Excited to share my Artist Studio feature in the Spring 2016 issue of Trend Magazine! Click on the image below to read the full article:
NOTE: It is a bit presumptious to write about Iceland when announcing an exhibit inspired by the Antarctic but my Iceland Artist Residency happened most recently and I do want to share my impressions. You can also read about my excursion to Antarctica that inspired my work in the “Melting” exhibition here.
Iceland is a magical place. It is totally understandable to me that early settlers believed in elves in this otherworldly gorgeous place. Its beauty has an ethereal quality. ‘Thin Places’ are thought to be where earth and heaven meet—then surely Iceland is such a ‘thin place’.
I chose to be in Iceland in the winter because I wanted to further explore darkness. My fear of the dark as a child gave me a family nickname of ‘Fraidy Cat’. My adulthood didn’t help me grow out of that fear until just a few years ago when I set about making black paintings. As so often happens in my art practice my issues are addressed even before I understand that intention.
But as I painted black I came to love all the possibilities of the color, all the beauty of nights and darkness and to look squarely at my fears. I recently read that if we didn’t have so much artificial light sources we would see into the darkness and recognize sources of nature that are now unseen, forgotten and unknown. I believe this as my life has become richer for the beautiful revelations of darkness.
“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
So that was my original intention of living in 21 hours of darkness each day in Iceland. A Finn living in the Arctic Circle told me one time that winters turn the world upside down—the darkness is above and the light is below. As a believer in having new experiences, turning my world upside down seemed to be a great choice. Also having been told that the low horizon light shrouded environments in a blue monotone, how could I not apply to an Artist Residency for Dec-Jan. Gullkistan,in Laugarvatn, Iceland turned out to be a perfect place. It is only 1 hour from Reykjavik but remote with a population of only 250. It is also on Iceland’s Golden Circle of remarkable nature.
One of the aspects of traveling that keeps me on my toes is always the unexpected no matter the time and effort made in planning. So it was that there was a blizzard the week before we arrived in Iceland and driving to Laugarvatn introduced us to interesting road conditions as we thanked our rental car for the spiked tires that hugged the icy roads.It was also a blessing that David instinctively remembered all his icy weather years of driving in Wisconsin. After a week in Laugarvatn we had what I would call a blizzard. It snowed for 3 days and banks grew to 36”. The plows were out day and night and crews worked relentlessly to clear the roads. This was well choreographed as they had done it many, many times.
Then there was the cold infection I came down with the second day at Gullkistan that sent me to a health clinic with swollen glands and subsequently into Selfoss, the largest Southern town, for penicillin. Even with coughing and low energy I set up my studio at the residency with a wonderful view of the Laugarvatn Lake and the surrounding mountains where the weather and color palettes were constantly changing. Frankly the views distracted me often from painting but I did photograph the views that would inspire my work back in my home studio.
Surprisingly there was more light then I anticipated starting around 11AM and retiring around 3:30. This changed to expand by 5 minutes each day after the Winter Solstice December 21st. So the first work I did was 40 small panels with several coats of black, gray and finally graphite that was sanded and buffed several times and for me held the allure of the volcanic stone and the vast lava fields resulting from the volcanic Island and its now 30 active volcanoes. This work, Winter Lyrics, will be buffed further to a luster and installed on wall ledges.
Routines soon became apparent after a couple of weeks of acclimating to not ‘sensing’ the time with dark skies. So like the natives we woke in the dark and I set off to the studio with cleats on my shoes to navigate the prevailing ice. In the studio I worked until it had been dark a couple of hours (around 4-5pm) and then back to our apartment for dinner, mail, Icelandic and Scottish BBC TV and bed again under warm comforters.
I soon acquired heavy wool fisherman knitted mittens which kept my hands warmer than gloves and a knitted cap. In Iceland I learned to dress warmly and was rarely uncomfortable unless it was 1AM watching Northern Lights or the wind was gusting. At home in winter in New Mexico with our sunny days I run out with few outer clothes and then complain about being cold. You never forget the cold in Iceland which many days was no colder than in Albuquerque.
So the sights—but to clarify everything was a sight to these unschooled eyes but we did venture further on a windy day to Gullfoss Falls which is a Niagara Falls comparison. A huge, loud, beautiful and in January icy wonder. To arrive there we had to pass through Geysir Hot Springs which has blowholes that became active about 1000 years ago. All over Iceland you see steam bubbling upwards but in Geysir they are more concentrated.
