REUNITE WITH LOVERS, A FUNDRAISER TO BENEFIT CYRUS TILTON: Vessel Gallery hosts a special evening featuring a silent auction, special libations, delicious food, and artworks by the Vessel Gallery community. click for more information >
STATEMENT Tension is something I’m drawn to. Tension among subjects within a single piece, a collision of forms that you don’t usually see in nature. Tension of forms is definitely a recurring theme. I usually have an idea of the main form, then I identify what will satisfy the need I have to provoke tension. Within that tension I seek harmony between dissimilar, conflicting materials or subjects. Within I have a story, an idea in mind, or a tale to tell. Often the idea or story presents itself as I am working on the piece. Some things take more effort, but they tend to find their meaning.
BIO Cyrus Tilton’s mother and father espoused the values of the back-to-nature movement of the Sixties and when they were first married, set up house in a remote river valley in the wilderness northeast of Anchorage. His father has worked as a commercial fisherman and park engineer. His mother went from tending vegetables in the family truck patch to being a master gardener who has designed gardens for clients. Cyrus remembers being a toddler in a one-room cabin; he remembers his mother fetching water for his bath from the river below the house; he remembers getting a home visit from a bear. The vast expanses of Alaska were always just outside Cyrus’ back door, even when the family moved to a house in Chugiak, close to Anchorage. From there, he could still trace with his eye the profile of Mt. Susitna, the great “Sleeping Lady” that dominates the horizon west of Anchorage, and watch the seasons roll through the splendid birch forests of the great north. Since then he’s been searching for elements of The Great Good Place in all the locales where life has taken him. His move to the Bay Area brought him into contact with a post-industrial urban landscape, where he now observes the processes of decay at work in concrete and steel with the same keenness that he watched, back in Alaska, the powerful effects of weathering and erosion on his surroundings. Wherever he goes, he never leaves behind his love of nature and his delight in analyzing the intricate structures of organic forms. He is represented by Lonnie Lee, and Vessel Gallery (www.vessel-gallery.com, 510-893-8800.) For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Sculpture Magazine, September 2013 - Peter Selz "Absence, Tilton's recent show, assembled a range of surprises. Suggesting Magrittte's paintings with a 21st-Century aesthetic, these sculptures form fantastic equivocations, prompted by the mysteries of life." Read review >
STATEMENT– RE PLAY The Toy, with relentless loyalty bends rules, defies gravity and conjures exploration. A diminutive plastic microcosm fueled by imagination, the toy is a tool safely testing the dumbfounding world presented by adults. With my toys, I was a hero, a villain, a caring companion. I played all the roles. As with most children I had almost no domain, control or voice, but in my toy world I lived fully. Through this work, I am returning to and reinventing the meaning of toys for myself and for my viewers.
This new body of art is a gathering and reimagining of used, broken remnants of toys that I reconstitute to bring people back to creativity and imagination.
Each toy touched and played with countless times by its child owner. I am giving the toys one more role as a portal that lures with adult sensibility, gently guiding us back to a place of, curiosity, memory, story and play.
My process is additive, repetitive, and visceral. It is meditatively painstaking. The Neo-mosaic work, made from the colors of the toys requires hundreds of micro-decisions that lead to elegant disorganization. Initially, concepts lead to sketches and drawings. I scavenge for, dismantle and then sort both complex and simple toys to harvest their colors and shapes. In reassembling the fragments, I create a macro-image that is in tension with the “garbage” of the discarded fragments from which it is made.
BIO Todd Laby is a sculptor and former furniture design/maker who works in a variety of materials. He has been building and sculpting since first picking up a piece of Lego as a child. Previously focused on wood, Todd is currently exploring and creating with broken toys and unwanted consumer goods.
Todd has been exhibited at Wonderland Gallery, Somarts, Vessel Gallery, the Armory Art Show (with in the Art Forum lounge), New York, NY and HauteGREEN Brooklyn, NY. , as well as in various galleries in northern and southern California. In collaboration with the dance company BANDALOOP he has exhibited at Mass MOCA and the Cache Valley Center for the Arts (Logan, UT) and received two National Endowment for the Arts grants.
