Myrna York

Dec 2016  Final Issue with Tubac Center for the Arts

Hit refresh button!  When our computers go haywire we hit the refresh button.  I don't know how this works but I have accepted the fact that refresh is important to get our systems working properly again.  The same thing applies to my brain.  It needs to refresh but my buttons are slower to respond than a PC's or Mac's.  Taking breaks during any writing or painting is my way of keeping my work fresh and more spontaneous. 

It has been a very enjoyable five years writing for this corner.  My essays have been a vehicle to get to know our member artists, board members, members-at-large, and gallery owners.  I hope I gave them their deserved recognition for their contributions to TCA and the community.  Writing for me was my way of celebrating and appreciating YOU!

What has come so naturally for me is connecting art history with our local artists and how artists have a common rationale - our attitude towards life is manifested in art and that alone is reason to pick up the brush or the pen.  I have also taken personal pride in investigating a work of art and sharing its merits with people who would not have seen it otherwise.  Modern art can alienate or delight viewers.  As my leitmotif, my enthusiasm for contemporary art is evident for one simple reason, it challenges my mind to examine the character of the work without the ready-made clues.  Abstraction allows the imagination to roam freely and breaks down barriers for expectations and judgment.  

Change is a good thing.  We have so many talented members that deserve to share the space that I currently occupy.  Change perks up readers who can be captivated by new voices.  Joyce M. Jackson and Rilla Jaggia will be contributing editors for the rest of the season.  Jackson and Jaggia hold an extensive experience in art and I admire their expertise that covers a wide range of subjects within the art world.  My heartfelt thanks to them for stepping forward and their ability to blend writing and art making. This brings us new energy with their perspectives and inspire us to participate in the many activities at the art center.

This is As I See It... Like the desert's Reyna de la Noche that looks dormant for a very long time then for one night blooms ephemerally, I look forward to opening up my trough of renewed spirit in an unknown venue. 

Oct 2016

Contemporary artist David Longwell comes to Tubac Center for the Arts this Fall.  A second generation abstract expressionist, he comes from a line of painters taught by the legendary Hans Hofmann.  In the 1930's Hofmann visited University of California, Berkeley and taught in New York City at the Art Student's League and eventually opened his school, Hofmann School of Fine Arts in New York City and a summer school in Provincetown, Massachusetts.  He brought with him European Modernism and surpassed the Paris schools with American ingenuity led by Jackson Pollock and his colleagues.  Ultimately Hofmann's influence spans coast to coast and he became the catalyst for American Contemporary Art and more specifically, Abstract Expressionism.  Longwell's abstractions have traces of the Hofmann aesthetics but his own voice is loud and clear showing strength in color awareness and gesture.  

A careful study of Longwell's pieces directs the viewer to playful canvases without titles that may influence your search for sensibility.  He invites you to react, to question, to participate in a dialogue with him through line, color, and shape to say the least.  The show "A Slow Read" has an interesting beginning with Longwell's friend suggesting that his pieces are a slow read.  Beyond the customary 3-second glance-through, the viewer may be challenged to contemplate the process of making, to be the artist/creator, and to formulate questions where curiosity leads to critical thinking.  

You can spot an artist that understands color theory from a mile away.  Longwell's high-key painting in subtle hues has a synergy of non-duality, the absolute and the relative, a notion that one cannot exist without the other.  The brightness of a color depends on its neighboring colors.  Longwell juxtaposes complementary colors as if they were random but a keen and trained eye understands the relationship of these colors to each other.  He flirts with complements that are more tonal and less oppositional because they contain each other's hue so the overall effect is a harmonious dissonance. Try to use that as a metaphor for our own experiences.  

We are delighted to have a contemporary show that has a capacity to move us with its abstracted spiritualism.  Longwell's daily meditative practice followed by drawing and painting is an inspiration to dedicate part of our day to artistic pursuits.  "The object is not to make art, its to be in that wonderful state that makes art inevitable."  Robert Henri

For more information on color theory, a workshop is scheduled on February 18, 2017, Saturday, 9AM-3PM, at TCA.  

