Thursday, March 29, 2018

Angela White, Painter, Tells Her Story

I’ve known my whole life that I am an artist. Maybe living in both France and Italy when I was a child influenced my love of art. I do remember a teacher asking me when I was about 9 or 10 years old, what I wanted to be when I grew up and I answered her questions with the response “an artist”.

While I admire artists like Louise Bourgeoise, Eva Hesse, Agnes Martin and Anselm Kiefer, my inspiration is always from my own life experiences.  

I have been in my studio at Artists & Makers Studios in Rockville, Maryland, for five years. I chose to join the studio when they first opened to experience being part of a large artist community and be near my home. Previously, I maintained a studio in Dupont Circle in Washington, DC, for 13 years.

Morning Light, Oil on Canvas, 16”x20”

As a painter, physical, spiritual and emotional memories inspire the visual depth and density of my work. Through the use of art materials, these journeys, turning points, and the inevitable return to new beginnings are recorded. Abstracts and seascapes compose the majority of my compositions.

Coming to Light, Encaustic on Wood, 10”x10”

By superimposing layers of media, the varied themes and processes of my work are exposed. Materials for each image are selected based on what best fit that particular series. Natural and sensual materials such as oils and encaustic paint allow the blending of edges to create visual depth. Mixed media allows for another kind of mysterious and contemplative work. Different kinds of mark making are incorporated including specific symbols such as an alphabet that I created. Overlays of acrylic and gold leaf often enhance these works as well. 

I usually have an idea of what I want to accomplish in terms of imagery so when I arrive at my studio, I can begin working. As I begin laying out the materials and colors, I am centering myself and becoming focused to work. 

Intention, Acrylic on Gold Leaf, 18”x24” 

My seascapes are not literal interpretations; rather, they articulate the quiet mystery and power of the natural world. By showing constant movement, natural rhythm, and a sense of place, these works communicate awareness. Such awareness of the intricacies of nature emphasize that we are all a part of everything. There is no real separation between the air, earth, water and humanity.  When viewing paintings of these seemingly lonely places that are actually brimming with life, the objective is to transport the viewer to a feeling of connectedness.

The Washington area has been my home for most of my adult life.  I have many friends in the creative community, great studio relationships, and a wonderful gallery relationship with Wohlfarth Gallery in North East, Washington, DC.

Each series of my artwork has it’s own most significant paintings. My new solo show at Wohlfarth Gallery, opening April 14th, of ‘Marshes, Seas and Mountains’, has been inspired by my visits to the East Coast to visit my mother and the West Coast to visit my son. This exhibit is composed of several very personally meaningful works that were created in response to my experience of these journeys. Calm Before the Storm, Assateague Island Marsh and In Between Space are some of the most significant works in this series for this show. 

In Between Space, Encaustic on Wood, 6”x6”

Le Point Sensible stands out as the most significant of my body print series, Transition stands out as the most significant of my abstract encaustic series and Sigil Magic is, so far, the most significant of my ongoing gold leaf abstract series. 

Le Point Sensible, Body Print

Sigil Magic, Acrylic on Gold Leaf, 18”x36"

Washington, DC is a diverse and interesting area for an artist to live. There are many opportunities and if one choses their priorities carefully, they can cultivate a balanced, creative, and meaningful life.

This is Week 12 of Artists Tell Their Stories. Thank you for reading and sharing Angela’s story today. To see more of Angela’s work and connect with her, please visit the following links:

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Skip Dyrda, Muralist and More, Tells His Story

I know it sounds obvious for an artist to say this, but . . . I create. That's what I do. Sure, the bulk of my work is painting murals, but that's not my only creative outlet. In fact, just today I took a silver dinner fork and turned it into a stylish cat. It's a gift for a friend. 

All this started with my mom, who was very creative in a crafty kind away . . . you know, refrigerator magnets, Christmas ornaments, that kind of stuff. My own creativity started with building plastic models of mostly racecars from the track located just a few miles from where I grew up in Southeastern Pennsylvania. At one point, in the late 60s to late 70s, I began creating pen and ink drawings of the same racecars and even sold them all over the Northeastern United States. However, it wasn’t until I moved to Florida in the early 90s that I really got into all kinds of creativity.  It was after I was hired to work in a local art factory. It was there that my eyes were opened to what could be created in the art world. I started out doing screen-printing and airbrushing and then later I worked on paintings using all sorts of media . . . watercolors, acrylics, oil paints, and pen and ink. We even created steel plate etchings and handmade papers. After two years, I went out on my own. First I assisted a local sculptor in addition to creating hundreds paintings for cruise ships. It was around that time that I discovered the decorative arts. 

