Friday, September 30, 2011

Updates From the Pavement

I have had some wonderful art experiences this Summer.  I spent two weeks in an art workshop held by CSU Summer Arts on the CSU Fresno Campus, exploring my artistic voice in oil painting.  I met some amazing young artists, and had the pleasure to study under some extraordinary contemporary painters and art critics.  The lessons learned from this two week workshop are invaluable. 

After returning I participated in an art walk in Canoga Park.  It was very casual and an excellent opportunity to catch up with old artist friends I've met over the years, and make some new ones.

I've also participated in some street painting events.  One was in Palo Alto, which is such a charming area.  The artists were all dedicated and talented, and the community was very appreciative of all the art that we created on their roadways for the duration of the weekend. 
Theresa Knopf Morgan pastel on asphalt, Palo Alto 2011 - Young Italian Girl after Charles Zacharie Landelle
It was lovely to be surrounded by artists and art lovers alike.  The highlight of the festival though, was that my Uncle and cousins from the area, who had never seen me street paint in person, came for a visit.  It was so moving to me to be able to show my family this very specific art form that I am extremely passionate about.

More recently I was commissioned to do a piece at a Fine Art exhibit at Victoria Gardens Cultural Center in Rancho Cucamonga.  As Summer was coming to a close, I chose to interpret a piece that showed a summer scene that was both nostalgic and peaceful. 
Theresa Knopf Morgan pastel on concrete Rancho Cucamonga, 2011 - Two Girls at the Beach after Hermann Seeger
This particular piece was different for me as it moved beyond portraiture and had the figures in a landscape.  It also posed a challenge as there were different concrete textures that caused my pastels to adhere in two different ways.  But when you are drawing on the street, you always have to be prepared for whatever challenges come your way.

Street painting season is not over yet.  In a few weeks I'll be participating with several other artists in recreating the Sistine Chapel in Little Italy, San Diego.  And then I am off to the International Street Painting  festival in Sarasota, Florida to paint alongside some of the best street painters / madonnari / pavement artists in the world.  More updates about that soon!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fresno a Day 1 2 3

WiFi on campus has been pretty spotty in the dorms. And considering all the time I am working on art, attending lectures, and eating cafeteria food, I haven't had a moment of plugged in time to do a proper post. Not the best way to start out my Fresno a Day series, but it will have to do.

Day #1

A lovely hand painted banner was displayed across the dorm buildings. Despite the many frustrations of the day (see previous blog post) the staff and students at FSU are friendly and helpful. They are doing a great job!

Day #2

This day we were given three classrooms to occupy each of us was able to pick out our own space and set up shop for the duration of the program. I chose a cozy little corner near a window that looks out onto a grassy hill with trees. Then I spent the rest of the day building and prepping my canvas. It may not look like much, but this canvas was lovingly constructed, wrapped, primed, sanded, primed, and sanded again by hand. It's a long process but always worth it.

In the evening we attended a lecture by the guest artist Lisa Adams. She spoke of her work, 30+ years of experience, and how she found her voice. It was truly inspirational and incredibly informative.

Day #3
This is almost too painful to post, but it is either this or a photo of the desk I sat in for an intense 3.5 hour lecture on the Business of Art...

This is my grisaille, or underpainting. It essentially is acting as a monochromatic sketch for me to build off of. Only the paint knows how this is going to end.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fresno a Day #1

Today was the first day at CSU Summer Arts at Fresno State. So far the program looks like it is going to be amazing. I'm very excited about everything we are to accomplish over ths 2 week period.

However, my day was not without some setbacks.

When I first arrived, I found the campus easily and check in went fairly smoothly. I was assigned a dorm key and meal pass and given extra forms to fill out for admissions. Once that was complete I met some of my classmates then headed over to the dorm to put my belongings away in the 30 minutes I had before orientation. I found my building, but for some reason my keycard would not unlock the door. I went to the office, they asked me a list of questions to make sure I wasn't an idiot then reissued me a new key. I walked back to the building same thing. I checked every access into my building, the new key didn't work either. I went back to the office and this time one of the staff came with me and tried my key. I am now 5 minutes late for orientation and I still haven't been in my room. He told me to take my key and he would check the door while I finish up orientation and the class introduction session. I thank him and run to orientation, I missed the dean's speech, but no one seemed to notice me sneak in.