Sep 2016

We love music.  We all love listening to music.  We also love making music if we can.  Making beautiful music together is very uplifting and for our Tubac Singers, Tubac Center for the Arts chorale ensemble, coming together in song is a very rewarding experience.  Committing to hard work and practice which may cause a rise in stress levels, it is scientifically proven that singing actually drops anxiety through breathing and producing sound. Singing with a group requires a specific skill, the ability to hear other sounds and other notes in your ear while you sing.  There are very few people that can carry a tune and even more rare is the ability to sing and blend with other voices. Those gifted singers face yet another challenge that of performing onstage which demands a leader that can energize and lead them into perfect harmony.

Tubac's got talent!  According to Marty Schuyler, Tubac Singers' amazing choir director, "I think the most rewarding part for me, and I suspect for all the singers, is hearing the music in our heads, feeling what the music should sound like, and singing it the way we imagined it.  Seeing a piece of music for the first time is not unlike an artist looking at a blank canvas, or a writer looking at a blank page; they fill a space with words or paint, we fill a room with sound. We stay committed because we love to sing, we like to hear ourselves improve, we like each other and appreciate each member for what he or she contributes."  This is evident when the Tubac Singers put on a performance.  Their energetic enthusiasm can be very powerful as they put parts together, an assemblage of voices:  soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.  

This year the Tubac Singers will have two Christmas concerts, December 7th and 11th, both at the Art Center.  The spring concert is on April 9 at the Center.

If anyone is interested in joining, the group rehearses every Tuesday afternoon for an hour and a half, from mid-September to the end of April.  Members pay $10 a year which helps to offset the cost of music.

We thank the Tubac Singers for their dedication and for entertaining us with their gift of voice and music.  We are proud of all you do and we look forward to the 2016-2017 concerts.  

Art survives through its effect on others.  Damien Hirst

Apr/May 2016

Dear Volunteer:  
At the end of the day, we go home and choose to be grateful or longing to be thanked.  We have done an outstanding job and we have contributed to the success of the Tubac Center for the Arts. The biggest motivator in volunteering is the self-satisfaction of making ourselves matter.    This dedication of time and talent tells the story of our community.   Our story begins with the individual who contemplates what we receive and what we give.  Collectively, we become one individual who has the ability to lead, to create, to give, to serve, to inspire, to forgive, to be nice, and to be kind.  Our generosity is the key to our happiness.  Many thanks to the following volunteers.  

Mar 2016

Beyond picking pretty pictures, good curators make good experiences happen in an art show.  Curators communicate by arranging a viewing route, managing and displaying works that are connected by painting style, thematic feel, history, and anything creatively conceived to connect an exhibition into one cohesive memorable show.  There is no manual to oversee the many details of putting on an exhibition. The curator requires an endless number of skills:  creativity, management, accounting skills, research,  knowledge of art history, an innate sense of aesthetic display, mastering the nuts and bolts of mounting pieces, and safety.  In essence, a curator is one highly organized creative human being and one that is also sensitive to the art audience.  We are so pleased to have Michael Fenlason to do this job without the curator title.  He is the exhibitions manager that does most of the curating except for the selection of show participants and promoting and marketing the shows.  

In a recent dialogue with Fenlason, the production of a show starts well before opening night celebration.  Having inherited the plans already in place for 2016, he carries out with tradition and the quality programming that includes the Members’ Open Exhibit, Members’ Juried Exhibit, Arizona Aqueous, and Hi-Art.  Since Sep 2015, he took over the challenges that come with site installations typically two days after the show ends overlapping with the new show and in addition, dealing with the late-comers.  The most demanding of these challenges is finding art pieces to hang against the colored walls.  For example, many art pieces are inharmonious with brown.  The ambient experience comes with the gallery space and the juxtapositions between art pieces.  Walking through the gallery and viewing art should be like a fish swimming through the coral reef with a rhythm that flows effortlessly.  Another challenge he confronts is the spatial demand for interesting dialogues between the viewer and the art piece, or amongst art pieces by medium, subject, or style.  This season’s updated lighting has been a significant improvement to the galleries.  With only one gallery receiving natural light, the environment requires sophisticated illumination.  Fenlason is doing a phenomenal job and has some creative ideas for future shows.     

