Brian Oschwald ART         Ideas, Intentions, Means & Results    

(scruffy, occasional notes)



Making Art There is no central question and no useful answer, Just this: I get understanding without explanation

’The Noirest of my Betes?  ART IS NOT A SEDATIVE FOR THE THE RICH   -although in history it may always have appeared to be just that.     Art !   of every kind   ART,  the most targeted zone of entitled ownership for the nonce enthusiasms of the 'smart' people, with their momentary enthusiasms, their planet-sucking narcotic comforts,  their upholstered soul-suffocating worlds.  Yea, right. However, I push on toward forgiving nearly anyone;   Art encourages it.

If / when a painting is not some illustration of an existing story -  resist inventing a story that the painting might  serve as an illustration of.  To do otherwise is more a way of looking away from the painting than of looking at it, boldly living with & into the work itself in all of its uncooperative mystery.  Refrain from using the painting as a mere means to 'free-associate'.   Welcome then to the tensions you are left to feel: the discomfiting, exhilarating,  probing world of the maker, where Art & art-making mostly involves the process of making personal art- - not dishing up some anxiously conceived, non-monetisable product.  Most Art, and personal art-making greatly entails questions above all, not immediate or even eventual answers or consolations. Art changes no force that threatens the world.

Compelling as serious art  encounters may be,  it is existentially pointless for the wise to expect or demand life-strengthening clarity, cultural certainty, or wayward spiritual consolation from the art object itself.  An art image, an art experience is just a doorway to a larger self finally brought about only through an ever deeper connection with other people. In each other -not in things- is the meaning we crave.  Art of any kind -in a limited way- can enable one to willingly migrate toward that truth.


History & the Future

  • father: near-blind architect w/zero emotion. the mother? - an aggressive co-dependant-ish bible chorister

  • i've always loved being read to. a bliss so primal: campfire and story!

  • everyday i choose a garment for life in the world i see inside, and choose the music that dignifies effort in the face of limitations. if I don't paint.. I think about materials birthing or dying, texture, color, and design to honor the great fact of life per se

  • wing of moth, beak of bird, scale of fish, petal of flower ; there is no greater source of aesthetic wisdom apart from nature than world ethnic fabric traditions

  • my interests & exposure include history-hunger, academic philosophy suspicion, industrial design passions, world-ethnic fabric respect, traditional music longing, rose gardening discipline, healthy cooking

  • a [tendentiously] plausible future: impatient, searching color, nearly reckless GEO-storms of gestation, finding strength well beyond all necessary 'breakdowns', up new pathways (sometimes placid, sometimes ominous) to a reassembled heart, toward the better (though often quixotic) conditions of breakthrough and well-reckoned transformation

  • against presumptive omniscience about art— in myself i notice a dizziness that occurs when writing about art (especially here). This froggy feeling comes from a sense of the risk of over-simplification or empurpled over-statement that accompanies the consciousness that artists claim to offer world defining value and meaning more discerning than wisdom gained by other callings, other suffering and risk-taking

  • Motivation, Audience

  • perhaps the committed art pilgrim hopes & murmurs "move me" move me deeper into myself, into what's worth living for...

  • can I engage peripatetic viewer-collectors who scrutinize, think, study, and query the maker & others about what they notice in life, and qualify as art-worthy subjects of delectation, meditation, and debate ?

  • may i elaborate the threshold ? i long to 'place" what I make, not merely 'sell' it

  • shall i impatiently disturb / disrupt complacency with fresh astonishment, breathing the light of unique color toward a viewer's fascination with the image, offering- in essence- a magnetic, livable, unavoidable, and seriously rewarding experience -tingling the spine in anticipation of possession (and lonely meditative viewing)?

  • without overreach ( fighting the "artiste's" predictably defensive sense of self-importance) this art may & should exist to protect, enable, and champion the nearly measurable conditions of human-cultural flourishing

  • i am not afraid to contradict myself. i'm not afraId of things broken -then glued back together (after all, this is life for most people, isn't it?)

  • It is tremendously hard to overcome business-world illusions that benefit one personally. overcoming ego (that endless force ready to subvert civic & fellow-feeling) is a gigantic spiritual leap (always darkly spring-loaded to snap backward) the Ego: it is mountainous, it is totally exasperating. there no other terms for its destructive side consequences

  • what is my now-ness? here: every day standing open to sudden, often unwelcome insights, the exuberant play of insinuating nuances newly defining the 'remote' and the 'familiar'

  • capture ideas (prose) & feeling (poetry) emanating from long standing curiosities, battles & daily diplomacies

  • dive a deeper sea of absorption in the work process itself, fighting free of any presumed destination or specific 'explainable' result

  • each artwork is an end in itself without reference to any external cultural project, standing solely on its capacity to garner notice, appreciation, returning the viewer to a self illuminated by newly tenacious self-honesty

  • transcend life's daily MSG-marinated anarchies, the white noise of life, to notice, protect & expand single passing moments — when noticing becomes numinous by aesthetic absorption, thereby to capture in bloods’ warm longing and discernment, the great treasure in common experience seen large.

Influences & Appreciations

  • writers:   Rumi, Pasternak, Rilke, Woolf, Walser, Nabokov, Stevens, Sebald, Hitchens, Sam Harris

  • music: most early & classical, no trivial amount of jazz, minascule pop, all world, folk and ethnic musics,  lute, viola da Gamba, the harp, woodwind, bagpipes

  • painters: Turner, Rothko, Olitski, Morandi, Diebenkorn, 'wabi-sab'i,  many more

  • architects: Mac Intosh, Wright, Kahn, Scarpa, a few others

  • architectural design vocabularies & themes in the paintings & sculpture recall spatial experience through plans, elevations sections, and details. subtle & irregular perplexing geometries are explored. industrial environments and archeologies are referenced; rhythms & patterns of urban design, streets, neighborhoods, and mysterious passageways are understood their in strengths and decay. notice the walls, voids, articulated building materials, construction connections, complex surface treatments of various densities.

  • architectural sculptors: David Smith, Chaleda, Schwitters, and a few others

Theory   (Theoria = Contemplation)       So, what's the insight explored through  painting 'theory'? Understanding and action leap toward meaning when the 'what' (subject) & the 'how' (methods)) are in breathing alignment

  • immediately, directly, by allusion and implication, beauty is real and crucial everywhere now and in all of history. ugliness though ? thoughtful viewers gradually intuit that ugliness is a severe existential gateway to 'soul composting, offering odd unexpected healing or mitigation of fear, anxiety about mortality, toward an emotionally dis-illusioned renewal

  • STRUCTURE: my understanding recognizes this in all art matters -- this personal, generative X/Y Framework : X is "Prospect" / Y is "Aspect": 1) Prospect (X):= IDEAS emerging from the artists own lived social-cultural experience and judgement - the artist's conscious, rational viewpoint as to his labors time-bound cultural sympathies, focus, depth, breadth, hindsight, and foresight 2) Aspect: (y) = all the visual, constructive style elements and evident effects of any kind whatever: derivative appropriation, accidental techniques & unique personal treatments: means, methods: color, support materials, composition, shapes, sizes, textures, X & Y are the two basic interdependent structural realms of art, the matrix of self-creation and cultural contribution

  • art accomplishments gradually earn their status as valuable reckonings of world-making when the work embodies compelling personal aesthetic evidence over time and circumstance for an inclusive variety of committed viewers

  • an art experience involves tacit knowledge, suggesting ongoing investigation by the maker and viewers as to how meaning and value are credibly birthed from raw materials + passionate labor (in so many astonishing ways, across history (histories) & cultures).

  • offering an art work & expecting to convey a specific meaning, or specific kinds of presumptively sharable meanings invites disappointment. is it possible to ignore this ?

  • re-appropriate an alternative role for Art in our culture i.e. to mitigate suffocating consumerism, complacency and cynicism (at any degree of subtlety, with their pulpy muscles -dreary, timid & sad ] while declaiming any philosophically regressive assertions of Arts' vaunted agency as 'consolation & redemption' in just that conflicted cultural crucible is the uncomfortable place where we can deeply learn, and come to be more fully alive in both our aesthetic joys and our existential disappointments. Keats called that the place of ---(counter intuitive term)--- 'Negative Capability' -- being decidedly suspended between opposing truth claims without anxious concession to either claim

  • intellectual probity with a soft touch

  • accident is as much a part of painting as anything else, symbolic of the Grace that, along with Will, conspires to place plaint on a surface for no reason more defensible than fleeting joy

Research & Development

  • notice notice notice attention leads to devotion and illumination of new habitable landscapes previously shrouded in lazy if not willful obscurity

  • not without at least some humor --- a promising art soil is a lonely mind at ease with all kinds of uncertainty conceding that sanitized post-facto, spring-loaded story-making is specious

  • art-making - a playfully-serious way to hope, cope, contribute & honor imperfect individual subjectivity

  • each work begins with wayward record keeping / sleepwalking research into longings repetitive or never before encountered.

