31 Women – March 24th: Sara V Cole

31 Women – March 24th: Sara V Cole

Sara V Cole           
Cyclone Series No. 2. C, 2016        
Acrylic, gesso and graphite on Arches Cover Paper mounted on canvas, on wooden bars 

Sara V Cole

Sara V Cole is a nationally represented, internationally exhibited author, teacher and fine art painter with a full-time art making studio practice. Cole earned her BFA in  ceramic sculpture and installation/performance art with a minor in art history. She then completed her MFA in painting and drawing and went on to study graduate level Non-Western Contemporary Art History, all at San José State University. 

When considering women in art and history that have made an impact on her life, Cole listed dozens of women, from artists to politicians. In the category of women artists, she says, “I could name fifty I love, but here are ten that I am obsessed with: Adrienne Piper, Alice Neel, Julie Mehretu, Shahzia Sikander, Käthe Kollwitz, Hung Liu, Artemesia, Ann Hamilton, Marlene Dumas and of course who doesn’t love a little Frida!” In addition to this top ten, Cole recalled seeing the SFMOMA Eva Hesse exhibition in 2002. She says she still responds to the memories of this exhibition and that fragments of those works continue to resonate in her own work today. 

Thinking back to her childhood, she described growing up with a radical hippie 1960s mom and cannot remember a day that “I didn’t know about Gloria Steinem, Dorothy Pitman-Hughes and Ms. Magazine.” Her favorite female authors include Maya Angelou, Joy Harjo, Mary Oliver, bell hooks, Audre Lorde and Sylvia Plath. She says other “badass women” also inform and inspire her life, such as: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, Angela Davis, Shirley Chisholm, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama. 

Cole has placed work in the permanent collections of The Triton Museum of Art, Hilton Hotels, the Microsoft Collection, Stanford University, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel, the Grand Hyatt in Atlanta, Iberia Bank in Louisiana, and De Anza College in Cupertino. Her work can be found in the private collections of many patrons including that of Actress Sela Ward and the New York based National Art Buyer for One King’s Lane. She has an extensive exhibition history including New York City’s Asian Cultural Center Gallery and group exhibitions from Seattle, Washington to Metz, France.  

https://www.saravcoleart.com

31 Women – March 23rd: Brigitte McReynolds

31 Women – March 23rd: Brigitte McReynolds

Brigitte McReynolds                       
The Intelligence of Water, 2019
Oil on canvas

Brigitte McReynolds

Brigitte McReynolds

Brigitte McReynolds’ practice is a continuous investigation of abstraction and exploration of the human form. It is her visual diary, a “paper trail” of a process that is both spontaneous and deliberate. Working in layers of paint, she merges luminous color and palpable texture. For McReynolds, painting is a dynamic, intuitive process. A drip or smear reveals part of that process. 

McReynolds works in series that start as a concept in her mind, or as a vision of a finished work. It can also begin as an emotion or process of the heart. When she develops a theme, she explores it in multiple materials: oil, acrylic, and encaustic, working figuratively and abstractly until the idea exhausts itself, or leads to another theme. McReynolds applies what she learns from shape, form and line in her abstract paintings to find the simplicity that is needed for abstracting a figure. Similarly, her abstract work profits from her figurative experience.

Her works often have a recurrent pattern or an illusion of repetition. However, not one shape is the same as the other. Similar to life, where we have days, hours and minutes that create a pattern, yet not a single moment resembles the next. McReynolds explains “Although I enjoy working with the ‘shapelessness’ of stripes I also love to work on abstract paintings that maintain shapes and forms. A shape in a painting is like a figure in a landscape. For me the abstract shapes are alive. They have a heart, an area with vibrant color; intense brush strokes, the limbs.”

When contemplating inspiration, McReynolds finds the mystic works of Hilma af Klint breathtaking and has never forgotten her visit to the Italian Tarot Garden designed by Niki de Saint Phalle. Inspiration also comes to her from women speaking out for justice through the #MeToo movement, and from the work of public figures like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Senator Nancy Pelosi. McReynolds is most inspired by her mother, whom she describes as a creative, kind, humble and generous woman. She admires her mother’s strength, hard work and devotion in raising McReynolds and her siblings – nine children in total, while she managed her busy restaurant and hotel business.

Brigitte McReynolds is represented by Whitney Modern Gallery, Los Gatos; Pryor Fine Art, Atlanta, GA; Seager Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA; Jules Place, Boston, MA; and Eminent Design, Sonoma, CA.

31 Women – March 22nd: Karen Gallagher Iverson

31 Women – March 22nd: Karen Gallagher Iverson

Karen Gallagher Iverson                
Gilded Dunes, Bodega Bay in Crimson, 2019
Pochoir and drawn colored pastel on wax on 3 panels

An Interview with Karen Gallagher Iverson

Karen Gallagher Iverson

MKM: Tell me about your childhood, where did you grow up? Were you always creative?

KGI: I was born in Queens NY, within a very large extended family, mostly based throughout the five boroughs of NYC. We moved upstate to a commuter area when I was a kid. My mom always drew and painted and easily took on most any other creative craft she found interesting. Including her intense knitting habit today. Art supplies, and “the good watercolor paper” were always around and waiting for us kids to make something. I was extremely lucky to attend also a public school district that had a robust arts program. Something I didn’t fully appreciate then, and recognize as being even more significant now that I’m a parent in the Oakland Unified School District. It was easy to be creative when you didn’t have to try too hard to gain access. Both at home and in school. We had a kiln in our elementary school, welding and wood shop in middle school, dark room photography in high school. It’s amazing to look back on it.

MKM: Why did you pursue art?

KGI: At first I didn’t. I wanted to work in scientific illustration as early as the 6th grade, but was advised by my academic counselors that that field was dwindling, and suggested to become a nurse – which is a good field for women after all. That suggestion seemed absolutely ridiculous to me. Looking back I should have been directed toward graphic design. I originally went to college for Archeology and Anthropology, with a minor in Studio Arts (quickly a double major, then a complete switch in major to Studio Arts). My first apartment in my early 20s caught fire and burned down. I realized after fleeing a burning building, after the frenzy of trying to escape, that what I was studying in the ground wasn’t necessarily the truth of life, but was the record of what wasn’t important enough to take when braving the flames of change. You grab whats alive when you flee. In truth (or at least in my truth) the vibrancy of a culture is what lives on with you, and I realized that semester that I wanted to sink into that vision of the world. Visual art served that best.

