The Gallery at University Lutheran Church
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Mixed media paintings by Barbara Bartlett

October 29 - December 9, 2006

Artist's Statement

Improvisation, a term long associated with jazz, refers to the departure by the musician from the written score. It's very much the soloist's own take on the original tune, and while based on the form and structure provided by the melody, it is a unique interpretation that often is surprising, even to the player. The improvisation can be anything from a light and playful variation to a deep and complex rendition imbued with strong underlying emotions.

In creating this show of mixed media paintings, I have experienced many parallels with this improvisational aspect of jazz. All the work begins with the grid or repeating lines as a starting point—the written score—building an underlying structure and often providing a sense of grounding or stability from which the piece can grow. From this base a sense of experimentation and spontaneity begin to emerge. New shapes, lines and colors overlay the grid in a way that is often unplanned but felt "right" in the creation. Some paintings express inner focused, quiet feelings while others celebrate the joyous, uninhibited aspects of being alive.

In the spirit of improvisation, I have also experimented with new materials in this body of work. By employing rope-like erosion netting, pieces of window blinds, corrugated cardboard, burlaps and other fabrics—all intended to reinforce or echo the grid structure—I have endeavoured to bring everyday textures and a sense of rhythm into the paintings. As in music, the concept of layering and overlapping is important as I have explored how to achieve a sense of depth and space in two-dimensional work.

In the process of creating this work, I felt a freedom of working outside of traditional painting techniques that seemed somehow akin to the jazz musician's experience of playing an improvised solo. As you look at this work, whether or not you are familiar with jazz, I hope that you will experience some of its free spirit, energetic rhythm, and emotional connection to the world we all inhabit.

Barbara Bartlett
October 2006

Bartlett painting

Bartlett painting

Bartlett painting


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