I want to extend an invitation to any of you who are local to attend my first show in many years. A Sense of Place will be held in Albuquerque at Palette Contemporary and is opening on January 28th from 1:00 to 4:00. I would love to see you there.
It seems fitting for me to be finally breaking out again in Albuquerque. Some don’t know of the city’s rich Modernist past but its artists were at least as important as the Taos Modernists. Lez Haas developed one of the best art schools in the United States there from 1948 to 1964. The city blossomed with a new freedom of expression and artistic energy. I certainly wish I’d known about it as a budding art student in the 60s.
Modernism there began with a man named Raymond Jonson and his singular vision. And it bloomed into great art relevance with artists such as Elaine de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Agnes Martin, Pablita Velarde, and many others. Then there was that remarkable art school at UNM feeding it all. It is said that there existed in Albuquerque a genuine freedom to find one’s own artistic path. There were no rules. No right way. And art and artists thrived.
Following are some of my thoughts about this new body of work that is so important to me, and will be showcased at the upcoming Palette Contemporary opening.
I didn’t believe I was ever going to paint again. I’d become ill and frail and no longer could. Then I met a group of doctors who helped me so much that, beyond my wildest dreams, here I am, painting. And I think that’s why I’m so passionate about these new pieces. It’s an almost obsessive need to paint them out of me. And the doing of it truly gives me an element of joy. I mean they were never going to be born. I dreamed about them at night. And yet, against all odds, here they are. I literally celebrated each one as they were realized and have asked Spirit to give me 20 more years so I can paint.
Geometry. While painting this show it occurred to me that I’ve been pursuing geometry in my work since about 2003 or so. I can trace it back to one particular painting. It was an abstracted realism piece, the first I tried to do when breaking away from genre work. I remember the entire time I worked on it hearing that chatter in my mind we all deal with. But this “chatter” was only one word: geometry. I ended up painting a kind of grid in the sky beneath which was a group of women seated around a fire circle. It was a leap of faith and I wasn’t sure why I was doing it.
I’ve always been drawn to line, space and shape. When I came to New Mexico I was flabbergasted by the many and varied and vast vistas. Coming from the pacific northwest I wasn’t used to seeing such an open landscape. Most places there are closed in with trees.
Then I came to Truchas and was immediately drawn to the stick fences stitched across the land forming the typically long and narrow pastures of the early Spanish, the ditches that cut across it all. Everything blocked up for me. I saw a kind of grid pattern everywhere, even in the exposed adobe walls that show their scratching and scraping to hold the plaster layer.
I think I’ve been yearning for space my entire life without realizing it. So when I finally got it, when no one was on the other side of an apartment wall, no house was 20 feet from my fence, I revelled in it. For instance I fell in love with my 3/4 mile long, difficult, dirt driveway. In fact it was the subject of one of my first NM paintings. And guess what is about half way along that driveway? My neighbor’s house (the subject of three paintings in the show). There it sits, in the middle of a field, several acres away. I love that house for its sheer distance from mine.
But it’s more than just space. I share this place with wild creatures: coyotes, foxes, bears, cougars, bobcats, bunnies, elk. I love seeing their tracks in the snow, hearing their calls at night. I was born for this.
Add to that the deep heritage and history of this place. Natives were here 1,000 years ago or more. I found an arrowhead on my land and two large working stones where they made tools. And the Spanish settled my village in the 1750s. They dug the ditches we still use today to irrigate our land with fire hardened wooden tools. Imagine. And I feel them, those who went before. Their energy still infuses this place where I live and they command my respect.
This show, A Sense of Place, represents a new artistic vision for me and a culmination of my many years of exploration in art. In Truchas I have found the inspiration and freedom that the artists who went before me found in Albuquerque. Which is one of the reasons I’m delighted to be joining them there. I look forward to seeing any of you who can make it.
Love to you all,