Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Persistance - be a viking with a paintbrush in your hand!

It just is not an easy road to be an artist, no matter whether you do representational work or not - when there are so few opportunities to be valued or appreciated. I have a friend who is a potter in the “in” crowd of art pretty much. Shows at Travers Gallery. He is on the faculty at the UW. I asked him one time to critique my fine art work and he refused. He said that he never critiques friends work, that he is really harsh. We had a discussion about the strange mix of qualities that seems to need to be in place to make it in the contemporary art world. The art “scene” just passes up lots and lots of good art because it somehow it doesn’t fit. Right place, right time, right chemistry, who you know… etc. Marketing, pricing, all impacting it's popularity - that non-authentic seeming stuff it seems. Yuk! My friend Lois Graham just kept painting her entire life even though she was rarely reviewed after 1985. Viewed by some as part of the Northwest school, she had a major Seattle Gallery, Foster White, and even was represented in galleries in Chicago and Houston. Bescause what she was doing was at the wrong time – the abstract field paintings – she was a little late of the general movement, so she couldn’t get recognized in NYC or reviewed much even in Seattle. I admired her so much because she just kept at it! She continued developing and her last work before she died was so rich and beautiful. She actually died because of the show. She worked herself to the bone and collapsed a five days after the opening!

Quotes from a PI article after her passing...

Even after her hands were numb from arthritis, Lois Graham continued to paint, holding her palette knife through force of will.
"She was perhaps the toughest person I've ever known," said her son, Andrew.
Graham, who was 77, died unexpectedly Tuesday of cardiac arrest.
She developed her style early and stuck with it, animating fields of color into rigorously abstract form... "She went out like a Viking with a paintbrush in her hand," sculptor Steve Jensen said.
The arthritis she had for 30 years put her in a wheelchair for 10, but she painted right through it.
"Painting kept her alive," her son said. "For years she wore a little pin on her jacket that said, 'Art Saves Lives.' Making it saved hers." http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/visualart/335025_graham11.html
Here's her darling picture in front of a painting... and a quote from the article by Regina Hackett in the PI... "Attention is a spigot. It's hard to turn on and easy to turn off. Here's the heartening part: Graham kept working. Her exhibit at Foster/White is on view until Oct. 27. Critics and curators turned away, but her gallery held firm, and so did a small group of collectors.

1 comment:

Rebecca Bush said...

Thanks for sharing, Isobel. There are so many inspirational stories in the art world. The most uplifting presentation I've seen was by Chuck Close at the UW-- I was impressed by his positive spirit, the ways he devised to continue to paint his trademark massive canvases even after being confined to a wheelchair. I was also reading that Robert Rauschenberg continued to create after a stroke left him half paralyzed (with the help of assistants). It's a testament to the creative spirit. There is a lot to be grateful for, that we have the talent and inspiration to what we do an share it with the world.