Thursday, May 19, 2016

Opening this Weekend: Go For Baroque at The Racine Museum of Art

I have three recent pieces in the exhibition "Go For Baroque: Opulence and Excess in Contemporary Art", opening this weekend at the Racine Museum Museum of Contemporary Art. Two of them are now in private collections, so it is a rare opportunity to check them out!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Visiting Artist at Antioch College

This week, as part of the 3-person show of fiber work, "Threadsbared", I am heading to Yellow Springs, OH, to be a visiting artist at Antioch College. My artist talk will be April 14 at 7pm, and I will be doing a Publicity Hat workshop for artists on Saturday the 16th from 1-5 pm. The intensive 4-hour professional workshop is $40/person and is open to all artists and to the general public.  Fee waived for Antioch College students, faculty and staff with current ID. Support comes from the College and Arts at Antioch. More information here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Opening this week... a three person show at Antioch! My talk will be April 14 at 7pm, and I will be doing a Publicity for Artists workshop on the 16th from 1-5 pm. 

I am so excited to be invited to Antioch, a radical college that has produced Nobel Laureates, Fulbright and Rhodes scholars, and notables in the arts, government, business and education. The words of Loren Pope, former education editor of The New York Times and author of Colleges That Change Lives, speak to Antioch’s unique capability: “Antioch is in a class by itself. There is no college or university in the country that makes a more profound difference in a young person’s life, or that creates more effective adults. None of the Ivies, big or small, can match Antioch’s ability to produce outstanding thinkers and doers.”

Friday, January 15, 2016

Working photos: "Gunlicker III: Militia", 2016, oil & acrylic on gatorboard, 17.5 x 18 oval"

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

New Website

At long last, my website is complete!! Everything in one place, links to reviews and catalogs, all my new work!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I discuss "Gunlickers" in my interview with the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence, here.

An Open Letter To

So, last week, one of my new "Gunlicker" paintings was printed in The Huffington Post's inaugural "Hot Off the Easel" blog, a monthly showcase designed to show freshly minted paintings. The image was seen by some folks at, and spread widely via Facebook, and to some anti-gun, but, primarily, gun advocate sites. Hateful and threatening comments across many social media platforms ensued. It was not hard to see firsthand that there is, indeed, a correlation between anger issues, and the most extreme of gun owners. I am grateful for artist friends and anti-gun advocates who came to my defense: I was keeping a low profile so as not to engage. I am most grateful for the few gun owners who tried to mitigate: they were not threatened by the images, because they confidently knew that the images were not about them, and saw the paintings as an accurate reflection of our country's obsession with guns and the most extreme members of the pro-gun movement. I received two interview requests: one from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, which will be published today, and one from, to its credit, seems to run neutral, unbiased news stories, but is clearly paid for by gun advertising. I penned a letter in response to the interview request:


I thank you for your interview request for, but am not going to do the interview, for the following reason: I have been to your website, and I don't think it would be wise for me to be represented there. I have mostly been silent since the paintings have gone public, and there will soon be an interview published in the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence blog, where I will say my piece. I have been silent because I have received the most heinous, ugly, misogynistic threats in every type of social media from pro-gun advocates, which only reinforce any ideas that I hold about (not gun owners, but) gun extremists. Although I have my stance on these issues, which is probably more centrist than the pro-gun people think and the anti-gun people would prefer, first and foremost, I am artist. I am not making propaganda..... I make my work to process and understand contemporary society and things that make no sense to me. 

The "Gunlickers" series is my response to open carry advocates and those who think there should be NO laws or restrictions on gun ownership, in a country that has shameful, ridiculous statistics on gun deaths. More importantly, it is part of a larger series about entitlement and the need to dominate, or, to put it simply, bullies, in every area of life. When "The Gunlickers" are finished, I will go on to the next sub-series of the larger series, one that will focus on corporate bullies. I have already done some work, and will do some more, on man's need to dominate animals. Artists have reasons for doing things that seem to be difficult for people in other areas to understand. In some ways, a painting is no different than a cartoon, an article, a book, or a song, all of which can express an idea, but artists often employ metaphor, a concept that non-art people seem to have a hard time grasping.
Most things we encounter in life are literal, rather than metaphorical, and since arts education has been deemed unnecessary and has been all but obliterated from our schools, I expect that these occasional clashes when art meets the general public are only going to get worse. For some reason, cartoonists, authors, journalists, and songwriters, even though they might express strong ideas, are rarely/never targeted the way I have been. (I think my being female might have something to do with it, from the types of comments I have received?) In any event, I have no interest in subjecting myself or my family to any more poisonous, hateful comments or threats. Feel free to publish my statement, but only if it is published in its entirety.

