In the recent SAQA Journal, Summer 2015 issue, President Kris Sazaki gave me some wonderful coverage in her "Thoughts from the President" column. I found her insights to be thoughtful and perceptive and, with her permission, I have reprinted the text here:
"Last year, I wrote about why I donate to the SAQA Benefit Auction. This year, I want to tell you how important the auction is for promoting our artists to the public. This event is how I become acquainted with many of our members’ work, and there is so much interesting work being produced today. Just one example of what I am talking about is artist Heather Dubreuil, whose work can be seen at www.heatherdubreuil.com.
During the 2014 SAQA Benefit Auction, I was scrolling through the images of the artwork for sale. I recognized many artists and their stellar work, but at some point my eyes happened upon the piece donated by Heather. I was not familiar with her work, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the cityscape: the color, the line, the haunting quality of the empty yet somehow populated scene. I kept coming back to this piece.
|Connectivity: Port Clyde|
Cut to the de Young Museum in San Francisco, California. In its permanent collection there is an oil painting by Charles Demuth called From the Garden of the Château (1921-1925). Every time I go to the museum, I try to take a few minutes to visit “my” Demuth. I love this painting so much that I keep a framed postcard of it in my office. The line, the color, the haunting quality of the empty scene. It didn’t take me long to realize that what drew me to Dubreuil were the same qualities that drew me to Demuth.
Demuth’s From the Garden of the Château is a prime example of his Precisionist paintings. Focusing on industrialization and modernization of the American landscape, Demuth and his fellow Precisionist artists often worked with rectilinear forms, the visual element I find so intriguing in Dubreuil’s work. (For more on Demuth, see Barbara Haskell’s Charles Demuth, Whitney Museum of Art, 1987.)
While I draw a line historically from Demuth to Dubreuil, her work touches me in a different way than Demuth’s does. Trying to suss out why, I keep coming back to her art medium. I’ve now seen a couple of Dubreuil’s works in person, so I know how the lines are composed of machine stitching while the colors are created with her own hand-dyed cotton. Dubreuil says, “I see my work in cloth and stitch as a contemporary expression of the culture of women’s needlework.”
Perhaps it’s this culture of women’s needlework that populates Dubreuil’s work so evocatively. Demuth’s cityscapes remain impersonal in a way, capturing what was in his time a new industrial reality. Dubreuil, on the other hand, infuses her cityscapes with line and textured color that deliberately slow down the pace, luring you into the individual stories that sit just behind the facades. The stitching lines in Connectivity: Port Clyde suggest stories pulsating through the telephone wires, while the strong color blocks individualize each building.
I know our donating artists will gain more recognition as the Benefit Auction gets a broader audience. I hope you’ll help me spread the word about the SAQA Benefit Auction Sept. 18–Oct. 10 through your social media connections. I’ll 'see' you then!"