Jack of all trades

By ANNIE LARMON  |  December 16, 2009

WOULD YOU SAY THEY ARE AT ALL METAPHORICAL, OR ARE THEY SEEKING COMPLETE OBJECTIVITY? Complete objectivity is obviously impossible. That said, I don't intend any sort of metaphor or illusion, but it would be an illusion to think I can avoid it. I do have a core desire for a direct, existential statement.

ALTHOUGH YOUR IMAGES ARE MINIMAL, REDUCED TO BLACK AND WHITE, AND USE A CONSISTENT LINE GAUGE, THERE IS AN EXPRESSIONISTIC FRANZ KLINE QUALITY AS WELL, WHERE YOU LEAVE BRUSHSTROKES ROUGH OR CHARCOAL SMUDGES.
I love Kline, obviously, and Motherwell too. Expressionism is, I think, a descriptive handle that can be misleading. Kline worked very hard to make his paintings look as if they just happened. But he made a great many studies, and often worked and reworked his canvases, sometimes with a tiny brush.

YOU'VE BEEN AN ART CRITIC FOR THIS PAPER FOR TWO YEARS, AS WELL AS FOR OTHERS IN THE PAST. HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A CRITIC INFLUENCED YOUR ART PRACTICE? DID IT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH YOUR BREAK FROM SHOWING?
The problem with writing about art is that one has a tendency to think about art in words, rather than articulating something more fundamental about your experience with it. I don't think that has much to do with what I'm doing now, except that I've learned a lot about what I don't want to do.

YOU LIVED IN NEW YORK FOR A LONG TIME AND SHOWED AT SOME PRETTY MAJOR GALLERIES AND MUSEUMS THERE, NAMELY THE WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART AND TIBOR DE NAGY GALLERY. WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO MAINE?
I was born here, and my family has been here for many generations. It's my natural habitat. I've always been rooted here, no matter where I was.

HOW HAS THE MAINE LANDSCAPE AND COMMUNITY AFFECTED YOUR WORK?
The landscape, plenty, although I'm not prepared to say in detail how much. I'm not sure in what ways.

WHAT, IF ANYTHING, ABOUT THE MAINE ART COMMUNITY IS MORE ATTRACTIVE TO YOU THAN THAT OF BIGGER CITIES? HOW HAS IT BEEN BENEFICIAL FOR YOU?
Except to the degree that I see shows and write about them, and know a few of the people involved, I wouldn't say I'm really part of the art community. I can't say that I've accrued much benefit, except for the fact that there are galleries willing to show my work. And there are some really good galleries here.

Annie Larmon can be reached at aglarmon@gmail.com.

KEN GREENLEAF | showing at Aucocisco Gallery, 89 Exchange St, Portland | through December 26 | with Scott Davis + Richard Van Buren | and in "Above & Below," annual invitational exhibition at Greenhut Galleries, 146 Middle St, Portland | through January 2, 2010

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