November 11, 2019

how to stop overthinking

There are little orchid babies on all my orchid plants.

I'm mesmerized that they are thriving with no concern for my feelings at all!

Completely unperturbed by what's going on in the world. They could care less about the emotional roller coasters I'm on, whether it's a bad day or a good day. They don't care about my new socks or my chipped nail polish, or the teaching gig I may or may not have. They just do what they do no matter what. 

I've watched these things all year, slightly neglected I admit. Even with yellow leaves falling off, clumps of entangled roots with barely any soil or moss to grow in, they still flourish. Regardless of even some basic necessities, they still grow, because that's what they're made to do. So simple and easy.

Orchids are thought to be a difficult plant to keep, but that's a misconception. We think because they're so beautiful and delicate they need extra care, but really they need less. Less humanness, less fussing and overthinking. I wish I could be this way. I'm exhausted from all my overthinking and feeling. I also wish my art practice was that steadfast and unflustered by internal and external influences. That way I could stop thinking about what to do next and just do it.

I haven't worked in the studio in a month, since my exhibition ended, and as usual the longer I wait the worse my mental state gets. I'm aware of course that relief from all the over thinking is to get some artwork done. The irony is that it takes so much work to get to that place of losing yourself in the work.






October 18, 2019

morning meditation

This morning I meditate
I take all the rocks off the window sill and put them in front of me
I greet the waving leaves on the trees and note the colors are more vibrant than yesterday
I think the sky has grown or I’ve shifted my seat because it looks bigger
I watch the clouds drift slowly by
And I feel the inside parts of my body moving with them
I check my pulse where my heart tattoo is to see if it is beating in harmony
It is not
I picture the blood flowing swiftly to and from it 
I wonder if I hold my finger there if I will be able to slow it down
I don’t
I go back to prayer pose
I seek the presence of the Lord but my thoughts go back and forth and there is a song in my head that keeps getting in the way
I seek forgiveness and peace and mostly Love and I think all these things while I pick up a rock from the pile
It is round and rough and I embrace the rock into my clasped hands
I don’t know what the rock stands for except that then all of a sudden I do
It is fear
It is the perfect rock for fear because it is flat enough and round enough and rough enough to feel good and fit perfectly in my hands
I think that I will let it go as soon as I hear the last gong
But I’m not ready and I squeeze it tighter
I picture it squeezing itself into my chest and becoming part of my body 
It represents the dark unknowns that keep me up at night 
It represents my longing my doubt my anger my hurt 
it is the foundation of all my frustration
it is at the core of all the dark thoughts in my head that I don’t want anymore
I let the rock go and place it on the empty windowsill 
I feel relieved 
but immediately I feel the absence of the rock
So I say a prayer that the empty space will get filled with Love 
and as I’m repeating the word over and over I hear the last gong




October 8, 2019

Art Studio Upheaval

This is a fun, and awkward post to write.

I am in the midst of a serious reorganization-upheaval of my art studio. Somehow the studio has become a dumping ground for a lot of shit I don't want to deal with.

I've been going through boxes and piles of artwork that I've been avoiding for over twenty years. Drawings, photographs, journal entries, scraps of paper with scrawled notes and sketches from age 18 until now.

IT IS SO MUCH!

And most of it is clearly like my worst depictions of teenage (and twenties' and thirties') angst and depression. Not to mention postcards, receipts, and tax papers from every failed business and art gallery I've owned or managed. All neatly piled in boxes that I've hauled from one studio to the next over and over throughout the years.

So, here I am happy to report that I have not only mustered the courage to look at all of this head on, but I've been able to purge most of it once and for all. Some of it was way more difficult to throw out, but I made a point of not only tossing things into the bin, I ripped them to shreds first.

Can you say Catharsis?

The memories are there and of course I'm still the same person and all, but I don't need the baggage anymore. I have saved a few gems, at least they're gems to me, and I suppose this is the fun part, sharing these silly self portraits with you!

This is a drawing I made when I was 18. Pastel on newsprint, 18x24". My eyes have never been that big btw and my hair has never been that straight, but there it is! It was part of an application for something and I remember the person reviewing it saying to me, what did you get bored by the time you got to the hair? Obviously I didn't get accepted into whatever it was!

This was a school assignment copied from a photograph from I'm pretty sure St. John's University, ca. 1992. Pencil on Bristol paper 16x16". I was damn cute as a four year old wasn't I?! Oh and the brown dots are moldy bits from being stored in my parent's basement for a few years.

