Wednesday, July 1, 2009

ESSAY: My Art Group

When I left Vermont in 1995, I went looking for More. More artists, more conversation, more noise, more action, galleries, art schools, a bigger pond to swim in. So I moved into an industrial artists building of 200 people, in Somerville, Mass, one of the densest art communities in the country. It took me 15 years before More felt like Too Much and I began yearning for Less. I was afraid though, that Less could mean isolation, disengagement, and a lack of stimulation. So I contacted my friend Janet Fredericks and asked her, who do we talk to about our work when we all live on separate mountain tops?

Not to worry. Janet invited me to lunch with Sally Linder. After a couple of lunches in town, Sally hosted an overnight meet and invited Cami Davis, Tari Swenson and Linda E. Jones. We dragged our artwork in through the pouring, icy rain and by the end of the night, we'd bonded. We were an art group now, joined over time by Nancy Taplin and Jane Pincus. We've been meeting more or less monthly for well over 18 months now. Five abstract painters, one collagist and me, the paper sculptor.

What do we do? We show new work, share struggles, divulge technical secrets, discover other artists. We eat, laugh, annoy or adore each other, go to far or not far enough. We argue both sides of narrative and abstraction, and obsess about what a certain mark is doing where it clearly does not - or does - belong, and ask, it is enough to pursue beauty while the world collapses?