MKM: Where did you study?

KGI: For my undergraduate degree I went to SUNY Albany, and my MFA was at the San Francisco Art Institute.

MKM: Did you have any memorable teachers at SFAI?

KGI: I consider my undergraduate printmaking instructor, Thom O’Conner to be my first major mentor. At the San Francisco Art Institute my most memorable Instructors were Jeremy Morgan, Tim Berry and Gordon Kluge. Even this year, 17 years after graduating, random remarks by Kluge ring true to some process I’m working on. Usually things that made no sense at the time, even things I whole heartedly rejected, I now think “oh… thats what you were trying to tell me!” From grade school through High School Wendy Feman-Pernice and Peggy Ellis always provided safe places to land. Those early years are so socially awkward for young creatives who haven’t found their voice yet.

MKM: When you’re creating what’s your daily routine? Rituals, patterns?

KGI: A typical Studio Day: My studio is right below my home, so before I go downstairs I make coffee, and I try to take care of some household chore, like start a load of laundry or defrost dinner. Once I enter my studio – I’m on the clock and don’t take care of family things until I return with my kids after school. I guard this time jealously. So much so that I set an alarm to go off at 1pm to remind myself to eat lunch. I turn on my Computer. Assemble my studio planner, studio notebook, process notebook, source material (sketches, print outs, photos, etc.) and I put on some continuous sound in the background – either a series on Netflix that just plays in the back ground, streaming music radio, or even a song on repeat when I’m close to grabbing hold of something and can use the repetition). I look at my notebooks and planner and see either what tasks need to be done today (like melt wax or gesso panels) or where I left off the day before on some imaging task. I keep notes on everything. Colors I mix and use, material ratios, when I begin using a blade in my cutter, exposure times if Im working on a photo print project, even the edit chain in photoshop of my photo source images. I also log random thoughts and ideas that come up while I’m working and keep it with the project at hand. Even when I was a teenager in beginning print classes I had a similar way of working. The way I approach printmaking is very methodical. Not a lot of emotive in the moment romance. I basically design a concept and idea, lay out a plan and get it done. Much of what people consider the ‘in the moment creative expression’ happens for me in my mind, in the way I plan things to layer, through the choices I make along the way, and when I’m drawing into my final layers. 

Karen’s studio

None of this would probably work except I compulsively take photos throughout my day, especially when in family mode adventuring around. I also journal in a notes app on my phone. A few words that catch me, things I’m thinking of, random impressions during the day like “huh this is the 3rd day in a row when the hills look pasty and gray, but its sunny and hot … gray during full daylight” then it later turns into a lithograph series. I also sketch with watercolors regularly. Sometimes just pushing material around because it feels nice. I often print out photos and colors that are catching my eye and just cary them around to look at. Think on whats grabbing my attention and why. 

If I’m playing around with a new series, its a little different. I’m not sure why, but I work better on beginning something new at night or the end of the studio day. Even if its on my phone while getting my kids to sleep, I’ll look though photos and notes and begin to reduce whispers of ideas into concepts, and indulge in what’s visually appealing to me. Its important to me to tie materials and processes to the overall content of the work and how I can filter concepts through media; whats gained or lost by it. I also will keep the remnants of my art making if they catch my eye. Sometimes i’ll like the visual quality and years later it will show up in a completely unrelated project. That’s how I arrived at my current encaustic landscapes. It was a random out take from work I did back in 2005 with carbon paper. I harvest all those bits and later use them as seeds. Once I settle on those basic components – I make a plan then get to work in the coming weeks. 

MKM: How has your practice changed over time?

KGI: My process is very much linked to my innate personality. Many things have always been here. I was 12 or 13 when I started collecting compelling (to me) images in sketch books. Something I basically still do, only now digitally. I always enjoyed collaging and working with photo source material. Integrating some poetic thought process into my concepts has remained the same. Albeit it was more illustrative when I was young, and more about finding universal themes now. I now have a more interconnected way of working. Perhaps a more holistic way of living within my studio practice. One significant area where I differ is with time management, that changed completely once I had children. I’m more targeted and less wasteful with my days.

MKM: Do you focus on a specific medium or combination of mediums? Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?

KGI: Integrating some aspect of printmaking as a process is integral to my practice. Once I realized it could take me where I wanted to go, I didn’t really falter from print. Although, as a medium it really can incorporate a whole host of other mediums. Painterly approaches, line drawing, photography, sculptural cuts, even all the new maker technology dovetails perfectly with printmaking. Hmm, maybe I picked printmaking for its position as a middle ground? I’ve not worked much with wood, either wood cuts, wood type, mokulito (wood lithography).  I’m not sure why. I’ve been looking in that direction lately. I’ve also never made an artists book. I can’t easily wrap my head around it, but keep thinking it could really be a great format to experiment in. 

MKM: What themes do you pursue?

KGI: The common theme in most of my current work can be reduced to catching, or translating, light and dimension though pattern. It’s been really wild to see just how endlessly I can play and recombine these basic elements across all the different materials and processes at my disposal. 

(Detail) Gilded Dunes, Bodega Bay in Crimson, 2019

MKM: What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

KGI: Probably my computer. So much of what I do is touched by it. If we entered into a period of global black out, I’m sure I’d figure something else out, but at the moment, I think its a common tool within everything I do. 

MKM: Is there an artwork you are most proud of? Why?

KGI: Probably my Variable Horizons work. Its my largest work to date, at 2 ft by 12 ft long, which is a considerable large work for encaustic. It took roughly 4 to 5 weeks of continuous daily work, and I was 7 months pregnant with a 3 year old up in the house. The sheer size and time was an endeavor. But, it’s also the only work I’ve ever made in response to the death of my infant son, about 9 years ago. I was invited to create a work in response to a theme, Corporeal Chronologies. The organizer of the show was familiar with earlier work of mine that was very body focused, he didn’t know that I was working pretty exclusively with landscape imagery. It was a wonderful way to incorporate my current work with such a delicate concept. One that could easily turn dark and abrasive. I was pleased with the way place, and life and grief through time came together in that work. 

MKM: What has been a seminal experience?

