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Lines on Paper

K. M. Bihr’s paintings at Betty’s Restaurant

Just about all artists want as many people as possible to appreciate their art.

A good artist’s statement works towards this end. The most important ingredient of a good statement is its language. An effective statement will reach out and welcome a viewer to the artist’s work no matter how much or how little they know about art to begin with; it never excludes and never dictates the outcome of inquiry for the viewer.

K. M. Bihr writes an effective artist’s statement. It is direct, allowing a reader to form images in the act of reading. There is a sense of being connected to common interests and familiar forces that generate creative process. Her choice of words express her inspiration for choosing the medium displayed. Her words guide the reader gently, suggesting how one might immediately take in her artwork and allowing an opportunity for later assessments to get technical, metaphysical, philosophical, personal, and emotional. Finally she includes her own disposition toward the artwork expressing a personal bent in the simple polarities of human existence.

The nature of art and personal taste notwithstanding, she is not one to underestimate the power of an effective statement to intensify enhance and advance how people experience her work.

However, what her work actually looks like needs all the written reinforcements mentioned above. In these works on paper she strikes, smears, erases, scribbles and gouges the page while still aggrandizing the physical fact of a rectangular white space. There is everything going on at once but nothing in such a way as to suggest a dynamic interaction, as if each piece had to have a random selection of smears, splotches and gouges. The effect is momentarily arresting for its stylish delivery but the parts do not add up to a sum. The work brings painful personal recollections experimenting in the style of Cy Twombly, Mark Tobey, and Agnes Martin—all modern masters of glyphic subtlety, accidental clarity, and the intuitive scrawl, artists whom I begrudgingly came to admire and ultimately embrace.

It may be that through such admirations one tries out working in the manner of an artist they admire but prudently thinks again before exhibiting their nascent facility.

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