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Bienvenue

Bienvenue autumn travel, a new season and fresh creative paths. We had a glorious downpour yesterday that was like a light switch on summer. On, off in one day. We are now fall.

With that came the irresistible urge to look up soup recipes and finish up canvases that have been lingering around the easel. It’s a version of spring cleaning in reserve. Prepping the art cave? I’m not quite ready to hibernate but I adore this transition. I’m a natural “back to school” person even when I’m not enrolled. This time of year often feels more new year than the actual new year. I’ve got some fun travel coming up (no, not Paris, as above painting might suggest), I saw pumpkin pie at the bakery and there’s rain in the forecast all week. Life is good! Next up, replacing all my old brushes and stocking up on art supplies. (I still remember how fun it was shopping for back to school supplies!)

Wishing you a cozy Sunday where ever you are!

Bienvenue” 22×28″

Silvia Trujillo Workshop Updates

Silvia Trujillo Workshop Updates:

There is still time to enroll in one or both of these workshops!

If you’ve never been to Bridgeview Winery, it’s one of the loveliest in the Valley, and well worth the drive.

Date: Saturday September 17 from 10am-5pm
Location: Bridgeview Winery – 4210 Holland Loop Road Cave Junction, OR 97523

All skill levels are welcome! Beginners will get a taste for the process of plein-air, and more advanced artists will get a chance to hone their skills in a beautiful new location.

The workshop fee is $100 and includes a drink ticket that may be redeemed for your choice glass of wine. We have one 50% off scholarship available. If you’d like to apply, please email [email protected] or call 541-592-5019.

 Bridgeview Vineyard & Winery specializes in German varietals such as Riesling. Currently, it has a gold medal award-winning Oregon Pinot Noir that has received an 89-point rating with Wine Spectator. It’s a great value! Wines will be available for tasting and purchase throughout the workshop. Please bring a water bottle and packed lunch.   

Silvia Trujillo Workshop Update: Rescheduled!

Alpacas at Lone Ranch Plein Air Workshop

Sponsored by Rogue Gallery & Art Center, Medford

 Due to the heat wave last Saturday, the workshop was rescheduled for September 24. All the same info, just a different day : )

 Looking forward to a great outdoor painting day on the 24th! Love to see you there! 

Alpacas at Lone Ranch (in Eagle Point) is another favorite spot for plein air art.

Sign up through the Rogue Gallery to reserve your space. 

Call 541.772.8118 or visit Website: www.roguegallery.org

Suitable for beginner through advanced painters. All media welcome!
I look forward to seeing you on Saturday, September 24, from 9 am–3 pm and painting with you!

Recent plein air scenes by Silvia: vineyard & flower fields

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Website:    https://www.silviatrujillo.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/silvia.trujillo.5891/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/artistsilviatrujillo/

Tilt-shift compassion

 

Landlord, oil on panel, 16″ x 26″

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a decade since James Casebere’s photography was included in the Whitney Bienniel. I remember, back in 2010, being wowed by his reproductions of the suburban dioramas he painstakingly constructed and then lit and shot. His work seems to have gotten more austere and cerebral and political since then, but his landscapes of newly-built suburban dream homes still convey the ambivalent beauty of an increasingly unaffordable American Dream. Casebere centered the simplicity of his scenes at the median point between verisimilitude and minimalist geometry of newly constructed McMansions. His houses stand on an otherwise almost naked slope with newly-planted saplings a quarter century away from offering privacy and shade. Anyone who has lived in a new suburban tract knows the mix of feelings: the exhilaration of moving in, the weird sense of emptiness and exposure in a place without foliage, the smell of new construction and the sounds of new doors clicking into place, as well as the paradoxical solitude of tract housing jammed side by side into narrow lots. Casabere’s dioramas were about American life, as it is experienced by those lucky enough to buy a home—how much more poignant now in the current real estate market these scenes must be for young people hoping to put down roots. Yet his houses jutted up in various colors, evoking geometric abstraction, like the structures in an Icelandic landscape by Louisa Mattiasdottir. It was stunning work and it stirred many conflicted feelings—yearning, hope, and the inevitable disappointments of routine.

