Last week Open House did a 2-for-one double studio visit, with two artists who live and work in the same space, and also happen to be best friends. Ara Cho and Shavana Smiley invited us into their living room studio space, where we were greeted with large oil paintings that felt wispy and bright, yet at times charged and violent. These were the works of Ara Cho, featuring gestural flowers and airy figures inside domestic spaces. Loose hands sprung out of body parts and stood like trees in forests. We caught glimpses of Shavana Smiley’s galactic works during the studio visit (stay tuned for Part II).
Art Is Not Exceptional was contributed by Christian Lawrence St. Denis in the month of March for our Northwest special feature. Dakota Gallery is located in Bellingham, WA. Having originally started as a DIY Gallery in the Pacific Northwest, Open House continues to be excited by the artwork coming out of the region. It is our intention to create dialogue between the ambitious emerging art scene in the Northwest and New York City. Stay tuned for future special features in April!
By Christian Lawrence St. Denis
Dakota Gallery, Bellingham: three white walls, a glass and black metal facade, a white pillar, black floors. The installation is called I Am Sorry Please Forgive Me. The artist is Hannah Zoe.
“I see myself as a figure painter,” says Kate Liebman, as I sit in her studio, absorbing her large dynamic paintings in front of me. I see for the first time a repeating pair of eyes in an abstracted painting behind where she is sitting. As I spend more time sitting and talking with the artist, the large well-executed paintings seem to become something more unexpected. Liebman begins walking me through her process, her sources, and her perspective on her own history. Paint tubes and splatters cover the floor almost completely. Her studio is located in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and she has agreed to an interview with me, after having met me at Bushwick Open Studios this past fall. As our conversation progresses, topics of distance, viewer insight, and political responsibility are tackled, and I learn that this body of work has been sourced from a drawing she made of a photograph — taken during the Holocaust, showing prisoners lined up for a daily count in Buchenwald, Germany. In the time spent in her studio, she also shares with me her perspective on the current painting discourse, including artists she considers to be inspirational and her process of setting productive goals in the studio. In addition to maintaining a studio practice in Brooklyn, Liebman also writes for the Brooklyn Rail.
According to Angela Heisch, only the person who begins a painting can decide how to finish it. I arrived to a room full of decisive paintings; iconic, hard-edge abstractions seeming to have rolled effortlessly out of the last. She knew what the next painting would be. She appeared to have reached absolute freedom from the anxieties of critique, depending solely on instinct.
I begin writing this in the days following the election. A heaviness fills the air. It’s palpable-the collective despair of everyone around me. This weight is something that Agnes Martin dealt with throughout her life. Battling schizophrenia, she found solace and comfort in making art, which is something I think many artists can relate to.Continue reading “Moving Within: An Emerging Artist’s Thoughts on Agnes Martin”→