Then and Now
UMVA Quarterly Journal Fall 2014
Then: Todd Watts, “The Passion of Joanne D.,” 1974, Photography, 30” x 40” 2
Now: Todd Watts, “First Uncertainty.,” 2012, Photography, 66” x 46” 3
NAVIGATION: Hover cursor over contributor name or page number and click blue ‘link’ symbol to jump to page
Section 1: “Then and Now” Contributors:
Section 2: Regular Features and Columns:
23 artists’ submissions comparing early & recent work Diane Bowie Zaitlin
8 -- 9
10 -- 11 12 -- 15 16 -- 19 20 21 22 -- 24 25 26 -- 27 28 -- 31 32 -- 33 34 -- 37
From the Board: Then and Now by Robert Shetterly Why is the revitalization of the UMVA taking place right now?
52 -- 53 Checking In by Kenny Cole: A visit to the studio of Carly Glovinski Insight/Incite
Narratives by Educators about Creative Expression
------------- Collaboration: Interviewing Paul Wong master papermaker at Dieu Donne by Christine J. Higgins 54 -- 55 ------------- Winners! UMVA Journal Contest Why Art Education is Important 56 -- 57 ------------- Rethinking Military Experience through Craft by Kevin Basl of Combat Paper (making handmade paper from military uniforms) Webcomix by William Hessian
Call to Creative Action by Arlene Goldfarb
Maine Masters Report Jon Imber by Dick Kane
60 -- 61
62 -- 63
44 -- 45
Art at Work Blog Portland Works Project by Marty Pottenger
46 -- 47 Back Cover
Outsider Art Show Review by IB Tattlin
64 -- 65
ARRT! Report by Artists Rapid Response Team
66 -- 67
38 39 40 -- 41 42 -- 43
Call for Submissions for Next Issue: Inter-view/Inner-view
Union of Maine Visual Artists Quarterly Journal Fall, 2014 Theme: “Then and Now” Front Cover -- Then: Front Cover: “Then and Now” Statement from Diane Bowie Zaitlin: rt has always been a vehicle not only to express my feelings, but to dissect them, grapple with them, and integrate them. I was raised to be very stoic, with a solid facade of pleasantness . I discovered at a very early age that art could free me from these restrictions and allow me to come in touch with my feelings, to express them, and to process them. “Spin Around” is a pastel drawing from 1985. It is from a large body of work from my dreams and memories.
Most of my artwork starts with writing and has for decades. I write what is on my mind, often repeating a phrase that is pertinent to my feelings and thoughts. Images and patterns emerge and become the beginning of the painting. My emotional history is always there: emerging, receding, in the form of a recognizable image or formal elements of gesture, color, or texture. My story, the human story, is woven throughout. Art is the vehicle through which I come to terms with myself and others. As I have matured, the literal story is less important. My focus now is in the evolution of the painting, the dialogue that sets up within the picture plane. The creative process at this point is more internal, intuitive, spiritual, and focused on the present. It is about making sense of the world from the inside out. Back Cover: Michael Shaughnessy (see statement page 46 - 47)
Diane Bowie Zaitlin, “Spin Around,” pastel and graphite, 30” x 40” 1985
Front Cover -- Now: Diane
Bowie Zaitlin, “Archives,” mixed media encaustic on birch panel, 30” x 24” 2014
Back Cover -- Then:
Michael Shaughnessy, “Acrylic Painting” (age 15)
Back Cover -- Now: Michael
Shaughnessy, “New State Rising,” 2015, Hay, wood and twine, 20’ x 18’ x 2’ Bates College Art Museum
Design by Anita Clearfield The UMVA Journal is funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts Copyright Union of Maine Visual Artists, 2014, All Rights Reserved 5
From the Editors:
he theme for this quarterly issue “Then and Now” went out as an invitation to explore how we have evolved as artists. And it is a reminder that every once in a while, we can can stop and enjoy surveying our paths. The response to “Then and Now” far surpassed our expectations, so we are particularly proud to present a diversity of work from the many artists who shared their images and compelling stories. It contains more than a few surprises. This expanded journal format began a little less than a year ago. Kathleen Galligan, who had faithfully edited the UMVA newsletter, the glue of the Union for years, was giving her notice. Our treasurer, who wore many hats, Caren Marie Michel was also ready to move on. A few of us were full of energy from our collaboration with ARRT! So, with the momentum flowing from the artistic support and purpose of the project, we took stock of where we were as a union and decided it was time to rethink the newsletter. We jumped in to the project with the hope of creating a more vigorous presence and enter the digital age. Our intent was to create an easily-accessible forum to connect Maine artists to each other, share our work in high-quality images and discuss ideas in a non-commercial format. We started in January 2014 with the first monthly newsletter/journal. The 40+ years of UMVA history has been coming alive through the submissions of long time members and being reborn with new members, many of whom are just learning about the union. In May, we realized that we were way too successful at this endeavor to publish a monthly edition of news as well as an arts journal at the same time. The abundance and quality of the material we received was too good and too much to squeeze into monthly issues. We separated the newsletter from the art journal, to allow the flexibility for news to be published frequently, in an up-to-date and to-the-point blog format. The Journal is maturing as a quarterly, allowing more time for thoughtful essays, responses to themes and previous articles, while spreading out in this luscious, image-rich, magazine format. We hope you find it thought-provoking and visually stimulating. We are proud to say that the Maine Arts Commission has rewarded our efforts with a grant to cover some of the costs of publishing the Quarterly Journal over the next year.
Please check-out our next theme for the Winter, 2015 Quarterly issue; “Inter-view/Inner-view.” We’d love to share your take on the artist interview, whether it’s interviewing someone else...or yourself. ---- Nora Tryon, Natasha Mayers, Daniel Kany, Anita Clearfield 6
From the Board:
Then and Now
by Robert Shetterly, UMVA President
hy is the revitalization of the UMVA taking place right now? The new Quarterly Journal, the burgeoning Maine Masters Project, the Artists Rapid Response Team (ARRT!), rebounding membership, the new Downeast chapter, a newly assembled board are all at the impetus of dedicated UMVA members, but they are also, I think, in response to something fundamental in our culture. The influence and necessity of arts and artists in a culture ebb and flow. Critical times, such as ours now, demand the gifts of artists --- our ability to say what needs to be said and to hold fast to values absent in the larger culture. Perhaps the saddest and most alarming fact of our time is the failure of governments to care for people and for the future. From violence to climate, from resource depletion to mass extinctions, from population to wealth disparities it would seem that our leaders are incapable of even addressing the problems honestly. We may have different ideas about why that is true, but few people would disagree.
Photo submitted by Katherine Bradford
Perhaps the revitalization of the UMVA is one response. Just as local organic farmers are answering the call for an alternative to the terrible environmental, health and moral cost of industrial farming, artists are answering the call to envision the rebirth of culture based in aesthetics and justice. Change in consciousness has often been led by artists
--- giving people permission to think differently about everything from economy to community & personal relationships. It is our job to open eyes, hearts, minds, and spirits. There is no one, right way forward now, but with governments in the strangle hold of special interests and corruption, solutions must proceed from the bottom, from the grassroots, and that's where the artists are. The UMVA is indeed fortunate to have assembled a new board to help us chart our direction forward as an organization. Our board members are now Natasha Mayers of Whitefield, Richard Kane of Sedgwick, Carl Little of Mt. Desert, Cynthia Hyde of Rockport, Mary Laury of Schoodic Arts, and William Hessian of Portland. This great group will help guide us on our way. And, of course, we will urge all of you to be more involved than ever. Send us your work, your ideas, your visions. When leadership fails, the people must lead. Art and artists have often been praised for being "cutting edge." That metaphor is meant to suggest avant garde incisiveness, but it also suggests violence and elitism. I prefer to think of our role now as "healing edge" --- an art that does not exacerbate the divisiveness and antagonisms in our culture but rather seeks both truth and empathy, tough but inclusive. It would never be my intention to prescribe any particular message or medium to artists. The UMVA promotes artistic freedom. Period. However, I would ask each of us to think carefully about whose interests our work serves, what is its cultural context and mission. Different times require different roles from its artists. It is my prejudice that we are being called as never before to make sure our work does not serve an unsustainable status quo. Thank you for being part of the union.
