TERRI HALLMAN: MOVING FORWARD Southwest Art Magazine®

I can be moving or I can be still,
But still is still moving to me…– Willie Nelson

The lush green foliage and bright flowers of a semi-tropical garden sway in a gentle breeze below the balcony of Terri Hallman’s second floor studio outside Houston, and the artist is starting to think she likes the idea of staying in this place a while. She’s been working in the garden, and for the first time in her 45 years her thumbs are turning green from something other than pigments.

Hallman’s life has been one of movement, geographically and artistically. The stimulation and challenge of new places, mediums, and methods has always invited her to shake off any hint of staleness and try new things. But there’s clearly a counter-force at work as well. Her lively, richly hued, and visually playful paintings are almost always anchored in the straight-on stare of the human face, with its unchanging qualities of quiet observation and subtle vulnerability. This odd equilibrium contributes, no doubt, to the strong attraction in Hallman’s art, which is internationally collected and represented by galleries around the United States and abroad. Now movement and stillness are beginning to find balance in the artist’s life as well.

Only three activities stand out in Hallman’s memory, as she looks back on her childhood in small town Minnesota and Wisconsin. Gymnastics and horseback riding were satisfying outlets for a painfully shy and introverted girl. And when she wasn’t in motion, she had a pencil in her hand. She drew constantly, honing her skills at realistic rendering, even enjoying a phase of meticulously re-creating in pencil the texture and tactile qualities of leather and wood. Perhaps surprisingly, considering the vibrancy of her current work, Hallman never ventured into color, in fine art, until she was almost 30.

By then she had earned a bachelor’s degree in design from Minneapolis College of Art & Design. She spent her last two years of college, and a brief period after graduation, working for a design firm for which she received two international awards for packaging design. She could easily have remained in the design field, she admits. “I loved design. You have elements to move around and figure out, and I enjoyed that. It’s very structured, and I like having a lot of structure and then breaking out of structure.”

As it turned out, life offered its own opportunities for breaking out of structure. Over the years Hallman found herself in a series of diverse creative endeavors in a series of cities and towns, including San Diego and Lafayette, Louisiana. She also traveled around the world. She produced wax carvings as design models for ornate furniture; she worked in advertising, sign making, and framing, all the while gathering hands-on experience with a range of materials and tools. Somewhere along the way she discovered big, chunky colored chalk sticks. One day, about 15 years ago, she crushed some of the chalk and began applying the powder to paper.

“I literally stumbled into this way of working,” she relates. “But that’s kind of the way things always happen with me. It’s an organic progression. I stumble onto one thing, and it’s working, and then I find something better, and I keep going until I hit hard onto something.”

Hallman hit onto an ideal medium for the kind of painting she enjoys, which she has refined and continued. Yet the broad popularity of her work hasn’t stopped her from exploring a range of other materials, among them: clay sculpture, which she hopes to cast in bronze; encaustic on panel, acrylic on board, and mixed media imagery that incorporates such materials as stucco, joint compound, and nails. She also creates striking figurative sculpture by assembling thousands of tiny pieces of wood, each one hand-cut, glued together, and then shaped and finished as a whole. “It’s very time consuming, like putting together a puzzle,” she smiles.

“Still,” Hallman observes, even with so many potential artistic directions, “when I get up in the morning, 90 percent of the time what I want to do is a face.” So, in the upstairs studio above a detached former garage—with the downstairs serving as her woodworking studio—she starts. Putting pencil to paper, she produces a stick-figure structure for the painting: circle and lines for a head, neck, and shoulders. These lines will remain in the finished piece, almost as if the ghost of a child’s first drawing has remained visible under later layers of visual complexity, mature artistic expression, and emotional depth.

Covering the fine lines with thinly cut tape to screen them from the color that will follow, Hallman begins applying pigment. She starts with colors that come in the form of talcum-fine powder; later she’ll add coarser pigments, some as rough as heavy dirt. She uses her hands—never a brush—to rub dry pigment into the paper. Then she applies a clear acrylic spray to set the color, and moves swiftly to the next layer. “After so many years, I know exactly the consistency of each pigment—some are sleek and satiny, some are toothy,” she explains. “Sometimes I scratch through and let other colors come through. All of that is really yummy to me.”

As each section of the painting feels complete, Hallman blocks it off with tape. She won’t see the entire image again until it is finished and she removes the tape. “The beauty of it is, I kind of know what’s happening, even if I can’t see it,” she notes. Sometimes on the final surface, she adds thin washes or dry pigment mixed with oil. “The surface is the best part of my work, the most satisfying part of the process and the way it looks,” she declares. “It’s heavily textured but not built up. There are lots of cuts, surface changes, and layers, and just by looking at it, it’s hard to tell what I’ve used.”

What the artist perceives in the completed piece is a metaphor for—and actual visual remnants of—the passage of time. It’s as if the painting is in motion and the finished work consists of fragmented memories, or snapshots, of the animated image as it evolved. “Sometimes I put writing in it, and then parts of the writing get lost and I don’t remember what I wrote. The words were important at the time, but they’re not important later,” she reflects. “Even if you can’t see it, you can tell a lot has been going on.”

