Monday, November 28, 2011

Discussion of excellence in the arts.

This blog post is a repost from the Herron School of Art FB page. I found this discussion of excellence in the arts interesting and thought provoking. I also found that it helped me to read it at least twice! I haven't been able to react to the comments yet.

What are your thoughts about the subject?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My "Start with Art"

What is the germ of a life in the arts? Lots of us love art, love making art, love owning original art, but really very few of us decide that we will choose art-making for our career. Everyone who does has a unique story. Exposure to making art that I can remember started in grade school. Every Friday, we had an art lesson taught by Mr. Wilcox, a small, antiseptic man of about 45, with an Errol Flynn-like moustache, who lived with his mother in a house with a big wrap-around porch catty-cornered from the Catholic Church. He also had a small, antiseptic voice. Mr. Wilcox would come bursting into our classroom, tape the example of the art that we would all make to the blackboard and begin passing out materials. I always loved the class in spite of the big obstacles I had to overcome. First, my last name was Zollman, so I sat in the last seat in the last row of the class of about 30 kids. Second, I was near-sighted, but nobody had discovered that yet, and I certainly did not know. I thought everybody couldn't see the blackboard very well. Third, I was left-handed.

Art lessons were taught step by step and the object was to make a picture that looked like the teacher's picture. Somehow, I could end up doing that. It was a lesson in following directions, not why we were making art. But at that point, I didn't question it. I just loved making things. We all cut at the same time and we all pasted at the same time. Imagine, if you will, me sitting in the back of the room, squinting at the black board, poised with my (of course, right-handed) scissors in my left hand on the bottom of the right corner of our project nearly standing on my head waiting to be given the signal to "cut". How can I ever forget one of Mr. Wilcox's famous lines--"Now tell me in a whisper, where do we start?" as he cuffed his hand behind his ear and a classroom of 30 fourth graders all together whispered back, "At the fold!" Oh, it was thrilling to be making art!

Here is one of my grade school art projects that is still hanging around every holiday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

From my sketchbook: Cambodian atrocities

I have been catching some of the news of the Khmer Rouge tribunal taking place now in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Last winter, we visited a museum there commemorating the atrocities carried out in the 1970's by the Pol Pot regime. Nearly 1/4 of the population was wiped out. The museum is a somber place with signs throughout the building that say "No Laughing". Schoolchildren are forbidden to laugh or run on the grounds when they visit.

From the museum, our guide took us to the nearby "killing fields". He described what we would see and gave us the history, but refrained from entering the area, as it is still too upsetting after all these years.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stutz Holiday Show time again

A busy week getting ready for the Annual Stutz Artists Holiday Show. Bigger and better! More fun, more art, more music, more art, more food, more art. Come down.

The Stutz, 212 W. 10th Street, 2nd floor, Indianapolis (enter from 10th Street on Bearcat Alley)

Various shapes, sizes, price points for all of your shopping (you do shop for yourself, too, don't you?) This year, a few items will be on display in the big room on 2D Hall, and, we can take guests to our studios for a little tour of the art that didn't fit into the big room allotted space!

It's a Mini-Stutz Show!
See you there.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Painting My Mother

“I Have Loved Every Decade”

Painting by

Julia Zollman Wickes


I feel pretty lucky to be a painter. I feel lucky to follow in the footsteps of artists Alice Neel and David Hockney, who painted their friends and family members.

For the second year, I am an exhibitor in the StutzARTspace Gallery’s October show, “Women of a Certain Age”. This year, with the show’s theme being “The Skin We’re In”, I decided to respond to that theme by painting a portrait of the woman who has shown me, by example, how to be very comfortable “in the skin that I am in”--my mother, Maxine Zollman.

I like painting because it is a pretty slow process for me. First I have to get the concept in my head. Then I have to loosely plan the work. Often this involves sketches--of the subject, of the composition ideas, and after talking with my subject, a story begins to form. Painting my mother provided me the opportunity to do all of the preliminaries and to think a lot about her as I

attempted to bring my image of her to life. As I put the paint on the canvas, I thought about her big blue eyes and how our daughters have them, too. I thought about her slender frame and how she was a skinny kid who always liked tap dancing. Painting her fingers reminded me of how she still plays “Stardust”, her favorite song, on the piano as many times as you want to hear it.

Like almost all girls and their mothers, we did not always agree! And we still wrangle over

politics and other topics, but it doesn’t really matter. She has shown me how to be a dreamer, a business woman, a community participant and donor, a good friend and a loving family

member. As a young woman, she made her way to Chicago to become a nurse so that she could join the Army Nurse Corps in World War II, but when the war ended before her schooling did, she headed to Minneapolis to grad school to study Public Health. Married life in a small town gave her a chance to work as a nurse, own her own business, serve on her community’s

committees and start a fund to assist needy families. She said she gained a lot of confidence from observing her mother-in-law, a beautiful, stylish, but painfully shy woman who was often stepping outside her community’s notions for ideas. My mother and my grandmother set the stage, by example, for me to enroll in art school at age 48, and feel sure that such an

unconventional path was still right for me.

Even today my mother sets a wonderful example for me to feel good about “the skin I am in” and to feel confident that I will be able to tackle the obstacles that are put before me. I am lucky to be her daughter and to get to know her just a little better, as the painter of her portrait.