  • the flood of notions and possibilities requires management, not burning or over salting what’s on the stove

  • references: garden composting, metallurgy, demolition, the hoped-for transmutation of mystery into recognition, thought into substance

  • making studies & models - the rapid configuration of transient insight & fleeting entitlements, intimations well beyond reason and language

Subject matter:  Evocations

  • beauty plus decay -layered, scumbled

  • beckoning, nearly inscrutable instances of subtlety overlooked

  • gusting veils that tempt or hide, mists, fogs & scrims that demure

  • new dimensions of useful affect beyond familiar emotions

  • archeology & civil engineering murmured

  • remoteness & familiarity revisited: the collective unconsciousness honored, the aboriginal gene pool, the dark and beckoning "UR"

  • geometry and the detail of free-spirited garden rooms

  • innocence and deep place-making in the threatened public space of our gloaming environmental present moment

  • sensing the city, the neighborhood of dubious self-knowledge & self-esteem beneath the 'urban thrall' of my surface self-mage

  • from landscapes to IN-scape toward the GEO-figuration of the self newly imagined beyond the body

Studio Process, Methods, and Materials

  • oblique intentionality: accidents, mistakes and unforeseen discoveries greatly figure, that emerge from 'well planned' goings-astray, allowing spaces to exist where markings occur without hesitation or expectation

  • instrumental music practiced while viewing visual works in progress

  • (recently, I've learned to use my carrot peeler swiping it in both direction!s. (wow, who knew)

  • oils, mixed media, cold wax on wood panel

  • being clear about competing virtues: view presumed certainties through lenses that distort or over-sharpen

  • sonic involvement: hearing the sound of my scraping palette knife / the brush wet or dry. allow the scratchy humble pencil stub to have its say

  • sculpture: material & constructs about architecture as reassurance -not pride, architecture - its brooding cycles of pride, origination and decay

Composition, form, and Pattern

  • pattern recognition of GEO forms & shapes warm not cold, soft not hard, suggestive not defined, invitational not aggressive, insinuating not demanding, poetic not clinical, of music not of warning, intuitive not imposed

  • ordering devices (ideas: kits & cases that hold), measuring devices, storage & filing systems as memory banks

  • varieties of symmetry and the centripetal forces of anti-symmetry

  • horizontal fields and networks are earthy / human. vertical designs aspire

  • hand tools that reach, grasp, shape, sever or bind

  • rhythmic loops / visually connective sinews & tissue knitted together as visual fabric: prospective worlds & local repair campaigns in small mental neighborhoods

Color, Texture

  • bright palette or dark. pastels or dusty jewel-tones, colors mixed directly on surface: layered, excavated, scumbled rough /irresistibly suggestive

  • well broken color: zones & levels of consciousness about adventuring and absorption

  • visual and thematic translucence & transparency, squirmy over-lappings / ” like "crabs in a basket" - Justine / Durrell

Meaning:   Resistance & Resilience

  • believe that what is necessary is possible, double down on being fully human, live large in a non-partitioned mind, despite fragrant sadness, and weariness.

  • aware of social fragmentation, and the relentless trivialization of current social life, historical perspective and emotional honesty, we turn away from the mounting distraction, we inwardly return home to our unique understanding of how value is birthed; where responsibility for value and meaning-creation in our lives resides in our ourselves. how? think oikos (greek): assembling available raw materials -mixing those with passionate labor; that is the essence of life, self, & world-building

  • world repair happens through all processes similar to art-based self-making & re-making

  • at the greatest moments of tension & promise in creating or viewing an artwork [i.e. a precious 'canister' of useful darkness and dream ] the art work ceases to be about its obvious characteristics but instead emerges as a magnetic invitation to feel and have an expanded self, ever more inclined to live large, because at risk

  • the collection of works here aspires to rise above its effects to emblematically suggest conditions of human flourishing

  • this artist works (indifferently) to be free of the need to explain anything, while the viewer -fully engaged and dis-interested- “permits“ the artist this specific essential freedom. it's a shared grace in soul-making, flush with intimations of creaturely & trans-sensual- kinship

  • opposing self overreach, and of a chastened optimism, i hope this work aggregates as a family of (country & urban) qualities of mind about the ultimate value of the arts -- in making and repairing the world-as-home.


  • gallery minimal, if


  • welcomed

  • artist-gallery agreement


  • welcomed

Prices 2019-2020

  • $8.75 sq. In. (small works) adjusted ++ for large pieces

  • payment plans available

  • barter? perhaps

Will Deal Well.



my Team -

who can 'best' Dante  -  "Love Awakens the Soul to Act" ?

who may best Dante?  perhaps Simon Schama:   "Beauty is a Gateway to Love"

but I say  -not the only gateway .  Managing well the primitive shadow in oneself is the other gateway.


What all of this writing feels like -to me-here and now?

 "...late roses filled with early snow"     - T.S. Elliot