Mop Up

"Satellite Beach" - Carraher 2021

Satellite Beach
2021. Acrylic on canvas. 16 x 12 in.

Whoosh!  Hwy 62 OSAT 2021 is over (for me – there is another weekend to come for many artists), and I’m exhausted but really glad I did it.  OF NOTE:  I will be leaving my work up in the studio through next weekend if anyone who did not have a chance to come by would like to see it.  Contact me and we’ll set up a time.

I’ll have more to say in other posts about the experience, but right now I’ll just note that everything went smoothly, all our preparations served us well, paintings went to new homes, and many wonderful art conversations were had.  Thanks to everyone who came by!  It was so satisfying to finally be seeing friends again, both old and new.

And now I can start obsessing about my artwork again, hah!  Satellite Beach, above, started at the same time and in the same way as Lighthearted, early in the year, but this one took much longer to declare complete.  It was a different process than I’ve been using lately, with an emphasis on mixing and balancing the colors – yellow iron oxide, Indian yellow, phthalo turquoise, and violet oxide, plus of course black and white.  The textured canvas gives the colors extra depth and the transparent colors more strength.  I hope to do more in the vein of Satellite Beach and Lighthearted.  I’m happy to say both of these paintings have found folks who love them.

I have lots to reflect upon in terms of the responses I observed to the work I had up.  Almost every collection got at least some love, and odd pieces did as well.  I must say it was encouraging.

If you want to see the show for yourself this week let me know and we’ll set something up!

A Beautiful Weekend

Wall of mandala paintings - Carraher 2021

Snapshot of wall of mandalas – OSAT 2021

I survived, my friends, and actually had a great time!  The first weekend of Hwy 62 Open Studio Art Tours was stunningly beautiful and only a little breezy; I couldn’t have asked for better.  It was so wonderful to see in actual person many old friends and also to meet new neighbors – just like the old days.  (Wasn’t sure we’d ever feel that again…)  

Miss B.’s signs were perfect and so far as I know no one got lost.  Okay, one visitor did get stuck in the sand but it was nowhere near us so I’m blaming Google Maps.  Remember, friends:  Don’t rely on the app or Google maps!  Follow the directions in the catalog!

The mandalas fairly flew off the wall and half are now gone.  You can see them as they were hung above, with the Aquaria spread across the bookcase below.   

And – my favorite thing – there were plenty of conversations about art, and excuses for me to talk about my paintings which, as readers of this blog know, I can do at infinite length.  

We’ll do it all again next weekend, of course, but for anyone who can’t make the weekend I’m happy to set up an appointment if you want to come by sometime this week.  Just send me a message

None of it would have happened without the skilled and untiring efforts of Miss B., who made an inviting courtyard for those arriving and those who wished to linger. 

And of course, there were cookies.  Thanks to Richard for baking and bringing by oatmeal-coconut-apricot delectables in his traditional contribution to kick things off, and to Valerie for even more cookies!

Richard's cookies

Ready, or not

Snapshot of OSAT 2021 signs

Bushed.  But ready enough.  Hwy 62 Open Studio Art Tours starts tomorrow at 10 a.m., and yes, my paintings are hung, the floor is swept, the parking area is designated, Miss B. has the courtyard decorated and the snacks ready.  Simple snacks in little bags, as it’s still Covid Times and safety is on our minds.  And yes, masks will be required at Studio #2.   But, I think, pandemic or no, we’re going to have a good time.

Miss B. was in charge of the signs, and oh my goodness they are SO good.  She was tested as this day brought rain (highly unusual here) and wind (only too common), but her signs will not melt nor blow away, you may take my word for it.

The OSAT app is now available and is a really handy tool in many ways BUT, sorry to say, not consistently reliable in terms of the digital map – typical in wild places like Wonder Valley.  In my case, it takes one to my neighbor’s house, not mine.  However, it will get you to Mesa Drive and from there you may follow the aforementioned signs to my studio.  And the directions in the print/pdf catalog are correct.

Not every T is crossed nor every I dotted, but we’re ready enough.  And too damn tired to do another thing tonight.  So wish us luck, and luck to all the 165 artists participating this year.

