The title for this show comes from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. I often read his poems, taking a section and considering it from different perspectives, watching it appear in the development of a painting, or embedding the script within layers of paint. In one section of Burnt Norton, the phrase “by a grace of sense” hovers jewel-like, asking us to reverse the expected sequence of words.
It is by a grace of sense one realizes that no thing presents itself as utterly passive or inert, that the world is grace-full, and charged with limitless content. This sensing moves us beyond “practical desire”, beyond the constraints of time and the vacuity of experience into where the ineffable sublime might be revealed. Even the most obscure and ordinary aspects of our lived experience can reveal mysterious spirit and content. Let’s call this wonder or awe. In this state – anything, everything – reveals the link between the real and the superreal, reconciling the physical world with the numinous. I find myself often playing on the edge of this frontier, examining what is knowable and familiar, and speculating about the infinite and enigmatic.
This thinking is relevant to many of my paintings. The imagery in “Deeper Well” depicts the elliptical rim of a bowl echoing into the dark mysterious space. Or perhaps the reverse can be seen too, the bowl emerging from this deeper place. The painting titled “Erhebung” takes T.S. Eliot’s German expression of exaltation and Kantian ideas of the supersensible and visually offers a serene blue zone below a very active geometric torus figure, the only recognizable imagery being leafy branches which ground the imagery in a familiar physical setting.
Some of my new paintings are entirely abstract, some gestural and geometric, or with a more minimal color field. An Asian influence is evident in these. Growing up, I was awed by the tales of China my aunt and uncle told. They lived in that country for thirty years and later he became ambassador to Taiwan. They collected many art objects, some that I now own. Looking at these meaningful paintings with their bold gestural depictions, living on the Pacific Rim, and certainly being influenced by my own travels to these places, it’s easy to understand that an Eastern aesthetic seeps into my Western mindset.
Several of these paintings are paired with the experimental glass vessels I made during a residency at the Museum of Glass. There is a symbiosis between bowl as object and as image; marks and surfaces acting as source material for each other. Vessels continue their central casting here. Evoking many associations, the bowl serves as a ritual, domestic, and archetypal object. It remains a compelling symbol in my work, ultimately representing the embodiment of the fluid act of giving and receiving and the generous offerings of the moment.
During the making, my paintings transform many times from one state to another: from water to oil to wax, from color field to abstract gestures to specific imagery, from spontaneous and intuitive processes to those more deliberate and precise. In this way it is similar to traditions of alchemical transformation. Many paintings in the Recent Works Gallery refer to a transmutation, where one entity is changing into another. Their titles reflect alchemy’s rich descriptive language in classical Latin and Greek, such as "Nigredo", "Albedo" and "Rubedo". Whether understood as proto-science or as a philosophical tradition, alchemy is rich with metaphor and symbol. Its mysteries continue to compel people across time and culture. Issac Newton, whose handwritten text appears in some of my paintings, dabbled in alchemy before chemistry was a developed science. Carl Jung felt a knowledge of alchemy was important in understanding psychological and spiritual transformation and used it as a tool for self awakening in psychotherapy. In the language of alchemy, images are "utriusque capax" (capable of both) light and dark, conscious and unconscious, material and spirit – the union of opposites. Reconciling complementary forces within and without towards an understanding of wholeness is a subject frequently brought to my work.
I enjoy working with images and ideas that offer a range of perceptual fields and symbolic metaphor. Birds are sometimes used as characters representing the psyche and describing familiar human experiences such as descent, struggle, discovery, interconnection, revelation and union. Another recurrent image includes simple imperfect vessels. Employed as an archetype, the vessel possesses a full range of associations: numinous and commonplace, conscious and unconscious, interior and exterior. Over time this symbol has come to represent in my work the cycle of giving and receiving as a single fluid act.
The intent in all my work is to suggest that the present moment simultaneously enfolds the empirical, symbolic, mysterious, and infinite; that the quantifiable and measured lies alongside the ineffable and infinite; and that no thought or thing is utterly passive or inert but is charged with complex content and a sentient presence.
Grants & Awards
2009 Neddy Fellowship Nominee, Behnke Foundation, Seattle, WA
2008 Ragdale Foundation Artist Residency Grants, Lake Forest, IL
2004-2002 Ragdale Foundation Artist Residency Grants, Lake Forest, IL
2003 Ragdale Foundation, Distinguished Resident Award, Lake Forest, IL
2001 Artist Fellowship Award, Illinois Arts Council.
1999 Special Assistance Grant Illinois Arts Council
1997 Artist Fellowship Award, Illinois Arts Council.
1994-1999 Artist in Education and Arts Resource: Twenty Separate Grants, Illinois Arts Council,
1996-1999 Ragdale Foundation Artist Residency Grants, Lake Forest, IL
1991 Illinois Percentage for Art in Architecture Commission, Starved Rock St. Park, IL
1988 Aldeen Foundation Grant
1979 Fulbright Hays Foundation Grant
1979 Ford Foundation Grant
Seeds of Compassion Collection, Seattle University, Seattle, WA
Oxford Biotech Company, Boston, MA
Dynamic Machine Works Boston, MA
Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL
State of Illinois, Percent for Art, Starved Rock State Park, Utica, IL
A.A.R. Corporation World Headquarters, Woodale, IL
Kane County Circuit Courthouse, Geneva, IL
Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Building, Minneapolis, MN
Van Andel Center, Pine Rest Hospital, Grand Rapids, MI
Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, Elmhurst, IL.
Elmhurst Physician's Conference Center, Elmhurst IL
Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL
Graham Center Museum, Wheaton, IL
President’s Building Complex, Des Plaines, IL
400 First Avenue North • P.O. Box 1679 Ketchum, ID 83340-1679
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