Wednesday, December 9, 2009

She Listens Multidimensionally

Christmas Badge

. . . what compels me most is the natural world at the edges. The extremes are most provocative to me. It's what isn't obvious that keeps me looking. . . My paintings are not objects as much as they are a record of how to search — how to listen (aurally and visually) multidimensionally and how to respond to what I hear without fixing it in a representation, without imprisoning it in a picture. . . .
~ Deborah Barlow, Painter

One of the joys of the Web is to discover people who share my passions and interests. Blogging, in particular, has provided innumerable opportunities to indulge in the browsing and discovery of sites devoted to art and artists, books, poetry, music, dance, and theatre. Some months ago I happened on a site called "Slow Muse". It's Deborah Barlow's blog and it's a storehouse of riches.

Deborah Barlow is a superb artist and a wonderful writer. She grew up in the West but has spent much of her life on the East Coast, in New York City and Boston. She lives now in Brookline, Massachusetts, and maintains a studio in South Boston. Her interests are wide-ranging, taking in art, music, theatre, dance, photography, philosophy, science, and, of course, writing. New books, new ideas, new places, new people: she absorbs them all and offers them back to us with thoughtful, intelligent, informed and informative commentary. Reading her blog is like having a one-on-one conversation with your best friend on a deep comfortable couch set before a warm fire. It's enormously satisfying, because Barlow's visual language lets you "see" into her keen mind and mine it for its insights.

Barlow's paintings speak a visual language all their own, and they're marvelous, offered in small-format (12"x12") and large (20"x50" or larger). Though some of Barlow's work is representational, much of it now comprises abstractions of as many as 40 or 50 layers. Frequently, the paintings appear in series that go by such names as Bioli, Indijenne, Tracings, Premordia, Terraka, Ma Mano, Banners, Neolithia. And they are as apt to be inspired by nature, the landscapes of Britain and Ireland, or ancient Celtic stones, as by a desert expanse or the world under a microscope. Barlow doesn't limit herself in her choice of materials either. She uses traditional acrylic and oils on canvas but also mixed media and wood panel, graphite, rice paper, marble dust, embedded fabric, silk, and foil, "testing" and teasing the absorption of pigments to reveal the surprise beneath the surface: a marbelized effect, the colors of spring flowers, Chinese characters in fiery red, or maybe a figure that seems straight out of a mysterious cave painting.

In both public and private collections, Barlow's work has been honored in solo shows in New York City, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Portland (Oregon), Rochester (New York), Provincetown (Massachusetts), and Providence (Rhode Island) and has been exhibited abroad, in Italy, Belgium, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Currently, Barlow is showing at the new Zane Bennett gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (To see Barlow's exquisite work on exhibit there, click here.)

It's fitting that Barlow and her Slow Muse blog are my choice for Day 3 of 12 Days of Community, because Barlow is involved with two other blogs: Slow Painting and Slow Painters. Be sure to visit all three. And if you have time, explore the links in sidebars, which can keep you occupied for hours.

At High Calling Blogs, we're celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas with 12 Days of Community by highlighting the blog(s) or Website(s) of people other than ourselves. As our friend Glynn says, this is something we should be doing anyway, all the other 353 days of the year. This is the third piece to appear under the 12 Days of Community badge. The other two are "She Looks for Joy in Now" (Day 1) and "Landscape Become Image" (Day 2).


Glynn said...

She's does beautiful work. And I'm never going to get any work done if I keep looking at all these artists you highlight! Where do you find them?

L.L. Barkat said...


So much.

I'll go. I'll look. Quietly.

sophie munns said...

Its a few months now since I stumbled upon Deborah's blog and it never ceases to amaze me the places she takes one in so many possible dimensions of thought and experience, artfulness and sensitivity, intellect and soul.
Her painting is so like the blog content - layered , complex, affecting and memorable.
A lovely post Maureen at a wonderful blog which I have found tonight through Slow Muse.