Birthday Bash & Japanese Woodblock Show at the Art Institute of Chicago

"Cafe Du Monde", pastel, 22 x 28 inches.

Idaho was fabulous. I fully expected to come back, chain myself to the easel, and paint for weeks, coming up for air once in a while. I did manage one day in the studio, when a spur of the moment opportunity came up to spend my birthday in Chicago, visiting the Art Institute by day and listening to Astral Project at the Green Mill Jazz Club by night.

Splendor itself, there is currently a show, "Evening Glow" of Japanese prints on view from September 22–December 9, 2007 in Gallery 107. Overview from the Art Institute: Over the centuries, Japanese printmakers have expressed the many aspects of evening. From the soft light of dusk to the darkness of night, the sky’s changing moods have been captured by Utagawa Hiroshige, Kawase Hasui, and others. On view are over 30 woodblock prints of nighttime images.

Additionally, the Art Institute has 2 Chardin pastel portraits on display. Museum policies prevented me from following my natural urge to build an alter and strew roses at the base in front of Monsieur Chardin's late pastels of his wife and his own self portrait. Mon Dieu!!

I felt a similar urge in front of The Great One, Degas.
"At the Milliner's Shop" opened my eyes to new possibilities.
Made me want to paint; changed my vision.

I'll be re-visiting and posting drawings and pastels that I painted several years back. I feel the strong need to look back at what inspired me, what work I did before I worried or thought about galleries and sales. I have no way of knowing how long that inspiration will last- days, weeks or months- but in looking back I also look forward. There's no more difficult task for an artist than to find your own voice. I must embrace every opportunity to find my own way, irregardless of gallery sales, what collectors want, what I painted last week or last year. Inspiration is everything.


Casey Klahn said...

All around inspiration, Joan. Thanks for all of this.

Too bad you weren't in the Northwest part of Idaho, or we could have met.

Next time, perhaps.

Joan DaGradi said...

Thanks, Casey!
Ya know, I hope to be up that way again- at least by next September, if not before.
I'll email you. Would love to meet you and hang out. For some reason, I thought that you were in Washington state.

I'm feeling very turned on to pastel again; always loved the medium. The Chardin's had a lovely gold frame, with a black wood insert so that the glass didn't touch the painting, obviously, but also there were no traces of pastel dust on the black wood. The paintings were so fresh and looked like they were done yesterday, rather than in 1776.

Casey Klahn said...

Hey, sounds like a plan.

BTW, I'm getting into figure work again, so I'll be keeping a close eye on your blog. Love these works currently posted.

I live a short throw from the Idaho border. Close to Spokane.

Deborah Paris said...

Welcome home, Joan! I've been checking in and wondering where you were. Found your post very interesting- I have that love/hate think going with pastel and have been painting mostly in oil this year. Also, a somewhat major change in direction in my work- it feels good-so go for it!

Deborah Paris said...

P.S. Is there a catalog for the Japanese Woodblocks show - I went to the Museum shop but didn't see one. It sounds wonderful!

Joan DaGradi said...

Sorry, Deborah, I didn't see a catalogue for the woodblock show, either. The Art Institute has so many woodblock prints in their permanent collection, I had the feeling that they were just dipping in a little. It wasn't a travelling exhibition, to my knowledge.
I know the love/hate thing all too well. I feel that way about oil and watercolor, too. Change is good- keeps you fresh!

Katherine said...

Fabulous painting Joan.

Joan DaGradi said...

Thank you!!!

silvina said...

Hi Joan, noticed that Don Gray tagged you. Came to take a peek. Love your figure works.

Joan DaGradi said...

Silvina, thanks for stopping by!