”At its best, art supplies an external organ, a structure for feeling.”
“People have eyes to see, ears to hear and art to feel.” Jo Ann Rothschild quoted her first teacher, Leo Garel, in an interview discussing her upcoming gallery opening in Stockbridge, MA. “One of the things that Leo taught is that art is useful for everyone. We do not have a specific organ to help us experience or even process our emotions, and that is where art comes in. Leo used to say that art is the organ for emotion.”
A celebrated abstract painter, Rothschild studied at Bennington College before receiving an MFA from a combined program at Tufts University and the Museum School of Boston. Her work is in the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum , the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Tufts University, MIT, Mills College and the Taller Experimental de Gráfica in Havana, Cuba.
Continuing the theme of the “everyoneness” of art, Rothschild believes that art is important for people to experience at any time but can be particularly useful for people in difficulty. This sentiment led her to develop a program at the Pine Street Inn, the largest homeless program in Boston. “Having access to art helps people concentrate on what it is to be human.”
In Memory of Edwin A. Rothschild, mixed media on canvas, 92"x134" 1995
Rothschild states that in her career, she has made public art: large, political, mixed media pieces generated by external events -- sometimes disquieting. In Franklin Field, in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, is one such work. Rothschild takes the classic poem, In Flanders Field, which memorializes World War I soldiers and compares that memorialization to the response to a recent rape and murder in a Boston park. This painting poses questions about who is honored and how they are remembered. The theme of memorialization is important in other works by Rothschild, including In memory of Edwin A. Rothschild, a work painted after the loss of her father.
Though earlier paintings may have had specific references, the new paintings, to be shown for the first time at the Lavender Door Gallery (September 27 – October 25), are all about the paint. “THIS IS THE BEST WORK I’VE EVER DONE!” says Rothschild. “Modest in scale, made for intimate viewing. These oils are about color and texture and how paint strokes contrast with and enhance one another. You see my touch."
MAY-20-2013 oil on linen 9"x12
“I hope viewers will lose themselves in looking.” Rothschild suggests looking closely to experience the texture, and then step back to get a sense of the whole. “People are often baffled by abstract art because they think it doesn’t relate to their world, but it just takes time to allow the painting to happen as they look.”
The painter is aware of events, (One of the new paintings, An Important Day was finished on the day the Supreme Court acknowledged Gay Marriage) but aims for something less transient and more concrete. She hopes that viewers will focus on the paint and the glory of the medium, allowing the experience to be deep and playful.
AN IMPORTANT DAY oil on canvas 24"x30" 2013
In Rothschild’s words: “My paintings are about paint….The first stroke can be arbitrary, but it begins a discussion. My reaction to that mark, to its color and form, determines a painting’s construction and its meaning. Some of the tools that I use are mark, touch, repetition, texture, color and the spacing of the grid. I often think about music. I bring to the discussion everything that has shaped me to that point. There are residues of the things I see, the people I meet, the world I inhabit. I want art to be direct and emotional.”
The exhibit opens on Friday, September 27 at 4:30 at the Lavender Door Gallery in Stockbridge, MA and will be available for public viewing through October 25, 2013.
For more information about the artist and her work, please visit: http://www.joannrothschild.com/ .