Tag Archives: exhibitions

Slow Build: Mel McCuddin at Art Spirit Gallery

19 Jul

I can only imagine the courage it takes for an artist to create in front of a group of people.  Heck, even one other person would terrify me.  But at The Art Spirit Gallery in Coeur d’Alene, ID ( our hometown for just another 6 weeks ), their new featured artist for the month gives a demo on the Saturday following their opening.  It is a fantastic way to gain a real “behind the art” glimpse into the creative process!  I can’t believe it took me this long to attend one, but I’m so glad I did.  The work of Spokane artist Mel McCuddin is striking online, luminous up close, but to see it in progress was truly inspiring.

Matchmaker, oil on canvas, 52×48

Reveries, oil on canvas, 48×44

Each canvas begins as an exercise in Abstract Expressionism– it is all about the paint, texture and color.  Slowly, as formations evolve in clouds, a figure emerges on the surface.

The Old Dog, oil on canvas, 36×40

Black Dirt Farmer, oil on canvas, 48×48

McCuddin thoughtfully builds his layers, alternating patches of light and dark.  Deliberate smudging of large swaths of canvas give way to areas of delicate and careful application.

The Late Bus, oil on canvas, 52×48

His finished works are often left with an eerie glow, giving them a slightly alien quality yet they are approachable and likable.  His subjects stare back at us with curious wisdom.  You can see a slideshow of images of Mel McCuddin in action here ( Artsy Forager now has a YouTube channel! ).  His solo show can be seen at The Art Spirit Gallery in Coeur d’Alene until August 4, 2012.  I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area!

Featured image is Three in a Tub, oil on canvas, 48×52.  All images are via The Art Spirit Gallery website.

The Wild Selves: Anne Siems

24 Apr

As I mentioned before, there were certain shows I knew I wanted to see while we were in Seattle last weekend.  I’ve loved the work of Seattle artist Anne Siems since first seeing it online and was excited to get my chance to see her work up close and personal.  Her solo show, Guidance is showing at Grover Thurston Gallery, just up ( or down? Still don’t have my Seattle geography down pat ) the street from Foster/White, so away we went.

Wolf Girl, acrylic on panel, 48x48

Siems’ inspiration behind the show was the evolution of her daughter from childhood into adolescence and the idea that wild animal spirits may help children navigate their way through this transition.  In each of us there is a wild, animalistic-like spirit that, as we grow up and grow older gets buried under years of suppression and training in proper behavior.

Antler Girl, acrylic on panel, 40x52

In Siems’ work, we see children taking on historically grim expression and formal, constricting garb, reminding us of centuries of children whose innocence is lost all too soon.  Children whose natural wild spirits may fight against the constraints of social tradition and custom.

Bison Boy Drawing, mixed media on paper, 38x50

I was particularly drawn to Bison Boy ( above ), perhaps for the way the figure is isolated starkly against the white paper background.  He has been taken out of his environment, out of his element.  His garments are in the somewhat effeminate style of his era, yet his bison head & skin seem to be reminding us to not forget the wildness within.

George’s favorite work in the show was Lynx Cap ( below ), as this figure retains a sprightly, little girl expression in contrast to the other figures’ more suppressed, even haughty countenances.  She is still an innocent.

Lynx Cap, mixed media on paper with embroidery, 22x30

Guidance Tree, mixed media on panel, 48x48

I could go on and on about these and talk about every one– they are so interesting, visually and spiritually.  If you’d like to see more of Anne Siems’ work, please visit her website.  If you’re in Seattle, I highly recommend a visit to Grover Thurston to see these in person, a truly stunning show.

Featured image is Heart Branches, mixed media on panel, 30×30.  All images are via the artist’s website.

Mixing Light Into the Grey

12 Jan

None other a luminary than my husband’s man crush, Eddie Vedder said, “It’s an art to live with pain.. mix the light into the grey.” Although I don’t necessarily subscribe to the notion that all artists must suffer in order to create great work, artists have long had a way of funneling hardships endured into their work.  The result is often something extraordinary.  When diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer, Cleveland artist Arabella Proffer channelled the painful endurances of modern medical procedures into research of the remedies of the past.  The result is a new series, The National Portrait Gallery of Kessa, a collection of paintings exploring the medical procedures and superstitions of the past.

Skin of the Fox Cures the Pox, oil on linen, 16x20 ( via Lee Joseph Publicity )

Being in the midst of a Frida Kahlo biography, Arabella’s work immediately struck a chord with me.  But these aren’t remade Kahlos.  There may be a similarity in style and subject, but while Kahlo’s work dealt directly with her own experiences and emotions, Arabella instead chose to portray imaginary female subjects, creating not only a visual representation but a history and backstory for each.

Violets for Heart Veins, oil on linen, 16x20 ( via Lee Joseph Publicity )

From the artist: “After having a section of my leg removed, I began researching medicine from the Middle Ages through the 18th century; this series was a good way for me to work out my anger and be even more thankful that what I’m going through is nothing compared to old remedies and techniques. My art and interests were in the way society lived in the past, but with emphasis on the defiant, glamorous, and eccentric — not daily strife. You could have been rich, important, or beautiful, but if sick, you would still receive brutal or worthless treatment.”

Sawed, oil on linen, 16x20

Black Madonna, oil on linen, 5x7

This series, along with selected works from the Black Madonna series, are now on display in a solo exhibition, Ephemeral Antidotes at Articulated Gallery in San Francisco through February 3rd.  If you’re not in the San Fran area, be sure to check out Arabella Proffer’s website for more of her work.

Featured image is a detail from Violets For Heart Veins, oil on linen, 16×20.  All images are via that artist unless otherwise stated.

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