Olaf Wieghorst Museum and Western Heritage Center

Did you know El Cajon, California had its own museum? I didn’t either until I was asked to participate in this exhibition,  West/East: Established Artists Stand Together, curated by Carlos Castrejon.

The Olaf Wieghorst Museum and Western Heritage Center is pretty special place. The museum is dedicated to the art of Olaf Wieghorst, who is “known for his magnificent portrayals of the nineteenth century American West, exhibited a remarkable affinity for the cowboys, the Native American Indians, and the settlers who helped shape this country’s Western landscape.”WEST-EAST revised copy-2 copy!But it’s not just that. The grounds of the museum occupy an entire city block in downtown El Cajon, a diverse neighborhood with lots of funky shops and hip resaurants that feels like it’s just about to become the hippest-little-best-kept-secret in San Diego county.

The The Olaf Wieghorst Museum and Western Heritage Center campus is a charming exmple of original western architecture and has a beautiful enclosed outdoor cactus garden. Inside the museum you will find many western genre artworks by Olaf and his buddies, as well as historical artifacts. The museum hosts exhibitions by local and contemporary artists and photographers, as well as educational and social programs for the community.

This month I will be exhibiting a suite of small paintings at the The Olaf Wieghorst Museum and Western Heritage Center. The opening is Thursday, April 28th at 5:30PM. Hope to see you there.

Advertisements

Summer Workshop Registration Now Open

This summer I have the pleasure of leading a two-week Ceramics handbuilding intensive for artists of all levels in the beautiful mountain retreat center, Idyllwild Arts Center.

Plans for the workshop include working from the live model and 24 hour studio access.

Class sizes are small so register now! I can’t wait to see you this summer in Idyllwild.

www.idyllwildarts.org/ceramics for more information and to register.

Workshop Flyer for Lee Puffer Summer Ceramics Intensive
Catalog image for Ceramic Scuplture: Anything is Possible! A two-weel ceramic workshop led by Lee Puffer at the Ifyllwild Arts Center in California
Reaserve your spot in my two-week ceramics intensive in the beautiful mountains of Idyllwild California. This summer, July 4-15, 2016. Register at www.idyllwildarts.org/ceramics
Reaserve your spot in my two-week ceramics intensive in the beautiful mountains of Idyllwild California. This summer, July 4-15, 2016.
Register at http://www.idyllwildarts.org/ceramics

Push Into Your Certainty

Do not avoid conversations about your artwork. When you are asked to explain your work to others it helps you to clarify and distill your ideas. you benefit from these interactions, especially when the people asking are truly interested in the work. When you are asked to defend your ideas, you define them, hone them, and invest in them. You may state your thoughts and opinions, but you wont truly know where you stand until you are asked to defend your position. This is why presidential debates, and debates in general are important. It’s great exercise to defend oneself. It makes you stronger. In art you will be asked to explain your choices, be it material, subject matter, or style. Embrace the opportunity to have conversations where you are asked to defend your position, or to justify your choices. See this not as criticism or evidence that your choices are wrong or invalid, but as an opportunity to be pushed further into your certainty.

IMG_3284
BlowTorch by Lee Puffer. 2016. Watercolor and collage on paper.
IMG_3282
Wisdom or Fear? by Lee Puffer. 2016. Watercolor and collage on paper.
IMG_3268
Attachment by Lee Puffer. 2016. Watercolor and collage on paper.
IMG_3267
Dream of Snakes by Lee Puffer. 2016. Watercolor and collage on paper.

What is Contemporary Art?

In its most basic definition, Contemporary Art means art that is made today, by living artists. It may suffice to stop there because although there are many more detailed and specific definitions, there are often contradictory definitions as well. If contemporary art is distinguished by any one factor, it would be that it defies definition. Contemporary art can be made in any material or media. Contemporary art encompasses all current practices, cultures, methods, and technologies.

Contemporary Art, Watercolor and collage on paper, by Lee Puffer, 2016
“Thinking” by Lee Puffer, 2016. Watercolor and collage on paper.

There are some common threads that run through most contemporary art practice. Contemporary art usually references culture. This can happen in a variety of ways. It can engage with its culture of origin, or offer commentary on world events. Sometimes the artwork will reference history. Sometimes popular culture is a latent or overt theme.

Contemporary artists are keenly versed in art history and the artwork reflects this through subtle references or direct quotations either in method or image.

Contemporary art practice is not necessarily materials based. Artists are free to use any media and technique and often use multiple media. The use of new technologies, or at least and awareness of new technologies is essential. There are as many ways of working as there are artists. Art materials vary widely from the traditional (paint, clay) to things not usually identified as art materials such as found objects and the human body. It’s the artists utilization of the media that makes it art.

