Author Archives: Dwayne Butcher

Clayton Merrell

Clayton Merrell grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, and Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela. He studied painting and printmaking at Brigham Young University and the Yale School of Art, where he earned an MFA in 1995.  He received a Fulbright Grant to Oaxaca, Mexico in 1996-97.  His work is exhibited and collected widely, with recent exhibitions at: The American Embassy in Belmopan, Belize; Slow Gallery, Chicago; The Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell NM; Concept Gallery, Pittsburgh PA; the A+D Gallery, Chicago; and the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua NY.  He was the 2005 Artist of the Year at The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh PA. He has received awards and grants from the Pro-Arts Foundation, Skowhegan, the Millay Colony for the Arts, the Blue Mountain Center, the Vermont Studio Center, Artists Image Resource, and the Center for the Arts in Society.  During 2004-05 he was a fellow at the Roswell Artist-In-Residence Foundation.  He is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University.

Dwayne Butcher: What brings you to CAA this year? Any particular panels, sessions or is it just a good reason to come to New York?

Clayton Merrell: This year for me, it is mostly a good excuse to come to New York? (Carnegie Mellon) is conducting preliminary interviews for our Sculpture position. It is always good to come and see people, people I have not seen in a long time.

DB: Can you talk about your experience of interviewing at CAA?

CM: I interviewed for many positions at CAA, back in the day. But, not for the position I have now. We actually just had a discussion in our department that we do not like to conduct interviews at CAA because it is such a weird environment. The amount of stress that everyone is under, it is almost unfair to the candidates, because of the pressure cooker quality of the conference. We find that people are more relaxed under different circumstances. That was certainly the case with my interviews.

DB: So, what kind of things are you working on in the studio?

CM: Right now I am working on these medium scale drawing/paintings that are prepatory works for large-scale paintings. I just bought a bunch of giant stretcher bars, 8′ and 6′ in length, to get ready for this summer. So, now I am working on these 22″ x 30″ sketches for the larger paintings, working through a lot of ideas. I am painting a lot of explosions, actually. Explosions are on the brain, exploding landscapes, combing very pretty, very delicate elements with some chaotic imagery.

DB: Talk about some of your upcoming activities? Do you have any future exhibition or travel plans?

CM: I am taking a sabbatical next year, so, I am looking forward to doing a lot of stuff, travel wise. I have a show this summer at the Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York. I have an exhibition at the Caseworks Project in Memphis, TN….

DB: Which will be the highlight of the year for Memphis.

CM: Oh, I assume so. I am also applying for several residencies and will probably head down to Mexico for a couple of months. I used to live in Mexico and look forward to going back for several months. I will do that and set up a show (in Mexico) for the work I will make while visiting.

DB: Is there a particular region or scenery that you prefer to visit that will benefit the work?

CM: I don’t know about for the work, really. Being in different places in general make there way into the work. I am not one of those people that travel around looking for inspiration.

DB: So, your landscapes are invented?

CM: They are totally made up. I do not use any photo references. I tried plein air once and it was a disaster. I took a large canvas outside once and hung it upside down on these two large posts and painted it like it was above me, like it was the sky. I thought it would be a funny twist on plein air painting, but it was a terrible painting.

DB: What is your favorite artist, book, color, smell and food.

CM: I hate these questions. I will do book first, Let’s Talk About Love by Carl Wilson. Artist? It depends on who I am looking at, at that moment. Food: Extremely spicy Mexican Food. Color: It is not an individual color but I combination of colors. I will have to show you swatches. Smell: Ha, I have no idea.

Posted in CAA, Exhibitions, Interviews | Comments Off

Committed to the Craft

Image Credit: Dwayne Butcher

Please forgive the horrible image. I need a better camera. But, you can still see how great the coat Clark Stoeckley is wearing. Stoeckley was the artist that presented during the “Art of Pranks” session as an NYPD Officer that I mentioned in a previous post. This image, taken at last nights CAA Centennial Reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, shows that there prints of  chisels and saws on the coat. Brilliant!