His work has been featured in Time Out New York, The San Francisco Examiner, Plenty Magazine, Surface Magazine, The Chicago Tribune and 7x7 Magazine.
Todd has earned a BFA with distinction in Individual Studios combining Sculpture, Furniture and Industrial Design from California College of the Arts in 2004 and a BFA in Advertising Design from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena/Switzerland in 1992.
STATEMENT - CRANK This work is about the change I have undergone since I arrived in the Bay Area 9 years ago. The bronze sculpture is an assemblage of objects found and collected from my explorations all over The Bay, while the stands reference the trusses of bridges and towers found in our industrial landscape. It expresses the initial shock of city life and the machinations of a densely populated constructed urban environment. My personal reaction to over stimulation is conveyed through movement and manipulation of this sculptural object in space. While change is inevitable, even invited, the natural rural landscape of home will always beckon.
STATEMENT - RANGES SERIES Collecting has always been a part of my life. This began with toys, baseball cards and music and evolved into the materials for my sculptures. The idea of reusing or repurposing an object that is overlooked or discarded interests me. The feeling of discovering something unseen ignites my creative process and propels my artwork. Therefore I scavenge, always on the lookout for materials, objects, or parts.
After moving to the Bay Area from Montana, I began to miss the mountains, the landscape, and the familiarity of home. Around this time, I discovered a resource of discarded used brushes at the foundry where I work. The smooth elegant handle with the sharp rounded point attracted me. This attraction to the handle’s form sparked the idea of a constructed mountain ridge, ultimately expressing my desire to render the mountains I missed.
This series is a collision of what I was feeling and my impulse to collect using resources from my new surroundings. Looking back, creating this body of work allowed me to reconnect with the solid foundation of home amidst the scenic mountains while living the urban life in the Bay Area. Creating these bronze sculptures led me to understand the profound connection I have with the mountains. Their strength, beauty, and comfort exhilarate the soul.
BIO Luke Heimbigner makes cast metal sculptures using the forms of forgotten and discarded items. He was born in 1982 in Bozeman, Montana. His grandfather may have hoped to make an engineer of young Luke by bringing him old lawnmower engines to take apart and rebuild; instead, it was Luke’s artistic imagination that was sparked by the functional beauty of those machines. In 2006 he graduated from the University of Montana at Missoula with a BFA in sculpture and a minor in media arts. In 2007 he moved to Oakland, having accepted a position as metal chaser at Artworks Foundry in Berkeley. He is also a captain of the foundry pour crew, helps with mold making, and assists in the installation of finished sculptures. At Artworks he met the late Steven De Staebler and worked closely with him as an assistant in the creation of the bronze sculpture for which De Staebler is internationally famous. Alongside De Staebler, Heimbigner numbers Richard Serra and Martin Puryear among the sculptors whose work he admires.
STATEMENT A wall was constructed, why, to protect from the elements, from danger from the unknown. To construct shelter, to define mine, ours and what is not. A wall is a way to keep the outside out and the inside, the private, in. It is a way to divide as much as it unifies. A wall is a border, a boundary. The border is what divides us from them, a boundary defines those limits. It defines limitations, how far we can go and where we should stop. A boundary in thought is as real as the Berlin Wall was, as the wall in Jerusalum is. A border can be a line in the sand south of Arizona, north of Mexico that defines who can walk in a region freely and who must present documentation.
So I gaze at these walls constructed in our society, both real and through the image of the real to the walls constructed in our sociological interactions, through the illusions of transparency. I am fascinated by the constructs of the barriers, also by the ruins and remnants of our culture that show up in buildings that have decayed or crumbled. Places that feel familiar but are not, that are perhaps the hazy recollection of a forgotten memory or the passage of time.
Monotype is a preferred medium. The immediacy of the process is central to my approach. I find that creating a monotype is a performance. There is the risk of failure and the possibility of surpassing what was planned. My established themes are a starting point to explore variations in mark-making and gesture to arrive at the finished piece. The process of monotype is very intuitive, one works quickly to arrive at the moment of printing. Every piece is approached without direct reference, either sketches or photographs, on hand thus allowing my memory to change and shift the image as I explore the different textures and forms on the plate.
BIO Barry Ebner is an artist primarily working in monotype and drawing. He started in Southern California as a painter and over the years migrated up the coast to the Bay Area. Over the last 25 years he has had over 20 solo exhibitions, throughout California and the western part of the United States. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas and his Master of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Printmaking from the California College of the Arts.
STATEMENT In this new series of work I wanted to show nature as I have experienced it, altered with order. The plants and rocks that I encounter are not in the midst of a serene landscape. They are tucked beside a sidewalk, discarded along a highway, beautiful, yet never seen without some reference to the human population around them.
Nature in this world is never without planned access routes, a concrete sidewalk and some symbol of the structured modern world, lurking somewhere in the picture frame. This interaction is unavoidable. It is the houses blocking the view of a mountain sunset, the parking lot near the hiking trail, the metal fence that you see just out of the corner of your eye just when you think you have left the industrial world behind. These paintings exhibit an adoration of small natural forms, but also the reality of the place in which they exist. There is no chaos in my portrayal of nature. There are orderly arrangements, plotted divisions and functionality forced onto the sublime.This work addresses a love of objects that have been grown or molded by the natural world, while accommodating a need to control that nature with just a bit of hard edged geometry.
TECHNOLOGY In my painting process, the use of technology is absolutely essential and inherently problematic. Technology is by its very nature, precise. The buttons that you press tend to always do what they are meant to do, and that does not allow for the magic of the accident.
Every single time I start a painting I begin with digital photography of a still life which I have arranged and altered with photoshop. I also use photoshop to overlay collages onto the photographs. In a matter of seconds I can then see how the biomorphic forms I’m studying will be divided by the geometry. For me, technology helps to set up the right conditions for the painting. It takes me to the starting line, but with a painting, happenstance, chance, and luck then take over. The paint will be paint and the plan that I have so carefully devised for myself using my technology, has little say over what happens next.
Francis Bacon once said of painting, “In my case all painting... is an accident...I don't in fact know very often what the paint will do, and it does many things .” For me, and I believe for many artists, a lack of complete control over one’s art medium is often imperative to the art making process.
BIO Anna Membrino is an artist living in Dallas, Texas. She has previously lived in the Bay Area which heavily influenced her nature based paintings. Membrino received her MFA from Southern Methodist University in 2012. She currently has a studio in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas where she spends her time painting large, abstracted still lifes.
STATEMENT For the last several years his work has been exploring the intersection between manmade and natural worlds. Burke’s recent ink drawings are equal parts hybrid farm animal and genetic experiment gone sideways. At a moment when scientists are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with genetic cloning and 3-D printers are programmed to print everything from food to firearms, there are bound to be missteps and deviations that result in surprising mutations that stray from the intended outcome. These pieces depict what some of these miscalculations might yield in the form of mutated animal forms with body parts that grow into and out of one another in a way that renders the creature virtually helpless. The paintings illustrate man’s complex and often convoluted relationship to nature and depict instances in which theses forces both compliment one another and collide in destructive ways.
His process involves equal parts control and chaos, and echoes tenuous socio-ecological relationships depicted in the imagery. The use of synthetic material reinforces the commentary on man’s impulse to consume, contain and modify the earth’s resources in order to accommodate our own needs and desires. His work celebrates man’s desire to build, innovate and create, while acknowledging the fact that our impulse to grow and consume is eroding the ecological framework that we depend on to sustain our wasteful habits.
BIO David Burke is an Oakland based painter and educator whose work has been exhibited his work both nationally and internationally. He is the art director for the Super Heroes Mural Project in West Oakland and co-founded the Autobody Bridge Program for emerging Bay Area artists. Most recently he was selected by Zero1 to be a part of the flagship American Arts Incubator program that sends artists abroad to collaborate with youth and underserved populations on community-based new media and mural art projects that bolster local economies, influence public policy, and further social innovation.
STATEMENT I am intrigued by the symbiotic relationships of ecology. Living creatures, while fragile and vulnerable, are constantly challenged by their surroundings to evolve and hybridize. My recent series of work, ‘Wildwood” creates forest-like landscapes that embed the energy, beauty, and mystery of nature. These works are created with an imaginary and futuristic sense that directs us to the responsibility of seeking a peaceful co-existence within our world.
My recent work, ‘Wildwood’, relies on my own methodology, complexity (the process) within simplicity (the final surface). Digital processes (photograph and digital processing) are interplayed with conventional artistic medium (painting, hand cutting, and drawing). Multiple images of trees are digitally manipulated for further transformation. Subsequently, the digital images are drawn (and layered) onto drafting film and transformed into multiple layers. I encapsulate many different elements to re-create the forest for the painting, ‘Out of the Blue’. For example, the organic structural images, the animal-like creatures, and the trees in the paintings are driven from my previous series of work. I oscillate between the virtual and physical steps to amplify the images. These stepwise processes are vital to precisely eliminate, build on, layer, simplify, and hybridize the forms to generate the complexity (the process) within simplicity (the final surface) in my work.
BIO Kyong Ae Kim works predominantly in the medium of painting and drawing. Kyong completed her MFA with a merit scholarship at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2005. Her work was exhibited in the Bay Area, Boston area and many others including OHT gallery, Judi Rotenberg gallery, Watson Fine Art at Wheaton College, Korean Cultural Center in LA, and Aqua Art Fair in Miami. Her work has been reviewed in The Boston Globe, New American Paintings, Providence Journal, and Times-Herald. Kyong is a recipient of the Emerging Artists of the Bay Area 2015 from Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, Murphy & Cadogan Fellowship from San Francisco Foundation and Korean Honor Scholarship from The Embassy of Korea, Washington, D.C. Her public collection includes the National Museum of Contemporary Art in South Korea and Wellington Management Company LLP and Fidelity Corporate Art Collection in Boston.
Her works are represented by Vessel Gallery in Oakland, OH projects in Boston and consigned with the SFMOMA artist gallery in San Francisco and Sabina Lee Gallery in Los Angeles. Kyong was born in Gyeongju, South Korea in 1976. Currently, she lives and practices in San Francisco.
STATEMENT From imagination and memory I wrestle familiar objects to expose the real presence and power of physical, tactile imagery. I work by improvisation, redrawing and re-configuring my constructions. Mix-ups in 'representation' occur as forms get entangled in paint, when fortress-like assemblies begin to emerge, solid and abstract, 'set' in ambiguous spaces. Intensities of color, movement, and organization arise at this stage. A sense of estrangement, a pull away from the familiar, compels the final images. The whole ensemble must become a curiosity to me, like an unexpected monument, the way driftwood piled high on a beach or junk in a studio corner suggests a drama. A finished picture must feel at least this real.
BIO William Harsh was an artist who maintained a committed and dedicated studio practice of nearly 40 years. Primarily an oil painter, he also worked extensively with other painting and drawing media and with monotype printmaking. Raised in Europe and the US, he studied with Philip Guston and James Weeks at Boston University, and for many years taught studio art at colleges in New England and California. His work is included in numerous collections in the US, Canada, and Europe, including UC Berkeley Art Museum's permanent collection.
STATEMENT What creates the notion of a landscape? Of a figure? This body of work is part of an ongoing series of experiments exploring how structure, material, and process affect or create meaning. I observe myself in the act of painting and watch how the process of making a painting affects its meaning.
BIO One day, Robert Arneson, looking at a painted ceramic that Walter James Mansfield had brought to class, turned to his student and said, in effect, that though Mansfield might be an artist, he surely wasn't a sculptor. He might, however, be a painter. If Arneson's remark helped turn Mansfield toward painting, other teachers had already encouraged him to find his way to becoming a maker of some kind, to stick with the hard work of learning a craft and perfecting technique. "Artists have a real work ethic," says Mansfield. "They are workers. They put a lot of work into making something of value." He had gone to UC Davis to study photography, and it was under the tutelage of Harvey Himelfarb, then head of the art department at Davis, that Mansfield first felt confirmed in his vocation as an artist. Later, Wayne Thiebaud and others revealed to him the openness and range of expression available to the artist who works in paint. Thiebaud's talks on art and the history of art also inspired in him a respect for the "long, long tradition" of painting.
Mansfield was born in the Tidewater region of Virginia in 1964 and spent his childhood years there. He moved to San Jose with his family when he was 12. He discovered his love of the visual arts when he picked up a camera and began photographing his parents and two sisters. UC Davis awarded him an undergraduate degree in fine art and psychology in 1987. His education continued at the California State University of Sacramento, where he got a Master's degree in studio art in 1999. In 1997, he received an Artreach grant from the Nelson Gallery ARTfriends organization to develop a community art project in collaboration with mental health clients. He completed his studies in 2001 at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he got his MFA in painting and drawing.
STATEMENT / BIO My style is deeply personal, navigating between geometric abstraction, landscape and architectural motifs, light and calligraphic images.
In all its forms water has always been a central source of imagery in my work and centering presence in my life. A source of my calligraphic line – both in painting and in sculpture is influenced by the currents and waves of water. I enjoyed swimming in the Pacific and currently at Tomales Bay. Being a native San Franciscan, the environment of water and fog is central to my life and work."
Recalling her childhood, Nancy Genn admiringly speaks of a mother who vigorously pursued her two passions -- art and the environment. "I grew up with intelligent, strong women who did things", the artist remembers. Working at a time "when the only accepted publicity for ladies was the announcement of birth, marriage and death", Genn's mother quietly but tirelessly lobbied to secure funding for county parks and for trees for San Francisco streets. "She introduced me at an early age to the importance of our environment with an emphasis on trees -- the shape and texture. Her perception and appreciation of our environment has been a lasting influence."
Genn's work reflect her own sharp and appreciative eye for detail in both natural and architectural settings. Shape, texture, line, light and color are all balanced and considered not as merely descriptive flourishes, but as essential, striking forces themselves.The works cohere at a point between abstraction and representation -- the titles evoke a sense of place rather than specify its absolute parameters, the pieces, which may include calligraphy, pencils marks, bits of an architect's topographical map and Persian script, allude to a narrative while refusing to tell only one tale. Her abstraction provoke visceral responses -- they are reminiscent of landscapes, seascapes or cityscapes, but reach for something beyond a facade or blue horizon. The active visual fields draw the viewer in, allowing us to become part of her experience, as the experience simultaneously becomes our own.
Once again, it seems to be her mother's early impact that nurtured Genn's resonating abstract style. Genn owns the notebooks of the Japanese master Hokusai, which her mother purchased in 1917, and feels that his sketchbooks in pen and ink have been an influence on the line and structure of my paintings." Asian art was "part of the household", the artist recalls. Throughout her career, which now spans almost five decades, Genn has pursued this early connection with Eastern forms and thought. Although she feels that her mode of geometric abstraction is more widely practiced and accepted on the East coast of the United States, her life long location in California has been a vital source for her art. "I am interested in the realm of ideas -- that is why we like Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay area. Here we are on the cutting hedge of thought. We are on the Pacific Rim. There is a link between Western ideas and Asian thought here".
Her travels throughout all of Asia, as well as to Italy, Greece and Turkey, have profoundly affected her work. The artist gained international recognition in the 1970's for her experiments with hand made paper. Using what is now known as the "Genn method", she created three-dimensional abstract works. Not only did she revitalize an ancient Japanese art form but she revitalizes the medium of paper itself. "Paper is an old material but here I have used it in a totally different way", she says. The resulting works of art unite not only East and West, but the artist's own experience as both painter and sculptor.
Genn's more recent works still subtly plays with the three-dimensionality of paper on canvas and the three-dimensionality of sculpture. She may had layers of monotype or printed papers collected from her exotic travels, as if creating a new sense of place rich with personal significance from the literal scraps of ancient destinations. Memories are not as much catalogued or reported as they are created, emerging from the deep colors she found in Rome, the haunting luminosity she discovered in Turkey's Lycian shore, or the powerful, solitary ruins she encountered rising up from the desert of Yemen. "I enjoy the possibilities for subtle change; it allows for the thorough explanation of an idea". Genn's work seems constantly fluid and changing, beckoning the viewer's eye to move with it into a delicate tapestry of form, texture and memory.
STATEMENT When I began sculpting, over 50 years ago, it was almost unheard of for women to go into the field. A psychologist I knew asked, disparagingly, if I had penis envy. Women were just beginning to slip through the cracks when I started. I slipped into the Sculpture Department at CCAC on a technicality: I was hired to teach a night class (less prestige). Later, when the head of the Sculpture Department complained that it was unsafe for a woman to be teaching at night, his superior, who was more progressive, promoted me to the faculty. Even then my job was not secure. Five years later I took a leave of absence to teach in Africa and the head of the Sculpture Department tried a second time to fire me.
Desperate for community and in need of work, I searched at every college that taught sculpture in a 100-mile radius, but none had a woman on staff. With courage brought on by desperation, I returned to CCAC and filed a discrimination suit under the Board of Equalization, which I won. The department head who had tried to fire me was replaced. To my chagrin, the new head was even worse – he propositioned me upon first acquaintance!
I persevered as a practicing sculptor, but the discrimination I endured hampered my career. The kind of work I do has often been attributed to a man or questioned as being inappropriate for a woman. We live in a world riddled with anxiety and war. I have never believed that some subjects are suitable for men and some for women. I especially never accepted the notion that because I am a mother, my work needs to be about mothering.
Things are better for women sculptors now, but there's still a ways to go, especially in exhibitions. I think most gallery owners (present company excluded), don't take female artists very seriously. The majority of works exhibiting in museums and galleries are by male artists. However, I am hopeful that things will continue to improve. Some of the women I mentored in my teaching career have gone on to significant careers.
BIO Fifty years into her career – and still innovating – sculptor Bella Feldman has more to say, more art to make, and more people to reach. Feldman communicates through metaphor, juxtaposing the strength of steel and the fragility of glass, deftly crafting large and small scale sculptures – from series of elegantly composed “Flasks of fiction” to playfully poignant “War Toys”.
A pioneer among women sculptors, Feldman creates tension through her materials and expresses themes drawn from her own life experiences – including the Depression, the Holocaust, and many wars. Although she and her work appear tough as nails, neither is invincible. Her life (and ours), like the glass blown into her sculptures, is delicate.
Feldman’s message is timeless and delivered in a curious fashion that never ceases to compel us to look, think, and engage in her art.
STATEMENT The paintings often don’t reference recognizable forms. Images are deconstructed, meaning is shifted, and possible interpretation becomes multifaceted. Rather than presenting a factual reality, an illusion is fabricated to conjure the realms of imagination. With a subtle minimalistic approach, I establish a link between reality and that imagined. By exploring the concept of landscape, architecture, and form / colors I investigate the dynamics of painting. I can say with color, spontaneous scrawled lines, and multi-layered renderings; things that I don’t have words to express.
BIO Linn Thygeson spent her childhood on a farm in South Dakota. She studied art in Minneapolis, Flagstaff, Nebraska, at CCA, and at the Sorbonne in Paris. She graduated from the University of Nebraska. She has worked as a photography instructor, a florist, an art teacher, an opera costume designer, and as an award-winning graphic designer for the San Francisco Chronicle. She currently lives and works in Oakland, CA.
Her work is in collections in Arizona, California, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Oregon.
STATEMENT The objective of my art is to create shapes, spaces, and textures that have the look and feel of unmediated natural forms. Towards this end I use a drawing process in which I apply forces, like flowing air and liquid, to granular material, such as powdered charcoal and bone black. This is analogous to natural processes at all scales. The resultant images are not reflections of objects and environments actually found in nature, they only appear so because they are constructed with the same multilevel stochastic processes that underlie the universe we inhabit.
While I utilize randomness on the micro level, on the macro level my images are guided by formal structural considerations. I look for and try to nurture certain qualities: textural complexity within images of apparent simplicity; multiple possible focal points where shifts of attention lead to unexpected transformations of meaning or foreground-background transpositions; potentially jolting variations in scale; surfaces that arouse haptic sensations; and depth that implies hidden space. I search for the fresh and unfamiliar, the difficult to name, visual mystery and its concurrent tension. My desire is to create visual excitement with an emotionally complex aftertaste. My drawings are not a representation of my internal fantasy world or a romanticization of the natural world, rather they are impressionistic fields of potential discovery, where the physical and emotional nature of the worlds they depict are not just left open to, but are absolutely dependent upon the viewer’s engagement and interpretation.
BIO Ron Weil was born in New York and grew up in Detroit. He studied economics at the University of Michigan followed by graduate work at Berkeley in both economics and in a self-developed interdisciplinary study in urban geography. He has been a teacher at the high school and college levels as well as a real estate developer, urban planner, and community worker. He has made a living as a laborer, cab driver, and poker player.
Weil has been drawing since childhood, and his creative impulses have frequently caused his career plans to jump the track. While studying economics in grad school at Berkeley he took a year off to devote himself exclusively to black-and-white photography (he’s always trying to figure out where his love of gray came from). He experimented with double exposure and printing techniques like solarization. After finishing school he spent a few years using silkscreen to make political posters (some of these got favorable notice in Mother Jones). “Art kept popping up like a mushroom in the woods,” he says.
In 2011, after the death of his wife, he dropped other pursuits and gave his full attention to art. His first effort was an enormous drawing on paper, a phantasmagoria expressing his feelings at the time. He created pieces that made use of the materials of his wife’s sickroom. He took up pastels again, as he had often done in the past; but as had also happened before, he found himself lured away from color by the challenge of monochrome—gray, black, and white.
One day, while shopping for charcoal sticks, Weil discovered powdered charcoal and powdered graphite. He experimented with both but dropped graphite because it was too easy to make something pretty: “Graphite has its own inherent beauty that has nothing to do with me, only the material” he says. “It felt like cheating, a way to create beautiful stuff without soul.”
So he opted to work with the more challenging powdered charcoal. He developed a set of tools and discovered for himself a repertoire of techniques using natural forces (air and water) to produce images that, though produced rapidly, seem the result of slow natural processes. He works outdoors and has even tried to use the rain to assist in image-making. He says, “I like the patterned randomness created by natural forces, but what really thrills me is the magic of discovery and surprise that comes from making work with this medium."
STATEMENT My encaustic paintings are created out of a deep sense of the oneness of humankind and nature. Nature is my most intimate contact, my reassurance of ongoing life. Through my paintings I seek to bring experiences of beauty, peace, and healing to a fractured world.
BIO Born in Minneapolis, Mari Marks moved to Illinois at age seven, following the death of her father. Thefamily lived in the country and Marks found comfort and beauty in nature. She attended the University of Illinois, where she studied drawing with Richard Diebenkorn and graduated in painting with highest honors. She and her husband farmed for six years in northern Illinois with their three children. They moved to Washington, DC where her portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr., was exhibited during the Poor People's encampment. She received an MA in Art Therapy from George Washington University. In 1984, Mari moved to Berkeley to resume active study of painting and fiber arts, exploring textured figurative work, symbolic constructions, and patterned nature paintings. In 1992, Mari studied with Elizabeth Murray at a California Summer in the Arts workshop. There she produced her first encaustic paintings. Her paintings are included in public, corporate, and private collections, among them the Richmond Memorial Civic Center; Hewlett-Packard Corporation, and the Hilton Hotel in Sapporo, Japan. Marks has exhibited widely throughout the United States, her recent solo exhibitions include Ispace in Chicago, and in the Bay Area, Robert Allen Fine Art, the Graduate Theological Union, and Dolby Chadwick Gallery. She has also shown in Brooklyn, Miami, Tucson, and Lincoln Nebraska.