Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ashley Bryan artist

We took the ferry to Islesford from Great Cranberry and in no time bumped into Ashley Bryan.
Ashley Bryan is a phenomenon. He has more energy, aliveness, and vitality than, I believe, anyone else I have met. He exudes a love of life and embodies all the best that an art life can be and have - total freedom of mind and creative energy, with space to create and a world that accepts what he has to give.
He says "everything is animated," and it IS, through his awareness and being. Of course, it "is" all the time, but do we see it, feel it, hear it, live it?
Here are a few photos. Look him up!

When you look up Ashley Bryan you see that he is a well known children's book author and editor. Definitely true. He has published many books. What you cannot see and find out from wikipedia is that his home is filled with art books, artistic and craft tradition from every culture, dolls, sculpture, art in process everywhere including a stack of plein air paintings he does daily in his garden and elsewhere on the island, detailed puppets in process, stained glass windows in process, more visual stimulation than is possible. A serious mature accomplished artist who has retained the spirit of the inquisitive child.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Artistic Heritage

I made a pilgrimage to the Maine coast to visit the places where David Lund, my painting teacher extraordinaire from 1967, and Marvin Bileck, my mentor from Queens College in 1968, spent summers for over 40 years. David still goes there; Marvin died several years ago. Marvin's partner Emily Nelligan still goes there to draw, and is the local heroine.
We flew to Portland and drove up to Stonington on Deer Isle. The light is so brilliant and the air so clear. Stimulating. You want to breathe in all you can store up. Great lobster too. Photos....

The next morning we went by David Lund's house in Stonington and I saw the view which inspired him so long ago. Still there, the water, the rocks, the craggy look, the trees.

Onward to our longer stay on Great Cranberry Island. The ferry rides were my favorite part - the mountains of Mount Desert Island, the sky, the fog that surrounds everything, the water, the waves, the sunlight, the pointy trees that must be balsam firs. Ahhh. Maybe we'll return next summer and I will have a residency at LaHotan and Carl will rent the same lovely house with the out of tune piano and porch swing and feeling of warmth everywhere.

Home in Takoma Park now, trying to adjust, having missed the earthquake here by one day, and avoided the electrical outage. We review the photos in slide show format, trying to get more of that air, that light, that space.

Wait, there is more to this post. All those painters - Marin, Hartley, Lund ..... even Hopper and tons more you've seen - they all soaked up and worked from that Maine landscape. No wonder I needed to go there, and no wonder I loved it too.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


After my recent gallery visits and a workshop on artist's liberation and creativity - I am thinking about society's definition of "success" as an artist, and about the truth telling function of art.
There is pretty art, beautiful art, disturbing art, highly crafted and craft focused art. All kinds. Humorous, gigantic, miniature. All kinds of characteristics, and motivations, and functions. Decorating one's pricey home with colorful abstraction seems to be in vogue in this area. Is that too sarcastic? Or is it just the truth?
The danger for some of us who sell art (sometimes) is in thinking that our art is "to sell." As if that is it's motivation and function.
So I'm thinking back to the work I did several years ago - the work that didn't "fit easily" into anyone's home. I will upload a couple of those pieces here, and no doubt more in the future.

This one is called "Prague Cemetery. It is from my series called "Still With Us", done after visiting Terezin, a concentration camp near Prague, in 1998.

This is "Imprisoned." When I was 5 years old my relatives told me about a sign at a swimming pool in nearby Clayton Missouri that said No Jews or Dogs Allowed.

Art in Chevy Chase

Last night I attended the opening of a group show in the DC area. My artist neighbor was in the show, which was my reason for going. I wanted to support her, and give my blessing to this gallery/money making venture.
I'd never clicked with that particular gallery in it's previous incarnation - I and my work just didn't fit there. This was no different in those ways - and it was even clearer to me.
There was a ton of work on the walls and a ton of people at the opening. The work didn't look like me or reflect me on a deep level - though I had hoped I'd see something that would even make me jealous, if you can understand that. My favorites were my friend's soothing and beautiful landscapes, and another painter's big energetic colorful landscapes and portrait.
The people didn't look like me either. I am seriously looking at and getting some distance on what I call "this class thing." I'd say 90-95% of the visitors were dressed in a way that was supposed to be glamorous. Maybe it was. To me it was not. Something about the costume/uniform of "looking good" - guess I will speak more on that in another post, if I can relate it cleanly to ART.
Amazingly one woman appeared at the door to the gallery dressed in black and looking totally unpretentious. I was sure she was an artist, and close to me in age. She stood out, all in black like that.
Eventually I approached her and we had a real conversation and a real connection. What a lift!
The net result though was that I woke up feeling ill, and only recovered when I saw the work of Felix Angel at a gallery this morning. Complex collages that satisfied the mind and spirit, deep, thought provoking, nourishing.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cape Cod land

Ahhhh, Cape Cod land and sea. The marsh looks different now - no surprise. The horizon and environs captivate me. I know water is my next "thing."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More photos

Here is Joanne Mattera, artist, originator of the international encaustic conference, and artist supporter extraordinaire, speaking at the recent conference in Provincetown, Mass. She sets a tone of mutual support, respect, and help among the artists who attend- really quite amazing. She continues that attitude all year long at her informative blog:
Joanne Mattera

"Black and White" is a painting of one of the cows who live across the road from the VCCA in Amherst, Virginia. Someone recently said I should show my cow paintings in Vermont because they love cows there. I answered that there must be hundreds of cow paintings and they surely don't need more. She said, "But this one has so much soul."
Black and White, encaustic on wood, 6x6"

Work by Sondra Arkin at Longview Gallery.


 Me with Betsy Damon and Sue Collier at my Ceres show

Woah, I've been to a few lately, just a few. My own at Ceres April 28, several in Provincetown during the Encaustic Conference (I had a piece in the Beeline show at Kobalt), and one at Longview Gallery in DC, just the other night. Each is its own scene. Some openings make me ill, and I'm determined to attend enough to figure this out. Maybe if you're in the "in crowd" it's fun, and if you're not, it's not.

A tiny part of the crowd at the Beeline show at Kobalt Gallery in Provincetown

View from the tip of Cape Cod, near the conference site. Yum.

Longview Gallery owner and admirer

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I am a romantic

Here is a link to a youtube video. It's short and gorgeous, to me. I took the footage with my little canon sure shot camera, up in Cape Cod several months ago. My husband is at the piano.
The violinist looks like my painting mentor from NYC, and when he closes his eyes and plays - ahh, he reminds me so much of my violin teacher from grade school, Mr. Lang.
I did a painting once called Maybe. I wrote on it - can I remember? - "Mr. Lang was my first music teacher. He played with all his heart and soul. Maybe I had a soul too."
I wonder if feeling is out of style now, or if hectic perfectionistic technique passes for art. Art is the middle of things. Comes from the middle, goes TO the middle. Well, that is too simple sounding. If people really responded to blog posts, this would make an interesting conversation. I guess I believe that "technique" has to be in the service of the heart, the soul, the spirit, not just the head, and certainly not of fashion!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Press Stuff

I am finally focusing on my upcoming show at Ceres Gallery in NY. I often ask myself, why a NEW YORK co-op, and not a DC one, like Touchstone? Touchstone is looking good. But New York is my heart's home. So there it is.


I have a nice press release draft which I'll post right here, along with the image that will go with it.

This is called Autumn Light/Blackfish Creek (encaustic on wood, 14x14"). Someone will buy this eventually. I can tell. Here is the text of the press release, so far at least. I may edit it.

”A Sense of Place”, a one-person exhibition of encaustic paintings by Marilyn Banner, will be on view at Ceres Gallery from April 26 – May 21, 2011. In this work, Banner combines drawing and painting in the luminous and tactile medium of encaustic, creating richly layered and highly textured works based on landscape. Energy, rhythm, and light predominate.

