A Snake Eating its Own Tail

Gallery

This gallery contains 4 photos.

I was asked to participate in a fundraiser for the Sugar Museum, which involved creating new work and donating it for an exhibition and sale. The work was to be enclosed in a jar, and artists were asked to use … Continue reading

Jars Exhibition

A crowdsourced fundraiser featuring 100+ artists, including Lee Puffer.

A crowdsourced fundraiser featuring 100+ artists, including Lee Puffer.

If you are in San Diego this weekend, check out this fun event. There’s more information in this CityBeat article here, that mentions me by name.  I have donated 3 pieces I made just for this exhibition.

http://www.sdcitybeat.com/sandiego/article-13769-jars-records-collecting-dust-and-soundon-festival.html

Flesh

"Sanctimony" by Lee Puffer. Ceramic and mixed media, life size.

“Sanctimony” by Lee Puffer. Ceramic and mixed media, life size.

There are qualities inherent to each art media. We call these qualities Material Properties. These days, when artists are not bound to one medium alone, material selection for completing and artwork is challenging and important. We can choose a material because it is the one most suited to fulfill the physical demands of our vision or we can choose a material because of its inherent conceptual implications.

When I was in graduate school a fellow classmate returned to the studio after a walk in the hills with an armful of fallen eucalyptus bark she had picked up on the hiking trail. This artist had recently moved to Southern California and was unfamiliar and with this tree. She began to sew the bark pieces together with wire to form large boat-like platters. The bark was already curved to imply this form. This artist’s work has always been about nature and community. This idea; the boat form implying her recent voyage, the platter signifying togetherness, the bark connecting with nature, was in keeping with her process. Almost right away, however, the bark began to dry and turn very brittle. Within a couple of days it could no longer be handled without breaking into shards. There was no way to sew it and doing so would be an exercise in futility. The material properties of this tree bark were not suited for the project this artist had in mind.

I choose clay for the construction of human faces because to me, clay is like human flesh. When wet, clay is malleable and moist to the touch. It warms when we manipulate it. Clay gives to gentle pressure while holding its overall form. What better choice for creating the expressions made by skin and muscle over bone?

Ripe. Palomar College Faculty Exhibition

Just a few days left to see the Palomar College Faculty Exhibition at the Boehm Galleryfaculty exhbition

Exhibition view, Palomar College Faculty Exhibition, with works by Lee Puffer and others.

Exhibition view, Palomar College Faculty Exhibition, with works by Lee Puffer and others.

"Road Rage" 2014, by Lee Puffer. At the Palomar College Boehm Gallery through Dec. 10, 2014

“Road Rage” 2014, by Lee Puffer. At the Palomar College Boehm Gallery through Dec. 10, 2014

You Are A Conduit

"Push" 2014. by Lee Puffer. Ceramic. Courtesy  of the Boehm Gallery, Palomar College.

“Push” 2014. by Lee Puffer. Ceramic. Courtesy of the Boehm Gallery, Palomar College.

Your work is not you. You are a conduit. The art that you make flows through you from the convergence of the Three Factors. Using the diagram as a tool, you may be able to analyze your own work objectively, be receptive to constructive criticism, and be capable of offering useful critique to other artists.

For many artists it is challenging to accept criticism or suggestions from others, whether they are strangers or experts. Criticism from anyone may feel very personal. It takes bravery to make art. In doing so we are making our ideas, thoughts and opinions physically manifest, and offering them for the world to see. This is a bold endeavor. There are many people who dream of doing, writing, making, speaking their truth that never work up the nerve to do so because they fear criticism and judgment from others.

If we are fortunate enough to have access to individuals who support and challenge our work by offering insightful criticism, then we must hear their thoughts. We can learn to differentiate the thoughtful learned criticism of someone who is interested in helping us grow as artists from the careless criticism of people who do not have our best interest in mind.

Because art asks us to bravely state who we are and leave a record of our experiences as a cultural legacy for all humankind, it feels very important. Because we put so much of ourselves into the work, set aside time for artmaking, put in effort, and overcome obstacles, our art can feel very personal. If we can objectively analyze our own artwork using the Three Factors as a tool, we may be able to benefit from the input of others without fear of hurt feelings. The tool gives us a common language. The tool helps us to remove ourselves from the conversation.

 

The Enemy of Good is Better

One of my colleagues in the ceramics studio at Coronado Clay is a Cardiothoracic Surgeon. That’s his day job. As an artist, he’s a perfectionist. I watch him regard with disgust his recent creations; nothing he makes is good enough to keep.

