Sep 15 2009
I’ve just finished mounting a show of artworks with the artist Amy Livingstone. The show is located at the Doll Gardner Gallery (within the West Hills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship). Here’s our blurb for the show:
Synchronicity brought Robin Urton and Amy Livingstone together, leading to an awareness of a shared artistic vision rooted in reverence for the earth. Drawing inspiration from a combination of personal reverie, sacred mythologies, and the world’s spiritual traditions, this exhibit reflects the sensibility of creating art as a sacred act. The intention of the work is to awaken hearts to beauty and the divine presence woven throughout the fabric of everyday life.
I was asked by the curator of the gallery if I’d be interested in having a show, and my only conflict was in having enough work to fill the spacious walls without taking work from my other 2 galleries. This problem solved itself rather miraculously when Amy called the day before my meeting with the gallery. She was looking for a “sanctuary space” to show her own artworks, but wasn’t expecting for an opening to be just a few weeks away. Her canvas paintings of mandalas and sacred artworks are the perfect compliment for my reverie-inspired plexiglass and panel paintings. Here’s a photo of the 2 of us at the opening:
Though not a common subject for either of us, the artworks that we are pictured with happen to be our individual responses to 911 and the aftermath of the Iraq War. Amy’s painting was inspired by a vision she had on a train returning from a the Day of Remembrance ceremony on the 14th (a few days after the attacks), where she saw 2 hands caressing the earth, lifting it out of the ashes. In my painting, “False Liberator”, the blind-folded angel represents a false savior for a culture she knows little about. Islamic buildings burn in the background while helicopters fly above the scene.
In an informal talk during the opening, we both expressed thoughts about the healing nature of art, and how creating art in itself can be likened to a sacred act. One of the more memorable questions from the audience was whether we felt that art had as much relevance in these times of economic recession. Amy referred to a comment of a very young member of the congregation, who said that he felt that “the world would be a gray place without art”. I responded that, even though fewer people can afford original art during an economic downturn, the need for art is perhaps even greater than usual. Art consoles and lifts our spirits. Of course, it’s sometimes necessary for artists to find supplemental means of supporting themselves, but it’s increasingly important for us to keep the faith that’s required to continue creating our art, whether the sales support it or not. (I know that I personally need to create art in order to maintain any optimism in my life, so I hope that when the economy returns I’ll have plenty of art stored up when the pendulum returns!)
One great thing about planning for art shows is that it does force me to complete artworks that were sitting dormant for a while. In addition to “Primordial Slumber”, which graces the invitation, I also completed another painting that I started some time ago. Here’s a photo of the latest version of my painting, “Deep River Dream”:
It’s usually the case that my favorite painting is whichever one I just finished, so right now, this and “Primordial Slumber” tie for being the closest to my heart. This one definitely flowed out of me like a dream. I started with acrylic on frosted mylar, letting the imagery suggest itself through the paint. The bird was the first image to emerge, then the swirling sky, the star-flowers, then finally the reclining woman, who seems to have dreamed the entire scene into being. As the swirling sky met the horizon, it became a river. I decided to let it the river flow out of her ear. This may seem too eerie for some, but who am I to argue with the suggestions of my imagination? (a preliminary version of this painting can be seen on this earlier post). The painting was re-worked in oil glazes, then surrounded with a gold-leaf border.
If interested in reading more, Amy Livingstone has written a very enlightening article about the show on her blog: Reverence and Art as Prayer.
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