Circle of Truth debuting at NUMU is based on the idea of Telephone, a game where children are seated in a circle and a statement is whispered along in a chain from ear to ear, until it comes out at the end as something unrecognizable. But what if this was done visually, with each artist asked to find the truth in the painting that came before them with a responding piece of their own. What elements, if any, might be carried through to the end?
And so the game began 9 years ago with Los Angeles based curators, Laura Hipke and Shane Gaffogg arranging for a sponsor for all the canvases, a specialized traveling crate and 49 participating artists: Kim Abeles, Lisa Adams, Lita Albuquerque, Charles Arnoldi, Lisa Bartleson, Billy Al Bengston, Justin Bower, Virginia Broersma, Randall Cabe, Rhea Carmi, Greg Colson, Jeff Colson, Stanley Dorfman, Cheryl Ekstrom, Jimi Gleason, Rives Granade, Ron Griffin, Alex Gross, Shane Guffogg, Lynn Hanson, Doro Hofmann, Tim Isham, Kim Kimbro, Bari Kumar, Cal Lane, Margaret Lazzari, Mark Licari, Dan Lutzick, Deborah Martin, Susan McDonnell, Christopher Monger, Jim Morphesis, Andy Moses, Juan Carlos Munoz Hernandez, Gary Panter, Daniel Peacock, Bruce Richards, Michael Andrew Rosenfeld, Ed Ruscha, Eddie Ruscha, Paul Ruscha, John Scane, Vonn Sumner, Matthew Thomas, Alison Van Pelt, Michelle Weinstein, Ruth Weisberg, Robert Williams and Todd Williamson.
The beauty in the show is moving from piece to piece and seeing how each artist chose to react to the previous work, which threads did they decide to pull through to explore in their own work, how did they reinterpret them into their own truth. It’s a fascinating visual conversation that flows through the entire exhibit. The show continues at NUMU until March 10 when it will go on to exhibit in other museums. P.S. check out the exhibition catalogue for illuminating artist essays! Also, click on any to the artist’s names here for links to their website>
Circle of Truth curators, Shane Guffogg and Laura Hipke, former members of Pharmaka (co-founded by Guffogg), a defunct painter’s group museum/gallery in downtown Los Angeles, with NUMU’s Executive Director Maureen Cappon-Javey.
Laura Hipke, Los Angeles based artist and curator.
Shane Guffogg, Los Angeles based artist, curator, lecturer and television host.
We were lucky to have a number of the artists drive up from LA for the opening and talk a little about their work and their experience being part of the cirlcle.
Shane Guffogg started off the process with an oil painting based on the golden ratio, a great launching point to explore artistic universal truths.
Vonn Sumner, known for his figurative work, responded to the formal elements of color and geometry for his piece.
Doro Hofmann drew on the idea of air mail and dynamic communication from the letter in the painting she was reacting to. Incorporating some lines of German philosophy and some great raking angles from the preceding work.
Paul Ruscha followed with some angled text of his own with “dead ducks falling”, perhaps inspired by flight in the previous work.
Dan Lutzick took on elements of color and form, the peace symbol from the visiting painting transforming into rust colored sprinkler covers from his studio, but rejecting a singular truth, wanted to refer to the idea of multiple realities existing at once through his screen grid and use of multiples.
Daniel Peacock picked up on Lutzick’s crowned woman and orange hues – snap!
Todd Williamson pulled a streamlined linear movement of monochromatic hues in reaction to the preceding morass of color and marks.
The crate that was specially designed to safely contain two canvases (one potentially still wet) and one blank.
Exhibitions & Collection Manager Cristiano Colantoni received a warm round of applause for such a beautiful job installing the show.
The final piece was by Ed Ruscha (seen here with curator Shane Guffogg) zeroing in on a distorted bit of text in the previous work.
I was excited to take in the new print show which opened to members last Thursday night at the New Museum Los Gatos! Presented by The California Society of Printmakers, Thinking Outside the Box was juried by Cathy Kimball, Executive Director and Chief Curator of The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, bringing together fascinating prints, which employed a wide variety of processes, mediums, materials and methods of presentation, engaging the viewer in a very different experience than with traditional printmaking. Makes me want to print on stuff!!! The show runs until September 30. Check the NUMU website for hours and all the printmaking demos they have lined up this summer! Also, click on artist’s names below for links to their wonderful websites if you’d like to see more of their work.
