Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Interview With Joan Horsfall Young

Joan Horsfall Young
oil on board 12 x 12"

In ABC...Z, Joan Horsfall Young presents 12 inch square paintings of vegetables and fruits, one for each letter of the alphabet.

I’m getting hungry looking at your paintings. What inspired you to paint fruit and vegetables?

I was reviewing the letters of the alphabet with my three year old granddaughter and discovered that vegetables and fruits were the most poignant examples that I could find for her to connect the elementary sound of the letter with the visual image of the letter.

I like to think I know my vegetables and fruits, but I’m struggling to think what will represent X, or U and V - did you already know that there is a fruit or vegetable for every letter of the alphabet?

My granddaughter lives in Shanghai. Although she knew the names of some vegetables and fruits, usually it was in Chinese. So we determined to overcome this dilemma. By taking frequent walking excursions to the open market down the street we identified and learned the English names of some local products. When she correctly identified the letter the name the food starts with, we bought it, brought it home, prepared it and proudly presented it at dinner to Mommy and Daddy.

Each morning she could hardly wait to descend on the market to conquer another prize. As we walked we played food games. Imagine the games you can play with “a… artichoke”. Is it “a artichoke” or “an artichoke”? What is an artichoke? Why is it so prickly? Why is it called an artichoke? (Well, Arter ate it and choked on it, of course!)

In the first days we conquered “t…tangerine”, and “l…leek. “d…dates” came easily. It was thrilling to see her eating all these wonderfully healthy foods with such enthusiasm. Then disaster hit! We ran out of foods to fit the hard letters. I couldn’t find any thing for letters like “z” or “j”. There was no zucchini for “z” in this Chinese market. There was no jicama for “j”. What was I to do? There was nothing to do but to paint a painting for each letter. When I returned to California I did exactly that. As I was painting I reflected on what a joyous time I spent with her. We had connected on so many levels. A simple lettuce had inspired memory, emotion and action. We were away from the computer and all things commercial. All three generations had shared the art of conscious eating. Now, when I shop at the local farmer’s market, I reflect on how people across the world are doing the same, including my granddaughter.

I have produced a 6” x 6” booklet of all the images and letters and dedicated it to my grand daughter.

Did you have any difficulty finding the subject matter or keeping it fresh while working?

When living in England I ate a lot of vegetable marrow. In my frequent visits to China I ate a lot of zigua (small baseball sized watermelons). Jalapenos are indigenous to California and nearby Mexico. So I was familiar with all the foods, but finding them was not always easy. I had to wait through four seasons, to get them all.

What attracts you to this small format, and what do you like about it most?

I am usually a plein air or still life painter. This show really combines the two. All were painted from life. Because I wanted to limit the subject matter to just the fruit or vegetable, the small simple square format of 12 x 12" allows for personal compositions. There are a few that I would like to now paint on a much bigger scale.

I am hoping that viewers will enjoy these playful studies of vegetable and fruits. There is one for each letter of the alphabet. Will they be able to identify each letter before looking closely or if need be, reading the label?

As always my paintings are rendered with lots of thick buttery paint with loose brushwork. I strive for paucity. I want my paintings to be comfortable, pleasant to live with, charming, decorative… painterly not illustrative.

Joan Horsfall Young's exhibition starts February 1, 2011.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

TAG Gallery Interviews Fielden Harper

Fielden Harper
40 x 20" acrylic on canvas

Working with acrylic on wood and on canvas, Fielden Harper's paintings focus on the ways man has chosen to enclose his space.

Can you indentify at what point in your life you decided to be an artist?

I do not think I ever made a conscious decision; I just always was making things and assumed that I was an artist.

Can someone be taught to be an artist or is it something you’re born with?

I think that having a special way of thinking and seeing is what makes a person an artist and some people are born with it, but we can all learn from exposure. I have to think that way because I am a teacher and I believe deeply in that we can all be taught.

Who are your favorites artists/art influences - either historically or contemporary?

Diebenkorn and Hopper were the first artists I ever felt were my influences. Long before that I stood at the sewing machine and watched my grandmother make doll clothes and dresses for me from flat pieces of cloth and something was born in me watching her. Also, my mother nurtured my need to make art

How do you go about making a new work? What steps, or process do you use or go through?

I will be doing something and suddenly an idea will come into my mind. It will consume me and I cannot rest until I finally work it out on paper. That sketch tells me size and shape - the color just comes to me when I pick up the brush. I typically lay out the painting in one burst of energy. Then, I circle it and think about it before I go back in to refine it. The time varies, but I usually have several weeks between beginning a painting and completing it. If I am making an assemblage, I go more slowly. It may take months to complete a piece. I go slowly and carefully - my work pattern is opposite of the way I approach painting.

Do you work in more than one medium? If so, do they influence each other, and how?

I paint, sew, make assemblage, garden, cook hold my grandchildren and tell them stories - it is all part of a whole. I think that you can find traces of my thinking and my style in all that I do.

What do buildings mean to you? What is it about buildings that fascinates you so much, makes you want to paint them?

I have always been fascinated by the way in which Man has chosen to enclose space. I love the way the light changes on them throughout the day.

Which of your recent works did you find the most challenging to create? Why?

I am just finishing a painting of the Santa Monica Hospital and it has been so difficult because of the perspective involved. I must have reworked it four times over the past two months.

Who do you paint for?


Fielden Harper's exhibition opens February 1, 2011.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Darlyn Susan Yee Interview

Clockwise from top left are selections from Darlyn Susan Yee’s three bodies
 of fiber artwork: Tying The Knot (detail), Body Cocoon No. 4, and
Security Blanket.
Hand knitting and manipulated machine knitting techniques are combined to create Darlyn Susan Yee’s Body Cocoon series.

In a prior interview you discussed your knotted work, which is what you are most known for. Are you still working the same way, or has there been a shift?

I’ve been working simultaneously to expand three distinct bodies of fiber work. In each, I apply traditional fiber methods to create three-dimensional forms. I continue to enjoy knotting the most. It is also the most detailed, representational and labor intensive work I create. Some of my knitted sculptures are a bit more portable at certain stages of their life cycles. This portability makes them ideal to stop and start when I am traveling. I'm also working on a series of knitted projects using and cast-off and obsolete materials such as barricade tape, correction tape, etc. These range from wall-hung pieces to freestanding sculptures.

You are still working with fiber, but how is the knitting different than the knotting?

My sculptural knotting is done with multiple strands or lengths of fiber hand tied together to form the fabric surface.

My hand knitting is generally created by using two needles and a length of yarn or string resulting in a fabric structure of interlocking loops. I also incorporate other tools, which replicate the movement of the yarn across the needles to create this flexible fabric.

What is hand manipulated machine knitting? Are these pieces hand knit, or by machine? Will you elaborate on your process?

Knitting on the machine I use is similar in nature to weaving on a hand loom. It relies on my hands to move the needles into the desired positions, and then to move the carriage across the needles to create the fabric. Once I remove the fabric from the machine, I manipulate stitches and add more knit or crochet to contour and finish the piece.

I understand that some of these pieces are just returning from an exchange exhibition in Slovakia, can you tell us about that? What was exchanged? What was the experience like? Did you go to Slovakia?

After Hours/Individual Stories was an exchange project between Orange County Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Ana and Galéria Z in Bratislava, Slovakia. It was exciting to assist in unpacking the crates of Slovakian artwork for display at OCCCA. And it was so wonderful to meet some of the Slovak artists in attendance at the exhibition. Unfortunately, I was unable to travel to Slovakia, but from the reception photos, the artwork sent by OCCCA artists was as well received as the Slovakian artwork was received here in the US.

What's next?

I really enjoy fiber processes. I plan to continue applying traditional techniques to take my work in exciting new directions. I’m in the design phase on a very large-scale project. And I'm anxiously awaiting the publication of my first book, Macramé Today: Contemporary Knotting Techniques, in July 2011.

Darlyn Susan Yee

Darlyn Susan Yee's exhibition opens February 1, 2011.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Best of TAG Opening Reception

On Saturday, January 8, TAG Gallery artists hosted the opening reception of BEST OF TAG, the annual group exhibition of its members. Guests enjoyed wine and cheese as they viewed the exhibition which features a vibrant mix of styles, subject matter and media. BEST OF TAG continues through January 22, 2011.

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11am - 5pm, Sundays 12 noon - 4pm.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

An Interview With Betty Sheinbaum

Reclining Woman and Greek Statues
oil on canvas 40 x 30"
Betty Sheinbaum

Betty Sheinbaum's rich variety of images reflect her 40 plus years of dedication and passion to life and art.

Your work is bursting with color and motion, are you working with large brushes? How do you choose your palette?

I work with small and medium brushes. Color reflects emotions – since most of my paintings have happy subjects, I use bright cheerful colors and color combinations.

Describe your process if you will, do you do drawings first, or go directly to paint?

I take many photographs and I use them mostly as my “inspiration.” I also love working from a model. I do lots of drawings before starting a painting.

How do you choose your subjects – is your own life reflected in your work?

I hope my life is reflected in my work. However, I am very tuned into our political and economic climate and find them inexplicable and depressing. I turn toward happier moments in one’s life out of self-defense!

Tell me about your figurative work – many of the poses do not include faces, or heads. Are you preserving the privacy of the model, or are you making a statement?

I wasn’t conscious that I wasn’t using faces in my smaller paintings, but I do love portraits, particularly in the larger paintings. I like working with different media and particularly mixed media paintings.

mixed media, newspaper on canvas 24 x 30"Betty Sheinbaum

You’ve been painting for much of your life, how have you managed to carve out time for artmaking? Has it ever interfered with your “normal” life, or vice versa?

I became an artist during my time as a young wife and mother. I had studied art and
loved using my hands to express myself. I had some encouragement from my art teachers and while bringing up 4 children, I found I could work at home on projects.

After the children grew up, I took several art classes at UCLA extension and became
more and more involved both with painting and sculpting. I loved sculpture and spent 10 years as a welder working on taking cars apart and making abstract people and animals. This was physically taxing and at age 60 I had to give it up and go back to painting. I love color, which is such a great element of painting, but I like 3 dimensions better in sculpture.

What do you like about painting? About being an artist?

Being an artist satisfies my need to do something alone. I love people and their activities and relationships. I love using color. I’m intrigued by shapes and compositions which are always an interesting challenge. There is so much to learn about myself and others. Painting is a method of looking for better understanding. However, there is always so much more to learn and to try. I never feel that I achieve enough. I will never feel as though I have reached a goal (one that I have set for myself). This is both discouraging and exciting. The end result of a painting is for me, and I am the one I care most about pleasing. As a painter, I can live in an amazing, beautiful, intriguing world – one in which I am constantly learning something new.

Betty Sheinbaum's retrospective exhibition at TAG Gallery begins Sunday, January 23, 2011.

Betty Sheinbaum

Monday, January 3, 2011

BEST OF TAG Group Exhibition Opens

TAG Gallery was filled with the sound of tape measures snapping and nails being hammered as artists were hard at work installing the BEST OF TAG annual group exhibition which opened on December 28.

First, gallery walls and sculpture pedestals are patched and repainted by TAG Gallery members on the Wall Prep crew led by Gary Polonsky. Polonsky, along with Pat Klowden and Anne Ramis, come in the gallery at the end of every show to make sure that the walls are pristine for the next group of artists to install their work. Even spouses pitch in to help, as was the case in preparing for this exhibition, when new TAG Gallery member Katie Crown brought her husband Guy Webster to help.

“People do not realize that there is a lot of work that goes into getting ready for a show,” says former TAG Gallery president Ellen Starr. “Hanging a big show such as this often takes a lot of people and a couple of days. Sometimes the trickiest part is evaluating where each of the art pieces should be displayed. When we layout the show, we have to consider not only size, but also medium, subject matter, color, and framing. Then, the artwork and walls are measured to be equally spaced and centered on a point close to 60 inches from the floor. A poorly hung show can reflect poorly on the art and exhibition space.”

In addition to the Wall Prep crew, Starr was joined by co-presidents Carol Kleinman and Cheryl Medow, and members Della Rolle, Katherine Kean, Diane Rudnick Mann, Suki Kuss, Joan Vaupen, and Grace Swanson, in setting up the show.

The BEST OF TAG exhibition continues through January 22, 2011 and features a diverse mix of painting, photography, mixed media, printmaking, pastel, sculpture, and fiber art.

A reception to meet the artists will be held Saturday, January 8, from 3 to 6 pm and is open to the public.