31 Women – March 7th: Stephanie Peek

31 Women – March 7th: Stephanie Peek

Stephanie Peek
Last Paradise II, 2016
Oil on panel
Courtesy of Satellite of Love Gallery, San Francisco

Suspended in silence, these flowers speak for me of fragile beauty and the ephemeral nature of worldly concerns. Flowers traditionally represent the intransience of life, a kind of memento mori, yet the very fact that they ever existed can afford solace and be seen as an intimation of beauty as an immortal quality. – Stephanie Peek

An Interview with Stephanie Peek

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

SP: The genesis of much of my painting is the garden of La Pietra in Florence. This Italian garden triggered memories of a garden I had known as a child. Revisiting these sites of memory in my studio, I became aware that paintings themselves could be a refuge, as gardens are in real life; they could be a site of meditation.

This romantic notion inspired my Dark Arcadia series exhibited at the Berkeley Art Museum and was furthered during my stay as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome, where I studied more Renaissance gardens. Into one of these dark paintings, I painted a loose rendering of a deep red flower from a still life by 17th Century painter Rachel Ruysch. She painted from age 15 to age 83 while raising 10 children. Her floral work is free and luscious; rich colors glow out of dark backgrounds.

In addition to floral borrowings from the Northern European tradition, I appropriate flowers, leaves, insects from many different sources, for example, the iconic magnolia from the 19th century American painter Martin Johnson Heade. I also work from direct observation and photography. 

I have also been inspired by the writings of Agnes Martin and Barbara Hepworth because they bring a spiritual dimension to their practice. Mostly, my intelligent painter friends have been the most inspiring by being both encouraging and critical.   

MKM: Where did you study? 

SP: At Wellesley College. Weekly studio classes accompanied the art history eras we were studying. For example, when studying early Italian Renaissance painters like Fra Angelico, we learned how to apply gold leaf and paint with egg tempura; when studying the Early Northern Renaissance oil painters like Van Eyck, we practiced underdrawing overlaid with layers of oil paint glazes. 

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

SP: My daily studio routine begins with a review of my previous day’s work. At the end of each day, I stick pieces of tape on the painting to remind me where to enter back into the canvas. My practice has not changed much over the years. I am less conscious of technique; just as in The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance, I keep my tools in the same place, so I don’t have to think as I reach for particular brushes or colors. But I do get a charge from new colors now and then, such as Robert Doaks’ unique paints. I stick with oil paint although I’ve worked in many different mediums, such as Japanese brushwork and watercolors.  

MKM: What is your dream project?

SP: My dream project would be to paint wall work as if I were surrounded by gardens remembered from my childhood.

Stephanie prepares her palette

Stephanie Peek is represented by Seager Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA ; Satellite of.Love, San Francisco, CA;  SFMOMA Artists Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Michelle Bello Fine Art Consulting; Sloan Miyasato, San Francisco, CA; Andra Norris Gallery, Burlingame, CA; Argazzi Art, Lakeville, CT; Jason McCoy Gallery, New York, NY; The Great Highway Gallery, San Francisco, CA

31 Women – March 6th: Jeanne Vadeboncoeur

31 Women – March 6th: Jeanne Vadeboncoeur

Jeanne Vadeboncoeur
12. Bologna, 2020
Oil on canvas

An Interview with Jeanne Vadeboncoeur

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

JV: I grew up in Cupertino, and except for a brief stint in Southern California for college, I have always lived and worked in the Bay Area. I’ve always been creative but have strong analytical side too. I think that’s why my work is so literal and precise.

MKM: Why did you pursue art?

JV: I thought that I had found the perfect blend of art and science in the field of art restoration and was heading that direction when an opportunity came my way to take a more traditional studio arts/gallery artist path. I fully admit [I’m] a path of least resistance kind of gal, and when that door opened, I went through it.

MKM: Where did you study?

JV: Laguna College of Art and Design (called Art institute of Southern California when I attended) and San Jose State University.

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

JV: [I don’t really have a routine or ritual,] except that I make huge messes. Truly bomb-went-off in the studio, tornado passed through, earthquake aftermath, kind of mess, which is very at odds with my finished work. Also, I’m much more productive at night. Working at 10am feels forced and awkward, while at 10pm I am hitting my creative stride.

Jeanne in her studio on a “fainting couch turned painting couch”. Her favorite place to work when the pieces are small enough to permit.

MKM: How has your practice changed over time?

JV: Works have gotten larger. There was a time when I considered 24” x 24” “big”. Also, I’ve embraced canvas, which I used to hate as a surface for painting on. A side effect of working large: 6 foot + hardboard panels become unwieldy and impractical.

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

JV: I focus mostly on oil and alkyds on canvas or panel. I would love to do more with paper. I have files full of papers I have collected but haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with them yet.

MKM: What themes do you pursue? 

JV: My work is very object oriented. Sometimes the objects are stand-ins for interpersonal relationships and other times they are just strict glorification of the everyday and ordinary. I like to include a touch of humor or nostalgia whenever possible.

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

JV: My reference objects. I always start each piece with an actual real-life item. If I can’t find what I want to paint – I make it. I can’t live without an audiobook playing and keeping me company in my studio. 

MKM: What has been a seminal experience?

JV: On a personal level I think making that leap to paint larger than life has had a massive impact on my work. Outside myself, the Daily Painters or Painting-A –Day movement, though I never participated in it, really opened my eyes to how everyday mundane items could make interesting paintings. 

MKM: What art do you most identify with?

JV: Anything narrative, but you have to work for it. Nothing too literal, but just enough of a hint of a story.

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

JV: Surfaces. I love figuring out how to recreate the illusion of a given surface. 

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

JV: Wendy Pini. She is the artist and co-creator of an independent comic called Elf-Quest. I don’t quite know how she fits in the pantheon of woman artists in an art history context, but I do know I can credit her for single handedly launching me from a child who liked art to self-actualized artist. 

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

JV: Most of my female role models have been familial or literary­. [For example, in my family I admire] the strength and endurance of my librarian paternal grandmother who went back to school for a masters while raising 10 kids. I remember visiting her at the Stanford Medical Library and being shown ancient texts that required gloves to handle. Literary role models were found in the “sheroes” created by Tamora Piece, Joan Aiken, Mercedes Lackey, and Anne McCaffrey. The characters I connected most to were tough, independent, problem-solving girls and women.

31 Women – March 5th: Julia Jensen

31 Women – March 5th: Julia Jensen

Julia Jensen
It Simply Spills Over, 2019               
Oil on panel

An Interview with Julia Jensen

MKM: Tell me about your childhood? Were you always creative?

JJ: I grew up outside of Boston in a big old New England house. One of my indelible memories is making a small drawing of a horse’s head; I was in second grade. My mother just loved the drawing, so much so that she made it into an embroidery design. I was very impressed by the fact that my mother was pleased and made such a fuss. From that moment on I was the artist in the family. 

MKM: Where did you study?

JJ: Later in high school I moved away from art because it seemed like play and not something that one should pursue in any meaningful way. That attitude continued into college and I seriously thought I would be a math major. My sophomore year I discovered Art History. A dark room at the end of the day, it was like going to the movies and I loved it. Art history lead me back into painting and once again I discovered a very cool professor who was only a few years older than me. She introduced us to the art community in New Orleans, which at the time was not a city known for a very vibrant arts scene but underground there was a lot going on. We would take outings to galleries and her friends’ studios. It dawned on me that art could be a way of life, a living community. Unfortunately, since I was well into junior year, I didn’t have time to pull off a studio major. I graduated on time but with a degree in Art History.

After college I moved back to Boston and worked in galleries and took painting classes at the Museum School. Working in galleries was a great way to be fully immersed in the contemporary conversations around art. I was exposed to the very broad range of what was happening. There were many conversations, styles and interests. 

Julia’s studio

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

JJ: I think like everyone, I experimented with different styles and mediums. But to really learn to use paint, [when I began painting], I needed to work with realism. I needed some kind of external measure. During this early time, I was interested in work by realist painters, Edward Manet, Andrew Wyeth and of course Georgia O’Keeffe. All of these artists were working in realism, but they seemed to be hinting at the influence of something just beyond the canvas, something unseen.

MKM: What themes do you pursue?

JJ: What I am most interested in exploring in my work is a sense of mystery.  I am not bold enough to find my way into the mystery in a direct way.  I have been on a path from observing the outside world and am finding myself now turning inward. I have this whole vocabulary that I have developed over time that references the landscapes around me. What I am striving to do is use those shapes and gestures to evoke mood, emotion, psychological space as opposed to actual spaces.

MKM: What art do you most identify with? What inspires you? Other artists, other women from history, your process, a theme?

JJ: I am drawn to painters who manage to find the threshold between representation and abstraction. I love expressive color held together in compositions that have some kind of resonance, response and perhaps resemblance to the world around me, Madeline Denaro, Eric Aho, Connie Hayes are a few of the painters I turn to again and again for inspiration.

Julia’s studio

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

JJ: At the moment, I am utterly fascinated with Hilma af Klint and a number of previously ignored early 20th century women artists like Emma Kunz and Georgina Houghton. All of these painters worked by channeling disembodied spirits. They saw their work as art, but also perhaps more significantly as messages from an unseen source. They were completely dismissed by their peers, but what they were bringing forth were completely original responses to internal worlds. 

It makes sense to me that women are the source for this kind of work and that it would happen outside of any kind of movement or officially sanctioned group. I think that since these women were ignored, they were completely free to follow their instinct and were able to be honest in the way only an outsider can be. Their work is iconoclastic and seems to be born in another time, before any abstract work was appearing anywhere by either men or women. It popped up out of nowhere and referenced nothing that had come before it.

At the risk of sounding grandiose, it is this deep connection to myself and perhaps even something beyond myself that I am trying to explore in my art. I don’t however want it to be a solitary exercise. I want to be able to connect with others through my paintings.  So, I continue to include references to the external world to give others a path in. Using landscape as jumping off point also gives me a handrail into the process. I have tried to paint completely non-objectively  and just find that I am at a loss, the process becomes arbitrary. I need to have some kind of structure and for the time being landscape is what is serving me.

Julia at work

31 Women – March 4th: Jennifer Pochinski

31 Women – March 4th: Jennifer Pochinski

Jennifer Pochinski                           
La Vie en Rose, 2019                        
Oil on canvas         

Jennifer Pochinski

Jennifer Pochinski is a Northern California based figurative artist. Raised in Hawaii, she earned a BFA from the University of Hawaii and spent much of her young adulthood traveling to the UK and Europe, finally settling near Athens Greece in 2003. In late 2010, she and her two children relocated to California.

Men, women and groups of people captured in moments from everyday life are the subject matter of Pochinski’s paintings. In a chorus of colors, lines and shapes, her paintings are unrestrained and energized, but reflect the discipline of a productive daily practice. She tells us “My studio practice is considered a ‘space to fail’. I have no specific method for painting. As with most ‘expressive’ painting it is never a linear process.” 

Pochinski’s paintings are intuitive and honest, balancing energetic, gestural brushstrokes with human narrative. For many years Pochinski has collected photographic imagery – figures, environments and historical paintings to provide information that she cannot get in life, leading her to discover her subjects as she paints. Her improvisation and freedom in using the brush to grab color to define and describe, make overriding marks to correct or emphasize, reveals “being in the moment”. With this spontaneity and authenticity she creates the characters within her paintings like an author, each day “writing” something that feels true to her, at the end putting it together to make a story. 

The stories of other women artists inspire Pochinski. While reading Ninth Street Women, she was reminded of her love for the work of Lee Krasner, which in person always “stops her in her tracks.” In particular she recalls a story about Krasner being so fed up with her work, she ripped up the canvases and shed them on the floor. A few days later Krasner came back to her studio and found them together looking like collages and it set her on a new, powerful path. In dealing with the emotion that comes when something doesn’t work, it heartens Pochinski to be reminded that “some good can happen when you get to the brink!”

Jennifer Pochinski is represented by Dolby Chadwick, San Francisco; b. sakata garo, Sacramento; Tregony Gallery, UK; and Baker Schorr Fine Art, Midland, Texas. 

31 Women – March 3rd: Rozanne Hermelyn

31 Women – March 3rd: Rozanne Hermelyn

Rozanne Hermelyn
Unrepeated, 2020
Monoprint, oil on paper

“They say identical, but we are not. They say interchangeable, but we are individual.”

Unrepeated honors human diversity and expresses the tension and duality between what is universal and what is unique. As with every human life, no one-paint stroke is exactly the same. We may all share a common form, but we differ in race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, skills, and many other attributes. Collectives have flourished because of the innovative alchemy that occurs when diverse people and ideas merge to collaborate and create. However, in many diverse cultures the history of intolerance is long and callous. To heal intolerance, it is critical to develop prosocial skills like empathy and forgiveness, to cultivate relationships across differences, and to value individuality. Diverse communities thrive when they appreciate and protect what is universal and unique. – RH

Rozanne Hermelyn is a San Francisco Bay Area artist working in printmaking and mixed media. Since she can remember, she has painted, drawn and followed her passion for the arts. Hermelyn tells us “I’ve been creative every day most of my life. It’s like breathing – not a want, but a need.”