The drive was marvelous as we passed many small Icelandic multi-colored horse herds. Beautiful animals weathering the storm as their sheep buddies were kenneled in barns. The brave horses were captivating as they sometimes would be huddled together against the wind forming a predominately brown hill.
Then a 20 minute ride in the other direction from Laugarvatn was Pingvellir National Park located on the Mid-Atlantic ridge. It was the original parliament meeting place of the early chieftains. I walked through Almannagia’s deep cliff gully where the North American and the European plates drift apart at 1” a year. It is an odd but impressive feeling to walk where Iceland is literally splitting apart.
Toward the last week of our stay we were alerted that there would be Northern Lights and we did see them softly over the mountains but the third night we drove further away from town into the darkness and had an unbelievable light show. That the Universe could give us such a visual feast brought tears to our eyes in gratitude. It is choreographed to an unheard musical piece as the light dances to changing rhythms, intensities and patterns. It is NOT a cliché—it is a phenomenon of great beauty.
And so went our days and weeks of work and soaking up our experience. At the end of our 4+week tenure we decided to drive along the East coast’s fishing villages toward the airport. Knowing that the Blue Lagoon was closed for renovations gave us a sigh of relief as we didn’t have to go to what is clearly a crowded tourist haven. However we did stay within sight of it and saw some futuristic hydro-energy plants that were huge and spewing thick fog and clouds. These provide the electricity and heat for Iceland.
On our last day before boarding our plane for the US we drove around the Reykjanes Peninsula which gave us a clear picture of isolated fishing villages situated on the rough North Seas with turf houses and churches. Seeing these remote places reinforced for us the resilience and can-do spirit of Icelanders with their fierce Viking origins.
We left the next day vowing to return soon when we could be tourists and when the roads would be more navigable. The West Coast and the North are calling to us and we are anxious to respond knowing as we do now the ongoing wonders of Iceland.
I’m writing this as I’m preparing for my fall exhibitions and thinking about my Artist Residency in Iceland December-January. Do we always just have the perception that the summer passes quickly or does it in reality? I’m like a kid that thinks I’ll have lazy down time in the summer months and then when the good part should begin—boom, zoom the summer is over.
The hot weather for me started in May on a trip to Havana, Cuba for their 12th Art Biennial. The trip was a packed 8 days of art, artists and revelations! Colorful, chaotic, musical, multi-layered, with a background of romantic buildings in decay and new friends! The biggest thrill was to find out that culture is an economic engine of Cuba.
In June I worked on my Antarctic pieces inspired by my expedition last year. I’m excited that Mary Anne Redding will be curating this 4 month exhibit of “Antarctic Inspirations” with David Vogel and myself at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in Boone, NC spring 2016. I’ll keep you posted.
Art Aspen at the Aspen Ice Garden was jumping in August and my Denver gallery—Michael Warren Contemporary showed work from my blue paintings.
September 11th begins my 6-week exhibition at Michael Warren Contemporary, Denver. I’m thrilled to be working with Mike McClung and Warren Campbell, both of whom are knowledgeable and appreciative of my art—an artist’s ultimate affirmation. I really look forward to this exhibit that was curated with their exceptional eyes. Hope you get to the Mile High to see this! I’ll be there at the opening September 11.
In August I gratefully participated in a group exhibit of over 100 international artists at the Haegeumgang Theme Museum in South Korea. This extraordinary exhibition resonates the poetry of Taro Aizu bringing attention to Japan’s nuclear accident at Fukushima after the earthquake. The tragedy there is far from over—we can’t forget.
In November I will have a solo exhibit at the esteemed Delaplaine Visual Art Center in Frederick, MD overlooking the historic Carroll Creek Park. “Water + Water” will display work on paper inspired by water! The opening is November 7 closing December 20.
Besides the busy buzz of preparing and shipping work to these various exhibits I have just begun also to plan and schedule a commissioned triptych of BLUES—excited about that! And the editing and planning for a book of my poems written during an Artist Residency at the Morris Graves Foundation is in the works to be available on Amazon.
In 2016 I’m planning (we know how that goes) to do tidying of house, studio and life as outlined by Marie Kondo in her immensely popular book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”. This will hopefully include a studio sale of some of my inventory!
