Bowery by Fred Gutzeit


My last year in Art School, I was lucky to be included in six weeks of summer art school in rural northern Connecticut. We (art students from different parts of the US) were admonished not to paint cows there. Some did mountain scenes, others, DeKooning abstractions, the rest, a mix of styles from where they came. I probably was in the last group, although I had started to "learn abstraction" in school. For the first few weeks I painfully (although the painting teachers there thought I did OK) tried to develop this "abstraction." Then, I looked at the studio space we were painting in-it was terrific: a barn-like rough wooden structure with high beamed ceilings. The feeling of the space was inspiring! This was the subject for me to paint. I spent the rest of the residency painting "INTERIORS." They weren't copies of the real space there, but kind of abstract representations of beamed architectural "painterly" spaces. I continued this motif in different styles through upcoming years and in different locations: back in Cleveland, Mexico, early on in New York. I think my use of this motif was a way of addressing the trauma I felt in art school in being confronted with how to bring my unconscious in to my artwork. It was in printmaking, that this came to a head, studying with Carroll Cassill ( who taught the class as an unfolding of an idea through a printmaking process ( I had been doing painting from the age of 14; but before art school it was matter of painting what I saw rather than addressing any kind of "expression."

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