Yet the total span of time Hallman works on each piece is remarkably short. A completed painting can take as little as a day. But that’s a day of hands moving rapidly, fluidly, and almost non-stop. And the swiftness of the process is key to its success. “It needs spontaneous energy. When I start thinking about it while I’m doing it, it doesn’t work. There has to be a loose flow of energy and I just go with it, but I’ve also worked hard to get to the point where I can trust that my fast hand is going to do the right thing,” she explains. Drawing by children, she adds, provides endless inspiration. “It’s really honest and straightforward. It’s clean and crisp, with no pretense. It’s right in your face. I like that.”

As in children’s drawings, Hallman’s paintings often incorporate a simple object such as a house, a bird, or piece of fruit. These iconic images serve as personal symbols for the artist, who notes that each painting reflects her life experiences and emotional state at the time. A bird on the shoulder, for example, speaks of companionship and trust. The symbol was inspired by the sight of a small pet bird perched boldly on the shoulder of the person on whom it completely depends. A house translates as security, stability, and comfort, and is an image that has emerged more frequently in recent work.

Hallman tends to work in non-stop stretches of several weeks in a row, moving between her painting and sculpture studios for six to eight hours each day. Then she gives herself the treat of a week or two of travel to distant parts of the world. Having spent time in 21 countries, she finds herself drawn to places whose cultures and people are distinct from our own, places where the disorientation of the unfamiliar keeps her clearly focused in the now.

“The most important thing is to stay out of your safe zone and be willing to make yourself uncomfortable, in order to grow. I feel like I always need to move forward into unknown territory,” she says of life and art. Then she pauses and smiles. “But there’s something really lovely too about putting down some roots.”

©May 2009 - Southwest Art Magazine®

TERRI HALLMAN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

What was your childhood like?

There was a lot of family trauma. When I was five and my father worked with eighteen-wheelers. When he was thirty-five, he was struck in the head by a hub cap that flew off a truck. He survived, but his personality was affected. There was so much trauma around that. The strain was too much for my mother, and she eventually left with her four girls (I have three older sisters, 3, 4 and 5 years older).

There were times when we lived at poverty level. Mother was very good at making things look better than they were; she would serve lunch on beautiful dinnerware. But she was vulnerable and emotionally weak and wept a lot. She let us feel insecure. So as an adult, I feared security for a long time.

The family was so split. For a time, I lived with my mother’s relatives in central Minnesota. Her mother, my grandmother, lived on a beautiful farm, but there was something brutal about life there.

Did you have any interest in art at this time?

I was always drawing as a child. My earliest memories are when I was about six years old. I was disconnected from my family, so I drew. It was really about retreating and avoiding. I only did drawings about women, since I was so familiar with them.

I got a lot of encouragement for my drawings. My third grade teacher was very important for me. Every time I made a drawing, she would hug me and praise me in front of the class. So I kept it up. I was living in Minnesota at that time. I consider Minneapolis to be my home town even now.

Did you have formal training in art?

I entered a Junior College in Hibbing, Minnesota, at twenty-three. The same year, I entered one of those “Can You Draw Fido” contests in a magazine and won a free course. Back then, there was no “on line” schooling; I took the course by mail. At age twenty-six, I entered college. Before that, all I did was draw with graphite pencil. In college, I rarely used color. I received a private art school scholarship to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I did not study fine art, I studied design, though I did have some illustration courses.

In my second year, one of my instructors hired me to do design work. I worked for him for five years. He was German and reserved, but he knew how to handle me. He was encouraging; he upgraded me. He let me know the truth but was restrained and diplomatic. While working for him, I won an award for package design; I remember that the project was called “Profiler”.

How did you become the artist you are?

I was making so much money with my design work that I left school before finishing the last semester. No one seemed to care about the degree, and the last semester was full of courses that I had put off because I had no interest in them. I thought I was going to be a designer forever.

One day – literally one day – after something negative had happened to me, I don’t even remember what. Maybe I had an argument or someone had upset me. I felt that I needed to do something creative. I found a few pastels around the house and some paper, and I started to do something. Afterwards, when I looked at it, I was sort of shocked. It was unlike anything I had done before, and I thought it was really good. Strong. I had always been attracted to fast, expressive art, and this was totally spontaneous and energetic. I got results very fast, and it had a tone that felt real for me.

I took about a dozen pieces downtown and walked into five or six galleries. Some wanted to show my work. Within six months, I had gallery representation in Minneapolis, and within two years I was showing in Chicago and Atlanta. My fine art belongs in my life for sure, because it supports itself. It is a solid rock in my life. It tends to build very nicely.

Where do you do your work?

At the moment, I am staying in Houston. I have a good studio to work in. I have my dry pigment studio, and that is all I can do there. The pigments get all over everything, even though I do clean up, so I can’t do other work there. I also have a place where I do my wood work – basically a tandem garage with a patio in the back for sanding. The former owner had equipped the garage as a workshop. But it gets too hot to work there in the summer.

My house is full of my ceramic stuff. It takes up so much room that I really need more room for it. All of my studios are messy, smelly and noisy.

The ceramics are something new. What are you doing with it?

For ten years, I have been looking for something to build sculptures with. Whenever I need a new material, I go to stores and look at everything that can be used. I tried water putty, but it will decay. I needed the material to be self-supporting. Clay is difficult to figure out how to work with and move with. But it is perfect to join with wood. I had to figure out how to do it by myself, and I had a huge epiphany. A lot of the work is a combination of wood and ceramics. It is still at the infant stage.

I have been obsessed with ceramics for about a year. First I did a lot of reading for about four months, then I worked with clay for about four months, and now I have been spending the last 4-5 months learning glazes. A lot of pieces blew up in the kiln. Nothing has blown up lately.

I am doing some very simple figures, some to be attached to the wall, about 15” – 19” high. There will be several in my show. These are simplified people, not beautiful people. They are humorous, quirky, light-hearted. I call them “Tumblers” because they are a spoof of the reaching, arching, stretching figures that lots of sculptors do. They are about color though the color palette is limited.

I am also doing a ‘heads’ series, about 9” high, and a loose group of people that sort of remind me of scruffy people with torn clothes. I haven’t got a name for them yet. They have non-complicated shapes so that I can pay attention more to the surfaces than to the forms. Some pieces are serious, some quirky. I am also doing a group of birds. I like birds a lot. They are calmer, more placid.

It is so exciting, and I so love it. It is an interesting process and very complex. I am growing with it a lot. Working in different media is very satisfying. It is never the same. Your brain never stops. You are always challenging yourself. I am always in a state of development.

All the work I do is related to jig-saw puzzles. If I had free time, I would do jig-saw puzzles. It is the thing about shapes fitting together (laughs).

But you are still working in dry pigments.

I have been doing the pigment work for some ten years, but recently it has been more sporadic. It is good to take a break from it. The last pieces I did were really light hearted. When I am working, I don’t know what they will look like. When the market started to go down, my work got darker. That is my favorite kind of work, because it is serious. But that isn’t an issue anymore. Now the work is innocent and very light.

There is something extremely spontaneous about your work.

One recent book had an impact on me. It was about a sculptor, and she said that she learned not to edit herself. That’s what I try not to do. When you do not think about what you are doing, there is an organic thing going on. You have the music on and you are feeling…I don’t have a word for it…and the work takes on a life of its own. I do not think about what the work looks like, and what I am feeling is what comes out. Organic is a big word about a lot of my work. The process is organic and the forms are organic. There are a lot of elements.

I grow with work. I let instinct take over. Since I work by blocking out huge areas with tape and paper, all I can see is a small part. I can’t see it, so I am not able to tell how I am connecting the dots. I rely on instinct, intuition – based upon experience and the materials, of course, but what I do feels unconscious to me. I don’t “understand” why I’m doing what I’m doing. My work is related to surrealism, particularly the earlier work, in that it comes from the unconscious or the dream state…when something appears without a cause. Every work kind of appears on its own.

The richer, deeper part of that is I have such a long history of working with my materials that it becomes automatic. Have you read Blink? It says that conscious decisions are based sometimes on outside things and can cause you to make choices that are not your own. Blink says it the way I feel it. It is the only place I have been in.

If I am working on a dry pigment head and an eye looks sad, there is nothing I can do about it. I don’t know how to make an eye look happy or sad, looking to the side or directly at the viewer. It is an unconscious level, not about understanding the structure. I can’t be concerned with the way something looks. I need to let it go. Sometimes when I am working, I think, man, this is never going to work; but if I keep going, it works itself out.

What do you feel have been important influences on you?

Traveling has been a big food for my work. I have traveled to Thailand and South China; I like countries that are really rough and different. You get completely in the moment and there is newness, fresh fuel for work. When it has some movement to it, I’m interested. Disorientation is part of it, so I am now going into new areas, new media. They move you out of habits. That very much affects my work. My work is very much part of my life. It is a very conscious effort to challenge myself to stay interested.

I have read about phrenology and physiognomy, related to psychology. I had a really old book on phrenology that had woodblock drawings. I actually loved that book. I don’t know what happened to it.

Events in my life put me in a different state of mind. They create a dynamic for my personality at the time. I am impacted by how I interact with or dissociate from people in my life.

Interview with Michelle Gagliano

Let’s go back to your beginning. (Laughs) I was born in Jamestown, New York, on December 26, 1964. I am the youngest of four children. My family lived in Cassadaga, New York, a rural area outside of Jamestown. My father was of Sicilian descent, and my mother was of Swedish descent. My mother was a homemaker, and my father restored vintage automobiles. Up the hill was my grandparents’ home. My grandfather had a huge dairy farm. Incidentally, Cassadaga is on a hill; down the hill on one side is Lily Dale, a gated Spiritualist community that Houdini used to frequent. On the other side is an Amish community. I maintain contact with my Amish friends to this day.

And now?  I am married; my husband’s name is David. He is a PhD in Clinical Psychology. We live in Virginia with our three children, David (18 years), Christopher (sixteen), and William (thirteen months). David and Christopher are interested in filmmaking; David had a film exhibited at the Los Angeles Film Festival recently.

Did your parents influence your artistic future?  Actually, one of my earliest memories was lining up with my sisters to help wet-sand an automobile finish for my father. My father was a perfectionist, very dedicated to his craftsmanship, and I think that affected my own sense of workmanship.

When did you decide on art as a vocation?  Oh, I intended to be an artist even before I had a clear idea of what that meant. I remember one day in kindergarten when I stood on a table to demonstrate to the other children how to hold a paint brush! I can’t really say where I got the idea, but it always seemed to be there. Possibly it came from seeing the paintings by my aunt that hung all over my grandmother’s house.

Our family moved to Austin, Texas, when I was twelve. I was determined to go to art school, so I worked my way through high school in three years so I could get to study art at the University of Texas as soon as I could. When I was a teenager, my uncle in Buffalo, New York, who was an excellent artist, instilled in me the conviction that to be an artist, one must work at it every day. I found that very appealing.

What did you find so appealing about making art?  My view of art is a lot like that of James Elkins in his book, What Painting Is. The materials of art, “sticky oils and crushed rocks,” are magically transformed into art works in a kind of alchemy through the experimental efforts of artists. We are working with these things, and we transform them into something beautiful!

Tell us a little about your technique. I can compare my painting method to that of Russian icon painters. They would make a ritual of finding the right wood, preparing it, and painting the imagery. I choose the wood panels and spend several days or even weeks preparing the surface. I gesso the wood and sand it lightly. Like the icon painters did, I apply a layer of gold and begin to build up layers of oil paint. This is when the composition begins to be set. Then I thin the paint with mineral spirits of alkyd to make glazes and apply them, gradually mixing in less and less thinner. At the final stage, I apply dark stains to work the leaf shadows into areas to showcase the background. If I want to bring up a light area, I will excavate or lift up the stain.

Are there particular things that inspire your work? Well, visually, I am fascinated by the surfaces of things, things like old tables and chairs, old tools, signs – things that have signs of being used and lived with. Maybe it started with a fascination with the weathered and hard-used patinas of the farm houses and fences where I grew up. But as an adult, I came to love the surfaces of the walls of Rome – the outer walls of buildings and the inner walls of rooms. I lived in Rome for a year and a half, and go back to Italy periodically. And actually, the artists who interest me the most – Jules Olitski, Lucien Freud, Robert Rauschenberg, for example – are those whose surfaces are important to their work. The paintings that excite me the most have a muted or quiet pallet, too.

As you know, the imagery of my work usually has a landscape reference. We now live in Virginia in the middle of thirty-five acres of woodland with few other houses visible. We see mountains on one side and a pond on the other, with lots of trees around. I do like the imagery. I’m sure it seeps into my psyche. And it reminds me of my grandfather’s dairy farm in New York when I was a child. I used to get up before the family and walk up the hill to watch the sun come up. There is that time just before the sun comes up and lights the colors, when you see fields of muted color in the sky and earth and the leaves are all in silhouette. I think that gorgeous land was imprinted on me early on.

Early on, I loved the interplay of darkness and light, and this continues to be characteristic of my style. My paintings in this style are not only about the shadowy leaves in the foreground, but also about the lush, glowing background. When I began to do these paintings, I was also doing illustrations of the cantos of Dante’s Inferno in a realistic style. What carried over was the realization that in life one encountered shadows, but that one could look beyond them into the light.

Generally, I like to work on two different ideas at the same time. At present, along with my work with natural forms – branches, leaves, and vines – I am also working with imagery drawn from ancient maps – symbols, sea monsters, nautical instruments. I was inspired by the extensive display of maps in the Vatican Museum.
I like to listen to music of all kinds, but I especially like old jazz. My son David prepares CDs for me. He knows what I like. I also listen to books on tape. But I do not like to listen to anything “dark”.

What goes through your mind when you paint? Well, for example, I am painting these vines all over the place and you can interpret these in all different ways. They can be a symbol of Christ; in the Bible He says, ‘I am the vine.’ They can just represent the human-like growing and moving just to find the light. Since I am also working with old maps, the vines can also stand for roads leading here and there. But this is just what goes through my mind. What another viewer sees may be something else entirely. It may be nothing but vines. What is important is that my painting provides pleasure and relief from all that is going on in the world.

Is that what you want your viewers to get from your work? I would like my work to provide a pause from the everyday turmoil of life. Too much is going on in the world. I want people to be able to pause and enjoy. I share the Matisse philosophy that you want to come home and sit with a painting and relax. I also like there to be a sensibility of light – that is, a sense of optimism in the painting. My colors are clear but muted because I want to give the sense of relief rather than artificial stimulation.

A Collaboration in Paint

Pop Windows - New Paintings   Mark & Elena Erickson’s love affair with paint came about easily from the start. Once they entered the studio together for the first time it was apparent they could work well in a true partnership and accomplish something special. This has led to a remarkable collaboration. Mark and Elena have gone on a journey of imagination together through the medium of paint. In their collaborations, paint is given the power to visually echo their shared experiences, environment and emotions.

 According to Mark, “One’s life and the very place one works gets into the paintings; works overflow in graphic pop reasonings, psychedelic twists and turns of events blend into the imagination.” The energy inherent in this collaboration is palpable; the works push the limits of what paint can do to act upon our understanding of emotion.

 In the Summer of 2018, Elena and I began working on a new series of paintings. We call the works, ‘Pop Windows,’ Views through a window or a doorway is the obvious first assumption when viewing these canvases. The elements of Pop colors and images swirl over the luscious backgrounds. In one regard They are abstract images and fall into our continued work in abstract expressionism, yet there are elements of a collage character and contemporary culture. Torn away billboards and sanded down surfaces where the images of Birds continue to fly and fish swim through the channels of the built up paint.

 The works are all hand painted acrylic on canvas. Each painting is a unique story. The titles can sometimes give away some of the mystery, other times the painting becomes ethereal. But it is for the viewer to assemble the shapes into their own story.

 Brush strokes intertwine and become one. Colors mesh and shapes become lyrical and melodic. Painterly gestures expand the palette of colors and illusion of depth are enhanced.

 The painting studio in Oakland where sunlight pours through a twenty foot wall of windows, enables experimentation with light and paint, casting shadows and silhouettes on the walls. Playing with reflections and color, mixing paint at random, we attempt to capture an exciting Pop energy in these paintings

 Elena grew up in the country-side of northern Switzerland outside of city life and influences. The forest surrounded her home and most life adventures were motivated by nature.

 In our collaborations we attempt to exhibit the travels among the surf lanes of texture and pigment. Truly the sky is the limit and the seamless attempt to collaborate in earnest.

 Mark & Elena Erickson - Oakland & Venice, California 2018

Interview with Richard Currier

According to Richard, the most difficult task for many artists is to explain their artwork to someone who asks, “Why is this done?” or “What does this mean?”. Unlike a work of literature, which must be read to find the message which lies within the words and pages, a painting exists in its entirety right on the surface. Everything the artist intended is exposed for everyone to see in the completed painting.

It is up to the viewer to decide if the work deserves his attention. For the artist, there are no right or wrong answers to the questions of “why?” or “what?” posed by the imagery. The viewer, assuming he is intrigued by a painting, must find his own answers. Often this results in a wide variety of interpretations, because the response of one viewer may be completely different from another‘s. Therein lies the beauty of art. The questions are always the same; it is the response that changes from viewer to viewer, from one period of time to another, and from one set of circumstances to another. Therein, I think, lies the purpose for art. It mirrors the changing human condition in the responses of its viewers.

As a painter of ‘real’ objects, I have always been drawn towards dramatic imagery that uses contrasting elements of color, shape and space. I paint until the objects become more than what they are. Although ‘realism’ is not necessarily the goal, this seems to result in a heightened reality to the images. I enjoy the balance of positive and negative space, pulling imagery from the space as well as pushing space back to expose the form. To me, the subject of my paintings has always been the fusion of light and form. The objects carry light and form within the space and provide a reference for the viewer. This relation of artwork and viewer is very important. Art is incomplete without its audience.

Landscapes, on the other hand, have their own aesthetic. Apart from social or political forms of art, they are a response to a time and place processed through the artist’s imagination. Based on my travels throughout my native Florida, I draw on my emotional responses to the mental images I have collected over the years. I focus not on the objects found in a landscape but on the spaces, infused with light, that lie between the objective realities. That is where I find the passion for painting.

Florida native, Richard Currier, is a master of representational oil painting. His mastery is not revealed in the subjects that he chooses to paint, but rather in the manner in which he represents them.

"Throughout my career I have explored a variety of subjects in various representational styles; however, the true subject of my paintings has always been the fusion of light and atmosphere."

The beginning of his artistic training was at the Ringling School of Art and Design, one of the few schools in the country at that time that concentrated on traditional skills of painting on canvas with a brush.

That infusion of skills led him to travel to Holland and France – particularly Amsterdam and Paris – to experience the scenes painted by 18th and 19th century masters that he loved. His current work might be seen as an outgrowth of the still lifes and landscapes of those earlier masters. His magnified still lifes of fruit and flowers enlarge upon the brilliantly highlighted banquet tables of Abraham van Beyeren, and the atmospheric power of his landscapes, recall the bucolic paintings of Willem Maris. In fact, Currier’s pursuit of “the fusion of light and atmosphere” is much like Maris’s motto,”I don’t paint cows, but rather effects of light.” The Dutch tradition runs through English landscape painting on down to Currier, whose impressions of Florida marshes and waters seem an evolutionary step beyond the work of J.M.W. Turner.

Currier built his house and studio himself, close to the Atlantic coast of Florida. He draws inspiration from the abundance of fruit and flowers, the light-bathed woods, and the storm-battered clouds and sea. But most of all, he is inspired by the ability of oil painting to achieve an almost operatic grandeur just by virtue of its techniques:

“I am intrigued by contrasting elements – color and shape, abstract and objectivity, balance and tension. I paint until the objects become more than what they are, existing in a turbulent atmosphere of substance and movement.”

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH TERRI HALLMAN

Q) At what age did you first start to "paint" and what was the subject matter?

A) As far back as I remember I was always drawing. I grew up in a house with 4 sisters and my mother - so my subject was faces - usually women, and horses. (I think they were "male".) A lot of childhood photos catches me with my sketchbook and disconnected from the activity around me. I can see from those photos by age 6 or so that I had already found that place (mentally, psychologically) that I go to now when I work, or my head was up and facing towards the sky, looking inward rather than towards the viewer.

I only drew - pencil, graphite - until about age 25, I tried painting just once in high school when an art teacher wanted me to try. I didn’t like it so I never tried it again. my drawing progressed, typically, into photorealism and I became interested in drawing textures like cloth, leather and wood, etc. making them as realistic and tactile as I could. College made me stop drawing and being so safe and anal.

Q) Have you always painted figurative work?

A)The majority, yes. I find faces endlessly interesting, not necessarily the face structure but displays of some kind of emotion on the face, gestures and gestural, good, bad, darkness and joy - it’s all fascinating to me. I’ve read, and read, a lot about psychology and physiognomy these are my interests. The figure and face is also just a subject for me to practice and develop interests I have in line, positive/negative space, movement, colour and endless others.

Q) What were your early influences and were you exposed to art.

A) Books, museums galleries) I grew up in a small town and wasn’t exposed too much art until college. I remember being blown away by Jonathon Borofsky and any artwork that showed frantic-ness or rapid movement, everything influences. Everything I’ve seen and done has been absorbed.

Q) Any other "arty" people in family (brothers, sisters etc)

A) My mother and one sister had some skills but neither developed it

Q) Art training.

A) An art school - Minneapolis College of art and design. It jarred me into seeing things in ways than I had not been used to (coming from a small town it brought the concept of abstraction into my life and a lot of disorientation. People need that more. I definitely did, the thing I like to say most about art school is that it doesn’t teach you how to be a good painter, designer, and sculptor. It just makes you get a lot of the garbage over with faster.

Q) Did you ever want to do anything else and did you.

A) I worked as a designer through and after college. I liked it a lot but did it only for a few years. I took on some more menial work just to get by as an artist. I’ve worked as a framer and I worked for a signage business for a few years, I loved it, unfortunately, I often got fired from these jobs. I don’t work well for others if I don’t like the way they do things.

Q) What drives you?

A) Fear of dullness, well... yes

Q) What do you most like about your work?

A) It’s really me, I believe I keep it real

Q) What do you hate about your work?

A) Its temperamental, how I’m feeling each day will show through, it means I have to keep my life up and invigorated in order to work well. I need to be working well in order for my life to be working well. I need to keep my life satisfying in order for the work to be good. And I need to be producing good work to be happy..la de da my life and work are welded together, I have to keep tight control of this.

Q) As above about other people.

A) When they don’t say what they really mean.

Q) Explain a bit about the technical process you go through to achieve your work.

A) later

Q) Favourite colours.

A) Usually my favourites are red and yellow, the stronger and more saturated the better, I always have a secondary colour love at any given time, right now it a sort of blue-jeans blue, because my work is layers of colour on top of each other, combinations of colours next to each other or showing through are interesting to me, mixing a new colour or finding new pigment is driving fuel for work.

Part Two

I might be skipping around

Q) Favourite artist(s).

A) I don’t usually like to answer this question because there are far too many.

Q) Favourite music, writer, film of all time.

A) I listen to all and every music, I have to love the music I’m listening to while I work so I am endlessly searching for new things I haven’t heard, I guess trying to list names for any of these groups feels wrong to me, I have too many favourites, lately I put in Kirasawas "dreams" dvd during my down time and I’ve been watching "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" repeatedly, they are both very satisfying to me.

Q) What makes you laugh, cry.

A) I have some friends with great wit, they make me laugh, I cry whenever my feelings get hurt, but only for a few seconds.

Q) Most embarrassing moment.

A) You first

Q) What does in mean to you for people to love your work?

A) It’s great, but I feel pretty separated from the idea of this, I have a musician friend that said it best, he said that if he ever made it really "big" you'll find him in his basement playing his guitar.

Q) Does it bother you if people do not like it?

A) Not at all, it bothers me if a person thinks their opinion would affect something I’ve worked so hard on and feel so right about.

Q) Explain a bit about the objects in your paintings, what do they symbolise.

A) I have an idea that my few constant symbols and/or words cover nearly everything, since my work is generally a reflection of my state of mind or events in my life, I will sometimes (organically) put one of them in a piece, I should first mention that the beginning of nearly all my work starts with a stick figure - similar to child drawing, this is the first vantage point that I am stemming the piece from and it also is a place of "unknowing" I will give a list of a few symbols.

The bird on the shoulder represents the trusted companion. this began from a friend of mine that had several birds, they were so incredibly fragile and their entire life hinged on how carefully she cared for them, yet they were completely trusting of her, this signifies a solid association.

The house is about security and base, "home sweet" is a more dynamic and feeling perspective of this. The running horse represents unencumbered freedom and strength, also movement the writing (most of the time) on my work is rarely meant as literal, the words may be important at the moment but as the piece transforms they are often forgotten, it is often, also, more about handwriting (the shapes of the letters or words - as it expresses) than the words themselves.

The apple is about structure, base and core (no pun intended) its form is basic, to me it’s rather static and un-dynamic there are also many metaphors that the apple has been used for and it belongs in that group.

The pear can around as a spin-off from the apple, is about beauty and warmth, the shape, colours and taste are widely varied and , to me, much more elegant and beautiful than the apple. I tend to think of the apple as noun or verb and the pear as adjective and adverb.

The pea - which I rarely use - is a sort of solitary nothingness, its just a circle-form without any other distinguishing features, one amongst many. I usually use it in black and white also - which strips it of its only description - green.

I think one of the most constant things used throughout my work is the separation of line and mass (or form) it reinforces the transience of the moment and lapse of time, it signifies movement.

Q) Happiest time.

A) I tend to be rather manic, my happiest times happen often

Q) First exhibition.

A) I was naïve, I thought it was important. I can say now that it was right near the moment I started to plunge into destitution.

Q) Aspirations for the future both personally and with your work.

A) Im not sure where I picked this up, but its taboo to speak of this.

Q) What do you do to relax?

A) I sleep at night

Sorry for these one-liners, Sheana. I’m not able to connect to some of the questions.

Q) Plans for this year.

A) I’ve been stewing about sculpture for a long time now, trying to find materials or processes that seem right for me, this year, I’m hoping to make it work better.

Q) Who do you admire most in the World?

A) My cat, she's got it easy and doesn’t know any better.

Q) Who would you like to have dinner with?

A) Tony Greenberg, a man I’ve never been able to pin down.

Q) When and how do you know when a painting is complete.

A) This has always been obvious to me, the same way you know when you’re finished in the shower, all the parts are done.

Art Business News

BY ART BUSINESS NEWS • 24 SEPTEMBER • ARTIST SPOTLIGHT • FEATURED ARTICLES

Vibrant Blue Bookshelf Buddha

Interview with Marlene Rose

ABN: What inspires your work – where do your ideas come from? An artist, a culture, a period of time?

Rose: All of my work, whether figurative or abstract, has a spiritual aspect to it. Looking East was inevitable as the paintings, calligraphy, architecture, even the clothing of the East seems to share that common quality. While the Buddha faces that I’m known for are inspired by Buddhas from Vietnam, China and India, the concept of the face itself has come to mean much more to me. It seems that the imagery transcends culture and appeals to a universal common thread in humanity, of the striving to be bigger than oneself, and to dissolve the man-made barriers between cultures and peoples.

These threads of human imagery, passing through cultures and time inspire me. I am compelled to weave and recompose their nuances, all to communicate the immortal vibrancy of the human spirit. The glass may look like a relic of some ancient time, but each piece holds inside itself the sum of the sharp shards of what I have seen, of unnamed emotions, of visions, concepts and memories.

ABN: Why glass? Why this process? I have read the description you sent about the process, but I guess the question revolves around how did you come to discover the process and what draws you to it.

Rose: I am a glass artist. More specifically, a sandcast glass artist.

I pour liquid molten glass into sand molds I have carefully prepared. It is in the ancient tradition of all metal casting, going back thousands of years to the Ages of Iron and Bronze. Indeed, the Romans and Phoenicians and many others too, took this technique and used it to make made glass.

But glass in this ancient tradition tended to be made only on an industrial scale. It was just in the 1980’s that the heating and (very) controlled cooling of the glass became viable on a Studio level, where individual artists could create their own unique pieces of art.

My teacher, Gene Koss in New Orleans, learnt this technique of casting glass from one of the founders of the American Studio Glass Movement, and I am very fortunate to have been introduced to this unique technique while it was in its infancy.

The technique differs from the blown glass with which we are all familiar. It is far closer to the fine-art tradition of casting objects, something which appealed to my artistic sensibilities more than the craft-based tradition of blown glass.  Gene always said that a piece had to work as a sculpture first, and that if it should look good no matter what it was made from. Glass gives a very special aspect of life to the work. Glass changes all the time, depending on the light that flows through it, and it is the changing light in which we live which gives us its subtle inner beauty.