Then: Todd Watts, “My Left Hand,” 1973, Photography, 40” x 30”
Now: Todd Watts, “The Last Supper #4482,” 2012, Photography, 46” x 154”
y first works reflected the concerns of my immediate world. These black-and-white constructions addressed the life, observations, and mood of a young artist. It was a time of optimism and predictability, and the subject-matter of my work was comfortable and knowable. But the world was entering a future in which our human actions would impact us in unprecedented ways. Genetic research was in its infancy with the premeditated manipulation of evolution implied. The first pictures from space showing the whole earth made very clear the finite nature of our planet. Exponential population growth, and the subsequent pressure on resources were beginning to be acknowledged. The instantaneous exchange of information had begun, undermining the assumption that local events could be kept local. For me, these new realities were fertile ground for creative exploration. I found the possibilities irresistible. Ideas that once were new and strange (combined with traditional world-views) have become the language of our present. Everyday we share experiences with people we have never met. We see simultaneously through many eyes, which challenges our personal beliefs. My recent work looks at who we are now in the world we have created. 9
Then: Dozier Bell, “St. Lucy’s Day, 2” approx. 24” x 30”, oil on linen, 1988
Dozier Bell Then: I think my whole career has been about making one artwork that consists of hundreds of different paintings. The visual world I explore became clear to me in my second year of graduate school and has changed somewhat in terms of the way the paintings look, but not in the psychological reality they represent. Early on I was very much influenced by the painters of the Northern European Renaissance - Memling, Holbein, Bouts, Van der Weyden - for the mood established by the sometimes limited palette, the graphic qualities established by the clear values, and the fantasy elements and somber intensity of their subject matter, which were a corollary of my own relationship to the landscape. I’ve been drawn to the painters of the Northern Romantic tradition for some of the same reasons, though they haven’t been as influential. There are a few contemporary painters that have interested me, like Anselm Kiefer, but none who I would say have influenced my work. I keep going back to work that has obvious spiritual underpinnings, and I don’t see much of that going on in the contemporary art world. 10
Now: Dozier Bell, “15:00, 2,” 2012, 44” x 50” acrylic on linen
Now: Most of my work has depicted imaginary scenes that were my interpretations of the visual world I knew growing up in rural Maine. I still work mostly from imagination, but in recent years I’ve been interested in blending more straightforward representational imagery of what I see around me with those imagined scenes. This edge between physical and psychological reality is what excites me the most. Did you burn early work, store it, treasure it? How do you feel about early works you sold or gave away? I was lucky enough to sell most of my early work, and I’m happy about that, because oth-
erwise I’m sure I’d have taken most of it to the dump - I’m very impatient with anything that isn’t what I’m working on right now. I have a few things from grad school that sit in a flat file, and have a handful of small paintings I’ve kept over the years. It can be very interesting to see older, sold work again because it’s as though it was done by someone else - I’m no longer the person who did that painting, and that’s a strange and interesting feeling. 11
Then: Anita Kahrl, “Haven,” 1973, watercolor, 22.5” x 30”
Anita and Marguerite Kahrl
Now: Marguerite Kahrl, “Troubles,” 2001, Mixed Media: Parts found at junkyards, refined Methane rated at 2000PSI, Honda engine converted carburetor, steel, plumbing, remote control and various hardware parts. Dimension of vehicle: 46 x 36 x 91 inches
rom a young age I accompanied my mother, Anita Kahrl (1936-1980), in her studio and on painting excursions. Anita, a portrait and landscape painter, favored settings in Maine such as abandoned farms and coastal scenes. This early formation gave me a unique perspective on translating landscapes and capturing how people have lived from the land. In my own work as a sculptor I have elaborated on this theme by collecting discarded machinery from junkyards in Maine to build remote-controlled vehicles powered by landfill gas. More recently I have collected antique industrial hemp grown by Alpine communities in Northern Italy to make a series of portraits as three-dimensional busts. For “Then and Now,” I have included a couple of my mother’s landscapes along with my more recent work. Our conversation about the land has unfolded into the present, as a reconsideration of the intersection of humans and nature. Today representing nature and society as an artist is a critical and complex affair. Rather than simply posing questions about our environment, our role as artists must include responding by imagining a new way forward. 13
Then: Anita Kahrl, “Georgetown Cemetery,” 1976, Watercolor, 22.5” x 30”
Now: Marguerite Kahrl, “Aldo and Mimmo,” 2009, Lambda photo print, 16” x 31”
Now: Marguerite Kahrl, “NS23 (Point), 2014, Hemp, linen, cotton, batting, thread and wood, 13 x 6 x 5 inches
Now: Marguerite Kahrl, “NS67 2 (Long Ears),” 2010, Hemp, linen, cotton, batting, thread and wood, 13 x 11 x 7 inches 15
Then: Karen Gilg (Adrienne), “Skypiece,” 1979, 7 plate relief print, 14’X14”
rintmaking was a “love at first sight” experience for me. I love the way the process is held in the image, and variations and multiple views contribute to its versatility. Printmaking offers a chance to hold onto something, and share it simultaneously. It can be kept, sold and given away. It is, at essence, a democratic discipline rich with community. My ongoing relationship with nature flattens out into planes of color, mark and movement. Some underlying structure holds my delicate emotional attachment to a piece of sky, water, night, or moment of transformation. While various other aspects of nature were embedded in a variety of ways over the many years of my art practice, I can also see some elements of continuity and continued preference.
Now: Karen Adrienne, “Cobossee Stream,” 2013, monotype, 10”x 66”
Then: Karen Gilg (Adrienne), “Counterpoint,” 1979, 10 plate relief
Now: Karen Adrienne, “Transformation,“ 2014, monotype, 22”x 44” 19
Alan Crichton Then & Now 1964 – 2014
oing back to almost the start. Almost, because at 10, I loved drawing Charles Addams cartoons. Then my Mother sent me to drawing classes taught by a petite woman: careful 3D charcoal rendering: spheres and eggs, glasses and plates. The smell of fixative. I was still in grade school. The teacher was very pretty, with long black hair. Almost, because starting in architecture, I didn’t expect Neil Welliver, the real thing: a sparkplug with a life in painting. He taught us STROKE, from which followed rhythm, pattern, perspective, ornamentation, meaning, immediacy, courage, originality.
Now: Alan Crichton, “Hundred Hairdos Series #31, Renata,” 2008, 30”x22”, pastel on paper
That was then. It still is now.
Then: Alan Crichton, “Philly Train Station,” 1964, pen and ink on paper, 5”x 9” 20
Then: Bessie Smith Moulton,”Homage to Lautrec”, 1973, serigraph, 7” x 9”
Bessie Smith Moulton
hen: in the 70s I explored various silkscreen techniques choosing the medium for its hard-edge qualities. During the same period I started making artist’s books… as a teacher I introduced basic book binding techniques as well as silk-screening.
Now: I am very interested in incorporating textiles into my books in addition to natural dyeing, batik, kantha and embroidery.
Now: Bessie Smith Moulton,”Masseria Zingara Unbound,” 2014, multi-media (cloth, paper, thread, dyes, silhouette), 4.5” x 13.5” open, folded: 6.75” x 4.5”
Now: Don Voisine, “View,” 2013, Oil on wood panel, 32’ x 32” Opposite page: Then: Don Voisine, “Piet 1,” 1988, oil on linen, 24” x 20” 23
iet 1” (1988) is a painting I made before my work became less diagrammatic and more hard edged, just prior to my use of tape to get sharper crisper lines. The imagery of the paintings leading up to this were based on floor plans from places I lived or worked in. “Piet 1” is one of the first works to get away from architectural references. The structure is based on a Mondrian painting which I had to make adjustments to fit the different format and size I was working on. 25 years later, in “View” (2013), the dark inner rectangle set into the even darker black field, while being hard-edged, is softened through the use of iridescent pigments, giving it an elusive, immaterial quality reminiscent of the central black and white area - spatially contained yet painted in a loose, sketchy, atmospheric way - in “Piet 1”. In most of my work the main visual activity takes place around the perimeter. In this painting the placement of the triangular wedge within the edge of the inner rectangle is meant to pull your eye in towards the center and away from the outer edges of the painting. This asymmetry creates a tension that activates the whole picture and keeps one’s eye engaged with a seemingly simple composition.
