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!

 

 

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.

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.



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

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.

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.

Harnessing Light Exhibition at the Harwood Museum


The Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, NM will be presenting my work in the exhibition Harnessing Light:

Where: Harwood Museum of Art, Taos
Opening Reception: Saturday August 4, 3-5pm
Dates: Saturday August 4-Sunday October 7
Artists: Marietta Patricia Leis, Debbie Long & Mary Shaffer
Curator: J. Matthew Thomas
Roundtable Panel: Aurthur Bell Auditorium, Tuesday, August 7, 7pm

New Mexico based artist Marietta Patricia Leis will be exhibiting her multimedia works with artists Debbie Long and Mary Shaffer in the exhibition Harnessing Light. Curator J. Matthew Thomas selected these 3 artists who by different paths converge on a common focus: light on surface. Leis’ art contributes a contrast to the other artists as she captures light’s tenebrous illumination of darkness in her graphite acrylic pieces, prints on metal, small sculptures and oil paintings on wood. Her approach to this marriage of two extremes presents us with a duality of lightness and dark, for without one there cannot be the other. Becoming immersed in the soft nebulous incandescence of the arctic, Leis’ eyes forgot the programming of modern artificial lighting and she began to see the nuances and elegant shades of darkness more clear. Leis’ intention is to present unique visions of the natural world. Through her art, she hopes to make viewers more acutely aware of the fragile beauty and tenuous future of our planet so that we may seek ways to preserve it for generations. Taos was Leis’ first home in New Mexico after she migrated from Los Angeles in 1982. She considers her time in Taos as decompressing and centering after years of working in the endlessly illuminated cityscapes of New York and LA. Leis is honored to be exhibiting at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, and feels a deep gratitude for the place that gave her such peace and serenity.

Winter 2017-18 News

Because of my upcoming exhibit at the Museo Italo Americano, San Francisco, I thought I’d initiate you about my background and Italian heritage. First, a little family tree history because my last name (provided by my German-derived Father) has perhaps led you astray. I was born in Newark, NJ and grew up in the neighboring East Orange. My mother, Marietta Roma Napoliello (her mother was a Fiore) was a first generation American and I am thus a second generation thoroughly Italian-American girl.

My great grandmother Fiore

For those of you not in-the-know let me explain if your mother had an Italian family you were subsumed into that family totally, wholly regardless of your father’s ancestry.

Museo Italo Americano, San Francisco

So now that we’ve cleared that up we can move on to my relationship with the Museo Italo Americano in San Francisco because as an Italian American I am eligible to exhibit my art there. I have a great fondness for this institution as it helps me assert my Italian-ness to which I attribute a lot of things, and which balances my Germanic-ness which keeps me very organized.

The Museo www.museoitaloamericano.org established in 1978, is a touchstone for me. I started my dialogue with them in 1984. The first time I walked into the Museo in Fort Mason was in the early 90s when I met the then director, Robert Whyte.

Since that time I have admired their mission, the programs they offer, their community outreach and their support of Italian and Italian American artists.

Mostra ’94

Whyte asked me to exhibit first in 1994 for the Mostra ’94 or six artists he wanted to introduce to the Museo audience. He curated 5 paintings from my Illumination series into that beautiful exhibition.

In 1998 Whyte again contacted me because he was curating with Valentina Fogher an exhibit entitled Artists Who Look Back: Spirituality in Modern and Contemporary Art, and thought my new work inspired by Venice of the 1600s would enhance the exhibit nicely. This was a large and extravagant exhibit with a wonderful catalog.

Moonless Balm, oil/wood, 24 sq.

In 2007 I met with the Museo’s esteemed Director, Paola Bagnatori and Committee of Art Chair, Professor Angela Little to discuss an exhibition for 2008. It was decided that it would be a dual exhibition with a wonderful abstract San Francisco painter, Paulette Long. The Museo’s expansive gallery held more than 30 of my minimalist paintings largely from my Blue Series of sea and sky. This was another good experience artistically, but beyond that there is a pride of my Italian roots that the Museo honors.

Shard 20, inspired by Dante’s Inferno

During 2007 and before the 2008 exhibit Professor Angela Little contacted me to participate in an exhibit of paintings at the Museo that would be based on Dante’s Inferno. I created a painting, Igniting Despair, that I paired with Dante’s Inferno passage, “Through me the way into the suffering city…..”

This trajectory of diverse exhibitions that I participated in at the Museo shows that the Museo provides a selective and varied platform of exhibit experiences for its audience.


Vacuities, archival print on metal, to be exhibited at Perspectives

Now we jump another decade to 2017, and Mary Servanti Steiner, the art curator at the Museo. After some dialogue and a committee meeting I was once again selected to exhibit. This time it would be a 3-person exhibition for 2018. Besides myself there would be 2 artists from San Francisco, Gianluca Franzese and Giuseppe Palumba. Planning went on during 2017 and the exhibit crystallized to become Perspectives. Which opens January 18th with a reception from 5:30-7:30. The exhibit closes on April 29th.