KGI: For sure becoming a parent, is a major event to most. Since my first baby died as a newborn, I’d say that was a seminal an experience for me, on many levels. It was a reset professionally. I was printing and making art, teaching, and I had been working as a studio manager for an artist of international acclaim.  When my son passed away, it all stopped. I stopped making art, I stopped teaching, and I never returned to a full time day job after that. It also opened the world back up to me in a bizarrely fresh way. My role in the world was completely severed and rebuilt from scratch. I was able to grow my studio practice back into my daily life in a way I never was able to do before. 

MKM: What art do you most identify with?

KGI: Abstraction and conceptual. People often think I’ll be drawn to representational imagery since I currently work with recognizable landscapes. I find more affinity with the poetic exploration in conceptual work and abstraction. 

MKM: What inspires you? Other artists, other women from history, your process, a theme?

KGI: Sudden shifts in light. Driving down a road and having the light flip suddenly. 

MKM: Do you have a sense of connection to a particular woman artist from art history?

KGI: Louise Bourgeois. Everything I’ve read on her points to a person of skill, whose tenacity and prolific activity slowly erodes at the life she’s built into. Ultimately really great work is able to  emerge.  

MKM: Is there a specific work from Louise Bourgeois that you find interesting? 

KGI: Her drawings and drypoint etchings. They could easily be overlooked. With the volume of them that exist, they demand to be looked at, given attention. And when you do, all the exquisite subtlety and conceptual interconnectedness comes to light and you cant unsee it.

MKM: Who are your female role models from history or present day?

KGI: Agnes Martin. The rejection of it all. I never see her work as an exploration or justification of gender. I never saw her career as an avenue to fame or celebrity. It was just honest, beautiful art work; and work that was able to rise with success in a very male art world. 

MKM: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

KGI: There have been two that continually inspire, and seem to work for any occasion. When I was working on a print edition with Kay Bradner, she let out “Reckless Abandon!” At the time she said it when using an enormous c-clamp to crack walnuts, because that’s what was handy on her kitchen table. But I find, when used responsibly, it’s often the right rallying cry to make. Plus, it’s good to make do some times without over thinking. The other is “You can boss me around as long as you boss me to victory” a friend exclaimed when given unsolicited advice during a card game. Nothing wrong with taking direction if it helps get you where you want to go. Also, a reminder about remaining humble. Is what I want to suggest really going to bring someone further to their victory? Or, maybe an off-putting remark I received needs to be let go of, because it was never going to serve my initiatives generously.

MKM: What is your dream project? What can we expect from you in the next year?

KGI: My dream? I want to make gigantic  wall sized landscape watercolors with hand painted photo halftones. Like, really big. “Only wall big enough is in the de Young” big. Thats a bit far out there. I’m already starting on large watercolors, but not that big yet. They take forever and have zero room for forgiveness. I’m planning to work more on paper this year. Both press work and hand painted work. More seascapes, too.

Karen’s studio

https://www.gallagheriverson.com

31 Women – March 21st: Sawyer Rose

31 Women – March 21st: Sawyer Rose

Sawyer Rose
Lyra, 2017
Silver solder, copper, fiberglass
18 x 18 x 18 inches     

An Interview with Sawyer Rose

Sawyer Rose

MKM: Tell me about your childhood, where did you grow up? Were you always creative?

SR: I grew up in Charlotte, NC, middle kid of three. My mom had all of us in art lessons from a young age. It was just at the nice lady’s house a few streets over, but as the creative kid of the family, I ate it up. At home I had three or four unfinished craft projects lying around the house at all times. 

MKM: Why did you pursue art and where did you study?

SR: I went to Williams College which has a wonderful Art department. It took maybe 6 weeks of my first year to decide that I wanted Art to be my major. Fortunately, the department required both Art History and studio classes, so I ended up with a well-rounded experience.

MKM: Did you have any memorable teachers at Williams College?

SR: My senior year painting professor was completely comfortable with my odd studio hours and wild experimentation on canvas. So was my photography tutor at Glasgow School of Art. I learned loads in both of their classes, but the most valuable takeaway was that it was ok, even encouraged, to let my practice develop outside of the academic box.

MKM: When you’re creating what’s your daily routine? Rituals, patterns?

SR: Daily routine? No. All work patterns conform to the elementary and middle school calendars. 

Sawyer in the studio

MKM: How has your practice changed over time?

SR: I began my practice as an oil painter, but I kept wanting to add a third dimension to my 2-D works. After many years I decided to try my hand at true 3-D sculpture and found it suited me much better. It’s only in the past year that I have started making 2-D works again, but now I make them by choice rather than by default.

MKM: Do you focus on a specific medium or combination of mediums? Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?

SR: I work in metal, wood, and fiber mostly. I find natural, earthy materials to be the easiest for me to wrap my mind around. Metal is a finicky, willful material to work with, which I have learned to enjoy. Metal does as it pleases.

MKM: What themes do you pursue?

SR: I like to make work that shines a light on social and environmental topics that are important to me. My metalworks are based on the native flora of California and ask viewers to consider what plants would look like if they could grow armor to protect themselves. In another vein, my work on The Carrying Stones Project takes a deep dive into women’s work inequity. I look at women’s paid and unpaid labor, but also at the wage gap, representation of women the workplace, and other ways in which people who identify as female are fighting an uphill battle at work and in their communities. 

MKM: What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

SR: Does whiskey count? (Kidding!!) I love my belt sander. It’s powerful and versatile and can solve a lot of sculpture problems quickly. 

MKM: Is there an artwork you are most proud of? Why?

SR: I’m most proud, seemingly counterintuitively, of the pieces I make that don’t feel like they came out of me. It’s a thrilling way to get a glimpse of what my subconscious might look like.

MKM: What art do you most identify with?

SR: I’m attracted to art that highlights repetition and pattern while still maintaining an organic sensibility. Near-symmetry and flawed reproduction are mainstays of my production process. 

Lyra installed in 31 Women at Whitney Modern

MKM: Do you have a sense of connection to a particular woman artist from art history?

SR: Lee Bontecou’s sculpture work is stunning. It takes my breath away every time.

MKM: Is there a specific work from Lee Bontecou that you find interesting?

SR: Bontecou’s steel and canvas wall pieces are particularly inspiring for me, as I also work in metal. Her armatures are the stuff of dreams.

MKM: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

SR: “Never assume anyone else’s motivations are the same as your own.” My high school Spanish teacher told me this, apropos of what I can’t remember. When I’m trying to decide how to best educate my audience about a particular topic, I try to remember that every viewer comes with their own history, their own learning, and their own prejudices. I want people to feel comfortable starting their learning from where they are right now.

MKM: What can we expect from you in the next year?

SR: In the next year I will be building a new group of installation sculptures for The Carrying Stones Project that tell the stories of some truly fascinating working women. Eventually, I’m going to publish a book of all the work from the project.

http://www.sawyerrose.com

31 Women – March 20th: Elena Zolotnitsky

31 Women – March 20th: Elena Zolotnitsky

Elena Zolotnitsky  
HER (Extinct Series), 2018               
Oil on mylar mounted to panel
Courtesy of Andra Norris Gallery

An Interview with Elena Zolotnitsky

A visit to Elena Zolotnitsky’s studio

MKM: Tell me about your childhood, where did you grow up? Were you always creative? 

EZ: I grew up in Moscow. My father worked as a free-lance illustrator and a set designer at the major Moscow Movie Studio. While growing up I was always encouraged to do art: draw, paint watercolor, attend special art classes, et cetera. I became serious about art at the age of 14 and was passionate enough to focus on pursuing it.

MKM: Where did you study? Did you have any memorable teachers?

EZ: I started to study with tutors and get to ready to pass the exams at VGIK (All State Institute of Cinematography) majoring in the Art of Animation. I graduated in 1987 with a 10-minute hand animation movie as a creative director. The movie is titled From 9am to 6 pm. The director, the screen writer and the creative director (myself) were women. I was hired a year before I graduated, and it took our team exactly a year to finish the project. Oddly enough I have to mention two things that might be important, that surfaced years after that movie was done. The movie itself is about one day in the life of a woman architect and about her juggling her creativity, career, her family and everyday life. This movie can be found on YouTube and it is still shown on Russian television around 8th of March every year – International Women’s Day. In a way we were breaking the ground rules, [because we were] the first women’s creative team, and one of the first animations with “adults” in mind. Until then, animation was mostly a “children’s” affair. And the second important thing was the celluloid. The transparent plastic sheets that were used as a surface for painting and drawing. And you will understand why later. My most memorable teacher was Vadim Kyrchevskiy. He taught animation courses and he taught us life mostly. 

MKM: When you are creating whats your daily routine? Rituals, patterns? 

EZ: My day starts with a 10-mile walk around Lake Merritt in Oakland. It’s a must. When I do not have that my whole day is thrown off. It clears my head, I can daydream about the day ahead, think about my new projects, et cetera. 

Work in progress in the studio

MKM: How has your practice changed over time?

EZ: My practice changed with the deepening of understanding of what painting is, and about what it means to me. For years after finishing college and already living here in America, maybe because of the editorial illustration I was working on, maybe because I was still trying to “find” myself – my paintings were super “controlled”; with the elements of design and very stylized. Now, I call them “coloring between the lines”. Something was missing and I couldn’t figure, or wasn’t mature enough to figure out what it is. Gradually, after a period of ups and downs, the creative blocks and changing coasts in the 30th year of my career, I started to understand what the painting was about (for me) and how to make it alive. And it continues to change, I am always growing and evolving….

MKM: Do you focus on a specific medium or combination of mediums? Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?

EZ: I work with oils on different supports. Have been favoring MYLARS (remember the celluloid!) lately. It is the hardest to “control” super slick surface. Very challenging and engaging. Keeps me totally focused….

MKM: What themes do you pursue?

EZ: I can paint everything – flowers, cityscapes, landscape, nudes, still-life, portraits. I have been focusing on the latter. Maybe because a face can be all of those things, plus. I favor “oneness” as a theme; for now….

MKM: What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

EZ: Day light, my art books and a palette knife…

MKM: Is there an artwork you are most proud of?

EZ: Yes, many. Because I can’t copy them or repeat them. They are truly one of a kind with the life of their own. Also, if they were created (“channeled”) at a pivotal point of my career. One of those points was a heart break, and another – my mother’s death.

MKM: What art do you most identify with?

EZ: The one that I don’t know how it was done. It intrigues and mystifies me….

MKM: What inspires you? Other artists, other women from history, your process, a theme?

EZ: Oddly enough, the older I become – the less enchanted I become by others. I still look for the holy grail of mystery in the museums. They are harder to find. My focus shifts at different times. Apart from Dutch, Early Netherland and Flemish – like Hans Memling, Pieter Bruegel and Rembrandt, my favorite are Paul Cézanne, Richard Diebenkorn and Gerhard Richter. The female artist being Berthe Morisot and Agnes Martin. 

I do get inspired by a face. Either live or a photo of it. I like to paint androgynous – they are the most mysterious to me. Beautiful, ubiquitous. I consider my painting a success if I got lost in it. And it’s a bonus if I have something reasonable to show for it, or at least learn from it…

MKM: Do you have a sense of connection to a particular woman artist from art history? 

EZ: I feel connected not to anything specific. I admire strong point of view, a craft, a deep understanding of the media, a voice, a vulnerability, a mystery. And there are so many. I come across them practically every day – those revelations that make my day. They tweak my creativity in this or that way, very slightly. They stay with me on my early morning walks. And it has nothing to do with the gender. It everything to do with the “goodness” of their art.

MKM: Who are your female role models from history or present day?

EZ: My female role model from history is Hellen Keller for obvious reasons. And my role models from present days are some of my girlfriends. They live in different parts of the world. Some of them have been having a very hard life – poor health, insufficient funds – but they keep it together. They persevere. They grow old as I do. They have their problems. But they never give up. They inspire me.

MKM: What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

EZ: The best piece of advice? I don’t think I have the answer. The best advice is usually the one that you get when needed the most. Sometimes, when I am stuck, I spend hours going through Goodreads Quotes looking for answers. It’s all there – the wisdom of enchanted humanity.

MKM: What is your dream project? 

EZ: My dream project is Artists Residency in Bellagio, Italy. Or American Academy in Rome.

MKM: What can we expect from you in the next year?

EZ: I do not know what to expect today. And you are asking about next year!

