This week, braveART visited with artist, Frank Ettenberg, at his studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ettenberg's career spans five decades as an '[I]nternationally known contemporary abstract artist. Ettenberg was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1945, and studied with Earl Jacobs Jr. and received a Master of Arts in Painting from the University of New Mexico.
His work has been exhibited widely, and is in many corporate and public museum collections. Until recently, he [had] divided his time between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Vienna, Austria'. (stewartgalleries.com) He now paints full time in Santa Fe.
[The painting] 'Kingdom' is one of Ettenberg's more exclusively calligraphic explorations completed on a relatively larger stretched-canvas format (instead of the artist's most exhaustive explorations completed using Rapidograph pen/ ink on paper). The artist was working directly at improvising precisely yet rhythmically oriented 'calligrams', which have no known meaning to speak of. These 'figures' interact with each other in various ways, which are 'fugitive preoccupations', at best. There are allusions to sequenced activities, yet these are rendered according to no known system or codified order for their development. After all, the artist with all his rational handicaps, has nevertheless learned to organize and appreciate sequences of improvised calligrams, to serve both as an exploration and as a kind of meditative game. After much work, this artist regularly envisions settlements made up of barely completed walls & walkways, letting in lots of light ; affording lots of shortcuts for visual re-routing.
In any event, this artist is entirely used to a regular artistic practice, as one might be used to having a daily meditation practice. If the day's work requires a 1) repair 2) re-visioning or a 3), re-rendering - that'll be figured out in the first minutes of work.
Very often, Ettenberg's work starts out with a few marks, which brings forth this artist's first reactions thereafter, and so an improvised structure appears out of a nebulous or re-drawn graphic/notation. Often enough, this artist proceeds without following any particular goal...Lately, this artist remembers how he worked on earlier drawings but would never try to repeat what he brought off 'routinely, in the 1970's.. so having simpler, more sweeping endings or summary or dominating images are welcome visitors to my studio practice at this time.