Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Broken Road: Why do I live in a society that fears ideas?

The Broken Road: Why do I live in a society that fears ideas?

The art censorship scandal that occurred at the National Portrait Gallery has spurred much debate about free speech and constitutional rights-- all noble fights to wage for the greater good. However, I can’t help but observe an underlining sense of fear rooted in the core of some of the strongest individuals involved from both sides of this struggle. I for one don't fear ideas-- but I do fear extremes that desire to dominate all aspects of culture and thought.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Should the Director of LA MOCA, Jeffrey Deitch, resign or be fired?

An anonymous street artist supports Blu while challenging the authority of Jeffrey Deitch

Should the Director of LA MOCA, Jeffrey Deitch, resign or be fired?

There has been a steady flow of debate concerning Jeffrey Deitch’s decision to whitewash a mural outside of LA MOCA. The commissioned mural was destroyed before being finished due to concerns that it would cause public outrage. Deitch felt the theme of the mural would be considered insensitive since the location was near a Veterans Affairs hospital and a war memorial to Japanese-American soldiers. However, no complaints were made to warrant consideration of the murals destruction-- apparently Deitch was taking a preemptive strike to ward of controversy. Deitch has stated that his decision was a “curatorial choice” and should not be confused with an act of censorship. Needless to say, many-- especially in the street artist community-- disagree with Deitch on this issue.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Opposing Views: Who Determines Art Exhibit Content? by Kimberly Reed-Deemer

Opposing Views: Who Determines Art Exhibit Content? by Kimberly Reed-Deemer

I’ve decided to start a blog series that focuses on opposing views-- the target… My views. For the debut of this series I offered artist Kimberly Reed-Deemer the chance to discuss her thoughts concerning my views on the issue of public funded art.

Kimberly Reed-Deemer is a New Mexico artist with a background in fine art, paleoanthropology, scientific illustration, and museum design and construction. Kimberly takes issue with some of the opinions I expressed in the following articles:

Brian Sherwin: Art writer to be feared? Thoughts on public funded art exhibits…

Brian Sherwin on Art, Politics, and Censorship

Kimberly Reed-Deemer’s guest blog article is an insightful read-- I hope that you enjoy it as I have.

Who Determines Art Exhibit Content? by Kimberly Reed-Deemer

I share Brian Sherwin’s view that publicly funded art museums and exhibit spaces should represent a cross section of perspectives, but I arrive at this conclusion along a path slightly different from Brian’s. Being an unabashed political and social liberal, I have an obligation to address issues of justice when I encounter them, which is one of the reasons why I support opening publicly funded museum exhibits to include a diversity of viewpoints and perspectives, even those views I vehemently oppose. This doesn’t mean I attribute a blind equivalence to all perspectives, however. On the contrary, not all perspectives are of equal merit, and this is precisely why they must be examined in the open light of public discourse, and especially in comparison to competing views where rigorous analysis will identify and discredit flawed perspectives.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Brian Sherwin: Art writer to be feared? Thoughts on public funded art exhibits…

Brian Sherwin: Art writer to be feared? Thoughts on public funded art exhibits…

It has come to my attention that certain individuals within the professional mainstream art world are wary of my opinions concerning the state of the art world today-- mainly my suggestion that public funded art exhibit spaces should have to explore a number of opposing social and political themes in order to continue receiving public funding. I'm not going to make a name-dropping game out of this-- these people know who they are and how to reach me if they want to pursue a direct debate on the issue. That said, I do wish to explore the matter and defend my opinion.

My suggestion is very liberal at heart-- in that I think the public would be best served by being introduced to a number of viewpoints in a visual manner based on common themes from both sides of the social and political fence as reflected in the core of national debates on key issues. To me that is balance-- and I fail to see why anyone who truly supports art would oppose my position unless their own social and political view comes before art in general and are already being served by the state of public funded art exhibits today.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Art Censorship 2010: The reaction to censorship is not always cut from the same cloth.

Art Censorship 2010: The reaction to censorship is not always cut from the same cloth.

Art censorship-- specifically within an art exhibit setting, has been a hot issue as 2010 draws to a close. What interests me most about the recent surge of censorship is the fact that so many individuals are exploring it on political lines-- while contradicting themselves at the same time by lack of action in other situations. I suggest that these individuals are contradicting themselves because they should be just as angry at any form of artistic censorship no matter the political motivations if in fact they are truly supportive of artistic freedom.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thomas Kinkade could learn something about faith from the late David Wojnarowicz

Thomas Kinkade could learn something about faith from the late David Wojnarowicz

I’ve been following the David Wojnarowicz story and what bothers me about the issue is that the 13-minute video by the late artist, titled “A Fire in My Belly” (1987), is not anti-Christian as some Republican politicians have assumed. As far as Christianity is concerned the video is a reminder that some Christians tend to proclaim compassion and the virtue of Christ when in reality they rarely convey said compassion in dealing with others outside of their faith. In that sense the video is no more anti-Christian than works by Old Masters that explored the same contradictions of virtue that some Christian fall prey to. In fact, I know of one notable artist, who happens to be Christian, who could learn something about faith from “A Fire in My Belly”-- that artist being Thomas Kinkade.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Brian Sherwin on Art, Politics, and Censorship

Brian Sherwin on Art and Politics, and Censorship:

Last night I was involved in an online debate concerning censorship and art. I’m not going to drop names of who was involved because honestly I don’t care to argue with said individuals again. That said, I will say that it involved a notable art critic and a few artists. Needless to say, the debate ended up very heated-- mainly due to the fact that my personal faith was targeted by an artist whom, though I did not realize it at the time, I’ve clashed with before due to his bigotry against Christianity in general. Unfortunately, I feel that others involved with the debate missed what I was saying altogether due to that.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Contradictions: Appropriation Vipers are Easy to Spot