INSPIRED FOR LIFE
When I was 6 or 7 years old growing up in Moscow, some 30 years before  the experience made its way into the consciousness of my journey, I liked to “play secrets”. As an only child I had to occupy myself somehow and that game was as good as any because I could easily do it on my own. It involved wrappers for chocolates. The ones that you’ve managed to consume of course! The better chocolates – the more intricate the wrappers were. The best were the ones with the picture in the middle (it could even be a tiny replica of some famous Russian masterpiece hanging at Tretyakov Gallery) and the silver lining. After spending hours on folding them, still smelling of chocolate,  just right, completed with the silver design of the lining leaf, you had to hunt for another necessary element of a “secret”. That would be a piece of glass. The beer bottled ones, amber in color were the most magical. Then you had to bury the folded rapper with the glass on top in the shallow grave of the playground’s dirt. That was a “secret”. The magic happened when the young “artist”, on all fours and with her nose close to the ground, started to push the dirt away with her single finger in a slow little circular motion, clearing the tiny window of colored glass…. What a transformation! In the first shock of discovery it takes you a while to comprehend what you were actually seeing….Then it sinks in:a mystery of familiar….And the feeling! Of wonder, of revelation. I think that all my life I am chasing that feeling – the mystery to be discovered. That instantaneous shift of reality, the recognition of magic.  – Elena Zolotnitsky

Elena Zolotnitsky is represented by Andra Norris Gallery in Burlingame, CA

31 Women – March 19th: Josette Urso

31 Women – March 19th: Josette Urso

Josette Urso         
Echo, 2018             
Paper collage

Josette Urso

Josette Urso

Working in multiple mediums, Josette Urso makes paintings, drawings and collages in direct response to her immediate environment. Large windows in her Brooklyn studio space afford her expansive views of the city, the weather, the light and colors, which all inform and inspire her work. Art making materials, in their variety, also nourish her practice. Urso’s approach to painting involves “moment-to-moment extrapolation where the contrasts and cross-fertilizations are cumulative, non-linear, free flowing and interpretive.” For Urso, space is “ambiguous and malleable” and she delights in the resulting acrobatic “mark making and image collision” on the canvas. With her collage works, Urso explores the dualities of information overload as it fuels our minds and creativity, but also desensitizes our attention. Her collages are packed with imagery that could both intrigue and overwhelm, but the information is ordered in a mandala like circle that conveys a sense of meditative peace amidst the spinning chaos of life.

Josette at work on a painting in her Brooklyn, NY studio

Growing up Urso’s parents brought creativity into their everyday lives; she describes her mom as “resourceful and fearless”. Her father, a math professor, also played the guitar. Both encouraged Urso’s artmaking, arranging lessons with students at the nearby university where he taught. Spending three semesters in New York during her undergrad years inspired her and made a profound impression. Urso immersed herself in the art, seeing everything she could, while becoming familiar with works by a wide range of artists. Women artists that have left a lasting impression on Urso include: Lee Krasner, Florentine Stettheimer, Anne Truitt and the choreographer Pina Bausch.

Urso received her MFA from the University of South Florida in Tampa. Her work has been exhibited extensively, including exhibitions in New York at Markel Fine Arts, Kenise Barnes Fine Art, The Painting Center, The Drawing Center, The New York Public Library, The Bronx Museum of the Arts and in California at the Museum of Los Gatos and Chandler Fine Art. Urso has received grants and residencies including those from the NEA, Basil H. Alkazzi and the Gottlieb, Pollock-Krasner and Ruth and Harold Chenven Foundations as well as the Camargo Foundation, Ucross and Yaddo. 

Paintings in progress in Josette Urso’s studio

Josette Urso is represented by: Markel Fine Art in New York, NY  https://www.markelfinearts.com/ and Kenise Barnes Fine Art in Larchmont , NY and  Litchfield , CT  https://www.kbfa.com/

31 Women – March 18th: Sandy Ostrau

31 Women – March 18th: Sandy Ostrau

Sandy Ostrau
Encountering Light Through the Fog, 2020                                   
Oil on wood panel

An Interview with Sandy Ostrau

Sandy Ostrau

MKM: Tell me about your childhood, where did you grow up? Were you always creative? 

SO: I grew up in Palo Alto. I enjoyed art making from a very young age. You could often find me surrounded by my treasured art supplies, drawing and coloring for hours at a time. One of my bedroom walls was covered entirely with bulletin board so I could hang my art. 

MKM: Why did you pursue art? 

SO: I started a business selling my designs on textiles and clothing and that launched my career of selling my art. I moved into painting because I was interested in learning to use oils. I found them to be a perfect medium for my style of art. 

MKM: Where did you study art? 

SO: I studied Art History and took drawing classes at UCSB. After college I have taken numerous drawing and painting classes at the Pacific Art League and Palo Alto Art Center. 


MKM: Did you have any memorable art teachers?

Jim Smyth and Brigitte Curt have both been incredible teachers and mentors throughout the years. Brigitte Curt teaches impressionist plein-air painting and Jim Smyth is a drawing and figure painting instructor. They are excellent teachers and both accomplished artists.

Sandy Ostrau’s studio

MKM: When you’re creating what’s your daily routine? Rituals, patterns? 

SO: I arrive at my studio by 10 am and I begin my day by mixing colors. I find the rhythmic movement of using the palette knife to mix is a great warm up and I then have a palette to work with for the day. It’s a wonderful ritual to focus my attention and loosen me up. Most importantly it switches my thinking to a work mode. 

MKM: How has your practice changed over time? 

SO: It hasn’t changed much over the years other than I used to spend more time painting outdoors and now I do most of my painting in the studio. 

MKM: Do you focus on a specific medium or combination of mediums? 

SO: I paint with oil paint, but I often sketch with graphite or ink and sometimes paint with acrylic on paper. I use paper and acrylic for studies. 

MKM: Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet? 

SO: Print making. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and in the near future I’d like to try it out. 

MKM: What themes do you pursue? 

SO: Mostly I work at integrating the figure into my paintings, whether interiors or landscapes. I’m mainly a landscape painter but I use figurative elements to connect the viewer to my work and to instill a feeling into the painting. 

MKM: What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio? 

SO: My favorite tool is my large rolling palette cart that my husband built for me. I can wheel it around and it’s a big area for mixing a lot of paint. I use brushes and palette knives. I don’t really prefer one to the other and can transfer from one to the other easily. Also, Viva paper towels are essential. 

MKM: Is there an artwork you are most proud of?

SO: I did a painting that was exhibited in an exhibition called Inspired by David Park a few years ago. I sold the painting after the show to a couple that moved to Santa Rosa with that treasured painting a few months before their home (and the painting) burnt down. It was so tragic for the family to lose everything. They kept telling me how much they missed the painting too. In addition, I think my early small outdoor landscape paintings are very special because they allowed me to paint the same scene over and over and experiment with value, color and shape in a way that you just can’t working large in a studio. Working from nature not from photos I think produces the best work and really trains your eye. 