Best, Kate"

Since these images "broke", I have been so busy writing two grants on deadline, teaching, and trying to finish my new website, that I have barely had time to think, much less read all the vitriol. In the spare moments I have, I am thinking about the clash (that has now happened twice) when The Art World and the real world collide. Ideally, art is supposed to be "for everyone": certainly, one of the reasons I have chosen to work in a representational manner is that the work might be accessible to viewers with or without an art education. But, we are not a literary society: our reality-show culture has lowered the common denominator for comprehension of anything above literal interpretation. In another context, I recently realized that one of my biggest obstacles in life is that, thanks to my father and my amazing AP English teacher, Ms. Dwyer, I process practically everything in the world as if I am being asked to do a literary interpretation: What is the overall theme? Is it a comedy, a tragedy? What are the precedents? What is this character's "tragic flaw"? Does this character follow an archetype? I will be mulling over this collision of worlds and what it means for the next few weeks as I carry on....

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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

So pleased that my work was chosen to be in the first installation of the new monthly Huffington Post blog, "Hot Off The Easel".

I am pulling late nights in an effort to finish my new website, in anticipation of applying for a few grants. I am also within a few weeks of releasing "Gunlicker III"......

Thursday, August 27, 2015

 "Gunlicker II", 2015, oil and acrylic on gatorboard, 16 x 20" oval (working photos). © 2015 Kate Kretz

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A friend just shared this wonderful write up on my embroidery work on the Fiberart International Blog.

Monday, July 27, 2015

What People Don't Get About "Shocking Art"

"I don't want to produce a work of art that the public can sit and suck aesthetically... I want to give them a blow in the small of the back, to scorch their indifference, to startle them out of their complacency." - Ingmar Bergman

I recently published a new sketch on Facebook, a study for an upcoming work:
For me (and for many artists, I suspect), Facebook is an amazing occupational tool. When I complete a work of art, I can share it with others, and, often, amazing opportunities arise when people on the other side of the world are able to see work that is "hot off the press". Unfortunately, the FB experience is not the same as walking in to a museum or gallery, where you might prepare and adjust your mind to be challenged as you pass through a portal. So, a number of people (all from the 3% of my FB friends who are not in The Art World) lashed out at me, angry that they had to confront this image in their FB feed. I get it... I feel the same hostility when I encounter an image of an abused animal that I was not prepared for. I solved this problem by making a secret group for family members who want to see Halloween pictures, but do not want to see my art. I made the original image settings public on this piece, because if I only posted the work to a select group of artist and curator friends, they would not be able to share the image with their own colleagues. In this case, someone ultimately shared the image with a curator/writer who is working on a related project and an important connection was made, so the desired effect was achieved, but the posting shocked a few, who made their objections known.

One viewer went so far as to report the image to FB, but FB ultimately decided that it did not violate their standards. I wished aloud that the person who reported me had started a dialog instead, but, then I realized the issue is far too large to be addressed in a Facebook post. It seems that challenging work by all kinds of artists has the potential to elicit feelings of anger or trauma from those who are not accustomed to these images, and dismissal or cynicism from those who are entrenched in the Art World. Both inside and outside the Art World, there seem to be people who regard shocking art as merely an attention-getting device or publicity stunt, and I believe, with few exceptions, that this is simply untrue.

Each artist has their own process, their own unique obsessions and concerns. Some artist's interests will simply never lead them to make work that might be considered controversial. Their work may be even more potent and art historically important than work that might be considered "shocking", but unfortunately, we live in a society that sensationalizes everything. As a result, artists whose concerns and obsessions drive them to make work that is more sexual or political tend to get more exposure and more discussion surrounding their work. It's not fair, but there it is. Twice in my career, I have received over-the-top, glowing endorsements from other artists in professional situations, but they have felt the need to add a phrase about the fact that I "sometimes make art that provokes", and, in both cases, it was worded as a kind of accusation. To "sell-out" or compromise the integrity of your work is the worst indictment one can make about an artist, so I believe those kinds of statements should never be used in an off-handed way. I often use the the phrase "to trust someone as an artist" when I am referring to unwavering artistic integrity. I firmly believe that serious artists, for whom art making is a kind of addiction, as well as the way that they process information from the world, cannot really "help" the kind of art that they make. They are simply on a path, driven to distill, to find ever stronger or more effective ways to convey their own, unique vision. Barnett Newman once said, “Aesthetics is to artists what ornithology is to birds." Artists, like birds, are simply driven by their nature to "do what they do".

