Saturday, March 11, 2017

Skyscape

I am honored to be a part of Impact--a group of 25 Nebraska artists with a mission to educate through outreach programs and thematic exhibitions.  Our newest exhibition package is titled "Skyscape."  The symbolism and meaning in my painting are begging for a little explanation of the way my brain works...and the things that define the age, space, and time that went into the creation of my Freedom Sky

When I heard "skyscape," my first thought was of Georgia O'Keeffe's Sky above Clouds IV, which I'd seen at Chicago's Art Institute on a University of Nebraska study tour in 1997. The painting is huge (8 x 24 feet!) The portrayal of distance in this work has always fascinated me.  On that same tour, we viewed some of the fabulous public sculptures in Chicago, one of my favorite being Alexander Calder's Flamingo located in Federal Plaza.  It's color and curves are a wonderful contrast against the straight grid lines of the Mies van der Rohe buildings surrounding it.  Then, two years ago, I made several trips to Chicago where my daughter was being treated for severe migraines.  On one of those trips, I encouraged her to deny the pain and see a bit of the city. We walked to the Calder sculpture, where we took selfies and other touristy pictures.  So, as I searched for skyscape ideas, and the Art Institute was on my mind, I pulled up the Flamingo pictures and felt drawn to this one because of the transition of the grey-blue across the sky, showing distance and atmosphere. The light is interesting, causing the Flamingo red to appear black, with subtle reflections of red in the buildings.


While musing on the skyscape image, I was also reading Sue Monk Kidd's historical fiction, The Invention of Wings, and was blown away by the realization that the movement to abolish slavery was also the beginning of the woman's rights movement, and they are similar problems in terms of human rights.  All this was going on in my mind as Donald Trump came to the presidency, with the Women's March and lots of civil rights issues...addicting Facebook posts, research to verify "fake news," fear and isolationism.  

Suddenly, the perspective lines of the Federal buildings pointed to the center of the Flamingo, which became a spirit tree, with concentric tree growth rings telling the history of civil rights.  In The Invention of Wings, a slave girl tells about re-enacting her mother's story of her grandmother wrapping scraps of red thread to an oak tree, and ceremonially giving their spirits to the tree.  So, when the Flamingo became a spirit tree in my painting, it required red thread.  Another part of the grandmother’s story told how the stars fell from the sky the night the grandfather was sold to another slaveholder.  So, the stars in Freedom Sky…while suggesting the states symbolized on the American flag, are also falling from the sky.

Many days of Internet research on human rights went into my painting.  The rings of words tell some of the major events in United States history that have affected human rights.  On the gallery wrapped edges of Freedom Sky, I included letters and numbers…initials to honor some of the major players and legislation in the story of human rights in America, as well as those that influenced my painting (Kidd, and Calder).     

Federal Plaza is not in Nebraska, but, it is a pretty cool and unusual view of the midwestern sky.  The buildings and sculpture contrast in the same way federal laws and human rights clash…or rural (Chase County) and urban (Omaha) lifestyles differ...or like conservative and liberal viewpoints seem so at odds in these difficult days. We must look at where we've been and fight for our ideals, yet work and change together.
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Friday, August 14, 2015

Christ Be With Me is showing in two places right now.  A framed print is in the Meadowlark Gallery in Grant.  The original is in a  show at the Unitarian church in Lincoln, NE.  This is one of my favorites.  I was inspired after reading from Richard Rohr's Yes, And devotions where he talks about St. Patrick's Breastplate, a mantra from catechism.  The words are in the perimeter of the painting: Christ below me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ above me, Christ beside me, Christ within me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Be Brave


This started at least a year ago, with more added in May. (first photo)  I thought I was finished 2 weeks ago and got a good picture then. (second photo)  As it sat around waiting for its frame, my satisfaction waned...it needed something more.  And, I had written in several phrases from Sara Bareilles' song, Brave.  Awesome song...cool inspiration...but inappropriate for me to be using.  It  made me antsy about copyright issues.  So, today I added paint and papers to obliterate some of the words...which led to more paint, more paper.  It is now much improved with more layers of interest.

Once again, I forgot to get a final photo before I finished framing, so please excuse a few reflections in the last photo.

I should dedicate this piece to my 92 year-old-father-in-law, as he has been trying hard to be brave in the extended recovery time after knee-replacement surgery.  Not sure whether the pain or just being in the nursing home requires more bravery.  Last night I helped him through the pain until time for more drugs by having him recall his most memorable hunting trip.  He was able to fill half an hour with details of a big elk he got in Colorado in the 1950s!  He has a couple more weeks with skilled care, but he's making great progress.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Farewell Dear Friends

Two of my favorite paintings sold last week to some good friends here in Imperial.  It was so fun to see them in a different setting.