MKM: What has been a seminal experience? 

SO: Painting outdoors. It allows you to work directly from nature, make a lot of small works so you can learn the painting process without worrying about making a great painting, and work quickly. I came to love outdoor painting and working from nature. I actually prefer it to painting in the studio. 

MKM: What art do you most identify with? 

SO: The art of Nicholas De Stael, Edward Munch, Joan Brown, Kim Frohsin, David Park and Richard Diebenkorn are painters I greatly admire. Also, Masaccio from the early Renaissance. 

MKM: What inspires you? 

SO: Nature is what inspires me primarily. More specifically, I am always astounded by the beauty of California. 

MKM: Do you have a sense of connection to a particular woman artist from art history? 

SO: I am particularly interested in the work of Joan Brown. I love how she depicts her scenes with such simplicity yet she captures the gesture and persona of her subjects. The impasto paint and expressive brush and knife work is thrilling. 

MKM: Is there a specific work from Joan Brown that you find interesting? 

SO: Girl Standing, Girl Sitting 1962 

MKM: Who are your female role models from history or present day? 

SO: I have always admired Kim Frohsin for how dedicated and her accomplishments as an artist. She follows her own voice, which I admire. Her work is entirely original and expresses her own interpretation of the figure or any subject. She is also highly skilled as both a draftsperson and a painter. 

MKM: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? 

SO: There are two things my teacher Jim Smyth taught me that have been instrumental in my work. First, paint what the subject is “doing” rather than “what it looks like.” This is a way to shift your thinking so the work will express what is happening rather than just depicting a scene like a photograph; the work will have more feeling. The second is that value (light and dark) is more important than color, and the relationship and patterns created by dark and light is the basis for composition.

MKM: What is your dream project? 

SO: I love creating a body of work for an exhibit, especially a solo exhibit. 

MKM: What can we expect from you in the next year? 

SO: More exploration of figure work and possibly some portraits; also larger works.

Sandy Ostrau is represented by Bryant Street Gallery, Palo Alto, CA; Gallery North, Carmel, CA; Sue Greenwood Fine Art, Laguna Beach, CA; Thomas Reynolds Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Anne Loucks Gallery, Glencoe, IL; LeeAnn Brook Fine Art, Nevada City, CA; Anne Neilson Fine Art, Charlotte, NC; Peterson Roth Gallery, Bend OR; and Meyer Vogl Gallery, Charleston, SC.

http://www.sandyostrau.com

31 Women – March 17th: Jen Cole

31 Women – March 17th: Jen Cole

Jen Cole        
Face of the Mirror, 2019                   
Monotype

An Interview with Jen Cole

MKM: Tell me about your childhood, where did you grow up? Were you always creative?

JC: I grew up in Southern California, the only girl in a four-sibling household. Because of that I had my own room for the most part. My parents encouraged my natural making proclivities and put an old door on sawhorses in my room to use as a table. It gave me a place to make and experiment without interruption. It was a place away from brothers and a place to learn to be with myself. Looking back, I realize I never really acknowledged what a wonderful and supportive situation that was!

MKM: Why did you pursue art and where did you study?

JC: I pursued art because it was what I found enjoyable. I also got encouragement for my efforts. But it wasn’t really until college that I discovered the type of art that I wanted to pursue. I went to undergraduate school at several places- first Reed College where I was not a good fit and then at UCSB, and then at Stanislaus State in Turlock CA! It was at UC Santa Barbara that I happened to take a printmaking class, not really knowing anything about it. I had a wonderful (and handsome) TA and I was hooked.

MKM: Did you have any memorable teachers?

JC: In graduate school at San Francisco State , I had memorable teachers. (The handsome TA was great but mostly handsome!) John Ilhe really inspired a kind of technical appreciation that printmakers seems to get wrapped up in. There is so much technical jargon and protocol – printmakers can spend hours discussing the merits of wheat paste and paper. After graduate school I was lucky to meet Kay Bradner owner of Katherine Lincoln Press. Working for Kay is where my real knowledge of printmaking took off. I learned to print all kinds of prints, wipe all kinds or ways and appreciate printmaking in an entirely new way. From the “grunts” perspective to the distinguished printmakers proof. I believe Kay was the best teacher I ever had, and I still call her occasionally for help.

Jen Cole in the studio

MKM: When you’re creating what’s your daily routine? rituals, patterns?

JC: My daily routine is relaxed now as I retired my jewelry business when my husband retired. I usually manage to get to Kala three days a week and other days I work at home or do “laundry” (the symbolic word for home activities). But mornings are always devoted to a meditation practice and walking the dog or/and yoga. If I can do these activities before arriving at Kala, I am ready to work.

I love the process of printmaking so much that I often let this take a long time and finishing a print is a nice outcome that sometimes happens. It means I go to work and really just enjoy whatever problem presents itself during the making of a plate. I work with very little premeditated imagery. My prints evolve and transform a great deal over time. Physical labor is definitely part of my process- scraping, burnishing, re-etching, re-aquatinting. For monotypes this means many layers and covering up parts of images that don’t work and tearing images down, whatever it takes to discover what I am looking for.

MKM: Is there an artwork you are most proud of?

JC: Being proud of artwork is a relatively new experience. When I started teaching monotype at Kala about five years ago, I realized that I was actually very well informed. Students give so much, and I have learned to become a better teacher as well.

MKM: What has been a seminal experience?

JC: Most of my seminal experiences have been of the internal kind of work–which most definitely is expressed in some way through my art. Maybe my most seminal experience was to finally understand that what I was learning through meditation and internal self-exploration was actually expressed visually in my art. It’s hard to verbalize but the joy that comes when working on printmaking is such a lovely and opening experience and that experience becomes the image.

MKM: What inspires you? Other artists, other women from history, your process, a theme?

JC: There are many artists whose work I love- Paul Klee, Kiki Smith, Kazuko Watanabi, Sean Caulfield, Golbanou Moghaddas… so many more. I like so many kinds of images. But I love prints most of all – above all other forms of art.

MKM: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

JC: The best advice that was ever given me was when my kids were young and a colleague of my husband said, “be flexible”. Buddha has a lot or good advice too like “things change”.

MKM: What is your dream project?

JC: My dream project would be to have a year to just work away on prints; actually I am living my dream now!

