A few weeks ago, I went to the Dia Beacon with my friend Ellen Martin.
The building is filled with work, primarily sculptures, from the 1960's - mostly minimalism, and of course, there was the Carl Andre retrospective.
For those of you unfamiliar with my work, the salvaged wood pieces began in graduate school with a grid on the floor. I was influenced by many artists from the 60's - Michael Heizer, Anges Martin, Richard Serra, Richard Long, Sol LeWitt, as well as Eva Hesse.
Somewhere along the line, I realized that just because I was only born in the late 60's, didn't mean I could continue the work of the minimalist - I needed to find my own way. Unhappy with comments made from a professor during a crit of this work, I found inspiration in my fashion and textile background. After graduate school, I started to constructing these pieces into quilt-like sculptures that hang vertically. But that sense of abstract minimalism still interests me and I thought I might discover something at the Dia Beacon.
What I discovered at the Dia Beacon was left me disappointed. Yes, the expanse of seeing each artist's work in clean, open, airy and well light rooms was wonderful. (Expect for the Heizer piece because the security rails are too far away from the negative spaces.) Yes, I loved the long expanses of LeWitt's drawings, Sandback yarn pieces, Kawara's day paintings. But.....
First, only three women are represented at the Dia Beacon - Anges Martin, Louise Lawler and Louise Bourgeois. Secondly, the more disappointing and disturbing was the fact there was NOTHING - no word, mention, footnote - of Ana Mendieta. It was as if she the curators erased her from history.
For those unfamiliar with the Andre and Mendieta story - I refer you to this book - Naked by the Window: The Fatal Marriage of Carl Andre and Ana Mendieta. Briefly, Ana Mendieta died on September 8, 1985 in New York from a
fall from her 34th floor apartment in Greenwich Village where she lived with Andre; they were married for only eight months. Just prior to
her death, neighbors heard the couple arguing violently. Andre was tried and
acquitted of her murder. During the three-year trial, Andre's lawyer described
Mendieta's death as a possible accident or suicide. There was no suicide note
and her family said that she was not suicidal. Andre has not had an art exhibit in the United States since then - this Dia Beacon retrospective was his first since her death.
I don’t know if Andre killed his wife. But what I do know was that Dia Beacon disgraced her, her memory, her work, her family and her admirers but not including any mention of her. I felt saddened by the obvious absence of her. I was inspired to write about this because of Mira Schor's blog post - "Still 'Naked by the Window.'" As well as the protests at the Dia Chelsea - click here for the Hyperallergic article. I didn't expect the Dia Beacon to offer Mendieta an equal placement in the exhibit - but just one mention of her, just one note as to why in nearly 30 years Andre has been missing from the American art scene.
By excluding Mendieta, the absence of her grows larger; his guilt more looming. It was a shameful act to exclude her name and their marriage from mention. Yes, art can be made by bad people - Caravaggio killed a man, Agostino Tassi raped another artist - Artemisia Gentileschi, Hilter considered himself a painter, but that doesn't mean we can ignore the history of the artist, either. The Dia Beacon should have addressed Carl Andre's past. It was a disappointment to say the least that did not.
BTW, should any protests find their way to the Dia Beacon in the next two weeks for the anniversary of Ana Mendieta's death- call me. I will happily hold a sign.
Here are the highlights:
Kentucky Honey Bees enjoying a hydrangea plant.
It was great fun meeting other beekeepers - especially the women beekeepers. Two women in particular were Tammy Horn and Erin Forbes. Don't get me wrong - there were inspirational men beekeepers as well. But, I find woman personally inspiring.
The classes were held in the new science building on the campus of Eastern Kentucky State University. On the 4th floor was the chemistry department. Throughout the hallways, there were stencils of compounds from everyday life - peppermint compound, beer compound, vanilla compound. My favorite was how the bathrooms were marked. This picture "estrogen" marked the ladies room. I loved it.
There was some time to take in a quilt show, as well. The south seems to have a great tradition for quilting which pleased me greatly.
The day before we left for this trip, I had the opportunity to visit the Dia in Beacon. That review will be in my next blog.
Here is a lovely photo of me at an art openings enjoying the wine, the cheese, the talking about art. Sure, it looks like a dream life that day, but rarely do artists talk about what went into the opening. No, I am not talking about marketing, or struggling to find time in your studio - I am talking about getting accepted. Not just for juried shows, but for grants, residencies, galleries, fellowships, solo show exhibits, publications.
