Shelley Lowenstein Links Science and Art Through Paint

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Shelley Lowenstein

Albert Einstein said that mystery is at “the cradle of true art and true science” In her new solo show  opening April 6 at Washington, DC’s Touchstone Gallery “(as far as we know),” artist Shelley Lowenstein explores the mystery and wonder of the human beta cell, a major force essential to human life, and sometimes a victim of autoimmune attack.

(as far as we know) marries art and science in a variety of colorful, mixed media works of the insulin-producing beta cell–from representations of its role in converting glucose into the energy we need to live each day, to a series of abstract depictions of the cell itself. T1D is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks and damages the beta cell. Ms. Lowenstein has a daughter who is among the more than 1.25 million Americans of all ages living with T1D, one of many autoimmune diseases that are growing exponentially, for reasons not understood.

I dream of bcells
ink on paper

“These works are about biological and artistic exploration,” said Lowenstein. “It is my way of celebrating the amazing beta cell, so essential to all human life, and yet still so mysterious. While I was drawn to this story through my personal connection,” Lowenstein continued. “I welcomed this opportunity to tell a scientific story and play with new art forms, both to expand my horizons and to raise awareness about this wondrous cell, making it more accessible and understandable to people of all ages and interests.”

Islet 5
bottle caps 

As she worked on this series, Lowenstein consulted with many scientists doing innovative beta cell research across the USA. “What was surprising to me was that while our knowledge of the beta cell has exploded just in the last decade, there is still so much to learn. “All these works are grounded in scientific fact, at least ‘as far as we know’,” said Lowenstein.  “Yet this lack of certainty gave me the freedom to experiment with new materials and come up with bold ways to represent these cells without making scientific illustrations,” she explained. “I was determined to bring them to life using vibrant colors that convey the energy they literally produce in all of us.”

Magnificent Mini Factory
24 x 24

“(as far as we know) is a labor of love, intentionally colorful, and steeped in optimism that we can restore normal beta cell function to all in the foreseeable future,” Lowenstein concluded.  See more at http://www.jdrf.org/greatercp/2018/03/15/local-artist-finds-beauty-in-beta-cells/  and http://www.jdrf.org/   Artist proceeds from sales of the works will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the largest global funder of research to cure, prevent, and treat Type 1 diabetes.

(as far as we know) at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20112; http://www.touchstonegallery.com; info@touchstone.com; 202-342-2787; April 6-29, 2018; Wed, Thurs, Fri 11-6; Sat, Sun 12-5.

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Meg Schaap Paints Joie de Vivre

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Meg Shaap

In her first solo exhibition, Marie Antoinette, at Touchstone Gallery Meg Schaap explores the    personality, beauty and power of the last Queen of France.  This project began by a reading of Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser and then viewing Sophia Coppola’s 2009 movie Marie Antoinette.  Both portrayed the compelling story of an Austrian teen who was forced to enter a political marriage with King Louis XVI, an introvert, pretty much her opposite. Meg’s painterly portrayals explore the quandaries Marie faced as she was swallowed up by the new French Court environment bound by outlandish rules, extravagance, and unbending traditions.

Meg, who has a lifelong love of fashion, paints images that show an appreciation for Marie’s fashion designs invented by Rose Bertin (founder of the first French fashion magazine).  Costuming required huge wigs decorated with news objects of the day, such as replicas of a ship Marie funded on behalf of the American colonies getting ready to throw off British rule. Money was no object and Marie took advantage of that.  After painting the first major official portrait of Marie Antoinette in 1778, to everybody’s satisfaction, the young woman Vigee Le Brun was regularly asked to portray the queen. So it is this infatuation with portraits that Meg uses as a springboard for her own interpretive portraits.

a la rose

While portraiture is a major viewpoint in this exhibit, freedom is also a major theme.  Meg shows a side of the queen not usually seen.  One in which Marie eventually leaves the court with all its masks and falsities behind, residing with her children in a less pretentious house in Versailles.  In one mixed media piece, Meg constructs a figure from Vogue magazines and situates it coming from a wall of Gucci inspired images—illustrating the liberation of Marie from the court and all it represented.

Let Them Eat Cake

Likewise in her own life, Meg who was born in Holland and schooled in Nijmegen and Groningen at the Academy of Art Miner,  also experienced a major transformation that led her to Spain.  There she learned English and German before moving to London where she became a flight attendant.  A yearning for the arts called and enrollment in St. Martin’s College followed.  There she met her future husband.  Together with their young family they located in Washington DC by way of Naples FL.  The one constant in this nomadic life was painting, whether outside museums or with friends in classes and inspired by Frieda Kahlo, Diego Velázquez and Kehindi Wiley.

Meg has a special affinity to Wiley who notes, “We have…received historical ways of viewing portraiture.  And I suppose in some way I’m sort of questioning that by toying with the rules of the game….And so in the 21st century, when we’re used to clicking and browsing and having constant choice, painting simply sits there silently and begs you to notice the smallest of detail.” Meg is especially interested in these fields of detail, especially those that surround her painted figures — details that include collaged paper, gold leaf and jeweled elements.  Her meticulously painted delicate-yet-free expressive lines are reminiscent of the painter Dufy.  And intense color in other works accentuate the narrative.  Each painting is filled to the brim with bustling commotion, a “joie de vivre” that demands your attention. –Rosemary Luckett

Meg Schaap invites viewers to visit her exhibit during the month of March and view her take on historical portraits and the intimate complex impressions of Marie Antoinette.  Meet the Artist/Artist Talk: Sunday, March 25, 1 – 3pm.  Touchstone Gallery,  901 New York Avenue NW Washington DC 20001 ● Wed-Fri 11-6 Sat-Sun 12-5 ● 202-347-3787 ● @touchstonewdc http://www.touchstonegallery.cominfo@touchstonegallery.com

Marie Antoinette

Makda Kibour: Raw Paintings

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Makda Kibour, a quiet gentle woman who immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia by way of Zambia, has under gone many transformations on her way to becoming an artist.  After reaching Pennsylvania, she become part of a Mennonite family for five years, learning to navigate that religion’s discipline of “the simple life.”  This austere Bible-based faith was quite a contrast to ancient traditional rituals of the Greek Orthodox Church she grew up knowing in Ethiopia. Her artistic sensibilities responded to the expert woodworking and hand sewn quilts pieced with deep reds, blues and other dark colors that were part of the Mennonite culture.

Once acclimatized to a new life in this new country, she enrolled in cosmetology school, studied business, and then opened her own Mak Salon in Alexandria VA, while raising a family—and finally turning her attention to art.  During the 1990’s Makda began taking classes at the Art League, finding her niche in Deanna Schwartzberg’s painting class.  Having been influenced by painters Jackson Pollock and especially Jean-Michel Basquiat, she dedicated one room in her salon to painting.  In addition to Ethiopian and English, she has become fluent in the language of paint, producing emotional works that speak a universal language.

Earth Element

Makda’s first Touchstone solo exhibition, She Runs Wild, reflects the total surrender of herself to painting, to speaking the truth in color, line and form.  The gap between cultures she has experienced in her life comes into play as she works.  “Like me in one culture and then moving into a new culture, I have to find ways to fit in—to make sense of it all.”  That concept seems akin to what Jean-Michel Basquiat felt when he remarked, “I don’t think about art when I’m working. I try to think about life,” Makda does too.  She paints the gaps, sews up the wounds, and adds stories she hears to her own very big story. “We can connect with everyone we meet by listening, by being open to each, and finally by recognizing we all are one in the body of humankind.  Painting relieves the burden of so many profound stories and it can be shared with viewers so they can relate to each image.  Maybe to be healed too,” she reflects.

Council

The abstract acrylic paintings in She Runs Wild are gutsy stories and they are raw.  Canvases are cut and sewn back together, dripping with paint and emotion.  Violets, black, purple, blue and red reinforce the wounds caused by breaking open hard experiences.  But the process also opens the psyche to deep understandings, allowing brighter colors to emerge.  Vigorous brush strokes, colored shapes, and textures speak Makda’s third language—a universal painted expression, and one that she relishes.  “I’m in a great place in my art as I work toward peace and fulfillment,” she states. And the viewer is invited to enter into the conversation with these wild works to enjoy and understand their import. –Rosemary Luckett

Show Dates – March 2-March 25, 2018. Opening Reception: Friday, March 2,   6-8:30 pm; Meet the Artist/Artist Talk Sunday March 25, 1-3 pm.  

