Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Humbled by the women at Steamboat Art Museum

You know how they say "it's an honor just to be nominated"? Well, it was an honor - and a humbling experience - to have my painting Chick Please juried into American Women Artists' national exhibit, Looking West, at Steamboat Art Museum. While I didn't "win", I did gain signature status with AWA and that feels pretty good!

china chick, vintage, check spindle, diner scene
Chick Please ©2018 Dorothy Lorenze, 11x14", oil on linen

American Women Artists is an important organization not just because they support women artists, but because they provide opportunities for the public to view more quality works of art - that just happen to be made by women. That's a win-win.

According to the Smithsonian, 87% of artists in our museums' permanent collections are...not...women. Fortunately the under-representation of women artists is being seriously challenged and organizations like AWA are working every day to eliminate gender bias in the art world. A good example is this exhibit at Steamboat Art Museum.

Looking West art exhibit

western art show reception
An admiring crowd of art lovers at the well-attended Steamboat Art Museum reception.
San Jose Mission Doors by Nancy Lilly, pastel
award winning paintings, women artists

celebrating women artists

I was able to attend the reception and symposium in Steamboat Springs where exhibiting artists  were very welcoming to this newcomer!

Still life by Dorothy Lorenze

During the symposium we learned how women are making headway in the art world today. Four artists spoke about their work and their artistic experience. Heide Presse demonstrated her depth of research to illustrate a woman's journey along the Oregon Trail. Carole Carter shared how she reinvented her art practice and effectively markets her work using social media. Jann Haynes Gilmore researched, resurrected and published the story of Olive Rush, a valued artist in the early 1900s. And Donna Howell Sickles spoke about achieving success in the firmly male world of cowboy - and cowgirl - art. Educated, hard-working artists, all.

Below is part of the special exhibition featuring Heide Presse's work based on the actual journal of a woman who travelled west by stagecoach in the 1840s. To accurately represent the experience Heide sewed authentic wardrobe including quilted sun bonnets for her contemporary cast. Talk about dedication and preparation!

We Set our Faces Westward exhibit by Heide Presse

Steamboat Springs is a charming town with gorgeous snow peaked mountains behind storefronts reminiscent of a mid 19th century mining town. Entrenched in history and art, it was the perfect setting for this exhibit.

While my AWA adventure was enlightening, it was also a bit intimidating. These women are professionals in every sense of the word, fully dedicated to their work and it shows. Their paths were inspirational. How they manage to be so accomplished is probably a bit more complicated and nuanced. Life happens. No doubt all have been through periods that challenged their productivity.

Art-making takes preparation, dedication... and time. I've been asked how to find the time and my  answer has been to make the time by prioritizing painting. True enough, but lately that's been difficult as we are preparing to move. It takes time - and exhausting mental energy - to wade  through years of accumulated treasures, memories... and junk! This week I was pretty fed up with my lack of painting time and finally plunked myself in front of a canvas. It's not going all that well.

The thing is painting is a series of decisions. With every brush stroke you consider color, value, hue, contrast, edges, form. Every. Time. That's a lot of decisions. I'm painting a simply elegant pair of antique barber's brushes. But, because I can't leave well enough alone, I added a rich fabric background, reminiscent of vintage wall paper, for contrast.

Feel free to roll your eyes because... no, I will never learn.

My studio (which doubles as a storage bunker) is under siege as we purge for moving so I'm set up in the kitchen where the light is terrible but the AC is good. It's a bit of a struggle. (Plus there's the distraction of knowing I should be packing.) I'm giving myself a few days to substitute making painting decisions for making packing decisions and while it's frustrating, it also feels like a gift.

Work in Progress: Barber Brushes ©Dorothy Lorenze

I could go on and on about the chaos of moving... but then there would be no time to paint! (or pack, or sleep). So if you're wondering why it's taken so long to write about a Steamboat Springs trip from back in June, now you know. And if you find yourself in Colorado this month you can still check out Steamboat Art Museum: Looking West which is up through September 2nd.

Thanks for joining me on my art journey... and for staying connected as we literally journey to a new home and studio. Challenging times bring even greater appreciation for my community of artists, friends and supporters. So. Many. Thanks.

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