March 30th, 2022

Michael Kessler, "Peaks (1)," 30" x 80"

Michael Kessler, “Peaks (1),” 30″ x 80″

This weekend we opened a new exhibition for Michael Kessler, an artist whose energy and zest for life is matched by his incredible works of art. We wanted to share a few photos from the event, taken by Victoria Slagel, and also add the artists’ inspiration for the works.

In the artist’s words:

In my new work I’ve got several strands of development going. The wet-into-wet wash on watercolor paper strand keeps opening to new and exciting discoveries. There is just no end to the fun there where it’s me trying to slightly control a very unruly and self-governed medium. The wash is determined to do exactly as it pleases and doesn’t need or want me to interfere too much. Lucky thing for me is that I LOVE how it behaves!

Michael Kessler

The other strand is the continuation of my skimming and troweling procedures. I’ve gotten more deeply into drawing linear forms with the squeeze bottle. I’m hypnotized by the action of this kind of drawing with paint and the way it dries all wrinkled and pitted like tree branch textures. Covering these drawn forms with various levels of transparent and/or translucent slabs then becomes a wonderful improvisational dance.

Synthesizing these two strands of development then becomes my next task. It’s a big job and I am thrilled to have it.

Recently I’ve been thinking about how different the “new artist model” differs from the “old artist model.”  I’ve been around long enough to notice an enormous shift. Almost everything I learned about making your way in the “art world” has changed dramatically. Used to be if you wanted your work to be taken seriously you had to go live in NYC. You had to somehow deal with the “gate-keepers”: the museum curators and directors were the top “keepers” and galleries keyed into them when deciding which artists to present. Collectors would then choose which art to buy from that pool of artists. NY TIMES critics would also focus on the pool of artists that had been anointed by the museum curators and directors. It was a small insular world where many players knew each other personally. It was the “ART STAR” machine and things got divided up in grossly unequal proportions where a tiny percent of artists received nearly ALL of the proceeds, attention, and glory.  That was the “old model.”

Aspenbent by Michael Kessler

Aspenbent by Michael Kessler

Now a days the “gate-keepers” have far less power and artists have far more tools and levers to pull. The entire world has shifted in dramatic ways towards a more democratic situation. It is now possible to be an effective, productive, serious, artist and have absolutely NOTHING to do with the established NY art world. The internet changed all of that forever.

A"Aspenbent by Michael Kessler

Aspenbent by Michael Kessler

From the perspective of the collector, it has also changed dramatically. They can choose from a much wider pool of options and end up getting artwork that truly resonates with their set of preferences. They can surround themselves with art that has meaning and significance to them personally rather than simply having the hippest art that the “art star” machine can produce for them.  This is a big improvement for both artist and collector.

-Michael Kessler, March 2022