Wednesday, March 20, 2013

In My City...Artist Profile: MARY STENGEL

"I can feel my dreams when I’m in my city" and developing my artistry by submersing myself if the rich art culture of San Francisco, is just one of the many ways I can feel my dreams coming true in my new city. 
When I moved to San Francisco, I was thrilled that one of my favorite artists allowed me to visit her studio and conduct my very first one-on-one interview for my blog.
I wish I knew how to upload the audio from my interview, because when I listened to the recording on my iPhone of the interview I did with Mary Stengel, I was pleasantly surprised that both of our curiosities for the unknown and evolution as artists was simply and definitely defined in our conversation. 

Inspiration is a process, it is like unconditional love. Both processes need constant devotion, loyalty, respect, and commitment, but require change, modifications, struggles, and a faith in the entire process. 

Mary's process started like many high school painters, painting portraits and a focus on realism and recreating a feasible scene in  human reality. Mary explained to me how in college she would have these large paintings; her intent was to make them realistic; but without fail she found herself abstracting them in one way or another. Instead of focusing on what she wasn't achieving, a teacher encouraged her to try drawing instead of just painting. Mary had never used pens and pencils as a medium before, but her commitment and unconditional love of her process as an artist allowed her to accept unfamiliar change and make necessary modifications, that lead her to the creation of her latest series. 

When she started drawing, the pen, as well as what she consciously decided to put on paper, was the intended subject matter. Her designs were mostly abstract drawings of lines, and even at one point developed into a series of body parts, which she terms her "dark emo stage". Her work evolved into more abstract patterns as well as collages of shapes and lines. It wasn't until she switched back to the using paint, a medium she would always be committed to, did she discover her preferred method of creating a body of work. 

When she returned to using paint as her preferred medium, she looked at it in a brand new light. No longer was the paint to become a subject matter preconceived in her head; achieved by repetition with a known outcome; but instead the paint became the driver of the piece. How the paint fell, splashed, dripped, or was stroked across the canvas became the subject matter. At which point the paint became the focal point and determined the patterns that Mary was able to decipher from, and develop on the canvas. 

By learning about her journey as an artist, I am now able to see how her abstract modernism method allows her to create graphic yet organic pieces of work that seamlessly combine art with graphics.  

I had such a blast talking to Mary about her process and the path that lead her to finding her own niche in the expansive art world. I hope you will join me this weekend at Mary's art show. Information below:

Art Explosion Spring Open Studios March 22-24

Opening Reception: 3/22 Fri. 7-11pm

Open Studios: Sat & Sun 12-5pm

2425 17th St & 744 Alabama St, SF, CA

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