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!

 

 

Blog Archives

Venice Biennale 2019


The Silent Road, Acrylic on Tyvek™


Personal Structures
An Exhibition

presented by
The European Cultural Centre & the GAA Foundation

2019 Venice Biennale
Preview: May 9 – 10
Exhibit: May 11 – November 24
Palazzo Mora, rm #218, Strada Nova


Leis’ artist statement for The Silent Road

 

The Silent Road

Marietta Patricia Leis

 

The Silent Road is a dialogue between painting and sculpture. It is a road that leads in two directions, reaching upward toward the ancient beamed ceiling of the Palazzo Mora and winding downward to its staircase landing. The Silent Road was inspired by my time in Iceland during the dark months of the long Icelandic winter. The treeless, volcanic, landscape revealed the earth’s curved horizon, confronting me with a stark image of all that is infinite—both visually and metaphorically. My acute sense of this fascinating and haunting place provided fertile ground for germination of The Silent Road.

 

I have always made art using a variety of mediums, choosing those that best serve and amplify my intentions. For The Silent Road, graphite painted on Tyvek ™ (a paper-like plastic sheeting used to insulate houses) evoked the shimmering darkness of Iceland’s volcanic rock.  I hand burnished the graphite until it radiated that luster. Thus, the Tyvek ™ is magically transformed, as old traditions meet modern technologies on The Silent Road.

 

My handwork has traced every inch of surface on The Silent Road, marking a path and leaving a record of my artist’s journey for others to follow. The Road’s reductive surface texture offers hidden complexities for the viewer to ferret out—an opportunity to engage with the work without straining to understand it—simply traveling The Road with me for a journey in silent contemplation.

 

In today’s noisy world, we can become distracted, numb to our deepest natures. The road to authenticity is by its very nature traveled in solitude. It is an internal road that, with patience, can lead deep into the core of our being. As we each embark on the journey to this rich and fertile place, we can discover a common thread of the shared humanity that binds us.

 

My intention is for my art to be palpable, transmitting a sensation of adventure, beauty and peace. I invite you to travel the undulating Silent Road—welcoming your own perceptions and experiences.


Photographic reference work – a frozen silent road from Leis’ time in Iceland

 


Backstory and process

During my career I have found that professional relationships as well as the resulting exhibitions, articles, or residencies take patience and a maturation period—this one seven years! The career aspect of an artist’s life echoes, in part, the necessary maturation of the art-making process itself.

The Venice opportunity is a prime example. My first contact with the Global Arts Affairs Foundation that is sponsoring my work at Venice was in 2012. A Dutch artist Rene Rietmeyer, whose work I very much admire, was featured in an art magazine that told of his exhibiting during the Venice Biennale with GAA. Because GAA exhibited the work of Rene, who has a like sensibility to my own, I contacted them to learn more about their organization. And now all these years later my art is in their exhibition, Personal Structures, during this year’s Venice Biennial.

The Silent Road evolved over a one and half year period. GAA and I explored several locations in the Piazza Bembo and Mora until I selected the one that I felt gave me the most opportunity and challenges. Then there were several sketches with that location in mind. These always told of the ‘road’ but varied in size and form until one felt right for a beginning point. Once I had that form in mind I researched materials eventually moving away from paper to Tyvek™ for durability. Prototypes large and small were made to test the graphite and the burnishing, how to keep the backside clean with the process of dirty burnishing-how the Tyvek™would drape and to also conclude the exact dimensions for the piece.

The slow and laborious but zen-joyful execution of painting and burnishing the 60’ x 34” piece took several months and culminated in a test hanging at a local theatre (thanks Highland and NDI). By then I had a solid team of my photographer-assistant, Stefan Jennings Batista, my colleague in arms, Heidi Pollard, the sculptor and installer, Ian Jones and my husband David an all-purpose helper and videographer—who all contributed to the success of the trial installation. The wonder of resulting piece exceeded my sketch! Listening to the work itself and not being catholic about the sketch led to better possibilities.

Afterwards installation instructions were written and the packing and shipping commenced. Voilà it now enters the auspices of the Venice Biennale 2019.


ENGRAINED: ODE TO TREES exhibited at WNMU



Marietta’s multimedia solo show Engrained: Ode to Trees exhibited though February in the McCray Gallery at Western New Mexico University as part of the Milner Women in the Arts Lecture Series.



Blog Archives

Entering the New Year of 2019

This year will finally see the art, that has been my main effort over the past year and a half, culminate in it’s first exhibit at Western New Mexico University, Silver City, opening February 7th  The heartfelt theme of trees and forests-beautiful and endangered is one that demanded my toolbox of media—so there is much to see. You can thumb through the exhibition catalogue by clicking on the ISSUU booklet below. 


