The rhythms of color/are born/ in his haiku.
They arise in his/staccato shapes/and clipped colors.
They expand into/a landscape/of flowing form.
Steve Moen listens to the sound relations of his writings as he steps away from reality—traveling to a timeless place—a time before history was recorded. And back again. He writes the sounds in the instant of a new certainty. “Haiku is a polaroid shot of a time or place.”
Often the time and place can be the Billy Goat trail along the Potomac River from season to season. Each brings new movements and temperatures that demand new color relationships and forms as one season slides to the next. As Steve might say: The changes in/ the seasons/tell eternal time. Or maybe it’s a journey through emotion. He jots compositions and color notes on small pieces of tin flashing and often expands them in the studio.
A second passion is linguistics—languages and the common roots of language—reaching back to the similarities of ancient sounds. He loves poetry and its most direct form, the simple haiku. He has written one for each of the works in his current exhibit at the Art League. (See At the Galleries.) He begins both together and “over the course of days a dialog happens between the haiku and the painting.”
Steve is continuously learning—from the University of Colorado, to the Art Students League in NY, the Torpedo Factory and through numerous artist workshops.
He makes his own frames through “forgotten techniques”—vinegar and steel wool—to “coax tannins from hand-stained wooden frames.” His small works are painted on gessoed tin flashing and mounted onto a homemade floater frame.
If that is not enough, Steve is also a hiker, beekeeper and mushroom hunter. You can see his work online at: www.theartleague.org, or at www.stevemoen.com.
Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art
Steve Moen (see Artist Profile) writes haiku and lets the structure of the rhythms instruct the colors and compositions as they form an alternative reality. It is the music of the natural. The composition of the human mind.
If you paint, pause before you start and feel the rhythms of the surrounding sights and sounds—especially the sounds. The music of nature. Listen for the harmonies of forms and colors.
Even if you don’t paint, listen for the concord of color and sound in the quiet times, and the cadence of lights and darks, contrasts, in the busy times.
I find symphonic music to be stronger than any drug. My appreciation is inexpert, but I find pitch to be important in musical thought and sight. Yet it can be variable in a range of sounds and ideas, just as a color tends to shift toward its complement. Tempo is powerful, but it’s situational. Write, paint or compose anything with Sheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov enveloping the space around you and magic will happen.
Listen to Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli and colors and forms become a kaleidoscope of compositions.
Songs can take you in a different direction. I spent one whole night on a painting of Ted Kennedy. I had Janis Joplin on the CD and she sang her powerful pleadings for understanding. It became more surreal as the night went on. The reds and flaming yellows rose up and filled the studio and the fires of Janis consumed the dominant figure of the 60s. His body of deep blues and greens became a visual sinkhole—his face a fireball. His left eye placed itself in the center of the canvas. It looks at me. At us. But his thoughts are simply a guess.
At the Galleries
The Art League
105 North Union Street
Steve Moen (see Artist Profile) in this solo exhibit, Across the Gorge and Other Spaces Between, captures the seasons and evokes the ages with “landscapes marked by passing millennia—places where tectonic shifts have summoned peaks, rains have carved gorges, and erosion has polished hillsides into cliff-faces. Places where the hands of giants have thumbed the terrain into tableaus.” He also explores the sounds of language—he has written a poem, a haiku, to capture the idioms embodied in each work.
921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
– Dec. 31
This is a very special virtual exhibit featuring the art of 30 US military veterans. There are 125 works of all kinds and varied subject matter—organized by Uniting US, veterans’ family members and friends. As a vet who has been very much involved in veterans’ art, I know how much it means to those who have been damaged physically and emotionally by combat.
Also, the annual Regional Juried Exhibition continues through 2020. A wonderful work from each artist can be seen at: www.hillcenterdc.org/galleries
— Dec 9
Twenty-five Touchstone members are included in this major show. It is virtual and you can view it online at: touchstonegallery.com.
American Painting Fine Art
5125 MacArthur Blvd., NW #17
– Nov. 30
This new show highlights the larger and medium scale work of established gallery artists. It includes their usual wonderful landscapes and American scene paintings. classicamericanpainting.com.
The Art Factory
9419 Battle St, Manassas, VA 2011
Arlington artist, David Amoroso, has a wide range of social and cultural interests and he captures them all with his inventive graphic style. This show is titled “Un Poco de Todo Amoroso” (A Little Bit of Everything Amoroso). He features three distinctive sides of his “LatinX-inspired” artwork: Mexican Icons (religious images) are updated with bright colors. Latino Products are enlarged in rainbow colors to mimic their “lavish flavor options.” And, in “El Machismo,” tough guys look even tougher with retro wallpaper and decorative designs. Check out the viewing options: www.virginiaartfactory.org