mary shindell

The artist Mary Shindell

Don’t even know where to begin writing. Let me warm up.
I met Mary in 2005. We had solo’s in the same month. We got together to stuff envelopes for a joint mailing. She dropped into my exhibit, and I dropped into hers. high above the, was the name of her show. Mary’s not only a current member, but also a founding member of  Five15. Her exhibition consisted of a series of mixed media drawings of Sonoran Cacti. I recall being completely taken in by the drawing. I returned several times to take in all the intricate, meticulously rendered detail, of her Saguaro’s. I knew instinctively, she was also a Printmaker.

Mary draws, makes prints and then some…

It was while visiting her most recent solo, that I realized I wanted Mary to be a part of this project. Initially, the idea was 3 artists, a triad. Mary would make it a 4-person exhibit, a square. What caught my attention… line quality, texture, engaging structure, use of material, and intensity in process. Her use of new media, computer generated imagery and LED lighting, was added engagement. I’d spent the better part of that Saturday afternoon last January, talking to Mary about her process. She’d experienced challenges in both the creating, and the installing of the work. Her husband Rick (Is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. He’s made stainless steel benches and tables for some of the galleries. He also rebuilds classic cars…the latter, is my husbands input…) helped her to design stands for her sculpture, her son helped her with electrical wiring, various tech’s helped her with the fiber optics, and others with the printing. Mary had problems, solutions followed, sometimes creating other problems, for more solution. I remember thinking…it really does take a village.

No woman is an island. Mary works well in solitary mode, and clearly, with other people too. I admire this.  The artist is an intricate part of the community, and vise-versa.

Afterwards, I spoke to Carolyn. She was more than receptive. She talked about feeling a kinship to Mary, from her work in the local art scene, to her teaching residencies, and art making. The grouping of 4 women artist, for our project, was now complete.
Note: Yes, She is the 3rd artist I tell you about, but she is the 4th one to have come on board.

The Sonoran desert-scape is Mary’s most obvious influence. Right now the plan is 2D  and 3D work for this group exhibit. I’m drawn to the attention she gives her drawing, in its entirety. She sees, she puts down! Again, as I’d noted in Carolyn’s work, with Mary’s too, there is a quality to the mark making and a connection to time.   Her 3D work intrigues me not only because of the new media, but also as you’ll see, it’s a direct evolution of her drawing process.

Mary’s process focused in traditional drawing technique.  About the computer influence she comments,  I was seeking a method to assist in the design and production of large public art projects, I set about learning to draw digitally. The vector lines were so fluid and the potential for manipulation and combination so vast that I began devising ways to use the digital imagery in my studio work.

Her studio contains both a drawing area and a digital workspace.

In a not too surprising detailed manner, she talks about materials and gives us a peek into her process. Here goes…

Her materials, traditional in general are acrylic, ink, graphite, pastel and  (BFK) paper. In new tradition, add in a digital pen, a scanner, and scanned photos and drawings,  the occasional LED light and occasional use of styrene.

Note: In photo below, a CD in the lower left corner, on the cart. Remember our dinner meeting? (click here if you don’t) We all discussed music as a necessary studio element. Mary and I both listen to Leonard Cohen in particular ( of course…I’ve written about him too).

Mary mentions things she saves. The photo above is her used pen tips. These are like trophies, she says, I wear them out making little marks and I keep them around as evidence of my work.
I get this, I save all my used paintbrushes and the last bits of my drawing pencils.

About this photo she explains,  I am spraying symbols that I have made from Carolyn’s (Lavender) garden. Graphic designers use clip art or vector graphics to make symbols, mapmakers use them a lot. I cut up scans of my drawings and photos to make symbols. I can have hand drawn imagery in my digital pieces, it makes them more like drawings for me and puts the drawing in a new , less precious format.


…a few material/ process photos…


I ask Mary about the pretty glove in this photo. …my ‘pretty glove’ is something I wear to protect the outside of my hand on the Wacom Tablet. It is hard plastic and after a few hours it hurts, I can also slide on the tablet better with the glove on-I also use it when I am drawing on paper for long periods of time although I never had to use a glove when I only worked on paper so I think it is the plastic tablet that is causing the problem.


This is scrap from cutting out ink jet printed objects, and a Bougainvillea flower, that didn’t make the cut.

Finishing up our process and materials conversation she adds…But I still love the precious so I work on the drawing board on BFK with graphite etc, in a way I feel like I can spend more time on the hand drawn imagery. I didn’t feel that way at the beginning of mixing the two processes.

And so it continues…what more is in this file Mary?
Mixing the two processes…it’s part of her plan for this collaborative exhibition. Come and see what she finely generates.

Stay tuned. One more artist reveal on the way.

Some links below…
Mary Shindell Portfoilio
Five15, Mary Shindell
One final note…Mary Shindell voted #89 of our top 100 artists by The Phoenix New Times. Click here for article.

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About monica

MonicaAissaMartinez.com
This entry was posted in art, art exhibition, art process, collaborative art project, phoenix, women artists and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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