Posts Tagged ‘martin wong’

Arts in the prison scene…..Inez Walker, Leonard Peltier, and Ray Materson

First off sorry for the length of this article but I found these artists to be fascinating not only for their artwork, but for their personal histories!

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Inez Walker and Leonard Peltier were both found guilty in a court of law for murdering someone and both turned to art as a therapy and outlet during their time in prison. Ray Materson also spent a significant amount of prison where he picked up needlework.

This first set of pictures belong to the artist Inez Walker. Walker led a hard life. She was born into  poverty in Sumter, South Carolina in the year 1911. Her family gave her up and she became an orphan at a young age. At age sixteen she married, had some children, and moved to Philadelphia during a time. In the 1960s she was found guilty of killing a man. It is assumed the man beat her often, but she ended up in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for negligent homicide. She took an art class and began to draw, also an attempt to isolate herself from the rough and tough girls of the prison.

Inez Walker was released in 1972. Many works deal with the bad girls of the prison! She got married again in 1975 and passed away quietly in 1990. She was excited to share her art with anyone that wished to see it.

Inez Walker has works in Museums in the United States, Switzerland, and France.

A link to a great website telling the story of Inez Walker.

http://www.inezwalker.com/

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Leonard Peltier was a leader in the A.I.M. or American Indian Movement in the 1970s. Peltier was born in 1944 and was raised mainly by grandparents in North Dakota. He would eventually live in Seattle, Washington and own an auto mechanic shop. Peltier joined a movement called A.I.M. American Indian Movement. On a reservation in South Dakota a newly elected President Richard Wilson, was seen to have gotten the job via intimidation, violence, and even starting a private militia to intimidate voters.

Wilson stood trial but was not found guilty to the dismay of Peltier and other members of his movement. This led to back and forth incidents in which more than sixty A.I.M. members were killed in a few short years. Even the federal government got involved.

In 1976 some F.B.I. agents went looking for a suspect on the Pine Ridge Reservation wanted for assault and theft. After locating the vehicle they came under intense fire. The agents called in for backup and waited. No help came in time and the shooters were able to get off more than 120 shots. Peltier was one of the shooters and started to flee across the country landing on the F.B.I.s most wanted list. He would eventually end up in Canada where he was turned in by a female witness later found out to have been told what to say to the court by the F.B.I. men. She was threatened severely. Later it was revealed that she wasn’t at the shooting and didn’t even know Peltier before he fled to Canada.

A great painting by Peltier.

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Peltier is serving two consecutive life terms and is still behind bars. He sells paintings to help cover his defense and legal fees.If he wasn’t behind bars I am sure he would be among the most sought after native american painters in the country. I found it interesting the rifle that was key behind his guilty verdict is the same rifle we read about daily in the papers, the AR-15. Below is the car from the shootout with the Feds and Peltier.

Peltier has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize award nine times.

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A link to a website featuring art for sale by Leonard Peltier.

http://www.leonardpeltierart.com/

In this clip we see some photographs of the artist, a cover for a movie made about the story of Leonard Peltier, and some of his wonderful paintings starting at 43 seconds into the clip. Peltier was able to attain a high level of skill with his paintings which rival those of other famous Native American painters such as T.C. Carson or R.C. Gorman. Peltier is still incarcerated.

Ray Materson began crafting needlework during his stay in prison. Materson was born into a family that had many drugs and alcohol users. He started using himself as a teen. Materson eventually became a cocaine addict and to support his habit stole a toy gun from a retail store and completed many robberies. Materson was found guilty and even then tried to escape from jail! He was caught and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Whilst there he collected used and dirty socks using them to create his needlework. Upon his release in 1995 the artist has only increased his skill. Some works can contain as many as 1,200 stitches per square inch.

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Below a clip from an appearance by Ray Materson on CBS.

A link to Ray Materson’s own website:

http://www.raymaterson.com/

Another artist to check out never spent a night in jail, but I love the works of this artist! His name is Martin Wong and this work has to do with tatoos and prison. I have posted about Wong often as he was a key figure in the street/ graffiti art movement, amassed a great collection, then donated it to the city of New York. He passed away in 1999 of A.I.D.S.

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Andy Warhol did some wonderful works with this theme including the movie Prison. Prison was a film that featured such Andy Warhol All Stars as Edie Sedgwick and Sandy Kirkland. The story was about tales that happen while behind bars as was told to Andy by Bibbe Hanson.

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Artist of the moment……Robert Therrien….

Robert Therrien was born in Chicago, Illinois in the year 1947.

For his collegiate studies the artist attended the University of Southern California earning a bachelors and masters degree of fine arts.

Part of many museum collections including the Scottish National Gallery of Art, the Getty Center, the Tate of London, the Museum of Modern art in New York cit, and the George Pompidou Centre in Paris.

Therrien is very diverse working with mediums such as photography, painting, sculpting, drawing, and printmaking. The artist enjoys working with simple shapes and structures that he can trace back to his early history. Some examples would be the outlines of simple houses, clouds, doors, coffins, and snowmen.

