h...I went to school at California College of Arts & Crafts (CCAC) in the 90's - it still had Craft in the name and we were in a time that still felt more analog than digital. I loved my painting class with Mr. Morsberger, the smell of oil paint and turpentine, the high ceilings, the live models, it was magic. My photography teacher was the first person who shared what was coming, Photoshop would forever change the landscape of photography. But at the time you still had at to be an upperclassman to use a computer in Graphic Design (we were still doing layouts on the Xerox machine!) and Illustration meant characters, not art. I wanted more. I wanted my design to feel like art and my art to also be illustration worthy. There was not a place to feel at home for me...yet.
Now here I am, printing digital paintings out on matte photo paper, cutting and mounting them to wooden canvases, covering them in gel medium, holding them when I'm done, finally free from the iPad. I can't help but wonder, as I make this art, what would my teachers think? Would they call it art? Will people who buy it call it art?
We live in an unprecedented time of access. The gatekeepers are no longer as powerful. We can post and share and sell all without a gallery or a store. And so I wonder if the gatekeeper is in my head? the voices of teachers and a friend with an MFA who saw my art once and said "oh, that looks like what I do to warm up"...ouch. Who is to say that what we make is not art? I have used office supplies to make art. I have painted on canvas and wood and chipboard. I love them all. And right now, I love working with an Apple Pencil on an iPad. It has expanded my universe in the midst of work and kids and life, I can still create. And I love the work I am making. The only hitch was how to 'make it real' and tangible. Well, mounting it on wooden canvases is working pretty damn well and I'm about to upload new pieces to my shop on my own website that I created even though I don't know any code. I'd say this moment in time is a pretty wonderful place to be in the creative world and I am thankful for all of it.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it's real art.
The 13th of January
I started this post two years ago, in honor or my mama and how important January is in our family. This year I am feeling such a sense of ritual and circles coming round. I'm not sure yet but the plan is that I will close on my new house on January 12th. If I do close and I have my keys by the 13th of January it will feel so significant. In honor or my mom who fought dragons for me even as she was loosing her inner battles. In honor of my grandmother on my dad's side who made the most of a difficult path. She lost her mama when she was only 10 years old and raised her younger siblings as well as took care of the whole family from what would now be 5th grade onward. The very last thing she did before she died was stick her tongue out at my grandfather, then she went and sat in her favorite spot among all the family photos and peacefully left. I found a rocking chair on the side of the road in Petaluma recently. It needs some repair but I'm bringing it back to life and painting it. It will be on the front porch of the home I will own as a single mama. And in some way, it will say "welcome" to all who visit and to the women who paved this path for me. Who did not get to follow their heart in the ways they may have wanted to. This January 13th, whether I have the keys or not, I will be honoring my ancestors and saying "thank you" for all the magic and mystery of this one precious life.
What I wrote on 1/12/21:
Tomorrow is the 13th of January. The day my mother was born in 1949, the day my dad's mom, my nana, was born. The day that George Ivanovich Gurdjieff was born in 1866. My mom rarely celebrated her birthday because is was "The 13th" in The Work and she would be involved with celebrating Gurdjieff with her chosen community. For me, The Work was St. Elmo, the rambling house in St Francis Woods in the city of San Francisco where we would go on weekends so she could participate and I would stay busy in some way. Later there was an official "children's group" but I was the oddball for years. Drawing in the library, helping in the kitchen or hiding in the coat closet. It was a beautiful old Spanish Style mansion with heavy oak doors, a sweeping staircase, a ballroom and a courtyard paved in terra cotta tile and draped in Bougainvillea. Part of Gurdjieff's philosophy was that work was meditation or a way to awaken consciousness. So St Elmo was filled with adults caring for the land, cooking delicious food and even making pottery. My mom fell in love with the pottery there. I can still smell the damp, clay filled air of the building that looked like a green house, tucked in the forest of evergreens. It was down a long and winding flight of stairs. Filled with barrels of wet clay, bowls of slip and lined with potters wheels. I think it felt like heaven to my mom.
The ultimate insult from my mom was that something was "milk toast" - mostly it was about religion. She had grown up in a protestant church that served grape juice at communion. She wanted grandure and ceremony. Her work with the Gurdjieff foundation led her to the Russian Orthodox Church. And oh was it grand! Not my favorite as a child when we had to stand for the service, that was in Russian and the priests did most of their ceremony behind gilded screens. The magic and the mystery were all there. But my favorite part was the food! The elders would cook piroshki in the downstairs kitchens and the bread for communion was freshly baked and stamped with the emblem of the church. I called it "big bread". We even had real wine from a golden chalice at communion. My middle name is Anastasia so that I could be baptized at age two into the Russian Orthodox Church. And it certainly gilded me with some of the magic and mystery that my mom loved so much.
My parent's met because of the Gurdjieff foundation. I am truly a child of The Work. Of old San Francisco. Of hippies who came to find themselves in the Bay Area.
Sometimes I wonder if I was born in the right time... I long for a bygone era and yet I dream of a future that holds the best of technology mixed with the “old ways” that are so much gentler on us and the earth.