My January newsletter went out this week and in it I shared about my participation in the 2023 Salem Readsprogram. This community-wide reading event has been sponsored by the Salem Public Library Foundation since 2017. I was one of the original artists, and although I have been invited to participate each year since, I didn’t jump on the opportunity. . . .until this year. The chosen book is Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood.
Invited artists were instructed to read the book and then create a piece of art in response. I listened to the book on Audible, which was read by Trevor; I loved hearing Trevor’s accent and his inflections, making for an enjoyable and humorous experience. The book was presented as a series of short stories, focusing on different eras of his life as a child and young man. The book was heartwarming, funny, tragic, tender, and ultimately a story of redemption as Trevor rose above his tough circumstances.
I was aware of apartheid and knew a little about it, but Trevor’s stories brought it alive through his eyes of a child growing up during the extreme segregation of whites and blacks.
In my artist statement, I was able to share what led me to create what I did for this exhibit.
As I read ‘Born a Crime,’ so many images swirled in my mind. Trevor was born to a black mother and a white father during the extreme racial segregation of South African apartheid. Despite their circumstances, Trevor’s mother demonstrated feistiness, determination, and perseverance. As Trevor matured, he exhibited many of the characteristics of his mother, carving out a life filled with humor, music, inventiveness, and friendship. Before I began my painting in response to ‘Born a Crime,’ I wrote out the text from the Immorality Act of 1927 across the surface of my board, reminding me of the laws in place when Trevor was conceived and born. I painted this piece with the idea of a young man rising out of the darkness of apartheid, which I translated into colors. I filled the niche with objects representing Trevor’s creativity, spirit, and abundance despite his circumstances.
The piece I created is 16×16 inches square and three inches deep, with a 5×5 inch niche filled with charms and small trinkets. I attached these small items using string, which I tacked to the top of the niche using vintage, colorful thumb tacks.
The 2023 show runs from February 1-25, and will be held in the Art Hall at the Salem Public Library. At the end of February, the show will be packed up and transported to a series of regional libraries; my piece will return to Salem in June.
If you’re interested in learning more about the pieces of art created for the show, several of the participating artists (myself included), appeared on Joel Zak’s KMUZ radio show, Talking About Art, last Friday. A recording of the show can be found on the KMUZ website by going HERE. During my segment, I talked about my motivation behind the piece of art I created for the show.
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The Word and Image show is one of my favorite projects and it took place last month at the Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita (on the Oregon coast). This event occurs biennially, and I was fortunate to have participated in 2020, so I was eager to apply for 2022. The process for the show goes like this:
Artists and writers are invited to submit samples of their work; artists submit three art images and writers submit three poems/short stories. The jury then chooses 12 artists and 12 writers. A pairing event is held where an artist’s name is pulled from a hat, then a writer’s name is pulled from a hat, and voila! those two are partners. The artist choses one of the three writing entries and creates a new piece of art in response to the words, likewise, the writer choses a piece of art from those submitted and writes a poem or short story in response. This new work is submitted electronically so beautiful broadsides can be printed and a book prepared and published.
MY PAINTING PROCESS
I chose to use an 18×28 inch cradled birch panel. I prepared it with acrylic paint, a layer of plaster, more acrylic paint to seal the plaster, and a couple layers of oil and cold wax. This was all the preparation to begin painting in response to the writer I was paired with, Simeon Dreyfuss. I chose Simeon’s poem, Walk Roots the Day as the piece I was using for my responsive painting. When the initial layers of my prepped board were completely dry, I wrote Simeon’s poem across the surface of my board.
I began adding layers of paint, looking for the poem to emerge.
After layers of paint, and scraping off a layer, I worked on this piece when I wasn’t teaching at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology– either early in the morning, or in the evening after my students had left for the day. It seemed appropriate to be painting this piece while I was at Cascade Head on the Oregon coast.
Art was delivered to the gallery, art and broadsides were hung, an online reception was held, and a beautiful book was published.
A HAPPY POSTSCRIPT
As I was working on this blog post, I took a break to welcome Paula Booth into my home. Paula is a professor of art at Western Oregon University and also curates the art at two northwest hotels, The Dundee and The Independence. I am fortunate to have art at both hotels and we had made arrangements for Paula to come to my house to view my available work to change out some of my pieces at The Independence. I had just picked up Storm Mounting from the Hoffman Center for the Arts, and so it was one of my available pieces. Paula was excited to include this painting in the group of paintings she selected.
After my first oil and cold wax class at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology concluded on July 3, the staff at Sitka lugged all of my stuff from Smith Studio up to the larger Boyden Studio. I spent the evening getting set up for my second class. I love preparing the studio for teaching.
I spent July 4th enjoying the quiet of the Sitka campus. The office was closed, and no one was around, so I wandered, rested, and puttered in the studio. On July 5th, I was ready for the artists to arrive.
Like my last post, Teaching at Sitka – Part I, I feel that photos tell the story better than any words that I cobble together. I’ve made comments on each of the photos, so it tells a bit more about the week than just sharing the photos. But I will say, this group was hardworking, productive, energetic, talented, and supportive of each other. All the ingredients for a fantastic workshop.
I have received such wonderful feedback from the artists in my class and I want to share two of the comments. Reading these inspiring and positive words make my heart swell and it is why I love teaching.
The first one from Carol:
I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a student in this class. It was amazing to meet Dayna in person, and to be present in her instruction. She provided a manual, many supplies, demos, readings, and many examples of her work in various stages. She was very engaged and provided such positive suggestions and constant energy. It was truly a great pleasure in an incredible setting. . . . I am still processing all that I learned and felt, and continue to feel so grateful. Thank you, Dayna. Terri
What a thrill it was to hang my show at Guardino Gallery a couple of weeks ago. I always like behind the scenes photos, so I thought it would be fun to share the highlights of the hanging on May 25, 2022. My show partner, Nadine Gay, was there with her husband, and my husband/studio assistant/business manager showed up and did a bit of everything to help get the show hung. It took six of us four hours to get the whole show hung.
I did an earlier post about Howard’s hanging of my 25-piece grid made up of individual 8×8 inch pieces, and you can see that post by clicking here.
Last fall, I received the email that always thrills and humbles me: I had been selected by Donna Guardino to have a show in the Main Gallery at Guardino Gallery in June of 2022. I didn’t celebrate too long, but instead studied the schematics of the gallery, the wall spaces to be filled, pulled together a batch of boards, and got to work.
The getting to work initially meant prepping the boards for painting. I knew early on that I wanted to pair art quotes with vivid colors, so right from the beginning these elements were prominent.
After all the boards were prepped (with massive help from my studio assistant), they were ready for paint to be applied.
This part of the process required many layers of oil paint mixed with cold wax. The dominant theme was layers of paint with the writing of quotes in between the layers.
After several months of work, the pieces began to take shape. Some boards got scraped, some were finished, but then I decided they weren’t finished so more layers were applied. Writing was always present, but it was in the last six weeks of working that I began applying the words more boldly on the surface of the painted surfaces, and these turned out to be my favorite pieces.
And before I knew it, it was time to stop painting. The oil and cold wax needed time to dry, cure, and set before applying a final coat of cold wax. For the month of May, the paintings were in my studio, in the hallway, and in our bathroom just resting.
Today as I put together this post, all the paintings have been moved to the main floor of our house. They are being prepared to be wrapped and loaded into a van we had to rent to transport the 44 paintings (yes, 44!) to the gallery in the morning.
The show hangs on Wednesday, May 25, and opens on Thursday, May 26, with the opening reception from 6-9 pm; the show will be up through June 26. An added bonus is you can see (and shop) all the pieces by going to Guardino Gallery’s website.
I’m delighted to share the news that my art is in a new gallery (and in a new state). I was invited by the owner of Fogue Gallery, Kerry Gates, to display my art at this lovely Georgetown gallery, located about four miles south of downtown Seattle. Georgetown is a lively and funky neighborhood, with several art galleries, numerous restaurants, eclectic shops, and the Georgetown Trailer Mall.
Last month, Howard and I made the drive north to the gallery to hang my art on a beautiful, freshly painted white wall, where we hung five of my oil and cold wax paintings.
The second Saturday of every month is Georgetown’s Art Attack, so we got a room at the Georgetown Inn and attended our first art walk. What a blast!
I got to see my friend Kathleen, who has been a longtime artist at the gallery, and she was gracious enough to introduce me to several of the other artists showing their work in the gallery.
Our oldest daughter lives in Tacoma and she drove up to show her support and cheer me on.
What an evening.
A tiny peek at Georgetown in case you’ve never been . . .
And my biggest thanks goes to my husband, Howard, who does ALL of the behind the scenes work like wiring, inventory, cataloging, schlepping, hanging, adjusting lights, and color coordinating his clothes to match my art.
The next Georgetown Art Attack is Saturday, March 12. I’ll be there, so stop by and say hello.