The demand for members to learn about art, enjoy art, feel art has put a lot of pressure on the curation of a show.  While many artist members have found their niche and create signature well crafted pieces, other artists need to be challenged in their creative thinking, push the boundaries of their limitations, be energized by new movements and new thought processes, and paint current themes.  It was a delight to chat with Michael Fenlason and he is excited to plan the exhibition calendar that showcases new talent, illustrates a theme, acknowledges aesthetic risks, and cross-cultural exchanges. Thank you for making our art experience exciting and memorable.  These DIY installations have been made possible with the help of dedicated volunteers namely:  Arden Nowers, Kirsti Blanchard, Diane Brooks, Theresa Goorian.  Thank you for all you do.  

Feb 2016

Viewing art is like a game.  First, the painting or an art object invites you to participate but no one knows what the game is yet.  In a blink of an eye, the viewer detects the players and searches for their roles, creates conversations, discovers icons and their meanings, then the transformation from viewer to critic begins.  “Critical contemplation is guided by conscious aesthetic sense as well as by the soul.  The soul is wiser than we are.”  - Oscar Wilde.  Through this process, the audience contributes to the completion of the artwork and the idea, the concept, and the thought the artist intended are delivered.  The audience is a major player in the art world and an integral part of the art experience.  The reaction to the art piece engages high order critical thinking, reverberates enthusiasm, and spawns energy towards renewed life.  Below is a letter from a new member stating what the art center means to them with their hopes and dreams of how the membership would benefit them.  

Ken and I are arts patrons; supporters; buyers; appreciators of art in its myriad
expressions. Inspirational, magical, dramatic art pieces have spoken to us and found their
way into our home over the years.
The artist creates, because he must--his DNA dictates it. Patrons like us purchase and
appreciate because we desire to. We translate and shape a piece’s emotive energy through
our own unique experiences and give it a new life.
TCA showcases the talented artists we can never be, but from whose work we can learn,
making us discerning, more informed patrons.
The community embodied in TCA’s membership, of necessity, must include both the
artist and the patron to give it completeness.
Long- time enjoyment of TCA’s very professional concert series (without even having to
drive out of Tubac!), its sponsored Tubac Garden and Home tours, outstanding gift shop
offerings, and visits to TCA’s ever-changing gallery displays with family and friends now
has our patron-selves longing for even deeper art knowledge, additional artistic
perspectives and insights, and inclusion in the artist-patron partnership that TCA offers.
And so in 2016, those connections so inherent in selecting and enjoying a painting, a
sculpture, a performance now come full circle, as we join the TCA to happily learn,
network and share our ideas in a more complete way with TCA’s family of artist/patron
members. - Penny Niemi

The strong experiences like the Niemis are inspiring and also completes the artist-art-viewer relationship.  We all have a position to play in the drama with the art object.  Art encourages interaction, appreciation, enjoyment, understanding, criticism and even disbelief.  With this much to explore, we encourage you to join us for Arts Speak, a series of lectures offered at TCA to encourage discussions, questions, and information about art.  We appreciate your reflections and opinions that contribute to our success.

