An exhibit of paintings from Thordis’ new book, Dances in Two Worlds: A Writer-Artist’s Backstory, will complete a 20-year project.
Your artwork drew me into the mystery and magic of life itself. A playground for the spirit and a home for the soul. —J. Minton, Stone Lake, Wisconsin
Thordis Simonsen is a soul worth knowing. Her art and artistry ignite a flow of grace. Like May Sarton, she bears witness to the life well-lived.
—Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
Thordis' work invites the viewer to feel the creative moment that she experienced while making it, and to me this is an important aspect in art. For those who
think of themselves as not creative, it is a way for them to connect with art. —Joseph Amram, CityFrames
My name is Thordis Niela Simonsen. Since January 2011, I have worked with a talented graphic designer and an outstanding printer to create my third book, Dances in Two Worlds: A Writer-Artist’s Backstory. This book, published by The Fundamental Note, will be available beginning in July from astragreece inc.
In addition to 20 personal essays, the book contains 50 paintings—all created during the past twenty years. The paintings do not illustrate the text; the writing does not interpret the paintings. That said, both written and painted images spring, broadly speaking, from the same life experience. It is not surprising, therefore, that the solo traveler described in the essays paints solitary figures, that recollections of a childhood deprived of touch are reiterated in the form of hands painted on paper, that crimson resides in the color palette of someone who knows and writes about anger, that the hand that penned stories about bold steps toward freedom paints strikingly confident lines. I hasten to observe, however, that the more deeply I surrender to the process of painting, the more fully it reveals aspects of myself—especially a level of vitality and a capacity for joy—that I do not otherwise easily express, even in writing.
I look forward to sharing the paintings, along with the writing, through the distribution and sale of the book. That said, I am also eager to exhibit the artwork itself. Why?
Just as most writers like to be read, most visual artists like to be viewed. For me, writing and painting are ways to understand myself, and sharing the outcome is a way to be understood by others. In Dances in Two Worlds, I describe the circumstances of my upbringing that primed me to paint. I write about the forces that inhibited me from doing so. And I write about the events, encounters, and choices that resulted in what now feels like a geyser-like release of creative energy—channeled most recently in the printmaking studio at the Art Student’s League Denver.
Beyond exploring and revealing the roots of my creativity, I feel that the body of artwork made over two decades tells a story of its own. This story is the fundamental motivation for exhibiting my work.
the story my artwork tells
I have been exposed to art in books, museums, and galleries all my life, and my work quite naturally reflects this exposure. At the same time, I appreciate the fact that I have not been schooled in art. As a result, I rely not on learned techniques and artistic conventions, but on my ingenuity and intuition, which is fathomless. I discover not what I learned from someone else, but what I already know. I paint not to fulfill someone else’s expectations or standards, but for the pleasure inherent in the creative process itself. By so doing, I embrace parts of myself that need and want to be expressed. The experience is deeply satisfying; it sets my spirit free. The exhibition I plan to mount with Kickstarter funding will capture the highlights of my painting experience from a naïve beginning to a bold assertiveness. I hope the exhibition will also inspire viewers to dip into the wellsprings of their own creativity.
opportunity knocks twice: two concurrent exhibitions
A few weeks ago, in keeping with my hope to show artwork in conjunction with the Dances in Two Worlds book launch, I asked the owner of Open Press where I might find exhibit space in Denver.
“I want you to launch Dances in Two Worlds at Open Press,” Mark replied. “I want you to hang your paintings from the book alongside some of your new work. You can have the whole gallery.”
When Mark turned his gallery over to me, I was both stunned and elated—stunned because I had been unable to imagine who would want to hang a solo exhibition of an unknown artist’s work, and elated because Mark Lunning is one of the region’s most renowned master printmakers. We settled on a four-week run in July with an 8 July opening.