Touchstone Gallery— 901 New York Avenue NW, Washington DC 20001 — 202-347-2787 — Info@touchstonegallery.com  — http://www.touchstonegallery.com  Wednesday- Friday 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 12-5; 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 202-347-2787; Wed-Fri 11-6; Sat-Sun 12-5

 

Breaking Open

Rosemary Luckett: exploring the terrain within

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Rosemary Luckett

In her February 2018 solo exhibition Landscapes: the terrain within, Rosemary Luckett steps back from exploring the environmental landscape to make art about the archetypes she recognizes in her interior landscape.  Over time she discovered the inner guides or archetypes portrayed in art, literature, mythology, and religion, heroes that have been with humanity everywhere since the dawn of time. Inspired by female contemporary heroes and writer Carol S. Pearson’s book on the topic (Awakening the Heroes Within), she constructed collages about the twelve archetypes, putting herself into the picture.  They percolated in a drawer for years until she decided to explore them further in larger format.

Orphan Times

The paintings and collages in this exhibit reflect her interactions with archetypal heroes she recognized in her own life: preparation for life’s journey (Innocent, Orphan, Warrior, Caregiver); journey to becoming real (Seeker, Destroyer, Love, Creator); the return to becoming free (Ruler, Magician, Sage, Fool).  Her painting vocabulary includes: Dragons, trees, a child in swing, doors, birds, female figures, a spindle, the moon, plant foliage and flowers, grids, a dangling woman, masks, and horizon lines.  If questions are asked of these symbolic images, then the stories they tell reveal much more than is seen in a surface or cursory glance.

Seeking Confidence

The collages in this exhibit are housed in niche boxes made of unique wood pieces sculpted together.  They amplify the figure within and recall religious wood retablos found in the Southwest, as well as icons common to churches in ancient Byzantium and modern Italy.  Large acrylic paintings also include collage elements whether subtly or overt.  All in all, they represent some familiar and some less-recognized heroes as seen through Luckett’s life lens.

Athena: The Great Protector II

Pocket Madonna

Elaine Florimonte: Layering and Balancing

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Elaine Florimonte

Elaine Florimonte is drawn to the simplicity and consistency of the horizon, specifically the proportions of sky, water and ground in paintings comprising her solo exhibition, The Pursuit of Balance at Touchstone Gallery, February 2018. Through her use of acrylic media and collage, she creates landscape images in an effort to find balance in an ever shifting world.

Untie the Weights 24 x 36

The shift includes not only weather, but also our current capricious American reality. Each new sunrise seems to throw light on a new set of circumstances with which we must try to digest and respond to. Our world continues to rock back and forth in terms of political and cultural shifts that make us question our own ethical compass. In the studio Elaine found stability by painting landscapes–focusing on the horizon at the beginning of each painting.  Even so, a horizon may shift and then reassert itself.  Sometimes the foreground slides into background and line wanders in and out of focus as the weather changes or clouds ascend in dominance. While the horizon is relatively stable, the space can be ambiguous. Through her vigorous brushwork Elaine creates layered compositions that cover and reveal the history of her creative process and ultimately her pursuit of balance.

The Way Waters Flow 20 x 30

The Pursuit of Balance will be on exhibit at Touchstone Gallery in Washington, DC from January 31-February 25, 2018. www.touchstonegallery.com

901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 202-347-2787; Wed-Fri 11-6; Sat-Sun 12-5

Treading the Space Just Above Ground 36 x 24

BD Richardson: Repetition, Pattern and Form–From Intimate To Immense

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BD Richardson

In what turned out to be a prescient decision, BD Richardson, fresh from earning a master’s degree from American University, began a habit of carrying a camera everywhere she went.  Beginning with a trip to China as part of a women’s press group in 1980, she captured bits and pieces of that huge country just prior to its national efforts to modernize. After that, no place in the world was exempt from her restless eye: Paris, South America, North America’s heartland with its aging buildings and big skies, and coastal villages replete with fishing boats and seamen.  Lately she has focused her camera up close on plant forms turning their growth patterns into mandalas.

Schoolhouse in the Round

Taking photos was only the first part of BD’s artistic process.  Saving the negatives and slides for future development during a long hiatus (raising a family and a business) was key.  Then taking the leap from dark room techniques like salt print developing to using digital techniques opened more possibilities.  On the computer she remastered and reinterpreted older images, bringing them alive again–a laborious process, but a gratifying one.  Exploring metallic photographic papers and other contemporary professional tools now at her disposal heightened her passion for the photographic process.  Some images are hand-printed onto film and then transferred by hand to aged metal plates. Others are printed on metallic paper and sandwiched between Plexiglas and aluminum.

Bushel of Buoys

In Richardson’s Touchstone Gallery exhibition Moments & Methods: Mosaics, 45 images taken between the 1970’s and 2017 are on display during the month of January 2018.  The muted warm gray tones of spacious land, sky and sea are home to solitary buildings, lone figures, and boats. In most of the works, subdued environments include brief interludes of red or yellow color in stacked plastic pails and buoys, or a field of pale green grass, or an overturned red and white lifeguard stand.  Dramatically lit cloud formations emphasize huge skies in the heartland of America, and symbolize both the deleterious power of storms and rain they bring to make farm life possible in the Midwest.  Intricate crop patterns and plowed fields lie powerfully under these skies, sometimes punctuated by a lone aging building or a single figure. In contrast, her more recent plant form images flaunt more vibrant colors while excluding the grays.

No Lifeguard on Duty

Human presence is overt in many works, or implied through park benches, light poles, balustrades, wheels, buildings, vehicles and ships.  A lone Chinese woman embroiders tapestries by the feeble light of a single bulb.  In the mist a waterman tends to his small boat.  Richardson’s color palette depicts a world similar to that of painter Andrew Wyeth, whose monochrome tones with touches of color speak of the simplicity of the American spirit as it once was a century ago.  “It’s all in how you arrange the thing… the careful balance of the design is the motion,” he says, and Richardson is equally careful, capturing repetition, pattern and form with her discerning eye.  –Rosemary Luckett

Moments & Methods: Mosaics exhibit can be seen from January 4 – 28, 2018 at Touchstone Gallery— 901 New York Avenue NW, Washington DC 20001 — 202-347-2787 — Info@touchstonegallery.com  — http://www.touchstonegallery.com  Wednesday- Friday 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 12-5

Working the Water

 

Benches in Parc-Monceau

Maureen Squires: Partnering Painting with Words

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Maureen Squires

While writing Touchstone blog essays, I ask the question, ”How do artists arise in America?” The answer, of course, is that exceptional artists come from small towns and large all across the land, predictably and unpredictably.  I thought about this recently while driving the Pennsylvania Turnpike, where my attention alternated between fast-moving 18-wheelers and glimpses of green pastures sculpted from long-ago deciduous forests when horses were the main mode of transport.  Road signs mention the small towns that are quickly by-passed.

Maureen Squires, like one of her favorite authors Annie Dillard, recognizes these landmarks because they were both raised in Pittsburgh’s east end.  As a child Maureen was preoccupied with drawing and attracted to handwriting.  She had definite ideas about which scripts she liked and which she did not, and practiced her favorites over and over.  As a Seton Hill University freshman she took her initial calligraphy class as part of her first Drawing and Design course.   It laid the foundation for her lifelong fascination with words and how to give them form in an expressive, harmonious, and skillful manner.  Design and painting became natural partners for the words she loved to script.

Solar Wind V, 30 x 23, sumi and acrylic, pointed brush, 300 lb watercolor paper

Maureen spent two post-graduate years in calligraphy studies headed by Arnold Bank at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.  Bank was one of the founders of the Type Directors Club in 1946, which added momentum to establishing 20th century calligraphy and typography studies in mainstream visual art in America.  Bank coached his students struggling with the inevitable mistakes inherent in the meticulous production of calligraphy that, “If it’s worth doing once, it’s worth doing over again.” Scraping mistakes off the paper was only one solution.  Although also inspired by Gottfried Pott, Donald Jackson and Thomas Ingmire, Maureen attributes much of her calligraphic thinking and skill to Bank.

Creation II, 20 1/4 x 22, acrylic, Sumi on cold press, pen and brush

Upon completing studies, Maureen was employed by the AT&T Bell Labs art department for a while.  But her most enjoyable work experiences happened after she became a freelance artist, picking up projects and meeting other calligraphers the world over.  She also developed her painter’s eye, focusing on “the secret of seeing” during the creative process. Before toning Arches Text Wove paper or canvas, Maureen chooses inspirational words that suggest a color scheme, which in turn, gives life to words.  Maureen’s first Touchstone Gallery solo show, Words as Muse, typifies this process. The work in this exhibit celebrates the concepts and wordplay of Annie Dillard: “After the one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down eons of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with ever-fresh vigor.”  It’s the language of movement and vigor.

Profusions on Profligacies, 30 x 30, acrylic on canvas

The field of calligraphy is a fluid one, so associating with other artists keeps Maureen current with what is happening in her field.  She attends annual International Calligraphy Conferences, and has directed three of them.  This year Maureen is curator and editor of the most recent issue of Scripsit magazine, a publication of the Washington Calligraphy Guild, many of whose member artists work in federal government agencies and the White House, scripting certificates, special documents, and formal invitations.  A copy of Scripsit is part of her December 2017 exhibition Words as Muse. It’s an exhibit in which, in the words of calligrapher Massimo Polello, “…letters become a means to exist outside myself… going beyond the letters, captured by a sole need to see. They become signs, images, evocations, urgent needs, emotions.”   It’s a unique exhibit and one in which viewers will see how words and painting marry up to form unique expressions.—Rosemary Luckett

Opening Reception Friday, December 1, 2017, 6-8:30 pm

Meet the Artist Maureen Squires/Artist Talk Saturday December 16, 2-4 pm

Touchstone Gallery — 901 New York Avenue NW, Washington DC 20001

202-347-2787 — Info@touchstonegallery.com  — http://www.touchstonegallery.com

Wednesday- Friday 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 12-5

The Secret, 20×30, acrylic on canvas

dana brotman: capturing the confluence of humble materials & insightful gaze

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       — dana brotman

If we each open our eyes a little wider and really look at our environment, we begin to see a lot of packaging “stuff” that might be falling to the floor as we open a gift or other everyday objects–the worthy and useful objects we think important.  We throw that packaging away mostly without really looking at it. But, even if the rest of the world ignores it, Dana Brotman does not.  She’s actually attracted to many of those “stuffs” and now actually uses it in her art processes.

In the past, drawing or painting on a flattened smooth box or some handy corrugated cardboard was the natural thing for Dana to do on those occasions when she ran out of the good paper–the deckled edge watercolor kind that soaks up ink and paint so superbly.  During the past year it became apparent to her that the portraits she so loves to do actually take on a different attitude if they are painted on discarded materials.  The foundation color peeks through more easily on cardboard. The flattened box edges provide boundaries to the portrait and emphasize the shapes she is preoccupied with.

woman + man

Painting faces “is what I do”, says Dana. “It’s what comes up for me when I pick up my charcoal or paints.  I love the geometric, almost symmetrical shape of the face, neck and shoulders.  I try to capture the gaze of the person I am observing.” Rather than attempting to replicate an exact likeness photographically, she may exaggerate part of her composition.  Sometimes the neck is elongated in the manner of Amedeo Modigliani.  Sometimes, following Paul Klee’s lead, she uses black line and childlike simplification of forms.  Sometimes she begins by recalling the drawings that her daughter made years ago at age four.  She intuitively knows that, “One eye sees, the other feels,” as Klee once remarked.

woman in high collar

Dana’s first solo at Touchstone Gallery reflects these attitudes.  beg borrow + steal: works on cardboard delights the eye with figures installed sans glass.  Some are separated from the wall by brightly colored vintage frames.  Others float on the wall flaunting their rawness.  One stands alone four-sided on a pedestal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This new work belies the journey Dana has taken over time.  As a young woman Dana felt like a fish out of water at James Madison University, so she gave up her art minor there, and answered the call of a cooler climate in the North.  Equipped with snow boots, warm clothes, and her little box of paints, she enrolled in Tufts University in Boston.  She completed a graduate degree in counseling psychology two years later.  The climate suited her, so she went to Garden City on Long Island NY, and obtained a doctorate at the Adelphi University’s Derner Institute.   Dana married a Jersey boy there and then relocated back to Virginia again—paint box still along for the ride–where she maintains a psychotherapy practice along with the job of motherhood. for the ride–where she maintains a psychiatric practice along with the job of motherhood.

girl + green necklace

Feeling the lifelong urge to paint at age 40, Dana opened up her trusty paint box and began making small “hidden” paintings while entertaining ideas for big ones.  A gift certificate for a gesture drawing class at the Art League in Alexandria changed everything.  “It was as though I had awakened in another country where I didn’t know the language,” she recalls, “but I kept going, learning and collecting papers and enjoying how each absorbed pigment differently. Corrugated cardboard textured surface does the same thing as a gesture drawing class does.  It stops me from fretting over the process.  It’s a gift that helps me bypass anxieties about trying to ‘get it right’.” Once her creative genie got out of the box, there was no stopping the flow of artwork and the enjoyment found in the painting process.

