Out of the Blue I received a phone call from the Arts Director for the city of Lynnwood asking to buy reproduction rights for a painting I had done in 2014 for Inky Spokes, a bicycle inspired group exhibition. In 2012 I made my first trip to Amsterdam to attend my exhibition and not only fell in love with the city, but was completely in awe of their use of bikes throughout the city. If you have never been before, there are more people riding bikes than cars. Between the trains and the bicycles this city moves efficiently like no other city I have seen. I created a tripych celebrating the bikes of Amsterdam called “Bicycle Dreams” The city of Lynnwood is wrapping the traffic light boxes with the images. I attended the dedication last week and spoke and helped cut the ribbon. How fun! Thank you to Fred Wong and all the others involved in this project.
Last spring Dallas Public Library Curator and Arts Director, Rae Pleasant, reached out to me and invited me to do poetry reading based on poetry and artwork rooted in my family album. The reading was held on Saturday, May 12th at the Main Branch of the library. I want to thank all of those who attended and especially want to thank Rae for inviting me and all the work done on installation and organizing the event. Rae is an illustrator and artist herself and you can check her work out here at Pleasant Folk. It was also a treat to meet another Pleasant. Thank you, Rae.
“Family” is perhaps the most powerful, surely the first and most primal influence in defining who we are or who we imagine ourselves to be. As we move further away from our youth the previous generation takes its exit one by one. As we watch the cycle unfold we realize that "family" is beyond space and form. We idealize the ones who have passed on, but are keenly aware that their influence, (for good or for ill), remains ever present. Families have always been a messy business. Our experiences range from love, anger, joy, frustration, jealousy, ambivalence, compassion. It's all there. We can’t run from who we are and a large part of who we are lays at the feet of these experiences.
THE VEIL IS THIN
They have never left.
The sharp chill in the air,
the soft breeze brushing the cheek,
the faintest scent of lavender on a late spring day,
the swishing sound of an endless willow strand;
all reminders of enchantments felt, not seen.
Mothers and their mothers;
conservators of unconditional love.
Some missed the mark,
however, pure their heart’s intent.
Now, sentinels, on the ready,
a whisper, a breeze, a scent away.
When we are most in need of reminders that we are loved.
The veil is thin
and they have never left.
For my mom, Alice Pleasant, miss you.
In the spring of 2016 I was in the middle of completing two years worth of work (both artwork and poetry) for Terrible Beauty, an exhibition based on a childhood experience of sexual assault. After 30 years of silence it was an interesting time full of introspection, reflection and putting ghosts to rest. Two friends took me to a very special place, Serenity Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation where they rescue and place horses in permanent homes. They have a program called Horses as Healers which is an equine therapy program to help facilitate people who have been exposed to trauma. (PTSD)
I met Dante, a beautiful, larger than life Belgian work horse. This intuitive and compassionate being helped me and reminded me what it felt like to feel safe. It was an amazing experience. When I was a child I spent time around horses at my aunt’s farm. I was fascinated by them and my first art experience was drawing horses every day for years, literally I drew hundreds of pictures of horses. This day was a great reminder of my love for these majestic animals.
This spring I returned to say hello to the horses again and to spend time sketching them. It was so fun. They engaged with me and seemed happy to have the attention. I drew Dante’s head and turned the sketchbook around and he turned his head to look at it. One of the horses actually rested his muzzle at the top of my book as I drew until I finished. Horse magic. Thank you to Kristen of Serenity and of course, to the horses, especially Dante.
As an artist, there are these moments that you look at your work and have a knowing that there is something more, something just beyond your reach, something which will take you off the path. In life and in art that's when its gets interesting. For an artist it could be a new surface, a new material, a different way of putting things together, planning or not planning. Whatever it takes to move you out of your comfort zone will suffice.
I bought some india ink. I had not used ink since I was in high school which is a while back. I also usually do a study and put a fair amount of planning for my larger pieces. All this was tossed to the side and I have to say it felt pretty good. Something new is coming and isn't that what the creative life is about.
Recently, I was able to attend Nathalia Edenmont's Exhibition at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York. What an amazing evening. Her photographs, larger than life and stunningly beautiful can truly be appreciated in person. Nathalia lives in Sweden and I was able to do an in-depth interview over several phone conversations. I found her story and the connection to her art to be fascinating. She attended the opening and I was able to meet her and have dinner with her and her team from Sweden. I am always grateful to meet and spend time with these amazing artists. I learn so much and always walk away from the encounter completely inspired. I want to thank both Nathalia and Nancy for the opportunity.
