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.


Linny D. Vine said...

An excellent post from another great woman artist that I happen to know - Happy New Year, Melinda!!
Your painting is great and beautiful!!

Edgar said...

I had the same thought, Melinda, that Helen was certainly an icon of the art world, and that her passing creates a vacuum.

Your work is certainly excellent, and deserves a much larger audience. And I admire your support of contemporary women artists... there is so much more talent waiting to be recognized.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Linny. You are wonderful and I hope everyone who visits here also visits your website and blog.

You are an inspiration as a human being and a wonderful woman artist.

Wishing you all the best in this coming year!

p. s. Notice that there is a link to your site in Mr. Artyfice's comment. What a nice surprise. Yes, we can change the art world.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Edgar. It is my hope, and I'm confident about this, that there are many women artists ready to fill the void that Helen and others created in their passing.

Thank you for linking to several of them in your comment.

I hope you are inspired to work more this year. C'mon now, there's enough room for all of us!

Edgar said...

So many more artists are also deserving of links... no slights intended!

Donald Diddams said...

An exciting painting and a thoughtful post to begin the new year. The permission to experiment, to move beyond purely representational art is so important. And that is what people like you -- and Helen Frankenthaler -- do for us.
Happy New Year to you and yours!

Melinda said...

Thank you, Don. It's really challenging, isn't it, to give ourselves permission to experiment and/or 'break the rules'? Often, it is our own restriction, not those of the outside world.

As one who loves many genres and styles, it can be a struggle in a different way.

I hope you will continue to search and discover new ways of working visually regarding your life and environment--never afraid of the critical left brain or those who have limited scope.

Warm hugs from here--and, a happy, healthy, productive new year to you too!

Jeane Myers said...

GEEEZZZZZEEE! I love this painting - it has everything!!! damn you are good! you seem to have fallen into the new year with an exclamation point! Miss Frankenthaler has been a huge inspiration to me and will continue to inspire - she was not afraid of the challenge of creating - a very honorable and desirable attribute! xox

Melinda said...

Oh, my, Jeane...I am delighted that you like this painting--more than you can tell from this. Well, more like you're here in the studio and I am dancing a happy dance and offering a hug of gratitude!

Your words make my day.

I think of you as one of the women artists working today who should get more recognition. You are one who pushes through, unafraid to tear things up and see where it leads you. This is what it is all about.

Thank you.
Virtual hugs.

p. s. Love your profile photo!

Barbara Muir said...

My internet is as slow as a glacier moving. It is such a reward to come here and see this painting. I was so saddened to hear that Helen Frankenthaler had died. Great women artists. I sing of Melinda Esparza. Fame is one thing, community another. We belong to a community of women artists and artistic men, and we are growing. To be admired by Clement Greenburg is a huge achievement. But you are admired by many people around the world -- like this chilly soul in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Happy New Year to you, and please keep painting so magically that you move the planet, and writing such alchemical prose and poetry.


Melinda said...

Hi Barbara,
Yes, I've had the same problem with the internet.

I'm so glad you came by and that you like the work here.

Absolutely, I agree with you about community and support. It would be a sadder place, wouldn't it if we didn't have blogging and other kind hearted artist friends?

Happy new year to you too! I wish you the same. Be you and don't worry about anything else!

Virtual hugs.

cohen labelle said...

Happy new year to you Melinda!!!
I always love your conversation with paint! Every time I look at your work, I’m finding something new, different, that I hadn’t caught before. Nothing’s ever cut and dried with your work and I guess that’s the same way you feel when you look at Frankenthaler’s painting.
Thinking of you!!!
xo, Marcia

Melinda said...

Happy new year to you too, Marcia!

I'm so glad that you enjoy coming by and looking at my conversations with paint.

What a wonderful compliment--that my work is not cut and dried. I really like that. A goal I will always aim to keep.

I'm sending you many good wishes for a splendid, art-filled, healthy, prosperous year.

Virtual hugs.

Bridget Hunter said...

I'd love your painting on my wall - wish I could work ike this. And thankyou for introducing me to an inspirational artist.

Melinda said...

Thank you so very much, Bridget! You've made my day, I tell you. It's really kind of you.

You can work this way. I'm sure of it. There is something about your work that suggests that you can.

Thank you again. Virtual hugs.