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Posts Tagged ‘Art’

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I love color. It must submit to me. And I love art. I kneel before it, and it must become mine. Everything around me glows with passion. Every day reveals a new red flower, glowing, scarlet red. Everyone around me carries them. Some wear them quietly hidden in their hearts. And they are like poppies just opening, of which one can see only here and there a hint of red petal peeking out from the green bud.

–Paula Modersohn-Becker
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Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907) is yet another artist that is unknown to most of us. I know she was not known to me and as I was going through the images of her paintings from her tragically short career, I feel selfishly saddened for the loss of what more she might have had in store for us.
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Born in Germany, her actual artistic career lasted less than a decade but her work had great influence in the European art world of the early 20th century. Perhaps a leading edge of the Modernist movement to come, she worked only in tempera with a limited palette of colors and worked with simplified forms, sometimes scratching the painted surface to create her distinct textures.
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She died at the age of 31 from a post partum embolism.
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I love her quote at the top, how we all carry colorful red flowers with us. Some of us hide our flowers and others wear them for all to see. The artist’s chore – or gift- is to discover and express that red flower.
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Take a look below at some of the paintings from Paula Modersohn-Becker.
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Art is the soul of a people.

Romare Bearden
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Getting ready for tomorrow’s 1 PM Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery in Corning. There are a few new paintings that I am framing today to bring along  with me. I am also getting some other things together that will no doubt show up including the painting, Pipedream, that will be given away at the end of the talk.
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I’ve also been running things through my mind that I want to discuss. One thing I will try to touch on is the purpose of art. That’s where the quote above from the late American painter Romare Bearden comes in. In a very concise manner, it sums up the importance of art.
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Win This Painting! –“Pipedream”

Art, in all forms, is our soul, our collective spirit and memory. It is the expression of our values and beliefs. It completes our humanity.

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Without art, we are less human. We are without our soul.
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Okay, maybe that will be a subject. I never fully know until I am standing there, trying to look composed while my anxiety causes my mind to shoot off fireworks inside my skull. But I do know that we will talk about something and tell some stories. You know, it might very well be interesting, even fun. Plus, there are prizes! What’s not to like?
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So, if you’re in Corning tomorrow around 1 PM, stop in at the West End Gallery and join in the conversation. Maybe you’ll take something home you were not expecting.

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Tonight is the opening reception for The Rising, this year’s edition of my annual solo show at the West End Gallery in Corning, NY. The reception begins at 5 PM and runs until 7:30 PM.

My history at the West End Gallery is well documented here. I would not be sitting here this morning, writing this blog about my work and this show, if not for a meeting back in January of 1995 where Tom and Linda Gardner saw something of value in the milk crate that served as my portfolio, with pieces of cardboard and paper jutting out from it. From that first glimpse, they gave me my first opportunity and followed it up with the encouragement that allowed me to grow as an artist.

You have to understand that this came at a time not too far removed from what I will describe without hesitation as being the lowest point in my life. Their acceptance and embrace of my work was a lifesaver thrown out to a drowning man.

So when I tell you that I try with all my heart to create work for these shows that is meaningful and at the highest level at which I am capable, those are not just words.

It describes an act of gratitude. a Thank You for a life saved and reshaped.  A Thank You for the opportunity to grow and evolve as an artist, to live a life I never could have imagined all those many years ago.

I hope that the work in The Rising displays that sense of gratitude as well as the growth that came with it.

Hope you can make it out to the gallery tonight. I’ll be there.

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The tragedy of life is in what dies inside a man while he lives – the death of genuine feeling, the death of inspired response, the awareness that makes it possible to feel the pain or the glory of other men in yourself.

Norman Cousins

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This is a new 18″ by 18″ painting that I call A Rising Awareness which is included in my show, The Rising, that is now hanging and opens Friday at the West End Gallery.

I think the words above from the late journalist Norman Cousins capture what I feel the representative Red Roof house is rising above in this painting. It is a constant battle for us humans to hold on to those things– genuine feeling,inspired response and an empathy with the pain or glory of others– as we live our lives on this planet. We sometimes become self-centered and guarded in our response to many things and emotionally distant in our dealings with others. Instead of feeling their pain or glory, we sometimes experience envy at their successes and a pang of relief that their failures are not ours.

Our humanity dulls and much joy is lost to us.

But the idea that we can recognize this dulling in ourselves and somehow fight against and rise above it intrigues me. I have come to believe that we can make conscious decisions to raise our awareness, to feel and respond in more positive ways, that we are enriched by maintaining a spirit of generosity and empathy towards others.

I like to think that the Red Roof here represents one who has taken this higher road and has made the decision to listen to its better angels. There’s a feeling of a letting go of angry and mean-spirited thoughts and an acknowledgment of a unity of sorts with the universal human spirit.

Warmth and tranquility. Maybe that is what I am seeing. You judge for yourself.

