Connection – 300 Words by Pamela Beck

It seems so simple; we all have feelings about the art we see. Yet comfort with our own reactions to it often seems elusive. It’s replaced with the idea of what we should like and insecurity about looking foolish.

by Pamela Beck

Every time I stand in front of the elegant black forms in a Robert Motherwell painting from his “Elegy to the Spanish Republic” series, I feel it. And I feel it when I look at the pulsing spirituality of a Mark Rothko canvas, or the flat color planes of poetry from Richard Diebenkorn’s “Ocean Park Series,” or the perfect round beauty of a nude by Aristide Maillol or the intriguing psychologically charged work of Francis Bacon and Egon Schiele.

What I feel is a visceral response, a connection forged between the artists and myself based on my reaction to their work. It has little to do with right and wrong and more to do with yes or no. I bet we all have that moment when we look at a work of art before those critical “outside voices” start to crowd in.

It seems so simple; we all have feelings about the art we see. Yet comfort with our own reactions to it often seems elusive. It’s replaced with the idea of what we should like and insecurity about looking foolish.

I’m not rejecting the importance of art education. We’re hardwired for curiosity, exploration and classification. It’s natural and relevant to see art within historical and contemporary contexts. It’s interesting to understand different techniques and fascinating to talk with artists about their own work. But it doesn’t have much to do with whether I’m moved by the artwork or if it stays with me once I’ve left it.

Experiencing art trumps the explanation of it. If we allow ourselves to have unscripted responses to the work before us, we actually become part of the creative process ourselves and that’s when the good stuff starts happening. That exchange, based on our own reactions, becomes its own reward. And that’s when we feel it.

For more information on Pamela, visit

Let optimism reign! 300 words by Jen Nugent

by Jen Nugent

The first art show I organized was in 2007. I was eighteen years old and running a small, bi-monthly zine complete with layout problems and typos, but also fantastic art, literature and the occasional crude joke. Digital Three Studios at the time was a small graphic design company on 6th Street and Central Avenue with an attached warehouse and a serious dedication to the support of local artists. Nick Burch generously lent my friends and I his warehouse space to have an art exhibition/zine release party/live music show/dress up party. It wasn’t until the artwork was being dropped off the day before the event, that I realized I had no clue what to do. I knew nothing about art exhibition, I simply wanted my social life to be a fun and productive one. This show was terrifying, stressful, and really really fun. Having participated in numerous exhibitions since then, I will admit it takes a lot of hard work to pull off a successful (definition subjective) show, but because of this first experience I found that it is remarkably easy to develop a support system to help make this happen.

The Clothesline Gallery opened their second exhibition last Friday in their new location with grace and great attitudes. This small storefront gallery is run by artists and art students who I must commend on their excellent work. I don’t mean to equate my first clumsy attempt at an art exhibition with the way this gallery is being run, my point is simply that these kids are fucking doing it! (I also use the word ‘kids’ here to establish that they are all under fifty, meaning no disrespect.) This group is pooling their resources and skills in order to get behind whom they believe to be first-rate artist-peers. The paintings by Evan Lovejoy (on view through May 11th) were thoroughly enjoyable and provided fuel for great conversation at the opening. I tip my hat to the motivation and dedication that has gone into this project and hope that it can serve as a reminder to all young or emerging artists that instead of criticizing the scene or complaining about a lack of one, simply create one. It takes motivation, but it’s not impossible and there is a thick history of successful DIY initiatives to draw from. Let optimism reign!

Mentioned in this piece:
Clothesline Gallery: 529 Pineapple Ave.
Evan Lovejoy:

Open letter to the Downtown Merchants Alliance

Miami Beach gets the Basel Art Fair and we get Sarasota Master Art Festival. Classing a street fair as a “Sarasota Master Art Festival” and touting unnamed vendors as “the nation’s finest artists” prompts the question, have you no sense of place, of history?

Fury sits beneath these words.

Miami Beach gets the Basel Art Fair and we get Sarasota Masters Art Festival. Classing a street fair as a “Sarasota Masters Art Festival” and touting unnamed vendors as “the nation’s finest artists” prompts the question, have you no sense of place, of history?

Sarasota Masters Art Festival

You want to talk “Sarasota Master Art”? Let’s name names that come with bona fides. There’s no need to look very far. The “Artists Who Made Sarasota Famous” show now on view at Art Center Sarasota tells the story.

More than 60 years ago, the town boasted art luminaries like Helen Sawyer, who New York Times writer Elizabeth Luther Cary compared to Francisco Goya. In the comparison, Cary found Goya’s wanting when it came to skies. “We may think of Goya’s carnival scenes under stormy skies,” Cary wrote, “but I cannot recall any by Goya in which the battle of the two extremes plays such a passionate part.”

And after Life Magazine tagged Jon Corbino “the Rubens of New England” and he got two Guggenheim Fellowships, was elected a member of the National Academy of Design, and received the first grant awarded to a visual artist from the prestigious National Institute of Art and Letters, he, too, joined the Sarasota art community.

Then there are the latter-day “masters” like sculptor John Chamberlain. In the early ‘80s, he moved to an 18,000-square-foot warehouse studio on Cocoanut Avenue to make the grand scale work for which he’s celebrated. The Guggenheim Museum is mounting a retro beginning next month.

There’s no point going on with this list. If “master art” has to be explained to you at this point, it’s too late. Your effort to edify a patently obvious marketing strategy under the banner “Sarasota Masters Art” disserves the town, vulgarizes it and makes it some Anywhere, U.S.A. out to drum up business.

Check your press releases for hype, DMA. From where I sit, it’s just gray scud on the page.

Joan Altabe

P.S. Are the lights fading on fine art in Sarasota? Given what you’re doing, like a setting sun – slowly but inexorably.

Joan Altabe

Joan Altabe, former visual arts critic for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and the Bradenton Herald, former New York City art teacher and longtime award-winning art and architecture critic for U.S. and overseas publications, is referenced in “Who’s Who in American Art” and “Who’s Who of American Women” and currently writes as the St. Petersburg art Examiner and National art Examiner.

Altabe has written several books including “Art Behind the Scenes” (100 painters in and out of their studio) and “Sculpture off the Pedestal” (25 sculptors in and out of their studio). Both available at

I didn’t die today- in fact, most days I’m not in any immediate danger. By Jen Nugent

For me, there is so much weight associated with the term artist because it means that I must come to terms with what it is my work has to offer. It means I must believe, in my bones or whatever else I have, that I can actually give the universe something it has been missing. At some younger age I have had my mother and my father give me a proud look, the look that said, “Yes, you are my child and I’m happy to have you as such and whatever you are doing is right.” And so far, I have lived up to this approval. I have given the people nearest me what they wanted. A friend has given me the gesture that meant they were happy to be associated me; something like a hug, a nod or a high five. My lover has turned to me just before sleep hits us both and said, “I’m happy to be next to you.” These gestures have served as gold stars to help me along my way; gold stars that let me know I am still on some track. Gold stars for the Snowflake Generation. The Snowflakes that expect so much but will give so little in return. As a product of this, I feel I need my gold stars to maintain my purpose. How else would I know that I am doing anything at all? Gold stars from a friend or from a lover let me know that I am serving those that mean the most to me. But they are not those that mean everything to me. That would signify that my personal reality is somehow detached from the greater universe that everything must somehow come to terms with. This is what I wonder about being an artist. Can you be an artist and just serve your personal universe? As a creator, once your work leaves your body it belongs to the rest of the universe. It belongs to the people, to the environment, to time, space and the minds of everything. How is it possible to, every day, muster the confidence it takes to deal with this? What is it that makes me believe that the work I do can serve anyone but myself? And what exactly is my relationship with the broader universe that my work is made to interact with?

A Sandwich Worth a 1,000 Words?

300 Words by Tim Jaeger

As an artist, naturally I read everything I can about art and everything related to it. Whether it is about theory, a movement, or a critics’ perspective it is all interesting, however what really fascinates me is reading about the personalities of the people behind the paintings.

Robert Motherwell, The Anchovies for the Spanish Olives, No. 78 (Moutarde), 1957. Anchovies and olives on mayonnaise, with mustard, on bread

One of my favorite pieces published was an article published by E.A. Carmean Jr. in 1981 called “The Sandwiches of the Artists.” The piece, by curator and canon E.A. Carmean Jr., was a smirking thorough glimpse featuring sandwiches in tribute to the century’s great modernists.

Jackson Pollock, Sandwich No. 20 (Almond Ribbons), 1950. Pasta and vegetables on bread

In Carmean’s detailed research on the eating habits of the artists, we learn of what ties these artists together: their expressed interests in sandwiches. For example, did you know that Gorky initially ate sandwiches like Picasso and Cézanne before coming under the influence of de Kooning and Miró, who introduced him to the pastry tube and thin spreads of condiments? Still, he was a traditionalist at heart, Carmean emphasizes. “Gorky continued to create his lunches in the nineteenth century fashion, by first making small cracker versions…”

There’s no free online version, but posted below is four of Carmean’s most delightful creations. There’re also sandwiches by de Kooning and David Smith, alongside photos of Motherwell enjoying lunch, Gorky and Breton brandishing bagged lunches and truffle forks on a picnic, and Rothko fretting on the telephone over the cost of liverwurst.

Mark Rothko, Brown and Gray Sandwich, 1963. Liverwurst and peanut butter on white bread, with crusts removed

Finally, here is some food for thought: In 1948, Abstract Expressionists, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko opened up a cafeteria called “The Sandwiches of the Artist.” “The name was Barney’s,” recalled Motherwell, “to point out we all used bread.”

Chew on that.

To view a snip of E.A. Carmean’s The Sandwiches of the Artist visit

Barnett Newman, Sandwich 9, 1964-1965. Bacon and mustard on white bread