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Charline von Heyl and More. . .

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

November and December 2018 artist talks, exhibitions, parties, gallery openings and, of course, Jerry Saltz!

Picture of Charline von Heyl from the exhibit of her work currently on display at the Hirshhorn.

Charline von Heyl

I was lucky enough to snag a few tickets in early November to attend the artist talk with Charline von Heyl that took place the day before her exhibit Snake Eyes opened at the Hirshhorn in Washington, DC (currently on display until January 27, 2019).

Charline von Heyl is one of the major female abstract painters of the moment and, with her studios in New York City and Marfa, Texas, she is a woman artist with a capital A. This show at the Hirshhorn is her largest museum survey in the US to date, focusing on works created since 2005.

"Solo Dolo," 2010. Acrylic, oil and charcoal on linen.

We were able to get a sneak peak of the show prior to the talk, but I still want to get back there to walk through it again a little more slowly and spend some more time with her large, graphic works.

The painting above is one of my favorites and is a good example of her "wide-ranging visual lexicon" which includes stripes, grids, flames and the jagged, harlequin pattern above.

During the talk von Heyl spoke of her process and the "layers of gestural symbols and meaning" that she builds up in her paintings. But I found it interesting that she then sanded her work down so there wasn't a visual build up of texture in the materials that she uses. She also employs collaged elements in her work, but instead of keeping them within the layers of the painting, she removes them at some point in order to leave a void, and therefore, an impression of the collaged element. Von Heyl said she does this because she "wants the paintings to be preserved forever." And I took that to mean that she felt that the paper used in the collaged pieces could degrade over time.

Another point of connection to my own abstract work, is the use of text. But von Heyl usually obscures the text because she doesn't want it to "steal mind space" from the viewer or for it to become too thematic. In this way she keeps the text a part of the visual, but without any specific meaning attached to it.

Other exhibits currently on display at the Hirshhorn (and which I intend to get to soon) are Sean Scully's Landline paintings (there until February 3, 2019) and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's interactive light display Pulse (there until April 28, 2019).


My teenage daughter was actually thrilled to attend the opening party and exhibit with me (not something that happens a lot anymore!) for the fashion brand Rodarte. The exhibition is currently on display at the National Museum of Women in the Arts through February 10, 2019 and is the first major museum show of the fashion house's work. Both the party beforehand and the exhibit were fun, colorful, and highly visual!

Rodarte is an American luxury brand that is designed by the sister team of Kate and Laura Mulleavy. When you see some of their work up close, you can really understand how each individual garment is a piece of artwork in and of itself. Indeed, while everything was intricately designed and visually beautiful, I wondered how you could actually wear some of the pieces. The dresses in the photo above are from a few of their "garden" themed spring and summer collections.

The dresses above employ specially printed fabric that was inspired by nature, film and cinematography. I don't have a photo here, but a few of the dresses included images from the Star Wars movies.

The outfits above were a few of my favorites, maybe because I could actually envision wearing them. I also loved the costumes that they designed for the 2010 movie Black Swan (unfortunately, my photos of them didn't turn out so well).


In mid November I also attended the annual fundraiser for Transformer, a local 501 (c) 3 non-profit, artist-centered organization that connects and promotes emerging artists locally, nationally and internationally. The event was held in the beautiful Corcoran Museum building which used to house the now defunct museum. The site is currently being used for the Corcoran School of Art (part of GW University) and is also a fabulous place to hold a party!

As Transformer’s primary fundraising event, the annual silent auction and benefit party, now in its 13th year, is a uniquely collaborative event involving an impressive array of artists, curators, gallerists, collectors and other arts enthusiasts, all lending their talent and resources to support Transformer’s important work on behalf of emerging visual artists and artistic experimentation.

It was a fun event that brought together a diverse group from DC's arts scene, and I even walked away with a new piece of original art for my own collection!

Jerry Saltz

The very end of November brought one more talk at the Hirshhorn, but this time it was with the arts critic Jerry Saltz from New York magazine. Jerry's picture is currently on the cover of this month's edition which also includes an article by him entitled How to Be an Artist . And he won a Pulitzer for another article that he wrote for the magazine in 2017 entitled My Life As a Failed Artist . Both articles are great reads and I highly recommend them.

During the event Jerry was very funny and inspiring, and he talked about how he was a "late bloomer" when it comes to being an art critic, as he didn't start to write art criticism until he was in his 40s. I really identified with that because I am a "late bloomer" as an artist, as I didn't really start to paint seriously until I was 40.

My favorite quote from the night was “Write how you talk. Keep it simple, stupid!” This is now the mantra that will be continually going through my head when I write my blog posts and the research papers for my MFA program.

Also, when I read his most recent article, I was struck by some of the similarities in it (although his list is much longer and more in depth!) to my own "Artist's Rules of Operation." I guess you could say that my list is a combination of the goals that I have for myself as a creative person, and a set of artistic rules of behavior when it comes to other people’s work and the work that I choose to create. It was an element that I included in my personal statement that was part of my application to graduate school, and is something that I have also been thinking about recently.

As I start to wind down my first full semester towards my MFA degree from Lesley Art + Design and am getting prepared to attend my next 10 day residency in Boston, I want to be reminded of what it means to remain true to myself as an artist. This is especially important now, as I am learning more about the field from the critical perspective and what I think it will take to actually be successful at it, and I need to remember to stay on course. So I will put it in this post as a reminder to my artistic self now and for the future.

My Personal Artist's Rules of Operation

1. Try to create something and learn something new everyday.

2. Always stay open to new mediums and styles.

3. Strive to always represent my own unique “visual voice” and to be authentic in the

work that I do, but also give credit to those who influence and teach me.

4. Always embrace the imperfections in my work. There can be no mistakes.

5. Believe in my work. If I don’t, no one else will either.

6. Create the things I want to create, not for the approval or acceptance of others.

7. Document and show my work to others, no matter how hard it is to put myself

out there.

8. Remember to be kind to myself. We can be our own worst critic.

9. Always support other artists and their work.

10. Be generous with the knowledge that I have attained, as well as with my work.

Isabel Manalo

And last, but not least! The beginning of December brought the opening of my local artist studio mentor Isabel Manalo's solo show Adrenaline at Addison/Ripley Fine Art in Georgetown.

Isabel’s work is vibrant, dynamic, and beautiful! As you can see from the paintings in the photos above, the colors, as well as the paint itself, literally vibrate off the canvas with energy. The show will be hanging until January 19th and is definitely a "must see." Congratulations Isabel!

One of the great aspects of the low residency MFA program at Lesley Art + Design, is the local artist studio mentors that you are paired with each semester. I was lucky to have chosen Isabel to be my first mentor and she has been a great resource to me over the last few months. I have really enjoyed working with her, as well as getting to know her and her work.

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