Jan 2016

Juried exhibitions have long been an honored tradition in the art world and yet the process remains elusive for most artists and the viewing audience.  Art exhibitions continue to use the jurying practice to screen for quality art and for commercially made items.  For the benefit of artists who fear the process of acceptance and rejection, an analysis of this tradition may serve to ease the anxiety of participation.  
A show at TCA begins with artists being called to submit photos of their artwork that meets the show’s minimum requirements.  The photo of the artwork should be in a jpg. format and digitized to 72 dpi and 1920 px.  Next, the image is uploaded on line in a call for entry site called, CaFE.  The image, along with an artist’s statement and description, is submitted with the show’s password.  A fee is charged for each piece submitted but discounted if you are a member of TCA.  Then the waiting game begins of being invited or rejected.  
A jury usually consists of one individual who has typically a week to go through the screening process of choosing participants in a show.  From a juror’s perspective, the artwork is seen on an approximately 9” x 9” slideshow on a computer screen, rapidly one after another.  Each individual piece, sans artist’s name and biographical data, is rated and based mostly on the amount of room the gallery will hold,  50-75 pieces, and using their best aesthetic judgment, the juror gives each entrant a score.  Most judges will look for a cross section of works submitted in a curatorial manner for a well-rounded show.  They may have discriminating tastes in the following:  their area of expertise, contemporary or traditional styles, technical skill, composition and the elements and principles of design, creativity in the use of the medium, originality in concept, design, and execution, or simply an emotional response and connection to the pieces.  The selection process is imperfect by design because the perfect selection, one that everyone would agree upon, does not really exist.  To objectify the subjective is always challenging, it is simply the judge’s opinion.  The integrity of the show relies solely on the juror’s level of aesthetic understanding.  
Entering a show may bring skepticism for the novice but experience and aiming for more exhibits and competitions will ease the anxiety.  Rejection does not equate to validity or worth.  Always be yourself and be true to your own personal style and technique.  The work that is most soulful and audacious has a better chance of advancing into shows however the opportunity to show your work begins with your participation and your own approval.  TCA is very much committed in developing creativity and diversity and assisting emerging artists in their careers.  Please do not hesitate to ask for help by emailing Michael Fenlason, TCA exhibitions manager.

Dec 2015

The British are coming!  This familiar cry is going to come true in 2016 right here in Tubac.  The  Tubac Center for the Arts will be hosting an internationally famous artist, Derek Boshier, a living legend who came into prominence as a member of the British Pop Art Movement that subsequently influenced American pop artists in New York.   Also an accomplished teacher and lecturer, Boshier will be the guest and only speaker for Arts a la Carte on Feb 18, 2016.  This rare occasion will showcase Boshier’s contributions to modern art history through his drawings, paintings, books, and films.  

According to Paul Gorman, highly acclaimed writer and curator, Derek Boshier is a formidable figure in contemporary art.  Springing from the British Pop Art movement of the 1960’s alongside Sir Peter Blake and David Hockney, Boshier has maintained a consistency of vision across a diverse set of disciplines characterized by his engagement with politics and popular culture.  In the twenty-first century he remains a challenging and vibrant spirit, regularly exhibiting new work alongside younger artists.

During the 1980’s, he created his cowboy series and established a new school of Texas painting.  He has relocated to Los Angeles and unbounded by fame he continues to work with artistic freedom in a variety of media exploring edgier mediums such as assemblage and experimental film.  Based on an Art in America  publication, he lampoons the art world and those who lampoon it.   His works range from enigmatic conceptual pieces and the technological present to more populist forms such as the children’s book, How Hudson Saved Rock City (1971).  Better known are Boshier’s songbooks and album covers for ‘The Clash’ and David Bowie.  

Boshier’s latest book, Rethink/Re-Entry was recently published this Fall of 2015 by Thames & Hudson, a monograph by Paul Gorman.  The book includes works exhibited in major cities all over the world such as the Tate Gallery, Dallas Museum of Art, National Galleries of Scotland,  and Arizona State University Art Museum.  The book is available on and if you wish to order your book ahead of time, bring it to TCA for Boshier to sign during his visit to Tubac.  We look forward to seeing you at Art a la Carte on February 18, 2016, 5-8 PM, at the Chapel in the Tubac Golf Resort.  

