Thursday, October 21, 2010

Karine Swenson, Marjorie Franklin, and John Lauretig

Number 25 on your Art Tours program will bring you to the home studio of Karine Swenson.  For the second year in a row, Swenson has teamed up with several other artists.  You will have a chance to see the paintings of Karine, Marjorie Franklin and Nora Lousignont, in addition to some really cool crochet hats created by John Lauretig.

Karine Swenson, written by Bonnie Kopp
Karine with Pono and Brody
Considering all the time Karine Swenson has spent interviewing most of the artists for this blog, it’s a wonder that she had any time to paint this year.  Miraculously, she is only twelve paintings short of her goal to produce one hundred new paintings in 2010.  What that should tell you is that Karine is a serious-as-a-heart-attack, full-time artist who would rather be in the studio than just about anywhere else.  Except maybe running the trails with her trusty dog Pono, or occasionally dancing in her living room with the music up loud.
Swenson.  Balancing Act.  Oil on Canvas, 24 x 18 inches.
Born in South Dakota into a family of musicians, Karine played the violin in a family string quartet that included her sisters on cello and viola and her father on piano.  She became interested in the visual arts while attending Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, studying sculpture and painting.

After her marriage to a commercial pilot, Karine found herself moving around the country, from Evergreen, Colorado to Maui, Hawaii and then to Salida, Colorado where she owned a successful art gallery called Cool Mountain Art.  They loved Salida, a small town full of artists and surrounded by 14,000 foot peaks.  But when her husband took a job with Cathay Pacific which flies out of Los Angeles, they made the move to California.  Originally they had hoped to buy and restore a Palm Springs mid-century home, but they were house-hunting at the top of the market and asked their realtor to show them something more affordable.  He took them to the high desert, and after her first glimpse of Joshua trees, Karine was hooked.

For this year’s Art Tours, Karine was determined not to put restraints on her creativity, so the resulting body of work on view is incredibly diverse.  There are figurative desert paintings in all media, including some exquisite pastels.  She has also continued her exploration of abstraction by painting to music and attempting to portray what a painting would look like if it was a song.  The result is both dynamic and calligraphic.  Her more familiar abstracts focus on the relationship between shapes.
Swenson.  Cleopatra's Realm, Oil on Canvas.  40 x 30 inches.

Karine’s work is currently on display at JTAG, the cooperative gallery in Joshua Tree.  She also exhibited at the True World Gallery in 2008.  She has exhibited her work in galleries in Colorado and Hawaii before moving to California, and has had her work collected by people all over the United States, Canada and Europe. 
A View of Swenson's studio in its natural state of controlled chaos.

Visitors to Karine’s studio will have their pick of watercolors, pastels, oils, drawings, monotypes and other prints, T-shirts and hand sewn journals featuring her artwork.

Marjorie Franklin  written by Karine Swenson
Marjorie Franklin with a studio assistant.

One of the first things Marjorie said to me was that she has lived a peripatetic life.  Her wandering ways are exhibited not only in the fascinating life she has led, but also in her art.  She is one of those artists who has not forced her creativity into one corner, but allowed it the same wandering freedom she herself has enjoyed.  She worked for many years as a computer programmer.  Her love of math and music was transferred to art in a gradual way.  When her son was born, she loved the way he looked, and drew a picture of him.  That was her first drawing.  At the time, she was a computer programmer for UCLA.  She bought a camera when she met her husband Alex, which was another significant moment in her life as an artist.  She developed an interest in making independent films, and created films on the side, while continuing to work as a computer programmer.  One film she made was accepted into "Movies 'round Midnight" and was shown all over the country.
Works in progress in Franklin's studio.
She grew tired of making films, and moved on to installations and video in the early 1980's.  It was about this time that she realized she wanted to refresh her art practice with new ideas, and so she decided to pursue an MFA.  It was about this same time that the Amiga computer came out.  The discovery of this computer was the first time the artistic side and the computer side of Marjorie's life came together.  The Amiga computer had the color she liked and computer enhanced video could be created with it.  After working with the Amiga for a year, Franklin was able to create interactive installations with it.  These installations were a precursor to the Wii.
Franklin.  The Fall, acrylic on watercolor paper.
After completing her MFA at San Fransisco State, Marjorie went to teach at NIU.  Franklin's next creative foray was into the world of 3-D animation.  For many years, her art focused on how technology was changing human beings.  People have a digital self that has an impact on real life.  (Think about how your social security number affects your ability to get a job or a loan, for example.)   She continued to do interactive installations.  She also taught at the University of Minnesota for seven years.  At both Northern Illinois University and the U of M she set up a program for electronic art.
Franklin, Untitled.  Acrylic on Watercolor paper.
The last significant shift in Franklin's life came when her mother became weak and died.  It changed Marjorie's way of looking at life.  She had been ambitious and wanted success as an art professor, but she left that life to come back to California, where she was born.  She decided she wanted to live in the desert and be in the physical world, rather than spending so much time in the virtual world.  For six years, Marjorie has been living in Joshua Tree with her husband Alex, and she is now focusing on painting and drawing.  For Marjorie, painting is a mystery.  She doesn't know where it is leading her, but she is happy to go, where ever it leads.  Franklin has always been ahead of the curve, and she says she still feels that way.  She loves the physical qualities of paintings - how they look so much different in person than they do on the web.

John Lauretig  written by Karine Swenson
John Lauretig, modelling one of his HaMBAM crochet hats.
This is John Lauretig's first year on the Art Tours.  He an his wife, Nora Lousignont have lived in the high desert for ten years.  They moved here from Maui, HI.  It was John's work that brought them here.  Lauretig remembers one of his first creative endeavors fondly.  When he was a child, he made a hand-painted necklace for his mother out of macaroni.  Every now and then, as John was growing up, she would wear it.  He thought it was really cool that she wore it.  Perhaps it was that fond memory that keeps drawing John back to art.
Karine, in one of John's hats.

While living on Maui, John worked in ceramics.  It was there, at the Hui no'eau, a center for visual arts located on Maui, that John had his first adventure throwing ceramic pots on a wheel.  Lauretig had work in several juried shows on Maui.  One ceramic bowl, an "offering" bowl, had his hand prints in glaze was especially memorable.  It was also while living on Maui that John and Nora met and were married.  As gifts for the wedding guests, John gave ceramic bowls that he had made.  Lauretig also explored sculpture on Maui.  He created a found object sculpture called "Under Siege" about Man's destruction of Nature.
John in another crochet creation.

Life pulled John away from art after they moved to the desert.  It was his wife Nora who re-centered him by introducing him to crochet on a trip to Florida last year.  He has been crocheting ever since.  Lauretig has crocheted over 100 hats, mostly in wool.  Many of John's wool hats are felted, which is a process where the wool hat is washed in hot water to shrink the wool fiber and make it more dense.  You will also see hats in acrylic, nylon and even ribbon in this collection.  John has created many custom hats, and will be taking orders for custom hats during the Art Tours.  These "HaMBAM" (Hand made by a Man) hats are warm and stylish.
Karine, in another HaMBAM.
  So venture down the dirt road that leads to #25 on the first weekend and experience the vision of these three artists.  They are showing for the first weekend only, so don't miss them!

1 comment:

Andy said...

Wow you guys, there is some great work here! I want me one or two of those hats too!! Thank you Karine for all of your hard work, you're fantastic!