Sunday, December 25, 2016

Woman Descending a Staircase 2016

Marcel Duchamp Nude Descending a Staircase(2) 1912

     Gerhard Richter Woman Descending a Staircase 1965
Edward Muybridge Study, Woman descending a staircase 1887

What rattles around in an artist's brain?  When I did "Woman Descending a Staircase" I had a vague memory of Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, not an image that particularly resonated with me, but one that I knew from my art history.  In my mind, I was doing the Holly Roberts version of Duchamp's masterpiece.  Come to find out that I was not the only one, and that Duchamp was probably using Muybridge's wonderful study from 1887 as inspiration for  his controversial and naughty piece.  Good company indeed!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Woman with Brown Hair 1995

When we first moved to our home in 1991, the street was almost empty, with only a few houses.  Directly across from us was a family with three girls; a teenager and two younger girls, closer to the ages of our daughters.  The eldest daughter became our babysitter, and then several years later, she posed for me.  She had shaved her head, leaving a forelock which she dyed black(she was blond).  Heavily made up for our shoot, she chose to wear a simple black dress and high heels. She was fifteen, and not long after that, as a troubled teenager, she left home and moved to California.  Things continued to be difficult for her, and finally, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  This past Wednesday her mother called me to tell me that she had died, probably due to a bad combination of alcohol and prescription drugs.  She was thirty-nine.

When my young neighbor posed for me I saw a beautiful young girl, marking herself as different with her radical haircut, the height of punk fashion. I had no idea of what was to come when I did this painting, but now,  I'm stuck  by it's prescience, it's accurate portrayal of what was going on, both inside and out.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Black Dog Running 1998 & Dog Running 2016

In 1998, when I made "Black Dog Running", I had a large, very nice darkroom here in my studio.  I am a barely competent darkroom photographer, not anyone you would turn over your most precious BW negatives to.  When I made a print, I usually only made one.  Unlike most photographers, I was generally happy with what I had on the paper, having been only too delighted in the magic of the image coming up in the developer, and not being overly concerned with exposure or dust spots or flaws in the photo.  With "Black Dog Running" I made a small, 5"x 7" print from a photo of one of our dogs, and then adhered the print onto a panel, sealed it with polymer, then painted over it with oil paints. I usually finished the painting part in a day since I really only liked painting wet into wet.  I worked this way for almost 25 years.

Now, almost 20 years later, I have developed into another animal. I no longer have my analog darkroom, but instead have a digital one.  Two monitors, a large Epson printer, two scanners and a lightbox are what fill the room now.  I take my photographs with a digital camera(although in the case of "Dog Running" I scanned an older BW negative), and then alter them in Photoshop. It's only in the last few years that I have achieved any kind of skill with Photoshop, and that's after having had it on my computer since 2004.  When I print out an image now I make lots and lots of that image--dark, light, big small, reversed, inverted, etc.  In this case there is an underneath image of the dog that got covered over with acrylic paint, and then another transferred on top of it. The image took me about three-four months to complete.  In comparing the two, I am struck by how similar the two images are, even though they are separated by 18 years and two completely different ways of working. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016


This is from a workshop I gave in 2008 at Anderson Ranch in Colorado.  It was, as most of my workshops are, a ton of fun.  The students all decided that they wanted to write down what I said(over and over and over) for future reference, so they came up with this list, kind of a cheat sheet for when I wasn't around and and they needed to bring my voice back into their art making realities.  Here is what they came up with:

So now, 8 years later, I find myself re-reading this list(especially #3, #4, #5, #7, #9, #11, #14) and thinking,  "No wonder you've been having problems! You haven't been taking your own advice!"

Sunday, October 30, 2016

39 panels October 2016

I've just spent the last three days prepping panels, 39 all told.  Most are panels that had images on them from before that weren't good enough to "live".  I cover them with drywall mud to make the surfaces smooth and to bury the previous paintings, although with most, traces are left, which I like. Once they dry, I sand them with a small hand sander, which as busy work, is pretty fantastic.  Who doesn't like sanding?  So many beautiful results, so quickly, with so little effort.

