state of the art, discovering american art now

Crystal Bridges Museum is a venue dedicated to American art and artists, a place of learning and community.

10527760_10152614355222328_3207376333857859767_nI arrive into Bentonville, Arkansas to attend opening events for the State of the Art exhibition. The show is extraordinary in that it truly does display my contemporaries – working artists from across the United States. I receive a glimpse of where I sit in the grand picture.

My goals for coming days: Enjoy. Experience. Learn. Though I don’t ignore I’m in the show it’s not the only focus. I want to know the bigger picture. I go with artist friend Carolyn Lavender. My sister Elisa (artist), my nephew Alfonso, his wife Ethel and their daughter Pilar join us in Bentonville.

The 4 day visit to the museum begins with a private reception – 70 of the 102 artists come together along with their invited guests. Talk about a celebration. I run into 2 of the 4 Arizona artists represented, one whom I meet for the first time.

IMG_6648 The crowd moves from reception to exhibition.  I love looking at people look at the art. Here are a few highlights from the evening.

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John Salvest, Forever

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Audience looking at Jawshing Arthur Liou‘s video – Kara

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Monica Aissa Martinez, Male Torso – Anterior View

Remember my goal is to enjoy myself – I do in fact enjoy this moment ↑ seeing my work for the first time.

All of the video and sound work pulls at my attention. If only I didn’t love my brushes and paint so much. Below ↓ is a Kedgar Volta. The piece hangs a few feet from my own work. He places his audience in the role of voyeur.  I look carefully at all the people and environments in the large interactive work.

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Kedgar Volta,  False Belief that the Control Resides in Me

Across from that video I enter an installation titled Reflecting Room ↓ by artist Dan Steinhilber. The mylar installation initially makes me think of melting ice caps. The next day I sit in there a longer time and get the image of a lung – inhaling and exhaling slowly. There is a Venus of Willendorf – like figure in the space. I want to bring this environment home with me.

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Carolyn Lavender photographed in Dan Steinhilber‘s Reflecting Room

More photos from days that follow….
I  look and wonder what I’m supposed to feel, other than uncomfortable – with eyes that seem to keep following me, from a work titled Fracking Fields. ↓  Eventually I settle into and enjoy viewing these video portraits by Susie Lee.

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Susie J Lee, The Fracking Fields ( to the right)

There is so much work I want to get up close to and touch. The surface is so well executed, like these collages below.

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Mark Wagner, Overgrown Empire

IMG_6658 There are 102 artists and over 200 artworks. Two artist’s stand out even as I write this: Vincent Valdez and Vanessa L. German. ↓

Valdez’s larger than life works on paper are based on the lynching of Mexican-Americans in the state of Texas, up until the 1930’s. Think historical image placed into current structure. As a native-born and raised Texan ( I now live in Phoenix ) you can imagine how I feel learning about this in a museum, in Arkansas. I sit in front of the triptych-like display and return several times. I am familiar with Valdez and his work, but not this series.

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Vincent Valdez, The Strangest Fruit

I spend a good amount of time with the sculpture of community activist/artist Vanessa German – though not enough because I can’t sit in front of them to really be with what she calls power figures – and they are powerful, no doubt.

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Venessa L. German, White Naptha Soap or, Contemporary Lessons in Shapeshifting

Friday evening the museum hosts a lecture with curators Don Bacigalupi (now president of the museum) and Chad Alligood. The energy of the evening is high-spirited, to say the least. I recognize their connection and nature immediately upon them being introduced to the crowd.  After hearing them tell of their travels, the exhibit and their intent – I understand why I respond the way I do, to the majority of the work. At some point they take a moment to introduce artists and my sister says, as she is looking at my head, that she swears she sees it grow an inch – funny Elisa.

IMG_6676  IMG_6684 IMG_6680The New York Times article that featured a photo of my studio comes up onto the screen ↓. The image takes me back to the beginning of all this. Because of that cover my studio visit was made public – coast to coast. I received emails from across the country – and still do. John, a neighbor, reads the article and makes copies for all the other neighbors. Now they understand why they never see me outside, I’m always painting.

IMG_6681During the lecture I sit behind a young man named Anthony. He’s one of the people who contacted me during the NYT activity. Since then he’s purchased a small work. It’s kismet – so pleased to meet him in person.

Alice Walton is present and sits nearby. I take a moment to introduce myself, shake her hand and thank her.  I see her the next day in front of my artwork. It is at that time that she tells me she hopes artists stay connected – and from across the county, support each other. 1233986_10204751911428207_5102319597070244831_n Within 24-hours of returning to Phoenix, and my routine – I join an on-line group for the artists and curators from the State of the Art (SOTA).

It’s happening Ms. Walton.

The exhibit runs to January 2015, and includes many events. I hear exciting rumors but I don’t know all the facts. I will return in November.

For info about the work,  the artists, the studio visits, the curators and the organization visit The state of the Art Website.


A postscript : I planned to post a few critique links here but  I’ll let you google the info if you’re inclined. They have started coming out and as usual, opinions vary. I am enjoying reading all of them. IMG_6714 I travelled to Bentonville with an artist friend. We maneuvered though the small town and had interesting experiences with the landscape and the local community. To people whom asked, and many did, we mention why we are visiting.

On our return to the airport we make small talk with an employee of the car rental agency. The next day I receive this email (I share only some here) :

Hi Monica, … I took your advice and my wife and I went to Crystal Bridges today to see the State of the Art exhibit. It is great!!!! The contribution of each artist is so good and so creative. I liked your painting and your approach to the topic! And to think that your painting made it to the cover of the art exhibit brochure is an honor for you as well. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing more of your pieces, maybe at Crystal Bridges?! I hope so.
The mylar room was really unique. What a cool experience to see the room deflate and then expand. So creative!

Sincerely, David

Martinez_MaleTorsosmThanks Don and Chad for visiting my studio.
Thank you Alice Walton.
Thank you Randy Kennedy (writer) and Ruth Fremson (photographer).
Thank you Julie Sasse, for your support.
And special thanks to my husband who couldn’t attend the opening with me.
Thanks to everyone (including artists) who’s made it so incredible.

el paso times

martinez11Ramón Rentería Sept 6, 2014
Former El Pasoan’s work selected for prestigious exhibition

Monica Aissa Martinez calls the national attention that she’s receiving “a little bout of success.”

Martinez, an El Paso native living in Phoenix, is among 102 artists from across the United States selected for “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now,” a major exhibition opening Saturday at the prestigious Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art → continue reading

hand-eye coordination

There is a region of the brain important for maintaining the calibration between visual and motor systems necessary for accurate eye-hand coordination.

Presumably, recalibration of the eye-hand coordination takes place continuously throughout our lives.  - Lorri Preston

IMG_6565 copyI’ve sketched the hand, eye and brain before. I draw them all again this week while at the same time I prepare syllabi for Drawing classes this Fall.

The study is direct and only focuses on the three parts of the body at the start. And this morning in Yoga, my teacher Meg talks about the heart. Naturally I make time to draw out and consider that connection as well.

I show the small grouping to Thomas, who is also an artist and had been wanting me to include the heart. He says … these four body parts … I consider them the four basic elements of an artist’s existence – bridging the internal and external, the subjective and objective.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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I consider the process a week long meditation – natural and organic.

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no woman is an island

This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet. Rumi

 


I have worked on this commission for most of the last 3 weeks. Normally I don’t do this kind of work that fast, I tell Terri yesterday when I deliver the completed, though unframed, large work on paper. I enjoyed it and I struggled with it. In general my drawing is changing, I am including much more information, if I can figure it out.

There are things about this composition I don’t normally set up to do – like a smiling face. Because I told Terri to stand in a natural way and she stood firm, bright-eyed, strong, chin up and she smiled, I worked very hard to get the face just right – eyes, smile and all.

Here are a few progressive shots of it:

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general sketch

 

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refinement and muscle structure

 

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anatomy goes in

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completed head includes cranial nerves in and out the head

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I wish I could take that, Terri points to all the internal anatomy in the artwork, and place it here, inside me – she points to her chest. It came from you, I say as I laugh. She nods and repeats herself, I wish I could bring that inside me, now.  That’s a great thing to hear.

This is an anatomy study , it’s a study of an energetic system, it’s Terri. And Terri has brain cancer.

I ask if she is okay with me sharing all this. She nods her head – Yes, I am. I ask a few more times. I feel protective. But whom am I protecting, I wonder. Terri is accepting of her life. Her son, who is present, agrees – she’s accepting it all!  Terri is forthcoming about where she finds herself, and she’s at peace. I see it in her expression. I hear it in her voice. She tells me she’s had 3 other cancers – of the colon, in the sacrum, in the lungs, and now – the brain.

I consider the physical body a lot these days, as I immerse myself in these anatomy studies. The body serves a great purpose, it holds the spirit. As human beings we live and connect with it and through it.

I prefer to use medical terminology when I title a work. This could be different, it is a human body, a female front body, from head to hips. It is a  Study of a Human Female Body, Anterior View. But I am thinking of another title, a sub-title, something like –  Inside me, Inside you.

Thanks again Terri. It’s been some assignment to study your spirit – strong-willed and so directed.

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The work is casein, gesso and graphite on cream Arches paper, 36″ x 25″


The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.

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The art in this post connects to another work completed in 2012. Terri and Patricaia traveled to Italy recently and upon their return, drove to California and married.

five15 to the Power of 5

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Five15 Arts presents its third annual invitational. Each of the eleven member invites five local artists to take part in a salon style exhibition called Five15 to the Power of 5.

Five 15 member Mary Shindell invited me to take part along with Christine Cassano, Mitch Fry, Carolyn Lavender and Nicole Royse.

The art is 12 x 12″, includes both 2D and 3D, and results in a diverse exhibition with over sixty works of art. Everything is available for purchase and will be on a cash ‘n carry basis. This means the show will certainly be different the second time you visit – on 3rd Friday!

The opening is this coming First Friday. Each member will have 2 works included in the exhibit. Here are Mary’s 5 picks along with her own art :

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Mary Shindell
Mesquite Beans, Moon Crater
digital drawing with graphite and ink, archival ink jet print
2014
$100.00

Morph Code 2

Christine Cassano
Morph Code
mixed media on panel
2014
$375.00

12x12 2014B

Mitch Fry
Regrowth
repurposed hardwoods & elastomeric
12 x 12 x 3 1/4″
2014
$351.00

Baboon-Baboon in progress 2

Carolyn Lavender
Baboon-Baboon (progress shot)
graphite on prepared canvas panel 
2014
$500.00

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Nicole Royse
Twilight
acrylic on canvas
2014
$85.00

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Monica Aissa Martinez
Anatomy of a Hummingbird 
mixed media and collage on panel
2014
$400.00

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Mary Shindell
Bougainvillea Moon Craters
digital drawing with graphite and ink, archival ink jet print
2014
$100.00

Brave the heat and join us – it will be worth it! The show is always a full house.

WHO : Five 15 Arts
WHAT: Third Annual Five 15 to the 5th Power
WHEN: First Friday Opening, August 1, from 6-10 PM
Third Friday Reception, August 15 from 6 – 10 PM
Saturdays from 1 – 5 PM
WHERE: 515 E Roosevelt Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Five 15 Arts is a collective, artist-run, contemporary art space committed to providing support and an exhibition venue for serious, professionally minded Arizona artists.

more info → Five15 Arts

a new commission

 A circle is the reflection of eternity. It has no beginning and it has no end – and if you put several circles over each other then you get a spiral. ~MJK


I work on a commission –  a painting on paper of a female front body – head to hips. I began 2 weeks ago when I photographed and outlined Terri, on a Sunday afternoon. The colors, forms and angles on this life-size study feel different to me and so I move more slow and careful. Each day I detail out one or two organs. I have a few more anatomical systems to bring in that will pull the structure together more. Of course I also plan to work the background. I know the composition will look different even a week from today, so I document process.

Someone asked what I read – he was curious, he said. As I work on this I am both listening to and reading Caroline Myss who deals with the energetic systems of the human body. Myss looks at everything as symbol. I understand this.

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IMG_6407bNo Woman is an Island.

 

state of the art – discovering american art now

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I am excited to let you know my work will be a part of the State of the Art exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of America.

This is certain to be a one-of-a-kind exhibition experience – for artists and visitors both – as curators travelled 10,000 miles across the United Sates to visit with nearly 1000 artists. My studio was in that mix of visits as were a handful of AZ artists. I recall the initial phone call and email I received – I really couldn’t believe it ( for the record – I do believe it now ).

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Photo by Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

About the exhibit:
State of the Art features 102 artists from across the country selected for inclusion as a result of Crystal Bridges president Don Bacigalupi and assistant curator Chad Alligood’s travels and visits (mostly in person, some via Skype) with artists from every region of the U.S.

About the art works:
· Works in the exhibition include photography, video, ceramics, action/interaction, glass, fiber, installation, paper, painting, and sculpture.

· There are more than 200 total works in the exhibition

· The exhibition will reach beyond the boundaries of the Museum’s temporary exhibition spaces, extending into the permanent collection galleries and activating public and community areas indoors and out. Gallery spaces will total 19,000 square feet.

There is no charge to view the exhibition.

WHO: Crystal Bridges, Museum of American Art
WHAT: STATE OF THE ART – DISCOVERING AMERICAN ART NOW
WHERE: Bentonville, AK
WHEN: September 13, 2014 – January 19, 2015

 For more details click ↓image005

Visit the press page here on my blog and see the YouTube studio visit and/or read about the show and my work.

There is more to share but this is a good start.
Did I say I am excited? Yes I did. I am.

I could have titled this post No Woman is an Island.