Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Origins: Part 3, My Career Begins

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 …


Ian MacLeod said...

great post Catherine, good to know more about you and your creative journey - and - I love the energy in your early work.

Catherine Carter said...

Thank you, Ian! It's fun to look back and realize how everything falls into place when you're on the right track.

Karen Jacobs said...

Love it! Very impressive work, no wonder things began to fall your way!

Catherine Carter said...

Thank you, Karen! As I mentioned earlier, this series of posts is inspired by your autobiographical blog posts, which I very much enjoyed reading.

Karen Jacobs said...

Thanks, Catherine... sometimes hind sight is more interesting and easier to read than trying to figure out what's coming next. A lot of answers back there!

Tamar said...

Great to see some of your previous work Catherine. It is a treat to get a glimpse into the evolution of other painters.

Catherine Carter said...

Thank you, Tamar! I totally agree that it's instructive and interesting to see other artists' evolution.