Friday, September 25, 2009

Photos: Black Butterfly Opening Reception

I love opening nights and the "Black Butterfly: the muse" reception was the best ever for me. The show was well attended, partly because of the support of many friends, and also because of the vibrancy of the community of my co-op gallery at 33 Collective and also the Zhou B Art Center Chicago, which are both open the third Friday of each month. The reaction to my work far exceeded my expectations and I spent the night answering many questions about my process and imagery. My husband Steve White sang and played his own songs at the reception. Christine Pfeiffer read some of her own writings, as well as my poems and those of Maya Angelou and Oscar Wilde. Many thanks to both of you for lending an extra dash of culture and class to the event! Also, big thanks to Sergio Gomez for all of your help setting up the show.

Here are photos from the opening reception which took place Friday September 18th, 2009. Thanks to my friends Mike Barret Kolasinski and Mary Beth Deitrick for taking photos for me throughout the evening.

Gallery hours at 33 Collective,
Monday through Thursday:
10 am to 2 pm
Friday: 10 am to 7 pm

Zhou B. Art Center
1029 W. 35th St.
First Floor
Chicago, IL 60609
Ph. 708-837-4534

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Solo Exhibition, Black Butterfly: the muse

Black Butterfly: the muse

Alice McMahon White
charcoal realist drawings on mylar drafting film

September 18th through October 10th

Opening Reception:
Friday, September 18 from 7 - 10 pm
Featuring live dance performances,
music by Steve White and
poetry readings by Christine Pfeiffer.

View online gallery

33 Collective Gallery
Zhou B. Art Center
1029 W. 35th St.
First Floor
Chicago, IL 60609
Ph. 708-837-4534

Gallery Hours
Monday through Thursday:
10 am to 2 pm
Friday: 10 am to 7 pm

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Panthea Daily Study

White lilies and panthea moth. Charcoal and white pastel on Mylar drafting film, 16 x 12", in vintage frame. The white lily was the signature flower for Oscar Wilde, and I also consider it my own signature flower. I’ve used it as a logo since I started my career as an artist, and also have used the lily often in the Black Butterfly muse series. I love the symbolism of peace and purity.

Wilde writes of lilies in his poem “Panthea.” Wilde’s beliefs were Pantheistic, characterized by oneness with nature. The word pantheism derives from the Greek words pan ('all') and theos ('God'). Thus pantheism means 'All is God'.
Pantheism is the religious belief that Nature is divine (God) and we humans are part of the One, interconnected whole. It is in realizing our connection to the One Universe (Nature, God, Brahman, Tao, Space) that we find truth, spiritual fulfillment and solace. Pantheists usually deny the existence of a personal God (theism) and creationism (a separate God who created the world from nothing).

Many philosophers, scientists, poets and artists have identified themselves with pantheism since antiquity. Spinoza (Ethics, 1673), Henry David Thoreau, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Oscar Wilde, Henri Matisse and Albert Einstein are some famous pantheists.

There is a moth by the same name, and I like the idea of the dusky moth with the white flower.

From "Panthea" by Oscar Wilde

Nay, let us walk from fire unto fire,
From passionate pain to deadlier delight,-
I am too young to live without desire,
Too young art thou to waste this summer night
Asking those idle questions which of old
Man sought of seer and oracle, and no reply was told.

For sweet, to feel is better than to know,
And wisdom is a childless heritage,
One pulse of passion-youth's first fiery glow,-
Are worth the hoarded proverbs of the sage:
Vex not thy soul with dead philosophy,
Have we not lips to kiss with, hearts to love, and eyes
to see!

Dost thou not hear the murmuring nightingale
Like water bubbling from a silver jar,
So soft she sings the envious moon is pale,
That high in heaven she hung so far
She cannot hear that love-enraptured tune,-
Mark how she wreathes each horn with mist, yon late
and laboring moon.

White lilies, in whose cups the gold bees dream,
The fallen snow of petals where the breeze
Scatters the chestnut blossom, or the gleam
Of all our endless sins, our vain endeavor
Enough for thee, dost thou desire more?
Alas! the Gods will give naught else from their
eternal store….

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Butterfly Effect

Portrait of my artist friend Martin Soto, chanting in his “cocoon” meditation room at his studio at Zhou B Art Center, based on the theory that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world. The interior life can have profound effects on the world as well. Martin allowed me to take photos of him while he was practicing Buddhist chant. He uses meditation as a means to put himself in a good frame of mind to create. Martin has begun to paint butterflies on the canvas wall coverings in his meditation room, after we had a discussion that spirit is one symbolic meaning of butterflies. The day I photographed Martin he was in emotional turmoil, and it was amazing to watch the transforming power of his prayer. I thought this was a perfect metaphor for the Butterfly Effect drawing. The nautilus is a symbol for spirituality, and has 31 chambers while the Buddhist prayer beads have 30. It wasn't a conscious decision, but this piece for me has a strong relationship with hurricane Katrina.

Monday, September 7, 2009

"Madame Butterfly"

"He will call Butterfly from the distance
I without answering
Stay hidden
A little to tease him,
A little as to not die.
At the first meeting,
And then a little troubled
He will call, he will call
"Little one, dear wife
Blossom of orange""

~ Puccini

"Madame Butterfly" model, dancer Cori Kolasinski, daughter of an artist friend. Charcoal on Mylar drafting film, 24 x 20."

This is a "double sided" drawing, I drew on both sides of the translucent Mylar, and it will be hung in a frame between 2 sheets of glass. The piece is meant to be hung near a picture window in the gallery space, with daylight shining through the window during the day, and with spot lights after dark. There will be room behind the piece so that viewers will be able to view the work from either side. Kind of a quick loose drawing, because I wanted to show movement. I used the progressive setting on my camera to capture movement - I have hundreds of usable photos from the shoot. The res was a bit lower, but the captures were fairly clear. I'll definitely draw more from this shoot at a later date. The voluminous skirt Cori wore during the shoot appeared lit from within in the north light of the studio as she did pirouettes and arabesques. I believe this will provide drama with light showing through as the piece hangs in the gallery.

The main purpose was to have a piece that would be an example of the nature of my chosen surface. I also wanted to include a dancer in my "muse" series, what better theme than a dance version of the well known Puccini opera, "Madame Butterfly?"

Artistic video with music from the opera:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Small Brass Butterfly Shrines - Daily Drawings

Charcoal and white pastel pencil on Mylar drafting film. Image size 4 x 2", frames 5 3/4 x 3"

I found these fabulous small vintage solid brass religious icon shrines at my local antique dealer's. There were yellowing postcards of Jesus and Saint Therese in the frames, but I got sacrilegious and drew butterflies for them instead. I've used a paisley patterned backing paper behind the translucent Mylar - nice with the brass of the frames. The doors are hinged.

The butterfly has long been a Christian symbol of resurrection, for it disappears into a cocoon and appears dead, but emerges later far more beautiful and powerful than before.

As a symbol of Christ's resurrection after three days in the grave, the butterfly is seen especially around Easter. But the butterfly is also a symbol of every Christian's hope of resurrection from the dead.

Close up of one of the butterfly shrines: