At last the studio and house are returning to order after weeks (months!) of disruption and too much plaster dust, both the unavoidable side effects of some necessary repairs. The most obvious benefits to such chaos are the beautiful new studio ceiling and virtually new kitchen ceiling, not to mention pipes that no longer leak. Moving as much as possible out of the way of those doing the work was a perfect opportunity to cull some of the “stuff” stashed in corners and on shelves. And as the rooms fall back in place, there is a chance to see modes of organization and arrangement with a fresh perspective. But the best and unexpected benefit has been to hold books and notebooks, open them, and rediscover gems not seen or remembered for too long. Here are a few of the things I found.

From Kathleen Norris in The Cloister Walk:

“Poets understand that they do not know what they mean and that this is a source of their strength.”

The following was an unattributed quote in an old gallery newsletter. I would be very happy if there is anyone who can give me the source:

“The struggle to make a genuine picture (or for that matter, any work of art) is never a passive, but always an intentional act of the creative will, one through which the Self declares itself a conscious agent in the world. Painting a picture, therefore, far from being a frivolous or meaningless activity, is one  burdened with existential import.”

A few things to think about as I get back to work in my new space!

Many thanks to Tom, Harry, and Matt; all good souls who did good work and solved unexpected problems!!

Stay Cool

June 22, 2011

It is officially summer in Richmond, and the days are warming up accordingly.  What better way to cool off than to spend some time looking at new art in local galleries.  Two group shows will open this Friday, June 24 offering cool space for a hot time.  Check out the [work] 2011 show at the Visual Arts Center for a look at new work by faculty, staff, and board members with an opening reception 6-8 PM.  Then move on to artspace with a gallery talk and reception 6-10 PM for the juried show radius 250 featuring work by artists living within a 250 mile radius of Richmond.  And, yes, this is clearly self-promotion, since I am happy to be included in both shows!

Recently I had the great pleasure of helping with Patrick Dougherty’s new installation at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Diamond in the Rough. And yes, this is a belated post, since the piece was completed a couple of weeks ago. There was so much to enjoy about working on this project: learning how these things are put together, learning how to draw with sticks, enjoying the smell of the material and the feel of the spaces, meeting new people and working with other volunteers, helping Patrick’s assistant Andy on the highest dome (on my birthday!), watching Patrick work, and having a chance to get to know him. Patrick is a remarkable artist and a remarkable person. Unlike an artist working alone in a studio, Patrick depends on the help of volunteers and is very aware of the community aspect of his work. He has to be open to whatever happens at the hands of his helpers, to be willing to not be in total control. As any artist, he begins with an idea – in this case a grid of eleven diamonds – and reacts and adjusts as the piece develops. Throughout the process, Patrick was sincere and generous with viewers and helpers alike. Now that the working is done, he has left behind not only a truly delightful installation to be enjoyed by many people in many different ways but also a sort of lovely cloud of kindness and generosity that has settled upon the many people he encountered during his three week stay here – one that surely gathers and settles wherever he finishes a project. It is not only the site of his installation that is changed by his work, but the people too!

Diamond in the Rough will be at the gardens for a long while, but it will change over time. So visit soon and visit often. You won’t be disappointed!

Patrick Doherty

Almost finished

Andy on the roof

Looking through

Studio Envy

May 28, 2010

Studio space can be a critical factor in the working life of an artist.  The kitchen table, the corner of a room, or the space of a drawing table often have to make do.  Garages and basements can offer an improvement in square footage but not necessarily in quality of space (I’m thinking of camel crickets, spiders, mold, and damp darkness).  A dedicated room with heat, natural light, and running water nearby may seem a luxury.  But there are other possibilities…

On a recent trip to Spain I visited the Museo Sorolla in Madrid.  This oasis is a few metro stops from the historic center and main tourist area of the city.  It is the former home and studio of the artist Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923).  The house was designed with a studio and two gallery rooms attached.  Sorolla designed the surrounding gardens.  What a gem!  The house and studio hold not only many of Sorolla’s paintings but also his collections, from pottery to artifacts. With the exception of the rooms that now serve as gallery space, the house is much as it was when Sorolla died, and the visit offers an interesting glimpse into a creative life.  This is the studio:

This is a view from the garden of the studio/gallery entrance (now the museum entrance):

And this is a view of one of the four garden spaces:

If I lived in Madrid, this garden would be a frequent destination; a place to read, think, sketch, be.  And the studio; well, I’m not sure I would know what to do with so much space!