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Painter of the Month

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Painter of the Month: Vimaris Williams

Ready to go all out?  V will take you there.
 
The painting V exhibited at our last major exhibition is the result of laser-guiding one color over the entire canvas.  She let this layer dry, then guided the loaded brush to apply a new color, over the previous one.   Layer after layer, on and on.  Many weeks of the artist working in this fashion, V signaled the mysterious painting, (now the unpretty color: brown) was finito.

What?  An all brown painting?

But wait.    

If you look at it very carefully you can see the slightest, slightest, slightest traces of the previous monochrome layers.  Ever so slightly.  You have to really look and you'll see them. If you don't come close, if you don't have the time to look carefully?  You won't see them. 

Without art lessons V flew straight up into the all one color purist approach embraced by famous painters: Malevich, Marden, Kelly and Reinhardt.

We know it may be a challenge to see a quadriplegic nonverbal young person as operating on such a high level without any art lessons, without any creative guidance from anyone but the young artist themself. 

But time and again we have had the thrill of watching a new A.R.T. artist go immediately, straight for the essence of Art. 

We realize A.R.T. might win more support if we presented the A.R.T. artists as victims, as struggling to make a few random marks.  But we aren't going to play this game.  We're going to stick with the truth, with what we have seen with first-time A.R.T. artists in California, New Mexico, Arkansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and don't forget New Jersey.

How is it possible for the A.R.T. artists to have such power? 

Imagine yourself no longer dashing about, no deadlines, no errands, no bills to pay.  Imagine yourself able to sit perfectly still.  Able to remain silent.  Able to have the time to really look, listen, absorb and think.  Imagine what an hour of perfect, fully awake, stillness and silence would allow your mind to take in. 

Now try to imagine yourself in this kind of 'ascetic' state', for a whole day.  For a week.   For a month.  For a year.  For ten years.  Can you imagine this? Can you imagine how different your inner life would be?  

If the fuel of serious artists is: stillness, is silence... the A.R.T. artists have more fuel than the average person. Far more. 

V does not labor towards the making of a sun, a house, a rainbow, but goes for nothing less than the purity and power at the heart of Art.

V has the artistic confidence to not worry that people won't 'get' what she's after.  It must feel great for her to have found a program that will let her run with her ideas, the vista ahead of her: wide open. We spoke with her, to see if the Tracker was getting everything the way she wanted it.  V signals: Yes.

Exactly?

Yes.

Will your second painting -another monochrome- be ready in time for the upcoming show?

No.

LOL.  You see what we're saying?  Most artists with a chance to get two paintings in an exhibition in a great gallery, would drive to get more of their work on display.  Not V.  The piece wasn't finished and would not be finished in time.  It would require more layers.  More layers hidden by other layers, one color, one feeling, hidden by another, the earlier colors unseen, yet still there.

The night of the opening at the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, V's brown monochrome hangs on the white wall, bathed in incandescent light.  We got a note from someone who had taken time to really look at JALCSBKKEGEJMO  DISUDAAKKUSAA’.

"For me V's painting represents both the unspeakableness of the falsehood of the world, and at the same time evokes the mystery of the creative force; both earth-like and hopeful."

Let's see, how, prior to her monochromes, V first engaged the concept of veiling what lies beneath, what lies within.

She had created a sort of Mondrian: Nicely balanced interlocking rectangles of pastel colors.  It was so easy on the eye, we knew it would sell at the next show, no doubt about it.

To us the painting looked complete, but not so for the artist. The bravura move was yet to come.  She directed the blending of watered down black, mixed with a spoonful of silver.  When asked where this watery black would be placed on her painting, V signaled: the whole thing.   The Tracker asks, "You want to paint the black over your entire painting?" (the Tracker moves a finger along all four edges of the canvas) The whole thing, I have that right?"

Clear yes signal from the artist.

We couldn't believe V was going to paint over all those pretty pastels she had taken weeks to so carefully arrange.  OMG.  We had to use A.R.T. discipline not to say anything further.  It was her painting, her vision, her ideas, not ours.

And so the Tracker applied the black.

The Tracker asks, "Is this right?"

V signals, "Yes."

"Exactly right?"

"Yes."

At this moment, in this room, some might inwardly think: this proves the artist is crazy, or 'developmentally disabled'.  But oh how wrong they would be.  How very wrong. The mystery had been established, and the magic was on its way.

In the next minute or two, as the layer of wet black oxidized, the colors beneath began to re-emerge.  No longer pretty pastels but unified as a more singular field of subtly tinted cor-ten steel. 

When we saw the colors that had been blotted out, breathing up through the black, we freaked out.  Someone shouts, "Wow!"  The Tracker whispers, "Check it out.  Check, it, out!"

V, calm, composed, smiles her warm smile.  Her expression eases back to seriousness as she looks at the painting.