Here is the story published in the Huffington Post.
I was honored to be invited to participate in Nasty Woman Amsterdam in March at Josilda Da Conceicao Gallery in Amsterdam. This exhibition is an outgrowth of the original Nasty Woman exhibition in the Knockdown Center in Queens, NY. Since then there have been 30 sister shows and counting around the globe that have raised over $181.000 for women's rights and social issues. I created a poster based on a painting of my grandmother who perhaps was an original Nasty Woman. Just to review, "Nasty Woman" became a rallying call to woman, an unintended consequence to a thoughtless, misogynistic and disrespectful comment made during a Presidential Debate by Donald Trump.
From Emma Gray of the Huffington Post:
During the final moments of the third and final presidential debate, Donald Trump interrupted Clinton as she was answering a question about social security. “Such a nasty woman,” he muttered into his microphone. Women all over the world have reclaimed a word meant to insult. Happy to have participated in this show.
Exhibition runs March 4 – 12, 2017
Josilda da Conceição Gallery
Wormerveerstraat 15, 1013 JS Amsterdam
The paintings below have their roots in a photograph of my parents first apartment from 1950. The furniture was part of the scenery of my childhood and in fact, I still have some of the pieces in my own home thousands of miles away. They give me comfort as tangible reminders of my parents who are passed. The chair in which my father had serious talks when one of us screwed up now is used by the next generation, having those very similar talks when raising our three teenagers. I cannot help but think of him in those moments even after all of these years. The world is filled with uncertainty these days and the thought of things, corporeal as they may be, that have stood the test of time and in their own way have witnessed history provide a momentary relief and a broader perspective.
I heard someone say, "The world is changing so fast that its like coming home every night and your furniture is in a different place and this happens every day." This painting reflects my efforts at bringing that idea to life. Its full of flying furniture and windows to the infinite with reminders from nature that some things will always remain and beauty will find its way eventually. Life shifts beneath our feet these days.
Life shifts but some things linger. I re-created my childhood living room, everything aqua and brown, very 60's style. I painted the brown sofa with silver threads running through it and the afghan that was always on the back, then I found the picture of my sister and I sitting on it and she sent me a picture of the afghan. I didn't realize it was still around. We don't have many hierlooms in this family; the bookcase my dad built, mom's china and this afghan. Objects which tether us to memory.
The Women's Funding Alliance is a non profit organization whose mission is to advance leadership and economic opportunities for women in Washington State. They will be featuring my artwork over the next three months as a part of their Spotlight on Women Artists series. The pieces above are from my Dowager series. These ladies come from the photographs of my grandmother and her family and friends, all women possessing a hard won wisdom and strength, courtesy of the great depression and World War II. I have the vaguest of memories of these women as a child, but do remember their laughter, grit and warmth.
Women's Funding Alliance 2101 4th Ave. Suite 1330, Seattle January 4 - March 31
This month I had the absolute privilege of interviewing contemporary painter, Hung Liu, who has been an important influence in my work. The year I entered art school I cut out two small copies of her paintings and taped them to my easel and they stayed there for many years. Born in China and immigrating to this country in 1984, she has a fascinating life story. Her powerful work can be found most major museums. We spent several hours talking and then I was able to meet her and spend some time with her in Los Angeles. I am so grateful for the time spent with her. She is an amazing artist and person and always inspiring. The article is here.
It seems the perfect time to remember that this country is only strengthened by our openess and diversity I am honored to have been invited to participate in this very special exhibition honoring immigrants at the Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles, co-curated by San Francisco artist, Monica Lundy and gallerist Walter Maciel.
I contributed a portrait of a young friend who came to this country when she was 4 years old. As an undocumented "dreamer", I have witnessed her long and repeated efforts to become a permanent resident in these uncertain times. She is a hard working, compassionate and talented young woman who is as American as my own children. We are all hoping that the only place that she knows as home will welcome her one day.
The opening was an amazing experience with 1,000 people in attendance. Over 100 artists from all over the country participated and many traveled to be there that night as well as many locals. It was a bit of a magical evening. Thank you to co-curators Walter Maciel and Monica Lundy. If you live in Los Angeles the exhibition is running through March. (My piece is 3rd row down, 3rd from the left in the top photo.) Article, Artist's Mobilize: With Liberty and Justice for Some, is here with several images from the show.