Saturday, September 10, 2011

Interview with Charlotte Smith

Coraluscious, 2011, acrylic on canvas
photo by Paul Abbott, used with permission from Charlotte Smith

HC: I want to start by asking you about your new paintings.  I’ve seen the images of your show at Anya Tish Gallery and now in this catalog for your exhibition at Cris Worley Fine Arts.  It’s different, not quite as 3D with the dots, and as it says in the press release “…buoyant orbs have now evolved into glistening amorphous shapes that ask the viewer to experience the sublime curiosity of pure, unadulterated abstraction.”  So what else can you tell me about that?
CS: Actually, the first few layers are similar to the “dots” or layering, but I’ve added more layers on top of that with clear materials. So there’s actually still a lot of physical depth to them, so it’s almost like seeing back into the paintings to what I was doing, then there’s another layer on top that’s almost like a lace….glossy….so that’s another layer added to what I’ve already been doing. It’s not a 3 dimensional as say the ‘piles’ coming out, but it’s still a continuation, and that’s why we called the show “Push”. Because we felt like we were pushing it just another step…in a similar direction but it looks different. But it is still an additive process, and definitely an abstract.

Coraluscious detail
photo by Paul Abbott, used with permission from Charlotte Smith

HC: Your work has a lot to do with process.
CS: It’s very process driven because it’s…because the roots of my getting into art is more like therapy. I’m not interested in making an object that’s recognizable. I like playing with the materials. I’ve always enjoyed that more than trying to draw out a cute little scene or a flower or something like that. I just love working with the materials and seeing what they’ll do. And actually this latest process came out of the doing the paint as circle on circle, but as the paint got heavier it started to drooping in the middle, and I work horizontally (she held her arm at a slight angle to horizontal) and the paint started running a bit and they started to loose their circular forms and began to create these amorphous type shapes. They’re kinda oblong and amoeba looking. They started out round, but then they started creating their own shapes, which led to something new.

Serene Dream II, 2011, acrylic on canvas
photo by Paul Abbott, used with permission from Charlotte Smith

HC: So I caught up with you and your career after you’d gotten out of art school and you were still in 500X.  So my perception, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that you started exhibiting your art later in life - after you had a career in the airline industry. What inspired you to take up art and start painting?
CS: Well, I had studied art in the early 80’s but I wasn’t that interested.  I was going to school for architecture, I was more interested in architecture. In the mid to late 80’s my mom got really sick, and I spent a lot of time at the hospital. I bought myself some ‘how to paint’ books, water color books, and I was copying stuff out of those books because I spent hours at the hospital with her.  I started putting the pictures up on the wall and my mom really enjoyed that. So that’s where I kinda started painting a lot.  Then I decided to take some lessons, and I studied with a private artist for a while.  Her name is Jane Jones and she’s always been a really good mentor to me and a very talented teacher.  And then she encouraged me to go to North Texas and check out some classes out there.  So I signed up for a couple of graduate classes, not knowing that you had to actually apply to graduate school (she laughs) to get in.  And my first teacher was Vincent Falsetta and he suggested that I sign up and try to get in the program. And then I got accepted!  So I kinda went into it backwards, but it was a wonderful experience and I’m glad that it happened.
HC: And you and Vincent seem to still work together closely. I know that you exhibit together often.
CS: Yes, he’s always been a really great mentor, he was a great teacher to have, and he’s become a really good friend, and definitely has influenced my work a lot.
Dreamscape detail, 2011, acrylic on canvas
photo by Paul Abbott, used with permission from Charlotte Smith

HC: I tend to see the influences of his work in your work - though they’re not similar at all.  I see that they’re both paint, and they’re abstract, and it’s colorful if not always right in your face with color.
CS: Yeah, there are things about his paintings that I love to stare at and think about. And I wonder how I can get that kind of presence in my work.
HC: Besides Vincent, what other artists inform your work?
CS: When I was in graduate school, I enjoyed looking at and reading about Agnes Martin’s work. I was doing a lot of graphite drawings that were very simple line drawings.  And I like the idea of something that looked minimal but really wasn’t because it had that hand-made quality to it. And there’s times when I try to get that quality in my work, where it looks minimal but when you get up to it you realize there’s nothing minimal about it. Especially with my pieces that are diptychs with the piles in between, and maybe the surface of it will be painted just one color and all you see is this line in the middle.  From a distance it looks minimal then you get up close and you realize there’s all these drops of paint that are obviously hand done and there’s nothing minimal about it.  It’s a lot of hard work.  Eva Hess – I enjoyed reading about her work in graduate school and about the types of explorations with materials and processes.  I thought she and her work is really fascinating.

Curve Appeal detail, 2011, acrylic on wood panel
photo by Paul Abbott, used with permission from Charlotte Smith

HC: So what did you enjoy, or not enjoy, about being in the art collective 500X? There’s so many great artists that have come through that…
CS: Yes, it was a great experience and I think going from that into showing my work at commercial galleries, it kinda gives you an idea of how hard it is to run a commercial gallery. It’s a lot of frickin’ work. And I was the treasurer there, as well as making art, you have to learn how to curate shows, you have to learn how to physically hang the work, you have to light it, you have to do all the PR, you have to collect the money and you have to pay the bills, and it’s….I think knowing that part of it makes you work better with a commercial gallery.  It makes you appreciate what your gallerists are doing for you. And you don’t take them for granted because you know how hard it is. I also made some great friends out of there that we’re still friends today, and we support each other as artists.  Overall it was a really good experience with very few bad experiences.

Into You, 2011, acrylic on canvas
photo by Paul Abbott, used with permission from Charlotte Smith

HC: Great! So this will be your first solo show with Cris Worley Fine Arts
CS: Yeah
HC: Because this is actually her first anniversary, so congratulations for being the first anniversary show with her…
CS: yeah, and Fall Gallery Walk – that’s exciting
HC: absolutely! And this catalog Cris put together looks really good
CS: And Catherine Anspon wrote the essay.  She makes my work sound so sexy. I mean, it is lush and the show looks really great.  Cris’ space is great.  I was there earlier and Cris was there with a collector, which was nice, they were getting a preview. It looks good, I’m excited.

Into You detail 
 photo by Paul Abbott, used with permission from Charlotte Smith

HC: I love her space. I can’t wait to see your work there.
CS: And Cris Worley is one of the hardest working people in the world.
HC: I know it.
CS: I mean, that woman goes above and beyond for her artists. She truly is a force of nature, in my opinion.
HC: I totally agree.  What other shows have you had this year?
CS: I was in a show with the Assistance League in Houston in January, then I had a solo show with Anya Tish Gallery in March.  I did the “Derivatives” show at the GeometricMuseum of MADI Art , that was curated by Vincent. I’m doing this show with Cris.  Coming up, I’m in a group show at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas that’s opening September 24th, and then I’m doing another solo show at Artspace 111 in Fort Worth in December, and then a big solo show at the Galveston Art Center in January, 2012.
HC: Great!
CS: Four solo shows in less than a year has been a lot.
HC: So different work at each of these?
CS: Yes, different work at each of the shows.  Well I’m not sure about the Galveston show yet.
HC: Is Clint Willour going to come up and curate out of your studio?
CS: I’m not sure, but he is coming up for a studio visit in the fall, so we’ll see where it goes after that.
HC: Well, thanks so much for your time today.  I’m looking forward to your show at Cris Worley Fine Art, and good luck with everything you have coming up over the next few months!

No comments:

Post a Comment