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Sunday, January 7, 2018

What is the purpose of art?

linoleum print, Edition sold out
I drag my art tools everywhere, and run to my studio as often as possible in order to hold onto things I love because I know everything, everyone, and every moment is fleeting. Above all else, I fear that I have a bad memory! I can't even remember, without notes, what I was doing this day last week, last month or last year. By tracking and documenting the details of a day, I feel more whole. I am marked in a spot and it is proof I exist. It must be different for the collector.
Taking notice of details and highlighting something artistically brings out beauty and preserves an experience.
For the viewer, art can be where you feel welcomed and where you can pause on your own journey.

When my mother was moving out of her home and we had crated, packed, loaded into storage almost everything, she spontaneously gave several of my works (from her collection) to the moving men. The pieces, made in my youth, felt singular and rare to me... connecting me to a timeline. They were posts for me to check in with whenever I visited her. They were also nicely framed and she thought, in her usual generous manner, that the young men could use some good art. 
New Year's Chair with Mother's Hourglass, drawing on paper, 2018
Initially I had a hard time (I cried), because I was struck with a fear that those years, those memories, were now lost. That isn’t true. I still have the memories, but now the gentlemen collectors have the signposts.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Is world peace too much to ask for?

As artists, one of our jobs is to show others the dream and to manifest a potent desire to make it a reality. So... I am unapologetic about calling for every wishbone cracked, every fallen star, every stray eyelash, every birthday candle blown and every other wishful opportunity given, to be the doorway to world peace.
My sons probably tire of me. They collect guns. But ironically it is in their faces that I see the urgency of my request. It is their beautiful spirits and the miracle I know involved in their being that makes me ask for the silly, seemingly year-2017-unrealistic-world-peace.
I am not going to talk about the American president. Or the obnoxious GNP of the USA.
Instead I will talk about the beauty of new babies- grandchildren.
And of poets... playful lovers who remind me that world peace begins in our own homes.
 Thank God for music, poetry and art and roofs over our heads. And let there be world peace!
#worldpeace #guncontrol #motherson #poets4thePeace #militarygames #militaryhistory

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Six words for the end of the year

 small painted magnets
Suspended between Christmas and New Years Eve, I ponder the gift of being present. First, I take the opportunity to truly rest. Then, I notice what is outside, this glorious earthly paradise. (Best time of year to be in Miami!)
My perception manifests my faith. It is all connected!

If I added more words to this period between years, they would be:
...............   reflect
digest ..................
...............................   embrace
and laugh  ..................

Do you agree?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Paying attention

A series of recent sketchbook studies of winter windows has given me the opportunity to slow down and pay attention. Within a nice geometric boundary, I study the dark, the light and note the meeting of the two values. I look for unique edges, silhouettes, and wider spaces. Somewhere within the details of the interior, sill and all, I pass through the glass to the deeper space outside. The best drawings had a space of falling snow or a semi transparent curtain as another layer. 
As I drew all my concerns fell away and I rejoiced in the details coming together. I felt like time slowed down and I heard celestial music. Moments such as these show me that the divine is close when I pay attention. 

I am reminded of great alter pieces by the northern European Renaissance artists such as Rogier van der Weyden. Panels of the Nativity contain a host of details lovingly attended to. The traditional art of the time was constructed in symbols and much of what is included would have symbolic meaning to the viewer, but I also believe that the artist relished the rendering of details and saw in the process a form of prayer...just to pay attention.
I feel suspended a bit this evening in the midst of the holy days. The frenetic energy leading up to the day of gifting and eating seems to have eased up. The airports, malls, and grocery stores are filled with merry folk and a faint drumming music.
Presents are all wrapped and the oven is warm.

Meanwhile dried flowers, a jar of spools, and a lamp all speak to me about time and holy days right now. I hope next year to pause and enjoy the little things and not panic so deeply, so regularly, about the big things.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Elfing Season

One of my favorite Christmas movies is Elf starring Will Ferrell. Not only does he love the revolving doors, the elevator buttons and the escalators, but he makes things like the  intricate cut tissue ornaments as fast as they fall from his fingers. I have an affinity for the elf culture. Starting annually right after Thanksgiving, I get an itch to make things in multiple and in miniature. This happens every year... glitter suddenly looks cool. Cotton balls, ribbons and tongue depressors have potential. I drag out the plaster bucket and the inks. This year I made dust bunnies and magnets, cat ornaments and pussy hats.
dust bunnies, part sculpture/ part utilitarian

miniature painted magnets

miniature magnets
pussy hats


Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Brief History of Art Fairs

Mark Jenkins, Kicked Painting, ed. 2 of 5, 2017
Besides the medieval tourist traps that sold art replicas along trade routes as novelty items, most of the art sold and bought in the years since the stranglehold of the Academies of Europe, was transacted in the isolated realms of galleries. The galleries were created under the influence of the personality of the dealer who controlled your access to works by artists. They were the gatekeepers influencing who got bought and grooming prominent collections to eventually make it into museums. These were quiet studies affairs until a shift in the art world in the late 1970's. In 1978 Thomas Hoving director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art created the first "blockbuster", an exhibition of the Treasures of King Tut. He sparked the imagination of the public and hundreds of thousands of people started queuing up to enjoy art viewing as a form of entertainment. That same year an observant entrepreneur and a NYC police officer created the first trade fair venue where chain galleries and movie stars, publishers and art lovers could mingle together under one roof. Called Art Expo, and originally located near Central Park, it completely changed the way art business was handled. Thousands of dollars and hundreds of artworks transacted without much of a sales pitch. People were hungry for art and shopped like they were at the mall before Christmas. It was a significant move away from the brick and mortar gallery. Art Fairs around the world enticed dealers with their crowds and soon became launching pads for print publishers and a place for an artist (with significant financial investment) to make a career. Art shown at the fairs ranges from blue chips with stratospheric prices, to ephemeral immaterial concepts to boutique items such as artist sneakers and handbags. This year there was a distinct move to bring back the intimacy of the creation of art. More and more artists, like myself, were adding a performative element to the fairs. Sarah Hanson in the Art Newspaper writes that "This is the first time that artists have worked on the spot" and quoting a gallerist from Mexico city, " a commercial art fair seemed an interesting place to acknowledge and make visible the many systems in which we are all operating". Is it just the addition of a bit more theater?
Me at work in the Fair

Monday, December 11, 2017

Exposed @ Miami Art Basel Week

The business of art is really funny. It seems as though the more successful you are at selling, the less you are seen as a serious artist.
It's an old paradigm that the true artist is in it for the process, for the connection to the more spiritual message, and would never stoop to the crassness of market transactions. But I digress... I am still digesting Miami Basel Art Week. It was lovely to experience the fairs and see all the artworks and catch up with old friends. I did this year a little different though. This year I went for exposure. #Lifeisart #Miamiartcommunity #Spectrumartfair #Miamiartist #paintingperformance #workinprogress
I set up an easel in a crowded corner of a crowded art tent. Paintings and sculptures hung and spun around me as I attempted to paint a night-highway scene from a photograph I had taken the night before. Working in the middle of crowds, I often lost track of the time, and "surfaced" feeling as if suddenly caught in my nightgown in someones living room, during a raucous party. Making conversation seemed an effort, so I mostly laughed and asked questions. Adults seemed to have glazed over eyes. The children were the ones who stayed focused the longest.

They had good questions and I became a teacher (again).

Here are some shots of the progression of the painting: