Monday, November 16, 2015

Being Rejected 2014

Dear holly,
We want to thank you for submitting an application for the 2015 Clark Hulings Fund Business Accelerator Grant.  Our grant review panel has completed its review of 140 applications, and, unfortunately,  you were not chosen as a finalist or grant recipient.
Although you weren't chosen this year, we encourage you to seek future support from The Clark Hulings Fund.  Our website, includes many resources designed to help artists like yourself develop their businesses.
Good luck with your future work.
Alas and  Alack, this email I received today seems to be fairly standard for me anymore.  I'm under drought conditions when it comes to getting accepted for any kind of grant or award.  I've decided I have about the same odds anymore as winning the Megamillions lottery:  I make the application--spending sometimes days getting all of the information together--pay my fee, then wait to hear back.  Often I don't hear back, I just know that the deadline has come and gone and I wasn't notified, other times I get nice rejection emails like this one.  It's discouraging, but I've learned over the years not to be bothered(this is not a true statement) since I've also been at the other end, jurying or selecting artists for shows and/or awards. I know how it works, how it is to choose, what a completely subjective experience it is. I recently juried a show for Tilt Gallery , and while I loved the process and choosing the work, it also broke my heart to say no, knowing how hard it is for any artist to put him or herself on the line and then be found lacking. It helps that, along with the artists that didn't get into the show, I've spent my time in the barrel and know just how it feels.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Deer with Paw 1983

Having recently finished graduate school, I wasn't sure what the next step in being an artist should be.  After much thought and discussion, I decided it should be making make my work known to a larger audience.  So, one fall day in 1982,  I headed to Houston(two days plus) in my small Datsun pickup truck, portfolio and camping gear secured in the back.

It was an epic drive, with me taking a few wrong turns, and spending one night in a sleeping bag at a campground along I-10.  I-10 was a busy interstate highway that seemed to go on forever, and as soon as I got into Texas, I began to notice the many deer carcasses along the shoulder, hit by traffic as they tried to cross.  I'd pull my little truck over to the side of the road, wait for traffic to roar past me, then carefully exit the truck with my camera in hand and take as many photographs as I could.  If the smell were bad, I wouldn't linger as long.

The trip was really a bust, with no galleries showing any interest in representing me, and although the few curators that I showed work to were polite, they had no immediate offers of help.  However, when I got back to Phoenix I had several rolls of undeveloped film of the dead deer. They turned out to be powerful images, and I ended up developing and painting on several to make this series. Now, 33 years later, what I marvel at is how I brave I was(or perhaps how foolish?):  undertaking the long trip by myself, with little or no knowledge or where I was going or the reception I would receive, no cell phone, very little money, and mostly just an enormous belief that things would work out.  And, in the end, they did.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Lazy: Fall 2015

I have been working for almost a year on building images.  At this point, I have slipped into a stage that is probably very similar to what happens to a heroin addict:  I only want the fun, none of boring stuff.  I have painted the panels which is lots and lots and lots of fun, and exciting.  I have taken and gathered the images/painted paper/photographs (fun), and I have cut out and pieced them together to make stories about things I didn't know existed until I pulled them all together(fun and interesting).  I tack them onto the painted surfaces with poster adhesive, and then I put them up on the wall to look  and then adjust as need be(not as fun but okay).
The images that I have put up are soon covered by other images, so that on my shelves I have images that go three and four deep, all waiting to be adhered(NOT fun).  I forget about the ones I've done as I stack more over them.
The tables are covered with folders with photos/painted paper/and painted panels. As I continue to work they are then covered by more folders and more bits and pieces of paper:  faces, textures, shapes.  Somehow I keep a fairly precise idea of where everything is on the seven tables in my studio:  two tiny cut out horse ears?  No problem, on the shelf under the image of the Twin Selves towards the back(and this from a mind that can't remember why it's taking me from one room to the next).  If I start to clean up and organize things(not fun), instead I just make more collages(fun).  By this time every scrap of paper that I've cut, or printed out has potential, and if I throw it away, what then?  Gone(not fun)!
I'm left with a mountain of work: the careful, precise, and anal job of adhering the images permanently, then coated with a final varnish(NOT NOT fun).  I will end up with a stiff and sore neck and a jaw that doesn't want to open because I have been clenching as I glue. I will photograph the new work, adjust the images in Photoshop(not as un-fun as adhering but not exactly fun), then  send the images to my galleries to see which ones they want to exhibit(sometimes fun, sometimes not).  So, wherever I have put a "not fun" think of that heroin addict dozing off on the dirty mattress on the floor, bills unpaid, leaking roof, and a kitchen stacked full of unwashed dishes.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Man with TV 1986

TV is central to our lives.  Both my husband and I take our dinners into the living room where we sit, plates in our laps, and watch our favorite programs every evening.  I'm reminded of Bob's Grandparents watching Lawrence Welk every Saturday, only now they are long gone, and we are watching our own versions of the saccharine band leader.  We talk about characters as if they are our friends, analyzing what has been said or done long after the show is over.  When we go out to parties or to have dinner with friends, we discuss our latest favorite shows, among them, Naked and Afraid, a reality show about two strangers of the opposite sex dropped in the wilderness to survive without food, clothes, or water for 21 days, or Transparent, a TV series about a family in Los Angeles whose father comes out as always having thought of him/herself as a woman. We now have cable with it's billion trillion(mostly worthless) channels, Netflix, and now, Amazon Prime, so we have even more access to movies and television series.  Many of the programs we watch are excellent, and it's being said that we are in the Golden Age of TV--series that are allowed to follow complicated and compelling story lines over years, like Breaking Bad or The Sopranos.  But even when we only had four stations and a tiny black and white set with Rabbit ears, we were still TV Junkies.  At least now we can pretend that what we are watching is vital to our development as human beings, and not just pure escapism.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Burning House 2015

After being asked by Hiroki Morinoue to do a Mokuanga print with him at Anderson Ranch this Fall, I prepare the drawing, taken from the image Big Girl
Hiroki takes my drawing and traces it to two bass wood panels. He carves another house as well as the key panel to make the house stand out more, but, in the end, it makes the house too strong and we don't end up using it(the second panel can be seen resting against the wall).  His printing station is located on the floor in a corner of the printmaking shop at Anderson ranch, with Hiroki sitting on a cushion with a two low benches in front of him to work on, all of which can be folded into his suitcase so that he can travel with them.

 The first run of the print is a bass wood panel inked with red and it will be dropped twice, once for the background, and again, only partially inked, to give the top part of the sky a deeper red.  The "inks" are water colors, and must be kept wet to work.  The pattern of the wood is clearly evident, part of the charm and aesthetic of the print.

 Here you can see Hiroki rubbing the back of the paper with his Baren, transfering the ink from the panel to the print.

 The second panel after it has been painted with black water based ink and then had an image pulled from it.

 The panel with the freshly pulled print next to it and the round Baren that Hiroki uses to rub the ink in his hand(face down).

 Hiroki, satisfied with the print.

Burning House, a Mokuhanga print printed by Hiroki Morinoue*.  An ancient Japanese technique using water based ink that is hand rubbed from carved wood blocks.**


**Woodblock printing in Japan (木版画, moku-hanga) is a technique best known for its use in the ukiyo-e artistic genre of single sheets, but it was also used for printing books in the same period. Woodblock printing had been used in China for centuries to print books, long before the advent of movable type, but was widely adopted in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868). Although similar to woodcut in Western printmaking in some regards, the moku-hanga technique differs in that it uses water-based inks—as opposed to western woodcut, which often uses oil-based inks. The Japanese water-based inks provide a wide range of vivid colors, glazes, and transparency.  Wikipedia

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Woman with Small Dog on a Leash 2015

In December of 2014, I went to the animal humane society to find a new dog to replace our old dalmatian, gone over the Rainbow Bridge.  Our other dog, Niko, was catatonic with grief, and it hurt me to see my lively, brave, and fierce little dog curled up in a ball on his pillow, only moving when forced to.  I was clear on what I wanted: a largish dog, perhaps Labrador size. Sex didn't matter, but he/she needed to be at least a year old and housebroken.  I wanted something that would keep the coyotes at bay--that wouldn't let anything in the yard that would kill and eat my little fearless terrier. 

Instead, I came home with a 7lb, 5 month old female dachshund/miniature pinscher cross puppy with god knows what else mixed in.  She'd been picked up as a stray on the mean streets of Albuquerque.  She was never going to be big, that was for sure, and, of course, was not house-broken. She was very timid, and hid behind the TV for the first hours in our house.  When I approached her, she would run away, and her cautiousness  reminded me of the coyotes I was hoping to keep out of our yard.  But there was something about her that spoke to me, some quality of reserve and dignity that I could see under the fear in her skinny body. When I finally  managed to catch her and then pick her up, I could feel her surrender, melting her body into mine, burying her head in my chest, safe at last.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fox with Rabbit 2014

Raised on PBS nature documentaries, there was always the confusion for me of who the "good guy" was.  Was it the young antelope, separated from the herd, then stalked and chased relentlessly until brought down by a pride of lions working in tandem?  We see her head, eyes still open, moments before she dies, the lions covering her body.  Or is it the mother lion, greeting her cubs after returning from feeding on the antelope?  Without this food, the somber voice-over tells us, the mother won't be able to produce milk for the babies,  and they will weaken and die.  We watch as the cubs swarm the mother's belly as she collapses on the ground, stretching out her long body so that there is room for all to feed.

As an adult, I came to realize that there was no one good guy, or, perhaps better said, all in nature is the "good guy".  Without one, we can't have the other.  Rabbits, and there are a lot of them, are eaten by predators, and predators, which there aren't so many of, face starvation if they don't find prey. They both live by their wits, and if they don't, they die. The reality, beyond the death of one animal or the other, is that both fox and rabbit live on, headed in different directions but sharing the same world of sky and forest.