a group exhibition
Erin Cunningham, Stephen Daly, Valerie Fowler, Melanie Hickerson, Steven Bernard Jones, Mindy Johnston, Kathy McCarty, Lawrence McFarland, Jacqueline May, Deanna Miesch, Jon Eric Narum, Jennifer Prichard, Benné Rockett, David Thornberry, Madelon Umlauf, Deborah Vanko
August 5 - September 10, 2023
Artist Reception Saturday, August 26th, 6-9 pm
We are fascinated by our perception of the past and defining our futures. Vision boards are artist tools gone mainstream, incorporated into the realm of psychology, social media & branding for corporations. We don’t typically see an artist’s vision boards, only the by-product of blood, sweat & tears, or so we, the viewer, may imagine.
The sleepless nights, moments from dreams, happy accidents & careful calculations, consultations, journaling, listening, looking, researching, walking, zoning out, the dumpster diving, hauling, recycling, trashing, breaking, brushing, casting, channeling, cleaning, covering, cutting, drying, gluing, melting, polishing, sanding, ripping, repairing, stroking, all the unmentionables, all the things we don’t see, are there, just beneath the surface. We invite you to come & revel in the behind the scenes disorder in your mind. Just try to imagine these artists' processes. Imagine all the things that led to these works' creation, up to the moment you walk in the door. What a glorious mess!
I have an affinity for combining cast iron and lace textures to illustrate the powerful dualities of masculinity and femininity, disposability and preciousness, fragility and strength. Cast iron has a long history as an industrial material; however, at the same time, it possesses visual aesthetics that elevate its status when used as a sculptural medium.
Never stops! We live in an interesting world full of collectible images which I can store in my “image bank” and may or may not recall in the studio. I don't search for these for a starting point but if one floats up I pay attention.
I almost never dash off in a moment of inspired creativity. It's much slower. I'm liable to clean the room while “not thinking” but scanning with eyes open. An old mold, a pattern, a piece of a rejected drawing, the way tools are laying around may combine and then another. Might be time to start. No real game plan. Starting is key.
Some kind of context usually emerges in a thought. If it doesn’t I will move to another start and like to work on several pieces at the same time finding that the individual work will inform the others. I'm done when I feel the object or image can stand on its own by providing the viewer with a window to themselves and their world.
Now, when I leave, the forms and ideas of the day can rest or percolate until the next visit. The cycle regenerates.
Painting works for me IF I do these things: Show up daily for my work - in my studio, but also, I get out of my studio. I show up in nature, most commonly I ride my bike, especially if I’m finishing up a painting and about to start a new painting. My ride lasts about an hour and 10 minutes. It’s a loop and usually the same route every time. It gives me time when I can do nothing but think and ride. I’m always working toward a central theme so I set my senses on “open” for scenes or elements in nature which will buoy my current ideas. I take a lot of photos and I bring samples (cuttings) into my studio. I’m always wondering why did that catch my eye? What association does it bring up? Memories? Why does that plant appeal to me? Where is the poetry I can tease out? How does that make me feel? When I start to paint I try to maintain the theme content foremost in my mind. I will look at the source material and create a composition - sometimes very different from the source material - depending on where the painting leads me. The beginning is the most exciting. I love not knowing exactly how it will go. The more I paint, the more I trust. When I’m stiff or exhausted while painting I stop and drop and do some yoga. As I go to sleep at night I let my mind dwell on thoughts of my current works - let it be some of the last thoughts I have as I fall asleep. In the morning I often have fresh insight into how to proceed.
I get up early in the morning. The fresh time that holds the approach of a new day is a magical time. That time before the sun rises. Anticipation. “If I get up right now, I will have time to paint today.” It’s delicious.
I am curious. Frederick Franck wrote,” what I have not drawn I have not seen.” I sketch the world I see all around me. I doodle and scribble. I chase that feeling of curiosity. And just watch the art supplies and see what happens. Then later I page through my doodles and sketches. It often feels like an idea stash just waiting for a chance to come out. What tickles my curiosity next?
Courting the accident spices up a life. Making art is “safe” risk taking. I know I am just a pleasure seeker and nothing is more fun than …a roller coaster, sky diving, surfing, mountain climbing, tight wire walking… If I mess this up, it’s a lesson. I want to keep trying. Which means continuing to take these “safe” risks. The only casualty is some art supplies. And every once in a while, something absolutely brilliant happens. It does. And I feel like a witness in the front row seat.
The general theme of my work centers around “cartography abstracted”. As a Cap Metro rider the route maps, connections, and hubs are essential. Through the years, the more I relied on route maps the more I began seeing them as abstractions of space. Eventually, the spaces between my connections became the focal point of the destination. Moving through the city became a combination of lines and geometric shapes which began taking on different colors. My drawings represent the journey of the destination.
