About the Artist

William Dean Sarno

Toyoko Katsumata

The Kim Family

Suguru Hiraide

Beanie Kaman

Cha Ki Youl

Toko Tokunaga

Rikuo Ueda

Prawat Laucharoen

Michael Freitas Wood

Dan Nadaner

Graham Goddard

Razmik Samvelts

Geoff Mitchell

James Patrick Finnegan

Luis Becerra

Mark Griffin

Sallie Whistler Marcucci

Kamol Tassananchalee

Ramone Muñoz

Kunio Ohashi

Janet Mackaig

Pat Berger

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James Patrick Finnegan

 

In trying to describe the work of James Patrick Finnegan I found myself strolling the neighborhood one warm evening, not completely satisfied with the general references I've encountered that describe him as ironic, or that he explores boundaries such as that between craft and art, utility and conceptualism. Typical descriptions label him as elusive, that his work defies description and category. Viewing his work, if such considerations really exist for the artist it is all but invisible in the provocations that result, for the object is completely secondary to the working concept. At last I chanced upon it, a way of describing the otherness not quite touched upon in accounts of his background in the Bay Area, and his conceptual Pop style. Standing behind an old wrought iron fence skirting an alley, I spotted a peculiar scene. Just behind the fence stood a corrugated sheet metal wall with the faded remnants of scoured graffiti. Rising above this wall was a glimpse of a back porch belonging to a Craftsman era house. It had begun to settle, and its lines had lost some of their trueness. Various shades of green were oddly under-lit by unseen garden lights, revealing a texture of angles, shadows and weathered paint. Behind this was a magnificent night sky, a fast moving scattered cloud cover brilliantly reflecting the collective city lights, causing the evening to glow despite a new moon. Here and there the scintilla of a single star peeked through the clouds. Initially charmed by the arrangement, I found myself looking at it for some time, until the details - all partial, layered, indirect - vanished and I found myself seeing, and experiencing, the discovery of a provocation. While the elements of this vision were easily recognized, the concrete certainty of the parts gave way to an intuitive recognition of accidental presence, along with a painterly effect as though the scene were somehow flattened. The moments spent taking in this image, being moved by the impressions within the arrangement, this came to be the best analogy I can think of for the work of Jim Finnegan.


 

Recurrent as a working theme for the artist is the relationship of media to the viewer. In some cases, work began as mundane elements of printed media or photography, before being reshaped, frequently beyond recognition. In earlier work, his sculptures are often sharp edged, with the theme of media influence and the image of women in the media, bringing some sense of direct conflict to the viewer. In his more recent work, the media images that serve as a substrate for the figures (or the furnishings that suggest them) are deeply subsumed, and attention is brought into the material itself, familiar shapes such as a straw hat, floral patterns, metal and woodwork sometimes accented with curio items or drawings. Throughout we are delivered the results of seeking the unexpected within an elaborate, expressive reworking of the familiar. In that respect, the artist has remained dedicated to a process of discovery throughout his career.

 

 

Some of Finnegan's early works were made in three dimensions to be shown as photography. At one pivotal point the artist abandoned a figure for the sake of the supports he had created underneath, and with a spectrum of constructive skills pursued the transformation of photograph to figure, to absence of figure in the form of furniture. Through a process of discovery, happy accident, and pushing himself to move in directions that are unexpected he arrives at these artifacts. As one example, some of the surfaces in his sculpture may be covered in floral patterned cloth, layered over with clear vinyl and further augmented with paint, creating ways of achieving what musician John Cage describes as "the disciplined use of chance for discovery." The distinction is one of allowing the truly unexpected to take place, as opposed to mere improvisation where one makes choices according to likes and dislikes.

In February 2011 his drawings were shown in tandem with the sculpture, almost behaving as blueprints or technical notes, delightfully revealing some part of the mechanism of his approach. They are quite a contrast, able to stand on their own, and are stimulating, bright and refreshing. It's in Finnegan's drawings that we get a raw glimpse of the spontaneous, energetic mind behind the objects. The floating, partial lines, the rich range of colors, revealing the secrets behind a painterly affect the artist achieves in his three dimensional work. Setting aside the material dimensions that evolved through his sculpture, the artist explodes his abstract drawings into ethereal layers, sometimes to the point where one could imagine a part of the drawing floating just above or below visibility.

RLS