This doesn't actually look like me either but I do like this little painting. Oil on canvas, 1999, 10x11"

... self portraits


My mother has often referred to me as stubborn. I used to agree with her but mostly because I liked thinking of myself that way. It implied that I had my own opinion, which gave me a personality, which I desperately craved when I was younger because all evidence pointed elsewhere.

But it has more to do with something else I think. It's not that I refuse to believe certain things, it's just that I need to see it for myself first. I can't believe in anything until I've made up my own mind about it. My daughter is the same way. She won't take my word for it. Maybe it's not the worst thing, except that it does end up taking an awfully  l o o o o o o n g  time to process things.








September 24, 2019

how to fall in love with yourself


Samantha Palmeri, Good Job, 2019, oil, charcoal, and pigment on canvas, 50 x 54 inches


It seems like everything happens in the fall.

Three years ago in October I was on the floor pretending to be a dolphin sobbing like a baby. sort of if I can remember correctly, in between writhing around and laying in a fetal position in a dark room full of strangers all doing the same thing. except for the sobbing part, because when the instructor said to give yourself a big hug and tell yourself you loved yourself, I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who burst into tears. At that moment I couldn't have been farther away from knowing what that felt like or how to do it. Three years later I am not sobbing on the floor, but this notion of self-love still eludes me.

When you google self-love, some twenty something with a nose ring and perfect eyeliner appears on a video saying maybe you haven't done this or thought about it in like a year or so, so here's what you should do. really? Millennial self-help is such an oxymoron.

How to fall in love with yourself could very well be the most cliche thing ever. but what if it's like the most important question to ask. after all, trying to figure out how to fall in love with someone else or how to get them to fall in love with you is exhausting and counterproductive. I'm starting to understand, or at least pretending really hard to, that all that matters is the being okay with yourself part.

So, I'm willing to give this thing a try. TRY
or Don't Try as Charles Bukowski would say, but either way it's just there, and you're just there, and whether you meet in the middle, fall madly in love, or go to the bar and forget all about it, it's still gonna be there no matter what, so you might as well..........


This article might not legitimately be about life as a working artist, but you know, confidence goes a long way. My work is about relationships, and this probably is the most important one.









September 18, 2019

PAINTING WITH ACTION

Samantha Palmeri, The Things Between Us II, 2019, oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

Actions speak louder than words, and my paintings speak louder than me.

Unless you put your words and thoughts into action they lose meaning. In the end wishful thinking is just wishful thinking.

Friends who constantly say to you, I'd love to, I wish I could but can't, and never do, aren't really your friends. Friends actually show up, physically and emotionally. And isn't it wonderful when they do!

Then there's my paintings, which is what I really want to talk about. I'm so proud of this work that is now showing at the Catalyst Gallery in Beacon, New York.

My amazing artist friends who have seen this work in progress know what a struggle it was, my constant questioning, uncertainty, and doubt. And yet somehow the work has ended up speaking  louder than my trepidation.

I guess I'd say these are paintings of action. They showed up! Somewhere between my brain and my hand came some resolute power to pull it through.

The work is all the things I'd like to be: vibrant, decisive, satisfying.

(other people's praise not mine btw)

This reassures me, and we all need that reservoir of surety don't we, that I am doing exactly what I was meant to be doing.

Installation view, Samantha Palmeri, The Things Between Us, Catalyst Gallery, 2019


The Things Between Us is showing at Catalyst Gallery through September 29th.
I am at the gallery weekends 12-6 and by appointment any day of the week.






September 17, 2019

Current Mood






S e t t i n g   n e w   b o u n d a r i e s   s t a r t s   w i t h   m e   c h o p p i n g   t h i s   o n e   d o w n   t o d a y  



Y o u   s e e   h o w   t h e   f e n c e   w o n ' t   o p e n   r i g h t ? 




N o w   I   c a n   e n t e r   t h e   g a r d e n   a g a i n 



N o t h i n g   l i k e   a   l i t t l e   S u p e r w o m a n   a c t i o n   o n   a   T u e s d a y   a f t e r n o o n  !



June 13, 2019

How to deal with negative feedback




Most days I welcome feedback of my work. I can take a subjective opinion or a well thought out critique, even if I disagree, even from people who don't know that much about it.

But some days are difficult. There are moments when I feel especially vulnerable, and am overly sensitive and susceptive to the smallest criticism or critique. 

