November in the Main Gallery: Where Earth Meets Sky - Shared Inspiration
Where Earth Meets Sky - Shared Inspiration, is our November exhibit in the main gallery, features core member Marcia R Wise and guest artist Mimi Howard. The exhibit will run from October 31st through November 25th and there will be an opening reception on November 2nd from 6:00-8:00 pm, featuring live music by the Ed Wise Duo. In this post Marcia and Mimi talk about friendship, art, and their “shared inspiration.”
Mimi: Marcia and I met each other through a mutual friend. It was an instant connection. Not only did we connect on artistic philosophy, but we also shared many of the same attitudes about what is important as each of us navigate through day to day.
Marcia: Yes(!) and our friendship is such a blessing. I’m grateful for both our connection as friends and through our chosen expressions as artists. We first met on Martha’s Vineyard at an annual “Girl’s Weekend” where Mimi was a guest of our host. I arrived with a few other women and worried at first that Mimi would think us crazy for the silliness and laughter we seem to always bring with us to these events. Over a glass of wine that first evening, Mimi and I discovered our commonalities such as our love for art, self-expression, travel, laughter, and the joy of life. Our connection was immediate and has grown into a very loving, supportive friendship.
Mimi: My approach to my art is tightly bound to the basics in my life… meaning hands in the garden, hands in the soil, and hands in the clay. My partner Roger and I live in a simple little piece of tropical paradise on Tampa Bay where we quietly interact with the fish, land and water birds, native trees, plants, squirrels, geckos, butterfly gardens, and all the growth and immediacy that comes from mother nature when you live in a hot and humid climate with lots of rain (right now).
I mention all this as a possible reason why I make clay objects that are inspired by immediacy, simplicity, surprises and determination in hidden roots, crevices, buds, blossoms, and various hierarchies found by the minute right beneath my feet. I want the clay vessels I make to honor the actions of nature that I experience happening in real time. It keeps me grounded (pun intended) in the somewhat hectic times in which we live.
Marcia: My approach to my subject matter encompasses the broad, expansive arena of landscape as I visually work to capture more than one essential element. Whereas Mimi focuses in on the earth element, with the immediacy of earth via clay manipulations, in my work I am interacting with the earth, air, and water elements within landscape painting, expressing my emotional reaction to my subject matter.
In my mind, Mimi’s immediacy with her work and my emotional reaction to the land and nature, falls into the same experience with the difference being our chosen mediums. She manipulates clay, I push paint around - different, yet we are both inspired by what is right before us, what nature reveals to us and our emotional responses. In the process, we are both surprised by constant new discoveries that we see and feel, and that reflect our basic natures. With the commonality of loving the earth, it’s natural processes, and seeing this as a gift that grounds us and pushes within us the desire to express our individuality in terms of reactions, whether they be emotionally based, physically based, spiritually based, or all of the above, has given me a greater appreciation of process.
Mimi’s process is so very time consuming! First comes the clay and the manipulations of that, then a firing, then more to the clay and colors are added - to me this is the amazing part because one doesn’t always know how it will come out. Multiple firings, changes, etc., before she has a finished product. Sometimes I can paint a piece in what I call a “one-shot,” at one time, which seems miraculous to me when it happens because more often than not it will take me more time. I also may not know what my end result will be, as in my new work in which I react more to the unexpected changes rather than holding in mind an idea or image of what it’s going to be when finished.
I love this excitement of discovery and I feel I share that part of the process with Mimi. I also have unfinished paintings that I live with for a few days, a week, or as long as a month, before I return to develop them further. However, in many of the paintings in this show, I have taken time to look at my subject and then simplify, often cropping down to essentials as I look for different compositional elements such as contrast, hard and soft edges, line - breaking things down to jigsaw puzzle pieces before they all fall together. It’s almost magical, as if from a stream of consciousness, as I experience them unfold before me, guiding me toward what they want to become.
Mimi: Our friendship, our shared art inspiration, is a special gift for both of us. I look at Marcia exploring her subject matter in a broad, expansive arena of sky and land, whereas I approach a more close in and close up view of the immediacy of the soft clay and and what I perceive as the similarities between what goes on in the ground of my garden and what goes on between me and the clay. I think what both Marcia and I do with artistic intent is very reflective of our personalities. In some ways we are polar opposites and in other ways so very much alike. This makes for a great friendship and shared personal expression and respect for what we each create and who we are.
Marcia: I completely agree with Mimi. One of the greatest joys of my life is to find such a friendship in which we understand and support one another artistically as well as emotionally and spiritually. Mimi hones in on her subject, connecting deeply to the manipulations of clay and this compares perfectly to her lifestyle. I tend to express in an expansive, open voice - arms stretched out wide so my heart can envelop as much joy as possible and then to express it in my work. And I’m discovering now that even within my cropping and simplifying of subject matter, the expansiveness continues to show up. I’m experiencing what goes on in the landscape and how I am expressing that by manipulating paint and color. Mimi’s intimacy with subject matter balances well with my inner need to stretch my horizons, both as a person and as a painter.