Monday, April 26, 2010

New Works by Diane Rudnick Mann, Valerie Nielsen Mendez, Joan Vaupen April 27 - May 22, 2010

TAG Gallery is proud to present new works by Diane Rudnick Mann, Valerie Nielsen Mendez, Joan Vaupen.

April 27 - May 22, 2010

Artists' Reception Saturday May 8, 2010 5 - 8 pm


Pastelist Diane Rudnick Mann is showing meticulously rendered still life paintings at TAG Gallery at Bergamot Art Center.

Pencils, jellybeans, pimento-stuffed olives, and rusty old keys are among the unlikely items that have inspired Mann. "I like to paint everyday objects, something you would walk by and never notice," she explains. "As I paint them, they develop personalities and become something you do notice."

One of her secrets to dramatically rendering commonplace objects is to create high-contrast light and shadows. When Mann sets up a still life to be photographed she generally places black boards behind it, then turns off all the lights in the room except for a floor lamp aimed at the arrangement.

Sometimes the artist doesn't realize the potential of her subject matter until she starts photographing it. Take jelly beans, for instance. They caught her eye in the supermarket, so she brought a few bags home and arranged them in various dishes and jars. Only after she'd photographed and cropped the images did she realize that she had the beginnings of a new series and a new way to challenge the commonplace.

As an artist, Mann is a late starter. A class at UCLA titled Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, opened up a whole new world for her. "It was an overnight transition," she explains, "kind of a miracle." Regarding her choice of pastel, she said, "I love the richness, fullness, and depth of colors," she notes. "I also like the look - a look that oil and watercolor doesn't have. And I like using my hand to sculpt things." In addition to these qualities, Mann likes pastel for the control that it allows the artist.

Born in Massachusetts, Diane Rudnick Mann now lives in Los Angeles. She studied drawing at UCLA and at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, and has attended workshops with Doug Dawson, Sally Strand, and Gerald Hodges at the Scottsdale Artists' School, in Arizona. Her work has received awards in numerous competitions, and she is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America.


Painter and innovative artist Valerie Nielsen Mendez worked in mixed media, producing images that are both obscured and revealing. She passed away while finishing her last pieces for this exhibit.

Her favorite medium was Plexiglas, painted front and back, sanded, glazed, rubbed, and then layered, one sheet over another, before being attached to a foundation of panel or canvas. The image may be strong and obvious, or essentially obscured by the surface treatment. There are always surprises as the work comes together, and this creates the element of problem solving on multiple levels.

Mendez considered this process akin to navigating life -- we look for clarity, for that "slipping glimpse," that De Kooning referred to, and it's there in places or moments, and then gone again. However, there is a fascination with those times of distraction and obscurity which have their own beauty and worth. These works invite you to take a closer, deeper look at life -- to unveil the meaning of experiences, and to enjoy the process of searching.

This show features two forms of Mendez' artistic interpretation of contemplative communication. One is her traditional use of Plexiglas, and the other is her recent exploration of layers on canvas without the use of Plexi. Her piece "Clear Signs of Life" is one on canvas where she maintained the visual idea of layers through the use of circles.

While some of the paintings in "Final Works" remain unnamed, the omniscient titles of others, like "I can still hear you" and "Conversing with the Infinite" foreshadow the artist's desire to help us all examine what these obscured images reveal for each one of us.


In Joan Vaupen's new experimental work, she continues pouring and dropping watercolor and acrylic paint in and around the surface of paper, moving it with her hands and fingers.

In a review of Vaupen's previous series, critic Betty Ann Brown commented, "In some of her Moving Paint series, the handsome contrast of liquid pigment recalls the mature work of Helen Frankenthaler. Other examples echo the Northern Lights or the depths of the ocean.

Critic Mac McCloud commented, "Vaupen's work reveals a questing artist's spirit. Some of her most intriguing pieces are experimental solutions of acrylic ink and water color floating in water, where colors swirl, sink and interact in chemical ways producing 'chaotic' and unexpected shapes and tones. Very atmospheric, some are mysterious and dark, others bright and dazzlingly organic in form."

Vaupen has studied hanga (Japanese wood block printing) in Japan with Toshi Yoshida, murals in Mexico at the Instituto Allende, graduate work at the University of Washington and holds a MA in Art from CSULA.

She has exhibited in many galleries in the United States and in Fukuoka and Kitakyushu Japan. Exhibitions in Thailand include Bangkok, Burpha University, and Sangkhla.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Joan Vaupen Interview

Barbie House
sculptured acrylic with applied images 9 x 7 x 9"
Joan Vaupen

Joan Vaupen explores color, form, and meaning, using unusual materials achieving elegant results.

Where did you grow up Joan? Did that surrounding environment during those years (emotional and/or locational) contribute to your art making?

I grew up in Seattle, Washington, almost never out of sight of some body of water. Being an only child in a neighborhood with zero kids, I drew, painted and read - a lot. Every summer I’d travel to Canada with my father to visit his mother in Nelson, BC. She lived close to the Kootenay River which eventually becomes the Columbia flowing out to the Pacific Ocean in Oregon.

My uncle would bring home beautifully cut scraps of wood for his mother to use in her wood-burning stove and I used them to build temporary cities on her back porch. She had a blind friend who gave her many publications in Braille which I used for drawing and painting. Nelson is a beautiful little city surrounded by forests and water. Seattle is also a beautiful city, when it isn’t raining and you can see it.

What propels you to art making? What medium/mediums do you like to work with and for what reasons?

I make art because I can’t not make art. I love to experiment with all kinds of materials and continually explore them. I enjoy experimenting with color on metal, unusual translucent materials and light in many different formats. I work with titanium, printmaking, acrylic, aluminum, paper, ink etc. I use anything that can be used to make art. I love to experiment - developing new ideas and techniques.

Falling Clouds
sublimation dye print on dacron, acrylic with image baked and folded 60 x 21"
Joan Vaupen

How important is selling your work? Do you (or would you if you could) purchase other peoples artwork? If so - what kind of work do you or would you purchase and why?

I enjoy selling my work. It seems to sell mostly to artists. I purchase a lot of other artists work. I admire, respect, and support work that appeals to me. Some of the artists are famous and others not as well known: Bridget Riley, Claire Falkenstein, Sue Keane, Heather Lowe, Laddie John Dill, Richard Bruland. And many others.

What are you thinking when you make art?

I think about solving problems and searching for different ways to extend and enhance perceptions.

What do you feel are your greatest strengths as an art maker?

Exploring, researching and attempting to push the limits of my materials to reveal new concepts and different ways of looking at the world.

Joan Vaupen's exhibit at TAG Gallery begins on April 27, 2010.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

TAG Gallery Interviews Diane Rudnick Mann

Pencils Vll Glass Jars
Pastel 26 x 41”
Diane Rudnick Mann

Using mouthwatering color, Diane Rudnick Mann creates trompe l’oeil and photo real images with pastel.

Where did you grow up?

Brookline, Massachusetts.

How long have you been an artist and when did you consider yourself an artist?

Not long. I’d been a marketing person, a writer, a house renovator and also in a retail business. A little here, a little there – I’m pretty much self-taught so it’s hard to tell when I decided I was an artist; some days I don’t feel that I am at all.

Many years ago, when my daughter was in grammar school she had art classes. I went to her school on parent’s night and I was looking around the room and these kid’s drawings were outrageous. They were 9 years old, 10 years old. The teacher said she was teaching a new method called Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain. So, I never forgot that. Later, when I’d moved out here, I was looking through some UCLA catalogues and low and behold I see that they are teaching a Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain course. I’d always wanted to do it, so I went and took the class and it was a life altering experience. Anyone can learn with this method. It got me intrigued. I’ve always wanted to draw, but I was not very good. We did portraits and just worked in pencil. Then I wanted to do something in color, but not oils, because I had no idea how to prepare or mix anything so I thought I’d try pastels. Little did I know…..

I think being in the TAG gallery finally made my work and future very real to me. My brother is my biggest supporter. He had all of my paintings in his office. He would always tell me when people came in and commented on my work, and of course, he would try to sell them.

Where do you your find inspiration for your works? How do you choose your subject matter?

I like old little things that I find in antique stores or drawers or basically any place. I’ve been collecting things and I like to make up settings of objects and photograph them. I keep moving things around and take more photographs. Then I can work parts of the photos into a painting. I actually hate shopping so I tend not to go out hunting a lot. I end up looking around my house and that’s what I end up painting, these common objects that people don’t really look at. I think by painting them I seem to give these things a kind of a personality.

Jelly Beans ll
Pastel 16 x 14”
Diane Rudnick Mann

Can you name a few of the most important (to you) artists whose work you like?

Even before I started drawing these artists fascinated me…Robert Bechtle, Richard Estes, Charles Bell. I’d look at their work and think how is that possible? Ben Schonzeit, Audrey Flack, Alice Neel, Paula Rego, Balthus, Eric Fischl, Ralph Goings and that whole group of realists including Charles Scheeler and, George Tooker. And I also find the work from the deco period very interesting - I was always drawn to this type of work. I was never drawn to things like a large blue canvas with one white dot in the corner. They remind me of the Emperor’s new clothes. Realism, though difficult, was the work I wanted to do.

Why do you make art? Does art serve a function beyond decorating walls?

I think paintings can really mean something; they can evoke certain emotions in a person.

I used to find a lot of things on EBay. I’d find old keys and all kinds of junk. They had these christening dresses. I bought a few of them. Where I lived before I had an old pine cabinet and I hung one of the dresses from the cabinet, I put some things on the top, I took a lot of photographs and made a painting from that. It was the first painting I ever sold. I don’t know what it was about it, but it sang to everybody and the people who bought it wouldn’t ever part with it. They just love it. I don’t respond that way to all my paintings, nor would everybody else but there are certain things I think that people relate to.

What is the hardest thing about being an artist?

Insecurity. It’s one of the artist’s dangers. It stops me every time. It’s similar to the process of writing. Once I get started though you can’t get me away. In the middle of the night I get up and turn on the light and think of something I should have done. I go to the easel and stand there and it’ll be 4:30 am before I’m done.

I think all creative people are insecure. I think it just comes with the territory. So, I question everything and I think that makes it hard. But even when it’s good sometimes I can’t see it. Sometimes the best thing to do is to put it away for a week, then it’s really obvious what needs to be done.

What do you like most about being an artist?

No matter how many paintings I’ve done I am completely amazed and blown away when the painting develops. I work right to left since I’m left handed and with pastel you’ve got to go one way or the other. It never ceases to amaze me, as the image starts to crawl across the paper, and the painting develops. I just feel in awe of that. I think it’s a control thing working as a realist painter. I also think I’m afraid of broadening out a little and loosening up. I’m very, very specific about what I’m doing and I can’t let go of it unless it’s right. Because of the way I work that’s so precise, if it’s off a hair, it’s off.

I’d like to try oil – to try something with a brush and see how it goes.

Diane Rudnick Mann

Diane Rudnick Mann's exhibition at TAG Gallery opens April 27, 2010.