch of sculptures range from 24-36″ high
The second batch are all about 25″ high
Then there’s a lovely dragon painting in egg tempera, 48×60″
And a charming dance of death painting, this one called ‘The string quartet of death”
And finally a painting with the buildings of Cabbagetown and Grant Park in the background, egg tempera, measuring 36×48″
That’s my idea of a wall.
These are some of my very latest work. And tho I’ve done half a dozen at this point, I”m not thru yet. I really like the abstract qualities of the paintings, and the way you realize you can’t trust your eyes to see. In fact, I was unable to recreate the types of images I saw when I was taking the photographs. They show the moments between things I was seeing, instead.
I’m posting these pictures because I’d like to switch them out for some less interesting paintings already at the Marietta Cobb Art Museum, and it seemed easier to let the staff see them all together in one place.
Because they’re confusing, I’m calling them by number. They are pastel on board, and they measure 24×36, except for the last one in this list.
this is the only painting that is oriented portrait. we’ll call it swimmer 7
swimmer 1. This is the large one, 36×48.
Thursday. Even in a land of extreme drought, it would pick moving day to rain all day long like a ruptured water main in the sky. By the time I got back from walking the dogs, an hour before the moving guys were due to get here, the moving guys got here, worried that they might be late for the 9:00 appointment because of the rain, they arrived an hour early and prepared to wait. But knowing the rain was only going to get worse as the day went by, I was very happy that they were so early, because by 9 when the heavens opened, we were all on our way to Marietta with all* of the artwork for the show.
My studio assistant had arranged all the paintings according to size, packed the smallest paintings into a rolly bin I use for Dragoncon, stacked the next smallest paintings to go in the back of my trucklet, and stacked the rest according to size, face to face, with numbers on the back in chalk. The numbers were the spreadsheet numbers, and there were 75 of them.
In the rain, the two most efficient movers in the world, Ricardo and Marshall, schlepped back and forth from the house to the truck 75 times, while my assistant arranged everything upright in stacks against the walls of the truck, and then tied them all down to the sides with ratcheted tiedowns. They loaded the rolly bin and the milk crates of statues, and they were off. Then we finished loading the little paintings in the back of the truck. Anything encased in glass – all nine etchings I just framed and several others off the wall and on loan from others – went into its own plastic bag and got taped against the water, and the whole stack got covered in a plastic tarp and tied down in the back of the trucklet, and we were off behind the mover guys. Somehow we beat them there, which is a testimony of how careful they were with my paintings.
I pulled up to the loading dock at the Marietta / Cobb Museum of Art in a break in the rain, and we managed to get all our little paintings thru the door to the museum just as it started to rain in earnest again. nothing got wet, but the bags dripped all over the floor.
By the time we got the little paintings arranged on the walls of the first gallery, the movers arrived, but it was pouring rain outside, so they just angled the truck up to the dock and waited it out. Then we had a flurry of movement as they unloaded painting after painting, walked them thru the gallery, and put them against the wall next to the last painting they’d walked in. Most of the paintings are light enough for one person to carry, but some of them are very bulky.
Because the truck was parked at an extreme angle to the narrow dock, it was too dangerous for Jim or Jennifer to go into the truck, so it was up to the heroic guys and my hard working studio assistant to loosen the tiedowns, strip off the blankets used to protect the frames from scratches (always happens anyway), angle the pictures so they don’t all fall over into the center of the truck, then take the top painting and walk it in over the gap between the truck and the dock, into the museum’s back entrance, and thru the gallery to an open space on the wall. By the time they were thru, there were no open spaces.
I went around, using my map, and put paintings where I originally thought they should go. Then Jennifer Fox, who is doing the hands-on curating, and I went around and moved things to where they looked good. This took awhile. Then Jennifer called Terri Cole, who is on the board of directors of the museum, and a dead-on artistic eye, and she walked thru and sorted out everything in no time at all. At least it felt like no time.
Then the fabulous Bob Meredith showed up to see the progress and make a few suggestions. He no doubt had his own ideas where things should go, but you’ll only lose arguing design with a house full of women.
