Contemporary art? What’s that?

I was describing Stephanie LaFortune’s artwork as contemporary the friend said what’s that? I had to think for a minute about what I really did mean and I was wrong. I was thinking contemporary art tended toward abstract art. Contemporary art is art that in being made now by living artists. Hmm…that makes all the artists I work withcontemporary artist and me, too!

Abstract art is described as a movement in painting and sculpture that seeks to break away from traditional representation of physical objects. Abstract works explore the relationships of forms and colors as opposed to traditional art where the images are recognizable.

I think abstract artworks can be difficult for people to relate to because we humans are always looking for connections and similarities. It makes it difficult to find something to relate to in abstract work. I feel like abstract art is more about raw unfettered emotional relationship to the artist’s world.

I think the viewer must see the artwork in person before we can truly judge any piece of art. We all react to the colors and texture of any abstract, but I think it takes time to find the place where you and the artwork can come together. It’s easy to see a portrait and say, “that’s a face…I like it,” then move on. It takes time to look at a face, to study it and see what you can of the person and the artists. When you see work in person you can see the brush stroke or explore where one color begins and another ends. I think it’s impossible to really know about a piece of art without this personal contact.

Does it help if I tell you art is like wine…it really doesn’t matter what someone else’s opinion is …it’s about what you think after you’ve had a taste.  There are many artists whose work I deeply enjoy, some that inspire me, but that doesn’t mean I love everything they make. The only way to know this is to taste it.

There are many contemporary artists in Siskiyou County. The Siskiyou Arts Councils Artists Registry Pages are a good place to get a sampling ofartists. Then get out to see both abstract and realism paintings and sculptures. I encourage you to take the time to view the art by spending a little more time looking at work you know you like and some work that might be new to you.

You can see many contemporary artists including Stephaine’s artwork at the Grand Opening of the Siskiyou Arts Museum on March 8, 20135-7pm

What is an Artists Retrospective?

The art world often features show called Artist Retrospectives.  Retrospective’s are shows featuring a lifetime of artworks or could be just a body of work an artist made during a particular stage or period in their artistic careers.  One of the most famous might be Picasso’s Blue Period.

So why it is a retrospective a big deal? A retrospective is a show of a body of works the artists has created over their time of painting or making art. In Siskiyou County it is rare to see a retrospective or even a one artist show. There just isn’t the gallery space.

What might visitors expect to see? One should be able to look at work and learn about the artist’s style and how that style has evolved over time. Artwork, like life, should be a growing process. Few of us are the same person we were ten years ago and I’m hoping to see changes for the next ten years. The work of an artist should be expressed and evident in the work they create.

The Anne Kinkade opening at the Siskiyou Arts Museum retrospective is a terrific example of the process of an artist in 30+ paintings.  Anne started out painting watercolors, but is now best known for her encaustics. Watercolor is about the flow and shape of color painted on flat paper. Encaustic is about multiple layers, color and is rich in textures. Many of the paintings between her early work and later encaustic the viewer can see how she has explored texture. Watercolors are usually painted rather quickly and encaustics are layers built upon layers taking much more time. In all of her work you can see Anne loves color!

Anne Kinkaid standing in the Siskiyou Arts Museum.

Anne Kinkaid standing in the Siskiyou Arts Museum.

Link to an interview with Anne Kinkade: