|Opening of my exhibit at Backstage Bar, Oct 11, 2013|
On Friday, October 11, 2013, the fruits of six and a half months of artful labor went on display at the Backstage Bar at Theater Square in downtown Pittsburgh, PA. The show consists of 9 new pieces and pieces of work that were previously done (but never exhibited.)
There had been some possibility of one of the pieces, “Mermaid Dreams,” being removed due to a reference to “soft porn” in my Artist’s Statement. It seems BB management takes issue with “offensive” nudity. OK, they do serve food, and I can understand people not wanting pussy on the wall when they’re trying to eat (no double entendre intended and with apologies to any prudes among my readers) but it seemed surreal that mermaids could be an issue. Especially as all the semi-nude images of women that formed the mermaids’ torsos, came from classic 19th c paintings. I offered to collage their nipples with tiny seashells if it would help but fortunately it did not come to that (I would’ve removed the piece myself before bowdlerizing it like that, but I wanted to make a point.) That an establishment associated with arts organizations would be practicing censorship is disturbing. But, in the event, the Mermaids were deemed acceptable and got to strut their stuff on display. (At the opening, a gentleman and his two alert young nephews sat at a nearby table enjoying a meal before going to the theater show. So, maybe management has a point…) Here's a (rather poor) photo of the work in question, with a promise that all the pieces will be properly documented as soon as the show comes down!
|Mermaid Dreams, paper collage, 18 x 29" (C) Diane Keane, 2013|
The opening was a great fun, with many friends and a few relatives crowding into the tiny bar, along with other customers. I got some very nice comments on the work, and 3 pieces sold on the first night. Great! I also heard later that inquiries were made about obtaining prints of some of the works, which of course means a whole new opportunity is opening. The interest is there, why not proceed? I have learned that you don’t get anywhere by refusing a challenge. Onward and upward!
Below are a few photos from the opening, as well as my Artist’s Statement. Thanks for looking!
|The bartender at Backstage Bar made the first purchase: Chair Porn!|
Artist’s Statement for Backstage Bar Exhibit
It has been a number of years since I picked up a brush! My previous most recent body of work consists of numerous small collages that came out of a collage-a-day project during 2010 (hence the name of my blog, Collagitation.) The offer of an exhibit at Backstage Bar, which would require pieces on a larger scale, prompted me to take up painting again. I’d been thinking about doing so for years, and I had a backlog of images that I wanted to get on canvas. For the past 6 months, I’ve been like a kid with a new toy: paint this, try that, and what about that funky chair idea? An image that has long intrigued me is the fresco of the 3 Minoan women (and ancient art in general.) I wanted to give them a more contemporary treatment, and I think they stand up to it with complete aplomb. I also morphed some of my small collage designs into paintings (The Birdwatcher, Once in a Blue Moon) which was an interesting exercise indeed.
I felt other ideas were more suitable to collage, so I got out the scissors and glue again. The classical female nudes in their languorous poses—the soft porn of their time—lend themselves very well to another ages-old male erotic fantasy, the mermaid. I also enjoy the play on opposites of their marbled-paper tails: fluid paint patterns imitating hard stone while perfectly capturing sinuous, fishy flesh.
Creating the art for Eccentric Characters has been an immensely challenging and equally satisfying process. It has restored art to the center of my life, and re-kindled an almost forgotten dream, which is to fashion a life where I can do art full-time. The result is a diverse body of work exploring various ideas and imagery that have fascinated me. Over time, several of the themes presented in Eccentric Characters will become the basis for entire series of related works. The common thread in all the present pieces, I think, is whimsicality and an off-beat view of the animate and inanimate worlds.
I hope the works bring a smile to your face. I believe art is about communication. Self-expression, yes, but to whom is the artist expressing herself, without a viewer? Although there are many viewpoints worthy of expression, humor emerged as a major component as I produced these paintings and collages. Humor is a very direct, universal form of communication. Anthropomorphized animals and objects have been the basis of funny stuff for millennia, as has been putting a modern spin on images from the past. I’ve enjoyed following these and other routes to produce these artworks, and I am grateful for the opportunity to dust off my easel and paint tubes, and to work with collage on a larger scale. These have rejuvenated my skills and my desire to continue exploring my visual ideas. I welcome you along for the ride.
Diane Keane, Oct 11, 2013