Nov 2015

Is it art or is it craft?  Form vs. function?  The debate has been around for ages.  Remember the Mercedes Benz commercial?  Among designers of craft, there is a crossover of technical skill and design and to have both makes it a better piece of art.  A common anomaly is painting is fine art and all other materials such as ceramics, wood, fibers, etc. belong to craft.  But sculptures are fine art made of craft materials.  My best guess is the difference lies in the intention of the artist.  The work’s spiritual and philosophical intentions need not be apparent but it is in fact behind the creation which gives it vitality.  If the artist creates a piece as art, then it is art.  If the artisan creates a piece strictly for its function then it is craft.  James Culver says he creates strictly for craft.  However, I disagree because his leather handbags are walking pieces of art hanging from the shoulders of many women.  The handbags made by Culver carry his distinctive design of contemporary southwest with colors and textures that scream Tubac.  

We have so many unsung artists in Tubac that give this village a name for itself.  The jewelry, furniture and wearable art and so on abound to the point that a day’s visit in the village is not enough to see them all.  There is one artisan that is exceptional and that is James Culver who started his craft in high school, 1968 in fact, after hearing a radio ad for an experienced leathersmith.  Having been given a work space in his home by his parents when he was 10 years old, he was very comfortable with benchwork and that was the experience he needed to get the job.  He says, “the design and color work is an art.  Good art is knowing when to start and when to stop.  The construction, focused on shape, detail, and balance, is definitely a craft.”   Culver listens to his customers who give him direction and intuitively he follows the elements and principles of design and puts a high premium on craftsmanship.  Collaged geometric and filigree embellishments have very smooth and clean edges that contrast well with a melange of textures just enough to satiate our visual and tactile sensations.  This attention to structural detail is the intention that sets the artist apart from the artisans.  Design literacy is the nemesis of most crafters.  When decoration is thrown haphazardly then there’s no room for the eyes to rest.  Decoration as the intention serves only as adornment, the embellishment of the function.  Therefore stating a piece as a work of art is not sufficient to call it as such.  There is an aesthetic sensibility that unlocks the reason why we can say what it is that makes something a work of art.    Once again, I applaud Culver for his creations as walking sculptures, a subliminal kind of performance art.  LOL!

OCT 2015

In the past few years I have become a style junkie, searching for interesting topics and methods to write about.  I read a lot and I visited museums and galleries examining a myriad of approaches too many to explore in one lifetime.  What I discovered is this:  No matter what style you use,  drawing is the foundation of any art.  Predominantly in western culture, art is steeped in realism where the classical foundation has a long history that goes back to the 4th and 5th century BC in Greek sculpture and architecture.   In my teaching, I believe the beginning artist should first learn drawing, the skill of accurately assessing the object before finding expression.  And as a general rule, accuracy in ascribing shape gives the illusion of spatial depth.  In realism, not to be confused with the art movement, the style that most beginning artists aspire: shape, form, and value are the basic elements necessary to depict lifelike objects.  Trust me, a four year degree in art is not sufficient to acquire the skill and as attested by John Marbury who trained for seven years (not in semesters) under Robert Douglas Hunter with the Boston School of Painters founded by William Paxton.   

John Marbury is a local artist whose studio is located at El Presedito in Old Tubac.  Because realism has been around for centuries, it has not been as popular among artists who want to be on the cutting edge of creativity.  I tip my hat to Marbury who is dedicated to the process that involves continuous correction, incessant improvement of details, and adjusting the effects of light on color.  The realistic painter’s aspiration is in the famous story of birds pecking at the cherries as illustrated in the painting.   Marbury is very adept at capturing the “truth” by painting minute changes in color close to Rembrandt’s 72 shades of black.   He paints under a north light specifically built above his easel because this light is the most consistent for changes in hue and chroma.  He learned the sight-size method of observation from Hunter and has been dedicated to true form.  He refuses to stylize or depict any idealization of his subjects.  He would emphasize but never exaggerate a color nor use any symbolism, nor romanticize a scene or still life.  Truly devoted to smooth tight brushwork technique, I asked if he had ventured outside this genre.  En plein air painting is as close as he got and he paints impressionist style landscapes in which loose brush strokes appear to be de rigueur.    

An important presence in the community as a fine example of where quality art begins, John Marbury’s art is a good reminder of how important technical skill and accuracy are to art making.  Classical training and discipline give the artist a solid foundation and structure.  A pianist starts to learn the piano by practicing the scales for dexterity, a potter makes endless amount of cylinders as a foundation for other forms, and a ballet dancer works on plies, the simplest most important movement.   So in my search of the new, instead I found the tried and true and the importance of going back to basics. 

SEP 2015

I changed my mind.  I no longer have a strong bias toward giclees.  After investigating Dan Grothe’s work currently showing in the Summer Gallery, I am convinced there is no artificial intelligence behind his work.  His paintings are generated by a computer and for a lack of a better term, it is known as digital art.  Not to be confused with manipulated photographs and the kitschy addition of paint to mimic an original, his “originals”  are constructed from scratch, beginning a sketch with a 6B pencil and applying paint with large and small brushes, except the image is painted on the computer screen.   He draws and paints with a variety of tools, a plethora of options without mixing and preserving colors,  all controlled from a stylus and a Wacom pad. No solvents, no brush and palette clean-ups, nor canvases to prime.  Environmental and health concerns have been eradicated.  The job that once belonged to Vermeer’s The Girl with a Pearl Earring has been completely obsolete and has been replaced with a click.  Imagine how much time the “undo” button can save!  I must admit I have yet to ask Grothe about his retinas.

Grothe claims digital painting is not any easier than working with traditional methods.  The ability to draw and paint does not transfer directly to the mouse and stylus.  It demands individual skill and dexterity is acquired through many hours of practice and reconditioning the hand to coordinate with the brain.  Unlike many of us who become frustrated with computer programs and its limitations, Grothe’s perseverance has produced an oeuvre that surpasses all expectations.

His painting style is very traditional, impressionist in brush strokes but realistic in areas where his photography background resurfaces.  His highlights, reminiscent of Caravaggio, give us that nostalgic feel of western romance.  He was born and raised in Wyoming and has spent time in the Navajo nation, two good rationales to know his subjects well.  He was also commissioned to paint portraits of Federal Judges and of John Denver that was used as a program cover, promotional posters and the concerts’ gigantic backdrop screens.  His paintings have been displayed in several galleries in Colorado and Wyoming.  We are honored to add Arizona to his list and we celebrate his remarkable accomplishments.  

As a side note, when asked if he prints his computer generated art multiple times, he responds with a 1/1 print.  The top number represents the first print and the bottom number is the series of prints.  The latter can go to a zillion but he chooses to print a limited number for the integrity of the painting.   That’s an original.  Way to go WYO!

May 2015

As we leave another season, it is time to reflect the impact TCA has made on the community.  It is amazing to see how a mass of volunteers can team up to make the exhibitions, home and garden tours, lectures, campaigns, and many more a success.   Outside of a handful of staff members, TCA runs with approximately 120 volunteers with responsibilities that range from gallery docents to board members.   Our volunteers come from Tubac, Green Valley, Rio Rico, and Nogales and they bring with them valuable experiences from previous careers they left behind.   It is also important to realize that volunteer positions require time commitments with no monetary rewards.  So then what are the rewards of contributing time and effort to TCA?

Gaining new experience and insights.
Giving back and being part of a community.
Creating connections with people with a purpose.
Healing weary minds and hearts.
Getting a sense of accomplishment.
Using the talent and positive character traits we possess.
Making ourselves matter.