Recently I heard just the tiniest negative comment about my paintings and it threw me. I went to the studio and mentally applied that one comment to everything I was working on. I was more annoyed at myself for letting it affect me than the comment itself which was inconsequential at best. 

Sometimes it's good to take a step back and remember who we are and why we're doing what we're doing. I keep a journal in my studio specifically to jot down thoughts that I'm having a hard time articulating. Here's what I wrote: 

Fuck it! No one's here but me- my spirit- my soul- my body- my mind- We're working today and fuck everything else



May 31, 2019

A PRELUDE


I am about to embark on a new phase of life. One where I get to make my own decisions and have my own thoughts. I've been thinking a lot about the things that I like, that make me happy.

I like Chopin. I love Chopin. Listening to Chopin makes me almost giddy. It fills my entire person. I am paying bills this morning, which is a task that is frustrating and has brought me to tears more than a few times. But I put on Chopin in the background and I am perfectly fine. Isn't that weird!

Piano music brings me back to ballet class as a kid. Not the struggle and self-critical part, just the absolute joy. I hear the music and I picture bodies floating through the air in ecstatic pirouettes and grands jetés. I imagine my own body doing all the things I was never capable of doing. It puts a smile on my face.

Chopin also is ingrained in me because I grew up hearing my uncle play it during weekly visits to grandma's house. Chopin couldn't be more of a perfect fit for the dichotomy of comfort and tension that was grandma's house and everything associated with it. Only artistic genius could capture the drama and beauty, sensitivity and chaos of so much dysfunction in such a transcendent way.













May 2, 2019

Making it up the mountain

I've been making my way up the mountain. That's both real and metaphorical.




The walk up Beacon mountain starts just three houses from mine. I've climbed to the top a bunch of times, but lately it seems like more of a struggle.

Today I'm happy to say I made it even further up.
The bugs getting stuck in my hair were actually more of a challenge than the steep climb. Which reminded me of course of a song my father used to sing to me. Because most things in life remind me of a song my father used to sing to me.

Hair from the play Hair:
"Darlin', give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair. Shining, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen. Give me down to there hair, shoulder length or longer. Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair. I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, Matty, oily, greasy, fleecy, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen. Hair, hair, hair, hair."

I have this idea to make a book of photocopies of my hair. Here are the first two.










March 18, 2019

Shaolin*: the forgotten borough

Who we are has so much to do with where we are from.

Something's been on my mind about place and belonging. So many artists talk about where they're from and how much it's influenced their work and their lives. Whether they left a place by choice or not, whether they stayed, returned, or were never able to, whether they hated it or loved it, it has played an important role.


I was born and raised in Staten Island, New York, and lived there until I was 29.



Staten Island has a very ghetto mentality. By that I am being quite inclusive as far as race and discrimination. It's less about poverty, but definitely about fear, isolation, and cultural starvation.

Staten Island is divided by neighborhoods. There are 19 stops on the Staten Island Rapid Transit. Each one has its own personality. In my era, neighborhoods were divided into territorial gangs. My neighborhood gang was called the Albee boys because we lived on the cross street of Albee avenue. The Albee boys were rivals of the New Springville boys. In 1991 Thomas Bickerton's big brother was beaten to death with a baseball bat by the New Springville boys and his name was spray painted under the overpass a block from my house. I remember this distinctly because Thomas Bickerton had jumped up to kiss me in the courtyard of PS 36 during our Kindergarten recess, and I had been friendly with him ever since. I graduated from a high school with a population of almost 4,000. There were exactly two African American students in my graduating class. In the last election almost 75% of the people from my old neighborhood voted Republican.

Staten Island is divided by the north shore and the south shore. My neighborhood on the south shore was made up mostly of people who had moved from Brooklyn to Staten Island, including my family. People who commuted to Manhattan to work every day but didn't spend much time there after working hours. My friends and I didn't hang out in the city, we hung out on the corner, in back of the high school parking lot, or literally at the giant rock in the woods by my house.

In 1986 I was accepted to the high school of performing arts for ballet. I didn't go. I have no recollection of what that conversation was like, but for a sheltered 13 year old from Staten Island, the idea of riding the ferry to the train by myself to Fiorello La Guardia every day wasn't even in my peripheral.