My particular modus operandi is to tell difficult truths, in a formally seductive way. My goal is to create "the beautiful gut punch". When I am in the studio, I make the work that needs to be made, the work that seems most urgent and relevant to the world that I am living in, and how I perceive it. It is an addiction, really, this need to say what needs to be said (as those who are close to me know): I could not exist if I was not able to process information this way. I read about and experience things that are happening in the world, and, because of the way that I am wired, the stories enter my body in a violent, visceral way, and they often stay there. (From talking to my friends, I believe many artists experience this and are what I call "super empaths"... I have one friend who describes it as being "too porous".) Most people I know try to forget about these news stories through distraction, by turning on the TV or reading a magazine, but, for me, those distractions don't work: the stories of man's inhumanity towards other beings plant their hooks in me, and stay.  Once something has pierced my consciousness, I turn it around in my mind... for days, weeks, or even years, I revisit the thoughts, looking for a way to transform them, get them out of my body in a way that will get others to feel, look and think about the absurd and problematic world we find ourselves in. When I am in the studio, it is my job to create the strongest, most layered work possible to get viewers to put down those beloved distractions and confront the work, which is also, in essence, confronting aspects of the world they might not want to think about. We are a society that is awash in images from dawn till dusk.... it is a real challenge as an artist to break through that noise to permeate a viewer's consciousness.

If an artist was to worry about who would be upset by the work they create, nothing would EVER get made. When I am in the studio, I DO think about how people might receive the work, but only to help me make decisions about the most effective way to communicate my concept. Our job as artists is to make a series of thoughtful decisions about medium, technique, mood, and formal elements like size, scale, composition, palette, etc. that will maximize the feeling or concept we are trying to convey.

While in the confines of the studio, I never think about my work with an eye towards potential sales, publicity or controversy. One of the reasons I make representational art is that I want the work to function on many levels, to be accessible to those who have no art education, but be layered enough to engage those who have access to a contemporary art context. I am aware that by making the work in a visual language that is easily read, at least on a superficial level, there is the potential of some people to miss the point or be offended when I try to tackle a difficult subject, but making people angry or upset is not my intention.  It simply is not a workable paradigm to create art that is designed to shock: it raises all kinds of problems for the artist.

"If you approach art with the intention of creating shock value, then you limit yourself and your audience, and will be put in the unenviable position of trying to top yourself with each succeeding effort. However, if you allow the process of creation to unfold in a more subjective manner, let the subconscious guide the pathway, and by chance shocking images present themselves, then you are released from the responsibility of intent. You no longer need the burden of expression to outdo yourself in a shocking manner - and it is of no purpose to focus merely on shock value for its own sake. Let the images give rise to their own intentions." - Richard Misiano-Genovese 

Once artists are expected to shock, it's that much harder for them to do so. - Jerry Saltz 

BUT it is important to note, once the work is done, I put on a completely different hat, and try to get the work "out there". I currently teach a workshop called "Publicity Hat" that espouses this philosophy... make the art that needs to be made without worrying about what others will think, then, if you believe in the work, rack your brain to think of ways to get it out into the world. Like many artists, until my mid-thirties, I just made the best work I could, had exhibitions, and "hoped someone would notice" what I was doing. One day, I had an epiphany... despite all I was taught about the virtues of humility, I am the best advocate for what I create. I believed my work was really strong, and, from reviews and personal responses, it seemed that others agreed with me, and I decided to do everything that I could to get my work seen once it left my studio. It was, in part, a feminist issue.... I noticed that many successful male artists seemed to have no problem blowing their own horn and going to great lengths to promote their work. I believe my work is important and relevant, and I want to maximize the potential for people I respect to see it. I can't tell you how many times I have shown my work to a curator and they have said, "I wish I knew about this work when I was putting together my show last year..." I do everything that I can to reduce the possibility of missing more opportunities like that, because, as any artist could tell you, there are few things more maddening.

So, that's my particular formula for my art career: make the strongest art I possibly can, work that tells the truth about the world I live in, with no regard for sales, publicity, etc., then take that work that I believe in, and get as many people as possible to see it.

