Reclaiming Orange, by Betsy Gill

Betsy Gill is a painter and maker of found object art pieces.  She has a knack for producing interesting and cohesive shows of her own work in alternative spaces.  Her current show, Reclaiming Orange, is on view by appointment at her studio in downtown Boulder, Colorado.  Betsy chatted with me about Reclaiming Orange and the self-produced art show last week. What follows is a little of what she had to say.

Fantastic by Betsy Gill

“Fantastic,” found objects mounted and framed on view at “Reclaiming Orange,” a self-produced art show by Betsy Gill

 

What is Reclaiming Orange?  How did your idea for this show come about and evolve?


I was contemplating the idea of a show based on the color orange and thinking it would be fun to create what I saw as a 3-dimensional collage of orange in my studio. I realized, in light of current events, there were some negative associations with orange, but didn’t want that to deter me. Thus, the title Reclaiming Orange was born and I decided to donate a portion of sales to Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center and Planned Parenthood.

Reclaiming Orange by Betsy Gill

Arrangement, orange themed books on table with upholstered chairs

 

My starting point was a couple of large orange canvas paintings and found art I had already done. I then created a new collection of found art pieces with the theme in mind and started collecting anything I had that was orange — cards, books, furniture, accessories, etc.  A friend described it as “your life in orange.”

Infused with Love by Betsy Gill

“Infused with Love” by Betsy Gill, acrylic on canvas, 36″ x 48″

 

What does the color orange represent to you?


The color orange represents vibrancy, vitality, creativity and passion to me, all of which I feel are especially important now. The show was a way to celebrate all those things in community with others. I also created an interactive art project on one wall in the studio where people could write what orange means to them.

Betsy Gill

Betsy Gill, center, and friends wearing “Reclaiming Orange” t-shirts

 

You had a terrific crowd at your opening.  What are some of the things you did to market the show?


I’ve built a mailing list over many years of people who’ve been to my shows in the past and/or expressed an interest in my work who I sent postcards to. I also have an email list I sent the show announcement to. I am new to using social media, so for the first time created an event on Facebook.

Betsy Gill

Betsy Gill and friend, “Reclaiming Orange”

 

What is the best thing and the worst thing about producing a show of your own work? 


The best thing about producing a show of my own work is being able to shape it and bring it to fruition in the way I envision. The hard part is being responsible for every aspect of it — creating the work itself, hanging the show, planning and implementing the marketing, hosting the reception — all of which take time and money.

Found objects at Reclaiming Orange

An underloft arrangement of found object pieces and frames at Betsy Gill’s studio in Boulder, Colorado

 

I'm a Fan by Betsy Gill

“I’m a Fan,” found object, mounted and framed

 

 What advice do you have for artists seeking to self-produce a show in an alternative space?


A lot of work goes into something that may be limited to a short span of time and a limited audience. I hope to extend the reach of the show through social media.

Betsy Gill's Studio

Orange clock in windowsill on a snowy afternoon, Betsy Gill’s studio, Boulder, Colorado

Artists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Here are a few images from Artists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a 1974 exhibition catalog of botanical illustration.  I’ll be honest.  In another era, not that long ago, I’d have found this book of black and white portraits and botanical plates a bit of a snooze.  But . . .

Cover, Artists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

“Artists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew” published in 1974 by the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation presents the work of 39 artists “whose work and lives span the period from the beginnings of Kew to the present.”

 

Today I’m finding the Hunt Institute’s effort charming because its portraits of artists – visual and written – suggest a care for art and the humanities that is in short supply these days.

 

Behold the story of Mordecai Cubitt Cooke.

 

M.C. Cooke’s early interest in botany derived from his mother, with whom he spent many hours collecting flowers.  An early interest in botany did not turn toward a specialization in fungi until 1847.  Before gaining recognition as a mycologist, he had served as an assistant in a drapery firm, taught for some time in a national school, and was a lawyers clerk.  In 1861, he became an assistant in the India Museum.  In 1880, the museum was dissolved and the collections were sent to the Royal Gardens at Kew . . .

Novelistic, right?

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Mordecai Cubitt Cooke, born in Horning, Norfolk, England, 12 July 1825, died in Southsea, England, 12 November 1914

 

Here’s another profile, short but sweet, about Victoria Gordon.  “Her media, in order of preference, include pencil, water color, oil, and pen and ink.”

Victoria Gordon

Victoria Gordon, born in London, England, 1938

 

But my favorite image is this dust jacket design by John Hutchinson, below.  Jumbled, asymmetric compositions almost always appeal to me.  But it’s the nugget of white space at the top of the page that makes the whole piece sing.

 

Dr. Hutchinson served the Royal Botanic Gardens from 1907 until his retirement in 1948.  Initially an apprentice, in 1936 he ws appointed Keeper of the Musuem of Botany.  His reputation as a botanist, monographer of the genus Rhododendron, and a specialist on African flora is international . . .

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Dust jacket design, pen and ink and watercolor

Chaotic times call for calm enjoyment.  I’m hooked on Gilmore Girls this week, in part because of this bit on This American Life, Just What I Wanted, and am finding it just my speed.

 

How about you?  What are you enjoying these days?

 

 

 

 

Women of Abstract Expressionism in Denver

When the Denver Art Museum announced its Women of Abstract Expressionism exhibition last year it made a big splash.  ARTnews, Hyperallergic, and the New York Times published articles about it and created a nice bit of social media buzz.  (“It’s about time!” went the theme.)  Interestingly, I haven’t heard much about it since then, but did finally make it to the show which opened in June this past Saturday. It is interesting, both lovely and eyebrow raising.  Women of Abstract Expressionism presents a number of terrific paintings by women artists whose work deserves to be seen, but the show has an uneven quality that raises uncomfortable questions about art and sexism.  If you are a painter it is a must see.

 

This piece by Sonia Gechtoff is one of my favorites of the show.

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“Untitled #2” by Sonia Gechtoff, 1955, oil on canvas

Gechtoff is one of handful of “Bay Area artists”  featured in Women of Abstract Expressionism.

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Detail, “Untitled #2,” Sonia Gechtoff, 1955, oil on canvas

Another Bay Area painting, this one by Deborah Remington.

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“Exodus” by Deborah Remington, 1960, oil on canvas

The Bay Area paintings in general have an earthiness and material consciousness that make them exciting.  Their physical separation from the New York paintings in Women of Expressionism – the show unfolds across several spaces – creates cohesion and offers a counterpoint to better known works by Elaine de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell.

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Detail, “Exodus,” Deborah Remington, 1960, oil on canvas

Joan Mitchell’s paintings, arguably the highlight of the show, looked wholly original, sensitively done and fresh to my eye.

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“Hudson River Day Line” by Joan Mitchell, 1955, oil on canvas

 

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“Cercando un Ago” by Joan Mitchell, 1957, oil on canvas.

But Elaine de Kooning’s paintings – at least the ones selected for this exhibition –  are so similar in gesture and palette to husband Willem de Kooning’s work . . .  well, it was hard not to judge them comparatively.

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“Bullfight” by Elaine De Kooning, 1959, oil on canvas