Growing up in Los Angeles, Hermelyn attended UCLA and Art Center College of Design, receiving a BA in design and BFA in graphic and package design, with distinction. She moved to San Francisco to begin her career and within five years became owner of Arc & Line Communications.

After twenty years in her successful design business, Hermelyn has now transitioned to focus full-time on fine art. She has been awarded Best of Show and 1st place in numerous exhibitions, her work is shown nationally and abroad, and can be found in the permanent collections of the Harvard Art Museums and the Library of Congress.
Rozanne at the Boston Printmakers 2019 North American Biennial. The Boston Printmakers 2019 North American Print Biennial presents the best in contemporary and traditional printmaking, and has long been recognized as one of the most prestigious events in printmaking. Her piece, “Facts Are Stubborn Things“, was selected to be the featured work to promote the event. “Facts Are Stubborn Things” was acquired into the permanent collection of the Harvard Art Museums.

31 Women  – Artist Interview with Rozanne Hermelyn

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

RH: I was born in an English colony called British Guyana in South America. My mother is Portuguese and my father is Dutch and Chinese. My parents moved our family to Los Angeles for education opportunities when I was one. You could say my life was that of a stereotypical “California Girl”; school and beach on the weekdays, and beach and work on the weekends. For my college years, I lived in Westwood, studied at UCLA and explored the Hollywood scene. Two years after graduation, I went back to art school at Art Center College of Design. Both were very exciting and explorative times in my life.

MKM: Were you always creative? 

RH: My mother was an amazing and talented fashion designer and seamstress, so I was surrounded by creative energy my entire life. I remember drawing a lot when I was young and making my own clothes with her through middle school. Around 12 years old, I dragged my entire family to the Getty Museum to see the Queen’s edition drawings by Leonardo Di Vinci. Soon after, I begged my mom to let me take the life drawing class at the adult education center where she took a painting class next door. I recall being the only youth in the class and I would sit in the front row without any thought, just like a pro. I laugh now because it would not be allowed today. 

MKM: Why did you pursue art?

RH: After a very successful career in design, I felt it was time to speak with my own voice. 

MKM: Where did you study?

RH: I enrolled in UCLA as a math major to appease my father, but a year and half later, I secretly applied to the Design department. I ended up graduating in design without him even realizing it. Actually to this day, I have never even told him about that. After graduating, I worked for a few LA design agencies. I soon learned the fastest way to get where I wanted was to go back to art school because, of course, I wanted to be a top creative director. I was so motivated that I again secretly applied to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Believe it or not, Art Center would not allow me to enter a Masters program because they did not accept the BA design degree I received from UCLA. I was required to enter the undergraduate program again to earn a BFA. At the time, I didn’t care what I had to do. Fortunately, they allowed me to enter as a sophomore, which was never heard of at the time, with a full scholarship. 

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

RH: There is no routine in my creative process, especially in the conceptual initial phase. Sometimes an idea will come from experiences or contemplating the daily news. Sometimes it’s during a run, or in the state when I’m half awake, or in the shower. Sometimes it develops in an instant, or in a few days, or at times over years. I need to visualize the image first in my head, and it often develops right away, or sometimes over time like slow motion viewing. With every project it seems there are times I just hate the piece so I have learned to walk away, to absorb, stew, stew some more, and then jump back in. I can’t say how or when but my work always seems to need time to percolate and just become. 

MKM: How has your practice changed over time? 

RH: I have learned to accept and trust the images in my head and also the surprises that happen along the way. It’s all about following my gut that always leads.

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

RH: I wasn’t trained as a “fine artist” in art school, but I have always studied life drawing and much later, oil painting. At some point, I came upon a book about Russian-American painter Sergei Bongart whose work just spoke to me. I would study the small red book I found with his recorded lessons. I remember his words “There are two kinds of artists, the emotional painter and academician…The academician always creates something acceptable, boring, but acceptable. The emotional artist often misses, but when he/she hits, it is breathtakingly beautiful…touched by the gods!” It all made sense to me, that a great painting should express an emotional message, and that the emotional connection was equally important as color relationships and values, painting passages, and modeling light. This drew me toward the monoprint printmaking technique that I love. Every stroke and mark made is recorded and the process is full of unknown surprises.

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

That’s easy, my hands and eyes, but it would be difficult to live without my etching press.

