Thursday, January 26, 2012

Not an Illustrator, Not a traditionalist, All about Listening to the Paint

Now, don't get me wrong, I admire the traditionalists, and after working on an illustration for a family friend for two weeks, I have enormous admiration for the work of illustrators. It's just not for me.

I learned that illustration is remarkably demanding. And, while the recipient of the work was quite pleased with the outcome, I kept looking for
C O L O R!! Once again I realized how very invested I am with color and paint. Duh, eh? Bet you could have helped me out with this.

There was also a local call for artists on the subject of red at a respected gallery here. I am not one to submit work to galleries very often, but this one intrigued me. The gallery wants to exhibit work that will augment an upcoming performance of the play, Red, by John Logan, about the life and work of Rothko. Of course, I had to start painting with a lot of green....More about that next week. I've also submitted another painting to the call, and another work for a show in New Mexico. Whew!

Abiquiu Ancestors: Opening Sanctuary 30" x 30" Oil on canvas Image © 2012 Melinda S. Esparza

This painting is getting some attention today as it waits patiently to be finished soon.

Abiquiu Ancestors: Opening Sanctuary (detail) 30" x 30" Oil on canvas Image © 2012 Melinda S. Esparza

Not quite done, but getting closer:

Abiquiu Ancestors: Opening Sanctuary 30" x 30" Oil on canvas Image © 2012 Melinda S. Esparza

Do you have some thoughts on Rothko to share? I watched a documentary last night about Henry Geldzahler. Have you ever wondered why certain artists were heralded more than others, and women artists were virtually left out of the heralding in the 1960s. Well, wonder no more. Henry Geldzahler wrote about his artist friends, and the work he enjoyed most. Simple. There you have it.

And because of his position as Curator for American Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he was able to push the careers of his artist friends. Who Gets to Call It Art?, by Peter Rosen, is the name of the documentary. See for yourself. I'm not specifically against this sort of thing. It seems to be a natural enough behavior. The problem I have is its exclusivity and exclusion of a wider range of artists--in any era.

Just got the link to the National Park Service's page on Artists-in-Residence at the Grand Canyon last week. Yep, I'm there and feeling pretty excited about the whole thing. My hiking boots are broken in and my packing skills are honed...

It's been a busy time offline and I've missed you all. Are you doing what you want to do in your studios? Oh, I really hope so!

I'll be back--soon.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Happy New Year: Artist Melinda Esparza Reflects on Helen Frankenthaler

Sky Fell, Sun Followed--Homage to Helen Frankenthaler Image © 2012 Melinda S. Esparza


My wish continues for all of you artists and visitors here. For me, it has been the start of a pleasant new year. I hope it has for you too.

Why, by golly, I've gone for a walk on a perfect, perfect, January 1st, 2012 (!), with a couple of not so perfect GSDs, chatted with a man who gave me a message from the Universe without knowing it (made me smile), met our new perfect neighbors (completely kind without a trace of psychopathic tendencies), and had a sit with ma' chil' as the dogs sat on their Coolaroos noshing on treats. So far, so good.

Reading the NY Times obituary today that Helen Frankenthaler died on the 27th of December brought tears to my eyes--not because she died at the age of 83, from what I assume was a long battle with cancer, who had a loving extended family and a career of great work that included a lifetime of involvement with education, but because another great woman artist has passed from this fragile plane, when there are so few that get any recognition at all.

I painted this painting on the 27th, without knowing that she had passed away. It did remind me then of her, but I had no way of knowing.

Her work was so exceptional to me. She was able to follow Clement Greenburg's restrictive theory of total non-representational working (Because, he stated, to the ire of many, that representational art had already been done for thousands of years and modern artists should move on with more intellectual pursuits and non-statement/statements of beauty.) I paraphrase, of course, and there may be an academe who would unravel my summary. Please do.

However, Helen Frankenthaler did what amazes, enthralls and stimulates so many with an approach that is incredibly difficult to maintain--creating landscapes that were not--and yet, were. She kept going. She was disciplined. She had her own ideas. She 'outdid' Pollack, but maybe not Krasner (smiling again).

I hope you aspire to be like her. I will.

Now the challenge is to continue to talk about our best female artists, not merely the ten or so from the last century, nor the ten or so male artists from the last century and the 19th when we can't think of women artists, nor only those who are famous and are currently 'in.'

Helen Frankenthaler quotes from Brainy Quote:

"Whatever the medium, there is the difficulty, challenge, fascination and often productive clumsiness of learning a new method: the wonderful puzzles and problems of translating with new materials."

"You have to know how to use the accident, how to recognize it, how to control it, and ways to eliminate it so that the whole surface looks felt and born all at once."

Rest in peace, Helen Frankenthaler. We'll keep our 'eyes on the prize.' And thank you, Mavis Staples for musical inspiration.