Sunday, November 27, 2011
In conversation with Lena Viddo, any subject will elicit an interesting story that has moved her – some are personal, like a bikini-clad, too-close encounter with a colony of wasps in an unwanted shrub. She gathers interesting information as well – the personal habits of bees, camps of immigrants living along the Thames River who survive by hunting the swans … Lena brings all of her enthusiasm for narrative and detail to her current series, “Earthly Delights,” without sacrificing painterly values. Her surface is fine and almost irresistible to touch.
Viddo’s points of reference reflect the location of her two studios -- rural Vermont, and the deep woods of human nature known as Manhattan. She draws on her responses to both, and much more, to inspire and inform her allegorical portraits and mindscapes -- found and sourced objects, live models (including herself and her daughter), and a library of hundreds of wildlife and nature reference books. Animals are not rendered placeholders for symbols and icons, they thrive in her invented world.
Depicting a sharp reality not tethered to realism, Viddo’s canvases evoke a life on the edge of the incarnate. Imagined in motion, her strong characters radiate an energy that suggests puppetry over animation. The notion of these edgy stories in performance for children is not outlandish, these matinees recall the gruesome, ancient fairy tales we asked our parents to “read over again,” and every child’s fascination with all things ooky and natural – alive or dead. So it comes as no surprise that Lena is also a devoted mom with keen insight into the inner lives of children, and a pathway to the child in each of her viewers.
One can trace this dynamic in the history of her works to a series depicting submissive characters in bondage situations, “Ties That Bind,” which are composed tightly around a single figure with the eyes sometimes all or partially out of view. The physical gesture so strongly radiates the angst and desire of anticipation that, when the eyes are in play, it overwhelms. For the more loosely composed “Earthly Delights,” the artist restrains her own powers to dominate the emotions of the viewer, confining that energy to the depths of liquid eyes, from which it escapes in flashes she allows to appear seemingly against her will.
Unlike many artists who shy away from discussing underlying messages in their work, Lena acknowledges her intention to address certain issues and themes – a food/oral motif, male-female love, the tyranny of beauty, the relationship of victim and predator. Some of these visions and characterizations populate the works of a poet who particularly sparks her imagination, Pablo Neruda.
From Viddo’s own translation of “A Cat’s Dream:
“I should like to sleep like a cat,
with all the fur of the ages,
with a tongue rough as flint,
with the dry sex of fire;
and after speaking to no one,
stretch myself over the world,
over roofs and landscapes,
with a passionate desire
to hunt the rats in my dreams.”
Lena’s work appeals to and inspires other artists. Her portrait of a roaring big cat ,“Water Tiger” -- from her other current series of close up-works in vertiginously layered detail with a fauvist twist and appropriately named “Sexy Beast,” -- was acquired last year by Shepard Fairey.
Another artist well known for his difficult content and great detail, Ahmed Alsoudani, enjoys the contradiction in the childlike form and angry eyes of Viddo’s free-standing piece in his collection, painted on a “Dunny” toy figure, called “Hide and Secret.” “I like the idea,” he says, “that I have to look all around the piece to see all the details, heavy in some places open in others.” He pointed out a shared element in their visual vocabulary -- a zipper -- which appears in his recent painting as well as Lena’s work.
On message, current events can affect the evolution of a painting. Viddo explained that a vignette depicting torture in a section of the large landscape, “Manifest Destiny,” was inspired by the news and images of the inhumane treatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. In this series, she says, “Torture becomes fashion and fashion in the end becomes torture.”
Lena’s powerful paintings don’t evoke feeling first, they make you see, and see again. I don’t necessarily trust her not to show more than I can handle, but I know I will never resist looking. The artist possesses the insight and skill-set to transparently disturb and entertain us at the same time, and also disturb us with the fact that we are entertained… which of course teaches us something about ourselves. At her visual cocktail party, she has put her mousetrap in the potato chip bowl, and, even though it snaps and hurts, we just can’t get enough.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
13 Facts Everyone Should Know about Metastatic Breast Cancer:
1. No one dies from breast cancer that remains in the breast. The lump itself is not what kills. The metastasis of cancerous cells to a vital organ is what kills.
2. Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to different parts of the body, typically the bones, liver, lungs and brain.
