March 24, 2020

WHEN PAINTINGS COME TO LIFE

detail The Swimmer
I made this painting 15 years ago,
based on a photograph of the Icelandic band

múm

 from Index magazine, April 2002.

When my daughter was a baby, I stayed home with her and didn't get much painting done. The only work I have from that time are a few paintings from a series titled The Swimmer. This one is my favorite, and is hanging at my mother's house.

I have spent a lot of time looking at this girl's face! There were a lot of unsuccessful versions of the painting as I recall, and I still stare at it now every time I visit my mother.

I don't remember listening to the music before now, but a lot of it is ethereal, and atmospheric, and beautiful, just like the images in the magazine. I love the way they described their album, Finally We Are No One:
The record comes from an imaginary place, maybe there's a valley, a swimming pool, some hills, a tunnel. It's not clear what goes on there. It's open for interpretation. We wrote the music in this really isolated lighthouse. We had to take a little rubber boat to get out there.

They were scheduled to play at Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House, tomorrow. Besides really liking the music, I got so excited about the idea of seeing this girl's face in real life. I was just about to buy tickets when it got postponed, like everything else, but I have promised myself that the next time they play I am definitely going to see them!



The Swimmer, 2005, oil on canvas, 44 x 50 inches

Listen to

múm


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iu21Q34OSvQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui6ERk-AySw

Index Magazine








March 6, 2020

RELATIONSHIPS ARE LIKE EXHIBITION PROPOSALS



























That is to say, dating is like an exhibition proposal.
It's hit or miss, and it usually has nothing to do with you at all!

In the past six months I've applied for 15 or more artist opportunities.
Of those applications, three accepted me, two of which I didn't hear back from for six months after my submission. This is way better odds than I'm used to, but I can still say from experience that it's so easy to feel deflated when none of the dots are connecting the way you want them to. Getting into your head and rationalizing where you went wrong only makes it worse.

The last "rejection" email I got this morning was extra thoughtful and it confirmed something I already knew, which is that most of the time, it's not personal. Most of the time, whether you get selected for a juried show, a group or solo exhibition, is highly dependent on so many other factors outside of your qualifications and the merits of your work.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have not gone out with 15 or more people in the past six months! but I can safely say that I've crossed paths with a handful of amazing, beautiful, and intriguing souls. The worst thing I could do is to take any rebuff or dismissal from said souls as a personal rejection. Trust me, I've done just that a few times. But, it's not personal, and I know this. It simply can't always be a good fit, and there are unknown factors outside my qualifications and merits that come into play. Still, I've been told I'm too much, I'm complicated, I'm lazy, etc. Going forward, listen, I appreciate the directness, for real. There is nothing worse than polite aloofness. However, I'd much prefer a thoughtful email explaining how courageous I am to even submit myself, and how grateful you are to even have had the chance to consider me and get to know my work.







March 2, 2020

In like a Lion.....I am my father's daughter

I need a project. Something to rally around. To focus my random thoughts and obsessions on. Do you know that feeling?


my daughter in front of his grave stone
Here is the beginning of a story I want to write about my father. At the moment it is merely a scattering of thoughts and notes. It could also just turn out to be another self-reflective blog post, but we'll see!


I think of my father as a pillar holding up the world.

My father was sick for six years.
March 24, 2011, he died in the morning sometime between 6:30 and 7:00am. I know because I was staying at the house and I got up twice to go to the bathroom. At the time, the unearthly sound of his breathing could be heard throughout the house. When I got up the second time, I noticed it was quiet, and I ran to my mother, sleeping on the couch, to say, I don't hear him anymore.

When people called on the telephone we used words like gone and passed. You didn't say he's dead, he died this morning. You said, he's gone, he's not with us anymore, it's over. When they took his body away, I have a clear memory of my mother crying, saying that the bed was still warm.

Every March I think about these things. Sometimes I forget it's March and can't figure out why I'm more depressed than usual.