He was one of those art stars of the moment, using dioramas to make two-dimensional images, like Gregory Crewdson, on an even larger scale, whose constructed scenes—far more realistic and detailed—have a cinematic power and a darker, but even more alluring mood. Crewdson lives on the edge of popular culture. There’s a sense of epic effort in his illusions that seem imbued with an invisible presence. Built by hand and then captured with photographs, his work would be familiar to anyone who listens to Yo La Tengo (where I discovered it on one of their album covers) or watched Six Feet Under. His art was mentioned on the show, and he was recruited to do a promotional campaign for it.

It’s been years since I’ve looked into diorama art, so it took me a while to even come up with Casebere’s name, even with Google, yet the current exhibition at Arcadia in SoHo demonstrates that at least one artist is pushing the genre into a more narrowly defined scope, and the results are wonderful. They are also in great demand. The show sold out immediately. What’s most astonishing, though, is that it took Alberto Ortega only a year to build his dioramas and then paint all the scenes based on them for the show. Producing a solo show at this level in a single year deserves hushed respect. Ortega uses his own carefully arranged dioramas—lit in a distinctly personal way—to create oil paintings that hearken back to Edward Hopper. He keeps things far simpler than the more spectacular photographic work of Crewdson and Casabere, but Ortega is just as cinematic. Like an early hip-hop artist, relying on the bricolage of samples lifted from earlier recordings, he buys props made for model train enthusiasts and then assembles them and puts them into a new context—through their arrangement, their color and their lighting—to work his magic. At Ortega’s new Arcadia Contemporary solo show, Stephen Daimant answered a few of my questions. He has built an uncompromising engine of profitability on the demand for extraordinary painting, moving from downtown Manhattan to Culver City and Pasadena and then back to West Broadway during the pandemic. I asked him if the Spanish painter built his own houses. No. He buys everything he needs ready-made, marketed for model train enthusiasts. He finds what he needs and then makes you see it in a personal way—more like a still life artist than a painter of landscapes. In arranging the structures, the figures, and the skies he creates as backdrop, he transcends the everyday feel of the clean, well-lit place that model train enthusiasts tend to build as a setting. What sounds like a quick workaround to avoid the labor that Casebere would put into making a paper house provides an essential simplification of form. The cars date back sixty or seventy years. The little suited traveling salesman, standing by his parked car and contemplating his limited income and lean prospects, clutching his brief case while the sun sets behind him—his tiny faceless head gives the impression of some lonely, dogged worker, a Willy Loman who only wishes he could be the man in the gray flannel suit with a corner office. This is Samuel Beckett-land, with white picket fences. This is Plato’s world of Forms, if Plato’s demiurge had been a six-year-old boy building the world in a corner of the family room.

Much of what makes these paintings work resides in the choices he makes in lighting his scenes with great care, using subtle angles that accentuate the contrasts between light and dark and helping to additionally obscure unnecessary detail. Foliage is reduced to a dark mass of beautiful deep green. Things are spot-lit, as if on a stage, but somehow the lighting doubles as angled sunlight, leaf shadow, the color of a late sky reflecting off a wall, or unlikely streetlights that mostly remain out of view. Ortega’s ability to control multiple sources of light gives him a way to accentuate the stark three-dimensionality of the props, everything arrested, caught in amber, the past alive in the present, offering a sense of loss and yet a strange sense of connection between the viewer and the subject, a personal bond, as if remembering things you’ve never experienced.

All minute detail is shorn away of necessity, because the props don’t bother with it—there is no attempt at hyper-realism and the generally convincing impression of physical reality vies with a tilt-shift effect of subliminally recognizing these objects as they are, at the scale of toys.

