Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A New Idea is Born

Making "Treatise," the art inspired by the Holocaust last year, was such a moving and enriching experience that I have decided to begin another piece of art exploring an aspect of Jewish history. This time, I am working on something that is more autobiographical in nature. Before I explain my intentions for this piece, I want to thank Rabbi Amy Perlin for encouraging me to continue the artistic journey that I started relating to Jewish heritage.

Lynn Goldstein's Family

My family came to the United States through Ellis Island in the early 1900s. The photographs of heavily bearded men and stoic-looking women have fascinated me for years. When I look into their faces, I try to see my father, mother, and grandparents with various levels of success. I wonder at the distance my family traveled to get to the United States in miles and in emotions. I am impressed at their courage to leave all that they knew to come to a strange land. Then I am awed at the distance they traveled once coming to these shores. After all, no one can believe that I grew up Jewish in West Virginia!

I am also intrigued by other family histories. Therefore, for my next piece I am planning to make art that explores Jewish immigration to the United States. With that in mind, I have found an old trunk. Once that trunk was in my possession, ideas began flooding into my consciousness, and I wanted to use photographs of my family and of other families as part of the piece. Right now I am in the hunting- and- gathering stage of the process, and am looking for photographs and stories of immigrants. As with "Treatise," I will be using books as an integral part of the piece. This time, I am using Yiddish books because Yiddish was the common thread that weaved the immigrants together after settling in the United States. The Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts , is providing me with books. After working on "Treatise," I know that my vision for the art can take unexpected directions, and I am looking forward to the twists and turns that occur while making "Migration." Stay tuned....

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Docent is a Noun - Part 2

In 2011, I posted an article on my blog expressing my enjoyment with being a volunteer docent at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (NPG) for the past 17 years. I am inspired by the art that I see there, and enjoy sharing what I have learned with visitors from all over the world. A funny thing happens when you share your passion with others. You are often rewarded with wonderful surprises. Read on to see what I mean.

I have been especially interested in the work that has been on displayed since March of last year in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. This exhibition holds a special place in my heart for several reasons. First, the work that is selected represents the art of the portrait as it is envisioned today by a wide variety of artists and media. Secondly, the pieces are all about the art. The National Portrait Gallery is an art and history museum; therefore, the work on view is often more about the biography of the person being portrayed rather than the artwork itself. I am fascinated by the past, but riveted by visual imagery. Third, the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition was made possible by the vision and generosity of Virginia Outwin Boochever, a fellow docent at NPG, who I had the great fortune to meet in my early days there.

Yesterday marked the final day that the Portrait Competition was going to be on view, so I made sure to include that exhibition in my tour. I was fortunate to have a terrific, and interested group of visitors, and was happily sharing the technical aspects of the art from an artist's perspective. Drawing has always been a great passion of mine, so I was discussing work that was produced in charcoal, a medium that I have enjoyed for years. After a short discussion of the self-portrait by the Ohio artist, Leslie Adams, I was stopped mid-sentence by a woman speaking to me. She told me that what I had said was one of the best descriptions of her work that she had ever heard. I quickly thanked her before realizing exactly what she had said. Then it hit me. "It's YOU," I exclaimed! Indeed it was. The artist of the piece, Leslie Adams, was standing in front of me. Made my day. Leslie is a phenomenal portrait painter from Toledo, Ohio. I am including the drawing that I was discussing here for you to see.

Sensazione: A Self-Portrait by Leslie Adams © 2010 Leslie Adams

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

History and Art Redux - Arts Club of Washington

One of the pleasures of having a show of one's work is seeing the reaction visitors have upon seeing the art for the first time.  In the case of my most recent show at the Arts Club of Washington, I was also pleased and grateful to hear what the curator, Christopher With, had to say about my work. Mr. With recognized that my aim is not to paint completely traditional landscapes, although some of the work may appear that way at first glance.  During his remarks at the opening reception, Mr. With spoke about the art on view, and I was pleased not only with the way that he presented my work within the space, but also with the insight that he brought to my paintings. This is what Mr. With had to say:

"The landscapes of Lynn Goldstein are signposts enticing the viewer to look more carefully and deeper. Some of her pieces use rough textured paper on which her pastel marks are clearly visible. They make one aware that this is an intentional creation—not a photographic replication—that asks the viewer to ponder the how’s and why’s of the creative process. Other landscapes depict cropped views of trees reflected in a pool of water or looking straight up at their tops. The unusual perspective combined with lush coloration evoke an otherworldly, even sublime, concept of nature."

