Art on the other side of the tunnel...

I live in Danville, a town on the other side of the Caldecott tunnel by about 30 minutes from Berkeley, without traffic. It is a pretty little place, but very suburban. OK, extremely suburban. And in this part of what is called the East Bay, there is a bit of a dearth of cultural ANYTHING, especially for the visual arts.

To be fair, there are some local arts associations made up of primarily painters of landscapes and still lifes, who show their work at a few local non-profit spaces. These are also host to performing arts shows and some juried art exhibitions. I have nothing against any of this, except that I start to crave seeing lots of art, especially contemporary art, and there is not a lot of it our here. In other words, we don’t exactly have any gallery districts, much less a gallery walk on a Friday night or an open studio tour. If you want those things, head your bum through that tunnel or over the Bay Bridge, and get your art fix in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco.

Then again, people don’t live here for the art and culture, they live here because it is safe and clean and pretty and has good school districts. It is great for raising kids- one of which, I have. But if you are an artist, or an art-lover, you start to miss having something interesting and beautiful to look at.

Imagine my surprise, then, when at my place of work in Walnut Creek, a friend mentioned that there is an art gallery in the town of Lafayette! Just two towns over from Danville.

 Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery in Downtown Lafayette, CA.

Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery in Downtown Lafayette, CA.

On a Saturday, my husband and toddler and I drive all of 17 minutes to Lafayette to see this gallery, a cooperative space called the Lafayette Art Gallery. After checking it out (and it was really nice), I stumble upon another art gallery up the street, the lovely and gorgeous contemporary space Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery, named for the fabulous owner of the gallery herself.

Filled with Jennifer’s bold, expressive, and colorful abstract paintings, the space glowed with color. The gallery is clean and simple in design, allowing the art to pop! Nothing is overhung as well- each piece gets its own place on the wall. (No salon walls here!)

Jennifer opened up in February after lamenting the lack of art on this side of the tunnel. (She apparently read my mind.) She plans to rotate shows of contemporary artists throughout the rest of the year, and has some great events planned, one coming up in just two weeks. Learn more here.

I highly recommend checking it out, locals. It is filled with beauty!

Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery
Address:
 3620 Mt. Diablo Blvd.
Lafayette CA 94549
Hours: Mon-Sat 11AM-5PM

Harnessing Chaos

AtWork-1 Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans. ~ John Lennon

For the past month or so, I have been wrestling with a painting. I tried all my usual tricks- sneaking up on it with white paint to "cover up" the parts that were not working, simplifying it, making it more colorful, making it more complex- none of which worked. I ended up with a bit of a mess.

OK, it was down right ugly.

The colors were, frankly, atrocious: acid yellow with earthy teal green, pale pink, weird beige (is beige ever weird? Well, I figured that one out!) and baby boy blue. Their dissonance haunted me for days. In yoga class I would find solutions to the problem, only to not have time to act on them. Finally, this past weekend, I attacked the piece. I knew it needed red, but not just any red: CORAL. That almost-orange-and-almost-salmon color that is gracing all the home decor blogs and catalogs this season.

Oddball

 

So there I was, painting some circles on this piece, with each one thinking, oh, crap, there's another thing I'll have to fix.

But I kept going. Trying to relate the halves of the work, add points of connection, reference and movement, and balance the color scheme so it stayed weird, but not unnervingly so.

This painting is really about trying to find structure in chaos... at some point making peace with the chaos. Therefore the work is not "pretty," but it has a jolie laide quality that makes it work. It is not at all what I set out to do, but somehow, I found a way to harness the chaos and coalesce it into a loose sort of structure. That's why I named it "Oddball."

 

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I've got a lot in the works right now that I'd love to share with you! Join my newsletter to find out about my latest work, art shows and events, and get tips on beautiful art to check out in person and on the web. I would love to connect with you and deliver beauty to your inbox. Sign up here.

