Celebrating Women Abstract Artists

 Pictured here at the Denver Art Museum, in front of Joan Mitchell's painting, from left, some amazing women artists: Bonnie Ferrill Roman, Danielle Hicks, Julia Rymer (and baby Liam), Tonia Bonnell, Mindy Bray, Veronica Herrera, and Anna Kaye.

Pictured here at the Denver Art Museum, in front of Joan Mitchell's painting, from left, some amazing women artists: Bonnie Ferrill Roman, Danielle Hicks, Julia Rymer (and baby Liam), Tonia Bonnell, Mindy Bray, Veronica Herrera, and Anna Kaye.

I just returned from a lovely trip to Denver, CO, visiting family and friends, and checking out galleries and museums. Many were exhibiting women artists in celebration of the Denver Art Museum's Women of Abstract Expressionism show. A large group of my friends and I met up to see the DAM show and revel in the magnificent work (pictured above).

Some of the most influential artists of my work were on display, including the inimitable Joan Mitchell. At the Center for Visual Arts, "Colorado Women of Abstraction" featured good friends and artists Amy Metier, Tonia Bonnell and Skyler McGee. It was lovely to see the work of so many strong women artists on view.

It is wonderful to see the women of abstract art recognized for their work, from the trailblazers to those working today.

 

Everyone can be a collector

Art warms a home or office space. It engages people, draws them in, as an element of comfort or of interest. It energizes an otherwise drab space, provides a sense of peace, or provokes conversation. Original art is not boring, and art collecting is not something only the 1% can participate in.

 Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery May Exhibition. www.jenniferperlmuttergallery.com for more info.

Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery May Exhibition. www.jenniferperlmuttergallery.com for more info.

In a world where the latest smart phone or device is obsolete within a few months, art has staying power. It lasts, possibly generations. It creates a tradition.

Art collecting is for everyone. Whether a big painting, a dynamic photograph, or a small print, art gives light and enjoyment to one's life.

This month, Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery is featuring work at all price points for the emerging collector to start their art collecting journey. Please take a look! You won't regret it (or the art you'll buy). I have a large number of pieces available: big and small, framed, works on paper, prints, paintings, and works on canvas. Stop by! The artist reception is on May 12th from 7 to 9 pm.

 Covalent, mixed media on paper, 12" x 12" framed.

Covalent, mixed media on paper, 12" x 12" framed.

Being the Artist You Are

One of the most profound moments of my artistic career happened not with a great mentor or inspiring artist. It happened, instead, with a professor I quite detested at the time for their negativity, cynicism, and angst. I never took another class from her, in fact. But their advice to me in that moment was one that has stuck with me to this day, and I still think of it often.

In my first semester of graduate school, I struggled to find my voice as an artist, flitting from style to style and media to media like a toddler exploring a room filled with new toys. I did not stay with any one thing for long. My lack of focus was frustrating, for how do you get a grasp on creating an entire master’s thesis when you cannot commit in the span of one artwork?

One of these professors said something to me at a studio visit towards the end of the semester that encapsulated what I was struggling with quite succinctly. During a weekly studio visit, the professor looked at all the work I had created, and said, point blank:

“At some point, Julia, you will have to just make the art you are going to make, and you are going to have to be OK with that.”

Say that again?

You will just have to make the art you make, and you are going to have to be OK with that.

Both revelatory and a shock, this was a lesson that has slowly sunk in over the years. What this professor meant was: be the artist you are. Don’t be someone else­– not your famous professor, best friend from art school, or that guy who randomly picked up a paintbrush one day and now sells paintings for $20,000 a pop. Not the Pop artist, or the friends whose art involves tagging the neighborhood. Don’t make someone else’s work; make yours, and be OK with that.

It has taken me decades of work as a painter and printmaker to hold my focus, creating abstract paintings and prints that explore my fascination with science and nature.  Only once I stopped flitting about in the studio, and buckled down to a series that could sustain me for years, did I start to feel my confidence as an artist grow. These years of dedication were affirmed recently, when I met with a gallery director, who said to me, “You just keep your style, your palette, your vocabulary.” She said that if I don’t, my work is not authentic. And authenticity is something I value as much as beauty and craft.

So, be brave, artists. Just keeping making YOUR art.

