Saturday, January 28, 2012

wander into the sea...

wander into the sea, mixed media on paper 5x7"
© 2012 Megan Chapman, sold

There was more art viewed in the lovely city of Edinburgh this past week as eight commercial galleries were visited. We started with the lovely Union gallery as I wanted to catch the Winter Wonderland exhibition before it closed for the month. Stewart and I both had work in this group exhibition and I have to say it was quite a thrill to see my work in a gallery in Scotland. My work has been many places around the nation and now the world, but rarely do I get a chance to travel with my work and see it installed. So this unique experience was very important to me. The work looked lovely next to Stewart's.

Next we visited, Open eye gallery this gallery was showing some works by Frank Stella and Josef Albers. We then visited The Gallery on the Corner, which was a lovely little space, showing work by individuals with "a physical or mental health condition or those from a disadvantaged background." It was a comfortable and cute gallery and the range of work was quite good. I can stand behind a project gallery such as this, art is so important on so many levels. I am glad this gallery exists.

Next was Axolotl a gallery with several different shows on at once. One room contained large drawn portraits on huge sheets of paper crinkled to provide the wrinkles and facial structure to the faces rendered. The size and use of paper was impressive. Sadly for the artist, the view out the window was equally so. I can imagine much of the art viewed in this gallery looking better in a different space. There was also a room of resin worked that I liked but again I wanted to see it somewhere else. There was a giclee print that really touched me, of a monkey. It was called prayer monkey by Kirsty Whiten. I went back for a second look at this piece.

There was Colours gallery with burlap walls that lent a 1970s feel with a wide selection of colorful art and nice man running the place. We also visited Flaubert gallery and this gallery stood out for me. It was a large gallery and I liked a lot of what they had on display. They were playing jazz and offered us an espresso while we looked. Friendly, nice atmosphere and good art, a winning combination! I was particularly taken with the work of Claudia Massie.

There was the small Rosie Mckenzie gallery and what I remember most was a small space and a sweet gallery dog. We also visited Scotland Art a mid size gallery, with creaky wood plank floors and a spiral staircase that takes you downstairs view the art on the lower level.

I also visited the National Museum of Scotland, which is more of a natural history museum, but on the art front, notably I saw works by Andy Goldsworthy and Hiroshige .

So as you can see and read I have taken in a lot of art in the past two and a half weeks. It really has been amazing. I love the different spaces, the way the work is handled, the way one is greeted or not. It all comes together to create this "art world."

Also this past week, I got to meet many of my friends and acquaintances from my blipfoto community. As some of you know I keep a daily photo journal at blipfoto and that is how I met Stewart and why I am in Scotland. Well this past Sunday, we had a closing meet and greet for the Winter wonderland exhibition at Union Gallery. Many of the important players of blip came out to say hello, including the founder Joe Tree. I was pleased that my fellow blippers could see my art as well. It was a fun Sunday afternoon and I feel I have more than a few real friends in this city and surrounding area.

Besides all this art and culture viewing and community building, perhaps even more notable on a personal level, I actually created art this week! Yes!!! With few supplies and only a kitchen counter studio space I made nine new small works on paper and listed them in my shop on Etsy. Four pieces have already found homes! If you are enjoying my travel stories I hope you will consider buying one of the small works that I create while here. I will be making more small works this week, but until the new ones arrive, please consider visiting my shop and snapping up one of these.

After all that, yesterday I spent the day at the North Sea! It was just what I needed; the water is peace, the colors are art, and the sounds make me feel alive.

Until next week, keep fighting, the world needs your art. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

You'll find me in the gallery


This city is alive with art. This week many galleries were visited. So much art was seen on one day that it honestly might be a bit of a blur. I'll take a feast of art over a famine any day. This week I will try to record some of the art I saw as well as some of my impressions of it.

Let's start with Royal Scottish Academy, where I saw the work of Sylvia Wishart. The Royal Scottish Academy is an impressive building and I would be more inclined to call it a museum rather than gallery, but that practice doesn't seem as popular over here. It has exhibitions that change out regularly. We happened to catch the paintings of Scottish artist Sylvia Wishart. These were mostly landscape paintings and a ship seemed ever present somewhere in the imagery. I like ships. I like paintings. Sylvia's paintings were in a palette that felt a bit anemic. Her paintings felt more like unfinished under paintings, the colors cold and bleached out, left me wanting more. Without either color or form to grip us, we walked through this exhibition with speed.

As we were in the neighborhood, we decided a return visit to the Scottish National Gallery was in order, if you recall from last week's blog, this is where I saw a wide selection of paintings, from Rembrandt to Gauguin and all shades in between. The Turner water colors are currently on display there as well,  but what gripped me the most were two works from the Scottish section of the exhibition in the basement of the gallery, the four panelled textile piece by Phoebe Anna Traquair was enjoyed even more the second time and this time the book about the artist was even purchased from the gift shop. The more I learn about Phoebe the more fascinating she and her work become. The other piece that had to be savored again was, Saint Bride by John Duncan, the delicate colors, the ethereal glow, the gentleness of the way the body is carried and the hands are laid, the tilt of the head. This painting is beauty personified. This is a work that has the power to make me almost weep at how perfectly everything has been executed.

Then there was a visit to the Talbot Rice Gallery, the exhibition Beholder was currently on display. I was very pleased to see a sweet still life by Morandi in the mix. It was surprising to find it there in the crush of contemporary and sometimes conceptual art. There was also a piece there by Yoko Ono. I think the highlight of Yoko's piece was the room that it was placed in. The spaces these works are shown in contribute so much at times to the work, but I am a sucker for architecture. The Talbot Rice Gallery consists of two unique showing spaces. The White gallery is just that, a white and bright open room while the Georgian gallery is ornate and over the top. It was interesting to walk into the neoclassical space and be treated to a selection of avant-garde art films in the dark. After walking through the films we found our way to a very old spiral staircase that took us up to the darkened mezzanine level. There we browsed some works from The University's Torrie collection, a bequest to the University of predominantly seventeenth century Dutch paintings.

From there we decided to visit a few commercial art galleries along Dundas street. The first stop was The Scottish Gallery, where we stumbled upon a brilliant exhibition of the work of William Johnstone, the Scottish father of modern abstract painting. The gallery had a varied collection of his works, a retrospective. I was inspired by the loose sumi type ink paintings as the colors of red and green mingled with the jet black. The Scottish Gallery was a lovely space and I felt quite comfortable in this high end gallery. It was good to see this important work and learn more about the roots of Scottish abstraction.

We also popped into the Di Rollo  and Edinburgh galleries. These galleries were smaller and had a wider variety of styles and works. There was one artist that caught my eye in the Edinbugh gallery and that was George Grant. He had three pieces on display. I liked the surface he was working on and the blurry atmospheric work he creates. It may have even remind me a little of my dark landscape series from 2004.  Both of these galleries were nice and the friendly and eclectic Di Rollo had a lovely view out the back window that made me want to curl up like a cat in the window seat and sleep.

Last but not least, we saw an exhibition of impossible Polaroids by artist and writer Ever Dundas. The exhibition, And this is Yesterday, was in a stairwell and as you took a step up, you took a step into the worlds captured in these little photographic stills. Influenced by music, Ever's work had a nostalgic feeling of warm days past. It was a lovely exhibition and it was great to meet the artist as well.

So there you have it. There is art all around me. In this grey statuesque city, the sun shines more often than I expected...

Friday, January 13, 2012

We're not in Arkansas anymore...

 View over Edinburgh, Scotland January 2012

As I predicted last week, here I am this week, writing my blog from a borrowed laptop while sitting on a green Ikea sofa in Edinburgh, Scotland. As you know, this blog is mostly about art, but for the next several months it will also serve as my travel journal, but as I plan to see and make a lot of art it should fit both of my needs. I hope you will enjoy following along on my adventures.

I left Arkansas on Tuesday and arrived in Edinburgh on Wednesday morning at the crack of dawn. This was my first solo journey by plane, the first time I had been on a plane since 1997 and my first time out of the country. The journey was smooth and really very manageable. So far I don't really seem to suffer from jet lag and in general I feel a sense of peace about me. As I have seemingly just conquered one of my biggest phobias of the past.

This is much more than just a trip for me. I can't even begin to explain what this trip means to me. I support myself off my art and I was able to buy a ticket and get myself here. I managed the system of travel and I managed my fears of the unknown. I thought my mind might race or take me to dark places, but it was completely still and has remained mostly still since I left Fayetteville Tuesday morning. The reset button has been pushed completely at this point. I am back on a trajectory that was set a long time ago when I was young and fearless. The options before me are endless. The options may not be easy, but they are guaranteed endless. I have a new confidence in myself now that I have made this journey. I have been building this confidence steadily over the years through my art. If it wasn't for my art I wouldn't be where I am today literally.

Edinburgh is a bustling city, the light is low in the sky during the winter. In the late afternoon the sunshine reminds me of what it looks like at 7a.m. in my part of the world, low and filtered. I don't mind the short days. It is cool, but not uncomfortable. I have been walking for miles each day, for a total of sixteen in the first 3 days. I enjoy the walking and do not miss my car or driving one bit. It is a great way to see the city and get a feel for where things are and how it all connects. I like how it is layered and stacked. A gradual incline up a street and before you know it you are looking down on another part of the city or even walking across a bridge that you would not expect.

As far as art goes, it is everywhere from the architecture to the bending reaching trees, to the sky and the views of the city. But as far as formal art goes, I have been to the Scottish National Gallery of Art which has a beautiful and far reaching collection. In the National Gallery, I saw a painting I had a relationship with in art school. It was Gauguin's painting, Vision of the Sermon. In art school I wrote a paper about this particular piece and even did a large copy of the painting. It was good to see it in person. It is a strange painting and I wish I had the paper I wrote with me, so I knew why I chose it and my thoughts at the time. I look forward to revisiting this gallery again soon, there were some textile pieces that were quite breathtaking, as well as a painting by John Duncan, called Saint Bride that I was entranced by.

Today, I visited the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. I will remember it mostly because of the beautiful walk to get there. I am not saying the art wasn't worthwhile or memorable, it is, but more for the rock star element of who created it than what it says or how it makes me feel. It is an impressive collection, but these kind of collections are the kind that one typically reads about in the magazines I typically try to avoid such as Art in America or Art News. The collection currently is comprised of art that might awe one with the scale of execution, or conceptual art that takes big money to produce, this is the art by the big names. But before I drop any of those names, I will mention the work in the collection that did move me. I saw two Kurt Schwitters' pieces that I enjoyed. His skeletal book spines threading across the paper collage in conversation with his design sensibilities. I also saw two pieces by Barbara Hepworth. The two wood sculptures were curved, soft, rich and organic.

For those interested in the flashy names. I saw A Girl by Ron Mueck. I had seen this work in the magazines mentioned above in the past as I flipped through them while waiting for paint to dry. To see A Girl in person is amazing as the execution seems flawless and the scale impressive as it takes up an entire large room right off the main entrance of the gallery. But once you get past the wow factor there is nothing left, or at least there was nothing left for me. I also saw a sculpture by Damien Hirst, this piece was of a pregnant woman, you can see the baby inside and a skull is at the woman's feet. It was impressive as well, but once I walked around it and thought, "Oh that's a Hirst," I simply walked away.

This exhibition did get me thinking about what art is and what it does and what I need it to do to reach me personally. Perhaps the simple fact that the work confuses me or leaves me feeling ambivalent may be its sole purpose. It leaves me wanting more. It also leaves me wanting the past. Call me old fashion but you can give me some abstract expressionism any day. To see some of the highlights from this exhibition including A Girl, click here.

While some of the work I saw today left me a bit cold, seeing the beautiful buildings housing the art, the sun streaming through the gallery windows, the Gormley Sculpture knee deep in the Water of Leith, the recreated studio of Sir Eduardo Paolozzi and so much more left me feeling warm, bright and inspired.

And that is what art does. The good, the bad, the ugly, it makes us wrestle in our heads, it moves us, shakes us and even appalls us. It leaves us wanting more and better and sometimes it leaves us wanting to make our own and that is a victory for all of us on the planet.

Make your art, shake us up.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rambling on my mind

Thanks to everyone who popped in last week and read my year in review blog. I would give you all a gold star if I had some to magically give you. I really appreciate your time in reading all of that and your supportive and encouraging comments. I have the best readers, friends, patrons and supporters and I am grateful.

This past week I mostly suffered with a cold and then took it easy. I also prepared for my Transatlantic journey. This will be my final blog typed from my desk in the United States until May when I return. Next week I will be writing from Edinburgh, Scotland on Stewart's laptop whilst sitting on his green ikea sofa. Well, that is my plan of course, I actually might be sitting at his ikea table.

I am very excited about my upcoming journey and I will be documenting it here each week with photographs, small paintings, ramblings, writings, you name it. When I am inspired, that inspiration will be chronicled here each week. If it is getting too much to fit in just one post a week, I might break my own rules and post more often, but you can rest assured my blog readers are going to know what is moving me and inspiring my art and life while I am abroad.

Strangely, I don't think I have any expectations. I know it will be rainy and grey. I know it will be different and I know it is a city full of culture and art. I know I am going to be happy to see Stewart. I know I will paint small works on paper while I am there and that I will be having a showing of those works while I am there.

I am looking forward to not spending so much time on the computer. I am looking forward to walking every day to places that I have never been. I am looking forward to meeting people that I am only acquainted with on the Internet. Don't make me say some of my best friends are from the Internet.... Oh but they are, but they won't be for much longer! I am a part of a global network of artists and art lovers and I can't wait to meet them all. That idea is very exciting to me. There is so much I am looking forward to doing and seeing. I am also looking forward to just being.

I am very excited to be able to watch and be with Stewart as he works on his upcoming exhibition and I am more than thrilled that I will be there for his opening.

I am going to a place I have never been. I am stepping out of a comfort zone that in the past, made even thinking about this adventure impossible. I have to know that this will change me as a person and that in turn this will influence and inspire my future work. Thinking about this is almost too much for me. It fills me with hope and feels quite magical.

Thanks again for your support. I can't wait to share my adventures with you. Until next week!