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

RH: Today, I am most proud of my “Facts are Stubborn Things”. It might be because it’s my newest piece. The image speaks of my worst frustration of today’s struggle between facts and truths. Rather than factual evidence, today unwelcome truths have become the narrative of reality. Facts have become overwhelmed by false information so it’s difficult to believe that the truth will overcome. Trust has been lost to fear. 

What has been a seminal experience? 

My mother’s death was a seminal experience. It marks the first time I entered a series of monoprint paintings into a juried show that won the Best of Show award for the exhibition. The images portrayed moments of the experience and suffering that comes with terminal cancer. They were my tribute and my final goodbye to my mother. 

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

Sadness, fear, anger, happiness and joy inspire me. The emotional connection when making, seeing and experiencing art is universal. It is what makes art, art.

Do you have a sense of connection to a particular woman artist from art history? Is there a specific work from this artist that you find interesting? 

I feel most connected to the pop art movement, maybe because of my design background. I appreciate the hidden messages, graphic contemporary style, use of typography and simplicity of image. Idelle Weber, an American pop artist, who later switched to photorealism, is known for her figurative silhouette paintings with bright colors (think Mad Men) and later her photorealist trash and litter work. She also went through phases of monotype works and collage. I really appreciate how she reinvented herself/work from one extreme to the other. Corita Kent also did some interesting things. She was a LA pop art screen print artist in the 50s and 60s, she juxtaposed ads, street signs, billboards with poetry, scripture and song lyrics, transforming them to hopeful messages and call for action. I love anything type.

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

I respect Angelina Jolie because she’s owned her bad-girl reputation while growing into an amazing humanitarian, aiding those in need and traveling to visit those suffering in places like Pakistan, Kosovo and Syria. She confronted her risk for cancer publically and then became a poster woman for breast cancer-related issues. Did I mention, I was the ‘bad girl’ of our family, following in my older brother’s foot-steps. My two sisters were rule followers while I was forging my own path.

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

Don’t waste your time and energy convincing yourself you can’t do something, instead spend that energy doing it. Believe you can and it will happen.

31 Women – March 2nd: Carla Goldberg

31 Women – March 2nd: Carla Goldberg

An Interview with Carla Goldberg

MKM: Tell me about your childhood, where did you grow up? Were you always creative?
CG: I grew up in a retirement condo with my grandparents in Palm Springs California. I have been making art since I was four, and in fact have known I was going to be an artist since then. I blame it on a Bugs Bunny episode where Bugs is running away from that big red furry monster and at one point blends into the background dressed as a french artist. I remember asking my grandma what he was doing and she explained and I said I want to do that. Then I begged her for paints and canvas, a french beret and smock and art classes non-stop. I was either very persuasive or just broke her down. She was amazing and supportive. She took me to the only art class she could find. An adult painting class 2 bus transfers away at the WMCA. She convinced them to let me in at only four years old. I behaved when I had a paintbrush in hand.

MKM: Why did you pursue art?
CG: I paint in my sleep, so it isn’t something I can ignore. I don’t just dream of making art. I wake often with my arm in the air painting the air. I once gave myself a black eye when my hand that only moments earlier was hovering in the air with me wondering why it was up there came down smack on my eye in the moment of acknowledgment that that was weird.

MKM: Where did you study?
CG: University of Redlands- Johnston Center for Integrative Studies, with Honors. An incredible program where you don’t get traditional grades but rather evaluations and you evaluate the professors. You can create your own classes as well. I had gone through every art class they had by the end of my junior year so my senior year all the art classes we projects I worked with one on one with my professors. It was the beginning of a lifetime of chasing ideas and experimenting. I still had a great foundation in classical art studies but was able to accelerate learning down this path of experimentation that last year. For my MFA I found another program similar to Johnston at MICA Mount Royal School of Art where experimentation was emphasized.

MKM: Memorable teachers?
CG: I’ve been really lucky to have a slew of teachers that took me seriously and really supported me or changed the way I think. The two professors that probably had the most profound effect on me were Sal Scarpita and Babe Shapiro, my professors at MICA. They would have these fights over my work. One would love it and the other hated it. Seriously loud debates. So I’d listen and change things and they would switch places. The one who loved my work would then hate it. After a year of this I was so frustrated I broke down in front of them. I lost it for the first time ever balling my eyes out crying I can’t please you both! I don’t know what I’m doing! But suddenly had the revelation that they were playing with me trying to get me to learn to listen to my own voice and stop painting to please others. That it doesn’t matter who likes or doesn’t like my work. It was a profound moment that allowed me to finally own my own work and creative voice. I am forever in their debt for that. Turns out they actually both liked my work. Those little devils!

MKM: When you’re creating what’s your daily routine? Rituals, patterns?
CG: Coffee!!!! A must and plenty of it. When I am finally ready to work, it’s usually around 2pm. I am a late night kind of person. I’ll take a break to cook a nice dinner but I start work again around 10 pm and work till around 3 am. It’s quiet then. No phones ringing, no one asking me for anything. Total undisturbed time to think full thoughts to their logical end, plenty of time to make art. I get at least 8 hours of work in most days. I also take some days, or between waiting for work to dry, to work on PR or searching venues, galleries, exhibitions opportunities. I am rarely doing nothing.

MKM: How has your practice changed over time?
CG: Obviously when my kids were babies and really young, I could not stay up late so I would drop them off to school and work till pick up. It never felt right. It was always this fight with my internal circadian clock. But some things never changed. I was always chasing ideas and experimenting with materials. My children would experiment with me too. I’d often have art materials out ready for them to use along with me.

MKM: Do you focus on a specific medium or combination of mediums? Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
CG: I work with a lot of unlikely materials. Many have industrial applications. Most of my work is put together with resin and plexiglas usually figures in the work because of its ability to give support to the work but also kind of disappear if I want it to. I am very interested in encaustic but haven’t had a chance to try it yet. I’m also really interested in gelatin prints. You literally print on a sheet of jello. I did a lot of printmaking in college and gelatin prints allows you to print without a press, leaving you really portable and they are one of a kind works on paper.

MKM: What themes do you pursue?
Some of my work is political when it deals with the environment and I pull in remnants from the homebuilding industry. I try to rescue as much plexi as possible from going into the dump and often pick up remnants that my supplier has saved for me. Themes weigh more heavily in the memory of water and the preciousness of water. We are all conned by water across this whole planet. We are mostly water ourselves. Since I experiment so much and have a new series every year, I need something that ties all the work together. Keeping the subject about the memory of water allows for a lot of varied materials, yet does pull it together via theme. I recently had my 10th anniversary at BAU Gallery where I do my experimenting each year, and presented a retrospective of those experiments.

MKM: What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
CG: Probably my level. If I want a good resin pour, my plexi had better be level. Resin is like juggling honey. It’s going to go to the lowest spot, so that level is key to having it stay where I pour it. Also important is my blowtorch. Without that, I will have cloudy resin. The blowtorch removes bubbles.

MKM: What inspires you? Other artists, other women from history, your process, a theme?
CG: I tend to be more influenced by the artists around me currently making art. It’s a rift on ideas in conversations or sharing information, discoveries, just bouncing ideas off of each other. Some of my favorite time, especially when stuck trying to figure out my next series, is getting together with fellow artists (mostly women) for breakfast, just spending the whole morning and afternoon talking. I am refreshed and energized after a day like that. It’s important to have community and a sense of camaraderie. Making art can be a lonely experience. I don’t let that happen.

MKM: Do you have a sense of connection to a particular woman artist from art history? Is there a specific work from this artist that you find interesting?
CG: Yayoi Kusama and her infinity work with all those polka dots is very inspiring. The Queen of Polka Dots! My own seafoam drawings are comprised of hundreds of thousands of micro polka dots, so I gotta love Kusama. She was so experimental and such a fighter in her early career. Always having to fight against sexism in Japan and in the heart of the NY Art scene. Men stealing her ideas and taking the credit. Her eventual rise to absolute dominance is something truly astounding to me. How did it happen? I think her talent was just too big to be ignored forever. Her dedication to her daily routine despite her challenges is something I deeply feel akin to. I also struggle with health issues and honestly, art keeps me going. I admire Helen Frankenthaler’s stain paintings. Again it’s someone who experiments and thinks out of the box that paint can be stain and canvas can be raw. That’s exciting to me. I also use a lot of stains and pooling of paint. I also feel a connection to Agnes Martin’s minimalist paintings which to me are these tiny lines of humanity. They force you to concentrate on the tiniest lines of the imperfect human hand in a field of order. Pattern, texture and light is what I see in her work. Although my lines are looser, my work is about line, pattern, light and shadow.

MKM: Who are your female role models from history or present day?
CG: Lisa Zukowski is a friend of mine and she is a master of every medium she touches. She is an artist who has taught me so much, helped me to get a backbone in business, taught me how to hang shows and run a gallery, as well as how to put a show together. She doesn’t even realize how much of a mentor she is to me. I admire her art. Her talent. Her no nonsense approach. She is one of the artists who I love to get together with and bounce ideas around with her.

