Artist, Designer, Traveler, Writer, Photographer

Namibia

TERMITES AND MOLTEN GOLD

Painting is back in my life after a rough patch. I have finished two paintings that remained unresolved, one for more than five years, and the other since last May.

My trip to Namibia in late 2005 resulted in so many memorable experiences and images. One of these was the abundance of amazing termite hills. Inspired by the landscape of this sparsely-populated desert country I thought to do a series of work both in textiles and painting. But alas, this tall, vertical painting sat unfinished and unsatisfying until now. The impetus to start again came from the last image posted, “Mind’s Eye”. This employed gold acrylic in two forms on my beloved Okawara paper. The more liquid of the two media happened to be Jacquard’s Lumiere, a paint I have used to great purpose in my textile work. I discovered that it worked beautifully on not only paper, but the rough and textured surface of the painting. I went on to pick up the last of my 30 x 30 inch canvases left unattended for months. Risking overkill, I discovered that Lumiere lends itself to subtle layering with fluid acrylics as well as various mediums.

Here are the results~

 

Noon-Apex  2013       48 x 24  acrylic on canvas

 NOON: APEX  2013     Acrylic on canvas   48 x 24″    Private Collection

 

 

MOLTEN 2013  Acrylic on canvas  30 x 30"

                MOLTEN 2013 Acrylic on canvas 30 x 30″

Although I didn’t  make the connection while working on “Molten”, there certainly is a flavor of the textures and light of the desert observed in Namibia. Looking back, I found some of the photos taken there provide a visual memory of the dramatic landscape more than eleven thousand miles from California.

Long Shadows At Apex Farm

Long Shadows At Apex Farm

Shed Snakeskin-Apex Farm

Shed Snakeskin-Apex Farm

Termite Hill At Apex Farm

Termite Hill At Apex Farm

Kurt, Carolla, and grandson were my hosts at their forty-five acre game farm. Carolla and I participated in the first invitational, international art exhibition, Art Action-Seven Fires in Karibib in August of 2005.

As mentioned in earlier posts, one of the pieces exhibited there, from a suite of four works on paper, will now appear in an exhibition at Northern Illinois University’s Museum of Art at DeKalb. The exhibit, called “OBJECTIVE / SUBJECTIVE: Mapping as Visual Language” will show the work of ten artists from March 19 through May 24, 2013.

These works echoed the landscapes of not only the as yet-unseen country in which they were to be exhibited, but a landscape of the mind and imagination sparked by the materiality and process of paint on paper. I carried the four pieces folded into a pocket on the side of my luggage and they were hung in a stone building with clear plastic clips. The same system will display “Interior Landscape” at the museum exhibition.

FOUR MAPS FOR KARIBIB-INTERIOR LANDSCAPE 2005  Acrylic, thread on Okawara paper

FOUR MAPS FOR KARIBIB-INTERIOR LANDSCAPE 2005 Acrylic, thread on Okawara paper


“MAPPING”~SPRING 2013 EXHIBITION

A BIT OF GOOD NEWS THIS WEEK~”Four Maps For Karibib-Interior” has been selected to be included in the spring exhibition “Mapping” at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois. The exhibition will take place March 19 to May 24, 2013.

This piece is one of four in a suite titled “Four Maps For Karibib”. They were created in 2005 on the occasion of an invitation to exhibit for the first international exhibition in the town of Karibib, located a few hours from the capital of Nambia, Windhoek. Nambibia is a sparsely-populated country just west of South Africa. With an land area twice the size of California but with less than two million people, this exhibition was a big event to its citizens. A German colony until the early Twentieth Century, then aligned with South Africa, Namibia is now an independant republic since 1990. It is still a rough and tumble place that attracts people from many countries. Our exhibition was held at a compound in Karibib owned by a Russian ex-pat Leonid Stupenkov. The event was not only an opportunity to show work of artists but a celebration that included bonfires, fireworks, roasted goat, music and dancing. It was truly an international event! In attendance were members of the media, including radio and newspaper, as well as the Russian consul and his wife. Some traveled, I was told, two hundred kilometers to join the festivities.