 

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Elemental Beauty: Line and Texture

Relic, mixed media on paper, 30" x 30", ©2013 Julia Rymer Whenever I think of line- in the design sense- I think of the word mark-making.

Mark-making is one of those art terms that you hear in art school as an artist, but it doesn't really mean much to anyone outside the arts. (Frankly, it doesn't always mean much to artists!) However, it is a term that encompasses what creating with line means: the primal instinct to leave one's mark somewhere. It is this very human urge that compels one to "art"- to use art as a verb- to create, build, make, craft- to say with the hands, rather than the voice, "I was here."

Texture goes with line. Rough, smooth, silky or crisp, texture is the design element that relates most to the physical world- often coming from it, with the materials reacting to the surface on which they are used.

The piece above, Relic, was created by layering watercolor on paper. While the paper was still wet, I drew into the work, activating the charcoal and deepening the black, giving the marks depth as they melted into the paper. While the paper dried, I sprinkled salt and old paint granules on the paper, so that when it dried there was a mottled look, like stone or rock. The marks in this piece are primitive, simplistic, inspired by seed pods I've been collecting from my garden. The title of the work refers to history in the geological sense.

 

 

Buy some art. Hang on your wall. Enjoy.

Illuminate Recently I was approached by the startup Artify It about offering limited edition prints of two of my original works on paper. I am pleased to say they are now available for a short time (one week to be exact)!

I am not going to bore you with the fact that limited edition prints are a wonderful way to start collecting art affordably (they are). But if you were to look at buying art because it is affordable, why not just buy it at a Big Box Store? Then you can get all the "paintings" you need, on sale and in the designer colors that will exactly match your couch!

Instead, I prefer to think of buying my work through Artify It as more about buying something special and adding uniqueness to the space you frequent. Or perhaps you know an art-lover that will get a total kick out of the work too, so you buy them a gift. What a nice way for someone to "live with beauty"!

In any case, if you are interested, click the photos and they will take you to the website for purchasing. I hope you enjoy!

 

BloodEarth

The Artist You Are

There are times when the artist that you are and the artist that you want to be cannot be reconciled. This is a fight between desire and reality. You fight and fight to be a certain type of artist, but nothing works- it doesn't fit. You want to make bigger work, smaller work, more colorful work, less colorful work, paintings, sculpture, prints, or just installation. Conceptual work, or formal work. You think, "I'll just do this type of art, or use this type of approach, and the world will get me." So, there you are, trying and trying and trying, getting nowhere. No one is responding- not even you.

With Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours of genius-hood getting farther and farther away, you consider giving up.

The question you are really trying to answer is who YOU are as an artist. Not your famous professor, best friend from art school, or that guy who randomly picked up a paintbrush one day and now sells paintings for $20,000 a pop. Not the girlfriend who paints in her spare time while her baby sleeps, or the friends whose art involves tagging the neighborhood.

No, the question is: who are YOU as an artist?

Not who do you WANT to be— but who are you right now as an artist? In this space, this place, with this work? And can you value yourself and what you do? Can you grant it legitimacy? Can you be enough?

Image

Art & Beauty: Jessica Torrant

Jessica Torrant is a colorist: her medium may be paint, but her language is color. She embodies that famous quote by Paul Klee:

“Color possesses me. I don't have to pursue it. It will possess me always, I know it. That is the meaning of this happy hour: Color and I are one. I am a painter.

Oh, and she is the closest thing I have to an artist soul sister, both of us collectively birthed by Joan Mitchell, Arshile Gorky, Willem DeKooning, and Helen Frankenthaler. (Among others, of course.)

In her own words, Jessica says, "I look at making art as therapy— and what's the point of therapy if you aren't honest? I think beauty in art is honesty in art, with at least a sprinkling of hope.  Even if that hope is, 'I'm still here, even through all of this ugliness, and I'm not going anywhere even if I'm completely broken.' "

Her intricate color harmonies and layers of interacting organic form create an emotional complexity in each work. These are the kinds of works you have to sit with. And that color... yum.

Jessica lives in rural Northern Connecticut with her husband. She studied at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where her mutual obsession with abstraction began. Her work is collected worldwide, and she exhibits throughout the US and London.  To experience more of Jessica's beautiful work, check out her Etsy shop and her website.

Transcendence

betweentwoworldsoriginal

For today.

Harbinger300 I will not weigh in on gun control, or the need for better screening and treatment for mental illness. I will not tell you to "hug your kids a little tighter" (even if you do) or to write your congressman. Urgings are not my intention. I may or may not agree with any of them, but right now, that is not at all what I want to say. I want to tell you this:

I created this piece, Harbinger, in Spring 2010. At the time I was living in Mountain View, CA, trying to figure out my next move in life. Stuck in a depression so profound, so deep, it seemed there was no end to it, I ventured out of my gray, Silicon Valley apartment onto the streets along office parks and strip malls. I was never more surprised than to find magnolias, in bloom, pink and full, in front of a cold, glass building.

The magnolia flower is known as the harbinger of Spring. Spring is the metaphor of new life, growth, possibility. In other words, out of the gray, cold winter of our lives and this world, find hope anywhere you can– so that darkness and coldness and brutality does not engulf you.

 

Art & Beauty: Skyler McGee

McGee_3Skyler McGee: Balancing Nature and Space

I have followed Skyler McGee’s work since she was a student of mine at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Since then, her work has evolved into careful, poetic considerations of nature, space, and color.

Inspired by the natural world, Skyler works in fresh, delicate layers. She plays with combinations of materials– hard and soft, light and heavy, from oil paint to printmaking to watercolor. She emphasizes the artist’s hand or presence- nothing feels machine-made, but rather as if it was somehow uncovered in a forgotten studio from long ago, or excavated from an anthropological dig. She works carefully, slowly, her color sense reflecting the natural elements that inspire her work.

Currently living in Dallas, Texas, with her husband and two little girls, Skyler’s work reflects her daily life as well, as she balances her life as an artist, mom and wife. You can see more of her work at charcoalandsaffron.wordpress.com.

McGee_9

The Creative Place

Image "Creative artists ... are mankind's wakeners to recollection: summoners of our outward mind to conscious contact with ourselves, not as participants in this or that morsel of history, but as spirit, in the consciousness of being. Their task, therefore, is to communicate directly from one inward world to another, in such a way that an actual shock of experience will have been rendered: not a mere statement for the information or persuasion of a brain, but an effective communication across the void of space and time from one center of consciousness to another."

Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God, Volume IV: Creative Mythology

What is art if not to awaken us? To make things seen that we do not see, to bring light onto subjects we would pass by. Art says, "Look. Hear. Feel. Experience." – and then some.

Art creates a place where we are present.

 

Effortless Layers

So much of art work is about layering. It is so easy to over-layer, to build a surface up too much to the point that it ceases to breathe. But in nature, layering happens effortlessly, and the effect is often one of ease and strength. The lesson: don't overwork it. Let it grow how it wants to be.

(photos by Julia Rymer Brucker)

Mangrove branches, Hawaii.

Homage á Ansel Adams, Bear Valley, CA.

Dew, Point Reyes, CA.

Live with Beauty

Filament

A few months ago, I came up with a motto, of sorts:

Live with beauty.

It came out of an obsession I have with art, color, light, nature, and looking at beautiful things, people, and places. I ache for beauty, I want it to infuse my life, and yet it does not. I have a rather suburban life, and finding moments of beauty sometimes takes a bit of effort. This is one of the main reasons I continue to make art, despite the struggles of life as an artist: it feeds me, and this impulse for beauty, or at least channels the energy into the material world and out of my head.

This blog will feature my artwork, along with those of others, as well as images, writings and more that explore this idea of beauty. So welcome to my journey, my new endeavor, to live with beauty in art and life.