On the highest point of our property is a rock that indicates solstice: it points towards the place on the horizon were on 21 June the sun sets. Even although this is purely co-incidence we considered it to be a reason to toast on it.
After two great exhibitions in spring we just opened the next one: "Paraíso Escondido" with Ingrid Simons. In the same time the projects of the residents continue, with inspiring artist talks, sometimes a house concert or an open studio and one time an arty party at the swimming pool.
“Paraíso Escondido” means “hidden paradise”. It is title of an exhibition of paintings, silkscreen prints and ceramic works of Ingrid Simons in Galeria Municipal Dom Dinis, in Estremoz, Portugal, that was opened on Saturday 17 June nd will run until 27 August.
Ingrid Simons (Holland) got her fifth solo exhibition in Portugal. This time in the beautiful Galeria Municipal Dom Dinis in Estremoz. In this exhibition Ingrid shows paintings, silkscreen prints and ceramic works. See the slide show for an impression.
Special focus is given to her interpretations of the “Hidden Paradise”, an open space in a dense woodland with a creek and intriguing rocks. There, Ingrid Simons experienced the cycle of life: the strong greens of spring turning into the golden colors of hot midsummer. She felt sublimity and strength of nature emphasizing the nullity of man.
In 2010 Ingrid Simons had her first artistic residency at Foundation OBRAS (Evoramonte, Portugal). She fell in love with Alentejo at first sight. This grew into a strong and lasting love. In 2017 she returns for the 8th time. First she mainly made paintings inspired by the Alentejano landscapes. Later she started making ceramic works following Alentejano tradition (for which she established a collaboration with the master potters of Redondo: Xico Tarefa and Luìs Carlos).
Although Ingrid´s exhibition was a major event, she was in addition very productive in both her painting (trying new colours even although she is convinced that using fewer colours make her paintings stronger) and her ceramic work (she is experimenting with triptychs).
As part of her sabbatical, Jacqueline Osherow (USA) took a two-months residency, mainly to work on a long poem on her experiences in Berlin in the past three months. As a child of a holocaust survivor’s family she explores and hopes to get inspired by traces of Jewish civilisations. That is what she did in Berlin for recent history and what she was doing in Portugal for the times of the inquisition (16th century). In her poems she brings great and small facts together with her feelings, her daily life and her fascination for bible stories about Genesis, Ruth, the Ten Commandments etc.. She was also participated in a local poetry festival in Evoramonte and was happy to share with her fellow residents some Jewish cooking traditions. Once she chanted in Hebrew some verses of the Book Ruth, which deeply impressed all of us.
Rob Monagham, a multimedia artist from Ireland, came to study the destruction of the landscape by marble quarries and the recovery by nature of abandoned quarries. But already at his first visit he was astonished by their powerful forms and their mysterious beauty. He was especially fascinated in the artificial lakes: he made wonderful photos and videos under water and on the water surface.
He discovered fish in these lakes and these fishes discovered him. After some three photo sessions the fishes lost their fear and got very curious.
Every time that Rob scrolled over the abandoned quarries he found objects in decay of past human activities: boots, a briefcase, beer bottles, a telephone book, .. He brought them to our patio and made an exhibition with it, which was a try-out of an exhibition in Damer House in Tipperary, Ireland, in August. He also established a promising collaboration with Miriam Slaats that may lead to a joint exhibition in Abu Dhabi in November. More info on this collaboration and exhibitions will soon follow in this newsletter. Also a slide show on Rob’s residency will soon appear on this page.
Mirjam Slaats (Holland) is fascinated by the ecstatic of “blobs”: solidified melts of plastic being half-fabricates of plastic recycling. She brought a suitcase full and experimented with them. She made small installations, sprayed them with gold paint or laid them in oyster shells. One piece had the size and form of a heart. She went with is to the farmers market in Estremoz, approached elderly people with the text in Portuguese ”I lend you my heart, please give me your smile” and of those who accepted she made a beautiful photos while smiling and embracing the heart.
But by far the most exciting project emerged by a collaboration with Robert Moganham. Robert was exploring underwater photography in the lakes of marble quarries and took some blobs of Mirjam. The photos and videos are surrealistic and abstract. Together they optimised the artistic quality and made plans for future collaboration and future exhibitions.
Marja Sterck (Holland) made photos of the twilight and light in the dark. She made several series of photos in postcard format, serene and intriguing in the same time: night skies with some lightning far away: are they dreamy or spooky? Some circular lines in the dark: is this fake or real?
Marja also used her residency to work on a new artist statement, which stepwise became an overall concept of how she approaches art, how she collects and select input for her art and especially what her very personal drivers are.
Duncin Hill (USA) came to make photos of night scenes on urban spots. He made a lot, all of them a public space with no humans and mostly lightened by only one or two street lamps. He was excited about the differences in color spectrum of urban night light between the USA and Europe: in the USA public space is generally lightened blueish white, while in Portugal it is still mostly with whitish orange.
Aubrey Grant (USA) was working on het PhD about policies on migration. In her artist talk she gave an overview of the variety in approached between different countries. We had a long and lively discussion about the difficulties to distinguish asylum seekers and refugees and about short term and fundamental solutions.
Rob van Weegen (Holland) was working on a theatre production about the life and music of Roy Orbison. On the occasion of his artist talk he made great theatre: he performed two short plays, both written by himself. One was about mourning about lost loves and death. The other was a slapstick comedy about a tourist who visited a pygmy’s village but did not see anybody because their camouflage skills were too good.
Wilma Geldoff (Holland) was working on a historical novel about Freddy Oversteegen, a young female freedom fighter in the Second World War, whose life and heroic deeds are largely unknown at the public due to all attention going towards other female heroes and victims such as Annie Schaft and Anne Frank. For her this story also has personal links. As her family was deeply involved in war affairs, although largely in secret.
As part of his sabbatical Dennis DeHart (visual artist, USA) came to OBRAS-Holland to continue working on his long-term project on water related issues. It includes investigation and contemplation on a wide variety of subjects, such as environmental problems, water rights as well as the importance of nature for childhood development. Together with his partner he also made and photographed still lives of natural material. By doing this the got especially fascinated by light and color in the area.
Also at OBRAS-Holland Willie Marlowe (painter, USA) was working on three projects, all comprising small, sometimes very small paintings. The size was not for practical reasons, but to create intimacy and a suggestion to “read” them. Willie called them Mail Art: Holland 2017 (to be exhibited as an installation at Collar Works Gallery, Troy, New York; dates will follow) and Mail Art: Renkum to Rancho Cordova (to be exhibited in Sacramento, California). The images show her interpretations in abstraction of Dutch culture, art, landscape, environment, architecture, gardens and engineering. A third series of 24 5x5cm paintings got Micro-Art as a title.
Sarah Pedlow (USA) came to OBRAS-Holland for her project on traditional costumes. She visited many museums and the few villages where women still dress in traditional costumes. In one village she was lucky enough to be guided by a young local football player to visit three women who dress in costume. She also attended a seminar on Dutch fashion and National Identity held at the Free University in Amsterdam.
In addition Sarah designed sleeves and hats (based on the traditions that she studied) and a laundry pole, and made a series of mixed media collages.
Rachel Haley Himmelheber (USA) worked on “America´s Chickens”, a novel that combines fiction and nonfiction, and tells in counter-factual narratives about America during Obama´s presidency. The father of Edward Snowdon, the daughter of a San Bernardino terrorist, the governor of Wisconsin and many more persons are featuring, some in serious, others hilarious stories. It was impressive to see her collecting and structuring loads of factual information, visions and brainwaves. As a side activity she wrote an erotic short story, fiction, with Hilary Clinton in the main role.
Brooke Steiger (USA) is printmaker, but with having no press she decided making drawings and collages, partly abstract but always including birds and butterflies. Often, her compositions were theatrical and vaguely suggesting a story. She was also contemplating on making animations and installations. In her artist talk she showed an impressive body of work that made clear how broad her expertise, skills and fantasy world is.
Anna Ortiz (USA) is inspired by destructed landscapes that are recovering, either by human action or by nature. Twice she was resident at OBRAS-Holland (where she was inspired by the Dutch recovery after World War II) and this time she choose for Portugal. She was especially interested in the abandoned marble quarries. In a way it reminded her to the ruins of Mexican temples and this relation may well become the subject of her next exhibition in Brooklyn.
Cody Conelly (USA) was working on a movie about the years that his grandmother was working as a nurse in the army during Word War II. Quite a challenge because he has to condense hours of footage, the interviews with her were tuff (she is convinced that there is little to say) and making a documentary is new for him. But knowing the quality of his animation movies (for instance Glitch Noir, that he largely made in OBRAS-Holland) it will certainly become a beautiful product. Another discipline that Cody is exploring is to build 3D installations on which he projects videos specifically made to fit in the form of the installation.
In the next update of this newsletter information will be given about the projects of Kevin and Sara Tolman. They arrived mid-June as resident and will continue in July.
Also good to know:
Jonathan Roson (Australia, currently living and working in London) was a resident in 2013 and 2014. He made lots of works in marble: see also his page of this website. From 28th of July until 25th of August several of the works can be seen at the DreamSpace Gallery (3 Dufferin Street, London, EC1Y 8NA).
Scott Sherk (USA) just released a beautiful and intriguing CD with sound compositions of the wind, sheep bells, crickets and the interior sounds of Evoramonte Castle. More info is on www.3leaves-label.com. A beautiful review is on A Closer Listen.
In an earlier version some of his compositions were part of Cor +Som, an exhibition together with Pat Badt, in the Castle of Evoramonte (2015). See also their page on this site.
Dan Carlson was resident in 2015 and now he has an exhibition in FiveMyles (558 St. John's Place, Brooklyn NY; until 25 July). The title : “Weightless” refers to his fascination for space activities. Part of the work was made at OBRAS, such as the phases of the moon sculpted in marble, a drawing of the dog that was traveling in a spaceship, and an outdoor installation with a large plastic moon that was so realistically painted that on night photos it cannot be distinguished from real, expect that is floating just above the vegetation.