Those were the words of the artist, Deanna Musgrave, as we stood in the gallery early today, surrounded by her work, Tropos. Tropos was conceived as one work, with two years of planning and one year of solid painting. The piece consists of twelve panels and runs 48′ across. It has had a number of showings since 2011, and now sits on our walls for the month of July.
The Tropos installation had not been planned as most of our exhibitions are. I usually know my full slate of exhibitions for any given year well in advance. Deanna spoke to me only this spring, indicating that she was finally ready to let Tropos go. July was open so I readily accepted the challenge of installing the largest work I’ve ever exhibited, and then to find homes for the various panels.
Installation was a challenge, as I had expected, however, it was quickly apparent that I had two adjacent walls that would accommodate panels of this size. Of course, Tropos could not be hung as a continuous piece (see the full span, just above), but would work in pairs and groups of three. I knew that the individual panels would hold up well as good single paintings so I was confident that my installation would work well. The resulting two and three panel configurations are wonderful. Below is one of the very successful three-panel groupings.
As I stood with the artist viewing the current installation, I asked her about the decision to tackle something this large. She said it was not a decision made lightly. “I knew that it was going to take a great deal of time to create this work, and that it was going to be very expensive to make. I was also aware that the likelihood for commercial recompense with works this large was slight. It was something I really needed to do.”
I asked her if she saw this as a pivotal work in her career. Deanna said, “Yes. It was my largest and most ambitious work to date, and it moved my painting into the realm of installation. Tropos acknowledged the importance of water and also the watermarking practice that remains important in my work even today. Furthermore it allowed me to incorporate two distinctly different approaches in one work. To achieve the gradation from the flowing/intuitive/abstract expressionism to the more rigid/skillful/optical illusions required the grand expanse.”
Knowing how important this work has been to her and to her career, I asked Deanna if the decision to sell individual panels had been difficult. She responded, “Yes it was. It meant that the possibility of seeing Tropos as a whole again would be unlikely. The reality is that I need to make more grand paintings in the future, and to achieve that I need to let this go. I have held onto it for three years, but now it is time to move on.”
The individual panels are each beautiful paintings, and are certain to find new walls very quickly. I welcome you to come by the gallery any Thursday, Friday or Saturday in July to see the entire Tropos for one last time.
Above: Panel 12
Above: Panel 8
Above: Panels 1 & 2
Panels 8 & 9