As the finale of this show and thus this post, I offer a beautifully produced recording of my interview with audience Q&A by Brett Barry of Silver Hollow Audio. This discussion ranges from my decades of contemporary landscape painting to the environmental themes of this show to the gallery-artist relationship. You can listen here:
Water is ease, water is in our dreams, water kills. Water is 60% of our bodies and covers 71% of the planet. We float, swim, sink, ride on, drink, cook and grow with, own, fight over, drown in, boil, crave, gaze at, and are mesmerized by water. It bears repeating: Water is life.
Welcoming Sea, 24″x72″, oil on linen, one of the two largest pieces in the show, 2019.
Water use has also been political since the beginning of our time on earth. As thirst, water rights and fights; severe storms; droughts, fires, floods; and sea level rise become increasingly critical on much of the planet, I have been catapulted into creating an expanded rubric for water imagery in my work. This focuses in on our environment and the challenges it faces, while continuing to celebrate the beauty our planet provides.
After the Rains Came, 24″x36″, oil on linen, 2019.
Atlas /Forms of Water maps the environmental theme while mapping my body of work, revealing a web of meaning around and between the individual pieces that I create. The matrix that connects all of my landscape imagery is saturated with memory, both personal and collective. To make these connections, I have created a site map for the body of work on view.
Maps functions as an aid to find our way. In this context, I am mapping our bodies and states of water; the paintings in the exhibit; memory and self; and threats to our environment, among other, more elusive things.
Site Map/Forms of Water. mixed media/collage and printmaking, 48″x36″.
The Site Map has small monotypes running up both sides that are interpretations of the major paintings in the show. The four other prints are a conversation about threats from global warming: bigger hurricanes in upper left; sea-level rise in upper right: and stream/river flooding in the two at bottom, before and after.
At the top, I have included topographical contours, a loose and flattened version of the Escarpment that curves around Woodstock and then runs north parallel to the Hudson River.
Mountains are the first source of our surface water, and the painting below includes that form of water visible as the Catskill Mountains rising above the back shore, as well as mists, a cloud, and the Hudson River.
Light that Glows, 32″x60″, 2016. (Sold.)
Another new collaged map for the show is of the NYC watershed, water tunnels included. New York City has negotiated—and renegotiated, multiple times—a pass on national regulations that mandate the filtering of drinking water. This exemption is a huge deal, and requires constant monitoring and regulation of the watershed townships within the areas shown, and many mandates for property owners to keep the water flowing into NYC reservoirs clean. While this makes our relationship to our larger neighbor to the south a complex and co-dependent one, it also has transformed our stewardship of our land and streams.
Map Collage, Watershed. 12″x12″, 2019.
The below same-size collage from the year before is of the Hudson Canyon, which is essentially an underwater extension of the Hudson River, extending southeast until it drops off the continental shelf.
Hudson Canyon, collage on board, 12″x12″, 2018.
Also in mixed media/collage, “Forms of Water: A Taxonomy”. This small tintype drawer contains the following seven categories, from the top row moving down: states and phases of visible water; geographical bodies of water; wetlands; types of clouds; storms; waves; and human made forms of water.
Forms of Water: A Taxonomy, 17″x11.5″, 49 mixed media/collage pieces in a vintage tintype tray, 2019.
Creating pieces in vintage boxes, drawers, muffin pans, and child’s blackboards has been one of my ongoing series for some years now. It requires a listening attitude to select and then bend the imagery to work with the support that I have chosen, starting the process in a different way from a blank canvas. In the below piece, the box and the piece of wood that I painted on had elements that determined both what imagery I chose and how I painted it.
Snowplows at Work, oil on board in vintage box, 3″x7″, 2018. (Sold.)
Dusk Drive in 12, oil on board in a vintage muffin pan, 18″x11″, 2018.
For decades now, I have been devoted to painting fog, suspended water that softens our landscapes, sometimes obscuring, sometimes defining:
Blue Dawn, 12″x36″, oil on linen. (Sold.)
Blue/Green Mountain Fog, oil on 4″x12″ board, 2019. (Sold.)
Many of my paintings depict wetlands, so gorgeous and vital for controlling flooding caused by excessive rain events, storms, tidal flooding, and sea-level rise; as well as filtering sediment in water and providing habitat for wildlife. Visually, salt marshes in particular create color and shape that I return to paint over and over again.
Summer at the Creeks, 36″x24″, oil on linen, 2018.
Angle of Repose, 40″x30″, 2015.
Summer Reflected, 12″X12″, oil on linen, 2014.
Manmade forms of water are included in the show, as seen in the flood image near the top and in the vertical painting below, which depicts a wetland developed by humans to cultivate cranberries.
Cranberry Bog, 48″x24″, oil on linen.
The pieces in the show include landscape imagery in oil on linen; monotypes; small works in oil on board; water imagery using vintage boxes, blackboards, and other containers/support; and map collages.
Gale, 16″x16″, oil on linen, 2019. (Sold.)
Stillness, 16″x16″, oil on linen, 2019.
Flow, 16″x16″, oil on linen, 2019. (Sold.)
Drift, 16″x16″, oil on linen, 2019.
I was motivated in fall of 2016 to move towards creating shows that place my open, color-field landscapes within a complex experiential web. Three major factors came into play at just that time.
Sky Meets Water, 18″x24″, oil on linen.
The first was anticipation of a residency in Nantucket scheduled for that winter, and this dovetailed with the second, some thoughts about turning 60 later on in 2018. Given that my background is in contemporary art and that I have always viewed my progressions in landscape painting through that lens; my question to self was—what do I want to do, now, that I haven’t yet?
Among my answers to this question was learning monoprint and linocut techniques, which I now employ both for stand-alone prints and also for the Site Map. Below, some recent monotypes.
Color Field in Blue/Green, 16″x10″, Monotype, 2018.
Overlook with River, 8″x10″, Monotype, 2019.
Waterfall #2, Monotype, 14.25×7.5, 2019.
Reflected Sun #2, 10″x16″. (Sold.)
The third factor was key. Feeling profound grief over the outcome of the 2016 election, my mind returned repeatedly to the single biggest issue on the table, climate change. The conviction that time is running out here and that four years could be critical was decisive in determining the direction that my work has since taken. The acceleration of bad news in this arena since then is eye-popping—sea level rise predictions alone are much, much higher and sooner than was predicted while I was researching the topic in my February, 2017 Nantucket residency.
Moving Storm, 20″x62″, oil on linen.
Flooded Roadway, oil on 6″x6″ board, 2018.
Snow and ice appear in my work and in the context of Atlas/Forms of Water, depict one of the main three phases of water, solid.
Fields of Snow, 12″x12″, oil on linen, 2012. (Sold)
Ebullient Winter, 18″x24″, oil on linen, 2018.
Water vapor, the gaseous state of water, is invisible. The closest thing that is visible is steam, such as the image of a geyser below.
Geyser with Winter Sun, oil on paper, 3 panels of 4.5″/each, 2019.
Globally, precipitation has shifted so that many of the wet places are wetter and the dry locales are dryer. For this reason, I decided to create and include several pieces that depict water’s opposite, fire.
Fire #1, oil on 6″x6″ board. (Sold)
Fire #2, oil on 6″x6″ board. (Sold)
Fire Snake, oil on 4″x12″ board. (Sold)
My imagery is heavily weighted toward the Northeast of the United States, as that is where I have spent much of my life. But I could be anywhere on the planet, exploring the same themes, and I bring with me memories of living in the arid Andes and central Castile; painting in rain-soaked Western Ireland; traveling Northern California to capture the coastal golden hillsides of late summer; and returning to the Nebraska flatlands of my early childhood. It all informs the matrix. It is all water.
Red Sky over Tidal Flats, oil on 4″x12″ board.
Yellow Gleam, oil on 4″x12″ board.
Affinity/Dusk Shoreline, 12″x16″, 2014. (Sold.) My Affinity Series involves these steps: fraying the edges of a piece of raw linen and affixing it to a slightly larger board; priming the whole thing dark and then gridding with graphite; painting the image; selectively regridding over areas where the graphite got painted out.
Affinity/Lightening Storm, 16″x16″, oil on linen with distressed edges on board overlaid with graphite gridding, 2013.
2 Shores/Reflected Sun, 12″x12″.
Evening Shoreline, oil on linen, 12″X12″.
This show builds upon my Atlas/Hudson River Valley show in March of 2017, which you can read about here:
Serene Sea/Quirky Cloud, 40″x40″, oil on linen, 2005/2019.
Overlook with Sparkling River, 16″x20″, 2019.
Soft Greys from Peaked Hill, 10″X30″, 2015. (Sold.)
We are collaborating with Riverkeeper and Catskill Mountainkeeper on a fundraising benefit October 12th, 5-8. That evening, 15% of sales will go to these vital local environmental organizations, as well as the proceeds of a raffle for this 12″x12″ painting:
Stormy Sea, 12″X12″.
(Note: Raffle was drawn on 11-16. Tickets were $20. We raised almost $1,300 from the raffle alone!)
I was delighted to co-host this benefit for Riverkeeper and Catskills Mountainkeeper, as tie in to the environmental discussion of my Atlas Project. This a small way of giving back to those who are fighting to protect the gorgeous, biodiverse open spaces of land and water that I have been frequenting and painting for decades.
A number of people came to help make this event a success, a gift to ourselves; our children and grandchildren; and our own, beloved habitat. I gave a short talk on how this project came about; followed by Kathy Nolan of CMK, who will give us some pointers on how to reduce waste and our carbon footprint.
In addition to the raffle funds and the 15% of sales we donated that evening to CMK and RK, I created a special edition of a dozen of these 3″x3″ and 2″x4″ collages–inspired by the verticals that I did for the Taxonomy piece in a tintype box—to be sold for $135/ea. that night only, as a way of offering an accessible price point. $25 of the price will go to the keepers.