UMVA Member Essay: “The Politics of Art” by John Ripton

Politics does not stop at the museum or gallery door, neither should it be dictated by commissions or commissioners. Diego Rivera said as much when he refused to remove an image of Vladimir Lenin in a mural he created in Rockefeller Center in 1932. The mural projected a hopeful future where humans reached across social class lines and used technology to benefit all humankind. It is a message that resonates loudly in the world of American politics today. Rivera’s mural, however, was chiseled from the wall in 1934 at the orders of the art patron and business tycoon John D. Rockefeller.

“I don’t think anyone can separate art from politics,” asserts contemporary Chinese activist artist Ai Weiwei. “The intention to separate art from politics is itself a very political intention,” he explains.*

Everyone, including artists, are enmeshed in the politics of economic and social injustice and environmental calamities. Artists can no more escape these realities than any other human being. Because all means of expression and communication evolve from relationships with others – family, community and wider national and global societies – personal creative expression is profoundly shaped by social forces. Thus an individual artist’s experience, as with all human experience, depends very significantly on class background, education and other social agency.

Freedom of expression has been an ongoing struggle throughout history. When discussing the history and demise of the Bauhaus School (1919-33), Artnet Magazine associate editor Ben Davis writes, “Art cannot afford to turn away from history.”** According to Davis, the idealistic and leftist leaders and teachers in the Bauhaus of Germany’s Wiemar Republic, failed to directly confront the historical circumstances and class divisions that the Nazis successfully exploited. When the Nazi regime came to power in 1933, it closed the Bauhaus. Hitler declared all modernist art “degenerate.”

Nazi denunciation of modernist art was a direct assault on intellectual and creative production, a pretext for cleansing culture of the questions, criticisms and visions art expresses. Purification of culture – we must remember – is the first step toward purification of blood. “The Nazis burnt Picassos, Dalís, Ernsts, Klees, Légers and Mirós years before they built Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Birkenau,” Yara Zgheib points out.***

Today, democratic culture is under direct attack in the United States and throughout much of the world. Though paintings, books or other works of art have not been publicly burned or destroyed in mass rallies, an assault on culture is nevertheless underway. “Alternative facts,” “fake news” and the nationalist appeals of the “alt-right” are part of the ongoing attack on the “liberal media.” And, as government relaxes regulation on media corporations, nationalist media is poised to extend its reach and influence. Already Sinclair, the largest broadcast media company, plans to expand its politically conservative programming beyond the quarter of the nation’s household it now reaches. Combined with the proliferation of right-wing social media and widespread reactionary radio talk-show hosts, nationalist and nativist voices are now engaged in an aggressive attempt to fashion headlines and gain ground in the daily news coverage.

The emergence of branding in national politics is another crucial concern for artists. The most abject form of advertising, branding seeks to establish loyalty among it followers. As such, it seeks to displace critical inquiry and scientific evidence, to undermine competing voices. Message repetition, subliminal messaging and soundbites are key tactics in both commercial and political branding strategy. Branding also carries connotations of marking for ownership, as commonly practiced in the livestock industry. It is, of course, a genuinely ominous development for democratic politics. When branding becomes political strategy, when symbols and words evoke political loyalty, the shadow of doubt engulfs all forms of criticism. Reality can be stood on its head. Social and moral chaos may ensue.

Artists in every media are quite familiar with the technical elements involved in eliciting human response – to color, to sound, to motion, to image, to words. We know the power of symbols. Because we work in these currencies, we have a social role and responsibility to keep a dynamic and critical culture alive.

If we do not elevate our criticism of socioeconomic inequalities and environmental deregulation at this moment of national and global existential crises, then a new culture with fewer critical voices may evolve very quickly.

Do not allow isolation, indifference, fear, lassitude or social class overwhelm our critical creative voices.

