25 April – 24 July 2016
organized by Deanna Lee


Joel Bacon
Nancy Hubbard
Kirsten Nash
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe
John Ros
Zach Seeger
Jodi Hays

One of my favorite aspects of a studio visit with another artist is the opportunity to see what artistic ghosts are present. Usually these are in the form of postcards or photos or books, tacked to a wall or on a shelf. The visit is typically (and rightly) focused on topics of the host artist’s choice, often works in process or those recently completed. Rarely does a visit focus on the images and words that silently accompany an artist’s practice in the studio—what I consider examples of artistic lineage. But looking at and thinking about these elements can be revealing and rewarding. Being an art-history nerd, I think that all artists see themselves within self-defined, perhaps idiosyncratic, lineages of creativity that shape their work and artistic trajectories.

What I find fascinating is the degree to which an inspiring idea, image, or oeuvre is visually absorbed by an artist and then transformed by an individual process and proclivity to become a new work of expression. Some resulting works will clearly resemble their artistic genesis, and others will only divulge their influences with some prodding. This project was intended to prod.

I wanted to learn from my artistic colleagues the role of past artists, artworks, and eras as sources that inspire, motivate, and challenge them—as keys to answering questions and solving problems, suggesting meanings and interpretations, and offering options and possibilities.

This project is like a peek into the studio, a glimpse of ideas behind the art. In my call for participation, I asked artists to answer with images and a statement a number of questions, all concerning if and how they define and identify with an artistic lineage. I wanted to open a conversation, and embrace harmless conjecture, with an online exhibition in which artists present certain aspects of their work alongside art of their role models and idols, including images of works normally beyond the reach of an artist-organized exhibition in real space.

Here, seven members and guests of galleryELL share their thoughts on and examples of a personal artistic lineage. Joel Bacon’s work is sparked by a diverse range of images and objects, from natural science and archaeology to Renaissance and modern masters. Describing herself as a “thief,” Nancy Hubbard finds the Western art-historical canon, as well as film, to be a wellspring of motivation. Kirsten Nash connects her work to certain examples of painting from the twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries. John Ros relates a sense of artistic lineage stemming from his personal experiences with many inspiring artists, some of whom were his former instructors. Cecilia Whittaker-Doe focuses on two visionary painters as touchstones for her work. Likewise, Zach Seeger draws his lineage to two contemporary figures, one visual artist and one film-maker. And Jodi Hays consistently derives artistic nourishment from the work of a leading post-Minimalist artist.

In accordance with my open-ended inquiry, this exhibition is not intended to supply any conclusions. My hope is that it may prompt further contemplation and conversation. As the idea of lineage suggests looking back as well as forward, I hope viewers will enjoy perusing the image galleries in both directions. I am grateful to the participating artists for their generous responses through their images and words.

The following statements have been provided by the artists.

Joel Bacon

Art making is about discovery, or uncovering and revealing something that has been hidden or lost. Through activity, the human condition requires novelty to escape the banality of routine. My work shows that an artifact made is almost as good as an artifact found. To find novelty through the making involves a sleight of hand, where artist has to forget he made the object that he just happened to discover.
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Nancy Hubbard

Art history plays a key role in my work. Whether or not I am part of a lineage, or if I fit into it isn’t as important to me as finding connections to what has come before and continuing that process. I am an admitted thief who looks to the past for ideas.

My net is wide; many of the materials and techniques I use are repurposed from the Renaissance—painters like Piero della Francesca were using gesso as a ground on wood panel, and gilders used clay and pigments to support and enhance gold leaf. And I look to themes and works from the past—like The Fall of Icarus from Brueghel the Elder—to reinterpret.

Many artists influence my mark making and composition, but the three who are top of mind are J.M.W. Turner, Francis Bacon, and Robert Motherwell. I am also very much influenced by photography and cinema. A good example is my recent work Walkabout, inspired by the Nicholas Roeg film of the same name.

So, I don’t necessarily connect with a particular artistic movement or philosophy, but I do find inspiration from individual artists working at many different points along the art-historical timeline.
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Kirsten Nash

I place my work within the ongoing, medium-specific dialogue that has sought to reinvent the practice of painting since the cultural and technological advances of the late 19th and early 20th centuries gave birth to the Modernist movement. This trajectory—which continued through Expressionism, Minimalism, Postmodernism, and so on—has led to this current moment, in which no dominant style or philosophy prevails.

