“Point Tandem” More

Friday, 4th of November 5:30-9:30pm

Stephen Mueller ? COFFEE Bookabie Turn 
Stephen Mueller COFFEE Bookabie Turn 2005
coffee on paper 22″ x 30″

Robert Mueller
has a history of exploiting the page as a map for charting journeys through subjective terrain; the real geography traversed (most importantly Iceland) is the jumping off point. Few artists have done this as extensively or as well.
This emotive cartography, which he presents bound in large books, favors a blue field somewhat like a blueprint, but more like the bitter cast of an arctic sea. The pages are actually his old lithographs overdrawn with objects alluding to nautical purposes. Reminiscent of buoys and weirs and fish baskets these sketches are like thoughts floating to the surface. Mueller calls these simply “floaters” or “thought forms.” Such entities bob on the edge of one’s consciousness and the act of drawing seeks to anchor them.
Robert cites a particular experience in Iceland and aboreal sea so cold that to fall into it means almost instant death. Consequently sunken ships or items lost overboard are seldom if ever salvaged. Except that the sea is often wont to remit part of what it claims. Long submerged fishing equipment or wreckage from a capsized vessel can surface at any moment. This can be a sharp and surprising apparition, like a secreted memory suddenly impinging on one’s awareness. Robert was standing on a beach when a chunk of flotsam from a fishing vessel burst the surface and loomed, the size of a semi truck, just offshore. Huge compared to him; small compared to the sea.
The apparition punctuated his return from an extended trek to the glacier fields in Iceland’s interior during his 1997 Fulbright residency there. Throughout that trek he carried large hand made field books to record the landscape and his response to it. Back in his studio these logs became references and source material for further development. The results are a “travelogue” documenting that commingling of external and internal.
Robert Mueller ? Touch Book I
Robert Mueller Touch Book I detail 2005
mixed media book 16″ x 22″


The look and feel of maps also has an extended history in the work of Robert’s older brother Stephen. His Bookabie Turn paintings have a subtle but definite suggestion of large-scale geography which maps are usually used to represent. The use of maps by both brothers was an unintended parallel in their work, and, as it turns out, only one of several despite their sporadic contact and geographic separation.
Another such parallel appeared when the elder Mueller began including “thought forms” of his own. These forms are, in a sense, pre-existing or found objects, as he borrowed them from the realm of mathematics. One such form is the topological oddity known as the Klein bottle. It is actually a four dimensional object that manifests in physical reality as a closed, self-intersecting surface. It looks a lot like a laboratory flask whose neck has extended and snaked back in on itself. One strange feature of the “bottle” is that it appears to enclose space, but in fact has no volume.
The mathematics did not concern Mueller, but the bottle’s stylized organic shape and its contradictory formulation from logical introspection did. The images he develops using the bottle have it juxtaposed with boats and fish, another sort of vessel and actual organic form.
The images are cleanly rendered like line illustrations from a textbook on surreal science. He incorporated other informational graphics, such as the flat images found in airline seats to instruct on emergency procedures. His imagery is not studiously chosen, but gleaned according to what strikes his fancy. The background upon which he floats these graphics can vary from Hokusai prints to raucously marbled papers and are selected without thought to a message. Mueller attempts to garner his data subjectively and without pre-judgment. His goal is to guard against setting pre-conditions that might ossify perception.
The Klein Bottle series also brought a third unintended parallel to Robert’s decision to use the book format to present his work. Stephen silk-screened these images on the recto and verso of the same sheet of paper to create diptychs in which only one panel can be seen at a time. As such they are often presented in portfolio. The viewer flips through the work with the back of one image becoming the facing page for the next (for purposes of this exhibit they are framed).

