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Matthew Sontheimer: Matthew Sontheimer:

That’s right...I still don’tstill havedon't a website. That's right...I

have a website.

March 9-April 14, 2018

An Email Conversation between Matthew Sontheimer + Robyn O'Neil “Let’s just call the page a room, as that is sort of how I imagine it.”

— Matthew Sontheimer

Dear Robyn, Happy New Year. I like the way you and Billy ended the year: Subway sandwiches, hot cheetos1 , and watching ‘Spies Like Us.”2 I am attaching an image of a new project I am working on. I would call it a drawing at this state. It is based on a sign for an Express Lube here in Lincoln that I have been obsessing over. I wanted to color the word in, take it off the Foamcore, and photograph the Sharpie marks that bled onto the Foamcore. I am still planning on coloring it in. I let the Sharpie run out of ink and then start up again. I might also delicately cut out the word, and then have someone sew on a satin edge. This piece has something to do with tactility. It is certainly more physical than my conversational images. I just looked up “tactility” on the Merriam-Webster site online, and the word definitely applies. Check out their word-usage quote: “The tactility of wood and fiber, the coldness of steel and glass, all play an important part in the narrative of my work.” —Martina Schimitschek,, "Fall arts: Through her art, Wendy Maruyama raises awareness," 17 Sep. 2017 I have been thinking about things that have a real physical presence. I imagined a book with a satin edge on the binding that I could run through my fingers while flipping through the text and images. A monograph or show catalogue is usually what comes to mind. It would be a decent edition to books, but it would have to be done right. Sending love to you and Billy. .M ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞ Dear Matthew, I just viewed the images of the new piece, and not only does this launch you into a new chapter of your work, but it’s also a physical “coming to life” of your drawings! So, a big “YES”3 to the physicality introduced here. And I love the satin edge on the Pendleton blanket you’re using as a guide. Have you ____________________ 1

loved them


hated it


Matthew has often worked with fabric in various ways, but this new piece was clearly

a further departure from his conversational drawings on paper.

COVER: An Awkward Ruling--Stutter Included, 2014 Mixed media on paper, 20 x 29 1/2 inches

Modern Romance, 2018 Sharpie on jersey fabric

noticed that all kids find comfort out of touching the satin edges of blankets? I’ve never met a kid who didn’t use the edge of a blanket to soothe themselves. Gross statement of the day: I used to suck on the satin edge of my favorite blanket. Lots of love, Robyn ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞ Dear Robyn, I too sucked on that satin edge. Actually, I sucked and chewed on one of my sock monkey’s tail even more. Poor little guy. I guess those animals are pretty used to various odd fixations. The new large drawing that says “Express” on it is turning out to be somewhat different than the sign it was based on. As we discussed, I thought that I would just project the image, color in the letters, and take a picture of what bled though onto the Foamcore. However, it’s not exactly the “Express” route I thought I was going to take—big surprise there. 4 I suppose one distinct difference here is that I am trying to interpret this word with my eye and hand, and my usual method is to try and interpret a form though verbal description, and then figure out how to fit those words into a space. Let’s just call the page a room, as that is sort of how I imagine it. A room where something is being discussed. ____________________ 4

Matthew & I both have a long history of making work that takes much more time than we ever


In this room, occasionally pictures are shown to illustrate a point. The meandering arrows could be considered a kind visual depiction of pacing back and forth, a mapping of the uncertainty of where to stand next, how to return to an idea once I find that place, and what point I am trying to make once I find a place to voice something. It is all an overly literal interpretation of a conversation. Love to you, Billy and Frankie, .M ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞ Dear Robyn, Tactility continues to be on my mind. Maybe that has a lot to do with how most of our stuff is still in boxes 5 and I just want to hold onto something that grounds me, captures my attention so that I simply lose track of time. Metaphorical space for sure, but also something that makes you want to build something. Love to you Billy, and Frankie, .M ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞ Dear Matthew, I know you’ve felt challenged to scale up your drawings for a long time, but you’ve always resisted. What was it about the “Express” sign from the Lincoln lube shop that made this transition into your largest work to date possible? Love, Robyn ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞ Dear Robyn, The scale has to do with the ability to see the tonal changes, as I knew a single Sharpie couldn’t cover a larger surface without running out of ink. This came from my previous experience of coloring those homemade “ jorts,” with a bunch of Sharpies. 6 ____________________ 5

Matthew and his wife and fellow artist Myra recently moved into a new home. 6

This is a reference to a recent work of Matthew’s entitled ”Critique Pants,” in which his jean-shorts were the “canvas”

The Face of Looked at Mountain, 2017 Archival inkjet print, 531/2 x 25 inches

I was initially going to put the image on a T-Shirt for myself and maybe write a long explanation on the back of the shirt about why I like this sign so much. Maybe I still will. Also, I had a student last semester make a painting where she cut up a white T-Shirt that her father gave her. I really liked the effect it created, and it made me realize that I could get that kind of jersey fabric in a larger scale. Then there is the word “Express,” which seemed ripe for me as I seem to have trouble getting my exact idea across. The words come in droves, but it takes time for me to cull through them to get down to a form that represents something that has a sense of clarity. Also, the idea that I would use a word that indicates speed and efficiency, but then make it in such an overwrought and tedious manner seemed appropriate.    Love to you, Billy, and Frankie, .M ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞ Dear Matthew, You have the Alan Dugan poem “Love Song: I and Thou” posted on your studio door. The poem seems to be about the difficulties of work, whether “work” be physical labor, relational, or simply the job of holding a brain inside one’s head. Talk to me about the poem. Love, Robyn ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞ Dear Robyn, I love that poem. The goal of being so fully present in a work that I am hard-pressed to later explain what exactly occurred in order to make it…that is certainly a space I hope to enter. If I try to make it more difficult, the work usually reads that way. If the idea seems fairly simple, but ends up being complicated (which is how it usually goes in my case), I am more than fine with that. Missing you and sending love as always, .M ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞ Dear Matthew, And now, I’m reminded of a Philip Guston quote, which I believe he adapted from John Cage: “When you’re in the studio painting, there are a lot of people in there with you - your teachers, friends, painters from history, critics…and one by one if you’re really painting, they walk out. And if you’re really painting you walk out.”  With love, Robyn

ABOUT THE ARTIST Born in 1969 in New Orleans, Matthew Sontheimer received a B.F.A. from Stephen F. Austin State University and an M.F.A. from Montana State University, Bozeman. He has had solo gallery exhibitions in New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, and New York, and exhibited in group shows at UCLA’s Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, and the Joslyn Art Museum, in Omaha. His work is represented by the Talley Dunn Gallery in Dallas, Texas, and can be found in the permanent collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, the New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York. He is currently an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

ABOUT THE WRITER Robyn O’Neil grew up in North Omaha and is currently a Los Angeles-based visual artist. Her work was included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. She has had several traveling solo museum exhibitions in the United States, and is the recipient of numerous grants and awards. Her work is included in noted museums throughout the world. O’Neil has been included in numerous acclaimed group museum exhibitions both domestically and internationally including the highly anticipated exhibition "Dargerism" at The American Folk Art Museum, featuring Henry Darger's influence on contemporary art. She received a grant from the Irish Film Board with director Eoghan Kidney for a film written and art directed by her entitled “WE, THE MASSES” which was conceived of at Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School. She also hosts the weekly podcast “ME READING STUFF.” You can see her work on her website,

Learn and converse with us around the themes explored in That's right...I still don't have a website.: Flagging Conversations

March 9 - April 14 in the gallery annex Over the course of Matthew Sontheimer’s exhibition, we will hold an ongoing public conversation in multiple formats, seeking how queries and responses can help us understand community more intimately. To keep this dialogue visible, questions and answers both posed and provided by the community will be stitched into flags and displayed at The Union later this spring. Stop by the gallery annex beginning March 9 to participate.

Omaha Zine Fest

Saturday, April 14, 11 am -5 pm The Union is proud to host Omaha Zine Fest for the second year. The Fest is celebration of independent publishing featuring over 100 indie artists and makers. Visit for more info.

You can always find more information about our exhibitions and public programs at

All artwork photos credit: Walker Pickering.

DETAIL: Label Conscience, 2014 Mixed media on paper, 18 x 271/2 inches

Strengthening the Arts  |  Supporting our Community 2423 North 24th Street, Omaha, NE 68110

Strengthening the Arts  |  Supporting our Community 2423 North 24th Street, Omaha, NE 68110

The Wanda D. Ewing Gallery The Wanda D. Ewing Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am to Gallery 6 pm Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm The Wanda D. Ewing Gallery is dedicated to the Omaha artist, educator, and supporter of The Union for Contemporary Art who passed away in 2013. The Wanda D. Ewing Gallery around is dedicated to theofOmaha artist, educator, Ewing encouraged dialogue questions who is allowed to make,and see, supporter of The Union for Contemporary Art who passed away in 2013. we and be seen in visual culture, and whether the arts look like the communities Ewing encouragedher dialogue around questions of who is allowed to make,ofsee, live in, challenging audiences to believe in the transformative power art. and be seen in visual culture, and whether the arts look like the communities we live challenging audiences to believe in the transformative power of art. Ourin, 2017 exhibitionher series is generously sponsored by Paul and Annette Smith. Our 2017 exhibition series is generously sponsored by Paul and Annette Smith. To view our exhibition schedule and for more info on the program, To view our exhibition schedule and for more info on the program, visit

Matthew Sontheimer: That's right . . . I still don't have a website.  
Matthew Sontheimer: That's right . . . I still don't have a website.