Happiest Hours: “Artists in Conversation” Invite You to Eat, Drink, and Connect

How can NMWA offer a distinctive type of artist talk program, one that engages attendees, activates artwork, and highlights the personalities of the guest speakers? The new “Artists in Conversation” program engages small audiences in the galleries during intimate group happy hour events.

Artists in Conversation participants socialize over happy hour in the galleries; Photo: Francesca Rudolph, NMWA

Artists in Conversation participants socialize over happy hour in the galleries; Photo: Francisca Rudolph, NMWA

The museum invited artists Rozeal, Analia Saban, Mira Dancy, and Suzanne McClelland for a series of three “Artists in Conversation” programs highlighting their respective works featured in the contemporary exhibition NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection. In this new format, participants have time to explore the galleries, look closely at the artists’ works, enjoy food and drink, and engage in conversations with the artists and fellow attendees.

On October 18, 2016, Rozeal captivated participants in a discussion of her work Sacrifice #2: it has to last (after Yoshitoshi’s “Drowsy: the appearance of a harlot of the Meiji era). Rozeal explored the influence of American hip-hop culture clichés on Japanese culture, namely ganguro, a sub-culture fascinated with dark tans and thickly applied contrasting makeup.

Rozeal with one of her works in NO MAN’S LAND, Photo: Francesca Rudolph, NMWA

Rozeal with one of her works in NO MAN’S LAND, Photo: Francisca Rudolph, NMWA

Rozeal portrays her protagonists with natural hairstyles such as dreadlocks, knots, or Afros, whereas her villains appear more sexualized, with intricate weaves and extravagant embellishments. Brown’s sources span the gamut—from 19th century Japanese woodblock print techniques and masters to popular culture. She cited J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as an inspiration for her own use of elaborate details in her work. Influenced by comedians like Bernie Mac and Rob Schneider’s Deuce Bigalow character, Rozeal often incorporates Easter Eggs in the form of hidden, humorous references. She revealed, “I usually end up laughing quite a bit when I make these paintings.”

Analia Saban shares her work with attendees; Photo: Emily Haight, NMWA

Analia Saban shares her work with attendees; Photo: Emily Haight, NMWA

On November 11, 2016, Analia Saban introduced her works Acrylic in Canvas and Acrylic in Canvas with Ruptures: Grids. “While working on my MFA at the University of California in Los Angeles, I was curious why painting received more attention than sculpture,” explained Saban. By using acrylic and canvas in unexpected ways, she said, “My artwork opens up dialog about the boundaries between these two mediums.” Saban amused attendees with anecdotes about her trial-and-error artistic process. She recounted one night when a sculpture “exploded” and flooded her apartment with acrylic paint.

Join us for the delightful opportunity to talk with not just one—but two—NO MAN’S LAND artists in the same evening. On Tuesday, December 13, 2016, Mira Dancy and Suzanne McClelland will converse with small groups about their respective backgrounds, artistic process, and works. Find out what inspires McClelland’s large abstracted canvases and Dancy’s neon nudes. Reserve your spot today for the upcoming “Artists in Conversation” happy hour at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

—Olivia Lussi is the fall 2016 education intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

NO MAN’S LAND: Provocative Portraiture

Contemporary large-scale paintings and sculptural hybrids are on view in NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection. The exhibition imagines a visual conversation between 37 women artists from 15 countries exploring images of the female body and the physical process of making. Paintings by Elizabeth Peyton, Celia Paul, and Rozeal combine personal and art-historical references.

What’s On View?

Elizabeth Peyton, Burkhard Riemschneider, 1995; Oil on board; (left) and Celia Paul, Self-Portrait August–September, 2014; Oil on canvas (right); Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Elizabeth Peyton, Burkhard Riemschneider, 1995; Oil on board; (left) and Celia Paul, Self-Portrait August–September, 2014; Oil on canvas (right); Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Elizabeth Peyton’s Burkhard Riemschneider, 1995

Elizabeth Peyton (b. 1965, Danbury, Connecticut) paints friends, family, celebrities, and personal heroes. “There is no separation for me between people I know through their music of photos and someone I know personally,” she explains.

Peyton works with ideas surrounding celebrity culture, much like Andy Warhol—an artist to whom she is often compared. Her use of vibrant color and graphic style also recall the Pop artist, but unlike him, she does not accept commissions from her famous sitters. This portrait depicts the German gallerist who has represented Peyton since 1995. Like many of her male subjects, Riemschneider is shown with slightly feminine features, such as red lips and high cheekbones.

Celia Paul’s Self-Portrait August–September, 2014

“My work has always been autobiographical,” says Celia Paul (b. 1959, Trivandrum, India), who, like Peyton, paints only people close to her. She almost solely depicts women—most often her sisters, her mother, and herself. Her color palette is strikingly somber, relying heavily on brown and gray, which she sees as “true to the colors of London.” Paul credits her use of color to fellow artist and former lover Lucian Freud.

Self-Portrait is exemplary of Paul’s signature style, featuring rapid yet controlled brushstrokes, an elongated figure, and an unembellished background that offers little sense of time or place. The impression of mystery and darkness is compounded by the artist’s expressionless face.

Rozeal’s Sacrifice #2: It Has to Last (after Yoshitoshi’s “Drowsy: the appearance of a harlot of the Meiji era”), 2007

Rozeal, Sacrifice #2: It Has to Last (after Yoshitoshi’s “Drowsy: the appearance of a harlot of the Meiji era”), 2007; Enamel, acrylic, and paper on panel; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Rozeal, Sacrifice #2: It Has to Last (after Yoshitoshi’s “Drowsy: the appearance of a harlot of the Meiji era”), 2007; Enamel, acrylic, and paper on panel; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

The intersection of contemporary hip hop culture and traditional Japanese ukiyo-e printmaking is the basis for Rozeal’s painting. When the artist (b. 1966, Washington, D.C.) heard about ganguro, a Japanese movement among young girls in the 1990s who darkened their skin and dressed as their favorite hip-hop stars, she was both fascinated and angered. The discovery of ganguro, which translates as “blackface,” propelled Rozeal to explore issues of race, gender, and class in her work.

Sacrifice #3 is based on an 1888 woodblock print by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi that depicts a courtesan. Though she assumes a similar pose, Rozeal’s subject has darker skin, long acrylic nails, and full lips. Sacrifice #3 works to expose the stylistic appropriation of African American culture.

Reserve a spot to meet artist Rozeal at NMWA on October 18, 2016 for a special in-gallery conversation. Visit the museum and explore NO MAN’S LAND, on view through January 8, 2017.

—Casey Betts was the summer 2016 digital engagement intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.