I had been sharing an art studio with a friend who did work for local interior designers. When she would decline a job she thought too difficult, they would hire me to paint the custom canvas floor cloths and murals. Over the last 20 years or so, I have painted hundreds of murals, canvas floor cloths and paintings for private collectors and businesses. But I have found that my true love is painting outdoor murals. Specifically, murals we all know as ‘public art’. When I am painting outside, whether I am on a lift, on a ladder or on the ground, and public can watch and interact, it’s almost like being on stage. I discovered that the interaction with the public is one of my favorite parts about painting murals.

The other thing I like to do is paint site-specific murals so I can make sure it’s more than just a pretty picture on a wall. I prefer that the work has some sort of meaning, a reason for being there. And I'm also looking for reactions from the viewer, hopefully, a “wow” reaction. Additionally I like to try to entice the viewer into doing a 'double take', noticing something they did not see at first glance. I believe someone once said, ”The devil is in the details”.

For the last 2 years, I've been working with the Punta Gorda Historic Mural Society on several murals. The first was inside the fire station there, where I painted two large murals. I'm currently in the finishing stages of another, this one outside, called “Ladies Remembered”. This fall, I'll be working under a bridge over the Peace River along the Harbor Walk, working on a mural that will sort of look like you can view aquatic life through the base of the bridge.

And in between all that, I keep creating, whether it's making something out of a silver fork, my photography or graphic design. It's what I do.

Oh, and one more thing. Look for the red string. It's in almost all my work, it's my 'mark'. I've been including that for about twenty years.

This is Week 11 of Artists Tell Their Stories. To connect with Skip and see more of his work, please visit the following links:

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Jane Hickey Caminos, Activist Artist, Tells Her Story

I’m a Brooklyn born Jersey Girl who wanted to become a famous artist, or maybe a Rockette, before I was five. Walls were my canvas, crayons my brushes. Sound familiar? I liked to draw funny things because they were easier than realistic ones. My people stood in tall grass with their hands in their pockets. Uh huh. I planned on a career working for Walt Disney.

Fear  36x18

I was about as political as a kneaded gum eraser. Whomever my father voted for, so did my mother. That’s the way it was in the 50s. The assassination, followed by Vietnam, forced more emotion into the 60s. It was a perfect time to go off to art school. I went to Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with long-ish blonde hair grown for the occasion. I was going to be a beatnik with an apartment painted black; I’d walk down Benefit Street snapping my fingers. Black turtleneck, black tights, and the required black beret. Beatniks morphed into hippies, so I added beads.

Saint Malala  28x29

‘Nam crashed a lot of dreams in the late 60s. Boys from high school were stepping on mines, and art school guys were starving them-selves as thin as skeletons to shock the draft into stamping them 4F. Beatniks turned into Hippies and then into Peaceniks overnight. Artists took to the street in protest with everyone else except we had better signs. 

There weren’t enough kids left to draft so a lottery was introduced. Low numbers went to war, high numbers did not, unless their grades were bad. I became as political as any other young woman, afraid her boyfriend would be swept away.

Grenade  24x30

We worried through the ‘Hell No We Won’t Go’ years, sought God via acid trips, got married because those were the rules. Some of us became photographers who documented all the efforts, others painted out their angst. I was humiliated because I wound up knocking out cherubic greeting cards, on the bottom rung of the ladder of cool. And as many of my generation discovered, mining for a Heart of Gold or not, things weren’t working out the way we were promised.

Time Has Come  14x16

Stomping Toward Feminism

No famous painter dwelling in Greenwich Village, just a mortified RISD BFA churning out “cuter neuters” as we called them in the Game of Cards. The only artistic trick I picked up was how to be neat. I longed to make a fortune as a fancy pants magazine illustrator like Bernie Fuchs. Madison Avenue, a real life Mad Men four-martini lunch, that was me. Except it wasn’t. Not in Newtonville living in a two family.

I watched from above (as those of us blessed with fertile imaginations can easily do) as the whole construct imploded. I was numb, eroded, and left standing in line with everyone else in a casting call for “Who Will You Be Now?”  

Rage    16x20

The seventies were a decade of shifting identities. Due to circumstances beyond my control, my new persona was that of a militant feminist complete with feigned loss of humor, taking on androgyny as a costume, which was boring but the boots were good. My ‘Nam era’ leftist stance easily slid into Take Back the Night marches for women’s rights. It was then that I made a commitment to paint women. Only women. Not beautiful, nubile model types but the women nobody bothered honoring; aunts, neighbors, grandmas at weddings. I told their stories, in a usually humorous manner and always with affection. Political art without stridency.