Contradictions: Appropriation Vipers are Easy to Spot

I’ve been involved with a debate on critic Alan Bamberger’s Facebook Wall about the challenges some people have while visiting artist websites. Today I decided to catch up on the conversation and I noticed that New York based artist Joy Garnett offered her two cents on the topic. Garnett stated, “It's also important to allow people to grab jpegs of your work with ease - as opposed to preventing it - so they can easily post and distribute them…”. Garnett’s advice caused me to laugh because her history-- and what she has supported in the face of copyright and the rights of the majority of artists-- speaks for itself.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Brian Sherwin’s Thoughts Concerning Media Hyped Art

Brian Sherwin’s Thoughts Concerning Media Hyped Art
The media hype surrounding a work of art can be fascinating up until the point that fad becomes the status quo. I think with the art world today we see a lot of art that is only respected because of a landslide of press-- both legitimate and financially spurred. Warrant enough buzz and any news story is worth being in awe over, true? In that sense, the media-- specifically online media-- attempts to define what the public views as being of worth. Who are we to question the masses if Yahoo! News tells us that gold dust on vomit, titled ’Sprinkling of Fate’, is the most influential artwork of the year because the work conveys the losses endured in Iraq? I for one question it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Update: Brian Sherwin Writing for FineArtViews

Update: Brian Sherwin Writing for FineArtViews

I’m pleased to announce that I’m officially a regular contributing writer for FineArtViews (FAV). FineArtViews is a free daily e-newsletter that focuses on art marketing, general art advice, and other art related information. FAV is known for having great art content that can be helpful to artists, art collectors, and gallery owners-- or anyone else interested in art.

FAV is maintained by Clint Watson-- a former gallery owner who is the driving force behind FineArtStudioOnline (FASO). FASO is a website creation tool that allows artists to create their own website in minutes. In other words, FASO artist websites make the tech side of art marketing easier for artists to manage so that they can focus more time on creating art instead of being bogged down by technicalities, so to speak. As for FineArtViews, Clint has done a great job of gathering contributors who are experts in art marketing online, aspects of e-Commerce, and gaining exposure for artwork online. I’m excited to be included in the team.

My most recent contribution to FineArtViews, titled Copyright Registration: Protecting Yourself as Well as Your Collectors, deals with the importance of copyright registration. I firmly believe that copyright registration protects artists as well as their art collectors. Excerpt below:

“The issue of copyright registration is always a hot topic among artists. Copyright registration can be an important aspect of marketing your art. The protection offered by copyright law is one of the best ways to secure the future growth of your art business. Copyright registration provides a strong foundation for future sales via means of prints and other merchandise-- and protects your creative investments if issues over who owns your images arise. Not only does copyright registration protect you-- it also protects art collectors who have invested in your artwork. It is something that all selling artists should do-- but I’m fully aware that most artists don’t.” -- Brian Sherwin

To read the article visit the FineArtViews blog. Be sure to subscribe to the FAV newsletter!

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When the Art World kills You: Some thoughts on Dash Snow

When the Art World kills You: Some thoughts on Dash Snow

I had an interesting conversation recently about the idea of artists creating a persona in order to advance themselves as far as public interest is concerned. During the debate it was suggested that gallery owners and curators help to establish-- or focus upon-- specific traits that will warrant press and all the fame that comes with it-- and that perhaps artists get trapped in that persona. The artist Dash Snow-- who died in 2009 at the age of 27-- instantly came to mind. It forced me to wonder if aspects of the gritty side of the mainstream art world played a role in Snow’s death.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Things Artists do That Annoy Me: Begging OR the Guilt Game-- Followed by Anger

Things Artists do That Annoy Me: Begging OR the Guilt Game-- Followed by Anger 

One of the most annoying aspects of being a humble art writer is that one is often faced with artists who can’t take a kindly “No” for what it is worth. Artists who beg for coverage-- even more so if they turn their petty begging into a Guilt Game against me-- happens to be one of the unfortunate obstacles an art writer faces if it is known that he or she has a following. I say obstacle because I don’t really enjoy turning artists away-- but sometimes I must in order to uphold my integrity and the integrity of every artist and art professional who has offered their time to me.

If I was all-inclusive my writing-- specifically the interviews-- would have never been as successful as they have been. Needless to say, I’ve upset my fair share of hopeful artists during my years writing for and other art related companies and magazines. Sometimes those artists get trapped by their anger. Thus, I felt it important to discuss this aspect of my experience so that hopefully more artists will think before reacting.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Things Artists do That Annoy Me: The Sex Game

Things Artists do That Annoy Me: The Sex Game

I’ve decided to post about another annoyance I sometimes face with artists-- that being what I like to call the Sex Game. The Sex Game tends to be played by artists who are desperate for exposure-- so desperate that they will throw sexual advances towards a humble art writer such as myself. The Sex Game takes different forms-- but the intentions are always the same.

The idea behind the Sex Game is simple enough, ‘If I offer him this, that, or THIS he will write about my art.’. WRONG. I won’t-- in fact, petty sexual advances have turned me away from writing about some very talented artists in the past. Said advances reek of insecurity and general low self-esteem-- which does not make a good impression as far as I’m concerned. Get a tougher skin or at least use protection if that is how you are going to promote your art!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Art Marketing News: FASO Launches Enhanced Analytics

Art Marketing News: FASO Launches Enhanced Analytics

FASO recently launched enhanced analytics for FASO artist websites. Artists who use FASO’s service can utilize the enhanced analytics feature in order to keep track of the number of visitors to their FASO supported website and observe a graph of that traffic over time. Furthermore, artists can get detailed information about traffic from other websites, know what pages on their FASO artist website is the most popular, and know what keywords people are using on search engines that result in discovering their website. The features can help you with your online art marketing strategy.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Brian Sherwin interview with author Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich is a New York Times best-selling author. Evanovich began her career by writing short contemporary romance novels under the pen name Steffie Hall. However, she is best known for authoring a series of contemporary mysteries featuring the character Stephanie Plum-- a woman who becomes a bounty hunter after losing her job as a lingerie buyer.