I get why people are cynical about art they find challenging: we live in a celebrity culture where people seem to be doing ever more outrageous things to "stay on people's radar". I have even met a few artists (but only 2 or 3, in my lifetime of knowing thousands of artists) who have told me outright that they were just making work because they wanted to "piss people off", or because their  dealer suggested they should "make one with penises on it". But, here it is......


Case study: In 2006, I painted the work, "Blessed Art Thou".

I come from a Catholic background. I don't practice anymore, but I love the lurid colors and light in all the kitschy Catholic imagery that surrounded me as I grew up. "Blessed Art Thou" began as an impulse... I wanted to create my own assumption painting. I had always loved the imagery of Mary, in her blue robes, rising up through the sky on a cloud surrounded by putti.

I had incorporated some peripheral Catholic imagery into my work before, but I had never done a straightforward "religious" painting, and there was no reason in my mind to simply paint a copy of an Assumption if there were no more layers to it. I was driven to buy a few books on "Mary in Art", and I studied them, looking for an answer. I kept dismissing the idea of doing the painting and putting away all my references because I could not figure out how I could make it "work": make it relevant, contemporary and complex. This cycle happened three or four times before I happened to be standing in line at the supermarket one day, and I looked around me: virtually every magazine cover around me had an image of Angelina Jolie holding a child, or anticipating her new child with Brad Pitt. I knew I had my painting. I researched Angelina Jolie (I did not know much about her), and researched the psychology of celebrity worship, paparazzi, and tabloids. I learned about ties to consumerism and marketing. I thought about the people who seemed to be most consumed by celebrity worship, the people whose lives contrasted most with the idealized lives of our new heroes, our new saints, as depicted in the tabloids. I normally boycott WalMart, but spent some time there studying the oppressive lighting, the postures and mannerisms of the people who shop there. When you are poor, for example, (something I had firsthand experience of) you do not just swipe a credit card to pay: you mentally add up the contents of your cart, check to make sure you have enough cash, and often grip the money tightly in your hand, as if you are afraid it will fly away before you can pay.

I honestly never dreamed anyone would be upset by "Blessed Art Thou." Initially, I thought that, like all the paintings that had come before, it would only be seen by a few hundred people from the art world, if I was lucky.

As conservative Christians railed against my using the face of a "husband-stealing whore" (they knew ALL about her because they had read it in the tabloids!) in the context of an iconic construct, I reminded them that we don't know WHAT Mary actually looked like, and that many of the famous paintings of the Virgin were actually made using prostitutes as models. What was most fascinating to me was that if Christians did not just have a knee jerk reaction, instantly yelling "blasphemy" to a celebrity being represented as the Virgin Mary, if they allowed themselves to really look at the painting and think about it, they would likely agree with some of the major themes in the painting.

I think a lot of "shocking" contemporary art is like that. An open mind, curiosity, and the ability to step outside of one's comfort zone might transform an initially affronted viewer into an accepting or even an admiring one.... I know I have come to love a lot of work that I did not initially understand. An art history class, or even a liberal arts undergraduate education, makes it even easier. For those Americans saddled with an anti-intellectual demeanor, the elitism of the art world may actually be part of the affront, and stand in the way of the viewer actually trusting themselves enough to unpack and read the image.

Of course, when you have studied and taught art for 25 years, there are few art works you find offensive anymore. Upon completion of this work, when I put on my "Publicity Hat", I did understand that "Blessed Art Thou" was different. After creating personal art for several decades, this was a piece that looked outward, rather than inward. This realization caused me to draft a press release that was sent to some of the news sources that might be interested in this subject matter, in addition to my usual list. I was as shocked as anyone when it "went viral", appearing in every major newspaper in the world, many TV news programs, etc. I got lots of love mail, and almost equal amounts of hate mail. I received death threats on my cellphone, and we put in an alarm system. As exciting as it was at the beginning, this painting has its own complex history, and there were many negative things that happened that I never even talk about. I doubt it is the best painting I have ever done, but despite the fact that there are lots of paintings of celebrities out there, this one was in the right place at the right time, and struck a chord. At the time, "helpful" strangers suggested that I hire a publicist. Magazine editors emailed me and wanted to know when the next one would be coming out so they could get "the scoop", etc. Of all the absurd and mean spirited things that were said to me, there was only one that hurt: "She did it for the publicity." After 20 years of making rarely saleable, time consuming, personal work, not compromising my vision in any way, these people who had no concept of me or my lifetime of work accused me of pandering and selling out.

At the time, I had a large cartoon for the next related painting ready to transfer to canvas, and I rolled it up and put it away, because I did not want that kind of publicity for my work. I went back to doing personal work. That is, until last year. 