Don Voisine cont’d. Did you burn early work, store it, treasure it? How do you feel about early works you sold or gave away? I don’t miss paintings that are no longer in my possession. I am fairly prolific and would have no room to work if I tried to hold on to everything I’ve made. I think editing is very important. If we treat everything as precious and worthy of saving I think this makes us timid and will inhibit pushing our work beyond our comfort zones. I’ve destroyed many paintings for various reasons; a painting laying around in the studio may get changed months after it was supposedly finished. Friends have joked that it is best to get my work away from me in order to preserve it. They exaggerate.
Web Comix by William Hessian
Then: Harold Garde, “Untitled,” 1959 oil on board 36” x 48”
hat has happened over these many years? I still start a painting in panic, not knowing where it may go, what imagery might I discover, what impact might it make. In the 50s and 60s I was at war with time, the spare minutes and rare hours that I could use to escape the daily work and family demands. It felt meaningful that I could do a subjectless painting, that I could be a tag-along with the inspired abstract expressionist movement. It was an escape from traditional learning and it felt free and important. I may have doubts about my own work (was it daring enough, was it overly balanced or under resolved) but it was a gratifying and challenging way to work. I think I like this older painting better now than I probably did when I painted it. 26
Now: Harold Garde, “Sshhh,” 2013, acrylic on canvas 44” x 55”
ow I have much more time, but the luxury of time gives me more time to panic when I face my newly primed white canvas. I ask myself not only what this painting should be, but what any 21st century painting should be. It is in a state of desperation that I start by smearing some paint, broad strokes, anything, to allow me to edit and discover as I fill the canvas and find and refine images. The formal requirements, balance, composition, whatever the right word is, those elements have to be resolved, but rarely do I allow it to be an end in itself. Some of my earliest subjects come back. They suggest themselves, such as the faces in the recent work. The subject comes from the paint and is my job to properly provide enough focus to give an identity to the work while preserving and, I hope, sharing the freshness. I am so involved with what I am doing now that it hard for me to remember what and who I was when I was doing my early work.
Now: Richard Keen, “Sea Geometry No. 187 / Darkness,” 2012, Oil on canvas, 10” x 10”
Now: Richard Keen, “Form Singularity No. 30,” 2014, Acrylic, Oil and enamel on canvas, 36” x 30”
Now: “Form Singularity_ Inverted Black,” 2013, , Styrofoam,Plaster, Wood,Polyester Resin/ Fiberglass,Enamel, 40”x 22”x 3.5”
’ve always been interested in blurring the boundaries between abstraction and realism. I ‘ve continuously explored multiple materials to create with. My early work since moving to Maine in 1999 was invested in developing abstracted interpretations related to Maine landscapes. During hiking trips around the state I discovered lichen growing in circular patterns that initiated a series of abstracted paintings based on lichen formations. Simultaneously I explored rituals within my studio practice that involved drinking tea which led to a body of work titled “Remnants”: sculpture, prints and drawings made using tea, teabags and wax. In 2003, I sighted my first fishing weir off the coast of Grand Manan Island; this began my affair with the sea. My “Weir Series” eventually spawned my “Sea Geometry” Series that combines my interests in seascapes and working waterfront imagery.
Then: Richard Keen, “Untitled,” 2003, Lichen Block Print, Encaustic, gouache, string, paper, 12”x 36”
Richard Keen cont’d.
resently I am continuing my “Sea Geometry” paintings while creating new minimalist paintings and sculptures by distilling shapes from previous work. My new “Form Singularity” series is primarily based on keels and rudder forms. I am experimenting with materials related to boat fabrication and more traditional painting materials. Artistically I am moving full circle informed with the past 15 years of influence from Maine. Then: Richard Keen, “Tea Spheres” (detail of
installation), 2003, tea, string, paper and wax 31
Then: Ben Lambert, “Prosthesis,” 2008, Stoneware, Oxide Washes., 18” x 7” x 8”
From the old to the new: progress or mutation?
ince the beginning of my time as a practicing artist in undergraduate school (about eight years ago), I have been investigating environmental issues through my ceramic sculpture. However, my formal and narrative decisions have been in constant flux.
My earlier work utilized fish and marine animals. I used distressed surfaces, anthropomorphism, and exaggerated hybridizing to illustrate the affected condition of constructed, unsavory aquatic characters. Each sculpture was a singular organism and was dynamically simple. The expression of each often-uncanny piece was humorous and absurd. My current work has found purchase in the human figure in addition to stylized animals. I am interested in how figurative elements can convey society’s role in the environmental issues confronting us. My recent sculpture tends to combine multiple organisms to better convey the breadth of the issues instead of individual oddity. With this expanded approach, I have also been infusing my own perspective and penchant for absurd illustration into the narratives of American myths.
Now: Ben Lambert, “If a Bear Falls in the Woods,” 2013, Earthenware, slip, casein, wax, 72”x 32”x 28”
Then: Rose Marasco, “St. Rosalie Feast,” 1988, photograph
have done many varied projects in not really a straight line; more, some crooked line in me. I’m still meandering on -- currently with my pinhole camera on the streets of NYC. But, what does this have to do with my Maine Grange, Domestic Objects, or Utica/Religious Imagery projects ? Just me I think. There are some formal things –awareness of spatial concerns and how depth is recorded in a flat photograph. But, there are other deeper observations and perceptions that I seek. As I edit my work I look for the presence of a real sensation, one that feels sincere and veracious. If it’s real, it will be accessible to those who see my work too. 34
Then: Rose Marasco, “Clothespins,” 1993, photograph
Then: Rose Marasco, “Amity Cary Grange,” 1991, photograph
Now: Rose Marasco, “Times Square,” 2009, photograph37
Then: “Vacation Nicaragua,” video excerpt 3 min. 48 sec. from feature-length documentary (1986) click on picture and then click on blue “link” symbol that appears to play video
Anita Clearfield Geoffrey Leighton
ver the years, we’ve collaborated on a number of videos. With such a tech-dependent medium, an obvious difference between now and then is technology -- the medium as the message -- what we did was controlled by the limitations of video itself, as well as the ways/venues in which it could be shown. The “then” piece is a 3-minute excerpt from “Vacation Nicaragua,” (1986), a feature-length documentary shown on broadcast (PBS), cable (Discovery) and film (four-walled in movie-theaters in major cities). In this excerpt we were trying to use the format of music video (a song by Peter Gabriel), to make extensive background information entertaining and accessible; we were going for the broadest possible audience and had to set up the Contra War in Nicaragua in just a few minutes. The second piece, although only completed a short time ago, will probably be seen by more people than the first -- simply as a video on the internet. In the first one, the special effects took months, we had to get permission from the performers and recording company, and we paid tens-of-thousands of dollars to transfer the video to film for theatrical release, etc. while the second one’s special effects were done on a personal computer, the music was composed and sent via the internet and the video can be projected as high definition for free. One result of changing technology is that knowing we can do so much of the work ourselves and knowing we can show it ourselves, we’re willing to be ourselves, often making “art videos” for their own sake. And like the changes in word-processing technology, now we can more easily make changes which leads to alternate versions and more risk-taking as well.
video running time: 2:28 click on picture and then click on blue “link” symbol that appears to play video
Now: “The First Hour of Being Buried Alive in a Half-built Cathedral” direction/video/editing by Anita Clearfield poetry by Nicelle Davis special effects by Geoffrey Leighton music by Silke Matzpohl video collaboration at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, 2013
Now: Edward Mackenzie, “Freeze-Frieze),” 2012 , mixed media 5 x 96 x 1 inches
lace obviously influences an artist’s work; however in art as in life itself, change of place does not matter as much as continuity and application of ideas – paramount in my work as a non-representative artist. In my early career I worked as an illustrator and designer i.e. a commercial artist. Many years ago I developed into a fine artist. After a long career I am a more confident practitioner - the coffee has percolated!
Tthen: Edward MacKenzie, America’s Graphic Design Magazine - PRINT May June 1965 Now: Edward Mackenzie, “Freeze-Frieze (detail),” 2012 , mixed media 5 x 96 x 1 inches
Now and Then By Daniel Kany
am an art critic by profession and I have just passed the mark of 250 weeks in a row without missing a single issue of the Maine Sunday Telegram. As a critic, my writing is less about saying what’s good or bad (or what I like or don’t) than giving worthy, important, famous or infamous work enough of a reading so that my audience can better choose whether to see an exhibition and have a richer experience for having read my thoughts about it. I was not trained as a critic but as an art historian. Consequently, I try to infuse my columns with enough art history that after a while anyone who reads them regularly will have a decent understanding of the basic tenets of art history. There is a switch right there – from historian to critic. And there’s more to that shift: Right out of graduate school, I did curatorial work – which is basically smack dab in the middle of what historians and critics do.
As a historian, I paid close attention to what artists said about their work. As a critic, I go out of my way to avoid hearing what artists say before I get my own take on their work. But I spent a decade between curator and critic as a gallerist. Sure, my press releases, catalog texts, letters and essays were informed by the art historical and academic curatorial standards of years of professional experience and training, but let’s face it: They were marketing materials. However, because art galleries rely on their reputations, the materials they produce about artists – especially online materials which have a potentially unlimited audience – are the very building blocks of integrity. This is one of the problems I have with the new messaging of the Portland Museum of Art, for example. All we hear from their leadership now is braggadocio and dervishly-spun success stories about their numbers. And when a public institution’s messaging goes corporate like they’re selling us something, they often are. And we can sense that long-earned integrity washing away – particularly when it is they who cast it off like so much dust in the wind.
Daniel Kany cont’d.
nd while we know the business of galleries (i.e., they want to sell artists’ work to collectors), we don’t always know the business of museums (e.g., Is this work up because the museum is courting a donor? Is a donor trying to build the reputation of a piece to get more at auction? How was that “promised gift” leveraged? And who is funding this or that show – and why – and what do they get out of it?). With museums, it’s hard (or impossible) to get a clear and complete picture of conflicts of interest – potential, apparent and real – even when they purport to be public institutions. Let me be clear: I think the galleries are the good guys in the art world. They are free to the public and most of the money they make goes to the artists – and most of the money that doesn’t go to the artists goes to other vendors like landlords, sign companies, internet providers, employees, etc. And galleries not only support economies with their revenues, they pay taxes too. One the other hand, the PMA, for example, charges $22 to see the main show and doesn’t pay taxes. (In fact, donors get a tax break.) And the PMA isn’t there to sell work for artists. So who’s the real public institution? I have to admit that stepping away from the (gallery) world of marketing and the pratfalls of fiscal conflict of interest is deliciously freeing. I now write for the public rather than just for clients. Of course, I like to think that the art collectors are part of my audience (if the artists are the muscle of this body, the collectors provide the life blood) – and we need them, of course, since if no one bought art, the art world would be skimpier and far less important; while in Maine, it’s one of the leading economic engines, which, in turn, gives Maine’s artist community not just moral and ethical standing, but fiscal and political clout as well. Then, I used to write for a very small (though excellent) private audience in a mode somewhat clouded by its status as marketing copy – and the only integrity for which I could speak was my own and the artists I chose to represent. And now I get to write for one of the most robust public art communities in the world. And that has made all the difference.
electing the images of my work for this issue made me ask more questions than I can begin to answer, but it gave me some insight into how and why I made what I made. It became a process of elimination, not just because I could only send so many jpegs, but it posed the big question… would I in retrospect eliminate the ideas (actual works) that formed the link to my present output? In essence it has been a dark to light sort of progression, a paring down of imagery. In Maine I used a dark palette. Maybe the winters brought me there. Now living here in Ireland I find myself using mist as my palette. Blame it on the rain, a trick of light, or medallions of sun!
Upper Left: Then: ‘Worry Bird Builds His Nest’, acrylic on board, 19’’ x 23’’, 2005 Lower Left: Then: “How to Learn to Sing 2,” acrylic on board, 19’’ x 23’’, 1998 Following Page: Now: ‘Trust Wall 1’, acrylic on board, 18’’x 24’’, 2014
Then: CHILDREN’S ZOO
(published in Changing Faces, 1974, Alice James Books)
The man talks about monkeys. Hunters killing treefuls shooting six or seven to down one live baby cushioned by its mother as they fall, clinging the way the spider monkey clings to the man telling us one out of four survives the trip to America.
“America’s favorite monkey is the chimpanzee. But you can’t have them for pets because chimps are intelligent. They grow three times the strength of an average man. You’d have to feed them, clean out their cages without getting near.” * “Monkey hug man Mommy? Monkey love man Mommy?” Matthew imitates the tightness of its grip. We are driving home past the projects. The streetlights haven’t been fixed for a month. There is no hot water between 9 and 5. The city claims it is short on heating fuel. The closest store sells eggs for $1.50 a dozen 15 paper cups for 89 cents. The phone poles are covered with pictures of dead Vietnamese and over them bumper stickers with the face of the president smiling Law and Order smiling O America imagine containing something three times your strength.
ell, in a way it’s a just-the-facts-ma’am kind of poem. I was probably about 26 or 27 when I wrote it, so very young. A lot of short declarative sentences, as if I didn’t know—which I didn’t—how to handle any other kind of syntax. It relies on a kind of irony, direct contract between how the speaker assumes/implies things should be and what is actually happening. (The prices no longer make sense, do they?) While the poem isn’t very good—clearly—it does seem to still get at the relationship between vulnerability and power and the enormous hubris of powerful nations.
Now: Here is a poem written at least 20 years later (published in Don’t Explain, 1997, University of Wisconsin):
MONKEY HOUSE Such a howl went up when I walked in, big lippy kisses and hoots so loud I couldn’t help but turn. Then as I stepped away, wails, head clobbering. We did that over and over-- kiss-kiss and head-conk-barely noticing the crowd. I never saw such hairy grief, big knuckled loneliness scraping the floor. Closer, he motioned, closer-- just the opposite of my humanoid family, those dreary worriers, who’d like to zap out of the genes any feeling that can’t sit like a lady, keep its elbows off the table. Stuff it back in and stay calm, they insist, or we’ll all be hurled down dark eons, back into furry faces and curled toes, shitting on floors. I started pacing in front of the cage, a one person house of hysterics. Other visitors carefully tip-toed around. The chimp lay on his back, picked his toes, pursed his great flexible lips, and I was about to say: my people didn’t use words, they did it with eyebrows, tiny sucked-in breaths, obsessive as painting on grains of rice with brushes made from one split hair-but then I looked up at his body, its big furry smarts, the way whatever he did he did completely, reaching an arm behind his head to get to his chin, fizzing his face up like a seltzer bottle. “You feel what you feel,” I said, and he rolled his eyes, looking everywhere but at me, as if to say, “Interview over. You got what you came for.” And suddenly he was limp, slumped over, as though a grief too big to thump or shriek had dropped down on his shoulders, a sorrow cut deep over what’s become of his kind. I put my palms to the glass where his had been, as if I could feel the rough pads of his fingers, a trace of that heat meant for a whole jungle now crammed into one very small house.
ell, the sentences are longer and more complex. In a sense the subject ends up also being about the way we mistreat animals, but the relationships are more complex. If the speaker is projecting something onto the chimp, she is also stepping outside herself at the end—or so I hope. The relationship becomes more personal, and it seems the speaker (and poet) is discovering as she goes along, not knowing where she’ll end up. It feels like I had more confidence and didn’t have to stick to the facts, but could push things further, play with language, include a little humor, and then turn it toward sorrow. The chimp isn’t a victim here, though his situation does come to seem tragic. As an aside, this actually happened to me, when I was a child, younger than the speaker in the poem, and I’d always wanted to write about it, had tried several times. As to a couple of questions: I did not burn early work, I put it out for anybody who wanted to see. That may have been a mistake, but we’re talking the 1970s when we let things hang out. Smarter poets covered their tracks and appeared to arrive full blown. I let all my stumbles show. If my early influences were semi-surreal poets like Merwin, Simic, later I looked to poets who were more personally engaged, poets who allowed themselves to enter a poem not knowing where it would end up: Elizabeth Bishop, Denis Johnson, Larry Levis, Czeslaw Milosz.
have made art for as long as I can remember. It started in midtown Kansas City. My father was an architect and politician. His father was also an architect. My mother started and ran an architectural salvage company in the mid 70’s. They were all community activists and loved the arts. Thomas Hart Benton and Rita, his wife, were neighbors and as a teen I worked for them doing yard work, and cleaning and organizing in his studio. I embraced his work in both its local content and the molded and flowing forms. When I wanted to know how to paint something, his work was the first and often only place I looked. In college I painted and drew and met printmaking. Benton’s influence waned as I questioned more and discovered the likes of Francis Bacon, Color Field painters and eventually assemblage and Installation Art of artists like Edward Mayer, Michael Singer and those associated with Arte Povera. All the while I was working in a family business that had an intimate connection to old buildings and recovered a lot of big, heavy and rather interesting stuff that often needed fixing.
Michael Shaughnessy, Intaglio print (age 20)
Over the years my interest in installation grew, touching the broader context. Woven and bound hay is my long-term relationship. While that is the constant with my work, I am a bit polyamorous with its use. I love the object, both large and small; the dialogue with spaces, particularly those less trodden; the surprise and power of the monumental; the nesting of multiple forms wrapping across each other, bound, and then when opportunities arise, intimately connected to a place, space or area.
Now: Michael Shaughnessy, “Confluence and Swirl (River Series),” 2012 Hay, Twine, 16’ x 24’ x 2’ Lehman College NYC
ith the Hay Ball, I am finding new creative points of understanding and, through its journeys, a capacity to know our people and places -- and myself…embracing the small but wondrous points of human contact and sharing…the long-term capacity of the fleeting moment…and that as artists we can be bound up by theory and miss reality. While craft, meaning and beauty are always important; they are means rather than ends. Wonder is important in our lives and the seemingly pointless can be the most profound. Most of my art is now compost. Disassembled, with memories and photographs remaining. Some hold a capacity for renewal. Some works are hanging on walls, others crated and filed away and others are on paper as plans for other people to carry out in other locations at some future time. Now too I am discovering writing and the performed monologue. In the end, in my own way, I seem to have come back to where I began yet with roots well planted in Maine. Finding that art is not the end but the means and newly valuing the locale and its relationship with people. That human creativity is a shared common root, and that relationships are art. The less I am concerned with making “art” the better art I make.
Now: Michael Shaughnessy, “Two Rings Gathered Rising, 1996, Hay, wood twine 21’ x 21’ x 6’ 47
Then: Kathy Weinberg,
“Carved Painting,” 1985, 20” x 18”
Now: Kathy Weinberg, “Sculpture Group,” 2014, 8” - 23”
lot of my earlier work was made on an island off the coast of Maine and Acadia. At the time I was channeling Medieval altars via Gauguin via downtown Manhattan style, where I took up residence, when not in Maine. My current work, made here in Maine, has refined many of the same ideas. My painting with the carved frame from 1985 set the tone for the decades of work to follow. My sculpture today still explores forms with the same spirit. A recent addition to my vocabulary in the past several years is photography of found images and in the case of Dionysus, a small stage set that I shot from many angles. Many of my paintings today have the flat and vibrant color but the rendering is more refined.
Now: Kathy Weinberg, “Dionysus,” 8.5” x 14”
hen I was a kid I wrote lots of poetry. I drew and painted too, but not as a calling, kind of the way all kids draw and paint unless someone intimidates them. Once some old guy came to visit my parents and told a story of seeing the body of someone who had starved to death lying in the middle of a field of wheat. The irony of that struck me and I tried to make a drawing of it, but my skills didn’t match my fervor
After a bit of college and a bit of beatnik life in San Francisco, I moved to NY started classes at the art students league….At the league, you settled in with one teacher. Mine was a second-generation abstract painter named Stephen Greene. It was a life drawing class. I remember trying to find ways to convey the situation; a room full of clothed people staring intently and drawing a naked lady. It was a little surreal. Once there was a male model. He wore a jock strap, but he was a contortionist so his balls kept slipping out…..kind of a contortionist flasher. Once Stephen Greene came to Skowhegan. He said,“ I remember you. You used to walk on the paper before you painted on it.” True I guess. My favorite other artists in the class were people who weren’t artists. One guy used to say that his ambition was to become a critic. I found that amusing. He did, in fact, become a critic. He was one of the first to appreciate and write about the pop artists. My other favorite was a guy who was interning and becoming a doctor. Above is an image from about that time. It was a copy from a centerfold of the Daily News with images from a cave in Mexico that was full of mummified remains. Then I got a scholarship to go to the Pratt Graphic arts center. I spent a whole year doing nothing but making etchings. Here’s the blind man being led around by the clown…..kind of a parable.
As I look back at this stuff, I see several things. I never drew too well but I did it anyway, I think I was always trying to convey some idea or feeling. I tried somehow to discover or invent the tools to do that. Lately I’ve been aware of all the things that I do despite the fact that I don’t know how to do them. I don’t know how to garden, to cook or to paint, but I do it all anyway. I don’t say that out of false modesty. It’s a boast. Every painting is something that has never happened before. One has to invent it, though one doesn’t know 49 how to do it.
Now: Above From Left to Right:
“Shallows,” (2014), 12” x 12” “Breaking Ice,” (2012), 12” x 12” “Cliffed Coast,” (2013), 12” x 24”
Then: Lower Left: “Agate in Green” (2008) Encaustic with Embedded Polished Agate on Wood Panel 6” x 6” Lower Right: “Fossil Ammonite,” (2009) Encaustic with Fossilized Ammonite on Wood Panel, 6” x 8”
or many years I have been fascinated by the rich colors and textures of minerals. They did not need to be expensive specimens as beautiful rocks were everywhere from the ocean to the mountain tops. Collecting them was not enough, I also wanted to embed them into the surface of paintings and allow them to inspire me as I paint around them. It simply did not work until I discovered wax. Now I had the depth and texture to make it all work together. Then at one point I noticed that the pigments gave the appearance of looking down on the earth from above. The earthly shapes could appear to be 5 feet below or 10,000 feet. It did not matter as it all had the same look and feel, another of nature’s wondrous fractals. That opened an entire world of subjects, literally. Now I take inspiration from here in Maine and from the other side of the world. Looking down from above, there seems to be absolutely no limit to the colors and shapes. And now I have an entire world of inspiration. 50
Call for Submissions Theme for UMVA Journal, Winter, 2015:
"Inter-View/Inner-View” Here’s your chance to ask a Maine visual artist the questions you’ve been dying to ask. Or, you may want to do an “Inner-View” and interview yourself — answer the questions you've always wanted to be asked! Please submit a couple of questions and answers with an image of the artist’s work and, if possible, a photo of the artist. Some possible questions could include “What would you like viewers to get out of your work?” “Why do you do the work you do?” Why are you obsessed with this particular theme, color, idea…?” And our personal favorite (NOT!) “How long did it take you to make that?” Make up your own and surprise us all.
We invite UMVA members to submit work for the Winter, 2015 issue with “Inter-View” in the subject line to:email@example.com by December 1 deadline. Images accompanied by an interview of 300-500 WORDS ONLY PLEASE. Please submit images as jpgs. (We prefer high resolution images; the format should be at least 1000 pixels on the shortest side). Please label work with artist, title, year, medium and dimensions. Questions? Other ideas of art or content you’d like to see in the online magazine? Please contact Anita Clearfield, (207) 751-4848, firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use “Inter-View” in your subject line. 51
Visitng artists in their studios to check-in on their well-being
CHECKING - IN by Kenny Cole
I interviewed Carly Glovinski in her “almost Maine” studio K.C. You currently live in New Hampshire, do you consider yourself a New Hampshire artist?
ell, you’re being provocative, because there really is no such thing as a New Hampshire artist- at least in the way one is a Maine artist. I was born and raised in Maine, but very close to the New Hampshire border, I grew up a border child! My current studio is in a mill on the New Hampshire side of a river, on the Maine border. It’s a funny phenomenon being a “Maine” artist. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, what it means, the idea of regional allegiance. I respect this idea in terms of state funding, opportunities and state planning, but in terms of quality of art, I think good is good no matter where it comes from. I’m grateful to Maine in terms of starting my art career. I’ve had my first great opportunities there. Somewhere in this, there is something interesting, but I have to say that I have an identity crisis when asked the question: “Do you consider yourself a Maine artist.” I think to myself: “Why stop there? Am I more of a Maine artist than a female artist? Am I more a Maine artist than a U.S. artist? There can be lots of qualifiers. K.C. Is there a social aspect to your work? C.G. Yes, there is. Most all of my work is rooted in a cultural iconography through my reference to everyday objects. I look for and find things that we Americans recognize, that are a part of our capitalistic culture. I am less interested, though, in my “hand” or my creation and more interested in bringing to light things that already exist, that reflect the culture that created it. I am reframing objects in a new context so that they can be noticed. My interest in phone books is based on how they are a great example of population dictating design. I created a large installation of post office boxes too, based on my interest in number systems that reflect a particular group of people or place. K.C. What is your newest work about? C.G. I am making marker drawings of rag rugs. I actually often discover a new series or theme through accidental processes or random occurrences and experiences. For these rag rug drawings I was simply playing with some markers and discovered this effect when I was drawing a long wide line in which I would start and stop. It created a pattern very similar to the rag rug weave. I have also made replicas of dish rags on paper, based on my interest in the grid pattern of lines in their weave and how, by draping my flat paper rendering just like the dish towel is commonly draped, I could turn this 2-D grid into a 3-D grid. So with these rag rug drawings I’ve essentially discovered how the behavior of an accidental mark on a surface can connote, through the medium of a marker, the exact representation of the rag rug weave and I have found a way for a repetitive mark to add up to something, which is what I like to do. I like to build an image with a repetitive mark. I am also working on a series of drawings of book Indexes. These indexes are taken from books about a particular place, i.e, “the Desert”. In this group of drawings I am asking the questions- “am I making a landscape drawing?” and “can all the words and subjects that are related to a particular place add up to give us a visual representation in our mind?” 52
Carly Glovinski, “the second multi rag rug,” ink and correction fluid on paper, 34”h x 46”w, 2014
K.C. What’s coming up in the near future? Final thoughts? C.G. I’m hoping to have a very productive period in my studio this fall and I’ll be in some group shows too. I am very excited about starting some new work. For me the important thing about the process of creating art is that there should essentially be no “How-To” manual in terms of making it and no rules about how to respond to it. Art is our last chance for liberation. The things I make are driven by a genuine curiosity about the things that exist around me and by the possibilities inherent in materials. and I think that it is a great thing that someone can make something that is driven by a compulsion to experiment and ask “what if”. To me that is the gift of being an artist.
Carly Glovinski , “Index Desert” 53
Narratives from Educators about Creative Expression
Collaboration: Interviewing Paul Wong By Christine J. Higgins
ollaboration is defined as “to work together;” one synonym is “to be in cahoots.” Artistic collaboration can take many forms such as working towards a shared product with collective recognition, or connecting individual talents towards a common theme.
Artist Paul Wong is a collaborator who works with artists who hire him to translate their ideas into handmade paper in the studios of Dieu Donne in N.Y.C. He was a recent instructor in a papermaking session at Haystack School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine. As one of the papermaking participants, I had the opportunity to interview Paul. I asked him “How does this process work? What is the relationship between the artist and collaborator?” He answered, “In my work, it is a process “between a technician artisan and visual artist who facilitates another artist.” I help them realize their work in another media, and “assist with the technical aspects of papermaking – the practical aspects of the piece.” “You are both creating from an image they provide and want to make.” His role is one of “assisting, composing, and setting parameters.” Sometimes the process is “more technical,” and other times “the artist is more hands on.” This is a “one on one activity – making work together.” He describes the artist’s role as ‘director,” and his as “technician.”
When asked if he also offered aesthetic advice, Paul said that he can contribute an opinion or suggestions based on helping the artist see the possibilities of paper – the “qualities of working with the material.” There are “always different sets of challenges.” Paul will make all the pigmented color palettes with the paper pulp that is being used. 54
Describing aspects of collaboration that he liked, Paul said, “Working with artists such as Bart Wasserman, Jim Hodges, Richard Tuttle, and Chuck Close.” He explained that artists must interview with staff to discuss their ideas which helps determine what might work for the papermaking process. Knowing that papermaking is very labor intensive, I wondered if he was paid by the hour or the project. “This is a salaried job.” He replied. One benefit is that “sometimes the artist will give you a piece, but there is always a professional separation” between artist and technician. Originally an M.F.A. printmaking major at U. of Wisconsin, Madison, his interest in papermaking was for his prints. Fellow printmaking graduate, Sue Gosin, founder of Dieu Donne, started a production business in New York City making paper from rags. Offered a position by Sue, Paul joined two years later and worked as an apprentice for the 1st two years perfecting his papermaking skills. Eventually the business also focused on bringing in artists to assist them in their creative efforts. An artist himself, Paul characterized his early career as one of “the discovery process.” He tried “pulp painting, sculptural pieces, and installations.” His work used “brightly colored palettes”, and was “conceptual – theoretical.” He described “even painting with acrylics, encaustics, and mixed media.” His work evolved to the subject of his own ethnicity, using literal images to reference his background (born of Chinese immigrants and growing up in Fargo, North Dakota). His work is “more abstract now,” and “still refers to his Chinese heritage as a design element.” The subject is “expressed as installation to communicate a narrative.” I wondered what early influences supported his creative development. He said, “I was always drawing and copying illuminated manuscripts, and made signs” for his father’s restaurant business. The family moved to Moorehead State University when Paul was a freshman in high school. He attended the campus school and started taking college art classes. Paul’s art professor recognized his abilities and permitted Paul and his best friend to build a small space within the art studio space – his first installation. It was this “mutual support and camaraderie” of creative expression that influenced Paul’s early creativity. His mentors were close friends who had the same “intensity of interest.” More information about the studios and exhibitions at Dieu Donne can be found at www.dieudonne.org
Insight/Incite continued More Narratives from Educators about Creative Expression
Rethinking Military Experience through Craft: A Realization Made at Haystack By Kevin Basl
his summer, I was given the rare opportunity to spend a month at Haystack, to attend a two-week-long papermaking workshop, the school’s annual international conference, and then to co-instruct an arts workshop for fellow veterans. I work for the Printmaking Center of New Jersey as an instructor for their program Combat Paper NJ, and I also lead writing workshops for the Philadelphia-based organization Warrior Writers. Both programs are based on veterans teaching veterans, peer-to-peer, how to use craft for reflection, social engagement and transformation. Combat Paper NJ shows how to make handmade paper from
military uniforms; Warrior Writers uses creative writing to encourage candid talk about war,
that which often goes unspoken. We leave the creative processes open to interpretation, though participants have called it both cathartic and inspiring. A half-year, intense schedule of workshops in New Jersey, the D.C. region and Philadelphia, on top of other projects and commitments, hadn’t left me much time for reflection on the work we do, and my month at Haystack afforded me just that. Solitary walks among the maze of spruce trees populating Deer Isle’s rocky coast gave me time to realize that what our organizations encourage could be considered “craft thinking,” not coincidently the theme of this year’s conference. From our workshop participants questioning why a uniform manufactured in 2014 is more difficult to beat to pulp than one made in 2007 (synthetic fibers), to reading poems to tell an audience what otherwise could not be said in everyday conversation, we use craft to transfer our experiences into physical, workable materials. Then we allow those materials to take us where they will. Craft thinking, of course, does not lead to “correct” answers, doesn’t work well with short class periods, and is not amenable to standardized testing. It’s the sort of thinking that happens in art and shop classes where a student has enough time to follow her materials—paint, sheet metal, clay—down the rabbit hole, letting the properties of those materials, the limitations and the “pull,” determine the course of a project as much as her artistic vision or reasoning. This is what we encourage vets and service members to do through Combat Paper NJ and Warrior Writers, turning uniforms into paper and externalizing memory through the written word. For more info: www.combatpapernj.org www.warriorwriters.org
Call to Creative Action
he work of artists and creative activists can help to create a cultural democracy that prizes diversity, practices equity, and brings a deep respect for human rights to every aspect of civil society. Therefore, the people-powered U.S. Department of Arts and Culture calls on all artists and creative activists to join in the movement to demilitarize the police and bring justice to victims of publicly funded racism. USDAC Call: Creativity for Equity and Justice For the past two years, I’ve been working with other volunteers to build and launch the USDAC, “the nation’s newest people-powered department, founded on the truth that art and culture are our most powerful and under-tapped resources for social change. Radically inclusive, useful and sustainable, and vibrantly playful, the USDAC aims to spark a grassroots, creative change movement, engaging millions in performing and creating a world rooted in empathy, equity, and social imagination.” (We need volunteers, so please help if you can!) This week, appalled by the deluge of racism and violence flooding the news, we issued the USDAC Call: Creativity for Equity and Justice. Recognizing that racism, the denial of human rights, and official violence are all cultural issues, an amazing group of artists and activists (just click the link to see names like Judy Baca, Lucy Lippard, Gloria Steinem, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Peter Coyote, Brett Cook, Lily Yeh, and dozens of others) called on all of us to join together in affirming to all public officials and policymakers that a culture of punishment cannot stand. We join together in applying our gifts to the public gatherings, organizing campaigns, and policy proposals that will support positive change. We stand together with generations of creative activists in communities across the nation who have been envisioning and working toward a world of equity and safety for all. Please read the Call, click on the links you’ll find there to connect with organizations and arts projects working on these crucial issues. Send me information about other arts projects and organizations, and I’ll make sure it’s posted there. Please use the share links to help this go viral, mobilizing the full force of our creativity. I love the idea of the USDAC, because it links the local and national in a way that seems essential to positive change. This summer during our pilot phase, volunteer “Cultural Agents” of the USDAC mounted art-infused dialogues called “Imaginings” across the country. There’ll be more soon. As these roll out, we are crowd-sourcing a vision of the U.S. in twenty years if the transformative power of art and culture infuses all public and private systems. We’ll soon be appointing a National Cabinet (that’s my bailiwick as “Chief Policy Wonk”) to help translate these visions into concrete proposals for how they can be made real. And we’ll work to spread those, enlisting policymakers at all levels in adopting targets for cultural democracy. While you’re at the site reading the Call, please also read the USDAC’s values and declare yourself a Citizen Artist. It’s free, easy, and definitely worthwhile. It will take all of us to shift to creativity, equity, and justice. http://arlenegoldbard.com/blog/
Arlene Goldfarb 57
Nikki Thibeault Freshman- Dedicated Student Artist Teacher: Shalimar Poulin Wiscasset High School Student Choice Art Image: Pencil on Paper
Winners! UMVA Journal High School Importance of Art Education Essay Contest
The Importance of Art Education I personally think that art is very important to education. I know that art can help soothe someone on a bad day; or, get out their creativity. From my own experience with art, since high school doesn’t really have recess or a break time, when I go to art it’s like a free time. I like to let my mind wander in this class. For example, I might let my mind take me on an adventure through a world of art and creativity. I might journey to a canvas and create a world with thick or thin lines, smooth or textured paint, bright or dull, colors or charcoal. There is so much to explore, and if you get the chance to take an art class at school, you can feel your mind ﬁll up with ideas. If art class was taken from school, people wouldn’t know what to do. Technology would just take over. I take digital art and visual communications class at my school, Wiscasset High School. Even though it;s digital, there is a lot of hands-on work. When I started my ﬁrst project in that class, ideas ﬂowed through my mine. I ended up using paint, shiny and full of color. I learned to overlap things without making it messy. A person can learn so much by what they do in art and they learn to use different materials that make them take risks.
Kristen Cavanaugh Senior- Portland School of Art Bound Teacher: Shalimar Poulin Wiscasset High School Student Choice Art Image: Digital Photograph of Painted Subject- Edited In IPhoto
lot of people think that art is not important- a toy that kids like to fool around with. If you think about it, art is a way to express feelings or to make a statement. It’s a way for kids to express themselves who aren’t always so good with words. Art education is just as important as math, or science, or history. Not everyone is born into the world with the ability to ace every single math test, or become a rocket scientist. Some kids just aren’t meant to go that way. Those are the kids who enjoy colors and spend their quality time painting, drawing, writing, photographing, sculpting, or coloring. In my experience, I’ve always struggled in math and science classes. They have been my weakest classes. When I have an art class I pass with flying colors. I spend my free time photographing; occasionally I’ll pick up a pencil and draw something. If art classes were taken away from public schools, I think people would start to notice how their kids become more and more dull. We should be able to experiment with art and colors at a young age, since it’s part of their brain development. Once we’re older we can decide what we want to do for a career whether it involves art or not. Art may not seem important to some people, but to most, it’s their way of life. If there was no art in public schools then the graduation rate could drop. Kids who absolutely love art won’t be able to practice it, and there could be less hope for their future career in art. Art should be considered just as equal as other classes. It should be in every public school without any debate. Art in high school has helped me so much. I learned about my camera and techniques I can use for future photos. Having art classes in school helped me figure out what I wanted my career path to be and without that art class I took, I would still be struggling with finding a career path. 59
Maine Masters Update by Richard Kane
Maine Jewish Film Festival Imber premiere at the PMA Photo by Diane Hudson
ne of New England’s favorite painters, Jon Imber (Stonington, ME and Somerville, MA) died April 17, 2014 after a heroic battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). The 20+ month process was surely tragic, yet it opened doors for everyone whose life he and his wife Jill Hoy touched. His persistence to paint up until a few days before his death became a testament to “the life giving force that is art”, as art author Carl Little wrote.
So what would you do with the rest of your life after receiving such a terminal diagnosis? This question is something that each one of us is prompted to ask after experiencing Jon Imber’s story in the film Imber’s Left Hand. Instead of retreating into the darkness of one’s own troubles, Jon chose to open his life to everyone he encountered -- friends and new friends alike. He created a celebration of life and art with his brilliant insights and black humor. At the heart of Imber’s Left Hand is the way in which Jon carried on against the greatest of odds. Especially moving is how members of his Stonington community rallied to his support, dropping by with a dish to share or to give his swollen hands a massage, as he invited them in to have their portraits painted. This series resulted in over 100 portraits in three months. One spry 93-year-old, Don Reiman, was told by Jon that he will paint him “au natural”. “Does that mean I have to take everything off?” he replied. The portrait session became an exercise in Borscht Belt humor as Jon told him he will do something radical -- paint a portrait series of naked 90 year olds! Jon’s humor and his tragic deterioration keep the viewer in an alternating state of laughter and tears. As Daniel Kany art critic of the Maine Sunday Telegram wrote in his March 30, 2014 review, the film is “a masterpiece of intimacy in the face of tragedy … It is the eulogizing of the creative force and artistic life of one of America’s leading painters – in his own vibrant voice.” 60
The Maine Masters Project of videos of some of Maine’s most distinguish artists was so fortunate to be able to jump on to the project just after Imber’s devastating diagnosis. This allowed all of us to witness Jon “at the top of his game”, as Jill Hoy said, and just starting to switch from his right hand to his left. Extraordinarily, many of his left-handed paintings are as good as anything he had ever painted. And we were able to interview him while he still had a strong voice. An enormous outpouring of financial support by his friends and collectors made the film possible that was far longer and deeper than any other Maine Master, a film that now has become the first feature length film, a 76-minute documentary, Imber’s Left Hand. It was first released as Jon Imber’s Left Hand, a 60-minute film in March 2014 at the Maine Jewish Film Festival, prior to the film’s completion, so that Jon could see it while still alive. It was shown just one month later at the Independent Film Festival Boston only nine days after his death. The film is now beginning to travel the festival circuit and is receiving rave reviews and sell out audiences wherever it is shown. The revised 60-minute film was screened at the Woods Hole Film Festival in July and will be screened at Boston’s Museum of Fine Art as part of the Boston Jewish Film Festival on November 9, 2014. The longer Imber’s Left Hand will screen at the Denver Starz Film Festival later in November. We are now awaiting word from several other film festivals and will keep you informed in these pages. Essential to the creation of this series is the leadership of the Maine Masters Committee which provides promotional support and selects the artists to be portrayed in the series. Particular thanks for their work on Jon Imber’s Left Hand are co-producers: Melody Lewis-Kane, Carl Little, Robert Shetterly. In addition the help of Claudia Weinstein was immeasurable. The Maine Masters series also recently released a film by Dale Schierholt on the sculptor Cabot Lyford. It was premiered on June 22, 2014 at The Strand Theater in Rockland, ME. We are now moving into the post-production stages on two more films on the artist/author/illustrator Ashley Bryan and on the metal sculptor J. Fred Woell. We continue to seek funds for the Fred Woell film and for films on Yvonne Jacquette, Abby Shahn, Natasha Mayers, William Irvine, and Carlo Pittore. 61
Blog by Marty Pottenger
See a video of The Portland Works Project here!
