Wednesday, June 27, 2007

First National Encaustic Conference, Part 3

OK, enough silliness - back to the conference report...

On Saturday, the first full day of the conference, I attended the morning panel discussion. The panel was moderated by Joanne Mattera and included Timothy McDowell (artist), Katherine French (curator), Richard Frumess (artist and founder of R&F Paints), Hope Turner (gallery owner), and Barbara O'Brien (curator and critic).

I found the discussion interesting and lively. I took some notes on the highlights:

On the fragility of encaustics - no one seemed to be concerned - just suggested that you have to be a little more careful. Tim McDowell related a story he'd heard about Anselm Kiefer - Kiefer's gallery person called him to let him know that the new owner of one of his straw paintings was staring at a pile of straw in their living room. Kiefer replied, "It must be beautiful."

Someone else mentioned that throughout history, wax has been used as protection and a preservative.

Encaustic lends itself to expressionism. Color can be entrapped in and bounce out of the layers of wax in the painting.

On encaustic painting as a ghetto or cult - most panelists agreed that the idea or formal image is the most important aspect of a work of art, not the medium chosen by the artist. The medium can be interesting but it is secondary (this idea was repeated several times).

Barbara O'Brien stated that art doesn't speak for itself, an artist has to educate the viewer.

Miles Conrad asked the panel if encaustic is seen as a medium used mostly by women. He has noticed an overwhelming majority of women artists entering his encaustic invitational every year. Someone on the panel suggested that perhaps women are more open to trying new media or are more willing to learn from other people (I have noticed, too - I've been teaching workshops for a year and a half and haven't had one male student...).

But historically, male artists had passed down the knowledge of the encaustic process - Brice Marden learned from David Aronson, who learned from Karl Zerbe...

On shipping encaustic work - Someone said that they use 1st or 2nd day FedEx and only ship on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday to arrive on Friday. This eliminates the danger of the artwork sitting in a hot truck or warehouse over a weekend. Never use the US Post Office. Never put anything in contact with the surface. Use a crate within a crate. Someone suggested using Ethafoam. Tim McDowell says he usually ships overnight. He also suggested never to list the contents as "artwork." They won't pay the full insurance value on artwork. In the description line he writes, "hand-painted signs." They'll insure those...

On getting into galleries - Look at galleries in your area. Look at the gallery's stable and get a dialog going with the gallery director/owner. Produce a web page that focuses on your art. Keep it businesslike and easy to migrate through. Go to openings and network. Just because a gallery says no once, it's not final. Send them information later with new work and they'll often look at your work again. Don't give up. Gallery owners put a lot more weight to recommendations from their current artists.

Debra Ramsay

After the panel, Tricia Lazuka, Heather Harris and I walked over to see Hot Stuff, the juried group show of encaustic work. I took photos of most of the work and you can see it here. I'm working on finding the names for each work, so if you know who did any of them, please leave a comment.

To be continued...

Related links:
My Flickr set of the Hot Stuff show
Joanne Mattera's in-depth synopsis
Linda Womack's on-going report
Daniella Woolf's blog
International Encaustic Artists

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