Steven Bernard Jones
Imagine that before the first map was made how many people were lost forever. My interest in maps started at a very young age. I was a Boy Scout and I was the navigator for my grandfather, (auto mechanic) when we got lost in Atlanta. As a student in high school, I found that I could remember from my notes in class if I put small doodles next to important information. I continued this practice through undergraduate and graduate school. My performance professor, Carolee Schneemann, inquired after viewing my sketchbook what was the meaning of these strange markings. I told her that they were visual clues to recalling information. She informed me that these doodles were unique & deserved exploring as serious artistic research. My process in creating map drawings is to select a map & begin drawing. Doodling is an intense and meditative activity. While drawing, my sense of time and space seems to disappear. Which gives my mind the opportunity to wander freely from past to present memories. When the drawings are completed they are named after the title of the map drawn on.
My songs and lyrics and paintings all seem to come to me over something not unlike a radio- except for the most part it is visual. It’s like a channel I can tune into at will, although sometimes I seem to turn ITSELF on and force certain images on my attention.
I don’t have to paint the images I inwardly see- it’s like a stream of images, and if I feel that one is too difficult I can skip it and do a different one.
Originally I only painted these images out of my head. In the last decade, I have started painting from source images such as photographs- ones that seem to say “paint me” when I see them. This painting is from one such photo. When I saw it I knew I wanted to paint it.
However, it took me a decade to gain the skill to do it- I first saw this photo in 2013.
Taken from an excerpt of a gallery talk for his exhibition, "From Dodge City to Shiprock" on 5/27/23:
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer and the result is that I have been on an incredible journey that continues to teach me, continues to open me to a greater understanding of my life, & more importantly - it has opened me to forgiveness of myself. Soon after my first major surgery a friend of mine, Doug Phelan, wrote to me and said, "Be strong, Be brave ... We ride at dawn." This phrase describes how I have navigated my life these past two years as well as the new images I continue to make. It is through this lens that I am here tonight viewing my photos & sharing with you a bit about my journey. What I said to Doug in that conversation is this, "I try to make images that tell you what a space feels like, not just what it looks like." What you're seeing in my images...are not the same things that I see. I see my idealized youth, my maturing & gaining insight into who I have grown into as a person & my larger vision of the world around me. I can smell the sweetgrass on the wind, blowing across the high plains. You can't do that, but I can when I make the pictures & the sounds of the hawk flying above me as it hunts for food for the young ones, back in the nest, waiting to be fed. I can feel the warming winds chasing away the coolness of the night & the sound & smell of the river flowing that is full of my beloved trout -catch & release. I don't eat them. I lecture them. "You watch out! The next person wants to eat you!". I can feel my loneliness of the road, my fears, my triumphs, & my larger understanding of the world around me, as I age & acquire wisdom. I can see in my images how when I was young, & focused on just one crisis, that there were many more contributing to the problem, & more than one solution to fix or solve those problems through cooperation & teamwork. I step back & move to a higher plane, both in my vision & in my opinions. That is what I see & understand in these images. My photographs function as a metaphoric poem. They are about my journey, & remembering where I came from, the people I traveled with, & what I've learned & experienced. It's about how I have reacted to crisis & how I honor beauty. The journey is about who I have become through making these images. For many years I have been fascinated with the making of photographs in a certain quality of light, early morning & late afternoon. To me, they are not merely sunrise or sunset images, but a celebration of the most powerful force on earth, the sun. I am now considering the consequences of this light, the twilight, or as I think of it, evening. The word, evening, implies things being equal, as in equal or even in number, amounts, or value. Equally balanced, a balance between opposites, day, night, good, bad, love, hate, light, dark, life, and death, that encompasses all the possibilities of life. An event, like I have experienced in these last two years bring important insight to understanding one's existence on this planet. It occurred to me that if a life is worth living, & all things are equal & even, then death is a balance of a full life. I am now living physically, psychically, & metaphorically in the evening of my life. So I refer back to the words my friend Doug told me as a reminder to all of us, "Be brave. Be strong. We ride at dawn." I have a changed a few words that were spoken to Caine by his teacher in the TV Show, Kung Fu – to better fit my life. “Grasshopper, when you can take the camera from my hand, it will be time for me to go.”
How do you get ideas?
I have a daily journaling process. That is a space to just blurt whatever I'm thinking about - whether visually or in words - and open a space for something creative to come through, maybe try out ideas.
Usually, I just throw colors on a panel, smear it around, and let random shapes appear so that I can see things in my mind's eye. The first one of a series is usually highly charged. When I do a lot of pieces in a series, it's like making a batch of pancakes. There are some misfires, but I find my stride.
Sometimes it takes years. I have done highly detailed and colorful pieces and really wasn't happy with them until I layered translucent whites over them, obscuring most of the color and detail. That's been a good way lately to finish some things. I like a lot of texture juxtaposed against a good crisp line.
It's important to me that it means something, so even when it's a pretty minimalist-like piece, I'm not really coming from the same place as the minimalists. It might be depicting some kind of inner vision, or maybe connecting with prehistoric art.
I went to some shamanic gatherings a friend was hosting, and found that I was very readily able to come up with a detailed narrative in that context, so that has been a place to look for ideas. I see it as an interesting way to dream and retain the information about my inner landscape that is lost during actual sleep.
It's important to be listening to music. Sometimes a particular piece is deeply woven in with a specific song.