In no time at all things were as ordered as they were going to get, and everyone darted for home in the pouring rain. I had a truck full of sodden blankets and empty bins and cases, but room for a tank of much cheaper gas and a lunch of super lengua burrito and a large horchata at El Taco Veloz on Windy Hill. The whole thing took 7 hours. The rain cleared as I got home.
Friday. I’ll be back to the museum after Xmas when someone will be there, to repair dings and polish glass and arrange things. I still have to do the large wall cards. But I’ve finished with the small wall cards, the spreadsheet in general, and the prices (and insurance values). And I’ve got to send out invitations.
Monday. Almost ready to deliver paintings. This week has been a flurry of activity as my studio assistant and I get ready to take the paintings off to Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art for the show in just under a month from now – opening January 12, 2013, from 6-8 pm.
First the spreadsheet. I’ve got almost everything filled in at this point, everything but the prices. Like I said, it’s bargain time simply because I can’t draw as many 0’s behind the number as I used to.
First, using the map of the galleries I made (little squares representing each painting (to scale), stuck to the brown paper map with tape), I drew up a list of each painting. Then I located the actual painting.
Several paintings were sold long ago, which I’m borrowing back for the show. Which means I had a lovely morning with the owners. Several others were in a local shop, so I had to find replacements and swap them out. A bunch of the paintings were at the gallery, and I had to have help getting those back. Finally, some of the paintings are hanging around my house on display, and even more are either in the studio or up in the attic. So I had to go around, find them, measure them, and take pictures of them.
This took a lot longer than I would have imagined.
Then I had to think up something to say about each painting, for the wall card. I’m not sure wall cards are a good idea, because in my experience, when you’re reading a description of a painting, you’re not looking at the painting. Also, I’ve seen many people read the wall card and then walk away without having seen the painting. However, there is an interesting story wrapped around each painting, and people might be amused to know it.
Tuesday. Now that it’s time for the movers to come get the large paintings, and for the rest of them to go in my truck – two days from now – I’ve been assembling all the paintings in the main floor of the house, making sure the frames are in good shape, making sure there’s hanging hardware on each painting, making sure the measurements I took at first are still the measurements of the paintings (they change remarkably), checking them off on the printed-out spreadsheet.
In the middle of all this are the etchings. My esteemed curator chose several etchings that had yet to be framed, so I had to spend several days framing nine etchings. Fortunately, I’m used to framing, and have all the equipment, and a glass company literally around the corner. So I measured each etching, added three inches on each side, cut matboard and foamcore backing board to go around and in back of each etching, and cut out the opening for the etching from the matboard. Then I whipped out the table saw and poked thru my stash of picture moulding, picked a bunch of suitable sticks and cut them according to the backing boards. Then I got out the vises and glue, hammer and nails, and put the frames together. When they were built, I took them around to the glass shop for glass, and now everything’s on the clean table upstairs, waiting for assemblage into finished framed etchings. It takes a couple of days to do all this for nine frames. But tomorrow I will put the etching behind the mat and the backing board behind that, clean the glass one more time, then sandwich them all together and staple them into the frame, add hanging hardware, stack them in a corner of the room, and scratch them off the list.
There was a problem with part of the list. This is what happens when you have a blank spot early on, and you think it’s going to magically fill itself in. When I went out to Bob’s to finalize which paintings were going to go in, and he had different ideas than I had, I attempted to alter my map to show his choices, which I was prepared to do, because they were only taped on, and I had lots of extra little squares, and we sat and cut up a lot of little squares to scale and marked which paintings they represented and taped them to which spot on the wall they were intended to go. The trouble came when I got back and tried to work up the spreadsheet. My list included a bunch of dancer works on paper, and said “dancer i, dancer ii, dancer iii, etc.” Bob had printed out a compilation of the paintings he was referring to, and had further starred a bunch of paintings he especially wanted, but somehow these pastel studies (for the most part) never got names, and never got selected out of the stacks. But this evening it finally got resolved, and I now have all the spaces in the spreadsheet filled in. Except, as I said, for the prices.
There were problems with several paintings, either because they got purchased and delivered, or because they were in not so good shape and needed reconditioning I wasn’t willing to spend time on, so there have been a couple of substitutions for the paintings I’m pretty sure Bob selected. Plus a painting I realized Bob meant to include but that never got stuck onto the gallery map. Plus an etching I think helps define the nymphs and satyrs series.