With an exhibition venue and dates in place, I took the 41 works on paper that Mark and I had selected to Joseph Amram, a framer who is known for his refined aesthetic sense and attention to detail. Much to my astonishment and delight, while we were deciding on presentations for the artwork—frame profiles and when to mat or float work—Joseph invited me to consider running a concurrent exhibition of additional new work in his corridor art space at CityFrames. The exhibition of 13 additional new works will open on 14 July with “Gather | Discover | Exchange,” an evening of conversation with the artist.
When Joseph Amram at CityFrames invited me to show work in his corridor art space, I was already reeling from the price of framing the first exhibit at Open Press. How could I frame two concurrent exhibitions without sacrificing the quality and durability of my presentation? Then I remembered Kickstarter.
what Kickstarter will fund
The combined exhibitions will include 54 works on paper including tempera paintings, oil pastels, and monotype prints made during the last 20 years. Original pieces and superior quality giclée reproductions will be shown. Thirty-nine pieces will be matted or floated on museum board, glazed with UV-protective plexi-glass, and framed in natural solid walnut moulding with an oil finish hand-rubbed (for the sake of economy) by the artist. Fifteen pieces will be matted and sleeved.
Pieces range in size from 15.5 x 17” to 54.75 x 42”
Price per frame including mat and glazing ranges from $145 to $1000
Total cost of presentation for combined exhibitions in round numbers: $15,000
A grant from Kickstarter will not only make it possible for me to exhibit a total of 54 works of art in July. Framed and glazed in materials—hardwood and plexi-glass—that will stand up to shipping and handling, these works can then travel to university, museum, and other not-for-profit venues in the future. Traveling with the exhibit, I hope to engage in conversations with viewers and to present gallery talks in which I elaborate on my experience of the centering power of creative self-expression.
My website provides extensive information about my visual art and a link to my blog, "Genuine Encounters." I invite you to approach my work, wherever you find it, in the same spirit that I have created it—not with judgment or criticism, but with openness and curiosity.
Heartfelt thanks for your interest and, if so inclined, your participation in the mounting of the exhibitions of art at Open Press and CityFrames in July. I hope to see you there!
Open Press Gallery
Dances in Two Worlds: A Writer-Artist's Backstory
BOOK LAUNCH & EXHIBIT OPENING/ARTIST RECEPTION
8 July 2011 from 6-9:00 pm
8 July Friday–30 July Saturday
Fridays & Saturdays noon-6 pm
and by appointment
40 West Bayaud Avenue
1st block west of Broadway, south side
Denver, CO 80223
contact: Thordis Niela Simonsen
GATHER | DISCOVER | EXCHANGE
New Work & Conversation with
Writer-Artist Thordis Simonsen
14 July 2011 from 6-9:00 pm
conversation begins at 7:00 pm
Work available for viewing beginning
14 July weekdays 9-5:00 pm
and by appointment
CITYFRAMES corridor art space
709 Clarkson Street
Denver CO 80218
contact: Thordis Niela Simonsen
Please address your questions to email@example.com.
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one postcard-size signed giclée reproduction of Dances in Two Worlds (book) cover painting with thanks
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one signed copy of Dancing Girl (book)
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one signed copy of Dances in Two Worlds (book)
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all of the above three items
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one full-size (9 x 22 in.) unmatted archival signed giclée reproduction of Dances in Two Worlds (book) cover painting and one signed copy of Dances in Two Worlds (book)
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an invitation to the by-invitation-only exhibition preview on 7 July at Open Press Gallery in Denver, one full-size archival matted signed giclée reproduction selected by the contributor from the artist's special portfolio of recent monotypes not published in Dances in Two Worlds, and one signed copy of Dances in Two Worlds (book)
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an invitation to the by-invitation-only exhibition preview on 7 July at Open Press Gallery in Denver, one archival matted signed original monotype selected by the contributor from the artist's special portfolio of recent monotypes not published in Dances in Two Worlds, and one signed copy of Dances in Two Worlds (book)
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