Many times, volunteers reach the point when they feel the time spent at TCA is insignificant and how little an impact they make overall.  Some may find the position as unglamorous and some jobs require so much time it makes one say, “I don’t have to do this”  aka -  Burn out!  Feeling fatigue and resentment is very real when we start to entertain doubt about making a difference. Where’s the fun?  Volunteer positions at TCA are so varied and numerous that options are always available to make a change.  Communication is vital and it is important that we feel we have been heard.  Above all, fun begins when you make new friends and share the joy of working together.  Don’t give up yet as we examine the roles volunteers have taken.  It is truly a network of people working together that form a community in itself, one that strongly supports the arts, and one that makes Tubac a good place to be.   A great THANK YOU to all those that make it happen.

While escaping the heat this summer, do recharge your enthusiasm and creativity by visiting museums and galleries, regional art centers, and the new Whitney museum.  Spend some time to contemplate on new ideas, pick up a sketchbook or journal, sharpen your skills, share with friends and through social media.  Sometimes the path to rejuvenation is as simple as walking through the woods to balance the body, mind, and spirit. 

April 2015

Why does Tubac attract so many artists and other creative people?   It is only natural for artists to seek and connect to other artists in search of creative ideas, validate their own ideas, and  perhaps critique each other’s work.  However,  when an idea becomes the mainstream, artists want to break out of that mold.  The first rebellion in art was started by the Impressionists, who denounced the bourgeoisie and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts after having their work stamped with a “refuse”.   Consequently, they formed the Salon de Refuses leading the way to many movements in contemporary modern art.  

One of the contemporary art movements is Neo-Expressionism.  This movement developed as a reaction against minimalism and other modernist art and became the start of post modernism.  Generally, it is characterized by spontaneous technique, rapid almost violent brushstrokes, and vivid intense colors.  Seemingly primitive and unfinished, the distorted appearance was influenced by mannerism, think El Greco, Matisse and fauvism, and Munch and German Expressionism.  Additionally, as a rebellion against Greenberg’s theories of art, the subject matter revived romantic and historical story telling.

Bringing you back to Tubac, we have our very own neo-expressionist painter, Carol St. John, whose subject matter is deeply influenced by the history of peoples and change.   Her poetic figurative imagery depicts stories of human experiences, ways of coping, and how to get through life with humor.  She says she was influenced by Matisse but what is most interesting is how she was affected by Tubac and this so-called artists’ colony.  Having moved from Rocky Neck Art Colony, Gloucester, Massachusetts and her deep roots in Brooklyn, New York, she brought with her the academic art training, skillful watercolor techniques, and her love of story telling.  Because of the southwest atmospheric effect on color, her east coast muted palette became bold and daringly vivid.  Twenty years ago, this edgy little town of Tubac as she calls it because of its quirks and also because it is situated at the edge of the country, attracted her mainly for the artists, writers, and poets she had met.  Tubac set the stage for experimentation and is evidenced in one of her many paintings, Women Dancing Under the Moon,  where she became freer and danced with her words and colors.  Her seemingly primitive, whimsy and carefree, cartoon-like style is not from a lack of training and discipline but as a matter of choice and is inspired by Picasso’s own words:  “It takes a long time to grow young.”  Her paintings portray a certain lightness,  unencumbered, and show ease and facility of technique but don’t be fooled, this is a result of many years of experience and mastery of color theory.  

Carol St. John is currently showing at The Tubac Gallery of Art and Gifts
in the Arielle House on Tubac Road,  everyday 10AM - 5PM.  We wish Carol continued success and for inspiring us to create and experiment with different styles.  

Mar 2015

In the 60’s and 70’s, avant garde sculpture challenged conventional means of creating public sculptures and the viewer’s relationship with it.  Large works went outside of museums and galleries since the Christo and Jeanne-Claude team started constructing large scale outdoor works by wrapping islands, erecting curtains across mountains, connecting cities with umbrellas and much more.  Their works created headlines and challenged environmentalists, law enforcers, and civic leaders because of their monumental size.  It was a whole new way of seeing the familiar (landscape) and enjoy beauty.  None of these works exist today for they went away after a time.  Its impermanence questioned the purpose of art as in acquiring and collecting.  Christo:  “I think it takes much greater courage to create things to be gone than to create things that will remain.”  