Right now I’ve got 73 items in the spreadsheet. They’re mostly in stacks around the bedroom at the moment. Tomorrow is a day for putting hanging hardware where it needs to go, painting edges black, touching up frames, and finalizing prices.
And then there are the sculptures. Not the big bronze sculpture, but the 20-inch tall acrylic sculptures, and the smaller skeletal sculptures, and the little edge-of-a-shelf figurines. They all had to be cleaned of years of dust collected by sitting around the house, which in most cases meant a dunking in borax and ammonia and a good scrubbing with a brush. with the two mostly-clothed figures, however, I had to use a damp cloth and a cosmetic brush.
Oh yes, I forgot. I still have yet to write something coherent for the large wall cards, the places I can wax philosophic about the process of painting, or tell the story of my life, or in this case, talk about how I paint and about my materials. These will unfortunately have to wait until after all the moving.
One month before the opening of my show, and it’s busy busy busy here in the studio. But first, a word about the showcard, which I scanned in and joined back to front. Isn’t it a lovely card? It’s all the work of Michael at Steem Creative, and I love what they settled on for a title. I was thinking of calling the show ‘Jim Yarbrough, various unsaleable paintings,’ or ‘recent artshow rejects,’ but this puts it really nicely. And a very kind sentiment it is, too.
Right now I’m busy making frames for eight etchings that we selected for the show. Then I’ll have to make sure the proper hanging hardware is on each painting, and then I’ll have to go around and make sure the frames don’t need touching up or repairing.
Then there’s the paperwork. The lovely folks at the Marietta / Cobb Museum of Art emailed a spreadsheet asking for various bits of information, some of which is easier to come by than other bits.
Artist’s name, I got that, no problem.
Name of work, I can fudge that. I’ll go around at the last minute and think up fancy names for everything.
Medium the work was executed in, if I can tell. Sometimes I start with one medium and segue into another one without even realizing it.
Size – width and then length. We had a little issue with the convention at first, but luckily I know which way is up on most of my paintings.
Then a few words for the wall card. This is the hard part. If left to myself, I’d just say look at the painting, but my friend Bob Meredith put down extensive verbiage on each painting when he had his show last year, and I’m trying to satisfy everybody by coming up with something meaningful. And in fact, I’m working up mini-essays for several large wall cards, covering such subjects as my painting methods, my studio equipment, my relationships with my models, and my periods and series of paintings thru the years. That is, if I can get around to writing them before time’s up.
Year painted. Well, I can typically narrow it down to decade.
Sale price and insurance value. Which is something I let my dealer handle, usually. In this case, I’m fudging, so snap up the bargains before he gets his hands on the price list.
And then I put in a thumbnail of each painting. Just so the museum folks don’t go crazy trying to figure out which conte crayon dance figure is which.
The spreadsheet was actually due in a month ago, but it was a crazy month, and I got cleared to be a little late with it. So I’m working on it now. And, as I said, the descriptions are the hard part.
Checking my measurements twice is also crucial, because they will use this part of the spreadsheet to determine how far to space each painting from each other, which I understand is a major curatorial problem, and has destroyed many art professionals.
After all this preparation is finished, I will be pulling all the paintings into one place from wherever they’ve been (in the basement studio, in the attic racks, on display elsewhere, in the collections of others). That means from now until next Thursday, the spare bedroom will be stacked with paintings, and there will be paintings in my bedroom, and paintings in the front parlor. The huge paintings (the six to nine foot paintings) will have to be wrapped in blankets and set out for movers from the museum, who will be here bright and early next thursday. I’ll transport the rest in the back of my truck. Maybe in several trips. The paintings all go in to the museum on December 20, even tho the show doesn’t open for three weeks. Much of that is Xmas and New Year’s, so it’s really not all that much time. I will, of course, document the hanging, because I plan to go in and touch up paintings and frames at some point before the show opens, and really wouldn’t want to miss the zoo that will be varnishing day at the museum.
At this point, there are 70 pieces in the show, from drawings to pastels, oils, acrylics, encaustics, giants to miniatures, with sculptures and figurines for all.