We had the good fortune of connecting with Visual Artist Barbara Nathanson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Barbara, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
When I first started, I had two young children, a 30-hour-a-week job, a home to run and a hard working husband who also needed some attention from time to time. I had no studio so the kitchen table and later the garage was my work space. These areas also had to be shared with the family, daily. Space, time to work and money for materials for many years were at a premium. As my children grew up and left home I no longer needed to work at a “day job”, money issues abated. I had more time AND now a studio! Hallelujah! Thanks goes to my loving, caring and very supportive husband. Throughout these years I continued to join art associations to meet and dialogue with other artists and to increase avenues to show my art. Now I belong to art associations to give back and lend help to other newly struggling artists. I still spend time with my family (husband, children and grandchildren) but the demands upon my time are flexible and do not conflict with studio time or conducting the business aspect of being a full time artist. I have traded a paying job for a sometimes paid artist’s life.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My textured abstract paintings have a unique textural quality and use of color that sets it apart from other artists’ work. The texture mixture is of my own invention, developed over many years. The paint colors are heavily saturated blends. My work is process oriented. The surface effects are subject to the ambient temperature and humidity. I do not try to control the measuring of texture ingredients nor my studio climate. I like to work with the serendipity of chance. It keeps presenting new imagery to work with and an excitement of discovery. I layer a texture mix, let it dry, paint it, sand it, add another layer of texture mix, dry, paint, repeat until the imagery/surface “becomes” what it is meant to become. My inspiration for the textured abstracts comes from surfaces found mostly in nature and the process that creates those surfaces. The results do not fit well into the usual theme or style categories which oft prevents my work from sitting easily into many group exhibitions. Yet I am delighted that my work sets itself apart and into a one of a kind description. The biggest challenge I have faced during the 35 years since I graduated from college is to be taken seriously. I have been dealing with a pervasive prejudice within the art community against middle-aged women, who are married, with children, and are supported financially throughout college and afterwards. Attitudes are changing though, for all women in my category, albeit slowly. I have finally convinced everyone that art is not a hobby for me. I want to be judged on the art I produce and not on how old I am, how poor I’m not, nor what I look like. I have proven myself by never giving up, working hard and continuing to progress. I have exhibited in 12 different countries, had solo exhibitions in Paris, France, Krakow, Poland, and los Angeles, California. I am included in many catalogues, been reviewed, gotten awards, have work included in the collections of the Women’s Museum, Washington D.C., the Modern Art Museum, Yerevan, Armenia, private and corporate collections. I started a unique type Collaborative Art Group that has been going for 25 years and exhibited in Canada and various galleries in the United States. And I am not done yet.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Where to take visitors that I like to go and to show them the beauty of my city. The Getty Museum in Bel Air, Getty Villa, Descanso Gardens, Malibu, Venice and Santa Monica Beaches, Moca, Broad Museum, LAAA Gallery 825, Rodeo Drive in Beverly hills and around the city, Farmer’s Market in Hollywood, Old Town Pasadena, The Music Center, Disney Hall (attend concerts at the latter two) Hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains, Tour the Craftsmen Houses in Pasadena, The Planetarium, attend a performance at either the Greek Theatre or the Hollywood Bowl (if it is summer), go to a play or two in some of our smaller theatres, ie, The Odyssey, The Victory Theatre, Walk down Holl;ywood Blvd, see the old “Chinese” Theatre. Drive down Topanga Canyon and back up the Malibu Canyon, tour the Brewery loft (I have friends there), Have a meal at Olvera Street,’s La Golindrina, another meal In Little Tokyo, and Chinatown, maybe a sandwich at Philippe’s. and a walking tour of downtown L.A. I never run out of places.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Weston Nathanson, my talented husband, who photographs the art, is my web page master, helps me put my thoughts into writing when needed, gives me encouragement, and helps me in many other ways.
Images painted by me, Barbara Nathanson. Photography of artwork: Weston Nathanson