Euphorbia Toxifera is a flowering carnivorous swamp plant especially dangerous for artists and other wandering souls. This drawing, made as I was just hitting my stride as a painting instructor at Art Center in Pasadena, seems to point to some ambivalence on my part regarding the value of that occupation.
The boar’s head hung in the studio of John Frame, where a number of us met for weekly drawing sessions and long conversations about art, life, and Michael Jackson. Some of us also drank a little too much wine. The boar was our mascot, and had a wreath of dried flowers around his neck, and never lost his silly grin. We went by the clever name of The Drawing Group, and even had an exhibition at the Laband Gallery at Loyola Marymount in LA. We hung our finished works around the outer walls, and built a room in the center that resembled John’s studio, our clubhouse. Behind that, the inner sanctum, was a room papered floor-to-ceiling with our life-drawings. The LA Times art critic said of the show that it was like “watching middle aged men do push-ups.” We met for seven years until our arms wore out.
Your work is always compelling and I’m always intrigued by it. There is always so much enthusiasm, and old fashioned though that state may be in the art world at present, for me it is something I value very highly. I always find I can look further and further into your work. The combination of skill, craft and intellectualism is perfectly poised. You seem prolific!
Thanks, Martin. I have always tried to layer the meaning in my work, because the short “3 second” take that so much contemporary art aims for leaves me very unsatisfied as an artist. The things I want to express are usually complex, so the work reflects that. Also, unlike many contemporary artists, as I’m working I don’t imagine my work hanging in a museum space, but in a home, where the collector views it everyday. It should intrigue and beguile for twenty years or more.
As for being prolific… you make this stuff for over thirty years and it builds up!
I love the story, Scott. We had a similar experience here on the East coast with our Paint Group. Our opening (and closing!) was at H & A. Most of us acknowledge doing the best work of our lives during that period. I wish there were some way to create a virtual form of this same dynamic through OM or the like.
Yeah, the Drawing Group was a very important period for all involved. John had said something to the effect, “If you don’t have a theory about your art, someone will make one for you.” We discussed the issues around our work enough to form our own theories, and it has been very helpful in talking about my work ever since.
Perhaps we are forming a virtual version of this kind of group on OM. We’ll see where it leads. As it is, we have discussions with people we’ve never met, but feel a bond with. And the discussions are generally much more substantial fare than you’ll find on facebook.
F. Scott Hess (b. 1955)
pencil, colored pencil, chalk, on Strathmore paper