Outside the Frame – NUMU
NUMU’s curator Marianne McGrath introducing Susan Howe, who is in charge of Special Projects at The California Society of Printmakers which is presenting Thinking Outside the Frame and offering an excellent exhibition catalogue which is available at the museum. She will be conducting a Mokuhanga Woodcut demo June 30 at the museum.
Cathy Kimball, Executive Director and Chief Curator of The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art brought her considerable experience and eye to jury the show. She is speaking here about her selection process.
Kent Manske – Genetic Garden 5-17-18 – 2018 – Installation of screen based monoprints on aluminum.
Ellie Honl – Coping Strategies – 2013 – HD stop animation video made from prints.
Michelle Murillo with DNA MAP – For a Shifting Identity – 2015 – Fused glass screen print.
Detail – the artist is using bits from her own family history!
Karen Gallagher Iverson – Variable Horizons 1,2 – 2016 – Pochoir Print – drawn colored pastel on wax.
Close-up of Variable Horizons 1. The artist has echoed the contours of the landscape to the rhythm of a heart!
Beth Fein – Betrayed – 2011 – Monoprints formed into 3D shapes, paper, ink, shredded US currency
Ashley Rodriguez Reed and little one – The Forest of My Wild Heart – 2017 – Silk-screened, digitally printed, found, sewn and embroidered fabric.
Detail, a toucan amongst the intricate patterns of a piece inspired by tangles of exposed tree roots at Mount Tamalpais and the environments they create.
Ginger Crawford Tolonen – Hopscotch Allegories – 2003 – Accordian artist book, intaglio and drypoint etchings, handmade box.
Ewa Gavrielov – 5 Shades of Pink – 2017- Screen print.
Ewa Gavrielov – Alternating – 2016 – Mixed media, shredded and folded paper.
Carrie Ann Plank – Dermaombré Brown and Blue Variations, Small Versions – 2017 – Laser assisted woodcut with indigo dye on Okawara.
Carrie Ann Plank – Dermaombré – 2016 – Woodcut with indigo dye.
Robynn Smith – Liminal Terrain – 2015 – Linoleum relief print over digital output, 5 panels. This artist will be offering a Silk-Cut Linoleum Relief Printing Workshop July 14 & 15 at the museum.
Donna Westerman – Generation – 2015- Woodcut installation.
Katherine Venturelli – Lunar Calculations – 2013 – Artist book, intaglio, Rives BFK paper, book cloth binding.
Luz Marina Ruiz, Tierra de los Sueños – 2017 – Tunnel artist, linoleum cut, hand-colored with watercolor.
Me with Betty Friedman‘s Untitled (triptych) 196, 2010 – Intaglio, chine collé, printed on handmade paper.
NUMU’s Executive Director Lisa Coscino in conversation with Genetic Garden’s artist Kent Manske.
Portraits are so contentious! John Singer Sargent, arguably one of the very best portrait painters, is known to have said, “Every time I paint a portrait, I lose a friend.” No wonder there is still such controversy over the Obama portraits at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery! These groundbreaking figures, the very first African American family in the White House are beloved to so many and thanks to the wellspring of fantastic photographs over their eight years in highest office of the land, many of us feel that we know them quite intimately and have emotional responses to how they should or should not be portrayed.
Artists, writers, collectors and art supporters gathered at NUMU’s Coffee Tawk, yesterday to ponder what could have been a scene out of SNL, with Mike Meyers, “The Obama Portraits are neither the Obamas or portraits…tawk amongst yourselves….”
President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley – oil on canvas 2018
First Lady Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald, Oil on Linen, 2018
So, I’ll let you in on my personal opinion….. I am thrilled with these portraits! In keeping with their time in office these portraits are like a breath of fresh contemporary air in the stodgy world of official portraiture. Real art, imbued with fascinating symbolism and technique and radiating a distinctive voice! Even more importantly, the Obamas both chose brilliant African American artists who consciously challenge the ways that African Americans have traditionally been presented!
In Kehinde Wiley’s hyper-realistic painting of Barack Obama, he has set the president against an encroaching backdrop of greenery flowering with blooms that symbolize his roots, the African blue lilies from his father’s birthplace of Kenya, the jasmine from his Hawaiian birthplace, the chrysanthemums from his town of Chicago where he had met his wife and worked as a community organizer, civil rights attorney and later represented the 13 district in the Illinois senate. This is typical in Wiley’s work, strong, contemporary African American subjects dynamically set against dramatic flora or pattern laden with symbolism, often in poses taken straight out of the pages of art history!
Amy Sherald’s heavily stylized portrait of Michelle Obama exemplifies her work. Her subjects are presented in a greyscale wearing colorful, often patterned clothing and set against a simple, colored backdrop, which carefully isolates the direct gaze of the subject. Traditionally, classic oil paintings begin with a grisaille underpainting, in shades of grey to better control values in achieving a three dimensional effect before adding transparent washes of color. At one point Sherald decided she preferred the contrast of the grey skin against the colored backdrop and outfits. Perhaps it was simply an aesthetic choice, perhaps it came out of the agency that early photography brought to African Americans in how they chose to portray themselves that resonated with her. The dress that Michelle Obama is wearing, by American designer, Michelle Smith of Milly, is in keeping with the subject’s support of American designers, the within-reach, if somewhat aspirational couture she chose as First Lady but more importantly, this dress contains references to the Gee’s Bend quilts, designs passed down from generations of African American women, some of which encoded Underground Railway information – all while still feeling fresh and modern and as elevated as a Mondrian!
Wiley and Sherald both employ unique approaches to African American portraiture that help us see African Americans in a new way. I cannot underscore enough how important it is that this vision have such a prominent place on the national stage. I would expect nothing less from the Obamas to personally chose these artists to represent them in this vital way.
Having said my piece, I will share some of the questions and concerns that were brought up at Coffee Tawk….
What is the artist selection process for official presidential portraits? What is the criteria? Can the artist’s race, gender, religion be a bonafide criteria? Who makes the selection? Who pays? Should a portrait be a photographic likeness or an artistic interpretation? How will these portraits be seen in the course of history?
Interesting! Also very interesting is how disappointed some people felt that the portraits didn’t look enough like the Obamas, that some aspect of their personality was missing, like their warmth. One person felt Barack looked slouchy and undignified, another thought he looked as though he was leaning forward to listen. One person missed Michelle’s smile, another thought she looked queen-like in the her golden triangle orientation.
People also spoke about their experiences in commissioning portraits, disappointments in not getting a faithful likeness and adventures in abstract representations! Speaking from the artist’s side of the commissioning process, I typically turn down requests of portraiture, especially memorial portraits, counseling the hopeful, potential client that paintings are great if you are looking at an artistic rendition that might (if we’re lucky) capture some sliver of the spirit of that person, but paintings are not a substitute for photography or memory and that people are great at recognizing faces….and experts in the faces they love, so any little thing that is off can be quite creepy and disappointing (“A portrait is something wrong with the mouth.” – Sargent, again!), the whole venture is quite a gamble and SO much work! All that’s riding on getting a portrait “right” can turn the painting into something very stiff and awkward. Now I will only a portrait for it’s own sake, not as a commission. This frees me up to paint how I like (without the feeling of someone looking over my shoulder.) It is very rewarding if subject or their family is interested in the painting after it’s done but I can’t be worried about that while I work. Painters are not magicians or mind readers and their work can’t be all things to all people.
I guess my advice to those who are interested in commissioning a portrait is to do your research! Pick an artist whose style you love, who has a solid record of painting portraits in particular. You will be getting their interpretation of you or your loved one, not a facsimile!
Finally, in addition to the links above, I’m including some links to interesting articles and interviews about the artists and the Obama portraits. Please feel free to chime in with thoughts about the portraits!
