Carl Laur Paintings
"Not easy, but it's worth it."
Select works of art, 1997 - Present
Reception: Saturday, November 12th, (2-6 PM)
Please introduce yourself and describe your work?
Declaration: I am seeking a patron/angel/collector to work with me. It will be rewarding. “…not easy, but it’s worth it.” My title for this show is at once an affirmation and a prayer. It is worth it, I swear. And I desperately pray that it is. Welcome to my meditations.
At 5-years-old my illustration appeared in a national magazine. I messed with oil paints before I was a teenager. I surreptitiously placed a multi-panel work in a university gallery, lurking behind as jurors admitted it to the show. They hadn’t even seen all its configurations, let alone met its maker. My life has always been the life of an artist. Artists can live wild-and-tragic, serene-and-joyful lives.
Growing up in southeastern Michigan gave me occasional access to the Detroit Institute of Arts. A lot to see. There are Diego Rivera murals there: a sky-lit chapel al fresco. Among the subjects are Henry Ford’s 1930s assembly lines and foundries. I labored in such places. I can taste them. I can hear the machines that mill, pierce, form thick metal.
California has been home for a long time now. “You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave.” …Newport Beach, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Bakersfield, San Diego, …Marin County these past 26 years. Time and space inform my art. I have been an off-and-on student of art history and studio practice for almost 50 years. SDSU graduate, journalism emphasis: I like to tell stories.
A genuine artist recently described me as “a real blunderbuss.” Lean into your Dutch genes to savor that reference: a thunder-pipe, a primitive fire-breathing shotgun. He meant that my artistic pursuits spray loudly in scattered directions. I agree. My worldview compasses particle accelerators, cosmological investigations, neural pathways and the life and work of Jesus Christ. Did I mention that I love science?
This show includes my consideration of the minimum amount of pixel-information required to recognize a unique human being. (That can impact everyone’s security.) There are a few self-portraits. It also includes abstract work, in the way of Kandinsky, that may lead us to question whether things that are unseen can ever be portrayed by things that are. (“For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:18b)
But wait – there’s more! There are many things you will recognize. A president. A tree. Some hearts. Commercial signage. You’ll see. I hope you will grab one of my limited-edition collector postcards. They are almost free while supplies last.
“…not easy, but it’s worth it.” That is at once an affirmation and a prayer. It’s worth it, I swear, and I desperately pray that it is. It hurt when I painted the portrait of John F. Kennedy. Is it worth it to give your life for your country? I was a little boy then. What would Jack have to say today?
My great treasure, my refreshing favor from the Lord, is my dear wife. We will celebrate 6 months of marriage near Thanksgiving Day. Shirley and I agree that our gracious host’s best wine has been saved for the last.
As with any artist, there are discoveries to be made. Thank you for your love and patience.
What does “being creative” mean to you?
I have sympathy for the Dadaist view. Art with a lower-case “a” is what we do. “For us, art is not an end in itself ... but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.” That from Hugo Ball during the early 1900s, …about 1916. Was he giving voice to wishful thinking …exactly one century ago?
We cannot avoid being creative in so many, many ways. We consume, generate, encode and conserve at prodigious rates. Aware of it or not, we curate our own lives. Know thyself. Know thy inner critic. Who’s watching? Being creative is what we do.
Then we come up square against reverence. I have paused to consider that pigments on my brush, those precise molecules and their color harmonies, are indeed the stuff of stars. I have reflected in wonder and amazement: this is indeed the perfect moment. Here are so many seeming impossibilities, gathered together and woven in one strand of potential. Here, contained in this moment’s effort. Now. How does this come to be? Surely I can offer only a hint, but I believe there is much to be discovered in contemplating the name of G_d. The great “I AM” is discoverable in every act of creation.
Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
One of the best moments in an artistic life comes with the realization of work’s healthful benefit. Of course a sensitive person can grasp that truth and still do nothing. This concerns the dance between private and public, personal and corporate. We make art for ourselves only, and then we both crave and avoid the attention of an audience. There come those tender trials: the exhibitions of the introvert. The ego dissolves into a wispy-thin air of the workplace, snapping back into sharp and unexpected focus time and time again. This is my new health plan.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
1) Make an effort to work in the company of others. Choose wisely. I am thankful for a prompting to rejoin my artistic pursuits with Chester Arnold at the College of Marin. There is a valuable synergy.
2) Do it every day. Exhausted after a hard day at the office, I can spend hours creating. The exhausted, spent, hopeless artist-creature is a blank canvas. Try it yourself. Some of my best images start that way. “Now” is the time to make art.
3) Take a lay day in port. It’s a nautical practice I draw on. Mend the sails and get the boat ready. Of course, my sails are my canvasses. Primed and ready. Guard your artistic soul against the useless notion that you aren’t moving fast enough.
What are you looking to communicate with your work?
I have met artists who insist their work must speak for itself. For my part, I value commentary and discussion. Stimulating dialogue is one of my goals. Can it be true? – Some things, said artfully, can be heard by everyone. That is hugely important to humanity’s survival. I will be a success if I can bring forth work which helps us know we hold much in common.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
My new medium is video. Here’s to good pictures and great storytelling. And blown glass.
What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative?
The best advice I ever received was the statement that “all art is a doodle.”