Friday, January 19, 2018

Everything, and Everyone, Has Their Time

Leisure is not the privilege of those who have time. It is the virtue of giving each thing you do the time it deserves.
– Brother David Stendhl–Rast
I came across this quote on another artist’s webpage and it struck me. With the new year ahead of us and the old one disappearing in the rearview mirror, I have been thinking about time. This Monday is the Blooming Saint Paul Awards ceremony. The Blooming Saint Paul Awards is a program I set up several years ago for the Saint Paul Department of Parks and Recreation. It’s a fun evening of handing out awards to gardeners who do not get enough recognition for making our city beautiful. Last year was the first year that I was not running the program. I did emcee the event for fun and to help with the transition to a new coordinator. As I think back, that event seems a very long time ago. Much has happened with my switch to a new employer and the old job, and its responsibilities, quickly were put in the past as my new responsibilities took over.  Just before last year’s ceremony, the country transitioned to a new president. For some reason, that event does not seem nearly as long ago as the Blooming Saint Paul Awards. In fact, it seems much closer in time than several more recent events in my life.

I am always fascinated by time and our perception of it. Events fold one into another and we select the ones to emphasize and de-emphasize, consciously or not. I am one who is often a little late for events and things. I am not clock oriented. I am task oriented. If I am not quite done with a task and it is time to go I do not immediately stop, rush out the door and come back to the task later. I finish the task. Sometimes the task is just a stage of a larger project, like gluing together wood for stretchers. I might delay my next activity to finish the stage of gluing so I come back later to assemble the stretcher. But, if I try to leave before I have glued everything that needs gluing, my brain does not pull away from the task until it is complete. Some people might call this OCD, but the reality is that I am not clock oriented. Everything has its time and I don’t mind allowing the time necessary.

I think this is ultimately important, and very difficult, when it comes to dealing with people. An interaction with a person, in order to respect that person, should be allowed the time it deserves. I am a planner. My mind is always thinking about the next task; what would be the best way to approach that activity, what realistically is the time needed to transition, how will the "now" effect what is happening later, etc. Sometimes it is hard to turn this off when talking with people. It is sometimes hard to be people oriented when you are a task oriented person, just like clock oriented people tend to rush interactions.
I have always been task oriented. Sometimes, to others, it seems like I am very efficient with my time. Which I can be. But being task oriented can be a bit troubling - I am often late when meeting people, I lose track of time, my dog really starts pestering me, and until the next activity has engaged me I can be distracted. 

In my mind, making art has been an activity that has fostered a sense of taking enough time. A painting is not done until you have spent enough time on it. It is a dialogue and the conversation is never over until there is nothing left to say. The conversation doesn't end because of awkward silences, or because there is a subject you don't want to brooch, or because of something that happened last time you painted. The conversation quite simply continues until the painting is done. Often the painting doesn't stop talking, it just goes on and on for a very long time. Then finally, there is silence. The silence of completion. No more words, no more paint strokes, no more tasks that need tending. It is a good feeling to know that you have given something as much time as it needed. It is rare. 

I don't make New Year's resolutions. But I have a suggestion for myself for this year: to give each thing that I do the time it deserves, to give each person I interact with the time they deserve. I'm not in a hurry for 2019 to get here, 2018 just started. There's still a lot of time.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Website

I just launched a new website.Its the same address but completely different look and function. You can now purchase originals and fine art prints of my art via this website.  Check it out, sign up for my newsletter and share with a friend.  More art to come.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Finishing Touches - The Seinfeld Effect

There is so much to write about these days - so many thoughts going through the old noggin about recent events. It seems that inside and outside the art world there is a tsunami of intolerance. I previously have mentioned Dana Shutz's painting of Emmett Till's casket, titled Open Casket, that created such a controversy at the Whitney Biennial.

emitt till

The image she painted was created from a photograph of a young African-American boy who was beaten to death. This image had its own life and symbolism in the African-American community and Ms. Shutz, a white artist, was told that she could not use the image, even if she, as a mother, could identified with the pain in the image. 
Fast forward a couple of months, and the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston announced that they will have a show of Ms. Shutz's work. People protested that the show should be cancelled because of Ms. Shutz's insensitivity to African-Americans even though Open Casket would not be in the show in Boston. None of her other work is considered derogatory towards African-Americans. Also, the show was set up prior to the controversy at the Whitney and announced after consulting with local arts leaders.

A few weeks ago, there was a Neo-Nazi march in Virginia that resulted in a woman protester being killed. There is little need to say much more about Nazi's than that the very definition is intolerance. They have been responsible for the murder of millions of people simply because they were not white or considered white. They are often oppressive and violent toward women simply because they are not men. Everyone other than the white male is considered inferior.


This is all scary and heavy. Everyone has their hair on end and have a trigger ready to be pulled if something is not acceptable. My observing and inquisitive nature makes me wonder how we got here. People can say Trump is the reason, but this started long before him. Others will go back to Reagan and the ending of the Fairness Act, which allowed hate radio to rise, leading to a misinformed and manipulated citizenry. But I can't help but think this goes back even further. I see the manipulation of the wealth of this country in the late 1800's that ultimately led to the Great Depression. I read about the history of immigration and how each new wave of immigrants became the rung on which the last wave rose. Each immigrant class is given some status as long as there is a newer class to be pushed down and prejudiced against. And then there is slavery. 

This country has always been about pitting people against each other. We have a myth that the ruling elite, the current supposed oligarchy, is unified in dividing and oppressing the rest of us. Yet, when you see one of the wealthiest persons become the President of the United States, he starts to turn on those around him, even those he has chosen to lead with him. Those around him start fighting for their own territory and throw anyone else under the bus, gladly.
I think of Seinfeld, the show that best captured the innocent version of this inability to be happy, to accept that life is good, to accept that we are good. There was always something wrong with every girlfriend, with every restaurant, every dish served, etc. In America, there is always something wrong with the other. In America, one mistake leads to a lifetime of opportunity for condemnation. Why are we so vicious and mean to each other? We return hate with anger, we return misunderstanding with shame, we return hurt with fists.
When do we help each other heal? Have computers so taken over our lives that we no longer know how to look into each other and see ourselves, to have empathy? Has the need to be unhappy, to see ourselves as a victim, made it impossible to truly see and understand others?
I am toying with the idea of a class about art and meditation and relation. Art can be a way to open up one's self to others, to share what is inside and to see what is inside others. There are many art forms that are meant to be meditative/contemplative. Could engaging in these art forms help bring about a change in ourselves? Could communal forms of this art bring about a change in our community? It is a question worth exploring.

Friday, September 15, 2017

What's Cooking In the Studio?

Compost- 7Along with the Featured Painting from the last post, I completed Sinkside Compost #7. As I mentioned, the style of this and #8 are looser than the previous ones. Part of the looseness in this one is the smaller panel size while still using the same size brushes. There was a lot of white food scraps in this composition with old lettuce leaves, egg shells and pale broccoli. Then there is a nice brown banana peel in there for contrast.

Trillium in process

Last month I showed the sketches of two potential watercolors for a commission. The trillium flower was chosen. Here is an image of the partially completed piece. It's about 95% complete. At this point I slow down in my painting. I will spend about an hour on it at a stretch and then let it sit for a few hours or a day. I slow myself down at the end of a botanical painting because I have learned that going too far is too easy. So I approach it cautiously, identifying only two or three places to improve at each sitting. Then critiquing it and determining the next two or three places for improvement the next time.

sketch---if-loving-you...What next, after the Sinkside Compost Series? I've been starting to think about a new direction my food paintings. Here is a sketch painting for a series of work that will look more at the psychological relationship we have with food. I am pairing up lines from love songs and songs about relationships with food that I am addicted to. I have been working hard at losing weight -- I have lost almost twenty pounds since the end of January. While restricting myself I have observed cravings and addictions to sugary foods and some other tempting treats. As a child of the 70's and 80's, I was indoctrinated to certain relational expectations via popular music. I find that both of these desires, for food and love, are similar and similarly warped by our culture. I will be talking about this in the next series. It should be interesting.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sinkside Compost #8, oil paint on panel, 12" x 16"

Compost- 8- 3
Sinkside Compost #8
Oil Paint on Panel
12" x 16"
I continue to make paintings of my sinkside compost container. My initial plan was to make a series of ten panels. I have completed eight and designs for the last two are chosen. This particular painting is heavy on the oranges and yellows because of the sweet potato peelings and a rotting orange. The style of my last two sinkside compost paintings is a little looser and more defined by outlines (see #7 below). I don't paint with orange very often and had fun with the variations of orange and yellow. I particularly like the plastic container in this one. It is an old baby spinach container with a peel strip that you can see at the bottom edge. The reflections turned out to be quite effective.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Art Exhibit at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts

I am in a small group show at Banfill-Locke Art Center in Fridley, MN beginning September 2, 2017.
The exhibit, titled texture/imperfection/life – works by Marjorie Fedyszyn, Mark Granlund, Ellie Kingsbury will run from September 2 – 30, 2017 with the reception on Saturday, September 16 from 4 - 6pm.
All of the completed Sinkside Compost paintings will be on exhibited. It will be fun to see them all in one place, other than my studio. I will also have other food paintings on exhibit. It would be nice to see you there!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Studio Renovation Update

I took a little time off from renovating the new studio to have some fun in Chicago. But now I'm back framing in closets and bathrooms and windows.

Here is the basement.  It is one of the only shots you will see of it because it is not much to look at. I find it funny that this small house had a 50 gallon water heater.

The closet and the bathroom are now two separate spaces. Closet on the right, bathroom on the left.

This is a hole in the wall for a new window. It is covered by a shower curtain to keep the rain out. 

Now it is not covered.

Now it has a new window in it.

I purchased three matching windows at Building Materials Outlet in Eagan, MN. Got a great deal on them! I'm a little behind schedule but am hoping to have it ready for a workshop or class before the holiday.  There will definitely be an open house in November. 

I am looking forward to having a warm, welcoming and dedicated space for teaching art classes.