Blog Archives

Marietta in Lifetime Artist Exhibition

Marietta Patricia Leis participating in:
Lifetime Artists: Michael Warren Contemporary
McNichols Civic Center Building, Third floor, Denver
October 16 – December 19, 2021

 

Some artists are ephemeral, moving fleetingly in and out of the public eye. Others hold fast to their discipline, and move through the decades with a stalwart dedication to their evolving work.

“Lifetime Artists: Michael Warren Contemporary” salutes these artists of longevity, highlighting those who are at least 70 years old and have been practicing their artistic craft for a least 45 years. This exhibit features the mature work of twelve artists from the Michael Warren Contemporary Gallery, and is guest curated by gallery owner, Mike McClung with Featured Artists:

Natalie Alper, Rita Blitt, Eva Bovenzi, John Garrett, Jody Guralnick, Pamela Joseph, Marietta Patricia Leis, Robert Mangold, Lorelei Schott, Brian Shields, Allison Stewart, Floyd Tunson

Related events:
Opening Reception – Oct. 15, 5 p.m.
Virtual Tour/Discussion with Mike McClung – Nov. 11, 11 a.m.

To learn more click HERE

Reveal, by Leis, Installation of oil on unique shaped wood formats, painted on both sides

 

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A Welcomed Spring

It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn.                                                                                                                                                                ~  B. C. Forbes

I hope this finds you well and cautiously optimistic and hopeful as we start looking at ‘live’ art again for inspiration

I’ve been making art throughout the pandemic but the work has had a mind of its own influenced by the virus, and I had to yield to its voice. Thus the diverse group of paintings I made in ’20-’21 is more about internal landscapes than the outside environment. But, since the human is comprised of the same elements as our planet we are intertwined and what affects us impacts everything and vise versa.

The Eclipse series of work I referenced in my previous News has made its debut in January at the Michael Warren Contemporary in Denver


Here is other new work:

REVEAL


This group of 16 paintings completed in 2020 called, Reveal (oil on unique wood forms) really led me a merry chase.

They demanded a variety of colors which led me veering from my original intentions by finding influence in the Covid-19 virus.


 

Reveal 

disclose, tell, let slip, let drop, give away,

blurt (out)

release, leak, make known,

make public, broadcast, publicize,

circulate, disseminate, let on, show, display, exhibit,

disclose, uncover, unveil, uncloak.

bring to light, uncover, lay bare,

excavate,

expose,

unearth


Other Side of Numbness

January of 2021 brought some positive changes to our forecasts and I found that I could relax a smidge and express some of my frustrations and thus feel more grounded in doing so. This inspired a group of 12+ paintings 3 of which are are large 60″ x 60″ canvases, I call Other Side of Numbness.

After so many restrictions and fears of Covid-19 something switched for me in these 2021 ink and gesso paintings. I threw off the chains of confinement and struck back. The transition was not planned–my mind did not control the hand. My heart knew I had to beat my fears into submission by letting the ink express the chaos and heaviness I felt. It was then that I started to settle and began to feel a new grounded-ness.These paintings reflect the internal landscape of the pandemic eon and also the ‘other side of numbness’.

 


Work on Paper

Some of my ‘work on paper’ that has been residing in my flat files, needed to escape its confinement–I think we can all relate to that! Now they have smart new white frames.

This work is ready for installations of groups or a single work strikingly holding its own!

Nightscapes – 5 framed works 
done in residency in Doi Saket, Northern Thailand observing unpolluted night skies (pen on paper).


 

Chimes – 15  and 3 larger pieces,
done in residency on a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina, US-with shimmering waters (watercolor on paper).


Mercurial – 5  framed pieces,
Done on Flores Island, Portugal during storms at sea that prevented
boats from coming into harbor. (Ink on paper)


Fluidity Focus  – 18 framed pieces,
Also done in residency on the Azores Island, Flores, Portugal while watching the fickle seas change hue frequently. (watercolor on paper)


May our lives continue to open and expand with caution and hope. And, may we carry forth the lessons we have learned during the pandemic trial.
– mpl

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A NEW YEAR!