After orientation and class introductions there was a student BBQ to get to k ow everyone and my professor had given us all tickets to a performance later in the evening. I was so hungry and really looking forward to all of it. I even let go of my earlier frustration regarding my dorm. That is until I got back to my dorm. My key STILL didn't work. I went to the front desk, third times a charm I finally opened my building went up a couple flights of stairs and found myself in my dorm. Not at all what I expected, but I'm trying to be zen about the whole thing.

I finally unload all of my stuff and get my room organized. Check the time. I've missed the BBQ. Bummer. At least there is still the concert.

I change out of my sweaty traveling clothes and brush out my windswept mane. I'm ready to go. Except my ticket is missing. I tore apart my room, my luggage, my purse. Nowhere. I lost the tickets somewhere on campus. Just my luck.

Tired. Hungry. Frustrated. At this point I decided to treat myself to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory the size of Home Depot that I saw on the way into town. Feeling better, I came back to my room made some tea set up my laptop and armed with the wifi access code I was given at check-in, ready to post my photo a day when I find out wifi doesn't work in my building. (I'm updating from my iPhone )

Sorry folks no photo today. I'm just going to climb up onto my crazy lofted with no guardrail and hole tomorrow is better. Pray I don't fall off my bed tonight and break my neck.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Art Adventure

Being an art student, I have had opportunities to study in different environments and have new experiences to help inform my body of work. Last Summer I went to Paris for 4 weeks and studied the great Art Movements of France as well as visited museums daily and keep a sketchbook / journal of the daily events. Plus I kept you all apprised of my activities with the ever-playful “Picture a Day” posts (which I plan to continue this summer). It was a great honor and exciting adventure for me. This summer I will also be studying art in a faraway land. The exotic locale this year is Fresno.

Yes. Fresno.

It may not seem like much, this healthy sized city smack dab in the center of California, but it is home to the CSU Summer Arts program which offers intensive classes for CSU students and alumni to further their artistic studies. The program offers students one-on-one conversations with successful artists and critics about how to grow their work. There are seminars and studios for everyone to just buckle down and make art, whether that is studio art, music, theater, dance, etc. It is an opportunity to focus on your art form without the daily distractions. A rare luxury.

Fresno is beyond HOT in the summertime. Every correspondence spends at least a paragraph trying to prepare students for this heat. It is also not exactly known to be a hub of excitement, a far cry from my beloved Paris with its monuments, museums, and sidewalk cafés. But there is one thing about Fresno which makes it one of the most important and exciting places for artists.

Fresno State was the home of the Feminist Art Movement and the first Feminist Art studies program. Headed in 1970 by Judy Chicago and pushing the boundaries of the art world. It is an absolute honor to be on the same campus as those brave women who boldly created a new academic program and raised questions about equity in art. Fresno State fostered an environment for women to act creatively and create works that not only were artistically challenging, but socially challenging as well. The program eventually relocated to California Institute of the Arts in 1971 where it attracted national media coverage with their project, WOMANHOUSE. This particular piece stands out as one of the most important works of contemporary art. I am thankful for the groundbreaking work of these brave ladies from Fresno State (and CalArts). Without the work they did in the 1970s there may not have been as many opportunities for me as a female artist.

So upon first glance, my Summer Art Adventure doesn't seem like much… but knowing the history and how that connects to me as an artist has just made Fresno seem a lot more exciting.


