Saturday, April 18, 2009
"I'm having a love affair with paint," Elizabeth Schwartz says with a blazing smile during an interview about her exhibition featured at WSG Gallery. "There's never a plan, but a relationship develops with the paint and the painting. I start making marks and become part of the painting." One of the main features of her work is the access she offers the viewer to the sheer raw energy available in the process of painting. A five-part work titled "Primordial" (above ) demonstrates this. Let's say it suggests galaxies in transition or dragons thrashing ; energy becomes palpable with an assist from color and the texture supplied by the touch of the brush, its angle and pressure. Though this painting may recall ancient Asian techniques of play with the brush, it also reflects Jackson Pollack's flinging of paint: it's about personal freedom that transcends culture.
The search for the feeling of freedom is what lured this painter away from her full-time practice of law (she was Ann Arbor City Attorney, '92-'95) where the mindset is very controlled. It's right-brain versus left. Elizabeth says she sees the contrast in her desk which is orderly versus her studio which gets quite messy. The energy she expresses in her work may have evolved during her growing up (in Detroit) in interaction with 3 brothers (all became lawyers) and a powerful lawyer father. Educated at the University of Maryland and the University of Michigan Law School, she still practices as a part-time administrative law judge (appointed by the governor) dealing with governmental agency issues.
This coming June '09, she will be in residence with the Glen Arbor Art Association in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, an area of Michigan which has inspired much of her work. Where better to feel, as Elizabeth puts it , "the grandeur, power, beauty and turbulence" - the freedom - of nature? Incidentally, it was at the GAAA' s summer workshop program that the painter took her very first painting class. I was privileged to be her teacher at that time and now I'm fortunate to be her interviewer. What I recall about her work then is the focus and motivation she brought to it. I could see glimpses of the open-mindedness, the experimental vitality and dynamism she expresses now with greater ease, brilliance, and directness.
Martha Rock Keller