As she became practiced in art, Dana also looked for a way to be part of an artist community and then to show her work.  Touchstone Gallery fills that bill. Viewers will enjoy her lively painted portraits in beg borrow + steal: works on cardboard from October 4-29, 2017 at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20001. 202-347-2787. Touchstone Gallery.com.  Wed-Fri: 11am-6pm; Sat-Sun 12-5 pm. It’s an animated and delightful exhibit. Opening reception Friday October 6, 2017, 6-8:30 pm. –Rosemary Luckett

two women

Patricia Williams: Ordered Complexities

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Patricia Williams

“Both science and art have to do with ordered complexity.” –L. L. Whyte, 1957

My September 2017 solo show was originally intended to be an abstract landscape series, but it turned into an homage to math and science.  This happened because the people who decide such things declared March 14, 2015 to be the official pi (π) day. (Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter and always equals 3.14159265359….) I met my husband Andy in engineering school, and while neither of us claims any particular STEM skills at this point in our lives, we had a vigorous discussion of this important issue over breakfast one morning, and we vigorously dissented. In our opinion, the official pi day should have been March 14, 2016. That’s because 2015 is truncated, and we believe it more appropriate to round up to 2016.

Our discussion sent me off to art class thinking about mathematics in general and pi in particular, something I had not done in a very long time, and I painted a picture incorporating various aspects of pi. It was so much fun! I immediately painted the natural logarithm e and the golden mean phi (ɸ). Then I let it rest. I had focus on painting landscapes for the Seasonal Variations show I planned to mount in 2017.

Ode to Pi Day (Truncated with Errors)

But Touchstone’s January 2017 themed exhibit What’s Next? changed my thinking. The show was announced right after last year’s elections, and as I read about it, the only thought I had was, I have no idea. I don’t know where things are going. This reminded me of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which says that you can determine either the position or the movement of a small particle but not both at the same time. Heisenberg’s work led to a thought experiment involving the paradox of Schrödinger’s Cat (an imaginary circumstance in which a cat could be deemed both dead and alive at the same time). So I painted Schrödinger’s cat. Mostly, people couldn’t have cared less about Heisenberg, but they liked the cat. That gave me the courage to paint what I really wanted and needed to paint.

“Hey, Heisenberg, Have You Seen My Cat?”

Ordered Complexities has been a very personal series for me and also a great joy to work on. One of the nicest things about it has been that it has given me the opportunity to engage friends who have little or no interest in art in the artistic process. For example, if I ever knew about Pascal’s Triangle, I had long forgotten it. A friend who is a civilian consultant to the military and who is very polite about my abstract works (meaning he doesn’t like them) suggested it. Look it up. It’s fascinating. A colleague in the Firnew Farm Artists’ Circle suggested Fermat’s Last Theorem. A friend from school loaned me a textbook on a software program called Mathematica that gave me an idea for painting Fermat. Someone else suggested the square root of two, and I learned about the silver mean (silver ratio) and the fact that the Babylonians, who did not have zero, let alone the Internet, left a clay tablet demonstrating a derivation of the square root of two. I fell in love with math and science all over again.

Perhaps most importantly, I learned that the intersections of art and science are not as rare as I thought. When I was researching Enneper surfaces, I discovered Man Ray’s 1934 photograph of one, Objet Mathematique. I found someone called Mr. Parr engaging his students through covers of popular songs rewritten to explain scientific concepts, such as Newton’s laws of motion. The heartbreakingly beautiful Sagrada Familia, a cathedral in Barcelona, Spain (under construction since 1882) incorporates many geometric and mathematical constructs, including a magic square in its Passion Façade. Perhaps as mass and energy are equivalent (E=mc2), art and science merely reflect different states of thought.

Enneper’s Space

Today’s world is full of divides. Certainly not the most important, but one which vexes me, is the divide so often found between people who see themselves as creative and people who see themselves as mathematical. I hope these paintings will in some small way provide a bridge across that divide. I hope that anyone who sees the images will find them interesting. I hope that my friends who are uncomfortable with math and science will find them approachable and perhaps explore one of the concepts a little more. I hope that my friends who are uncomfortable with art will see that it has something to offer in interpreting the world. Most of all, I hope that if you have a favorite irrational constant, mathematical formula or scientific concept, you will share it with me. I am not yet through with this series. Or, more to the point, it is not through with me.

The paintings in Ordered Complexities are comprised of layers of transparent watercolor and watercolor pencil or water-soluble graphite on Multimedia Artboard™, a rigid paper substrate. In some paintings, intense colors and murky darks all but obliterate the underlying text. In others, wispy lines of water-soluble graphite are punctuated with jolts of color. The paintings are driven by content, but content is secondary to the interplay of color and form.–Patricia Williams

Ordered Complexities: New Watercolor Paintings by Patricia Williams; August 30 –October 1, 2017

Opening Reception ▪ Friday, September 8, 6-8:30 pm

Meet the Artists ▪ Saturday, September 23, 1-4 pm

Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC; info@touchstonegallery.com    www.touchstonegallery.com; 202-347-2787

The Thinker

 

Claudia Samper Mixed Media Stories

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Claudia Samper

 

Argentinian born Claudia Samper reminisces on her early life in Buenos Aires.  “As a youngster I was always drawing and creating things with my hands,” she recalls. “By the time I entered the university I didn’t have many choices in Buenos Aires except for traditional career paths–medicine, education, law, etc. We of course did have a wonderful art institute, but it never crossed my mind to pursue art then.”  The one track that suited her the most was architecture.  After completing that 6-year degree program, she had acquired a solid base in both the technical and the art spheres of the curriculum.

As a teaching assistant, Claudia taught architectural modeling and design courses.  Her favorite part of architecture was inventing designs and drawing complex perspectives by hand. Auto Cad computer renderings she learned later after moving to the US.  Additional classes in graphic design paved the way for a career change as her attention to architecture waned and interest in exploring ceramics increased–especially hand built sculptural forms.

Connecting the Dots

The magnetism of oil colors and portraiture captured her interest during her experiments with clay.  Gradually oil paint “won the day” and she discovered that paint could better portray her interest in the human condition than her clay pieces. Claudia, moreover, was drawn to the paintings of Alice Neel, Lucian Freud, Rembrandt, and Velasquez, because they knew how to capture the interior expression of the person they were painting, going deeper than getting the shape of the mouth and distance between the eyes correct. Claudia learned to paint loosely, too, and didn’t concern herself with getting the anatomy photographically correct.  Inspired by tango composers, poets and singers, she started a series about them, drawing from old black-and-white photographs just to get the basic form before allowing the colors and brush strokes to express the personality of her subject.  Lucian Freud had explained it well, “The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real.”

House of Cards

But the architectural outlook in Claudia has returned lately to her work, in the form of small precisely rendered surreal paintings. Their graphic quality takes precedence over her use of oils.  Many of these new works pair lifelike songbirds with Origami birds on a white background that negates the natural habitat from which avian life usually springs.  By situating the birds in a spare environment, Claudia tells a distinctive story of the relationship between humankind and the natural world–a story for the viewer to decipher without the muffle of bushes, land and sky. The recognizably live birds and the folded paper birds each bring with them their own history of meaning.  Each also becomes a metaphor for people trying to make sense of a world where mixed messages and conflicting information seem to be the order of the day. Hence the title: Connecting the Dots.

In her first solo at Touchstone Gallery, Connecting the Dots, Claudia tries out new materials along with the oils: colored pencils on transparent Mylar, ink on translucent Mylar, and graphite.  Some pieces are 3 or 4 layers thick resulting in images that go beyond mere presentation–images that have to be discovered bit by bit by the viewer. You can see and enjoy these intriguing works at Touchstone Gallery from July 8-30.

Opening Reception: Friday, July 14 from 6-8:30 pm

Meet the Artist Saturday, July 29, 1 – 3 pm;

901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20001; Wed-Fri 11-6 and Sat-Sun 12-5.  http://www.touchstonegallery.com   info@touchstonegallery.com