Bifurcation, acrylic/wood, inspired by my residency in Iceland
Infernos 1-6, rubber/linen/Styrofoam, inspired by my residency in Iceland

 

 


Currently a very exciting new development in my relationship to the Museo has evolved, as they are adding 5 of my paintings from my Marietta Robusti Tintoretto Series (1994-6) to their permanent collection. Some of these will be shown in November 2018 in an exhibition of their permanent collection.

This is a perfect home for this work, as it tells the story of an incredible Italian woman artist of the 16th Century. As the daughter of a Venetian master, her work had been subsumed into her father’s and her brother’s oeuvre. However, my research and resulting exhibition has, in the words of Lucy Lippard, made her visible again. The exhibition toured for several years under the funding of the ED Foundation (the research is held in the archival library of Seton Hall University, NJ). It is so fitting that the remaining pieces of that body of work be at the Museo and I know that Robusti Tintoretto’s story and my work will have an audience there for years to come.

Bocca Di Leone, Tintoretto series
Court of the Cord, Tintoretto series
Golden Century Tour, Tintoretto series

So this is my little story and homage to the Museo Italo Americano. Perhaps you will see Perspectives in 2018 or the Robusti Tintoretto Story in the fall of 2018. I’d love for you to become acquainted with this wonderful institution that holds a very dear place in my personal and artistic life.

 

Marietta Patricia Leis

Looking Back and Forth

2018: A Preview of Coming Events:
Summer is zipping by lending itself to my reflections of what has happened this year and what we can look forward to in 2018. Please watch for my winter NEWS when I will be announcing more about the exciting exhibitions and events coming up. A sampling includes:

  • January- Visible Poetry Connecting the World- An international group art exhibit at the Hanam Culture and Art Center in Hanam-si, South Korea. I have been fortunate for several years to participate in many international art organization exhibits that foster global peace and sustainable environments.
  • January 18-April 29- Museo ItaloAmericano, San Francisco. A return to this wonderful venue and to my Italian roots in a 3-person exhibit. Many of my current works will be exhibited at the wonderful Fort Mason complex.
  • May 8-June 17- Dairy Arts Center, Boulder is a solo exhibition. The large lobby galleries offer an opportunity to show my larger scale installations in this wonderfully active community gallery.

 

New Art in the Works: Here is a sneak preview (right) of my new work in progress that pays homage to the world’s trees—those that have been, those that are still with us and those that are hopefully yet to be.


2017: Highlights of Events Past:

Winter Blues and Seasonal Hues, Lincoln Art Center, Fort Collins, CO. Curated, Jeanne Shoaff.

This was a holiday season extravaganza. Three wonderful artists sharing a beautifully-installed exhibit with a community ready to celebrate the joy of Christmas and into the New Year. A wonderful opportunity for the inaugural exhibit of my paintings, Ascensions inspired by Iceland’s Northern Lights.
 


Pausing: A Book of Reflections in Art and Poetry

What fun this was: the first reading of my book. I didn’t know how it would be received, but my 15-minute allocation spread to 2 hours with poems and discussion. Everyone was eager to talk about about pausing in today’s chaotic environment. It was also nice to have a couple of the original artworks from the book there for people to see in person.
Please visit Amazon.com if you would like to purchase a copy of Pausing.


Lost and Found in Iceland, Michael Warren Contemporary, Denver, CO.
The premiere of my Iceland paintings was perfect in this beautiful gallery where they showed dramatically. The curved birch wood formats painted and burnished with graphite looked just as I remembered Iceland’s landscape. With no trees to obstruct the views the volcanic island shone for miles all the way to the curvature of Earth.


Illuminexus, April Price Projects Gallery, Albuquerque, NM
April Price and I conjured up the idea to invite Santa Fe artists to participate in an exhibit with me in Albuquerque. It worked out beautifully with installations and paintings intertwined in one gallery space and another gallery room showed my Ascension paintings. The coupling was very successful and was attested to by a terrific review: click here to read it!



Landscapes of Life and Death: Photography, 516 Arts, Albuquerque, NM.
516 Arts is the premiere showcase in Albuquerque. Between a museum and gallery, it shows some of the most exciting art globally, so it is a great privilege to exhibit my art there. This exhibit, part of the NM photography month had Mary Anne Redding, a superb curator, selecting my series of 8 photos on glass, Heartspace. These were taken looking out of my cabin window at a storm raging in the Drake passage and a sound piece of that storm accompanies the photos.


Spectrum, bG Gallery, Santa Monica, CA.

Such fun to revisit my old stomping grounds. Having lived in Los Angeles for 20 years, I can appreciate how vast the art scene has become. This invitational group exhibit was in the infamous Bergmont Station group of galleries. The art was hung salon-style in groupings of hues, creating a dynamic spectrum of color. Oh, and being there for July 4th enabled me to see a local parade and look over the Santa Monica pier at fireworks.
    



