Diana Carey: Controlled Chaos

Diana Carey paints organic subjects based on her travels and from her natural surroundings at home in the hills of Southern California. She exhibits regularly in Los Angeles, San Diego, Laguna Beach, Boston, Luxembourg and in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Carey uses sticks and brushes to splash, throw and spatter multiple layers of paint onto prone canvases.  Her technique had its origins in an effort to understand the work of Jackson Pollock.  However, Carey has made it entirely her own, creating striking abstract impressionist work that visually references the neo-impressionist pointillist movement.  Her work wrests coherence from chaos.  From a distance, we see the image; up close, we see the controlled chaos of the technique.

Reflecting on the Covid-19 lockdown and the recent Black Lives Matter protests, Carey says “I believe it makes the fractal nature of my work, even more poignant. We are a Nation seeming to come apart at the seams. However I believe, those seams and ideals needed to be examined and to come apart, so that all our particles, may re configure, to come to a new and hopefully better understanding, of ourselves and our Nation, as a whole.”

Diana Carey, along with Kathleen Kane-Murrell, was one of the main organizers of the current show “20/20: Twenty Women of Vision.”   Her commitment to supporting her TWA colleagues in creating a community where their work gives them and others agency has set the tone for the exhibit.  About the show, Carey says “It is a challenging time for women artists to not only determine the value of our work but to re-evaluate our interpretations of current events and techniques, styles and subject matter. But as women, we are fortunate to be flexible, to view the world with a different perspective and to find interpretation via any materials at hand.“

Brenda York: Abstract Figure Painting

Brenda York
 has drawn and painted faces for as long as she can remember.  For the past few years, however, she says she has “become interested in deconstructing the architecture of the face to see how far (she) can abstract it and still capture the intangible human qualities.”  The resulting faces are both whimsical and compelling.  The work is fun and playful but also serious.  York sees art as “an attempt to make sense of our common human-being-ness.” 

The two fabulously fantastical paintings currently on display in the 20/20 show pay tribute to the Earth Mother.  In Greek mythology she brings forth the primordial sea and sky.  Wise and fecund, she is both guardian of the wild and mother of many gods. In one painting she gestures to the sun and the moon; in the other she holds an armload of rain clouds.  Puzzling white charcoal markings dance across the richly colored surface of these paintings — modern hieroglyphs, scientific symbols, words, phrases and nonsensical mathematical equations.  Mysterious signifiers shaken loose from what they signify, they provocatively resist our interpretation.  One says “A lie is just a lie,” another “Scenic Route,” and still another “Lost Again,” with a simple drawing of a compass. There is a childlike drawing of a rocket ship, a wishbone, a ladder leading nowhere.  Although the effect is lighthearted, the overall impression is of a world where language and symbolic meaning have fragmented in a way that parallels York’s deconstruction of the face.  We sense that the white markings are not merely decorative.  Yet, interrogate them as we will, we are rewarded with only a flickering comprehension.   In York’s “attempt to make sense,” it would seem the teasing pleasure of the attempt is more important than the sense we might make. 

Brenda York has over 35 years of experience in visual art.  In addition to her paintings, she also creates quirky and colorful wall sculptures; and she is the author/illustrator of the art book Big Little Paintings, Short Little Stories (Blurb, 2014).  When not in her studio, she teaches popular classes and workshops at Art on 30th here in San Diego.   Recent topics have included finding one’s visual “voice” and online art marketing.