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 a lot of 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 band's 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 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 burning 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 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. 

















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.









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 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





December 28, 2019

You Intoxicate Me



I am getting ready to move, and sifting through boxes of things. I've now gotten all my old journals organized in one place. Maybe I will post a few old poems, but for now, a more recent summer journal entry that makes me happy on a foggy December morning:







June 30, 2019


If I were an ancient Egyptian prince
I'd be buried in a coffin with flowering lemon thyme
so my bones could enjoy the smell
for eternity

If I owned a great big property like I've always wanted
I'd plant fields and fields of it

In the afternoons I'd walk through and be completely enveloped
by the intoxicating aroma

I'd offer every new lover
and even every old one
a bouquet of freshly crushed thyme
to wear as perfume around their neck




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. Maybe because they're so beautiful and delicate it's thought 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, inside the art studio and out. If I could get to work without thinking about it so much I could get relief. The irony is that it takes so much work to get to that place of losing yourself in the work...