The essay in the booklet is by the gifted writer, Ann Landi,
and reproduced here for your reading:

 

Marietta Patricia Leis: Engrained: Ode to Trees

 

In the course of a long career that has taken her from New York to Los Angeles and finally to Albuquerque, NM, Marietta Patricia Leis has mastered just about any medium at her disposal—printmaking, sculpture, painting, video, and photography. Her subjects have often been inspired by her travels worldwide: to Scotland, Southeast Asia, Greece, Iceland, and other far-flung spots. The experiences she gathers from place, whether it’s the humid green of the tropical jungle or the billowing clouds and black-velvet nights of the Scottish Highlands, become distilled into the different series she’s pursued over the years. The common thread is that Leis brings to all her works qualities of elegant understatement, a thorough knowledge of craft, and an approach that marries thoughtful restraint with a sensuous feel for her materials.

For her latest project, Engrained: Ode to Trees, Leis found inspiration quite literally in her own backyard, when a 30-foot-high spruce tree on her property in Albuquerque, NM, died shortly after she moved in. Parts of that tree have made their way into the Engrained series: slices from the trunk, lovingly varnished and stained, stand like proud sentinels on Lucite shelves in Gentrification I and Gentrification II. Fissures I and Fissures II, a pair of ink-relief prints, and the sculptures Splintered I and Splintered II similarly find their origins in that same fallen tree, as does Keepsake #2, an image burned into linen from a section of the trunk. When a mimosa tree, also on her property, lost a big branch during a windstorm, Leis used it as the source material for the series of sculptures called Traces, which stand in front of two large oil paintings, Symbiosis I and Symbiosis II, densely saturated with the bright fresh green color we associate with trees just coming back to life in early spring. The installation seems to juxtapose the living against the dead, and speaks to the possibilities for renewal and rebirth.

Specific trees may have provided the inspiration for many works in the show, but Leis’ travels—and her self-description as an “outed tree hugger”—have made her sensitive to the plight of trees in general. She’s flown over the Amazon and witnessed the burning of rain forests; she’s seen firsthand Iceland’s barren landscape, the result of devastation by early settlers; and, like the rest of us, she’s concerned about the clear cutting, wild fires, and deforestation that are quickly eroding our landscape. The videos in the Engrained were all made in Finland, where she had an artist’s residency above Arctic Circle, and show how forest after forest has succumbed to destruction.

But the message in Leis’ methods—if indeed we need a message—is far from hopeless. There is ghostly beauty in the 82-inch-tall photos of the Evanescents series, joy in the sprightly arrangements of paintings that make up Tree, and throughout the series reminders of how much pleasure we get from the colors, textures, and presence of those mute and stalwart citizens who share our planet. In examining all the qualities of “treeness”—from seeds and leaves to the battered husk that remains after a tree dies—Leis gives us tangible proof of the loveliness of these silent gifts of nature along with intimations of how barren our world would be without them.

Ann Landi

November 2018

Ann Landi is the founder and editor of Vasari21.com and a contributing editor of ARTnews.

 


As an extra enticement here are some photos of the Shou Sugi Ban method of burning wood that we used in the making of the Remembrance pieces in the exhibit:

Photographs by Stefan Jennings Batista

Blog Archives

PAUSING: A BOOK OF ART AND POETRY

Available at amazon.com

 

In the cold and rainy month of March 2011, I was an Artist in Residence at the Morris Graves Foundation: The Lake, in Northern California. It is a place of grace, peace and beauty that encouraged me to press my life’s pause button. Living and working in this setting inspired me to think in verse. These poems reflect my state of being or my observations as I passed through my days painting there in tranquility. The simple passing of my days resulted in this work. I hope you sense the simplicity in this volume.        —MPL

Pausing is quite remarkable and beautiful. Some poems tug at me as works of art. What is evident in these pages are poems that are fun, moving and insightful. Engaging poems that feel right at home with the quality and brilliance of Marietta’s visual art.
Dale Biron, author, Why We Do Our Daily Practices

Elegant in its simplicity, Pausing is a collection of art and poetry that responds to experience in a deeply aesthetic way.  Leis gives us the peace of how light strikes water, shades of color, the emergence of blue. It is an unusually beautiful book-we are fortunate to share its vision.
Miriam Sagan, author of Seven Places in America: A Poetic Sojourn

Marietta’s poems are full of quietness, stillness and the calmness of a lake. I love the book’s simplicity of words and art and am especially thankful for the poem Japan’s Havoc. Pausing is a treasure.
Taro Aizu, author of My Fukushima

READINGS:

Saturday, Feb. 25th from 1-3 pm
Weyrich Gallery
2935-D Louisiana NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110

Stay tuned for more readings!

Blog Archives

Exhibiting Ice in North Carolina

           We were so happy to be in North Carolina’s beautiful Appalachian Mountains in July exhibiting our multimedia exhibition, “Melting: Marietta Patricia Leis + David Vogel”. Escaping the New Mexico three-digit heat wave was wonderful but so was our appreciation for the lush greenery of the trees and rain forests that greeted us. A-1.NC SCENEThe almost daily spurts and pours of rain hydrated us as we enjoyed the towns of Ashland, Boone and Blowing Rock. Boone, named for Daniel Boone who blazed a trail over the Mountains into Tennessee, is the home of Appalachian State University and their Turchin Center for the Visual Arts. A-2.Ashville_2585The Turchin is an elegant renovated church with 5 current gallery spaces, auditorium and offices for a great staff. Mary Anne Redding is the Assistant Director and distinguished curator whom I have luckily worked with 3 incredibly rewarding times previously.

