Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Sep 21st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Blurring the Lines

blurringthelines1Artist Michelle Giulvezan-Tanner’s work

When I first met Michelle Giulvezan-Tanner years ago, she was a straightforward artist. These days, the painter has taken to being more abstract, particularly on canvas. It happened about two years ago. She felt that her work, predominantly large-scale oil paintings of people, had become static and one-dimensional. “They didn’t seem to have any life or movement so I started hungering for that wonderful abstract of mark making,” she says. “I had a great conversation with a curator in San Francisco. He pushed me to go back to my abstract roots. I love throwing paint around and seeing what emerges from it; I [now] take abstraction and infuse portraiture.”

What she’s come up with through this process is a series of beautiful paintings that are both intimate and blurry at the same time. The series is currently on display at Lulu’s at the Octagon during the month of March. Here’s a snapshot of some of the paintings in this show:

There’s “Kristen,” a student from UC Santa Cruz who interned at the MichaelAngelo gallery when Giulvezan-Tanner was previously the gallery director there. After some time, this student, Kristen, agreed to sit for Giulvezan-Tanner so she could paint Kristen. “She is also an artist, and the nice thing about painting for artists is that they critique your work, too,” Giulvezan-Tanner says. “I was fascinated by her. She had strength of character that was unusual for being a young girl and I wanted to paint that. … I spent weeks painting Kristen and went [to the painting] with a three-inch round brush and swiped over it. Everything became blurred … it’s the creative side to let it go and become more interesting. … There are ways to trick yourself into doing that … talking on the phone while I paint allows my subconscious to come out.”

blurringthelines2And then there’s “Roberta,” also a part of this new series of abstract portraits. Roberta visited Giulvezan-Tanner during an Open Studios tour. She was, according to the artist, “a beautiful Mediterranean woman.” Giulvezan-Tanner asked her to “sit for me” and while Roberta was interested, she was also admittedly a little suspicious about some stranger asking to paint her. Roberta agreed and the final image, which was repainted five times, is so abstract that even Roberta may not recognize herself anymore. It’s a gorgeous painting of a classically attractive Italian woman—only with the successfully executed blurry lines technique that Giulvezan-Tanner now uses.

A third painting is “Maria,” a portrait of Giulvezan-Tanner’s own daughter, who is now 24, although the painting was completed a few years ago. “I wanted to do something different,” Giulvezan-Tanner says of enlisting her daughter to model for her. “I had a lot more freedom. She’s seen my paintings for years and is very supportive of them. I was [starting] to use abstract painting and she was encouraging.

Admittedly, abstract portrait painting is a love it or hate it style, Giulvezan-Tanner says. “Some people like classical portraiture,” she adds. “Some people don’t like that loose brush stroke.” And then there’s the problem that she runs into with sales that sometimes people don’t want a portrait of a stranger in their house. However, there are those—many—who are drawn to Giulvezan-Tanner’s work—it’s exceptionally beautiful, and each portrait has a story sitting there on the surface. It’s just our job to come up with the tale behind the person in the painting.

And the person behind all of these paintings, of course, is Giulvezan-Tanner, who now in her ’50s admits that she really didn’t come into her own until she was in her ’30s. And since becoming a full-fledged artist, she admits that she’s changed over the years: “I see life differently,” she says. “I’m going to do art. … What’s important is that I remain true to the vision of my artwork. There’s a mystery in people and I want to capture that mystery, that fleeting quality in life.”

blurringthelines3With “Kristen” she captured “her strength,” Giulvezan-Tanner says. “She’s balancing precariously on a chair, with an underlying vulnerability.” With “Maria,” the artist has captured a 22-year-old who is “all dressed up, waiting for life to begin.” And with “Roberta,” the Italian woman, she has captured elegance and beauty with the background implying the light of Italy.

Her new body of work comes from “the ability of letting go of making a pretty painting,” Giulvezan-Tanner says. “And letting go of what you think people want you to do. The whole idea of blurring the edges is a metaphor for getting older. You’re not as sharp as you used to be. People would rather hire a younger person. Your vision gets blurry. You don’t see things so cut and dry anymore. Sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be—they’re not as black and white. There is a lot of grey area.” There are about 20 images in the series; not all of them are hanging in Lulu’s, but the full show will be seen in an upcoming Santa Cruz County Bank art show. All the paintings are for sale, ranging in prices from $500 to $2,000, and ranging in sizes from 18-inches by 24-inches to 4-feet by 5-feet.

Her paintings can take anywhere from two months to two years to complete. She keeps them on the walls of her studio and as she walks by them, sometimes she’ll see something that needs to be changed, so she’ll snap up her paintbrush and start making adjustments. As an artist, she’s let go of any artistic constraints she may have had as a younger person, relishing in the freedom of maturing, and watching her paintings continue to evolve. Giulvezan-Tanner is a woman who blurs the lines.


Michelle Giulvezan-Tanner’s abstract portraits are on display at Lulu’s at the Octagon, at the center of Cooper and Front streets in downtown Santa Cruz.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past

 

The Peace Equation

Sunday is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, a global peace-building day when nations, leaders, governments, communities and individuals are invited to end conflict, cease hostilities, creat 24 hours of non-violence and promote goodwill. Monday is Autumn equinox as the Sun enters Libra (right relations with all of life). The Soul Year now begins. We work in the dark part of the year (Persephone underground) preparing for the new light of winter solstice. Tuesday to Wednesday is the Virgo new moon festival. We know two things about peace. “The absence of war does not signify peace.” And “Peace is an ongoing process.” In its peace-building emphasis, the UNIDP, through education, attempts to create a “culture of peace, understanding and tolerance”. Esoterically we are reminded of the peace equation: “Intentions for goodwill (and acting upon this intention) create right relations with all earth’s kingdoms which create (the ongoing process of) peace on earth.” At noon on Sunday, in all time zones, millions of participating groups will observe a moment of silence for peace on earth. Bells will ring, candles will be lit, and doves released as the New Group of World Servers recite the Great Invocation (humanity’s mantram of direction). To connect with others around the world see www.cultureofpeace.org    Let us join together with the mother (Virgo). Goodwill to all, let peace prevail on earth. The dove is the symbol for the day.
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.