An Introduction and Artist's Statement
Blü and me on the Lake 22 trail in July of 2006. Photo by Duggie.
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Sometimes it seems to me that artists convey a certain arrogance; just a shy person can seem remote and aloof, unfortunately masking their desire for human contact.  Part of the problem is the difficulty of talking about art.  For many visual artists, the reason that we do what we do is that our ideas can't be easily expressed in words; if they could we'd be poets, I suppose.  Practicing artists sometimes feel that they are under siege in a world that seems to value expensive trinkets more than art and artistic expression.  We create in a world of blaring media, in which everything and everyone seems to be screaming for attention.  The room left for thought provoking but less blatant forms of expression seems minimal.  My interest in bringing you my work on the website is to break down some of the traditional barriers to looking at art (particularly abstract art which to some is an affront to their sensibilities), and also to try to explain what it is that I do.  I realize this is only a start.  You can look at my curriculum vitae [or resume] to find out information about my career.  The following artist's statements are a fairly typical feature of an artist's show at a gallery. The thought of writing them gives me complete writer's block!

[The following artist's statement was finished on March 2, 2008 for my solo show at the Solovei Art Gallery in  Everett, Washington, USA. I think you can see that I'm taking a different approach to writing about my work than in the statements that follow. Bear in mind that this statement is for an exhibition of both paintings and sculpture.]

Art is complicated. Art is simple.

The most profound artistic experience I’ve ever had as a viewer was seeing Wagner’s opera Die Walküre at Seattle Opera in August of 1986. I really didn’t understand the power of art until then, which was ironic, since it was the summer after I graduated from art school. I think it goes to show that you haven’t learned what you thought you’ve learned.

Wagner’s approach of weaving together a nearly seamless musical form has been my model for many years. What strikes me with Wagner’s music is the way the musical ideas well up from the background, like dreams that are remembered after we awaken. The concept of subconscious ideas revealing themselves, breaking the surface, has been something that I’ve used in my art since that time. It may seem incongruous to use a musical metaphor when discussing the visual arts, but both stem from something we can’t fully grasp. People pretend they know, but it shows that they are lying. 

Interestingly enough, the kernel of the idea for this show, however, predates my Wagnerian fixation by only a month! I saw the Paris Opera Ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City in July 1986. They performed some “reconstructed” dances accompanied by the music of Jean-Baptiste Lully, who was court composer to Louis XIV. The balance of the music, and the haunting melodies are actually the inspiration for the “Emancipated Landscapes,” which strictly speaking, only refers to the four white-and-black wood cut-outs in this show. They are dancing figures made literally from a landscape drawing that I cut-out and rearranged, freeing it.

Something I realized while working on the pieces for this show is that I’m starting to look inside my mountain forms—revealing the heat inside the volcanoes—cutting away pieces to reveal the interior. This harkens back to my Wagnerian approach of having a sort of veneer representing what we see at first glance, and letting subconscious ideas percolate through it.

[The next statement got a lot of use! I used it for a few shows, with some revisions depending on the locale, because I felt it stated more-or-less what I wanted, and touched on a few themes that I feel are important. This particular version was for Solovei Gallery in October 2006 where I showed sculpture only. Click here to read (and see) more of what I have to say about sculpture.]

Artist’s Statement

My sculptures are expressions of my love and respect for Nature.  By creating my sculptures, usually I’m trying to relive the experience of how I felt when I saw something particularly beautiful.   Sometimes, however, the pleasure comes from making work based on things unseen and unknown.  The natural world is ever-changing, yet on a human scale it can seem timeless.  I’m attempting to depict the fleeting and the eternal at the same time.

A few of my sculptures bear an uncanny resemblance to the Ogilvie Mountains (in the Yukon), which I had never seen before creating the work.  That serendipitous coincidence belies the fact that I wasn’t referring to the way a specific mountain range looks, but to mountain ranges in general.  This is one aspect of abstraction—a distillation of ideas, like a mythic tale that grows not from a particular incident, but a number of events, retold to make a stronger impact, and express an eternal truth.

 [Below is an earlier statement pertaining to an exhibition of my paintings. I think you'll see how I plagiarize myself when I like a certain turn of phrase.]

Artist's Statement for the Lynnwood Arts Commission Show

June 1997
I suppose one of the biggest dilemmas for an artist is to find inspiration, and then have time to create the work. These particular paintings were inspired, in part, by a skiing trip to Whistler, British Columbia, Canada in December 1994. Seeing new places is exciting, but it seems it only takes me a couple of days to start thinking about what I could be doing at home and in the studio.
My paintings are abstractions of things seen and felt in nature. Mountain ranges, the sky, volcanoes, islands, rivers, and forests are some of my favorite starting points to which I add colors, patterns, and textures. I basically attempt to convert what started out as my emotional reaction to what I saw in the "real world" to something that I can have a similar reaction to on canvas. I am particularly influenced by the change of seasons and the subtlety of light at dawn and dusk. Over the past several years my work has evolved to incorporate diagonal and radial compositional elements, to make the paintings less symmetrical and more visually dynamic. I have also introduced more value contrast (light and dark) into my work, evoking sunlight reflecting off snow or water, for instance.

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©2007 by Mike Adams,
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