“Dinner with an Artist” featuring Cheryl Warrick

“Dinner with an Artist” was inspired by the many dinners ANNE REED GALLERY‘s owner, Barbi Reed, has had the pleasure of enjoying with gallery artists over the years. It was during these dinners that the conversation twisted and turned to the delight of all sitting around the table. There was no more perfect way to relax and enjoy the camaraderie of artist, collectors, and staff after the intensity of curating, preparing for, and installing an exhibition. Today, we invite you to this virtual dinner table conversation with Cheryl Warrick to discuss her current exhibition: Visual Dance.

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ARG: What early influences sparked your interest in art and becoming an artist?

CW: I remember watching my father draw and sketch on napkins and the papers that were in front of him on his desk.  He would never describe himself an artist. He was a Retired Army Lt Col. and was very organized and thoughtful with everything. I thought his drawings were amazing. They were like watching his brain at work. Drawing was how he figured things out. My sister is also an artist. I can remember watching her creating small figurative sculptures of wax and wire coat hangers.  I started drawing in middle school. I drew the figure mostly. I would pull out my sketch pad and draw everyone as they watched tv at night. 

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ARGYour paintings contain many symbols that you have mentioned are important to the viewers’ “continued exploration” of your works. We notice some symbols recur in your works, such as boats, trees, ladders and even teapots. Can you explain what some of these symbols mean to you and why you choose to include them in your paintings?

CW: I think of these images as archetypes. We all know something about these objects, either on a personal note or as a symbol that represents the opening to a deeper story. We all know something about an empty chair. It could be about loss or about someone who will fill that seat in the future. Two empty chairs may imply a conversation. I am not really fixed on a meaning, and everyone will always have a different response when they see these images. 

ARG: Besides iconography, you are also clearly drawn to landscapes, including your new series of acrylic works on paper featured on our sister site ARTprojectA. Are these specific landscapes or landscapes that are made-up, fabricated?

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Distant Ground, Acrylic on Paper

CW: I invent my landscapes. They are also about symbolic associations. We are all living with a sky above us and the earth under foot. I paint from what I call “internal knowing” and I invite the viewer to complete the painting by bringing their own meaning and interpretation to what they see. There are often, hills, valleys, waters to cross, stormy skies, bare trees or densely filled horizons. Some places seem a stone’s throw away, while others are much farther off. 

ARGIn some of your works you use materials other than paint such as bits of found paper. Where do you find these materials and why do you choose to incorporate them in your paintings? 

CW: I love bits of scrapbooking paper, old maps, found letters, and ledgers. Almost anything. I love putting found papers down as a way to begin. I cover them up and then they begin to form a texture and history in the work. 

J.M.W. Turner Painting, "Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps"

J.M.W. Turner Painting, “Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps”

ARG: Do you have any current or historical role models who inspire you? 

CW: I have a great appreciation for many artists and kinds of art. I am a big fan of the landscape paintings by J.M.W. Turner. They always seemed so contemporary.  I also love the the work of a group of women quilt makers from Gee Bend Alabama. The improvisation, texture and movement in these quilts are really beautiful.

ARG: Have you encountered any obstacles you’ve had to over come in the art world? And if so, what advice would you offer other aspiring artists?

CW: I think all artists have obstacles from time to time. The first and most important thing in my mind is always self compassion. We are taught to take great care of our brushes and art materials, but our first tool is ourselves. It starts with being present with yourself and allowing what is there to be there. Meeting yourself as a creative person on a journey that is not linear is a real challenge. It requires radical acceptance and cultivating a practice of inner dialog that is kind. I suggest spending a lot of time in nature, that really helps. 

Letters, Acrylic - Mixed Media on Panel

Letters, Acrylic – Mixed Media on Panel  

ARG: Have you been influenced by living in Boston?

CW: Yes, especially lately. The recent bombings at the Marathon were horrific and tragic. There are so many brave, kind people that helped one another on that day, and the days that followed. It was truly inspiring. This is a great city, alive with a vibrant caring community, culture and of course, wonderful art. 

ARG: Can you tell us a little bit about where you work?

CW: I have a small studio in the SOWA district of Boston. The building used to be a whiskey factory and has been artists studios since the 80’s. The floors are sloped from the weight of the whisky barrels. There are 20 or so artists in the building. It is rather old and creaky, but it works!

The Way, Acrylic - Mixed Media on Panel

The Way, Acrylic – Mixed Media on Panel

ARG: Just for fun, Do you listen to music or the radio when you paint? If so, can you tell us what you listen to.

CW: I always have my ipod on..I’m a big fan of musical compilations. I listen to anything from Love is My Religon by Ziggy Marley to anything Bill Evans and everything  you can imagine in between.

