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   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!

   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.

Friday, January 29, 2010
  upcoming exhibit

I'm really excited about my upcoming exhibit at Circa Gallery in Minneapolis that opens a week from tomorrow, February 6. (The show, a two-person exhibit with Maren Kloppmann, will be hung on Tuesday the 2nd if anyone wants a preview.)

Yesterday,in single digit temperatures, with a below-zero wind chill (am I impressing all of you who live in warmer climates?)I delivered my paintings to the gallery. This was understandably a huge relief after weeks of intensive preparation. I kind of expected to sink into a relaxing stupor for the next couple of days and avoid any thought of painting. Instead, I was up in the middle of last night making notes for new work, fired up with possibilities. These ideas seemed to be coming out of my refreshed memory of Circa's space, as I pictured it filled with my work and Maren's very elegant and minimalist porcelain pieces (which are both wall-hung and free standing.) Given the wide-open format of the gallery, our work will not be segregated by artist, and I think there will be intriguing interactions going on in terms of texture, media, color, and 2D/3D abstract imagery. Although I have only seen a few of Maren's pieces so far, I think this exhibit was an excellent pairing on part of the gallery.

In the art world, a solo show is generally considered more prestigious and more advantageous to one's career, since one artist has the full spotlight. I've accepted this premise for years, without giving it much thought. However, this show has opened my mind to the potential for interesting and intriguing conversations between the work of two artists, if carefully paired. I'm excited about the potential for the added depth that our work as seen together will achieve.
Friday, January 22, 2010
  studio view

I took the photo above this morning--it shows some of the paintings I'm getting ready to take to Circa Gallery in Minneapolis next week. I still have a couple that need work, and lots of details, including photography and computer work, to take care of. The photo below is of most of the smaller work (again, a few are still in progress)that I'll be shipping to Milwaukee on Monday to the First Unitarian Society for their gallery space. And again,lots of small ends to wrap up.

I've spent the past week picking away at being ready, at times with little sense of progress. The studio is crowded, and the number of paintings overwhelming (these shots tell only part of the story.) I'm trying to move from one thing to another with a sense of purpose and focus but at times--in spite of a deep conviction of the importance of living in the moment--I just want it to be over! I don't really want to complain though--this is a life with a great many ebbs and flows, always changing, and for the most part I enjoy the ride.

(But hey, any little elves that want to visit my studio in the night to attach picture wire and sand the edges of panels...really, don't hesitate.)
Friday, January 15, 2010
  new painting

This is a small painting that I will be including in my upcoming show at Circa Gallery in Minneapolis, MN. It's one of several new pieces in which gestural marks are made with solvent and brush--the solvent reveals an earlier paint layer.

Yesterday I lined up everything I am considering for the exhibit and it hit me that I am very close to being done with this work--to my surprise, I'm actually a little ahead of schedule (that after considerable stress over getting things done in time.) . Maybe for once I will deliver paintings that are actually dry! I will enjoy the luxury of time to study and think about this work before delivering it in 2 weeks. Last minute, major revisions are still possible of course...

I am turning my attention now to a small exhibit I am having at the First Unitarian Society in Milwaukee, WI, which will run concurrently with the Circa show. It is "small" in the sense that all the work I'm sending will be small scale--about a dozen or so paintings. I'm sharing the exhibition space with Audrey Sargeant, with whom I showed last March at Grace Chosy Gallery in Madison. I've decided that with all the busyness surrounding my Circa show, I probably will not make the drive to Milwaukee for the opening. It's odd that twice in the past year I've had overlapping shows and have had to either pass an opening up or over-schedule myself into craziness--when other times months go by with little on the calendar.

Speaking of scheduling, a reminder for those readers interested in taking one of my Oil and Wax workshops--registration is open for upcoming classes in Verona, WI in March and in Longmont, CO in April. Please visit my workshop web page for details and registration links.
Saturday, January 09, 2010
  new painting

This 12" square painting on panel, as yet untitled, is one that I'm planning to include in my upcoming show at Circa Gallery in Minneapolis. The surface is deeply scratched for texture and it's one where I played around with subtle shifts of white.

Things are coming along well in the studio for the exhibit, which opens on February 6. I'm starting to see more clearly what I'll include and how individual paintings relate to each other. It is not as specific or thematic a show as my previous one, which was in Santa Fe in October and featured work that had evolved out of my 2008 residency in Catalonia, Spain. This one is a bit more broad-ranging...there are several different threads of ideas that I've been following, and in some paintings at least, a slightly looser, more experimental feeling--or at least that's something I sense, and perhaps it comes through.

Here is a portion of my artist statement for the Circa show:

Since my return, the origins of my images have evolved away from the specific experience in Spain towards a more general expression of aging, the passing of time, and the accumulation of memories and history. I’m drawn to the symbolic and visual aspects of natural processes like stratification, collapse, compression, and burial. I also love the ephemeral marks that people leave behind—traces of handwriting, doodles, graffiti, children’s drawings, quick sketches. The time in Spain awakened me to visual possibilities that are all around me, and are common to many landscapes and locations.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
  single panel paintings

In the past few months I've painted over a dozen 12" square single panel paintings--many were started during workshop demos (on flat panels that I later had cradles built to fit.) The fact that I had these in progress from my workshops fit in nicely with an increased demand for small paintings at several of my galleries, and I put a lot of time and effort into them. In the process I stumbled onto some new ideas for ways to divide the space, to make textures with scratched lines, and to integrate a wider range of color within the painting.

Now as I work toward my February exhibit at Circa Gallery in Minneapolis, I am interested in expanding these small, single panels insights to a larger scale. For example, the painting above, Old Garden Wall, is 36" square. I felt fresh energy in treating this larger painting with the same attention to textural detail and a similar organizing structure as I have used in my smaller paintings.

I also realized as I worked on this that over the past few years I've quit thinking of middle-to-large sized panels as potentially complete by themselves. Almost without exception, my larger scale paintings have relied on multiple panels, bolted together, to create structure and contrast. In fact I've thought of this approach as what makes my work distinctively mine. If that's true though, it means being locked into using the multiple panels--and I really dislike the thought of being confined that way.

I still love the look of juxtaposed panels in my work--but I want to remember that is just one option, one choice, one tool in the toolbox. The strong geometric division created between panels is not always what I'm after. Sometimes, as in the painting above, I can enjoy a softer, more nuanced and flexible line. More choices are good!


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       Rebecca Crowell