Friday, January 29, 2010

Sitting down a Working Woman/Artist (literally)

Well, we started standing up, but the discussion during our Lunchtime Art Break this afternoon on Women Artists/Women Workers was so casual and intimate that we all sat down in the galleries to hear from our guest speaker Gwen Diehn. Gwen is an artist and a retired faculty member of the Warren Wilson art department and a wife and the mother of three kids. She gave us some insight into the life of an artist who also must juggle work, married life, kids, and just life in general. When and how do you make time for your art practice?

It was only fitting that we sat down in the Ruth Asawa gallery. Ruth had six children, a husband, and, eventually, a prolific arts advocacy career. Yet, she produced an array of art, which she made great strides with in the art world.

Here are some great insights from Gwen on being an artists and having a life:

1. It does not matter what you do after art school (if you go). Being an artist is finding time for your practice. Some people work at 3am before their crazy jobs start or their babies wake up. What is important is to find time for it and to do it regularly.

2. Being a
n artist does not necessarily mean that your end goal is to show in a big New York gallery. You might be on the other end of the spectrum, where you are not concerned at all about selling a piece. Think about where you fit on the spectrum and tailor your goals accordingly.

3. Finding space for art can be hard sometimes so it is good to keep tools and supplies available, out in the open, easily reachable, and available to all. Gwen had a printing press in the dining room, where it fit.

4. Involve those around you. When your kids are sick, you may have to draw them in bed. Your kids might want to help you crank the press in the dining room. They learn and you practice.

5. It is so helpful to have a partner who supports your daily juggle and pushes you to maintain your practice. Support can come in all forms- financial, emotional, etc.

6. Priorities are priorities but that does not always mean that your art practice is always at the top. Don't feel bad if you get consumed by the love for your new baby, etc.- pick up your artistic practice when you are ready- just don't forget about it entirely.

Thanks to Gwen for a unique look at Ruth Asawa. Check out our upcoming Art Breaks! We have lots of special guests coming in to give us fresh perspectives!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Crafty Ideas

Did you miss the Asheville Art Museum on WLOS's Craft Corner?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Honoring One of Our Own

There has always been a play between the actual symmetry of the picture shape (square, horizontal, diamond, shape, etc.) and the symmetry of layout, which opens the depicted forms to the use of color -- to sound or harmonize in an expressive way. -Kenneth Noland


Kenneth Noland, a great artist and Asheville native, died on Tuesday at the age of 85. An abstract expressionist painter, he was a main figure in the color field movement that involved large canvases, poured paint, and a rethinking of color perception. His training at Black Mountain college introduced him to Bauhaus principles and color theories, for which he became a notable and important artist in the abstract expressionist movement.

Noland painted geometric shapes on large canvases using bold colors. Visually similar to targets, these paintings evoke motion through their use of shape and color.

The Asheville Art Museum has three paintings by Kenneth Noland, one of which, North South East West, is currently on display in the exhibition Looking Forward: New Works and New Directions for the Permanent Collection. Unfortunately, I cannot upload photos here of his work because of copyright, but check out his paintings on line and in person at the Asheville Art Museum. His official site is

Noland was a great friend of the Asheville Art Museum. Thank you for all that you have done for Asheville and the art world. We will miss you.

A bit of a bio:
Nolan's mother was an amateur musician and his father was a painter who had studied under an Impressionist.
He served in the Air force as a glider pilot and cryptographer
He attended Black Mountain College.
His first one man exhibition was in 1949 at Galerie Raymond Creuze, in Paris.
He settled in Washington D.C.
He returned to Black Mountain College and met Clement Greenberg and Helen Frankenthaler.
He experimented with Frankenthaler's method of staining unprimed canvas with acrylic. His work gradually became more hard-edged and geometric, featuring circular or ellipsoid rings, chevrons and targets. In 1958 he created concentric circle canvases, generally considered his first mature works. In 1962 he began the cat's-eye series.
He moved to New York in the spring of 1962.
He bought Robert Frost's farm in Vermont.
His works were exhibited in 1964 with the Minimalist group known as "The Washington Color Painters."
He began making sculptures after buying some materials from the David Smith estate.
His forms became more loose; horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines overlapped to involve the space outside of the picture plane.
He began to work in metal sculpture and to produce shaped canvases during the 1970s.
He was elected to the American Academy and Institutes of Arts and Letters.
His works are in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
He was awarded the North Carolina Award in Fine Arts in 1992.
His remains will be interred in the Montford area in Asheville.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lighting up Art

This week, I was fortunate to attend a tour of Asheville artist Heather Lewis's work at the Asheville Area Arts Council. There, Heather showed us some of her newer paintings and then down to the basement to see her newer work with light. I had never been down to the basement of the Arts Council. It is an interesting space, unfinished and without good lighting, that is perfect for Heather's installation pieces. Starting from scratch, she utilizes the space well, creating her own lighting, and using the great space for her unique and impressive installation pieces.

Heather's work is inspired by the mechanisms and products of industry. She is both inspired and troubled by the products that are created en mass, for the masses, taking them as her point of departure to comment on their mundane status and to make them into something different, through stenciling and light, so that their existence is made apparent to us as viewers, their everyday status is no longer disguised in routine.

It is a remarkable approach. She uses sardine cans and tires as stencils in her paintings; her "Objects from a Kitchen Drawer" light installation utilizes telephone cords and scotch tape, projecting them on the wall so they are transformed into something different and stripped of all practicality. When I asked her about one stencil she said it was made with a banana split tray from an ice cream shop. Yum!

I went home and looked at all of my kitchen appliances differently, mesmerized by the artistic potential hidden in the practical and the everyday.

To see more work by Heather Lewis, visit her website here.

Images from the Asheville Area Arts Council installation- 2009.