Friday, February 6, 2009

Notes on a lecture: Stephen Kaltenbach meets, Robert Mallary and Lee Lozano

Steve's lecture last night was exceptional with stellar attendance for a cold rainy night. Steve's musings on his works were engaging, thoughtful, and at times quite funny.

little hans, tuxedos, resin, Robert Mallary, 1963
In the earlier part of the talk Steve made reference to the influence an artist named Robert Mallary had on his development. Back in late November/early December when we were still working on the show I was helping Steve coordinate with local art writers, and doing quite a bit of research. In so doing I discovered that this Robert Mallary was the same Robert Mallary who was influential in the development of Paul McCarthy's work. McCarthy featured Mallary's work in the Wattis exhibition Low Life, Slow Life in San Francisco last spring and McCarthy's mention of him was one of the many high points of that lecture for me. The nature of influence is so complex and something I think about a lot while looking at my own work. On certain levels influence is impossible to trace but then there are those earth shattering moments where someone comes into your life and makes a statement that could change the course of everything you're doing. What triggers those events and sets the ball in motion especially when the statement can be very subtle is fascinating to me.

Untitled,(hammer diptych), Lee Lozano, 1963
The other artist Steve mentioned was Lee Lozano, someone he has spoken to me about on numerous occasions. After talking to Steve I decided to start researching Lozano for my own interest and came back with a whole lot of intriguing and at times bizarre information. In fact tracing the history of Lozano on the internet is in part an exercise in separating truth from fiction. Some websites make scandalous claims about Lozano's mental health and personal life while others rebuke these claims leaving one to wonder where the truth lies. These tales are compacted by the fact that Lozano exiled herself from the NY art scene in 1970 - interestingly enough around the same time Steve committed the same action - to Dallas, Texas. I suspect that in her absence the exaggeration of her life and doings were amplified.

In the end through working with, and respecting Steve he has now become one of my influences both conceptually and professionally. So, like a germ or a virus, the trail of ideas winds on.

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