Saturday, December 7, 2013

Self, with a capital "S"

To live creatively is a choice. You must make a commitment to your own mind and the possibility that you will not be accepted. You have to let go of satisfying people, often even yourself. 
-Jessica Olien
This year has been a year of throwing off the urge to satisfy others' expectations and norms.  Even though for most of my life I have been doing or working at doing this (Public school in the 90s - "Be yourself!"), there is a lingering code of "right vs. wrong" that causes tension within my Self.  Dealing with this tension is an important thing, but I also see it as a diversion from the living and realizing that is particularly me.

Jessica Olien's writing on about the acceptance-or-not of the Creatives in our culture is a message that highlights the root of this tension I refer to.  Read the article here.

My wish for the world is that we can self-realize.  Creative or not, consider who you want to be (I think this comes from knowing who you really are), and be that person.  No time to lose.  Never too late.
Self, graphite + colored pencil on paper, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What kind of artist am I?

Me, at right, deliberating. **
At the beginning of this month, I participated in a panel discussion on Provisional painting.  At the start, I was introduced as a curator and founder of GroundSwell Gallery and as a conceptual artist.  Albeit the moderator did hesitate around the term "conceptual," I found myself befuddled as my mind tried to respond to the larger issue: What kind of artist I am.

This is a familiar topic for me nonetheless.  Most people, upon discovering that I am an artist, ask me, What kind of artist?  Am I a painter?  Or... ?  Most people who are outside of the art community immediately wonder if I am a painter.  I'm amused by this initial thought: Artist = Painter.  I imagine this is a result of one's art education only reaching the middle school level, so familiarity with artists ranged from Monet to Picasso to Pollack to Warhol (MAYBE Warhol).  All painters.

Anyway, my response is usually that yes, I do paintings sometimes, but my art making and media choices are a result of an initial inspiration.  I usually have a vision that relates to philosophy or a personal discovery and that vision leads to a media choice that makes sense.  I just follow my intuition in answering the question, "How can I realize this vision?"  I don't consider myself an expert in any one media, but I do consider myself adept at many media and broadly experienced with various techniques and skill-sets.  Blahdy blahdy blahdy, is this person still listening?  Is what I am saying ringing any bells?  Maybe...  so, sometimes I do paintings.  Sometimes I make sculpture.  I've worked in performance.  I enjoy making large installations, site-specific and otherwise.  Right now, I'm making drawings on paper.  Another aspect of my work is that I tend to work in a very repetitive way.

In the case of the panel discussion, which was also about a vague matter (Provisional painting), I realized I was now talking to a group of people who speak the language of art, of media, of technique and the artist's practice.  These individuals had the background information on the subject and I felt compelled to answer this question more in depth.  However, I was also posed with the categorization of conceptual artist.  I began my response by saying that I had never actually considered myself a conceptual artist, but I could see why she, the moderator, might say so.  My work, being of different media and techniques from project to project, is often linked to a concept, which I describe alongside my work (examples:  The concept from one project to the next may string along familiar modalities of thinking and working or similar goals despite varied processes toward reaching the goal.  So by the end of my dribbling, befuddled artspeak, I actually said out loud, "Well, maybe you're right.  Maybe I AM a conceptual artist."

No, that's not true.  How bizarre that I walked all around that self-definition-moment undecided, almost desperate to end the tail-spin, and then I just accepted the assumption.  So having given it some thought for a few more weeks, I'll say what I have meant to say for a long time.  I am not a painter.  I am not a sculptor.  I am not an installation artist.  I am not a conceptual artist.  I am not a performance artist.  I am not a print maker.  I am not a textile/fiber artist.  I am not an illustrator.  I wouldn't even call myself an interdisciplinary artist (although that vague term is perhaps the closest fit).

I am an artist.  That is all I am.  I utilize all of who I am and what I know and what I have as I need to.  I make art.
That's enough for me.
I'm certainly not trying to fit into any categories for catalogs or historical documents.  I could care less about my CV or resume.  I even think it's time to re-write my Artist's statement to say less about what kind of artist I am.
There's no reason for me to try to be the right kind of artist or make the kind of art that's popular.  I don't believe in making art for the market or even for an audience - those aims are destructively distracting from my art practice.
I make art for (first) myself and (second) for the love in it and (third) for beauty.