31 Women – March 16th: Elizabeth Barlow

31 Women – March 16th: Elizabeth Barlow

Elizabeth Barlow
The Time is Now, 2020
Oil on linen
Courtesy of Andra Norris Gallery

An Interview with Elizabeth Barlow

MKM: Tell me about your childhood, where did you grow up? Were you always creative?

EB: I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, the daughter of an artist father (Philip Barlow, 1932-2018).  I was always drawing as a child, our parents took us to art galleries at home and everywhere we traveled, and our walls were filled with my father’s paintings as well as the work of many other artists.  I was always absolutely certain I would live a life creating SOMETHING, but it took me a while to find out where my true voice lies.  In college, I studied theater as an actor, then journalism and finally history.  For a while, writing was my passion.  It wasn’t until I was a young adult and living in San Francisco that I woke up (I truly feel as if one day I awoke and knew what I wanted to do) and began practicing the craft of being an artist.  

MKM: Tell me more about that day you “woke up”, why did you pursue art?

EB: One day, I was sitting on a bench in Tiburon, looking at the Bay and literally out of nowhere I thought “I am going to paint clouds.”  This came out of nowhere, but I knew instantly that I needed to heed it.  And it was at that moment that I understood that I had an intense desire to paint (not necessarily clouds though!). 

I immediately told my father, and he said, “Well, then take a drawing class,” which I did.  I can still vividly recall the sensation I had in those first art classes.  I was by no means whatsoever the best student in those early classes, but I could FEEL in my hands and mind that I was going to be able to be good at this.  My eyes, hands and brain needed some time to learn how to work in this new dimension — but I somehow knew in my bones  that I was going to be able to make what I wanted to make — long before I actually COULD make it.  I believe that this intense desire to create is the most potent proof of whatever “talent” anyone possesses.  Yes, an acquired technique and experience play a part, but I feel that a desire to create and a daily devotion to the practice are the most important aspects of “talent.”  

MKM: Where did you study art?  

EB: My father was a huge influence on my development as an artist, although I never formally studied with him; he was a constant presence in my life with encouragement and critiques.  I studied at UC Berkeley and obtained a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio Arts there.  I also studied one semester at the Art Students League in New York City.  

MKM: Are there any memorable teachers from your studies?    

EB: Again, my father was one of my great teachers.  My other greatest influences as teachers were Donald Bradford and Eva Bovenzi, both are well-known Bay Area artists.  I took many classes with them at UC Berkeley and am grateful for their examples as working artists, encouragement, critiques and sharing of knowledge.  

MKM: When you’re creating what’s your daily routine? Rituals, patterns? How has your practice changed over time?  

EB: I’ve always been very disciplined in my practice.  Since I am a realist, there is the stark fact that my artmaking requires a lot of time.  For many years, I had a day job, and I rose every weekday morning at 5am and drew or painted in my studio apartment.  For a time, I shared a studio with the artist Liz Fracchia, and I worked there every Saturday and Sunday.   

Eventually, I began painting full time, and now my days revolve around a very devoted studio practice.  I work 6-7 days a week in the studio, depending on deadlines.  My studio time is spent drinking green tea, staring at the canvas, mixing the day’s palette, more staring at the canvas, breaking to check email or to have lunch, followed by more staring at the canvas, and of course, working on the canvas!  I try to leave the studio each day at 5pm for a beach walk and an evening with my incredibly supportive husband.  I believe that being a painter is like being a ballet dancer or a pianist — it requires a daily devotion to the practice.  The great cellist, Pablo Casals was asked why, at 90, he continued to practice every day.  He replied, “Because I see some improvement.”  

MKM: Do you focus on a specific medium or combination of mediums?

EB: I am in love with oil paint — I love the lush sensuality of the paint.  I love drawing with graphite, ballpoint pen, wax pencil and conté, but alas the pull of the canvas and the luscious quality of the oil paint keeps calling me away from the sketchpad.  

MKM: What themes do you pursue?   

EB: At the present time, I continue to create my series called Portraits in Absentia.  In this series, I create still life “portraits” of people using cherished or symbolic objects rather than their faces to illuminate their characters and lives.  I am also working on a series called Portraits of Gardens in which I gather flowers and branches from a particular garden and then create a deconstructed still life that celebrates the character of that particular garden or gardener.  

MKM: What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?  

EB: Ah, there are so many!  Here are three:  First, my late father’s brushes and palette knives.  I don’t actually use them for fear of wearing them out — but they are talismans that speak to me whenever I see and touch them.  Second, my Hughes easel — it was a birthday gift from my husband.  Some women ask for jewelry or clothes, I asked for a custom easel.  It is made of mahogany and is counter-weighted so that it glides up and down with just a touch of my hand.  Third, my hundreds of art books.  They are my daily companions, teachers; an oasis of calm and inspiration. 

MKM: Among your works, is there a piece you are most proud of? 

EB: My painting Portrait of a Marriage is a still-life of two pairs of mens’ formal dress shoes arranged as if they are in an embrace.  They are the wedding shoes of my friends Jake Heggie and Curt Branom, who were married in San Francisco when gay marriages were first allowed.  When I created the painting, my intention was to paint a celebration of my dear friends’ marriage.  It was only later that I realized the painting carries a historical and cultural message as well.  The painting has won awards in several national exhibitions and I’m happy to say now resides with Jake and Curt in their home.  

MKM: What has been a seminal experience in your development as an artist?  

EB: Studying at the Art Students League in New York City for one semester.  (Former students include Georgia O’Keeffe and Mark Rothko.)  Just to enter the building on West 57th Street is to inhale the wisdom and practices of over 100 years of great teachers and students.  I studied there all day, five days a week for a spring semester — on easels covered with decades of paint, and by the light of the same skylights used by countless great artists — and came away from that experience feeling somehow anointed by the atmosphere and spirit of that place.  

MKM: What art do you most identify with?  

EB: The work of Georgia O’Keeffe, Claudio Bravo, Philip Barlow, Vanessa Bell, David Ligare, Martha Alf, Alison Watt, April Gornik and Rachel Ruysch.

MKM: What inspires you? Other artists, other women from history, your process, a theme?  

EB: I am inspired by all art — dance, theater, painting, poetry — that speaks of the hidden, mysterious inner essence residing in each of us.  In my own art, I continue to seek to find a way to express this hidden inner aliveness.  The poet Mary Oliver always reminds me to be awake, to look and listen and perhaps then I will at last SEE into that inner mystery.  

