Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!
exhibition thoughts A few weeks have passed since the opening of my exhibit, Journeys, at Thomas Deans Fine Art in Atlanta, Georgia. (To see an online catalog of this exhibit, please click here.) The months of preparation are over, the travel and opening were fun, and I'm back in New Mexico and starting to plan for other upcoming exhibits. I've also been thinking about the huge effort required to pull off a big exhibit-- mentally, emotionally and even physically. Recently on our podcast, The Messy Studio, my son Ross and I discussed some of the practical aspects of preparing for an exhibit. (Please click here to listen to episode #57 if you're curious.) We recorded that episode when I was in the last stages of getting the work ready for the Atlanta show, a cycle that will be repeated again in July for my exhibit at Addington Gallery in Chicago, and again in September when Jerry McLaughlin exhibit together at Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery in the Bay Area. It is a busy year ahead, especially since I need to fit preparing for those exhibits around a heavy travel/teaching schedule.
When an exhibit is proposed I'm always excited and almost always say yes, even though I know there will be intensity and exhaustion in the months before the opening. This intensity is inevitable given the emotional ups and downs in making a body of new work, the hard physical work of painting and preparing work for display, and all the decisions ahead that range from creative to practical. But it seems important to accept the challenge and the opportunity.
Our friends and families tend to focus on the tangible rewards of an exhibit, with good wishes for sales and recognition, and afterward, there are typically questions about whether the show was successful in terms of what was sold. Of course, for many of us, sales are a very important source of income and vital to our relationship with our galleries. But they are only one measure of success, a bigger picture that includes less tangible aspects. Exhibits of any kind--whether solo or group, in commercial galleries or nonprofit spaces, are important steps on the creative journey. They keep an artist moving forward from one to another over time. With each show, there is the challenge to create the best work possible, to try new things, and to learn from the relationships between different pieces in the overall body of work.
The demands and deadlines of an exhibit also provide focus and energy and are sometimes the best reason to say yes to scheduling a show. It's exciting to see the new work grow in numbers and ambition, to line up finished pieces and imagine them hanging in the gallery with white space around them and beautifully lit. The vision of what the body of work is about can push the artist through the inevitable frustrations, worries, and other emotional back-slidings. New ideas may come from the whole process and from seeing the work hung, and give direction for the future. Each exhibit is a milestone, a view of the artist on the creative journey.
I'm always grateful for these milestones in my own art life. My exhibit in Atlanta was an opportunity to pursue work having to do with dualities and contrast. And, while much of my recent work is neutral in color, I also included some new, more colorful wor in the show. Here is the artist statement that accompanied the exhibit:
I paint in response to ancient and rugged places that I love, interpreting them intuitively, abstractly, through memory and emotion. The bogs and coast of County Mayo, Ireland and the canyons of northern New Mexico are two significant places for me, but I’m drawn to any landscape that is wild, rocky, and remote. Certain human environments also move me--the ruins of stone buildings, old Spanish houses with hidden courtyards, megalithic monuments.
These ancient places seem to me both deeply familiar and yet unknowable and mysterious. When I paint, I want to express something of this strange duality--a feeling of nostalgia for something not yet experienced.
Other contrasting qualities also contribute to the deep and complex whole of a place. These include stillness and movement, strength and fragility, aging and timelessness, vastness and intimacy. In my work I look for ways to express these dualities--strong value contrasts, variations in the texture and amount of detail, hard and soft edges. My overall process expresses another duality-- a sense of history and the present tense existing at once. This happens as I build layers of paint and cold wax medium, then scrape and dissolve away selected areas to revel what is underneath, creating complex surfaces.
My exhibit continues at Thomas Deans through March 11. f you are in the Atlanta area, please check it out, or if not...click here. Thanks!