To the moderator of that discussion, thank you for helping me realize who I am not and therefore, who I am... as an artist.

**photo credit - Rebecca Vaughn

Thursday, October 31, 2013

3 on Lawrence, under construction.

What does all this building material amount to in my life?

My husband's current project, OUR triplex, 3 on Lawrence, now under construction.  The 2nd floor is on and the walls are about to go up.  That boom truck is loading thick sheetrock into the building which will be part of the super-insulated exterior and partition walls. (Meaning, these 3 units will be super quiet and super efficient with heat/cool!)
That 18ft. opening is for a sliding glass door and window system!  Each unit gets one to look out over a courtyard patio!
Brad Peebles holds down the 2nd floor
That guy on the 2nd floor is my Dad.  He's been out on the work-site for a week working with Christian and the other carpenters/laborers.  It's a hard job, but this project is going to be beautiful!  Big love and thanks to my amazing husband, Christian and my generous Dad.

You can see the renderings for this project on Christian's website:  (there's a link to it on the Left margin of this blog too).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Moving Day

Today I moved my studio from a 120 sq. ft. room (our 2nd bedroom) to a 600 sq. ft. SPACE (emphasis on the "space").
snapshots of the 14th Ave. Studio (2 yrs of claustro-arto-phobia):
These photos were taken by cramming myself into the opposite corners of the room

and the new 4747 Studio ((sigh) take it all in):
As usual, these photos don't begin to convey the enormous difference this will make for my art making life.

My studio mates: John McEnroe and Bruce Price.  I am stoked.

Here's to a new adventure! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Installation - One Work of Intention

Yesterday My husband I installed this painting, one of three in a series called, Works of Intention, that I made in 2011.  My patron, Tara Emrick and Dr. Brian Kono opened Highland Integrative Pediatrics (H.I.P., for short) over in the LoHi neighborhood of Denver last Spring to answer a need for more holistic pediatric care.  Dr. Brian's words:

There is a way to combine the best of natural and conventional healing in one center.  We don't have to be solely eastern or western practitioners and patients.  We can integrate the two and improve the health of our children and our family in a holistic way that treats each child and family unit as a unique and valued member of our practice community.

Tara runs programming for H.I.P. Studio in a spacious studio within the building.  H.I.P. Studio provides therapeutic classes for meditation, yoga, grief counseling and various health and parenting education classes.  Tara has been a patron of my artwork in the past and I am honored to have my artwork influence the soulful life and work of this lady.  

This Mantra, called the Gayatri Mantra reads as follows (first in Sanskrit, then in English): 

Aum Bhur Bhuva Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Dhevasya Dhimahi
Dhiyo Yo Nhaha Prachodayat

On the absolute reality and it's planes, 
On that finest spiritual light, 
We meditate,
As remover of obstacles
That it may inspire and enlighten us. 

The purpose of this artwork is to lend intention to a space and to express warmth beginning with deep hues of heat and lifting up to the yellow hues of sunny lightness.  The lettering of the mantra is monochromatic (one derivative off its corresponding band of color) to increase the sense of rising warmth and lightness.  The mantra is not so obvious as to be quickly read and forgotten.  To read it requires a moment of looking and may lend a pause for meditation.  
Thanks Christian! 

There are three Works of Intention.  The other two are the Anusara Yoga Invocation and the 4 Dharma's of Ghampopa.  Each of these, including the Gayatri Mantra are 7.5' x 7' and were originally installed side by side by side to fill a foyer, floor to ceiling, for a yoga studio in Denver.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Anni Albers... again and again.

Anni Albers - Second movement II - intaglio print
I'm working on making a quilt for my bed that is at once my bed-spread and my artwork.  I'm unabashedly a person who likes to make all the "things" in my home count and mean something to my soulful-living-self.  At the start of this undertaking, I went back to my favorite textile designer of all time - Anni Albers.  Wife and partner to Josef Albers, she was also a student of Bauhaus, and the two of them came to the United States as part of the mid-century Jewish flight from Europe that so enriched our culture in more ways than most of the American public has any understanding for.  Both of them, through their teaching, design work, and art work made strong marks on the American aesthetic we take for granted today.  They did that through the framework of color theory and design theory that many attribute to Bauhaus, but Anni and Josef were truly unique voices nonetheless.  They integrated art with design in a way that significantly elevated public and private environments and culture.  Without going on and on about who they are - everyone should look them up, books listed below - I'll just share a few images of Anni Albers' printed patterns intended for textile printing.  These are the inspiration - through their aesthetic and theory - for my own design.  It is my intention to ride the inspiration of her design theory and art work to create a quilt that reflects my own soulful place in my bed (along with my partner Christian).  I'm dyeing the fabric now... process pictures are in order I guess, so I know I'll be posting about this project again.
Anni Albers - Triadic Series D - print

The sketch that I'm working with, color palette in progress:
Anni Albers : Selected Writings on Design - The fifteen essays gathered here illustrate Anni Albers's concept of design as the pursuit of wholeness.... (wow, seriously changed my work when I read this).
 Josef + Anni Albers : Designs for Living - this book was given to me by a mentor who gets me, Michael P. Johnson.  He pointed out that my husband and I have much in common with this dynamic pair and I am forever inspired by that comment.
There are SO MANY books on these 2 most influential artists/designers.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

optimism revisited

Created by John D. Boswell, these remixes introced by PBS digital studios of a few old PBS favorites are super entertaining to me.  I think what's most appealing is the nostalgia for a childhood feeling of optimistic possibility and the your-dreams-can-come-true era of the 80s and 90s.  It was a great big and ambiguous feeling then (and it still is in a lot of ways), but it was inspiring, and I guess we eventually realized we had to be innovative and creative to clarify all those ambiguities.  It was Reading-Rainbow-good.  During that time of only 10 - 20 television stations and limited programming, PBS held down a motivating, inspiring, the sky's the limit attitude and I guess I can trace a lot of my optimism and feelings of hopefulness about life back to that (ok, I'll give my parents and some of my public school teachers a lot of credit too).  It was a general attitude of coaching our country's children into believing in themselves and believing in their middle-class dreams.  Not bad.  Thanks PBS.  ...really.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Something I think I know + telling a 14 year old man-child about it.

I used to be a nanny for Atticus and Ruby.  We kicked it together almost every day when they were between the ages of 6 - 9 and 3 - 6 (or something like that).  It was such an amazing job that I still marvel to have been paid to do it.  I imagine Atticus and Ruby will be friends of mine for life.  We try to describe our relationship as though I'm an older cousin - somewhere in between adults and kids in the family member spectrum.  Atticus will be 14 in a week, and his parents wanted me to express a message or letter to him as part of a collection from "older" people in his life.  A message about life because, well, he'll probably stop listening to all of us soon - 14 is that moment when you insist upon self-realization right?  With that in mind, I wrote the below pictured message to my friend Atticus. 

To connect this to this blog/forum, this is what my art is about too... more and more all the time. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Co Incidence

Co Incidence installation, view upon entry, with one of two portraits at Pablo's Coffee 1300 Pennsylvania St., Denver, CO

I'm talking about two things that happen at once, partners in incidence, existing and acting simultaneously whether in or out of balance.  In the case of this art installation, Co Incidence, that I did at Pablo's Coffee (Pennsylvania St. at 13th Ave., Denver, CO), I intended to highlight a nuance of understanding of this term as described by Carl Jung that particularly affected me as I work to increase my personal, mental stability.

Whew... stay with me.
Jung describes the coincidence of opposites as an achievable state of mind wherein opposing states such as chaos and peace of mind can be balanced by placing one's awareness directly between or in the middle of the two states.  This is an exercise in the mind usually applicable when experiencing overly negative or painful states of mind.  For example, I have a habit of critical self judgement that is usually productive, but, when extreme, can make me feel like a helpless failure.  When I'm feeling this way, I am aware of myself as self supporting and a person of intelligence but the extreme feeling of failure or helplessness keeps me distant from these more useful modes of being.  Jung says that if we can become aware of ourselves as a coincidence of these two opposites that even in these most off-balance experiences we can pull back into balance.  We can reengage with ourselves as whole beings.  It's hard work, but I've been able to do this a few times and when that point of awareness, balance and then compassion for myself arrives (at the co incidence), I am lighter, more peaceful, more clear-thinking, and able to forgive myself for the overly critical, self effacing judgement I've imposed.  At that point, I can even think more clearly about why that critical judge flew off the handle like that.