“I am comfortable with where I am in my life and the way I do things, as a rule. Many women struggle to be “up to date” and I don’t worry about that. Life keeps bringing me new challenges. I take each thing as it comes and try to deal with it and I have loved every decade.”

-Maxine Zollman

Friday, September 16, 2011

9/11-An Artistic Response, the next step

After spending a few days looking at pastel squares hanging all around my Senior Studio, I noticed that I had a few empty bottles in a box in a corner. I decided to just paint those. It wouldn't take much effort or thinking and I would be painting again. As I did these paintings in a box, I realized that I was forming a landscape for them to sit in and that the bottles themselves had taken on a figurative look. It even struck me later that I was giving viewers a glimpse of a scene and that there was more in there than we were seeing. Each painting was taking me up to 3 hours to complete even though there wasn't really much to the image itself. Making decisions was almost impossible. Colors? Which bottles? Where to place them? Why did this need to be so difficult? In the end, just doing these paintings helped me get my energy to create things back again. There is a feeling of isolation there. I called the series "Beyond the Edge".

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11-An Artistic Response, continued

A few days after 9/11, I returned to classes and my senior studio at Herron School of Art. I spent most of the day sitting around or walking around looking at what others were working on. I felt empty and unable to paint as it all seemed irrelevant. Finally, I got started and painted 20 squares of 20x20 inch papers--one each day for 20 days. I tacked them up all over the walls of my studio and called them the "Hotel Paintings". (???) I am not sure whether I had nothing to say or too much to say.

Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11-An artistic response

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was just getting to my studio space in the senior painting room at Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, Indiana, when I received a phone call from my husband. He said he had just had a call from our daughter, Katie, who lived and worked in Manhattan. She said that a plane had just hit one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and that she was ok. Katie's office was 14 blocks from the WTC. At that point, we had heard nothing about this incident. I called her immediately and her words to me were, "Mom, Mom, go home. Turn on the TV. Mom, this is big. Mom, people are running through the streets." There was a TV in someone's studio so we all gathered around and were unable to leave the spot. The teacher came by and told us to turn off the TV and get back to work. (I always wondered if she realized what she did that morning--but who could have known....) Students started leaving and I headed to the bookstore downstairs where there was another TV. By now, the second plane had hit. It was beginning to dawn on me that this was an attack on our wonderful city and our people and that my daughter was so close to this tragedy. (By this time, she had left her office and run all the way to her apartment in midtown from lower Manhattan.) A numbness had settled in and upon returning to my studio, I prepared to leave for home. I spotted a gessoed piece of paper tacked to the wall and in about 10 minutes I put down all my emotions of what I had witnessed on TV and on the phone with Katie and made the above painting. We were among the lucky parents who heard from their child before we heard the news ourselves and she was ok. I have thought so much about those parents and spouses who heard the news and couldn't get through, who had someone trapped in the building, or who never heard at all.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cairo on My Mind

There is no doubt where my thoughts are today and where the thoughts of much of the world are today. Cairo. How could you miss what is happening there? Life changing for Egyptians. Life changing for the middle east, no doubt. This painting came from my sketchbook. As we drove through Cairo, I made drawings of all of the mosque domes I could. Such interesting designs and no two alike.

This painting, "Cairo Rooftops" was entered in the annual IDADA (Indianapolis Downtown Artists' and Dealers' Association) show. It was featured in the Indianapolis Star, our local newspaper. It won first place in the show and also was purchased at the show. High quality archival prints are still available.

Danza #4: Singin' in the Rain

This painting, "Singin' in the Rain" has been finished for a few months, but my interest in the the Haitian misfortunes continues. Will Hatians ever get a break! The music, Danza #4, by LaMothe, continues to provide the inspiration for my reactions to the regularly-unfolding dramas that plague everyday life on the island. This painting talks about the mudslides that are expected on the stripped-bare mountains. Not a result of the earthquake, but just something to compound the difficulties for people who have been left homeless by the earthquake. The series, except for the first painting, is on display in my studio at The Stutz-B-335. High quality prints are available for all the works, as well.

Food for Thought-Eating Sushi

One painting had to speak for me at the Food for Thought show in November 2010. The exhibit was held in the StutzARTSpace Gallery in the Stutz Building and a venue for the annual Sprit and Place program. The show centered around artists who use sketchbooks and who would be willing to display their sketchbooks. For some artists this proved to be a too personal territory. The focus of my sketchbook was "Food as Memoir", a subject that I frequently return to in my work. So many memories of so many people in my life center around food! Grandmothers, the old great-aunts, my mother, the children--great stories about all of them and they have stories about me, too! But this piece was different. The subject is still painful. This painting is a tribute to my friend, Lynn, who died suddenly this past year. Lynn was of Japanese heritage and our friendship had grown for over 25 years. We both loved food, exchanged recipes and were crazy about sushi!! Lynn was my sushi-eating buddy. We would go out to eat sushi together, make our picks--some old favorites and always something new, and always wrap up the meal with a bowl of green tea ice cream. One bowl, two spoons. It was fun and we talked a lot about anything and nothing. In the painting, I have tried to represent Lynn's esthetic of simplicity. Just a little to say a lot. I miss her.