Look Deeper One More Time © 2013 Lynn Goldstein, 40 x 36 inches, on view at the Arts Club of Washington

Another advantage of showing work in a new venue is meeting fellow artists. I shared the exhibition space with two other artists, Cassie Taggert and Rita Elsner. Ms Elsner works in pastel as I do, but her work is quite different from mine.  I found myself transfixed with her ultra-realistic style of rendering, and with the objects that are visually incongruent to her images. Her work often employs the use of aerial perspective, with the view of earth from above. This perspective is fascinating to me because of my exploration of looking at the landscape from a viewpoint that isn't what we usually experience in traditional landscape subjects. Pictured below is a work entitled "Overlook." At first, the title of the piece is obvious. However, Elsner incorporated used paper bags mounted to wood panels to complete this pastel. The labels of the inspectors/workers who made the bags are clearly visible within the art, adding another dimension to the idea of overlooking something. Do we pay attention to the minutiae in our lives, such as the labels on the bottom of paper bags? No, we don't. We also don't often look at reflections in puddles of water, but perhaps we should.

 Overlook © 2013 Rita Elsner, 36 x 48 inches, on view at the Arts Club of Washington

Monday, January 6, 2014

Reflection and Response

An advantage of having a studio space where other artists also hold studio spaces is that we can be inspired by seeing what fellow artists are creating. In the five years that I have held a studio at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia, I have made friends, been extraordinarily productive, and had opportunities opened to me.

Recently, I have been working on collaborative art with a fellow Workhouse artist, David Barnes. David works in glass, a medium that is fascinating to me. Glass is also a medium with which I know very little, except that I admire the finished work.

The pleasure (and challenge) in working collaboratively was we each had to respond to what the other had already created. This approach necessitated that we incorporate aspects of each others artistic interpretation in order to complete a cohesive piece.

Here is an example of one of the pieces of art that we have created together:

Summer Response © 2014 Painting by Lynn Goldstein, Glass Art by David Barnes

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Open Studios Can Open Your World

Lynn Goldstein in her studio with Li Nan
Recently, someone asked my opinion about having an open studio. As a result, I have been thinking seriously about the answer. But first, what is an open studio? An open studio is one where the public is welcome to come see artists at work, and it is an option to consider depending on an individual artist's temperament. I can only speak for myself, and I can state with certainty that it works for me at this point in time. My studio is located at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia, which was formerly a prison. The Workhouse has approximately 60 studios. You can find glass, ceramics, paintings, drawings, jewelry, fiber art, photography and more at the Workhouse. Additionally,  you may visit the artists at work in their studios.

When a studio is open to the public, work will be interrupted by visitors coming into one's work area. It is next to impossible to know how an artist will respond to such occurrences until they happen. I am an extrovert, so this is not something that is troubling to me unless what I am working on requires extreme concentration. Often, open studios are run a lot like cooperatives. In many respects, an open studio is like a typical office, with personalities (some good, some bad) to match. From my perspective, the positive attributes far outweigh the negative ones. If you think that having visitors almost daily will be difficult for you to manage, you may want a studio arrangement where the studios are open only at certain times throughout the year, or are not open to the public at all.

Since I have rented an open studio, I have met fellow artists who have inspired me with their creativity, their work ethic and their talent. I have received valuable information from artist friends who have let me know about opportunities to show my work, to judge shows, to teach workshops and to apply for artist residencies. In fact, as a result of having a studio, I will be collaborating with a glass artist, David Barnes. I will be writing more about this in another posting. This opportunity would never have presented itself had I not had a studio. Additionally, the visitors to my studio have become students, collectors, friends and helpers in my work.  I have become comfortable talking about my art, my process and my history. I have also just had fun with the artists that share space with me and the visitors that come to see my work. 

Willow Pond © 2013 David Barnes

As an example of fascinating encounters, just a few weeks ago a young woman came into my studio. She would be recognized in her native country of China, as she is a television announcer in Beijing. We had a interesting conversation and posed for pictures together. Yesterday, I had a visitor from my home state of West Virginia. Upon seeing my admiration for trees, he asked if I would be interested to know that West Virginia, with its unique ecosystem, is home to 800- year- old trees. He asked if I would be interested in seeing and painting them. Would I? You bet I would! If I didn't rent an open studio, these encounters would never occur, and I am grateful for them. So, there are several aspects about your own personality and working habits to consider before renting in an open studio environment, but for me it is working beautifully.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

WOW! Wonderful News!

With her painting Facing West-Onstage © 2012 Lynn Goldstein and her blue ribbon

This past Saturday, I received a terrific surprise. I attended a demonstration and reception in Frederick, Maryland, for the national juried exhibition "Shades of Pastel."

I have been fortunate to have my work in many national exhibitions. I have also won awards, which has always been a pleasant surprise. During the receptions for these shows, the awards are presented, and everyone involved is delighted to see when their friends receive accolades. I suspect that we all wait to see if our names may be called. After all, that would be human nature. During the awards ceremony, I listened while names were called for each award. When the announcer got to the Best in Show award, I admit to thinking, "Well, better luck next time." In fact, I was not paying complete attention when the name was announced for the work that received Best in Show. Then I realized, "Wait, wait, was that MY name?" Well, yes it was! So, my painting, "Facing West — On Stage" received the Best in Show at the "Shades of Pastel" exhibition on Saturday, November 2. There were 63 other very deserving pieces in that show, so I couldn't be more proud. You can see the painting below.
My Best in Show! "Facing West-On Stage" by Lynn Goldstein, Pastel 36 x 24 inches
Making me even more thrilled was that the judge for this show was Jimmy Wright, an artist whose work I have admired for years. Prior to the reception, Mr. Wright presented a demonstration to those fortunate enough to be there. I was transfixed during this demonstration because Wright's work is different from many of the pastel artists that are producing work presently. He has no interest in replicating a subject; his interest is to interpret that subject based on gesture and feeling. He works very intuitively, and it was a kick to see him pull out a dried sunflower (one of his favored subjects) and go to work. I have included an example of his work for you to enjoy. To see more of Mr. Wright's art, you may visit his website here:
"Three Sunflowers in Blue" by artist Jimmy Wright, Pastel 30 x 41 inches

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ran into Manet in Avignon

I have now been back from France for a week and have finally gotten over the fog of jet lag. While in France this time, I didn't get to see the amount of art that I usually enjoy seeing during  my travels. That said, I was able to visit fascinating sights and enjoy an extraordinary landscape. In fact, while at the West Mill, I spent as much time as possible beside the stunningly beautiful Gardon River. 

I also was able to visit Musee Angladon in Avignon, which is a house museum that displays some of the collection of the Parisian couturier Jacques Doucet (1853-1929). There is work by Cezanne, Van Gogh and Manet to name a few of the artists that had been collected, and are on view at the museum. In fact, the only piece in the south of France from Van Gogh's Arles period is in this location. The wall text was understandably in French. Fortunately, there were laminated informational sheets that told stories of the work on view in English. Although this was a very small museum, the information afforded a visitor was lengthy and I whiled away considerable time there.

The story that I found most compelling regarding work in the collection regarded a work by Edouard Manet. This is a shortened version of what I learned about his painting "The Rabbit:"

Chardin's "Hare with a Game Bag and Powder Flask"

"The Rabbit" was painted in 1866, which was the same year that Emile Zola, already well known as an author, had to resign from the newspaper L'Evenement for having defended Manet's work. In 1863 Manet's work had caused an uproar at the Salon des Refuses and again at the official Salon in 1865. His work had been violently criticized.
     Unlike many artists, Manet did not seek to be in opposition, and seems to have chosen to work on classical still life subjects with compositions similar to famous works. It is believed that he did this in an effort to turn to accepted traditions. "The Rabbit" is an example of such work. In his visits to the Louvre, Chardin's "Hare with a Game Bag and Powder Flask" (see above) surely caught the attention of Manet, who then painted a similar representation. 

Manet's "The Rabbit"

     Jacques Doucet acquired the Manet painting on 4 March 1906. In purchasing this piece Doucet could approach a contemporary artist via a subject which could be part of his collection of 18th century works, which included several works by Chardin. Doucet enjoyed mocking his visitors' preconceived ideas about Manet saying: 
     "During the period when I delighted in the eighteenth century, I also had my eyes open for newer art. In the middle of the wall covered with Chardins, I had hung the rabbit painted by Manet. My visitors admired the entire wall, never doubting there was an odd man out. And if I wickedly revealed its presence, they fled like rabbits themselves, upset. I still have the Manet, whereas the Chardins have since moved on."

From this story alone, I think that I would have enjoyed knowing Doucet.