Friday, January 20, 2012

OUT OF LINE: THE WORK OF CANADIAN PAINTER CATHERINE Y. BATES

STILL LIFE WITH KUBA CLOTH
24" x 36", oil on canvas, 2008
"AIMING FOR BEAUTY IS A SURVIVAL BELIEF"....
FROM THE HOMEPAGE OF THE CATHERINE Y. BATES WEBSITE
One of the joys of the writing life is that every so often, I've been lucky enough to spend a month or two or three at an artist's residency. These are fellowships that have been set up by some wealthy, generous arts patron, the one in question being the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation (of the Wurlitzer piano and organ empire) in Taos, New Mexico.

Twice, I've been blessed to spend a three-month stretch in my own casita, in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) mountains. Twice, I've been blessed to meet the composers, artists, poets, and playwrights who were also in residence. The first time I was at the Wurlitzer, in 2005, I met the wildly gifted and indefatigable Canadian painter Catherine Y. Bates. By chance Catherine was also in Taos (again, having driven down from the Montreal region) in early 2010, during my second stint at the Wurlitzer. She was kind enough to give me a tour of her studio at the time and I was bowled over anew...

Catherine sends out an annual year-end letter and I am always so encouraged and inspired--by her message and by her paintings--that I asked if I could offer her most recent one to you all. She graciously agreed (further point of interest/cause for rejoicing: Catherine underwent a successful cochlear implant last year and is now participating in a study re the connection between hearing and "seeing"). So I urge you to check out her amazing work. (Here's a link, for instance, to her Hors Limites/Out of Line ("expressionistic renderings of iconic geographical locations"spanning a forty-year career). And please meet Catherine Y. Bates.


Dear Friends, December 2011

This ninth end-of-year letter comes late, after a wonderful holiday trip to Pittsburgh, to visit daughter Jenny Bates, her husband Jay Lampert, and talented seven-year-old Hector. Their academic and artistic household brims with stimulating discussions and activities. It was a special joy for me to be there. I will visit son Greg and Flic and the family in Maine in the early spring. Their daughter Hila has returned from her semester in Ecuador and is now an intern with sled dog trips and other nature adventures, while Cori continues her home schooling at a terrific pace, writes so well, and is fast becoming a computer expert!

The past year had many trips between Georgeville and Montreal for rehab after the very successful cochlear implant. I am now much more actively involved with friends and Montreal cultural activities. From my Feb. 19 journal entry: “I believe that beauty has an unexplainable power: to overcome baseness, to connect to people positively, to make life worth living. It requires health, steadfastness, silence, community.” I have changed my major painting studio back to Montreal, reserving a room in my Georgeville home for works on paper; the home also will be a base for any “en plein air” work I might do. I have the best of both worlds.

I updated my website with Mac Store lessons, including older work as well as new paintings. In 2012 there are two exhibits planned and a third in the offing. A graduate student from Laval visited to document paintings I had done before the operation, and will come again to document another twenty post-op paintings, to see about any change in my use of colour, a research into sight and hearing (synethesia).

CATHERINE Y. BATES
SOARING I
 40" x 48", oil on linen, 2003
In the summer I swam and began longer walks, and my enthusiasm for painting grew stronger. I have begun with still life works combining the Kuba cloth I bought a few years ago with other increasingly larger abstracted areas of sky and water. I love the large Kuba cloth from Zambia and its seemingly random abstract patterns, which, on closer viewing, are extremely well organized. It is this combination of the abstract and the representational that has dogged me for years, dating back to my early quilt paintings, painted so realistically but made up of abstract sections. Later I used actual physical sections, starting in 1991, but will leave big ones for David Hockney! Martin Gayford’s A Bigger Message, interviews with Hockney, provided enjoyable reading. I also did research into the patterns of African Bwa masks and appliquéd Kuba cloths. Other books I enjoyed – Color Into Light, about Hans Hofmann’s teaching practices, and Philip Guston, collected writings.

I have hopes that the increasing individual actions of people in all walks of life who make positive creative artistic endeavours will contribute some strong antidotes to the negatives of war, environmental destruction, over-population, and other follies. Art is a survival challenge! Best wishes for 2012. Peace for the world.

Catherine
Catherine Y. Bates
email: cybates@aei.ca
www.cybates.com

CATHERINE Y. BATES
WITNESS, LANDSCAPE EVENT, 
30" x 40", oil on canvas, 2008

5 comments:

  1. I do love these paintings, and I really love the very true words about beauty from the painter's Feb. 19th journal entry.

    Perhaps related, perhaps not, I found myself walking yesterday in something of a hurry to get to someplace, when a small silent voice said something like, "Slow down. Listen to your world."

    It would seem that Catherine Bates is very adept at listening to her world, at receiving what the world has to give! And yes, to overcome baseness, and to make life worth living: are there any more noble aims?

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  2. Beautiful work by a fellow Canadian. Thanks for sharing.

    Man, I need to slow down and get busy at my easle and in my sketchbooks.

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  3. It'd be neat to see Soaring I in real life. Gorgeous colors!
    -Mike Demers

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