Can’t wait to be in the quiet winter time of Iceland… mpl
Last year John Aasp, the curator at the Rockport Center for the Arts in the Texas Gulf, contacted me about an exhibit idea he had. The Center hosts a Home Tour every spring and he wanted to integrate my art with the woodwork of George Bagnall and Michael Geer. As most of my paintings use fabricated birch frames John thought the art and woodwork would both stand-alone and yet show cohesively. John‘s vision and enthusiasm for the project excited me and I agreed to put the exhibit’s time slot on my calendar for 2015.
We kept in touch as the year unfolded with contracts and ideas. At some point in our conversations John expressed a concept for my work that would express the environment of Rockport’s sea and sky. As my work reflects a sense of ‘place’ this seemed a perfect theme as sea and sky are definitely inspirations for my work.
We soon chose an inventory of my work to be shipped and decided to use Sea and Sky for the title of my exhibit. I was very curious how John would install my art with the woodwork but had a great deal of faith in his vision as John is an accomplished artist (www.johnaasp.com) and had been curating exhibits at the Center for 8 years.
As you well know time passes quickly, especially quickly it seems for timelines of crating and shipping work. I made plane and hotel reservations to be in Rockport for the exhibit’s April 11th opening reception and gallery talk and also the Home Tour. I arrived at the gallery the day before the opening and was so thrilled to see John’s vision unfold before me so exquisitely.
There were wonderful breathing spaces between the art works. The wood furniture echoed my art with simplicity and elegance. In the entry space the furniture repeated its forms just as my work repeats color and shape—the repetitions resounding the intention. The intertwining of art and wood created a cadence of earthbound/sky-bound.
Our hotel room faced the Gulf bay with its broad vista. The weather was refreshing for dry-landers like me as clouds, rain and storms prevailed. It created a perfect backdrop for some of my paintings that are inspired by the sometimes chaotic weather systems of sea and sky.
That evening we began to discover palate bliss with our choice of diverse restaurants. We luckily had guests and eating pals that traveled from Houston for the exhibit and we began eating through Rockport starting with yummy Italian cuisine and proceeded to exceptional seafood. The most entertaining meal was a fish boil that literally dumped our orders on our table with a mallet as our only eating tool.
The opening reception was enthusiastic. The Rockport Center for the Arts knows how to throw a party. Their active arts community came out in droves and they were an attentive audience for the artist panel of Michael, George, our moderator John Aasp, and myself. It’s always a pleasure for me to talk about the intentions of my work. Reductive work like mine requires some backstory and deep looking for understanding.
I enjoyed having the woodworkers talk about their approaches to their work and John asked probing questions. Afterwards refreshments magically appeared to add to the festivities and I had opportunities to speak one-on-one to the people in the audience.
We then had a day to rest and another to venture out into the nature of the gulf. That was exhilarating. In just a few hours we saw migrating birds, crocodiles, wild turkeys, a cardinal, a pelican, deer and most exciting 2 bobcats! Wow. Nature and art are a great combination to complete a wonderful weekend.
Art centers can be an exquisite way to provide art experiences in a community with exhibitions, classes, and in the case of Rockport Center for the Arts, a film festival, a home tour and an energetic, talented staff and volunteers providing exceptional experiences for audience and artists alike. I am grateful to have worked with this marvelous organization and look forward to working with Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center, MD in November.
PS: John Aasp left Rockport after the opening of Sea and Sky to become the Gallery Director for the College of Imaging Arts & Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology, NY. I look forward to following his new ventures.
This is the time of year when things blossom and so will my art be springing up in several venues.
The Rockport Center for the Arts, TX is in a lovely small coastal town on the Gulf of Mexico with a wonderful art community. My solo exhibit, Sea and Sky, will be opening the weekend of Rockport’s very popular Home Tour and showing until May 9th. There will be an Artist Gallery Talk (that’s me) and Reception Saturday, April 11 starting at 4:30 until 7.
Showing will be my work that reflects the varied colors of the Gulf environment—sea and sky. My oil paintings and work on paper will both be featured. As a bonus local woodworkers will display some of their original furnishings during this exhibition.
The website announcement for Rockport Center for the Arts reads:
New Mexico artist Marietta Leis brings her deeply rich abstract color fields to Rockport. Her work explores one of the most fundamental aspects of visual art: color. Her abstract color field paintings range from subtly smooth to deeply rich. Leis pursues the infinite variety of color in her work, showing a sharp design sensibility and enlivening the visual senses.