Oh…. the next Coffee Talk at NUMU with Director, Lisa Coscino is set for April 26, 2-3pm the topic (as I understand it) will be about censorship – questions about how and if we re-evaluate the work of artists who have been found to have been discredited in other aspects of their life, questions about the propriety/ necessity of removing controversial statues from public spaces …. it’s broad and wide raging and controversial. Bring your opinions and coffee – NUMU provides the venue and the sweets!
The Jealous Curator’s Art For Your Ear podcast interview with Amy Sherald.
NPR’s All Things Considered 2015 interview with Kehinde Wiley.
Join me for an Artist Walk and Talk with NUMU’s Waterlines artists, Christel Dillbohner, Theodora Varnay Jones, Danae Mattes, Linda Simmel and curator Marianne McGrath along Los Gatos Creek Trail this Tuesday, January 9th (rain date – Thursday, January 11th). We will be meeting at 11:00 am at New Museum Los Gatos. Learn about the artists’ practices and connections with the natural environment, and the role that hiking plays in creativity and problem solving. After the hike, everyone is invited to return to NUMU for refreshments, an exhibition tour and continued conversation.
The hike (which I do regularly) is fairly moderate with some rises and falls – good footwear is essential and hiking sticks can be very helpful in areas with loose gravel.
Here’s a little preview of some of the great views along the trail which I had snapped on a recent hike with Marianne McGrath. Let’s hope for great weather!
Waterlines opened up last night at NUMU with a fabulous, packed preview party for members! I am so honored to be part of this extremely beautiful show curated by Marianne McGrath with such outstanding artists working in a multiplicity of media and bringing distinct perspectives and sensitive visions and voices speaking to our experience of water. Exhibiting artists include: Judith Belzer, Barbara Boissevain, Marie Cameron, Matthew Chase-Daniel, Christel Dillbohner, Linda Gass, Nancy Genn, Liz Hickok, Theodora Varnay Jones, Pantea Karimi, Cheryl E. Leonard, Danae Mattes, Marsha McDonald, Klea McKenna, Ryan M. Reynolds and Linda Simmel, I have added links to all of their websites which can be accessed by clicking on their names below.
Always a pertinent topic, and especially so in California, NUMU was able to enjoy the support of sponsors such as Badger Meter and San Jose Water Company and Kumiko Iwasawa, Iwasawa Oriental for Waterlines.
Executive Director Lisa Coscino and Curator Marianne McGrath, talking about the genesis of the show and introducing sound artist Cheryl E. Leonard who played transporting music with objects from the sea and layers of recorded sounds from waves and melting glaciers.
Here are some of her instruments, mussel shells, stones, dried kelp flute, stinger driftwood and shell rattles and sand.
I love how the various pieces in Waterlines seem to be in conversation with one another.
With my assemblage painting with found objects and Pacific Ocean water, Stilla Maris which is Latin for Drop of the Sea and is thought to be the precursor to Stella Maris.
With California Water Rites, my assemblage with Los Gatos tap water.
California Water Rites and Poem
Theodora Varnay Jones – Poem
Christel Dillbohner with Frozen in Time – oil, cold wax on linen and Motionless Torrents – oil on silver leaf.
With Danae Mattes and her Evaporation Pool.
Site Specific Evaporation Pool by Danae Mattes.
Exhibiting artists Danae Mattes and Liz Hickok with Holly Van Hart.
Liz Hickok‘s photographs (sublimation print on aluminum) Lithosphere and Signal to Noise.
Pantea Karimi speaking about her silkscreen, Mapping a Gulf: The Persian Gulf Map and Tour of The Persian Gulf Album with Lorraine Lawson.
Judith Belzer‘s paintings.
Linda Gass with her sumptuous painted silk textile pieces, Owens River Diversion and San Joaquin Merced Revival.
Marsha McDonald – Slough, one of many GIF videos of water.
Barbara A. Boissevain aerial photographs of Bay Area salt ponds.
Barbara A. Boisssevain – Salt Pond Restoration Photo Grid
Matthew Chase-Daniel – Swamp South of Crescent City – photo assemblage.
Nancy Genn‘s Patagonia series casein paintings on canvas.