The Stephanie Plum series has been on-going since 1994. The Plum series, which are a mix of romance, mystery, adventure and humor have become widely popular in recent years. A film adaptation of Evanovich’s first book in the Stephanie Plum series, titled One for the Money, is currently in production.
(The following interview with Janet Evanovich was conducted with the assistance of Tonya Hoots.)

Brian Sherwin: Janet, I understand that when you attended college you majored in find arts-- further research revealed that your focus was on painting. Do you still paint? Also, would you say that your studies in art helped to set your direction as a writer-- in the sense that creating visual art can be considered a form of story-telling unto itself?

Janet Evanovich: I'm so busy writing and editing two books a year that I don't have time for painting anymore. The truth is that when I was painting, I was painting stories I was telling myself. When I look back at it, moving to writing was a very natural progression for me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Brian Sherwin's thoughts on strong copyright for visual artists

Brian Sherwin's thoughts on strong copyright for visual artists:

I’ve long been a strong supporter of copyright-- specifically for visual artists. The key issue today is that art can be a business now more than ever-- which is why copyright is important. My experience dictates that artists who are against copyright either don’t make money from their artwork-- so the infringement is not really an issue for them per se-- or they rely on using the work of others freely in order to create-- and profit from-- there own artwork.

The artist Shepard Fairey always comes up in conversations about copyright. After all, he is a prime example of an artist who would have a strong advantage if copyright protection as we know it were derailed. That said, Fairey is also an example of an artist who scoffs at copyright protection until his own artwork is put to the legal challenge. Fairey whines around about how copyright should not be so strict, but heaven forbid anyone do legitimate appropriation involving his widely known pieces.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Things Artists do That Annoy Me: What’s in a Name?

Things Artists do That Annoy Me: What’s in a Name?

Having been an art writer for half a decade I must say that I’ve seen a lot as far observing how visual artists promote themselves. Sometimes the choices that artists make in striving for exposure are downright annoying. I’m not talking about blinged out websites or ‘rate my art’ bombardments-- no, I’m referring to things far more sinister. Specifically, ways that artists present themselves in order to stroke their own ego-- or to lure novice art collectors into buying their artwork due to reasons that at heart are very trivial.

The main issue I would like to tackle with this writing is the fact that some artists use the fame of their relatives in order to try and secure their own mark in the art world. For example, I know of one artist who is quick to state on her bio that she is directly related to Georgia O’Keeffe. While it is perfectly acceptable to be proud of ones heritage I don’t think it is admirable to family namedrop simply to promote ones own artwork-- which is obviously what this artist is doing. After all, it is one of the first things she mentions when writing about herself or her art. Not to mention that she spelled Georgia’s name wrong!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Art Scams: Use this FASO feature to find out who you are dealing with!

Art Scams: Use this FASO feature to find out who you are dealing with!

I wanted to share this free feature hosted by Fineartstudioonline (FASO). If a person randomly contacts you about buying your art you may want to use this FASO feature to find out if the person is a known art scammer. This searchable database of known art scammers is made available to artists as a public service. It is free for anyone to use.

Basically, FASO keeps tabs on known or suspected art scammers in order to protect the thousands of artists who have personal websites hosted by FASO. However, anyone is free to search the database at no cost. Thus, you may want to do a search if you receive a message from a potential art buyer that appears suspicious.

Due to the ever-increasing wave of art scams online it is very important to utilize a free service such as this. It will give you some idea of who exactly you are dealing with. See,

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

And the Worst Visual Artist of the Year is…

And the Worst Visual Artist of the Year is…

Unless you follow the hardcore art blogging scene-- or are simply informed about art beyond knowing that Vincent van Gogh cut off his ear or that Pablo Picasso was a womanizer-- it often seems that online art debates, such as the ones you may find on Facebook groups or Myspace forums, boil down to petty rants that are infused with misdirected passion. Said rants tend to involve who the worst artist is or emotive tirades about what someone views as the worst art-- be it style or a specific work of art. While I normally do not involve myself with futile debates that strive to demonize or poke fun at a specific artist or work of art I do find the idea of ‘worst art’ or ‘worst artist’ to be both amusing and appealing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Art that is perfect for Halloween -- Travis Louie

My Halloween countdown of artists continues with Travis Louie. Previous entries in this series explored the artwork of Chet Zar and Laurie Lipton. The first entry in this series involved a painting by Chet Zar. The painting by Zar, titled “Night”, was inspired by George A. Romero’s cult classic ’Night of the Living Dead’. The second entry focused on the artwork of Laurie Lipton-- an artist who often switches the roles between the living and the deceased.

Travis Louie’s art is not so much chilling as it is downright fun. Louie has created his own imaginary world that-- as he has stated-- is grounded in Victorian and Edwardian times. Louie’s world is inhabited by various oddities and joyful abominations-- all of which appear to embrace the upper crust of their society.
Oliver Smiley - 11 x 14 inches, acrylic on board by Travis Louie

Monday, October 25, 2010

How to be a successful art writer online -- or -- how to put your best foot forward as an art blogger: Step 1 - Blog Presentation / Direction

Art blog tips and advice:

If you want to be a successful art writer online-- be it writing for a website or you own blog-- there are key steps that you can take toward that goal. Most are fairly straight forward-- unfortunately, many art writers-- specifically those working on solo endeavors-- fail to explore basic strategies that would help them to gain credibility and increase traffic to their content. Thus, I want to detail a few steps that I think are very helpful for art writers online-- especially for those starting their own art blog.

The first key step is to decide what kind of art blog you want to have. Is an art blog to you a way to gain exposure for your art? Or is it a way to give insight to your thoughts on art market trends and art news? True, you can mesh both directions with an art blog-- however, it helps to have a solid direction. Especially if you want to lure repeat visitors. My advice is geared more toward writers who want to add their voice to art criticism and dialogue of art as a whole online.