On Friday evening April 10th the Center will have a reception to celebrate the beginning of the weekend Home Tour so it’ll be a weekend of visual sensations. I hope you can join in.
Back in Albuquerque there are two openings I’d like to share with you. As a continuation of Albuquerque’s celebration of art and design, On the Map, April Price Projects Gallery in the downtown Hyatt Hotel will be opening a group exhibition, Views from the Beach.
My ink drawings on Japanese lace paper (above), Thin Places 5 and 9 will be shown. All the work in this exhibit will be artist experiences of the river, ponds and trails of the Albuquerque area known as Tingley Beach. The exhibit will run April 6-August 30 with an opening reception Friday, April 3rd 5-8pm.
Additionally the New Mexico Humanities Council in Albuquerque will be presenting, now See Hear, May 1-31 a group exhibition of 8 visual artists paired with 8 poets. The notable poets will have written a poem that reflects their impression of the painting they have been paired with.
I am pleased to be showing my painting (right), Grey Dusk, paired with the poem of John Asbough. What Fun! The exhibit, co-curated by Vasili Katakis and Bruce Noll, will have an opening reception at 2115 Silver SE at 5 PM Friday May 1, with poetry readings at 6.
I hope to see you at one of these events as I look forward to sharing my art with you and I hope this spring will be a time of renewal and joy for all of us!
“Long time a-coming” is the subtitle to this story. I have had the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver on my bucket list for too long a time. There was also my curiosity about the burgeoning art gallery scene in Denver—rumor had it that ‘First Friday‘ art crawls draw upwards to 10,000 people on Santa Fe Dr. A New York Times article about Denver galleries hosting “events” to increase their exposure and even about one having innovative and popular ‘pot parties with art’ got my attention as well.
The clincher was that my new Subaru car (Subby II) needed a road trip and I needed to practice using its GPS and other electronics—yes folks I have computer robot-like thing in my car and a steep learning curve. So after making a few appointments with targeted galleries David and I set off from our Albuquerque homebase with some of my art and a giddy mood listening to “On the Road Again” trying to learn how to ‘set’ radio stations. Many hours later we arrive at our downtown Denver hotel just a block from the 16th Street Mall.
The next days found us moving around Denver experiencing it’s energy and easy mobility—it is truly a visionary approach in re-invigorating an urban city. Santa Fe Rd did get a lot of our attention as we visited the galleries whose spaces could rival Chelsea, NYC. Friendly enthusiastic directors actively engage with prospectus clients expressing palatable excitement.
Michael Warren Contemporary occupies the same space where the legendary Sandy Carson opened one of the first galleries on that street some years ago when I was on her roster. It has been reinvigorated by Mike McClung and Warren Campbell and that’s the gallery I ultimately decided to align myself after spending 3 hours with Mike (an artist himself) who effusively loves art and more importantly my art! I’m excited to be represented by this wonderful gallery in this market of art lovers! Make sure you check out my work at Michael Warren and an upcoming exhibit in the fall.
A couple of distinctive Santa Fe Rd galleries among others to explore are Space with it’s slick contemporary architecture and Point helmed by 2 wonderful artists. Definitely a happening scene with some great restaurants and boutiques thrown into the mix.
Of course the Clyfford Still Museum was a destination point for us and it didn’t disappoint. What a wonderful educational and awesome facility it is. The exhibit we experienced described and displayed Still’s early work and how it evolved into the masterpieces we know. Seeing some wonderful examples of his mature work—the earlier work and the story of the development of the museum itself were fascinating.
An “abstract art” class that I taught was instructed by my using B&W xerox’ of Still’s work. The students painted the xerox’ guided by the structure of Still’s work. Doing thisexercise illuminated for them how abstract art is not about plopping paint down randomly but a deliberate and educated craft with a structural basis. Besides using his masterful art to teach I also try to emulate his integrity of developing his art regardless of commercial trends to guide my own studio practice.
Before leaving Denver we visited the Botanical Gardens which had Dale Chilhuly’s glass works displayed throughout the gardens making a fantastical illusion. Then we drove to Aspen to visit the new Aspen Museum designed by Shigeru Ban, which blew my mind. His intention of sustainability and common materials transformed elegantly speaks to my aesthetics. An exhibit of his designs for disaster victims and for refuge camps is extraordinary. Hooray to his genius and humanity. Also seeing Yves Klein’s blue paintings always inspire me.
