I’ve resumed giving art lessons to kids.
Classes are held on Saturdays.
Contact me for times and fees at:
September 23, 2009
Now that women have metaphorically gotten out of the kitchen, it is safely visited as a warm nostalgia place. Brenda Jones’ stitchery exhibition at the Charleston Heights Art Center is a witty, sometimes elegant reimagining of your grandmother’s aprons and bridal garments.
(For more see my Sept. 17 review titled “Overly Measured” at www.lasvegasweekly.com )
I think artists will be interested in this book. I found it fascinating.
The Colorman – a novel by Erika Wood
The art world of Manhattan, with its pretentious artists, and a bucolic Hudson River town, home to a mysterious paint manufacturer, are the settings for this tale of love loss and redemption. What impresses me most about this Dickensian tale of a motherless waif, a cold stepmother, and a strange man with a murky past is its rare description of the tormenting and thrilling process of making art:
It was formulaic and facile. It was predictable and pompous. Deceitful and dead. It was just plain bad, and it was sticking to her like fly paper.
Rain gripped the stretcher bar and plunged her box cutter straight into the canvas. Past its gooey facade and into the weave. …Yanking the blade out again, Rain hauled off and slashed the canvas straight through from left to right.
Each stab was a release. Each slash unburdened barriers she hadn’t realized she’d constructed.
The plot follows a typical girl-overcomes-adversity pattern. Rain Morton, an aspiring young artist with a seemingly idyllic existence, has everything going for her – a doting father who’s a renowned author, a successful art dealer stepmother and a well connected art critic husband. But life unravels when her husband has an affair then sabotages her career only to leave Rain spiraling downward in an orgy of self-pity. Numbed by booze, reality TV, and the internet, she one day finds inspiration from an improbable location: a county sheriff’s site, and more improbably from the pigments given to her by James Morrow, the novel’s mysterious and reclusive paint manufacturer. The down and dirty physicality of his arcane and ancient methods– scavenging road kill, grinding bones and cooking fat– bolster Rain’s uncertain steps as she reaches for a truer, more authentic form of expression.
Honesty and authenticity thus transform what might have been a simple chick lit piece into an insightful explication of the art making process, one that could only come from real experience. The importance of light and color to a painter is built into the structure of the novel by naming chapters for each color in the rainbow, with the addition of black (the absence of color) and white (all parts of the visible spectrum). The feeling each color evokes is beautifully illustrated by quotes from a wide range of poets, artists and musicians, as in the following Jimi Hendrix quote:.
Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things just don’t seem the same
Actin’funny, but I don’t know why
‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.
– Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix associates purple with a definite mental state, whereas other writer’s color associations are more oblique, but they always illustrate an interaction between thinking and feeling that is necessary for the production of art. This is further underscored in the beginning of each chapter by a catalogue of associations we have with a color and by historical details about the origin and manufacture of pigments– “Purple is royalty, a connotation that has everything to do with the extreme value of the pigments available for cloth-dying in antiquity.” Wood writes. “Tyrian purple was the original purple dye, created from tiny snail-like mollusks.” The quest for truth and beauty amid the sordid reality of life is thus the real story of The Colorman and readers will be delighted to learn that in order to write this book, Wood, who had some previous experience fabricating three-dimensional abstract pieces, started drawing portraits which readers can find on her website.
With the death of John Updike we not only lost one of our most important novelists and essayists, but a writer with an unusal sensitivity to visual art. His two collections of essays “Just Looking” and “Still Looking” are a revelation. He examines the individual works and often the entire ouvre of many well-known artists, placing them in the context of their time and highlighting their particular talents. He weaves in biographical information which sheds light on their artistic development and puts into words concepts not easily apprehended.
The following images are of Susanne Forestieri’s beginning drawing students at UNLV working on their collage drawings of Barack Obama.