I met artist Joanne Mattera when I went to her 2003 show at Arden Gallery in Boston (one of my first outings with Wessel). I’m drawn to colorists, and she’s one of my favorite. I love, love, love her paintings. Joanne works in (and introduced me to) encaustic, a method of painting with translucent layers of wax. She literally wrote the book on it — “The Art of Encaustic Painting.” Coincidentally, this weekend Joanne is holding the third annual Encaustic Painting Conference at Montserrat College at Art in Beverly, Mass. I took an encaustic workshop last year in Chapel Hill, NC, with Lynn Bregman Blass, whose work I also greatly admire. Let’s just say that I’m sticking to writing (which Joanne also does a great job of in her blog).
When Joanne sent me this idea for my “Where they Went” column in the Boston Globe, I thought it was great. So, enough intro, here we go:
(“Where they Went,” published April 26, 2009, Boston Globe)
WHO: Joanne Mattera of Salem, Mass., and New York City
WHEN: A week in December.
WHY: To attend Art Basel Miami Beach and related shows. “My life and my art life are intertwined,” said Mattera, a painter mostly in encaustic who is represented by Arden Gallery in Boston. “Look what I do for fun: I go look at art.”
HOT SHOW: The prestigious Art Basel in South Florida, an international modern and contemporary art exhibit and sister show to Art Basel in Switzerland, has grown exponentially since its start in 2002, said Mattera, who has attended for the past four years. “It came out of nowhere and made this huge splash in the art world here. But then who wouldn’t want go to Florida in December?” Over the years, the show, held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, has inspired more than two dozen “satellite shows” both in surrounding venues and in Wynwood, Miami’s growing art district.
EXHIBITING THRIFT: “This is the first year I’ve been that I haven’t had work there, but I love the opportunity to go. My galleries weren’t participating, and fewer were overall because of the economy. Some dealers were saying they were going to sit it out this year.” Mattera has another reason for attending – she writes about the scene and the shows for Joanne Mattera Art Blog.
ALL INCLUSIVE: “Except for a few art fairs, there is no other time and no other place that you can see art from dozens of countries and you get to chat with dealers, collectors, other artists, critics, and curators. Even though people are working, their guards are down, they’re relaxed.” The public attends, too, with tickets $35 a day or less. Many of the smaller shows are free or nominally priced.
MAJOR TO MINOR: A change this year, Mattera said, was fewer boundary-pushing pieces. “I think the economy made dealers bring some of their safer work.” Art Basel also is a market for dealers to sell big-name work for millions. “You might have a Picasso or a Miró or a Warhol. But at the smaller venues, you find work from galleries like in Boston and other regions at prices of $10,000 and under, much under.”
SEE, SEE, SEE: Mattera doesn’t seek or find inspiration at Art Basel. “I have a path for my work and an approach and it doesn’t really matter what I see or where I am. It’s an interior dialogue. So for me it’s not about getting ideas, but it is about connecting with the larger art world to see what’s going on. You want to know what’s out there, and see it all.”