ARG: Do you have any thoughts about the direction you see your work evolving?

CW: I have no idea, I am just grateful to pick up the paint brush and paint! When I  look back over more than 20 years of facing the blank canvas, something always comes. Creative life is a beautiful dance with faith, trust and action.

ARG: Thanks, Cheryl. We’ve so enjoyed sharing a conversation over a “virtual dinner” with you and look forward to more time with you in the future.  Cheers!

CW: This was fun. Thank you.
 
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“Dinner with an Artist” featuring Mark Thompson

“Dinner with an Artist” was inspired by the many dinners ANNE REED GALLERY’s owner, Barbi Reed, has had the pleasure of enjoying with gallery artists over the years. It was during these dinners that the conversation twisted and turned to the delight of all sitting around the table. There was no more perfect way to relax and enjoy the camaraderie of artist, collectors, and staff after the intensity of curating, preparing for, and installing an exhibition. Today, we invite you to this virtual dinner table conversation with Mark Thompson to discuss his current exhibition: At the End of Light.

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Artist MARK THOMPSON at work.

ARG: What early influences sparked your interest in art?

MT: My early memories are very image based – snapshots of times and spaces that for some reason fixed themselves in my mind. I think my desire to understand or come to terms with those memories and the world around me is at the root of my involvement in the arts.

Much to the irritation of my teachers, I apparently developed a habit of illustrating the margins of my school-books with drawings of tiny birds or any other stray whisp of thought that happened to catch my imagination… I must have been a quietly annoying pupil!

One other thing I remember is a small, framed print that hung in the living room of my childhood home. It depicted a shadowed forest path, and I can clearly recall tracing the lines with my finger and trying to imagine how it might have been created.

ARG: Was there anyone early on who deeply influenced or inspired you?

MT: My mother sometimes sketched my sister and I as children, and it always seemed a special and privileged act. The need to communicate visually always seemed to be there, and as I progressed through my school career I was lucky enough to have an art teacher who was, and no doubt still is a very kind and generous man. The art room seemed a refuge from the confusing mass of bodies and other subjects that meant little to me. His personality combined with the new materials I was introduced to, left a significant impression.

ARG: Viewers of your work are able to almost “feel” the temperature…and it makes us want to reach for a scarf!  Although your subject matter varies greatly from architecture to landscape and now, in this new series, a river’s edge, there is an ever-present “chill” and “emptiness” even in the urban scenes. Will you tell us about this attraction to these icy scenes that seem to convey a sense of isolation?

MT: This is probably the most difficult question I face as an artist, because it sits at the very core of my desire to communicate through a visual language. Part of my attraction to exploring the empty cold is purely aesthetic; I respond more intensely and intuitively to that particular palette. Winter seems to be a time when the world is stripped back, its bare bones revealed, and I find that I feel more myself at such times. I do think however that the emotional aspect of the work dictates it‘s visual rendering. The emptiness or isolation you mentioned are for me inherent in the process of making, since both the paintings and photographic works are concerned with memory and time passing or time gone.

Mark Thompson Painting

MARK THOMPSON: To be titled…, 2013

I have a great interest in early photography and its fugitive processes; for example, the long exposures that failed to register people walking on city streets. I see painting with the same eyes – a way to engage with or punctuate my own time as it falls away, and each work becomes a marker in my own history. The paintings and photographs are in many ways portraits of loss; a time and a space that has already gone, something seen for the last time. This sense of passing has become more apparent in my most recent architectural works. They are places that we are accustomed to seeing full of people, so their absence is felt more keenly.

ARG: You took most of the images for the End of Light series on the Canary Islands. What was your time like there? What draws you to your locations?

MT: The Canary Islands, Lanzarote in particular (where this series was taken) are an odd place. The islands are volcanic with lots of black rocks and very little soil, yet it primarily functions as a beach destination for English and German holidaymakers. Its position off the coast of Africa means that its climate is pretty friendly year round, but what I found particularly useful about that was the very predictable and short times for dawn and dusk. In all truth, if I hadn‘t had a very specific reason for being there I would probably have died of boredom!

The selection of locations is first and foremost an intuitive response. I am attempting to find something in the outside world that mirrors an image or a desire that I already carry in my head. It is often a chance find, however, that sparks this internal process – an image in a newspaper, an allusion in a book or film perhaps, which prompts a period of research. Inevitably what I actually find is somewhat different from what I‘m expecting, but I‘m more than comfortable with a ‘happy accident‘ now and then.

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MARK THOMPSON: At the Edge of Light, i

ARG: You mention in your artist statement that you used traditional photographic techniques including leaving your camera’s shutter open for several minutes in order to catch the “end of daylight” for these images. Can you explain your process? Do you manipulate the image after the photograph has been taken or do you use the image as is?

MT: I‘m not sure why, but I distrust an image of mine that doesn‘t have a physical presence. I am also rather attached to the chemical process of developing and the individual character of types of film. In making these photographs I wanted to use a combination of materials that got as close as I could to how I see, and how my memory seems to function.

For this series I narrowed my camera selection down to a Holga. It is pretty much a toy – plastic through and through, but it has some unique qualities that I really value. As you mentioned, I keep the shutter open for an extended period and count to myself until it feels right to stop. I‘m by no means a purist, but I do try to keep the process as analogue as possible prior to printing, so the only manipulation I do is to clean up any imperfections or holes in the photographic emulsion and perhaps a small bit of cropping. The selection of digital printing however is very purposeful… I love the dense matt black and overall softness that is possible through the inkjet process.

ARG: Because your world extends throughout Europe and into the US, you are aware of the work of many artists.  Is there any artist in particular whose work you find particularly exciting today?

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SALLY MANN: Faces 2004, © Sally Mann

MT: I am constantly excited by the work of Sally Mann. Her photographs continually surprise me with their beauty and unflinching gaze at us as animals. In a different way, the sheer mastery of Hiroshi Sugimoto and Thomas Joshua Cooper are constant sources of amazement. Within the realm of painting, Anslem Kiefer never fails to surprise me. His imagery is so rugged and dense with meaning – it‘s something I greatly admire. Recently I‘ve also been enjoying the work of Luc Tymans. His paintings are quiet but deeply serious and uncompromising.

ARG: When you moved from Great Britain to Germany several years ago, did that affect your work and if so, in what way?

MT: Moving to Germany was a huge change for me in so many ways. One of the immediate effects was that it really slowed my down. I stepped out of the London gallery and art fair world and was able to take stock of the direction my work was taking. Leaving all that is familiar, and finding oneself in a place where you are defined by your difference, is an experience I never expected to have. If nothing else it throws you completely off balance and you are forced to approach the world in a more direct and intuitive way. Fear also played a role… I had the distinct impression that I was a child lost in a forest of adult legs! Being outside of my ‘career‘ also allowed me the space to grow and approach architectural imagery with the possibility that I might fail. I am a better painter for having left Britain, if only for the fact that I am belligerently following my own path.

ARG: What type of music do you like and what do you listen to when you are working?

MT: Through the day my listening alters. Music is very important to me in the studio and I am quite an avid collector.  I almost fear revealing this, but I listen to a lot of extreme metal – It has a way of taking up space in my head and keeping me focused. As the evening draws in my listening softens to contemporary Jazz; people like Arve Henriksen, Tomasz Stanko, and Jon Hassell. I also very much like modern classical and have recently been listening to Rachel Grimes, Dakota Suite, that sort of thing…  Oh, and I can‘t get enough of a band called Bohren and der Club of Gore!

ARG: Would you care to tell us about what you are planning for future exhibitions or a new series?

MT: This year is quite a busy one for me. I have some work at the opening of a new gallery in Sweden in May, and two concurrent exhibitions in Germany towards the end of the year. I am aiming to make those shows purely architectural in theme. Speaking of which, I will be continuing my ongoing photographic body of work, and will also be exploring ways to make architectural photographs that carry a similar softness to ‘At the End of Light‘. Never a dull moment in my creative life!

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MARK THOMPSON: At the End of Light, vi

ARG: Many artists are not particularly verbal, but you express yourself so well and think deeply about many things as well as have other interests and talents. Is there anything else you‘d like to comment on or reveal before we end this interview?

MT: One of the interesting things for me about preparing the negatives for this show, was the clear parallel I found between my approaches to photography and painting. As I alluded to earlier, being in Germany allowed me a certain space to push at the edges a bit: work with urban imagery in the paintings (no matter how long it took to finish one!), think about photographs away from the ‘decisive moment‘, and attempt to define my relationship to both as I move forward. Fetching up here also seemed to be the catalyst for exploring another strand of my creative rope, as it were.

Over the course of these few years I have started writing music and am currently working on my third album. I feel somehow as though each part of my work reinforces the others; I just wish there were more hours in the day! Or perhaps I need more hands…

ARG: Thanks, Mark! We’ve so enjoyed sharing a conversation over a “virtual dinner” and look forward to another meal of ideas and visions you might share with us in the future…  Cheers!