I loosely identify my work with “provisional painting.” The term is credited to Raphael Rubinstein for his 2009 article in Art in America, in which he describes a trend of antiheroic, casual, tentative, and negating works by artists such as Raoul De Keyser, James Siena, Merlin James, Robert Bardo, and many other painters I admire. Often this work is dismissed as dashed off and unfinished, but I connect with its inherent skepticism and the manifestation of thought made evident in a hand-drawn aesthetic and embrace of the uncanny. I am interested in work that acknowledges art history, or makes visual references to other artists work, as many of these artists do, maintaining the dialogue with the Modernist tradition.
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John Ros

Beyond daily meanderings through streets of social, political, economic, and environmental happenings; and visiting ‘friends’ as I leaf through books, view art on museum and gallery walls and flickering on screens; and the closeness of artists within my immediate moment, conversing and pushing—persuading and arguing—I immediately refer back to artists whom I met and worked with directly. These relationships, through conversations of the past and present, have left a lasting mark on me and my practice and seem to round the conversations from within the studio. Jo Baer, Vito Acconci, Archie Rand, Hedda Sterne, Angelo Ippolito, Don DeMauro, Linda Sokolowski, David Shapiro, Pat Brown, and Jim Bohary: these individuals and their hard work as teachers and practitioners helped shape who I am today. Some taught me to see better. Some taught me to draw better. They all taught me that persistence and continuance within the studio are the only things to trust.
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Cecilia Whittaker-Doe

I have a bond with the natural landscape that is unavoidable. When working on a painting, I feel the sensation of wandering in and out of scenes—always rural. As there is nothing else I feel this strongly about, my painting is fixed on nature’s imagery. The work is grounded in feeling and mood, not ideas on art. In this, I feel an affiliation with Charles Burchfield and Georgia O’Keeffe.

O’Keeffe was capable of grasping the current ideas of her time about art; she gave lectures, taught art based on principles outlined by Arthur Wesley Dow. However, the power of her art is her personal response to her subject. Burchfield also engaged with his subject on a personal level, creating his own visual alphabet/vocabulary in his painting.

I understand Charles Burchfield wanting to stand in a swamp and paint its imagery. And Georgia O’Keeffe conjuring imagery she feels in the landscape.
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Zach Seeger

Restless. There is too much.

My process is best described as an all-devouring, omnivorous, never-full beast. Like Scooby Doo eating his way out of a building-size ice-cream sundae of art, I enjoy the consumptive journey. I have many influences. However, I can directly trace my artistic lineage to Martin Kippenberger and Jan Svankmajer.

With Kippenberger, I feel a kindred spirit of not-enough-time-in-the-day expressive wanderlust. Like Svankmajer, I tap into the meandering dreams of childhood and the perennial anger towards lying adults and their propensity for complex systems of violent hierarchy.
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Jodi Hays

Eva Hesse is a strong influence on my work. Her authentic iconography and voice is a model for painters. Once I found her work, I had a model for vulnerability and strength in a practice.
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Image sources:
Olenellus fowleri:
The Venus of Willendorf:
da Vinci; The Virgin and Child:
da Vinci; A Deluge:
Picasso; Nude Bearded Sculptor:
Magritte; La Reproduction Interdite:
Picasso; The Aficionado:
Duchamp; Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2:
Bodhisattva Guanyin:
LeWitt; Wall Drawing #260:
della Francesca; Diptych of Federico da Montefeltro and Battista Sforza:
Brueghel; Landscape With the Fall of Icarus:
Motherwell; Elegy to the Spanish Republic 100:
Turner; Snow Storm—Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth:
Bacon; Jet of Water:
Installation view of 0.10 (Zero-Ten):
Malevich; Suprematist Composition: White on White:
Martin; Untitled #21:
James; Abstraction:
De Keyser; Schets (Sketch):
James; Modern House:
Martin; Little Sister:
De Keyser; Crossing:
Guston; City:
Guston; Untitled:
De Mauro; Victim Series (Study):
Sokolowski; Violet Cliff:
Ippolito; Landscape With Dark Sky:
Bohary; Cross Country Winter:
Baer; Dusk (Bands and End-Points):
Sterne; Untitled:
Portraits from the Everyone series:
Rand; 613:
Acconci; Security Zone:
Burchfield; The Bower:
O’Keeffe; From the Lake, No. 1:
O’Keeffe; Trees in Autumn:
Burchfield; Autumn Leaves at Play:
O’Keeffe; Nature Forms Gasp:
Kippenberger. The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s “Amerika”:
Svankmajer; Alice:
Hesse; Untitled; undated:
Hesse; No title; 1966:
Hesse; Spectres:
Hesse; Untitled; 1966:
Hesse; Repetition Nineteen III:
Hesse; Expanded Expansion:
Hesse; No title; 1969–70: