paintings
 
 






My work as an artist springs from three sources: Montana, where I grew up; a half-Catholic upbringing among highly independent and egalitarian homesteaders; and my varied work experience. Among other things, I have acted in a Shakespearean repertory company in Idaho, processed fish in Alaska, and managed the University of California Center for AIDS Research in San Francisco. The politics of San Francisco, the culture of Oaxaca, Mexico, and the economics of both also greatly influence my life and vision.

The way I make my art, where I show it, and how I talk about it is strongly informed by the fact that I came to painting from outside formal structures. While my childhood was shaped by public school performing arts programs, and my adult life has been mostly dedicated to performing, teaching or facilitating the arts, I am always aware of the unwelcoming attitude I found in so many arts institutions, the feeling that one had to possess a formal arts education from an important school and a pretentious lexicon to participate in a relationship with art. I think art of every stripe is a fundamental human impulse, and our response to it is instinctive. That is not a call to low standards. Ultimately, any work of art is only successful if it can be received as is; its emotional and intellectual impact must deliver, without requiring reference to the background either of the piece or the art form. Background is enriching, no doubt. My point is, talking so anyone can understand you—without in any way lowering your game—is a tougher job than talking to those in the know, not an easier one.

For me, art is my dialogue with the world. I grew up on debate and discussion between smart, pragmatic and profoundly independent people. Our entertainment was storytelling. Critical thinking was not only a required survival skill, but a central family value. These continue to be necessities of my life. As a painter, my mandate is to create a story which engages critical thinking and invites dialogue. To me, this is the best kind of good, hard work.

My painting to date reflects a few consistent themes.

I am always interested in the feminine. The feminine voice, viewpoint, role, influence and presence in society.

I am interested in unconscious cultural assumptions that are taken for granted until reflected in a light that makes them visible.

I am drawn to religion, myth and faith as themes, including their personal, political and historical expressions. I am interested in relevant formal representations of the divine, as well as its day to day aspects, found either in the conduct and character of individuals or in the conduct and character of nature.

I believe art is an act of humanity. I think character is linked to humanity or the lack thereof. I think both are formed by where we place faith, whether in power, a higher power, or in the consequence of individual action, be it public or personal. These revelations of humanity and character, both public and personal, interest me.

• My painting reflects what I learned in my years in Theatre: the best way to express the universal, to make it receivable and relevant, is through the personal—and the personal, when it's indulgently personal, is wanking.

• I only paint things or people for whom I have awe or great affection. I don't have the energy for alienation, nihilism or disaffection as artistic themes, though I am equally impatient with unfounded optimism and deliberate naiveté.

• I love the sensuality, energy and comfort of color. I love the smell of oil paint. I love the relationship with the substance itself as much as I love the final product. I want my paintings to contain some quality of the charm paint holds for me.

• I believe in beauty; it has an important place in my art, and I think it plays a real role in transforming the human race.

To me, art is a secular form of sacred practice, on both the spiritual and practical planes. While the conceptualizing and making of a painting is the best kind of sacrament—an act that confers grace on those who receive (and create) it—the constant re-examination and evocation of belief required to eke out the time and resources to make every painting is a practical exercise in determined, informed faith.

My journey to and through painting is a testament to the spirit and generosity of a number of exceptional souls who have shared their knowledge and resources in ways large and small to help me make my art. I dedicate these pages to them with deepest gratitude.

NOTE: Images of artwork completed 2006 to present will be added by the first of 2009, including new works in the Myth & History, Character Portrait and La Loteria Mia series, as well as a new body of work with the Nature series entitled Meditations on Trees. To see these pieces before the above date, please feel free to contact me: lapintoramontana@yahoo.com.