Whenever I need an energy boost, I turn to my books about ballet.  The great American ballerina Maria Tallchief told her students “Ballet is like a religion.”  What she meant is that it requires a religious devotion — to show up at the barre every day, no matter how much your body hurts and no matter what else is going on in your life.  Just reading those words gives me energy and reminds me that my first duty is to show up at the easel — because it is in that showing up that the muses reside. 

MKM: Do you have a sense of connection to a particular woman artist from art history? 

Georgia O’Keeffe is my pole star.  I believe that I own every book written about her.  When my husband and I were first dating, he arranged for us to have a private tour of her home at Abiquiu — and that’s when I knew what a special man he is.  O’Keeffe’s fierce devotion to her way of seeing, to her sense of self, and to the practice of her art are daily inspirations to me.  

MKM: Who are your female role models from history or present day?  

EB: Georgia O’Keeffe, Vanessa Bell, Anne Truitt, Mary Oliver, Suzanne Farrell, Rachel Ruysch, the Queen Elizabeths I and II (seriously!).  

MKM: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?  

EB: When I first began taking art classes, my father said, “Decide who you think is the best artist in the class and sit next to her or him.”  This has a double meaning for me:  it means to not shrink back but to take one’s place next to “the best artist in the room.”  And of course, it also means that I strive to continue to seek inspiration and wisdom through friendships and connections with artists whose work I admire.  Artmaking is a solitary existence and I cherish my connections with other artists.  

MKM: What is your dream project? What can we expect from you in the next year?   

EB: I am just now completing a dream project — a 6-foot commissioned painting with a fascinating back story.  It’s by far the largest painting and most complex painting I’ve done, and it’s whetted my appetite for big, complicated paintings!   I dream of more opportunities to create big paintings with that tell amazing stories.  

Elizabeth Barlow with a recently completed “dream project” – a commissioned painting: “The Phoenix Rose”, 2020
Oil on canvas

Elizabeth Barlow is represented by Andra Norris Gallery in Burlingame, CA

http://www.elizabethbarlowart.com

31 Women – March 15th: Astrid Preston

31 Women – March 15th: Astrid Preston

Astrid Preston      
Reflection of the Trees, 2019           
Oil on canvas    

An Interview with Astrid Preston

Astrid Preston at her recent solo gallery show at Craig Krull Gallery in Santa Monica, CA

MKM: Tell me about your childhood, where did you grow up? Were you always creative?

AP: My parents were both architects who met at the University of Riga, Latvia. In 1944, with the Germans retreating and the Russians advancing on Latvia, my parents, separately, escaped to Sweden and were reunited in Stockholm around the Christmas holidays in 1944; I was born some 9 months later. I was a very physically active child and always had to stay busy. Fortunately, there was loads of paper to draw on; lots of old blueprints around.

MKM: Why did you pursue art?  

AP: One day after graduating college as an English major at UCLA, I realized that I didn’t want to be bored and the only pursuit that I found was challenging and enjoyable enough was art. Even though I didn’t study art at school, when I was 17, I started taking classes in figure drawing which I continued for many years.

MKM: When you’re creating what’s your daily routine? rituals, patterns?

AP: I basically spend all my time in the studio, which is in my home. Since I am retired from any other job, that is more than full time. Weekends are especially productive since my husband is also busy and often goes to his office. I do exercise daily, cook, shop, etc., the usual things, but even when busy with life I spend time looking at the work.

MKM: How has your practice changed over time?

AP: I worked full time until I was 40 when I had a son, so I used to do art every evening and weekend.  When my son was born it was chaotic at first but then with some help, I was able to work longer hours, every day.

MKM: Do you focus on a specific medium or combination of mediums? Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet? 

AP: I love oil on canvas and also drawing, but I am not very fluid moving between the two.  I would love to take the time to see if I could make acrylic paint work for my ideas and feelings, but the desire isn’t strong enough.

MKM: What themes do you pursue?

AP: My subject has been nature since about 1978; I used to call it landscape. After that I have ideas and feelings about certain images and art history and technique. Themes come out of the working, but the movement in the work has always been shifting from realism toward abstraction and the play between the two.

MKM: What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

AP: Very good fine sable brushes with good points.

MKM: Is there an artwork you are most proud of?

AP: Well, never proud, but fond of several large paintings that took between ½ a year to a year to paint. So much thought and emotion is invested in them that they are very special to me. I also love the experience of looking at large paintings.

MKM: What has been a seminal experience?

AP: Having a child, and later visiting Japan affected my work strongly. The work always has a strong personal message that I usually discover years later.

MKM: What art do you most identify with?

AP: Most art throughout history, but I have always loved Renaissance painting and that has influenced my technique. Only some of the paintings I respond to deal with nature.

MKM: What inspires you? Other artists, other women from history, your process, a theme?

AP: Usually a sunset, or a tree, or a forest, or a color. Something tangible and if possible, I take a photo to remind me. I do get excited when I see great art. Much of the most interesting painting now uses the figure. I am always interested in what makes work surprising and of the moment – it can be technique, image, composition, color combinations, etc; all the usual painting issues.

MKM: Do you have a sense of connection to a particular woman artist from art history? 

AP: At the moment Louise Bourgeois still surprises me. I like the strong emotions I feel when looking at her work. The paintings of Hilma af Klint and Agnes Pelton have been more recent pleasures. I was happy to discover how good Hilma Klint’s landscapes are.

MKM: Who are your female role models from history or present day?

AP: As I get older I have a few female role models, but when I was starting out it was usually the men. I liked Mary Cassatt, but Matisse and Durer and Van Gogh made a stronger impression. Vija Celmins, as a brilliant Latvian artist, was a possible role model.

MKM: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

AP: Keep going.

MKM: What is your dream project?

AP: I don’t have a dream project; just hope I can stay healthy enough to work to my end. It is such a pleasure to be an artist.

Works in progress in the studio

Astrid Preston’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States and Asia. She has had articles and reviews of her work published in the Los Angeles TimesArt in America and ArtForum. Preston received an NEA Fellowship Grant in Painting in 1987 and an artist residency from Lux Art Institute in 2008. Her work is held in many public and private collections, including the Orange County Museum of Art, Long Beach Museum of Art, UCLA Hammer Museum, McNay Art Museum, Oakland Museum and Nevada Museum of Art. She is represented by Craig Krull Gallery in Santa Monica.

http://astridpreston.com