Everything will be okay

27

Dear Artist,

At the beginning of 2020, I began work on some paintings for a show scheduled to open that Spring. Everything was humming along at an intense but pleasant pace when the world locked down and the show was postponed until further notice. I put my brush in its water bucket and, along with everyone else, took a breath.

Moon Woke Me Up Fifteen Times, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 67.5 x 93.5 inches by Sara Genn (b.1972)

Moon Woke Me Up Fifteen Times, 2020
Acrylic on canvas
67.5 x 93.5 inches
by Sara Genn (b.1972)

Over the next six months, amongst the global uncertainty, heartache, heartbreak and collective, aspirational redesigning of the world, work expanded to the new time allotted. In doing so, its context shifted away from its small role jostling in a hurried and cacophonic aesthetic universe bloated with fanfare and myopic and esoteric obsessions. Suddenly, work was just work again — play, discovery, struggle, breakthrough — appearing slowly in the quiet of my studio, within its own time and after a little while, allowed to signal its new meaning and purpose. I suspended my agendas for its perfection and destination and let it leak its problems, mysteries and eventual autonomy into the daily, interminable loop of simplicity and heightened tenderness that had enveloped my life with Peter.

Everything Will Be Okay (Music, Hope, Love), 2020 Acrylic on canvas 61.5 x 191 inches by Sara Genn

Everything Will Be Okay (Music, Hope, Love), 2020
Acrylic on canvas
61.5 x 191 inches
by Sara Genn

When I first moved to New York, my Dad told me that while there were many extraordinary features to my quest there, New York was definitely full of all the wrong sounds. Now, all the right sounds were growing louder in our California garden. And at dusk, the desert sky silently exploded with the winking pinpricks of a now center-stage and unchallenged universe. Like the seismologists who reported a quieting of earthquake activity due to less global jackhammering, for artists, this year’s golden period created a vacuum where another kind of battering once shook. In this void, a re-assessment of the meaning of work and creativity has twinkled and perfumed the universal human longings we’ve always grasped at in our strokes.

Sincerely,

Sara

I'm Getting Closer, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 73.5 x 97.5 inches by Sara Genn

I’m Getting Closer, 2020
Acrylic on canvas
73.5 x 97.5 inches
by Sara Genn

PS: “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.” (Lord Byron)

Esoterica: With art’s new purpose, the next step is to reconcile one’s outsides, in as much as we can control them, with the raised consciousness that has emerged on the inside. While growing pains are part of the deal, rarely have we been granted the collective tenderizing and pause to perform this re-org, except this time. “It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are still alive,” wrote George Eliot. “There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them.”

Genn studio 2020This coming Thursday, Everything Will Be Okay will open at Morgan Lehman Gallery in New York City. Like perhaps every other show opening this Fall the world over, there will be no opening and no gathering — only appointments to visit alone or with a friend, to be with a mere fragment of the abounding love that blossomed in studios this year.

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“Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it inflames the great.” (Roger de Bussy-Rabutin)


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27 Comments

  1. Sara, you’ve hit the nail on the head with this. Thank you for your insight into the inner sanctum of the artists soul…and bringing to light the nw opportunities that have emerged from this challenging time we’re in. I really resonated with everything you’ve expressed here.

  2. Sara,
    I love quote of yours. It is truly fitting and eloquent.
    “In this void, a re-assessment of the meaning of work and creativity has twinkled and perfumed the universal human longings we’ve always grasped at in our strokes.”
    Thank you!

  3. As Jennifer said, you’ve hit the nail on the head, only with a softer hammer. Love your work and would love to go to NYC to see it. Your studio time has reflected mine. in this last six months I have been so prolific, with a number of series completed, more complex than the usual ones done between teaching gigs. Plus a more prolific garden, longer walks, a new puppy and many more haiku. This is a transition time; there are things I don’t want to go back to and many new things I will keep. One thing I did early on was to read all of Jane Austen, whose genius emerges as you read more. I thought about her life as a single woman, with time to write, to visit friends and to just maintain in a time with lots more chores than we have these days. But there was a continuous thread in her daily life that is missing from mine, as I am forever booking workshops and and hopping on a plane and planning for the next one. So maybe the NYC trips to see art will be fewer and more treasured now.

  4. Thank you for this beautiful reflection and allowing us a glimpse into your extraordinary work, Sara. I too have been laboring on my solo show throughout this pandemic and will have a similar opening to yours next Saturday here in New Orleans. “Illumination:The Allure of Color & Gold“ will open to solo appointments only, no fanfare. Just the work, the vision, the art. With what we have all endured, it is enough.

  5. I love this post and your quote, Sara; ” Suddenly, work was just work again — play, discovery, struggle, breakthrough — appearing slowly in the quiet of my studio, within its own time and after a little while, allowed to signal its new meaning and purpose.” Thanks so much for carrying on your father’s work of artistic instrospection and inspiration. I love the Painter’s Keys and love reading some of the old posts as well as the new ones. Being one of the first subscribers back in 1998, I think it was, I even went on a cruise up to Alaska with your dad and mom back in 2005. Always great advice. So glad you took up the torch!

