Born New York State, 1968.
Lives and works in Houston, Texas
BIO / STATEMENT
I use minimal methods and simple constraints to create visually-balanced works of art—systematic explorations of visual complexity—to keep the viewer’s eye in perpetual motion.
My pen-and-ink drawings are made from a single, undulating line, embroidering itself carefully into an abstract emergent shape: a linework cloud. My paintings organize rough representations of paper clips into patterned configurations in bold colors. And my computer-printed circular mandalas are photomanipulations of those other works, reimagined into hyper-symmetric, kaleidoscopic rearrangements.
Educated as an engineer and software developer, I'm analytical by nature, and programmatic by trade, but as an artist, I distance myself from technology’s promises of perfection, preferring to create works that speak to us as humans, from our most recondite aspirations to our basest shortcomings.
Born in 1968, in upstate New York, I have a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering, and master's in Computer Science (specialized in Artificial Intelligence). I became a full-time artist in 2012, after over a decade as CTO of a small early internet software company. Aside from spending time with my two amazing grade-school daughters, I love to relax at the piano, especially with the suites of Handel and Bach.
My primary media are drawings (ink); paintings (screenprint + acrylic); digital prints (photography + photoshop) and woodblock prints (often watercolored by hand).
Single-Line Drawings. Wiry, cloud-like abstractions, non-objective expressions of motion and energy, drawn entirely by hand (eschewing technology entirely.) I begin with a sweeping gesture in a thicker line, then continue with a thinner pen, sometimes even a third, adding increasing detail until done. I keep the undulating calligraphic result as abstract as possible, so every viewer can see what they wish.
A drawing is finished when I feel my eye can traverse the entire figure willingly and without impediment. In the black-and-white drawings, each sub-region of latticework acts as a kind of stepping-stone. In the color drawings, avenues emerge where shades of higher and lesser intensity interact.
The looped, rectangular and color drawings each have their own set of rules—unwritten but systematic—to help me focus on the common goal: to move the eye through contrast and line density rather than mark-making or figure composition.
Clips & Ruler Paintings. (Also woodcuts). Paper clips, portrayed roughly, arranged symmetrically—albeit messily—around a slashing ruler. Begun as an examination of cross-hatching (inspired by my sighting of an office-supply van on a Houston street), they turned into a visual pun on Jasper Johns’s Corpse and Mirror, after I realized I was beginning to tread much the same ground.
I’ve heard many interpretations of these works: teeming bacteria, swarming insects, office workers, crowding masses, or just abstract patterns. In any case, I like to think of them as a comment on homogeneity and perfectibility, the machine-made paper clips turned into more organic, tactile constructions through aesthetic and photographic manipulations.
Like the Single-Line Drawings, they move the eye from one grouping of clips to another—indeed, every paper clip is a single line—but also from one color to another. Not only do I limit myself to paper clips—which are harder to turn into non-trivial cross-hatched patterns than I first imagined—but I also limit myself to four colors (plus black) in order to maximize the impact each color can communicate.
And believe it or not, the Single-Line Drawings have their inception in my attempts to depict these paper clip patterns using a pen, ultimately leading to the complex drawings they have now become.
Mandalas. I take photos of my artwork, either the Clips & Ruler Paintings (or the sculptures upon which they were based), or the Single-Line Drawings, and turn them into kaleidoscopic complications using a computer, then have them printed on circular aluminum disks by a photo-printing firm.
Digital Prints. I was introduced to MacPaint in 1990, with Illustrator and Photoshop soon thereafter. I use computers as the modern-day equivalent of scissors, glue and crayons. A “computerized” look is less important than the ease with which computers allow collage and photomanipulation.
Screenprint and Acrylic on Canvas. An extension of my digital practice, screenprinting allows me to manipulate photos viscerally, and acrylic glazing allows me to add unique hues with handmade brushstrokes. Reproduction lets me repeat the same image with different colors, inviting you to consider the effects of variation.
