Time Telling

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Excerpts from Conversations with Myself
stream of consciousness, series, mixed media,panels, popular culture, adolescent power, found object, texture, passage of time, personal journal, curator, G.I. Joe, zorro, superheroes, hot rods, news broadcasts, dumpster-diving, autobiographical drawings, voice, imagery, memories, day-to day activities, news reports, music, grid, visual vocabulary, self reflection, colouring books, cartoons, random display,story-making
start quote...and it just sort of keeps building forwards. Because it's important in a painting not only to have your eye going from left to right and up and down, but to have your eye going in and
out.end quote -- Jeff Nachtigall

In a  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of works called Excerpts From Conversations with Myself, from the MacKenzie Art Gallery collection, Nachtigall has produced a mixed-media work comprised of 67 two-foot-square panels inspired by a variety of ideas and events. Similarly, his “mixed media” materials come from various sources, ranging from back alleys to backward-looking memories of his adolescent years.

Sometimes the sources of inspiration are clear, such as pop culture images of G.I. Joe and Zorro, for instance. In other panels the reference is obscure, and requires explanation from the artist. Number 74 turns out to be a reference to the number assigned to Nachtigall’s favourite dish at a Vietnamese restaurant.

This same “one from Column A, one from Column B, and one from Column C” approach applies to the work itself. Excerpts from conversations with myself is meant to be installed in whatever configuration suits the exhibition curator. Because of its sheer size often only 50 of the 67 panels are displayed, presumably with the  curatorAn individual or group, who conceives an idea for an art exhibition, selects the art works, plans how they will be displayed and writes accompanying supporting materials for the ideas presented. A curator can work freelance or be affiliated with a gallery, and serves as the link between artists and gallery.  making the choice of what to display. As Nachtigall has said, art-making puts “a spigot in my subconscious” but with this particular work the  curatorAn individual or group, who conceives an idea for an art exhibition, selects the art works, plans how they will be displayed and writes accompanying supporting materials for the ideas presented. A curator can work freelance or be affiliated with a gallery, and serves as the link between artists and gallery.  has some control over the tap. (Long, 2001)

Critic Jack Anderson reports that Nachtigall created the 67 panels in the work in 90 days, inspired by radio news reports, music he listened to while painting, books he was reading, and his day-to-day activities. “…these images are more emotions and ideas hurriedly scribbled,” Anderson writes. “They are urgent worried responses to the confusions that pop up daily in the world of adult affairs.” (Anderson, 2001)

Some panels in Excerpts From Conversations with Myself are taken directly from his childhood colouring books.  These include cartoonish superheroes, hot rods, and other emblems of adolescent power. Nachtigall was not one of those kids who coloured within the lines; he’s obviously not afraid to crayon across the page. (In fact, he applies paint directly from the tube to the canvas, or whatever  surface(an element of art) The outer or topmost boundary or layer of an object. Colours on any surface are determined by how incident rays of light strike it, and how a surface reflects, scatters, and absorbs those rays. The material qualities of a surface, as well as its form and texture further determine how it is seen and felt. (artlex.com) See also texture.  he’s using, bypassing the brush.)

With the spigot fully open, stream-of-consciousness  imageryAn image is a picture, idea, or impression of a person, thing, or idea; or a mental picture of a person, thing, or idea. The word imagery refers to a group or body of related images. (Artlex.com)  gushes over and around the panels. Sometimes Nachtigall successfully connects with our own anxieties concerning the daily news and the large and small issues that fill our lives every day, and communication happens. Sometimes not, in which case you can move on to the next panel. A different texture, another  foundAn image, material, or object, not originally intended as a work of art, that is obtained, selected, and exhibited by an artist, often without being altered in any way. The cubists, dadaists, and surrealists originated the use of found images / materials / objects. Although it can be either a natural or manufactured image / material / object, the term readymade refers only to those which were manufactured. Also known in the French, objet trouvé. (Artlex.com)  object, another personal observation or profound insight on what it means to be human awaits. Excerpts from conversations with myself reads like a personal journal chronicling the passage of time, inviting viewers to join the act of story-making.

