Thursday, December 10, 2009

Criss-crossing the Janus Bridge

The second most difficult part of forming an art collective is choosing a name.  Nothing sounds right until you've heard it a while, and it begins to build associations in your mind...then you start getting somewhere.

The image of the Janus head has been in our thoughts since the beginning of our collaboration...long before the concept of 'art collective' was ever put into words between us.  Janus is the Roman God of doorways, gates, and of beginnings and ending.  He is depicted as having two heads, facing in opposite directions because he had the power to see both the future and the past.

Janus was also a significant symbol for us since he also represents the transitions between the opposite sides he perceives.  Our work and our vision are two sides of the same coin, and we needed to bridge those two faces if we wanted this collaboration to be fruitful.

This didn't mean that "Janus Bridge" was a shoe-in.  There was talk about hourglasses and countless sketches of eyes...but we couldn't forget an early drawing Stephanie made of us as Janus, or my constant mentioning of the connection between the lone, flaming candles that appeared in her work and the stark power lines that repeated throughout my paintings.  Her emblem for inspiration and creative fire, the candle, was a traditional symbol that called us back to our connection to the past...and although my power lines were more modern and industrial, they were just as much about the enduring spark of the human spirit.

When we drew the utility pole and the candelabra together, as it appears at the top of the page, we saw two sides of the same energy, reaching out, but still linked.  This was the "Janus Bridge".

Janus Bridge is working hard on the new diptych...more to come...!


Monday, December 7, 2009

The symbols in "Angel's Lost Serenade"

The core of my work is inspired by portraits and the personalities behind them. I was  working on a series of paintings called "The Unknown Musician" which explores music personalities through portraiture when I first met Angel at the ArtCenter/ South Florida in Miami Beach.  I remember walking past her studio and being awestruck by her emotionally complex paintings and compositions that reminded me both of Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth. What struck me the most was how she painted her hands in such a bold, expressive manner. They reminded me of many of the German Expressionist paintings that have shaped my development along the way as an artist. I knew I had to get to know her!

So, when faced with the challenge of painting her, I wanted to capture all that I could about her complex personality and incorporate the symbolism and visuals from the series as well. It is always my goal to capture the soul of the subject. I choose to distort the features of the face and focus on the most interesting features of a person. For Angel, it was definitely her eyes and her mouth. She is holding a burning candle which is a very significant image from my work because it symbolizes the core of inspiration and Angel embodies this inspiration in her as she paints. 

Her figure is engulfed by a vast landscape with purple flowers close to her, which are not really flowers, but "weeds" as she calls them. In the background you see power lines, an image she often includes in her  paintings a symbol of industry. At the top of the painting sits a dream-like scene, where heavy metal rocker Dave Mustaine from Megadeth is serenading her amongst an Impasto backdrop of Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night".  I chose Dave to be her serenader because of his huge influence on Angel as a teen (also a homage to heavy metal). Van Gogh was another huge artistic influence to her painting style and growth as an artist. 

These are just a few images from the painting. If you can spot more, don't be shy to leave a comment!
More to come...
- Stephanie

Sunday, December 6, 2009