Collaborative Works:

In addition to reflecting the history of their makers, the two artists’ images reflect the story of their own making. This is especially true of the collaborative work of the two artists. The Muellers exchanged works that were to be used as the beginnings of a common history for them both. The brothers, each in their own manner, have layered and compressed external and internal experiences into personal palimpsests, similar to those ancient parchments on which scholars laminated their own thoughts and research onto that of their predecessors, that invite probing and research of the viewer.
Together, however, the work gains even more density as if the added thought and experience have imbued their collaborations with greater weight. Gentle Harbor and Always Waiting, for example, narrate with stories commensurate to the weight and complexity of their parts. Gentle Harbor tells the tale of Robert’s thought forms—recalling primitive fishing instruments—morphing into those scientific entities—the funnel of the diagram of a black hole or the Klein bottle—favored by Stephen. In this harborscape the sensed and the logical co-exist.
Always Waiting conveys a less comforting message. As thought form transforms into fish, the fish is then filleted by a fateful hand thrust into the picture. This is the same hand, which in Gentle Harbor appears to gesture a blessing.

Robert Mueller ? Draumer
Robert Mueller Draumer detail 2005
mixed media book 16″ x 22″

An Unmarked Record:

for Rosemary Dunlop

Almost simultaneously both brothers developed an aversion to mark making and sought to create their most recent works from processes that eschewed drawing or writing. The similarity ends there, however, as these two series are the most markedly different of any of the two artists’ works.
Robert left behind the micro-management of making his personal mark by dipping paper he had cut to shape into brightly colored house paint. Sometimes he modulated the color field by pressing the still wet coating against a glass or plastic sheet. This heavy coating of the bight color yielded extraordinarily intense fields. In some cases he cut openings in the center of the “field” with surgical precision. Within these incisions, that resemble keyholes sliced in the shape of emblems and weapons, are compressed Rorschach blots, miniature streams of paint and pent-up shapes struggling to pour out. Paint and paper are diced into slivers of meaning, heated by the visual pressures Mueller imposes. Many of the emblems, especially the yoni and lingam of Hindi, carry the simultaneous pain and pleasure of erotic delight or of unfulfilled desire. Touch Books I and II are achingly, stridently elegant works.
On a visit to his childhood Australia, Stephen Mueller returned and camped on the Great Australian Bight, a sparsely populated stretch of coast along the arched underbelly of the continent where the windblown sands of the Outback desert meet wind-driven waves of the Southern Ocean. The patterns he observed there were those generated by turbulence known to physicists as chaos. He was inspired to harness the same natural forces to paint his paintings.
The brown of the sand became coffee and the blue of the sea became blue gouache, which he combined in the simplest of ways outdoors. Through evaporation, capillary action and absorption patterns of surprising complexity and beauty emerged: reticulated surfaces and concentric wave patterns of interlacing colors appear in all manner of distribution. All of this physics describes the “science” of the works, but nothing of the impact of Stephen’s Bookabie Turn. The paintings of this series possess the quiet drama and sparkle of a 19th century Romantic watercolor executed in umber and ultramarine washes.
The works of the Mueller brothers taken together are more than a collective of their parts. As a body, the works pose questions about where the individual and his environment stop and start; about what is shared through genetics and what is shared through common histories. One wonders, when seeing these works, about how the imagination works such that it can be held in common. There is evidence in this exhibit that these are brothers by more than physical accident.
Many people live their histories over and over and so do not live in the new day. In the conflation of their two histories these two artists have helped each other to live in that new day and those to follow.

Stephen Mueller ? Green and Red
Stephen Mueller Green and Red 2004
silk screen 6″ x 10″

Stephen Mueller
was born in Joliet, Illinois in 1952. From the ages of eight to twenty he lived in Switzerland, Germany and Australia. He returned to America in 1972 to attend the John Herron School of Art where he studied with Gary Freeman and received his BFA in 1976. He received his MFA in Sculpture from the University of Illinois—Urbana–Champaign in 1978.

After graduating he moved to Chicago, Illinois to co-found Vector Custom Fabricating, Inc. — a company that specializes in the fabrication of architectural metals and monumental sculpture. Over the last twenty-seven years he has worked with several artists on their larger projects — among them Mike Baur, Terrence Karpowicz, Bruce White, Christine Rojek, Neil Goodman, Donald Gummer, Stephen Luecking and Vito Acconci.

