Monday, November 7, 2011
When I was twelve years old my grandmother took me to the Detroit Metropolitan Museum of Art. My parents were skeptical, what could possibly interest a twelve year old at an exhibit of paper cutout paintings done by a French painter? My grandmother always seemed to know what I loved even before I did. At five years old she observed my tinkering on the piano, sat me down and taught me all the notes and how to read music. I stunned my parents one afternoon at her house, by playing a Rachmaninoff tune..."The Hobby Horse" I believe. My parents went out an bought me a piano the next day. She was like that. She was a walking encyclopedia (I am giving away my age here). I knew I was in for an extraordinary experience if she was willing to take me all the way downtown, this was going to be good.
Our afternoon at the museum was life changing. A world class exhibit of Henri Matisse's paper cutouts. His gouaches découpés" or, "painting with scissors"; hung over this twelve-year-old's head like ripe grapes in an arbor. It was a playground of color and shape, so simple yet so powerful. Even at twelve I could feel the strength of the designs and delight in the utter simplicity and power of the work. I remember wishing I could take every painting home with me. My love affair with art had begun.
My experience that day set the tone for the work I would gravitate toward the rest of my life. Color, shape, collàge, surface ornamentation, even a love of illustration and graphic design. When I am painting or sculpting I choose to work in large strong shapes, in jewelry-making, my work is illustrative, and in my latest work with mosaics, it is about everything I saw that day at the Matisse exhibit; color, playful application of shapes, objects of interest...candy for the eye.
Over the years my artwork has been influenced by many things, but I will be eternally grateful to my "knowing" grandmother and her loving desire to enrich my life and broaden my world.
Tomorrow: a peek at my latest work, "pique assiette" heading this weekend for the Recycle Santa Fe Art Show in Sante Fe, New Mexico.