An Artist's Life

Third Annual Exhibition
Exhibition Coordinator: George A. Rada

The Broome Street Gallery
498 Broome Street
New York NY 10013
Sept 16 - 28, 2003

 
Amy Banker Studio
Studio © 2003 NYAW.co

 

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Palette 2003

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Palette 2003
 
Lucy Sky Diamonds
 
Quiet Zone
 
Quiet Zone
 
U.S. Bicentennial
 
Nude High Stool
 
Eating Commercial Street
 
Road VII
     
The Sunbather
 
The Travellers
 
Red Hook Pier
 
Lincoln Center
 
The Pink Building
 
Figure Mark Lerer
      Boots II  
Central Park
  Glass Door   Pastis Myron Heise      

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Gallery Exhibitions Index

 
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
by Ronald De Nota
Oil on Canvas
48" X40"
 
The Quiet Zone
by George A. Rada
Oil on Canvas
25" X 28"
 
Edith
by Ken McConney
Oil on Canvas
40" X 30"
 
U.S. Bicentennial
by Joseph Catuccio
Ink on Paper
28" X 30"
 
Nude on High Stool
by Claire Clark
Clay Sculpture
21" X 07" X 08"
 
Eating at 401 1/2 Commercial Street, Provinceton
by Steve Sandler
Acrylic on Canvas
 
Road VII
by Jacqueline Joy Sferra
Acrylic on Gessoed Paper
24" X 30"
 

 

 
The Sunbather
by Jessica Mieles
Watercolor
18" X 24"
 
The Travellers
by Robert Casper
Medium
40" X 54"
 
The Red Hook Pier on A Sunny Day
by Regina Perlin
Oil on Canvas
 
Lincoln Center
by Julia Foote
Medium
10" X 12"
 
The Pink Building
by Johanna Lisi
Oil on Canvas
16" X 20"
 
Figure
by Mark Lerer
Pencil on Paper
14" X 17"
     
Boots II
by Patricia Rendleman
Acrylic in on Canvas
26" X 28"
 
Central Park
by Alice Grisant
Watercolor
 
Glass Door
by John Garufi
Medium
48" X 32"
 
Pastis
by Myron Heise
Oil on Canvas
24" X 30"
     

An Artist's Life . . . Creativity tells of the artist's uniqueness, their struggle with their own creativity, how inspiration comes and goes, and the courage it takes to be a genuine artist seeking to create significant art.
. . . Click on the artists image to view more work by that artist . . .

An Artist's Life
a show of paintings, drawings, and sculpture are on view at the
The Broome Street Gallery
498 Broome Street at West Broadway, Soho, NYC 10003
Dates: September 16 thru September 28, 2003.
Participating Artists
Robert Casper
Joseph Catuccio
Claire Clark
Ronald De Nota
Julia Foote
John Garufi

Alice Grisant
Myron Heise
Mark Lerer
Johanna Lisi
Ken McConney

Jessica Mieles
Regina Perlin
George A. Rada
Pat Rendleman
Steve Sandler
Jacqueline Sferra Rada

   

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The Artist's Life

by Don Gray © 1994

Rembrandt dies in near bankruptcy at age 63, Rubens in wealth and esteem at the same age. Van Gogh, utterly without hope that his art will ever be understood, shoots himself in the stomach at age 37. Picasso dies an extremely wealthy nonagenarian. Such are some artists' fates.

Despite the common humanity linking all people, artists are a different breed. They spend a lifetime, as surrogates of mankind's quest for meaning, truth and beauty, translating into art their feelings and observations of the world that non-artists note only in passing.

While art's importance to civilization is well recognized, you can't eat art, sleep on it, keep the rain off with it, or drive it to Toledo. This "impracticality" -- the essentially poetic, spiritual basis of art, and humanity's lack of artistic understanding -- sets artists apart from the rest of the world.

In extreme cases, such separateness can result in isolation, conflict and death. In a more pleasant scenario (not without its own pitfalls), the artist may be elevated to culture hero if fortunate and his work supports the positive or negative beliefs of the leaders of society.

A profound, poetic society, spiritually developed and humanistic, may recognize a Michelangelo, a Bernini. If the leaders are materialistic and nihilistic, then artists with those characteristics will gain fame and riches. It is also true that great artists can arise spontaneously, independent of social climate.

 

In most cases, artists trudge through life in a middle-of-the-road existence, exercising financial brinkmanship. Or they cave in to the fashions of the day, turning out products to meet art market demand.

A well-known New York art dealer once said, "If Rembrandt walked into my gallery today, I couldn't (translation: 'wouldn't') give him a show."

The "reasoning" behind this absurd statement was that the dealer already had too many artists (the universal gallery excuse for not taking on serious artists. To which we might reply, "Yes, you have too many artists. Too many lousy artists. Make room for some good ones.").

The dealer's other reason was that Rembrandt was too "hot", expressing intense feelings in his work, while the dealer only exhibited -- and could only accept psychologically -- the "cold" art of pop, minimalism and photo-realism.

The genuine artist's challenge is two-fold. First, is the immense, life-long effort to develop and evolve a significant vision that expresses both his feelings and those of his era in the context of timeless human experience. Then, once the work has been created, begins the task of getting it out in the world, trying to make gallery people and collectors understand what has been achieved.


There is no doubt that the genuine artist -- not the run-of-the-mill commercial hack -- is ahead of his time, is the point-man for his society. Most of humanity is at least a generation behind the greatest artists. The irony and horror, of course, is that, with amazing regularity, these bringers of truth are condemned or ignored by their contemporaries out of fear or ignorance. Fear of the insights and inherent changes the artist is bearer of, and ignorance of their timeless implications.

Great artists' clarity of vision shreds the fads and fashions that are the substitute for thinking in any era. Once safely dead and hallowed by history and myth, their artistic and spiritual truths can be cautiously approached, digested and integrated.

But significant, living artists are a threat to the aesthetic, psychological and financial status quo. Who wants a Van Gogh or Cezanne in their rough workmen's clothes barging into a posh auction house to question what is going on with multi-million dollar prices for paintings they could only sell in their lifetimes for a pittance, if they could sell them at all?

One sometimes hears the vile nonsense, clearly an ignorant rationalization, that it is better for artists to suffer because it forces them to work, to produce better work. As if the artist is a freak or subhuman species that doesn't feel the way "real" human beings do.

Artists who happen to be poor, like Van Gogh, produce IN SPITE of the hellish strain of not knowing where the next franc or dollar is coming from, not because of it. Think of a syphilitic, homesick, 55-year-old Gauguin dying in the tropical Marquesas, the last painting on his easel, a snow-covered, thatch-roofed Breton cottage later turned upside down at a sale of studio contents and sold as a waterfall by a smart-aleck auctioneer.

 

Was Gauguin better off as an artist and human being because of his suffering? Not likely. Would any comfortable middle to upper-middle to upper class individual or family want to trade places with him? Not likely.

"Where do we get such men?," wonders actor Frederic March, as the admiral in the movie "Bridges at Toko-Ri", about the fliers on his aircraft carrier as they roar off in their jets, having left civilian life behind to fight in the Korean War.

Such a question can as justifiably be asked of the men and women throughout history who devote their lives, as long as they can hold out, to the search for, and expression of, the timeless truths by which humanity must live if we are to remain sane and humane.

In a world concerned with financial issues, power, prestige, keeping up with appearances and the status quo conventions of life, what kind of people are these artists who are willing to go off in a completely different direction, that few non-artists will ever understand, in order to express the poetry in their souls that echoes the poetry they see in the common things of daily life and the infinite spaces between the stars?

These magnificent artists do not, cannot -- could not -- live by bread alone. They seek a clue, a link, a oneness with the greatness of life, of nature and of man through forms and images in paint and stone as true as the world itself. What a compelling, rewarding and dangerous task this is.

by Don Gray © 1994

 

The Artist's Life, Creativity

by Don Gray © 1994

The artist is fundamentally alone in the creative process, whether he/she is supported and encouraged by other artists and lovers of art, or is solitary. The inner drama, the complex ebb and flow of feelings, hints and glimpses of images and ideas, the inner drive, urges, promptings and doubts -- the often fierce, undeniable, gut-deep need to create -- are those of individual artists alone, that they must somehow deal with through visions of the beauty and torment of the world.

Artists are meant to probe heaven and hell, good and evil, beauty and ugliness -- the full dimension of life on earth, humanity's relations with itself, with nature, with God, and the universe, as their personal needs and interests dictate.

The creative urge may be difficult to define, but all artists know it, have experienced it to greater or lesser degree. Its insistence will not let you be. You have to act on it, as you would any other profound physical or emotional need.

Whether tired or ill, discouraged or otherwise wounded, the artist goes to his easel to assuage the force within demanding that he act, demanding its release, demanding its expression.

Because this creativity is so much a part of the artist, to deny it would be like denying a lung or kidney permission to function. No wonder artists have spoken of their "muse" or, more forcefully, their "demon." The demands that the fundamental creative drive makes on human beings are not light and casual ones. It is a force to be reckoned with (this is not to say that artists can never rest, that they should feel guilty if they do. But at times they are pushed through fatigue and difficulty by the intensity of the creative force).

 

The old joke -- a somewhat sick one -- "when the creative urge hits you, lie down until it goes away," is not good advice. The avoidance or trivialization of something so profound can only lead to unhappiness and regret.

The greatest fear that artists can have, or should have -- if fear of any kind is called for -- is not of failure or success, but at the end of their lives looking back and seeing that they never really tried. They never really took art seriously enough.

They never pushed the limits of their stamina, feelings and perceptions, never took some chances on the canvas.

One of the truly peculiar things about creativity is its ebb and flow. Sometimes inspiration, motivation are strong and undeniable, other times so weak that to work takes an act of will and courage to reach the level of mere plodding. Yet, significant art can result from both conditions.

When artists feel in total command of their means, the process flows smoothly, fluently, irresistibly, vibrantly to its conclusion. Thought or rational mind play little or no role. The artist and the creative process seem as inevitable as forces of nature (which they are), a high wind, the sun's intensity, a torrential downpour, the insistence of leaves and buds in spring pushing their way through warming earth and bark to reach the light.

Other times, the artist is a stranger in a strange land. What is this thing? A paintbrush? What am I to do with it? The once-natural, nearly unconscious procedure of raising brush from palette to canvas and back again has been interrupted as if nerve fiber had been cut.

Like a .350 hitter who suddenly, inexplicably, can't get the ball out of the infield, the artist experiences a slump, a loss of naturalness. The flow of cause and effect, stimulus and creative result is broken.


The only thing the artist can do, the only thing the hitter can do, is keep painting, keep swinging at the ball. Sooner or later, contact will again be made, the creative rhythm will reassert itself.

One suspects that Cezanne was such an artist. He was never conventionally technically fluent despite his marvelous gifts of color and dense, intensely substantial form. To look at a Cezanne painting is to sense the struggle to "realize," as he put it, his vision, his inner feeling of the form and meaning of things.

Artists feel incomplete without the intimate relationship with nature and life that the creation of art implies. Unlike an animal, tree or rock so naturally part of the world that it has no concept of alienation, no troubling separateness from nature, the creative process helps the artist overcome, at least temporarily, this painful human characteristic and sink deeply into nature's matrix.

 

Some artists think, others don't think a whit. Both are equally valid. The latter function automatically, instinctively, almost like compost. For most artists, art is a blend of thought and feeling. But all artists, to be significant, must work mainly from instinct, from the inner mysteries of feeling and responsiveness.

After the creative act is well underway or ended, analysis is useful in evaluating the work and solving problems (a mural obviously requires more preliminary planning than an easel painting). But the contemporary disease of over-rationality -- starting a painting from the head rather than the heart -- will chill it, will likely kill it, leading to art that gives off little light or heat for the warming of the soul.

Beyond the vagaries and uncertainties intrinsic to art at any time, are the difficulties and confusions of an age such as ours when art values, traditions and principles lie like rubble in the streets of a shattered civilization. In such an environment, it's every artist for themselves, trying to make what they hope is art, whether it is or not.


What, then, is creativity? Creativity is what happens when the raw material of reality is filtered through a consciousness and transformed into a significant artistic vision. Creativity is responding to the profundities and miracles in nature and life that are commonly devalued, depontentized -- simply not noticed -- by the curse of human blindness and the mediocrity of the mind-numbing routine imposed on everyday existence.

Creativity is Cezanne seeing and sensing the poetry and mystery of life in the form and color of an apple (that tens of millions of people never see, they only eat), which he translates into timeless, organic, densely-molded art.

Creativity is Hieronymous Bosch manifesting the struggles, forces and counter-forces within society and the psyche through brilliantly imaginative, disturbingly bizarre symbols and images of humanity. It is Rembrandt's unparalleled probing of the soul by means of an equally unparalleled grasp of rich paint-paste creating the corporeality of human flesh, the very material of physical reality.

 

Creativity is Henri Toulouse-Lautrec's ability to see the artistic possibilities in subjects from the underbelly of life, in "At the Moulin Rouge," adding a strip of canvas to this great, nearly finished painting to make room for a large, wonderful, light-filled, "dream girl" with red lips, turquoise forehead, yellow hair and black hat. She pauses for a moment in the foreground of the picture, a glorious antidote to the glum group of intellectuals and prostitutes at the center table and the artist himself walking through the club, dwarfed by his infirmity, bad luck and tall cousin who accompanies him.

Creativity is the poet's turning the common usage of words into the brilliant beauty of language in the service of revealing life to mankind in this final stanza from "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold:

Ah, Love, let us be true
To one another! For the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

No "think tank," committee, bureau, institute or commission -- no group -- governmental, corporate, private or academic, can ever achieve such beauty and profundity. They can encourage or kill them, but they can never create them. That is the province and function, the joy and despair of the artist alone.

by Don Gray © 1994


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