Linda Simmel photopolymer intaglio etchings, 75kts and 60kts.
Linda Simmel – Book of Seas – gesso/pencil on gampi paper, steel binding.
Ryan Reynolds – Frogshead and Petaluma River – oil on panel.
Klea McKenna Rainstorms & Rain Studies
Waterlines runs from October 6 – March 18. November 4th several Waterline artists will be present to talk about their work (including me) in conjunction with NUMU’s Winter Celebration. I hope you get a chance to see the exhibit in person because my photographs are not capturing the beauty of the work!
I am so very honored to asked to participate in Waterlines, a gorgeous and relevant exhibition at NUMU curated by Marianne McGrath which includes some amazing work from 16 artists, bay area and beyond each coming to water with a different viewpoint and voice! The show runs from October 6 – March 18 with a member’s Preview Party tonight and an artist walk through November 4, as part of NUMU’s Winter Celebration.
The two pieces I have in the show, Stilla Maris (Drop of the Sea) and California Water Rites both focus on the notion that all water is holy and we need revaluate our cavalier relationship to it.
Stilla Maris – assemblage painting with found objects and Pacific Ocean water – 2016
California Water Rites – Assemblage with tap water – 2016
So nice to meet many of the exhibiting artists in Abstracts From Life: Bay Area Figurative Past and Present at the Members Reception held at NUMU last night in Los Gatos, California. It’s a beautiful exhibit curated by Marianne McGrath with exceptional work by Michael Azgour, Joan Brown, Suhas Bhujbal, Linda Christensen, Richard Diebenkorn, Dennis Hare, Mitchell Johnson, Brigitte McReynolds, Nathan Oliveira, Joan Savo, Jennifer Pochinski, William Rushton, Terry St. John and James Weeks. The show continues on until September 10, 2017. The following are a few photos from the evening and a small sampling of the work which glowed dramatically off of the dark walls (so hard to shoot)! All the more reason to come in and see it for yourself! For additional information on the artists, click on their names for links to websites and bios.
Suhas Bhujbal – Flower Market – oil on canvas
Jennifer Pochinski – The Wonderful Race, – Penelope, Livingroom
(detail from The Wonderful Race)
Linda Christensen – Tableau – oil on canvas
Linda Christensen -The Writer – oil on canvas
William Rushton – Street Play – oil on canvas
Michael Azgour – Canal Street – oil on canvas
Joan Savo – Untitled (figure) – oil on canvas
Richard Diebenkorn – Untitled – charcoal on paper
Richard Diebenkorn – Untitled – charcoal on paper
Nathan Oliveira – Untitled Figure. Crown Point Press Nude 14 – watercolor on paper
James Weeks – Promenade Under the Trees – oil on canvas
Et in Arcadia Ego
Even in Arcadia there I am
NUMU’s exquisite exhibition, Et in Arcadia Ego, guest curated by David Molesky, just opened last night! Growing out of the classical belief that utopia exists just beyond the bounds of civilization and liminal figures like shepherds are beings that are ideally seen to inhabit both worlds. This show features a stunning collection of work from stellar local and international artists. Running from June 2 – October 2, there well be an Opening Celebration for their summer Exhibitions, tomorrow, Saturday June 4 from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. New Museum Los Gatos is located at 106 E Main Street, Los Gatos, California.
Here’s a taste… all the artists names are linked to their websites where all of their photos will be better than mine!
David Ligare – Et in Arcadia Ego (View Moderne) – Oil on Panel
Aron Wisenfeld – Bloom – Oil on Canvas
Agostino Arrivabene – Il Sogno di Asceptio -Tempra and Oil on Antique Panel (detail)
NUMU’s Executive Director, Lisa Coscino introducing Guest Curator, artist and writer, David Moseky (He’s the tall one in the middle of the photograph below).
