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Biography: Carson C.T. Collins

Biographical details can be found in the articles here, especially the long, scholarly one by Mr. Kevin Costello. It's entitled, "The Littoralist Paintings etc." "Twilight Seas", by Thom Elkjer, is an easier read. The "Interview" is also short, informative, and more recent. This stuff is colorful, entertaining, and, In my estimation,

its irrelevant. THE WORK SHOULD SPEAK FOR ITSELF. Our experience of a work of art should never be tainted by any reaction to the circumstances, conduct, or personality of the artist, however sordid or saintly they may have been.

Having said that, here's a short, recent biography that I wrote for the web site It's Art, Baby! Art!:

I've been working on The Ocean Series for thirty years. I guess you could say that this conflation of a traditional marine sunset with a color-field painting, something that originally crossed my mind sometime back in 1978, has turned out to be a fairly fertile idea for me. Call it a Remodernist approach to the color-field tradition if you like, but I'm not trying to deconstruct anything, fit into any category, or prove any theories. The ocean, with its infinite variety and constant flux, is a motif that never ceases to fascinate me; and to say that this image of the far horizon and the dying sunlight has broad metaphoric powers would be to belabor the obvious. My two greatest influences as a painter have been Mark Rothko and Claude Monet; in a way, my paintings are only a kind of simple-minded formal synthesis of the two. At least, I hope they're that good.

Once in a while a commercial gallery will invite me to do an exhibition. My first solo was at Sarah Rentschler Gallery, NYC, in 1980. The most recent one (as of this writing) was September, 2005, at Elevator Gallery in Venice Beach (LA) California. I had a good show at Norro Gruppen Konstgallerie, Stockholm, Sweden, in 1991. In between there were about a dozen others, spread out over the past twenty-five years; but seldom in the same place twice...

Its been a lonely path. I'm nomadic, never stay in one place for more than a year or two; don't have any possessions except for what I can carry on the iron birds. So far I've lived in 7 of the USA States and 6 other countries. I prefer warm places, but anywhere with a left coast will do - for a while. Of course I always have to be near the motif. Yet I don't like painting outdoors. I often work in buildings that have been, for one reason or another, abandoned. I can't seem to paint effectively for more than about 4 hours a day. The rest of the time I mostly spend walking or sitting on the beach, staring at the ocean. I meditate. I surf when I can. I take part-time work when its available; have had quite a variety of dead-end, no-brainer jobs, some of which I liked. I've got an MD degree from the University of Texas that I've chosen to ignore. You might also say that I have the equivalent of a PhD in "coping".

Looking at a work of art affects us in a positive, a negative, or (rarely) a neutral way. This is obvious: Look at the image, not just a glance, spend some time at it. Notice how you feel. My intention in making them was to create a meditative ambiance: a profound and lucid calm. Enter the illusion. You are the figure that inhabits this eternal place. Notice how you feel. Some viewers have found them evocative.

Carson C.T. Collins

A Conversation With David Cohen, Art Critic for the New York Sun

A portion of this was originally published as:
" 'A Useless, Evil Game'
An Exchange between Carson C.T. Collins and David Cohen on Intentionality"

in the September, 2003 edition of ArtCritical.com

(The exchange follows David Cohen's article, Ambiguity and Intention, published at the Online symposium on art and cognition organized by Noga Arikha and Gloria Origgi in January 2003, posted at Interdisciplines.org)

From: carson c
To: dc@artcritical.com
Sent: Friday, August 08, 2003 3:36 AM
Subject: an artist's question

"By intention I don't mean that the artist consciously has this or that fully articulated objective in mind at the moment of creation and that the success of the work is somehow mortgaged to the extent to which it was followed through. That would indeed be banal and reductive, robbing art (and for that matter ambiguity) of its organic quality, its ability to live and thrive independently of its originators' intentions..."
- David Cohen

My question is: Why should a work of art have any right to exist independently of it's creator's intentions? Does Mr. Cohen really think that important art is somehow done by accident, or that the critic's rationalizations are somehow more important than the original act? Or what, exactly?
I do think that it is precisely this question of intention that is, tragically, missing from most so-called critical dialogue about contemporary art...
Please advise.
Click here to read 2 more pages.

June, 2007

I was introduced to Carson Collins over a year ago while observing art online. Mr. Collins is a very devoted painter and he has many interesting stories.

Carson has been working on The Ocean Series for more than a quarter of a century. This body of work reveals the work ethic of Mr. Collins. It is rare to find an artist so devoted to a theme.

Brian Sherwin: Carson, the subject of your art is the four elements in their most majestic setting - the shoreline. Your images have captured aspects of earth, air, fire, and water. Why have you had such a strong focus on these themes? Do you feel that painters should share this same focus in their work or is it more of an issue of personal choice?

Carson Collins: I guess you could say that this conflation of a traditional marine sunset with a color-field painting, something that originally crossed my mind sometime back in 1977, has turned out to be a fairly fertile idea for me. Call it a Remodernist approach to the color-field tradition if you like, but I'm not trying to deconstruct anything, fit into any category, or prove any theories.

BS: Do you plan to work on the Ocean Series until the day you die?

CC: I don't make any plans to speak of; I kicked the hope habit long ago. There's no tomorrow. So far, the motif continues to fascinate me, as it has for the past thirty years.

BS: I understand that you have traveled the world and that you have lived in many places. How do the customs and experiences you have faced during your travels influenced your painting? Do you consider yourself a vagabond? If so, is that reflected in your work? It seems, based on your work, that you are a man who seeks new horizons- both physically and mentally.

CC: I've lived and worked, for a year or more, in 7 of the USA States and 6 other countries, not to mention the ones I've visited. In my experience, the problems for an artist are the same in any country: poverty, and the fact that very few people are ever going to understand or appreciate what you're doing...
Click here to read 12 more pages.

June, 2003

Q: Welcome, Carson! First of all, if you donít mind, I would ask you to introduce yourself (identity, profession, age, country and town you are living in, etc.)
Answer : I'm Carson Collins, a painter; I'll be 50 years old this coming November. At the moment I'm living in Seaside, Oregon (on the northern Pacific coast of the USA), but this is temporary. I move around a lot. I've lived and worked in seven of the United States (Florida, New York, Texas, California, Hawaii, Washington, and Oregon) and six other countries: Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Bart, Costa Rica, Mauritius, and Sweden. Very soon I'll be moving again. I'm nomadic.

Q: When, how did you start to paint? and why?
Click here to read 1 more page.

The Littoralist Paintings of Carson Collins

The Painter
It is evident when engaged in conversation with the painter Carson Collins that one is discussing issues with a warm and literate man. The subject of his art is the four elements in their most majestic setting - the shoreline: earth, air, fire, and water. The artist has at one and the same time an ebullient nature and the ‘gravitas’ of original introspection. Click here to read 7 more pages.

Twilight Seas

In the hour after the sun sets into the sea, nature's palette defies description. The names of colors are simply inadequate, so we resort to metaphor, describing the sky as moody, the light as inspiring, the water as wary. The artist Carson Collins believes this is why the emotional truth of his twilight seascapes is more important than their pictorial truth. Without realizing it, we enter the scenes of his paintings ourselves, and suddenly the experience of the moment is not his, but ours. "I'm not sending a message," the artist says. "I'm offering an opportunity."
Click here to read 1 more page

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