Its easy to understand why he enjoyed doing the oversized table and chair work, he could trace this feeling to his own history so he was very attracted to the idea.

In this clip we revisit a show  from 2008 by Robert Therrien.

When looking at Therrien’s body of work its so diverse its hard to compare to another artist but I found this work of his to be reminiscent of the late street artist Martin Wong. Wong enjoyed trying to replicate the color and surface texture of the red brick. First an image by Robert Therrien.

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And this offering from Martin Wong.

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Robert Therrien’s work also reminds me of a current art exhibit taking place in Berlin, Germany at the Bundestag Museum of Art. The exhibit aims to show how dangerous the world is for little kids by showing viewers how dangerous it can be just walking around in the kitchen, living, and dining rooms. The title of the show is “How Children See the World.”

"How Children See The World" Exhibit

A brief clip showing people interacting with Robert Therrien’s table and four chairs.

A link to some more pictures and images about this show:

http://www.kmov.com/news/slideshows/How-children-see-the-world-204675171.html?gallery=y&c=y

Price range information: Sorry none available.

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Artist of the moment….Sarah Morris….

Sarah Morris is an artist known for her use of geometric shapes and bold explosive color. Sarah Morris was born in Sevenoaks, Kent located in England in the year 1967.

For her collegiate studies the artist attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. As all artists know, being an artist means growing constantly! Morris takes this to heart and went to study in London at Jesus College, Cambridge University in London. She also has taken courses at the Whitney Museum in New York city. Morris graduated magna cum laude.

Morris splits her time between London and New York.

She paints with super glossy house paint on most of her works.

In college she had a double major for her course of study. Morris studied political science and also semiotics.  Semiotics will be your word of the day, its the study of signs and symbols. One artist who understood this point very well an who incorporated symbols and sign language in his graffiti style works was Martin Wong. Wong died in 1999 but he was important for bringing graffiti art to the galleries and he had a very large collections of graffiti art that he donated to the city of New York. Below is a great example of semiotics or symbols used in Wong’s style of painting.

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Morris also enjoys making films. Some themes in the past of been celebrity life in Los Angeles and another was life in the city of Chicago, before and after President Barack Obama. In this clip we see some moments from her tenth film, the aforementioned Chicago. Her films are great for dissecting not only way a city is laid out and its architecture, but also the power players and prominent citizens involved.

In this clip titled AM/PM also by Sarah Morris, we are taken above and throughout the city of Las Vegas!  Very exciting and set to good music!

Well its impossible to talk about film and art without mentioning my favorite artist, ANDY WARHOL!  In this brief interview we here why Warhol himself made the move from printmaking and painting to film. Andy talks about his love of films and the underground film scene. Andy loves cameras!

Morris named her studio Parallax. Parallax refers to an optical illusion that happens when the position or direction of an object appears to change if the viewer changes position.

You know I enjoy reading artists that have done public commissioned works, and Morris has done many works in prominent locations. She has works at the Big Ben in London and Lincoln Center in New York.

In 2012 Morris did a feature film on the city of Rio De Janiero, Brazil.

Price range information:  For paintings in oils and acrylics they both range from $20,000 to $160,000. Digital prints can be found starting around $1,000.

Artist of the moment….Street Artist Martin Wong

Martin Wong was one of the first prominent American street artists that developed an international reputation for his style of street art which often included hands that were performing sign language.

Martin Wong was born Portland, Oregon in the year 1946. The artist grew up in the Chinatown area of San Francisco, California.

Price range info: Works range from $20,000 to $150,000. Wong is among the hottest artists on the market right now with new auction records being set routinely. Wong worked in oils, acrylics, and ceramics.

In this clip we catch up with our artistic amigo James Kalm as he views an exhibit featuring the artist:

Wong attended Humboldt State University in California. As a student he loved working with ceramics. During his time in San Francisco he also gained employment as a theater and set designer for local groups.

In 1978 the artist moved back east to New York city settling down in Manhattan.

The artist was a central figure in the grafitti movement that included artists from the streets getting into galleries and becoming commercially successful. Other artists who were also making the transition to gallery representation include Crash, Basquiat, and Keith Haring.

One work by Martin Wong was called Traffic Signs for the Hearing Impaired. He used his signature style of using the hand and fingers to spell out words. In this example the words spelled out “one way”, “stop”, and “school for the deaf.” The artwork was made in the manner of a regular street sign even using the same color schemes.

If you are ever in New York you can see the signs at the Lexington School for the Deaf in Queens, the New York School for the Deaf in Manhattan, and St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf in the Bronx.

Martin Wong passed away in 1999 from A.I.D.S. related illnesses. Wong was 53 years of age.

Wong was an avid collector of street art and after he passed away gifted much of his collection to the city of New York.

Martin Wong is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of Art both located in New York City.

What a great style Wong created. Hands are one of the most difficult things for an artist to depict, Wong was a master at working with hands.

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