So happy to kick 2020 out of the Door and wish all of you a bright and
optimistic 2021! Michael Warren Contemporary will have a ‘live’ an exhibition of
gallery artists this month and I will be showing several pieces of my new work of 2020,
Eclipse. Following below, find both my artist statement of this work and also my poem. Enjoy!


ECLIPSE  
(hidden and revealed) a statement

Eclipse is a series of paintings of Flashe© and copper leaf on panel and linen.The series came about from my infatuation with the idea of a black surface that would not reflect at all—an echoless environment.

Black has been a thematic visitor in my work for a while. Mystery, fear, discovery, velvet, night etc…all intrigue me

I pursued this evasive black relentlessly for several weeks. After many trials I arrived at Flashe©, a black that one sinks into and doesn’t return, a black hole.
I then began to think of light trying to creep over the edges – like that of an eclipse when the light of the sun limns from the obscurity of darkness. The play of light and dark, what was dominant and what was subsumed, bifurcated and partial, became the intention of the work.

The paintings speak to the sublime and offer glimpses into the infinite landscapes of the internal and external.

 


ECLIPSE 
a series of paintings of Flashe© and copper leaf

 

Darkness absorbing light limned with copper
Dark days, dark nights, dark thoughts
with the promise of better times

Black obscuring light-but light sneaking out
Glowing hope and promise
Warming black’s mystery

There is a game of hide and seek
within an ecliptic peek a’ boo
But what is hiding

And as we move into the black
familiarizing ourselves with its velvet purr
It soothes and comforts

Black doesn’t eclipse the light
It accents the light, brightens it
Illuminating the night

Perhaps the light obscures the black
lessening its prominence
equalizing the power held

Partial eclipse hints at attempting balance
Weighing, evaluating, thinking
compromising, negotiating

No loss of significance, power, prominence
Deep thoughts evoke fairness
Black and copper both shining


 

Blog Archives

Chaos Extended

During this extended time of chaos and pandemic I hope that you are okay. Like many of you I am entering my seventh month of staying-at-home that sometimes glides by with ease and sometimes seems interminable. For me this is a supreme exercise/lesson in yielding—to overlook that the to-do list that doesn’t get completed and to not judge myself or others for how they are coping. This is hard times and I need to remind myself that we need to be gentle with ourselves and others.

My MailChimp newsletters tell you of my goings and comings so I hope you are signed up to receive them. I am so impressed with galleries and museums and their staffs that have opened with protocols— people really need to experience art for inspiration. My art is currently showing at my Denver and California galleries. Also at the newly opened Curated Creative gallery in Albuquerque.

I am also adding some photos of the exhibits that went ‘live’ in July and December in South Korea and Istanbul so you can appreciate the global community keeping art alive! 

In the studio I have some newly finished wood sculptures and am painting on round shaped wooden formats. I am also busy framing some of my work on paper and printing books of my series of art. My studio practice set in stone a long time ago gives my days structure and bliss.

My book, The Silent Road, can now be ordered through Blurb. It documents through my words this sculptural painting that was an important part of my 2019. CLICK HERE: THE SILENT ROAD BOOK

I leave you with my recent poem, Communication, that I’ve added to my growing ‘pandemic’ file:

COMMUNICATION

My art isn’t completed without

the viewer participating

where is the dialogue

alone in my studio

 

Yes, of course I make art

to express my ideas,

concerns and feelings

but not just for me

 

No, I am saying something

putting it out there

for discussion as I would

speaking over a coffee

 

Of course, a viewer

might not agree with me

my abstract thoughts

may not suit their sensibility

 

But a friend would listen

would consider my ideas

and even disagreeing

a dialogue would ensue

 

Art is communication

it is not complete

without the viewer

participating

 

So the work feels lonely

abandoned and sad

sitting on studio walls

with no one to speak to
_____________________

– Until next time stay well and see art whenever possible!

Marietta

 

 

 

Blog Archives

2020 Update

Hoping you are all well and safe during these surreal days of the virus pandemic. I haven’t written a NEWS in 2020 for the reasons that we are all living and adjusting to—coronavirus. My schedule was eradicated—exhibits, travel—as was that of so many. But I am fortunate because I always work a great deal alone with my studio steps away from my home. My life has diminished in some regards but has not stopped and I am well. The pandemic world/human conditions does permeate and distract my days with an assortment of sadness, uncertainty and chaos. But there are the small precious positive things that I embrace everyday that nature and human connections provide.


I’ll share a bit the artwork in progress that I’ve been up to. I recently completed a series of copper and matte black paintings titled Eclipse; exploring the boundaries of dark and light.

These recent paintings of black and copper inspired me to extend that theme to a couple of wall reliefs. The wood was burned by the Shou Sugi Ban Japanese method that I like for its extraordinary range of black effects and the symbolism of burning wood.

Also I’ve have finally gotten to the first stages of painting the round shape of our earth’s colors on wooden formats. They will also be painted on the concave side.

My idea for these pieces has been evolving for a long time and this pause has given me the time to focus on them. As the concept evolves I will share more with you.

Poetry has been a mainstay during this period and I now have the budding of a stay-in-place group of work. I will revisit and edit them after our pandemic emergency when I have more insight and distance from the emotional onslaught of the situation.

_______

Familiar

Stay @ home
Work from home
All familiar to me

The silence
The stillness
My life pattern

Write my thoughts
Paint my feelings
My practice

But difficult
when virus
dictates

Not me
_______

If you feel so inclined please let me know how you are doing-I’d love to hear from you.
All my best wishes, for your safety and health,

-Marietta

Blog Archives

Old Year/New Year

As a greeting for this New Year I’m quoting the words of Kurt Vonnegut that hang in my studio:

“Be Soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”

2019 and 2020 are overlapping in my life because some of my exhibits that began in ’19 are running over into ’20. Also talks of exhibitions that began in 2019 will find fruition in this year.

I like the smooth transition as I prepare new work in the studio.


Sharon McCawley, a Curatorial Docent at the New Mexico Museum of Art wrote the following piece for their website that reflects on trees and the Alcove 20/20 exhibit at the Museum in which I am participating.

THE WOOD WIDE WEB:

THE ARTISTRY AND MORALITY OF

MARIETTA PATRICIA LEIS

AND

ROBERT MACFARLANE

            It is worse than boorish, it is criminal to inflict an unnecessary injury on the tree that feeds or shadows us.                                                                                  Henry David Thoreau

No, the title is not a misprint; both the world wide web and the wood wide web are templates for connections and communications. The world web connects humans and the wood web connects trees. Together they are essential for sustenance, support, and solace. Together they are the basis for the visual art of Marietta Patricia Leis and the verbal art of Robert Macfarlane.

            Marietta Patricia Leis is exhibiting selections from her series ENGRAINED: Ode to Trees (2019) part of ALCOVES 20/20 No.2 at the New Mexico Museum of Art until February 9, 2020.  The exhibit is a symbiotic ode to trees and their representations, an appreciation of their value for supplying  shelter, food, shade, rest, purification, and beauty. Ultimately, trees and their replications as created by Ms. Leis are the purest forms of physical rebirth and spiritual regeneration. The artist reflects about “walking among trees to dispel the stress of life and maintain mental health.” The viewers of her works can achieve the same transformation.

            Her paintings Symbiosis I, II are green portals or windows into the forest, glowing with a subtle illumination. They are not monochromatic, but varied in tone and texture, a result of many layers of painting and sanding. The paintings actually grow like trees, gifting us with translucency and peace. The layers of paint can symbolize the rings of the tree. The viewer actually feels like falling in and moving through the canvas, as if entering the world of Green Mansions (1904), the romantic and ecological novel by W. H. Hudson which praises the wilderness while warning of the danger of man encroaching upon nature.

            Resting on the floor below the canvases are Traces 1,3,2 parts of a salvaged limb from a mimosa tree which fell on her roof during a storm. She saved the pieces of the tree and transformed them, granting us continuity and reclamation. The association with worldwide deforestation due to clearings, fires, pollution is inevitable.  Another one of her trees, this time a spruce, is the inspiration for Splinter. The 30 foot high tree died on Ms. Leis’ property and, unfortunately, had to be cut down.  Again she preserved the pieces which she sanded, equating grains of wood with brushstrokes.  She also equates the living form with the dead lying on the same spectrum of our world.  The ultimate experience is of memory for loss and hope for rebirth.