Recent exhibitions of his work include a show with Cecilia Allen and Roger Blakley at Artemisia in 2002; the 2004 group show Summer Summit at Lipa Gallery; and in 2005 the Small Print Show at the
Chicago Printmakers Collaborative as well as Echoes of Complicity at Lipa Gallery.


Robert Mueller is an Associate Professor of Printmaking and Area Coordinator of the Printmaking Program at the University of Florida—Gainesville. He received his BFA from the University of Utah—Salt Lake City in 1985, and his MFA from the Arizona State University—Tempe in 1988. Mueller’s expertise is in lithography, intaglio, relief print, collaborative printmaking and installations. He is technical director of the Alagarto Press, an international visiting artist print project at the University of Florida. The project is a graduate assisted collaborative endeavor with nationally and internationally renowned artists. Mueller’s creative work is strongly inspired by his world travels. These experiences range from long solo wilderness treks in remote areas of Iceland as a Fulbright Scholar, to research trips to Ireland and Scotland. Most recently he taught a printmaking course on the Greek island of Skopelos. Through writing daily journals, producing works on-site and later development in the studio, Mueller narrates the emotional, physical and mental sense of place that he calls “psycho-geography.”


• 2005 Faculty and student exhibition and reception; Skopelos Foundation—Skopelos, Greece. Included in exhibition 8 untitled prints and artist book.
• 2004 SOFA exposition at the Navy Pier; Chicago, Illinois. Limerick Ireland—Site, Intervention, Identity; Limerick City Gallery of Art—Limerick, Ireland.
• 2003 39th Annual Faculty Exhibition—The Madonna Building (Art Basel); Miami, Florida.
• 2002 Hermanamientos 2 Exposicion de Estudiantes/ Professors’ De La Universidad De Florida; University of Veracruz—Xalapa, Mexico.
• 1999 Invitational Works on Paper Exhibition; University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hawaii.
• 1997 Group Exhibition of Vitreographs, Etchings and Relief Prints by American Artists; Icelandic Print Studio Gallery—Rekjavik, Iceland.
1996 Hand-Pulled Prints IV; Stonemetal Press Parchman Stremmel Galleries—San Antonio, Texas. Awarded First Place. 25th Bradley National Print and Drawing Exhibition; Heuser and Hartman Galleries—Peoria, Illinois. Awarded Juror’s Merit Cash Award.
• 1994 Earth Elements; Capitol Building Gallery— Tallahassee, Florida. Two person exhibition.
• 1993 1st Egyptian International Print Triennale; National Center for Fine Arts—Giza, Egypt. National Works on Paper Exhibition; University of Texas at Tyler, Texas.
• 1991 International Triennial of Graphic Arts; Cracow, Poland. Additional venues in Nuernberg and Augsburg. Image published in catalogue p. 193. Farrington-Keith National Juried Exhibition; Clara Kott Von Storch Gallery—Dexter, Michigan.


• 1996 Sketchbook Visions; Harris House of Atlantic Center for the Arts.
• 1994 Backpacking Through Remote Terrains; Shands Cancer Center—Gainesville, Florida.
• 1993 Phantom Cargo: Images for Survival;
University of South Carolina Art Gallery—Spartanburg, South Carolina. Phantom Cargo: Images for Survival; Albany Museum of Art—Albany, Georgia.
• 1992 Circumference; Florida School of the Arts, Main Gallery/St. Johns Community College—Palatka, Florida.


• 2004 Faculty Scholarship Enhancement Fund
• 2001 Sabbatical Leave—Fall Semester, Iceland
• 1998 Teaching Improvement Program Award
• 1999 TIP
• 1996 Awarded Fulbright Scholar—Iceland Summer of 1997


• 1992 Printmaking: A Primary Form of Expression Author: Eldon L. Cunningham; I Authored and contributed images for a chapter. Two images in black and white two images in color. Three and a half pages of text. Published by University Press of Colorado, copyright 1992; pp. 134-137.

Essay text
Stephen Luecking
William H. Bengtson