Woodcuts. A traditional printmaking technique, low-tech and visceral. I draw an image onto a panel of wood, then carve it, coat it with ink, and run it under a heavy cylinder against a sheet of paper. I carve with rough strokes, and paint afterward with bright watercolor. I often start with a digital composition, but after carving, the image becomes a new work entirely. Examples: Cycladic Rider 1; Legend; Huile sur Toile.
Sawyer Yard Revealed , The Silos, Houston, Texas, Jacob Spacek, juror
Images Included: Canon (2006)
Selected Works from the Artists of Sawyer Yards, Silver Street Studios, Houston, Texas, Clint Willour, juror
Images Included: Borne (2006)
The Big Show, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, Texas (George Scheer, juror)
Images Included: Jewel of Jeopardy (Leviathan #2) (Color Test Proof) (2015)
PrintHouston: PrintTX, Nicole Longnecker Gallery, Houston Texas. Karen Kunc, Exhibition Juror.
Images Included: Huile sur Toile (Blue Reduction) (2013)
35 Years of Printmaking, Glassell School, Houston Texas. Patrick Palmer, curator.
Images Included: Madonna & Child (2006)
The Big Show, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, Texas. Rita Gonzales, juror.
Images Included: Leonardo Had Only One Question (2007) [study for LA Shows are Cool (2013)]
Positive/Negative Twenty-Two, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee. Toby Kambs, juror.
Images Included: Lantern (2006)
EXU Magazine, Robert Boyd
Images Included: Jewel of Jeopardy (Leviathan #2) (Color Test Proof) (2015)
Stunningly Unique Art Gifts, Catherine Anspon, Papercity Magazine (online), December 23, 2018. Artwork featured in slideshow curated by the editors.
Art & Life with John Hovig Wide-ranging interview by the editors of Voyage Houston, December 12, 2018.
This Art Stroll Offers a Rare Look Inside the Private Studio Sanctum, Papercity Magazine (online), October 1, 2018. Artwork featured in slideshow as part of promotional content by Sawyer Yards.
Sawyer Yards is Throwing a Mega Art Party as it Expands. Matthew Ramirez, Papercity Magazine (online), April 23, 2018. Artwork featured in slideshow curated by Catherine D Anspon.
Houston’s Most Important Art Auction Moves to Winter Street. Catarina Williams, Papercity Magazine (online), November 6, 2017. Artwork featured in slideshow curated by Catherine D Anspon.
Tips for buying art for your home - it's easier than you think, Diane Cowen, Houston Chronicle, June 22, 2017. Extensively quoted in the article. Photo and artwork accompanying.
Houston's best art galleries and museums, Catherine D. Anspon, PaperCity, June 10, 2017. Labeled as Samara Gallery's "best bet" alongside David Graeve.
New American Talent: The Twenty-Second Exhibition, Salvador Castillo, Austin Chronicle, August 10, 2007.
Excerpts: "The linear elements also recruit John Hovig’s and Felice Grodin’s systematic diagrams. ... If artists have been wandering without direction, forcing jurors to choose work based on their personal interest as evidenced in recent “NAT” shows, then perhaps this year reveals artists inching toward some cohesion. The exploration of urban development and redevelop- ment, as in the landscape works, acts as an admission that we are reaching capacity, even when there is still distance between neighbors. Drawing maps, using lines to describe paths and boundaries, recording where we have been, also defines where we have failed to ven- ture. Rediscovering or, if you must, recontextualizing those places that we experience every day can help remind us that we are where we need to be. It’s not a return to basics, but per- haps we are witnessing a return to structure."
Lawndale's The Big Show opens, Kim Hughes, Houston Chronicle, July 20, 2006. Quoted in article. Two artworks, as an installation shot, appear in the accompanying photo.
2011 - Left software industry, began art full-time.
2004 - 2006 - Coursework at Glassell School of Art (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston TX)
1994 - M.S. in Computer Science (concentrating on Artificial Intelligence) (Champaign IL)
1992 - B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (Boston MA)