When I first realized this possibility,  I shared what I had read (in Healing into Life and Death, by Stephen Levine) with my therapist and was feeling particularly hopeful about my personal welfare as I drove home from our session.  In a most typical Colorado way, a storm was moving through and the sunshine burst through from behind me and a rainbow appeared ahead.  The rainbow - a representation of the coincidence of opposites: sunny-day, rainy day.

So I went to my studio and made a portrait of myself having skin with a rainbow gradient of color as my skin.
The rainbow that I made at Pablo's, perfectly level, at average eye-level, cutting through all of the spaces inhabited by cafe goers, represented to me a kind of settling awareness and a moment of looking around, seeing where you are.  The rainbow colors are uniquely uplifting in their color-grouping (different than any other group of colors).  The whole installation evolved out of intuition from the moment I saw the rainbow from the car that late afternoon.  For me, it's personal - a part of the journey of self healing and self balancing and self love that I've been on throughout adulthood and that has increased since the death of my Sister in Law, Whitney and her husband Dave.  For everyone else, it's a moment of present awareness and recognition for the feeling you get when a rainbow sets in.  The rainbow colors of my skin tone (there are two self portrait drawings directly across the room from each other) may imply different things to different people, but to me it was seeing the rainbow in myself.  It was seeing the coincidence of the opposites and placing myself there in order to be a more complete expression of myself.

Formal presentation of this work is viewable on my website, under "Installations."
Many thanks to Christian Butler, AnnaMarie Fidel-Rice, Gretchen Marie Schaefer and Pattie Lee Becker for their assistance in realizing this project.

I don't know what Art is.

I'm at home sick today so maybe that will explain my wild statement about not knowing what Art is in the subject line.  Or, maybe this is just an expression of Zen knowing and not knowing and I'm about to unleash some real higher thinking right now.


I bring this up because I just read in the September 2013 of The Atlantic, Out is the New In : Why outsider art - dirty, brutish, and raw - is all the rage by Sarah Boxer.  From what I gather, in my experience as an artist and with running GroundSwell Gallery, the tendency with most artists is to do what they believe is their "art" and it's usually noticeable when the spark of authenticity is not there.  I'd say that meeting the artist and talking with him or her about the art is usually a good test to find out if this is really Art or not.  Sometimes I do come across folks who are making what I would consider to be decoration or very creative design projects.  Sometimes it seems an artist could dive more deeply into his or her art-making but is distracted by the notion of "reaching the audience," pleasing gallerists, or making works that are "consumable" or "priced to sell."  When it really comes to Contemporary Art Trends, it has nothing to do with, on the whole, what artists are making.  When it comes to Outsider Art today, we're all outsiders for the most part...  The insiders are handpicked by a few know-it-alls looking to make money right now.  This is, unfortunately, how our culture is defined now - not as much by authentic expressions in response to our time, but a framing of "culture" utilized to create a market demand.

Sarah Boxer's article expresses that many outsider artists were psychotic in some fashion, "madman," brut, traumatized, and others were just doing their thing, uneducated, but owning it and practicing art-making as an innate calling.  My favorite reference is to Bill Traylor, an African-American artist in Alabama "discovered" by a younger artist, Charles Shannon, who was enchanted by Traylor's serenity in his art making.  In this case and the case of the "brut," the artist is not driven by expectations, ideas, trends and money of the "Art World."

Oh my, that sounds attractive albeit a little isolated.

Then, the isolated artist (maybe he's psychotic, maybe he's a hermetic monk) and, more importantly, his or her artwork are discovered by someone of influence within the upper echelons of the "Art World."  The know-it-alls are enchanted by the never-before-known genius of this artist and see the art as a another get-rich-quick opportunity: "Oh, Auction House B just went nuts over Henry Darger's obsessive paintings of children!  The crazy sh*t this new-found artist makes out of mud and her own feces is going to hit the market like a firecracker!"

I'm starting to sound bitter, and maybe that's because for the lasts 10 - 15 years I mostly believed that any hardworking artist could make a living off of their ARTwork.  At this point in my artmaking life, I don't really think that's true.  Almost every artist I know has other work that supports them and they're lucky if that work is a healthy utility of their creative talent.  It seems to me, especially after reading Don Thompson's The $12 Million Stuffed Shark, that "Making It" as an artist has two very separate meanings.

Making It! option #1:  Make art in such a way as to brand yourself.  Make sure that people know what you look like or what your artwork looks like by creating an indelible propaganda with your art.  Often this entails tapping into the neuroses of our culture streaming out of popular media trends already driven by marketing tactics and economic models.  Hustle.  Get to know as many people hustling as you can - power in numbers!  Always be in the right place at the right time.  Get into publications, known-name-gallery exhibitions, museums, collections and make sure that you are international in your reach.  Then, there's a .0001% chance that someone in the Auction House arena will PICK YOU.  Yesssssss!

Making It! option #2:  Make art in such a way as to increase awareness, increase tactile and emotional intelligence, and increase truth and joy in this world.  Start with yourself.  It takes a lifetime of practice to reach a point where your artwork may affect the larger culture.  Attend to the inspiration that evolves out of your art practice and the life that you live with friends and family and work.  Pay attention to your dreams and to your intuition and make what you envision.  Make what you want to make.  This isn't a dress rehearsal - make what reflects who you know yourself to be.  If you can do this, talent or no talent (remember the outsider artist), there is a 99.99999% chance that you will die happy.   There is also a .0001% chance that someone in the Auction House arena will PICK YOU.  (...whatever...)

What I mean to say is,
No matter what an artist does, whether making art or making propaganda, whether making mud and feces sculptures, or making perfectly square black lacquered cubes, whether working on the inside or the outside, inside-out or outside-in, the chance of "making it" like a rock star is slim to none.  But, the chance of living a happy, fulfilled, self-knowing, wise and serene existence is pretty high.

I say I don't know what Art is because I see it as ephemeral and in flux.  I know that when I look at many works on the walls at museums, galleries, and in my own home, I understand the work to be "Art."  Sometimes I know nothing about the artist, sometimes I know more than enough.  I have tastes and preferences though even work that I don't aesthetically connect to can move me.  I know that when I set about to make art, I am either working from my own inspiration or I'm plagued by a sense of pleasing others.  When I think about Outsider Art and Insider Art, I realize that either can be Art, and that one or the other is being promoted by those in the Art dealing game.

Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art

Remember that game where you say a word as many times as it takes to begin to lose meaning and seem to be an arbitrary sound coming out of your mouth?  You can do it with any word.  I think it could be important to do that exercise with the word "art" every once in a while so as to remember how arbitrary the word and it's attending subject matter really are.

Now, I'm going to go and look at some art at two different art shows going on in town.  Then I plan to head back home and make some art with 10 lbs. of leftover porcelain clay I've been musing over in my studio for about a year.

Let it be known that my opinions change and my knowledge is always being reformed. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

2 years and counting

GroundSwell Gallery, the gallery that Danette Montoya and I conceived in May 2011, has now been operating for over 2 years.  We had our 2nd birthday in May, celebrating aesthetically and skillfully advanced artwork by Denver's own artists; celebrating consistent and fair exhibition opportunities for professional rising artists; celebrating our own achievement as one of Westword's Masterminds for 2012; and celebrating all the positive and constructive relationships we've built with artists and designers, musicians and performers! 

The warm season began with color,
Andrew Huffman 4U2C, April 2013, yarn installation detail with drawing at back

with poignant, personal artworks by deep-thinking artists,
Jaimie Henthorn, Body Building, May 2013 and Evan Isoline, Poltergeists, June 2013
with new media exhibitions and with a new mural
alley-mural west of gallery, June 2013, Kevin Hennesy, Mario Zoots, and Ryan Ingersol
and currently continues with an exquisite exhibition of 39 local artists' postal collaborations - Exquisite Corpse : Stamped & Mailed.
please follow the Exquisite Corpse link above to see more images from the exhibition
To say the least, running GroundSwell Gallery for these few years has felt like a time-warp (Did that just happen?) and has pushed Danette and myself to utilize as many skills and as much energy as we didn't know we had.  We've realized that as artists running a gallery for artists, that we can provide a unique experience for those wanting to exhibit (as much as possible) on their own terms.  We've opened ourselves to the ideas of other artists, designers, musicians and diverse creatives and put our curatorial muscles to work.  The gallery makes us very proud of Denver artists.  The gallery has inspired us, taught us  many lessons and has helped us realize who we can be.

I am thankful for the history we've made so far with our 3,672 square feet granted to us by GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique.  All we did was get started...  and now our desire to provide aesthetically adequate and credible space for the art of Denver's own has been achieved... and then some!  I hope you'll visit (we're open every day) 3121 East Colfax Ave., Denver, CO, 80206.

I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to Danette Montoya, Don Novak, Christian Butler, Sara Guindon, Mario Zoots, Christy, Shannon and Mary of GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique, Susan Froyd, Mark Sink and to all the brilliantly talented artists who have worked with us! 

Milos and Crete, Greece - June 2013

For most of the month of June, Christian and I traveled in Greece.  The original purpose for the trip was to attend our friends, Marietta and Strati's wedding.  Ultimately, the trip became a much needed vacation, a time for recovering and renewal, disconnecting, slowing down, slower, slower...  slower...  As we currently embark upon big plans and big dreams and direct the creative drive of our life as Artist and Architect, this travel reminded us of the simplicity of living. 

We intended that the trip not only honor our own personal happiness and balance but also to honor the lost joy and adventure, lost love and union, lost family of Whitney Butler Dunlap and David Dunlap.

Truly a beautiful trip with beautiful memories, realizations, friendships, landscapes, food and culture - our travel to Milos and Crete:

whole missing person

Water-gazing - a must.  Milos, Greece (June 2013)
This Summer has been a real Summer.

What I mean by this:  Instead of amping up all Spring toward big summer projects and obligations, I spent the Spring recovering from this past Winter's difficult and emotionally stressful event, the death of my husband's sister Whitney and her husband David.  This past January, we found ourselves taken on a trip through horror and sadness that lasted through early Spring.  I started seeing a therapist with whom I've been able to rise out of sadness and the weight of evil that passed through our lives.  Because of this difficult period in my life, I have also had to deal with other personal struggles that presented themselves boldly in the midst of grief.  2013 has been a year focused on my deepest self and casting off the spells of pop culture, progress culture, and anything else that does not serve my happiness. 

We went to Greece (I'll make a post about that next) for our friends' wedding and for tranquility, timelessness, sun, salt-water and sand.  Since returning, it's been full steam ahead with GroundSwell Gallery (next next post) and with my own commitment to SUMMER for Summer's sake.

Like I said, this Summer has been a real Summer.  The trip to Greece was a good kick off - I got a taste for lying in the sun and enjoying the simple sensation of warmth.  I've been more focused on hiking and being outdoors, spending time with friends, reading novels, practicing yoga and running and making time to cook.  All of this is not that unusual for me - the difference is that I feel unhinged and committed to living and loving without the distraction of: GO GO GO life is moving along without you if you don't run and keep up with "them" and do as much as you can to show the world how AMAZING you are all the time, no stopping, no other priorities, don't be left behind, keep up the good work Rebecca, you really owe it to the world.

blah blah blah

This is all to say, I'm living.  I put this blog aside for a few months because each time I went to write or share a photo I felt the pressure of "Go Go Go" and just didn't need to participate in that run-around.  Everything has to be re-identified with this basis for doing:  I do this because I find fulfillment and joy for myself. 

Monday, May 6, 2013


from my newest drawings and interdisciplinary work referencing simplicity and clarity - Primary Platonic.

This is a retro-self portrait.  Myself when an infant, wrapped tightly in primary colors and platonic shapes - the most basic and simple elements of form and color. 

This is part of an exercise with my artwork to meditate on basic self-understanding and self-knowledge while putting intention toward simpler and clearer thinking and experience.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tinnient Campana... public.

Completed throughout last summer, installed in 2 exhibitions last Fall and installed early January 2013 in Russel Christopher Hair Salon - Tinnient Campana. 
click on images to view larger
This sculptural installation of 99 bells engages the viewer's own sensory knowledge and curiosity.  To engage a bell is intuitive despite the Bell's ongoing antiquity and gradual obsoletion. 
The spatial relationship one has when near a bell is often magnetic as we are drawn to hear its tone and resonance.  Each bell is completely unique and offers the classically peaceful experience of hearing sound and feeling subtle vibration.