additional resources Becoming a Painter
Duration: 2:24 min
Size: 11191kb
Conversations with Myself
Duration: 2:12 min
Size: 9777kb
Creating a Painting
Duration: 2:14 min
Size: 9586kb
Displaying His Work
Duration: 1:39 min
Size: 7258kb
Using Words
Duration: 2:03 min
Size: 9586kb
Things to Think About
  • Nachtigall gives exhibition curators the option of how they want to display the 67 panels in Excerpts From Conversations with Myself. Once, in Vancouver, he quickly painted several paintings around the city. People were free to look at them, or take them home. Do you think this is a valid way of making art?
  • In his dumpster-diving days Nachtigall would paint on cardboard, knowing that the works would not last. This is a departure from the usual attitude to artworks, which is that they must be collected and kept in vaults when they are not on display. What do you think Nachtigall is saying through his approach?
  • In some of his works Nachtigall has used newspapers as part of his art materials. Some of the images in Excerpts From Conversations with Myself were inspired by news reports on the radio while he worked on the panels. This approach gives us insights into Nachtigall’s concerns about the world we live in, but there is a possibility we might not “get” the events he is referring to. After viewing the work, do you think Nachtigall’s approach is effective?
Online Activity
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Make a visual diary page to show something about yourself using the Line Options.  Fill each square of the  gridA framework or pattern of criss-crossed or parallel lines. A lattice. When criss-crossed, lines are conventionally horizontal and vertical; and when lines are diagonal, they are usually at right angles to each other. Typically graph paper is a grid of lines. Things which are often gridded: tiles, tessellations, wire screens, chess boards, maps, graphs, charts, calendars, and modern street plans. (Artlex.com)  with objects that have meaning to you, for example a pet, a landscape, words and so on.

Studio Activity
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Who are we in the 21st century?

Artists often use the notion of self-reflection as a theme for making art. They use art-making as a tool to discover more about themselves and the times they live in. Visual artists do this through visual imagery. In his artwork, Jeff Nachtigall demonstrates his awareness of everyday images that we often take for granted.  In his piece Excerpts From a Conversation with Myself, I Nachtigall has selected a variety of things that catch his eye and that have become, perhaps, part of his personal visual vocabulary.

Zoom in to examine Nachtigall’s piece and explore each individual image.

  • Make a list of what you see (or think you see) in each square of the picture.
  • Much of Nachtigall’s inspiration is derived from popular culture. Beside the items in your list, write down where you think his idea for each small picture came from.  For example, some of the pictures might be from magazine advertisements, TV shows or commercials, book illustrations, artwork or billboards. Note that your answers might be different than Nachtigall’s.

Create a visual response to Nachtigall’s artwork as a personal visual record for yourself.  Here are some suggestions as to how to proceed:

  • photos of a sport or activity
  • small paintings of places
  • close up sections of advertisements
  • photos, drawings or collages of favourite objects, pets or people
  • Assemble a scrapbook.
  • You might include postcard-sized paintings, sketches, photos, collected images that you appreciate and text that describes each image.

Anderson, Jack. ‘Nachtigall’s chaotic, rambling images are carefully considered explorations.’ Regina Leader-Post, March 6, 1999.

Anderson, Jack. ‘’Trash’ used to awake the senses.’ Regina Leader-Post, January 28, 2004.

Author unknown. ‘Postcards from the Zone.’ Border Crossings, Vol. 20, No. 4, 2001.

Author unknown. ‘Jeff Nachtigall:  FaunaThe animals of any given area or epoch; as, the fauna of America; fossil fauna; recent fauna. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  and Fodder.’ Gladstone Bag, October 2003.

Author unknown ‘Art Program Empowers Sherbooke Residents.’ Saskatoon Health Region, December 27, 2007. Retrieved from the Internet on March 27, 2008 from: http://www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/news_you_need/media_centre/telling_our_stories/2007/122707_sherbrook_art.htm

Author unknown. ‘Arts Residency Creates Positive Change in Care Facility, Leads to Exhibition.’ Mendelog, October 10, 2007. Retrieved from the Internet on March 27, 2008 from: http://www.mendel.ca/wordpress/?p=124

Garneau, David. Making it like a man. Exhibition catalogue. MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, 2004.

Long, Timothy. ‘Jeff Nachtigall: Excerpts from conversations with myself.’ Artichoke, Fall/Winter 2001.

MacLennan, Kathryn. ‘Nachtigall’s works "deceptively simple".’ The Carillon, March 13, 2003.

University of Saskatchewan. ‘Excerpts from conversations with myself.’ News Release, January 10, 2003.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning