”Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” ~Steven Pressfield
Bay Area Artist Mary Lonergan is a client and friend of All About Travel and we wanted to share with you a bit about her creative endeavors.
I have personally known Mary for many years. We worked together in the Bay Area in the music scene managing bands and producing live events. In fact, Mary and I have created artwork alongside one another working on our own projects, spending the day creating with music in the background. It’s definitely something I miss quite a bit. I actually worked with oils mostly until Mary introduced me to acrylics.
In fact, Mary’s first show in Florence I was going to attend with her. I had my ticket and everything. Unfortunately, a week prior to departure I broke my right foot. I still haven’t made it to Italy, but plan to and hopefully in 2013 to see Mary show some more of her work.
I shared an image of Mary’s art being shown in Times Square in June and had requests to know more about Mary and her art. That’s where this interview takes us. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
AV: Your art has been mostly shown in Europe and the Bay Area. Where in Europe have you exhibited your art pieces?
ML: My first public show was in Florence, Italy at the Biennale in 2007. Since then I have exhibited pieces in London, Monaco and Paris.
AV: I know you have attended some of these faraway places while your art is being shown, what has been your favorite place and why?
ML: Well, showing in Florence was absolutely amazing. It was my first public show, so I was literally walking around the city in a daze I was so happy and nervous at the same time…. But, honestly, showing in Paris was my favorite… truly a life altering experience! The show was at the Grand Palais and was attended by over 40 thousand people in a five day period. I had never seen anything like it! I kept asking the others around me….”where are they all coming from?” and they thought it was funny. There’s a very high level of respect for art in Paris…it’s inherently part of their culture. They love it and they support it.
AV: How long have you been showing your art?
ML: I’ve been showing for close to five years. I’d love to do some shows in California and New York. I’m currently building my inventory.
AV: How do you create your artwork? Environment? Tools? Artistic medium of choice and why that medium?
ML: I’m very lucky that I can work out of my home studio in Oakland. It’s a lovely room with great light and ventilation…which are key!
I use acrylics because they’re fast and easy to use; they dry much quicker than oils. I tend to get a bit impatient when I’m working if I can’t go back to an area because it’s still wet with paint.
I enjoy working on canvas, but also work on paper and often use mixed media. Some of my work starts as a painting, then it’s photographed and developed further on my computer to come up with a final image. That’s what happened here with a piece called ‘pink tree ribbon’
AV: Do you have any particular thing that inspires you to create?
ML: Being in nature really seems to allow room for me to go deeper into myself and find a path or a doorway to my creativity. Also, seeing/experiencing other art/artists definitely creates a spark. I went to a live music show last weekend and the performers were so in tuned with one another, they were so in the moment, that I found it exhilarating to watch them create. That type of energy is always inspiring.
AV: When you are creating your pieces do you ever find yourself going in a different direction than you originally started?
ML: Yes! This happens quite often actually. A piece called, ‘gloria’ started as a landscape but then as I went along, I could see a face emerging from the canvas. I love it when this happens. It’s always a surprise and feels like the painting is really already there just waiting to be uncovered!
AV: How long have you been creating your art pieces?
ML: I started painting in late 2003 when I saw an advertisement for an all day painting workshop in San Francisco. This guy used to open different warehouse spaces and invite people to come in and paint. He provided the paper, paint & supplies and you just had to show up…and you could pay him whatever you could afford, so some people gave him money and others brought him lunch or would do trades with him. It was the day I remembered how much I LOVED to paint and knew that somehow I had to incorporate it into my life.
AV: What was the last show you attended?
ML: The last show I went to was at the Vessel Gallery in Oakland. It was an event for a nonprofit called Coach Art. It’s a really fantastic gallery and had some beautiful work. Before that I went to the Oakland Museum of California to see the “1991: Oakland-Berkeley Fire Aftermath, Photographs by Richard Misrach”…it was devastating.
AV: How do you think/want other people to respond to your art?
ML: I want people to be turned on by my art. I want an immediate emotional reaction. Does it capture your heart, does it make you feel happy when you look at it, etc. Or, does it make you cry… If I can get that kind of reaction from someone looking at my art, I’ve done my job. I believe my best work has a sound and movement to it that finds its way directly to the core of the viewer and there, the connection is made.
AV: Describe an important goal with your artwork that you have achieved?
ML: I launched my website a little over a year ago. Getting my art work out into the world has really made a impact on how I view myself as an artist and how I think about my art business. It was an important goal and I can’t understate how much of a difference it’s made in being able to connect with my collectors and with people in the art world who I’ve wanted to work with. It’s a great tool.
AV: Recently your piece, great peacemaker (Iroquois) was shown in New York City’s Times Square on a 9ft x 12ft billboard… how amazing was that?
ML: I was so thrilled to be a part of it! Artists Wanted is a wonderful group in New York that connects artists with opportunities & they joined up with Chashama, a not for profit that transforms vacant properties into places where artists can thrive. Together they presented the works of nearly 5,000 artists in a huge exhibition on the billboards in Times Square.
At the time my work was shown, I couldn’t see it as the webcams weren’t functioning (I wasn’t able to be in New York), so I was a bit disappointed, but then two days later, an artist that I follow on Twitter (who lives in Africa!), posted the photo of my art work being shown on the big screen! I was beside myself I was so happy. I cried actually when I saw it. It was a wonderful moment!
“Great Peacemaker (Iroquois)” by artist Mary Lonergan (left)
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