Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Purpose for my Art

As I see it, Art has several reasons for being.

One is to connect with the creative divinity we have within ourselves. Another is to help others find their personal creative divinity.

Another is to build a connection of “friends” throughout the world and foster an understanding of our different cultures.

It brings great joy when I get comments from different artists all over the world that see my work and comment on it.

Thank you.

My Oil Paintings

hopi res

Hopi Res

Canvas 24” by 30”

My wife took a teaching job at Second Mesa on the Hopi Reservation at the end of 2001. The Hopi have a reputation of being in touch with Mother Earth and a more natural way of living. We made some good friends while there. I had the opportunity to paint and build furniture. This piece was the signature piece for the time. I love the color. The winter is pretty cold and the trees stood out. I painted a lot of trees. In folklore, trees were the gateway into the spirit worlds.



36” by 48”

I grew up in the Mojave Desert. The Mojave is between Los Angeles California and Phoenix Arizona. Interstate 10 passes right through it. Our land was ringed by date palms and pomegranate bushes. On two sides were irrigation ditches for watering the fields.

I lived for a while in San Jose, California and got into painting aerial views looking down on land formations. I think it is how the Silicon Valley people work all the time to make their big monetary score and then retire before 30. They really believe they can do that.

When I thought of painting an abstract of where I grew up, I thought of the aerial design and abstract pattern of the shadows, fields and ditches. I will repaint this again and again. It is a reminder of home. I went back one time and the current owner sold all the palm trees to a developer in phoenix. I heard the palms are on a golf course.

Saline Valley-Canvas 48’ by 54” This valley is next to Death Valley in Southern California. The bottom of the dry lake is below ocean sea level. My wife, Donna and her sister went there several years prior to our trip. It is a place where the same people have been going back each spring for the last 30 years. There are natural hot springs and volunteers have built rock and cement tubs for the springs. It is cooperative living at its best. We met many people from the bay area.

The valley once had many wild burros that were descendents of the gold miner’s burros from 80 to a hundred years ago. The bureau of land management rounded them up and moved them to a more remote location.

In the middle of camp was a skull of one of the burros, hence the smiling skull in the center. My friend Cecil, finds this painting very disturbing, must remind him of death.

  1. Angst- 30” by 36” I was working a hard job and it was having a result on my health. It was my own psychological way I was handling the stress. The darkness at the bottom was the creeping shadow issues that the job was revealing to me. I eventually had to let go of my attachment to the job and do something less stressful. The shadow kept showing up more and more in the paintings.

  1. Getting out of the boxes Canvas, 48” by 54”- I started this painting in San Antonio, Texas. The boxes are my thoughts, attitudes and how I have built my life beliefs. The role of artists is to move culture forward. Get us out of the current box so we can move into a newer one. The blue column in the back is the goal. Find the round peg and the round hole where it will fit.

  1. Pioneer Inn, Maui- This was my first large painting dine back in the late 80’s. Dimensions are 49” by 57”. We took a trip to Maui where a contractor friend had gone to live and work. He invited me to come over and work. I went to see what it was like. All I saw were grave yards. I got the message from my sub-conscience that this place was “dead” for me.

  1. Gathering Storm- Board 20” by 24” This is a flashback to the summer monsoons in the desert, where I grew up. Creosote is one of the local bushes. It is a good body detoxifier and smells great after a summer shower. Where I lived, was never overcast. But, in the afternoon, clouds would build up and release terrific rain showers and lightning storms.

  1. Boats Monterey- board 20” by 24”This is from a photo I took of boats in the Monterey California boat harbor. I plan on re-painting this at least one more time to get it right.

  1. Cactus- Saline Valley. This is painted on wood board. Dimensions are about 8” by 12”. We had to drive over a pass to get into the valley. It is a dirt and treacherous road. We stopped at the top to get out and relax. By the side of the road was this beautiful cactus in spring bloom. I took a picture and painted this from it.

  1. Keams Canyon Bridge- 24” by 30” This is another Hopi Reservation painting. We lived in Keams Canyon. Keams was where the “white guys” built their “white community” example for the Indians to get and idea of how they should live. As soon as the Hopi had a choice, they began to move all the health services nearer to where they lived on the mesas.

This picture was out the back window of our house and across the dry creek bed. The bridge connected the housing with some of the service buildings on the south side of the creek.

11. Desert Night- 24” by 34” I remember driving at night across the desert. You can see a town coming up from miles away. I’ve always had this “thing” for night pictures, night art. Guess it more of the shadow stuff. Carl Jung, the mystic psychologist, says when we stuff away experiences rather than deal with them, we also stuff away our creativity. When we are able to deal with old issues, the shadow will release the creativity also.

A Story about Plant Entities

I want to tell you a story.

Donna, my wife, who you still havent met, went to a cobb building class in the California Sierra Mountains. It was a women's workshop put on by Becky Bee, a known cobb contractor out west.

She has a motor home and a dog that she takes from job to job.

She wrote a booklet on earthen floors.

In the booklet she spoke about one project that was the disaster from hell. Nothing was working right, materials werent arriving and the subs weren't showing up to do their parts. Some one of the women working said:

"Let's go lay down on the land and ask what it wants".