3. An estimated 155,000 Americans are currently living with metastatic breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer accounts for approximately 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
4. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is lifelong and focuses on control and quality of life vs. curative intent. ("Treatable but unbeatable.")
5. About 6% to 10% of people are Stage IV from their initial diagnosis.
6. Early detection is not a cure. Metastatic breast cancer can occur ANY time after a person's original diagnosis, EVEN if the patient was initially Stage 0, I, II or III and DESPITE getting annual checkups and annual mammograms.
7. Between 20% to 30% of people initially diagnosed with regional stage disease WILL develop metastatic breast cancer.
8. Young people DO get metastatic breast cancer.
9. There are many different kinds of metastatic breast cancer.
10. Treatment choices for MBC are guided by hormone (ER/PR) and HER2 receptor status, location and extent of metastasis (visceral vs. nonvisceral), previous treatment and other factors.
11. Metastatic breast cancer isn't an automatic death sentence. Although most people will ultimately die of their disease, some can live long and productive lives.
12. There are no hard and fast prognostic statistics for metastatic breast cancer. Everyone's situation is unique, but according to the American Cancer Society, the 5 year survival rate for stage IV is around 20%.
13. To learn more about National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day as well as resources specifically for people with metastatic breast cancer see www. mbcn.org. We appreciate your support on October 13 and throughout the year.
Another good site to share with anyone you may know who has been struck by BC, is www.BCT.org They list trials currently going on for a person’s particular cancer, using a personalized search engine.
Is there an organization that uses donations DIRECTLY FOR research, which is the key to ending cancer? RESEARCH is the key, so much is complicated by pharmaceutical companies who primarily research drugs that will make just them money as fast as possible. There must be some pure BC research somewhere where monies are singly dedicated to finding a BC cure. Readers, if you know of any such efforts please forward the information to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Saturday, October 1, 2011
On October 3rd 2011 artist Lin Evola will be joined in Los Angeles by Sheriff Leroy Baca of Los Angeles County, LAPD Chief of Police Charles L. Beck and other officials to formally unveil the prototype for a five-foot sculpture to be installed at the Boyle Heights Tech Center. The “California Peace Angel” will join Evola’s series of works fabricated from surrendered and confiscated weapons, in this case donated last fall for this purpose by Sheriff Baca and Chief Beck. The event is only the latest milestone in a nearly two-decade-long journey for the artist.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Already a talented personality at the swirling center of New York’s art scene in the 1960’s, Isabelle Dufresne met Andy Warhol and went on the become a leading figure in his iconic entourage under her nom-du-guerre, Ultra Violet. Her memoir, “FAMOUS FOR 15 MINUTES, My Years with Andy Warhol,” is a page-turner, an engrossing history laced with just the right measures of humor and tragedy to assure us that it is real.
But hers is not a “what-ever-happened-to...?” celebrity story. Ultra Violet is still a prominent artist, exhibiting work internationally that reflects and employs this century’s issues and media, with sincerity balanced with visual sensitivity and technical savvy. (The image below is from her “Nine-Eleven” series)
Molly Barnes hosts her brown bag lunch talks at the Roger Smith Hotel, 501 Lexington Avenue at 47th Street in Manhattan. Presentations begin promptly at 12 Noon, arrive early to enjoy your lunch, catch up with your friends, and make some new ones! There’s never a charge, for reservations and more info call Molly at 212-755-1400.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
More about Molly and the Roger Smith at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-wiener-and-linda-digusta/midtown-draft_b_749897.html
Thursday, February 10, 2011
On Thursday, February 17th artist Mimi Gross, who also happens to be the daughter of sculptor Chaim Gross and the former wife and collaborator of Red Grooms, will talk with Molly about her life in art - for a taste, visit her wonderful blog....
Gallerist Stephen Haller is Molly’s guest on Friday the 18th for a conversation about his his friendship with Italian painter Giorgio Morandi. (You can read an interview on the subject on Joanne Mattera’s art blog.)
As always for a couple of decades, there is never a charge to attend, and even your lunch - home-made sandwich, cookie & fruit in a brown bag - is on the house. Arrive early to mingle and enjoy before the presentation begins at noon.
More about Molly's programs at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-wiener-and-linda-digusta/midtown-draft_b_749897.html