And before I say goodnight, I wish a thanks to all the hard-working volunteers on the OSAT team and to a very thoughtful friend who brought us cranberry scones this afternoon from Porto’s in Los Angeles – exactly the thing to finish the day.

scones

While you’re at it…

"Shamanic Dimension" - Carraher 2021

Shamanic Dimension
2021.  Acrylic on canvas. 14 x 11 in.

Red red RED!!  A coat of pyrrole red and a coat of quinacridone red, with carbon black.  There’s a little texture from an underlayer of Golden Light Molding Paste.  From last July when it was hot hot HOT in the studio.  This is one of two companion pieces to The Heart in the Bardo, currently on view in the OSAT Collective Show in Joshua Tree.

The on-line map for Hwy 62 Open Studio Art Tours is now available either as a download or within Google Maps.  There is a print version of the map in the print catalog, which is available at various locations across the Basin.  There should be an app available soon (I hope so, since it starts this weekend!).

Apparently there are more than a few errors in the map and catalog, which is unfortunate as this is a big place that’s easy to get lost in.  I understand they’re trying to  make necessary corrections on the app.  I’m happy to say the map and directions appear correct for my studio (#2), EXCEPT for not listing that visitors should not use GPS to find it.  So:  Don’t use GPS to find me!  Follow the directions together with the map, and you’ll be good.

While you’re out at the east end there are some other studios you should not miss, including:

Perry Hoffman and Doug Smith at Studio #4 (weekends 1 and 2) at the phantasmagoric Tile House, with unique ceramics, paintings, mosaics, photography, fabrics, furnishings, and whatever has sprung from their irrepressible minds this year.  Always super FUN!

Robert Arnett at Studio #5 (weekends 1, 2, and 3) in the comfy backyard with gorgeous Impressionist oil paintings hanging on the fence.  Bob has an eye for Wonder Valley like no-one else.  Everyone loves going to the Arnetts!

Mark Heuston at Studio #1 (weekends 2 and 3), the farthest east this year in the real outback of the Morongo Basin.  Mark casts found and recycled metals into acutely observed desert sculpture, and usually schedules a few live castings during the tour.  Note that Mark really got the short end of the stick in the catalog this year, both having his website URL misprinted and being left off the map entirely.  So make an effort to find Studio #1 via the directions and you won’t regret it.

If I’m not mistaken Perry, Bob, and Mark have participated in Art Tours every year since it began 20 years ago.  They are Destination Studios for many veteran OSAT visitors, and for good reason.   So if you’re going on the Tour, don’t miss ’em!

Lots to do…

"Prayer Flag (Ochre)" - Carraher 2020

Prayer Flag (Ochre)
2020.  Acrylic on canvas. 12 x 16 in.

I’ve been making greeting cards to have for sale at my studio during Hwy 62 Open Studio Art Tours (OSAT), among many other preparations.  I enjoy the process; it’s a series of small steps (developing, printing, trimming, pasting, bagging) that is finite, measurable, and not too demanding.  And it results in a clean, pristine, colorful product in a neat little crystal bag that I can stack in a box and not worry about further.  It doesn’t have the rewards of creating the original artwork, but it doesn’t have the risks, either.  And sometimes that’s welcome.

I’ve included several of the Prayer Flag images from last year, such as the Ochre above, which are mostly sold already, but also some of the more current work as well as a few past favorites that make attractive cards.  At least, I will be producing these if I don’t run out of time; there’s a lot to do!

I’d like to reiterate that I will be doing the first and second weekends only (Oct. 9-10 and 16-17) of the Art Tours; I may have confused some folks by posting the OSAT image that lists all three weekends.  There are plenty of fine studios to visit all three weekends, but mine will not be open the third.

In other OSAT news, the Collective Show featuring works from participating artists all in one location will run Oct 2-24 with a kick-off party on Saturday Oct 2 from 6 to 8 pm; I will be there!  This year it will be in Joshua Tree jointly at Gallery 62 and JTAG.

One more announcement:  I’ve learned I’ve been juried in to the 9th Annual Joshua Tree National Park Art Exhibition, at the 29 Palms Art Gallery this November.  More to come on that; I’m in some excellent company and kinda thrilled.

Fall is a busy season in the desert, and I’m running to keep up.  Spending some quiet time with the Prayer Flags has been a calming respite.

