Archive for February, 2011

Joya: arte + ecología / Melissa Marks / What I see…

melissa detail

She draws a fine line between abstraction and figuration, never transgressing the territory of one or the other. The drawings are in panels, the edges being the edge of the paper, a corner where the plane of one wall meets another. Itʼs a ʻdrop downʼ panorama, an unfolded landscape, an expanded, sometimes exploded, fragmented floribunda of life form.


When coloured with pencil crayon, bitter orange, pink and the Florentine painter Uccelloʼs red, I can see his Battle at San Romano. I see an element of his compositional devices, his playing with linear perspective. But Marksʼ work transcends the need to play with perspective. Marks plays with time, for this is like animation.

Works on paper are long, detail canʼt be read in one viewing. Like the Emperor of China surveying a cartographerʼs map of the Yellow River, itʼs length necessitates the viewer to move from left to right. We move from one scene to the next and within each movement we have a lapse in time, a change of scene.

measuring the yellow river Huang He Wan Li Tu  (Pictorial Map of

Before we were warm, the movement aggressive, broad sweeps of colour crash through purple-crimson garnets casting explosive gravity defying splinters to the sky. Then next we are before frozen water, still reflection and the soft yellow light of dawn.


So Marks unfolds a story, a chain of events and like the work of Hayo Miyazaki there is no good or evil. Sympathies switch, there is no clear victory and the relationship between Volitia (the heroin of her work) and nature is cyclic. So here is another fine balance.

Suntrap manifests itʼs self within an open but enclosed space within the body of a greater edifice, Los Gázquez. Volitia resides here in our roofless inner courtyard, an Andalucían patio, a place of shelter, a place of security both from the outside world, from those who might want to come in, and for those within who might want to get out. And at once this containment offers the opportunity to imagine other existences. Four walls, four sides of a piece of paper, four sides of a frame, a selected perspective on other worlds.

Marx pic

The Brazilian artist Roberto Burle Marx created space within space. He used the living, organic world to create form and composition, colour, light and shade. His canvas was the garden he designed for the Olivo Gomes Residence in São Paulo, and the passage of time in his work was the maturing of the plants and trees he planted there. But here, at Los Gázquez, we have the ecology of the pencil and brush, a monochrome ecosystem of the artistʼs imagination. The passage of light through our atmosphere giving colour nuance and hue.

There is much to admire in the works of Melissa Marks. I sub-titled this piece of short writing ʻfrom the perspective of another artistʼ. Thatʼs me, the other artist, one who wishes his own creativity could take such a consistent and assured line as Marks. To have found oneʼs visual and conceptual language so early in oneʼs career and to be able to pursue this ʻthingʼ for so long, the chaser never to be exhausted by the chase, is a very rare and lucky entity to possess. Long may the works of the imagination endure and define us, long may they sustain us and remind us of our place within this solar system.


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ArtSPACE Connecticut announces SCRAWL with Melissa Marks


New Haven, Connecticut: Artspace is pleased to announce SCRAWL, a seven week festival of site-specific drawing and related events.  Beginning February 9, 2011, 48 artists will work individually and in teams to transform the landscape of Artspace with simple materials and their own ingenuity.  SCRAWL’s major reception, with the work revealed in its entirety, will be at its end, March 25, 2011, from 6 pm – 8 pm.


Martha Lewis has curated an event where each participating artist or team of artists - all of the scrawlers - is assigned his or her own portion of wall or floor to work with, which will segue into other participants’ space within the main gallery at 50 Orange Street. The scrawlers will create their pieces without being able to to see what the other artists next to them are doing, ultimately collaborating on one giant collective work.

Inspired by the Surrealist’s exquisite corpse games, SCRAWL creates an exhibition in an experimental way with minimal means.  We start with nothing but bare walls and some markers, which we give over to selected artists, without being able to control the exact outcome.  Viewing the working process as it unfolds in real-time and exploring the experimental possibilities of large-scale drawing in a complex interior space are integral to SCRAWL’s methodology.

The 48 participating artists were selected by Martha Lewis, SCRAWL’s organizer, and include artists at various stages of their career, all unified in excellence of practice and a spirit of ingenuity. The SCRAWLers include:

Cat Balco • Anna Broell Bresnick • Alexis Brown • Francis Cooke • The Futurists: Karen Dow with a team of 12 students from Educational Center for the Arts • Laura Gardner • Zachary Keeting • Ken Lovell (and his drawing robot!) • Andres Madariaga •Melissa Marks • Maegen McElderry • Tim Nikiforuk • Kerry O’Grady • The Sausage Crew: Larissa Hall, Mike Pitassi, & Michael Riley (AKA Queen Larita, MC Sausage, & Dr. BOX)  • Daniel Rios Rodriguez • James Rose • Jean Scott • Rashmi Talpade • Team Tele: Maria Lara-Whelpley, Sylvia Hierro, Laura Case, Eleanor Tamsky, and Susan Ferri • Traffic Lights & Warning Stripes: Vito Bonnano and Justin Crosby • Laura Watt •

We are happy to announce a partnership with the Yale Center for British Art:! artist Rebecca Salter will execute a work on the Artspace gallery walls in collaboration with students from Coop High School for the Arts and Humanities.  The process will be documented and turned into a stop-motion animated film, shown in conjunction with her exhibit Into the Light of Things at the Yale Center for British Art.

