March 28, 2009

Retrospective, NOLA, Part 2

I've divided the fifteen years we spent in New Orleans into two parts because it was such a transition period. I credit the "big city" art community with providing opportunities that I may not have been able to make elsewhere. I can be assertive, but it's not really my nature. I tend to rely on putting myself out there (in traffic, so to speak) and hope to make a connection. All gallery connections I've ever made work thanks to a recommendation or they found me through one venue or another. I'd had a couple of gallery reps previously, I knew how it was done, but it took a friend of a friend to open the door to a gallery in NOLA for me. And that, in 1991, marked the the real beginning of my career.

My new gallery, strange as it may seem, encouraged me to grow and develop... they weren't concerned that I stick to the same style. A new series developed... patterns, geometrically and loosely based on oriental rugs. I worked to rhythmic music, used all sorts of mixed media crayons and paints... and canvas began to replace paper as a support. The series lasted just a few years, but it helped me understand abstraction and work larger on canvas in both acrylic and oil.

In 1994, they learned that an Atlanta gallery was looking for abstract work and I was advised to send slides... naturally, these slides were mostly from the patterns and tracks series, very busy. The Atlanta gallery liked them and suggested I bring a few up for them to see, and I did. And... I got the critique of a lifetime! Why they even wanted to see my work in the first place is a puzzle, but remember, I'm still at the point where I listen to anyone, and I figured they knew their market. And, I WANTED to be in that gallery! One of the owners made a rectangle with her hands and held them over a portion of my painting. Can you paint just this composition? Well... sure! And the rest is history. They still make suggestions from time to time as to what they think will sell, and I still listen... sometimes muttering, but I listen.

As far as the rest of the retrospective goes... you've heard it all here before. I continue to explore new venues... encaustics before galleries wanted to handle them (too delicate... ) though I did find a few who would deal with them, they didn't really want to bother. Several years later they became all the rage. But I had a studio equipped with proper ventilation in NOLA... and when we moved again (2001) I couldn't see much future with wax and didn't build ventilation into my new studio.

I finished the retro show with geometric abstracts and a few bokushos since that's my last big change of direction. It's important to note that although I focused on what I call 'Cornerstone Series'... those on which my personal development pivoted, they overlapped in such a manner that it is sometimes difficult to note what year they were most important. I still work several genres at one time... I get bored easily, feel the work gets stale when I focus too closely on one thought. Perhaps this isn't very professional of me, but it sure makes the studio a more interesting place to play.


Nancy Natale said...

Hi Karen,
This is an interesting story. I love that large, red painting in the photo, being a pattern queen myself. You are lucky that the gallery made suggestions to you as to what would sell. I've never been able to get much info out of anyone selling my work and I would at least like to hear it even if I disregard it.

I'm an art wanderer myself and switch mediums when I get bored. I always return refreshed and learn something every time that I carry with me. I don't know how artists keep plugging away in the same style for long periods of time. Exploration is much more interesting even if it's not always profitable in a monetary sense.

Thanks for your memories and reflections!
Best, Nancy

Karen Jacobs said...

Thanks Nancy... I've been lucky with some of my gallery associations. Not all are created equal and some just have such a long line of artists to choose from they don't try to work with one, they just move on.

I'm about over this retrospective stuff... too much reflection and not enough forward thinking!