Welcome to my artwork. I am not able to sell work at this time. Someday in the future that will hopefully change. Until then, please enjoy the images of my work, as well as my ideas.
Concerning the exhibition:
EXPERIMENTAL PAINTINGS IN ENCAUSTIC GESSO-GROSSO FRESCO,
and a review of work in other media, by Ken Boe
“X” represents the “unknown”, and for this thesis anagogy, a term going back to the ancient pythagoreans, and later as one of the 4 methods of liturgical reading, anagogy functions as a metaphor for something like the transcendental interpretation or “translation” of an artwork’s being. In the pre-medieval reading of biblical passages, it would have meant a kind of sacred reading where one is “tuned in” to the holy spirit, or original source. (For a Platonic interpretation, it might mean one is tuned in to the “first degree” or “pure form” of something’s cosmic blueprint, versus our earthly dimension’s crude rendition of that “true form”. In a more new age interpretation, it might be like reading, re-writing, or performing as a form of “channeling”.
For the artist engaged in making an artwork, this “reading” is simultaneous to creating that artwork — within the vacuum of mysterious process. Just as the ancient shamanistic artists going back to paleolithic times would interpret their visions synchronically with the environment they were in, such as the curves and texture of the cavern wall they painted on, producing an artwork symbiotic to both vision and sacred place, so I respond to the found objects and textures used in my artwork while making it. One might call that ‘deep environmental aesthetics’, or any number of things, where the artistic “flow” takes one to a place where one is not just representing nature, but is part of nature. Further, this “working” or flowing through the experimental and unpredictable “obstacle courses” of creativity allows the artwork to emerge while engaged in a kind of process-oriented “faith”, happening not unlike evolution does in its variations on a theme, slowly selecting one course over another until a kind of intuitively registered perfection is reached for each particular artwork.
This alchemy of the unknown into knowingness is the path of creating new paradigms. I often must stare at an actually original artwork for several days, with breaks in-between, before I can even start to see what is front of me. It’s like the myth of the Indians staring out at the sea unable to “see” the first arriving ships from Europe for which they had no comparable concept.
There are many confusing, often contradictory definitions of Anagoge/Anagogy on the internet. The word is up for grabs due to its historical ambiguity. But this is to some degree true of every word, each concept’s metaphor changing in the flux of usage and context. I could call the show “Refrigerator X”, and I don’t need a literal refrigerator to do so, though some reference or pun might help it along. Anagogy’s etymological roots are of celestial interpretation, the heavens always having represented divine natures, but which we now know are also just more galaxies, suns, comets, planets, moons, and yes, ‘earths’. On our Earth, at our point in time, the garbage theology and linguistics of “literal interpretation” has been replaced by a more urgent consciousness of just all of our garbage which we have littered our minds, environments, and even our cosmos with. In religion and aesthetics a return to allegorical interpretation only seems to make sense, but maybe also this thing that was called anagoge, as well, because its a term which we may bend to reflect the “indeterminacy principle”, so to speak, in our process of becoming, not just representing. The process of making art is not just representing, or communicating a pre-existent idea; it is creating something out of its own whole cloth simultaneous to the weaving of that cloth.
I interpret the entropic, losing-touch, man-made things “going back to nature”, otherwise known as garbage or litter. These things are contradictory in that their meaning was in their function, which has been eliminated as surely as a can of beer guzzled and thrown to the side of the road. Briefly it continues in a state of symbolic ambiguity, physically, semantically, existentially, perhaps spiritually. From these lost icons and dead metaphors, found in the ignored and mindless recesses (ditches) of human endeavor and environment, I lean over, processing them; painting on them; casting shadows from them, and seeking out new sublime image schemas.
The catastrophic allegory of these FALLEN OBJECTS is greater precisely because of their ambiguity and potential for multiple meanings. As creatures on a planet of gravity our “moral imaginations” have evolved metaphors where to fall down is negative, and to rise up is positive. So we put heaven above, hell below, and their synchronicities make sense to us because of our bodily experience in this environment we “grow up” in, and have evolved from. (TO BE CONTINUED.)
click image to unveil, click again to go deeper
For this selection, Imagination, Fast and Slow, I’ve been thinking about the best selling book Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman. I’ve found a coincidental praxis between what I’ve been working toward in my art practice, and many of the developments in Kahneman’s book. But I am looking for a revolution in seeing imagination as the basis of thought, which the scientific community hasn’t traditionally wrapped their mind around. (Essay continues following show information, with images between each paragraph.)
