Tuesday, January 22, 2008

art dialogue alive and well

"People say the blues is sad, well not for me. Sometimes sadness is happiness cause it gets you somewhere else." - Andree Carter

Last night's digital slide show and artist talk at the Kirkland Arts Center was informative and surprisingly well attended. I mean, folks actually showed up for a slide lecture on art! What a shot in the arm. It was a pleasure to be asked to speak about one's work in the first place; to have a full audience of engaged, attentive people show up to hear what we artists had to say was a surprise and a real delight.

As a member of that audience as well as a speaker, it gave me a sense of connection to hear each artist speak about his or her process, to see a glimpse of the work's development, and best of all, to hear the small revelations that speak volumes about the person's internal responses and inner lodestones.

Andree Carter's description of chaotic dinners as a child at her Italian family's home in New Orleans with "everyone huggin you and kissin you and stuffin you with food", then looking down at the black and white checkerboard floor and thinking, "now there's order!" was priceless. The checkerboard or grid has become her "muse" she said, and sure enough it is visible throughout her work, a personal, recurring theme.

There were so many wonderful parallels in all of our paintings/prints. The grid occurs not only in some of Eric Chamberlain's earlier work (and resonates still in his obscured horizontals and verticals), but in Ellen Rutledge's "windows" (my word for the rectangular vignettes that make up many of her prints) and, to my surprise, in some of Larry Calkins's work, too ("it took me forever to make all those squares!" he commented about one large and handsome painting).

Solitary studio creature that I am (and that most artists necessarily are), I am tempted to call for a conscious revival of the art cafe, the art salon, heck, just some kind of forum where artists can physically get together and share. But it was more than that - it was the invitation to the public, and the fact that people showed up and were interested, that was ultimately so heartwarming and enlivening. There ought to be more visual art venues like this!

Huge thanks to Cable Griffith, Kamla Kakaria, and the Kirkland Arts Center for making it happen and helping to keep the visual conversation buzzing.

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