Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Re-working Community: Updating Expressive Artwork

Expressive mandala painting: "Community"
I drew my first mandala in January of 2007. Started painting them in acrylic in late 2010. Until I moved into my studio at The Banana Factory in November of 2011, I'd been painting in a 5x5' space in my kitchen.

I moved into my first studio on November 25th, Black Friday, 2011, (Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the US.) and had just one week to prepare for December's First Friday open house event.

Feeling uncertain about the smaller works I'd already created and moved in with, I wanted to quickly create something new that I could hang outside of my new studio and so began working on this 30x30" canvas,  a painting I called, "Community."
Expressive mandala painting: "Community"
In my typical expressive and spontaneous fashion, I began working on this piece.

It's name, "Community" was chosen to reflect my new surroundings, as The Banana Factory Art Center is home to 26 private resident artist studios. This would be my first time being around so many creative individuals on a regular basis and I wanted to create something to honor that.
Expressive mandala painting: "Community"
So what started out here,
Expressive mandala painting: "Community"
Ended up like this.

Much of it was created using a plastic palette knife, one of my favorite instruments of paint distribution.

I was relatively happy with it for a long time.
Expressive mandala painting: "Community"
Until one day I wasn't.

My philosophy on mandala making and pretty much for my all my artistic expressions, was for things to be created in the moment. Once they were done, they were done.

I didn't care for the blue fringe like area around the center, (seen on the previous image) so I changed it. This may have been one of the first times that I decided to re-work or "fix" something.
Expressive mandala painting: "Community"
This was the end result of the first time I re-worked this piece, somewhere between 2011 & 2014.

Then while looking at it one day in 2014, I decided that the dotted circle around the center felt too tight. So I re-worked it again.
Expressive mandala painting: "Community"
The great thing about working in acrylic, is that it's easy to paint over.
Expressive mandala painting: "Community"
Obscuring the ring of white dots.
Expressive mandala painting: "Community"
This time around, I reworked additional areas of the painting - making some areas bolder and more opaque.
Expressive mandala painting: "Community"
This is how the piece looks today.

The white dots reminded me of Native American beadwork and in following with the primitive theme of the piece, I decided to make it look as though as it had lost some of those beads over time.

I always learn so much through the process of art making.

Recently, I've been contemplating the nature of spontaneous creation that seems to surround most all of my work. While I plan very little, some things will definitely inspire further examination.

For me, working spontaneously often leads to work that is raw and vulnerable and I don't always know if it's a good idea to put that work out for sale. An important part of art making is the editing process but how does one develop the editor?

In my mind, I have 20+ years in retail and studio rent that needs to get paid, so my tendency is to put a large quantity of my work out for sale. (Much more is available out of my studio than in my Etsy shop.)

I'm not sure whether or not this is helping or hindering me as an artist, or as a small business owner. Sometimes I think that I should stop trying to sell anything, and to see how that affects the work. Whether or not the perceived need for sustainability through my creations is affecting my personal growth. That the work needs to be about the work and about nothing else.

Deep thoughts for sure.

For now, this piece is available for purchase. Please contact me for further details.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

River Jazz Exhibition at SteelStacks in South Bethlehem

2015 RiverJazz Exhibition - ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks

I really don’t think too much about exhibiting my artwork outside my studio, but this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. At the time, (2015) I was hard at work on my family tree and had just discovered the circumstances surrounding my great-grandfathers death at the Bethlehem Steel. (He'd fallen into a pit at Open Hearth No. 1 in 1930.)

2015 RiverJazz Exhibition - ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks

This was my way of paying tribute to all of the steelworkers- especially those who’d lost their lives on the job.

Glenn Miller Orchestra

The exhibition was connected to River Jazz- for the artists who had done live art making during those events. That year, I was the only artist who'd participated (during the Glenn Miller Orchestra!) and was offered this exhibition as a solo show. This made uncomfortable because I didn’t think I had enough work, nor ideas for an effective way to display it.

Art making during the Glenn Miller Orchestra

(Expressive art making with watercolor paints during the live performance of the Glenn Miller Orchestra in the Muskiest Cafe in the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks) 

Artist Jeffrey Ludwig-Dicus in his studio at The Banana Factory

Jeffrey Ludwig-Dicus has the studio next to mine at The Banana Factory, and is both a good friend and a great mentor. He’s encouraged and motivated me to no end, always offering new ways of looking at things and helping me continue to move forward with my art when a million times I was ready to pack it in.


2015 RiverJazz Exhibition - ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks

The large black and white works in this exhibit were his, and created many years ago. As soon as I was offered the exhibition, I thought of how much I loved that series, and how they might play well with my colorful geometric works. I also considered that Jeff, with all his curatorial experience working in the Lehigh University art galleries, would be able to think of an interesting way to display the work. (Jeff did create the layout for this exhibition) 

2015 RiverJazz Exhibition - ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks

It made me so happy for our work to hang together.

2015 RiverJazz Exhibition - ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks

The icing on the cake? Walking the Hoover Mason Trestle after dark and being able to see my work illuminated in the 2nd floor loft of the ArtsQuest center.

2015 RiverJazz Exhibition  - view from the Hoover Mason Trestle

2015 RiverJazz Exhibition  - view from the Hoover Mason Trestle

2015 RiverJazz Exhibition  - view from the Hoover Mason Trestle

(Watch this brief video till the end to get the full impact of where these works were displayed.)

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