Hwy 62 Open Studio Art Tours 2021

Hwy 62 Open Studio Art Tours 2021

Yes, it’s happening, and you are invited!  It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s the 20th anniversary so come to the beautiful Mojave for the 2021 Hwy 62 Open Studio Art Tours.  I’ll be Studio #2 and happy to see you!

The event extends over three weekends and I will be participating in the first two:  Oct 9-10 and 16-17.  My studio will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with lots of my new work on view including the Mandalas, the Bell Poems, and the Carbon series.  I’ve been busy organizing and making things fit for visitors, and Miss B. has been getting her event-planning full on.

Note that at my studio masks will be required, and safety for all will be our priority.

The OSAT website is now up and you can view a pdf of the catalog here.  The map and the app are not on there yet, however, so you’ll need to check back for those.  The event ranges from one end of the Morongo Basin to the other and some routes can be sandy or confusing, so a little advance planning is a good idea.

October in the desert is lovely, we’ve all been through a lot, and I’ve created paintings that I hope help you find a place of calm, clarity, and depth.  I look forward to seeing you.  🙂

"Untitled" - Carraher 2021

Untitled
2021.  Acrylic, graphite, china maker, crayon on paper. 10 x 9 in.

Carrying On

"Bell Poem No. 18" - Carraher 2021

Bell Poem No. 18
2021. Acrylic on canvas. 20 x 10 in.

My spirit revived somewhat this week when my partner came out into the studio with me and we looked together at the work I’ve been doing, the situation in the studio, and the possibilities for a sane, safe, and satisfying participation in October’s Hwy 62 Open Studio Art Tours(Reminder:  I’ll be Studio No. 2 on the first and second weekends, Oct. 9-10 and 16-17.) 

The challenges of this summer (not to mention the last two years) have been frankly discouraging, and I’ve been on the cusp of withdrawing from the Tours.  (Did I mention that the power went out for 22 hours after a thunderstorm last week during triple-digit temps, and that there was a breakdown at the well and we were without water the weekend before?)  I’ve felt extremely unprepared despite my best efforts, covid continues to make public events fraught, isolation has led to a crisis of artistic confidence, and the Art Tours organizers have also suffered from the covid malaise in their preparations and promotions, leading to a less predictable and potentially less successful event.

But as my partner and I pulled out the artworks, considered possible hanging schemes, and addressed organizational challenges, my spirits rose.  Although I know this year may not be be as straightforward, convivial, and celebratory as past Tours, it really is possible that it will be rewarding in its own way.   I do believe in the work, and I do believe that viewing it here in this desert retreat may bring some folks solace in this stressful and alienating time.

It helped that my partner was so enamored of the works that she has commandeered several pieces for hanging in the house until next month, including Bell Poem No. 18 above and also Mandala II.  It is reassuring that she is so delighted by them; as I mentioned, the isolation of the last two years has left me in need of a reality check on the appeal of the work.  Of course, she is biased, but so is everyone, right?  Anyway, the next challenge will be getting them back away from her for display in the studio in October.

Texture

"Carbon 6" - Carraher 2021

Carbon 6
June 2021.  Acrylic on canvas. 14 x 18 in.

Now that the studio is comfortable to work in again, I spent most of last week doing multiple photo trials of my more textured paintings.  It’s a tricky enterprise:  When you light the work to capture more surface texture, you trade away some of the other important qualities of the painting such as layers and variation in value and opacity.  It’s hard to hit the right balance.  I want to indicate the dimensionality and textural feel but I don’t want the “skin” of the painting to grab a disproportionate amount of the attention.  Ultimately, my goal in a photographic reproduction is to convey as closely as I can the sense of standing in front of the painting and experiencing it fully, in person, in all aspects.

This was an enterprise that did not fascinate me.  I am not a photographer and I don’t want to be one.  I’m just trying to record the work as “accurately” as I can.  And I’m a pretty dogged person, so I worked through all the variables that were reasonably available to me, which took some time.  In the end I realized that there was no perfect version, but rather just the version best for the particular purpose at hand.

As the importance of texture and dimensionality has increased in my work, my antipathy toward digital reproduction has been foregrounded.  There are SO many digital images saturating our every day, leading to a constant visual chaos and cacophony.  Perhaps it’s different for you, but I am left with a sense of emptiness and exhaustion.  More and more, I prize the actual, real-life artwork.  An experience of shallowness versus an experience of depth.

This is a main reason why I’m not on Instagram, etc., and don’t seek out additional opportunities to post my work on-line.  This aversion obviously complicates my art career in the time of covid.  But apparently I don’t care.

Let’s get off the screens and smell the paint, people.  Time to reach out for what’s real.

Hi-Desert Milestones

"2020 Suite No. 2" - Carraher 2020

2020 Suite No. 2
2020.  Acrylic and ink on canvas. 14 x 11 in.

The venerable Beatnik Lounge in Joshua Tree has reopened and is holding its first IRL show since March 2020.  For the “OOOF” show – “Olly Olly Oxen Free” – curator Deb Tobin had some guidelines that resonated fully in the desert this summer of 2021:

The call for the hide-and-seekers to come back to the base.
The cartoon sound of a punch to the gut.
The sound of being greeted by 110ºF Mojave desert salutations.
It should also be noted that 2021 is the year of the Metal Ox in the Chinese zodiac, so those oxen can come in free too.

As one can see in the virtual exhibition on the Beatnik website, the submissions run rather wild and unrestrained – no surprise.  Included is No. 2 from my 2020 Suite (see No. 1 here and No. 3 here).  

Joshua Tree happily supports a permanent floating population of a kind of beatnik strain, and there seems always to be a venue to fill their needs and house their productions.  It changes names, proprietors, and sometimes location, but defining boundaries across time are few.  Its current incarnation is the Beatnik Lounge which, in my version of local history, has its roots all the way back in the early or mid ’90s with Jeremy’s Cappucino Bar, a tiny coffee room in the strip mall between Sam’s Indian Pizza and the radio station.  Jeremy then moved it over to its current roomier location in more central JT, where, as I remember it, the words “Beatnik Lounge” got added to the name.  Due no doubt to its prehistoric age I find only one reference to Jeremy’s on line (a characteristic blues jam with JT musician Clive Wright), and it is probably from this second location.

At some point the sign changed and it became The Red Arrow Gallery, which is when the arrow (not as big as the original 15-footer in the gallery’s old location up the highway) appeared at the roof-line.  The Red Arrow put more emphasis on the gallery but retained the refreshment bar along with performances and readings, and many a memorable, free-wheeling event was had. 

And then, somewhere along the line, the name became Beatnik Lounge once again (Jeremy having many years since decamped Back East), and so the spirit continues in its eclectic, welcoming, opposite-of-uptight floating way.  Welcome back, Beatnik, and congratulations on making it through Covid Year. 

However, just down the block, Gallery 62, the flagship of the cooperative Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council, will sadly close its doors at the end of October.  The collective show of the annual Open Studio Art Tours will be the final exhibition.  The Council and the Gallery have made it through the last tough year and a half, but the rent is just too much at this point.  They will retain JTAG gallery, though, so all is not lost.  And it appears that the Art Tours will be proceeding as planned this year, after being derailed in 2020 by everybody’s favorite pandemic. 

And if I may be allowed to note one final local and quite personal milestone:  cooling has returned to my studio.  Last weekend the unit fired up and ran perfectly, and I’m so grateful to say that peace, quiet, and moderate temperatures are now supporting my creative efforts.  I could not be happier.  In honor, I post the first of the Mandalas, subtitled “Nandi Wanders the Universe”.  

"Mandala I (Nandi Wanders the Universe)" - Carraher 2021

Mandala I (Nandi Wanders the Universe)
2021. Acrylic on canvas. 12 x 12 in.

Mandala II

"Mandala II" - Carraher 2020

Mandala II
2021.  Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 in.

I’ve been doing short photo shoots in the studio despite the heat, because with Open Studio Art Tours coming up in October I have to get going on this.  For lighting reasons I shoot after dark, so the worst of the heat is over for the day.  So I’ll have some newer paintings to post, including this one from my Mandala series.

When I posted about the new Mandala series before I mentioned that I felt several needed more work.  Mandala II was one I had doubts about.  It ended up with major modifications and I do not regret undertaking them.  It’s a much better piece now.

Mandala II is dynamic, not static, which doesn’t agree with everyone’s idea of a mandala.  And yet it is that acknowledgement of dynamism that gives me peace in an unstable world.  It is my hope that it helps bring more peace and compassion into a world that sorely needs it.