Holly Wach, HEAR ME
The Paintings of Holly Wach will be at Zza’s Wine Bar from February 26th through April 1st. Reception: Saturday, February 26th, 6pm to 9pm. 550 Grand Ave. Oakland.
Obi: How are you doing it all? You just moved, about to have a baby and you are maintaining an amazingly constant, alluring portfolio of paintings?
Holly: I read a quote by Chuck Close a few years ago that says it all, “Inspiration is for amateurs; I just get to work.” I was lucky enough to see this first hand since my mom is an artist. I saw her consistently make time for her art no matter what life put in the way. This is also something I noticed about the artists and teachers I admired as well as fellow students who became successful. To me, talent is only the entrance fee. I just stopped wasting time worrying about what didn’t come naturally and got to work. There is a mystery and magic about giving in to this process and I hope there is also a constantly growing body of work.
I have to say the last few months have proved to be the biggest challenge. I usually take on a lot more: I teach, get heavily involved in ProArts Open Studios, and try to have my work showing in several venues at any given time. Now my body has a mind of its own and those all nighters and caffeine I counted on are gone. So right now, I am learning to say no, push away needless distractions and concentrate on things I really want to do. I hope I can keep it up.
Obi: How did you come about to be a painter? Can you give us a little geographic biography of your career?
Holly: Art classes are always where I felt important and strong. When I stepped through those doors to an art room it was like another me took over I felt like bring it on, tell me more and I wanted to fight to figure things out. Outside those doors I was shy and felt invisible. A series of art teachers throughout my life noticed this and placed steps I front of me while encouraging me to climb.
The first teacher was my mom. She is an artist and provided the first steps and is still. She would give me art lessons and bring me to her art shows and classes. I just graduated high school and her favorite teacher, a retired commercial artist from New York, agreed to give me classes for free. He would tell me stories about what is takes to become an artist and I absorbed as much as I could. He instilled in me the importance of knowing your craft and the best place for it is New York.
I attended a small art program at the University of North Florida headed by an amazing teacher. I fell in love with the figure, drawing, painting and the importance of creating a cohesive body of work. A year into the program her star student returned from New York to teach at the school. The two of them were pivotal in providing my next step and their support continues to this day. They introduced me to the New York Academy of Art, which was dedicated to the love of the figure and mastering the disciplines of drawing, painting and sculpture.
I applied and was denied. I was crushed, but the hard work I had seen growing up took over and I moved to New York anyway. I took night classes at the Academy of Art, talked to Admissions and spent the next year getting my portfolio and recommendations geared toward the school. I was accepted the next year. But New York is a different beast and all those “making-it clichés” are really true. I found myself in a world filled with talent and ambition. For the first time I entered an art room feeling small, shy and unnoticed. I trudged through, learned so much and in the end I found the lions.
I spent eight more years in New York and continued to soak up what the city had to give. I took classes at the Art Students League, New York Studio School and visited galleries and museums
Three years ago, my boyfriend and I started looking for a place where we could have space to create. We found Oakland, settled in and I got right to work.
Obi: okay. I have to ask: Why Lions?
Holly: I have questioned this myself many times and why I never seem to tire of them. It wasn’t until recently I was asked to give an artist talk that they finally made sense to me. I mentioned that my Grad school experience gave me the lions.
At the Academy I felt over my head and was being asked why I chose this school. The students and faculty where talented, ambitious, and some were famous. In this environment I started to withdraw.
I was working on my thesis project and the picture of a women and a lion sleeping side by side appeared to me. I felt compelled to create this world that felt tense, dangerous and strangely affectionate. The lion represented decisive boldness without regret, hesitation or deceit. The female character exhibited a sense of security, calmness, and yet tenacity in the face of her adversary and companion. I understand now that I was screaming out to my school and teachers, “I should be here and I do have what it takes, you just don’t see it yet.” The lions became part of my story and I became part of my art.
The presence of power, fear, sexuality and confrontation I feel are represented in lions and women continue to intrigue me. As I grow and understand the themes in myself, these characters grow in my art.
For more on Holly, visit her website here.