We must be politically conscious and remain engaged in the world. In words often attributed to the indefatigable philosopher, writer and activist Rosa Luxemburg, “The most revolutionary thing one can do is always to proclaim loudly what is happening” ****

 

*(Liang Luo, The Avant-Garde and the Popular in Modern China, University of Michigan Press, 2014, p. 226)

**(http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/reviews/davis/bauhaus1-28-10.asp).

***TheEuropean(http://www.theeuropean-magazine.com/yara-zgheib/9957-the-relationship-between-arts-and-politics .

****(https://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/jun/14/saturdayreviewsfeatres.guardianreview19 ).

 

UMVA Members Jo Ann Bianchi, Janice L. Moore, Stephanie Berry and Shelah Horvitz on Regionalism

above: Jo Ann Bianchi, “Egg on your Face”, acrylic on canvas, 24”x24”, 2017

Jo Ann Bianchi

My recent seasonal move to Maine was for the cool summer climate, its geographical remoteness, its earthy scenic lure, and the dynamic artistic pulse of Portland.

Jo Ann Bianchi, “Impermanence”, acrylic on canvas, 24”x24”, 2017
Jo Ann Bianchi, “Let’s Tangle”, acrylic on canvas, 24”x24”, 2017

My creative inspiration and expression comes as a visceral response to an ever changing geopolitical climate as seen through social and mass media.

Jo Ann Bianchi, “Upstream”, acrylic on canvas, 36”x36”, 2017

 

Janice L. Moore

Regionalism for a painter has an established meaning: it’s painting what an artist lives with, in, and around. I’ve lived and painted in Maine most of my life. My work is specific to my experience here. I’m interested in what’s real and particular about us; namely in the landscapes of our Maine work that speak directly of who we are and how we got here.  

Janice L. Moore “Beer Plant, Portland”, Oil on Canvas, 24” x 36” 2016

Maine is my context; it’s not negated because I’ve lived and worked in other locations.

Janice L. Moore “Paper Mill, Rumford”, Oil on Canvas, 24” x 36” 2014

Neither is my connection negated because I’m exposed to a wider culture or other influences and art forms. These influences will be filtered through my experience as a painter grounded in Maine.  My portrayal of place is in direct response to an increasingly homogenous popular culture dominated by national brands and franchised box-stores. My connection to place helps me find reliable truth in the face of the barrage of “alternative truth” and selective reality.

Janice L. Moore “Bean Factory, Portland”, Oil on Canvas, 24” x 48” 2016
Janice L. Moore “Milk Plant, Portland”

 

Stephanie Berry

Stephanie Berry, “Buggy Night”, 30×40, oil and cold wax on linen, 2017

I love Maine other than the prolonged winters and short summers.  We get to experience the fullness of 4 seasons.  We have diversity of landscape from the coast to mountains to the rolling hills of Aroostook County.  It would be abnormal to my mind not to be influenced by where you live.  An art teacher told me once to paint what you love.  I love my home state of Maine.

Stephanie Berry, “Scarecrow and Washer”, 18×24, oil on linen panel, 2010
Stephanie Berry, “Winter Clouds”, 16×20, oil and cold wax on Masonite, 2016

 

Shelah Horvitz

Regionalism is absolutely relevant within the US because the attitudes and values of the people around you reflect the landscape/cityscape and the local industries. In Maine, I am living on the edge of wilderness. It is a cold, mountainous and rocky country where the summer plants grow like a jungle. A certain type of person chooses this place as their home. They must be people who love the wilderness, who see the sublime in the landscape around them, who rejoice in the ferocity of the environment.

Shelah Horvitz, “Front”, acrylic on panel, 16″x12″, 2017
Shelah Horvitz, “Firs”, acrylic on panel, 12″x16″, 2017

UMVA Members John Ripton, Judy O’Donnell, Suzanna Lasker, Marguerite Lawler-Rohner and Ann Tracy on Regionalism

above: John Ripton, “Executive Meeting”, Photograph – Inkjet on Archival Paper, 12”X16”

John Ripton

A wall is a wall until it is art, or until it is torn down, as happened with this colorful street mural (above) on a wall in Portland. I gave the photograph an ironic title to express the tension that often exists between street art and commercial interests. This is a universal phenomenon and truth in our cosmopolitan world.

John Ripton, “Tat-Tat-Tat”, Photograph Inkjet on Archival Paper, 12”X16”

Rauschenberg painted brooms and goats. Duchamp exhibited a standard manufactured urinal and a bottle rack as art. Ai Weiwei suspended 886 stools at the Venice Art Biennale 2013. In this photograph an anonymous Biddeford tattoo artist uses an electric needle to paint an anonymous man’s flesh.

