Transcendence through Rhythms: Artist Pam Douglas at TAG Gallery

douglas_pam_avitaltempo_mix_med_hr

f23c0832

Meet New York-born Pam Douglas, who began her career as an artist by absorbing the abstract expressionist art exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art. “I saved my lunch money to go to the museum. In college, the art studio was a revelation to a kid who never had access to art supplies. Growing up, anything unrelated to survival or grades that would get me a scholarship was considered an indulgence we couldn’t afford,” she recalls. “But discovery after discovery lured me to spend my college years in that studio even if becoming an artist wasn’t practical.”

Today her beautiful mixed media works pay respect to Zen artists of the first millennium such as Lao Tsu, who used their instincts as much as their brush, artists for whom “paintings were poetry. I found my inspiration in ancient Asian paintings reflected through contemporary sensibilities,” Douglas says.

Now based in Los Angeles, she feels the landscape here “opened my visual ideas to horizontals, having grown up in New York City, cold and poor, in a lifestyle trapped in vertical boundaries. To me, my feeling for exploration and taking chances on creative impulses is very much a product of Los Angeles.”

f23c0828

Douglas’ committment to poetic exploration is firmly a part of her exhibition at TAG Gallery in Santa Monica’s Bergamont Station. Rhythms was inspired by what could’ve been prosaic for many: a visit to the doctor’s. While Douglas was hooked up to an EKG, watching the lines form on scrolling paper, the rhythm of her heart inspired this new series of paintings.

f23c0834

She conceptualized ideas about current political and social situations, asking herself what makes the heart clench, and what makes it release? Using newspaper headlines, EKG lines, and elements from rope to string, sand to paint, she created a textural landscape that includes finely representational elements such as birds and hands as well as abstractions. Her palette consists primarily of black, white, and shades of red, a riff, perhaps on the old riddle “what’s black and white and ‘read’ all over – the newspaper.”

From the rhythms of the EKG to sound waves and the rhythms of nature, daylight, and night, Douglas has expanded her subject to something otherworldly and profound. Douglas has long been fascinated by the rhythms of the world, including the most eternal rhythm, life and death.

“Ten years ago I prepared to die. I was to have life-threatening spine fusion surgery followed by weeks in intensive care followed by three months in pain unable to walk or drive. In that time, I took my hands off the steering wheel of my career and everything others expected of me. The experience led me to contemplate the fragile line between life and what lies beyond,” she explains.

“My art saved me. On days when I could hardly stand, I propped myself at my painting table, so immersed in the painting before me that my physical disabilities became background noise. The work itself often dealt with transparencies at a time when reality itself was not solid. I also worked with circles, the symbol of universal continuity. The form is a nod to Zen painters who focus on the symbolism of the circle. In fact, I revisited my earlier studies in ancient Asian art and philosophy, and those ideas continue to influence my thinking.”

Her consideration of the circle of life and death have occupied her creative output ever since, she says. Some of that is clearly apparent in Rhythms.

f23c0828

Sometimes a literal interpretation of that idea is apparent as in “The Plus of Our Time,” where Douglas has cut newspaper headlines in the shapes of birds, placing them to flock across an EKG grid.

“That’s an example that veers closer to concept, though in other pieces the pure abstraction of movement or progression is more evident,” Douglas explains.

Her style is essentially conceptual abstraction, which Douglas says differs from abstract expressionism that derives from the artist’s emotional impulse at the moment of painting.

“That isn’t to say that I don’t improvise or paint from feelings, but in my work I reach for an additional layer of significance,” the artist says.

Along with her subjects, her work has evolved in terms of materials as well.

douglas_pam_wavesofchange_s_med_hr

“Long ago, I explored the effects of staining on raw linen in paintings whose subtle, monochromatic palette was meditative. As time has gone on, my work has reached for bolder expressions,” Douglas asserts. “Both Rhythms and my 2014 series The Long Thread transcend two dimensions and the usual definitions of painting. Rope, twine, thread, even sand are used to draw on canvas, or transparent plastic, or raw silk. The textures that evolve from those combinations suggest depths beyond the obvious, as I hope the works themselves do.”

douglas_pam_lettinggo_mixed_med

Thematically, the focus of all of Douglas’ art is transcendence. In Rhythms, she bridges contemporary issues with a visceral response, and an interpretation that “transcends the specifics of the moment and delivers an emotional catharsis or level of understanding that links topical concerns to a more universal consciousness.”

Douglas feels strongly that the nature of the artistic process itself invites this sort of exploration, “because every act of creation ventures into the unknown, bringing into form something that hadn’t existed before. Artists inhabit that source as they work, and the most impactful works usually arise from that artistic transcendence.”

Douglas has recently exhibited throughout the Los Angeles area, in shows at Artcore Annual Competition and Exhibition at The Brewery; Hillcrest Center for the Arts; Lampourage Gallery at The Brewery; and Arena One Gallery; as well as shows at TAG Gallery at Bergamot Station including a solo a year ago. She has also exhibited through a 6-month installation at The California African American Museum, and at LACMA.

douglas_pam_thefinalcadence_med_hr

“An artist is a vessel to manifest images, sounds, movements or stories that may not be visible to others until he or she brings them into this plane,” Douglas attests. “The clearer the artist, the more those images are recognized as true or give an insight into some aspect of truth.”

Experience Douglas’ insight at TAG through September 24th. An artist’s panel – Douglas shares the TAG space with artists Shelley Lazarus and Andrea Kichaven – will take place September 17th at 3 p.m. Don’t miss the chance to connect with Douglas and her emotional heartbeat.

TAG is located at 2525 Michigan Ave. # D3 in Santa Monica.

Linda Sue Price: Neon Queen

F23C6263

F23C6268

Neon artist Linda Sue Price mixes form and light with texture –  in pieces that are fluid, glowing, and exuberant. Price’s work is about the idea of change as the eternal constant as well as being the process of all communication.  Seen at Santa Monica’s TAG Gallery in December, Price’s work was as beautiful as it was evocative. She’ll return to the gallery with a new exhibition coming up in April 2016.


F23C6263

“I was inspired by phrases that resonated with me. I got them from observing human activity, things people say and do. It seems that sometimes in the process of living, we make it harder on ourselves than it has to be,” Price says.

F23C6260

“What inspired me visually was the fact that people don’t see the backside of neon signs. All the bending, the entire creative process,” Price explains.

F23C6256

“I wanted to show that process, to showcase the tube itself, and the way that it can be bent, and to make that the focus.”

F23C6255

As for the words Price chooses to work with, she does not capture them in neon glow. “I intentionally chose not to make them out of neon.”

The words are the background. The neon seems like a living thing the words attempt to capture.

F23C6252

Price has been a neon-admirer since her childhood. She notes that a visit to Las Vegas was always special for her, because of all the neon she could see there.

F23C6251

No past or future in the now…Price’s “Words” series uses some of her own favorite words.

F23C6250

Price’s next show will be held at the TAG Gallery in Santa Monica from April 19 – May 14.

Go, see, glow — some of my favorite words.

  • Genie Davis; All Photos by Jack Burke

Watch for the Lights: Linda Sue Price – Glowing Neon Artist

price 5

Neon artist Linda Sue Price creates compelling, vibrant images that, in her own words, “mix form, light, reflection and texture.” Communicating through the fluidity of her glowing shapes, Price expresses her idea that change is the ultimate form of communication.

Her mixed media neon sculptures use free-form bent, unique abstract shapes. Whether using backgrounds that are simple and reflective or complexly textured, Price creates a visual texture that reflects the neon itself. She layers elements that enhance the glow and playful aspects of the neon, such as acrylic rods and patterned backgrounds. Her pieces have a depth that cast the neon tubes as living elements.

Price 1

Such an approach may be natural to Price, who has been a neon-admirer since her childhood. She notes that “A visit to Las Vegas was always special because of the extensive use of neon all over the buildings. There was a palm tree in front of one of the casinos that I loved. Motel signs often had animation. I liked to look at them and try to figure out how the animation patterns.” Today, Price uses color as well as shape and background to make her pieces sing. While the initial color source is dependent on the gas itself, from neon’s red to argon’s purple, krypton’s white, and argon with mercury blue, colored glass tubing and fluorescent powders painted or baked inside the tubing create more color choices. She creates beading in the tube through the natural use of the gas itself, controlling it with small transformers that pulse the beading.

price_linda_soybeans_neon_2_med

In Price’s “Solo Works,” her “Dancing Girls” show five caught-in-motion female forms undulating against a multi-textured background whose peaked pattern evokes the shape of a house, with the girls perhaps dancing on a metallic lawn in front of it. Green and purple light images are the largest, with red, yellow, and spotted white figures significantly smaller, as if these were girls of all ages, shapes, and sizes, their spirits as bright as the light that represents them.

price change-nobg72_med_hr

Inspired by an article the artist read about the translation of Chinese poetry, Price’s “Words” series uses some of her own “favorite words such as Consider, Change and Pause.”  In “Change,” nearly entangled green and red coils serve as yin and yang like figures, partially framed by bent tubes of yellow, green, and red over a softly mottled background. “Reveal” is a complex yellow coil, bright as the sun, partially framed by green and blue tubing that remind the viewer of grass and sky.

price green-beans-sm-2_med_hr

Price’s “The Garden” series stands as fresh and bright as the plant-like images she shapes. “Green Beans” contrasts stalk-straight blue and green tubes with curved blue and green shapes rising from a blue flower box. The images remind the viewer of a spring day, when all things are growing and possible. Price notes that the images in this series are crafted to “create a neon garden.”

Dedicated to the idea that it takes a great deal of discipline to stay focused in the moment, the artist’s “Stay in the Moment” series reflects her own necessary discipline in focusing on bending neon tubing. “The shape of the tubes express the joy of being in the moment,” Price says, and the viewer can see this beautifully illustrated in her rich orange, yellow, green, and blue “Wild Child,” for which she created a layout after bending the tubes. Her pink, red, and purple  

“Pacific Sunset” features a reflective blue background that warms the neon tubes into a riveting sunset image. Two of the tubes bead through a pulsing transformer.

Price 2

Evocative and ethereal in nature, the neon glow behind Price’s works stay in the viewer’s mind, their soft color and curved shapes imprinting like a new form of neon nature. Recently exhibiting Art + Science + Craft II at the Fine Arts Building in Los Angeles, Calif. , Price has upcoming shows in Long Beach at Arts Exchange, as part of an All Media Juried Exhibition at the Chico Arts Center in Chico, Calif., and also has two exhibitions planned at the TAG gallery in Santa Monica, Calif. before the end of the year.

  • Genie Davis