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Past Museum Exhibits: 2011: Patricia Patterson

Here and There, Back and Forth

February 12 – June 30, 2011

“…there is nothing larger than life. Life itself densely fills every know crevice, it overwhelms any surface, it defines sounds, smells and sight.” – Leah Ollman

The Conversation (Manny and Steve at the Table), a painting by Patricia Patterson, featuring casein on canvas, painted wooden frame.Nationally recognized and locally based artist Patricia Patterson creates theatrical installations and sumptuously painted snapshots, providing a visual account of domestic and outdoor life on Inishmore (one of the Aran Islands located off the western coast of Ireland) and her home in Southern California. Her work has a richness that can only be achieved after years of delving deep into a particular subject. This retrospective exhibition is comprised of works spanning her 50-year career shown together for the first time.

Born and raised on the East Coast, Patterson studied at the Parsons School of Design in New York before embarking on an adventure that would seer the course of her artistic career. At the age of nineteen she read J.M. Synge’s, The Aran Islands, and soon found herself on Inishmore. She spent the next two years immersing herself in an “ever-changing spectacle” of land, sky, water, history, people and language. On the islands, Patterson found craggy, rugged terrain and difficult living conditions that provided a sharp contrast to the warm and generous character of the people she met. Since her original visit, Paterson has revisited the island a dozen times for extended sojourns, always returning to her home in New York, and later San Diego. These experiences serve as the origin to a life’s work that offers a series of individual glimpses into the lives of others, like scenes from a film that define a set of characters and places of daily life – an everyday theater.

At the core, Patterson makes art about ordinary things, a subject matter that is, as she puts it, “…tricky…Using domestic material is risky; it can seem too sentimental, too intimate.” Yet Patterson expertly navigates around sentimentality and intimacy, creating works monumental both in scale and subject matter. Drawing on a continual stream of inspiration – from the everyday world around her to varied works of art and artists such as Giotto, Piero Della Francesca and Yamoto-e scrolls – her discerning eye takes in everything, creating an experience of connectedness, in her art of daily life.

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