Can you see a bunch of guys doing this?

So, they laid down on the land and were quiet.

After a little while, they leaned up and asked each other what they got. The consensus was "move the house". It was in the wrong place. So, they took the house apart and put it in a new location. The subs then started arriving to do their work and the materials began arriving on time.

The project turned into one of harmony.

When Donna and I were looking for land in Arizona, I remembered this story and asked donna to question the earth of one particular parcel. She said the feeling she got was that the earth felt injured, that it had been hurt. We made an offer on the parcel and in a few days we got a full disclosure on the land and someone had illegally dumped asbestos in one corner. The owner had to pay for a toxic cleanup. That was what donna had picked up. THe land was still carrying the negativity of the energy from the toxic dumping.

We passed on buying that parcel.

We eventually bought a lot by a creek near Rimrock. It had some building problems but I fixed those and got permits for a house. I would go our on the lot and imagine what I was going to build. One night in a dream, I met nine plant entities. They were the keepers of the life force for nine plants that would grow well on our lot. They said they would work with me. I told donna about this the next day and she cried. Her family were farmers in upstate new york for years. She has a deep appreciation for the cycle of plant growing. Each plant species has an enitity that helps all plants grow. That would mean bamboo also has one or maybe several.

I eventually abandoned my plans for building on the property. I wanted to build with cob but the permittting process had no understanding about cobb. I then looked at adobe block but when I got an estimate for wall building, the costs were way out of line. I then looked at stick built and then realized that I was building a house for economic reasons not for personal heart reasons. I sold the lot for a profit and moved to atlanta.

So what I miss, is doing something that has heart and is moving our culture in a more sustainable direction.

I want the blog to emphasize sustainable practices, heart, art, and connection to the unseen things that exist next to us.

Chris Hamman's Alternate Places

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Expressionism is the tendency of an artist to distort reality for emotional effect. Expressionism is exhibited in many art forms, including painting, literature, film, architecture and music. Additionally, the term often implies emotional angst - the number of cheerful expressionist works is relatively small.

In this general sense, painters such as Matthias Grünewald and El Greco can be called expressionist, though in practice, the term is applied mainly to 20th century works.

Origin of the term

The term was coined by Czech art historian Antonin Matějček in 1910 as the opposite of impressionism: "An Expressionist wishes, above all, to express himself [sic]....[An Expressionist rejects] immediate perception and builds on more complex psychic structures....Impressions and mental images pass through his soul as through a filter which rids them of all substantial accretions to produce their clear essence [...and] are assimilated and condense into more general forms, into types, which he transcribes through simple short-hand formulae and symbols." (Gordon, 1987)

Some of the movement's leading painters in the early 20th century were:

There were a number of Expressionist groups in painting, including the Blaue Reiter and Die Brücke. Later in the 20th century, the movement influenced a large number of other artists, including the so-called abstract expressionists.

Expressionism is also found in other art forms - the novels of Franz Kafka are often described as expressionist, for example, and there was a concentrated Expressionist movement in early 20th century German theatre centred around Georg Kaiser and Ernst Toller.

In music, Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg, the members of the Second Viennese School, wrote pieces described as expressionist (Schoenberg also made expressionist paintings). Other composers who followed them, such as Ernst Krenek, are often considered as a part of the expressionist movement in music. What distinguished these composers from their contemporaries such as Maurice Ravel, George Gershwin and even Igor Stravinsky is that expressionist composers meticulously used atonality to free their artform from the traditional tonality, and used techniques such as serialism and dodecaphony (twelve-tone) for expression. Lulu, an operas by Alban Berg, based on plays by Frank Wedekind is one such work.

In architecture, the work of Eric Mendelsohn comes under this category. An important building by him under this style is the Einstein Tower in Potsdam, Germany. There is an organic quality to buildings using this approach. Some sculptors also used this style, as for example Ernst Barlach.

There was also an expressionist movement in film, often referred to as German Expressionism: see expressionism (film).

There was never a group of artists that called themselves Expressionists. The movement is primarily German. The Blaue Reiter was based in Munich and Die Brucke was based originally in Dresden ( although some later moved to Berlin). Die Brucke was active for a longer period than Blaue Reiter which was only truly together for a year (1912). The expressionists had many influences, among them Munch, Vincent van Gogh, and African art. They also came to know the work being done by the Fauves in Paris. It is important to realize that although the Fauves and the Expressionists both used bright colours, they used them for distinct purposes. The Fauves hoped to achieve beauty, while the Expressionists hoped to achieve emotion through them. The importance of color was its expressive power, no longer was the subject the medium which led to drama or sentiment in the work of art, but it was the use of color and lines that were the expressive and powerful means. The Blaue Reiter "leader", Kandinsky, would take this a step further. He believed that with simple colors and shapes the spectator could perceive the moods and feelings in the paintings, therefore he made the important jump to Abstraction, changing 20th century art.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

getting it up

Joao is helping me with this blog site as it is new stuff to me. I hope to have the art and this site quickly integrated. I went to Joao's house today but without any of the passwords so we went off to some stores and tried to figure ways to spend money I did not have. He is now on his way to Florida in an old school bus to photograph a gig for musicians. THis should be interesting. Sounds like a Kerouac flashback to me.