It felt good to be back teaching at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. Last year my workshop was cancelled due to the pandemic and I hadn’t signed up to teach this year because of the uncertainty with Covid. As cases began falling earlier this summer, Sitka’s Program Manager, Tamara, reached out to see if I would be interested in teaching a workshop in September. I jumped at the opportunity. As the workshop date approached, I watched as Covid cases once again surged. I was a little nervous about teaching, but Sitka had worked hard to provide a safe place with lots of protocols already in place. A couple weeks before my workshop, I asked Sitka to cap the class at eight students, to ensure that there would be plenty of space between tables in the studio.
I could write about the week of art-making, the learning, the techniques, the epiphanies, the experimentation, the fearlessness, the laughter, the great energy, the hard work . . . . but instead I’m going to do a photo essay, which I think captures the essence of preparation and our week together.
I am pleased to offer an article written by guest Howard Collins. Howard is my spouse of 49 years and for the past year, the business manager for my art practice. Howard is my number one fan and his taste in art has evolved through the years, which prompted him to write this article for my blog.
“Ugh.” “I don’t get it.” “That’s weird.” “What’s the point?”
These words have admittedly come from me about abstract art.
My gradual transformation into appreciating and loving abstract works has taken time. Unlike the acquired taste for kombucha, which took real effort and perseverance, coming to love abstract art was more evolutionary than effort.
My early years of art appreciation was not as a result of education. It was more akin to “Me like, pretty,” when I saw something that caught my eye. But art has always been important to me regardless of my ignorance. My eye was attracted to precision, to realism, to clarity, and realistic portraits. In walking through museums, I was attracted to and spent as much time as I could looking at the details by various master artists. I always gave a short glance at modern, contemporary, and abstract art, but never much time and clearly little thought.
However, I subtly found myself spending more time looking at impressionist art and less realistic works. Monet blew me away. Here was realism without precision and detail, but beautiful nonetheless. This was a style of art without precision, but collectively, the strokes created beautiful compositions. My eyes began to look at the art of other impressionists and marvel at their beauty. Without warning I began to spend even more time looking at non representational art. My world of art appreciation exploded.
Dayna’s taste in art has always differed from mine. I began to look closer at pieces and artists to whom she was attracted. It stretched me to look at works that I previously would only glance at and rarely see. Vertical and horizontal colorful lines, unusual compositions, and figures in ways that had usually left me cold, now drew me in.
Modern art, cubism, angles, distorted figures all called me to view them in a way I had not felt before. I found Pollock, Kandinski and de Kooning, and a renewed interest in Picasso.
And therein lies the difference for me. I felt the art. An emotional response rather than mere appreciation of the art. Feeling what the piece was sharing with me, allowing the piece to talk to me. This was a moving experience and was totally unlike viewing realistic works. As strange as it sounds, listening as a piece talks to you is quite normal. Explaining how this works for me is difficult, but it is real. For me works of art talk to me through their composition, arrangement, color and form, which cause an emotional response in me.
My eye views abstract art and its perceived disorganization in different ways. At times I seek to make sense of the abstract lines, shadows and colors by seeing what I can see. At times I take in the whole of the abstract and free myself from my realism tendency; and then at other times, I pick a small portion to see what I can see and hear from the art. If I bring an attitude of openness, it allows the painting to express itself and for my eyes, brain, and emotions to react.
I have to interject a side story here. We recently talked to the maintenance engineer at The Dundee Hotel. I told him Dayna was the artist of many of the works hanging there and his eyes lit up. “Did you do the pieces in the conference room?” he asked Dayna. “Yes,” was her reply and he said: “I have questions for you. I’ve studied them.” We walked to the three painting and he wanted to know if the images he saw in them were intentional. He saw birds, a cow, and other animals throughout her works. Dayna laughed and said “Don’t show me, I’ll never be able to not see them.”
He was astounded to hear that Dayna had not intentionally included farm animals in her abstracts. He was trying to make sense of the abstract work though his interpretation of what he saw. By the way, he loved the works and his appreciation came from their composition and his interpretation, and not by the intention of the artist.
In my wasted youth, I thought Picasso was odd, irrelevant, and not really worth looking at. Even today not all of his pieces move me, but many do in a way I would never have thought possible. His humor is outstanding. I stood before a Picasso series created during the last months of WWII and I was laughing. They were optimistic, playful, joyful and irreverent. Yes, I was the only one laughing, but that’s me. They were simply magnificent.
Then there is the power of abstract. There is power in the stroke, texture, form, composition, and message. With or without a representational image, abstract work speaks and conveys a message. In part, the power comes from eliminating a common scene or picture for our minds to see. We are engaged to interact with the artists’ work. Just as letting our children play in a dusty pile of dirt, they create games, form roads, and valleys in their minds, which they translate into the dirt pile; just as we get to create from abstract art.
Amazingly, the power of abstract art endures beyond a single viewing but continues over time and changes as we see different elements as we change. A piece of Dayna’s work, Singed by Fire and Light, hung in my office for three years until I moved my office home. Every day this piece spoke to me, every day it gave me something. Sometimes it spoke to me as a whole, drawing me deep inside; sometimes from a small section, sometimes from hints of color revealed from the sunlight pouring in the window. I miss this piece terribly. It now hangs beautifully at The Dundee Hotel, where I am writing this piece and I’ve literally hugged it.
I still appreciate and enjoy realism and impressionism. But abstract art, with a big thank you to my wife, attracts me, speaks to me and fills me.
Artists Dayna admires:
Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Elaine deKooning, Cy Twombly, Robert Motherwell, Robert Diebenkorn
Artists I admire:
Mark Rothko, Willem deKooning , Jackson Pollock, Picasso, Kandinski, Dayna Collins
I declared the past eight days an Artist in Residency, self proclaimed because my husband hopped on a jet for the east coast to visit his nieces and I had eight days to myself. I often hem and haw, do a little of this, a little of that, throw in a load of laundry, check out Instagram, read emails . . . . before heading to my studio. Last week I still did some of those things, but I made it a priority to get into my studio. It was a little easier last week not because Howard was gone, well, that was part of it, but because of the oppressive heat. My painting studio is upstairs in our 1926 house so the old furnace ducting doesn’t allow the air conditioned air to reach the second floor, making the upstairs pretty unbearable by noon.
So I made it my mission to get up there every morning and do something, anything. I had a productive week, getting a few things out of the way that I needed to do, but more than that, I painted. I painted just for the joy of painting and spreading paint.
On the first morning, I did a warm up using scraps of brown paper bags from my recent #100dayproject. It felt good to revisit being playful and loose while painting on unimportant little bits of paper.
Then I got to work. One of my projects was to simply gesso a stack of boards for a class I’m taking in July.
I spent a little time most days painting with acrylic on a repurposed canvas and recording my progress.
I prepped panels with plaster, which required multiple steps: acrylic, plaster, sanding, sealing . . . .
I wove these steps into my mornings, allowing things to dry overnight, ready to tackle the next day. One morning I did a reset in my studio, moving things around on my collection of rolling carts, causing a traffic jam at one point.
I was finally ready to pull out the oil and cold wax and start painting. Home again. . . . the smell of the wax, the feel of the materials as I mixed and spread the buttery concoction . . . .
Many layers of oil and cold wax were applied. It was a time of experimentation, to play, to try out different ideas. I finished a few, several are still in process. Some are on boards, some are on Arches oil paper.
Last month, I wrote about my art being in a boutique hotel, along the bank of the Willamette River, The Independence, and just a 15 minute drive from Salem. When I wrote that blog post, I had three pieces of art on display at the hotel. As of writing this post, I now have an additional ten pieces there, and I haven’t even seen them yet! We plan to pay another visit (and another overnight) later this summer after their restaurant reopens in July.
I am writing now about another hotel in the Trace Hotel family, where I also have art, The Dundee. This hotel is located in Dundee, Oregon, in the heart of Oregon’s famous Willamette Valley wine country, and about a 40 minute drive from Salem. My art was installed the end of 2019, and then 2020 arrived, bringing Covid with it, and everything shut down. As things reopened in 2021, we decided to visit The Dundee. We were invited to come stay at the hotel, so earlier this month we went to The Dundee for three nights. Oh my. The Dundee has a stylish vibe and touches of luxury. Photos tell it best.
Once we were settled in, we started exploring, looking for my nine pieces of art; it was a bit like a scavenger hunt. Three of the paintings were right outside the door of our room on the second floor of the first building.
We continued our search. Right around the corner from our room, was the conference room, or Boardroom, and inside were three of my acrylic pieces.
When we were in the hallway, Jim, the hotel’s maintenance person, found out I had painted several of the paintings in the hotel and asked if I had by chance painted the pieces in the Boardroom. When I replied that I had, he said, “Come with me. I’ve studied those paintings, and I have questions for you.” In we went.
Jim’s question was if I had intentionally placed animals in my paintings. I told him I hadn’t, but he insisted he saw a bee, a bird, a cat, and a COW!
We set out again on our mission to find my paintings, leaving the first building, passing a great courtyard between the two buildings, and then entering the second building.
We spied the first painting on the landing between the first and second floors.
We had a beautiful three nights in the heart of the Willamette Valley (surrounded by wineries if you are a lover of wine) and we are already looking forward to our next visit.