Wednesday, February 17, 2010

5 x 5 Submission 35 - Gail Howard

Gail Howard
Gail Howard's Website
Method: Tracing the wood grain directly onto the wood, or through the gesso. Very difficult through the gesso!

Artist Bio

I settled in Seattle about 10 years ago. I have an undergraduate degree in art history/fine arts from UC Boulder and a master’s degree in painting from San Francisco Art Institute. After graduate school I had a solo show at Southern Exposure Gallery, an alternative artist space in San Francisco. It gave me the opportunity to do installation work for the first time and to explore my ideas on a massive scale (one piece was 55 feet long) and I hope to be able to do something like that again. In the meantime I’ve been working quite a bit smaller. After many years of working on my own (and also a long hiatus where I wasn’t producing any work at all) I got studio space in this amazing building on the edge of Georgetown called Equinox Studios. It was a brand new space at the time and is now a thriving community of 40 artists: blacksmiths, sculptors, graphic design, video, music, painting, woodworking. Being in Georgetown and in Equinox have given me access to such a vast array of creativity and brought my work up to a new level of productivity and commitment to making art.

Artist Statement

We live in a culture that defines a person’s value by how hard you work. Leisure time is for slackers. Nowadays people "complain" (brag) about being overworked, overextended, sleep-deprived.

So what does this brave new world find valuable: entertainment, immediate gratification, status items? How is value assessed, and how does art fit in? The art world is somewhat unique in that the work produced is priced without any consideration for the hours it takes, cost of materials, or quality of workmanship. Instead it is priced by what the market will bear and by reputation built by art world “experts.” Just try to slog through all serious, wordy discourse about artwork: those are our experts hard at work proving that art is important, useful, and worth it’s price tag.

So I like to poke sticks at all this: I get perverse pleasure out of doing hours and hours of repetitive work to make something that looks insubstantial or mind-numbingly tedious. If I (or most artists) charged by the hour, I’d never be able to sell my work. Because as most artists know, you didn’t become an artist to get rich; you were just born this way and find a way to make enough money to keep at it.

People often ask me how long it took to make a particular piece and then wonder why I bothered. In the end I do it because I find this style of working very meditative, because it sets my mind free both while I’m making it and when I’m viewing it. And often it makes me laugh.

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