My father was an amazing storyteller. Before he died, family members tried to record him telling his stories, but only a few got saved. He was fascinated by human behavior, and had experienced the world through many means. He was a NYC police detective for twenty five years. Born in Brooklyn, to parents whose parents were born in Sicily, and grew up in Little Italy. My grandmother worked at a candy factory in Brooklyn. We used to see the factory buildings from the Gowanus Expressway, and every time we crossed it my father would say, that's where grandma used to work. They lived in a two bedroom apartment where three brothers slept in the same bed.

In Like A Lion, 2011, oil on canvas, 50x72"
My father grew up playing stick ball in the street, at a time when everybody on the block knew everybody, and looked out for each other. Everyone was an immigrant then. He was not prejudiced in any way, and was equally friendly and unimpressed by people of all walks of life. He could strike up a conversation with anyone, rich or poor, bad guy, good guy, criminal, movie star, celebrity. He had street smarts that outtalked the highest paid lawyers in New York, and was still the most humble person I've ever met. He was a writer, a thinker, and a seeker of truth. I helped him with a book he started writing once. I typed out his handwritten pages. People he knew were all getting movies made about their stories, and he had been part of some of the biggest criminal cases in the world.

When he got drafted into the army during Vietnam, his war was not a bloody one, it was a cerebral one. He was an MP, and his job was to stand guard and protect the perimeter of the camp. Alone in a hand built wooden hut staring into the jungle for hours through the night, waiting for enemy soldiers to appear. He told the story of that palpable fear, of hallucinating and trying to stay awake, of napalming the trees and brush. He told the story of meeting God in that jungle. He wanted me to paint a picture of it, but I never thought there were enough materials in the world that could depict that kind of profound experience.

his necklace that I inherited
Since he died I have made some terrible decisions in my life, and have been involved in a succession of terrible relationships, all starting that fall in 2011. Looking back, although these different relationships were with seemingly very different people, I can see now that they weren't that different at all. In fact the similarities are jarring. I've thought this whole time that each of them pulled the rug out from under me in one way or another, but the truth is, there was never a rug there to begin with.

I think I've been searching for the safety and security of that pillar holding up my world. Maybe now that I realize this, maybe now I can finally grieve this loss properly and be my own pillar. I am my father's daughter, and I am proud of that. He was a man among men. He walked in love because he really believed it, without ever seeking or needing a reward for it.

March is said to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. For me it has stayed a roaring lion all this time. I'm ready for the lamb. In all the losses I grieve for, suddenly I find myself grieving for him as if he just died.

I think my father would be disappointed at my rotten decision making, but I know he would still love me, because his love was unconditional. There were no conditions, or limits. He would walk to the ends of the earth for you, and he'd let you know it. He'd whistle, and sing you a song about it all along the way too. He had a song for everyone, and he was always singing it. One of the many songs he sang to me was Peggy Sue, which he of course changed to Sammy Sue. If you want to know how I know the words to every 1950-1960's oldies tune, my father is the reason! There's a picture of me at my last exhibition opening where I think I look a lot like him. More than anything, it's the expression on my face. It's a proud look, and it's the same way he looked at me so often throughout my life.












February 21, 2020

In Defense of Painting

Installation view of the exhibition, In Defense of Painting, at Pen + Brush





Pen & Brush is a not-for-profit organization showcasing the work of female artists and writers. They have over 125 years under their belts fighting for gender equity in the arts. Amazing! I am so excited and honored to be showing my work here, and to be part of such a wonderful history. Oops, I mean, herstory!












at the opening February 27


In Defense of Painting
February 27 - April 11, 2020


Pen + Brush

29 East 22nd Street, New York , NY


Opening Reception: Feb. 27th, 6-8pm


In Defense of Painting brings together three contemporary artists, Julia Jo, Samantha Palmeri, and Hojan, who are working with the age-old medium through the basics of form, color, shape, and materiality on a flat surface to embody feelings, emotions, and possibly new ways of seeing. In the twenty-first century context, generations have now lived through the death of painting many times over – yet the medium’s capacity to hold an expression of who we are as humans remains boundless. This boundlessness seems ever more compelling in the internet age.


Each of these artists grapple with pigment, allowing it to dry at various stages of abstraction and, at times, giving way to figuration and from there, animations, all while definitively leaving moments of ambiguity on the surface. Through their invention of forms, viewers are encouraged to enter at their own point of reference, to dive in, to swim, to see, to think, and to feel. This way of painting is a humanist act. It connects us. It doesn’t have to be new every time but somehow it is. Yet, perhaps that is beside the point.


Samantha Palmeri uses personal experiences to inform her painting and in turn “exteriorize our human and cultural interactions” through the examining of the natural, physical, and spiritual world. Born in Staten Island, New York, Palmeri received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in 1996. She has exhibited throughout New York and has been awarded the Arts Letter and Numbers Residency for 2020. Palmeri works with both figurative and abstract shapes to intentionally create ambiguous forms that aim to challenge the viewer. Focusing on materiality and movement, Palmeri obscures the everyday to explore the relationships and forces that pulse through both objects, space, and the paint itself.


Julia Jo uses paint to push against and with the boundaries of figuration and abstraction in ways that are both founded upon the cannon of painting and innovation. Born in Seoul, South Korea, and currently based in New York, Jo received her Master’s of Fine Art from the Parson’s School of Design from the New School and has exhibited across the United States. Using oil, acrylic, and flashe on a large scale, Jo aims to capture the ephemerality of life and inhabit the moments that are indescribable through language. On her process Jo says: “I chase after moments where abstraction and figuration form a necessary companionship in order to cling to this moment when the feeling inept for description bubbles to the surface. I begin with human forms for compositional elements, and through layering and piecing together, the bodily curvatures form a space. It is through an accumulation of numerous overlapping of forms and lines that the finished painting departs almost completely from figurative roots. In the final painting, the forms disintegrate into an all-over weave of visual movements that turn the surface into a spatial experience made up of brush strokes that harken back to the organic forms of the body. “


Using styles and methods that are both universal and timely, Hojan creates works that speak to the interconnectedness of the medium to the space it occupies. Born in Keelung, Taiwan, Hojan received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn , New York in 2019, and studied Communications Design in 3D Animation at Shih-Chien University in Taipei, Taiwan. Her work has been exhibited throughout New York and Taiwan, and in 2019 she was awarded the Pratt Circle Award. In John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, he suggests that “The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe.” Hojan uses paint to create a narrative within space that is indicative of both the artists’ and the viewers relationship to the medium of painting. In speaking about her work, Hojan states: ”My painting is dealing with the relationships of the color shapes in the pictorial space. Those shapes are turned into characters, which becomes the main elements in the paintings in order to develop the relative position in the space and to create the seeing movement by their gestures. They are meant for the composition. Space embraces them, and they become indispensable in it. Viewers, as they feel the space is believable and comfortable, they enter the painting with what they know or what they believe, finding out that in the pictorial space, those characters are extending the emotional space”.


In conjunction with In Defense of Painting, Pen + Brush launches a new initiative, Project Space: Margaret Roleke in its downstairs gallery space. This space is intended as a separate project driven space that will engage the public in more immersive contemporary art experiences. In its first iteration, Pen + Brush presents the exploratory constructs of Margaret Roleke, who creates work that investigates current issues of gun violence and consumption. Roleke, who has shown her work extensively in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, works with small toys, guns, and spent bullet casing in Project Space to explore the relationships and contradictions within popular culture when it comes to consumerism and violence. The artist received a Bachelor of the Arts from Marymount Manhattan College and a Master of Fine Arts from Long Island University, C.W. Post. Roleke has shown work at Spring/Break Art Fair, 14C Art Fair, and Flux Art Fair. Her work has been written about in various publications including Hyperallergic, ArtNet, and Artsy.

February 11, 2020

finding meaning



Samantha Palmeri, Unravel, 2018, oil and charcoal on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

When I titled this piece, a little over a year ago, I pictured unraveling as a breaking apart of things, and it felt like a good metaphor for me. 

So much has changed since November 2018, and I can now appreciate that to unravel is also to untangle, and resolve

I've never shown the painting before, so I'm excited that the timing seems so perfect to have it included in a group exhibition coming up in March in Beacon, NY. 


Loss doesn't equal failure

This is hard to sink in because we are brainwashed to believe we need things that we don't really need, and that we are supposed to want things that we don't always want. We can make our own rules and find our own way of doing things. Things that make us feel most like ourselves. Even if, and especially when, it doesn't make any sense to anyone but us.


lovers
friends
husbands
children
houses
possessions
mothers
brothers
I lose them all
little by little
and then all at once
still
in this sea of loss
I find things
in packing your bags
my lost kimono
and in filling my voids
without warning
the answer
Here all along









February 1, 2020

fake it till you make it

detail of working painting, oil on canvas



This morning I made coffee, put on my favorite Chopin, peeled an orange, fried up two beautiful eggs with butter and crusty bread, which I slid onto my grandmother's perfectly sized Jadeite plate. I even lit a candle. 
A good friend recently said to me, I’ll know you’re in a real relationship Samantha when you gain those relationship 10 lbs. The other day I said to her, hey you’re right! I’m finally having a real relationship. With myself. Apparently it’s going really well I’ve already gained 5 lbs. Cue drum laughter..
Listen, I know how to wine and dine myself
The spirit of self-care has extended into my art studio as well. I am feeling a new sense of freedom and independence. I am no longer painting angsty continuations of what came before. I've decided to paint the joy I want to feel, and damn if it's not working. Is that the expression, fake it till you make it? I'm okay with that. My studio is a positive ray of light, and I've got the comments on instagram to prove it, Lol
I know the world is falling apart and all, and I'm here writing self-help messages to myself, but sometimes you just have to go in the studio and close the door. 


detail of working painting, oil on canvas


detail of working painting, oil on canvas

January 23, 2020

newest painting, as of now


Samantha Palmeri, detail, Turning, 2020, oil and oil stick on canvas, 96 x 64 inches

In just six weeks it will be the middle of March, which will officially mark the passing of a great and terrible year. Great in its enormity and terrible in its finalities. In the meanwhile I will not wish away this moment. I can taste every desire on the tip of my tongue, but I'm here now and this is a good hour of day. This is a good second to sit here and write this. I finished this painting this week and am knee deep in two others just like it.

I'm happy with the new paintings, especially after having not done much work since my solo show in September. I'm so glad I did that show because it got me to see my work more clearly, and to make clear intentions for myself. It's funny that the things I wanted to change in the work are the same things I've wanted to change in my personal life, and I think I am; like opening up and getting less tangled, being freer with the shapes and the color, and letting go and not having it be such a struggle. I'm so ready to keep accessing those things in me to bring to the canvas. I feel like I am turning, and the work is turning, like a piece of wood that gets turned to bring about something new and beautiful.


Samantha Palmeri, Turning, 2020, oil and oil stick on canvas, 96 x 64 inches


To see better quality images go to my website: samanthapalmeri.com


Samantha Palmeri, detail, Turning, 2020, oil and oil stick on canvas, 96 x 64 inches







January 21, 2020

slow painting

fragment detail of working painting, oil on canvas
























slowly I am working on new paintings 
and even though there seems to be no logical space in my life at the moment for luxuries like painting in my studio
miraculously it happens anyway

I haven't slept very well in a while
my thoughts are sprawled out and jotted down on the backs of small pieces of imaginary papers

this morning I wrote the beginning of a poem I may or may not ever finish:

          my left eye is not twitching to the beat of my heart
          I can tell
          because out of the corner of my right eye
          knees up
          feet on the floor
          I can see the pulse in my wrist moving up and down




fragment detail of working painting, oil on canvas