 

Southern Exposure

 The fabulous painter Britt Bass at Gather Workshop in Atlanta

The fabulous painter Britt Bass at Gather Workshop in Atlanta

The past year has been one of serious ups and downs, personally and professionally. The life of an artist is never easy, as people LOVE to tell me, but there are times when one needs guidance. As I searched for artists I could connect with online and in real life, I discovered a workshop for creative professionals called Gather. It seemed like such a special program that I signed up for it as soon as possible, and my husband and I planned an entire vacation around a trip to Atlanta and the Southeast for the workshop.

Gather is an intensive two-day experience that aims to inspire, educate and connect creative professionals of all levels and backgrounds. It is the brainchild of branding and design master Mattie Tiegreen of Green Tie Studio and photographer Kaitie Bryant in Atlanta. But it is so much more than branding, design, social media management and business practices. It is connection with other creators, people working with their hands and minds to create lovely images and objects. It is learning about how to transform your passion into a business- and how to set boundaries and manage it so you still have a life. It is encouragement to keep trying new things, exploring new ideas, and taking risks to become a better artist.

When I arrived in Atlanta for the workshop, I had been feeling pretty down about myself as an artist. I wasn't sure that what I was doing was the right "type" of art for success (whatever that means). As one of only a few working artists I know in California, I was feeling isolated and alone. When I left the workshop, I had new friends and connections; I had gained wisdom to help build my art business; and I had renewed inspiration to keep making abstract paintings and sending them out into the world.

On top of all that, I just had a lot of fun.

And Atlanta is a wonderful city to visit. We loved visiting the High Museum of Art and the Aquarium, and spending time at Gregg Irby Gallery as well! There is amazing food there too- we had our welcome dinner at Sun in My Belly. It was YUM.

After Gather ended, we (meaning my husband, four year old daughter, and father) road tripped to South Carolina for a week at the beach. We rented a place on Seabrook Island, and swam and ate ourselves silly, with a couple of days for sight-seeing in Charleston as well.

Charleston is fantastic. It is filled with history, beauty, and if you look in the right neighborhood, killer contemporary art. We visited the oldest Reform Jewish synagogue in North America, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, wandered around the gallery district, and ventured to midtown to see Redux Contemporary Art Space and Studios, The George Gallery, and Mitchell Hill Gallery and Interior Design. The food at Lowcountry Bistro and Virginia's was excellent as well.

I really enjoyed visiting the Southeastern United States. I hope I get to return soon. It was a trip that renewed me and inspired me as an artist, and fed me, body and soul.

The Artist You Are

There are times when the artist that you are and the artist that you want to be cannot be reconciled. This is a fight between desire and reality. You fight and fight to be a certain type of artist, but nothing works- it doesn't fit. You want to make bigger work, smaller work, more colorful work, less colorful work, paintings, sculpture, prints, or just installation. Conceptual work, or formal work. You think, "I'll just do this type of art, or use this type of approach, and the world will get me." So, there you are, trying and trying and trying, getting nowhere. No one is responding- not even you.

With Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours of genius-hood getting farther and farther away, you consider giving up.

The question you are really trying to answer is who YOU are as an artist. Not your famous professor, best friend from art school, or that guy who randomly picked up a paintbrush one day and now sells paintings for $20,000 a pop. Not the girlfriend who paints in her spare time while her baby sleeps, or the friends whose art involves tagging the neighborhood.

No, the question is: who are YOU as an artist?

Not who do you WANT to be— but who are you right now as an artist? In this space, this place, with this work? And can you value yourself and what you do? Can you grant it legitimacy? Can you be enough?

Image

The Creative Place

Image "Creative artists ... are mankind's wakeners to recollection: summoners of our outward mind to conscious contact with ourselves, not as participants in this or that morsel of history, but as spirit, in the consciousness of being. Their task, therefore, is to communicate directly from one inward world to another, in such a way that an actual shock of experience will have been rendered: not a mere statement for the information or persuasion of a brain, but an effective communication across the void of space and time from one center of consciousness to another."

Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God, Volume IV: Creative Mythology

What is art if not to awaken us? To make things seen that we do not see, to bring light onto subjects we would pass by. Art says, "Look. Hear. Feel. Experience." – and then some.

Art creates a place where we are present.