| “Letting Go” refers to the things one does to deal with life when chaos or joy, fear or rapture overcome us, explains artist Judith Kindler, who debuts her work this weekend at Gallery Walk. Courtesy photo
Judith Kindler says the roots of her nostalgic fascination with color began forming ages ago during her daily trips to the dairy behind her school.
“I loved looking through the glass at the cold, white milk,” she said. “That’s where my work today comes from, those things that made me feel good when I was young and I cling to it. When I was young, my family always referred to me as the artist, and even though my creative life wasn’t fully realized until about 20 years ago, my attachment to those good thoughts and visions have informed my work all along.”
The Seattle and Sun Valley artist brings her latest collection, “Notes to Self,” to Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum on Friday, Dec. 28, for Gallery Walk from 5-8 p.m.
Comforting earth tones like sepia, pale yellow and parchment frequent her palette. Her reflective moments—whether her oft-silly, sometimes discouraging self talk or her grander aspirations—are jotted throughout her art, which she delivers Salon style, with unique juxtapositions.
Salon style developed in France in the late 1600s by the crown-sponsored Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, which mounted commissioned paintings closely together to fit more in one display area.
“I really love that style because of the relationships it develops with other pieces of art,” she said.
Kindler has used the individual pieces to create a larger, whole, connected piece. Her complex compositions are presented in custom-made distressed frames featuring imagery of horses, crowns, bowls, cords, ladders, models and composed studio components.
Her latest work for Gail Severn’s opening uses one of her favorite subjects—horses—which she felt would be appropriate for the horse-crazy set of Sun Valley. To bring them to life, she took her camera down to Wagon Days and shot hundreds of photos of horses in all stages of movement. She mixed those with some pictures she took of a polo match, and morphed them together, adding her thoughts for a lively narrative.
The avid horsewoman said horses have always woven their way in and out of her work, and that the thoughts that she puts on canvas are thoughts that she feels are most universally shared—“the stupid thoughts we have or the affirmations that we stick up on the mirror to look to when you’re feeling low.”
“These are the things I’m thinking about and the common thread that connects us all,” she said.
This latest collection is not a fluid story, but instead the free-floating anxiety and excitement of ideas and excerpts from her life.
On the back side of a piece called “Undaunted” which features her assistant, Dino, holding a cluster of “chaos” exemplified as a ball of tangled string, there is a bird flying away. That piece, like “Letting Go” with the two horses running (on C1), illustrates how an individual copes with life.
“Some of us deal with chaos by transcending it, or letting it go,” she said. “That’s just one of the psychological narratives I present.”
The narrative around the crown imagery is “that I really deserve the crown, on one side of my thinking, while on the other I’m undecided if I really do deserve it. We all want to be valued and appreciated for what we do, and the crown represents that
Though the struggles are inherently difficult, Kindler’s interpretation is decidedly playful. And not so esoteric that it’s over people’s heads.
“People respond to it in a very visceral way,” she said of her style. “They don’t necessarily see what I’m feeling, but they see something in themselves.”
She’s not merely, “opening my coat to expose myself,” she insisted, “but to share these commonalities that we have as human beings that connect us together and not being afraid to show our vulnerabilities.”
Her studio can be seen online, and it resembles a dream Martha Stewart might have. All the years of thoughts on snippets of paper, color samples torn from magazines, photos, fabrics and anything else she needs is housed in immense blond folders. Jars filled with knickknacks settle adroitly on light oak shelves.
She assured that it gets messy when she and Dino are furious at work, but that she requires that mix of balance and disorder to create.
“My work is not just color on the wall, it’s a reflection of what is immediately going on in my life,” she said. “Just like looking inside ourselves, I prefer to work in narrative works because whenever you return to it, you find new things.”