Artists and Writers Pair Up for "Duets" at Piante
There is a long history of connection between artists and writers. That link may take the form of a personal relationship, collaboration, inspiration, influence, or even competition. Regardless, it's a connection that often enables creative acts that wouldn't have otherwise occurred. This month, Piante gallery's exhibition, "Duets," considers this connection through work by over 30 artists and writers.
The exhibition came about through conversation between Piante owner Sue Natzler and local artist Kelly Leal. They were discussing ideas for future shows when Natzler mentioned her love of deconstructed books. "We decided we wanted to do a show about the interplay between the visual and literary arts," Natzler explained. For Leal, "Duets" is also a response to a perceived need within the arts community. "In this highly charged social and political landscape, artists need to come together," Leal said. For "Duets," artist/writer pairs worked collaboratively. "It was meant to be a fun, liberating endeavor in a time that's challenging and in need of hope," said Leal.
Some of the collaborative teams were composed, initially, of strangers. Others were already friends, or even family. One of those 15 pairings is artist Becky Evans and poet Jerry Martien. The two have known each other for years and admired one another's work, so when the opportunity to work together arose, they jumped at it.
"For us the challenge was narrowing it down," Evans said. "There were so many interesting possibilities." They discovered more overlap in their lives than they were previously aware of: similarities in their Southern California childhoods as well as connections to specific locales like Owens Valley and the Los Angeles Aqueduct. The pair settled on an exploration of water politics and place, themes they'd explored individually for years.
For Evans, the experience was energizing. "In collaboration, I'm doing things that are more experimental than I might have otherwise," she said. Evans considered incorporation of text, collage, and new acrylic paint mediums in the creation of wall panels for the show. Martien found the experience instructive as well. "The poem I wrote to accompany Becky's images, 'Water and Power,' is investigating my life in relation to water as a kid. It made my autobiographical water map more complete," said Martien.