The experience of looking down at these little scenes of ordinary life makes you feel protective of them. You feel an involuntary empathy with such little figures, almost wishing you could make their lives easier, or keep them company, wherever they are going. You want to go down and give them a hand, the way Clarence wanted to give George Bailey a hand. It’s not a feeling one gets very often in an art gallery now, let alone in a mall. It’s marvelous.

Spirituality at The Armory Show

Le bapteme, Marc Padeu, 78″ x 110″

On Saturday, I wandered lonely like a cloud through The Armory Show, at the edge of Hudson Yards. That domineering real estate venture is the child of our precarious finance-driven economy. It’s a forbidding, crystalline, Antarctic Fortress of Solitude rising up along the river, with Dubai-like heights so reflective its towers almost disappear against the sky. Across the street, a honeycomb of gallery booths spread out in uniform ranks inside the equally glassy, tourmaline facets of the Javits Center. (By contrast with the glass towers, the Center looks more like an enormous multi-story greenhouse.) Inside, at this annual pop-up art mall, rows of booths gave birth to another seemingly endless grid of tight little alcoves as I slowly made my way through the maze, swiveling my head in all directions, trying not to miss anything, as if riding through Pirates of the Caribbean.

The beautiful people were there in abundance, trying to look as chill as the champagne in ice buckets beside their plush chairs. So much money, but how much of it was being spent? I don’t know the break-even point for a gallery—how much needed to be sold to make a profit after the fee for a booth—but few of the people staffing these booths looked light-hearted. Most had a selection of work from their roster, while quite a few staked their investment on a solo show of only one artist. The solo shows were invariably the most interesting.

The free market is a necessarily brutal place, even at this lofty level. A corner bodega probably has an easier time turning a profit than many of the souls who must spend months preparing to ship this costly work overseas and put it up for sale at a fair. Represented were 250 galleries from around the world, but after an hour of walking, it felt like far more. It was often depressing, so much of it a cavalcade of disposable and over-hyped art. But that isn’t far from the experience of walking through Chelsea and ducking into one gallery after another. New York City is changing and has been for many years now. I miss being able to wander into Danese-Corey and never being disappointed. I miss OK Harris downtown. I also miss the Half King. And Hi Fi in the East Village. And the lines outside the Upright Citizens Brigade on 26th. All gone. Fine, so one is a restaurant, and another is a little bar/music studio, and another a school of improv, but they are similar disappearances of the past decade and were small bastions of quality or history or what will probably be considered Old New York in only a few years. Manhatttan needs another Maeve Brennan or Joseph Mitchell to document this metamorphosis, this infiltration. You feel as if you’re watching from the shore as art rides the froth of a giant wave of international money sweeping aside graceful little figures who managed to stay vertical on economic swells of smaller, more human dimensions. (There are notable survivors, like Arcadia Contemporary, whose scale is in all things extremely human. It didn’t need a booth at this show, because it is killing at its SoHo location, having sold out its entire new show at the opening on Thursday.) So it can still be done, old school, if the goal is to make enduring art rather than spectacular profits.

Dave Hickey had a vision of how the art world ought to work, imagining terraces in the Renaissance where sellers traded collegially with buyers desperate to own a particular painting—someone who just had to have it, because it was alluring and beautiful, regardless of any other consideration. It was how he wanted the commerce of art to work, fueled by the desire, charm, delight, the freedom to make art and freedom to buy it out of love, not as an investment. He lived long enough to see the phenomenon of the art fair, and he must have felt conflicted about it. It all works as he wanted—but it was hard to experience the sort of surprise and awe he celebrated as the heart of the enterprise. On Saturday, a small percentage of the work on view was arresting enough to break through the sensory overload and make me want to stop and gaze at it for more than a couple seconds, never mind getting to the point of wishing I had the ducats to own it. So little of it made me ask with wonder and admiration: how did she do that?

Some did, though.

In a few instances, I asked that question with astonished wonder. In a few booths I found evidence that great painting is still alive and well and selling. Looking at Hyperallergic’s review, now that I’m back home, I realize that I gave up too soon in a few cases—but what I found in my quick tour justified the cover charge. One painting even brought tears to my eyes: a first for me. Within just the past few weeks, I was telling a fellow painter that no painting had ever made me cry, unlike music and movies and books. I stand corrected.

Early on, in a couple instances, I found relief in work from the past represented at various galleries. Galeria de Arte, Mexico City, offered modernist abstracts by Gunther Gerzso, who died in 2000, lyrical studies in carefully scumbled color. They brought to mind a cross between Kandinsky and Braque, the surface sprinkled with stone dust, the way Braque used sand to create a stucco-like support for his oil. The gallerist on duty said that Gerzso has never had a museum retrospective to establish the strength of his achievement. The work here showed long hours of painstaking craft, and a hum of harmonies in color and texture that reminded me of the energy one feels in the Southwest desert’s air and heat. It looked worthy of a museum show to me.

Andy Warhol, Details of Renaissance Paintings, artist’s proof, 60″ x 83″

A London gallery, Archeus/Post-Modern, offered a selection of prints from Pop and Op artists—the usual suspects, Ed Ruscha, Warhol, Bridget Riley—but in what seemed like a moment of personal synchronicity, the most prominent print on display was a large artist’s proof of Warhol’s interpretation of St. George and the Dragon, the story of England’s patron saint. I’d discovered this print only a few months ago while meandering around the Web looking for various treatments of that myth down through history. Warhol photographed and then did his thing with a detail of Paolo Uccello’s painting from 1460. It’s a mysterious, almost bewilderingly abstract image: just the face of the serenely composed but endangered woman and one wing of the dragon jutting into view. Warhol was Byzantine Catholic, and went to church on Sundays, but one rarely sees any indication of his faith in the work, and it’s pretty well sublimated here, but still present and accounted for with a touch of enchantment.

AES+F, Inverso Mundus, Inquisition or Women’s Labor #2, oil on canvas, 71″ x 62″

Across the aisle from Archeus and down a few booths I had my liveliest encounter of the day. It was a solo show of a “collective” of four expatriate Russian artists who go by their initials: AES + F. They do politically charged work in various media: video, porcelain, oil. The work is astonishingly crafted, intelligent, and wryly confrontational. The Senda gallery from Barcelona showed two large oils, reminiscent of James Valerio’s theatrically staged scenes from decades ago, yet brightly hyper-realistic and assiduously painted. In these two paintings, the artists created a re-enactment of the Inquisition, but with women dressed for a charity gala in gowns and evening wear pretending to torture half-dressed men strapped and bound to devices the artists constructed simply for the paintings. In both paintings, one of the women wields bolt cutters but not to lop off a pinkie, as we are often led to think is the wont of a Russian mobster. They appear to be engaged in a bit of ungainly man-scaping of chest hair—just a little off the top, dear, says the Baron du Charlus in the upside-down stock. The incongruity of everything in the images made me laugh but I was baffled by the corporate-looking attribution so I asked the young woman in the booth for some background. I pointed to a catalogue on the table and asked, “Is this an individual?” She came out and talked at length with enthusiasm about the group in fluent English, with a faint Spanish accent.

“They mostly work with video art and print and sculpture but very rarely do painting. This is part of an exhibition they did called Inverso Mundus, which means the world upside-down. It’s the women’s Inquisition, the matriarchy, the roles subverted, reminiscent of martyrdom scenes. Women’s work! In a very dystopian manner. AES + F have done twenty paintings. These two are the only ones left. All the others have been sold. They are really admired but really hated by the Russian government which is why they are based in Berlin. Their work clashes with the current political views.”

I asked her where she was from in Spain. She laughed and said “Michigan.” She’s living here in the states, a senior at the University of Michigan, and pointed out that she was wearing yellow (not quite maize) and blue: “It’s game day!” in that Spanish accent.

“Go Blue,” I said.