Poetry of the Wild will challenge this community to install over 50 birdhouses with poetic thoughts along the Santa Cruz river.  This art installation is a collaborative effort between Tubac Center of the Arts and the Anza Trail Coalition with Ana Flores as artist in residence.  Giving everyone, yes everyone,  an opportunity and freedom for creative pursuits, the scope of this installation is wide and varied, extending the participation of hikers, birders, and walkers to engage in this artform and journal their thoughts in a notebook provided with each birdhouse.  Unlike Christo who wanted the landscape captured in his monumental art, our Santa Cruz river landscape will capture the art in an ephemeral way.  

This unique social and cultural event will be a testimony to how Tubac and the arts give us a strong sense of community and a place for intellectualism.  Our environment dictates our artistic creativity.  Exhilaration!

This art project is free to the public and can be viewed for a limited time, March and April 2015,  along the Anza Trail. Thank you to Nancy Peyton for coordinating the event and to Ana Flores for her ideas and guidance.   In addition, this project was underwritten and made possible by the generosity of an anonymous donor and supporter of the Tubac Center for the Arts.

FEB 2015

Living in a community of artists has its perks.  Artists may seek reclusiveness for a time to focus solely on their art but they also return to the community to seek approval, connections, and influence.  For me, having Virginia Hall as my artist mentor in Tubac is a vital part of my artistic development.  A mentor can be defined as someone who helps you with your career, specific work projects, or general life advice out of the goodness of their heart.  However, similar to  Hall’s  artistic style, it is by omission that makes her advise and opinion more elusive.  Her silence, her presence, and her eloquence in art are enough for me to delve into her world and provide me with sufficient stimuli to pursue the unknown.  Well versed in the creative process, she reinforces the style and ideas that I am exploring.  

Born and educated in Michigan, at a time when modern art was at its infancy, Hall was a natural at abstraction.  Early on while working on her Masters in Fine Arts, her academic drawings showed an affinity to an economy of line and shape, where minute details and intricacies were present in areas where she would emphasize the obvious but left certain areas to be desired.  What makes her work more attractive is her approach to the illusion of three-dimensional space.  Hall’s treatment of space is not just a separation of shapes but more of a continuum, joining and connecting as a total object as in the paradox of form is emptiness and emptiness no other than form.  Unlike realism which focuses on details of a three-dimensional object onto a flat surface,  abstract art has made this space free and open,  more and more shallow, and flatness became the objective.   The eye may have trouble locating meaning but that’s the beauty of modern art, it challenges us to engage and think and makes the spectator part of the art experience.  One fallacy is the tendency to assume that representational art is far superior and recognizable images are always preferable.   She maintains that the big piece of her motivation to be “unpainterly” is the currency between science and art.  During the same period when cubism was paving the way for modernism, science was exploring the Black Hole. Hall was able to produce extensively within a community of realistic painters,  a commercial challenge indeed, and her works attracted collectors and clients that are well informed.    

Virginia Hall is preparing for a retrospective, an art exhibit showing an entire oeuvre and representative examples of her life’s work.  This is an opportunity to view her artistic development beginning with nude studio drawings, pen and ink renderings of missions, conceptual art, hard edge curvilineal shapes, ink and brush work and then concluding with playful lyrical abstractions.  The exhibition will be for a limited time, March 8 - 15 at 14 Placita de Anza, in historicTubac, north of St. Ann’s church.  

If art helps us understand others’ point of view, entertain and bring joy to the community then  let us recharge and revitalize our art community, not to abandon existing practices, but by exploring and growing to enhance our lives.