Abstract work by Rebecca Crowell & Jerry McLaughlin

Art Talk 5PM Limited seating doors open at 5PM

Artist Reception Saturday, February 15, 6PM-8PM

Exhibit Feb. 15-Mar. 14

Hours: Weds-Sat 12-6

Presented in our flagship gallery in Lafayette. 3620 Mt. Diablo Blvd. Lafayette, CA

We are honored to present the masters of cold wax medium and authors of the preeminent book on the subject, artists Rebecca Crowell and Jerry McLaughlin for a month long exhibit featuring recent works. Both artists are traveling a long distance to share their work and their stories. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to get to know them in person. Please join us for an artist reception to toast to new art adventures in 2020. Free event

Jerry and Rebecca use poetry as a means of accessing imagery and creativity in their work. We will share the poems that influence them alongside the work in the exhibit:

The work in this show comes from my exploration of AMOR OSCURO (Dark Love), the last collection of works written by Spanish poet Federico García Lorca before he was assassinated in 1936. – Jerry McLaughlin

I have chosen to respond to the work of the Irish poet and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, in particular to the contrasts and intersections he explores between two worlds–the earthy and concrete, and the mystical and non-material.

This duality of ideas evokes in me both memories of the richly textured Irish landscape of bogs and sea where I spend time every year, and contemplation of the liminal space that connects us to spirituality.I’ve worked with earthy color and complex visual texture as well as minimalist composition in my interpretation of Heaney’s ideas.  – Rebecca Crowell

Artist Statement/Rebecca Crowell

My paintings in this exhibit are based on work by the Irish poet and Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney. I was first drawn to Heaney’s writing because his sources are so deeply rooted in the culture, landscape, and history of Ireland–a country I have grown to love through many visits. When I was asked to choose a poet’s work as my reference for this exhibit, I thought of him immediately.  My appreciation grew as I began to read his work more deeply. His poetry evokes in me a longing for the earthy, rugged beauty of Ireland, while his observations of the complex inner lives of humans are profound and moving. Stylistically, his work is built on complex rhythms and resonances that have continued to unfold for me over time.

Responding to poetry through painting is a new way of working for me, and Heaney’s words led me to a more conceptual approach than I have used in the past. What came through was a combination of geometric minimalism, organic textures, and, occasionally, symbolic imagery drawn on the surface. In some cases, these drawings were a direct reference to Heaney’s words or phrases, and other times they were simply what came to me intuitively as I immersed myself in his poetry. My own memories, associations and ideas were also strong factors. Rather than being illustrations of Heaney’s work, I see these paintings as imagined conversations with him in which our very different forms of communication each have their say.

My suite of small paintings, Squarings, is based on Heaney’s long poem of that name which consists of four sections of twelve short poems, each with twelve lines. This structure is the basis of the format of my series, twelve square panels, 12” to a side. I painted these last March during a fellowship residency in Ireland at Ballinglen Arts Foundation, while reading and re-reading parts of the poem each day. I set out to complete this series during my residency so that I was immersed the whole time in the country at the heart of Heaney’s work. The poem examines numerous dualities of experience, including the material and spiritual worlds, the present and past, and solitude and community. It is considered the most fluid and intuitively written of his many works. The other paintings in the exhibit also draw on ideas from Heaney’s poem Squarings. The exception is St. Kevin and the Blackbird, which references a poem that to me speaks about the challenges and mysteries of the creative process.

Hiatus, Cold wax, oil, pigment on panel 36″x48″

Jerry McLaughlin

Jerry McLaughlin

Jerry McLaughlin

My paintings in this show are based on the life and work of early 20th century Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, specifically the poems in Sonetos del Amor Oscuro (Sonnets of Dark Love). These are the last group of poems Lorca wrote before being assassinated by General Franco’s regime in 1936. He was 38 years old. Lorca was targeted by Franco’s death squads because of his liberal views, his writings, and his homosexuality.

These poems (written in Spanish) explore the lust and longings of love between Lorca and an unnamed lover. We know the lover is male because Lorca uses ‘dormido’ (asleep), a masculine adjective, in one of the sonnets—something we would not necessarily know if the poems were written in English. Although the sonnets are written in a very intimate and personal voice, they also speak about broader qualities reflective of dark (oscuro) motifs recurrent in the history of homosexual culture: persecution, secrets, and silence.

I’ve spent many months immersed in the life and poetry of Lorca. I’ve also done my own translation of Sonetos del Amor Oscuro. And although I have explored poetry for the last four years in my painting, specifically the works of Edna St. Vincent Millay and Constantine Cavafy, considering deeply the beauty humans create amidst (and perhaps because of) that magnificent and painful juxtaposition of our own individual emotions and lives against the often dark (oscuro) forces of society and government, the time and translations I’ve done for this show have brought me closer than I have ever felt to any poet or poetic work. This show is special to me.

My work always uses neutral monochromatic color, with a focus on texture, value, and shape. Despite the deeply emotional sources for my work, formal exploration of these elements is also important to me. Since moving to Mexico, more light value has emerged in my paintings, and I’ve incorporated more primitive shapes. I’ve also included more structural line. My textures have become more subtle. This combination of formal exploration with emotional expression is not unlike poetry—poets often choose formal structures like sonnets or haiku, limiting the number of syllables and lines or perhaps requiring a particular rhyme or meter. I think these kinds of limits help push our creative expression.

I build my abstract paintings using oil paint, pigments, and wood ash. A soft beeswax paste holds it all together. I choose my materials for the tactile experience I get working with them and for the textures and surfaces they allow me to create.