These days, when I am searching for inspiration, or trying to find my way through a problem in my work, I tend to look in music.
I have written a little about this before.
The thing is, I spend so much time thinking about painting, so much time examining the structure, and so much time analyzing the techniques used, that I have reached a point where I have a hard time turning that off. It’s hard to enjoy a magic show, when you know the trick to all the illusions. As this point, when I come across a great painting, I approach it like a scientist, like an archaeologist gently uncovering the layers of paint. It’s a great way to learn how to make paintings, but a terrible way to really connect with a piece. I often find myself unable to turn this off. So I look to something that is still a little more mysterious (to me), I look to music to find my muse.
There are still occasions when I come across work that I can’t reverse engineer. Sometimes I come across work that does something I cannot figure out, and does it incredibly well. I have been talking a lot about organizing a show of portraiture; and as I have been selecting artists for this exhibition, this is a lot of what I have been looking for.
When they want to stop people in their tracks, to grab attention and pull people in, painters go big. It’s relatively easy to make an impression with the largest piece in the gallery, we know this. Getting the same response from a six inch tall piece is something different. Catherine Kehoe makes small paintings that command attention from across the room. Pieces that look great from a distance, and then get even better as you move in for a closer look. Years ago, I stumbled upon an exhibition of Catherine’s portraits at what is now Miller Yezersky Gallery (just Howard Yezerski Gallery back then), and I have been borderline obsessed with her work ever since. As I am typing this, I am staring at the tiny icons of the files that contain images of her work. Incredibly, the pieces still draw me in at this tiny scale. This is the magic of her work, not a single stroke of the brush (or knife) is wasted. The paintings walk a fine line, where the careful planning of each crisp mark is clearly evident, but somehow they still feel effortlessly spontaneous.
I am writing this after a long day in the studio so, this is going to be short and sweet. I plan on diving deeper into her work soon, but Catherine’s current solo show at Miller Yezersky Gallery closes next week. On the off chance anyone out there is not familiar with her work, I wanted to make sure I did my part to encourage you to go pay it a visit. Obviously, my favorites are the portraits, but she even manages to find a way to make me love still life painting.
She will be at the gallery this Saturday from 1-4pm (and has promised chocolate snacks) so that is an ideal time to stop in and experience the show before it’s too late.