Here’s the third part of an ongoing series, in which I show my earlier works and trace how I found my voice as an artist.
It was luck more than design, but once I had graduated with my master’s degree, I was determined to continue the momentum I had established during grad school. This meant finding a STUDIO, and here I soon struck gold.
I found a giant and very affordable studio in Fall River, Massachusetts. The building had formerly been a textile mill, circa nineteenth century, but now it housed a number of small businesses and artist studios.
When the realtor first showed me this giant space and told me the monthly rent was $150, I thought she had made an error and quickly signed the lease so as to lock in what I was sure was a mistaken amount. It wasn’t! This shot shows HALF of my giant studio:
The space gave my paintings room to GROW, and they soon did. I continued to work with acrylic paint and large shapes of fabric collaged onto stretched canvas. I often embellished the image with gestural lines made in oil stick (lines which later began to figure even more prominently in my work). Here’s a picture of me beside a work in progress in 1997 (taken by my husband, Kevin):
It wasn’t long before I received a studio visit from Joan Briand, who ran a lovely gallery in the same building as my studio and was known for championing local artists. Joan looked at my work and offered me a solo show on the spot. I was very excited!
So my exhibit “Collage Paintings” was presented at Facets Gallery during September 1997, only months after I had graduated from UMass Dartmouth. Here are some views from the show:
Another important thing that happened to me soon after college graduation was that I was hired at The New Bedford Standard-Times as a copy editor. This was total luck! I had no experience in journalism whatsoever. But I noticed, in my jobless state, that the newspaper company was housed in a large modern building (see below) within walking distance of my apartment, and I thought they might be hiring. I had worked as a secretary before, and wondered if they might need someone to answer their telephones.
Lo and behold, I was offered an interview and, soon afterward, a job as a copy editor. Frankly I didn’t even know what a copy editor was, but I accepted the job and soon realized that I was one of those nit-picky readers who could detect even the slightest error in the densest text.
I also struck gold with this job, in that: 1. I found myself working with the nicest group of people in that newsroom that I have ever known in my entire life (many of whom are still friends, 12 years later), and 2. I now had a secure financial situation that allowed me to paint during the day and work during the afternoon and evening. It was ideal!
Next installment: My professional painting career takes off …