Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Memories in Stones

Pavel Stransky, 91, uses the metaphor of a balance scale to describe his life. One side is filled with darkness and bitter sadness while the other is filled with lighter moments, love and forgiveness. When I asked him which side weighed more he softly said the darker side.  As a young jewish man of 19 on Dec 1, 1941 he was rounded up by the Nazis and sent to Thersienstadt, a concentration camp / ghetto created  by the Nazis to be used as a staging area for the transporting of thousands of Jews to various concentration camps in Central Europe. His girlfriend was rounded up as well along with his mother and other family members. The walled town which originally accommodated 5,000 was filled by the nazis with 60,000 jews, Christians of non aryan descent, the infirmed and the mentally ill. Imprisioned in this ghetto with little food and no clean water he was fortunately still able to maintain some contact with his girlfriend. When the Nazis decided to ship him to Auschwitz- the largest of the German extermnation camps, he was told it was simply a relocation. Pavel and his girlfriend married the night before so she could accompany him. The only way they could go together was if they were married. So they married in the getto of Thersienstadt and their honeymoon was to go to Auswitch together. Of course, once they arrived they never saw one another again. Through a series of small miracles, the two of them, unbenowst to both of them at the time, survived and were reunited after Germany was defeated and the camps were liberated. Pavel and his wife both surviving Auswitch was one of the very few miraculous stories that came out of this gruesome, dark time. Almost all prisioners perished in the camps. During the afternoon we spent with Pavel, who today conducts tours at Thersienstadt,  he walked us to a memorial, gravesite filled with stone markers signifying the thousands that perished there. When visitors pass these markers they place a found stone upon it's weathered surface. The sadness that these stones symbolize is somehow still able to coexist, at least for me, with the inescapable deep beauty of their random arrangements.







Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pollencia,  Mallorca, Spain

The walls of this town are so beautiful. Walking through the narrow streets I had to wonder how just the passage of time could create such amazing surfaces. But it is not just the  patina of Time. There is also something else, although it took me awhile to realize it. The other part that goes into the creation of  these gorgeous surfaces and compositions is the fact that there is a non intentionality about them. There is such freshness to the ingredients- a haphazard drainpipe nailed to the wall 50 years ago, random graffiti, a scrape from a passing cart or just the repeated repainting and repairing of the wall over time. This aspect of randomness can be difficult to invite into making artwork, but I realize more and more that often it is the most interesting aspect of a painting.  Like an overloaded cart that is pulled too quickly and ends up scraping the wall in just the right spot, sometimes I just close my eyes and make marks on the surface of my paintings. As hard as I try, rarely do I come even close to what can be seen on the walls of Pollencia.








Thursday, June 14, 2012

Opening at Caldwell Snyder Gallery

A tremendous thank you to everyone who made it out to my opening last Thursday evening. I can't ever remember working so hard for so many weeks never having much time to see my friends or even family... Spending a few hours in a beautiful room filled with my artwork with some of my favorite people was a night I will remember for a long time. Again, thanks.

Click here to see the whole show or download a catalog of the paintings or visit the newly designed
Nicholas Wilton website.




Sunday, June 3, 2012


I just finished a whole series of paintings for my first solo show with Caldwell Snyder Gallery in San Francisco. Tomorrow I am sending the last 4 paintings to the gallery. I have never painted so much for so long before. There is such a sweetness to finishing something that several moths ago seemed like an impossibility to complete. The struggle that I experienced is offset by the tremendous amount I have learned. It feels more like an improved sensitivity to color, shape, texture, and a quickness of resolution or rather  faster realizations when  I am heading in the wrong direction. My daughter, Lyla, just graduated high school yesterday and at one point in the ceremony the audience's attention was drawn towards the faculty.  The teachers were all sitting together - all so different from one another in look, dress, teaching styles and of course areas of expertise. I thought how fabulous it would be to have so many people's influence on my life or art. Instead, my learning, seems to be more about spending a tremendous amount of time alone in a room thinking about and trying to make sense of what I am making directly in front of me. It seems unlikely that learning mostly ( there is usually a dog present) by oneself would actually take place, but remarkably it does. The dog's name is Maizy and the painting above her is an almost finished commission for a wonderful family in Silicon Valley. The painting is inspired by a box of crayola crayons and their gigantic aquarium filled with tropical fish. The painting will hang in their playroom.

maizy and Fike's commission