†Regarding my technique and medium “Oil and Encaustic Gesso Grosso-fresco”. In Yellowstone National Park, Xanterra Corporation has recycled crayons from their restaurants for me through their Ecologix program. The pigmented soy wax, which I mix with tree sap, and paint on absorbent plasters I’m developing, achieve a kind of fresco where the medium penetrates the surface plaster, though by different means than traditional fresco, using oil paint on the surface which is heat bonded to the surface of the wax-resin-plaster composite. I basically have reinvented ancient techniques, merged with other ideas and techniques I’ve been developing for years. I use discarded objects such as old cans to create my central images out of their shadows, for an ambiguous yet archetypal language.
I behold a powerful role for the artist in human civilization, from the ancient caves of southern Europe to the cosmological hyper-powers of the future. My own art shows are a way for me to explore those possibilities, and my artwork is intended to trigger actual creativity in those around it. More will be posted at my website as it develops.
So my exhibition’s title is a send up and play on words with Kahneman’s book, but with critical import. I hooked onto Thinking, Fast and Slow because he’s assembled together from his experience in psychological research and cognitive science, which includes his own influential research and theory, concepts which run magically parallel to my own research and theory regarding imagination, and the function of art in human environments. Kahneman’s concerns are with such things as how we think, free will, intuition, and decision making. Some of its just a matter of putting my own esoteric articulations in line with the appropriate fields of current research and terminology, something not always easy to do when you are off in the left field practice of art outside of academic circles. I think its hard enough for them to keep track of everything, and one thing that has still eluded most everyone is a working model of imagination.
I imagine a concept of thinking which is imagination based, and until we get that I don’t think we’ll really be able to consciously train better and more healthy thinkers, a skill which seems to have historically evolved as much by luck and circumstance as much as by any educational tradition or rigor. For instance, this crowd is put upon, by their own research, to dismiss the human ego of having free will. I ask them, if we could truly know and master our unconscious selves, might we yet discover free will? Yet, who is trained in their fantasy and daydreaming persona, let alone their REM performances? WIthout a comprehensive art and science of, and tradition for educating children in their fantasy-based imaginations, humanity has little grip on itself. All human endeavor and thought, even ethics and “conscience”, from violence and defense, to invention and planning, are imagination based, and in a way which are rooted in our fantasy lives. So this human creativity is logically a power domain of the artist, of the artwork itself, and much more than has yet been realized. The artist has likewise not yet risen to her stature in the practice’ of humanity.
Kahneman has brought together some concepts that are really useful here. From Fast and Slow, I’ll list some of interest to me, and go into more detail in an extension of this paper to be read February 7th at the closing reception of my show. Fast thinking (automaticity) and slow thinking (deliberative consciousness); Priming (how things in the environment pre-program our behavior): and Flow (the merging of fast and slow by a trained agent, such as a soldier, surgeon, athlete, or artist.) Other thinkers such as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, John A. Bargh, and others are behind the research. I will present more references in the final paper and welcome any feedback.
I believe my theories of priming synchronic vocabulary can be scientifically demonstrated and would welcome a collaborator, or sponsor, to work on going about that.
From previous shows:
As an artist I see myself as indefinitely experimental, a gatherer of techniques, methods, ideas that I have gained from that experimenting; building an ever increasing range of style which is designed to hopefully add to the creativity of those exposed to my work. My linguistic philosophy of art is that the environment we share is the language we share, as our analogies and metaphors are drawn from where we are together. Art and nature fulfill this role, the role of the synchronic vocabulary between thought in action; talk in action, synchronized through our unconscious peripheral vision into the tropes of spontaneously creative communication. And like this original theory of mine, I develop original techniques, or hybrid techniques, seeking out ‘textural literacies’ though mixed-mediums from waxes and tree resins to plasters and oils. I see medium and technique as being just as symbolic as representation is thought to be. I seek in my work compositions which triangulate these semiotic forces. I work with found objects going back to nature, shadowing out unique patterns yet grounded somewhere abstractly in our experience, that we might reference back to them in new serendipitous ways. I agree with those who believe that the artist is not so much imitating nature, but is nature, at least at his/her most spectacular moments, so that occasionally one’s work, or someone’s experience of your artwork, is a place where “beauty” and “magic” are synonymous. PAINTINGS FROM THE TEAPOT SERIES In my Teapot Series of paintings, I see what I can pull out of an unconscious scribble, sometimes pitted against found object “container schema” shadows; “steeped and brewed into randomly unique, yet archetypical images; whatever I can spout out, or get a handle on in the chaos and order of controlled entropy”. (Bad puns, huh, but its true that you can just about stick a handle and a spout on any image and call it a teapot.) And that’s what I wanted – some kind of cognitive schema versatile enough that I could develop the scribble into it in infinite ways. I also wanted it to be a container schema which is a bodily archetype we understand intuitively, that notion of in and out of, inner or outer reaches, from our bodies themselves, to numerous other notions of space, and conduct. Ceramic artists have been into making non-functional teapots for awhile now, as sculpture, and I liked that sense of ideation because you can’t pour tea out of a canvas, either, and contemporary painting leaves behind the 4th wall of make-believe, or suspension of disbelief, and allows the media to be a part of the meaning of the work more consciously. More recent works involve features and techniques from painting with a whip, and then advancing significantly to what I’m calling figuratively “Gesso-Grosso-Encaustic”, and “Encaustic fresco,” including the use of hand ground pigments, wax, rabbit skin glue in plaster, tree saps/resins, clays, plasters, and other experimental but thought out recipes. Most of these also play with the concept of the container schema, though usually manipulating shadows from “broken” containers, rather than working with the scribble. Either way, there is a developed intuition with what we commonly refer to as chaos and order. Here we have an example of this latest work: Automatic Maker.
