Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Painting: New Mexico Artist OlgaTeresa Gonzalez Baigus

OlgaTeresa Gonzalez Baigus is a friend from my college days in upstate New York. She has always been tremendously inspiring to me. When I first met Olga, she was active as a poet. Later she became a dancer, and now a painter. She lives and works near Taos, New Mexico. Since the two of us could talk for hours about our mutual fascinations, it was difficult to narrow this interview down, but I think her answers to the few questions we have room for introduce her Gestalt very well. To see more of Olga's work, visit taostaos.com

You were a dance teacher for a number of years. How does dance influence your painting? My orientation in both Art and Dance is communication. Gesture and Line are basic considerations when I do figure drawing, landscapes, and even portraits. As a dancer we are always aware of place in space, silhouette, negative space, and communication through line or stance. As a choreographer I am always aware of composition and placement in space. All of this combines into my work with Visual Arts (painting, drawing, printmaking)and the difference between the two art forms (Dance and Visual Arts) is seamless for me, unambiguous, and inseparable.

What is your proudest accomplishment as a painter?
To date, it is the ability to communicate to the viewer. I am a selling artist, and those who buy my work are particular and "Get the Connection". I can make art and dance for myself; however, in both painting and dance, it is the ability to communicate to whoever appreciates and is affected by the work that matters. Such appreciation continues to enable the flow of the "Creation Gift" that is a definition of my existence.

Do you start a painting knowing what it will be, or does the work unfold?
Sometimes. I am currently into a body of work using painting as a narrative... a social, spiritual, political comment or question. Because of this I use preplanned layout, impact with color, mixed media etc. However, I am the kind of artist who feels some other thing or one works through me ("Within me and Without me"). I feel at a point I plug into a creative flow and another hand, beyond Myself is at work... so my work takes a turn sometimes that I know not how it entered, what or why it did what it did, and what it means. I do not fight this impulse... this is the most important part of the art... and many times I look back at the piece and do not know who painted it.

Did you enjoy drawing and painting as a child?
Yes always. I was in love with the Crayola Box. I was a first born Hispanic to the USA with Puerto Rican and Cuban immigrant parents. I was born in 1950 in the Bronx, New York City. When the 64 Crayola Crayons came out, it was paradise for me. I had bags and bags of crayons. I do not know how I kept from eating them...the colors meant so much. The smell of the wax! I loved the rough texture of most of my earlier coloring books that took the wax pigment so well. I lusted after comic books and spent eternal hours trying to copy Marvel comics, though I was prompted by a very strict mother who said I shouldn't read boys' comics so much... So I amassed a large collection of Little Dot (I loved her Dots), Nancy and Sluggo Art, and later Katy Keene (who took me through many lonely years by allowing me to make total fashion lines for her...many bridal gowns that looked like birthday cakes).
I also remember seeing Miss Frances' Ding Dong School, on our tiny black and white TV in 1955. We sent away for a special film we could stick on the screen and then with special pens so I could draw what Miss Frances drew. I was obsessed with the early Color Forms (squares, triangles, etc. that you could stick to a special board)... I would make cities and perspective and try to redraw them on paper. I always loved the paints in school and raised my hand for all paint projects... finger paints, poster paints. My Mom loved the paint-by-number oil paints. She was meticulous and taught me to fill in the shapes carefully. I wish I had more training when I was young, and encouragement to be free with my art. However, thanks to the comic book world and to black and white cartoons, Terrytoon Circus and Max Fleischer productions (dark and strange as the black and white mice and cats danced across the screen to music) and Walt Disney, I was given courage. My mind is in this neverland. I also cleave to Juxtapose and graffiti art, though I also have passion for more classic art... I see the same in both.

What's next artwise?
I am renovating my website (If I can conquer Dreamweaver) and want to open an online gallery to sell my own work, as well as my friends' work. I have a lot of art friends; we habituate the University of New Mexico art department in large painting, printmaking and drawing classes and feed off each other's psyches and spirits. We enter "Shows" all the time and try to sell. We are all different, which is thrilling and inspiring. I have recently retired from full time dance teaching and choreography, though to keep my body from fading away, I teach 2 classes a week to young teens. I work 100% with my artwork. My styles change as I explore, though I am always fascinated with Magic Gods and Monsters (icons and archetypes). I train (as I would in dance barre work) with various teachers in portrait, landscape and figure drawing. My newest teacher is a nonrepresentational minimalist. I am going to try my hand at this orientation. I also am going to expand my outdoor art series (colorful 8 foot tall totem poles) and am working on a new piece related to the catastrophe on the Pacific Rim.

Thank you, Olga!

Artwork by OlgaTeresa Gonzalez Baigus: Ghosts panels (mixed media), Silver Wolf (pastel and pencil)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Olga, Being your mother I naturally am very proud of all you have accomplished, not only with your family, but with your carreer.

I am astounded especially with your paintings. Each one is greater than the last. My love & prayers are always with you, and I am very sure you will reach your pinnacle very soon. Love you, MOM