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Still Life Greatness on Wally Workman’s First Floor

I studied film at Northwestern University in the early ‘90s, and my first screenwriting teacher was a semi-embittersweetened morsel of a countercultural retiree who encouraged all of us to create stories about our most familiar elements.  Your most familiar elements, he said, are the things you know so well as to damn near feel their tremendous beauty and impenetrable flaws simultaneously.  And from this proximity comes an emotional bond, for better or for worse, and the loving and/or loathing created pushes the psychological rolleycoaster down the steep hill that’ll stir up compelling characters and snappy dialogue, undoubtedly imbuing a great deal of authenticity into the written work. 

(Ideally speaking, as a matter of course.  So, my first work of arguable genius was about a crew of upper middle class white kids in high school that’re too bored and smart for their own good, spending a lot of time drinking cheap wine, smoking cigarettes and vandalizing underdeveloped subdivisions, lamenting the oncoming burden of adulthood.  Go figure.)

The other component to a successful creative writer, according to this professor, was the cultivation of discipline.  Write, write, write.  Create something every day, find a process that works and revisit it daily, if not several times a day.  Eliminate the internal editor/critic with a work ethic that’ll either silence that bastard/bitch’s voice, or at least make you partially deaf to it.   Personal voice and, if exceptionally lucky, some confidence to match is, ideally, the end result.


spring flowers, 20

And from the time spent in that classroom to the present, I’ve always gravitated to art of any kind that is birthed of its immediate surroundings, and recognizes – perhaps consciously, perhaps not – that the now of one’s immediate environment, however manic or placid, provides an abundance of beauty and sadness of its own kind to propel creativity of varied sorts.   Further, the artists who create from this springboard and are so fearless as to be constantly offering their perspectives to the marketplace in the form of an incredibly consistent output – I mean, what’s not to love?

So, nothing short of a thrill to come across Carol Marine’s collection of paintings in the comfortable environs of The Wally Workman Gallery on Sixth Street, in the heart of Clarksville.  Her work possesses a careful, keen sense of perspective (and discipline to match, when I discovered her blog, whose address is posted below). 


Hanging Out on Dishes, 20

Born and raised in the small town of Harper and educated at The University of Texas at Austin, Marine’s still lifes burst with a tremendous personality due to an adventurous use of color that truly illuminates her inanimate subjects.  Quite a feat in and of itself, when you consider that the knucklehead typing this drivel has never really taken kindly to still lifes of any kind, unless processed in a blender owned by the skewed sense of perspective of some wacky Cubist, Futurist or Surrealist…

But there’s a great balance here that combines the exactitude of shape and depth of her chosen subjects and a playful attitude towards interpretation of color that makes these small canvases live and breathe.  I found these works filling me with a desire to experience the other senses that would have come with being at the easel in front of that vase, that flower, that legal pad with spectacles laying across it.


Inspiration, 20

Ms. Marine draws the viewer so compellingly into the world of the mundane and provides such a playful realm of possibility while doing so, and I think that’s the highest compliment I can pay to an artist devoted to working with the undeniably static component of inanimate objects.  I have been wholly indifferent to work similar as this in the past, and her painting has made me realize that there’s probably a whole realm of possibility worth looking into, from 12th and 13th century religious imagery to Van Gogh and Manet and oh, hell, there’s too many to count.  Gotta have my assistant put this task of my ‘things to do’ list…

I encourage a visit to the gallery space.  While no visual art can be experienced to its fullest effect in a digital/online sense, with Ms. Marine’s work, it’s especially the case.

One last mention, to nod at the notion of discipline mentioned earlier…the artist created a discipline of a painting a day for many moons (the work would start at $100 on eBay) that has been documented on her blog.

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