Now I'm faced with the 39 panels, pretending to lie quietly, complacently.  But I know that once I start painting, they will take on a life of their own and I will be but a servant, a slave to their whims, demanding that they will be what they want to be.  And, as finished paintings, they will insist that I find the perfect mates for them--bits of photos, collaged paper, more paint, transferred images, plain and extraordinary papers(the list goes on and on)-- that will make them whole and complete.  It's terrifying.  The responsibility, the pressure--what have I done?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Horse with Rain 2016

Since the spring, I have been working with my older black and white photographs, trying to make strong images that have something more to them than just putting a transparent photo onto a painted ground.  It's been difficult, not just because of technical problems, but because I'm not sure how to see these images.  They are new to me, quieter and more minimal than my older pieces, truer to the photograph than ever before.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tired Angel 2000

I recently ran into an old friend, Bruce Davis, at an opening and we reminisced about the series of photographs that I had taken of him in 1999. He asked if I would send him some of those images so he could use them for his profile image on Facebook. I happily agreed, then forgot all about it as so often happens now with my not functioning quite as well as it used to older brain.  Then, while sitting and working on my computer today, this image cycled in as my screen saver:  Bruce, mirrored sunglasses in place, a true Contemporary Angel--exhausted and burdened with wings so heavy and so weighty that he can barely stand, worn out from the never ending job of just trying to do his job.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Woman with Her Own Coyote 2015

I've written in this blog before about my love/hate relationship with coyotes, my main issue being that I am the owner of a small, intense, rat terrier who thinks he can, with no assistance from anyone, take down and kill any coyote that crosses his path.  This, of course, is felonious.  He is clearly forgetting the time he was caught, carried, and then dropped by a coyote when the coyote heard my husband's shouts. 

My love relationship with coyotes is based on the fact that they are wild, smart as hell, incredibly athletic, and just all around wonderful, surviving, like crows, by co-existing with their horrible neighbors, us humans.   I like to think this coyote and I share some things in common: we both have the same expressions--wily, knowing, and calm; we are both pragmatic and sensible creatures; we both like to watch more than to be watched; and we both wear Dansko clogs on our shapely, muscular legs.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Man with an Ax 1998

I've spent the last several weeks scanning many of my old black and white negatives and putting them into my computer.  It's been a long and interesting journey, seeing so many images from my past, and at the same time trying to figure out just which photos I should take the time and energy to convert to digital--there are thousands of negatives to choose from.  Almost all of my photographs were taken with the idea of doing something more to them, none were ever shown "as is". What interests me now, in going through them, is what I was trying, unknowingly, to capture.

I've found three recurrent themes that run through these photographs: the first reflects a kind of awkwardness, that moment when things are just that much out of kilter, wrong but not drastically so;  the second is a sense of ominousness; and the third is, often times, one of sadness or worry.  There are sweet images, ones of friends or family or pets, but they tend to be the minority, and not the ones I used.  What I'm seeing now is that the altered, painted image distilled what the original photo was about and boosted it, underscoring the awkwardness or the fear or the loneliness.

I have a vague idea that is formulating about how to use these photographs once again, but I am and am not the person I was 20-30 years ago. This may be the start of a new visual journey for me, or it may be no more then looking back through the black and white scrap book of my life.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Arab Show 1979

I've spent the last week scanning many of my old black and white negatives into my computer.  It's been wonderful--taking a long and extensive trip into my fairly distant past(I started with my first camera when I was nine and stopped shooting film in 2004 ).  A good number of my negatives are of the large horse events in and around Phoenix in the late 70's and early 80's.  Many of the horse people, especially the Arab and gaited horse people, have a love of pretense and and kind of sleaziness that was intensely attractive to me.

I took this photograph and then painted with gouache over it. I subsequently gave the painted photo to my dealer as a gift, and she turned around and sold it soon after.  I was hurt by her selling it so promptly. Of course, she might have just needed the money and/or not liked the image.  I had kept no record of it, but I remember that I had loved the painting and had assumed she would do the same.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Nick Teasing 1981

In the fuzzy reaches of my memory, sometime around the age of 8-9, I can remember my mother and father getting a divorce. My next memories are of Nick appearing in our lives.  An artist, Greek, emotional, a great cook, and just generally fun to be with, he took our little family's stilted identity and shook it hard.  There were emotional outbursts, there were wild rides in our 49 chevy pickup truck through the pinon trees, and there were dinners filled with good food and many different friends, and lots and lots of laughter.  He and my mother married and he remained my stepfather for the next 20 years until he and my mother divorced, bitterly.

Nick is now 88 and living in assisted living.  His mind is going fast, on a faster downhill slide than his body, which is still fairly healthy.  We had great hopes for him in assisted living, a lovely place full of activities and active, interesting older people.  But this has not happened.  He is constantly in hot water with the establishment:  sunbathing in his underpants in the large central courtyard, letting his little dog Koukla loose to poop and go after other dogs(that are on leashes), then forgetting and leaving her outside to roam and upset people.  He gets lost on a regular basis, forgets his walker, and has alienated many of the female residents by his liberal use of  the word  "fuck".  Koukla has been banned, and he is heartbroken.  Cracks are beginning to appear between family members working to figure out what is best as we inch toward the possibility of Nick being booted out of his current home. 

I emailed a friend whose ex-husband, a victim of Alzheimer's,  died recently to ask her about his last accommodations, a place called the Retreat, here in Albuquerque.  Her response was positive, but what she said at the end of her email is what stayed with me the most , "This whole process is so hard and so sad".  And she is so right.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Black Eye 1998 and 2016

                                                                                             *photo by Andrea Wallace
In 1998, while playing soccer, my face got in the way of the ball. The result was a black eye that lingered for about two weeks, going from black to purple to red, and finally fading away. Two weeks ago, our youngest daughter was mugged in a smash and grab by a young woman.  The bruise is just now starting to fade away.

We are discovering that people are reacting very differently to Teal's black eye than they did to mine. While my eye was healing, I found that people wouldn't look at me, assuming that my black eye was the result of some kind of domestic abuse.  This was not just in stores, but even at parties, and other places where I knew people.  It seemed that if someone made eye contact with me then they would have to ask, very simply, "What happened to you?" and they just didn't want to go there.   When I asked Teal how people were reacting to her black eye, and her story was quite different,  "I'm getting tired of telling people what happened.  I wish they wouldn't ask". She works as a server at a very nice restaurant and she said that about half of her customers ask what happened, the other half don't.  I don't know if this difference is because she is younger than I was when I got my black eye(I was in my 40's), or if it's a sign that now, 18 years later, we are just more aware and sympathetic--less afraid to go to those dark places. I hope it's the latter.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

After the Flood 2016

 On March 16, of this year, after a morning bike ride with my friend Susan Zimmerman, I trotted out to the studio in my bike garb(cleated shoes, Lycra pants and top)to gather the trash to be picked up that day.  With a "what's wrong with this picture" feeling, I saw that water was pouring out of the front door.  Inside I could hear a roaring noise, which turned out to be the inlet valve to the hot water heater. Water was gushing out and had been for some 12-14 hours.

In a panic, I had to figure out how to turn the water off( it turns out to be not such an easy task)and then call the plumber.  The plumber, a neighbor and a friend, made it from the other side of the city in 20 minutes.  Once there, he directed me to call our insurance company, saying that they would get the ball rolling, and they did.
The insurance company called Steamatic, and they came within the hour.  Within a few hours we had emptied the studio of water, repaired the faulty pipe, and set up ten huge electric fans and two large dehumidifiers, which were to run for about a week, drying things out as best they could.
The next step was to cut the drywall on the exterior walls about a foot and 1/2 up from the floor and remove the insulation which supposedly wicks the moisture and can cause mold. I had my doubts about this happening, but, at the same time, didn't want to take any chances.
The drywall was then replaced and taped.  The dry wall mudders were next in line, and they arrived and made a huge mess.  When they finished, there was dried white mud everywhere, and white footprints all around the studio floor.  They used my utility sink to empty their dirty water, which backed up and wouldn't drain.  Adding insult to injury, they smoked inside the studio, their empty food wrappers(mostly candy)and cigarette butts everywhere.  The job had to be redone and then cleaned up.
As terrible as the mudders were, the painters were just that wonderful.  Perhaps because we all spoke the language of paint, I felt an immediate affinity with them, a family business of brothers, uncles and nephews.  They were good spirited, funny, and able to do things with their brushes that I can only dream of.
And then there were the Steamatic guys:  Albert(on the right) was with me from the very first hour of getting everything back.  Warm, kind, and sympathetic, they were extremely careful in everything they did, especially in the handling of my art.  My husband and I had removed it all from the studio so that the workers could do their work, and the Steamatic guys helped me put it all back, no mean feat(think four truckloads to the garage and back, all having to go back in a systematic order).
Since I had to keep working through all of this, I set up in our living room.  It worked fine, and I liked the close proximity to the refrigerator, but I had to be careful about not making a mess.