We stayed at the Aspen Institute that was originally designed by Herbert Bayer, (1900-1985) a painter, sculptor, photographer, interior designer and architect who adhered to the ethos of the Bauhaus ideals. It’s rather extraordinary in its concept. The landscape especially delighted me and gave me some contemplative pauses.
The 2 additional stops we made on the return trip to New Mexico were Crestone to connect with artist friends who recently relocated from Brooklyn and then on to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Which was a soulful and extraordinary experience that you will detect from the photos.
Now I’m back in my home studio working. Meanwhile Mike McClung of Michael Warren Contemporary is ready to show my just unpacked art in the gallery. Mike weaves a wonderful experience for my collectors and prospective collectors with his deep knowledge and understanding of my art. He can also represent anything that is on my website and will be getting new work of mine in the gallery periodically. Look for our announcements of my exhibition in the fall. Can’t wait to revisit Denver then as being a part of that exhilarating art scene. Perhaps it’s time for you to plan a trip and join me there!
In April I wrote about Nature’s Blueprints’ pending exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. I told about the origins of the exhibit and the process of making the cyanotypes (or sunprints) of the Museum’s specimens. This month I want to share photos of the exhibit and the opening with you as I believe that the images will speak best of the elegant installation, the appreciative crowds and the realization of the intention of the exhibition.
I also want to give a shout-out to all that made this possible:
NM Museum of Natural History and Science, Charles Walter, Executive Director
Staff: Chris Elison, Patti Gegick an Ayesha Burdett
My Studio Assistants: Natasha Ribeiro, Joni Tobin, Heidi Pollard
Video Editor, Bruce Shortz, 10,000 Cranes
All the attendees—children, parents, art aficionados, science buffs and teachers etc…
Also David Vogel with his exceptional documentation of the cyanotype process and his elegant photos.
Also much appreciation for a couple of well done articles that I would like to share with you:
“Artist’s Cyanotypes Are Blueprints Of The Natural World,” by Kathaleen Roberts, Albuquerque Journal
“Nature’s Blueprints,” by Mike English, Local IQ
I hope you have a wonderful July. I will catch up to you in August and share my summer adventures with you then.
Besides the Artist Opening of Nature’s Blueprints at the NM Museum of Natural History and Science (May 4, 2-4), I am also pleased to have my beeswax sculptures included in the Morris Museum’s (Morristown, NJ)
Exhibit: The Honey and the Hive: The Sweet Story of Honeybees, which will be presented May 5-August 15, 2014. http://www.morrismuseum.org/future-exhibitions-2/. To say it is a ‘sweet exhibit’ is too obvious a pun but the intention of the exhibit is worth paying attention to as is the art represented.
Vapors, my wax sculptures were created for my GREEN touring exhibit and mimic in my loose interpretation Asian wrapped food—but my wax food is empty!
The Museum’s description of the exhibit is: Honeybees are responsible for at least 30% of the foods we eat every day! Busy bees are the great pollinators of the world and are essential to so many aspects of our lives and culture. Celebrate the sweet story of these incredible insects and learn how vital they are to our survival and how you can help to protect and conserve bees and their habitats. Learn about the life cycle of a bee and how different cultures revere this tiny architect. Artists that will be featured in the exhibit includes: Josie Rodriguez, Katja Loher, Marietta Patricial Leis, and Rose-Lynn Fisher, among others.
They have planned programs throughout the exhibit period that can be signed up for on their website above.
a cyanotype exhibit at the NM Museum of Natural History and Science, Albuquerque
April 26-August 31, 2004
Cyanotypes are a magical form of photography. As a child you may have made “sunprints” or “nature prints” by placing objects on photosensitive paper and exposing it to light to produce imagery of white with a cyan blue background. Think blueprint.
For several years I have been talking to the NM Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque about doing a cyanotype exhibition. This seemed a perfect fit as cyanotypes do require a chemistry that allows an impression to record and print. The theme of the exhibit originally was flowers so we cover the natural science aspect with that and of course, the sun. I had made a series of cyanotype flowers at an Artist Residency in the Azores, Portugal a couple of years earlier.
