Lor Roybal, Dodge’s Disbelief, acrylic on paper When Lor Roybal‘s big blue van pulls up in front of the gallery, we’re never quite sure what’s in store. She’s a blur of swirling textiles as she bursts through the door with something bright and colorful in tow. Her specialty is portraits, usually of characters from dreams or her vivid imagination. Sometimes she carries a box packed with miniature paintings and other times she holds a large frame in her hands. Once she brought by a loose stack of old sketches and wild free verse poems.
Lor is a familiar face in Santa Fe’s art community, but no one seems to know much about her. She lives somewhere along the Pecos River north of Santa Fe. Her two-room house is off the grid so she heats it using firewood in the winter. Her dog is her closest companion and painting is her favorite pastime. She is a scholar of art history.
“When I first started showing people my little paintings, I would say, ‘Here’s my treasure chest of gems,'” Lor once told us. There’s definitely something precious about Lor’s colorful faces. Each subject has a name and thorough biography. There are daring circus performers and pensive poets, gossipy grandmothers and mischievous little boys, cherubic elves and long-departed spirits. Some of the figures are intelligent riffs on other artists’ styles, from Picasso to Chagallto Renoir, but all possess a wild twist of Lor’s style.
Lor is now officially part of our stable, and we couldn’t be prouder to represent her. As you’ll see in her latest batchof acrylic paintings on paper, the artist is truly one-of-a-kind. Check out some of the work below, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for continued updates.
The selection process for our social media-curated show COLLECTOR’S CHOICE is underway, and fans on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and other networks have placed their votes. It’s time for some tie breakers on WordPress! Check out the match-ups below and vote for your favorites in the comments section. From January 31 to February 5, we’ll unveil your selections in the gallery and online.
ROUND 1! Jamie Chase is known for his figurative work like image #1, and also his abstracted landscapes like #2. Which one should appear in the show? Take the curatorial reins!
Do you prefer William Lumpkins‘ careful watercolor brushstrokes (#1) or experimental wild felt-tip pen marks (#2)? Read more about the influential Santa Fe modernist here before you decide…
Curate this! Should we feature a Kate Rivers book collage in the show, or one of her nests? Read about her mixed media work in this blog post, and vote for #1 or #2 in the comments.
HANNAH HOLLIDAY STEWART
These tall, spindly bronzes might be very different, but they’re both by powerhouse feminist sculptor Hannah Holliday Stewart. Figurative or abstract? Curate that!
Two Tahitian myths inspired these woodblock prints by Paul Gauguin. Which do you prefer? Read about them in this blog post, and vote now!
Thanks for participating in COLLECTOR’S CHOICE! To place your vote on other social networks, connect with us through the links on our About Page.
No matter their preferred medium or subject matter, one of the first things young art students are challenged to do is pick up a pencil and draw from life.
“It’s only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise, that you have rendered something in its true character,” said Camille Pissarro, mentor to the Impressionists.
Of course, Pissarro had a different idea of what it meant to evoke something’s “true character” than, say, Paul Gauguin. As we discussed in our last post, Vermeer and de Kooning painted female figures in oil to highly divergent ends.
Our FOCUS ON THE FIGURE survey show, running now through the end of December, has us pondering the artist’s eye for the human body. History’s verdict on the success or failure of a particular depiction is often entirely based on the culture that first viewed it. Even in the hands of the most technically talented artists, the human body has a unique capacity to spark fiery controversies. Here are some notorious offending body parts:
The Last Judgment (detail), Michelangelo
Believe it or not, that’s a woman in the image above. Michelangelo (1475-1564) had a hard time depicting feminine grace, probably because he used massive body builders as models. That’s not the reason the artist’s Last Judgment mural in the Sistine Chapel drew the ire of the church, though. Michelangelo left many of his buff bodies unclothed and the clergy was afraid they would provoke sinful titillation. After the artist’s death, fig leaves were swiftly deployed.
Self portrait, Elizabeth Vigee Le Brun
As chronicled in our blog series 10 Women Who Changed Art History Forever, even fully clothed models (with frilly collars) could show too much. When Marie Antoinette’s court painter Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun (1755-1842) dared to flash a smile for this self-portrait she was roundly condemned for diverging from the style of “the Ancients”. Read what one gossip columnist had to say about it here.
Madame X, John Singer Sargent
Top Paris socialite and legendary beauty Virginie Amelie Avegno Gautreau couldn’t resist John Singer Sargent’s (1856-1925) offer to paint her portrait in 1883. When conservative viewers at the Paris Salon were scandalized by Gautreau’s bare white shoulder and bright red ear in the painting, Sargent attempted some damage control by painting in a shoulder strap and renaming the painting Madame X. Alas, Gautreau’s reputation was forever damaged.
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) always referred to his seminal painting of a group of Spanish prostitutes as The Brothel of Avignon. The canvas sat in his studio for years before he exhibited it under the title Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon) in 1916. Even after its rebranding, the painting caused a stir because the women’s faces—influenced by traditional Iberian art, African tribal masks and the art of Oceania—were considered savage and their postures barbaric and aggressive.
After the show, the work was rolled up and stored away for years. It wouldn’t be recognized for its visual innovations until later, when designer Jacques Doucet bought it for 25,000 francs in 1924. “It is a work which to my mind transcends painting; it is the theater of everything that has happened in the last 50 years,” Doucet said.
