Yesterday we left Omaha, drove across Iowa and arrived in Frederick, a tiny burg on the Illinois River in the western part of central Illinois. Rachel Mindrup and I are at the Farwell House for the Plank Road Artist Residency, which we were invited to do as an extension of our participation in the Midwest Artist Studios Project.
Our hosts, the Ackerman family, are a delightful, generous ensemble willing to share their home with visiting artists who spend nearly two weeks with them, exploring the area, working, meeting community members and describing their work. We're looking forward to a dinner party on Friday evening, to a night market at the HUB Arts & Cultural Center in nearby Rushville, and to opening our live/work spaces and showing what we do on Sunday afternoon.
I'm grateful to have this extended time to recharge and refocus. I expect to post images on Instagram and on my Facebook studio page, so check those out to see updates throughout my stay here. I hope to craft a few longer posts here, too.
In two weeks, artists, collectors and art-lovers of all types will gather at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art for the Bemis Benefit Art Auction. I'm pleased to have a small framed painting on paper included in the mix. "Fire and Ice #2" was inspired by the M's Pub/Mercer Building fire in January 2016.
I've become much more selective about where I offer artwork to support fundraising activities. In many cases, I choose to simply make a cash donation. Offering discounted artwork depresses prices and undercuts the professionalism of artists who are handling multiple aspects of a complex business. Adam Price, former executive director of the Bemis, wrote a powerful article for The Reader about raising money at the expense of artists. You can read it here.
I believe each of us has an obligation to help one another, and there are so many ways to do that. Everyone I know supports local nonprofits with cash, time and energy. I'd like to live in a city where art-lovers and collectors truly valued the professional artists working alongside them in all these activities by expecting to pay fair prices for artwork.
Full disclosure: I bumped up the price of my painting offered in the Bemis Auction by 30 percent so that if it goes for the minimum bid, I still get a fair cut -- to cover my expenses for materials, professional framing, time and expertise. It's still less than what I'd receive if selling it directly, but I'm also supporting the activities and mission of the Bemis. Adding this cushion is not uncommon, and seems to me a reasonable way to participate in such fundraising efforts while not feeling cheated. And if the piece doesn't sell, I take it back to the studio and offer it at the same price as the others in this series.
Tapping nails into the walls, stepping back to look and sipping coffee, making slight adjustments in arranging pieces, five artists quietly worked side by side yesterday morning to install artworks for the show "Pure Vida: Impressions of Costa Rica" in the Nicholas Street Gallery at Hot Shops Art Center, 1301 Nicholas Street in Omaha. Traveling with Linda Hatfield, Judith Anthony Johnston, Katrina Methot-Swanson, Cheri Ginsburg and Elisa Morera was great fun. Showing artwork with them has been great fun, too.
Now we're looking forward to sharing the vibrant colors and interesting back stories with visitors. Please join us for the opening reception 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 9. We'll also conduct demonstrations from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on two Sundays: Sept. 11 and 18. We've got a map of Costa Rica hanging at the gallery entrance and will be delighted to tell you about all the places we experienced.
And I'll be working in my studio upstairs most weekdays, so please pop in!
Most people imagine adding layers of color when you tell them you paint. My work on this piece recently was all about scraping and scratching into the surface to reveal colors underneath. The idea of reduction -- taking away -- is one I learned in printmaking. In that medium, one approach is to carve away sections of block after each color layer until the last lines are darkest outlines or shadow.
In current paintings where I use wax mixed with oil colors, I can build up layers, scrape down and build up again until I'm satisfied with the results. I've been working on this 20x20" panel as a way to avoid attention to pieces destined for the CostaRica-themed show I'm doing in September. At the same time, working on this piece allows me to experiment with colors, shapes and techniques that will likely appear in those paintings, too.