MKM: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
CG: Don’t give others power over your emotions or your self worth. This is a business. If they say no, don’t give up. NEXT! Move on and find a yes. Keep building. Make your own projects. Think out of the box. Reapply with better work.

Carla Goldberg presenting an installation of her work

31 Women – March 1st: Linda Christensen

31 Women – March 1st: Linda Christensen

Opening March 1st and on view through April 12th, 2020, Whitney Modern Gallery @whitneymodern is pleased to present 31 Women, an exhibition curated by Marianne McGrath @theartistcollector with Karen Gutfreund @karengutfreundart and Suzanne Whitney-Smedt @whitneymodern.  31 Women celebrates the work of 31 female artists, one woman for each day in the month of March, in honor of Women’s History Month. Women’s History Month annually commemorates women’s contributions to history, culture and society throughout the United States.

Highlighted individually throughout the exhibition are each artist’s process and inspiration, as well as her sense of connection to women in history and art history. Along with the show at Whitney Modern, artists will be featured on social media, blogs, websites and in the gallery – one woman a day for the month of March. This aspect of the show is intended to be a virtual exhibition that will be available to those out of the area, and it provides an opportunity to focus on a particular woman artist, emphasizing her unique practice and contributions to the art community. 

ONE WOMAN A DAY begins today, March 1st with LINDA CHRISTENSEN

Linda Christensen
Picnic, 2019
Oil on canvas

As a California Bay Area native, Linda Christensen has always drawn inspiration and serenity from her natural surroundings, especially the coast. In her evocative paintings of ocean landscapes and domestic interiors, Christensen pays homage to the universality of human emotion. More than merely observing the figure, the viewer is invited to sympathize with the subject. Christensen states: “It is not enough to simply observe; we understand ourselves and others through feeling, through checking in emotionally. As a child I was always in tune with the subtle shifts in mood of those around me and this sensitive observation of strangers has continued to inspire my work as an artist.”

Linda Christensen is represented by Gail Severn Gallery, Sue Greenwood Fine Art, Winfield Gallery and Stremmel Gallery. Her work is prized in numerous public and private collections across the United States.

Excerpts from an interview with Linda Christensen

MKM: Tell me about your childhood? Were you always creative? Where did you study?

LC: I grew up with lots of coloring and drawing. The line drawings from coloring books were my first exposure to the beauty of line. I also scribbled and filled in with color as my way of experimenting with abstract shapes. I was very observant of people too and learned about what was going on in the world when I couldn’t make sense of the generalized information my parents gave me. 

I studied art at San Jose Sate but tabled ideas of becoming an artist when I married a law student and began working full time in clerical work in San Francisco. I finished my art degree at UC Santa Cruz in the late 1980s.

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

LC: My daily routine is to create an environment that is calming and also entertaining.  Studio work is isolating and can become tedious at times. I learned early on that black and white movies with simple plots provided a contrast to the pigments of my palette. The velvety grey-scale, deep shadows and single camera angles of the old movies are some of the elements that have informed my work. The day must be set up as to feel limitless with time as well as supplies, and someone else to make dinner. Everything is in abundance including a cabinet full of paint and a 6ft long glass palette. 

MKM: How has your practice changed over time?

LC: In the past I thought nothing of having several paintings in progress at one time but now I have more reverence for what I’m doing in that I care about following the story to the end, independently. Each painting is a novel and I want to remember what happened in last week or month and stay curious and loyal to the process to the end. I’m still trying to figure out what the work is about and with painting one painting at a time I can better hear myself. 

MKM: What would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?

I am still fascinated with the printed line. I would like to figure out a way of incorporating the delicate look of a printed line with an oil painting. I would also like to try a larger format. I work up to a 6×5 but I would like to work larger than that. 

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

LC: I can’t live without a palette knife. It frees up the work when used, making my marks less controlled and it keeps the color from mixing when working wet in wet. I use the palette knife for mixing color on my 6ft. palette and use it to apply paint onto the canvas as well. It’s rough and sloppy but I can grasp the illusion of a hand or a face, which keeps me from getting too detailed. The image is not about getting everything correct but about getting the emotional content expressed. I also can’t live without my small oil pastels in black and white. Sometimes I use a blue. For a quick line addition, I love the pastel. It’s a chance to bring in the direct application of the artist’s hand at work. It feels especially intimate. 

MKM: What do you like best about working in oils?

