Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Montana Studio: Part Two

This blog post is part of an ongoing series. Click to read Part One

Wallace spends his summers and sometimes a few months out of the rest of the year at his studio in Montana. “I can be totally isolated there for three months at a time. Being in Montana allows me to refresh and recharge, to commune with the quiet landscape. There, it’s just me and the paint.

I paint interiors—the interior of the mind—I’m not painting something specific in terms of landscape or cityscape. Truly, I could paint anywhere. But being in Montana has deeply affected me, and my work, in two ways in particular.

First of all, the light. The light in Montana goes on forever. There’s no pollution. The light changes every time you look at something—it imbues the object you’re looking at, whether that be a tree or a grizzly bear or any of the things you see every day there, there’s a quality that’s almost ethereal. The kind of light that is coming through in my painting now is certainly inspired by that. Without a doubt I owe that quality to Montana, to what Montana gives me.

The second thing is a sense of centeredness. I adore Chicago, I spend more than half my time here, but when you walk through a city, you’re assaulted by it: by the noise, the constant stream of people, the harshness and the structure of the buildings. And sometimes that’s the beauty of it.

In Montana, the property is in the thick of a forest. It’s isolated, it’s mountains, and grizzly bears, and mountain lions, and huge moose, and I don’t have any people around—I can go two or three weeks without ever seeing anybody. I’m alone within this space. I have this sense of awe and reverence. It allows me to be very centered and aware. It compels me to paint. It’s in the air that you breathe, in everything you look at. It brings me back consciously to simply asking, “Why are we here and why are we a part of all of this?”

Simply put, it is the perfect balance in my life, there are no comparisons. Each gives me what I need.”

Return next week to enjoy a slideshow of images of Wallace's studio in Montana.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Join us at Studio 2846

Please join us the evening of Saturday, April 6 from 5-10 p.m. for a showing of Wallace's latest work at his Chicago studio, across from historic Humboldt Park.

Click for details.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Montana Studio: Part One

This week, we sit down with the artist to discover the story of his second studio in Montana.

“It’s a strange thing, like déjà vu. I have a vivid memory of being an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, walking with my friends to class down a gloomy side street, and of this clear image coming to me: my reflection in a lake—I was older, I had grey hair, I was with a woman. We looked out over this beautiful landscape, a house framed by towering mountains, trees and rocks. It was strange—it felt like a memory. And it stayed with me.”

Fast forward a few decades to 2005. Wallace was living and working at Studio 2846 in Chicago, “I adore Chicago,” he says, “but the summers are hard for me—they’re so hot and humid.”

 Wallace and his wife, Deborah, were taking a break from the city, hiking in the wilderness near Lake Tahoe. “We were near these beautiful mountains, and we looked out over a body of water. It reminded me so much of that experience that I had to remind Deborah about it. She turned to me and asked, “You don’t want to wait until your 60, not if this is something you really want. Let’s start looking. Do you know where this is?”

It really made me consider things differently, and after that, we started looking. We booked a trip to Montana and Idaho, consulted the listings and saw a photo of raw land, 20 acres.  Upon walking this property it was instant, it was just… it. Every tree, every rock. The only thing missing was the house. It was my memory. We didn't need to look any further. I was home.

Two months later I packed up my truck and drove to Montana, and began immediately to build a cabin to live in while I worked on building the space. It took me a year and a half to build my studio in the mountains. In the summers now, that’s where I go to paint.”

Return soon to find out more about Wallace's work in Montana, or subscribe on the right to receive updates as they're posted.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

A Transformative Moment

Half way through his fourth grade, Wallace and his family moved from St. Louis, Missouri, to Chicago.

On arriving in his new school, the first big project that the young Wallace was set to work on was about Thomas Jefferson. “Back then, you know, if you were affluent, you had encyclopedias. We didn’t.” Wallace recalls time spent in the library, pouring over books.

He was struck by a small print of Jefferson’s image on a book’s sleeve, “and so I traced it—I traced it completely, and when I handed in my report, I included the drawing.”

To his astonishment, and to his parents’ chagrin, Wallace recalls – “I was suspended from school for plagiarism!”

It was a severe punishment, he remembers. “But it was a turning point in my mind. From that point forward I decided, I will only ever do my own work. I’ll never recreate anyone else’s work. I’ll never do what anybody else does. It was truly pivotal for me.”

Friday, 1 March 2013

Unspoken Language

Unspoken Language, 2013

The piece, completed. To discover the artist’s process in the creation of this work, look back over previous blog entries, tagged with Unspoken Language.

A way of reading the painting, from left to right:

Time left behind. The mask discarded. Direction gained. The book of truth, words arise into consciousness, empowering or destroying - deepening in thoughts lingered upon. A rush, arising into the light that illuminates all. Within, the shadowed observer, ever present.