Taking Shape In S pa c e
In 2008 Fan published “YOU" selected poems and "KNOT: A LIFE” a memoir.
She won the Chester H Jones Foundation Award in 1984.
In 2016 "EASINESSES FOUND" poems and paintings was published. It received special recognition from the Washington Independent Review of Poetry and Grace Cavaleiri, creator of the Poet and the Poem series.
In 2020 “The Berth” was published. (Details below)
Fan taught English and poetry in Washington, DC, New Haven, CT, New York City, NY, and Martha's Vineyard, MA.
She was selected to be the 2nd Poet Laureate of West Tisbury, Ma.
She worked three years at the Dukes County House of Correction, where she published two volumes of poetry by the inmates. And learned the lyrics to Rap music.
She is now facilitator of the Cleaveland House Poetry Workshop, the oldest (60 years)continuous poetry group in the USA.
Fan, also a painter, had a one person show at Featherstone Center for the Arts, and at The Free Library of West Tisbury, and the Chilmark Library.
Fan and Arnie Reisman co edited a collection of Judith Neeld’s poetry 2019. Judith’s work has been celebrated many times on the Vineyard.
In 2020, Fan published “The Berth: American Themes in Poems and Images”
It is a conversation between a contemporary poet and a passenger on the Mayflower 400 years ago answering the question: what has happened to the dreams and experiment in democracy between then and now in America.
Featuring Guest Artist:
PICTURES OF WHATEVER:
NOTES FROM A SELF TAUGHT
Tonight I’ll speak of one person’s compulsion to make art…mine.
My art began with reams of paper and some pencils. I should mention my sister is a watercolorist, my son and daughter-in-law serious painters. I had not let myself in their worlds until I turned 60. I have studied art, in travels and looking at paintings in hundreds of galleries and museums. These galleries were my school. Then it happened. I began to draw, do pastels, paint like a crazy person. First small formats, copying from the masters, fashion magazines, nature. Hours every day. I poured over each work until what I call “the magic” was won. I would walk down the hill and report to my husband’s query, "what did you paint" to which I would respond, “a masterpiece.”
The process became the addiction. Color was my high, form my gravity. I had a show at Featherstone, and still have the comments from friends and strangers. I remember Allan Whiting’s, “keep painting”. And I did. And had more shows. My paintings grew in size. I was not afraid of big pieces of canvas or the color I used
to paint them, always on the floor, on my knees or leaning over. (painting wrecks hips and knees). As always I took my subjects from my imagination or images I came across.
A critic, Pepe Carmel, in Art News said Abstract art can fall into six categories: three in response to nature: cosmologies, landscapes and anatomies. And three in response to culture: fabrics, architecture, and signs. They often overlap. In my work, here, the paintings ”Field” and “Driveway” are landscape, and cosmology, using "emptiness" or unpainted canvas as the center of their universes.
I recently began to use a material that we throw away— bubble wrap. I brush the bubble wrap with color then stamp it in geometric grids across the canvas, again and again until a pattern and color scheme scream “done”. Variations are endless. “Pockets of Air” I call them. Some times I would mix the patterns with brush work and other media such as stencil in the work called "what".
The bubble wrap paintings are signs, architecture, cosmology.
and I guess I could say ecology. I haven’t thrown any bubble wrap away, often used again when dried. I didn't throw any gloves away from the pastels I did. Nor for a long time, any images I used for painting. Just in case.
The painting “What?” has for me a cultural significance that sums up or attempts to penetrate our such fast pace world that we are often left in the state of “What?” What now, what next, so what? A favorite word of teens...as in so what? Another super large painting not here began to resemble circuits, circuits as in electricity, circuits in botany, circuits in brain activity. Yes The piece is called "Circuits". Did I preconceive any of this before I began to paint? No. That is what is so cool to me about finding out what is in there.
I would like to mention some engaging thoughts from Kurt Varnedoe in his book " Pictures of Nothing". " art arouses in us a hunger for a culture...by giving us new forms that give shape to our feelings, our moment in history. Abstract art is propelled by this hope, this hunger. It reflects the urge to push toward the limit, to colonize the borderland around the opening onto nothingness, where the land has not been settled, where the new can emerge. " Does it work? What do we get out of it?"These are questions which arise from from American pragmatism, the dominant philosophy in our culture: useful when wondering about the abstract art before you.
one more pithy quote from Robert Motherwell: 1965
‘the problems of inventing a new language are staggering…the interest in language so dominant in modern art
is not an interest in semantics per se: it is a continual interest in making language (whatever the medium) to fit our feelings better.”
Samuel Beckett says " let us hope the time will come...when language is most efficiently used where it is being most efficiently misused."