Astrid Preston – Mountain Path – Oil on Canvas
Stephanie Peek – Deeper 1 – Oil on Canvas
Holly Lane – After the Storm – Acrylic on Carved Wood
Seamus Conley – Po Boy – Oil on Canvas
David Ligare – Et in Arcadia Ego – Oil on Linen
Odd Nerdrum – In Arcadia (self portrait) – Oil on Canvas
Jason Yarmosky – Counting Sheep – Oil on Canvas
Julie Heffernan – Self Portrait as Acceleration – oil on canvas
Maria Kreyn – Even Here – Oil on Canvas
Robin F Williams – The Gardeners – Oil on Canvas
Brad Kunkle – Reclamation – Oil, Gold and Silver Leaf on Wood
Me trying to become part of Stephanie Peek’s painting – silk floral camo!
Some of the brains and beauty behind the exhibit: Andrea Schwartz / Andrea Schwartz Gallery, David Molesky / Guest Curator, Marianne McGrath / NUMU Curator, Lisa Conscino / NUMU Executive Director.
This weekend is the last chance to see More Than Your Selfie at New Museum Los Gatos. It’s been an outstanding exhibition of self-portraits by artists that go beyond the surface of the selfie in a an exploration of what portraiture can convey. We’re extremely fortunate to have works from these artists with us in Los Gatos! There were some fabulous artist talks held in conjunction with this show, a few of which I’ve covered in earlier posts.
Alex Kanevsky – Artist Looking for a Painting
Hung Liu – Official Portraits – Citizen – color lithograph with collage
Self Portrait (In Absentia) oil on linen
Judy Dater – Ms. Clingfree – ektacolor print
Ray Turner – Self-Portrait – oil on glass
Cristina Nuñez – Someone to Love – 2011 – video installation
Julie Heffernan – Self Portrait with Falling Sky – 2011 – oil on canvas
Linda Christiansen – Self Portrait – oil on canvas
Robert Mapplethorpe – Self Portrait – platinum print
He spoke on branding yourself as an artist, the differences between selfies and self portraiture and opened a window into his poetic performative prints, that evolve when exposed to light overtime, his re:active work, manipulated digital prints on construction paper and newsprint, as well as his digital pixelation and Ben Day dot portraits, manipulated with water.
Hua’s work strikes me as very spiritual with transient notions of self and often ephemeral use of materials. It reminds me of the monk who spends days making an intricate sand mandala only to brush it away once it’s completed. There is such a beauty and poignancy to his imagery, his handling and choice of materials and process! I find his work eye-opening and completely entrancing!
One of his pieces, If it Happened Before It Will Happen Again – pigmented ink and packing tpe on Wall Street Journal newpaper mounted on dibond is currently on exhibit at Salon at the Triton Museum of Art.
Today’s Conversation at NUMU will be with photographer Judy Dater from 2:30 −3:30 pm, 106 East Main Street in Los Gatos (free with admission – go for the membership!)
In conjunction with the ongoing More Than Your Selfie exhibit, Linda Christensen gave a great talk at NUMU last night in which she talked about her painting philosophy, process and studio tips!
In Self, Linda Christensen’s oil painting in the More that your Selfie exhibit at NUMU, as in most of her work, the artist is interested in the “honest body language of the unobserved figure”. Her paintings are not about capturing a likeness but rather a gesture, a pose and in inner life. Her paintings are large and loose and bold and laced the line and pattern.
The paintings go through radical transformations as she works, which she demonstrated to us in a series of photographs. She may lay in the loose outline of a figure in a scene then go back into it with stencils and palette knives and brushes, breaking up the figure and space in surprising ways which direct the painting until there is an emotional resonance that starts to happen.
I loved how she spoke about her studio experience, how every aspect of it should be conducive to her process, right down to the sensory experience of tracing paper. She likes an abundance of canvases, stacked up, lots of paint perpetually open, brushes hanging out in the turps, a six foot long glass palette and lots of room to move in. Her process is to paint, turn and cleanse her “visual palette” with a classic black and white movie that she has running, look out the window to stretch her eyes than walk right back to the canvas with fresh eyes, knowing what she needs to do next. She’s set herself up for success, limiting the reasons to leave the studio, to break her focus. She said something that was very interesting, “If it’s hard, I’m not going to do it”. So know and honor your process, make it as enjoyable as you can.