World Upside Down   22x26

By the late 80s I was encouraged by my life partner, Chris, to exhibit. It’s one thing to put commercial work out there, the kind you may produce to make a living, but the stuff that arrives from the soul, is another matter. Some of you must agree!
Picked   24x30

A Reputation?

A number of years passed, my health dipped down and moreso: in becoming disabled, a newfound empathy for those in worse shape than I kept me in balance. So I kept painting women, groups, trios, duos, stand alone's, surrounded by convenient props . . . fruits, pasta, fish . . . whatever  could fill up that white space in the background. Exhibits were well attended. People bought. Sometimes. ‘Jane Caminos: Narrative Painter of Women’ had found a gimmick.

Three in One   24x30

2012 Changed Everything 

One evening, half asleep with PBS dutifully tuned in: a documentary about women’s rights was showing, specifically detailing the gang rape of 23 year old Jyoti Singh by 5 men in Delhi. She was cast aside, and died from sepsis two weeks later. Tears of rage came as a surprise, as did finding my fists were clenched. I’m not an emotive personality but here was a story that cycloned a fury complete with yelling at the flat screen.

A Leader Emerges   24x30

That night in the NJ rental house I vowed to devote the remainder of my painting life to exposing violence against women across all cultures by telling their stories as I found them. On Women Bound was born on the easel the following morning. I became an activist artist.

At first the promise to work for change sounded simple: I made a list of terrible things that I knew were happening to women, mostly those living in third world countries. YouTube and Google yielded videos, images and articles from periodicals around the globe. Events out there were worse, much worse, than my white bread upbringing had imagined, the scope of the project ahead grew in size but also in importance. How much should I show on the canvas? Did I want to shock or tell these stories without the blood and guts, which to some ways of thinking could be construed as exploitive? What would you do? After all, if the ultimate goal of On Women Bound was to help (in my small way) victims become the victorious, what would that entail?

Three Each Hour   22x26

There have been subjects, such as the cultural rite of passage, FGM, Female Genital Mutilation, that have been wrenching to depict. I’ve painted fear of rape instead of actual rape, although one in three women will be raped in their lifetime. I’ve yet been unable to handle stoning, breast ironing, or beheading. Trafficking explodes as a worldwide money maker for villains of all stripes, even in suburban America, where we don’t believe blonde daughters will be kidnapped on their way to school. They are.

Sometimes goodness helps to balance evil, such as providing micro loans to impoverished women, or women taking to the streets to protest rape, or corporate takeovers of mining that otherwise would be supporting whole villages, or bravely forming barricades to block weapons of war from moving forward. I’ve included these stories of defiance to see-saw the acid wrecked faces, murdered female infants, and child brides.

Do you think I’m preaching to the choir?  Will exhibiting paintings of women’s troubles ignite a dialogue among those who see the work, as I hope?  Can I reach the “right people” and assuming I do, what then will these right people do about it?  Discuss in shocked voices over a nice Pinot how terrible things are in Africa? And so? Change happens step by step, at least I hope it does.

Awareness is the first step, so that’s what I do and I hope that someone out there will choose to share On Women Bound with a bigger audience than I can reach alone. It has long been the responsibility of artists to work toward making positive change where possible, and as hokey as that may sound, it carries historical weight. The list is long and glorious.

Manna from Heaven   24x30

I worried that taking on the role of Activist Artist might peg me as the humorless leftist I once played at being, leaving me responding to like types, but instead, through social media, I’ve renewed contacts and discovered hundreds of supporters who let me know when I’ve hit the nail, gone too far, or have made no impact at all.

It’s with your help that I’m assured I’m not working alone, although there are days at the easel when Alone is all there is: Jane hunched over with the Three-0 brush talking with a suffering woman in India who has lost her ten-year-old daughter to kidnappers. How can a middle aged white woman, an only child with none of her own, relate to this sadness? I stroke her cheek, her fingers, choosing colors for her clothing I think she might like. Art as comfort.

Because I’ve been fortunate to have found a voice for change doesn’t mean you have to, but look at the mess we’re in. I never in a million nights dreamed I’d see a TV show that would change my life’s focus.

Warning   24x30

Yes, I still produce paintings from the original narrative series of beloved women. It’s ‘painting happy’, a necessary break from On Women Bound and its inherent pain. My reference files fill a back up drive and two boot boxes, and just when I think I’ve got enough horrors to overwhelm my Mac, the news brings another tragedy, followed by another and we understand that every war brings genocide and a generation of children who will never understand the delight of laughter.

This is Week 10 of 2018 Artists Tell Their Stories. Thank you for reading and sharing Jane’s story today. To connect with Jane and see more of her work, please visit the following links: