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Archive for ‘August, 2012’

A Conversation with Still Life Artist Janet Fish

A Janet Fish painting —

Birdcage and Daffoldils

Birdcage and Daffodils, 2009 Oil on canvas 56 x 54 inches. Art © Janet Fish/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

…  is a celebration of light and color that continually delights the eye and engages the mind. Fish invigorates the still life form, both by the energetic way she paints and the often witty and ironic combinations of objects that she depicts. Glass bowls overflowing with fruit, exotic vases filled with vibrant flowers, sumptuous rugs and textiles, seashells and a variety of flea market finds and edible treats are among the objects that are precisely arranged and rendered in decisive yet fluid strokes of intensely colored paint.

“The real structure of the painting comes from the movement of color and light across the entire surface,” Fish explains, “What matters is the complex relationship of color and form from one area of the painting to another. Eventually everything is intertwined.”

Fish begins work by setting up a still life arrangement in which special attention is paid to the selection and placement of individual elements. She has said that this process can mean spending “a whole day, sometimes whole days, just arranging the objects, moving them around and looking at them in different light.” Rather than selecting things for their symbolic meanings, she works intuitively, gathering objects that “seem right together,” allowing a theme to emerge from the assemblage itself. Because her canvases can take up to a month or more to complete, each is carefully planned to allow for a fluid situation that will be mutable, open and rich in possibilities. The paintings grow and change in time and become a record of responses to what has been seen and experienced in the process of painting.

Fish attributes her fascination with light and intense color to having grown up amid the dazzling brightness and vibrant tropical colors of Bermuda. An artistic family also contributed to Fish’s early interest in art: her grandfather was Clark Voorhees, the American Impressionist; her mother and uncle were sculptors; and her father occasionally taught Art History. She attended Smith College, where she received a B.A., before earning a Master’s Degree in Fine Art from Yale in 1963.

After graduation Fish moved to New York City. Her paintings from the late 60s and early 70s are studies of transparent objects in which she begins her life-long exploration of the nature and substance of light. From the beginning, Fish adapted commonplace objects to her painterly concerns, insisting that the subject matter — enlarged glasses, fruits covered in supermarket cellophane, and glass containers filled with liquids — was relatively unimportant. She sees the obvious subject matter, the story line, as the shallowest level of a painting. For Fish, meaning comes from the tone, the gesture, color, light, scale and composition.

During the 1970s, Fish gradually opened up the backgrounds of her paintings and introduced more color and complexity. Since 1978, she has spent half the year in New York and half in the Green Mountains of Vermont. The shift to Vermont coincided with the incorporation of still life, human figures and landscape into increasingly complex scenes in which color, light, and shadow are masterfully handled. Light and color, volume and surface, scale, gesture and the flow of paint across her canvas are what continue to absorb and fascinate her today.

Works by Janet Fish are included in the following permanent collections:

Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo

American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York

Art Institute of Chicago

Cleveland Museum of Art

Dallas Museum of Fine Arts

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven

and many others.

To hear Janet talk about her art, click on links below: 

01. Janet Fish Intro

02. Early Years

03. Still Life

04. Influences

Copyright Story Preservation Initiative.  All rights reserved.


The Audubon of The Fishing World ⎥A Conversation with James Prosek

Dubbed “the Audubon of the fishing world” by the New York Times, James Prosek is an artist, writer, and environmental activist.

He made his authorial debut at nineteen years of age with Trout: an Illustrated History (Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), which featured seventy of his watercolor paintings of the trout of North America. Prosek has shown his paintings with the Gerald Peters Gallery, New York and Santa Fe; Meredith Long Gallery, Houston; as well as with Wajahat/Ingrao, New York, the d.u.m.b.o. arts center, Brooklyn, Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, VA and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT. Prosek has written for The New York Times and National Geographic Magazine and won a Peabody Award in 2003 for his documentary about traveling through England in the footsteps of Izaak Walton, the seventeenth-century author of The Compleat Angler. He co-founded a conservation initiative called World Trout in 2004 with Yvon Chouinard, the owner of Patagonia clothing company, which raises money for coldwater habitat conservation through the sale of T-shirts featuring trout paintings. His book Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World’s Most Amazing and Mysterious Fish, was published by HarperCollins in September 2010. He is working on a book of paintings of Atlantic fishes for Rizzoli and a project about naming nature.

Prosek is a curatorial affiliate of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale, and a member of the board of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies.

To Listen, Click on the Links, below.

01 James Prosek Intro

02 CT woods and streams

03.Trout of North America

04 Trout of the World

05 Eels

06 Quiet Conservationist

Copyright Story Preservation Initiative.  All rights reserved.

Finding Your Voice ⎟ The Creative Response to Trauma

Michael Heaney – an acquaintance, turned SPI recording subject (Surviving Operation Crazy Horse) turned friend – and I will be co-leading a continuing education course in 2013 titled Finding Your Voice / The Creative Response to Trauma.  The course will be offered through the Institute for Lifelong Education at Dartmouth (ILEAD).

This course is for those either already involved in some aspect of preserving their personal history or who have a keen interest in memoir writing.  It is designed to guide class members through some of the stumbling blocks relative to writing about difficult life experiences, with a particular emphasis on writing about war or other traumatic experiences.

Writing is a way to gain perspective and make sense out of life events that are otherwise hard to come to terms with and/or to communicate.  By reading and discussing the works of those who have attempted to navigate their way through trauma via the written word, you’ll find ways to effectively and honestly communicate events that have had a profound effect on your life and played a key role in shaping who you are.  Class members will be asked to share their writing.  This is, by design, a small class and one in which all voices will be honored as each person finds his or her path to either starting or completing their personal narrative.

Michael Heaney, my co-leader, received his BA from Middlebury College, JD from Harvard Law School, and in 2008 his Ph.D. in History from Rutgers University. He practiced law for many years, then taught college for 10 years, focusing on law and war-related topics. He served for 15 years as a seasonal Outward Bound instructor in Maine, and is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He is writing a war memoir and working on a scholarly study of the post-war lives of Civil War veterans.

The class will be offered in March 2013.