My studio, on the left, pre-flood, on the right, post.  Leaner, cleaner, stripped down of 22 years of accumulated artist type hoarding.

None of my art was damaged.  I had everything in storage units that rest about four inches off the floor.  What was damaged was replaceable, and insurance covered most of it.  We had a $1000 deductible, and except for a minor skirmish with the insurance company they paid for everything above the deductible, probably between 6-7000 dollars.  It was six weeks almost to the day from the event to me moving back in. I've spent the time since organizing and eliminating as much as I can, all the while being absolutely certain that I'm tossing something irreplaceable.  The flood wasn't something I would wish on anyone, however, it certainly wasn't the worst thing that could have happened. In the big scale of bad stuff that happens, this was only a tiny tiny blip on the cosmic meter.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Snake Truck 2016

According to folklorists and other narrative scholars, the hero's journey forms the basic template for all great stories. Described at length in Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the hero's journey serves as the tale every culture tells. The journey's path is described variously, but in general it includes the call to adventure, a supernatural aide or mentor, initiation by trials and adventures, victory, and return.   Chegg Tutors, Hero's Journey

My own Hero's Journey would be as follows:  the call to adventure would be the dedication of my life to being an artist, to making images that reflect what isn't known to me.  My supernatural aid would be the animals that have inhabited my life, providing me with the smallest glimpse into another world that runs parallel to mine but that I can know only slightly.  My trials and adventures are numerous, but most of my trials have originated in self-doubt and fear, and the adventures in a courage I'm always surprised to look back on and realize I posses.  The victory is in my continuing the journey, ignoring my fears and following the adventures my unconscious proposes. Although  I'm on the downhill side of my journey, I haven't yet returned.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Guard Dog(with Open Window)2016

Cash was another throw away dog.  Roaming near the farm of my older daughter's then boyfriend's parents, he was afraid to come near us, but continued to stay close to the highway where he must have been dumped.  This was in the spring of 2009, so it may have been that he was just too large a dog for someone to have to pay to feed.  He was finally lured in with bits of pork loin from dinner from the night before.  My youngest daughter, a sophomore in college in Kansas City, claimed him, and he became her best and closest friend for the next six years.

Huge, with a head the size of a platter, and deep booming bark, we figured Cash to be mostly Mastiff.  In the spring of 2015, our youngest daughter's life took a turn  where dogs weren't allowed, and Cash came to live with us.  For the first few weeks he was depressed, and ate just barely enough to keep going, but gradually, he began to adjust to life without his Goddess.  It wasn't so bad--two little dogs to play with, a huge back yard to protect, dirt to roll in, and best of all, a fairly constant desert sun to warm his aging bones. This winter, on a daily basis, a murder of crows filled the branches of the elm trees in our yard, keeping the air alive with their continual cawing, co-existing with Cash in his new life.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Blue House 2016

Here's what I can tell you about the painting:  it's about trying to do what's best, but still living with the fears and anxieties of both the known and the unknown. There is faith, but there is also doubt about doing the right thing, about being the best parent or spouse or partner or friend.  It's about what happens inside that house: good, bad or indifferent, we don't know, but can only guess.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Angry Mother 2016