SCRAWL is also being conducted in tandem with the Aldrich Museum’s Draw On! Festival.  On Sunday, February 20, 2011, Artspace hosts one of two drawing workshops led by master artist James Esber, with the other workshop taking place at the Aldrich Museum in March. Esber has been called “an artist working at the top of his game” by the New York Times.

Artspace is a visionary and dynamic non-profit exhibition space in downtown New Haven supporting emerging artists and building new audiences for the contemporary visual arts. Artspace is grateful for the support it receives from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the City of New Haven Office of Economic Development, Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, the Greater New Haven Community Foundation, New Alliance Foundation, TD Bank, Yale University and Yale/New Haven Hospital and from individual Friends of Artspace.

Artspace is open Wednesday and Thursday 12 pm – 6 pm, and Friday and Saturday 12 pm – 8 pm. For more information, visit us online at


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SUNTRAP: the adventures of Volitia - Melissa Marks

Artist Melissa Marks has made a statement to accompany the installation SUNTRAP at Cortijada Los Gázquez for Joya: arte + ecología


The Adventures of Volitia began with a series of drawings. I imagined that a remnant of abstraction, a detachable Pollock drip, rose up, caught a glimpse of itself in a mirror, and became self-aware. Volitia (as in volition) became a hybrid hero; part Superman, part Eve—creation come to life.

The project has taken the form of drawings, paintings, large-scale wall-drawing installations and animation. The adventures continue in order to accommodate this malleable character and her raging capacity for change. Volitia continues because her restless nature demands new venues. She moves because we watch. What we see, an ongoing abstract narrative, becomes the armature for our own fantasies and stories”.

Melissa Marks

And the Adventures of Volitia continues for Joya: arte + ecología at Cortijada Los Gázquez this March with SUNTRAP a 100 sq. m drawn installation.



SUNTRAP: a Melissa Marks installation for Joya: arte + ecología


Adventures of Volitia: SUNTRAP
Following the success of Melissa Marks’ 2010 residency at Cortijada Los Gázquez as part of the Joya: arte + ecología program, the artist now returns from New York to complete a 100 sq. meter hand-drawn installation entitled SUNTRAP.

The installation will begin on March the 8th 2011 and finish around the end of the month, 31st March.

There will be a gathering for the inauguration of SUNTRAP at 12.00 hrs on the 27th of March to which all are invited.

The event has been organised by Joya: arte + ecología. Cortijada Los Gázquez - creative retreat / eco-guest house is a sustainable, contemporary cultural and creative destination run by artists, designers and ecologists located in the Parque Natural Sierra María - Los Vélez. Almería. Spain.

“We believe this event to be an inaugural milestone in sustainable and cultural activities within rural Spain. Whether it promotes tourism or community action the contemplation of contemporary Fine Art in the natural environment is a unique opportunity and a force for change”.

If you would like further information about SUNTRAP, including Melissa Mark’s statement about the installation, a short critical essay ‘what I see when I look at the work of Melissa Marks’ by Simon Beckmann, further examples of her work including a short biography as well as criticism from Susan Greenberg Fisher and a little on Joya: arte + ecología follow this link use the password SUNTRAP (in capitals) and download a pdf to your desktop.


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The Food of Art - from paper to plate


Cortijada Los Gázquez has a new creative course…

The Food of Art is a creative course for those who enjoy creative activities around food, such as food presentation, illustration and photography. As an eco-guest house our food is fresh, seasonal and local. It’s the food of a well travelled peasant, infused as it is with the colours and flavours of India and the Mediterranean basin.

For more information look here, The Food of Art.


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Ancient and Popular Architecture…


New dates, new courses from mid-summer onwards. And to quote myself from the web site this is how it goes…

Predecessors here, on this land, that combination of Arab and Berber known as the Moors, and those who came in pursuit, carved terrace upon terrace, contouring the ribbons of mountains and valleys. Here they planted almond and ploughed the level earth for wheat. Here they built aljibes, covered wells, and acequias, irrigation canals. They made a dry alpine desert productive.

Now, that ‘old world’ agrarian tradition is fading and their wonderful constructions in poplar and adobe crumble to the ground.

But here at Los Gázquez we see an opportunity in this dereliction to make an inventory of these old structures. A study in art.

Together we can explore these buildings, investigate their agricultural and defensive traditions and with pencil, pen and paper record our discoveries.

If you would like to come along you would be welcome just drop us a line for information.



Studio Visit…

Rebecca studio

I recently got the opportunity to visit artist, friend and collaborator, Rebecca Fortnum in her studio in south London. I love photographs of artists studios and this was no exception. Rebecca is working towards a forthcoming show at the Museum of Childhood, ‘Absurd Impositions’ 9th April - 4h September 2011. The show will be (and I quote…)

A selection of drawings by Rebecca Fortnum exploring the ways in which portraits evoke the imaginative life of children, as well as the power relations involved in looking.

‘Dream’, a series of small pencil drawings of children with their eyes closed, introduces the idea that a child’s imaginings are inaccessible to the viewer. Has the child deliberately blocked out the viewer’s gaze, or is the viewer being given the chance to look with impunity?

Alongside Dream, the large-scale drawings in the series ‘Imperative’ present a child’s gaze that is unflinching and empowering.

These are two of the images which may be on display. They are large pencil drawings (720 x 1000mm) beautifully made on watercolour paper and viewed through a curtain like vertical colour wash.
The Museum of Childhood