John Ripton, “Hand Becomes Violin”,
Photograph Inkjet on Archival Paper, 12”X16”

One of the first conscious acts in human evolution is applying our hands and minds to shape physical materials. To our existential peril we forget that artifice engages humans with their environment for survival. Here in a room in a former textile mill above the Saco River a violin-maker hears notes that will travel around the world and may one day awaken humankind to the music of forests and minerals.

John Ripton, “Singing with Wings”, Photograph Inkjet on Archival Paper, 12”X16”

This group of Portland teenage musicians on Congress Street are influenced by various strands of American and world music including American punk rock and scream-style music as well as traditional Irish ballads. The young female vocalist appropriates the winged boots of the Greek god Hermes and the drummer experiments with a towel on his snare drums as the young Ringo Starr once did.

 

Judy O’Donnell

Judy O’Donnell, “Orange Woman Reclining”,
Steel, Particle Paint, 64″ x 67″ x 27″, Photo by Jay York
Judy O’Donnell, “Orbs 2″, Oil, collage, 12″ x 12”

 

Suzanna Lasker

What Maine Means to Me as an Artist

My husband and I moved here from

California to Maine twenty years ago

to be near family and to experience seasons

again.

Suzanna Lasker, “Wood”

Especially winter. We love winters in Maine,

all of winter with its storms, heaps of snow, slow

melts and, yes, the ice.

 

My husband writes dramas and I draw memory

pictures during gray winter days

Suzanna Lasker, “Winter Flu”

Something in the soul needs something to

endure – it is winter for us.

 

Marguerite Lawler-Rohner

My focus as an artist is the Maine landscape, studying the interior woods or small islands in the midday light. On location I observe and paint the high contrast of light, the shadows and the forms it creates in nature. My work is representational but not literal. I paint with the intent is to compose form and spatial depth, combined with personal imprint.

Marguerite Lawler, “The Ledge”, 24″x24″,oil, 2017
Marguerite Lawler, “Inner Circle”, 24″x24″, oil, 2017
Marguerite Lawler, “Mossy”, 24″x24″, oil, 2017

 

Ann Tracy

Ann Tracy, “Winter Tree”, 2016, 20×20
Ann Tracy, “Forest Bathing I”, 13.5×16

UMVA Members David Wade, Renuka O’Connell, Lee Chisholm, Anne Strout, David Allen and Sandra Beck on Regionalism

above: David Wade, “Sumi”, archival pigment print,                16 x 21″,  2012

David Wade

What Maine Means To Me

I think every artist is influenced by their environment and choose to be where they feel most inspired and free to create. Maine’s empty open spaces and shorelines do that for me… I like to work alone with my camera, with no fixed preconceptions, and let the natural landscape talk to me and tell me what to do… Maine is one of those perfect places to escape to and leave behind all the noise and confusion of daily existence …

David Wade, “Study in Green”, archival pigment print, 15 x20”

The energy of the landscape at the shore’s edge where the water, air and land all meet is extremely powerful and primal territory, and it calls me…

David Wade, “Swirlin’ Seaweed”, archival pigment print, 12 x12

It is where I can stand at the edge of creation and look upon it in awe… where I can recharge my batteries, make my art, and refresh my soul…

David Wade, “Octopus’ Garden”, archival pigment print, 15 x20”, 2014

 

Renuka O’Connell

I find that being in Maine definitely influences my art. It gives me a chance in this rapidly changing world to stop and reflect on the human experience, while being nourished by its peaceful yet powerful surroundings.

Renuka O’Connell, “Mourning I”, casein, 37” x 27”

I have been on an amazing journey spent with women artists who I have created and co-created with to make our environment open enough to express deepest longings. We strive to know what is going on in the world, we respond to it, we delve into making art to reveal our authentic selves. We ask the questions of what we need in our daily lives to grow our art. So I would say that innovation or provincial is a matter of the artist’s personnel perspective. Nature will never fail the human experience unless we rob it of it’s resources.

Renuka O’Connell, “Boothbay Intersects”, mixed media, 28”x 36”

Through our art we can advance ideals of living free and equal, of always having clean water, air and food for everyone; as well as freedom of expression.

Renuka O’Connell, “Mourning II”, casein, 38” x 46”

 

Lee Chisholm

Lee Chisholm, “Clammers”
Lee Chisholm, “Rockweed and Sea”
Lee Chisholm, “Harbor Reflections”

 

Anne Strout

I am a Maine artist, loving the land, the sea, the freedom; grateful each and every day for all that Maine offers.

Anne Strout, “We Hold Up the Sky”, encaustic, 12”x24”

My artistic focus, however, is often miles away from here. Much of my art is about daily struggles, human connections and global issues that confront us all. I usually paint the challenges that face us in our complex world. Working alone in a rural studio, sometimes, it is just too much!!

Anne Strout, “Global Warming Conversation”, encaustic, 20”x 10”
Anne Strout, “Waiting”, encaustic, 13”x16”

Then I re-center myself by painting Maine trees, Maine waters, Maine skies. Thank you, dear Maine. You give me the strength to carry on.

 

David Allen

Maine Regionalism

I identify as a Maine artist because this is where I am from, and where I have decided to make my home and earn a living. My family has been here for generations: they worked in logging, agriculture, and in Maine’s once-thriving mills and factories. My art is informed and influenced by this history, and I consider it to be a continuation and expression of this living narrative.

David Allen, “A Days Work”, mixed media collage on panel, 30 x 24 in.
David Allen, “Wooden Ships”, mixed media collage on panel, 18 x 24 in.

I understand there is a long history of art tied to the landscape of the Maine coast, but I grew up in central Maine, and many of my childhood experiences revolved around trips to remote areas up north on lakes and streams. That said, I sometimes have a hard time relating to much of the coastal landscape paintings I see saturating local galleries because they do not speak to the Maine I know. That’s not to say these are not valid expressions of Maine’s beauty. But I do worry that their pervasiveness, and the tendency of the market to cater to what most easily sells to tourists, might limit other expressions out there, and it may be the only Maine most people will ever know.

David Allen, “Timber”, mixed media collage on panel, 30 x 24 in.
David Allen, “Granite Quarry”, mixed media collage on panel, 8.25 x 18.25 in.

This submission contains excerpts from my solo exhibition The Gravity of Place, which utilized historic Maine photographs in collage to depict various industries and labor that once thrived in Maine.

 

Sandra Beck

I have lived in or visited every state except Alaska, as well as traveled in 52 countries – including Peru, Australia, Russia, Bolivia and Nepal. Everywhere I go, I absorb the local culture, and tastes of it inevitably appear in my artwork. Portland, Maine has rubbed off on me artistically by inspiring and encouraging me to be more spontaneous, abstract, whimsical, courageous and not so oriented or driven toward academic perfection. I am grateful for this particular inspiration, as I am extremely appreciative of other influences, for example Islamic Art, from the several months I lived in Pakistan, and visited India and Turkey.

Sandra Beck, “Family Portrait” Pencil, and Ink on wood, 2017
Sandra Beck, “Still the Long Road Remains” 2017, Pencil, Ink on Wood
Sandra Beck, “Some Connections Never Happen” 2017, pencil, watercolor and ink on paper

UMVA Member Submissions: Amy Peters Wood, Berri Kramer, Paul Bonneau, Linda Murray, Roland Salazar, Kris Onuf

Amy Peters Wood

The IRS considers me a Maine artist even though Google does not. I live in Maine. I paint. I live off the money I make from painting. Therefore I am a Maine artist. Or am I? Tourists used to ask me that at art shows, before I finally gave up on them as annoying wastes of time, the shows that is, not necessarily the tourists- “Do you have any paintings of light houses?” I do not.

The process of painting, for me, is the whole deal. Not the resulting piece of art. Like a mandala from sand or a religious icon, I use the ritual of creating egg temperas to show my reverence for a state which I know to be truly special. After building a boat and sailing around the world and visiting countless iconic places in paradise, Maine is still it.

The low angled light and beauty doesn’t knock your socks off like some parts of the planet. It’s much more subtle, creating introspection, not outward exuberance.