“The lights at the field, lit up like the sun, how did we go without?”* Art At Work ecently, I found myself sitting in a circle in Portland, Maine, leading a group that includes the City Manager, Police Chief, a leader in the Occupy Maine movement, one of the founders of Portland’s NAACP, leaders from the Sudanese and Congolese refugee communities, the president of CEBA, a city union, and a doctor active in public health, among others. The members of this group are impressive and diverse but what we are sharing is more so. In only seven minutes, twenty city and community leaders have composed poems that draw upon their personal histories, the history of Portland, and those things they have witnessed in this place we all call home.
Increasing the Odds All of Art At Work’s projects are designed to increase the odds that Portland and their partner cities** will be better able to turn anticipated social and economic crises into opportunities by integrating creative engagement in their ‘way of doing business’. This workshop was a part of Portland Works, another one of our experiments in figuring out how to harness the transformative power of art to achieve concrete community-based outcomes. These workshops bring together community and city leaders to create a dialogue and increase understanding between individuals and groups that often see one another as obstacles as opposed to allies. “It’s just brilliant,” says Mike Miles, the City of Portland’s Director of Human Resources, “using art to break conceptions about who people are and what people do.” Art At Work, of which Portland Works is just one part, is designed to improve municipal government through strategic arts projects involving city employees, elected officials, community leaders, and local artists. The process of making art dramatically increases our ability to access our flexible intelligence, function collaboratively, analyze complex challenges, integrate contradictory perspectives, envision a positive outcome and take inspired risks that lead to innovative solutions. “Is my new home another Congo, where I will live with many unanswered questions about my future?” asks Claude Rwagange, the founder of Community Financial Literature. ‘I’ve seen this city grow older, while its people grow younger still. It struggles and soars, keeps open its doors,’ wrote Lee Urban, Portland’s fmr. Director of Planning and Development in his poem entitled Old Munjoy. These are a few examples of the questions explored within the poems and the Portland Works group as a whole. These insights highlight the importance of mutual trust and support between community and city leaders, especially in the tumultuous economic and social climate in which we are living. New Relationships As Indicators Building relationships is key to the survival not only of Portland, but the world as a whole. Artmaking in a group allows people to make connections across borders; it lowers their defenses and gives them the much-needed opportunity to share a piece of themselves with others. Portland Works successfully bridged gaps between the community and the city. City Manager Mark Rees, Police Chief Mike Sauschuck and Occupy Leader Jake Lowry met to discuss the protest and lay out terms for withdrawing from their encampment, Claude Rwaganje became a member of the City of Portland’s financial planning committee, and League of Young Voters Portland President, Nicola Wells, was able to develop new relationships and inroads with city employees and municipal organizations like Creative Portland and Portland Adult Education, an important hub for newly arrived immigrant and refugees. Counting the Numbers An in-depth evaluation of the police poetry calendar project, which was designed to improve the historically low morale among police officers, revealed that 83% of the participating officers reported it had a direct impact on improving the morale of the force. Additional indicators of success were that the second 62
year saw more than twice as many officers volunteering to write poems and than writing three times the number of poems required. The calendar, which was only one of several outcome-driven arts projects with the police department, also had the impact of prompting a long-sought change in policy, increasing positive citizen/resident/officer contacts, introducing poetry-related nicknames for some of the officers (Ex: ‘Warrior Poet’). Police officers also participated in a poetry reading, followed by five arts-based civic dialogues. Their poetry and photography became a permanent exhibit at police headquarters, without prompting officers decided to open the exhibit to the public for Portland’s First Friday Art Walk. The project received widespread positive local, regional, national and international media coverage. Creating Elemental Change The most significant indicator of impact came amidst escalating tensions after the police shot and killed an armed Sudanese man who had been a city resident for many years. In increasing numbers, high school students, primarily from Portland’s immigrant and refugee communities, were throwing rocks and bottles at police, parks and public service workers. The Police Chief called to ask me to write and direct police officers in a performance for local high school students that focused on the work and lives of the officers. My counteroffer, which he agreed to, was that I’d like to work with the officers ‘more likely to cross a line’ as Art At Work’s mission is for art to affect elemental, not peripheral, change.
Marty Pottenger to the left of Alfred Jacob
Solutions the Size of the Challenges “This process [Portland Works] has taught me to look at things globally and holistically,” says Greg Mitchell, the Economic Director of Planning for Portland, “I’ll apply that less mechanical thinking to my work.” Creativity is an underused tool, a Artist, Daniel Minter tool that is able to transform situations, inspire people to action, conceptualize brilliant perspectives, catalyze innovative ideas and create solutions the size of the challenges; the work of Art At Work. see http://www.artatwork.us Photos are from Portland Works, a project that brought City of Portland staff and grassroots community leaders together for a series of workshops to strengthen relationships through art-making and exploration of a community issue. Participants included Jake Lowry, of Occupy Maine’s leaders, Portland’s police chief Mike Sauschuck, Mark Rees, City Manager, June McKenzie, a co-founder of Portland’s NAACP, Dan MacDuffie, president of city’s CEBA union, Alfred Jacob, Aserela program director, a local Sudanese organization, and many more. * from CEBA union president Dan MacDuffie’s poem ** In 2012, partner cities Holyoke, Northampton and Providence, launch their own Art At Work *** http://www.artatworkproject.us has videos from Portland Works, Forest City Times, **** Art At Work’s projects have been supported by Nathan Cummings Foundation, NEA Our Town, Elmira B. Sewall Foundation, Maine Arts 63 Commission, Maine Community Foundation and many more.
Above: Charles Stratton, “What is a Woman? A Rag a Bone a Hank of Hair or… Something More Wonderful than We Can Believe,” 2014. Left: Daniel Moores, “Bad Hair Day,” 2014. Facing Page, Upper Right: Installation View at Windy Way Barn of the New Era Gallery in Vinalhaven Facing Page, Lower Right: Ken Saucier, “Tree People,” 2014.
Outsider Art Show Review by IB Tattlin
he outsider artists of the mental health communities of the Waterville Social Club and the LINC Wellness Center in Augusta have done it again. They have been presented in another blockbuster group show--this time at the Windy Way Barn of the New Era Gallery on Vinalhaven, from July 13th to the 18th. The exhibition of 250 works was selected, curated and hung--to jewel box effect--by their long-time teacher, Natasha Mayers, and supported by outsider-art-loving residents of Vinalhaven, who provided lodging for the artists (who came on the ferry for the opening) and feted them at an after party at The Haven restaurant. The show was not for squares. From Cindy Dow’s sinuous “Illustration of the Pain and Fatigue Inflicting Monsters Who Jab and Tear and Kick Me Down”, to Daniel Moores’ exuberant “Bad Hair Day,” to Ken Saucier’s hors categorie oil painting featuring forested pom-poms and bedroom slippers, to Charles Stratton’s devotional “What is a Woman? A Rag a Bone a Hank of Hair or…Something More Wonderful than We Can Believe,” the works struck thrilling new chords. It was gratifying to note, as I spent time in the gallery, that many of the most enthusiastic visitors were artists themselves, leading one to conclude that the Waterville Social Club and LINC exhibitors can safely be called “artists’ artists”. Vinalhaven gallery visitors exhibited their own hipness by buying over forty pieces. The impetus for the show was the protean Waterville-area artist Cheryl Corliss, who is battling cancer. Cheryl expressed the wish to Natasha to have a show. “A one woman show?” Natasha asked. “No, a group show,” Cheryl replied, big-hearted, no matter what. And a big- hearted show it definitely was.
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