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Peeks and Piques! The 2013 Saugerties Art Tour

By Raymond J. Steiner
ART TIMES October 2013 online

I signed on to the Annual Saugerties Artists' Tour in August this year, after much hemming and hawing on my part — I'm not happy with my solitude and space being disturbed (I usually call it an "invasion"), so I go through my own private "Annual Tour" of my mind, thinking up reasons not to sign up for the 'ordeal'. However, I did it and, as in past years, attendance was surprisingly robust (what is it that attracts such crowds?) and, once again, I survived to tell about it. Visitors are polite, aware that they are entering what some artists call their "inner sanctum", and, mostly, thankful and grateful for the opportunity to "sneak a peek behind the curtain".Many times, in fact, it could even be a learning experience — not least for the artist as well as for the visitor. For example: my modus operandi is to stay in my study (my "studio" is ordinarily outdoors) while my wife, along with my niece Diane, "man" the "gallery" (a near-by building that houses my work) answering questions or handling the business of being sociable and/or making sales. My wife told me that, during this year's tour, a woman was "critiquing" my work, pointing out to her companions how my "style" changed from "here" to "here" (pointing to two separate paintings). I was a bit intrigued by what my wife told me since, never having taken an art or painting "course" under some instructor, I didn't think I even had a "style", my manner and practice being to "smear" my colors on a canvas with a palette knife, manipulating them until they conformed to my satisfaction. I say "my" satisfaction pointedly, since all of my paintings (if they even deserve that formal categorization) are executed to please me. Each one, regardless of the "landscape" depicted, is less what I see "out there" than what I see "in here" — thus they are "designed" to fill that bill — all of which, I suppose, one might call my "style". Strictly speaking, I am not trying to depict a specific locale but rather a moment in time in which the light (sun) attracted my eye on how it glanced off a tree or rock outside my study— once "captured" (if one can actually claim to capture a moment of time and light) I'm satisfied, and more often than not add trees, rocks, shrubs, hills, dales and clouds willy-nilly to give a "setting" to that fleeting moment of light and time. Thus, each of my paintings represent, for me, a moment in my life when I felt enlarged, enlivened, infinite, enlightened — a kind of living, tangible moment that I want to keep forever in my mind — which means, I guess, that I see the progression of my "paintings" as a diary of my education as a sentient being. So, maybe the lady was correct in seeing the expansion of my perceptions as a change in "style"… I don't know…but I do know that seeing my work going off in the backseat of someone's car always gives me a bit of a pang.

Read more from Steiner at: rjsteiner.wordpress.com

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