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The September 1st FIRST ARTIST was a gathering of 19 participants. It almost seemed like a back-to-school event. There was a lot of chatter and anticipation. The presentations were fulfilling on many levels. 

Donna Morin presented works from 2019-2021, including printmaking, hard-edge painting, and ink on paper. She dedicated a lot of her presentation to artwork created under the shadow of COVID 19 restrictions. This printmaking artwork triggered many dialogues, discussions based on how artists respond to adversity. Morin demonstrates the value of exercising one’s craft even during difficult times, especially when the spirit is waning. She also introduced a short ink-on-paper series she created using household items purchased from Lowe’s. This series was inspired by her need to explore “Materials & Practice” – a college course she could never attend. We spoke about discovery and experimentation. Her Lowe’s artworks are created with simple, flowing, dancing monochromatic gestures. They suggest liberated movement and mimic native plant-like elements from our Southern California landscape.  

Robert Jacka is an assemblage artist. Assemblage art is a form of sculpture comprised of found objects. Jacka mentioned that he is a hoarder and, therefore, has a bounty of materials. Interpreting his artwork is challenging because, for most viewers, there is no single path for interpretation. This is why I really find Jacka’s creations enticing. This evening, those in the gathering could gain a peek into the meanings that can unfold over the closer inspection with the artist in the room. Jacka states that his creations are based on the love of objects and how materials interact, ultimately forming a composition. The folks within the gathering reacted favorably to the aesthetics. A few readily recognized symbols and wondered out loud about their meanings. Nothing was resolved, but the speculation revealed possibilities. Topics ranged from abortion to patriarchy to the power of Mother Nature. After the First Artist gathering, Robert emailed me this message:

Thanks Steve, I guess you got your tech workout today…I was provided some insights, some I was in line with on the same wave, others that I will have to take a second, third fourth look at…if only my original critiques had been like this in school….

Robert Jacka

In Attendance:
Gloria Cassidy
Donna Morin
Momo Wu
Steve Thomas
Jerry Weems
Chick Curtis
Amy Conger
Ted Rigoni
Adeola Davies-Aiyeloja
Steve Cahill
Bob Markovich 
Michael Thomas
Robert Jacka
Karen Ruth Karlsson
John Machado
A’Kailah Byrd-Green
Denise Kraemer
Sumi Foley


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