Exhibition features work done at figure-drawing sessions
For 36 years, artist Eli Levin, who also paints under the name
Jo Basiste, has had an open-door policy on his Santa Fe studio, first
near Canyon Road and now in the Santa Fe Railyard. Beginning and
experienced artists can wander in and learn about the discipline
and joy of the professional work environment. Since 1969, Levin has
made his studio space available for three figure-drawing sessions
and one etching session each week at no cost to the participating
artists other than the shared expense of paying the model.
"I love drawing and I think it's very good for
artists," Levin explained. "I like artists who can draw. Plus, these
groups and my etching group have been my social life. They're my
main ways to be part of the art scene."
Levin added that the figure drawing was good for his own work. "In
the last year, I've been painting a lot of nudes out of my head,
which I never could have done without those years of drawing."
Now, with work from those figure-drawing sessions
as a vehicle, Levin's generosity is rippling outward through the
community. A juried exhibition of approximately 40 works from artists
participating in the figure-drawing groups opens tonight at Bass/Thomson
Gallery and runs through Nov. 13.
"What (Levin has) done is pretty remarkable," Eric Thomson, a participant in the figure-drawing group since 1976, said of the drawing sessions. "Many young artists have gotten a great deal out of it over the years. They get to be part of a professional art milieu and occasionally get some advice."
Connected with the exhibition is an effort to
raise money for ArtSmart, the wing of the Santa Fe Gallery Association
that funds art supplies for elementary schools in Santa Fe. A percentage
of each artist's exhibition fee is being donated, along with 30 percent
of all sales from the exhibition and cash donations from the First
National Bank of Santa Fe. Additionally, several artists - Basiste,
Lyndall Bass, Michael Bergt, Geoffrey Laurence, Matthew Gonzales
and Phyllis Sloane have donated works unrelated to the figure-drawing
exhibition for a silent auction. All auction proceeds will go to
The Levin Studio Groups
Exhibit was curated by Bass and Laurence, two local artists not
connected with the figure-drawing groups.
"Drawing is as old as the hills - literally. The oldest drawings we know of at present are from 75,000 years ago, and in them we see humans depicted by other humans in line and tone," Bass and Laurence said in a statement on the exhibit. In their selections for the exhibit, Bass and Laurence noted, "some
show anatomical correctness; others, emotional complexity. All share
one thing: truthfulness of intention."
The exhibit is of works done in one of the three
figure-drawing groups that meet in the Levin Studio on Tuesday mornings,
Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. The Wednesday evening group,
the longest running of the three, generally uses a series of quick "gesture
poses" and a 45 minute pose for its 15 to 20 participants, Thomson
said. The Tuesday morning group has a similar program. The Saturday
morning group, which generally includes one or two sculptors, employs
one three hour pose.
Santa Fe has a whole group of people who do
figure modeling at an hourly wage for a partial living, Thomson said.
The requirements are more than just good physical conditioning and
an ability to hold a pose for hours. A good model must have some
understanding of what the artists need, "It's tough work," he said.
The artists participate for various reasons, he said. "Different people
take different things from the group. There are some artists who are
there to work on their approach to painting. Others, who don't paint
in a figurative way at all, are there to work on drawing fundamentals.
Still others are not practicing artists at all, but have been drawing
from figures for years."