Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Studio Visit: Carol Es

Cross posted from "Working Artist's Journal":
art studio

Early last month I visited the studio of Los Angeles artist, Carole Es. Her "Moppet" space is located in the Highland Park area, in a rectangular pumpkin-colored building with a steam-punk Dutch door. The moppet is painted over the door and rests on the studio divan. The space is small, bright, attractive and incredibly neat. She offered us some drinks, showed us her work and then sat down to chat.

Carol Es in her studio

I first became aware of Carol and her work in (I think) 2004, via the nascent art blogging community. There weren't many artists blogging then and almost none were women. Carol's voice was funny, powerful, and true. So I guess I was drawn to her words, at first. When I started noticing her visual art, she was working on prints, drawings and books, so I mistakenly assumed she was not a painter. Wrong. I wasn't paying attention.

Moppet Studio

But I have to say, her books, prints, collage projects, and other non-paint projects are fabulously original, stunningly well-crafted and full of narrative content. The stories are personal and dreamlike (nightmarish in some cases) but there's always an intelligently humorous salve to the edge. One of my favorites in her print series was "Blogger Killings" - a revenge fantasy.

Painting by Carole Es

The paintings are similar in terms of content but with the additional element of the paint's layers and color subtleties. She still incorporates patterns and stitching in the pieces. I asked her about the painting on the easel. She said we were looking at the acrylic underpainting - she'll add oils next, and do the stitching last. The paintings are on stretched canvas and she forces a stickpin through the painted (dried) canvas before threading the design. This was the first time I'd seen her work person and it's larger and more complex than photos can convey.

She's been in this studio since last summer and it took a tremendous amount of work to get the studio set up. She started with a raw, abandoned space that needed cleaning, painting, new windows, and door installations. I asked her if it had had any effect on her work. She wasn't sure: "I have a home studio too, this space is more for studio visits . . . I don't know so much doubt this space because it's kind of small. I can work on a couple of things at once, but my old studio was much bigger, it was overlooking the ocean, in a park, it was really tranquil. It was really a precious place . . . something I'll never have again, and I was able to work on 6 or 7 projects at one time. It really was a sanctuary, so it was a completely different thing I'm dealing with now . . . there's street noise, it's completely different . . I don't know if it's affecting my work."

She's applying for multiple grants & residencies, an ongoing process that she's very persistent about. Depending on the outcome of those applications, she may do another book this year. Her upcoming shows are listed HERE. Another recent blog review is HERE.

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