She spoke of how painting is so highly personal and that your Point of View is really something to be cherished. It’s important to hone in on what really interests you and to realize that what you’re drawn to and how you work is part of that Point of VIew.
Linda Christensen shared with us a thumbnail timeline she had prepared for a college talk in which she had laid out her work and influences over the years chronologically and recommend it as a great way to glean insights and perspective into the arc of one’s work.
Another tip she had was trying Color-aid cards, complete with mixing instructions on the back. She said it was sometimes fun to pull out a new palette to work with.
The audience was largely comprised of artists and we couldn’t get enough!
Included in this exhibit is her oil painting, Self Portrait with Falling Sky. As with many of Julie Heffernan’s paintings, she uses the self portrait as a vehicle to explore her relationship with outer and inner worlds in magical settings of fantastic gardens, wild jungles and gilded palaces – all bursting into flame or blossom or fruit, laced with a secret language of survival and hope held in a tenuous, transcendent balance.
NUMU curator Marianne McGrath with artist Julie Heffernan. It was all about the redheads – in the historic images, in the paintings, and in the audience!
Julie Heffernan’s talk and slide show introduced us to her early art influences that broke through her suburban Ozzie and Harriet style upbringing on the West Coast – passionate Catholic hagiography and hippy hedonism in Golden Gate park, then onto German figural renaissance with her Fullbright scholarship in West Berlin. While in Europe she was exposed to the likes of Velázquez, Fantin-Latour and Bosch to name but a few and so began her lush still lifes as self portraits, traditional still lifes with contemporary flourishes and mind bubbles. These grew into the monumental, surreal follies, and the epic dystpoias of today which have been fueled by both personal and global events.
These are but a few glimpses into the slide show that accompanied the talk but a visit to Julie Heffernan’s website is order – also a visit to NUMU and to Mark Zukerberg’s house if you get the chance! The artist also recommends checking out Elizabeth Kolbert on the environment, Elizabeth Gilbert on creative creative imps the TV series Black Mirror!
In conjunction with the current NUMU exhibition, More Than Your Selfie, curator Marianne McGrath has been hosting a series of fascinating conversations with exhibiting artists. Saturday was with Elizabeth Barlow who is known for her Portraits In Absentia, hyperrealist pantings of people and relationships as seen though their personal objects.
Beyond the beauty and masterful technique of these paintings (seen above in postcards), they invite the viewer to feel what it’s like to be this person by standing in their shoes for a moment. There is a shared intimacy in our relationship with these personal objects. When Marianne McGrath approached Elizabeth Barlow about the exhibit, the artist was challenged to turn this gaze onto herself, resulting in Self Portrait (In Absentia) which she painted especially for More Than Your Selfie.
Elizabeth Barlow Self Portrait (In Absentia) 2015 oil on linen courtesy of Gallerie Citti
More that a visual representation of how the artist appears, the Elizabeth Barlow chose to paint a collection of objects that represent her influences, objects that have meaning to her and in doing so, not only give us insight into her character, but also invite us to think about which objects we would choose to represent ourselves.
We were treated to a glimpse of a work in progress that the artist brought in to help describe the evolution of a painting. There is much care and thought in the selection and arrangement of the objects and to the type of lighting and the shadows that are created. The composition has to be perfect.
In the course of the conversation we got to learn all kinds of interesting information from the artist, her art background, wonderful stories behind the paintings, specifics of her studio practice, favorite tools, how working for the opera influenced her work, the fact that her father Philip Barlow is a painter in Utah where she is originally from.
It was great seeing Elizabeth Barlow again. I had originally met her at the Silicon Valley Art Fair last fall where she was represented by Gallerie Citti of Burlingame, and I can tell you she’s as gregarious and fun as she is talented! I just realized at the talk that I had seen and greatly admired her work, Portrait of a Marriage (a loving depiction of men’s dress shoes) years previously at the Triton Museum of Art! I love when that happens!
More Than Your Selfie runs until May 15, 2016 and the next conversation will be with Julie Heffernan, Saturday, March 13 from 2-3 at the New Museum Los Gatos, 106 East Main Street in Los Gatos, California.