The part of the story that I am most excited about is that my current work is finding ways to merge my past work and invention with oil painting, plaster, objects, wax, and whips and finding ways to truly bring them together into a more singular vision which I find authentic, a kind of intuition of “synthesis integrity” that only the artist knows in his heart and seeks to find. Contact: Ken Boe PO Box 4591 Bisbee, AZ 85603 928-273-7679 www.kenboe.com TRANSCRIBED NATURES: A GROUP EXHIBITION ONE NIGHT ONLY • MAY 25th (FINAL FRIDAY) • 5 PM to 10 PM 416 S. COMMERCE, WICHITA, KANSAS FEATURING: Bill McBride; Lisa Grossman; Kent T. Williams; Mark Feiden; Lee Shiney; Julie Wagner; Anna Patricia Keller; Ken Boe Please join us in this classic warehouse space, the latest addition to Wichita’s growing arts district. We are pleased to be featuring a number of Kansas represented artists who do not show regularly in Wichita, as well as a few familiar faces. The show is curated by former Wichita artist Ken Boe who now lives in Bisbee, Arizona. This is a one-night-only event and all of the featured artists will be in attendance. (From press release)
Detail from my 4′ by 4′ encaustic painting “Prophecy Of The Mundane”, to be exhibited at Transcribed Natures: CURATOR’S STATEMENT “Some artists reflect upon imitating nature, while others may come to see themselves as artist-agents of nature in their own right; that art may be a simultaneous act with/in nature, not just up against it. This exhibition is intended to be a transliteration of that question regarding the artist’s relationship to nature in a very open-ended manner. In this group show the artists’ works range from the sublimely modern yet beautiful landscape paintings of Lisa Grossman; the abstracted landscapes of Julie Wagner, and Anna Patricia Keller; the story-suggesting landscape photography of the Flint Hills, by Wichita bred Mark Feiden; to the more abstract nature of artwork by artists as diverse as the Sculptor Bill McBride, Kent T. Williams, Lee Shiney, and myself, Ken Boe. Of particular interest will be Bill McBride’s mostly free standing sculptures, which will walk the visitor through the different envi- rons of the greater 2-D ecosystem of the exhibit. It was in my conversation with Bill McBride concerning his work’s relationship to nature that we came back to the notion that for both of us, two artists manipulating found objects that themselves have been manipulated by nature’s elements, found ourselves in union with that inner process of nature, not merely representing it. But this is not to the exclusion of imitation in art. It seemed entirely necessary to include artists doing representational art of the landscape to complete this circle. No matter how abstract our own natures, the love of that larger nature of Self/Earth/ Universe includes the ancient human symbolization of it as much as its modern detachments: The man-made object – subjected to the entropy of rust, weather, wear, and disintegration back into the landscape; or the mere splattering of pigment according to her gravity.” —Ken Boe, May, 2012
The Cracking Of Realism
Not the dried out ruins made literal,
But rocks, and rope, and swung
Defeating the normal and feral
Assumption of the real
Fancied up with a frame, and hung
A giclee’ print of Vermeer
Who cracked the language of totems
Pulling a rabbit out of his head
With what’s now realism, although then
Was a sort of high Christian/low Zen
Transforming with skill the pagan deity
Still hiding in painterly ambiguity
Who once emerged from the archetype:
What was a moon, but then a watch;
A burning bush, and then a blotch,
What was truth, yet was not right -
To the lake of dark and light –
To now surf the web of television,
The literal Word of Television:
Decider of eternal hype.
More work on that later.