            Ms. Leis uses the forms of print, paint, sculpture, video, photography to express her environmental concerns; “I worry about our incredible blue and green planet’s survival.” We honor her theme when we appreciate her artistry.

            We can support the sustainability of trees with protecting forestlands, controlling land clearing, and reversing climate change. Trees support us with providing food, medicine, and literally air.  What is remarkable is how trees support each other. Robert Macfarlane , author of UNDERLAND (2019) provides the verbal counterpoint to Ms. Leis visual imagery. The book convinces the reader of the vital interconnection between the human and the natural world.  Just as humans generously empathize with and help each other, so do trees. Macfarlane describes how trees can sense when one of them is lacking nutrition or is falling under stress. They actually develop joint underground root systems to share nutrients to nurse the patient back to health. The healthy trees develop hyphae, microscopically thin fungi, which connect at the cellular level and weave together underground root systems, a true wood wide web. Individual trees do not compete for resources, they collaborate and nurture each other. This is a lesson we can all follow.

            If there is human meaning to be made of the wood wide web, it is surely that what might save us as we move forwards into the precarious, unsettled centuries ahead is collaboration: mutualism, symbiosis, the inclusive human work of collective decision making extended to more-than- human communities. (113).

            Marietta Patricia Leis sculpts and paints, Richard Macfarlane writes and explores. The least we can do is to consider their thoughts and expressions.

Sharon McCawley

Curatorial Docent


Please take a look at the article that the New Mexico alumni magazine, Mirage included about me and my art


 

 

Blog Archives

Travels, Exhibits and Making Friends

The two years prior to setting off on my travels in early June this year to Italy and Latvia were spent largely designing and executing the exhibitions I shipped to Venice and Daugavpils. My itineraries included both exhibitions but my first stop was Tuscany where my husband David and I wanted to regroup and have a little R&R—Italy always seems to achieve both of those goals for me.

We stayed outside of Florence in an agriturismo- a small farm that accommodates guests. It was in one of those lovely green enhanced settings and offered us fresh grown food and quiet reprieves.The European heat wave settled in around us but we ventured a couple of outings-one to Vinci the birthplace and childhood place of Leonardo that tourist books deride (and therefore was uncrowded) and we found enchanting! The lovely views from this town can be found in the backgrounds of his paintings and the museums were well done with replicas of his work and demonstrations and plates of explanations. We got totally into all of it including the hologram of an actor talking to us as Leonardo!

Vinci

When we tore ourselves away from Leonardo we went to Pisa and arrived to see the last glimmers of light and then the tower lit at night. I had not been back since the last restoration so it was a relief to see the magnificent ‘wedding cake’ tower still standing though, of course, not upright. And, the night views are magical even with crowds.

Our most impressive tripping was definitely going to Carrara. I have wanted to see this place of white marble for many years with it’s stories of Michelangelo choosing the marble for his Pieta. I never even imagined it would be a mountain range of marble—vast pits of glaring white owned by families for generations. We went into a mine where the cavern’s ceilings, walls and floors were of white marble and then went high up the mountain to walk among the pit—unimaginable—the vastness and the beauty. I kept seeing Michelangelo pointing to the slab he wanted. Carrara emitted a chilling visceral feeling that only living  history can give me.

The heat wave followed us to Venice where the humidity and crowds made it intensify. I have been in Venice several times and its architectural beauty never fails me, but I must confess that the cruise ships have dampened my enthusiasm. These large monsters overwhelm this paradise in mere size as they glide into the Grande Canal and let off their thousands of passengers that crowd the narrow streets with the selfie sticks. It’s displaces the romantic picture I have carried of Venice for years.But that being said Venice is not mine to share or not—I have no say in this and why should not everyone have a quick peek at its wonders?

It is the year of the Biennale and my sculptural artwork, The Silent Road sponsored by the European Cultural Centre hangs in Palazzo Mora. I finally got to see it installed in the site it was designed for and I am gratified as it looks as it did in my mind over the many months of designing and execution. The architecture of the stairwell and the artwork complement each other and the paradox of textures of the old and new enhance the art.

We visited it several times and did a photo shoot in the heat of the old palazzo with a Venetian photographer, Riccardo Grassetti that had us all melting while we documented the work.

While in Venice we saw a lot of art in the Biennale and all over Venice while eating savory food with new friends, relishing the cool evening rides on the water vaporettos and crowd-watching, inevitably getting lost. I had the distinct pleasure of giving a presentation of my artwork, The Silent Road, during the Art Night of Venice. It was to an audience at the Palazzo Mora and sponsored by ECC. For me all art is a form of communication and if I can make my work more knowing to people by speaking to them about my intentions—that is something I truly enjoy!

We bade a farewell to the still hot Venice and took a water taxi to Marco Polo Airport–yes that’s how one gets there from Venice–and off we go on a Polish airline to Vilnius, Lithuania enroute to Daugavpils, Latvia. We stayed one delightful night in the old town section of Vilnius and ate their renown capelinai-a dumpling with filling that was delicious.

The next morning we drove off to Daugavpils, Latvia to find the Mark Rothko Art Centre Museum of Modern Art and my exhibition there. The verdant drive was lovely and restful and we were in Daugavpils and the Mark Rothko Centre in a couple of hours.

I had been reading a bit about Latvia and its history of occupations, repression and hard-won freedom. On the advice of a Latvian American man I also read The Glass Mountain, a well regarded fable that is really a metaphor for encouraging the Latvian people to strive for their freedom. All this background set the stage for my budding understanding of the country.

The Rothko Centre is, of course, named for the abstract painter that emigrated to America with his family when he was 10 years old from the town of Daugavpils that was at that time part of the Soviet Union. It is housed in a beautifully detailed renovated Russian fort from the last Czar’s reign.
It is large and has many galleries, a library, artist workshops, conference halls and a large area of exhibitions devoted to the history of Rothko. It is the cultural center of the town and holds many events and brings in many international groups and artists to exhibit, teach and entertain. The Centre is impressive in it’s programing, it’s staff and professionalism. Luckily Rothko’s son Chris and daughter Kate endorse the Centre and lend his original paintings for the community to see.

While my exhibit, AIR, was being installed I gave a radio interview to a Russian program as Russian is still widely spoken in Daugavpils and also did a TV interview with a cultural newscaster from the capital, Riga.

I was happy to do this as I wanted to explain the intention of my exhibit; that the earth’s air belongs to everyone on the planet without exception. We all inhale and exhale the same air. There are no boundaries or fences that keep air separate from one another and as such we must then all be guardians of the air that we all share.

The crew installing my art and the curator, Tatjana Cernova were excellent and very accommodating—getting the lighting adjusted and attending to details. The exhibition notes and my Poem/Statement was translated and displayed into English, Latvian and Russian. AIR was beginning to come together the way I had conceived it which was very exciting!

The exhibit consists of paintings on birch panels, photos on metal and on silk—all intending to give a visible impression of air—both light and dark.

The events that followed were all memorable. The opening reception had me and all the other artists that were exhibiting saying a few words and translators were there to make our words understood by everyone in the large audience. Then the following day I presented a slide lecture—again happy to be able to convey my thoughts about my life’s work.

The Master Class that I taught “The Armature of Abstract Painting” was full of enthusiastic artist/students and we really worked hard for almost 4 hours. Each student completed 6 paintings with each one being a different assignment. We had a translator there as well and she worked right along-side me encouraging the student’s best work. I think I was quite a sight to the more reserved Latvian sensibility as I waved my arms, raised my voice and demonstrated openly my caring enthusiasm. But we had fun, made progress, made friends and colleagues and made lots and lots of great art!

We left for Riga shortly after the class but had a bit of an opportunity to observe people viewing AIR—always liking to be that fly on the wall watching people respond to the art. The weekend after I left I was thrilled when I saw photos of Kate Rothko Prizel and her husband IIya Prizel viewing my exhibit when they were at the Centre for the event surrounding Kate’s loan of some of her father’s paintings original paintings that had not yet been seen in Daugavpils.

We stayed in the Old Town part of Riga—very charming with dramatic changes of weather coming off the Baltic Sea. Riga is not one-dimensional—there are many nuances to the city. One new architectural interest is the Latvian National Library that was influenced by the earlier mentioned book, The Glass Mountain and shaped in an abstracted version of that mountain. There are industrial and gentrified parts of the city and also remnants of the Soviet era squared apartment buildings along with more contemporary districts of coffee shops, art and commerce.

