The woodsman as blogger

[This is the final post of my email conversation with JT Kirkland a self-taught artist and art blogger whose first solo exhibition was the occasion that triggered this Q&A. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. All images are details of Kirkland’s pieces in his exhibit “Studies in Organic Minimalism” at University of Phoenix in Reston, Virginia, (through June 25).]

RF. Now, tell me about the blog, Thinking About Art. When did you start it? How did you pick the title? How often on average do you post? How are the numbers coming along? (stats I mean) Anything else about it you’d like to say?

JTK. I began TAA in June 2004. The reason I started was that I felt there was a lack of “common folk” art reviews. I wasn’t able to find reviews on the gallery shows I was interested in. While the DC art blogs were a help (DCArtNews and Modern Art Notes) the local papers were disappointing in their coverage. Instead of complaining, I decided to be a part of the solution and I started TAA.


The title comes from my intentions for the site. I have no formal art training and so I figured by writing my thoughts I would slowly but surely educate myself. With any luck some others might find value in it too. I titled it “Thinking About Art” because I wanted it to be clear what I was doing. I didn’t call it “Certainties About Art,” or “Things I Know About Art.” I wanted it to be clear that I was sharing my thoughts in a written forum.

Since June 2004, I’ve made 290 posts. I guess that averages out to about one post per day but recently I think I’ve done more. I love doing it so it makes sense. As for stats, it’s so hard to get accurate numbers. I do know that my visitors are growing every day. I guess since I began the site my average number of visitors each day is about 250-275. Since I got off to a slow start, I’m not sure how many I get each day now.


Blogs are fascinating creatures. I had no idea how anyone would find my blog. I didn’t know if anyone would read my site. After a few months it was clear that I was filling some void in the DC art scene. That feels great!

RF. Whose art do you like?

JTK. Well I could name almost every Minimalist. In particular I love the work of Agnes Martin, Anne Truitt, Fred Sandback and Robert Ryman. Outside of Minimalism I love the work of the AbEx’ers, such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. In the world of photography, I have a thing for Sally Mann and Andre Kertesz. It’s pretty easy to tell from this list that I love simplicity that packs a punch. I think these artists do that remarkably well.


RF. How many hours a day do you spend at your computer? Do you think that’s too much or just enough or not enough?


JTK. This is the question that will get me in trouble with artists! On average, I probably spend 10-12 hours a weekday on the computer. But 9-10 of those hours are due to my day job as a high tech consultant. So not only do I have to spend lots of time on the computer, but I also enjoy it. I’m an information junkie! And what better way to get information than the computer? Fortunately my brain works super fast so I can still write for my blog, write reviews for, spend time with friends and make art.

RF. Tell me something about being an artist in DC. Is there a kind of
art community to tap into?

JTK. I’ve only been in DC for about 4 years so I’m not an expert on the DC art scene. And frankly I don’t have much to compare it to. But I find that the art scene here is vibrant. There are many young artists working at their trade. There’s a strong art blog community. The one complaint I hear most often is that there’s not enough buying of art in DC. It’s an affluent town but there just doesn’t seem to be a collector base that buys in DC. Signs suggest that it may be changing but it’s too early to tell.


I think the cost of real estate here hampers the art community. It’s so expensive to lease a space that we can’t have edgy, off-the-wall art spaces. Additionally, galleries have to be a bit more careful about what they show… it is business after all.

RF. What does JT stand for?

JTK. Nothing exciting… John Thomas. Why I go by J.T. is funny though. When I was in the second grade I started noticing that my Dad’s redneck friends (I’m from KY!) would say, “I gotta go to the john.” Of course they meant the bathroom. I hated that my name was associated with the toilet and opted for J.T. Ha!

RF. How long did it take you to make the body of work that’s in this show? And do you have thoughts about the next project?

JTK. Thus far I have spent almost a year on this work. But I am far from done with it. My current solo show is titled “Studies in Organic Minimalism.” I stress “Studies.” These works have been experiments. I really feel that I could spend a couple more years perfecting this type of work. Do I continue with all-over patterns? Do I continue with outlines of shapes? I have a studio full of wood that has yet to be drilled… and I can’t wait to do it.


As for next projects, I definitely have things in mind. Without giving too much away, I want to work with wooden flooring, fencing and antiques. I’d also like to work with more exotic woods and eventually get into other natural materials such as marble.

I want to further blur the lines between craft and fine art. I want to continue using materials that have a life of their own… that have their own story. I want to be a part of that story.