Our FOCUS ON THE FIGURE show features art by Jamie Chase, Kate Rivers, Eric G. Thompson, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Harold Frank, Pablo Picasso and more. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for more news about the exhibition.
For our NEW HORIZONS: Focus on Landscapes show, running now through October 27, Tesuque sculptor Frank Morbillo‘s latest body of work engages with our diverse collection of contemporary landscape art. Throughout the exhibition, you’ll find observations by Morbillo and seven other artists, many of whom are inspired by the same severe desert expanses and infinite skies. Below is a selection of works and quotes from the show:
Frank Morbillo finds patterns wherever he looks in the natural world.
Kate Rivers uses manufactured patterns to form fractured reflections of nature.
“What’s a pattern? Something that might be predictable. When I observe things, that’s what I see. As an artist, you take all of these different things and see how they work together.”
“I’m using this history of text and image as something that is beautiful, and weaving the words together.”
David Grossmann abstracts his landscapes to lay bare underlying rhythms.
Frank Morbillo traces the formation and disruption of natural rhythms.
“My paintings… are simplified rhythms of color, light, and shape. On the surface they are quiet whispers, but I hope that they convey a depth of emotion to anyone who takes the time to stop and listen.”
“Entropy is the introduction of chaos and disorder. That’s a root of what I’ve done over the years. You take something that could be highly organized, and understand that everything, all things, are subject to entropy. As much as we feel like we’ve created something that defies that, there’s no chance. Everything is subject to it.”
Terry Craig blends materials to mimic natural textures.
Frank Morbillo places materials with contrasting textures side-by-side.
“It took a long time… to develop the formulas and get the materials to do what I wanted them to do. You can scrape into it and get all sorts of these wonderful organic qualities.” -Terry Craig
“Glass is a beautiful material that sets up this nice contrast with the metal. If you add texture to it, it takes on a different color. The light behaves differently going through it.”
Jamie Chase uses multiple layers of paint to reveal and obscure different hues.
Frank Morbillo relies on the properties of glass to enhance his palette.
“There are so many narratives underneath the final painting. It starts out as something really dark or really dramatic in contrasting colors, and by the end it’s almost neutral colors, but there’s something moving under the surface.” -Jamie Chase
“The glass introduced color into the work that really isn’t achievable in metal. The cobalt blues and reds and ambers have a quality that you can’t get with any of the metals.”
Being “cloistered in” may be key to Michelle Y Williams’ process, but that doesn’t mean she’s a recluse. Solitude is what the Houston, Texas artist needs to focus her mind and tune in to her subconscious. Her mixed media works are equally inspired by measured decisions and the pure emptiness of the blank surfaces before her. They’re conglomerations of the figurative and the abstract, and boast a subdued palette that echoes the artist’s fascination with rust, crumbling concrete and peeling paint.
When Williams isn’t in her studio, she’s not afraid to step into the spotlight. In September she’ll be featured in Luxe Magazine, and last week she granted an interview to the Matthews Gallery. Michelle told us about everything from her many materials to the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, a worldview that has taught her to accept her flaws and create with abandon. Here’s what she had to say:
You write in your artist statement, “Inspiration for my work is both selective and completely random.” Is the same true for your choice of materials for a particular piece? How do you select a medium?
The primary medium in my work is acrylic (very quickly after I began as a painter using oils, I realized I have an aversion to cleaning brushes). Pigmented inks have also proven to be an often used medium for me (applied with a dropper, then floated across the canvas using my palette knife).
The choice for other materials, indeed, comes more randomly. Whether I incorporate sand or oil bar or even attaching a piece of torched metal with wax string to the canvas happens naturally & intuitively as the work progresses.
You also talk about a “relationship that develops” between you and your work. Does this change your notion of when a work is completed? Is it sad to say goodbye?
I suppose it’s more of a short-term relationship…shall we call it a fling. I invest energy into a piece which is then reciprocated upon completion, but the real gratification comes when someone has made a connection with my work, which couldn’t happen unless I surrendered it readily.
You prefer to work in solitude. What are some other important parts of your process? Do you listen to music? Do you work on multiple pieces at a time, or just one?
My preference for sequestration is actually paramount – in order to maintain the integrity and authenticity of my work, I eliminate most outside influences that could dull my own creative process. Diverse genres of music can be heard in my studio – from acid jazz to classic rock to classical – while I move between several pieces in various stages of completion.
You mention the importance of seeking a balance in your work. How does that connect with the tenets of wabi-sabi, the Japanese aesthetic that embraces the transient self?
Rather than trying to exert control over a painting, my pursuit of aesthetic balance, (while maintaining my penchant for asymmetry), transpires more instinctively. The absence of obsessing over that quest for balance and the capacity to “let go”, relates to the principles of wabi-sabi.
I found this part of your bio particularly beautiful: “In a stain, we find understanding; in a dent, our ability to heal; in a blemish, an unchained beauty.” Embracing your flaws can be a difficult process. How does your work help you do this?
Quite simply, the alternative to embracing flaws requires far too much negative energy. For me, perfection is boring and I truly find immense beauty in flaws – chips & cracks in tea bowls used in Japanese tea ceremonies or uncut & unpolished rough just-mined diamonds – these things excite and inspire me.
I hear you’re quite the humanitarian. What projects are you involved with?
I am an “equal opportunity donator”, giving my work with abandon to many different charitable organizations throughout the year.