Step 1: Blog Presentation / Direction

It does not really matter if you have a personalized art blog or use a free service such as Blogger or Wordpress. Content is always King. If you have great content people will come regardless. However, when they do visit you don’t want to turn them off with a confusing mess of ads, links, and interests. Be careful not to distract blog visitors from the great content that you offer. In other words, avoid blog bling-- banner after banner, random links, or your mother‘s best recipe for fried chicken splashed on the side-- and try to stay focused on art in general. Don’t allow the presentation of your art blog to dictate how serious blog visitors take your writing.

Art that is perfect for Halloween -- Laurie Lipton

My Halloween countdown of artists who borderline on the macabre-- or simply stimulate the imagination of viewers with artwork that is both chilling and thought provoking-- continues. The first in this series involved a painting by Chet Zar. The painting by Zar, titled “Night”, was inspired by George A. Romero’s cult classic ’Night of the Living Dead’. In the scope today-- Laurie Lipton.
Reunion -- charcoal & pencil on paper 55 x 63 cm by Laurie Lipton

I conducted an interview with Laurie Lipton back in 2007. Thus, I’ve been aware of her artwork for a few years-- and have always been impressed. Lipton’s meticulously detailed drawings often involve a sense of impending death-- many of her works seem to explore a twisted reality where the living and the dead ‘live’ side-by-side. Other works provoke the idea that perhaps the living are not as alive as they might think-- a notion spurred by a change of roles between the living and the deceased.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rivalry Between Visual Artists: Do you follow any?

It is safe to say that there are probably not as many people following the careers of visual artists as there are people following college football rankings. After all, the average art aficionado is generally a fan of specific works of art-- not necessarily the artist who created said work and the disputes he or she may be involved with. That said, people tend to take sides with bitter rivalries-- think Packers vs. Vikings, Cardinals vs. Cubs, or even minor disputes such as Kanye West vs. Taylor Swift-- that involve media hype or obvious fandom. However, it is rare to see the same passion focused on rivalries between visual artists. Rivalries between visual artists, including famous artists, do occur-- and can be fascinating to observe or read about.

Art that is perfect for Halloween -- Chet Zar

I must admit that October is one of my favorite months of the year-- I’m a horror film and ghost story buff. Thus, October-- due to the build up to Halloween-- is great because people tend to be in the same mode of thinking. Not to mention all of the great food that takes the spotlight during October-- I have a soft spot for pumpkin pie.

While I suppose I should be spending my time searching for printable pumpkin carving patterns, roasted pumpkin seed recipes, or Halloween costumes I can’t help but search for artwork that has a theme of horror. In the days to come I will be posting about artists and artwork that I think are perfect for Halloween.
Night” - oil on board 20x16” by Chet Zar

One of my favorite artists-- no matter the season-- is Chet Zar. That said, his body of artwork fit’s the vibe of October perfectly. For example, one of his paintings, “Night”, meshes his great sense for the strange with an obvious love for horror movies. The image depicts the iconic first zombie encounter in the cult classic Night of the Living Dead. The painting itself is the perfect visual homage to George A. Romero.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Art World Prejudice: Sex, Race, Age…

Art World Prejudice: Sex, Race, Age…

In the recent past it was not uncommon to see only two solo shows by artists who happened to be female for every dozen solo shows to open in New York. Women exploring painting as the focus of their artwork stood even less of a chance of receiving a solo show compared to men. I doubt the situation has changed that much over the years. It troubles me that in the mainstream art world-- often noted for being liberal in thought-- such clear prejudice based on gender continues to dominate. This veiled prejudice fosters the idea that art is a man’s game-- and shoves that mode of thought into the psyche of the viewing public.

This form of prejudice based on gender within the art world can be observed in mainstream gallery artist rosters, magazine and blog lists of the art worlds “most powerful”, and in the media as a whole. It leaves one asking why in 2010 artists who happen to be female often are stamped as ‘female artist’, ’female painter’, and other gender-specific descriptions that are never used when describing male artists. It is almost as if the people who describe artists who happen to be female in this way are giving them a pat on the back for their attempts. It is insulting.

Why I started my own art blog-- serving up a new dish...

Why I Started My Own Art Blog-- serving up a new dish:

Just imagine me with a chef hat...

A few people have asked why I’ve started my own art blog. The answer is simple really-- in the last 6 years I’ve helped establish some of the most popular art blogs online at this time. That involvement ranges from helping Myartspace Blog become an art blog that has experienced-- at times-- 30,000+ visitors per month all the way to helping lesser known art bloggers to hit on key art issues that have helped their art writing to reach more people. That said, the time for me to take steps for myself is long overdue.

Having written for Myartspace Blog, Hi Fructose Magazine, and a few other websites and art magazines-- and having been quoted by Juxtapoz online, Deutsche Bank Art Mag, The Boston Globe, the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and other publications and websites-- I feel that I can best serve art and artists in general by having my own art blog alongside other art ventures that I'm involved with. As mentioned, this is something I’ve put off doing for years-- but now is the time.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Brian Sherwin interview with photographer, graphic artist, and musician Sean Yseult (formerly of White Zombie)

Brian Sherwin interview with photographer, graphic artist, and musician Sean Yseult (formerly of White Zombie)
Image used with permission from Sean Yseult

Sean Yseult is a photographer, graphic artist, and musician. She has played in several bands-- but is best known as having been the bassist for the heavy metal band White Zombie. Yseult was a member of White Zombie for over a decade-- and is preparing to launch a book, titled “I’m in the Band”, that details her experiences touring with White Zombie as well as offering insight from others who are involved with White Zombie. The book will contain a history of the band that fans have been denied for years.

Yseult has been involved with bands such as Rock City Morgue and Famous Monsters-- and of course, White Zombie. She has performed with many musicians-- including, Rob Zombie, Jay Yuenger, John Tempesta, Tim Jeffs, Tom Guay, Ivan de Prume, Katie Lynn Campbell, and various others. However, before becoming one of the greatest bassist’s in rock history Sean Yseult had an interest in photography and graphic design. In recent years Yseult has been focusing on aspects of visual art rather than music.

