Sonja Sekula (1918-1963)  , from the Reassignments series, 2017. Oil, acrylic, watercolor and plaster on canvas, 36 x 48 inches. 

Sonja Sekula (1918-1963), from the Reassignments series, 2017. Oil, acrylic, watercolor and plaster on canvas, 36 x 48 inches. 

Poet and critic Amy Brunvand has published a beautiful and keenly observant review of Engine of Color / Motor of Form. I'm grateful to Ms. Brunvand for her thoughtful and eloquent consideration of the collaborative work Nano Taggart and I were fortunate to be able to produce for Linda Kiley's Art Works Gallery.  

I am currently working on a series of paintings, entitled Reassignments, that address the gender inequity that persists in the record of 20th-century abstract art. Each painting takes its formal cues and its title from a specific 20th-century female artist whose work is of unquestionable historical and artistic value yet remains largely unknown to the general public and insufficiently recognized within the profession of art history. I was very gratified that the first painting in the series, Sonja Sekula (1918-1963), brought the evening's highest price at the 24th annual auction held to benefit the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA), to which all proceeds were donated.

In February 2018 my most recent show of new work concluded its run at Linda Kiley's Art Works Gallery in Cedar City, Utah. Both the exhibition and its special opening event were entitled Engine of Color/Motor of Form. The title was taken from May Swenson's 1960 poem At the Museum of Modern Art, and Swenson's poetry was a catalyst for four of the paintings. In addition, seven pictures were inspired by the poems of regional poet Nathaniel Taggart;  I was honored that Nano, who contributed several new poems based in part on my paintings, suggested we collaborate. A full-color chapbook, featuring several of the poems and paintings in the show, has been published and is available through Art Works.  An updated version of this exhibition, featuring several new paintings, opened in the galleries of Gerald R. Sherratt Library on the Southern Utah University campus in March 2018. I want to thank Professor Phil Roché at the Library for offering to host the show; Nano Taggart for his generosity in lending several works from his collection; and Linda Kiley again, for coordinating with Nano and, of course, for continuing her splendid representation of my paintings at Art Works Gallery.


What if the formal foundations for abstraction and non-objective art had developed organically alongside classical naturalism, beginning with the early Renaissance at the start of the 15th century?

Imagined this way, the stigmas of empty innovation for modernism’s sake—so often attached to modern art of the 20th century—and empty mimetic copywork for tradition’s sake—an attack still often leveled against the western canon by modern scholars—might never have materialized, allowing instead for the gestation of a rich amalgam of these two strains of European art.

I begin each painting by considering a different period, style or school of art from the past, or the output of a single artist at a given moment in her career. I then try to identify those features of the art which are most likely to survive the translation from representation to abstraction, or from one form of abstraction to another. This is a personal process of formal response to visual prompts, not a disciplined analysis. I make no claim of accuracy, nor even of credibility for the images that result. If the viewer bears my premise in mind while viewing the paintings, however, both the differences and the consistencies among them will probably make more sense.