Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Leaving the Forest 2016

My nephew Sky was born on January 13, 1999.  I was there to help welcome him into the world, staying with my sister, Melisa and her husband Mike, to be that extra set of hands you need when you have a new baby and a toddler on hand.  As the years rolled by, we would only see him and the rest of his family sporadically, maybe once or at best twice a year, separated by mountains and plains. But we knew he was a special kid and were fascinated by this strong and enigmatic boy child.  He didn't need approval, and he wasn't especially outgoing, but what he loved, he loved deeply, and what he loved most was nature and all things that existed in nature.  He grew up with the usual array of dogs and cats, but also with chickens, salamanders, fish, newts, snakes, lizards, geckos, bunnies, and rats; anything he could get in an aquarium or a cage. He was like a wild animal himself:  long long hair at a time when that wasn't what the other boys were doing, watchful, careful, and ever alert. Now he's just turned 17.  Sky is tall, handsome, and athletic and the powerful connection he had with nature has taken a back seat to girls and sports and exams; college and a life away from his home looms on the horizon. I sense that wild connection to nature is still a part of him, but now as a ghost appendage, not as his complete and entire being.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bob with Garden and Birds 2002

Earlier this year, my husband Bob and I made a bet about an actor in a TV series and I won(of course!).  If he lost, the bet was that he would have to put in a vegetable garden.  So he did.   By early that spring he had brought in concrete blocks to make a wall and added chicken wire to keep the rabbits out.  He mixed in my composted kitchen scraps, bought soil and added that.  He put in drip lines and set the timer, and by mid spring we were eating greens from the garden.  It looked good, everything had come up, the rabbits kept their distance, and we were eating from the garden on a regular basis.  But as the summer wore on, something happened and the garden began, not exactly to fail, but to not thrive the way it had.  There were only a few green beans, we had four turnips, two eggplants, and by now, of course, the greens had gone to seed.  The water ran right through the soil and the concrete blocks onto the ground around the garden, and it became swampy.  The garden looked sad, and except for a few tomatoes, was basically done, the area around it lush with mint, tall grass and weeds.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Man in a Car(Gerhard Richter) 2016

At certain times my studio becomes out of control:  piles of paper, piles of painted boards, folders, cut out pieces of things which include heads, legs and arms along with shapes that might become something, or might have if they had worked out.  Piles of painted paper, transfers, scissors, glue, paint.  The floor consists of hundreds of bits and pieces of paper along with dirt and dog hair, and rags that my dog has strewn from the rag bag.  My camera and tripod are set up against one wall, boxes that store the lights are piled up against another. And this is just the out of order stuff, the regulars are cans of polymer medium, paper cutters, gesso, jars and jars of brushes, palette knives and boxes of paper, rolls of plastic, and boxes filled with shipping materials.  The walls are lined with unfinished pieces, ready to go except for the odious task of gluing them to their supports.  Since that's no fun, they keep piling up, and as soon as I think of starting to glue, my neck, jaw, and back begin to hurt.  Better just to ignore them.

So, I start organizing and cleaning up.  But what that really means is that I begin what I've come to know as my "clean up paintings".  These clean up paintings happen because my creative self, easily bored, says, "Okay Okay!   I'll give you some really good stuff if you will just stop this stupid behavior." We've come to an agreement, my creative self and I, and that is that I will allow it to lead me in making these paintings but there are certain rules that have to be followed--the main rule is that I can only use material that was being thrown away or discarded. The other rules are more fluid, but have to do with using what I was going to get rid of, put away, or cleanse the studio of.  Normally, my creative self is never this helpful, and usually it's like pulling teeth to get started.  However, give one's creative self an onerous task, and wonderful things can and do happen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Twin Selves 2015

I was recently asked by Nan Masland, the Public Art Project Coordinator for the Bernalillo County Cultural Services Department,  to be involved in a project which joined woman artists with female juvenile youth offenders between the ages of 14 and 18.  We were given a blank panel and asked to create an image on half the panel, then give it over to a teen to complete, under the supervision of another artist. We were asked to respond to the following question,  “What advice would you give your teenage self?"

My advice to my teenage was self was this: everything is going to be alright. As a girl, and as a younger woman, I worried all the time.  I carried anxiety around with me like a treasured friend, afraid that if I didn't worry, then something bad would happen.  But the bad things that ended up happening were not the things that were on my radar, or they were so subtle and insidious that I had no knowledge of them until they were full blown:  relationships within my family, eroding, like acid, over the years-- or they came out of nowhere: being with my daughter in her little VW Jetta on a lonely highway in Southeastern New Mexico when we hit and killed a wild Javelina going 80 mph. 

