Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Topography and a Knot of Strings

"The Last String Pulled" 12x12", acrylic, string and ink on canvas

I started a new painting series in the last few weeks. The nudge to work with some new imagery came from the offer to participate in the SCOPE art fair by painting a 12x12" canvas to be included in Chashama's booth at the fair. They will be creating a large grid of submitted canvases from artists in their various studio buildings. There's no guarantee that they'll use my canvas, but it's submitted none the less. The canvases are being displayed anonymously so buyers won't know who they got until after they've made a purchase. We"ll see if I get any takers. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the new direction the painting took so I decided to make a few more related pieces.

"Topography 01"
12x12", acrylic, string, and ink on canvas

I've been building up the canvases with a great deal of texture. Included in the layers are various types of string culled from my jumbled knot of scraps. Embroidery floss to stray strands of cheese cloth have made their way into the tangles. Here, the strands are frayed, overlapped and knotted up to create a variation in the topography of the canvas.
"Topography 02" 12x12", acrylic, string and ink on canvas

somewhere over Germany

"Deep Sea"
8x8", acrylic and strings on panel
When I showed the paintings to Sam, he mentioned that they reminded him of a series I've been talking about doing for a long time and that these seemed like the prelude. They also strongly alluded to the plethora of photographs I've taken out of airplane windows while traversing fields and mountains. I think this may be the start of moving towards "painting out" those ideas.

© Susan Springer Anderson, 2012,  all image rights reserved by the artist

Monday, February 27, 2012

The BAT CAT Gang

I've sprinkled a few mentions here and there about this notorious gang, but I haven't expounded on them or given you a photo by which to familiarize yourself with. These are the protectors of the lot, the nomads of the south, the felines of the outpost - The BAT CAT Gang.

We noticed this tribe of cats one night while leaving our studio at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. A few were seated on the steps leading out of the building and as we looked closer we saw the glow of more eyes scattered around the far parking lot.

Count the pairs of eyes!

Since that night we've been on the lookout for these rugged beings who seem to congregate at the hole in the back fence just beyond the dilapidated street cleaner. Perhaps it's their fort.

On warmer days we see them chasing each other around the lot. On colder nights there is usually one lone cat, we're convinced he's the sentinel, who guards the entrance to the hole in the fence. Perhaps they each take turns at the post.

It's hard to say exactly why we are so enamored with these cats. I guess as cat owners we have an understanding about these finicky creatures and feel sad for the ones who don't have warm homes and push over owners like us. But, it's specifically this strange environment, the parking lot of a huge industrial area that seems to hold the vehicle dregs of New York City, that creates such a strong juxtaposition. Here is a place where few trees grow and the bulk of greenery comes from the weeds that poke through the cracks of the concrete. Yet, a gang of cats spanning a wide range of age, size and colorings, have gathered here to make it a home. Who knows how they keep warm at night, manage to find food- as I can't imagine the rat population even finding reason to hang about, or any semblance of water to drink. And yet, here they are. I always keep an eye out for them when I enter the building. If I don't see one then and not when I leave either, I start to wonder if they have moved on to another watering hole. It's a strange relief to then see the sentinel the next day, watching over his post and observing the humans coming and going. Perhaps for as much entertainment as they bring us, we are actually their daily dose comedic relief.

Friday, February 10, 2012

On another note, Yay for free publicity!

My "Sam" manly notebook got featured on the front page of the Etsy website this afternoon. That's the first item that's made it up there and it's pretty darn exciting!

The Five Fingered (F)ilosophy for Friday

Have I ever mentioned that I love alliteration? I really do, and I find it deeply satisfying to pull a title out that repeats the same sound often enough that you feel like you are speaking gibberish by the end. Today's was a bit indulgent because this philosophy has nothing to do with Fridays at all, it just really rounded things out nicely. Thanks for playing along.

On to the real meat, or soy protein for my vegetarian friends.

Here we go. By the way, I call this the Five Finger (F)ilosophy because as I was trying to recount these questions to a friend I had to keep track of them on my fingers as I fleshed out each point so I didn't get lost in my questions.

