However the biggest and best thing this last week was the visit by Ann Gale to PAFA via the Visiting Artist Program. Gale is a teacher at the University of Washington School Of Art. Gale is one of the leading figurative painters today, the "Secret Queen of Painting" as I called her when we met. Like Edwin Dickenson she is a painter's painter-- and a painter who might fall under the "perceptual painting" umbrella. At school there are several artist like Scott Noel, Peter Van Dyke as well as his wife Carolyn Pyfrom who also work in that mode or designation. In short I have been a huge fan of her work for several years now, coming across her work in my undergrad, and she certainly was fave of many of my Dirty Palette buddies. So I was stoked for her visit, they don't often get artists in the program I am that excited to see, the last one I was this jazzed to see was Daniel Sprick who visited PAFA in 2009. I have been requesting her as one of the visiting artists for a while now and made sure i was waiting for the sign up sheet to come out so I could be first in line to sign up for a studio crit with her.
Gale talks with Al Gury the head of our painting Dept and Jeff Carr the Dean
Gale dug in right to the heart of what painting is, she talked about the different experiences of color as it moved around a painting, about painting the light, the atmosphere, about how important the space between things is, the space between her and the model, making or following currents of marks, highways of vision through the work, how important something like the space between something like the chin and chest can be, what is similar as well as what is different between the figure and the background. How does it communicate or interfere with a the painting. Allowing herself to react to this and how the speed of the mark can open up something visually very dense or create chunks of space and light. Could she painting something before she could name it. This is something that Noel talks about a lot in his work and maybe that is a common link with the perceptual painters.
Ann Gale and Alex Kanevsky I think are exchanging contact info
Gale's work has a lot of slippage, the background at points asserting prominence and sometimes the figure, sometimes it seems both at the same time. Gale talked about how moving studios and the light changing forcing a different way of thinking. How at points her early painting felt like sculpture at times. She also talked about working from her drawings into painting and back and forth, drawing from her paintings. In short, it might be the best talk by a painter I have seen at school. In a world that often says painting is dead, or asks why paint, Gales answers those questions like a thunderclap in her work, which is both contemporary but clearly connected to the tradition of painting, seeing, giving you an experience of looking at the world through the eyes of an artist that is unique to painting. Her choices are ones only a great painter can make and convince you with each stroke or passage that they are right and are giving us a glimpse of a very personal world unmediated by anything but their eye, skill and unique artistic personality. What a breath of fresh air, a meaty mimetic joy in a world of non-retinal BS!
A pic of yours truly with Gale