Our Fukushima, Home of Culture, Kavadarci, Republic of Macedonia

Always pleased to exhibit to a new audience and this group show of international artists was certainly that. But more then that it brought attention to the continuing plight of Japan’s suffering Fukushima.


Now I am looking forward to my fall events, which I have posted in my MailChimp. You can sign up for my MailChimp announcements on my Contact page. If you have any questions regarding these upcoming happenings, please don’t hesitate to email me and I will be happy to send you more information. Hoping to see you at one or more of these upcoming events!

Lost and Found in Iceland

NOTE: My previous NEWS post about my Iceland adventure described my unforgettable time at the wonderful Gullistan Residency. The post below tells of the work that evolved afterwards inspired by Iceland in my home studio, which is going to debut at Michael Warren Contemporary, Denver from April 18 – May 27

Rehash: Why an Iceland Artist Residency in winter?

  1. I wanted to continue my exploration of darkness and its associated fear: “Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”— Sarah Williams, from “The Old Astronomer to His Pupil” in Best Loved Poems of the American People
  2. Someone in Finland’s Arctic Circle told me that 24-hour winter darkness made the world appear upside down. Dark in the sky, light on the ground.
  3. Same someone told me that there was time in that darkness when just enough light glimmered to turn sky and ground a seamless monochromatic navy blue.
  4. To give myself the opportunity to experience that which is greater than…as in AWE.
  5. A longing to dip into Isolation—void—quiet.
  6. To experience what can be seen in the dark.
  7. A black and white world!
  8. Wanting to ‘see’ the climate change impact in the far North.

The Reality and the Ensuing Art

Having been to the Alaskan and Scandinavian Arctic Circle and the Antarctic the next logical place for me to experience ‘The Great Alone’ was the far North Island of Iceland. The previous 3 travels were done in their summer light so I felt the winter extremes calling me. It wasn’t the cold, which I would have gladly forfeited, but the 24 hour darkness that both appalled and appealed to me. The idea of darkness in a little populated place far away at the end of the Earth called to me.
Darkness is a place of my long-held childhood fears and also a magnet for my wanting to know what mysteries and beauty it holds. I was fortunate because Iceland being a volcanic Island held blackness in its land mass and its winter skies and seas.

I woke in darkness, went to my studio in darkness and returned home in darkness. It was seamless, monochromatic and after a while knowing and soothing. The clear nights with overhead stars and eventually Northern Lights gave me a deep appreciation of cosmic beauty that is unseen in lit skies of city life.

Seeing and hearing people and especially children in the small village where I resided go about their ordinary days in the dark gave me a perspective of the cycle’s normalcy. It is always important to note that I experienced my immersion in Iceland as an outsider not from the perspective of the people who live that landscape from generational knowledge and deep, fond attachment. The Edenesk shadowed by the menacing perspective that I have is that of someone finding themselves in unknown territory without the intuited preparation.

After a few days of vast landscape views it occurred to me that being able to experience that vastness was because there were no trees obstructing the land’s lines. This never failed to astound me in a profound way. I could actually sometimes see the curvature of the Earth that made me feel astronaut-like.

The phenomena of volcanic bumps and fissures and the North American and European plates slippage causing the Island to separate and subsequently fill-in gave my graphite acrylic and wood paintings their vocabulary reflected in their structure and titles.

There are many layers of primer and paint on these pieces and they are sanded and burnished many times with a slow zen-like sensibility. This makes me feel like I am participating in the process of creating and refining a millennium of nature and weather. When completed they are as smooth as nature’s river rocks resonating the depth of maturity, timelessness and ancientness of the land.

The seeming redundancy of the repeated dark forms of my pieces is how the endless Iceland landscape revealed itself to me. It goes on and on and on opening to more variations of patterns but consistent, restrained and heart-wrenchingly beautiful absolutely owning AWE.

Of course in Iceland there was always ice under foot and tires—the dichotomy of glistening beauty and lurking danger. Blizzards of whiteout graced us with sky and earth becoming one. The various shades and nuances of the white defied the myth of white not being a color.

Slowly but surely the whiteness would yield sparingly to the underlying black volcanic rock armature as white and black married into a compatible marble cake co-existence. Thus my dark landscape paintings called out for their counterpart and my white acrylic paintings complied while letting the black show through enough out of deference. These were done with a squeegee in an improvised calligraphy.

I am hoping to seduce viewers with beautiful art reflecting my impressions of the land I experienced and the perhaps they will contemplate the planet’s wonders and want to preserve that. Further to think of the fragile future of our nether regions melting causing our oceans to swell and overtake our shores. Earth’s heartrending beauty could be changed and forever subsumed.

My intention in this work besides reflecting Iceland is to help us all understand our own role in halting the otherwise inevitable and preserving the exceptionalism of our planet for generations to come.(browse the artworks that were inspired by Iceland here.To purchase the catalog, click here)

Upside Down

My mornings are my afternoons and evenings now

As I live in the silence of my hermit white winter —mpl