Brian Sherwin: Sean, you were one of the founding members of the band White Zombie-- and played bass in the band for over decade. Needless to say, White Zombie was very successful. I understand that you plan to release a book, titled “I’m in the Band”, that contains tour diaries, a collection of photos, and other information that details your years as a member of White Zombie. Can you tell us about the book and your motivation for writing it? For example, is part of the motivation to give credit where credit is due as far as the band lineup is concerned?

Sean-Yseult: That is a huge part of the book - I actually reconnected with almost all of the past members of White Zombie and asked them to write a piece to go in the book. Whether that was their first impression of White Zombie, their experience within the band, or a few funny tour stories, it was entirely up to them.

I not only want to give credit where it is due to all of the band members who contributed in one way or another, but also to all of the people who helped us along the way - I have pages written by our first record producer, Daniel Rey, our first guy that booked us in the East Village, Steven Blush, our a&r guy who signed us to Geffen, the list goes on.

Part of my motivation in creating this book was hearing from our fans once our box-set came out - they were very upset upon opening it up to find not one liner note or note of reference about the band at all. When we broke up we disappeared, there was no farewell or fanfare, no chance to connect with our fans one last time. The box-set should have been our final word to the fans, but it said nothing.

When I started looking through all of the boxes of White Zombie things I had saved - photo albums, tour diaries, back stage passes, etc., so many memories came back and I felt like I had quite a story to tell, with quite a lot of visuals on hand to illustrate it. Having started off as a photo major in art school, I almost always had a camera around, so I have photos of us from day one until the very end!

Brian Sherwin interview with singer, songwriter and musician Geoff Tate (Queensryche)

Brian Sherwin interview with singer, songwriter and musician Geoff Tate (Queensryche) (This is an interview I had with Geoff Tate of the band Queensryche. It was originally posted on the Myartspace Blog on April 19, 2009.)
Photo Credit: Greg Watermann/January 2009 More info: L-R: Ed Jackson, Scott Rockenfield, Michael Wilton, Geoff Tate

Queensryche, formed in 1981, is considered to be one of the most influential bands to rise in the 1980s-- largely due to the fact that Queensryche broke from the marketable direction that was expected from bands in that era. Throughout the 1980s Queensryche delivered something more than just songs about sex, fun, and hangover memories-- they delivered socially charged songs that challenge the listeners perception of the world and relationships around us. Today they continue to carve their own path musically and conceptually.

For nearly three decades the band has meshed aspects of visual art, video art, and performance art into their performances on stage. Due to their thought provoking lyrics, sound, and performances the band has been dubbed the ‘thinking man’s heavy metal band’. Concept albums by Queensryche, such as Operation: Mindcrime, are often mentioned alongside other notable concept albums, such as The Who’s Tommy and Pink Floyd’s The Wall. To date over 20 million Queensryche albums have been sold worldwide.

In an interview conducted by phone I discussed the visual aspects of Queensryche with frontman Geoff Tate. Geoff offered his thoughts on critics, copyright, and the challenges that musicians and visual artists face today. He also offered some insight about American Soldier -- a recently released concept album by Queensryche that tells the story of war from a firsthand perspective.

Brian Sherwin: Geoff, Queensryche performances often involve aspects of film, video art, and performance art. In a sense, various aspects of art are meshed together in order to heighten the experience of the audience. You could say that the audience is hit with a visual and audio bombardment. That said, how involved are you with the visual aspects of the tours? Do you oversee the process? Are you involved with the planning directly?

Geoff Tate: Yeah, I’m directly involved in the process. We have been collecting and cataloguing images for 28 years. In the early days it was difficult to keep track of images because keeping everything on file was a laboring process. With the technology of today the process is easier because the images, clips, and audio can be saved on computer files. So there is a lot of resources for us to pull content from within the collection when we are planning stage shows or videos.

For the stage performances I’m directly involved in selecting actors that have the talent to convey the themes and emotions that we want to capture for the audience. I help select and arrange the video clips that play behind us on the stage. So I would say I’m deeply involved and interested in the meshing of visual and audio for our shows and how that communicates to people at the show.

Brian Sherwin interview with artist Alex Grey

Brian Sherwin interview with artist Alex Grey (This is an interview I had with artist Alex Grey. It was originally posted on the Myartspace Blog on April 05, 2008.)
 Image used with permission from the artist

Alex Grey is an artist specializing in spiritual and psychedelic art (or visionary art) that is sometimes associated with the New Age movement. Alex Grey is a Vajrayana practitioner. His oeuvre spans a variety of forms including performance art, process art, installation art, sculpture, and painting. Grey is a member of the Integral Institute. He is also on the board of advisors for the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, and is the Chair of Wisdom University's Sacred Art Department. He and his wife Allyson Grey are the co-founders of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, aka CoSM, a non-profit institution supporting Visionary Culture in New York City.

Grey's paintings have been featured as album art for the following bands: Tool, SCI, the Beastie Boys and Nirvana. His artwork has been featured on Newsweek magazine, the Discovery Channel, Rave flyers and sheets of blotter acid. His work has been exhibited worldwide, including Feature Inc., Tibet House, Stux Gallery, P.S. 1, The Outsider Art Fair and the New Museum in NYC, the Grand Palais in Paris, the Sao

Paulo Biennial in Brazil. Alex has been a keynote speaker at conferences all over the world including Tokyo, Amsterdam, Basel, Barcelona and Manaus. The international psychedelic community has embraced Grey as an important mapmaker and spokesman for the visionary realm.

Brian Sherwin: Alex, can you recall your years as an art student? Also, at what point were you first interested in visionary art?

Alex Grey: As an art student I was a nihilist existentialist. I dropped out of art school after two years and went to work for Columbus Outdoor Advertising to paint billboards. I sent invitations to the openings of the new boards I painted, calling the work Capitalist Realism, making them part of the conceptual art movement of the 70's. Then I moved east and attended art school again for a year, studying conceptual and performance art.

Focusing on an examination of polarities such as life and death, I observed and documented a dead dog rotting. Later that year, observing the intuitive and the rational hemispheres of the brain, I shaved off half of my hair. Six months later, I shaved off the other half in a ritual performance. Placing the shaved hair on a human brain, I ate spaghetti, took the universal antidote, syrup of ipecac, and vomited onto the brain and hair. I wrapped the entire mess in a bag and called the performance "Brain Sack". These acts tapped into a deeply disturbed but somewhat shamanic search for meaning.

My study of polarities led me to trek to the North Magnetic Pole to perform "Polar Wandering". I found it ironic that the force humanity relies upon to get it's bearings, the site to which all compasses point, is continually in motion, a phenomenon by that name. Returning, I asked God to give a sign because I felt
desperately in need of spirit. Within 24 hours of that supplication I took LSD and experienced the unity of polarities as well as having met my wife, the human embodiment of divine love in my life. LSD was my first "visioning."

After "Polar Wandering", I left art school for good and took a job in a medical school morgue where I prepared bodies for dissection. A student of the subject of consciousness, I felt it was imperative to study the container in which consciousness lives.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Painting Never Died

Painting Never Died:

Lately I’ve been reading about the past claim that painting is dead. This bold charge still makes its rounds today on online forums and art blogs-- and will most likely continue to do so. However, while it is true-- specifically in the last few decades-- that the relevance of painting as a means of expression has been called into question-- it is also true that powerful works of art involving paintings continue to come into light. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the advent of the Internet has fueled the dominance of painting further within the art world as a whole-- and within the opinion of the public in general concerning art.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Is Specialization in Visual Art Important?

Is Specialization in Visual Art Important? 

I was recently involved in a conversation concerning specialization in art. Those involved in the debate were split between whether or not it is important for an artist to only focus on one form of expression. The debate boiled down to two conflicting points:

The first point, a painter who also focuses on music-- or sculpting, photography, and so on-- as a form of expression may in turn become a better painter overall. The idea being that an artist can improve as a whole by spreading out his or her efforts.

The second point, it may be better for an artist to focus on one form of expression rather than explore different forms of self-expression. The idea being that by branching out creative endeavors an artist may cripple his or her efforts as a whole.

I must admit that the outcome of the debate was rather gridlocked. That said, I would like to make my opinion on specialization clear. I personally take a some-what middle of the road approach to the matter of specialization concerning art depending on the context. While I do agree that it is important for an artist to have creative experiences outside of his or her focus of artistic creation I also feel that it is important to establish a specific direction.

Why it is Important for an Artist to maintain an Art Portfolio

Why it is Important for an Artist to maintain an Art Portfolio:

It is often suggested that it is imperative for an artist to maintain an art portfolio in order to document his or her growth as an artist. Gallery owners and curators tend to expect it. An artist who presents his or her work with a well maintained art portfolio is more likely to obtain gallery representation and more apt to be included in other exhibit venues. This is due to the fact that by having a portfolio reviewers will have an idea of where the artist is going with his or her work.

In other words, it is assumed that the artist is serious about his or her art if he or she takes the time to document it in a portfolio. It is also a lot easier to transport photographs of specific works rather than the work itself. That is the basic reason for having an art portfolio. However, I would like to make some points that focus on other positive reasons for maintaining an art portfolio.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What Do You Want From Art?

What Do You Want From Art?

I read an article in passing recently that asked the question, “What does the public want from art?”. The article-- which, if memory serves me correct was featured in the Illinois Times, focused on current art market trends and the complications between what the public desires to view compared to what is coveted by art institutions and galleries. The piece targeted regional artwork and the local art scene-- however, this rather broad question obviously has global appeal. After all, in the last decade alone we have seen various forms of protest throughout the world concerning art and how and where it is viewed-- and what should be viewed.

Superstition Aside, Art Can Be Powerful

Superstition Aside, Art Can Be Powerful:

It has been said that artists-- or at least their artwork-- have a way of bringing people together. However, the opposite can easily be said. After all, some artists make a career-- intentionally or unintentionally-- out of being forced into the role of social and political provocateur. One need only visit a New York City art gallery, read a mainstream art magazine, or visit any of the top art museums to take note of how controversial works of art dominate by seeping into our cultural dialogue. More often than not said works spur notions of hostility rather than some ideal of peace. Yet the romantic image of ‘the artist’ as great communicator and bridge builder persists.

When Groundbreaking Artists Become Kitsch Where Does it Leave the Rest of Us?

When Groundbreaking Artists Become Kitsch Where Does it Leave the Rest of Us?

One negative aspect of the information driven times we live in-- and how it is reflected in our culture-- is the fact that great artists from the recent past often become kitsch figureheads. Take for example Frida Kahlo-- who is now more apt to be admired as a tattoo than heard about in a worth-while discussion about art. The history behind her work and the importance of what she achieved is often forgotten in exchange for a watered down reflection of who she was and what her artwork represented.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Brian Sherwin interview with artist Michael Craig-Martin

(This is an interview I had with artist Michael Craig-Martin. It was originally posted on the Myartspace Blog on August 16th, 2007.)
To Be Titled (no. 6) -- Dimensions: 72 x 48 inches, Medium: Acrylic on aluminium panel. By Michael Craig-Martin -- 2005. Image used with permission from the artist.

Born in Dublin in 1941, Michael Craig-Martin studied at Yale University School of Art and Architecture in the early 1960s, but has spent most of his working life in Great Britain. Since that time he has shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions both in Britain and internationally, including the definitive exhibition of British conceptual art, The New Art, at the Hayward Gallery (1972).

The impact Michael has had on the world of art is obvious. From 1974 to 1988, Michael instructed art at Goldsmiths College, London. During that time Michael instructed- Sarah Lucas, Gary Hume, Damien Hirst, Mat Collishaw, Fiona Rae, Liam Gillick, Simon Patterson, Richard Patterson, Michael Landy, Abigail Lane, Angus Fairhurst, Angela Bullock, and Ian Davenport. Michael returned to Goldsmiths College in 1993 as Millard Professor of Fine Art.

Michael Craig-Martin has a long and impressive list of accomplishments in the world of art: He has served as a Trustee at the Tate Gallery, has done installations for the Projects exhibition series at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1991) and the Centre Pompidou in Paris (1994), and has created major wallpainting installations at the Kunstverein Hannover (1998) and at the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart (1999). Michael represented Great Britain at the XXIV Bienal de São Paulo (Brazil) in 1998 due to his dedication and contributions to the artworld.

Brian Sherwin: Michael, when did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist? Can you recall any memories or events from your youth that set you on that path?

Michael Craig-Martin: I decided I wanted to be an artist very young - I was about 12 when I first saw reproductions of 'modern' art. For some reason I realized that art would always be elusive and ungraspable and I knew that that was for me. I met a 'real' artist, the Spanish artist Antonio Roda, when I was 14 and started drawing classes with him. I was very determined but full of self-doubt.

The Artist Statement Part 3: What to Avoid when Writing your Artist Statement

The Artist Statement Part 3: What to Avoid when Writing your Artist Statement

There are good ways and bad ways to write an artist statement. The success of an artist statement, based on my experience, often depends on what the artist leaves out. I’m not going to claim to be an expert on the subject, but I will say that I’ve read thousands of statements as the senior editor for Thus, I have a few suggestions that I think may help artists who are striving to write an effective artist statement.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Inflated Pricing of Art Places Young Artists in the Danger Zone

Inflated Pricing of Art Places Young Artists in the Danger Zone

 The issue of inflated pricing of artwork has become a hot topic in recent years-- especially after the crises that bottomed out the art market not long ago. Art dealers have received the blunt of criticism concerning price inflation. However, I suggest that artists are to blame as well-- specifically living artists who have some control over their market. After all, the artist and art dealer relationship is a business partnership-- prices only rise if an artists sits back and allows unrealistic pricing to increase. That said, it is obvious that inflated pricing has hurt the validity of the mainstream art market as a whole-- and has harmed the careers of young artists within the market itself.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Artist Statement Part 2: Why it is Important to have an Artist Statement

The Artist Statement Part 2: Why it is Important to have an Artist Statement

I have noticed two opinionated sides when it comes to the importance-- or lack thereof-- of having an artist statement. The supportive side will claim that the artist statement is of importance because it helps guide viewers so that they have a better understanding of the art they are viewing. In the extreme people will go as far as to say that the artist statement is a reflection of how well the artist in question can communicate both verbally and visually-- implying that an artist who writes a poor artist statement is at least partially discredited as an artist-- as in the validity of his or her art may also be questioned.

The opposing side will claim that the artist statement is not necessary because the artwork should be the statement-- the old saying “Art should speak for itself“ comes to mind. People who oppose artist statements generally feel that the statement can become a distraction as far as the artwork is concerned. In the extreme those who oppose artist statements will go as far as to say that the statement is an insult to all visual artists because it cheapens the value of visual language by projecting the idea that visual art fails to communicate openly with viewers.

Regardless of your opinion about writing an artist statement you must acknowledge the importance of having one in the sense that artists are often required to submit a statement in order to be considered for an exhibit or to apply for residencies and other forms of financial or material support. Thus, it is often necessary to write them and to write them well. The artist statement is not going away any time soon as near as I can tell. Thus, artists need to consider that at some point they may have to write one. So why not just get it over with and do it, right?

My experience dictates that artists who have an artist statement are more likely to attract press both online and offline. As an art writer and interviewer I will acknowledge that I tend to write more thoroughly about an artist if a thought provoking artist statement is provided. The same goes for interviews-- I’m more apt to ask detailed questions if an artist statement is available. Point blank-- a well thought out artist statement lures my interest-- and I know that other art writers agree with my view.

I consider the artist statement to be a crucial read when discovering the grit of what an artist is pursuing with his or her artwork. Furthermore, if an artist has an interesting artist statement I know that he or she will provide fascinating answers if contacted for an interview. Hundreds of artists have their interview with me listed in their cv-- and I'd say the blunt of those interviewed artists provided me with an artist statement or had one available online before I contacted them.

To sum this up-- providing an artist statement can lead to press. I don't think the majority of artists understand that a relatively short piece of text can help establish further exposure for their artwork. That is why having a detailed artist statement is important.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Understanding the Business of Art Gallery Representation: The Big Agreement

Understanding the Business of Art Gallery Representation: The Big Agreement

 If we think of art in terms of business the decision of controlling ones market over sharing profit often comes into the fold. The issue at hand often boils down to mere percentages. The question at hand-- is it better for an artist to sell solo in order to reap the full reward of profiting from sales or is it better to place the business aspect of ones career into the hands of an art dealer who hopefully has more knowledge of selling art than the artists he or she represents? The choice is a personal one-- it is a choice that should involve deep consideration and research. Needless to say, art gallery representation is often very confusing to both emerging and seasoned artists. Thus, more artists need to understand the basics of gallery representation.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Artist Statement: (Part 1) Artists need to critique themselves

The Artist Statement Part 1: Artists need to critique themselves

It is not uncommon for me to receive questions concerning the need for having-- and the frustration of writing-- an artist statement. This is a topic of interest to me. I find the fact that there is debate over whether they are of importance or not to be fascinating. It amazes me that there are so many people with strong opinions involving the composition of a relatively brief text-- in some cases less than 100 words.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Artist Statements say Nothing when Plagiarism is Involved

Artist Statements say Nothing when Plagiarism is Involved:

After half a decade of writing about art and interviewing artists it is safe to say that I’ve viewed the artwork of thousands-- probably more in the hundreds of thousands-- online. I can remember days when it was not uncommon for me to view the work of at least 300 to 800 artists on a routine daily basis-- a constant search for potential interviews. Some days were devoted entirely to viewing art online. Needless to say, I've viewed a lot of artwork and have read many artist statements as Senior Editor of and as a contributing writer for other ventures. Thus, I have learned to key in on potential problems concerning the statements of artists and the manner in which they gain exposure online.

