19 January 2007

seven sticks for kate kretz

A painting of an ethereal Angelina Jolie with her children Maddox, Zahara, and Shiloh wafting above the aisles at Wal-Mart was on exhibit at the Art Miami Art Fair in early January. Word-of-mouth has long been replaced by the dual power of cameras (digital and phone) and an internet connection, and it is this technological efficacy that garnered Kate Kretz worldwide fascination and criticism.

"Blessed Art Thou" moved people either to hate or to appreciate. I'm definitely on the appreciating side not only because Kate Kretz creates beautiful, dreamlike, enchanting art but also because I can relate to her on a personal level. I also have a Catholic background and a couple of years ago, I painted the Garden of Eden showing an androgynous Adam/Eve character with the hair as the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the serpent surrealistically emanating from the tree. Some people loved it, others deemed it sacrilegious.

Reviews, slams, and commentaries aside, read on about Kate Kretz's background, her sentiments about artistic collaborations, and her upcoming artwork.

Who or what influences the art you create?

My visual vocabulary comes from being raised on a regime of Catholic imagery and Technicolor films: the sense of light, the lurid palette. My subject matter has traditionally come from my own life experiences, expressing the vulnerability that we all experience as human beings. After several major life changes in the past year, my work has shifted to looking outward at the world around me, instead of looking inward for subject matter.

Which of your art forms do you love making the most?
That’s a tough question. Probably painting, because of the wider range of possibilities in the medium.

Regarding "Blessed Art Thou", I've heard that Angelina Jolie herself made some unappreciative statements about your painting. What can you say about the negative criticism surrounding that piece?
Angelina Jolie has never made any negative comments about the piece. A satirical blog “quoted” her making negative comments about the work, and the entire blog is fabricated, for “fun”.

The other negative criticism has come from Catholics who were offended by the imagery (despite the fact that the Catholic Anti-Defamation League has said that there is “no bad intention” in the piece).

The last criticism of the piece came from a critic who, from my understanding, never saw the piece in person, just looked at a 72 dpi jpeg and made an unofficial comment to friend, who posted it on her blog. I have been painting for 20 years, have had 70 reviews in my career, each and every one of them (except for one mixed) completely glowing. Then a critic known for his traditional art views critiques a jpeg, and that is the statement used around the world in an AP release. I am learning so much about the power of the media and the internet, these past few weeks…

Have you thought about collaborating with any other artist(s) in the future? If so, who?
I have collaborated once before with a friend, and we made some interesting work, I think. I am a bit of a control freak with regards to my work, so it is hard to imagine, but it’s not impossible.

You also make psychological clothing. If the opportunity arose, would you collaborate with a designer or retailer to create psychological clothing for the commercial or high-fashion market?
If I had a reasonable degree of control, I might consider it.

What can we expect to see from you at ArtSpace this coming May?
I will make some new work for the show. I plan to round out my series of self-portrait drawings, my crying men series, and the Sanctum encaustic series. If any of the large paintings are still around by then, I will include a few of those as anchor pieces.

What do you plan to accomplish this year?
Right now, the challenge is to maintain artistic integrity in the face of all this hype. I plan to hide out, read, work in my sketchbook, be quiet, and listen to see what needs to be made next. Then I’ll bust my ass to make it, like I have been doing for the past 20 years.

"Art should never try to be popular; the public should try to make itself artistic." - Oscar Wilde

To see more of Kate's art, go to her website and her blog.

Photo credit Kate Kretz

Posted by ilovesecondhandsmoke @ 12:57 AM