**keep an eye out for my picture-a-day posts from Fresno this summer!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Exhibition Of Art Inspired By "The Reach Of Resonance" + Screening

This Sunday, June 19th, an exhibition of artwork inspired by Steve Elkins' award winning feature documentary "The Reach Of Resonance" will open at Origami Vinyl in Los Angeles at 5pm. A screening of the film will follow at 7:30pm at the Echo Park Film Center, a short walk away. We hope you'll come celebrate with us. The art show is free and the screening is $5. Q&A with director Steve Elkins to follow the screening.

"The Reach Of Resonance" is a meditation on the meaning of music, which juxtaposes the creative paths of four musicians who use music to cultivate a deeper understanding of the world around them. Among them are Miya Masaoka, using music to interact with insects and plants; Jon Rose, utilizing a violin bow to turn fences into musical instruments in conflict zones ranging from the Australian outback to Palestine; John Luther Adams translating the geophysical phenomena of Alaska into music; and Bob Ostertag, who explores global socio-political issues through processes as diverse as transcribing a riot into a string quartet, and creating live cinema with garbage. By contrasting the creative paths of these artists, and an unexpected connection between them by the world renowned Kronos Quartet, the film explores music not as a form of entertainment, career, or even self-expression, but as a tool to develop more deeply meaningful relationships with people and the complexities of the world they live in.

Among the amazing artists contributing to this exhibition are: Brook Peterson, Pamela Bjorklund, Nadia Botello, Katie Byron, Becky Calinsky, Christopher Clother, John DeHeras, Shea Gauer, Ghostghostteeth, Kio Griffith, Mike Guzman, Mary MacQueen, Reuben Mahler, Matt Maust, Danny Miller, Theresa Knopf Morgan, Christie Yuri Noh, Charlie Visnic, and Michael Wysong.

Origami Vinyl
1816 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026-3227
(213) 413-3030

Echo Park Film Center
1200 North Alvarado Street
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 484-8846

R.S.V.P. here

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I Love LA(CMA)

There’s a joke: What is the difference between Los Angeles and Yogurt? Yogurt has culture.

This vast sprawling city has its faults (poor public transportation), but one thing we are not lacking in is culture. We have amazing talent oozing from every corner of our extremely diverse population. I am convinced that you can find ANYTHING in Los Angeles if you try. Our problem is not that we’re vapid and culture-less drones obsessed with fame and glory. Our problem is that we are too unwieldy to navigate.

There is one institution in particular that I would like to highlight as consistently showing that they are committed to providing Los Angeles with premier Art and Cultural experiences: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Over the years I have watched this institution grow its campus and art collection aggressively and thoughtfully; expanding on contemporary and non-western arts to appeal to its young and diverse community. With its expanding campus and art acquisitions, people around the globe have taken notice. Earlier this year Los Angeles was given the prestigious honor of acquiring the highly coveted Robert Mapplethorpe archive as a joint ownership with The Getty (another secret weapon in the L.A. arts & culture arsenal).

Aside from the expansions, LACMA has remained committed to providing art experiences for the people of Los Angeles by providing many opportunities for free admission. That’s right, I said FREE! Here’s a rundown:

Free Admission with Membership

Members receive unlimited free general admission to the permanent galleries and non-ticketed exhibitions for two adults and for their children under 18.

**Pay attention Parents!** The NexGen program is set up so that all children who sign up are given a free membership to LACMA that lasts until they turn 18. NexGen members receive unlimited free general admission to the permanent galleries and non-ticketed exhibitions PLUS one adult guest. (This is great for families of four. Everyone gets in for free!)

Free Admission Second Tuesdays

On the second Tuesday of each month, general admission to the permanent galleries and non-ticketed exhibitions is free to all.

Free Admission for LA County Residents After 5

After 5 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday (the museum is closed Wednesdays) general admission to the permanent galleries and non-ticketed exhibitions is free to Los Angeles County residents with proof of residency.

Free Holiday Mondays (sponsored by Target)

Target sponsors several free-admission days throughout the year at LACMA. They feature special programming and free general admission to the permanent galleries and non-ticketed exhibitions.

Whew! And if that weren’t enough, LACMA has tons of free events (music, family days, films, etc.) throughout the year. It’s always a great idea to look at the calendar and see what’s happening. They are very good about communicating via social networking and maintaining a consistent blog rich with the inner-workings of the establishment. Making the whole museum much more accessible, even if you are reading about what’s happening from my home a 30 minute freeway ride away.

I love (almost) every major art museum in L.A., but I hold a special place in my heart for this particular museum. So, thank you LACMA bringing more culture to Los Angeles than any cup of yogurt I’ve ever eaten.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Street Painting in Rancho Cucamonga & Burbank

April 16th I will be painting at the Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art in Rancho Cucamonga for Family Day at the WIG: An Earth Day Celebration!

This event is open to ALL AGES and is meant to introduce families to arts and sciences and features hands-on art activities, live musical and dance performances, public art, face painting, informational booths, free giveaways and much, much more!

April 17th you can find me at the Downtown Burbank for the Downtown Burbank Fine Arts Festival. This year marks the City of Burbank's Centennial. Expect to see some familiar faces and icons from Burbank's 100 year history.

Both events are free and open to the public. Swing on by!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

What’s the story?

The past few days I’ve been going crazy. My professor assigned a narrative painting for our next major project. She gave us only one day between classes to come up with a narrative, sketch, find resource images, and purchase our materials to stretch canvas in class. As you know from my previous entry, I have quite a commute to get any real art supplies … and I work full-time, so that means I can only go in the evenings… and I have children so either they come with me, or I find a babysitter. Not an easy task to complete in such a short period of time.

But it wasn’t the materials that had me so agitated. (Despite the traffic and hassle of going so far out of my way, Utrecht Art Supply in Los Angeles never lets me down.) It was the narrative itself that was weighing heavily on me and affecting everything I did. The point of narrative painting is to tell a story, or at least to hint at one.

One of the most famous artists of this genre is the slice-of-all-American-apple-pie Norman Rockwell. His scenes depicted idealized life in America, each one telling a quaint story with a simple action or expression on the faces of his subjects. Narrative paintings are illustrative and communicative yet the finalized product is intended to be seen hanging on a wall, rather than in print. This is the basic differentiation of Illustration / Communication Arts and Studio / Fine Arts… but I digress.

So what it comes down to is this: What is my story? What am I trying to say as an artist?

I could just create a “slice of life” moment a la Rockwell. Say, a family at dinner or children at play, but I wanted to do something more meaningful. Something personal. Something with teeth.

Some of my biggest art heroes spoke out through their work. Manet used wit to expose and shock the French aristocracy with Olympia. Louise Bourgeois created monstrous sculptures that were representations of struggles in her childhood. Cindy Sherman photographed herself as all the iconic idealized women in art and film to question their place in our culture.

24 hours to have an idea of what I am to paint and what I am trying to say as an artist. I ask, can anyone work like this? In a frenzy of sketches and collages used from my image hoarding… er… collecting I came up with different scenarios for my composition. I worried that this wasn’t really enough to go on, but I had deadlines and my artistic crisis is not an excuse for tardiness.

Franticly I arrive in class with a sketchbook with chicken scratch layouts with pages and scraps of images from my collection and 5 foot stretcher bars under my arms. I made it just in time for the meeting with my professor. After a long discussion with her and sharing my ideas, sketches, and images I have finally come up with a concept. It is something very personal yet vague enough to allow the viewer to create their own story.

In the end, I met the deadline, but it made me wonder… do other artists go through these same struggles? Do we all grapple with finding a way to be true to our artistic selves while still meeting the demands of the professional side of art?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Who's Gonna Supply My Fix?

[by Theresa Knopf Morgan]
Mother. Lover. Artist

This past Sunday, when all of the Santa Clarita Valley was engrossed in almighty football, I sat outside priming and prepping a canvas to paint on. Amid the faint cheers and buzzing television sets, I glanced around my neighborhood and basked in the February sunlight.

Preparing canvases and panels is often an overlooked aspect of art, but it is the absolute foundation to a good painting. And as much as I bitch and moan about how long the art process can take, I'm addicted to it.

I love the dust left on my hands when I come in touch with charcoal and pastels. I love the smell of linseed oil. I own an expansive collection of palette knives and an enormous roll of thick cotton canvas duck. everyone has his or her vice. Mine happens to be art.

On this mild Sunday, as I sanded down the second layer of gesso primer, I started thinking of how everything I needed to feed my art addiction had to be purchased outside of this valley. Canvas and stretcher bars from Los Angeles and gesso and hardware from the "other" valley. How odd is it that the Santa Clarita Valley is hoe to one of the most prestigious art universities in the world, yet there is no full service art supply store within its boundaries?

There used to be a little mom-and-pop art supply store on Lyons Avenue in the mid 90's. I remember going in and marveling at the display of Conté Crayons in a rainbow of colors, each sold individually. My best friend loved all things purple and insisted we buy her purple crayons from this local gem. We spent many afternoons prowling this tiny shop, ogling all its art wares.

Sadly, the small business closed up mere months after Michael's Arts & Crafts opened on the Old road. I'm not here to say the huge chain-store is evil or anything. In fact, its weekly 40 percent off coupon pretty much kicks ass for big items. What I am saying is the big business stores don't always carry some necessary art supplies to feed my artistic appetite.

I want stretcher bars in a variety of sizes and thickness. I want alternative surfaces. I want aisles with illustration, printmaking and sculpting supplies. I want quality canvas and linen sold by the yard. I want more than two brand choices of paints and mediums. I want drawers full of hand-crafted papers to choose from. I want to get that rush only a well-stocked art supply store can give me. And most importantly, I want a staff that knows and uses its products.

I definitely don't want to have to drive 30 to 60 minutes to feed my addiction.

I have compiled a list of reasons art suppliers should consider opening up shop somewhere in our art-supply-deprived community. So art suppliers, if you're out there, listen to me.
  • CalArts (California Institute of the Arts)
  • Artists like me
  • College of the Canyons Art Gallery
  • Proxart
  • More artists like me
  • 661 Arts - the City of Santa Clarita's Art Alliance
  • Old Town Newhall Art Walk
  • Even more artists like me. there are a lot of us
This is a community with a budding art scene. There are a lot of dedicated people pushing for it to grow. With multiple art organizations and monthly events, we need a proper art-supply store, damnit.

Theresa Knopf Morgan has lived in the SCV since she was a little girl. She is an artist and career woman. She has well-behaved children and a rock 'n' roll husband. She enjoys the quiet simplicity of the suburbs and the loud gritty nightlife of the city. She loves and lives contradiction. Visit her blog at

This was originally printed in the second issue of altSCV, February 13, 2011.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I'll be your Huckleberry...

News hit recently that newly edited versions of Mark Twain’s classic works in American literature, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn omitting “racially sensitive” terminology will be published. The editor of this collection, Auburn University Professor, Alan Gribben, defends this edition in the introduction: “We may applaud Twain’s ability as a prominent American literary realist to record the speech of a particular region during a specific historical era, but abusive racial insults that bear distinct connotations of permanent inferiority nonetheless repulse modern-day readers.”

I do understand where he is coming from and why the decision may have been made. But it is still censorship, and the altering of one of America’s greatest contributions to literature. But more importantly, it robs our children the opportunity to learn the historical context. To really get a sense of how life was in the United States in Mark Twain’s time.

Gribben states that it was an attempt to keep the classics from being banned from school use. A truly noble cause to be sure, albeit a little misguided. A little bit of controversy may be the thing that grabs students’ attention. Why edit out a word so inflammatory? By confronting it head on, educators may be able to use that controversy as a tool to start a discussion on race relations throughout American history. I feel that it can be an amazing educational opportunity. Not only to read a fine example of literature, but to appreciate it as a time-specific art form, and accept that our young nation has undergone some very agonizing growing pains in its short 235 years.

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