Photographer, teacher and colleague, Betty Hahn, was instrumental in the revival of this early non-silver technique and introduced me to cyanotypes. The year I was to visit Flores (flower in Portuguese), the island in the Azores I came upon a reference to an 1843 book, British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, by Anna Atkins, an English botanist. The book is reputed to be the first illustrated botany book http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Atkins.
Inspired, I decided to follow Atkins’ tradition and record my impressions of the wide variety of flowers on Flores making cyanotype photographs. In addition, I wanted to pay homage to my Grandmother Fiore (Italian for flower), who instilled in me her love of flowers. I planned that I would incorporate some of the photos I would take while in residency into a book.
The color blue had been prominent in my paintings since 2001 and was one of the reasons I applied for this Island residency. Cyanotypes were perfect when I was working in my Flores studio, a renovated stone barn with large windows facing the Atlantic. The blue sea and sky saturated every working and non-working minute that I spent on the Island. I was in blue heaven!
I made many photographs on fabric and paper. The process fascinates me because of all the spontaneous, unexpected elements it involves. A flower placed on paper outdoors can move in the wind as it is exposed to the sun and a ‘ghost’ appears. If the temperature of the rinse water that ‘sets’ the image is not consistent the blue can intensify or fade. If the fabric or paper wrinkles, texture is added. These surprises appeal to me as they prevent the imagery from becoming too controlled. The spontaneity is a gift of the medium.
The cyanotypes further evolve in the editing decisions I make, what to keep, what to discard, how to fine-tune the images with inks and watercolors— all critical steps in expressing my artistic vision. In preparation for my book production I needed to select the cyan photos, determine size and choices of paper for the archival printing. Finally, voilà, all the magic and wonder of Flores comes alive in “Moonlit Memories” and my impressions of that special place are secured forever. This group of work was initially shown at Koelsch Gallery in Houston.
My talks with the Museum of Natural History were started, stopped and stalled as there were administrative changes. However, one thing that began to be included in the conversation is a “what if” I were also to make cyanotypes of the Museum’s specimen collection. That was a titillating idea! Among my other work and exhibits I continued to use cyanotypes as a quick and easy way to record ‘impressions’ of the environments where I traveled, and also to have some fun!
One experience I found delightful was teaching a cyanotype workshop in a school in Northern Thailand close to where I was an Artist in Residence. It was a joy for me that the 120 children were so enthusiastic and thrilled with the “art” they made. Art is a terrific way to share and communicate when there are language barriers. Then last summer at the Ionian Center for Culture and the Arts I felt compelled to make cyanotypes using octopi, squid and shrimp for my models. The blue cyans just resonated with Kefalonia, the Greek island that is surrounded with luscious blue seas. It was very hot and the octopus was slimy and heavy but I was rewarded by its tentacles making the most wonderful sun-ray markings. So the Octo prints were exhibited in all the Octo’s beauty in the lovely marble Greek gallery of the Center.
When I returned from Greece in November the Museum of Natural History and Science called to tell me that they had a slot to do the cyanotype exhibit in the spring-summer 2014. Well, I had to consider what that would entail in regard to making the cyanotypes in the unreliable winter months and also how much new work would need to be created. Remember I needed the SUN to make sunprints—well, truthfully I could use artificial light but I wanted to be true to the ‘Natural History and Science’ mission of the Museum. Also I needed to consider that the exhibit would inhabit a large gallery and would need to be entertaining and instructive for children and adults while resonating my cohesive artistic aesthetics—wow a tall order!
What persuaded me to move along and do what was necessary to produce an exhibit was visiting the Museum’s incredible specimen room where bones, feathers, stuffed animals and much more hang out in drawers, and cabinets—an unimaginable resource that couldn’t help but light my enthusiasm. I wasn’t sure how my minimal abstract penchant would manage all the rather figurative forms of the collection but as an artist I always welcome challenges. And, truthfully as the work began challenges mounted. The cloudy, cold days made each cyanotype a hit or miss event. I tested a dozen chemically treated papers to see which ones would work best and that took the month of December with very little resolved results. Then January had to be the cloudiest January I have ever experienced or maybe it was my need for sunny days that makes my biased perception. But little happened during that month except my obligation for an exhibit at an out-of-state gallery where I had to travel twice that month besides the preparation for the exhibit.