LC: I like to build up the surface of the work and scrape back and remove paint too. Oil paint represents butter to me… and when I’m resistant to going into the studio I imagine just putting butter on toast.

Studio visit photo – Linda’s 6 foot palette, up close

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

LC: Watching people inspires me. I can see glimpses of the human condition if I wait for it. I instinctively observe people, but I also use art books for reference and inspiration, I follow people on social media, I observe myself, and I have recently started hiring a model to come to the studio. I attend art conferences to hear and see other artists and their work; I love talking with other artists

Gabriele Munter was a woman I wrote a paper on during college. I was impressed by her ability to use black and the use of line. Munter was married to artist husband, Wasily Kandinsky and found it difficult to be recognized in her own right as a painter.  I had a similar situation [in the past] being married to a criminal attorney. Graduating with an art degree was considered a frivolous undertaking and I was encouraged to instead go for a degree in education. 

Squeak Carnwath is another artist that I admire. Her work is deeply personal and is based on her childhood. She also lets her political views be known and incorporates them into her work. I am inspired by Joan Mitchell for her abstract work and Dorothea Lang for her ability to capture the emotion of the time through photography. 

31 Women

Opening March 1st and on view through April 12th, 2020, Whitney Modern Gallery is pleased to present 31 Women, an exhibition curated by Marianne McGrath with Karen Gutfreund and Suzanne Whitney-Smedt. 31 Women celebrates the work of 31 female artists in honor of Women’s History Month. Women’s History Month annually commemorates women’s contributions to history, culture and society throughout the United States. 2020 is an especially exciting and powerful year for women as it is also the 100th anniversary of the 19thAmendment, which granted the right to vote to women in the United States. 

Highlighted individually throughout the exhibition are each artist’s process and inspiration, as well as her sense of connection to women in history and art history. Along with the show at Whitney Modern, artists will be featured on social media, blogs, websites and in the gallery – one woman each day for the month of March. This aspect of the show is intended to be a virtual exhibition that will be available to those out of the area, and it provides an opportunity to focus on a particular woman artist, emphasizing her unique practice and contributions to the art community. 

Exhibiting artists from the Bay Area and beyond include: Shannon Amidon, Elizabeth Barlow, Marie Cameron, Linda Christensen, Jennifer Cole, Sara V. Cole, Kim Frohsin, Karen Gallagher-Iverson, Carla Goldberg, Michelle Greggor, Laura Gurton, Christine Hayman, Ellen Heck, Rozanne Hermelyn, Kelsey Irvin, Ivy Jacobsen, Julia Jensen, Pantea Karimi, Sherry Karver, Michelle Mansour, Brigitte McReynolds, Lisa Noonis, Sandy Ostrau, Stephanie Peek, Jennifer Pochinski, Astrid Preston, Carole Rafferty, Sawyer Rose, Jeanne Vadeboncoeur, Josette Urso, and Elena Zolotnisky. 

The opening event for 31 Women will take place at Whitney Modern on Sunday,  March 8th, International Women’s Day, from 12:00noon – 4:00pm. For more event information please contact Suzanne Whitney-Smedt at Whitney Modern Gallery  (408) 402-5922.

Marianne McGrath is an art historian, independent curator and consultant. After a successful decade with New Museum Los Gatos and The Museums of Los Gatos curating exhibits and presenting art and education programs, Marianne founded MKM Art Consulting, which offers curatorial projects and consulting services to art institutions, galleries and artists. Marianne holds a BA degree in Art, MA degree in Art History and her professional affiliations include ArtTable, College Art Association and the Women’s Caucus for Art. mkmARTconsulting.com

Suzanne Smedt is director/owner of Whitney Modern Gallery. Since opening more than two years ago, Whitney Modern has become Silicon Valley’s Contemporary Fine Art Gallery, fulfilling the need for high quality fine art in the South Bay. Whitney Modern is committed to engaging the community through the creative experience by showcasing thought provoking, collectible works of art from internationally recognized, mid-career and emerging contemporary fine artists. 

Karen Gutfreund is a curator, exhibition director and art consultant, as well as an artist. Her focus is “art as activism” to create dialog and social change; a strong focus is promoting women in the arts through national exhibitions. Karen has worked in the Painting & Sculpture Department for MoMA, the Andre Emmerick Gallery, The Knoll Group, the John Berggruen Gallery, Arc Gallery and the Pacific Art League. Karen is a member of ArtTable, CAA, the Women’s Caucus for Art and The Feminism Art Project (TFAP).