Reaching for Light
ER (interviewer): Tell me about the theme of this exhibition.
Virginia Sharkey: It’s about time, specifically, the depiction, in abstract form, of the days of the week. I’ve always felt that each day of the week had a color . What color do you think of for Monday?
ER: I think of a warm grey.
Vs: I think of Monday as red. Everyone’s different. You ask about the relationship to poetry, as it’s in the title of the exhibit. I’ve always written. I participate in poetry readings every First Thursday at the Ft Bragg Public Library and during the annual Spring Poetry Festival in Mendocino, but never have connected poems and paintings before. I wanted to explore more of what I felt about each day so, in further musings I came up with these poems. The paintings were tangential to the words, but a there is definitely a connection. Thursday was the hardest, as the painting wanted to go away from the sense of the poem but I made myself return to the text. That is, at least, very indirectly.
Thursday (directly below) Saturday
ER: What artists inspire you? Vs: Lots. Ii love the work Matisse did around World War One, Goya, Bruegel and various contemporary painters. This show is inspired by The Book of Hours, specifically Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry and other illuminated manuscripts.I am interested in time and mortality. Painting is a perfect medium to explore this as time, like its lovely housing, music, is an ephemeral concept, without matter attached.
ER: Do you get stuck? Vs: Yes! I sit there. There is always a breakthrough, however. I’ll just sit and stare. It may be preliminary to what I want. Usually there is something that happens ﬁnally, a sensation in the body.
ER: So it’s a somatic experience?
Vs: Yes, it’s somatic. What do you do?
ER: I have to not overwork or get in my intellectual mind. Sometimes I have to walk away and let it come to me. I do those usual things like turning the image upside down, but mostly I have to be patient. You work is so clean, you edit out the noise.
Vs: Thank you. What a beautiful thing to say. I am in love with certain Asian sensibilities; simple like the image of persimmons Mu Ch’i Fa-Ch’ang. did about 900 years ago. I’m in love with the elemental and essential. It’s a state of consciousness; I try to create a presence, even a kind of exalted realm for the viewer to sink into.
ER: That brings me to my next question, are there sensations of experiences you hope to elicit from your audience?
Vs: I would hope people could have a mind cleansing experience, immersed in a beautiful presence – transported. If the viewer is transported that would be wonderful.
Wednesday (top) Tuesday
Whether in or out of the studio, respect and preservation of the land and its inhabitants is at the foundation of my work.
My partner and were inspired to remove the vineyard on our land in 2014. I undertook this daunting effort and worked hundreds of hours cutting canes, dragging vines, pulling fencing staples and using a spinning jenny.
By 2016 five acres of grapes and hardware were removed. During those two years my art was informed by weather, plants and horizon lines.
Often when I prepare for an exhibition, a new theme emerges. Added to plant life are cursive line suggestive of language. Some of these lyrical lines are Gregg Shorthand, representative of the stenography used by my mother, a secretary.
I intend to provoke questions, even assumptions about the geographic origins of the language elements. It is my desire to emphasize our human connection, not what separates us – from each other and the earth.
I have been exploring nature with watercolor for over 40 years.Trained as a scientific illustrator, my subject matter has included succulent plants, rocks, leaves and trees rendered with a combination of detailed realism and a focus on abstract design.
In a new body of work entitled “Transfigured”, I looked closely at the way nature takes back what mankind has made through a process that is both amazing and beautiful. With watercolor paintings and mixed media constructions, I pay homage to nature’s process of transfiguration achieved through rust, decay, age and decomposition. Old wood buildings, rusted items on the salvage pile, and miscellaneous found objects have long intrigued me. I find these things strangely elegant and in re-interpreting them through a piece of art, I hope they are “transfigured” yet again.
Below are small watercolors of details from several abandoned barns along the Mendocino coast. I love the textures of the weathered wood and rusted hardware and the contrast of the mysterious dark spaces inside the barns.
The next group of watercolors are all painted from photos taken at our local landfill’s salvage pile. The strange juxtaposition of discarded metal items often create surprisingly beautiful abstract compositions.
I often see potential subject matter while taking my daily walk with the dog. Both of the below images were gleaned from items dumped along the trail…a terrible practice, but a lovely find for me. The crushed drainage pipe was in a huge 10 foot high pile in an abandoned rock quarry. The pipes formed a giant sculpture of twisted forms.
Mina Cohen is showing mixed media paintings in a show entitled “Moving To and Fro”. The theme of moving can be seen in two series. The first entitled Out of the Closet depicts the contents of an elderly person’s closet who has to move from her home of 30 years. The second series is entitled Where are you Moving to acknowledging the often heard phrase at this time of the year….”if so and so is elected I’m moving to….”. The work incorporates collage materials such as photographs and maps and other mixed media.