February was more productive and my assistants and I had to turn my entire studio into a large darkroom with very large rinsing pans—it felt like a laboratory and we were the mad scientists working with cadavers. So on it went working long days of preparing images and carrying them out to the sun, rinsing them, drying them and pressing them. I started to loose track of my intention as I became more robotic in the process. In, out, rinse, dry. So what was the vision—well it was to make work that was beautiful and inspiring and also maybe help people to see things a different way. Also I wanted kids to think ‘wow maybe I can do that’ and run to the gift store for kits and then home to begin their art.
The exhibit committee and I and my husband David met many times to envision the exhibit but without knowing what images would be successful we had to keep loose parameters. I should mention that along the way I enlisted David, a photographer and a great organizer to come aboard to both document the work process and help with all the things that putting together from scratch an exhibit of this size in a short time entails. Thanks David. As time unfolded some of David’s photos and video would become part of the exhibit that became known around now as Nature’s Blueprints.
So in spite of the usual distractions of life and other professional obligations intruding on my studio practice we persisted and somehow slowly we began to inventory the over 100 cyanotype images of some different sizes and subject matter. Now installation ideas began to flow. Curator, Mary Anne Redding joined our Museum’s team of exhibit, specimen and biology committees to plan and execute the gallery’s installation. This went on simultaneously with completing all the necessary details; making inventory lists, photographing the completed work, preparing the delivery of work, framing, writing text plates, artist statement, publicity, press releases, confirming dates for openings and workshops et al…
The exhibit dates are set—the opening is settled and we hope to see you April 26-August 31 wandering through Nature’s Blueprints. We’re not disclosing any more here because we hope to meet you there at the Artist Opening May 4, 2-4 for the final results. I hope you enjoy it!
Click here to watch a video of the making of cyanotypes.
Going Green – March 15-May 15 – at Snapp Price Projects, Albuquerque
Opening Reception – a St. Pat’s Celebration – Saturday March 15, 5-8 pm
Color is central to my art. Color startles, it stimulates. Color reels us backwards into memories and it teases out emotions. Color has the power to move us influencing how we view the world. My GREEN series of work is intended to reveal the deep nature of green and its associations to place, to spirit and to the planet. When painting, taking photos and videos or sculpting using green I want to ‘feel’ the earth’s grounded-ness.
The Japanese have an expression, “bathing in the forest” when they walk in nature. They believe the walk will cleanse and refresh them. It was in that mood that I began the GREEN work in 2011. This work has been touring different venues since 2012 projecting and hopefully stimulating thoughts of our green planet’s abundant gifts.
Now I have been invited to exhibit the GREEN work at Snapp Price Projects, Albuquerque March 15, 2014 – May 15, 2014. Entitled, Going Green, the exhibit will have its opening reception the Saturday evening of St. Patrick’s weekend. So naturally other connotations regarding green besides the inherent eco-ness will stretch the out-reach of this exhibition. Last year I saw the infamous St. Patty’s Parade in Manhattan for the first time (and I’m a former New Yorker) so that experience is greatly influencing the visions I have been having of green beards, green puppets, green tartans, shamrocks, green beer and whimsical tall green hats. (photo right: by David E Vogel)
Maybe the exhibit will encourage viewers to have a sensory recall and even more associations about the color green. How about peas, mint juleps’, crème de menthe, green tea, the Northern Lights, malachite, jade, lizards, chlorophyll, algae, lichen, peacocks, fungus, tourmaline, verdigris and garden snakes. Explore, dream, imagine and play with color.
We can be all inclusive! It’ll be such fun and will invite viewers to become embedded in verdancy while thinking of shamrocks and also contemplating our bountiful natural world and eco-ness. We won’t slight eco-ness as recent studies report that people are “nature deprived”. The result and cost of this deprivation is the diminishing of our senses, a loss of our connection to where we live and a distancing from our stewardship of the Earth. Reconnection is therefore life saving for our planet and us. But fun and laughter are important also so we can luxuriate in GREEN while looking at my art and toasting St. Patrick!
GOING GREEN will be a fun celebration and will include some new green paintings not before shown with my touring GREEN series. There will be sculptures, a video and some photographs. I hope it will be a raucous party providing an opportunity to expand awareness as we savor our planet with gratitude and maybe also grieve/change the inequities of the distribution of nature’s resources. We can extend our hearts to breathe in our love for Mother Nature and our fellow man through the gracious umbrella of our natural green world also celebrating the aesthetics of color and yes, even St. Pat.
SNAPP PRICE PROJECTS GALLERY
201 Third Street NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102