After selling the boat and building a floatplane, I now spend my time criss-crossing Maine’s heart at three thousand feet; in every season. From the pockmarked green carpets of summer to the ethereal purple prickly-treed quills of winter, where shadows are fantastic shades of turquoise and blues, the entire bowl of Maine can be seen extending to each corner. At three thousand feet eagles soar and that amazing light bounces off the mountains and lakes of Maine and New Hampshire to the North and West, and the far distant ocean horizon to the south and east. With fractal expansion, islands look like continents; the Gulf of Maine, the entire globe.

So, while I may paint scenes from other areas of the country, the iconic rocks- trees-water of Maine help me to feel grounded. While death, instability and disaster surround me on a personal, as well as societal level, picking up a small brush and a dab of paint allows me to take control over a world I can create. Atmospheric distance? Pfft. I can reverse it. As well as all the laws of perspective and balance.

This is my world. And yes, it is in Maine.

Surrender to the Moon
Nearly High Tide

 

Berri Kramer

The wrack line left by the approach and retreat of the tide is the focus of this series. To walk to the ocean’s edge year round creates a seasonal rhythm and a marking of time. On the coast of Maine we are privileged to observe the most fascinating collection of detritus and imagine stories created by the salty sea.

Approach and Retreat 4, encaustic, 8×8 inches
Approach and Retreat 2, encaustic, 18″ x 24”
Approach and Retreat 3, encaustic, 8” x 8”
Approach and Retreat 1, encaustic , 24” x 24”

 

Paul Bonneau

Head of the Harbor
Lit Up, Laudholm Farm
Spurwink Farm

 

Linda Murray

It would be impossible to live in Maine and not be affected by its ubiquitous forests, lakes, rivers and ocean. My most recent works are inspired by waters and those creatures that live in them. I am
interested in what lies beneath the surface whether it is a tide pool, mountain stream or river. My art asks what could we see if we took time to sit quietly and observe. What insight into nature would we find there? We live in a time where we spend less and less time with nature. Yet, our relationship with nature defines who we are.

Spring Thaw, acrylic 24” x 24”
What Do You See In The Sea, acrylic 10” x 10”
Subaqueous, acrylic 15” x 28”
Underwater Fantasy, acrylic 6” x 12”

 

Roland Salazar

I create my art in Mexico and the US, two distinct countries with contrasting cultures. They differ in the art forms that have graced their national histories.

It’s a privilege and a challenge, and a delight to hear artists and the public talk about “their Maine.” There is no uniform agreement, and an attempt to establish any consensus on the subject is fruitless. My artistic vision of Maine maybe only one more probing into its ‘essence.’ Yet, I feel I have enabled Maine to have a distinction of its own by addressing the essential elements of its character, rather than displaying its outer skin. For I paint Maine as unforgiving, uncompromising, demanding your daily awareness and testing your ability to live with nature as a constant in your life. You may want to ask: “What can I do to help guarantee that this fragile environment is maintained and not destroyed by our very human presence?”

“Mother Earth” Mixed on Stonehenge 22×30
“Twin Hills” Mixed on Stonehenge 22×30
“Joan’s Point Landing” Mixed on Stonehenge 22×30
“Mt. Agamenticus: Here Comes the Sun” Mixed on Stonehenge 22×30

 

Kris Onuf

The granitic coast of Maine provides a point of departure for
this work. It seems nearly impossible not to be moved by it.
The rocky subject gives rise to ideas about geologic time,
glaciation, rising sea levels, climate change, the fate of our
increasingly threatened planet. Working in series with
monotype and monoprint processes invites the expansion of
imagery through exploration of these ideas using a globally
recognizable visual language.
My sources are local and regional. I am here, now. The
shared impetus of those of us fortunate enough to live and
work here may be that the content of our art is without
borders.

