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Posts Tagged ‘West End Gallery’

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Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.

-Leo Tolstoy

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I don’t know about the accuracy of this quote. Tolstoy did write about art and the transmission of emotion through it but I can’t vouch for the precision of the wording in the widely accepted quote.

But I do heartily agree.

Craftsmanship– handicraft– definitely has a part to play but that alone cannot transport the viewer to that inner spring from which their emotions flow. Something might be beautifully crafted but unless it is constructed from the empathy, the love, the awe, the wonder and the wide assortment of feelings that define tour humanity, it remains just a lovely object.  Beautiful but coolly devoid of feeling.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

But the aim of the artist, at least to my mind, should be to engage the the emotions of the viewer ( or listener or reader, whatever their medium might be) with their own. To create a sort of communion of feeling between the artist and the recipient.

Can this be taught? I don’t know. I try to tell students to read, to look, to listen, to practice a sense of empathy in their daily lives. Widen their view and become a fuller person. I think art comes from an equal blend of one’s handicraft and their sense of humanity.

That’s just my opinion and it may be as flawed an idea as the mind that thinks it. But I can stand behind that thought and hope, in some small way, to achieve that blend in my own work.


The painting at the top is Find Your Light, a 36″ by 36″ canvas, that is a central part of my show, The Rising, at the West End Gallery that ends tomorrow.

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I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got there. But you saw further and clearer than I, and you opened the seas before my ship, whose track led me across the waters to a place I had never dreamed of, and which you were even then preparing to be my rescue and my shelter and my home.

― Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

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Well, my annual show at the West End Gallery comes down in just a few days. This year’s edition is called The Rising and Thursday is the last day to see the show.

It is a show in which I feel a real sense of pride. When I am prepping for a show, my goals for it are often vague and undefined. I feel that I want certain things for it and from it but when I try to verbalize these goals, the words evade me. I find myself like the sailor in the Thomas Merton quote above: I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got there. 

I knew it was going somewhere. I just didn’t know where. I let intuition and reaction guide me and it often worked out fine.

But this show, much like my June show at the Principle Gallery, felt more preordained and focused and less haphazard in it’s final edited version, the one that hit the walls of the galleries. I still allowed for the role of intuition and the unconscious in the process of painting each piece. That is a necessity.

But where I could make conscious decisions, I did just that. I chose to simplify forms and chop out the fussiness of detail. Deepened colors. As much as I like them and appreciate their popularity, I reduced the number of small paintings and went with works that were a bit larger. It streamlined the look of the show on the wall, made it feel less cluttered, and gave each piece a bit more room in which to expand.

They weren’t big things but enough to make the work in the exhibit to be presented with fuller impact. I felt like this and the Principle Gallery show were my most mature and complete exhibits to date.

The response to the show has been great which is gratifying on many levels. A number of the original paintings from the show have flown the coop to their new homes but there are a few replacements that I feel fill the void they leave behind. One new piece is shown above. It’s Star Navigator, a 24″ by 8″ canvas that feels very much like it jibes with the words of Merton at the top.

I hope you can make it out to the West End Gallery in the next few days, if you haven’t had a chance to see The Rising.

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I am going to be brief on this Sunday morning. Probably like many of you, time is short and there is much to do this morning. But I wanted to still put out a piece of music and some sort of image as is the norm here on this blog. Long held habits are hard to break.

The image above is a painting, Radiance and Shadow, that is hanging in my current show at the West End Gallery. I thought I’d pair it with a tune from the Danish String Quartet, a group that deftly mixes folk and classical traditions. Their recent album, Last Leaf, is their take on a blend of traditional Nordic folk tunes and dances. This song, Shine You No More, is a new tune by one of the group’s members but is derived from the work of a 16th century English composer. It is definitely a dance tune.

Give a listen and have a good day.

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Many, many thank you’s to everyone who took time from their busy sunny summer Saturday to spend an hour with me at the West End Gallery yesterday. It was a very full house with plenty of faces I know well and quite a few that were new to me. Hopefully everyone went away satisfied with their decision to spend their time at the gallery.

