The Eyes

The Eyes

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Sanctuary | Inside the Artist's Studio

Being inside an artist’s studio is like being inside their brain—each is different in their own very unique way. Make no mistake that you will ever be truly welcome to enter, for this is their sanctuary. It is the place where their ideas flow freely, experimentation takes place, and art happens. Creative energy bounces off the walls. You can feel it when you walk in the room. I equate it with the same feeling of reverence that you have upon entering any spiritually charged space—a cathedral, hallowed ground, or museum. Your initial reaction is breathlessness and awe. 

At first glance, one may think the artist's studio looks chaotic and messy. That could not be further from the truth. There is much order and design to the way an artist utilizes their space. You are not welcome to come in and clean it or organize it or touch anything. Whether you are there as a friend, collector, muse, model, or significant other to the artist, you are a guest. Do not touch so much as a paintbrush, a pencil, or a tube of paint. And, for God’s sake, do not touch the art! Would you rub your hands across any work of art in a museum? The answer to that is no. An alarm would sound, security guards would appear, and you might be asked to leave. 

I have been witness to studio guests being admonished by the artist for touching something in their studio. No, I think a more correct representation would be subjected to the wrath of the artist! To the artist, it’s as if the top of their skull was opened and you started plucking out pieces of their brain. You most assuredly will be lambasted with a stream of obscenities and banished from the space. Think of it as the most heinous act you could ever imagine, like rape—a total violation of one’s being. 

Further, the art that hangs on the walls throughout the rest of an artist’s home is perpetually temporary. And, one can reasonably expect that a piece you see one day, thought to be finished, may never be seen in that state again. It’s a process. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been shown what I think is a beautiful work of art, only days/weeks/months later to see the canvas being slashed, or washed down in the shower, scraped down, or painted over. 

The best part of all of this though, is the wonderful experience it affords to be present in an artist’s studio—to see their intensity when they work or see the sparkle in their eye when talking about a work of art. Seeing an artist covered in paint, or chalk dust, or plaster, or any other medium is art unto itself. They work with abandon and shut out the world as if in a trance. When an artist is working, there is no attention to time of day, day of the week, or month of the year. Their spiritual artistic quest does not allow for the normality of time for eating or sleeping. They live within that moment. Do not disturb. 

If given the opportunity to visit an artist’s studio, just listen to what they have to tell you or just watch what happens. It’s amazing.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

National Veterans Art Museum | Chicago

Opening today at its new location, the National Veterans Art Museum provides a unique viewpoint on the controversial subject of war to all visitors. An intensely moving balance of beauty and horror, the collection provides insight into the psyche of combat veterans and the consequential hindsight war leaves on its survivors.

In 1981, a few Vietnam combat veterans put together an artistic and historical collection that would become a timeless, humanistic statement of war on behalf of all veterans for future generations. The overwhelming emotional response to the work, along with an increasing amount of contributions by artists, led to the official establishment of a permanent museum. After viewing the collection, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was so personally moved that he allocated a permanent building to house the collection. Since 2003, the museum has broadened its mission to include art by veterans of all wars. Today, the NVAM houses more than 2,500 works of art, including paintings, photography, sculpture, poetry, and music. All the works in the Museum’s permanent collection were created by more than 255 artists who are veterans of American conflicts. See the entire collection online here.

Welcome Home is the first temporary exhibit at the NVAM's new location at 4041 North Milwaukee Avenue, featuring art by Vietnam War veteran Dr. Charles Smith and Iraq War veteran Ash Kyrie

Of the show, Ash Kyrie writes: 

"Welcome Home" is the customary message given to soldiers after returning from war. After that initial message there is no set dialogue. The veteran learns about the world that they left, and their family meets a new person. As a veteran I am creating work that discusses the disconnect between civilians and the war being conducted to protect them. 

Welcome Home opens to the public with a reception today and remains on display through May 2013.