art in medicine – nothing in stasis

I spend the day with the crew at the University of Arizona’s medical school. I am in downtown Phoenix, at the Health Sciences Education Building, installing Nothing In Stasis, my most recent (years of work actually) drawings and paintings.

Walking in this morning, I see a group of students looking closely at my largest canvas that at the moment leans against a wall. I hear someone call out the name of a muscle. Someone else points out the thyroid.  I smile as I approach them and someone asks,  Are you the artist?  This is so accurate, she says. I hope so, I respond. I identify the figures in the painting and we talk about the content.

In between classes I catch students looking at artwork.  Either I am introduced by someone or I introduce myself. I completely enjoy it.

I shoot a series of photos ↓ while sitting in the corner working out a hanging system. Again, students are between classes. One young woman looks at one drawing and then another. She calls a friend over and says something to her as she points. I decide to walk over and introduce myself (all the while feeling like John Quiñones on What Would You Do).

The one female asks me if the surrounding organs signify something about the people depicted.

Yes! You’re correct!
Are they people you know?
My niece, my father and my mother. 

We discuss the compositions of my parents.  They clearly recognize and appreciate the details.

I don’t know how many students I connect with on this busy afternoon but each conversation brings insight.  Are you a medical doctor? My not so scientific response – No, but maybe in another life I was.

Before the afternoon is over I gather how meaningful the usual art works are  to the students, faculty, and staff. They have rotating exhibitions here. And for some reason this last month there has been no art on their walls. I am, in fact, putting my work up 2 weeks ahead of schedule. I clearly hear and see the art element is missed by most everyone.

I speak with Cynthia Standley,  who among other things organizes the Art in Medicine programming. We discuss the value of art in this particular educational setting. We talk about the connection between art and medicine (science) in terms of skill building: observation, critical thinking and communication. She notes how the skills enhance patient care. I note these are the very same skills I teach my drawing students.

I learn they have a partnership with the Phoenix Arts Museum as does our Department of Art at Phoenix College.

At the end of a long day, I sit and watch the natural light flood the now quiet area.

On a side note: When I agree to have a solo at the medical school, I am unaware they have a room with glass walls ↑ and they don’t know I have 2-sided translucent drawings. A medical school with glass walls…perfect!

My studio is empty. I have 60-plus drawings and paintings hanging in the Health Sciences Education Building at the Phoenix Bio-Medical Campus located a few blocks South of the Roosevelt Row Arts District.

The exhibition titled Nothing In Stasis will be showing to April of 2018. The area is open to the public and allows for visitors. An artist reception is in the planning for February’s First Friday. More info to come.


Health Sciences Education Building
Phoenix Biomedical Campus (PBC)
435 N. 5th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004-2230
Map (PDF)
Parking Information

text as an element within a 2d design

Preparing to facilitate a workshop at SMoCA, in the coming week. Thinking about my use of text in an art work.  Text as an element within a design, is the focus.

The World Stage, a play in finite acts

The first time I consciously used text in a painting, I wanted to create a series of works that together made up a narrative. I was drawing/setting up (the idea of) an act, a play. And like the playwright, I too had a cast of characters I was to direct. I was influenced some, by Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. I liked his use of the narrator/stage manager. I created narrators that stood in the foreground, in black and white, while the cast stood center stage, in full color. Introduction text was in black and white. I wanted the audience to read the words and relate to the characters, so the words were literal, familiar, direct.

Let Go

I used text in another series where I was thinking about the power of the words, thoughts and the make-up of the mind. The series dealt with the creation of a limited identity. I used Spanish words (alongside English) for the first time in this series. Because large canvases, with a central figure were surrounded by words, I recognized the use of text as a way of creating movement in an artwork. I played with letters and punctuation, and created rhythm using strings of words. Not only can text be read, it can also create interesting space.

Label and Seperate

Lately I have been using words or complete sentences to create small intaglio prints. In this case, words generate the image.  They come first. Words are used to frame or surround a focal point.  Text informs the form. The printmaking process lends itself to making small, quick, stream of consciousness artwork that stands alone or can be the start of a larger series, at a later time.

The workshop will be fun. And it will be informative for all of us. I’ve prepared a presentation of some work, to begin the day. And then I’ll teach process.  The participants will hopefully complete a small work within the allotted 4 hours. I’m sure to learn some specific things about each of them, while they apply what they learn.
Using text, communication is usually immediate.