This fall a selection of abstract paintings, collages, and drawings by the late Linda Adair Day will be exhibited in the Wesley G. Hampton Gallery at the University Art Museum. Throughout her career, Day’s practice fluctuated from representational to nonobjective abstraction, although she was consistently concerned with symbolic language and the structure of “things unseen,” whether thought or memory.
Art historian Meyer Schapiro, among others, has observed that for abstract painters, elementary shapes have a “physiognomy.” Simple visual forms are perceived to be live and expressive. They convey feelings, emotions, and intentions. In the artworks of Linda Day, such basic shapes as the stripe, square, oval, and arc enliven and provide visual syntax and cadence to compositions that were often consciously scaled to the dimensions and proportions of the human body.
Day frequently used terms such as “pulse,” “beat,” and “breath” to describe the rhythmic oscillations of color and shape through which she endeavored to foster within viewers a meditative and advanced state of focused perception. Day was piqued by a passage in Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s essay Eye and Mind (1964) where the philosopher advocates a literal interpretation of the word “inspiration,” which should be thought of simply as the action of drawing breath into the body. He goes on to reflect, “There really is inspiration and expiration of Being, respiration in Being, action and passion so slightly discernible that it becomes impossible to distinguish between who sees and who is seen, who paints and what is painted.” When she was making art, Day derived pleasure by immersing herself in such an embodied state of inspiration and seeking convergence with the external visual, tactile, and auditory stimulation of her environs, whatever the source—be it luminous acrylic gel medium tinted with pigment, the “sensual give” of stretched canvas, jazz emanating from a nearby radio, or even street noise. It is in this sense that Day’s identification of a “good day in the studio” being one in which she was “swimming in paint” can perhaps be best understood.
About the artist:
Linda Adair Day attended Manchester College, Oxford, England and received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Colby College in 1974. Day was awarded a Master of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in 1978. In 2010, Day participated in a residency at Sanskriti Foundation in New Delhi, India that would prove highly influential to her practice near the end of her life. Day was invited to Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY for residencies in 2003, 1991, 1989, and 1988. In 2002 and 1998, Day participated in fellowships at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH and in 1984 she received was invited to Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. In 1989, Day was awarded a visual arts grant from the National Endowments for the Arts for her painting.
Day is represented by Another Year in LA in Los Angeles and JayJay Gallery in Sacramento. Recent group exhibitions include Tomorrow's Legacies: Gifts Celebrating the Next 125 Years at the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento; Linda Day, Joan Perlman, Hovey Brock at Jancar Projects, Los Angeles; Some Paintings: LA Weekly Biennial, Track 16 Gallery, curated by Doug Harvey; and LA: A Select Survey of Art From Los Angeles, Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento. Day curated exhibitions at Long Beach City College, Jancar Gallery, Another Year in LA, and POST.
Linda Adair Day was an Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing at California State University, Long Beach. She succumbed at the age of 59 to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in August 2011. In her honor, David Scardino, the artist’s husband, has established the Linda A. Day Endowed Student Award, which will provide one award annually to studio majors in painting and drawing. For information about making a tax-deductible donation to this endowment, please contact Arléna Kauppi, Director of Development, College of the Arts, California State University Long Beach.