       Mary Anne curated “Melting”. This exhibition is a reflection on our expedition to the Antarctic. The exhibition that ended August 6 melded David’s photographs and my art into a cohesive presentation of our experience. During both the reception and ourA-4.Heartspace 6 artist talk, David and I met many people from Boone’s supportive and interested community.

       Our statement for “Melting” and photos of the exhibition follow:

       Drawn to Antarctic because of its unique position on our planet, ‘the end of the earth’ so to speak, we ventured to this primal place. Being hurled through the Drake Passage where three oceans meet by the worst storm of the season made us quickly aware of nature’s force. We were very fortunate to be on a Russian Expedition ship with a Russian crew with much experience and skill.

       On our third day we awakened at three in the morning to the most magnificent sunrise reflecting on icebergs and the snowy peninsular. There were soft yellow, magenta and apricot colors with an incredible luminosity because of the non-polluted almost translucent skies. In the first days of of our excursion we saw nature at polar (pun intended) opposite extremes first dark and violent and then delicate and heart-wrenchingly beautiful.

A-3.M&D       We felt so grateful that we were to have this experience in a region so special, so little touched, so regal in its natural beauty. It did not disappoint. In fact it excelled all our A-5 Transference Installationexpectations. The magnificence of the glaciers and mountains and yes even the crevices were beyond anything we had seen largely because they were raw, untouched. It was like being on a different planet-seeing things for the first time.

       We experienced the animal life like that as well. They were so uninhibited and unafraid of us. Whales slept in the waters like logs undisturbed by us, penguins walked over us as we sat on the stony beaches, leopard seals went about their business of feasting on prey- we felt that we had been dropped into the Jurastic period and we could just observe natural life as they truly exist.

       There were strict rules that we gladly adhered to such as going through a foot wash with our boots each time we returned from shore and not ever touching or relating to the wildlife no matter how cuddly the Penguins were and more obvious things like never picking up and taking anything. The expedition was fierce in their commitment to protect this pristine place.
Pixels Installation

       When our expedition leader was asked why with his concern and love of nature was he bringing people to this primal place he replied, ‘if people see it and experience it they will work harder to protect it”. That resonated with us. Our art expresses the ‘feeling’ of place, the impressions—if people are drawn to beauty in our work they might be also drawn to contemplate the underlying issues of climate change and how to preserve the beauty of the Antarctic and our planet for generations to come.

 

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Two Exhibit Announcements:

 1. SURFACE

B-1

Two groupings of my shaped paintings shown in “Melting” are going to be exhibited October 25-December 3 at my Denver gallery, Michael Warren Contemporary.  These will be part of a three-person exhibition with Jenene Nagy and Ramon Bonilla. I will be present at this terrific gallery Thursday November 17 at 5:30 to talk about the art and our Antarctic expedition. In my talk I will also be addressing our endangered planet that prompted the work.

2. WINTER BLUES AND SEASONAL HUES

       Actually it will be a two-fold Colorado opportunity to exhibit art that reflects my travels. Lincoln Center (in Fort Collins, 90 minutes from Denver) will host a 3-artist exhibit, “Winter Blues and Seasonal Hues” from November 18 through January 7, 2017. The other artists are Stefan Geissbuhler and Katharine McGuinness. My “Ascension” painting series and my watercolors both will be shown. These pieces were inspired by the Northern Lights that I experienced during my Artist Residency this past winter in Iceland. Two groupings from my “Shades” series depict the changing skies and waters during the changing winter light.
I will be present when the exhibit opens Friday November 18. There will an artist-guided gallery stroll 5-6:30 pm followed by a reception from 6:30-8 pm. If you’re in the vicinity of either of these galleries when I am there, I hope you come by!

 

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

2016 International Exhibits

This year has been exciting for me to be invited to exhibit in several international art exhibitions this year. I support art crossing borders as I believe artists and viewers can have a common understanding through art. Here are some of the places my art has shown side by side with artists from all over the globe:
C-1.IRan_2438
C-3Macedonia
  • “Sea(s),” Ionion Center for the Arts, Kefalonia, Greece
  • “5 Years Fukushima,” d’Oude Winkel, Oostburg, Netherlands.
  • “Our Fukushima,” Museum of Kumanovo & House of Culture, Skopje, Macedonia.
  • “People and East Art,” Contemporary Art Museum of Ahvaz & Cultural Complex of Dezful, Iran.
  • “East Meets West,” Suwon Arts Center, South Korea.
  • “Park Fine Art International,” Galerie AM Park, Frankfurt, Germany.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Now I am looking forward to a sojourn to the colonial cities and art communities of Puebla and Oaxaca, Mexico. Stay tuned for my report.