I know that I am certainly glad they came. Their warmth makes me feel most welcome and their questions create the real form and content of the talk. I am always pleased at the questions they ask. Most are quite probing and require me to truly consider my answers. I know that sounds funny, that it seems obvious that every response should be considered. But there are some questions that I have been asked many times so the answers just come out reflexively. I am often asked questions at these talks that come from different angles, that require a moment to look at  what is really being asked.

Hopefully, I got to the point of what was asked.

Again, a boatload of thanks to the folks who came and to Jesse, Lin and John at the West End Gallery for being the perfect hosts.

That being said, I can say that I gave a big sigh of relief when it was over. One would think it would be easy by now, especially given the open acceptance of the audience, but for someone who works in private solitude seven days a week it is a daunting task to stand before a group of people and try to speak coherently in an open and honest way about inner things.

When these things finally end the relief is quickly replaced by a feeling of fatigue that quickly sets in. I was wiped out after yesterday’s talk. But I am somewhat refreshed this morning and can start preparing for the next one, about six weeks from now in Alexandria. But I’ll put off worrying about that for a while.

For this Sunday morning music I chose a song about things being over. It’s a version of Bob Dylan’s It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue by the group Them from way back in 1966. Featuring Van Morrison who sang lead for the group before he had his great solo career, this is a great version of the song. Give a listen and have yourself a great day.

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No Hype. Here are the details:

Gallery Talk today.

Saturday, August 4.

1 PM.

West End Gallery.

Corning.

Art Talk and Tall Tales.

Lots of Questions and Some Answers. 

Win a Painting.

Or two.

Plenty of Giveaways.

Hope you can make it.

 

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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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If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

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The painting, Apex, as shown above on the left had been bouncing around galleries for quite a few years. It was one of those pieces that kind of gnawed at me after awhile. There was so much that I liked about it and it felt complete yet I began to feel that something was lacking.

The color bothered me. It looked washed out and pale. Now, I have done pieces with that sort of color and it can be very effective but in this instance the lack of intensity in the colors seemed to handicap the whole painting. The more I looked at it over the years, the more I saw the blue of the sky looking dull and lifeless.

And it felt like the trees on the ascending path were too sparse. I don’t know much about musical composition, can’t tell a quarter note from a half note, but when I looked at the hill with the trees I felt like I was looking at a piece of music and some of the notes were missing. It wasn’t saying what it should be saying.

And the central character, the Red Tree at the top, felt dark and small, not bursting forward as it should, at least in my mind.

The whole thing just felt like it was on life support– barely alive but but with no vigor, no spark.

But it was still alive and there seemed to be something in it that really pulled me in, I decided I needed to intervene, to either reinvent it or completely kill it. So I went in and deepened the colors of the sky and the hill dramatically. This created a nice contrasting tension and made the tree that were added to the upward path stand out more. The Red Tree grew larger, brighter and bolder while the clouds in the sky slimmed a bit.

It was  dramatic transformation. It was like Charles Atlas’ 97-pound weakling transforming, with the aid of his patented Dynamic Tension, into a beefy he-man who takes on the beach bully and gets the girl. I know that last sentence means next to nothing to those of you under the age of fifty but if you ever saw those old magazine ads, you’ll get it. You can click here to go to an old blog entry that shows that ad.

That might be a goofy comparison but as I sit here and look at the transformed painting, it’s hard to imagine that that it once was that old version of itself.

And it all came about thanks to Dynamic Tension. Thanks, Charles Atlas!

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This reinvented painting will be with me at my Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery in Corning this coming Saturday, August 4. The talk begins at 1 PM and it should be a good time. In addition to the great conversation and plenty of prizes, I have also procured a monster truck act– Truckasaurus Rex— as well as a T-shirt cannon.

Okay, maybe that’s not quite accurate. Or true in any sense of the word. You’ll have to come see for yourself. 

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