Sandra Vista, February 9- April 26, 2013
VINCENT PRICE ART MUSEUM
1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez
Monterey Pk, CA 91754 323-265-8841
The paintings in your show, “Meow Buddha” are large and unstretched and represent almost a decade of redacted painting. The effect is cumulative and process is palpable, could you talk about your process and where it comes from?
The process for this painting series began while I was in graduate school during the Pattern and Decoration period of the late 70's and 80's. Initially I focused on the formal issues of color (dissonant colors, complementary colors) and patterns. I was also influenced by in instructor who emphasized the Memphis style with a variety of high contrast stripes. Currently this series incorporates personal content. Because I have been working with mixed-media and exhibiting primarily my mm work, I wanted to return to pure acrylic paint on canvas without other mediums except matte medium in the paint.
Why are the pieces hanging rather than stretched canvas?
The paintings hang on unstretched canvas because they are referring to my interest in weavings, quilts and tapestries that I research for my pattern paintings. Also, the unstretched canvas creates more of an object vs a painting on stretched canvas. Initially, I began using unstretched canvas in the l970's in order to paint more. Back then I used to make my own stretcher bars and my painting desire was surpassing my skills of building my own stretcher bars.
The title of the show suggests that there is a spiritual subtext to your work. Could you talk about the influence of Rothko on your work and the genesis of Buddha or sacred imagery?
Definitely a spiritual journey. This series began in May 2005 after a traumatic experience at work where I taught art. Three teenage boys got into a fight. One of the students was placed into my room as he bled profusely. I had to mop up the blood on the floor. I remember the smell of iron. This experience affected me so much that I took three days off from work and had to modify my work schedule for 2 weeks. In retrospect I see the blood as giving birth to a new series of paintings. There is always blood...with every miracle there is a sacrifice.
I found tremendous connections between this work and the work of Mattise, could you explain the influence of decorative practice on the work and its conceptual content?
Mark Rothko was actually the artist that inspired me the most. When I was a kid in seventh grade my English teacher Mrs. Morgan took us to the University of Arizona art museum. I had never been to an art museum before. When I saw a Rothko painting I was transfixed. His color field paintings are spiritual icons that continue to inspire me. I had an aesthetics professor say to me that he felt I was attracted to Rothko's work because of the definitive horizon lines I experienced living in the desert of Arizona. The direct delineation between the earth and sky of the desert also exists here in California with the sky and the ocean. I often create a specific horizon line in each painting, they are important elements in my work.
At this time I was looking at the image of the Buddha along with my meditation practice in my interest in Eastern religion. I began my first painting "Cattail Buddha-Gabriella" with a buddha image. I thought all the paintings would have an actual buddha image in them but after the first painting the buddhas took on different images. In "My Bodhi's" the trojan horses and the cactus are Bodhi-satvas.
Could you explain where the meow comes into the title of the show?
The title was originally "My Buddha Series" but it sounded to ordinary..."Meow Buddha" encompasses my spiritual quest and my daily meditation practice. The "Meow" title is two fold: My beloved cat "Lewis" needed to be included in the series. He's been the mascot since the series began. Also, I sing the "Meow Mix" song to a student in each class everyday. This is a way of celebrating each individual. Years ago I had a colleague that was having trouble at work and I recommended that he sing the "Meow Mix" song before work. No one can be sad singing this song. I used it as a mantra...If I sang to you, I would sing Mary Anna Pomonis, Mary Anna Pomonis...with the Meow Mix tune. This idea is better live than in writing. The title was originally "My Buddha Series" but it sounded too ordinary..."Meow Buddha" encompasses my spiritual quest and my daily meditation practice.
-This article is dedicated to Sandra Vista's father: Robert M. Ramirez
(July 4, 1924-April 29, 2013)