Catherine Murray’s Letter to Mrs. Ramsay

“The Edge of Things”, 2009. Bronze, wood, lead, and paint.

I finally made it over to Catherine Murray’s Letter to Mrs. Ramsay at the Johnson City Area Arts Council Gallery. In case you haven’t been there, it’s a nice little space that’s easily accessible downtown (in the same building as Main Street Pizza). I haven’t been to many exhibitions there because, for whatever reason, it’s a bit off my radar. I don’t often know what’s in there. The only four times I’ve been to the gallery it was because a friend or acquaintance was involved with an exhibition. I suspect this gallery might have the issue multiple venues in this area experience as well — lack of exposure.

“Artemis”, 2012 + “Demeter”, 1997 + “Aphrodite”, 2012.

Perhaps most recognized as a sculptor, Murray actually began her artistic studies as a painter. I’m not exactly sure why or when she moved over to sculpture as her primary medium, but encaustic seems like a good bridge between the two. The medium lends itself well to being layered, built up, and carved into. The surface texture feels a bit mysterious, but very physical. Perhaps it’s the shifting opacity, the way the surface looks tranquil yet sticky, physically and psychically sensitive. The affectation feels mutual between object and viewer.

“Erebus”, 2012. Encaustic and mica on wood panel.

“Blossom”, 2012. Alabaster and cast iron.

It usually annoys me when people make artwork and title it a word that is heavy with meaning like Artemis, Demeter, etc. because it creates issues for both the artist and the viewer. If the artist making the work attempts to describe this word in an iconic, broadly applicable way, they tend to fail miserably. The task is too hard. The work suffers. If the work is a conscious attempt to spin a “twist” on the common perception of the word, it tends to be trite. Successful attempts tend to be more personal, less self-conscious. Or humorous.

While looking at Murray’s mixed media paintings, I got the impression that each work was a meditation on something in particular, but not weighed down by it. Each one feels like a conversation that she had with herself, with her memories yet it was really readable to a viewer. When looking at Aphrodite, for example, moments in the painting struck me as being revealing without force, such as the small deer in an obscured forest, the seashell, and the vulvic green shape slightly off center.

“Aether”, 2012. Encaustic and gold leaf on wood panel.

“Aphrodite”, 2012. Encaustic and paper on wood panel.

The work feels very much like the beginning of a new phase in Murray’s career, which is always an exciting thing to witness. At least for me. I remember being in my art classes and seeing that a fellow student made some great leap, and even where there were problems with his or her piece, the energy and potential was there to enable more growth and experimentation. But let’s not over think it. Momentum is momentum, and now is a good time for that.

“Honeybee”, 2012. Encaustic, cloth, and paper on wood panel.

“Queen Bee”, 1993 + “Honeybee”, 2012.

“Sanibel”, 2012 + “Hercules”, 1993 + “Red Deer”, 2012.

FF: Oct 5th

I didn’t get many pictures at all of First Friday because I was occupied at Venus & Fur…

 

 

 

There was a lot of great stuff going on, though, and I recommend trying to see those exhibitions before they come down. I definitely will, especially now that I’m not trying to finish 32 paintings in 2 weeks (read: madwoman).

If anyone has some photos or videos of FF they’d like to share, I’ll add’em to the post. For now, to relieve some of my discomfort about a post revolving around myself, I’m posting a stolen photo taken by Brian Paddock of Joybang playing at The Mecca Lounge downtown. Daddy Don’t of Knoxville played, too. It was a lot of fun. I love that place, those people.

FF: Sept 7th, 2012

A few quick snapshots from First Friday, September 7th in Johnson City:

The Day on Fire preview reception at Tipton Gallery

“Necklace for 2012”, 2011
Robly Glover, TX
Found objects, sterling silver, riser with battery-powered turntable
@ The Day on Fire preview reception, Tipton Gallery

“The Moment Before The Apocalypse: Russia”, 2012
Gregory Martens, WI
Reproduction of monoprint
@ The Day on Fire preview reception, Tipton Gallery

Detail of “The Moment Before The Apocalypse: Planet Earth”, 2012
Gregory Martens, WI
Screen monoprint on paper
@ The Day on Fire preview reception, Tipton Gallery

Side note: I also really like Adam WilliamsIn Trying Times, Don’t Quit Trying and Casey Jex Smith‘s Dingershare, but I couldn’t get decent photos of them. And similarly, I totally failed to take any non-blurry photos of Jordan’s new jewelry. The two following images were the best I could do. They all have lovely, hand drawn details that are worth an up close gander.

Jordan’s jewelry at Venus & Fur

Jordan’s jewelry at Venus & Fur

this mountain playing downtown, in front of Nelson Fine Art Center

This post is pretty sparse because I’ve been rushing around and just wanted to get something together for a follow up post. I hope to write more in the future, although I kind of like the idea of FF re-caps just being photos (hopefully better quality than the current example). We’ll see.

I went to the other art receptions, but I didn’t feel particularly engaged, so I didn’t take any photos. They just weren’t my cup of tea. Felt too safe, too controlled. (Not that I like dangerous tea, I don’t care what Jill Tracy says.) On one hand, I feel like I should record what I experience, but on the other hand, I’m not sure it’s my responsibility to record everything, even my disliking of things. I’m not a critic, after all. However, I do see value in discourse. Thoughts?