There are five boroughs of New York City: Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island. Staten Island is the only borough that doesn't physically connect to Manhattan. There is no bridge or train that goes directly to the city. Commuters take a train to a ferry, or a bridge to a tunnel, or some combination which often includes driving from New York to New Jersey to New York again. From Annadale it took me an hour and a half to get to midtown Manhattan. A half hour train ride, a 20 minute ferry ride, a ten minute subway, plus the walk to, and the wait for, each of these operations. There are three bridges that cross over to New Jersey and exactly one bridge that crosses to Brooklyn. This is not an accident. It symbolizes a great cultural divide. In 1993 65% of Staten Islanders voted to secede from NYC. With mostly no interest in taking advantage of/enjoying any of New York City's culture, art, spirit, energy, there was also no interest in paying its expenses/tax bill.

Staten Island, often referred to as the "forgotten borough", if you didn't already know, was also once home to the largest garbage dump in the world. T h e   w o r l d.  It was seen from outer space... for real. On a particularly stale day one could smell the dump from miles away.

It took me years to accept that the place I grew up in was, well, kind of embarrassing. A way more suburban than urban, left out, dumped on borough under a giant shadow of one of the greatest cities in the world. When I worked in the city I never volunteered that I was from Staten Island. People would make fun of the dump or the ferry or the fact that New Jersey was easier to get to.

I hated Staten Island when I was growing up. I was shy and artistic and I didn't get anyone's inside jokes about the Staten Island mall. I was a cheerleader but I couldn't do a cartwheel. I had no connection whatsoever to the place I was from. When I was a senior and about to graduate high school, my parents went to an open school night and incidentally met with my art teacher. Mrs. D'Agostino was shocked that I had absolutely no plans for any specific college or to pursue art in any way. She's the reason I became an art major. Not because she was particularly inspiring, but because she was the only one who'd suggested it.

I think I let the place I was from define me for a long time. I'm beginning to understand that the place itself is just part of a story I tell myself about who I am, and that's something I can change.




*Shaolin is what the Wu Tang Clan called Staten Island in the early 1990's.


February 22, 2019

NYC ART: 3 MUST-SEE SHOWS

I went to see some gallery shows yesterday, in particular Dana Schutz at Petzel Gallery, Judy Pfaff at Miles McEnery, and Brenda Goodman at Sikkema Jenkins.

Judy Pfaff, detail of Quartet II

Judy Pfaff, Quartet II, 2018, Photographic inspired digital image, steel frame, acrylic, expanded foam, aluminum discs, lightbulbs, wood, melted plastic, Styrofoam. 128.5” x 160” x 60”

Dana Schutz, Trouble and Appearance, 2019, Oil on canvas, 90 x 96 inches

Brenda Goodman, Let the Match Begin, 2017, oil on wood, 60 x 72 inches

Brenda Goodman, Possibility of Age, 2018, oil on wood, Two parts: 80 x 144 inches overall


WOW. These three artists are kicking ass with uncontained, unbridled energy, intention, and material-love. Monsters of color, detail, and form. I saw the shows in that order, Schutz, Pfaff, and Goodman. I left the Dana Schutz exhibition feeling like I should just give it up right now. The work feels so big, and a lot of it is so big. Big and bold and juicy. I imagined my paintings next to hers like little puny specks. Then I walked into Judy Pfaff's show and just started smiling uncontrollably. She is total exuberance! I was still smiling when I got to the Brenda Goodman show. Goodman has been at it for so long, I think of the saying, slow and steady wins the race. She is persistence. The surface details and little unexpected moments everywhere are too marvelous!

These women are laying it all out there. Led by a very personal, intuitive layering of material and meaning. I am so inspired. I feel like I have to go back and soak up some more.

These shows prove that seeing is believing. Visual art NEEDS to be experienced in person. Not one online image I viewed of any of these artworks came even close to what it feels like to be in a room with them.

Both the Dana Schutz and Brenda Goodman exhibitions end tomorrow, so if you haven't been, high tail it over there. Judy Pfaff's exhibit runs through March 9th.


Dana Schutz, Painting in an Earthquake, 2019, Oil on canvas, 94 x 87.75 inches

Brenda Goodman, Bringing it Home, 2018, oil on wood, 16 x 20 inches

Judy Pfaff, Quartet I, 2018, Photographic inspired digital image, wire frame, acrylic, melted plastic, aluminum discs, fungus, paper, glitter, Styrofoam, florescent light. 120.75” x 156” x 32”

Judy Pfaff, detail of Quartet I

Dana Schutz, Washing Monsters, 2018, Oil on canvas, 94 x 87.75 inches

Dana Schutz, Boatman, 2018, Oil on canvas, 88 x 75 inches

Dana Schutz, Smoker, 2018, Bronze, 28 x 30 x 12 inches

Brenda Goodman, Pink, 2018, oil on wood, Two parts: 50 x 72 inches overall

Brenda Goodman, Pushing Through, 2018, oil on wood, 14 x 18 inches

Brenda Goodman, Say It's So, 2018, oil on wood, 12 x 16 inches

Dana Schutz, The Visible World, 2018, Oil on canvas, 108 x 140 inches

Judy Pfaff, Quartet III, 2018, Photographic inspired digital image, acrylic, expanded foam, aluminum discs, Melted plastic, paper, acrylic, melted plastic, Styrofoam, lightbulbs. 121” x 149” x 21”

Judy Pfaff, Installation view

Dana Schutz, Washing Monsters, 2018, Bronze, 44 x 38 x 17 inches

Dana Schutz, detail of Strangers, 2018, Oil on canvas, 88 x 84 inches






February 6, 2019

#artistproblems

Some of you already know, but just to say for the record, I have left my job at the Garrison Art Center.

That's a long story but the positive is that I've been able to get my painting schedule back and focus on full time work in the studio again.

Here's how it's been going. Last week out of sheer frustration I threw my paint brush on the floor while exclaiming, I can't believe I forgot how to paint! A few days later I was feeling like a painter again and actually enjoying myself. Hashtag artist problems. This morning I added a new painting to my website www.samanthapalmeri.com. I'm excited that work for my upcoming show in September at the Catalyst Gallery is finally well on its way.

I've decided to leave the paintbrush on the floor just to remind myself, every day is a new day.


half blurry picture of paintbrush on the floor.
palette table with that little rubber hand I won at a Funky Spunky Literature Night
I'm kinda obsessed with it. 
my newest painting. doesn't have a title yet. oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches



January 29, 2019

Kiki Smith, Art Exhibitions, Journal Writing, Inspiration, Vulnerability


from the exhibition Genevieve and the Wolves, Sainte Genevieve, 1999, ink on Nepal paper, 7 feet 8 1/4 inches



Kiki Smith


My Blue Lake, 1995, color photogravure with a la poupée inking and lithograph in colors, 33.7 x 45.8 inches


Sojourn installation image at the Brooklyn Museum, 2010

book cover



I got a great book for Christmas this year, Kiki Smith: Photographs
Published on the occasion of the exhibition I Myself Have Seen It: Photography and Kiki Smith, March 6-August 15, 2010, at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle. Organized by Elizabeth A. Brown.

I've been following Kiki Smith's work for a long time. I remember one of the first exhibitions I saw of hers in the 1990's of black birds and bent over bodies hanging on the wall and scattered on the gallery floor. The psychological, emotional, and physical relationships she explores: self to nature, nature to animal, animal to human, and so on, mesmerize and enthrall me. She seems to be an artist who is so completely enveloped in her work, consistently working on numerous projects at once, in complete servitude and surrender to her art.

It both inspires and intimidates me. On Christmas Day I wrote in my journal,

Kiki Smith inspiration. I am not an artist/person who lets it all hang out. I am full of fear not vulnerability. I do not photograph myself naked or give myself tattoos. I am not fearless. I am covered. I want to break through like piercing the yolk of a poached egg. I want to completely dissolve and disappear into my absolute. I wonder if this is a thing everyone is even capable of. I'm starting to think this is the thing that makes great artists, and this is the thing I do not have.


Ribs, 1987, terracotta, ink, and thread, 22 x 17 x 10 inches

Silver bird, 2006, ink on Nepal paper with silver gouache, mica, glitter, and graphite, 72 1/4 x 58 1/4 inches

Lilith, 1994, bronze, silicon, and glass

Lilith detail



Fawn, 2000, Etching and aquatint, 22 1/2 x 31 1/4 inches


Daisy Chain, 1992, steel and bronze, chain 100 feet


Untitled (red man), 1991, ink on gampi paper in four parts


Rapture, 2001, bronze, 67 1/4 x 62 x 26 1/2 inches






Touch, 2006, suite of 6 prints, aquatint, etching, and drypoint, 30 x 22 inches


Wolf Girl, 1999, etching and aquatint on paper, 8 x 11 inches




Jewel, 2004, suite of three prints, aquatint and etching, each 14 x 17 inches





Cat, 1999, cast porcelain, 3 x 3 x 3 inches





Kiki Smith


further looking and reading:

Art21

ArtObserved

Shoshana Wayne Gallery