“Dinner with an Artist” featuring Brad Durham

“Dinner with an Artist” was inspired by the many dinners ANNE REED GALLERY‘s owner, Barbi Reed, has had the pleasure of enjoying with gallery artists over the years. It was during these dinners that the conversation twisted and turned to the delight of all sitting around the table. There was no more perfect way to relax and enjoy the camaraderie of artist, collectors, and staff after the intensity of curating, preparing for, and installing an exhibition. Today, we invite you to this virtual dinner table conversation with Brad Durham to discuss his current exhibition: Catching Light I and II, and much more…

Artist BRAD DURHAM in his studio.

Artist BRAD DURHAM in his studio.

ARG: What early influences sparked your appreciation for and creation of art?  

BD: When I was three, I had a sitter who took me to the beach to do watercolors. In many ways these early experiences with forms and colors became my first language.

ARG: Are there any contemporary and/or historical artists, writers, poets, filmmakers, etc… who have or continue to inspire you? 

BD: When I finish a painting, I always imagine asking Rothko and Giacometti if it’s good enough.  That’s because I find Rothko’s paintings to be meditations on the divine, and Giacometti’s works express the essence of humanity and the human condition. Both Rothko and Giacometti have a stillness and meditative quality that I find meaningful.

ARG: We’d enjoy hearing about your studio space. Can you describe it for us?

BD: Studios are always an issue. I lived in Los Angeles lofts for 15 years and there is a dynamic and immediacy to living and working in the same space that fuels creativity. But, at one point, I wanted to have some separation.  Now, my studio in Minneapolis is actually perfect. The house came with a large work studio that’s twenty steps from the back door, which allows for separation but also for those flash creative moments.

ARG: When you moved from Southern California to Minnesota several years ago, did that affect your work and if so, in what way?

BD: For my growth as an artist I needed change. I lived in Los Angeles for 20 years and began to realize that that familiarity wasn’t beneficial to my maturing. It was quite unexpected to end up in Minnesota, a state off the radar of many. My wife and I visited two friends here and immediately felt at home. The changes to my work were instantaneous – the paintings now have a life between the dimensions that I didn’t know possible.

ARG: Besides the softness inherent in your work and the calm that elicits from your imagery, we are captivated by your choice of trees in your paintings and magnolia flowers in your prints. Why are these icons particularly special for you?

BD: Every artist finds a form that reflects his/her own voice. Mine just happens to be Nature. Goethe said that Nature is “the living garment of God” and that artists are a kind of priest who, in their creations, mimic in an effort to resolve the contradictions between the subjective and objective worlds. My interest is memories, and how we create them to connect these worlds.

Durham Closer

BRAD DURHAM: Closer, oil on canvas.

ARG: You mention in your artist statement that the marks of coloration on your paintings are intentionally preserved, but not intentionally made. Can you explain more about why you have you chosen to allow these marks to remain rather than cover them?

BD: I feel the maturity in my work reflects my understandings. I paint not to make a perfect painting but rather a painting that reflects an honesty. What I mean by this, is that I want the viewer to know that each of my paintings contains many false starts, ‘mistakes’, restarts; that I’m not trying to present a finished product but rather moments filled with observations and brushstrokes, some started and finished, some not. I want to show the process of thoughts and reflections – that connectedness is not a static moment but rather ever forming.

ARG: And what about your process in making your prints?  You refer to these as a “monoprint edition.”  What does this mean?

BD: A monoprint edition is a set of prints that contain similar imagery. However each print is uniquely hand worked for variations. With the MAGNOLIA series in the show, I created nine graphic icons of magnolias. Once a layer is created, I apply Japanese Kozo papers to the surface for the coloration.

BRAD DURHAM: Magnolia 5, monoprint edition.

BRAD DURHAM: Magnolia 5, monoprint edition.

ARG: Let’s end with just a few questions for fun. Do you listen to the radio or music when you work? If so, what is your favorite station, type of music?

BD: I’m trying to learn a new instrument, the guitar, so I’ve been listening to a lot of Al Petteway and Amy White’s music lately. At the end of the day when I’m cleaning up I generally listen to NPR to stay current with the issues

ARG: When not in your studio working, what do you do for fun?

BD: In Los Angeles I used to play the bag pipes but since moving here it’s been the Irish flute. There is something so simultaneously joyful and sad about Irish music that I find it compelling.

ARG: Would you care to tell us about what you might be thinking about for future exhibitions or new series?

BD: I’m in the middle of a big commission right now that is pretty specific and doesn’t allow for much exploration so while I’m working on these paintings I use the time to visualize.   As I have a show in June in Michigan, I suspect we’ll see how the visions take form.

ARG: Thanks, Brad. We’ve so enjoyed sharing a conversation over a “virtual dinner” with you and look forward to more time with you in the future.  Cheers!