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Behind the Scenes: Abstract Art

Behind the Scenes: Abstract Art

Abstract Art Exhibition, April 4-28 at Columbia Center for the Arts

The April exhibition in the CCA Gallery (April 4-28) is titled Abstract Art. In writing about this beautiful show for this blog, it seemed best to let some of the artists describe their work and their thoughts and descriptions of abstract art. (NOTE: At the bottom of the blog, be sure to check out their collective list of their favorite abstract artists.)

Artist: Samuel Turner
Title of art in the show: Mother and Colonies
What inspired the piece you have in the April show?  A love of nature, Dreamtime, and outer space. 
How do you describe abstract art to someone who is unfamiliar or “doesn’t get it?”  That’s okay, I still love you.

Artist: Carl Annala
Title of art in the show: Urban Heat
What inspired the piece you have in the April show? Urban chaos, the city at night, layers of data and black metal.
How do you describe abstract art to someone who is unfamiliar or “doesn’t get it?” Abstract art is the expression of an emotional or intellectual landscape, existing inside of the artist. Abstract art is a taught struggle between freedom and constraint using rhythm and color. It is the Jazz of the visual art world.

Artist: Carol Jacquet
Title of art in the show: Forced Love
What inspired the piece you have in the April show? Just wanting to try something abstract beginning with color, shapes, movement, it wrote itself.  It is a piece that can be interpreted by each person looking at it differently. My piece has many names that could fit it.

Artist: Valerie Winterholler
Title of art in the show: I have two paintings in the show: 1) Gifts to my Future Self 2) A Departure from the Norm
What inspired the piece you have in the April show? My paintings are often inspired by my time spent outside. I love the mountains and the feel of an open landscape. Often a horizon line can be discovered among the colors of my paintings.
How do you describe abstract art to someone who is unfamiliar or “doesn’t get it?” Describing abstract art to someone who doesn’t get it is one of my favorite things to do! I explain how the portrayal of an abstracted image is similar to a memory that has faded; it is the visual and physical embodiment of an emotional reaction.

Artist: Ted Olson
I have three paintings: 1) Seasons, 2) Wetlands, and 3) Range
What inspired the piece you have in the April show? The Columbia River Gorge and surrounding areas inspired the paintings but, while they are inspired by nature, they do not pretend to be any kind of realistic depiction of a specific scene. Rather, color and texture are used to suggest space and to allow the viewer the freedom to consider the each work as a painting first, rather than as a referential piece.
How do you describe abstract art to someone who is unfamiliar or “doesn’t get it?” It’s sort of about semiotics or linguistics. Think about the word “tree.” We can read the word, or see an icon or a drawing of a tree, and know exactly what is meant by the referent, whether text or drawing or whatever.

Conversely, abstract art does not refer to anything except itself. It is independent from visual representations found in more representational art. Each final work presents the evidence of a series of decisions made by the artist, using the tools of shape, color, texture, gesture, and so on.

In the end, paint is paint, not a mountain or a tree. And because there may be no concrete referent, it’s up to the viewer to interpret the work in whatever way in which they respond, based on their own education, culture, experience, and preferences. Maybe more like poetry than prose, if that helps.

Artist: Kit Garoutte
Title of art in the show: I have two pieces, 1) Emergence, 2) Kindling
What inspired the piece you have in the April show? 1. Emergence” is an expression of emerging elemental energetic forces of existence, born from my personal experience of seeking “the flow” —guiding and being guided while trying to follow a fulfilling natural path through creative exploration. Let it be what it wants to be. 2. “Kindling” comes from a spirituality discovered and expressed through exploration of the combination of order and chaos. It is clear to me that “Perfection” results from a process replete with imperfection.”
How do you describe abstract art to someone who is unfamiliar or “doesn’t get it?”
Keep your mind open, take time to look and experience a piece of abstract art with as little bias or judgement as possible, and simply let it be whatever it is to you. If you want to continue to experience it, then look deeper and longer… return to it, if you don’t… then you don’t.

Artist: Elizabeth Massa-MacLeod
Title of art in the show: Eight-Burst
What inspired the piece you have in the April show? I love space science and looking at images from the Hubble Telescope. This abstraction is inspired by the Eight-Burst Nebula from the Vela constellation.
How do you describe abstract art to someone who is unfamiliar or “doesn’t get it?” You don’t have to ‘get’ anything to enjoy it! My focus is on color, texture and taking your eye on a journey around the canvas. It’s satisfying to understand the meaning and origin, but I want people to be able to approach my work and simply enjoy looking at it even when they know nothing about it.

Artist: Brian Chambers
Title of art in the show: The Orchard Ladder
What inspired the piece you have in the April show? I was drawn to the amazingly complicated chaos that is the orchard in bloom. The fractal nature of the branches and the contrast between the white blossom and the dark branches. The ladder that is at first hidden in all the complexity provides a nice man made smooth and symmetric contrast to the branches.

Art by Alan Root.

Artist: Alan Root
Title of art in the show:  Accidental Dancer
What inspired the piece you have in the April show? The name ‘Accidental Dancer’ is mainly because it was the original name I had attached to this ’study’ piece—which was in one of my earlier shows, and came about because I was juxtaposing several ‘cut-out’ pieces laying beneath my plasm cutter table together. And they ended up looking like an Accidental Dancer. So that, and I have always enjoyed the book and title of Ann Tyler’s book “The Accidental Tourist”

How do you describe abstract art to someone who is unfamiliar or “doesn’t get it?” This is a tough one!

I think I am going to go with this quote by Constantin Brancusi taken from a Widewalls editorial titled “A Short History on Abstract Sculpture” (September 2016):  “What is real is not the external form but the essence of things. Starting from this truth it is impossible for anyone to express anything essentially real by imitating its exterior surface.’”

CHECK OUT THIS MONTH’S PARTICIPATING ARTISTS FAVORITE ABSTRACT ARTISTS:

Wassily Kandinsky
Pablo Picasso

Jessica Stockholder
Helen Frankenthaler
Darren Waterston

James Lavador
Richard Diebenkorn
Gerhard Richter

JW Turner
Mark Rothko

Willem De Kooning

Cezanne

Miro

Lola Donaghue
Pip & Pop

David Smith
Alexander (Sandy) Calder
Robert Rauschenberg
Louise Nevelson
Anthony Caro

 

Join us for this exhibition’s opening reception and meet the artists: Friday, April 6, 6-8pm.