So many hours I spent in the library at SUNY Purchase when I wrote art history papers. Getting swept up in my imagination trying to understand what artists works were saying. Somehow I missed Charles Sheeler. Sheeler was a painter and photographer in New York at the beginning of the 20th century. He was a colleague of Alfred Stieglitz. (Stieglitz the most famous of the Photography is Art “movement” and married to Georgia O’Keefe.)
Maybe I am just now ready to see what is important about Sheeler’s work and how it relates to mine. The manner in which he saw geometry in the world and captured it with his camera, reminds me to slow down and focus on what attracts me to particular pieces of cruft. The ones that make me stop and say, “Wow, that is beautiful.” Often it is the contours of a shape, the folds in metal or the way light reflects. That is why I try to take pictures of my best finds each day.
“A picture could be assembled arbitrarily with concern for design and the result could be outside time, place or momentary considerations…. ” Sheeler’s words and those written about his work, it help me to explain the universal qualities of my work to others.
In Charles Sheeler The Photographs, published in conjunction with an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 1987-88, Ted Stebbins and Norman Keyes Jr. write:
Intentional reverse of perspective, using powerful diagonals that extend across the surface to present a deep spatial recession. …enabling him to fill the space with flat masses of shadow contrast with textured sunlit on ones, repeated rows of windows and the subtle textures of shingles create complex patterns against smooth passages. the smoke offers visual relief, creating amorphous white shapes against slate-like masses of black.
This is the way I want my work to be seen! I am inspired to try a “color study” and be more conscience of “verticals” and to find my own vocabulary.
Charles Sheeler had friends he created art with. He made friends with people who would give hims shows. He worked for people who collected art. His connections brought his work to the world. He also wrote about photography which was a new art form at the time. When he described an image as being “rhythmic and emotional forms like a painting”, Stiegliz severed their friendship.
Sometimes I wonder if there is an audience for my work. It’s hard to promote and sell my work on the internet and at craft shows. Being an artist entrepreneur is not what I had in mind. The only thing that has really changed in 100 years is that there is exponentially more competition.
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