I'm  a child of the 50's, as is my husband, and we are both products of Angry Mothers.  To this day, my husband gets nervous when someone starts vacuuming, PTSD from having his mother yank the Hoover around as she furiously cleaned house.  My Angry Mother memories are of slamming drawers and smoldering silences, her anger flaring up when I would become sad or angry myself.  50's mothers weren't supposed to show anger or be angry or even have negative thoughts.  But of course they did, and because they had to appear to be fine, all went inward and then projected back out when least expected--fires that, once they received  oxygen, couldn't stop burning.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Friendly Woman 2016


Simple Definition of change

  • : to become different
  • : to make (someone or something) different
  • : to become something else
Earlier this winter, while working in the studio, I suddenly found myself--brush in hand--doing a  simple line drawing into wet paint with India Ink.  I haven't drawn in years, and was surprised to find myself, in one motion, shaping and defining this figure.  The panel I had in front of me was small, but, still, it was a real challenge for someone who has defined her images with either paint or paper for over 40 years. When I lifted my brush from the surface, I was surprised at what I had, but pleased.

I have been working with Photoshop quite intensely for some time now, trying to learn the ins and outs of this complicated and very deep computer program.  One of the things I had learned to do in Photoshop was to create a smooth, continuous line to define the image I was trying to create, usually based in some way on the photograph that was underneath.  I realized that this little line drawing was both a reaction against and at the same time, based on what I had been learning in Photoshop.  The reaction against was my frustration at not being able to directly hold/touch/feel what I was doing with my hands, and having to stay so much in my head.  But what I had learned to do in Photoshop was to make and follow a  continuous, single line that defined the image. However in Photoshop I can erase  and redraw that line with with total impunity, something I can't do with India ink and wet paint.   It's both extremely exciting and at the same time very frustrating to work this way.  For a person that likes to keep all her options open as long as possible, it should be an interesting ride. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Young Man Sitting Down 1994

In the late 80's and then through the 90's. I made multiple panel pieces. David Hockney that got me started.  I'd loved his composite photographs, and started taking my own.  They never matched up the way I thought they should, but, in my bad photographer's way, they were quite wonderful in the way they didn't. I would start with someone's head and then work my way down, often turning the camera sideways to accommodate arms and legs, or tails and ears. With the building of my new studio, and the acquisition of large, 30" x 40" trays and a large sink, the sky was the limit.  I made large, anywhere from 24" x 36" to 30" x 40", prints by projecting onto the wall, processing the images, putting them together and then painting over the photographs.

Mostly they didn't sell.  They were hard to show, hard to make slides of to show people, and hard to frame.  They were large and often they were complex in their configuration.  They were expensive, and of course it didn't help that the subject matter was usually pretty tough.  With titles like Man Crying with Red Hands, Bully, and Boy Ghost, one can only imagine how they didn't fly off the gallery walls.  I did sell some, have destroyed quite a few others, but still have the bulk of what I did through those years.

I was recently asked to be in a show curated by Dan Estabrook at the Penland Gallery  called This is a Photograph.  When Dan invited me to be in the show, he specifically asked to choose from one of these multiple panel pieces, and Young Man Sitting Down was one of his selections.  He was so enthusiastic and excited about showing these pieces that it made me remember how excited I had been making them, and now, looking at them again, realizing just how wonderful they are.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Couple Holding Hands 2002

At the age of 4 1/2, Bob remembers kissing me in the back of my mother's station wagon, my mother having gone inside to pay the electric bill.    Not long after that, Bob's family moved to Albuquerque, mine staying in Santa Fe, a distance of some 60 miles.  Time went by, we lived our lives, and then one day, 19 years later, he came looking for me, like a knight in a fairy tale.   Reunited, we became friends, then lovers, then married some 14 years and one daughter later.    A few years later we had a second daughter--this time in wedlock,  much to my mother's great relief.

From the beginning of the rekindling of our "romance", Bob has been the subject of a multitude of images that I've done of him over the years.  I've done strange things to him, photographing him when he was asleep, watching TV, raking leaves in the nude, or simply sitting on the couch sewing, then transforming these photographs into any number of images with titles like "Two Men Inside their Mother", "Stolen Snake" or "Man Waiting to be Held".  One of the biggest pleasures in my working day is when I'm done with a piece and get to watch his face when I show him in his latest incarnation.  He will stand in front of the painting, face serious, not saying anything. Then he will began to nod ever so slightly, and finally he will say ¨that's great".  The last thing is that he'll smile his lovely, warm, big smile that lets me know how pleased he is, once again, that I've turned a photograph into something unexpected and wonderful.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Leaving the Forest 2016

My nephew Sky was born on January 13, 1999.  I was there to help welcome him into the world, staying with my sister, Melisa and her husband Mike, to be that extra set of hands you need when you have a new baby and a toddler on hand.  As the years rolled by, we would only see him and the rest of his family sporadically, maybe once or at best twice a year, separated by mountains and plains. But we knew he was a special kid and were fascinated by this strong and enigmatic boy child.  He didn't need approval, and he wasn't especially outgoing, but what he loved, he loved deeply, and what he loved most was nature and all things that existed in nature.  He grew up with the usual array of dogs and cats, but also with chickens, salamanders, fish, newts, snakes, lizards, geckos, bunnies, and rats; anything he could get in an aquarium or a cage. He was like a wild animal himself:  long long hair at a time when that wasn't what the other boys were doing, watchful, careful, and ever alert. Now he's just turned 17.  Sky is tall, handsome, and athletic and the powerful connection he had with nature has taken a back seat to girls and sports and exams; college and a life away from his home looms on the horizon. I sense that wild connection to nature is still a part of him, but now as a ghost appendage, not as his complete and entire being.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bob with Garden and Birds 2002

Earlier this year, my husband Bob and I made a bet about an actor in a TV series and I won(of course!).  If he lost, the bet was that he would have to put in a vegetable garden.  So he did.   By early that spring he had brought in concrete blocks to make a wall and added chicken wire to keep the rabbits out.  He mixed in my composted kitchen scraps, bought soil and added that.  He put in drip lines and set the timer, and by mid spring we were eating greens from the garden.  It looked good, everything had come up, the rabbits kept their distance, and we were eating from the garden on a regular basis.  But as the summer wore on, something happened and the garden began, not exactly to fail, but to not thrive the way it had.  There were only a few green beans, we had four turnips, two eggplants, and by now, of course, the greens had gone to seed.  The water ran right through the soil and the concrete blocks onto the ground around the garden, and it became swampy.  The garden looked sad, and except for a few tomatoes, was basically done, the area around it lush with mint, tall grass and weeds.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Man in a Car(Gerhard Richter) 2016

At certain times my studio becomes out of control:  piles of paper, piles of painted boards, folders, cut out pieces of things which include heads, legs and arms along with shapes that might become something, or might have if they had worked out.  Piles of painted paper, transfers, scissors, glue, paint.  The floor consists of hundreds of bits and pieces of paper along with dirt and dog hair, and rags that my dog has strewn from the rag bag.  My camera and tripod are set up against one wall, boxes that store the lights are piled up against another. And this is just the out of order stuff, the regulars are cans of polymer medium, paper cutters, gesso, jars and jars of brushes, palette knives and boxes of paper, rolls of plastic, and boxes filled with shipping materials.  The walls are lined with unfinished pieces, ready to go except for the odious task of gluing them to their supports.  Since that's no fun, they keep piling up, and as soon as I think of starting to glue, my neck, jaw, and back begin to hurt.  Better just to ignore them.

So, I start organizing and cleaning up.  But what that really means is that I begin what I've come to know as my "clean up paintings".  These clean up paintings happen because my creative self, easily bored, says, "Okay Okay!   I'll give you some really good stuff if you will just stop this stupid behavior." We've come to an agreement, my creative self and I, and that is that I will allow it to lead me in making these paintings but there are certain rules that have to be followed--the main rule is that I can only use material that was being thrown away or discarded. The other rules are more fluid, but have to do with using what I was going to get rid of, put away, or cleanse the studio of.  Normally, my creative self is never this helpful, and usually it's like pulling teeth to get started.  However, give one's creative self an onerous task, and wonderful things can and do happen.