Impressions of the Frenchman seemed to glow on the green wall in their house!  And it means a lot that her family is from the area where my inspiration photo was taken.  This has been part of my Highway 6 Series and depicts the Frenchman River near Hamlet, Nebraska...with artistic license!

High Plains Aerial #2 was also inspired by a photograph taken from our airplane, towards the eastern part of a line between Denver and Imperial.  It's the last to go in a series of three coordinated aerial landscapes, that were all framed alike.  All three are owned by people in Chase County!  I loved them hanging together..they are all in a square format and have the same papers, and colors.  But, they are perfect individually in their new homes.   

I am honored to have others appreciate and purchase my art.  I know there is magic and mystery in the unique responses people have to art, and it is a blessing to connect with people in this way. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Hiding Place

Life has been happening a lot lately.  In two months this Spring, I made two trips to Kansas (Dad's birthday, then he broke his hip), two trips to Aspen (daughter's health, then surgery), three trips to Lincoln (son's award ceremony, and gallery work twice), and one trip to Omaha (nephew's graduation)!  I am excited to stay put for a while, but after all that travel, it's hard to figure out how to just be home.

This painting happened quickly.  Earlier, I'd been practicing piano...trying to perfect "You Are My Hiding Place" for an upcoming worship service.  So, the song was stuck in my mind.  In frustration over a social situation, I escaped to the studio.  After playing with a portrait idea, the flowers (like I used to doodle in the margins while taking notes in high school) started growing ...I guess as a fallback to mindlessness.  The song started taking over and became the theme of the painting...as if I realized that I tend to hide behind my art, rather than communicate.  This sounds like a sad commentary on my psyche, but I'm okay with the metaphor.  Sometimes, I hide behind art, sometimes it speaks for me, sometimes I use it to escape, sometimes I deliberately create statements, but artmaking is intrinsic to who I am.  The circles, flowers, grids, and music keep me grounded.  I like how they are working in harmony with  the layers of this piece.

Monday, November 25, 2013

1-2-3 Grace in ANAC Travel Show


1-2-3 Grace

1-2-3- Grace is making it’s way around the state of Nebraska as part of the 2013 Association of Nebraska Art Clubs travel show.  I got to see it at the Noyes Gallery in Lincoln this week.  It will be in Falls City after Thanksgiving, and Fremont from December 11-28.  You can get the full schedule through June at nebraskaartclubs.org

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rest of the Story

Lincoln Journal-Star image of Raspberry Beret
Now, for more of my inspirational eight days of travel.  After working hard moving around paintings in the Noyes Gallery, my son met me for a stroll through the new rail yard district in Lincoln's Hay Market.  We stopped for burgers and fabulous waffle fries at LeadBelly pub.  Mine was the Raspberry Beret, which includes jerked ginger peanut butter, jalapeno raspberry jam, Romaine lettuce, red onion and smoked candied bacon atop a beef patty.  He had the Hangover Burger, with "bloody Mary" sauce, celery, and a fried egg!  It was great to hear stories of his busy semester, get to know his roommates better, and reconnect.  Wednesday, his house full of ROTC cadets was up early and off to PT.  But he came home before class, to say goodbye before I headed back west.

crop from Eulabee Dix in her Wedding Gown
Museum of Nebraska Art
I got to Kearney before noon and spent a couple of hours in the Museum of Nebraska Art, where there is a genius exhibition of art and memorabilia from Eulabee Dix, the woman in Robert Henri's wedding portrait owned by the Museum.  My sister-in-law met me there, and we enjoyed conversing with Russ Erpelding, who curated the show.  The museum will be gifted with many of the items that have been loaned from Eulabee's family.

Afterward, I got to be part of the Wednesday open-studio painters at Pat Wiederspan Jones' Studio 3.  What fun to get some brush time in while meeting new friends.  Pat was working on a landscape with pine trees and a great sky.  I played with a plan for one of my gesso juice starts from camp in Halsey.
Hospitality Bar Mural included in
Axtell program 

Finally, I met up with my sister-in-law in Axtell, where she'd requested a program for her church ladies group on my spiritual connections in artmaking.  It was fun putting together a PowerPoint with images of murals in our local church, entries in our 2011 Advent devotional, and other art based on a spiritual theme.  Fourteen women put up with my ramblings.  Other than taking a little too much time, the program was a success.  New friends were made, new ideas discussed.

Now for some serious doing of the work, after all that inspiration in a short period of time.  Next up: open house at my studio on Thursday, October 17!