While I work in many mediums, photography is the one most people “get”. It’s the most accessible. But, I’d say, it’s a bit challenging to describe my process as it’s all done in the moment. I use still use film & often create double (or more) exposures in the camera. While I’ve been shooting for more than three decades now, I can’t say I know what I’m doing. I will use my iphone & shoot so many photographs, but most are simply snapshots, & mostly I can’t see what I’m doing because I may or may not have my glasses on! With my Hasselblad, I am using the viewfinder & focusing, so I don’t need my glasses. It’s lovely. I’ll take a photo & generally know in the moment if I want to try a multiple exposure. But it really is dumb luck if I get anything. Sometimes I don’t realize I have “something” until many years later, looking back at the negatives & seeing some value I overlooked. In reference to the images in this exhibit, it's interesting trying to make art from an original source of someone else’s art, or a well known location. They give me a feeling of the place, unlike a more straightforward photograph. I can feel it in my body - the sense of what it was like to be there at that moment, but also sense what the place has always felt like, or so I imagine. They feel like portals & ripples in time to me.
Jon Eric Narum
I’ve got several different processes I can utilize in the way I begin a painting, depending upon what it is that I’ll be painting. For Big-Eye Joe, I had already made the initial sketch on paper, which I used as inspiration for the image that I then sketched on canvas. Once I was satisfied with my sketch, the fun was about to begin. When I paint an imaginary face, I like to have an assortment of photographic references to help me determine specific colors and physical features I want to portray. I already knew that I wanted Joe’s complexion to be ruddy and his hair and mustache to be white. On my computer, I have a Faces file where I save screen grabs of unconventional countenances that I come across while cruising the internet. I sifted through that file to find good references for the assorted facial features I intended to incorporate in my portrait of Big-Eye Joe.
Once I’d gotten all of my references gathered, all I had to do was bring the assorted elements of the face into a cohesive unit. When painting Joe, I’d gotten his face to the point where I was fairly satisfied with its development; however, in my initial sketch, Joe did not have a chin dimple. After having painted Joe's obtrusively large chin, I felt that it needed a little something to add some excitement. In this particular instance, I got on the internet and searched for images of celebrities with chin dimples. After taking screenshots of five celebrities’ chins, I was ready to add a cleft to Joe’s chin. For me, the dimple added a finishing touch that Joe needed. Because I am a detail freak, I spent the concluding hours working on smoothing transitions, refining edges, and tweaking the lights and darks of the highlights and recesses, in an attempt to create the balance I'm always hoping to achieve.
I'm an installation artist, focusing on large scale installations of repeating handmade forms. I generate ideas the same way I make my larger works - by rapidly and repetitively making a multitude of simple forms. My work process is quick & almost casual. This is partly due to the way my mind works. I need to work in this fashion and at this pace to stay engaged. It's also partly due to the nature of clay. If clay is worked quickly, the fired work maintains wet clay's sumptuousness & fluidity. To me, fired clay loses these qualities if it's overworked. My contribution to "Vision Board" is "Shag", which consists of thousands of tendril-like unglazed porcelain forms threaded together in a loose jumble of rows. While it's a study, "Shag" is equally complex & rhythmic in form as my larger pieces and is the result of the same artistic process.
Encaustic is alchemical! It´s magic! And I get to paint with fire! I find myself irresistibly drawn to the mesmerizing allure of encaustic. Within this ancient and captivating art form, I have discovered a limitless realm of creative possibilities, where the fusion of wax, pigment, and heat intertwines to craft a sensory experience that transcends the conventional boundaries of traditional media. How could I not be captivated?
The distinctive properties of encaustic medium provide a unique set of challenges and rewards. As an artist, I navigate the precarious balance between fluidity and solidity, embracing the inherent unpredictability of the medium. Layers of translucent wax are built, one upon another, imbuing each piece with a history, an evolution, and a depth that echoes the beating of synchronized hearts. Over the course of 20 years, in the heart of my art, the love between encaustic and mind continues to enchant me.
I’ll see a shape a like or a light and dark values arrangement, some chairs or trees or something including the positive/negative spaces and shapes and I’ll get intrigued by the compositions. I’ll take some photos from various angles and I’ll draw this for a while then decide to paint what I’m playing with. Sometimes black and white, sometimes color. Usually, I’ll get to a place where I feel like I’ve captured my initial interest and I’ll go into my bank of images to start the whole thing over again. It’s about the light and the spaces for me. There is very little narrative content.
I usually find the inspiration for my work in nature or color itself. When this occurs, I capture the inspiration with a photo and then take it to a sketch to build my composition, sometimes abstracting or magnifying from the original subject matter. Once the sketch is articulated, I allow color to direct me to the medium from which to pull from and I begin painting or using other forms of color or materials to create the final piece.
My process starts with either an idea in terms of subject (women's empowerment) or looking for cool things/metal I can make art out of. Materials and objects inspire me--cool pieces of scrap metal, cloth, clothing, or anything cool-looking. It could be an old hat, a funnel, marbles, or just interesting stuff. I go out looking to flea markets, antique stores, and people's yards.