  6. Congratulations Sara! And beautiful context set by letter for following the link to the Morgan Lehman Gallery. I love the installation shots and echo this time of shows that proceed by appointment for viewing. It is an odd thing yet, the gallery has done an excellent job of letting us “see” as best we can from an online distance. These words in the introduction stand out for me and somehow feel like they belong with your letter here…. “Genn’s paintings strive to simultaneously offer a place of shelter and tension for the viewer; they provide a place for us to rest but also ask us to consider our own longing. As much as these works exude a visual weightlessness, they assert themselves as objects in space with varied tactile and material properties. Acrylic paint and unprimed canvas planes push against one another, edges meticulously created freehand without mechanical aids, highlighting the poetry of the imperfect within idealized design structures.” All the best with the show Sarah!

  7. Love you posts however, this one really articulated my appresiation of the time I’ve also had to paint, draw and play with my art suppies. Thank you!

  8. Hello Sara,

    I got all the way down to your P.S. before I realized there was a tear making its way down my cheek.
    Poetic writing, dancing, calming images connecting to our universe within.

    Thank you, Sara.

    Cindy
    BC

  9. Dear Sara,

    Lucky are those who will experience your new pieces ‘face to face’ and full size! They are arresting and calming, they inspire thought and invite dreaming.
    Add to all of that, the shapes and colors are masterful and delicious, and there is nothing simple in their simplicity.

    I like ’em, a lot! :- )

    I’m certain it must take a great deal of your time to paint and write these letters that encourage and inspire us so much! I hope you know how much we appreciate these special letters, that I save to refer to again and again.
    I’ll shut up, and trust to karma and your own good works to reward you for your generosity. Even if we can’t own a Sara Genn original, I feel that we get a piece of your heart, and of your father’s too, in our inbox.

    Thank You (((Sara)))

  10. Love your understanding that covid has been, in many ways, a gift to artists. Love the Byron quote too. I feel a gentleness in your new work, the influence of the west coast as well as covid, I suspect. All the best from another west coast, Canadian artist, stay safe and prosper.

  11. WOW – It seems the California garden and desert sky have inspired some fantastic work! Congratulations!!! May those that see the paintings have a wonderful intimate time with them in the lovely gallery space. Wishing you continued success!

  12. While love your dad’s insights [and iI read every one of them], I am particularly attracted to your insights, for you are of today [despite your connection with your father. I love how you intersperse his insights with yours. Well done.

  13. Using something unexpected as a re-set button—we can either use to our advantage or exercise self-pity. Having a re-set from the business of the world—a good thing to re-evaluate priorities.

  14. Kidlatngayon Tahimik on

    Wow! Let me pingpong my Inspired thoughts– by plagerizing your piece “by Sara Genn (b.1972).” That year you saw first light of day, t’was also when light pierced through the cracks of my cocoon of “hurried and cacophonic universe bloated with fanfare.” It was the year I tore-up my Wharton MBA diploma, yes “quieting the earthquake activity” in my soul… to free the sleeping artist — lullabyed by the “Stay on Track” mantra…(dreaming to become a Filipino Bill Gates.)

    With new “aspirational redesignings of the world,” my colonial earplugs finally un-plugged. So the “right sounds were growing louder”. For me, 1972 almost a half-century gone by (you’re 48 right?) since I suspended “my agendas for perfection” by letting life “leak its daily problems, mysteries into my loop” (without clinging to thoughts… as a Buddhist would advocate.)

    Voila, my “creativity then twinkled” in a world “expanding to the new time allotted.” Yes, more seconds to smell the flowers again– so that “play, discovery, struggle, breakthrough — appeared within their own time.”– The new norm for a creative soul…

    Ahhh! the “pleasures in the pathless woods”… so I did learn to “Stray on Track” and just believe “Everything’s going to be OK.”

    PS: Sara, I like the white “winking pinheads” pricking into your meandering blue canvas!… Like lightning streaks seeping in the cracks of a calm cloud…

  15. Sarah I want to tell you how much this post has meant to me, I’ve read and reread it and I have it starred in my email so I can read it when I need to. I felt like you were speaking directly to me, I had a solo booked for May and June at our local museum, when Covid first came I thought, oh goody I have more time to work on the pieces that I am putting into the show. Then that show was postponed until November December 2021. Our local conservative Government as pulled all funding from the museum for the new budget, and they’re going to be in dire straits. Like everybody else all the shows I generally rely on for sales, are canceled and the galleries are doing far less.
    I needed that bit of inspiration that you provided today desperately. Thank you so much.

  16. Wow! This letter was a keeper.
    Sara, I am amazed to read things in your letters that I did not know I felt until I read them. Thank YOU.

    I was preparing for a solo show set to open March 2020- when everything stopped. I had been invited by my local university and alma mater – and had spent over a year in preparation. . . It was postponed – until . . . .
    That day, I put down the brush and locked the studio door for a month just to collect myself and when the initial disappointment passed I came back to the work in a whole new way. I feel strangely set free from so many invisible constraints and am painting with a renewed sense of freedom and pleasure. Shows come and go – the work remains, and must be the sustaining thread.
    “In this void, a re-assessment of the meaning of work and creativity has twinkled and perfumed the universal human longings we’ve always grasped at in our strokes.”
    – I wish I had said that – but will content myself to let the paintings speak.
    There is indeed pleasure in the pathless woods.

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http://painterskeys.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/muskoka-beaver-pond-wpcf_300x239.jpgMuskoka Beaver Pond
oil on board
30 x 40 inches

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My statement is pretty short. I love all kinds of paintings and I think Robert Genn is Canada’s finest painter. A great feature of his work are his designs — so beautifully conceived.

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