We were there only a couple of days but luckily the US Embassy in Riga had arranged and sponsored a panel at the contemporary art center KIM? In Latvian the acronym would mean What is Art? On the panel was myself, the American artist and a Latvian artist living in the Netherlands and the moderator was a Latvian curator soon to visit the US. The exchange was lively and funny and provocative and I was so happy to have this last stimulating experience before my journey home.

One thing that have reflected on since I’ve returned that I’ve always believed but now feel in an even more visceral way is that art is a great communicator and a common denominator and a way to connect people globally. Art slips through borders and enters hearts and joins hands. Happily some of the people I met along the way and I’ve mentioned only a very few here will be social media friends, will be lifetime colleagues, support systems and professional networks.

Now just a few words as I prepare for the fall agenda back in New Mexico….The Longer Table group exhibition at the Santa Fe Community Gallery (Sept-Jan) will show my wax sculptures, Vapors. Vapors were made after my artist residency in verdant Thailand. Being in Northern Thailand made me viscerally aware of the paradox of abundance and scarcity as food was seemingly plentiful in Thailand but lacking in neighboring Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

The NMMoA Alcove exhibit (October-December) will excerpt my exhibition Engrained;ode to trees in which I try to seduce people with the beauty of trees to contemplate our need to preserve, plant and have gratitude for all the gifts that trees bestow on us and the world we inhabit.

Stay tuned for more upcoming news
& have a good fall and winter season. CIAO!

 

 

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Leis & Rothko in Latvia

I am honored to be having my solo exhibition AIR at the Mark Rothko Centre in Daugavpils, Latvia this summer.

AIR

a solo exhibition at the Daugavpils Mark Rothko Centre, Latvia

Mihaila street 3, Daugavpils, LV – 5401, Latvia

Opening Artist Reception: Friday, July 5th 2019 at 4pm – Open through Sept. 8, 2019

Artist Lecture: My Life in Art Saturday, July 6th, 11am-12pm

Master Class: The Armature of Abstract Art Saturday, July 6th, 12pm – 3:30pm



AIR
by Marietta Patricia Leis

 

everywhere, everyplace

moving—quivering

indoors, outdoors

here, there

common denominator

necessary, essential

equalizes, unites

destiny

sharing, sharing

polluted, dirtied, gray

smoke blackened

murky, brown

disrespecting

trees cleanse

purifying our air

Attention!

your exhale, my inhale

connected mutuality

affecting all

baby’s first, elder’s last

time marked

by breath

molecules interweaving

mine, yours

dependence dance

embraced

long poignant song note

deep dive, swimming

rhythm in

and out

newly mowed grass

fragrant spring morn

after a rain

smelling you

southern humidity

northern light

blown by a wind

feeling you

respect, gratitude

guardians take care

take care

caring of

AIR


The Backstory

 A while back I had one of those 21st century internet moments when the name Mark Rothko Art Centre lit up across computer’s monitor. I don’t remember the original context, however, seeing it led to the fortunate circumstances of my participation in their programing and my solo exhibition, AIR, this July 2019.

Knowing that Rothko made his mark as a leading American painter who did emigrate from Russia I was intrigued about how a Mark Rothko Art Centre happened to be in Daugavpils, Latvia. Ah, Wikipedia comes to the rescue. Well, that city which was part of Russia at the time was the birthplace of Mark Rothko on September 25, 1903. Now it is the second largest city in Latvia and residents speak Russian and/or Latvian or both.

My curiosity led me to investigate and found that the Centre in Latvian is Daugavpils Marka Rotko mākslas centrs or DMRAC. It is a multi-functional institution of culture, arts and education, located inside the arsenal building of the Daugavpils Fortress in Daugavpils. This Fortress, is an early 19th century Fortress is the only early 19th century military fortification of its kind in Northern Europe that has been preserved without significant alterations. The construction of the fortress began in 1810 by decree of Tsar Alexander I of Russia

The Art Centre offers exhibitions dedicated to Mark Rothko’s artwork and biography, Mark Rothko Life and Art. Furthermore the DMRAC facilities include art galleries of changing exhibitions, residences for artists, a video hall, an archive/library, conference/seminar facilities, meeting rooms and a restaurant.