All the works at Ceres are inspired by a particular place. The artist uses a broad range of techniques, from careful and subtle layering of glazes to active, energetic brushwork, incised paint filled lines, scumbling, and scraping. Evocative, semi-representational imagery is imbued with a strong sense of abstraction and brings to mind the work of Turner, Soutine, and recent paintings by David Hockney. The visceral and active surface, though never the main focus of the work, appears to be alive.

Banner’s approach is both poetic and contemporary, reaching for depth and resonance in the viewer and creating a sense of longing. The paintings in “A Sense of Place” ask us to slow down, to breathe, and to recall our often forgotten and deep human connections to the earth. They nourish on that deep level.

The opening reception will be held on Thurs. April 28, 6:00 - 8:00 pm.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Frames and Supports

Yesterday I ordered frames from my favorite frame maker, Jesse Goslen. Jesse lives in North Carolina and he builds floater frames made to order. They are constructed as well as top notch well-crafted furniture and are gorgeous. I was going to show my new work at Ceres unframed. New Yorkers are so good at seeing ART, they really don't need that frame to prove anything. I, however, have decided that these encaustic paintings need and deserve the best protection and the best in general. So I'm going for it.
I love having the support of Rodney Thompson in California, who builds my wood supports, and Jesse in North Carolina. I am thinking now that support is all around us - we just need to believe that, notice where it might come from, know we need and deserve it, and then ask!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New York overnight

Next month I will put up my show at Ceres Gallery in Chelsea. I haven't been able to tune into it, to write a really good listings release, press release - or to really THINK myself there. So I had to get my body there. Since I love New York - I scrambled to finish my taxes and do a lot of stuff to get there. Art making has been elusive; somehow this art biz stuff can just take over. Well, so I will just let it do that for a while. There are ways and ways to get behind one's work, and that is a good one.
The best business thing that happened - was meeting two women who have just started something called Art Walk New York. They are super sophisticated tour guides at the best museums in NY, and were there at Ceres to do some business with the director. More later if I am able to get onto an Art Walk tour. That would be a VERY good thing, and a fantastic result of my NY business jaunt.

Visiting Vieques

Well, we got back from Vieques when? almost 3 weeks ago!!! That's amazing - one week to figure out where I am, 2 more to feel the crazy intensity and scheduling of everything here. In case you haven't heard of Vieques, I will upload a couple of photos. It is a little island right off the coast of Puerto Rico.
There are a lot of roosters on Vieques, and horses roam the streets eating mangos. The roosters crow all the time. 

We visited a couple of galleries while there in paradise. One was a new gallery, Galleon, started by a Westchester woman in a big open space that used to belong to an artist/gallerist. The work is by non-residents, some from NY. I'm always checking potential galleries out - but though the work was decent, the place was not right. For me at least. We then went to Siddhia Hutchinson's Gallery across the island in Isabel 2. Right, Isabel 2! Interesting name for a town.

That was a different story, as Siddhia herself was there. She is an artist and gallerist, shows her own work, work by local artists and by visitors inspired by the natural surroundings. There were some lovely landscapes, unusual abstractions, drawings of roosters ....  hard to not love roosters after hearing them at odd hours every night! We had a great, long, and inspiring talk with Siddhia about following one's path when the path is art. What we sacrifice, what we have, how important it is to go for your vision, for what you love. I actually can't remember it all, but I do remember feeling that Carl and I and Siddhia are of the same species. What a lift.

We hope to return to Vieques for a much longer stay next year. Fingers are crossed. Art sales will get us there. (that's the plan.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

February Success part 3

Well, Astrologyzone says that February is a good month in general. Maybe that's it. I can take credit for producing some pretty solid artwork, and for being open to people seeing and purchasing it. But I can't make a bunch of stuff like this happen all in one week!!!

