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David Carlson and Michael Dotson at Lawrence Asher Gallery
Michael Dotson, "Up in the Sky", 2009. Acrylic on canvas, 22 x 30 inches. Photo; Courtesy: Lawrence Asher Gallery.
LOS ANGELES, CA.- J. David Carlson creates three dimensional models springing from his fun-loving imagination fueled by a rich past. He takes his play seriously, and it shows in these thoughtful, highly detailed and often highly functioning playscapes. While they often provoke a smile and stir a sense of joy, they also may trigger reminders of passage, growth and change.

Michael Dotson uses a vibrant palette and early video-game signifiers to take us back to the future. This young painter’s scenes are warmly nostalgic while at the same time post-futuristically detached. Ultimately, they define an artist who brings painterly aplomb to creations inspired by what he knows best.

J. David Carlson
Growing up in Southern California, I experienced first-hand the explosion of urban growth. I not only witnessed the leveling of countless acres of citrus groves to make room for suburbia, I also saw how the arrival of the super warehouses shuttered our family-run hardware store, altering our lifestyle and landscape forever.

My childhood also included the crucial element of play. Whether I was constructing a building, commanding an army or discovering treasure, I always wanted to learn about and understand the world around me. To me, it was a marvel.

Later, while in graduate school, I began reflecting on these influences from childhood. The thoughts guided my artistry as I contemplated my childhood toys and those ideas that captured my imagination, from the soaring heights of skyscrapers and the expansive spans of bridges to the unique machines designed for travel. My process has developed into the creation of diorama-like sculptures which I call “Playscapes” as well as other fun objects I simply call “Toys”.

Playscapes
These dioramas are inspired by recollections of the past as well as daydreams of the future. They explore our physical relationship to an ever-changing landscape. I am fascinated by our temporariness with the landscape and how that’s reflected in our pursuits of power and control, particularly so in the urban setting. Because of these loaded issues, the scale and use of toy objects redirect notions of seriousness. They also amplify the ridiculousness into humor.

Toys
As is true for others, my love affair with toys dates back to early childhood. The majestic powers we give these objects still fascinate me today. Their identities help inform us about the world in which we live. These attributes pique my curiosity as I manipulate my cannibalistic construction methods to make the toys I never even dreamed of as a child. The creation of these one-of-a-kind objects helps keep my childhood imagination stirring. ~ J.D.C., 2009

Michael Dotson
My paintings are in a style that is reminiscent of computer-simulated environments. These places ask for our participation but remain primarily visual experiences. I am interested in creating spaces which deal with the dichotomy between the interaction and detachment prevalent in virtual reality.

We have reached a point in technology where it is possible to make any fantasy a complete virtual reality. These realities are navigable, and can be experienced on a limited sensory level, but always with a sense of remove. You cannot breathe the air, feel the temperature, taste or smell. Most importantly, you cannot touch anything. In essence, you are always just a viewer, and any sense of participation is illusory. This relationship is similar to the way we experience paintings which are also not to be touched.

I adhere with strict precision to the rules of linear perspective as I create my paintings. The irony is that by using this rule so strictly (which is designed to create illusionistic space), the artificiality is only heightened. This artificiality is comprehended in many other ways including the quality of color which is often bright and highly unnatural. The consistency of line quality - clean, crisp and mechanical throughout the piece - offers further evidence of artificiality.

I make the pictures seemingly playful through my use of color, subjects, and composition. This playfulness is seductive and may draw the viewer in, but there is a barrier due to the ultimate rigidity of the pieces. ~ M.D. 2009

Michael Dotson was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He had the unique experience while growing up of having a mother who attended art school. He spent many weekends with his mother at the Cleveland Institute of Art Industrial Design Department. To Michael art was design, and he spent his time drawing sneakers and cars. After living in East Aurora, New York, and Providence, Rhode Island, Michael returned to Cleveland to attend the Institute following in his mother’s footsteps to become a product designer. However, he soon realized painting was his game, and he’s never stopped. Michael currently lives in Washington, D.C., where he is pursuing his MFA from American University.

Lawrence Asher Gallery | David Carlson | Michael Dotson |




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January 15, 2010

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