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Chelsea Frieze #1

1,500.00
Chelsea Frieze #1.jpg

Chelsea Frieze #1

1,500.00

Marilyn Bardet (1992)

Conte crayon on paper
19.5 x 23.25 in. / 24 x 27 in (framed)

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Marilyn Bardet (1992)

Conte crayon on paper
19.5 x 23.25 in. / 24 x 27 in (framed)

see more by this artist +

more artworks available in the gallery. contact us to schedule an appointment/request images.

Bio
Born and raised in the Bay Area. After university in the late 60's, traveled and worked in Europe, returning to San Francisco in early 1972. Began formal art training and studio practice in Toronto. Moved to Boston for 10 years, furthering studies in painting. In 1986, returned to the Bay Area and in 1987 married fellow artist, William Harsh, who died in 2012. Resides in Benicia, continuing to work as a civic and environmental activist and artist.

Statement
Commitments and Comments: on Art, Conscience & Community — A Chronicle of an Artist’s Life of Activism The current exhibit "Botanicals and Beyond" at Vessel Gallery, and my participation in it gives me hope for reviving my studio practice as I look ahead into my 70th year. I truly believe that close observation and observance, which is essential to art-making, is equally essential to ethical understanding and feeling for our place in nature and what we are doing in the world, for ill or good. For all my adult life I have been drawn in seeming opposite directions, down different paths, of inward and outward bent, which now seem to be leading "toward Rome", with respect for my own mortality, my existence between "pulls" of purpose and destiny, and in deference to the darkening shadow now cast by our species over our entire human civilization, our enterprises, and all life on earth at this point in time, expansively speaking. Through art, when I'm working, I have privately felt the powerful and mysterious interplay of those competing forces at work in the world; and in so far as observation, discernment, associative thinking and feeling, choice-making, and judgment constitute an ethos underlying such improvisatory, intuitive processes and activities or art-making, I believe that art embodies the ethic of "making things right", a kind of healing. In the building of relations within a work, the artist hopes to evoke a "life force" or "living presence" in what she or he is creating. I've had the experience painting or drawing, when things are felt to be "working" and a sense of inevitability arises, encompassing means and ends, which then delivers me out of myself and into a "hand making the world" that somehow moves of its own accord, tuning one element to another as choices narrow toward a flowering evidence and final revelation of a "greater whole" – or a possible failure. The hoped-for final emergent "thing" may exude that living sense that sprang from the likes of a single cell – or the single jot of a detail-in-the-making of a picture becoming touchstone of "the real." In our time, art-making appears to be an evolutionary and surprising process akin to lives. There would be few artists who wouldn't aim to "get things right" no matter how odd or challenging or off-putting their subject matter. If there is a supra-consciousness that governs creative forces in nature, I'd call it, along with so many others like Wendell Berry or Thomas Berry, an intimation of the divine, the smallest visible thing being a very distant present echo of the Big Bang and its propulsive light. An integrated work of art speaks of, and toward, truth, which then calls up the complex beauty of the world in its immense diversity of expressions – of ecology – of birth and decay, no matter the circuitous route of elaboration, chance, or the subject that kindles inspiration. In childhood, I was greatly influenced by my maternal grandma, who'd studied art in Chicago and had painted later in life, after raising her family. "Art is Vast," she'd written to me in a letter, when I'd begun my own training in painting, and she'd wanted to convey her own perceptions of what it takes to be an artist and what worlds the making of art opens up to its makers and to the viewers who allow 3 themselves to enter in. Equally influential, my mother had studied journalism at Cal Berkeley, where, during WWII, she had been a campus activist and political leader. She was a constant reader, full of curiosity, a wonderfully keen observer of human behavior and attitudes, a natural historian and social critic with a wry sense of humor. My father taught me many practical lessons, but mostly modeled how to enjoy life, care for one's friends and persist at what one does and not sink into worry over failures, which he saw as instructive for making improvements. He was diligent, hard-working in his father’s business. My father's father, born in Algeria, was a very young child who was soon orphaned. Raised initially by his grandparents in rural France, he became an immigrant when he was 8 years old, traveling alone to New York by ship, then by train to San Francisco, to be raised by his aunt, who’d preceded him coming to America to work as an au pair. Grampa only had a high school education, and afterward studied to be a skilled machinist, starting his own shop and company in San Francisco on Eddy Street. He was a passionate man who loved life, was filled with gratitude for his family and friends, and for this country and California. My father's mother was stone deaf, had no education beyond age 16, and was nevertheless the best and funniest storyteller in the family, with a generous heart and good humor for everyone. She worked as a bookkeeper and worked for a department store, the City of Paris, in SF, putting ribbon bands on women’s hats. My mother's father came from a poor farming background in Dayton Ohio, and though he trained to become a doctor, WWI erupted and changed his plans. He soon married and started a family, and decided to become an entrepreneur in Calfornia, in the “pump business”. Thus I was more than doubly blessed in my upbringing and profoundly inspired by my parents and grandparents, which blessings can turn out to be complicated when trying to "walk the walk" in several directions at once. I think this made me a late bloomer, wanting to explore less beaten paths, though with the courage from my family undergirding me. During high school years in suburban San Mateo, in the early to mid 60's, my social conscience was bornas I was first learning about the civil rights and "free speech" movements, and soon, the student campaigns against the Vietnam War. By my university years at UCB in the late 60's, I joined vigils and anti-war protests, while volunteering through the university "Women's Y" where I served on the student board and created "The Preschool Project" for very low-income families in Berkeley and worked with young children myself for three years. I simply had to do something concrete, to help others, but under the Black Power movement then gaining strength, it was a challenge In 1970, the terrible Vietnam War was said to be winding down, while President Nixon was secretly extending napalm bombing into Laos and Cambodia. At Cal my graduating class cancelled formal ceremonies in protest and we went back to our high schools to lead "teach-ins". By September, exhausted and disgusted by the war, I wanted to leave the U.S. and experience other countries. For a year and a half, I vagabonded across Europe, with my travels mostly determined by my desire to see "art of the ages" and historical sites, great museums, churches, public plazas, ancient ruins. I first went to Morocco and Spain, lived in Granada, and worked as a maid for a modest Spanish family through the winter, then kept traveling, mostly on my own for a about fifteen months. In January 1972, I returned to San Francisco, and worked as a teacher in a Mission Model Cities Day Care program. But wanting to study painting, I decided to leave the US again, and moved to Toronto, where I enrolled in a small alternative art school. By the end of 1975, forced to leave Canada without a "green card", I left for 4 Boston, found work in a factory, then at a hospital and was accepted into the School of Fine Arts at Boston University. In 1982, after grad school, while I was teaching drawing and design at B.U., I began to volunteer at the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies ["IDDS"], where I was to gain a close look at, and understanding of, what constitutes a successful, step-by-step grassroots organizing approach to raise public awareness and promote social change. What had compelled my volunteering was hearing Randall Forsberg for the first time, when she was one of the keynote speakers at a huge march and rally in New York City, which I and a million other people of all stripes and ages had joined to protest President Reagan's "Star Wars" plans for a first-strike missile system, and also for installment of multi-headed, nuclear-tipped Pershing II missiles in Germany. I remember hearing Randy's steady, solid voice over the loudspeakers, feeling she could change the world. I learned later that this determined, visionary woman had created and directed "IDDS", a "think tank" that could provide accurate, independent information and analysis to help give direction for what was then a growing national peace movement. Randy's ethical commitment was inspiring: I learned that she'd given up an academic career teaching literature to create the Institute, and while directing it full time, was going back to school at M.I.T. to earn a PhD focused on Soviet defense capabilities to support her aim to reorient an aggressive US military establishment toward creation of an alternative military policy – a US "defensive defense" approach that in consort with allies could eliminate U.S. led or inspired interventionist wars. To that end, to educate the public, Randy conceived and organized what became a "first step", the U.S. Nuclear Freeze campaign that drew public awareness across the country to the irrational character of US war-fighting intentions, interventionist foreign policy and nuclear powers of destruction. Just getting communities, towns and cities to resolve not to allow nuclear weapons to be transported through their jurisdictions was a prophetic victory proving the epithet of Boston’s famed Congressman, Tip O’Neill, who said, "all politics is local." Moving back to California, in 1986, with artist Bill Harsh, and finding affordable studio space in Benicia, we settled there, married, and devoted ourselves to painting and getting to know fellow artists in town. While Bill was teaching, I was also getting to know "our town" itself, which, since 1850, had primarily served as an US Army garrison and federal Arsenal that had supplied US war campaigns wars: the Civil War, Pacific Theater in WWII, and the Korean war. The Arsenal was decommissioned in 1964 when the Army finally left Benicia. This fact had sudden particular resonance when President H.W. Bush committed troops to war in Iraq in 1991, a "short war" that seemed clearly to be all about US access to conventional Iraqi oil reserves and pipeline routes. I spoke out in Benicia against that "first Gulf War", and as a result was invited by the Mt. Diablo Peace Center to speak at a much larger rally in Walnut Creek, which led to my joining the Center's activist board for 2-1/2 years. At the same time, I became engaged in a local community campaign in Benicia to press for closure of the IT Panoche Hazardous Waste Facility, a highly toxic "dump", one of nine in the state, containing over 48 lethal waste ponds contaminating over 150 acres in our city's northern hills. By then I'd become better informed and familiar with other major development plans and local toxic waste sites that posed threats to residential areas and community health and safety. 