“Ice Age”, mixed media monoprint, 9”x10”
“Night Dike”, Solarplate intaglio, 8”x10”
“Sundew Couple”, mixed media monoprint, 8’x10”
“Divisions”, mixed media monotype, 15”x21”

UMVA Member Submissions: Mary Jean Crowe, Kris Sader, Gregg Harper, Sherrill Hunnibel, Susan Bennett, Brita Holmquist, Alice James, Tom Fallon

Susan Bennett

I was all about making sculpture, and then, after the loss of two people close to me, I felt the need to “talk about things.” Instinctively, I developed a creative outlet for intuitive feelings. Through art, not words, I let the pieces evolve expressing a response better suited to me. Through this process, I have continued to express life as I know it.

 

Mj Viano Crowe

DRESS CODE NARRATIVES

I am in love with, and conflicted about fashion. Clothing, often the bridal gown, figured prominently in my past work. Other series used embodied and empty dresses as both surrogate and metaphor. For me clothing is a potent vehicle to convey ideas about the spirit and matter, ritual and transformation.

In DRESS CODE NARRATIVES, compelling tales in the anthology, Women’s Indian Captivity Narratives, first and secondhand accounts from the 1500s through the 1800’s, were my inspiration. As settlers moved westward, Native Americans, endlessly exploited and marginalized, retaliated to survive. White women and children were sometimes taken as hostages, or as replacements for family members who had perished in earlier battles.

The accounts of the women I depict are part of our nation’s conflicts, and our collective histories. In cobbling together these dresses, cutting and pasting cultures and perspectives side-by-side, understanding and new meaning emerges. The truths of these stories are simultaneously simple and complex, transparent and layered, reshaped through the passage of time and in the re-telling, much like memory itself.

Tom Fallon

 See the Word

// i // personal beyond personal // wife died // devastation // pain // stopped creating // the word not seen // psyche a desert // after 2 years slowly create // one word // God // in the visual sense // God? // visual literary // creating GOD part visible // 24 x 36 // silent God // life a desert // one word exploring // personal beyond personal // searching words // negative // devastated // defining words // everyday words // historical // redefining words // seeking // exploring // visual literary //  work with fuck // fuck // discover word fuck positive // in one word totality // variations // exploring // visual literary // personal social beyond personal // a beautiful word // recreate // 50+ variations of word fuck for beauty // seek single words // moving slowly beyond devastation // beyond pain // seek freedom // hitler // nigger // one word // explore // personal beyond personal // GOD? // fuck // nigger // devastation // create create create // visual literary // creation is destruction destruction is creation // pain // the eye of the mind // i see the word //

 

Gregg Harper

I work in a combinatorial way and draw upon stories and mythological ideas from East Asian, Western and Native American sources for my images. The materials that I use include acrylic and oil pigments, India ink, my own photography, drawings, cut and torn papers, and “objects” that I’ve found over the years.

For the past two years, I have been using a sort of formal “framing” for my works (like the ones I’ve submitted) that are inspired by 16th century Italian, French and German playing cards. I’ve given this series the title “Cartomancy” inviting personal divination as viewers, perhaps, imagine how they might be interpreted or even “played” for themselves.

With this, I’m trying to tap into a centuries-old cartomancy that facilitated self-reflection and even storytelling. Italo Calvino described cards (Tarot in particular) as a “combinatorial narrative machine”.

I live and work in Portland, Maine.

 

Brita Holmquist

 

Sherrill Hunnibel

Collage and assemblage continue to be strong factors in my work; I simply enjoy the physical process of layering and the intuitive discoveries that layering can bring to more formal compositional relationships. My work deals with common themes of transition and transformation. There are stories, to be sure, but I rarely begin a piece with a narrative already in mind. Instead, during the process of making when a narrative begins to appear, I simply hang on and wait for instructions. Sometimes the stories take a more public direction; they might turn up in titles, or in bits of exposed text, or in obvious visual symbolism. But mostly, the narrative factors accompanying my work remain private; they are the personal notes I have imbedded in paint and the never-ending questions I have on my mind.

 

Alice James

My Half Life:

I never dreamed that 25 years of my life would not be fully accessible to me, that large sections of my body would not occur to me, that I would stop breathing, lose vital signs, focused vision, coordination, energy. What crystallizes in it’s place is color, loose, shifting forms, the earth’s joyful animation. But also my isolation and entrapment, invisible to everyone else.