Saturday a VCCA friend and collector was in town. She asked to visit my studio, so I picked her up at her hotel and drove her out to my Kensington warehouse. We spent hours there - she is deep, thoughtful, and unusually responsive to my work. Every artists dream.... And after much thought she decided on two recent encaustic paintings to purchase. Ironically they were the two that made a trio with the one larger one purchased at the donor party. Something special must be there in those marshes. Hmmm.

To finish with this story - Monday morning Aaron Leibel from the Washington Jewish Week called to confirm my city of residence, to include my name in a byline about the Kraft Center show. He wants to write about me as soon as I have another local show.
And last Sunday I delivered some older Costa Rican collages to a family friend who expressed interest - left a few there so they could ponder and choose. Wednesday - I expect another sale or two. I am knocking on wood. It feels like blessings all around.

This morning our buddy Judi Weinstock wrote to tell me that from now til June is a great time for those of us born under the sign of Aries. Wow.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Overwhelmed by successes. Part 2.

Saturday night - last weekend - we had a big "donor appreciation party" here. Invited were Musica Viva donors of at least $75. plus a couple of collectors that had purchased at least $500 worth of art from me.
We are not talking big bucks here. This is a grass roots operation - Marilyn Banner's art, Carl Banner's music, both of our visions and teamwork working to build an art life here and an artist friendly community. I often describe us as "under recognized sophisticates."

So why the overwhelm? Well....... as I did at my open studio last year, I put up on the music room walls (which now have track lighting to make the setting a real gallery) a few of my new marsh paintings. Two images had already gone out as Musica Viva publicity pieces via constant contact. I intend to show the best of the marsh paintings with the best of the 2009 VCCA paintings, all encaustic, at my Ceres show opening late April. The last thing I'm doing is "pushing" the marsh pieces.
Well, to my partial surprise - THREE of the marsh paintings were sold that night. THREE.

Writing this has already decreased the overwhelm feeling. Why NOT have what I want, a nice circle of my work doing its work for others and the others giving back to me in the form of money. The way it should be for artists all the time....

Overwhelmed with "too much good." part 1.

Last Friday, the day before the Ceres Gallery show ended, I phoned Laura Kruger and offered "Living Water" to the Hebrew Union College Museum. I've heard that museums don't just accept donations. After all, they have to promise to keep your work safe forever, and often have to promise to exhibit it. So, like everything seems to be, it's competitive. But why not compete?
She not only accepted the piece and went to get it, but then wrote a lovely and gracious note saying that the work way more stunning than she'd expecte, that it's hanging in a very public place, and that many people are commenting on it's quality.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New York January

I'm always looking for a reason to go up to the art nourishment capital - right now my friend Joyce Weinstein has a solo show at Ceres, and I have a piece in the partner show, Womens Nature. Here is my piece, a mixed media collage from my Song of Songs series, Living Water.

I arrived last Wednesday via my favorite mode, Vamoose Bus, and dashed over to MOMA to see the Line show. Even the Schwitters pieces were mouthwatering. I want to live in New York! "So what else is new?" as my parents would say.
Francine Perlman, an energetic sympatico woman I met years ago at a No Limits meeting, offered to put me up. Fantastic person, fascinating artist. We are now buddies in an ongoing project. More later, when it starts to bubble.

The next day I spent at the Whitney. The coolest show I've seen in ages was there: the work of Charles LeDray. It filled a whole floor of the museum - hundreds of miniature articles of clothing, all imbued with meaning, all full of heart. Nothing sentimental or schmaltzy, but all miraculous and moving at once. Pieces made of cloth, and other unbelievable things - a thousand teeny tiny thrown vessels, and tiny sculptures made from human bone.
If in NY, you need to see it.

Someone at the Ceres show suggested I donate my piece, Living Water, to the Hebrew Union College Museum, unless of course, someone purchases it. Great idea. I hope Laura Kruger agrees. The opening itself was like a warm hug. A lot of the women there remind me of me, in the best way. I felt totally at home.