Contemporary Art, painting, watercolor and collage on paper by Lee Puffer 2016
“Sculpture” by Lee Puffer, watercolor and collage on paper, 2016/

The unifying factor, if there is one, in contemporary art, is the artist’s concern for meaning. To take it one step further, I would say that art, for the artist, is a way of interacting with the world that makes life more meaningful for the artist and uncovers meaningful truths about the human experience for both the artist and the viewer. While meaningful experience has always been the result of interaction with a successful artwork, the notion of meaning being primary to the artwork is a contemporary idea.

This a very exciting time to be an artist as there are no limitations to what or how art can be. While some artists find this liberating, the lack of parameters can seem overwhelming to others. Artists must decide what methods and materials to use to say what they need to say with their art.

Art is an Open Country

 

Red Brainstorm by Lee Puffer 2016. Mixed media on paper.
Red Brainstorm by Lee Puffer 2016. Mixed media on paper.

Art is an open country. Everyone can stay. In a creative environment where everyone is welcome, there are bound to be differences of opinion, differences in modes of expression, and delivery systems.

Sometimes there is chaos in my classroom. I see it as controlled chaos, but some may see it as out of control. I am aware of that. It is ok. Some may think that I am lazy and that is why I do not take control of my class. Or perhaps I am inexperienced and lack the ability to deal with the disorder. It may be that I don’t notice it.

I assure you, none of those things is true. I see who gets annoyed, who sighs and judges and shakes their heads. I see you. I value your comfort, I do. But I value the chaos more. No one is getting hurt. No one feels threatened either physically or emotionally. It’s all ok.

Blue Brainstorm by Lee Puffer, 2016. Mixed media on paper.
Blue Brainstorm by Lee Puffer, 2016. Mixed media on paper.

Art is an open country. Everyone can stay.

Even the noisy ones. Even the ones who mutter to themselves. Even the ones who ask the same question over and over again. Even the ones who need a ton of extra help just to get through the day.

All opinions are valid. You get to have yours, I get to have mine. That guy who is going to vote for Donald Trump gets to have his. We all get to express ourselves in art class. That is why we are here. We may not love the chaos. We may prefer a more serene environment in which to practice our art. Sometimes I prefer that too.

If you want silence, go to a library. If you want an open forum for self-expression, come to my art class.

Blonde Brainstorm by Lee Puffer, 2016. Mixed media on paper.
Blonde Brainstorm by Lee Puffer, 2016. Mixed media on paper.

Music, theatre, literature, and visual art can all represent the highest form of human expression. In fact, entire ancient cultures are evaluated based solely on their artistic output. Perhaps art is not valued so much these days, but that’s a topic for another time. Art matters and always will, despite current fashion.

Human expression needs an open forum to grow. An open forum can, at times, be chaotic. Controlling that chaos could limit the potential for human expression to grow. I’m not willing to risk that.

Green Brainstorm by Lee Puffer, 2016. Mixed media on paper.

So what if we are uncomfortable? Art thrives in discomfort. If it doesn’t, it should. Sustaining an artistic practice demands we be resilient. There will be many things in life that to try to distract us form our practice. Partners, kids, and jobs come to mind.

If we can learn to create within the chaos, we will be better artists. If we can accept and appreciate a variety of opinions, diverse manners of expression and different temperaments, we will be better spokespersons for our culture.

Brown Brainstorm by Lee Puffer, 2016. Mixed media on paper.

What’s Going On?

Zipper
Zipper. Paint and collage on paper. 10″ x 12″
Toasted
Toasted. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Tiger
Tiger. Paint and collage on Yupo paper. 10″x12″.
That Guy
That Guy. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Green and Red
Float. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Seated
Seated. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Purple Head
Purple Head. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Mother
Mother. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Bird
Bird. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Dad
Dad. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Baby
Baby. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Balls2
Balls. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Holding
Hoding. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Pink Kiss
Pink Kiss. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
RedLips
Red Lips. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Pink Lips
Pink Lips. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
IMG_2153
Laugh. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
IMG_2145
Blue. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
IMG_2443
Eyes. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Bikini
Bikini. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Reyes
Reyes. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Strength
Stength. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Marriage
Marriage. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Darkness
Darkness. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Book
Reading. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
swimmer
Swimmer. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Grabbing
Grabbing. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Freedom of Speach
Freedom. Paint and collage on paper. 10″x12″.
Banana
Banana. Paint and collage on Yupo paper. 10″x12″.
Dancer
Dancer. Paint and collage on paper. 14″x18″.                                                          All images copyright Lee Puffer 2015 . All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surprise Video

The San Diego Mesa College Museum Studies students stopped by the studio for a vist and seruptitiously recorded me talking about some recent work. Dia Bassett recorded and edited this video. I’m glad I didnt know it was being captured at the time, but I’m happy to have this clip now. Thanks to the San Diego Mesa College Museum Studies program for the visit and for all great work you do supporting artists and arts professionals.