5 In 1995, balancing my painting life against my activist commitments became increasingly difficult and near impossible, as I felt it, when Koch Industries, a privately held giant oil industry owning pipelines from Canada to Mexico, proposed building a massive, "petroleum coke" storage facility and shipping terminal operation at the Port of Benicia that was to serve all five Bay Area refineries, including Exxon's in Benicia. The "Coke Domes" project, a 24/7 operation, would have dangerously contaminated the area and wiped out any hope of preserving our Civil War era, Arsenal Historic District, wherein our lively arts community had grown up, occupying work-live studios in converted old Army buildings that also housed other small businesses. At that point, I dropped everything to help organize the community fight against Koch Industries' project, which we won after eight months of persistent hard work that finally forced Koch out of Benicia. That success brought me invitations by families besieged and needing organizing help, with stories to tell of toxic waste found in their backyards. . . my environmental activism was developing. . . What had seemed then, till 1995, to be a promising 15-year painting practice – whose foundations had been built "drawing from life" and which also involved my continuous commitment over 20 years to a figure drawing group and drawing from the model – was indefinitely suspended. I stopped painting, just at a very “high” moment, when I’d been investigating cubism, and investing my paintings with my feelings about the ethnic cleansing and genocides occurring as the former states of Yugoslavia were breaking apart. Although Bill and I had a very exciting two-person show in Benicia at that time, I would not paint again for 22 years – and the clock is still ticking. Thus, I had become almost continuously involved as a civic and environmental activist, compelled to challenge plans of oil industries and large corporate residential and commercial developers. Organizing with others, we succeeded in our challenges to Koch Industries' "Coke Domes" Project (1995); the Valero Refinery expansion in 2003 - 2011; Bechtel/Shell's plan for an LNG terminal and 900 megawatt power plant for Vallejo's Mare Island (2005); and Valero’s "Crude By Rail Project proposed (2013-2016); suburban and commercial development proposed by Ford Motor and Seeno builders (2000 – 2011) involving two overlapping EPA- led toxic waste and military site investigations and cleanups, in the spirit of "cleaning up one's own backyard." In 2000, when Valero bought Benicia's refinery from Exxon, I helped organize, as a founding member, The Good Neighbor Steering Committee, which is still active today, continuing to address and fight for improvements in air quality and community safety in Benicia. As part of these various organizing efforts, I worked on campaigns to elect progressive candidates for mayor and city council, and served for three years on a 17-member council-appointed committee to rewrite the city's obsolete general plan. The new plan, adopted in 1999, adopted "sustainability" as its over-arching goal, which over time, has taken on greater significance, given the crucial imperative, and state legislation, to address climate change, reduce our cities' carbon footprints. Because of my close proximity and dealings with the Valero refinery, I was learning first hand about energy production and consumption, resource depletion and the myriad reasons why we must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Toward that goal, I participated in the development and promotion of 6 the Benicia Climate Action Plan and contributed toward the creation of the Benicia Community Sustainability Commission. Since 2004, I've served as board chair of a grassroots non-profit that began as "Benicia Community Gardens" and over the last two years, scaled up to become "Sustainable Solano," sustainablesolano.org, serving county-wide to help create a "world that works for everyone" through practical hands-on projects and initiatives that focus on creating healthy, equitable local food systems, water-wise landscaping and energy efficient communities and neighborhoods. My activist "self" that had first been driven by idealism, was chastened and weathered over time by reality of the work involved even in attempting to make the smallest changes. Without succumbing to cynicism, I've persisted. I've noted along that a small group of dedicated people gathered to address a problem or challenge a development plan can win, with passion and persistence. I’ve seen how my artistic training has lent critical and intuitive insights that have helped me assess how to work effectively at a cause and be patient with an improvisatory process. My artist self’s sleuth-like curiosity, associative thinking, and observational habits in sensing and tuning relations have proved very useful to the various kinds of work I've done in grassroots organizing and community service. In the end, its my love and passion for protecting the places we love and the natural world we cherish, coupled with my vision of creating more just and equitable, healthy communities have driven me on this path. . . and can draw me back as well to the studio for new inspiration. Coda: By the time I die, I hope to have asked the right questions, and that from such personal and varied experiences, feel that my life has been more than the sum of its parts, as lived for "the good." That’s what any artist worth his or her salt aims for, whatever is in the making, and especially when pulling oneself up from failures, and losses, for another chance to put one thing next to another, always with an abiding hope to reveal “someday” that right set of relations that will sing of the beautiful, vast mystery of all existence.