One day while working he asked me when or how I know when a sculpture is finished. I said I never do know but I stop when I believe the piece to be good enough. If the piece seems to be working, I consider it finished and move on to the next one. I do this not because I don’t want to push myself to make the work better, but that I do not want to go too far and ruin something that is already good. I have a tendency to keep adding layers of imagery and information to my sculpture. In recent years I have been trying to pare down the work, spread the ideas a little thinner and simplify the sculptures both formally and conceptually. This is tricky for me. I am a “more is more” person.

Ceramic and stitched vinyl

“More, More, More ” Ceramic and stitched vinyl

Luckily, there is always another sculpture to make. It is in subsequent artworks in a series where I am allowed to challenge myself to take additional risks. Because I always work in series, I can exhaust an idea thoroughly and/or allow it to lead me to the next piece, always trying to improve and evolve.

My surgeon friend understood this idea. Evidently in surgery they say “The Enemy of Good is Better”. Surgeons are perfectionists. They use this phrase to remind themselves to stop when the procedure is “good” rather than invite risk by trying to make it “better”. In art or surgery, we stop before we go too far.

Miley Cyrus is Already At The Party

Smart and talented people I know were up in arms this week about pop singer Miley Cyrus’ foray into contemporary art. With an article in a magazine no one had ever heard of, Ms. Cyrus managed to push our buttons yet again.

Lee Puffer "Miss La Mesa" 2011. Private collection.

Lee Puffer “Miss La Mesa” 2011. Private collection.

Miley Cyrus at NYFW 2014

Miley Cyrus at NYFW 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like MC. I like her fearlessness. I like that she creates controversy and conversation. I like her work with homeless youth. I like her honesty. She’s polarizing because she mirrors our junk-filled-celebrity-obsessed society. When we look in that mirror we seldom like what we see.

Miley Cyrus sculpture from "Dirty Hippie" courtesy of V Magazine

Miley Cyrus sculpture from “Dirty Hippie” courtesy of V Magazine

Takashi Murakami panel. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery, NY.

Takashi Murakami panel. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery, NY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miley Cyrus makes sculpture now and we might as well get used to it. Perhaps it makes us uncomfortable because the work itself bears a closer –than-comfortable resemblance to bona fide contemporary art.

Miley Cyrus sculpture from "Dirty Hippie" courtesy of V Magazine.

Miley Cyrus sculpture from “Dirty Hippie” courtesy of V Magazine.

Nick Cave "Soundsuit" nickcaveart.com

Nick Cave “Soundsuit” nickcaveart.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is MC’s work shallow and derivative? Yes, but she is a beginner. We were all there once. When she says “I had a bunch of fucking junk and shit, and so instead of letting it be junk and shit, I turned it into something that made me happy.” Well, I think we can all relate to that.

Miley Cyrus sculpture from "Dirty Hippie" courtesy of V Magazine

Miley Cyrus sculpture from “Dirty Hippie” courtesy of V Magazine

Jessica Stockholder sculpture. jessicastockholder.info

Jessica Stockholder sculpture. jessicastockholder.info

Who’s Your Daddy?

To begin the work in this series I went looking for my parents. Not my real parents mind you (they are alive and wonderful), but my Art Parents. Art Parents are my biggest influences. Theses are artists whose work I feel most connected to at the moment as well as the artwork that has been most meaningful and impactful to my development over time. When making “Pisces”, I had two daddies.

George Condo. 2009. Courtesy Xavier Hufkens. http://www.xavierhufkens.com/

George Condo. 2009. Courtesy Xavier Hufkens. http://www.xavierhufkens.com/

Lee Puffer. "Pisces" 2014, detail. Ceramic and mixed media

Lee Puffer. “Pisces” 2014, detail. Ceramic and mixed media

The work of George Condo is really fresh and relevant to me now. His subjects are grotesque, but he treats them with empathy and humor. The figures portray the absurdity of contemporary human experience. This is something I strive for in my own work. I relate to the emotional content and cultural commentary in the work, as well as more formal characteristics of color and composition.

Lee Puffer. "Pisces" 2014, ceramic and mixed media.

Lee Puffer. “Pisces” 2014, ceramic and mixed media.

Bruce Nauman. Two Wax Heads, 1990.

Bruce Nauman. Two Wax Heads, 1990.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bruce Nauman has been a major influence on my work for as long as I can remember. The body of work, which became Duende, took as a point of departure Nauman’s Topological Gardens, his seminal exhibition for the US pavilion at the Venice Biennale on 2009. This work drifted into my consciousness in 2009 and I began making hanging heads, starting with Being Human Now. I revisited images of Naumans work when I began Duende in 2013.

“Pisces” can bee seen in the Faculty Exhibition at Grossmont College through September11, 2014.