San Francisco Art Fair 2012 – Mildred Howard

Some of you may know the artist Mildred Howard. I did not. It was at the VIP party where I met Mildred. She had many pieces on exhibit with different galleries at the Art MRKT in San Franscico. I deeply connect to her work.

As an artist, I work with a variety of materials to convey the concept of memory. I think for most of us there is a need to know who we truly are. Or maybe how or why are we here? Mildred Howard also deals with this concept. Viewing her work meant a great deal to me. Having said that there was one piece which I visited several times. It was a small house structure built with three inch clear glass bottles. In the video link below she discusses her concept and the quote from a book that was the inspiration.

So our work is conceptually very similar – even having authors whose work has inspired work through our hands.

One author whose work has inspired me is Sandra Cisneros. It affirmed my pursuit of working with branches as it continues the dialogue of memory. Recently the 200 year old oak trees in our community and our backyard, underwent a traumatizing but cyclical event. They were stripped of their leaves by caterpillars. Many worried some trees would not make it through the ordeal.

Thinking about the eaten trees, memories, life’s hurdles, tenacity to continue… the following quote is from Cisneros The House on Mango Street. Keep in mind it is written from a child perspective about her life and surroundings,

“Their strength is secret. They send ferocious roots beneath the ground. They grow up and they grow down and grab the earth between their hairy toes and both the sky with violent teeth and never quit their anger. This is how they keep.

Let one forget his reason for being, they’d all droop like tulips in a glass, each with their arms around the other. Keep, keep, keep, trees say when I sleep. They teach.

When I am too sad and too skinny to keep keeping, when I am a tiny thing against so many bricks, then it is I look at trees. When there is nothing left to look at on this street. Four who grew despite concrete. Four who reach and do not forget to reach. Four whose only reason is to be and be.”

Thinking about the pervasive power of memory and the secrets not yet told, not understood, or not recognized, I marvel at our strength to “keep keeping.” Something keeps us keeping. Memory continues our legacy. My effort is to bring a sense of meaning or understanding to the complexity surrounding this concept.

I remember listening to Laurie Frick’s artist talk for Edward Cella Gallery. She was describing the process of tracking her life and demonstrating it in her art. We all do this unwittingly in one form or another – documenting our memories. My work and process is reflecting on this concept and demonstrating it through artifacts…it is sort of a form of tracking.

And the beat goes on….