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Angel of the Deep On Display

Angels Show

I’m pleased to say my latest watercolor and gouache painting “Angel of the Deep”  will join other artworks in the Fourth Annual Angels Show at GoodBean Coffee in Jacksonville OR for the month of December.  GoodBean Coffee is located at 165 S Oregon St in historic Jacksonville, OR.

Angel Of The Deep by M. Stermer-Cox

About the Show

Hosted by GoodBean Coffee Company, Hannah West Designs and Southern Oregon Artists Resource, the Angels Show features artwork by local artists using a variety of media.  You are invited to see the display of fine art daily during normal business hours (6am to 6pm).

Opening Reception

The show’s special opening reception is on Saturday, December 3rd, from noon to 4pm.  If you are in the area, your are heartily invited to come in and join in the festivities.  You will be able to meet many of the artists while enjoying stories of angels and, naturally, the artwork.

Angels Show Quote by Hannah West

About My Mermaid-Angel

I created my mermaid-angel design just for fun.  To explain, I enjoy seeing what my imagination can come up with once an idea pops into my head.  I have a dialogue, so to speak, with my pencil, paper and paint.  We work together until the crazy idea of a mermaid-angel starts to take shape. And, the more I think about my subject, the mermaid-angel in this case, stories form in my head.

Consider this, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to be at home at sea or in the air; to swim, or fly?  My mermaid-angel can move between air, land and water, which I think would be exciting.

And, what would a mermaid-angel do?  I think of my mermaid-angel as an empathetic care-taker and protector of the oceans and all the sea creatures.  I can see her helping turtles, dolphins and other animals caught in nets, for example.

A Little About the Painting

This is one of the few paintings I’ve done where I use gouache along with watercolor.   I had a moment of inspiration, a “what if I do this” moment.  So, I pulled out a tube of gouache and started painting away.  Fun!

For those of you not familiar with gouache, it is an opaque watercolor and mixes well with “regular” transparent watercolor.  I used it on the wings and on the figure’s skin.

Oh, yes, I framed the painting and you may purchase my mermaid-angel during the show for $275.  Happily.  *Update!  My “Angel of the Deep” is sold!  Thank you Hannah West and GoodBean Coffee!  (Woohoo!)

 

Please Stop By

I do hope you will stop by the Good Bean Coffee this December and see all the festive angels.  I’m closing with the official publicity poster for the Angels Show.  Thank you Hannah West for permission to include the poster!

Angels Show

 

 

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The post Angel of the Deep On Display appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Jam econo

Dana Gould

Dana Gould

Dana Gould served as a guest host on Kevin Pollak’s podcast recently, and he had this exchange with his guest. I love the term “jam econo,” which isn’t just about money.

Jonah Ray: A lot of people want fame and money and if they have a knack for comedy they use that to get fame and money . . . lot of people go too big (in) how they go about things. Mike Watt, of the Minutemen, has this saying, “We jam econo.” Stay within your means. Do what you can within your own self. Don’t get further in your life or career on credit. Do it within your realm of possibilities.

Dana Gould: That was an understanding I came to about my stand-up career, and I think this applies to all people who consider themselves craftsmen or artists. It took me decades to come to this conclusion. So much of your career is, “if I get this, then I’ll get this.” Your career is now. You’re here. This is it. It’s great. If you are actively building your career, you’ve made it. If you are working at Barnes & Noble trying to gin up the balls to do an open mike, you haven’t made it. If you do an open mike, you’ve made it. The rest is just a level of degree.

Compound Gratitude


Thank you for the eye and the sight
for the ear and the drum
for the finger and the nail
for the under and the belly
for the back and the bone
for the hand and the made
for the heart and the ache.
Thank you for the moon and the light
for the sun and the flower
for the rattle and the snake
for the thunder and the storm
for the star and the fish
for the blue and the bird
for the honey and the suckle.
Thank you for the day and the dream
for the good and the night
for the after and the noon
for the cross and the over
for the up and the coming
for the life and the time
for the thanks and the giving.

Evoking the invisible

prayer

Drawing from Within, a solo show of drawings by Bill Stephens, is on view in the Wayne Williams and Tom Insalaco Gallery at Finger Lakes Community College. It isn’t a large space, but Bill’s drawings fit perfectly into it, and the show makes a striking impression when you walk in. Everything is framed and matted in such a way that his line drawings look, at a glance, as intricate as old engravings. He uses pens with an extremely fine point, creating form with cross-hatchings, Durer-like, never using solid blacks or grays. I’ve seen previews of this work at our get-togethers for coffee, and I’ve always been impressed, but the work makes a much deeper impression when you see it gathered together this way–the cumulative effect demonstrates how consistently his vision has emerged in this new direction for his work. His world holds together, stylistically, from each drawing to the next. They offer glimpses, from slightly different angles, into his unique and integrated inner world. Some of his images look almost like illustrations from Dante: clusters of souls migrating toward something beyond themselves.

What’s most interesting to me about Bill’s work is that the drawings are the outcome of a process rather than an attempt to render something already visible. His puts down lines and follows where they lead him, a journey to discover the forms that emerge as he improvises his way to an image that often fuses landscapes with botanical, animal, and human shapes. Everything seems an extension of everything else. The end result is surrealistic, and his process echoes surrealism’s “automatic writing,” letting the subconscious guide the hand. Yet as much as I was surprised to be reminded of Dali in many of these drawings, the feelings they evoke are far from the cool theatricality of Dali’s eerie, melting shapes. He’s enthralled by nature, and his enthusiasm infuses everything with a warm energy. He isn’t wedded to any particular sort of landscape–you can find echoes of his wooded Western New York backyard as well as the mesas of the Southwest. Mostly these are dreamscapes where vaguely recognizable forms emerge from the least expected sources–much of what he depicts seems to want to grow a pair of legs, even rock formations.

Bill’s talk about how and why he draws was completely extemporaneous and casual, yet it was often eloquent, and consistently illuminating. He says that each time he sits down in the morning in his studio, he brings a beginner’s mind to what he’s about to draw. For reference, he often refers to the notebooks he fills with quick, adept sketches when he travels, many times jotting quick, haiku-like impressions in the margins. He passed around these notebooks during his talk. The words hover around the edges, subordinate to the drawings. He and his wife, Jean, also an accomplished artist, are both enthralled by nature, and in their work they invest a spiritual depth into the simplest, most common and familiar aspects of the natural world, animal, plant and mineral.

In the days since Bill’s talk, having seen how intensely he’s venturing into this new series without knowing where it will lead, I’ve begun to realize that his process is, for me, a microcosm of how an artist’s career ought to evolve. The best work emerges from an effort to do something more and more consonant with the inarticulate feel of applying a medium in a certain way to a support–without knowing exactly where the effort will take you.The more you let other considerations come into play, the more they drain the life from the final image. Bill Santelli rode down to the show with me and on the way back we talked about how hard it is to stay focused on this factor of feeling one’s way forward in a particular painting, and, in a larger sense, in one’s career. The only reliable guide is to simply keep attempting to paint, or draw, what you most want to see. And you can work for years, or decades, without quite knowing what that is–or be constantly struggling to stay focused on it. Paint only what you want to look at: it sounds like the easiest thing in the world, but everything conspires to make you ignore that desire for any number of reasons: because what you might do won’t sell, or get shown, or be critically recognized, or because you want to belong to a particular “school” of work that has other requirements for admission. In these drawings, Stephens is answering only to what he wants to see emerge, line by line, and drawing by drawing, without any other consideration in play. And yet, groping forward in this way, sticking to process, he gets results that have an unexpected imaginative resonance.

In The Duino Elegies, Rilke spoke about how nature wants to “become invisible” through a certain kind of human reverence for it:

Earth, is it not this that you want: to rise
invisibly in us? – Is that not your dream,
to be invisible, one day? – Earth! Invisible!
What is your urgent command if not transformation?

I suspect in Rilke’s own life, this meant translating the tangible world into poetry. With Stephens, it’s just the reverse. His line, as he puts it down, creates its own necessity, so that while he draws he isn’t copying what he sees, but rather hopes his experience of nature will be translated, subconsciously, into tangible images that convey what might otherwise remain invisible, even to himself.

 

Best in Show

Candy Jar #9, oil on canvas, 52" x 52"

Candy Jar #9, oil on canvas, 52″ x 52″

Candy Jar #9 will be awarded Best in Show tonight at The Red Biennial, presented by The Cambridge Art Association, on view at the Kathryn Schultz Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The exhibition was jurored by Joseph D. Ketner II, the Henry and Lois Foster Chair in Contemporary Art Theory and Practice at Emerson College, Boston. He also holds the position of distinguished Curator-in-Residence. His professional expertise is as a curator and art historian specializing in European and American Modern and Contemporary Art, and nineteenth-century African-American art.

“Mermaid With Net At Night” At The “Icons” Exhibition

Mermaid As Icon

I am pleased to say that my painting “Mermaid With Net at Night” is showing at the Rogue Gallery and Art Center in Medford, OR.  To clarify, it is one painting among over 60 works of art in the Annual Member’s Exhibition.

Mermaid With Net At Night by M. Stermer-Cox

Most of all, if you are in the area, I invite you to please attend the artist’s reception on Friday, November 18th from 5 to 8 pm.

Should you miss the opening reception, you may see the exhibition through December 21st.  Plus, you can see the exhibition multiple times if you wish!  If you might like more information about the exhibition, including location and hours, please see the Rogue Gallery and Art Center’s Website.

To explain, every year the Rogue Gallery has a Member’s Exhibition from mid November through mid December.  For fun, creativity, and consistency, the show has an assigned theme.  So, the theme for this year’s member exhibition is “Icons”.

I’d like to share with you the show statement by the Rogue Gallery is as follows:

” Icons as signs, symbols or personalities can signify the eternal, a particular time, or the ephemeral. In the 2016 Annual Members’ Exhibition, over sixty artists present their icons using a variety of media and styles”.

I like that the gallery encourages a broad interpretation of “icons”.  I can hardly wait to see how other artists interpreted this particular theme.

Icons, Symbols or?

I had a difficult time with this particularly theme.  In my mind, I kept seeing Byzantine era icons.  So I tried to brain storm for new ideas.  Then, I had the problem of deciphering what is a symbol or icon.  Or, how about the word “iconic”?  Iconic women of myth?  Or modern day female icons?  Or, really are they symbols or metaphors?

As you might imagine, I can twist my brain in knots for a long time over the entire “icon” theme.  Do you suppose that is why the gallery gave artists a year to think about the theme?  So, yes I’m still thinking!

Icon or symbol, regardless, I am happy to have my mermaid share gallery space with so many other fine works of art.

Artist Statement

My own artist statement about this particular “Mermaid with Net At Night” is as follows:

“What can be more romantic than a mermaid alone at night?  I imagined that a mermaid in today’s seas would find lots of debris, some being quite useful.  In this case, she is examining a net.  Is she using it for herself, or is she caught in the net?  I expect that the story might go either way.

I like to think that my mermaid is protecting her fellow creatures of the sea.”

Details

Now for a little bit of technical data, I painted my mermaid with watercolor and the image size is 10×7.  I have enclosed it in a white mat and black frame.

If you would like to collect my mermaid, you may purchase the painting through the gallery for the next month.

And, naturally, you may always contact me if you’d like more information!

In the meantime, please enjoy my painting and thank you for your time!

 

 

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The post “Mermaid With Net At Night” At The “Icons” Exhibition appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

“Mermaid With Net At Night” At The “Icons” Exhibition

Mermaid As Icon

I am pleased to say that my painting “Mermaid With Net at Night” is showing at the Rogue Gallery and Art Center in Medford, OR.  To clarify, it is one painting among over 60 works of art in the Annual Member’s Exhibition.

Mermaid With Net At Night by M. Stermer-Cox

Most of all, if you are in the area, I invite you to please attend the artist’s reception on Friday, November 18th from 5 to 8 pm.

Should you miss the opening reception, you may see the exhibition through December 21st.  Plus, you can see the exhibition multiple times if you wish!  If you might like more information about the exhibition, including location and hours, please see the Rogue Gallery and Art Center’s Website.

To explain, every year the Rogue Gallery has a Member’s Exhibition from mid November through mid December.  For fun, creativity, and consistency, the show has an assigned theme.  So, the theme for this year’s member exhibition is “Icons”.

I’d like to share with you the show statement by the Rogue Gallery is as follows:

” Icons as signs, symbols or personalities can signify the eternal, a particular time, or the ephemeral. In the 2016 Annual Members’ Exhibition, over sixty artists present their icons using a variety of media and styles”.

I like that the gallery encourages a broad interpretation of “icons”.  I can hardly wait to see how other artists interpreted this particular theme.

Icons, Symbols or?

I had a difficult time with this particularly theme.  In my mind, I kept seeing Byzantine era icons.  So I tried to brain storm for new ideas.  Then, I had the problem of deciphering what is a symbol or icon.  Or, how about the word “iconic”?  Iconic women of myth?  Or modern day female icons?  Or, really are they symbols or metaphors?

As you might imagine, I can twist my brain in knots for a long time over the entire “icon” theme.  Do you suppose that is why the gallery gave artists a year to think about the theme?  So, yes I’m still thinking!

Icon or symbol, regardless, I am happy to have my mermaid share gallery space with so many other fine works of art.

Artist Statement

My own artist statement about this particular “Mermaid with Net At Night” is as follows:

“What can be more romantic than a mermaid alone at night?  I imagined that a mermaid in today’s seas would find lots of debris, some being quite useful.  In this case, she is examining a net.  Is she using it for herself, or is she caught in the net?  I expect that the story might go either way.

I like to think that my mermaid is protecting her fellow creatures of the sea.”

Details

Now for a little bit of technical data, I painted my mermaid with watercolor and the image size is 10×7.  I have enclosed it in a white mat and black frame.

If you would like to collect my mermaid, you may purchase the painting through the gallery for the next month.

And, naturally, you may always contact me if you’d like more information!

In the meantime, please enjoy my painting and thank you for your time!

 

 

Share

The post “Mermaid With Net At Night” At The “Icons” Exhibition appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Agnes Martin’s slow art

Agnes Martin, Cuba, New Mexico, 1970s

Agnes Martin, Cuba, New Mexico, 1970s

“You have to have a mind of winter to see nothing that is not there, and the nothing that is.” — Wallace Stevens

1

Agnes Martin painted like a thief. She seemed to be attempting to leave behind as little evidence of herself–or anything else–whenever she touched a canvas. It’s a self-effacing posture consistent with her immersion in Taoist spiritual traditions, and it’s part of what gives the rigorous austerity of her work its humble charm in the current Guggenheim retrospective. Yet as impersonal as the work appears, it’s often as beguiling as a simple, four- or five-note melody from nursery school. You climb the whorl of the Guggenheim’s spiral gallery, craving more than what’s there for much of the way. It makes you hungry for color, expecting to get it once you reach that museum’s higher elevations. Yet when it arrives, it leaves you wanting even more. Her tones are as faint and subtle as the pinks and blues in a Turner dawn. Meanwhile, there’s almost nothing to see in one pencilled spreadsheet grid after another, rows and columns of rectangles stacked on rectangles, each one as empty as the next. Then you’ll suddenly come upon a large, thin veil of paint that looks as soft and sensuous as felt or velour. The paint has a surface Thiebaud would have appreciated, though its almost the opposite of his impasto, more like a faint layer of powdered sugar on a cushion of icing, and, as if to heighten the effect through contrast, she scores that paint with a net of lines drawn into the still-soft medium. Again and again you feel a serene tension between the extreme simplicity of her means — the near-absence of all form — and the often sensuous, tactile surface, where the weave of the fabric, the absorbent gesso and finally the thin washes of paint all fuse to become a physical object that looks as if it were made to be stroked with your fingertips. (Which is an interesting urge considering the fact that she maintained she was trying to visualize an immaterial, spiritual state.) While the painting does seem to convey a state of mind, it also seduces you with its physicality. You note these polarities only if you stand and look with persistence, surrender to the static hum of her color or lack of it. Her art requires you to slow down and gives you almost nothing to think about. Judging from the evidence in this retrospective, it’s probably safe to assume she was constantly wondering how one might translate into paint the “no-mind” of Ch’an Buddhism’s Sixth Patriarch: awaken the mind without attaching it to anything.