So thankful to Russ and Shannon to have this lovely black wall to install these bells.
Visit the salon to see the installation at 3221 E. Colfax Ave. Denver, CO 80206.
Tinnient Campana is available for purchase; if interested, please inquire.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

people working together

People working together.
Catalonia, Spain - human towers made for the Concurs de Castells (Competition of Castles) held every 2 years. 
Christian and I saw a few groups building these human castles when we were in Barcelona in 2009.  It was an inspiring day in the streets - we stumbled upon a street festival (not the first time!) where we witnessed this courage, strength, trust and bondedness. 
See the rest of the photos and a bit more story on Bored Panda.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Today I received this treasure of a book from my dear friend Aris Gorges.  Aris' apprehending awareness for my art work and philosophy and his impeccable timing by sending this gift - soul stirring. 

For Aris, for Agnes: gratitude.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

moment momentum

Drawing for my Dad titled Moment Momentum(click on it to see it larger)

My Dad's leaving in about one week to hike the Appalachian Trail (a.k.a. The AT).  The trail has been measured as 2,180 miles and runs from Springer Mountain in northern Georgia to Mount Katahdin in N. central Maine.  He planned to walk it last year and got 8 days in before a bone spur in his heel stopped him in his tracks.  This year has been a year of healing and he's decided (again) to hike the trail.  I am very proud of him and imagine that the experience may be profound (profoundly difficult, profoundly beautiful, profoundly boring... who knows but those who've walked the trail?).
hiking with Dad and Erin ca. 1988

During the summer when I was growing up, I used to hike little sections of the AT, day hikes, with my Dad.  One of  his two side-kicks on the trail (my twin sister Erin the other), we spent glorious hours in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  I remember the smells of earth, pine, mountain springs, I remember the routes of repeat hikes, the overlooks, the waterfalls, and the wildlife.  We would ride home in Dad's truck, scuffed, dirty, tired and happy.  When in college, I ventured on longer hikes and sometimes several days on the AT.  I no longer live on the East coast, but I often conjure memories of those beautiful, soulful places.

I'm imagining my Dad in those places.  My heart is full of love and wishes for health and fulfillment for him on this trip.

I sent this tiny drawing to him today as a talisman for my wishes and my love during his long walk.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

this we have now

This we have now
is not imagination

This is not
grief nor joy.

Not a judging state,
nor an elation,
nor a sadness,

Those come and go.
This is the presence that doesn't.


Remembering 10.10.10, and remembering our wishes for our lives and our love.
Landscape of Love, 10.10.10, photo: Charlie Smith - Awen productions
[Again and again, however we know the landscape of love]

Again and again, however we know the landscape of love and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names, and the frighteningly silent abyss into which the others fall:  again and again the two of us walk out together under the ancient trees, lie down again and again among the flowers, face to face with the sky.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, March 4, 2013

new to the collection

Currency Andrew Speer, oil and acrylic on linen, 16" x 20"
Thrilled to have a new painting in my art collection!  This work by Denver Artist, Andrew Speer, was just a part of GroundSwell Gallery's exhibition, Provisional.  Andrew's paintings, however provisional they may be, are refreshingly of the moment.  The title, Currency, may be as much about money as it is "the quality or state of being current."  This currency for me is the moment of release - when you've let go of the work and it's flying off to the sky though you still feel the energy in your heart and hands from making it.  Thank you to Andrew for giving rise to this feeling in me each time I pass near your work in my home.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Westword's Mastermind Award 2013 - Visual Arts