 

Kris Sader

For many years now I have worked with birds that have crossed my path due to what I call “expected accidents”. Our connection to birds runs deep. They are in our myths and on the cave walls. Pictorially they are often depicted with human bodies. I use the birds that come my way to speak about relationships, consequences, sacrifice and modernity. Using them as metaphor, I tenderly work with these birds, honoring what happens to them as they live life.

Spring 2017: Member Submissions, Light in the Dark: Art As a Sane Voice in an Insane World

Sharyn Paul Brusie  “Facing The Light of Day”  2015  Acrylic  36″ X 36″
Sharyn Paul Brusie  “In this Together”  2015  Acrylic  36″ X 36″
Photo by Luc Demers
Lin Lisberger, “BLT” (2016) 6”H x 12”Diameter, Cherry, peach, poplar, pine, copper (Image credit: Luc Demers)

Lin Lisberger, Sandwich Picnic, (2015) 8”H x 28” x 26 1/2”, Various woods (Photo credit: Luc Demers)
“In times of darkness humor carries me forward. These Sandwiches were all made before this particular troubling time, but all reflect the need to face adversity and lunacy with laughter and art.” – Lin Lisberger

Ed McCartan

The light in these dark times often needs to come from  within as well as from the community.  Seeing beauty in natural forms helps us respond as creative people.  Out of the deep forest, the entangled garden and the storm light and strength can come.  Going to nature is my response to assert the interconnectedness of all beings.

Ed McCartan, “Dark Landscape” acrylic on canvas 40×40 inches
Ed McCartan, “Stormy Weather” acrylic on mirrored paper on canvas 10×10 inches
Kenny Cole, “Entry (After Ensor)”2017, Collage, ink, gouache on paper 22 x 30 inches
Kenny Cole, “The Great Battle (Nuclear Button)” 2017 Collage, ink, gouache on paper 15 x 11 inches

 

Ruth Sylmor

During this time when the world seems askew and inside-out, I turn to poetry.

The Peace of Wild Things
By Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

 

Ruth Sylmor, “Luynes, France” (2014) silver print 10 x 8 inches
Ruth Sylmor, “Venice, Italy” (2008) silver print 8 x 10 inches

Nikki Millonzi

I created Rainbow Warrior 31 years ago in response to the removal of native families in the Four Corners area of the southwest from their tribal native lands around Big Mountain. They were relocated so The Peabody Coal Company could strip mine coal. The elders were not happy.

Still today, the energy wars continue as fossil fuel companies plunder sacred native lands and threaten our planet. The elders standing, dancing and praying peacefully on the frigid grounds of Standing Rock shine light into the dark drive of these energy companies. In the drive for profits, the Dakota Access Pipeline aims to move dirty oil at the price of harming our water supplies, disregarding native lands and the rights of tribal treaties and agreements and destroying our planet.

May many Rainbow Warriors fight on!

Nikki Millonzi, “Rainbow Warrior” (1986) Mixed media 29 x 31 inches

June Kellogg

Walking in nature has been the place where I’ve found light in the current atmosphere of political darkness. It is the place where I’m able to breathe and let all the daily political news dissipate from my mind. I’ve recently used my painting to express my belief that nature is not here to be dominated. It is not a commodity to be used to increase our standard of living or to increase our amount of consumption.

There are so many problems right now with water and food production that it is imperative that we begin to think globally about what is happening to the world’s resources. We must recognize and honor our interdependence with nature and realize that we are all connected by it. We must consume less, pollute less, share more, recycle more, protect nature, and create a more sustainable earth.

June Kellogg, “Sustainability For Land and Sea” acrylic & ceramic stucco on canvas 30 x 28
June Kellogg, “Stay Close To Nature” (2017) Acrylic & Ceramic Stucco on Canvas 30 x 28 inches
Daniel Lovely, “The Nightmare”

Heidi Daub

Selected and edited definitions of “light” from Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary 2nd edition.

luminous energy, electromagnetic radiation to which the organs of sight react
kindle; ignite
to come into existence or being
the aspect in which a thing appears or is regarded
something that affords illumination
to brighten with animation or joy
to clarify
the state of being visible
a gleam or sparkle in the eyes
spiritual awareness; enlightenment
to accept or understand
to be discovered or revealed, to begin