2

I had never heard of Agnes Martin until four or five years ago, when for the first time I came upon one of her paintings, Untitled #6, at the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe. The painting radiated an aura of absolute stillness and peace, and it seemed alive with evidence of extreme concentration and care in the way she had applied her color in horizontal bands, the edges of her color gauzy and diaphanous, in contrast to the crisp and resolute graphite lines dividing one band of color from the next. Though almost the diametrical opposite of Braque’s, who was a sort of geologist of form and color, her work reminded me of his assiduous exactitude in every detail, answering to some inner need and conviction. Where Braque’s care produced magically complex but unified compositions, Martin reduces everything to the simplest possible terms so even the notion of composition itself seems to disappear. (All you can get a fix on in much her work is a random, haphazard quality in the way she applied the paint, the variations in tone and wavering “tremelo” she invited into a straight line.) In this case, the radical simplicity of her image — the absence of anything for the mind to latch onto as interesting, the paradoxical sense of both emptiness and plenitude — wouldn’t let me go. I leaned toward the canvas, trying to see why I was responding so pleasurably to it, spotting the graphite she incised into her paint to define the stripes of faint, pastel color and how they contrasted so sharply with the haze of color. My response to the painting was immediate and intense. It was a work that radiated contentment and a simplicity of mind and heart. I was baffled by how she had achieved this, and in my memory of the painting, the colors are richer than anything I saw at the Guggenheim. I suspect this is a trick of memory. Untitled #6 would probably have fit into the Guggenheim exhibition perfectly, and wouldn’t have stood out from its companions at all. (The painting preceding it, Untitled #5, is included in the show, and the short essay about it is the most illuminating response, in the entire catalog, to what makes Martin appealing.) I remember this first encounter with Martin as love-at-first-sight, not to be repeated in my first look at anything in this retrospective, and yet that encounter in New Mexico predisposed me to go out of my way to visit the Guggenheim and then to question in new ways how much is actually there to see. I came away from the retrospective in a far more complex mood, unable to resolve contradictory reactions to what she achieved. It left me more puzzled by her work than before — though maybe in a good way. I think of her as she probably wanted to be thought of: a sort of bodhisattva of painting, whose approach to life and paint is almost more inspiring and valuable than the work itself. But you can’t have one without the other.
3

Walking through this retrospective created, for me, a sort of double vision–a bifurcated response. On the one hand, I tried to react to the paintings as someone would who knew nothing about art history — and nothing about Agnes Martin herself — a nearly impossible challenge. Insofar as I was able to put into brackets everything I already knew about her and about twentieth-century art, I was discouraged to find that the show left me wanting more. The crux of it is that none of the individual works had the effect that Untitled # 6 had on me in Santa Fe, and I couldn’t understand why. I had had a conversation earlier that morning with my friends, and hosts in New Jersey, and they said what they have always said, that they can’t see why most of modern art is considered art at all. This is a highly educated couple, with ample income, sophisticated taste, and they actually collect original contemporary prints: hand-made etchings and lithographs, not giclee ink-jets. They simply didn’t have the heart to climb the Guggenheim’s spiral to see pictures of nothing, which I’m sure is essentially how Martin’s work looks to them. (And in a sense this was how she intended it to look.) And so I had that conversation echoing in my head as I attended the show. It was impossible to know whether my expectations set me up for what was a slightly disappointing experience, but one thing is certain: I didn’t come to it with an empty mind.