ABN: What are your goals for today? For the future?

Rose: Keep making high quality art which evokes an emotional response in the viewer.

ABN: We appreciate the time with Marlene—her goals sum up a career built with the future always in mind. We can’t wait to see her next compelling collection.

Reconstruction of an Emotion

Reconstruction of an Emotion III by Eddy Stevens. Oil on canvas.

Reconstruction of an Emotion III by Eddy Stevens. Oil on canvas.

Angela King Gallery reception held in conjunction with Dirty Linen on Royal Street

August 12, 2017 5 - 7 pm

Visionary painter Eddy Stevens believes that the real 'truth' of existence relies on the imagination to reveal the invisible. That what we normally perceive as reality is nothing more than an illusion which hides a greater vision and potential. Surrealism brought the imagination to the front burner of the creative process. It threw out what many see as limitations in perception and replaced it with unlimited vision. The ability to eliminate certainties and free our thinking to include the unexplored, imagination, spirit force which helps us discover new worlds of thought and visual understanding.

Gambit Magazine

Children of the Whitney

Review: Woodrow Nash at Angela King Gallery

The sculptor takes his cues from African tribal fashions 

D. Eric Bookhardt May 2, 2016 - 4:00 pm

As we reflect on another New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, it can seem ironic that such an ecstatic event could have been an indirect result of one of history's most horrific episodes: the Atlantic slave trade. Without the forced interaction of such diverse cultures there would be no jazz, blues or rock music as we know it today. In 2014, the newly restored Whitney Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana opened as the first American house museum to reveal what plantation life was really like. Among the historic displays are some startling contemporary clay sculptures by Woodrow Nash. Perhaps the most haunting are some life-size children who turn up in various settings like side characters in Mark Twain stories. Unlike other such museums, the Whitney elucidates the harshness of plantation life, a brutality made all the more unnerving by the vulnerable innocence of Nash's children.

 A more varied array of his works on view at the Angela King Gallery includes some sinuous lifelike figures inspired by 17th-century African styles of dress and adornment. Although rendered with hints of art nouveau and Matisse-like flourishes, their presence is as elemental as Africa itself, and the colorful glazes seen in a view of the artist and his creations (pictured) reinforce that sub-Saharan aesthetic. For instance, a sculpture of a tall, slender woman, Almitra #9, conveys the lithe grace of a Masai princess with large copper disk earrings and vibrant African fabric patterns underscoring her regal aura. A bust of a male warrior, Husani #4, sports a white glaze reminiscent of the pigments used in tribal rituals also, while highlighting the patterns etched into most of the adult figures — incised designs that suggest scarification but also probably help them survive the intense heat of the ceramic kiln. At the entrance to the gallery, a cluster of Nash's ceramic children recalls old New Orleans' ever-present street urchins; it doesn't take much to imagine them as the young Louis Armstrong's ragtag friends and playmates.

Gambit Magazine

Review: Temples of Glass

New work by Marlene Rose and mixed media artists at Angela King Gallery

D. Eric Bookhardt Oct 5, 2015 - 2:27 pm

Time flies. Days can slip by, almost surreptitiously, until decades have passed. Angela King noticed that recently when she realized that her gallery is 30 years old. She has been its director for decades, starting when it was called Hanson Gallery and featured work that was to contemporary art what "easy listening" is to FM radio. After buying the gallery from its California-based owner 10 years ago, King included art that, while still accessible, has more psychological or spiritual depth. The current Marlene Rose expo of cast glass sculptures is decorous while resonating the timeless aura associated with African masks, Buddha heads, totems and ancient artifacts. Local art buffs will note some parallels with the cast glass concoctions of local maestro Mitchell Gaudet, whose surreal works often feature martyred saints whose suffering on behalf of others reflects traditional Roman Catholic notions of empathy. Both studied glass sculpture at Tulane University, but Rose's serene Buddha heads, such as Purple Lotus (pictured), evoke a meditative sort of empathy meant to transcend suffering itself. Royal Street's competitive distractions can be daunting, but King's humanistic focus makes her offerings personable.

Belgian artist Eddy Stevens' dreamlike portraits, painted in a magic realist style reminiscent of Jan van Eyck, Lucian Freud and our late local barfly genius Noel Rockmore, evoke characters from fantastical fiction while looking oddly at home in the French Quarter. Local artist Aaron Reichert's manically dynamic and sinewy gestural paintings of historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein also hark to Rockmore — especially the eerie depth and otherworldly funk that characterized his jazz portraits. But Woodrow Nash's large "African Nouveau" clay sculptures are unlike anything else. With hints of Nubian statuary and traditional West African wood figures, some are rendered in ceramics so vividly hued that they seem almost psychedelic. Despite their prismatic charisma, his figures seem pensive, even reflective, like timeless witnesses to their own history who have been left in stunned silence by what they have seen.