Four Maps For Karibib-Interior 2005 Acrylic, thread on Okwara paper

I wrote about the exhibition in an earlier Page on Webs And Threads. Here is a partial excerpt:

“ART ACTION-SEVEN FIRES” ~NAMIBIA 2005

I received an unexpected email one day in June, 2005, inviting me to exhibit my art in Namibia where a dear old friend, Armand  has lived for many years. We met in Virginia in 1979 as he was ending a long journey across America and Canada. He was about to return home to Nuremberg, Germany to continue his studies in architectural restoration and art.

Although we knew each other just a short time, it seemed like the right thing to do when I accepted his family’s invitation to visit Germany for a Bavarian Christmas and what was to be my first trip to Europe. It was to be one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. We have all stayed in touch since then, in spite of far-flung locations and busy lives.

Armand’s adventurous spirit took him to Africa, where he finally settled in Namibia in the small town of Karibib. There he has worked as a sculptor as well as created amazing mosaics and stonework. Although the digital age means that we now stay in touch more often, the email invitation came out of the blue!. After all the years of thinking about a visit to Africa, the time was right!

There were only a few weeks to prepare my work for the exhibition. I came up with the idea of folded works on paper when I noticed a folded map of California. This turned out to be the ideal solution to transporting art more than eleven thousand miles.

I simply folded the suite of four “Maps For Karibib” and put them into the zippered side pocket of my luggage. On arrival and the installation of our work, Armand strung a stainless steel wire in the stone building where our work was located. I use stainless steel spring clips to hang them like laundry. The beautiful Okawara paper did resemble fabric and visitors enjoyed walking around to see both sides of the four works.

The four works utilize the triangular “the stitch-mark” motif first developed as part of   THE THREADS PROJECT.


ANCIENT LANDSCAPE, NEW ART

I keep a file of ideas, inspirations, and mementos, as many artists do.  These images, articles, or hand-written notes may lie around for years before I realize that they have “seeded” an image in my work or may have provided a direction for it.

While preparing for my momentous trip to NAMIBIA  2005  to participate in an exhibition there I began researching this amazing country. Among the interesting bits of information I came across this incredible image taken by NASA and used in a BBC News online article. It shows a satellite photo of The Brandberg Massif, a granite protrusion that broke through the earth’s crust about 120 million years ago in what is now Namibia.

The most recently finished painting, “Delta”, continues the new series of work such as the triptych called “Dreaming of India”, featured in the last post, Following The Thread. These paintings are inspired by the vivid colors, textiles, and jewels of my trip to that country in late 2009. I had  begun to think of the clipping long ago saved in the inspiration file. But I did not look at it, merely thought about the idea of the way the rivers fanned out into a kind of delta. I had forgotten completely about the massif shown. I began the painting with just the idea of “delta” in mind. The same linear marks combined with intense color and obsessive dots and patterns.

DELTA  2011   acrylic on canvas  30 x 30 inches

When I returned to the file to scan the long-ago clipped photo of the Brandenberg Massif I also found this image from the same article:

Here the image seems to resemble the staining and marks not only of these recent paintings but also call to mind the original “maps”, Four Maps For Karibib,  made on folded Okawara paper for the 2005 exhibition in Namibia.

FOUR MAPS FOR KARIBIB-NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST  2005  acrylic on Okawara paper

An interesting footnote to this post is the information I found on the Wikipedia page on Brandenberg Mountain (Massif):

Origin of Name

“The name Brandberg is Afrikaans, Dutch and German for Fire Mountain, which comes from its glowing color which is sometimes seen in the setting sun. The Damara name for the mountain is Dâures, which means ‘burning mountain’, while the Herero name, Omukuruvaro means ‘mountain of the Gods’.”

Tourists brave the dramatic desert climate to visit this northwest area of Namibia and to go to The Tsisab Ravine where thousands of ancient rock paintings can still be seen.

It seems fitting to discover that the landscape holds art from millenia ago and continues to inspire art in the 21st Century.


WEBS AND THREADS IN NAMIBIA

NAMIBIA is the subject of a new Page on the Webs And Threads blog. It gives insight into an amazing journey, my first trip to Africa in 2005 to participate in the first international invitational art exhibition in the town of Karibib.

“Art Action-Seven Fires” was named for the seven venues at the compound in Karibib, Namibia where the exhibition was held.