Jazz, Odyssey and Petroglyphs
Opening reception March 1, 2019 5-8 PM
Mary Walker will show her new work in a solo exhibition March 1-31 at Corrigan Gallery in downtown Charleston at 7 Broad Street. The opening reception is part of the Charleston Gallery Association’s Artwalk from 5-8pm March 1 and is open to the public.
Mary Walker is a painter and printmaker who started her career in New York studying with Isaac Soyer at the Art Students League. She was born in New York, raised in Tryon, North Carolina and high school educated in Charleston. Since 1981, she has lived and worked on Johns Island, SC. She has exhibited internationally and has been the curator for art shows. She has studied dance for years and worked with dancers incorporating their artform into art exhibitions.
Walker has worked independently in print studios including the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in NYC, Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice Italy, Santa Reparta in Florence Italy, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, PAAM print studio in Provincetown MA, Limerick Printmakers in Limerick Ireland, and Studio Due on Johns Island SC. She is the winner of numerous regional grants and residencies. Her work is also represented in Provincetown.
Mary Walker reveals the influences and process of the works in this show saying, “We took a trip to New Mexico last fall. I love seeing the petroglyphs there and have incorporated them into many of these works. I do both woodcuts and monotypes. In these I have experimented with carving on different types of wood and then cutting them. I used this technique in both the petro and the Odyssey prints. I like to experiment with printing to see what I can do.
The jazz paintings particularly I have pushed to loosen control. I always allow the painting to take over the process and to lead me, but in these, I have released even more control. People who don’t paint may not realize that it is possible for the painting itself to do the painting. It’s not an easy or comfortable way of working, but I am drawn to it more and more.”
Speaking in general about her paintings Walker reveals her favorite imagery and process. “I have been asked about the characters in my paintings. The Bosch character is one of my favorites. I have two Pinocchios and Kristi Ryba's egg scale has become a character. I've often used petroglyphs from New Mexico and have interspersed them with sculptures from the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and now I can't distinguish the source. Some, many come from the work itself. They appear and I change them and then they become regulars. Some come from trying to portray an idea or a character in a narrative. I distill them until they suit. None can be too visually complicated. I simplify and simplify until they become icons.
I like pretty birds, but I am not interested in using them. Crows and grackles are great because they have such big simple shapes, same for vultures. Vultures are a powerful symbol. Trees are powerful. I have no use for the green foliage. I'm interested in seeing their structure, their strength. They can be very expressive. Cats and dogs often enter my paintings. Dogs tend to have a softening effect, add an innocent feeling. Cats can be more ominous or critics watching the scene. Both are curious and watchful.
Grids I often use to find or re-establish my structure. I was an algebra teacher, so I've always loved the idea of the x and y coordinates. Once I've put the grid in, I can hang or place elements, scenes on it. Later I can eliminate some of the grid to set up different spatial areas of the painting. I have been encouraged to break this frontal plane, but I keep coming back to it. There is no renaissance space in my paintings.
In the past, I would always start with a narrative and struggle to express it in a clear truthful way. I still do this but am now leaving things more and more to chance. I spend most of the process floundering and asking myself if this is a decent way to proceed, but it does eventually lead to surprising results.”
Walker is the consummate artist working daily, constantly experimenting and pushing herself and the materials. She has devoted her life to creating art. Her subject matter is varied incorporating her travels, literature, earlier artists’ influence and the iconic characters she creates in the process of exploring these subjects.
The Corrigan Gallery llc is in its 14th year of representing local artists creating nontraditional work - Manning Williams, Corrie McCallum, John Hull, Mary Walker, Kristi Ryba, Daphne vom Baur, Nancy Langston, Max Miller, Karin Olah, John Moore, Gordon Nicholson, Paul Mardikian, Susan Perkins, Lese Corrigan, Midge Peery, Arthur McDonald, Sue Simons Wallace, Bill Buggel, William Meisburger and Valerie Isaacs. It expanded to include the artists of the Charleston Renaissance with the estates of Elizabeth O’Neill Verner and Alfred Hutty and second market works of merit such as Matisse, Wolf Kahn and William Halsey. Next month the estate of Michael Tyzack (1933 – 2007) will be exhibited.
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