There is nothing worse than waiting to hear about that result - a grant application, a fellowship application, a residency application. I feverishly check my email hourly on the day of the published announcement. Then the email arrives and I open to this:
We appreciate all the effort you put into the
application proposal and thank you for giving us the opportunity to see your
work. Unfortunately your proposal was not selected for funding.
We regret to inform you that your submission was not
It is without a doubt completely disheartening to read. No matter what successes you
have had in the past, your worth seems to rest upon that email or letter
received at this moment. To read many of these a month is paramount to jumping out of a
window. Recently, I read a post on Facebook about a fellow artist friend who was very frustrated with a recent rejection. I thought what would I say to this person because I have been there, too.
Here’s what I do:
1 I step back and re-evaluate for what opportunity I was applying. I find it very helpful when the organization published has published the “winners.” I will soon discover that I was not a good
fit for them. In other words, the committee selected all digital work, or
traditional landscapes. Sometimes, it seems that I should have been selected. When I look at the work objectively, I think I should have been there. If this is the case, I will place the application in a folder to reapply. Sometimes reapplying
helps the cause. Maybe I haven’t had enough experience yet for that particular
position. Maybe I need to fill out more applications to get really good at it.
2 Apply to more opportunities that are carefully selected to where you are NOW.
Too many “yes”–es to exhibits, grants, etc. feels like I am not reaching high
enough or maybe relying on the same opportunities too often. I challenge myself by pushing my boundaries and apply to new galleries or shows. Conversely, too many “no”-s could be that I am overreaching. I study the competition by reviewing the resumes of artists that were selected. My a-ha moment was once I saw that the selected winners have had dozens of solo shows over the years, I realized that I was overreaching. I put that application in a folder marked a couple of years from now. To stay in the game, you need to get out there and the important part here is to get back on the proverbially horse and re-apply to better choices.
3 Finally, I remember the primary reason why I make
work. The real reason is not seek fame or fortune – although that would be
nice. I think as people, we have a deep need to be understood, to be heard and
seen, to be valued. It makes us feel real – like the Velveteen Rabbit. When
that rejection comes through it is a reminder for me that I wasn’t seen or
heard. I lick my wounds and get back to the studio. Before I can be seen or
heard, I need to tell a story and it is the telling of that story that makes me want to create. I look at what was submitted. Could my images have
been photographed better? Could my selection of images been more cohesive? Does
the root of the problem lie in the work itself? What do I need to say more
clearly to be heard?
The most important part is believing in myself - even when those rejections come in. What drives me to keep going is this internal fire to keep making and creating and to be heard. I need my story to be heard even if the only person listening is me.
In case you were missing my monthly blog updates, I want to share with you the many changes this past year. In July, I lost my father. Nine months later, in April, I lost my mother. I realized that I am an orphan.
One of the many tasks in dealing with death is that fact that my siblings and I have had to clean out their condo in order to sell it. As a result, my husband and I inherited two sofas, a couple of carpets and lots and lots of books. We just finished cleaning our house, moving the furniture in place and are now in the process of settling into this new looking space. My daily groove has been altered.
Physical changes in this new environment can be overwhelming and amazing at the same time. I mean it is the same house that I have lived in since 2001 - but there is such a huge difference in how I operate my daily life now that physical space has been changed.
Another major change is that I am no longer an elementary art teacher. After 15 years of teaching in the public school system, I woke up today realizing that I am now self employed.
Yesterday, was my last day at the school. My students gave me lots and lots of cards. I wish them well and I will miss them. But I am so ready to work on my art full time- it just feels like this right and the moment is perfect. In addition to now being a full time, self employed artist, I am also teaching at Ocean County College as an adjunct professor. In preparation for my fall class, I am really cleaning my office. What not? Changes are sometimes unsettling as well as exhilarating - even though my heart and head knows this change is for the best.
I don't know how much the title of this blog post relates to this post, expect that I am an orphan. It is just that I am listening to that Tom Waits cd now and it seemed like a good idea.
I am so thrilled and honored to be exhibiting with the Sculptor's Guild for the Governor's Island Art Fair (GIAF) this summer. In 2012, I had visited the art shows with Kristin Osgood and thought that it would be amazing to have an installation in one of the houses. You can read about that trip here. If you want to read more about GIAF, click here.
This is the view of Manhattan from GIAF. Lucky for us the day was beautiful.
Of course, installing art work for the GIAF has its privileges and that is driving on the island. I was first on the ferry with my truck and the view was amazing.
Look for my work in Nolan Park - Building 19A, second floor.