I am an artist newly living in Brooklyn. Still doing the job search thing. Previously I was at the North Carolina Arts Council where I led the Creative Economies group. The program uses art, culture, and creativity as tools for economic and community development. Fun gig it was.
I began painting in the spring of 2006 in my 47th year, approximately 33 years since being told by my eighth-grade art teacher that I had no talent. Since middle school all the artistic work I did was furniture making. Painting came along at the right time in my life as I battled with depression and the end of a 25-year relationship. (Cue Monty Python, “I got better!”) Painting kept me grounded and allowed me to express what I had found inexpressible.
Here’s how it came about. I was in Washington, DC for work during that spring of 2006 and decided to visit the Dada exhibit at the National Gallery. I was shaken by the world the Dadaists were experiencing, the ideas that drove them and the similarities to our present circumstances. Their reaction to the absurdity and tragedy of the 1910s, WWI and the negative aspects of technology made me feel like I was in a time warp.
The exhibit was so disturbing that I had the first panic attack of my life — I had to get out of there. At the same time I was drawn to the art, the artists and the story. I went back twice more and then again at the MOMA in NY in August. And I started painting.
I started with collage and mixed media using the materials I had on hand: old cabinet doors, house paint, magazines, and hardwood flooring sealant. Since then I’ve mostly stayed with acrylics but I’ve dabbled with pen and ink, watercolor, charcoal and pencil. I spent some time with oil pastels on watercolor paper. I’ve also been working on portraits in various styles. Lately I’ve been working in black and white, much of it using graphite sticks and powder on paper with wax and other resists.
My influences, after the Dadaists, include many of the Abstract Expressionists especially Rothko, Kline, Motherwell, Pollock, Rauschenberg and the wonderful Joan Mitchell and Lee Krasner. A couple of years ago I became enamored with the Color Field movement after seeing an exhibit in DC. I was overwhelmed by the work of Jules Olitski, Helen Frankenthaler, and Morris Lewis and encouraged by what they accomplished with acrylics. Later I absorbed some techniques and attitudes displayed in portraits by Elizabeth Peyton, Alice Neel and others. Then of course there is Diebenkorn. etc. etc. etc.