So now, at the age of 64 I've learned to let go of  much of the worry.  I meditate, I don't eat sugar, I exercise, I try and act on things in my life as promptly as I can. I try to love the people in my life cleanly and honestly and I work hard at believing in myself.  But more than anything else, I  look back over the years and realize that my life unfolded the way it needed to, almost in spite of myself, and that everything has been, and will be, alright. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

David and Goliath 2005

The phrase "David and Goliath" has taken on a more secular meaning, denoting an underdog situation, a contest where a smaller, weaker opponent faces a much bigger, stronger adversary.  Wikipedia.

Of course, in the ancient telling of "David and Goliath", Goliath was facing David so that when the stone that David hurled at him, hit him, it landed smack dab in the middle of his forehead, causing him to stumble and fall. Then of course, David whacked off his head and held it up to show everyone that Goliath was no longer.

My Goliath is really a figure of sympathy (and knowing what was to follow, you have to agree).  He's frightened, running to get out of the way of the stones flying at his head, probably knowing what is to come if he falls.  We automatically root for David, after all, he's much smaller, and is armed only with stones, although God is backing him, so actually he has quite a bit of help.  But really, whenever there is a winner, there is also a loser, and no matter what the odds, it's always bad for the person, team, or country that goes down, no matter how large or how powerful.

I think of all that is going on in the world right now, with the conflict and the incredibly confusing issues that have to do with religion, terrorism, climate change and violence(to name a few).  I want there to be a David who can win against all odds. But then, I'm not even sure who David is, and I'm  afraid that we, those of us that live in the United States of America, are in fact, Goliath.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Being Rejected 2014

Dear holly,
We want to thank you for submitting an application for the 2015 Clark Hulings Fund Business Accelerator Grant.  Our grant review panel has completed its review of 140 applications, and, unfortunately,  you were not chosen as a finalist or grant recipient.
Although you weren't chosen this year, we encourage you to seek future support from The Clark Hulings Fund.  Our website, includes many resources designed to help artists like yourself develop their businesses.
Good luck with your future work.
Alas and  Alack, this email I received today seems to be fairly standard for me anymore.  I'm under drought conditions when it comes to getting accepted for any kind of grant or award.  I've decided I have about the same odds anymore as winning the Megamillions lottery:  I make the application--spending sometimes days getting all of the information together--pay my fee, then wait to hear back.  Often I don't hear back, I just know that the deadline has come and gone and I wasn't notified, other times I get nice rejection emails like this one.  It's discouraging, but I've learned over the years not to be bothered(this is not a true statement) since I've also been at the other end, jurying or selecting artists for shows and/or awards. I know how it works, how it is to choose, what a completely subjective experience it is. I recently juried a show for Tilt Gallery , and while I loved the process and choosing the work, it also broke my heart to say no, knowing how hard it is for any artist to put him or herself on the line and then be found lacking. It helps that, along with the artists that didn't get into the show, I've spent my time in the barrel and know just how it feels.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Deer with Paw 1983

Having recently finished graduate school, I wasn't sure what the next step in being an artist should be.  After much thought and discussion, I decided it should be making make my work known to a larger audience.  So, one fall day in 1982,  I headed to Houston(two days plus) in my small Datsun pickup truck, portfolio and camping gear secured in the back.

It was an epic drive, with me taking a few wrong turns, and spending one night in a sleeping bag at a campground along I-10.  I-10 was a busy interstate highway that seemed to go on forever, and as soon as I got into Texas, I began to notice the many deer carcasses along the shoulder, hit by traffic as they tried to cross.  I'd pull my little truck over to the side of the road, wait for traffic to roar past me, then carefully exit the truck with my camera in hand and take as many photographs as I could.  If the smell were bad, I wouldn't linger as long.

The trip was really a bust, with no galleries showing any interest in representing me, and although the few curators that I showed work to were polite, they had no immediate offers of help.  However, when I got back to Phoenix I had several rolls of undeveloped film of the dead deer. They turned out to be powerful images, and I ended up developing and painting on several to make this series. Now, 33 years later, what I marvel at is how I brave I was(or perhaps how foolish?):  undertaking the long trip by myself, with little or no knowledge or where I was going or the reception I would receive, no cell phone, very little money, and mostly just an enormous belief that things would work out.  And, in the end, they did.