Clemens Weiss, who has been in Denver for the past two months as a visiting artist, spoke a few nights ago to a small group mostly composed of local artists-in-residence in a related program at RedLine . I showed up early and chatted with him for a few minutes before he went to look at one of the artists-in-residence work before his talk. Weiss, who shows at Ronald Feldman in New York, is an approachable, intelligent artist and of course, business person. He did not reiterate the ‘how to’ ‘s of many books on the market about the business of art. Rather, he spoke of his own journey, in Germany, his country of origin, and his adopted home of New York, where he became well established. He spoke about being creative as an artist regarding the business of art as well as being creative in the studio. Positioning oneself deftly, socially, and in terms of business is key, but he also cautioned, “what is good for the artist is not always good for the art”. He spoke of an irony that he has witnessed of artists having achieved some success who are disadvantaged by the relief of financial restrictions. After, finally having acquired a large budget with which to do work on a project, an artist no longer has the restrictions which often inspire “the mother of invention” and here-to-for untried methods of creating and problem solving . Weiss exuded confidence and indicated concern for a multiplicity of interesting ideas. He spoke of a theater piece he did which he approached as “Bringing an exhibition to life” versus thinking in terms of theater per se. Being on the cutting edge was clearly important to Weiss. When he spoke he wended his way around the general topic, telling personal anecdotes as opposed to abiding by talking points. Most importantly, Clemens pointed out that being creative in the business of art is as important for one’s career as it is in the making of art in the studio.
I enjoyed the evening and thanked Clemens for sharing his experience. I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing more of what’s in store at The Red Line in Denver.
If you’ve ever walked the narrow roads of Sante Fe, you’d almost get a visceral sense of the different shoes that have traveled there over the centuries because little has changed in the architecture and the land. However, your attention to the dusty, narrow sidewalks and scrub pine peeking through fences would soon wander as you’d be distracted by the light and sky. Walking down canyon road, now entirely lined with art galleries in original low slung, ancient spaces, you cannot help but hold your face to the North.
Everyone walking the Canyon turns to face the horizon, the rolling rough hills and distant mesas, but most importantly the light.
The domed sky is constantly moving , always dancing, opening up. You get a sense of why artists are drawn to paint. It is no wonder Georgia O”Keeffe, Agnes Martin and Susan Rothenburg found their homes here. Sante Fe captures artists souls gladly.
In Sante Fe I visited with my old friend Carter Walker who came down from Albuquerque to go look at galleries with me and my friend Bernadette from Aspen.
I looked at galleries all week, among them Zane Bennett Gallery. It is located in The Railyard District which I happened by and saw a Sam Francis work in the window, causing a flashback of my times at Petersburg Press Gallery. I chatted with a director and the exhibitions coordinator who, upon seeing my surprise when I came up the flight of stairs and face to face with a Motherwell print my husband had pulled and I had assisted with in 1988, showed me through the stacks, and other works in storage. Together we perused the Motherwell catalogue raisonne first, then other works on paper and canvas. Seeing that print was a time traveling experience which took me back to 1988 in Manhattan on Varick Street, near Canal.
If I ever get the chance to see Robert Motherwell’s works on paper I take it. He was brilliant painter, a marvelous editor of his own work.
After this trip down memory lane I felt unusually energized. I wanted to go back home and paint. But I hadn’t yet finished with what Sante Fe had to offer. I wanted to time travel further back. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, a block and a half from my casita, which the manager told Bernadette and me, had been US Officers Quarters (during the Mexican American War?) was only a three minute walk. I tend to get visually overwhelmed after looking at art for too long so I had planned to visit the museum at intervals during the day. During these periods of visual digestion I’d walk back to my casita and stare at the ceiling in the darkness. Then, off I’d go again to see Georgia O’Keeffe’s work or photos of her by Alfred Stieglitz and other of her friends. The museum guards began to recognize and greet me each time, with announcements of “back again!” I’d wave and smile, miming my passion for her work. Interestingly, as a very young artist I was never taken by O’Keeffe. I knew her as a painter of flowers, however clever. But it wasn’t until I looked at her work in person, in Sante Fe… well… there was so much more. Recently the works were part of a newly curated exhibition called Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction at The Whitney. It’s about time.
Still, understanding just a little bit more about this strong, slender woman, afraid of nothing, with her muscular hands and will of iron, I began to sense how she felt alternately imprisoned by her times, yet through her wit and great talent alternately vindicated and freed from stereotypes about women in general and women artists in particular. She kept people amazed and willing to look in new ways- at the world at large and beyond that to the world and history of painting.
I’ll be in Sante Fe, New Mexico to look at galleries and to go to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (my yearly pilgrimage there). October is a great time to wander around old Sante Fe; no crowds, beautiful southwestern autumnal light. One of my favorite places to visit just outside of town is 10,000 Waves, a Japanese style spa. It’s setting and carefully orchestrated natural ambiance lends itself to making one want to whisper or be quiet all together as one approaches the entrance…stepping onto the the bridge and over a waterfall and stream and into sublime quiet.
Today I went downtown to see and support an old RISD colleague, Nicole Eisenman, as she spoke about her work at the Denver Art Museum. For me it was somewhat of a time traveling experience. I felt as if I were sitting in a crit room, only this time, instead of listening to her speak about a body of work built over a year of exploration and effort, Nicole spoke about bodies of work which spanned decades . It was great to catch up in the brief time we had before and especially after her presentation, and it was good to see her and her work and to talk about “pushing paint around on canvas to see what it can do”. Nicole’s work, however, moves well beyond that and offers a challenging and humorous peek, often through an art historical lens and definitely through the experience of a woman working with issues of feminine identity in New York, at our culture and times. Check out the DAM and recent works including Nicole’s at:
I came back to the studio ready to paint and reflect on the distance I’ve come, figuratively speaking, in my work since moving from New York.
Since New York I’ve been creating paintings I want people to feel drawn or compelled to walk into, almost like an open stage set. One should feel engulfed. In this way, the viewer should, in essence, become the subject within the painting. These ‘places’ are first scenes my unconscious mind creates, both on a visceral level while painting, as well as in the hypnagogic state just before sleep. Though, I must submit that, as Nicole said today, “It is painting itself , isn’t it, which compels you to do it”.
After several suggestions to start a blog, I brow beat my webmaster to help create this and the link from my website to it. I will be sharing news in the following categories: updates to my website, petteeolsen.com (Site Updates), up and coming shows (In The News), as well as excerpts from life about life as I see it (Margaret’s View). Please visit frequently and often as I will be posting on a regular basis. Feedback is encouraged, so feel free to post comments.