When my print arts salon, Painters Under Pressure, suggested we do the Seattle Sampling December studio tour it was. . . . July. No sweat, plenty of time! Now we are all in that wonderful pre-show manic state of trying to make art round the clock while life in its inconvenient way interferes. Laundry? Bookkeeping? The Gym? Huh. I have never made so much work in such a compressed period of time. I think the happiest state, the state of mind I treasure most, may be just pure focus, and I’m there, even if I am wearing last week’s socks. [Read more…]
“Makers’ Marks”: Iskra in Painters Under Pressure at the Virginia Inn
I am very excited to be in a show with my printmaking salon opening this May 7th. As one of the salons originally started by Seattle Print Arts we have been meeting for well over a decade to critique and inspire each others’ work. We include in our ranks a psychologist, architect, calligrapher, graphic designer, massage therapist and scientist, and the depth of professional experience in this wide range of disciplines informs the discussion. We also have backgrounds in diverse forms of art making. Our name, Painters Under Pressure, alludes to the explosive possibilities when paint is put under duress and standard methods are subjected to unexpected intervention. In this show at the Virginia Inn you will see mixed media, monoprint, potato print, linocut, painting, and digitally composed work.
Here is one of my pieces in the show, hot from the image laboratory. I composed this while thinking of the idea of the “glimpse” and how in a very short moment both Arcadia and Industry may fade into the rearview mirror of our cyber-kinetic present.
To see the event posting and share with your friends through Facebook please visit Makers’ Marks:Painters Under Pressure at Virginia Inn. The Virginia Inn, at 1937 First Avenue, is a wonderful bar and restaurant on the edge of the Pike Place Market, a great place to start or end the First Thursday Artwalk. We hope to see you there from 5 to 8PM –– come test out our signature drink, custom mixed for the show. Name this cocktail, please, we can’t decide! Press & Brayer, Pressure Valve, Bourbon Roller Flats, Amber Muse, Painters’ Proof ––?
Year End Reflections, “Keeping Safe the Love Affair”
I started this New Years’ Eve morning with an early visit to the Painters Keys, where Sara had posted an exceptionally lovely letter for the new year. If you don’t know about this site, do visit; it is an endless source of inspiration for painters and and artists in all media. Sara’s reminder via Corot to “never lose the first impression” stayed with me all morning as I returned to a series about the Alaska Way Viaduct after a long time away. The creative process (or at least my process) is one of continually losing the glimpse, and then looking for the way back. Sometimes getting lost is a necessary, if bracing, part of the journey.
It has been a wonderful year in art. I have been fortunate to be included in some terrific exhibits at Prographica, Bainbridge Arts & Crafts, Seattle Architecture Foundation and SAM Gallery (ongoing.) Studio visits with collectors and a recent purchase of one of the Duwamish prints by King county for their Portable Works Collection have rounded out the year. Ahead are two shows this spring, which I will be posting about soon. I feel very grateful for my artist groups that provide encouragement and critique, including my salon, Painters Under Pressure which is ending its first decade (!), and the unnamed but equally wonderful group of self-employed designers and artists I have met with each month for over a dozen years. We are a rare tribe, and I couldn’t persevere without them.
I’ll close with part of the letter from The Painters’ Keys, as I am completely smitten with it and I can’t put it any better:
When Claude Monet noticed the village of Giverny from a train window, he made a decision to live out his days there. He later said that everything he ever earned went into his Giverny garden. “I love you because you are you,” he wrote to his work. Artists and their subjects are the star-crossed lovers of the world. They recognize each other on impact. Making the discovery on human steam, fueled by the spirit to get up and down the ladders, makes the most eventful love affair. “What your heart thinks great is great. The soul’s response is always right,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.
As our year closes, we consider resolutions, or mark our moments of recognition……. As a community, we might just keep safe each other’s love affair.”
Last Week to See Painters Under Pressure at Phinney Gallery
This is the last week to see “Painters Under Pressure” at Phinney Gallery. The show comes down May 1. “Bird” is one of a dozen prints I have in the show. I do hope you will come by and see the work!
First formed as a Seattle Print Arts Salon Group, Painters Under Pressure has met for over 10 years to discuss and support the development of each others’ artwork. Each of us approach our printmaking from a painterly background and use the pressure of printmaking techniques to produce our varied styles of work. This exhibition brings together works resulting from the last 10 years of critique and camaraderie from these 6 artists: Ruth Hesse, Stephen MacFarlane, Tracy Simpson, Jon Taylor, Iskra Johnson, and David Owen Hastings.
Phinney Center Gallery Hours:
Monday – Friday 9am – 9pm
Saturday, 9am – 2pm
The Phinney Gallery
6532 Phinney Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103
Marking Time: Tracy Simpson and the Contemplative Art of Potato Printing
I have been looking for an opportunity to interview Tracy Simpson about her extraordinary potato print “calendars” for quite a while. As a member of the six-person print arts salon Painters Under Pressure, I have watched her work grow and evolve over the course of a decade. Just after opening our current salon exhibit at Phinney Gallery we had the time to sit down at length and talk about her process. What follows is a combination of conversation and correspondence.
From the beginning I have seen connections between your work and that of John Cage. Cage’s work evolved to be the product and process of impersonal systems of chance. This is one way in which he expressed his own sense of spirituality or “zen”: as a path of divorcing his work from the normal sense of self and identification of self with personal preference and personal history. Did this lead to automatism? Coldness? Abstraction only? Hard to say. His music can be aggressively difficult to listen to. But what always comes through to me in his writing, his visual art and his persona is not the automatic or the “no-self,” but a sense of empathy and embrace. There is a kindness in letting go of the personal identification with making art. It can be liberating.
Also, Cage’s work in music is all about time, and not-time, noise and not-noise. In marking time with the structure of a calendar you are indirectly noting its absence and its impending endings. Every month ends on a note, so to speak. The grid structure is not unlike a musical structure, a grid/signature/score with notation. The calendar is scoring the month, even as you physically score the paper. I am interested in how you have chosen a very impersonal structure, the eternal unchanging numbers and grid of the calendar and made it your system. Can you talk about that, about what is impersonal and what is not?
You are right that time is about as impersonal as it gets; time stops for no one, it’s inexorable. And while we may individually have the sense now and again that time is standing still or speeds up for a bit, we know both are illusions or tricks of attention. You are also right that the way time is traditionally organized in terms of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, and so on, is impersonal. We really don’t get to say hey, I think I’ll step out of time in general or, I’m tired of how we collectively organize time and, really, my way is better so I’ll do that for awhile. For the most part, to exist in the world along with everyone else, we have to surrender to how our particular culture relates to time. So yes, in our culture there is a very set, impersonal structure that developed a long time ago that is partly related to the sun rising and setting and how the moon travels around the planet and partly related to what the collective consciously or unconsciously decided works.
I do like thinking about all that, stepping back and considering what is “natural” in terms of how we as humans relate to time and what we have constructed or imposed for convenience. And what I find even more interesting is how we interact with time. Not only is time the context in which everything happens for us as individuals and for us collectively, but I think there is nothing more personal than how we confront the inevitability of time passing whether it is during a given day or over the uncertain length of a lifetime. What has evolved for me with my art is an ongoing conversation about how I relate to time, its passage, anniversaries, the future, its apparent infinity and my obvious finiteness, how a moment in the morning may color another moment in the afternoon, how a moment in the evening may color my memory of a moment in the morning.