Discovering Uncharted Territories
Creative process can take humans on a journey into the unknown. This show reveals the human desire for discovery, in search of exploration, in search of a new place, being taken by that feeling of exhilaration at seeing something for the first time; uncovering, unearthing.
[Ron Weil's work is improvisational and full of risks, truly in search of that moment when chance meets discovery. Ron is focused, passionate, and adept at setting up limitations, working well under constraints. I marvel at how prolific this artist is with simple materials: charcoal and paper.
William Schwob is a practiced professional photographer and formally trained as a painter and conceptual site-specific photographer. Most recently he has expanded his mediums to include clay, dedicating time towards making life-size figurative ceramic sculpture. This artist relinquishes control over his belabored clay sculptures by placing them in a Japanese wood fired anagama kiln. His approach towards his converging subjects of landscape and figure, are compelling to me.
Both artists have a thirst for discovery of themselves in the act of making life-changing work. Both artists have become transformed from their previous callings; both demonstrate a high level of discipline with their passion of their art practice. Each in their own way is an interpreter, a recorder of this experience. Bringing the two together seemed the most natural fit because they share a brightening of spirit and a renewed outburst of invention. I see these works as metaphors for possibility; these artists and their works balance maturity and wisdom of life with an unquenchable thirst and drive for development of insight, helped by the accumulation of experience that only comes through time spent living. I see exceptional creativity in Ron and Bill. They are proof that aging can make people more liberal, more free, more lenient, and more radical in espousing progressive ideas and causes than during their middle years. Viewpoint continues to inspire and express regardless of society's awed focus on youth. Above all, maintaining the thrill of discovery is essential as we age. Picasso observed, “It is enthusiasm of which we have the most need, we (the mature) and the young.” ]
— Lonnie Lee, curator
I began using charcoal shortly after my wife died, but my choice of this grey medium had less to do with my grief than with the discovery of a new love: paper. I began to use drawing to fill the hole created by the absence of intimate daily communication. Now it's this new love that consumes me, and letting a day go by without putting charcoal to paper has become nearly impossible.
My drawing process is improvisational, even dance-like; it is the visual equivalent of call-and-response singing. Starting from the first lines or forms I place on the paper, I react to what I see. I draw some more, respond, draw, repeat. I look for certain qualities: textural complexity within images of apparent simplicity; multiple possible focal points where shifts of attention lead to unexpected transformations of meaning; potentially jolting variations in scale; surfaces that arouse sensations like the feel of silk or sand or rock; depth that implies hidden space. It is unavoidable that elements occasionally appear to have figurative meaning, but this is not my objective. I prefer the hunt for the visually fresh and unfamiliar, the difficult to name; visual mystery and its concurrent tension.
While my drawing process consists of paying attention to the immediate, evolving visual experience before me, I think my finished drawings address the concerns of my interior life: time, transformation, death, love, relationships, separation and isolation, beauty and discord. Drawing is how I engage in a daily conversation with the universe. The end product turns out to speak to my questions about life." —Ron Weil
RON WEIL was born in New York and grew up in Detroit. He studied economics at the University of Michigan followed by graduate work at Berkeley in both economics and a self-developed interdisciplinary study in urban geography. He has been a teacher at the high school and college levels as well as a real estate developer, urban planner, and community worker. He has made a living as a laborer, cab driver, and poker player.
Weil has been drawing since childhood, and his creative impulses have frequently caused his career plans to jump the track. While studying economics in grad school at Berkeley he took a year off to devote himself exclusively to black-and-white photography (he’s always trying to figure out where his love of gray came from). He experimented with double exposure and printing techniques like solarization. After finishing school he spent a few years using silkscreen to make political posters (some of these got favorable notice in Mother Jones). “Art kept popping up like a mushroom in the woods,” he says.
In 2011, after the death of his wife, he dropped other pursuits and gave his full attention to art. His first effort was an enormous drawing on paper, a phantasmagoria expressing his feelings at the time. He created pieces that made use of the materials of his wife’s sickroom. He took up pastels again, as he had often done in the past; but as had also happened before, he found himself lured away from color by the challenge of monochrome—gray, black, and white.
One day, while shopping for charcoal sticks, Weil discovered powdered charcoal and powdered graphite. He experimented with both but dropped graphite because it was too easy to make something pretty: “Graphite has its own inherent beauty that has nothing to do with me, only the material” he says. “It felt like cheating, a way to create beautiful stuff without soul.”
So he opted to work with the more challenging powdered charcoal. He developed a set of tools and discovered for himself a repertoire of techniques using natural forces (air and water) to produce images that, though produced rapidly, seem the result of slow natural processes. He works outdoors and has even tried to use the rain to assist in image-making. He says, “I like the patterned randomness created by natural forces, but what really thrills me is the magic of discovery and surprise that comes from making work with this medium.
WILLIAM SCHWOB was born and raised in Mishawaka, a small town in Northern Indiana. He developed an early interest in fine art through his father, a painter. At a young age he was drawn to both music and art. He attended Herron School of Art in Indianapolis in the early 70′s. Schwob spent his life painting, drawing, photographing, sculpting and also working with sound to create sound paintings or sound collages using synthesis of found sounds. His sculptural work covers a broad range of approaches from site specific conceptual pieces that document with a camera to more traditional approaches using clay and wood firing.
He began his university studies as a painter but midway though art school he developed a keen interest in conceptual art, earth works and other similar ideas that were coming of age at that time during the early 70′s. It was at this time he began experimenting with site specific works and turned to B&W photography as a means to document his comprehensive installation artworks. While assisting his wife, a ceramics artist, he came to realize his strength of vision could be expressed in clay. Vessel Gallery is proud to support an established artist's foray into a new medium.
"My most recent work involves wood fired clay, one of the most basic of all materials, combined with a process that matches the medium perfectly and resonates with the subject material of the human form. In my exploration of the human form I expose the anatomy and combine invented architectural structure in a way that suggests both the fragility and strength of the human condition. My interest in wood firing began with my travels to Japan in the early 90′s to the ceramic centers of Bizen and Shigaraki where I first encountered their beautiful ceramic works with their amazing surfaces and patinas of earth colors created by wood firing in large anagama kilns. The process is a collaboration between conscious intent and the unpredictable nature of wood firing. Initially, I model the clay directly, working with its specific characteristics and limitations. Once a form is completed, the clay is allowed to dry and is then bisque fired. I use no glazes on these works. The wood firing takes anywhere from 8 to 12 days and reaches temperatures of 2500 degrees. During this extended firing process the wood ash, minerals and salts, which are not combustible, begin to adhere to the red hot sticky surface of the clay and builds up into an amazing natural patina and finish that is usually more than I could have hoped for and in the process transforms them." — William Schwob
August 21, 6-8PM "Discovering Uncharted Territories" OPENING Coincides with 3rd Thursday Art Walk on 25th Street
7:00 PM Musical Performance by The Haydn Enthusiasts