Heidi Daub, “Tracks#3” (2016) Acrylic on paper 11 x 12 inches

Heidi Daub, “Budding” (2016) Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 28 inches

John Ripton, “La Lucha Continua” 2007

John Ripton, “Proud & Dangerous & Powerful” (2017) Photography 12 x 16 inches

 

 

Nick Pagliughi, “Out of Sight Out of Our Mind”
Nick Pagliughi, “I Try Not To Read the News”

 

 

Karen Merritt, “Perfect Offering Year: 2013”, Gelatin Silver Print Dimensions 16 x 16
Karen Merritt “Street Buddha” (2014) Gelatin Silver Print 16 x 16 inches

 

 

Paula Dougherty

The theme of enlightenment is dear to my heart. In art, I attempt to depict the highest level of love and wisdom “i” can conceive of.   Routinely,  little buddha-like images pop out on small papers; I search for the higher-self in life drawings and portraits; paint plant paintings enthusiastically in the garden; and explore outer/inner space tirelessly in meditation and the abstract realm.

Artwork Included: a recent pastel portrait of a baby doctor-to-be drawn from life; a response to two teenage self-immolations – in Tibet and India – protests on the same day against Chinese rule in Tibet – 3/2016; two light tributes to the Buddha, dharma and sangha.
Inspiring Quote from Leonardo da Vinci:
“You must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.”
Paula Dougherty, “Prostration” (2016)Watercolor and Ink, 5  3/4″ × 6″
Photo by Artist
Paula Dougherty, “The Teaching” (2016) Ink, 2 3/4 x 5 1/4 inches
Photo by Artist

 

 

Anita Clearfield

My paintings are an expression of the ironic space between the mundane that i can influence and the BIG PICTURE stuff that remains beyond my reach. Especially in these times, when we’re confronted by powerlessness, dissolving truths, and even the end of our planet, how does one carry on — whether it’s picking-up a toothbrush or a paintbrush? My “Before the Flood” series uses figurative abstraction to embody this disconnect between singular actions and nothingness.

Anita Clearfield “Before the Flood: Last Fried Egg” (2017) Oil on linen 18 x 24 inches
Anita Clearfield “Before the Flood: Last Guy to Get His Pants On” (2017) Oil and ink on canvas 16 x 20 inches

 

Michael Branca

“Paint? Paint!”

Michael Branca “A Whole New Red, White and Blue” Oil on three canvases November 2016 Each canvas 8” x10”
Michael Branca “Seeing Red” Oil on canvas November 2016 20” x 16”

 

 

Marcus Parsons

These works explore aspects of cooperation. They explore issues that commonly arise within ourselves and with each other.

Two implicit questions:
1. Self and other—what might we make of them?
2. What is involved in cooperating toward ends that we all seek? Among those ends: peace, harmony, compassion toward each other (in spirit and in deed), shared prosperity, mutual tolerance and respect, equality (i.e., of access to opportunity, power, privilege, liberty, etc.).

Marcus Parsons, “Self/Other Box” (2016) digital, 25 1/2 x 20 3/8 inches

 

 

Anne Scheer

“The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”  Emma Lazarus

Anne Scheer, “Wretched Refuse”, (2016) Acrylic monotype with digital transfer, on recycled cotton paper, 22 x 29 inches
Anne Scheer, “Homeless tempest-tost”, (2015) Oil on gessoed paper, 22 x 29 inches

 

Lisa Mossel Vietze

I picked up a camera in 1998 with the intention of making landscape images full of drama with grand, far-off vistas in which I could hope to escape from childhood misery.

But what my images came to reveal is the power and intimacy of smaller landscapes, like that of a flower. I was increasingly drawn to the subtleties of petal, leaf and stem; I stopped chasing the horizon and began to search my own backyard.

A flower is the plant’s highest expression of self, as well as a promise of a new generation, giving of its energy for creating seeds. I’m often in awe of the color or design when I’m making a flower image. In this process, I continue to heal.

Flowers … become like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of the physical form and the formless.

[ some words from Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth.]

Lisa Mossel Vietze, “Cathedral” (2015)
Lisa Mossel Vietze, “Free Bird” (2013)