I was prepared to be enthralled by some of the work but came away full of conflicting thoughts–which I’m pretty sure is the opposite of what Martin was trying to achieve. She herself said, at one point, that she had learned to completely stop thinking (as Krishnamurti advocated) and her work is meant to slow you down to the point where you cast aside expectations and simply surrender and dwell with what little is there to see. On the other hand, knowing where Martin found herself as a painter, historically, I recognized the work as brilliant, subtle, a seemingly necessary permutation of what had been done already, starting with Malevich and Ad Reinhardt, and what was yet to be done in painting, by Stella and others. As I looked, I found myself more and more dissatisfied by her empty grids, a whole series she did in the middle of her career, images which are little more than slightly varied rows of empty rectangles hovering in negative space. One could duplicate these spreadsheet charts now in a matter of minutes with Excel. She claimed they were her interpretation of trees — bringing to mind Mondrian’s evolution, from the abstracted trees he painted to the grids he settled on. Historically, these are probably her most significant work — they take visual art to a place even Mondrian didn’t quite reach, saying essentially, you can really go no further than this in reducing art to its most minimal terms in a grid. And once this has been done, there’s no point in going back — almost as if visual art were an arctic explorer who gets to the planet’s axis on a field of ice and dies there, simply to have done it. And this is how so much of 20th century art feels: an attempt to take a path to its extreme in order to have proven that it can be considered art. (And then of course things swing back the other way, and you find yourself thirsting for a chance to see the sort of painterly, representational grids being done now by Chuck Close.)

Martin’s spare tables of lines seem one step away from the total emptiness of Modernism’s various monotones: Malevich’s black square, Reinhardt’s black paintings, Stella’s black paintings, Ryman’s white paintings, and even Rauschenberg’s white paintings, though the latter’s work seems to lean more toward conceptualism. Rauschenberg’s version was closer to the rote execution of a formula, which anyone could undertake, like Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings. (So do Martin’s grids, to a degree.) All of this work takes the nihilism of modern art to its ultimate conclusion — the elimination of almost everything to actually look at except the painted object itself.

In the case of Martin and Reinhardt, painting is an empty terrain, a corollary of the isolating desert occupied by Thomas Merton’s desert fathers, the early mystics who left behind the world and everything they knew in order to seek the truth. Reinhardt’s and Martin’s pursuits were deeply spiritual, in a traditional way, like Merton’s, informed by mystical traditions from various religions, what Karen Armstrong calls the apophatic path — the evacuation of everything in the mind in order to see God. The other painters would embrace a similar kind of negation, like Malevich, to assert the supremacy of art over representation — without necessarily linking it to any stance on spirituality. Arden Reed calls it “slow art” a way certain art has of luring the viewer back to a quiet spirituality lost in the hurly burly of contemporary life. Peter Scheldahl wrote an illuminating piece on Robert Ryman a year ago, which happens to put Martin into even clearer perspective historically:

Ryman is rooted in a phase of artistic sensibility that was coincident with early minimalism and Pop, and is still in need of a name. Call it the Age of Paying Attention, or the Noticing Years, or the Not So Fast Era. American art underwent convulsive changes in the late nineteen-fifties and early sixties, following the triumph and swift decline of Abstract Expressionism. A vast cohort of young artists and intellectuals, many of them academically trained, flooded into formerly patrician or bohemian scenes. To qualify as hip, you registered fine distinctions—between a photograph of Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol’s silkscreen of a photograph of her, say, or between Carl Andre’s stack of bricks on a gallery floor and a stack of bricks anywhere else. Skeptical attitudes, averse to mimesis and metaphor, put a withering pressure on painting, including even the simplest abstraction. Barely passing muster were the evenly pencilled grids of Agnes Martin, the broody monochromes of Brice Marden, and Ryman’s taciturn brushstrokes. What you saw, while not a lot, stayed seen. The mental toughness that defined sophistication in art back then is rare now.

And then he adds a crucial, corrective observation:

Ryman’s is a kind of mute art that, generating reverent and brainy chatter, puts uninitiated citizens in mind of the emperor’s new clothes. The emperor—roughly, high-modernist faith in art’s world-changing mission—could retain fealty only if stripped of fancy styles and sentimental excuses. That was Ryman’s formative moment. It was succeeded by a suspicion, now amounting to a resigned conviction, that contemporary art is an industry producing just clothes, with no ruling authority inside them.

