Art as a Way of Life: An Unconventional Approach - Rancho La Puerta
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Art as a Way of Life: An Unconventional Approach

Week of April 29, 2023

Art as a Way of Life: An Unconventional Approach
Pamela Smilow’s presentation is about the unconventional way she has made art her way of life: her evolution as an artist and the circumstances, including growing up in a very unique Frank Lloyd Wright cooperative community, that have shaped her into the person she is today. Her talk will include many colorful slides of her art and the innovative architecture and design she grew up around.

Tree of Life Art Workshop (up to 2 hours)
Pam Smilow invites you to join her in the Art Studio for the next three afternoons. The subject of her workshop is The Tree of Life, inspired by nature and the Tree of Life Candelabra Vessels that dot Rancho La Puerta. It is open to all abilities and is especially designed for those who don’t think of themselves as artists. “I believe we all have it in us as long as we bring our inner child and leave our self-judgment and self-consciousness out of the picture.” You will leave with your own two-dimensional version of the Tree of Life using paint, mixed media and collage.

Pamela Smilow grew up surrounded by art.  Her father was a modern furniture designer, sculptor and painter.  She was raised in a unique cooperative community founded by Frank Lloyd Wright, where all the modern homes were integrated into their natural surroundings.  New York City, with its myriad museums and cultural opportunities, was her backyard.  From a very early age, she knew that she wanted to be an artist.

Although primarily self-taught in art, Pam did attend the University of Michigan (B.A., 1978) and spent one year studying ceramics at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Aix-en-Provence, France.  She had her first one-woman show in Ann Arbor, Michigan when she was twenty-one and has continued to paint and exhibit ever since throughout the world, including exhibitions in Spain, France, Denmark and Japan.

Her paintings are full of life, color and child-like primitivism.  No surprise, since she draws on childhood experiences and memories for her vocabulary of symbols.  These icons have remained consistent over the years:  ladders, windows, vessels, flowers, houses, trees, clothing (based on paper doll cutouts).  Her work grows out of abstract expressionism but has a variety of other eclectic influences.

Her interest in language brought her to Europe during the 1980’s and 90’s and she spent quite a few years living and painting there.  This added a new Mediterranean and Nordic perspective to her work.   Pamela met her husband, Danish artist Gert Mathiesen in the late 1980’s and thus began a collaboration that lasted for many years.

Smilow shares her time between a studio in the heart of New York City and a little artist cottage on the Atlantic Ocean in mid-coast Maine. She works in a variety of different media including clay, printmaking, collage and painting.  She also writes a popular weekly inspirational blog entitled “Things We Love.”

Smilow’s work can be found in many private and corporate collections throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.