After an extended period of wintertime, spring is finally underway, and everything is turning green. But what keeps catching my eye is the color red – admittedly my favorite color and one that I use frequently in my work.
A few weeks ago, I went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where I saw an excellent show of Goya’s work. However, the awe came as I went to the Contemporary Art collection. In a large atrium/gallery I found this hanging from the ceiling (and my roommate from college, whom I was visiting, took a picture for me):
I thought it was pretty cool. As you know, I love cells and curvilinear forms in nature, and this was speaking my visual vocabulary. However, when I found out what it was made of, I fell in love. Styrofoam cups (Untitled, 2003, approx. 16 feet x 16 feet). So, I looked up the artist when I returned home, and there I discovered the work of Tara Donovan, an American artist that makes large installation pieces from everyday manufactured materials: straight pins, straws, tar paper, film…… I had seen an example of her work a few years earlier at the ICA in Boston, a large cube comprised of straight pins, but this work really made me take notice. It achieves such a presence, it transforms the material used to make it, it speaks my visual vocabulary, and it told me that I was not yet making the art that I want to make. So, back to the drawing board.
I recently saw the current retrospective of Richard Elliot’s work. There was an article about it in the Oregonian a few weeks ago, and it described in particular the work that he made with reflectors. When the article also stated that flashlights would be available to view the show, I knew that I had to go. I was not disappointed, and, in fact, the experience far exceeded my expectations. His aesthetic was consistent: bright colors, elaborate geometric patterns, and lots of visual glitter (sometimes literally!). The work evokes all types of genres: stained glass, indigenous art, op art, folk art, ……. And when the light from a hand-held flashlight bounced off of those reflectors, the result was pure magic. I saw the show with my friend Deb Spanton, and we both walked out with smiles on our faces. The exhibit includes a wonderful, short filmed interview with him and his artist wife Jane Orleman, and the happiness in his life comes through in his work. The show will be up until July 20, 2014. Go and see it!