Apachaya Wanthiang, Grandmother, acrylic on canvas, 11.8″ x 15.7″

At Galleri Brandstrup’s booth, it was gratifying to see this Oslo gallery, of all things, showing the work of a young painter from Thailand whose dreamlike tropical scenes verge on expressionist abstraction. Apichaya Wanthiang applies acrylic as if it were gouache or watercolor, thin washes of paint clotted here and there with gestural accents. The resulting image hovers between something recognizable and strangely subliminal evocations of human figures in heavy foliage. Most distinctive was Wanthiang’s evident willingness to take chances, experiment, grope her way toward some kind of indeterminate closure. She’s discovering what the paint will reveal without using techniques for effects she understands ahead of time. In the smallest painting, an image of her grandmother, it looks as if the woman is flanked by three nude figures, but they are obscured and hard to fit together visually. The impact is puzzling and oneiric like a fragment from Kafka. The paintings never look done; she has simply quit working on them and the brushwork is far from elegant or polished, a passionate physical struggle with the medium.

Lauren Spencer King, Flower, watercolor on paper on panel, 12″ x 9″

Around the corner from Brandstrup, I almost missed one of the most remarkable of the solo shows from Regards, a Chicago gallery that represents few painters but couldn’t resist recruiting this one from Los Angeles, the work is so strong. It was a restrained installation of small, realistic watercolors of orchids on paper stretched over a support as if it were canvas canvas. I don’t generally like hyper-realistic work that crops a photographic image to create an abstract visual structure disengaged from its context. But in this case, Lauren Spencer King’s meditative studies have an all-over quality that, from a distance, looks gestural and abstract—if you see a photo of an installation of her small work taken from a distance, they look as if they belong in a show with Sam Francis or Helen Frankenthaler, yet up close they are amazingly accurate and three-dimensional images, capturing the curve and color of orchid petals, fields of line and form and color, lush, sensuous, and alive. It’s the work of a still mind channeling enormous energy into a small, perfectly constructed space: your own mind grows quiet just gazing at the paintings. It’s no accident that she teaches meditation.

The most powerful moment for me at The Armory Show was only a few booths away from the orchids. Jack Bell, of London, was displaying a solo installation of Marc Padeu’s large-scale scenes of African life. He’s a phenomenal painter from Cameroon, born in 1990. His work juxtaposes flatness and depth, areas of bright, almost arbitrary color within a photo-realistic armature of human figures. It sounds contrived, and sometimes it jars just slightly in its juxtaposition of brilliant colors—and echoes a bit of the feel of Kehinde Wylie’s sardonic mash-ups of Western tradition and African grit—but there’s no irony here. In one particular painting, the subject dominates the painting’s execution so that the narrative fuses with its treatment in such a way that the work stood out from everything else I saw at the fair. Le bapteme shows a small gathering of the faithful at the moment when two of the men are lowering a convert into the water for her baptism and a new life. The structure of the figures brings to mind Caravaggio: the foreshortening of the bodies and the way in which everything is arranged in a tight triangle that teeters on the fulcrum of one man’s leg, sunk into the brown water. The triangle is about to tip to the right as the woman sinks into the water, and then tip back as she comes up for air—the rhythm of a metronome, the passage of time, implicit in the arrested movement. Everyone wears white and the color scheme is highly restrained with a pale, yellow sky and flattened shapes for leaves in the background. The paint is applied in ways that simplify detail into general areas of uniform color, but without distracting from the illusion of depth and realism—the way Estes applied paint on a much smaller scale and more complicated patterns of marks, but Padeu is playing more with the tension between flatness and the illusion of depth.

All of this technical skill, though, is in service to a vision of goodness that, to me, is more powerful and accurate and effective in showing the nature of Christianity than most religious painting from the present and past. Piero’s Resurrection and Virgin Enthroned with Four Angels are rare, amazing and powerful paintings, for example, but they seem remote from the experience of faith and love. This image embodies in narrative form the experience of the faith it’s depicting: two strong men cradling the uncertain woman as she slowly goes under, ready to pull her back up. It’s almost the choreography of a waterboarding, but with everything reversed and opposite, blessed. The painting conveys the concentration and care in the men’s faces, the way in which the hands of all three are knotted together at the center of the painting, the individual and her community unified in this ceremony, in her surrender, the life-changing moment itself and how they are all bound together in this transformation of kindness, hope, and joy. None of this is conveyed the way a European would show it now, with a cool post-modern take on a religion Europe would just as soon discard. Africa is another story. I stood for a long time in that booth unable to look away. Just the fact that this deeply serious image, this tribute to simple human goodness and love, existed here, in a contemporary art fair, was incredibly moving. It makes my eyes fill up with gratitude even now.

MABRIE ORMES at CAS for Medford Third Friday Art Walk

Central Art Supply logo

541.773.1444   101 N. Central Ave., Medford, Oregon 97501   centralartsupply.com
MON-FRI: 10-6 | SAT: 10-5



September Art Show at Central Art Gallery
FEATURING: MABRIE ORMES
During Medford’s 3rd Friday Art Walk
September 16th, 2022 5-8pm

Central Art Gallery announces its September 2022 “3rd Friday” art show, spotlighting the works of Featured Artist – Mabrie Ormes.

The exhibit will be from 5-8pm during Medford’s Art Walk Friday, September 16th. Central Art Gallery is located in downtown Medford at 101 N. Central.

Fri. 09/16 5-8pm – Art Walk (exhibition)


“Over many years, I have created artwork across multiple mediums as homage to Jazz music and musicians. Throughout the process of creating an image, I aim to be as spontaneous as possible. I am always actually trying to visualize sound.

The important thing is that each work is created in the Spirit of Jazz and of musical performance in general.

Though all the musicians you see here are individuals who live and work now, few of them have ever played with each other in real life. At the same time, if you care to ask me, I can probably tell you where each musician makes his/her home and where I heard them.

Enjoy the show!”

-from Artist’s Statement

To see more of Mabrie’s art, you can visit her website here or follow her Instagram page here 

For more information about Central Art Gallery, visit centralartsupply.com 


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How to heal the world…

…give thanks, take joy

Southern Oregon Guild Plein Air Workshop

Southern Oregon Guild of Artists & Artisans presents a Plein Air Workshop with Silvia Trujillo at Bridgeview Vineyards and Winery

Joy Blossoms

Hello out there! Is it still summer? Judging from my inbox, most companies are nudging me towards fall..and I’m fine with that. Someone said to me today, I can’t believe how fast this summer has gone and I said, “really?” I feel the exact opposite. It’s definitely been summer here alllll summer. I don’t live in one of those blink and you miss it areas where everyone runs to the beach for a week. Nope, it’s summer for a long time and as a more bookish, art loving, painting, creative soul, you can imagine, i’m not in the parking lot inflating my SUP (that’s a stand up paddle in case you haven’t been to Costco this year…)

The benefits of summer? Long morning dog walks. Those are my fave. Longer lighter days. Outdoor dining. Farmer’s market with amazing fruit and veg and fresh flowers. A general ease that comes from living in a tourist town where it’s a common sight to see couples sharing ice cream cones at night looking at the storefronts. And roses in our front yard! Summer definitely has cast a spell on my crazy rose bush that has bloomed at least half a dozen times. They are the inspiration for this piece. Simple pink roses that are so fragrant and sweet and bring me a special pride because i’m not much of a gardener but this bush is tenacious and strong. it’s one of my daily joys to see it blooming, cut a few stems for the house and catch unexpected fragrant whiffs as I walk by.

“A flower blossoms for its own joy.” Oscar Wilde

Happy almost end of summer! xo

“Joy Blossoms” 11×14″

An August Nod to Machado

Some Antonio Machado magic for these dog days of summer:

And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

From his poem, “Last Night As I Lay Sleeping,” translated by Robert Bly

SOSA August 2022 Newsletter

SOSA August 2022 Newsletter