Just as thankful as I can be to work with such an extraordinary lady, Danette Montoya.  We started GroundSwell Gallery in May of 2011 with a good intention, love for art, and willingness to work hard.
We wanted to use the opportunity that GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique provided - a sunlight filled empty room - to provide a gallery space unlike any other we knew of in Denver.  The idea was to work pro-bono to create a niche for artists looking to show their work without the hype of convincing anyone that their work is easy to sell.  We didn't intend to make a profit, so we wanted to afford the opportunity to show for installation, performance and nontraditional/new media.  On top of that, we knew this kind of gallery space - beautifully lit, good location, and professionally managed was what many up-and-coming artists of Denver (and surrounding areas) needed in order to exhibit their work with integrity and confidence.
Danette Montoya & Rebecca Peebles (photo: Bianca Bourgeois)
Today, we were announced as one of five winners of the Westword's Mastermind Award for 2013!  "Recognizing that artists need not just creativity, but money to help things go — and grow — Westword started the MasterMind Awards program in 2005, to honor the city's creative geniuses in the categories of literary arts, performance, multimedia, visual arts and fashion/design; we've inducted a new class every year since." 

Danette Montoya (photo:
Bianca Bourgeois)
Wow.  We are so pleased and honored to receive this distinguished award and to stand amongst some of the most wonderful people we know in Denver's art community.  With big hearts, we look forward to using the award money to increase the potential for the many artists scheduled to show with us in the months to come!  Thank you to our peers.  Thank you to Westword for this amazing program, which  affirms so many hard working hours and efforts.  While I'm at it, thank you to GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique and all those affiliated with it's existence - we are deeply grateful for your contribution to Denver's cultural wealth.  Lastly, another huge thanks to my partner, Danette - I can hardly describe what a phenomenal partnership we have.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


 In light of recent tragedy and sorrow I've experienced along with my husband and family, I would like to focus on the things in life that help me remember all the goodness that persists in the world.  I found this video in some old files of images and video taken while in Italy and Spain in 2009.  It's not complicated, a video showing people in a train station as a train arrives.  I like watching the video the same as I like watching people.  I feel better for it. 
near Flatirons (Boulder, CO)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

For What it's Worth

Some of you know that I co-run and co-curate GroundSwell Gallery in Denver, CO.  The gallery's focus is to provide contemporary, local artists a place to exhibit without the risk of failing to pay our rent.  This means that we can show the work of artists who have never shown before, artists working in experimental media, artists making site specific installations, artists who don't want exclusive representation, etc. - let's face it, other galleries often deny these kinds of opportunities because they must have certainty around selling work to the audience they have worked hard to attract.  No one's to blame... but it leaves many artists sore about their lack of venue and unrecognized contribution to our city's art "world." 

With about 1 1/2 years of work toward making this gallery a valuable component of Denver's art scene, I find that the most perplexing issue we face is PRICE.  The monetary value of art from the artist's perspective, from the curator's perspective, and from the audience's perspective - these are all different numbers.  Despite not having to "worry" about money as much as other exhibition venues, we do have to deal with this issue because artists want and sometimes need to sell their work and the "audience" (sometimes) wants to be able to buy art.  On top of that, we truly want the public to have access to authentic (not made just to make some money), soul-stirring, beautiful, aesthetically intelligent, skillfully made ART in their lives, in their homes, and for the health of their hearts and minds.  (sound churchy?  yeah, this is my religion)  We may not always succeed at this, but that is what is at the core of our intentions.

Having said all this, I admit, my real intention is simply to do what I (personally) can do to support what I believe (described above) is GOOD ART.  That's all I want.  That's what I want with my own artwork as well - and I have little interest in participating in the art market* myself because, apart from some serendipitous opportunities based out of good relationships with like-minded people, the art market is a confusing, trend based shape-shifter and often aesthetically disinterested.

Even if I don't want to, I do participate in the art market with this gallery.  I want to have a broader view about it, some way to work with it, some willingness to understand some gist of it....
Beginning with Rebels in Paradise, Hunter Drohojowska-Philp's book on the LA art scene in the 1960s, I'm reading to gain depth of understanding around the value of art, how that value is defined and why.  I want to read whatever theories are out there regarding the art market and art trends.  This is not to stand in for some "Art and Business" course, nor is this an attempt at learning sales tactics.  I am simply interested in standing more firmly in understanding (or at least affirming my fear that this art market thing is just a hoax anyway). 

I just read Sunday Dialogue : What is that Art Worth? headed by William Cole's letter to the Editor (New York Times, 1.5.13)
Planning to read The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson.  
Any texts, blogs, articles or editorials are welcome - please recommend.

*I realize the term "art market" refers to a monstrously indefinable monster.