Mark Rothko Centre, Daugavpils Fortress in Daugavpils

Upon finding out about the roster of exhibitions I made inquiries which resulted in a formal application which was eventually accepted and viola’. Being an admirer of Rothko’s art and sensibility he has influenced the reductive/minimalist spirit of my art, that is the essence that can describe the whole.
The late New York Times Art Critic, William Zimmer wrote some years ago that my paintings followed in the “abstract sublime” tradition of Mark Rothko and called my reductive paintings “sublime”. Now I feel I am paying homage to Rothko by exhibiting at the Mark Rothko Centre in Daugavpils where I can also witness the atmosphere that influenced his early years.

Marietta with Rothko’s paintings, National Gallery, Washington, DC.

Blog Archives

Lucy R. Lippard Essay for the Marietta Tintoretto Story

Prolific author and arts writer Lucy R. Lippard contributed a deep and insightful essay for my 1994-1998 touring exhibition, The Marietta Robusti Tintoretto Story. I am honored to share Lucy’s essay with you below. The work celebrates the life of a near forgotten woman artist. Two paintings from this series are included in the Museo Italo Americano’s 40th Anniversary Permanent Collection Exhibit, on display until January in San Francisco.


A Legacy Framed

Commentary by Lucy R. Lippard *

 

Marietta Leis is reframing the life of Marietta Robusti Tintoretto, who died 400 years ago. She does this literally by making ornate gold frames an integral part of the work; and she does it figuratively, creating a series of metaphors for today’s women artists.

Leis weaves invisible references to her own life with more visible references to that of Marietta Tintoretto. The frames are cast with significant personal belongings, and she was attracted to the Renaissance artist because Marietta was also her mother’s name, and her mother had decided not to seek a career in the arts. Thus, with the aid of a feminist consciousness, a classic 20th-century woman’s story was contrasted with the total support that Tintoretto received from her famous father who dressed her in boy’s clothing, taught her all he knew, and was delighted by her success as a portrait painter. Even as a married woman, she stayed under her father’s roof (and Leis suggests that the father-daughter bonds were so strong that Marietta never found her own voice). Yet no sooner had she died in childbirth at the age of thirty, Tintoretto’s work began to be forgotten, until today scholars definitively attribute only one painting to her.

This is precisely why women artists have to think seriously about “posterity”; it is why Judy Chicago is making such an effort to have her feminist icon—The Dinner Party, permanently housed; it is why so many women artists look anxiously to museums to care for their work. It is, above all, why we know so little about our feminist art history. For centuries women artists’ work has been disappearing, sometimes beneath better-known male names. It is already possible to see the history of the most recent wave of feminist art (beginning in 1969-70) being hidden, forgotten, and rewritten by those who were not there.

Leis’s exhibition of lyrical, painstaking homages to another Marietta brings these issues to the foreground. At the same time, her works serve as bridges from the sense of formal beauty we inherit from the Italian painting tradition to today’s feminist investigations of opulence and reclamation. Even as their loving detail makes a point of scale, and their fragmentation makes a point of history, the very weight of these small works belie their size. They join Chicago’s Great Ladies, May Steven’s monumental Artemesia Gentileschi, and Miriam Schapiro’s homages to Mary Cassatt and other foremothers to whom all feminists must pledge memory, lest our contemporaries also be lost. These elegant frames protect both the art of Marietta Tintoretto and the art of Marietta Leis.

 

* Written for the brochure for the exhibition Excerpts from the series: The Marietta Robusti Tintoretto Story at the Jonson Gallery of the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

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Poet Miriam Sagan Writes on my work for Harnessing Light Exhibition

The esteemed Santa Fe poet, Miriam Sagan, saw the Harnessing Light exhibition and wrote this poem about my art that was inspired by the dark light of Iceland. Sagan had been to and referred me to the Gullkistan Artist Residency in Iceland so we had the same experience to relate to—one as a poet and myself a visual artist. Please read her lovely poem HERE.