Drawn to the Light: A Generous Kingdom 6 artists reveal the allure of the abundant spirit within the story
"I'm not sure I can add to it with words."
“My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there”
“Artists are the antennae of the race.” Ezra Pound
As an artist, I learned about the abundance of things from painter Renee Magritte (1898-1967), artist /filmmaker Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), and poet W. H, Auden (1907-1973).
Regarding Magritte's skies:
“The boundaries between solid and void, inside and outside, make believe and true life, remembered and invented…They are never fixed, they are porous, malleable, metaphoric, and muscular.”
From Magritte, a life
Alex Danchev (published 2021)
My painting The Fall of Icarus is based on the poem “Musee des Beaux Arts” (1938) by W. H. Auden (third stanza)
“In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shown
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on."
"When I consider the theme, a generous kingdom, I immediately think of my gratitude for nature. I lived 30 years a woods-woman, islanded deep in the silence of a northern forest of huge evergreens. My life was deeply rooted in relationship to tides, seasons and night sky. The land provided so lavishly – food, wood to build my house and fuel my stove which kept me warm during the frigid winters, water from rain and snow collected in my cistern, so much beauty in every moment. The spirits of the wild things I encountered during that time often find their way from my subconscious to the painted page. I hope that by sharing my own experience of this natural, spiritual abundance others might rejoice in rediscovering the same things within themselves."
“From deep within, stories emerge etched and painted onto the surface of her striated landscape. The feminine and earth are intrinsically connected, revealing memories of the past, and the mystery of the present.
In clay and paint, I explore the tensions of the feminine experience embodied in the maternal archetype: love and grief, instability and equilibrium, vulnerability and resiliency. Through these ancestors so evocative of the precious earth from which they are formed, I hope to express an eternal optimism for the human spirit in this beautiful and turbulent world."
Lev L Spiro
"I try to convey in my imagery the sense of wonder and awe I experience viewing the natural world. In my series “Night Creatures” I also anthropomorphize the living things surrounding me in my gardens, seeing in them a world of relationships, connectivity, gesture and nuance. At times they even become otherworldly, and offer glimpses into more fantastical realms."
Lev L Spiro
Maria Botti Villegas
What is it that we sometimes need to be passively entertained to outlive our most unique emotions through the behavior of others?
Magic, magic, magic, brought to us by circus trapeze Saltimbanquis swinging back and forth in risky, but exciting movements to show us two different and interconnected worlds: the one down here, and the other far, far away!
Like an epiphany, what is the question then: do we want to merge and fly away in an evanescent feeling, or do we want to stay grounded to our feet, faithful to our roots, tight to our beliefs? Is there a middle ground?
Maria Botti Villegas
"This piece was inspired by handmade signs shown in Portland, Oregon during the eventful year of 2020. I walked and explored the city taking photographs to capture this historic time. Despite the isolation during this "Big Pause", it opened people up to see things with new awareness and compassion, and express themselves through signs and messages despite the closed doors. I believe these are key sentiments in that will pull humanity forward through these rough times and could bring us into a new and more community focused normal."
"Man has long been attached to nature as a source of inspiration and enlightenment. We retreat to nature whenever we need a new perspective or peace of mind. “Nature’s Pattern” is an image of a bird craning its neck to feed in a forest of branches and berries, it explores the beauty of repetition, shape and line, as well as a moment in time. The pattern suggests a shallow yet infinite space. The pattern both enhances the image and at the same time is the essence of the image. The pattern encourages us to see more than the surface, and to reveal the sacred in the ordinary."
“Nobody sees a flower, really--it is so small we haven’t time, and to see takes time.”
"To look at something as though we had never seen it before requires great courage."
(Above 2 quotes are shared by David Blow)
"I consider myself as a public writer, the character represented by the coat has no head or face, because it represents a universal story. My work shows a coat moving slowly, one arm holding a suitcase. The coat is covered with small patches representing several generations who repaired it. Tiny bags, boxes, and suitcases dangle from an arm and the back of the coat.
Why a coat? A coat is the most practical item when you have to leave your house, much more than a suitcase. You wear it on yourself. It can protect you from the cold. It can serve as a blanket. In the inside pockets, you can bring some food. You can hide valuable things in the lining: papers, photos, money or precious stones. These objects are to be sewn inside at the level of the chest, possibly protecting you from bullets when you get shot. A coat like this represents all your history and experience.
Working as a meditation instructor, I try to understand and come to terms with the past, and creation can sublimate the sufferings of existence. Little by little, I can let go of certain ‘suitcases’ so that it weighs less on the future generation."
“One of the basic principals of art is the absence of lying. It means creating greater vision and greater sanity. When basic goodness is not expressed what you do is neurotic and destructive. This means that an artist's production, manifestation, demonstration, and performance should be geared to waking people up from their neurosis."
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
(Quote selection by Tom Acevedo)
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."
Quote by Jim Jarmusch (selected by Adele Knowler)
"The way I see it, my passage through time leaves behind a trail of many things. Much of that trail gets produced unintentionally, resulting naturally from my position of relative smallness within society and within the world broadly. It is the art that allows me to intentionally affect that trail.
Although the majority of my paintings could be classified as non-representational, and although I do not usually make narrative, story-driven paintings, I view my work as being representational of my life and experiences. By dedicating myself to creative expression, to making art year after year, I illustrate and author the story of my life. Taken as a whole, my artworks tell the story of me."
"I grew up with many storytellers from diverse cultural backgrounds, so it is natural for me to see stories in most things. My images come from the ancient civilizations that I have studied in southwestern cultures in the U.S. and the many paintings and structures preserved in central Italy that reflect a rich cultural transition from the Villanovans, Etruscans, Romans, and to the diversity of modern Italians. The layered pentimento of so many stories reflected in the artwork is such a rich inspiration to me. The honor given to women in the sophisticated Etruscan civilization translates to the centrality of strong women in my work and reaffirms positive personal attitudes for myself and hopefully, the viewer."
"Travel is like painting. I head off into the unknown with all its amazement and peril. Everywhere I see the iconic white plastic chairs and café tables, a bottle of beer, a conversation. I don’t know what looms in the shadows but I am engaged and excited.
Recently I have done more painting than traveling, exploring with colors in the safety of my home. On canvas one mark leads to another and sometimes takes me down a dark road, an entanglement that is disruptive and off balance. I must work my way out of it, resolve the problem, and yet retain my interest. It is a slippery path."
Picking blueberries and blackberries,
collecting stones on beaches,
wandering in dense forests,
watching tides rise and fall,
selecting art supplies,
watching deer, dogs, spiders, insects, birds, and humans in our neighborhood,
snapping photographs of everything,
waiting for the rain to stop.
"People say to me, "I see trees so differently after hiking with you!" When hiking, I often see Ents, the tree-beings in J.R.R. Tolkein's novels The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. By their gestures or seeming interactions, especially when they reveal a face, they have me! We all inhabit the same planet - humans, animals, plants, bodies of water, air and stone. We all are interconnected and are affected by the environment and the actions of others. I share with the viewer my tiny perspective on this wide, wonderful and varied world."
"I’ve heard it said that each of us in our lives experiences ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows. A Zen koan asks: “The ten thousand things return to the One. Where does the One return?”
This past year, so full of downs and ups, I found myself taking refuge and solace in the landscape of Eugene, where I live right on the river. Rocks and sandbars and detritus, birds of prey and those they prey upon, beavers, turtles, ducks, geese-we all jostle and make room for each other. This landscape is made so beautiful because of cataclysmic events. This may not be the kind of generosity we think we want, but it’s easy to forget, especially in times as unsettled as ours, that one thing quickly turns into another.
When making “Transmigration” my materials and process mimicked nature-wax and pigments, heat and water got all mixed up over and over until it looked like something I recognized in nature, which offers endless beauty, and sorrows: all the lessons we could need. We are nature too."
"I can't help but see, imagine and want to make things. I get excited. It gives me purpose and hope. The way I think of it has become: I am drawn to light and magic and anything that produces a sense of wonder. I felt that way about the work in Chasing Ghosts, but never so much as how I feel about A Generous Kingdom."
"In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."
(above Albert Camus quote selected by Jim Richards)