A Walk on the Wild Side
It takes time to get comfortable with an artist who agrees to a 5Q interview. Fortunately, Jane Gates and I found a link via her hikes in the South Kettle Moraine area, near where she lives with her 80 lb. Airedale, Romeo — a romantic name for a canine.
It’s dangerous to second-guess artists, but is that sandy-colored form in the upper right hand corner of this painting Mattie Mae?
No, the “wild one” is the inner me, and the dog you think you see isn’t Mattie per se, rather it’s my subconscious speaking. In one series I may focus on my hikes, in another I may focus on the trivial moments of the day. But most of the time the process of painting includes the incidental events of the day and the monumental. Nothing is separate is it? This newest series surfaced during a long illness and focuses on the process of uncovering the past and discarding old worn-out habits and belief systems that might have attributed to my illness. I re-used old paintings, painting over them and/or tearing canvases into pieces with the intent of re-applying those pieces as collage. I kept the valuable so I might symbolically re-invent my beliefs.
Therefore my journey is a process of excavating, tearing down and rebuilding, symbolized in a series of richly embedded textures and layered surfaces. In the Walking With the Wild One series I found the need to discard most traditional “rules” of painting application to exhibit my need to break from cultural conditioning. Because I paint on top of heavily textured surfaces — old paintings and collage– I must literally scoop paint onto the surfaces and squeeze it directly from the tube.
The painting application allows the many layers of excavating, tearing down and rebuilding to be revealed. I like to keep the colors clear, allowing the mixture to happen accidentally, from that standpoint the colors are the impulse. Dots of color … I think that comes from the woods.
But what’s the tangle about?
The tangles symbolize that nothing is separate. I put lines across the horizon about 1/3 of the way down the painting, a reference to landscapes and meditation or peace. No one would know that from looking at them. I teach composition [at UW-Milwaukee], so that always comes up — whether to break all the rules or follow them. I admire the formal principles from Modernism and also how Post Modernism tries to break all the rules.
Basic elements are interesting and line is as important as dense texture. The UWM students inspire me; they are inspired themselves and hard working.
Your nine page Curriculum Vitae: BFA Summa Cum Laude, with an emphasis in ceramics, in 1985 from UW-Whitewater. Three years later you graduated from UW-Madison with an MFA in painting and drawing, returning to Whitewater to earn a BA Cum Laude in 2006, with a major emphasis in graphic design. Why so many degrees?
I went back to school later in life to study graphic design. I gravitated towards illustration and creating children’s books. I also wanted to combine my painting and computer art.
This year you were part of the first juried art alumni exhibition at UW-Madison. Who were the jurors?
The Art Department at UW as far as I know. UW-Madison was an exciting place to attend graduate school. My studio was in a large three-story house filled with artists from all over the world. I have been in some great exhibitions and have received a Wisconsin Arts Board Grant and an International Grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.
Wow, you entered just about every area exhibition, including some far flung ventures in the Yucatan and Norway. Do you have any complaints about sexism in the arts?
Both men and women have similar issues!