Perhaps it was the "aging out" of the 30 and under calls for artwork that brought this up, or maybe it's being in a studio setting where you are constantly being asked to submit work for selection but are then "not chosen" because the chosen pool is so small,

My office

...or maybe it's because on a daily basis I am trying to reconcile my choice to leave full time, stable office work for a plethora of odd jobs and the attempted journey towards a studio art career,

...and then there's the question of- is the work I pursue a changing force for this world or just adding more stuff to the gigantic surplus of stuff,

...or maybe it's because left and right friends are announcing pregnancies, or second pregnancies or third or the purchase of a new house, or a new job....
It's not mine. But, it's the most popular status update image on Facebook these days.
Well, quite frankly it's all of this and a hundred other small things, that have added up to me formulating one really big question...

Is it possible to be (and are there any examples of) a woman(1) who has a truly established and influential studio art career(2), who has a strong and palpable faith(3), who has a marriage that could be defined as healthy(4) and has children(5) that they feel attached to, in tune with, thankful to have (at least in most moments) and have time to really rear up?

If you know one, PLEASE introduce me! I am struggling with this big time, because those 5 points, with the exception of the 1st, since I had little choice in the matter of being born a female, are what I want for my life, or what I feel the desire of my heart is, yet I don't know anyone first hand claiming all 5 points.

Now, I want to break this down a bit, because to me each one of those points is very specific and even if I don't have the words to explain them exactly, I think I'd know it when I see it. However, I'll do my best to  put a few characters together and eek out argument.

1. Let's not dwell on the female thing too long, other than, my generation and that of just a few years older, were really the first to experience an open world for seeking out career paths. Much has been said about this from authors far more studied than I, so let's boil it down to this, I think the four following points are still much more difficult to put together for a woman than for a man, even in this time where we think of gender equality as being, not completely, but pretty well balanced in the western world.

2. An influential art career: I want to specifically define this as: an artist who makes the bulk of their income in response to, sales from or through the production of artwork. This may mean grants, sales, commissions or anything close to that. I am specifically leaving out teaching because, as I've experienced, it is primarily focussed on the fostering of and honing the talent of others- not the physical work you singly produce. I am also, intentionally narrowing this to visual art, as that is the camp I'm apart of and trying to find an advanced Girl Scout leader for. Additionally, I say influential, because any Joe Shmoe off the street can probably name five to twenty male artists throughout the course of history, but how many female artists could they name?

3. Faith: I haven't delved too deeply into this topic in the blog format, but when I say this I will put it as; a faith in a Creator, outside of ourselves, who we recognize as being reliant upon, called to give glory to, and inseparable from, so that our choices in life are grown out of and constantly informed by this faith.

4. Marriage: Do both spouses respect one another? Do they find deep comfort in being vulnerable with each other? Would they say they are the closest of friends while experiencing a connection that no other friendship has produced? Do they feel responsible to each other and look to uplift, encourage and challenge each other? Quite frankly- do they actually believe and strive to keep their marriage vows?

5. Children: ... I said it. Okay. For some this may seem a shocking point, but yes, I really do think about having children, and find that, especially after crossing the threshold of 30, it's on my mind quite frequently. But this is the point along, with #2, that I still have the control to not include in my life and it's really a big question for me. I know who I am currently and the things that I'm pursuing and the type of work I hope to be able to produce if I can go deep enough and stay engaged and I wonder... can children fit into this? Can I be the parent I would want to be while still being the woman, artist, wife that I already am or are working towards?

Well, there you have it. That's what I'm thinking about, and that's who I'm searching to meet, or at least know is out there. There are plenty of outstanding women working on different combinations of these points or have their own set of fingers they are trying to solve so I hope this can be an inclusive  discussion even if I am keeping my own points pretty narrow. I also know that the art field is definitely not the only place where it's difficult to find female mentors either. So, with that in mind please chime in and add your thoughts to what can hopefully be an encouraging conversation.