Tag Archives: Dinner with an Artist

“Dinner with an Artist” featuring Monika Steiner

“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 Monika Steiner. ANNE REED GALLERY is thrilled to announce our representation of Monika. We invited her to our virtual table to answer a few questions about her background, her work and the paintings in her first solo exhibition, The Timeless, at ANNE REED GALLERY.

Monika Steiner: Released I, Oil on Wood

Monika Steiner: Released I, Oil on Wood

ARG: Let’s start by discussing the recent focus of your work: spheres, which we see in The Timeless exhibition. We know from your artist statement that you have always been interested in metaphysics and are fascinated by the sphere because of its “elegance and efficiency”. Can you explain how this fascination began and its ongoing role in your work?

MS: My curiosity with circular shapes began early.  In Egypt I saw firsthand the sun god “Ra” depicted with a circle over his head. Almost every culture or religion, in one form or another, used the circle as a spiritual symbol of unity, wholeness and enlightenment.  I became fascinated by how such a simple shape can express as powerful of a concept as one’s mystical sense of oneness.

After a series of paintings of two dimensional circles I started to render them as spheres.  The sphere encloses the greatest amount of volume yet uses the least amount of surface area.  Nature uses this form to structure everything from the sub atomic world all the way up to the shape of planets.  We subconsciously resonate with something powerful in the face of that kind of mathematical perfection.

On a technical level, it challenges me to draw, freehand, perfect circles.  Arranging the sizes and colors of the spheres and integrating them into a non-static background is hard, but when I get it right, the pieces have a balance and harmony of composition that invokes this sense of wholeness and unity, properties of the shape itself I wanted to communicate.

ARG: Can you speak more the  “ultimate intention” of your abstract work? Image

MS: My ultimate intention with my abstract oil paintings is that the art would give viewers some access to their own perception process– feeling something they can’t explain because they can’t label it like a realistic image.  It’s like the painting opens up a space between where its surface ends and the viewer’s mind gyrations begin.

ARG: We’re intrigued by the titles of your paintings. Can you tell us about how you decide on each title and its significance? For instance, we’re interested in the genesis of Released I and Released II, the two most recent paintings in your exhibition?

MS: I generally title my paintings before beginning them and I am thinking of a feeling or an idea that I want to express abstractly.  For example, Released I&II are about emotional release and in the end that concept is clear in each painting in that one sphere that is far less integrated with its surroundings compared to the others.  But that wasn’t a result of conscious design, more just thoughts and feelings influencing the process and the unconscious mind solving the representational problem.

ARG: We found a short Youtube video in which you discuss your painting technique of layering. In it, you state, “More layers make a richer painting.” Can you tell us more about your layering process and how this technique allows you to achieve your vision? We’re curious if you start with a specific vision or if you allow the painting to evolve as new layers inform you?


Monika Steiner: Cascade, Oil on Wood

 MS: I carefully plan compositions before I start. The placement in the sphere paintings is hard to change later, so I sketch it out first in charcoal. With the sphere shapes it is very important that everything stays in balance throughout the process otherwise the whole piece in the end feels “off”.  Besides the composition, I have to balance the light and dark tones of each sphere and integrate them with the background.  I paint the lightest colors first; those warm tones penetrate through the additional layers of paint and make the piece glow in the end. Even a one-toned piece, bluish grey for instance, can be warmed up with an initial layer of light yellow tint underneath. Those first layers are hardly visible in the end but are essential to chromatically harmonize the painting.

By layering glazes on top of each other I can achieve a nice radiance and the transparency of the drips can be seen if you look at an individual sphere close up. All those layers are very subtle but make the piece much richer.

ARG: We noticed that you have created sculpture in the past. Do you continue to work in this medium?

MS: Yes, I still do bronze sculptures, although, my main focus has always been painting.
My approach to sculpture is conceptual like the paintings, using emotions or concepts to create abstract shapes that are unique and timeless. With bronze I am using the ancient lost wax process, still done the same way today, so the ageless quality of the process is always with you – but so is the labor intensive work of it – modeling the piece first in wax, making a shell, melting the wax out of the shell, pouring the bronze in, destroying the shell, sandblasting, chasing and finally adding a patina. It still fascinates me every time I see the red hot molten bronze being poured into its shell where it will transform itself back into a solid that will outlive us all.

Monika Steiner: Pendulums, Bronze

Monika Steiner: Pendulums, Bronze

ARG: You were born in Switzerland. When did you come to this country and has your “multi-cultural” experiences affected your work?

MS: I came to the USA in 2000 and I do believe that my multicultural background and my travels throughout the world have affected my work. My jewelry making background influenced my sculpture; having to adapt to a new culture and going through a life transition made me realize how painting can be a creative channel to go deeper within myself. I know it has also helped to have inherited a Swiss work ethic.

ARG: Now you live in the Bay Area and recently had a baby. Where do you paint and how do you balance motherhood with your commitment to being an artist?

MS: I am lucky that my painting studio is at my home and that I have a nanny two days a week. It is definitely a challenge time wise to balance motherhood and being a professional artist but I am very dedicated to my work, which has always been my passion. I worked very hard to get where I am now as an artist. I treasure every minute with my daughter and I am trying to be as present as I can with our time together yet I found that having both, work and motherhood, helps me learn to balance my life.

ARG: We have found that many artists have been interested in art since they were children. Did you have any early childhood experiences that sparked your interest in art or mentors that affected the direction of your work?

Monika Steiner, Far Away, Oil on Wood

Monika Steiner, Far Away, Oil on Wood

MS: I always loved art, but growing up on a small farm village where art was considered a hobby, not a “real profession”, was challenging. I became a teacher there instead of an artist but I always did creative things on the side – pottery, jewelry making, drawing, painting, etc. It was only when I came to the USA and couldn’t work as a teacher that I realized it was finally my chance to pursue my passion and study art. One of my teachers at SSU definitely influenced me and sparked my interest in abstract art. His encouragement made me believe I could pursue this career.

Cy Twombly: Scattered Blossoms (SmithsonianMag.com)

Cy Twombly: Scattered Blossoms (SmithsonianMag.com)

ARG: And now, do you have contemporary or historical role models who continue to inspire you?

MS: There are some artists that I feel an immediate connection to: subtle things like Cy Twombly’s or Jay Kelly’s very minimal pieces. I find it intriguing and especially challenging to create quiet, almost, “silent”, pieces of art. Less “loud” in the sense of color and form is a direction I feel myself headed.

ARG: We raise our glass to you and to your latest beautiful exhibition with ANNE REED GALLERY. Although we’ve many more questions for you, perhaps we should end this conversation by asking if there is there anything else you’d like to say either about your work or anything else.

MS: Thank you so much! These were very thoughtful questions. I can’t think of anything else, just that I feel honored to be represented by your beautiful gallery.

“Dinner with an Artist” featuring Inez Storer

“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 Inez Storer as we talk about her current exhibition: Summer Pastimes.

ARG: What early influences sparked your interest in art and becoming an artist? inez-storer photo

My father was an artist and art director of many well-known films. Being around his creative energy greatly influenced me. I always knew I was an artist. I have a vivid first memory from when I was 3 years old of creating a “site specific work” in a sandbox. Later, I was the go-to kid for all the posters in school. I also always went “outside the lines” on the handouts given out during the Friday Art Lesson that only lasted a HALF HOUR!

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

My eye roams everywhere – Matisse, Rauschenberg, Giotto, DADA, Surrealism. I find myself often attracted to work that doesn’t always make sense in the real world.


Found the Cave by Inez Storer

ARG: Your use of found imagery is one of the defining elements of your work. When did you start working with mixed media and what determines your selections of material?

I had a life of interruptions with a large family so creating collage/assemblage works was a way of dropping what I was doing and being able to pick up where I left off by merely looking at the scraps left on the table.

I also have a bit of a criminal past! One day my 9-year-old son came home with some very interesting things and, after I bribed him one dollar, he led me to “the burned down house” down the street.  It was incredible! Items left there dated back as late as1856: journals, objects, photos, books, every thing had “history” written all over it. One day I was caught and that was the end of my criminal object hunting activities and the beginning of collage!

ARG: Your paintings are all very narrative, often with multiple stories. We’re very curious about how you determine the subject of your paintings?

The first mark, or matrix, I make on the surface of a work is oftentimes my instinctual way of beginning the process. It may change (and most often does) as I go along but, it is definitely that first mark or marks that determine the way to proceed.

 ARG: Your work seems to beg us to dig deeper into this narrative. In your statement you mention that you often leave “written clues” in your paintings. Can you give us an example of a written clue in Summer Pastimes and where you might want that to lead us?

Balance, Relax by Inez Storer

Balance, Relax by Inez Storer

I really don’t set out to give “clues” but just hope that the viewer will take the adventure to new heights. Verisimilitude!

 ARG: We feel that all the elements in each painting relate in some way. Do you have an intention directed to the viewer?

I hope that the work isn’t always “of the same flavor”! It is through my process that I want to explore various ways of telling stories as I am a storyteller by nature.

I sometimes create a series, and other times, there is a wild card piece. I really do not believe in planning things out to the nth degree. What comes creatively is always the surprise and I like to be surprised and have that “AHA!” moment.

ARG: We understand you’re a wonderful teacher. What do you do to inspire your students? What advice would you offer other aspiring artists?

I have always told my art students, “art chose you, not the other way around.” They really do not have choice except to figure out how to support their “habit” and to keep on doing it as much as is possible. I think I still am on the right track as I just gave a lecture to students (and other art people) at Santa Clara University. Afterwards students came up to me and thanked me for giving them that advice and information. They were grateful to hear it.

Jump Up, work on paper, by Inez Storer

Jump Up, work on paper, by Inez Storer

ARG: You mentioned that your parents are European. Where are they from and has being first generation American influenced you and your art career?

They were both from Germany and, yes, indeed they influenced me. They kept many secrets about their lives before they came to the U.S. and I was always trying to find out more about that life. My mother was Jewish but only admitted it just before she died. I learned that we have over 30 relatives and some lived only fifteen minutes from where I grew up. THAT WAS A SECRET! But my mother did not want anyone to know she was Jewish so she never mentioned it. Life was complicated for me since I never knew much about my own history growing up. A lot of my art making came out of this experience.

ARG: Besides having European parents, you are married to Andrew Romanoff, also an artist and whose great-grandfather was Tsar Alexander III and is the great nephew of Tsar Nicholas II. Has being married to someone with so much familial history influenced your work?

"The Boy Who Would be Tsar" by Andrew Romanoff chronicles his magical childhood through the use of miniature Shrinky-Dink drawings.

“The Boy Who Would be Tsar” by Andrew Romanoff chronicles his magical childhood through the use of miniature Shrinky-Dink drawings.

It has had a big influence on my work in terms of the historical observations. It has been/is a constant source of ideas that may or may not come to fruition. Many a painting has come out of this relationship. It’s ongoing, like turning to the next page in my studio practice.

ARG: We raise our glass to you and to your latest wonderful exhibition with ANNE REED GALLERY. Although we’ve many more questions for you, perhaps we should end this conversation by asking if there is there anything else you would like to say, either about your work or perhaps something totally unrelated.

I want to say that your online style is a very interesting way to go about introducing artists across the globe and one that should/and will have a life of its own! Thanks!

Inez Storer, Inverness, California

ARG: Thanks, Inez. 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!

“Dinner with an Artist” featuring Alex Zecca

zecca collage radius18

ALEX ZECCA: Collage Radius #18, Ink on Paper (click for more information)

“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 Alex Zecca to discuss his current exhibition: Collage Radii.

Zecca portrait

ARG: Do you remember any experiences in your childhood that sparked your interest in art? Were you drawing straight lines early on? 

AZ:  In the mid 70’s my mother became a film student at San Francisco Art Institute, so from that point on, I grew up in and around the wonderful and crazy extended art communities that created.

Carols Villa, an artist and teach, has been a lifelong mentor and inspiration for my early decisions and understanding about a career dedicated to a studio practice in visual art.

Zecca collage radius 12

Collage Radius #12, Ink on Paper (click for more information)

And yes, the silly irony is, I drew with basically the same tools even when I was 8.

ARG: When we see thousands of lines forming patterns, we know the piece is yours. When and how did you decide to focus entirely on lines? How has the work evolved over the years?

AZ: After years of adding more and more elaborate processes to my oil paintings, I needed drastic simplifying. Also, the solvents, pigments, and alkyds were undoubtedly killing me slowly. So, almost 10 years ago I had a turning point, and knew I was ready for the deconstruction of my process. It had to be simple, direct, and sincere.

I wanted immediacy as well as a good platform for mixing color, which had always been the main focus of my work. As it turns out, the answer for me was the action of drawing a straight line from edge to edge. It is completely fulfilling, meditative, and focusing. For me, this wonderfully simple mark, has it all!

Now after years, a million or so straight lines, and adding a little registration with some Zecca handssimple math to this process, the work has evolved into the moiré dimension in a way I could have never imagined. But it is still built upon the same simple principle of repeated action.

ARG: We’re mesmerized by the thousands of lines and the sensation we feel when we view your paintings, drawings, and collage pieces up close and at a distance. You mention that your work is an “exercise in precision and focus”. What are your specific challenges as you express yourself?

 AZ: The specific challenges in making these drawings are typical: don’t screw it up, or spill coffee on it – which I’ve gotten really good at… But being focused and mindful of my body position is the real exercise. The drawing action is a Tai Chi-like, whole body movement. The only way I can make such work is to be very aware of the mechanics of my drawing action. Have good form, balance and posture, and most importantly, shake it out, and stretch it out, a lot.

ARG: We can’t imagine how much patience it must take to create these pieces. Can you tell us about your process? Do you envision the completed work prior to picking up your pens?

 AZ: The drawings are multiple overlaid radii sequences. In other words, I draw a line to each registration point covering the field with one color, reregister the ruler, change color, and repeat. Over and over until I get saturation and  a new and unpredictable moiré pattern. I have some idea of how it will turn out but slight adjustments to the pattern of the fixed ruler’s placement have a huge affect on the moirés outcome. As much as I may try to control or anticipate the result, the discovery and surprise of the finished piece is the whole deal!

ARG: Do you ever create anything entirely different from these linear works? Are you ever tempted to make a “squiggle”?

Zecca KidsAZ:  I love squiggles and scribbles and all that loose, fun stuff, too – I’ve got kids. I Just never mixed that with the real serious business of drawing straight lines.

ARG: How did this body of work, “Collage Radii,” evolve? The collages emit a wonderful sense of freedom, almost as if controlled chaos was introduced to allow a different dimension to emerge.

 AZ: They grew out of more compulsive processes. Namely cutting my drawings in to long triangle strips, thousands of them, with the intention of assembling these radius pieces. This collage work was my attempt at loose and dynamic.

Collage Radius #3, Ink on Paper

Collage Radius #3, Ink on Paper (Click for more information)

ARG: Can you tell us a little bit about where your studio space is located and how you work? Also, do you work in silence or do you have background music playing?

Zecca DogAZ: I have a small studio in my beautiful backyard. Which is a wonderful place to be, but mostly makes both the work and my family readily accessible. My two 80+ lb Ridgebacks and I enjoy listening to Giants baseball games on the radio, PBS, and the Howard Stern Show. Music too, we like the heavy stuff, loud! Rarely a silent moment, but it all helps me focus, and laugh, and cry.

 ARG: You have spent a good portion of your life in San Francisco. Has the city or its environs had an influence on your work?

 AZ:  I’m not sure in what way SF has influenced my work, but a lifetime here has made me so connected to, and totally dependent on, the city. Just like the way so many Manhattanites can’t function off the island. It’s a bit like that. And of course, I’m also jaded and bitter…

ARG: Funny how that happens. Here’s one for fun: If you could meet two artists (current or historical), who would they be and what would you ask them?

AZ: I’d talk anything technical with Gerhard Richter, and have a drink and smoke with Francis Bacon.

Zecca collage radius 11

Collage Radius #11, Ink on Paper (Click for more information)

ARG: Great choices! We toast you and your latest wonderful exhibition with ANNE REED GALLERY. Is there anything you would like our guests to know about you or your work before this dinner conversation ends?

AZ: Nothing more… I toast you back. And thank you for your thoughtful questions. I’m always so grateful for inquiry and conversation about my work, so thanks for that.

ARG: Thank you Alex, we look forward to many more discussions with you!

“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.


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.


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?


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!


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!