Release #2

Release #2/Wayne

I have been thinking of the pleasures of tradition as I’ve been listening to new music at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival this summer.  Yesterday, in particular, during a concert of works by young composers-in-residence, the new sounds elicited from classically trained musicians on their conventional instruments had my ears perking up.  The music sounded both old and fresh, familiar and newly introduced.  This dichotomy engages one’s deep memories while surprising us into paying complete attention.   Nothing, not rhythm, tonality, harmony or melody can be taken for granted, and yet the format (in this case) was the string quartet, as well-established as can be.

Something similar operates in my paintings, with their traditional framed formats.   The watercolor medium still employs gum arabic from acacia trees and many of the pigments have been used for centuries, altho some are now synthetic.  On the other hand, the translucent synthetic paper I use (Yupo) has only been available since the end of the last century, so the ability to layer transparencies is new, and Yupo’s non-absorbent surface causes the paint to behave in unprecedented ways.   Abstraction itself now has a grand tradition of over a hundred years but offers plenty of unexplored territory.

Release #2/Wayne is another in the series of elegies for my husband.  There’s something about the color and softness, the upright format and upward-rising visual flow that feels to me like an abstract portrait of him.

Elegy #18  watercolor on layered translucent Yupo paper 40 x 41

Elegy #18
watercolor on layered translucent Yupo paper
40 x 41″

I’ve added a new page to this site, a “gallery”showing a selection of paintings from this past year.  Altogether, there are over 30 Elegies and Releases.  Not only was it important to honor Wayne’s memory in this way, these were also the only paintings I could have made while grieving.  The series has taken me into some new territory of emotional expression.  Without any deliberation on my part, they reflect the range of my feelings and provide images of spiritual movement and change.  As you will see if you click on the “Elegy” page button (above) I have also in some cases dropped the repetitive elements that have been mainstays for several years.

2009, watercolor on layered synthetic paper, 40 x 60"

                       Galisteo #2 – 2009, watercolor on layered synthetic paper, 40 x 60″

This large painting, inspired in color by glorious autumn cottonwoods along the Galisteo River, has been selected for purchase by the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter.  Facilitated by the New Mexico Arts, Art in Public Places Purchase Initiative, the placement seems so appropriate to the life-affirming mission of the shelter.  I’m really pleased and proud to think of my work hanging there.  Actually, they are buying two paintings, but I thought I’d show you this vibrant, exuberant one.

Galisteo #2 was made in 2009, obviously a good year for cottonwoods.  Looking at it again I’m reminded of how much my work depends on forces beyond my conscious control.  Although I had no plan for this piece beyond the color, somehow it conveys a sense of trees in sunlight that is purely fortuitous.  I find that the more I allow life, paint, events, to arrive of their own accord, the richer my experience and the better my art.

Elegy #9

Elegy #9 – watercolor on translucent Yupo paper – 30 x 35″

Gebert Contemporary on Canyon Road here in Santa Fe is showing some paintings from my Elegy series.  The Elegies, in honor of my late husband Wayne Gibson, have been a way of resuming my art practice after Wayne died.  They are mostly black and white, with blue coming to predominate in the latest ones.  This is a particularly intuitive series in which I’m allowing feelings and impulses to guide me down some new paths.  Elegy #9, above, for instance, is simpler and more graphic than previous work.

I am honored and pleased to have work on Canyon Road once again – it has been nine years, I think, since EVO Gallery closed at that location.  Driving up the historic and lovely road has been bringing back some wonderful memories, and a sense of being once again in the “heart” of Santa Fe’s art community.  Gebert Contemporary has for some time now offered a premier roster of both local and international artists that I’m proud to join.

Santa Fe friends, you are invited to Gebert now and over the holidays to see this group show, which includes work by local artists Dirk DeBruycker, Ricardo Mazal, Munson Hunt, Grant Hyunga, Cov Jordan and others.  My paintings are in the old house, both first and second floors.  Enjoy the exhibit and have a joyful holiday season!

Elegy #2

SMINK in Dallas will be opening their Back + White show on Saturday evening, August 9th.  I sent  Elegy #2 to join work by Zachariah Rieke and other artists for what promises to be a stunning exhibit.  Elegy #2 is from an ongoing series of black, gray and white (or almost) paintings in memory of my late husband, Wayne.

Working with such a limited palette has forced me to focus even more on qualities of density and transparency, clarity and murkiness, dark and light. Metaphoric allusions can be read into the paintings, or not.  I confess that sometimes I do “read” them like poems, and sometimes as purely visual structures.

Once again, it feels appropriate to be using water to convey possible messages of grieving, loss and comfort.  Water is the element of the emotions –  the dreamy, stormy, moody or serene realm of Neptune – always changeable yet oceanic and deep.

Image

“After Wayne,” watercolor on layered synthetic paper, 41 x 41.5″

My husband and partner, Wayne, passed away in February.  It has been difficult getting back to work in the studio since then.  The art work was so large a part of our shared life.  I find that color brings up too many memories and only black and white feel appropriate.  This is the first of an intended series of memorial paintings.

Color carries messages and meanings,  suggests references, gives pleasure and sets a mood.  To be without color is a spectacular loss.  On the other hand, it presents a way forward, perhaps the only one for me now, and certainly one I will take.   Even without hue, the painting continues to move silently in its frame, evoking the rhythms and cycles of life, a series of breaths.

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Every once in a while someone says something about my work that absolutely floors me, and I know  I’ve succeeded in what I set out to do, which is to present the beauty of being.  Recently, Devon Lind wrote that “it’s as though the fabric of the universe is woven through your work.”   Thank-you so much, Devon, for putting into words what I have a hard time saying.   This painting, Driftwood #1, seems the perfect expression of her idea, with its vertical rhythms and horizontal visual flow.

LiquidStack #6

 

LiquidStack #6  –  36 x 35″ – watercolor on layered and sewn translucent Yupo paper

This coming Saturday, November 23, my 5th show with SMINK in Dallas will open  with an evening reception.   I won’t be there for this one, but if you are in Dallas, please come by to see the new work.   There will be more of what I think of as the “bars” paintings, like LiquidStack #6, above, as well as paintings with circle grids, the format I’ve been working with for several years.   As always, the paintings have a restful, flowing and expansive quality that I hope you will enjoy.

My thanks to the wonderful Smink sisters, Jennifer, Autumn and Dawn, for their constant support of my work!

 

Escalera #1 - Limited edition digital print from Santa Fe Editions

Escalera #1 – Limited edition digital print from Santa Fe Editions

Santa Fe Editons is publishing a series of 3 prints, the result of a collaboration between me and Gary Mankus, the printmaker.   Based on my watercolor work, they have been manipulated on the computer and printed on fine archival paper.   Santa Fe Editions presents work from some of Santa Fe’s best and best-known artists.  I am honored to have work in their collection. To see all three compositions go to santafeeditions.com

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Although the show is over, I am still considering the significance of this exhibit, which beautifully demonstrated the continuing influence of Modernism on the arts here in New Mexico.  This influence, abundantly present in our local galleries and museums, was one reason I moved to Lamy back in 1997.  I felt my work could be seen here in a context that doesn’t exist in Southern California, where I was living, nor in New York, where it has been all but superceded by more recent ideas like conceptual art, identity and political explorations and the celebrity art culture.

Cumulous Skies brought the work of over 30 contemporary artists together with the art of earlier 20-th century painters and visionaries like Georgia O’Keeffe, John Marin, Agnes Martin, Marsden Hartley and Ansel Adams, who all spent signifiant time in this state, finding fellowship and inspiration here and influencing the path of Modern Art.  They, in turn, were influenced by Native American crafts – the Navajo weavings and pueblo pottery – and something about the landscape and clear light of New Mexico.  I don’t think the seminal importance of our “Land of Enchantment” has been fully realized by the wider art world.

Curated by artist Larry Fodor and supported in part by a grant from the NEA,  Cumulous Skies showcased paintings, sculpture, ceramics and video art from our varied constituency of Native Americans, “Anglos” from all over the country who have chosen to live here, and artists of New Mexico hispanic background.  It was a stunning display of variety and coherence.

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