Our family hit a 5 year "rough patch", as many did, in 2008. I continued to make small intimate pieces through a great number of personal difficulties. Meanwhile, I had been gestating a series, on all the worries that kept me awake at night. I felt there must be a common root to so many of the world's problems, and wanted to investigate it. Sometime in 2012, while I continued to embroider about my new status as a mother and the familial dysfunctionality that has long informed my work, I started research for a new series that would investigate entitlement, and the need to dominate. The ongoing bibliography of my research that feeds this work (now over two year's worth) is so vast that I started documenting it at a certain point, and, when the work is finished, I will publish it. I combed through "On The Origin of Species" by Darwin, and the subsequent reframing of his concepts by Julian Huxley. Huxley was the one who emphasized "survival of the fittest", and this is the mantra we accept as the excuse for a lot of human's dominating behavior. In contrast, Darwin actually only mentioned this concept only a few times, buried amidst hundreds of mentions of "love" and "cooperation". I read contemporary scientific articles further confirming that animals are much more democratic and cooperative than we ever suspected. For two years, I read about (and looked at countless images related to) trophy hunting, rape culture, corporate crimes, pornography, mass shootings, and serial killing, and it was emotionally debilitating. By the end, I came very close to checking myself into a psych ward for the first time in my life, but I was also excited by my discoveries and the prospect of this new series: the significance of my direction seemed to be reinforced daily by current events.

My lack of an adequate home painting studio allowed me an unusual amount of time to gestate this work before actually making it. I finally was able to afford a warehouse space last Summer, and, by that time, I saw that the series was going to take me 2-3 years to realize. I have never had a clearer vision for a body of work. Although some may claim that it is not possible to do something new in this day and age, after all my research I feel confident that a few of the things I am trying to do are unprecedented. 

So, this image that has already begun to elicit some backlash is a sketch for a future work called "POV", and here is how it came to be:
"POV" is a porn term for "point of view", except my image depicts the point of view of a woman, which is rarely, if ever, shown in heterosexual porn. (If you've never taken an art history class, you might want to acquaint yourself with some information about "The Male Gaze" as background to this piece.) The finished work (as opposed to this sketch/study for part of the finished painting) will be, among other things, a metaphor for power relationships in society at large, and a way to begin looking at the entitlement and misogyny that is often present in rape culture and pornography, a subject that we never get to talk about because it instantly devolves into conversations about censorship. There are many images of penises in art, but there are few, if any, images that depict nude males from this point of view conceptually. As with a lot of my work, there is also some humor here: visually, as well as conceptually, I am interested in how the head is partially eclipsed by the penis. The dark background is significant, as is the fact that the figure is shown at an angle, and the oval frame also hangs on the wall at an angle, to further disorient the viewer. It is tedious to spell this all out for people, like a shopping list, but the point is...

I did NOT just walk into the studio one day and say, "Let me do something really provocative that will stir up some trouble, upset my family, and, if I'm really lucky, get me banned from Facebook, my greatest art distribution resource.  I know! A penis!  If that doesn't work, I will try something else... a bigger penis, or maybe three of them!"

As a matter of fact, as I pointed out earlier, a savvy artist is going to think twice about using a penis in their work, because it would be judged and dismissed by some of their peers as being an easy solution to "charging up" a work, but I believe it to be absolutely necessary in the series that I am doing, and would not be putting forth my highest truth if I did not do what the work requires.

I am beginning to believe that non-artists think that a certain perverse pleasure is derived from upsetting people, and then we simply reap the many benefits of being a "controversial" artist. One of my favorite studio wall quotes is by Susan Sontag, who said, “He who transgresses not only breaks a rule. He goes somewhere that the others are not, and he knows something the others don’t.”

And here's what I know: the reality is, unless you are a top 1% artist, making challenging or confrontational art works is NOT an enviable position: it works AGAINST you in a dozen ways. If people are upset by the first image of your work that they see (even curators), they may never want to delve deeper into your lifetime of work. You are much less likely to sell work that makes people uncomfortable.... no one wants to hang it in their house. You are severely limited in the venues where you can show the work. You might not be hired for some teaching jobs, no matter what your qualifications are. If you are making feminist work (meaning, in this case, work that shows the point-of-view of the 50% of people who make up this planet), your work is labeled as something that "most people" are not going to be interested in. Work that shows a distinctively female point of view is pigeonholed, not considered part of the "mainstream" and might only be shown in Feminist Art spaces that are rarely reviewed and are taken less seriously by the Big Time Art World. If your work DOES get reviewed, you have to hope that the critic is educated/open minded enough to not be dismissive of work that represents a relatively unconventional point of view. In addition, you are always wondering who is Googling you, how much control they might have over your (or your family's) life, how deep they are going, and whether they understand the function of art (likely not). You need a REALLY supportive spouse who believes in what you are doing, and who is not afraid of what others might think. Your work can alienate you from beloved family and friends who don't get what you are trying to do. This makes you feel completely isolated, like a sane, mission-obsessed movie protagonist that everyone thinks is crazy.

