Yale Epstein: From the Ashes – (burned and saved)

Chronicle V, 2005, Ink, Acrylic, Varnishes, 49 x 43”

July 16 – August 28, 2016
Opening Reception: July 16, 4-6 PM

Burned –
When Sylvia [Leonard Wolf] and I visited the site a few days after the devastation [the fire at my house and studio], she picked up a charred remnant of a painting, and her keen curatorial brain was already in full gear. As she pointed out, there was a potent, distinctly primitive transformative beauty in the disfigured work. She said something declarative like – “these must be seen,”… – and, thus, a post-modern concept for this exhibition was born.

Some insights learned –
The fire destroyed most of the work I had created in the last 60 years, and caused an irreparable separation between myself and that work. Yet, over the past month I realized that I was gaining new insights which allowed me to make peace with my new circumstance.

I began to understand that the work was the tangible product of my many decisions, struggles, questions, failures, successes, and explorations. Yet, most significantly, my work had its own identity, distinct from me – it was NOT literally me. While it is a major blow to experience the physical loss of so much of my life’s work, there is heartening compensation in realizing that my experiences in creating the work were internalized and will always remain part of me. For that, I am deeply grateful. I don’t play golf or computer games, or spend much time on other recreational pastimes (aside from travel) so making art was, and still is, what my life is about. The works themselves were
physical entities that gave me stimulation as I created them. They were vehicles that informed me of my own sensibilities as I struggled with new ways to interpret and express them. They also enhanced my connection with people, events and places. However, the essential reward was the ACT OF MAKING THEM – the works themselves were merely evidence of the process — the “icing on the cake.”

So losing all of the work was both a terrible shock and an impetus for moving in new directions… towards where? I do not know.
A hallmark of my work life has always been delving into new ideas as they emerge from what I was already doing at the time, thus bringing me into branches, directions and corners that I could not anticipate. So, in a sense, this experience might lead me to a regeneration, and to encourage me to discard what I don’t really need, while I stand by, almost as an objective observer, curious as to what is in my art-making future.
There is the scary excitement of the unknown, and the adrenaline rush of positive expectations on the horizon.

It ain’t over till it’s over !!!!!

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