Summer 2016 Reading

Fall is approaching.  Classes at the universities in my area have started.  Perhaps it is the reminiscences of years in academia that make me think of   ‘what I did during the summer’.   I had long hours of studio time investigating different types of painting supports for my upcoming artist residency during the month of September in France.

I read some newly published books that challenged, informed, and affirmed my work as an artist.  I share them here with quotes I found important to my studio practice.

The Storm of Creativity by Kyna Leski.   This is a jewel of a book.

“And from the initial raging storm, a gentle outcome, persistence and perseverance in gentleness.”

I am, like many others, astonished by the role the unconscious plays in the creative process-how ideas seem to spring from nowhere.  I had completely forgotten Ponge’s metaphor of a storm.  As you will see, forgetting, deliberate forgetting, or unknowing is a stage of the creative process.  Equally important and the opposite of forgetting is the effort to try and see ahead.  p. xxii


ways of curating  by hans ulrich orbrist.  This book is challenging and informative with a great history of curating.  It would be great to sit next to the author on a long transatlantic flight and converse with him.

– the task of curating is to make junctions, to allow different elements to touch.  You might describe it as the attempted pollination of culture, or a form of map-making that opens new routes through a city, a people or a world. p.1


Better Living Through Criticism (How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty and Truth. by A.O. Scott

Aesthetic experience takes place in a crowd or in ecstatic isolation.  It is, in either case a series of discrete moments of contemplation and surrender.  p.44




New mentors, old pilgrimages and an upcoming residency.

You must undertake a sensuous adventure within the world of painting in order to know it all…you have to experience them. Mark Rothko

I made a pilgrimage to the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay in March. I spent a week immersing myself in these two museums.  Meeting the paintings I had looked at via slides, read about and studied in art history.   Time and time again  I  experienced  the joy, surprise humility and tears of  finally meeting old friends in person.  “Oh, I finally get to meet you in person, after all these years.  I have heard so much about you, you look different in person.”   It was humbling, there were encounters of presence reaching out  and enveloping me that I can not write about because there are no words.

There were countless new meetings as well. Paintings that were new to me, painters that I was meeting for the first time. I realized I was meeting new mentors in my journey, masters whose work had indivuated beyond the egomania, patriarchy, colonialism, racism and sexism of their lifetimes.  I entered the deep, altering, sacred space of recognition and surprise.

At the Musee d’Orsay I sat with two sculptures, “L Age mur” (1897) and “Torse de Clotho” (1893) of Camille Claudel (1864-19430.)  Her work is powerful, raw to the core.   I have read books about her life, and have two movies  produced about her life and work.  I thought I  had a good familiarity with her and  her work.  Until, I encountered these two pieces in person.  For me personally, the encounter with her work was/is a powerful moment of insight into the risks a serious woman artist must navigate in this world.  She and her work are with me always in new and different ways.

Torse de Clotho -1893- by Camille Claudel

Torse de Clotho -1893- by Camille Claudel

I spent two days in the Richelieu Wing of the Louvre meeting paintings old and new. Studying details and sitting with what my mentors had to teach me. The wonderful experience of being able to photograph details of paintings, write about them in my room at night and carry them back into the studio at home is a gift beyond measure and one I am treasuring more and more.

I left Paris by train and travelled to the town of s’Hertogenbosch in Holland.  In this beautiful ancient town I met the the largest gathering of works by the medieval artist, Jheronimus Bosch (c. 1450 – 1516) ever shown.

Statue of Bosch in the town center of s'-Hertogenbosch

Statue of Bosch in the town center of s’-Hertogenbosch

In the beautiful Noordbrabaants Museum I experienced the works of a painter who died 500 years ago. Bosch’s painting are intricate jewels of focus and attention. I left speechless, wrapped in the mystery of the work. There was a resonance with the beauty of this Renaissance town that’s survived wars, invasions and bombings. Bosch’s original studio stands in the town center, holding the quiet dignity of a master painter who died 500 years ago.


The Studio of Jheronimus Bosch

The Studio of Jheronimus Bosch

Contemporary sculpture of Bosch painting in the town of s'-Hertogenbosch.

Contemporary sculpture of Bosch painting in the town of s’-Hertogenbosch.

Since my return I have spent a great deal of time working in the studio. Just before leaving for this pilgrimage I found out that I was invited for a month’s long residency at the CAMAC Centre in Marnay Sur Seine, France. I will be there for the month of September.

A Pilgrimage of “meetings”

Tomorrow my husband and I leave for Amsterdam and Paris.  I am going to meet masters and mentors in person.  Paintings.  The largest gathering of Edouard Manet and Odilon Redon, Cezanne, Pissarro, Sisley and others I have been studying for decades.  I will have long immersive days at the Musee d’Orsay and Louvre.  I am thrilled and humbled by what the experiences of finally meeting these paintings in person will gift me with and open my heart to.  Added to this will be time at the Centre Pompidu where the largest exhibit and retrospective ever seen of Anselm Kiefer’s work is being shown through the beginning of April.   When I return to Amsterdam my Dutch artist friend has arranged a trip to the Het Noordbrabants Museum in the amazing town of s’Hertogenbosch a 2-hour train ride south of Amsterdam to view the once in 500 year exhibit of Hieronimus Bosch which is up until the 8th of May.

When I return I will be launching my periodic mailing of “The Wit(h)nessing Muse” another step in my unfolding as an artist.