I've already been called "The Devil" to my face (by another "artist" in a conservative town). With this particular series, I am bracing myself to be called "an Angry Woman", a feminazi, a pervert (or one of the many words from the "sexually active women" lexicon), and an attention whore. In short, my life would be a LOT easier if I could just go back to painting night landscapes. But I can't. So I harbor the hope that, while the PTA moms might not want to talk to me or have a playdate, my daughter will know that I followed my path in life, did what I thought was right, and even tried, with the knowledge and gifts that I have been given, to make the world a better place for her by raising a few questions.

Some of you are still scratching your heads, wondering, "How does a drawing of a penis make the world a better place?" If you really want to know, follow the link I suggested, read a book on feminist art, take a class... an art history class, a women's studies class. Ask a woman friend how she feels when she looks at my drawing. Ask yourself why marks on a piece of paper upset you so. Ask yourself why another scandalous image such as this one, painted by Courbet and hanging in the Louvre

while still being provocative, might feel less offensive or threatening than mine. I am aware that, as it stands, being only a sketch for a more complex finished work, my drawing might be seen by some only as an erotic image, but if you have occasion to see the final work that this is a study for and it upsets you, remember to ask yourself why you expend energy / get your panties in a twist about a painting, but are not nearly as outraged at the reality that prompted the art to be made... what is happening around us every day, be it manifestations of rape culture, gun worship, mass shootings, corporate destruction of the one planet we live on, the killing for sport or factory farming of sentient animals, misogynistic porn, or any other form of domination.

You know.... the stuff that I find obscene.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Guns, and The Men Who Really, Really Love Them

"Gunlicker I", 2015, 20 x 16" oval, acrylic & oil on gatorboard. © 2015 Kate Kretz
First in a series of Gunlicker paintings. The series was begun around this time last year. There are currently 5 more paintings in-progress, exploring guns as fetish objects. A new painting will be completed every few weeks during the Summer of 2015. (click to enlarge images)

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

These will make more sense in the context of the other works in progress, but here are the newest pieces, working photos:

"Trophy / Trophy / Trophy", 2015, 13 x 18", ink on paper:

 "Rape Stand for a Dog Fighter", 2015, 18 x 24" ink and photo on paper:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Here is a photographic walk-through of my solo show at the Arlington Arts Center, up through June 28th.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Opening tonight! My solo show at Arlington Arts Center in Washington, D.C. Opening reception from 6-9 pm. Here is an embroidery teaser from one of my new pieces in the show. OPen through June 28th.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I will be the keynote speaker for Miami-Dade Kendall's "Arts & Letters Day" on Tuesday, March 31st, from 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Location: McCarthy Auditorium, Room 6120. Free and open to the public.

"Kate Kretz will discuss the creative process in the expansive context of her work, from the ancient practice of silverpoint and encaustic, to painting, clothing as sculpture, and embroidery using human hair.

Her provocative and sometimes controversial work is the result of "following threads" that include ever-shifting combinations of research, tapping into the subconscious, listening to The Universe, and pushing the boundaries of materials in search of her idiosyncratic vision."

I did not pen this, but it is gathered from various accurate sources: I almost cut part of the above description before posting, but stopped, because it's true: The Universe tells me what to make.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

New Work

I am obsessively developing a new project that I feel will be the most important work of my life. I have never had a clearer vision or stronger conviction for a body of work. I have shown the sketches and life-size cartoons to several curators, and we all agree that the imagery I am working with is something that has not been seen before. Several people have told me, “you can’t do that!’, which, to me, confirms that I am really on to something. 

Difficult life circumstances have dictated series of small, intimate works for a while now, but, the past two years, I have also been researching and gestating the series that is now unfolding in the studio. The work is difficult, confrontational, and, after all the research I have done, I can say with confidence that some of it is unprecedented. Although there will be some fiber-based work, this series also marks my return to painting after a 6-year hiatus. The circumstances of the last 5 years have not been conducive to creating large paintings until very recently, when I was able to sublet a decent size studio for the entire summer at a very low price. The experience changed my life: I was finally able to start work on this series, and I realized that I had to find a way to stay in an adequate studio to execute all of these large paintings. This series will consume me at least through 2015. As 2 galleries showing my work have closed in the past few years, I will be looking for someone brave enough to show it, or I will do a pop-up show on my own. I am furiously writing grant proposals to fund the studio and some of the expenses of production... if the grants do not come through, I will resort to an art-based, vetted fundraising campaign. 

There are sub-series within the larger series. The first sub-series of 6 is close to completion. Here is a teaser:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Vagina Dentata Purse is featured in this newly-released book, Cultural Encyclopedia of The Penis, written by Michael Kimmel, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Stony Brook University,
Christine Milrod, PhD, is a licensed psychotherapist,  and Amanda Kennedy, MA, a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Stony Brook University.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A mention of my work in the Columbus Dispatch, reviewing the "Enough Violence" show at the Ohio Craft Museum. Working intently on a bunch of new paintings, but they will not be released for a while. Will try to post some teasers this week. Very happy with the way things are going.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sneak Peek:  "Love Object For A Future Trophy Hunter" (working photos)

Needs better styling and the magic touch of my awesome photographer. Will make more sense in the context of this in-progress series.

Friday, September 12, 2014

"Readymade@100" was reviewed in the Washington Post yesterday, with a nice mention of my work. Polishing/finessing a new piece that I hope to unveil soon.

Friday, September 05, 2014

"Readymade: Brass, with Lock", 2014, 13 x 6 x 3", brass lock, chain, cast High Density Polyethylene, will be part of the "Readymade @ 100" exhibition opening tomorrow at American University Museum in D.C.
I will likely be unveiling another new piece on Monday.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Studio, yesterday. Will begin painting this week.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

"He Squashed Magic Like Flies" (working photos), 2014, 25 x 19", acrylic, gouache, Prismacolor on colored paper

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

In-progress gouache & colored pencil on colored paper.
A strange week. One of my art heroes, a brilliant painter named Jennifer Wynne Reeves has died from brain cancer. Since I discovered her work a few years back, I have made trips to NYC every time she has a show. I have never had a such a strong sense that I needed to see work because I desperately needed to learn something from it.

I am working in my studio sublet every day, but I switched from my regularly scheduled project yesterday because I was so thrown by Jennifer's death. I simultaneously felt that her soul was so big that a huge presence was lifted from the earth, and that a part of her was infusing all the artists she knew, acting as muse yesterday.

I am struggling. Putting in hours in the studio, but spending lots of time tossing & turning at night trying to solve some really big problems regarding my work.... it is incredibly stressful.  I know what needs to be made, but there are parts that I haven't figured out yet, particularly because I have not REALLY painted with oils in 6 years, and I want to make some changes rather than going back to the way I have always worked. In addition to the painterly aspects, the imagery is also more challenging than any I have ever worked with before. I am convinced I am doing the right thing, I just feel like it is not yet on target. I have never danced on ice this thin before.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

study/sketch for new work

For the first time in 6 years, I will focusing on my work full time for an extended period. For the first time in 6 years, I will break out the oil paint. I have sublet a studio for the summer in D.C., and I am spending every weekday there until Sept 1st. Stay tuned....

Friday, May 23, 2014

New piece:

"Readymade: Brass, with Lock", 2014, 13 x 6 x 3, brass lock, chain, cast High Density Polyethylene

Made (purchased) this work in response to a call for entries for a ready made show... I couldn't help myself. They are meant to hang off the back of a large truck, so the scale is really odd when it is hanging on the wall. I love the idea of buying the piece from a place that sells them "for reals", and then subverting it... and they have a version with a chain and lock!

Looking forward to a really exciting summer. The life events of the past 6 years have left me feeling so thwarted, even though I have produced a lot of work. Although I technically have a lot of square footage of studio space in our home, the ceilings are quite low, and every time I have tried to start a new large painting, I end up feeling claustraphobic and frustrated... I stop, and go on to do something smaller. After planning a series of paintings for a year and a half, while executing a totally different body of work, I have solved the problem, albeit temporarily. 

I will be subletting a decent sized studio this summer, one that will allow me the space to start these large works that I have been planning. I feel confident that, once the works are started in a large space, I will be able to bring them home and finish them in the space that I own. Having the open space at the onset allows the work to be as big as it needs to be, without being constrained by the context of the studio space. 

I am so excited, I feel like I am heading back to grad school! Will be posting in-progress pics.

Friday, February 07, 2014

A great review of the "Stitch" show by Michael O'Sullivan in today's Washington Post.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The artist's talk I gave at Broward College has been posted on Youtube:

and "State of Emergency", a group show I am in at Davidson College (with Ai Weiwei!) was recently reviewed here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Busy Week

"Stitch" opened at The Reston Arts Center on the 16th, then I took off for Fort Lauderdale, where I was a visiting artist at Broward College. I gave a talk on Thursday the 23rd (they tell me they videotaped it and it will available on YouTube some time this week), and a condensed, 3 hr version of my Visual Voice Workshop on Friday the 24th.

I have lined up a 2-day Dig Deep: Visual Voice Workshop with The Art Armory in West Palm Beach for 2015, and a Publicity Hat Workshop that we are hoping to schedule for 2014.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"Une Femme D'Un Certain Âge", 2014, 33 x 22", grey hair of many women embroidered on black cotton. Working photos. This work will be at the "Stitch" group exhibition along with 14 other works, opening tomorrow at The Greater Reston Arts Center in Reston, VA. 

 This is the catalog for the exhibition, with a detail of "Heart Center" on the cover!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

In January:

Giving an artist talk at Broward College in FL on January 23rd, followed by a free abbreviated version of my workshop, "Digging Deep: Find Your Visual Voice" on the 24th.

Showing my silverpoint spoons at "State of Emergency", opening on Jan 23rd at Davidson College in NC. The show is curated by Lia Newman, and features the work of Ai Weiwei, Miguel Aragón, Mel Chin, Joelle Dietrick, Eben Goff, Naoya Hatakeyama, Miki Kato-Starr, Tatana Kellner, Matt Kenyon, Mario Marzan, Richard Misrach, Jason Mitcham, Matthew Picton, Robert Polidori, elin o’Hara slavick, Katherine Taylor, and Paul Villinski.

A slew of my newest fiber work will be at "Stitch", opening Jan 16th at The Reston Arts Center in VA. Holly McCullough curated this show with Orly Cogan, Suzi Fox, Rania Hassan, Pam Rogers, Erin Endicott Sheldon, and Nathan Vincent. I will be showing 14-15 of my mosr recent works, including the hot-off-the-press embroidery featuring the grey hair of dozens of women, and "Dacades of Dreaming of You", on loan from a collector in Miami.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

In-progress hair embroidery, made with the grey hair of dozens of women.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A really nice mention and image in The Washington Post last week:

"Kretz is in a category by herself. Working in silverpoint, an archaic drawing technique that leaves fine, ghostly metallic lines on a gessoed surface, the artist has created miniature pictures of tornadoes on the concave surface of two ordinary tablespoons. The images are barely an inch wide (you have to get right on top of them to see them), but their message packs a punch. That’s because of Kretz’s delivery, which harnesses the metaphorical power of an ordinary household object to domesticate nature’s fury.

The artist's point is less representational than conceptual. She's interested in disturbances that that aren't atmospheric so much as familial: divorce, dysfunction, and other transformative dynamics.

For Kretz, a tempest in a teapot can be just as devastating as one on the open prairie."

Thursday, November 07, 2013

In-progress hair embroidery made with dozens of women's grey hair. The more contributors, the more power the piece will have. Please email me at kkretz4art_at_aol_dot_com if you want to mail me some hair and be a part of this project. Even if it is only 5 or 6 inches long, I can get a few stitches out of it !

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New Project. This is the THIRD time that I have stitched out the red guidelines, and the second time I have actually begun the hair embroidery. I think this one will work:

I am using grey hair gathered from many women. I am still accepting hair. Contact me at kkretz4art (at) aol_dot_com.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Portent" exhibition, curated by Twig Murray, opens tomorrow at the Athenaeum in Alexandria, VA, from 4-6. My silverpoints got a mention in the The Washington Post's selection of weekend activities.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

For a long time, I have been lamenting the fact that my hair embroideries take 3 solid months of work to create a 2 x 3" work. The finished piece is easily passed by or dismissed as a drawing, but when people see a detail of the work blown up, they are often blown away. Today, I picked up my first archival large scale photo of a hair embroidery, face-mounted to plexiglass, and I am VERY happy with the results. It is clean and sexy, I have kept the victorian oval reference, and you can finally see all of the work that has gone into it. (the hammer is for scale)