That’s a wonderful passage in which he conveys the fertile pandemonium of art during the middle of the American century into one crisp assessment, finally acknowledging that art as a whole may have completely lost its way in this march toward what seems a dead end. Though Martin was accepted into this exclusive club, she was pushing back against all of it, wanting the viewer to slow down to a complete stop and simply gaze, as a monk would do, facing a wall. Schjeldahl nails the kind of snobby, knowing and elitist ethos that has increasingly surrounded art since the advent of modernism. The lesson being that if you don’t do your homework, good luck in finding something to see when you visit Dia Beacon. Because there’s much to think about and very little to actually look at in most of that work. Perhaps my conversation with my good friends at breakfast made it impossible to escape this skepticism about the pretenses of contemporary art–which extends even to work I love–as I walked though an exhibition of paintings by probably one of the humblest and least pretentious artists who ever lived. So, by the end of my visit to the Guggenheim, I felt I I had done Agnes a disservice by holding back as did, but my doubts were genuine, and they are simply part of the struggle every visual artists faces now.

4

Why bother? Why not just pay attention to work that charms me immediately and rewards me generously with each repeated viewing? Well, it does sound like a sensible plan in a world where anything goes. But Martin’s work stopped me in my tracks in Santa Fe with sheer pleasure, joy, and delight, much the way I respond to the formal qualities of work by Stella, Kenneth Noland, and even Bridget Riley. For me, her stripes belong to that family of work — if you uncouple them from the motives and philosophy behind the work, the movements and theories that attended them. Behind them all, including Martin, hovers the Cheshire smile of their great grandfather, Matisse. Yet she is by far the most soft-spoken, and therefore the most difficult to hear, of the bunch. Their stated motives may have been completely different from hers, but weren’t they all aiming to give happiness, in their own ways — and happiness was her only avowed goal. To convey happiness in paint.

When I saw that painting in Santa Fe, I wanted to bring it home with me. It did make me happy for as long as I was looking at it. Yet I continue to be drawn to her because nearly everything Martin said about painting, and by implication about life, was profound and true. Her art was the tip of an iceberg of genuine wisdom. As the show’s catalog puts it: “Over the course of her long life Martin explored and absorbed a range of life-views, including . . . Calvanism, expressions of visionary Christianity, Platonism, transcendentalism, Vedanta, Zen Buddhism, and last, but not least, Taoism.” (Nevermind that if she delved into Zen Buddhism, her plate already contained a big serving of Taoism. ) This is an artist who understood exactly why she painted — to get closer to God, whatever she understood that word to mean. It’s a tonic for so much of what passes for art now that an anchorite like Martin continues to be honored with a retrospective like this. The question of whether her art lives up to her own wisdom is the unanswerable question at the heart of modern art itself.

Drawing from the Mind

bill

I’ll be there for the talk, and for a tour of the show. I’ve been watching Bill work on this series for a while, and own one of the best ones he’s done. It’s fascinating work, and I have a sense that Bill is always balancing between conscious technique and subconscious impulse, tending the process without quite controlling where it leads or knowing where the drawing is going to end up. It unveils itself to him, as much as it does for the viewer. The one in my collection feels like an illustration for Dante’s Inferno, but a lot of the work seems biomorphic, the forms growing as naturally as seeds and branches.

Take Heart Cards

The Take Heart greeting card line has launched! These cards celebrate the art of encouragement. To take heart is to encourage, to encourage is to inspire with hope, and the Latin root of encourage is cor, heart. The cards are waiting to be filled with your own heart-ful words and sent out into the world….
Each card is:
~ 5” x 7” (ideal for giving and framing)
~ Blank inside
~ Printed in Oregon, USA on 100lb cardstock
~ Hand embossed in the lower, right-hand corner with my æ signature
~ Accompanied by a translucent, vellum envelope (hard to find!)
Ten percent of all Take Heart sales go to support The Studio at Living Opportunities, which provides a place to create for people with developmental disabilities.

For now, the cards are available in a several Southern Oregon stores. Stay tuned for more locations. Meanwhile, I can accommodate retail orders as sets of all 10 designs with vellum envelopes for $25 + $5 s/h to US addresses. 

Take heart!

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