The gift that keeps on giving

MAGIC Carved plate 3.5
MAGIC Carved plate 3.5″ Lilianne Milgrom

I won’t deny that selling my artwork is rewarding, but the real value I get from having my art out there is knowing that it is appreciated and that I have enhanced people’s lives in some way. In the past two weeks, thanks to unsolicited and unexpected feedback, I have been amply reminded of just how much satisfaction and joy this gives me. Art really is that magical gift that keeps on giving.

It began with a recent trip to my gynecologist’s office.  As my doctor breezed into the exam room to perform my annual checkup she told me that she thought of me every day. This sparked a dreaded moment of anxiety – was she referring to  some ominous test results I was unaware of?

gyno office

I need not have worried. She was referring to a hand made ceramic mug I gave her a year ago when I learned that she had completed her yoga instructor’s course. I had totally forgotten about that mug, aptly decorated with an image of a cross-legged woman meditating. It turns out that she drinks her morning joe out of that cup every day.

A few days later I received an email from a woman in Australia who identified herself as the person who had purchased my small, award-winning portrait Le Parisien about five years ago.

5x5in_acrylic_2013 (2)

She took the time to write the following words and, bless her, it made my week:

Dear Lilianne, Just wanted to touch base and let you know I purchased a tiny painting of yours from the Mortimore Prize in 2010. For such a tiny painting it fills the room. It was a Christmas present to my husband after he expressed it was his favourite painting in the show, it was also a stand out to me, we love it! Just wanted to let you know it came to a good home. 

And then, to top it off, I received another email from another total stranger who had come across my contributing artwork in the Women of the Book project currently on exhibit at the Jerusalem Biennale.

womenofthebook illustration (9)

This gentleman really understood what I was trying to capture with my visual expression of the Torah portion Ki Tavo. He wrote:
Dear Lilianne, It looked like simplicity was a prime virtue of the work until I looked more closely and realized the skill and complexity. It really does convey the sense of a deeply willing offering. What excellent work! Would you mind if I used it as a screensaver, reminding myself to be in that place of acceptance and offering?

It’s been a gratifying couple of weeks in the life of this artist – I have also been commissioned to paint a series of portraits for the AARP and just found out that Dreamtime, the work I featured in my last blog, received an award at the opening in NY.

awardIf you have any comments about art that has touched people’s lives or art that you cherish, that inspires you or beautifies your home or simply makes you feel good, I’d love to hear your story.

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Good things come in threes

I REALLY LIKE THIS PAINTINGEvery artist has just about had it up to here listening to people gushing on about how much they like the art, how impressed they are by the technique, the concept, yada, yada, yada. But actually buying the artwork seems to require a step of gargantuan proportions.

The Affordable Art Fair debuted in New York several years ago to entice collectors of average means to put their money where their mouth is. It was so successful that it ironically became increasingly less affordable over the years.

So along comes The Really Affordable Art Show (under $500) organized by the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (BWAC), known for staging impressive, large-scale exhibitions. Out of 1400 submissions, a mere 150 works were selected for The Really Affordable Art Show, including two of my works, one of which is Dreamtime, below.

reallyaffordable postcard back

Dreamtime Lilianne Milgrom
Dreamtime Lilianne Milgrom

Next up on my exhibition calendar is for those art lovers venturing a bit further afield…Israel, in fact. I am thrilled to be exhibiting in the 2015 JERUSALEM BIENNALE as a participant in the Women of the Book project. This project is the culmination of a labor of love on the part of 54 international Jewish women artists whose interpretations of the 54 portions of the sacred Torah provide a uniquely spiritual experience. Click here for more on Women of the Book.   

women of the book inviteFinally, also exhibiting in October 2015, will be my collaborative work, ENCROACH, a multi-sensory work based on an installation I developed during my 2014 residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts together with Argentinian composer, Juan Sebastian Vassallo.

Collage element from ENCROACH installation
Collage element from ENCROACH installation

The installation was inspired by the menacing, invasive Kudzu vine that was swallowing up the native plant species in the natural surrounds of the residency. It seemed like a metaphor for the encroachment of global crises into one’s life. The Visaural exhibition will be on view at the Nave Gallery Annex in Somerville, just outside of Boston. Opens October 9, 2015; 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Watch a brief video of the installation with soundscape by Juan Sebastian Vassallo:

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/138701866″>encroach brief proposal</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user1999535″>Lilianne Milgrom</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Time flies…

Time flies when you’re having fun both in the studio and out. I was in Paris again in June for a brief visit, this time concentrating on connecting with local galleries and interviewing artists for my Great Nude.tv article entitled The Nude in Paris. I revisited a famous installation by Daniel Buren, one of France’s most renowned contemporary artists. His art pays particular attention to the structures and environments in which they exist, and his signature stripes are magnificent in his Columns installation in the Palais-Royal (below left). I appreciate his work so much more after attending a lecture and slide show he gave at the American University in Paris. A lot of art created today is more than 50 percent about concept and therefore understanding the cerebral inspiration for contemporary work is vital to its understanding.

Since returning from Paris, I have been concentrating on some painting backlog. I completed my colored pencil piece for Women of the Book. The Torah section which was my task to illustrate and personally interpret was Ki Tavo which deals with various polarities – the balance between giving and receiving, between reward and punishment etc. My final illustration (below) hopefully invokes an ambiguity as to whether the hands are in the process of giving or receiving. The dramatic backdrop conjures the beginning of time when I believe our connection to the earth and the spiritual world was clearer. The pomegranate is a common Jewish symbol and also happens to be the meaning of my family name – Milgrom – in Polish. Working on tradtional klaf, or animal hide parchment, was a real challenge and also confirmed that colored pencil is a very difficult medium when working on a large scale. I look forward to seeing the completed artists’ Torah and its eventual travelling exhibition.

Last Friday night (9/9/11) I participated in a group exhibition Political Potpourri which was the result of a call for entry for political works which individual artists are passionate about. I was thrilled to be able to exhibit my video A Winter’s Tale with its new soundtrack provided by composer Gina Bever. My video was originally shot in Israel in 2002 during the height of the Second Intifada (Palestinian Uprising) when suicide bombings became a deadly part of everyday life. I am eternally confounded by the potential for Man’s cruelty to Man and suicide bombing is a most heinous, senseless and merciless act of cowardice. Apart from my video, I also exhibited several sculptures, and my Israeli flag painting trilogy at MOCA DC in Washington DC’s Georgetown district.

I also recently completed a very challenging painting set to be exhibited at The Great Nude’s booth at the November Contemporary Art Fair in New York City. It felt wonderful to get back to the challenge of photorealistic painting, but after spending three days on one finger, I do ask myself why I subject myself to this type of work. The result is usually my greatest gratification.

Finally, as an antidote for this type of meticulous painting, I am thoroughly enjoying creating primitive and whimsical illustrations for a possible French cook book collaboration with chef and recipe tester Fiona Reed who is based in Maisons Lafitte outside of Paris. What better combination than food and art??

B is for baguette

Back in the U.S. of A

My latest trip to Paris was a whirlwind of activity – cramming my days with art, looking at it and writing about it. I have added a second publication to my resume – Vingt Paris. At night I made the rounds of gallery openings or vernissages. It was not all work, work, work, although I love what I do. I did manage to fit in a fair amount of shopping, visiting with friends and wining and dining. One of my good friends suggested having lunch at La Coupole, seeing that was a famous hang-out for many a Parisian artist in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s including one Yves Klein.

I made a very exciting contact with a gallery in Paris that is interested in representing my work. Galerie Saphir is a small but well respected gallery in the 17th arrondissement. The gallerist, Francine Szapiro, has four galleries which she manages with her husband. Our first collaboration is already up and running – my small ceramic figurines can now be found at 69 avenue de Villiers, Paris! We are hoping that they will appeal as Christmas gifts….

We are also discussing introducing my paintings to her clientele. All very exciting. I have started a series I had in mind inspired by the home of one of my Parisian friends, Grace Teshima, whose Montmatre apartment doubles as a gallery. The salon is a beautiful light-infused space (see detail of one of my paintings below).

On a totally different note, I have been selected as one of 54 Jewish women artists from around the world to contribute to the artistic interpretation of the Torah. The project is called Women of the Book and is the brainchild of Shoshana Gugenheim, who is based in Israel. I will be receiving my piece of parchment mid-2011 and will begin working on my visual interpretation of my selected text at that time. So lots of work at the moment which should keep my mind off the coming Virginia winter…