While 'hunting' for potential myartspace blog interviews I often notice basic problems artists face concerning exposure when placing their best foot forward via the Internet. In some cases the problem is in the form of poor website design-- others, poor image quality of photos that have been uploaded. These only serve as professional trip lines when one is trying to advance his or her exposure online. However, those errors can be corrected. Unfortunately, some of the problems I ’catch’ during my ’hunts’ are truly self-inflicted-- and can foster lasting damage to ones artistic ambition. The main issue-- individuals who plagiarize from the artist statements of others.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Looking Beyond the Hype: Is the contemporary art market a fraud?

Looking Beyond the Hype: Is the contemporary art market a fraud?

There has been a hailstorm of questions concerning the art market since the global financial bust. As the art market continues to have ups and downs some art collectors, art dealers, as well as the general public have demanded answers concerning the integrity of the art market as a whole. The focus of the criticism has been placed on the ethical practices of some art dealers and collectors. Needless to say, people are starting to examine the art market closer than they ever had before. At the source there is a great deal of hype to be found.

Many of the questions are common-- some were asked before the recent art world financial meltdown. Were prices inflated? Were novice art collectors duped? Did some art dealers sell ‘lemon art’ knowing that the investment would only ride as long as the art market continued to advance in a positive direction? Did top art collectors foster a market of excessive prices for their own gain? Are some artists to blame? Is the general public to blame? Who is responsible? The questions build up as individuals reflect on the art market as we know it-- frustration creates an environment of outrage.

Controversial art exhibits that stir violence and outrage-- who is responsible?

Communication Breakdown by Brian Sherwin

Controversial art exhibits that stir violence and outrage-- who is responsible?

In the last few years there seems to have been an increase in controversial art exhibits that cause a reaction of violence from protestors. For example, in early 2009 violence occurred outside of an art exhibit sponsored by the Vietnamese Arts & Letters Association Center. The exhibit explored aspects of communism and was meant to promote open communication about the experiences of Vietnamese Americans from different age groups.

Over 300 Vietnamese Americans protested the exhibit-- at one point protestors were able to gain access into the gallery in order to deface some of the displayed art. Protestors damaged public property outside of the exhibit as well. It should be noted that the controversial exhibit took place in a community where many Vietnamese Americans reside. Thus, one could say that an exhibit of this nature was not exactly a wise decision on the part of the curators-- especially since there are still ‘open wounds‘ within the community. Communication obviously broke down.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Art and Religious Blasphemy

Art and Religious Blasphemy

I feel compelled to write about the issue of art and religious blasphemy. This is due to a few articles on this subject that I’ve read recently-- as well as recent buzz in the news. I’m not going to target any specific religion or artist-- I’m simply going to offer some food for thought.

The contradictions surrounding what certain individuals will accept as meaningful visual criticism of a religion tends to interest me. I find it curious how quick some individuals will rush to the defense of a religion when an artist chooses to create offensive imagery involving religious leaders or symbols of faith of a specific religion-- while at the same time accepting similar behavior if another religion is involved. It sends the message that religious prejudice is acceptable depending on which religion is targeted.

The Spiritual Side of Art

She Thinks by Brian Sherwin

The Spiritual Side of Art

Art has the power to move people-- if art did not there would, in most cases, be no reason to create art in the first place. The visual dialogue that is art is one of the purest forms of communication in my opinion. There are hundreds if not thousands of examples of art that is capable of touching the soul of viewers. For example, viewers have been known to weep while standing before a painting by Mark Rothko-- while others have cried openly before Picasso’s Guernica. More recently-- viewers of Chet Zar’s work have described a ‘strange calm’ while gazing upon the world he has created with paint. Why? Because these works touched them on an inner level.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Brian Sherwin's thoughts on Fred Ross and the Art Renewal Center

My thoughts on Fred Ross and the Art Renewal Center

What happens when individuals who are inclined to favor the art world oppressors of the past play the role of victim today? One need only observe the Art Renewal Center (ARC) to find out. Below are some of my thoughts concerning ARC and the viewpoints of its founder-- Fred Ross.

Once upon a time the academic tradition had a strangle-hold on the 'art world'. Rules were applied to every type of artistic expression-- though one could debate that works of the time were more like regurgitation of old rules rather than a form of self-expression. After all, how can you express yourself when strict rules apply? If one were to break these rules he would be considered unskilled, untalented, or the Devil himself. I say “he” because the fact remains that the strict art academy of the past often denied artists who happened to be female.

Hype vs. Talent: Which is more important for mainstream success?

Hype vs. Talent: Which is more important for mainstream success?

If content is King than controversy is surely its mistress. A brief look at Yahoo or Google news reveals that to be true-- even when art is the focus of an article. Artwork is more apt to be covered by these news sources if it involves some form of controversy-- be it due to materials used or simply the subject of the work. There is also no doubt that some artists target controversy in order to spread knowledge of their work. It boils down to a question I’ve pondered before-- which is more important for mainstream success? Hype or talent?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Brian Sherwin's thoughts on VIP Art Fair-- I Told You So!

My thoughts on VIP Art Fair-- I Told You So!

When I first heard about VIP Art Fair I was certain that the mainstream art world would launch into attack mode. After all, it is not hard to find notable art critics and art dealers who are vocal against the concept of selling art online. That said, it appears VIP Art Fair has received a ‘Get out of jail free’ card from some of those very critics. I’m not going to land myself in the mess of calling out names-- but those in the staple art blogging community know who they are and what they have said about selling art online in the past.

Brian Sherwin -- Art Critic

 In Her Hand -- by Brian Sherwin

This is my personal blog. The following is some basic information about me:

I got my start with art writing / criticism after joining the team in September of 2006. I started out as a Contributing Editor for the Blog and worked my way up to Senior Editor in a relatively short frame of time. Since that time I've interviewed over 500 visual artists-- ranging from James Rosenquist to emerging artists such as Anthony Lister--  and have written just as many, if not more, articles about art. Eventually I plan to publish a book about my experiences, art theories, and advice.