Amy is a lawyer and mother of three who grew up in the DC area and went on to make her life in Providence, RI. She's been collecting my art and taking classes with me for several years. This week we talked about her first important purchase, what she likes about my art and what art means to her.
Margaret: What are some of your favorite paintings of mine right now?
Margaret: How did you first find my art?
Amy: I first noticed your art in the window of Studio Hop. One of your figure paintings caught my eye.
M: Why do you think that is?
A: The colors. I showed it to my mother-in-law and she agreed that it was a beautiful painting. I worked up the confidence to go in. This was the first significant original painting that I bought.
M: I am surprised to hear you say you needed to “work up the confidence”. You strike me as a woman who doesn't hesitate to take action.
A: I hadn't seen myself as someone who invests in art. Until that time reproductions had been sufficient for me, I hadn't been interested in investing in originals. I’d been in the shop before to buy jewelry as gifts but not to buy art and not for myself.
M: Why did you decide to go? What changed your attitude about investing in original art?
A: This painting was different. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I wanted the real thing as part of my life.
M: How do you feel about it now?
A: It's the first thing I see when I wake up. I love it. It is still my favorite painting.
M: Gosh that's lovely to hear. Do you gift art?
A: Yes, I give paintings to my mother-in-law, my sons, my sisters-in-law, to people who I know will appreciate an original creation. I see time and effort in the original art and I think that’s worth sharing.
M: If you could have any painting in the world to look at every day, what would it be?
Mark Rothko's Orange, Red, Yellow
Amy is not alone in her opinion, this one sold at auction in 2012 for over 86 million.
A: A red Rothko. I have a visceral reaction to Rothko paintings, I am enthralled, the depth and the intense color resonates with me. And it's not just the color-I don't want the color painted on my wall, I want the painting. The color and abstraction appeals to me.
Figure in the Bonnard/Cezanne gallery at the Musee d'Orsay
M: If you could have any painting of mine?
A: The woman in yellow at the Musee d’Orsay.
M: I did a series of those in 2013, this one is now in the collection of Pernilla Frazier of Kreatalier in Providence.
A: I missed my chance with that painting. It's not as exact as some of your work, paintings within a painting, its relatable. I can picture myself in it. Another example of the Mary Poppins effect, I can find myself inside of it.
Seem like a strange juxtaposition?
At the Phillips Collection in Washington DC the Rothko room is tucked in amidst the Bonnard, Cezanne and Matisse galleries.
M: Do you have a favorite local gallery?
A: The RISD Museum. I feel welcome there. I think art can be intimidating. The RISD Museum does a great job making everyone feel welcome to enjoy the art. It's not overwhelming and it's a strong collection.
M: How about nationally?
A: The East Wing of the National Gallery, I like the architecture and design.
M: Is there a particular room or piece that you like?
A: Actually, the museum has powerful nostalgic appeal to me. I was there when it opened. The memory of Matisse cut outs has never left me. I remember experiences I had there. My father and I used to go together and I have fond memories of our discussions there. On his one day off, Sundays, my father would take me around the city. He wasn’t a big art person but wanted to share art with me and we often went to galleries.
M: Wow! You just sparked my memories of my dad taking me to the national gallery, of our time together, I remember seeing a Cezanne retrospective and I can picture talking it over with my dad later, in his living room. We also saw a Picasso blue/rose period show, where Boy With a Pipe made a deep impression and Dad told me how Picasso’s Saltimbanques have always been among his favorite paintings. Memory can be such a surprise.
Musee Marmottan, Paris
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain.
M: And Galleries in the rest of the world?
A: The Louis Vuitton Museum in Paris. My sister-in-law took me there. I love the blending of architecture and art. It's a fabulous museum. And its next to an amazing park, Margaret you have to go there and paint it- again and again. It has this perfect children’s garden where all the Parisians bring their children.
Also the Orangerie.
M: OOOhh! I just looked up the Louis Vuitton Museum and the park it's next to is called the Bois de Boulogne. It shows up in Proust’s novels. I WILL go there later this month when I am in Paris with Elizabeth. So exciting. Also I want to see the Musee Marmottan-the Monet museum there also next to that park.
Amy: Oh yes! I loved that museum! My sister-in-law took me there too. It was overwhelmingly beautiful. All those giant paintings. The Orangerie has many but...
M: What museum would you like to visit that you haven't yet seen?
A: The Bilbao designed by Frank Gehry. Again, I love architecture and the juxtaposition with the art- that people find art important enough to design a museum for it and with it.
M: Could you tell me which of my more recent paintings interest you?
A: The dark, winter landscape with snow flakes falling. The green pocket in the city. Again, paintings I can immerse myself in.
M: You have two of my figure paintings, do you like the reclining figure in watercolor ?
Is a term for thick painting.
A: Watercolor doesn't appeal to me. I like the depth of color, the directionality of the strokes, of oil painting, I don't see as much of that in watercolors. I am drawn to the thick strokes and texture of many oil paintings.
M: You will hear artists refer to that as “impasto”.
A: I like that, I noticed that kind of painting in New Orleans about 10 years ago. On a couple of streets known for their small galleries. I was drawn to it and that's when I first thought “I have got to learn how to do this”. Crazy as that sounded, I felt a conviction.
M: What happened?
A: I hit 50 this year. When I look at how I have spent my life I see the first 25 years devoted to myself, going to law school. The next 25 years on raising my family. In the last 5 years or so I have been able to begin shifting focus back to myself.
I have been deliberate about how I spend my time. I now have more time to focus on my interests and on what I want to do in the world. For the next 25 years I am thinking about my obligations and how I contribute.
M: Do you see any connection between your art collecting and painting and your obligations and contributions to the world?
A: Not directly. But art makes me more content and happy. I have my paintings from art class in the kitchen. I see them 10 times a day. It's about searching, making a painting is searching, and seeing that search gives me personal satisfaction that other objects do not. I'm not a materialistic person. I am amazed by how paintings are beauty created out of nothing- a blank canvas. Beauty that you created out of nothing- a blank canvas-this feels amazing, a miracle, wonderful.
M: Gosh, its wonderful to hear you articulate that so clearly.
A: I used to be intimidated by art, you have made it approachable, opened up a whole new world that I used to only see from a distance. I believe we must make an effort to invest in our own growth. I deliberately try new things. I now feel a part of the realm of art because of you.
I need to feel part of a greater continuity. That's true in my spiritual life as well. Art relates me to a greater historical continuity. A part of the timeline of history-part of a continuum. In class you tie us to other artists and other periods of time, right in the moment.
That concludes the interview. Many thanks to Amy Strachman.
The figure painting that first caught Amy's eye in the window of Studio Hop
11"x14", oil on canvas.