 

 

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Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.

― Albert Szent-Györgyi 

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My annual show at the West End Gallery opens a week from today, on Friday, July 13. This show is called The Rising based very much on the number of rising moons and suns along with trees that rise boldly into the sky. It also refers to a rising awareness of the worlds in which we live and our relationship with these worlds.

I use the plural worlds because I believe there are layers in this world, some physical and some extending into the realm of the metaphysical, the psychological and the spiritual. I also believe we have the ability to live in multiple layers. I can’t say that many of us do or if I do myself. Most days I feel like I am barely existing in the surface layer we all know.

But I think the gateway for discovering comes as Albert Szent-Györgi, the Hungarian biochemist who discovered Vitamin C, states in the quote at the top. We all see the same things on a daily basis but it is only when we think of those common things in other terms that we make discoveries.

That willingness to see the commonplace in another light is the basis for science, for mythology and for art. I think the art that remains vital and continues to speak through time has the ability to illuminate the extraordinary that exists in the commonplace.

I know that this is what I hope occurs in my own work. My hopes and words mean nothing because only time will tell if it was a successful effort.

The painting at the top, a new 18″ by 24″ canvas from the show that is titled Gems Revealed, is an illustration of this thought. It is a simple scene, a group of fields under a night sky lit by a rising moon. But the light brings out colors and forms in the fields as well in the sky an don the clouds that have an otherworldly quality, one that seems to be teeming with life and color and motion. The path that winds through the field takes on the quality of a snake or a stream and the clouds appear to be swimming through the ether of the night sky.

Perhaps a new layer of being is revealed in this light?

I cannot say myself. Only time will tell.

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The work for this show has been delivered and will be hung today and tomorrow so you can get a preview if you’re in the Corning area. The opening reception for the show is next Friday, July 13, from 5-7:30 PM.

 

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Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.

 

Edgar Degas
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I have always loved this quote from the great Edgar Degas. It has meaning on a couple of different levels for me. First, it speak to the sheer difficulty of the process of creating a painting. If you look at it as a purely mechanical process– step 1, step 2, step 3 and you’re done— it does seem exceedingly simple.
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But art is not purely craft. There is an intangible element that gives it meaning for both the maker and those who take it in after it is made. Tapping into that intangible is the difficult part. Some days it is near impossible and makes what is seen as a pretty easy job most difficult.
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Been there, done that.
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The second meaning I get from Degas’ quote is how others view this job. I know folks who can only view art as a hobby and if you’re working as an artist, you’re just fooling around with doodles and such. They often don’t see it as work at all. They don’t understand the effort that is required to have a career as an artist.
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The long hours alone. The sacrifices you make to be able to have enough time. The often sheer frustration that comes in creating work. The many hours spent doing unseen and boring things like framing and varnishing that are required to make the work presentable. The agony of having to constantly self-promote in order to keep your name out in the public eye. The pain of having your work– your creation and your voice— ignored, outright rejected or under-valued, not to mention the self-doubt that comes along with these things. I am sure there are a bunch of other crappy things that are just slipping my mind at the moment.
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This isn’t a whine fest. Every business has its own challenges and I am sure anyone who is self-employed can see their own situation in many of these things. I understand and accept these pitfalls. They don’t detract from my view of this career at all. I just want people to understand that an artist’s life is not unlike their own with most of the same challenges and problems. It may seem easy, even romantic, but that is just the view from far outside.
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That being said, I wouldn’t trade this job for any other. Thanks for allowing me to think that.

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I am in the midst of a crazy busy week as I put the finishing touches on work for my yearly show at the West End Gallery in Corning, NY. This year’s show is called The Rising and opens a mere two weeks from today, FridayJuly 13.

I primarily chose the title because the focus of many of these pieces in this show rested on the rising of the ball-like suns and moons in them. Add to that the posture of the Red Tree in a number of these paintings where it has seemingly climbed to the top the nearest mound and appears to be attempting to rise up to merge itself with the sky.

To transform itself from the worldly to the ethereal.

Ultimately, that is what I want my work to accomplish.

That’s a big jump, I know. And maybe I am foolhardy in thinking I can find it in my work. Certainly, to rise up above the baseness of the earthly and move into a spiritual realm comprised of higher ideals and virtues seems a far reach for any artist. But shouldn’t we attempt to reach beyond our grasp?

Shouldn’t we always aspire to be better?

It’s that quality of aspiring to be better that I hope comes through in this show. The painting at the top shares its title with the show, The Rising, and I hope lives up to it.

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Again, my new show, The Rising, opens Friday, July 1, at the West End Gallery with a reception that runs from 5-7:30 PM.

Plus, pencil in the date for my annual Gallery Talk at the West End takes place Saturday, August 4, beginning at 1 PM. There are more details on that to come but I can promise I will do my best to make it a good one. Like I said, shouldn’t we aspire to be better?

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