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The Art of Pranks

“The Art of Pranks” (Thursday 9:30-Noon)

It was standing room only for this session and the crowd was as excited as I have seen so far at the conference. Beauvais Lyons chaired this panel that featured Sarah Archino, Albert J. Godycki, Hannah Higgins and Simon Anderson, Clark Stoeckley with Andy Bichlbaum as Discussant. Lyons began by showing examples of work that could be labeled as a “prank.”  He started with Marcel Duchamp, an easy choice, right? Lyons included images of various artists, office pranks gone awry and performance artists of the 1960’s and 70’s. He also included an image of Damien Hirst. The image had barely appeared on the screen when boos and hisses emitted from the overflowing crowd. Man, do people hate Hirst.  Almost, if not more, than Jeff Koons. I find it interesting that some would put Hirst in the same category with people that would cover a fellow co-workers office in aluminum foil or post-it notes. But, maybe, that is just me.

Besides the distaste for Hirst, the idea of “Prank Theory” is an intriguing topic I would like to research further. Some of the points discussed were prank in relation to parody, the ethics of deception and the relationship of art and humor. I think further examination of prank theory could work as a discussion topic in one of my seminar classes. It makes for interesting presentations, that is for sure. Higgins and Anderson had participants throughout the crowd stand and yell, interrupting the presentation. Higgins would take time from her talk to fill the water glass of someone in the crowd, while someone wearing a Joseph Beuys mask stood holding and petting a dead hare.

Clark Stoeckley, dressed as a NYPD Lieutenant, provided an overview of graffiti artists ruining cities and performance artists that are disrupting and manipulating the media. A few of the highlights of Stoeckley’s presentation were images of Improv Everywhere’s annual The No Pants Subway Ride in New York City and the work of Steve Lambert. Lambert is my favorite new artist.

There were many more highlights of this session and I look forward to thinking about them in more detail later. But, as I sat on the floor, I just couldn’t help but to wonder if the same Hirst hatred would continue tomorrow during the session “Prophet/Profit: The Famous Case of Damien Hirst.” I guess I know what I will be doing between 9:30 and Noon.

Posted in Bloggers, CAA, Sessions | 1 Comment

Agenda for the Day

I am such a great blogger. Yesterday, I posted my second entry to the CAA Conference blog. It was a great one. But, I noticed this morning I hit delete rather than post. Oops. I hope I do not get fired on the second day. Oh well.

Here is a list of highlights from the first day.

- A discussion on who at CAA is wearing the blackest black. (Just for the record, I used Rit Dye on all my blacks Monday in preparation for the blackest black contest.)

- The NBA Ballerz 2010 Poetry reading held at the Tea Lounge in Brooklyn. What is nerdier than attending a CAA conference? Going to a poetry reading, of course. This poetry reading was special as the poems were not about longing, death, or your abusive father. None of the poets wore berets. The poems were about the NBA and special NBA players. There was a lot of hating on Michael Jordan and Lebron James. There was even a poem about one of my favorite player, Marc Gasol Center for the Memphis Grizzlies. (Just for the record, besides my wife, my art, and my two kitties, the NBA, specifically the Memphis Grizzlies, is my favorite thing in the world.)

- Discussing with Adrian Duran why the CAA may want to rethink its current format or risk losing its members and effectiveness as a conference. It was a great and interesting conversation and I look forward to posting that interview later in the week and seeing your comments.

I did attend several sessions yesterday and may mention those in future posts. But I am off to attend “The Art of Pranks.”

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Here We Go!!

We, my wife and I, flew out of Memphis this morning as the snow and ice were on its way. The schools were already closed for the day and the local Kroger’s and Piggly Wiggly’s were about to run out of milk and bread. (The South doesn’t really do snow and ice very well) But, we made it of there safe. We now sit in the Atlanta airport getting more and more excited about the conference, seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I will post here as often as I can. You can also follow me on twitter – @dwaynebutcher

The sky is clear and the bar is open. I look forward to finally getting to NY.

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