Archive for March, 2011

California Artist Margaret Morrish

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Margaret and her lion cub

Margaret Schroeder Morrish, 1893-1975, was a life long artist and world traveler. The cover of the Arcadia Press book on Fort Collins, Colorado, where Margaret Schroeder was born, shows a lady-like Margaret at her easel  in a small group of Ft. Collins painters. She was neither dainty nor content. She even had a lion cub. And she didn’t stay long in Ft. Collins.  She married Ross Morrish, and when he died suddenly in 1926, she packed up her two children and traveled across the United States to the Los Angeles area.  She painted fire boats in New York harbor, red mesas in New Mexico, and oil rigs on Signal Hill in Long Beach.

Signal Hill Oil Rigs 1950

At 60, she set off on a round the world trip, solo. She hitch-hiked in Africa to paint the pygmies, painted street markets in India,  white sails on the Nile, Inca ruins in the Andes, the glaring blues and greens of Tahiti. She was invited to be the first person to stage a solo exhibition in the Tower Gallery in Los Angeles City Hall and in December, 1961, she had a second solo exhibit there as well.

Hong Kong Harbor Being Cleaned

Hong Kong Harbor 1958

Margaret’s 1958, 3X4 foot painting of Hong Kong harbor hung in her son’s Glendale house for 50 years, with L.A. smog in the outside air and pipe and cigarette smoke daily in the inside air.  It was covered with a thin coating of yellow/brown nicotine and dust.  As it was cleaned, sea gulls emerged covering the sky, figures showed up in the boats, and buildings became visible on the horizon.  It’s painted with a palette knife as are many of her oils. It reflects her global wanderings and her lifelong enthusiasm for color and scene.  It is one of hundreds of compositions which brings what she was privileged to see in person throughout the world to  viewers around the world.

Chinese Sculptor Xiaoye Sun

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Short of signing onto Facebook as a friend, I could not learn much from the Internet about the sculptor Xiaoye Sun whose selected bronze sculptures were on display from January 4 to February 25, 2011, at pulse gallery in the NTC Promenade of San Diego’s Liberty Station.  However, Ansley Pye of the San Diego Fine Art Society and pulse gallery was well informed and shared insights from her own research and communications with him.

Xiaoye Sun is a young man (born in 1979 in Beijing) who has been an artist all his life. He trained at the Ilya Repin St. Petersburg State Academic Institute of Fine Arts, Sculpture, and Architecture. He has had exhibitions in Beijing and Shanghai.  Alexander Salazar Fine Art in San Diego represents him.

So, not much to go on. That made the pulse gallery visit one of those “I’m not sure what to expect” experiences.  There were no titles or explanations posted by the bronze art works.  Interestingly, that put no barrier between me and the piece, no preconceived notion of what the pieces were saying. I looked at all the pieces on display, cats, rooster and duck, man and swan, man and dog, female figures before I asked the titles of the works.  There were eight or so cats,  cat sized and obviously strong and healthy, and beautiful.

"Dog" by Xiaoye Sun, Bronze

Not so the others. In obvious contrast to the cats, there was “Dog.”  No tricky title, just “Dog.” A starving female dog, in pain, hungry, with a litter of pups somewhere.  The human condition?  Maybe.  But an image of desperation at least.

"Suicide" by Xiaoye Sun

Then there was a distorted figure of a man being watched by a dog whose head was cocked to one side, waiting, curious. Odd. But I didn’t “get it” until I knew the title, “Suicide.” That was a shock.  I had not seen that the man was on the verge of slashing his wrist while the dog watched.

"Don't Cry" by Xiaoye Sun

And the rooster holding a duck.  I had no clue. The title “Don’t Cry” put it in human terms.

"Man Versus Nature" by Xiaoye Sun

But the most amazing piece was a fragmented human, with only half a face and one leg a pieced together bit of blocks. He was choking a swan. Well, the title helped, “Man Against Nature.”  Then it reminded me of Three Gorges Dam controlling the age old course of the Yangzi river.  Chinese traditional art reveres nature, sees man as small next to  the greatness of mountains and waterfalls.  This piece was a fragmented human and a swan that looked doomed. No harmony here.

These four works evoked, overall, an empathy for suffering creatures, man and beast alike, some link between us humans and other animals.   What is Yiaoye Sun talking about?  Don’t know for sure but the works are powerful.