Thursday, November 15, 2012

An Art Gene


Afternoon in Provence 36"x48"
 by Judy Feldman
I recently returned from a trip to New York City to attend the opening of a sculpture exhibit at the Affirmation Arts foundation. The show’s artist is my brother, Jeffrey Maron. His work is very different from mine, but I think we were both inspired by our mother.

Sculptures by Jeffrey Maron
At the reception dinner, I asked him if he thought there was an “art gene.”

Cleo on the Deck 40"x30"
by Judy Feldman
Sculpture by Jeffrey Maron

“Well, he said, we were both exposed to art at home, since Mom was an artist who taught classes in the house and exhibited her paintings there. Plus, she always took us to museums and encouraged our interest in art.”

Jeff became an artist long before I did, and our mother was always so proud of his work. (My father, a lawyer, struggled with his lack of a regular job!) When I started painting, I think all the information I had absorbed from my mother flooded my brain and propelled me to follow that artistic path.  I noticed that there is another artist at Wilde Meyer whose mother is a well-known artist. So, maybe there is an art gene!

Significance 40" x 60"
by Gregg Rochester

The Present 41" x 41"
by Jacqueline Rochester
My conversation with Gregg Rochester confirmed my theory. Gregg is a psychologist who became a professional artist. His mother, Jacqueline Rochester, painted until a year before she passed away, at 87. Her work continues to be shown by Wilde Meyer. Gregg told me that when he was 16, his mother took him and his brothers to Mexico for four months. “She painted, and I took up the craft of silversmith and learned to play the classical guitar,” he said. “That time spent in another culture really affected me.

My mother didn’t actively encourage us to be artists. Two of my three brothers are writers, and the third is an educator. I pursued a psychology career, and when I began painting, I was afraid to show my mother my work, thinking she would be critical. But, she was actually very supportive, and she pushed me to paint in a larger format.”

Gregg’s work focuses on the landscapes he has seen and loved. They are not a realistic rendition; rather a contemporary vision of his landscape memories. He says, “I seek to convey the eloquence and the art of the land and sky in my work, to bring a touch of it inside our living spaces so that it can remind us of our wholeness, to bring us back to what is right.”

Another Realm 46"x40" oil on canvas
by Gregg Rochester

In Gregg’s large painting entitled “Another Realm,” he interprets the rolling Wisconsin hills in his own fashion, portraying them graphically, with strong hues and interesting textures. “Another Life” is a more southwestern image, with desert plants in the foreground, the high color of the sun in the midline and the sunlit mountains in the background. (Although this painting is essentially divided into thirds, I think it’s very effective.)
Another Life 48" x 48"
by Gregg Rochester

“A Thousand Whispers” could be many different places, even one in your imagination. The path of colored stones leads us to an unknown destination; the viewer can feel the warmth of the sun on the flowered field and the sounds of whispering insects.

A Thousand Whispers 48" x 48"
by Gregg Rochester

So, can you be an artist, even though you don’t think you have the art gene? Of course! I believe that as long as you have the interest and willingness to pursue a passion, you’ll succeed. Gregg Rochester agrees, and says that anyone can make art at any age, as long as you find what you love and incorporate it into your art. We have so much beauty surrounding us in Arizona, it’s easy to be inspired.

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