Tuesday, May 19, 2020

TWO EXHIBITIONS DURING COVID-19
Spring/Summer 2020

Transparent @ Kathryn Markel Fine Arts NY
Power and Fragility @ Walker Fine Art Denver






During these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to grasp the entire world is affected and foresee what deep impact it is still about to have on all of us.
One thing is for certain; the way we perceive our life and our world is changing dramatically, and we are all shaken to our core.


As an artist, my practice is now complicated by the lack of studio time, as my once standard working hours are now exchanged with time taking care of my kids. Simultaneously, my need to create is more heightened, my want to express and react to this new state is full of urgency.
And while it is challenging to carve out uninterrupted moments to work, I am grateful for being still healthy, for my family being healthy, for being in this together.

 I am thrilled to have my work right now included in two concurrent exhibitions. 
 "Power and Fragility", at Walker Fine Arts, and "Transparent" at Markel Fine Arts.

In "Power and Fragility" I am showing my new series on wooden panels, titled "Migration", a series I started late last year after I officially became a US citizen.




                                     Above: Migration series, mixed media on wood panels, 24"x36", 2020*, available through Walker Fine Arts.
Here is the link to a short video about my work in this exhibition.

"Power and Fragility" opens for viewing at Walker Fine Art gallery both this Friday, May 22, 2020, 3-8 pm, and Saturday, May 23, 2020, 11-5 pm. There is an online sign-up for 20-minute viewing sessions through Signupgenius.com  LIVE virtual tours will also be broadcasted on Walker Fine Art Facebook and Instagram pages at 3 pm, 5 pm and 7 pm on May 22nd.
 

"Transparent", is Markel Fine Arts' online exclusive exhibition that can be viewed both on the gallery website as well as Artsy now through June 27th. All work is for sale directly through the gallery website and Artsy. A new feature on the Markel Fine Arts website is "view on a wall" which brings the artwork scale in space closer to the viewer.
         
I believe art has the power to comfort and heal, and I hope my work brings solace to those who feel the connection with it, aesthetically and emotionally.



Above: New series Flow/Earth, 22"x30", watercolor on paper, now available @ Kathryn Markel Fine Arts *

Sunday, May 10, 2020

MOTHER'S DAY
My mom is my inspiration
When I was a little girl, my mom was a high school math teacher. I had a nanny, teta Gita, who would come every morning, pick me up and I would spend the day at her house. I remember in the evenings the sound of my mom's car, driving over the gravel road and approaching my nanny's house. It was the most exhilarating feeling. I loved my nanny to pieces, and I never missed my mom during the day. I played on the street in front of my nanny's house with neighbors' kids. But when my mom would come to pick me up I was simply overjoyed.
In the evenings at home, my mom would play the piano, lots of Chopin, and I would dance behind her. I loved dancing but back then I thought "her music" was too melancholy and sad. But since I grew up on Chopin - his music became a part of me. I have the gift now of always having my mom with me when I hear Chopin. That is, if it is played well ;-) If there's too much technique and not enough soul involved, I simply can't bear it. My mom is one of those overly sensitive people who feel everything, and she is guilty of all my sensitivities, irritabilities, and just like her, of feeling too much in general. But I would never trade it for any other version of living. 


I still talk with my mom every single day, continents apart, and especially now, during the COVID-19 when she is in a full quarantine in a retirement home in Croatia, I cherish every minute of our conversations. I take a walk and talk with my mom. We talk about colors, how yellow and red together make the worst match, I tell her about my new series of paintings, we discuss different textures of watercolor paper, the ones that are smooth, the ones that are rough, more cream-colored or the crisp white... I describe the flowers that are in bloom here now and that I see around me while I am walking, and the birds that are chirping. When I notice someone walking a few steps behind me, even though there is almost not a living soul on the streets, she can feel my irritability and starts "hearing" the footsteps of the "oblivious intruder that is not sensitive enough to cross the street or make a turn, for goodness sake"! Then we laugh together at our ridiculous sensitivity. 
There's an anecdotal story from my mom's childhood: One time, just before the storm, my mom was in the yard with her mother and her mother's friend who came over. A hen and her little chicks got excited and chirped after a loud thunder. The chicks seemed frightened and my mom started to cry, feeling for the poor chicks. Her mother's friend who saw my mom crying over the chicks who were unharmed exclaimed: "That child is not fit for life!". I know that comment might sound very harsh nowadays, but this was just after WW2 and it was no time to be sensitive. Yet she was and still is.
I am so grateful for my mom ALWAYS being sensitive, and funny, and so very happy, and so very sad, for feeling everything, and feeling too much, and for being so so kind, and most of all - for being the best mom in the whole world to me and my sister!
Happy Mother's Day, mama!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Art during COVID 19 shelter in place
April 26th, 2020

So what have I been up to these days, when the entire world is affected by the COVID 19 pandemic?

I have been, mainly, spending a lot of time with my children, Albert and Karl, who are my "wild things" (and I can't imagine them being any other way). Sure, it is more convenient to train one's children to be obedient, but that always just feels so smothering to me. So I let them be free and wild. It is a blessing and a curse, of course, and my studio practice suffers. This is the time when the difference between being a parent (or a caretaker) vs. being without children, or someone else to take care of, is so staggeringly apparent. This is the time when being present, alert, and serious about the needs of your dependents is an absolute number one. And art, though a soul-feeding necessity, at the same time becomes a luxury. 

Most days now more than ever are about parenting, or better say, socializing with my kids. The Croatian language has a nice word "druzenje" that somehow means "time spent in quality-hanging out". I am sure there is a beautiful and rich word in English for that but it somehow escapes me. Just to say "socializing" or "hanging out" with my kids sounds too superficial and distant. I feel we are bonding on a much deeper level because we have all the time in the world for each other. Anyway, that is not to say they are not driving me completely insane on any given day, and that I don't miss my alone time dearly. But I know that they come first, and they are now stuck at home, without their schools, friends, their normal routine, so I must be present. 
So though it feels like I have been completely robbed of my studio time, I still somehow haven't (for the life of me, I don't know how!) completely lost my connection with my art life.

 I will list my art-related practices and events here in the form of a checklist of sorts just so I can read it myself and conclude that there are still many relevant moments to be acknowledged.

1. My work is right now in an online exhibition at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, titled "Transparent". Other featured artists include Ky Anderson, Sarah Irvin, Eric Blum, Daniel Brice, Jeffrey Cortland Jones, Gudrun Metres-Frady, Annette Davidek, Laura Fayer, and Debra Smith.

From the exhibit description: Artists use transparencies for different reasons - To illuminate processes,  to reveal a paintings' history or to mask it, to create new spaces, or to veil figures and shapes.  Sometimes, the transparencies are intentional, sometimes just a function of the media or process, but they always add a sense of depth and history.
Rendering of my "Origin" painting on the wall, @ Kathryn Markel Fine Art's website in the current online exhibition "Transparent".*

This online exhibit is now also on Artsy.net with all the works available for purchase.

2. I have started painting a small scale 9"x12" series (just like I did with Albert's and Karl's series when they were babies and I had practically no studio time).  I titled the series appropriately "En Passant" (In Passing), as these pieces are literally created during stolen moments in the early morning when everyone else is asleep, or later in the evening when my husband's work is done for the day and he takes over the kids.
  
                                            En Passant series
3. I am also doing a lot of scribbling in several small sketchbooks; very fresh, very lose little croquis pieces, that I can work on outside of the studio space; in the yard, while my kids are playing, or when I am talking on the phone with my mom (who is in a retirement home in Croatia and is room-bound). These everyday conversations with my mom are also my long-distance-caretaking moments since she has no close family there, and can't visit with friends due to strict rules of social distancing. She spends all her day confined to her room and is thankful for the library and the coloring books that she carefully colors with colored pencils. These days we often talk a lot about various color matches and different shades and compare them to flowers or moss, or sky. I feel more aware (and grateful!) just how much love and passion for the matters of aesthetics the two of us share.

                                            Sketchbook
4. I am working on new "Migration" paintings on wooden panels, and these will be featured in the upcoming exhibition at Walker Fine Arts in Denver, in May. The exhibition is titled "Power and Fragility" which truly captures the feeling of the moment. I intermittently feel like I am both of those things. The exhibition will present works by Allison Svoboda, Jane Guthridge, Tonia Bonnell, Patricia Finley, Zelda Zinn, and myself. 
Here is the link to a little "introductory" video about my new work for this exhibition.
And though it now seems very unlikely that "Power and Fragility" will have a physical opening in May, it is still planned and scheduled to be installed, and while the opening reception will probably be virtual, and the artists and gallery staff will join via social media, the paintings, real-life ones, still have to be made. Finished. Photographed. Filed in a database. Wired. Packed. Shipped. The show must go on.
                                            Migration series

Sunday, March 22, 2020

"Origin, Voyage, Dreams"
solo exhibition
Lewis University
February 3-March 20, 2020
Artist Reception and Gallery Talk February 20, 2020




With my two solo exhibitions in January and February, my 2020 artistically and career-wise started with a bang. Little did I know, a few weeks ago, that the whole world would soon be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, and, as is the case for us here in Illinois right now, that I would be in a "shelter-in-place" situation. 

Hopefully, these new regulations will slow down and diminish the impact of the virus spreading, however, we sure are all taken by this strange and uncertain situation and can expect many losses to come in many forms.


As for myself, I can only say - this past week greatly affected my ability to work, and I hope I will find a way to carve out more studio time in the days to come. Both of my boys, like all children here, are now homebound, and it is challenging to keep them occupied and stress-free, and also on top of their school assignments (!) while keeping up my studio practice. I have, for the past week for sure, been mainly a caregiver, a loving parent, and a supportive spouse. 


The arts have the power to transform and transcend. I hope my work engages the viewers in a positive and calming way and brings solace to a burdened mind, and that I find ways to create my work, regardless of the challenges. 


So with the topic of art in mind - I will focus on the things I actually CAN do, not on those that I can't. And I hope you do the same.


Starting with writing here a bit about my solo exhibition at Lewis University, which was a wonderful experience, and I am still sharing the images of it daily on Instagram, though the exhibit itself was closed, together with the entire university. 


I would like to thank Gallery Coordinator Natalie Swain and Professor Mark Swain for all their help with this exhibition.


The beautiful Wadsworth Family Gallery consists of three separate rooms, so this gave me an amazing opportunity for installing work from several series, without clashing different moods and color palettes.

I included works from my Blush Nebula, Origin, Trail to Arcadia, Reef and Migration series.


I had a great opportunity of sharing stories about the artwork in this particular exhibition, as well as my studio practice in general, during the opening night talk, with a large audience of Lewis University students, teachers, and friends. It was also an honor to meet and talk about the exhibition with the Lewis University president, Dr. David J. Livingston.

Here are images of the "Origin, Voyage, Dreams" exhibit at Wadsworth Family Gallery, courtesy of Tanya Lunina.























Friday, February 14, 2020

"MIGRATION/IN SEARCH OF ARCADIA" 
Arrowhead Room, Waubonsee Community College, Sugar Grove, IL
January 10-February 11, 2020

Here are some more images from my solo exhibition at the Arrowhead Room of Waubonsee Community College. What a wonderful audience at my talk and I must say I had a blast doing a workshop with students. The title of the workshop was Mark Making: The duality of freedom and control, and I wanted to put an emphasis on freedom. We were using walnut ink and a dip pen for our marks (I created a piece of my own as well), and the drawings were subsequently all connected into one singular horizontal work, similar to the concept of "Exquisite Corpse".  

above: "In Search of Arcadia", watercolor on paper 95"x55", 2020 and "Gathering", ceramic installation 2010-2020

above:"Gathering", ceramic installation, 2010-2020 ongoing project




 
"Migration", series, watercolor and ink on wooden panel, 2020











*All the above images courtesy of Tonia Whitlock