Generations: The Art of Eloise Lindeborg and Chris Casey, A lifelong artist and the grandson she never knew, on the 100th anniversary of her birth
That’s the title and subtext of the proposal Richard Lindeborg presented to the Las Vegas Arts Council in the interest of curating an exhibit showcasing the work of his mother and his nephew. The two have had different life experiences and never knew each other, but the bond of art connects them to each other and to the gift of creativity. Below are responses to questions about the show, which will be up at Gallery 140 for the month of April.
Q. Aside from the obvious, expand on the theme “Generations”. What are the differences in styles and subject matter of Eloise and Chris?
A. (Richard) I can only tell you what I see – not what a person trained in art and art history would comment on – but my mother and nephew clearly come from different generations, and not adjacent generations. Some differences between their work, reflect the 60 to 70 years between their careers. They both have a certain formalism in their work, but it is revealed quite differently in each. Chris uses formal shapes in his pottery, almost classical in many ways. My mother’s early work was formal portraits and still life paintings, probably reflecting the training of her professors. Despite this formalism, the art programs in the Big Ten, where she was trained, were not regarded by some of the East Coast schools as sufficiently grounded in the academic tradition. Chris’s decorations – and his graphic works – build on formal curve and line combinations in a free form way. Some of my mother’s works from the 1950s are pared down combinations of the same elements. Chris’s comments about his own work indicate that he starts from a simple idea and improvises on it until he is satisfied with the result. He admits the possibility of unexpected results. My mother seems to have had a mood or a message in mind and designed the whole piece to convey that feeling through shape and color.
A. (Chris Casey) The Generations theme is significant to me both because I grew up surrounded by Eloise’s art and more importantly because, as the only other practicing visual artist in my family, she provided a precedent for pursuing a life (of) making art. Her abstract works were my favorites growing up and they’ve undoubtedly had an impact on the work I make currently. I believe the biggest difference between the art world she existed in and the one I inhabit is the incredible power of the digital age and the access to resources and exposure it can provide.
Q. Do you believe the artists in this show were/are influenced by the world around them, and if so, in what ways?
A. (Richard) My mother was influenced by the natural world of scenery, objects, and people and by the social and political forces of her time. Her earliest works reflect the Pre World War I training of her major professors and are rather academic. The work she produced while studying in Europe at the start of World War II are much more contemporary than academic, even reflecting some of the ideas current in Germany at the time. By the 1950s she had evolved into a much looser style, focused on people and places familiar to her. Psychological and political influences started showing up in her work in that decade and in the 1960s. Chris’s sensibility is much more modern. He was very into computer games and computer game design at one point, and his work clearly comes from his generation’s experience. He uses lasers and computer graphics – tools not available to my mother.
A. (Chris Casey) I’d say I’m more influenced by technology in general over video games, especially these days. I try to embrace technology in any way I can whether it be through software like Photoshop or through hardware like 3D printers. However, as an abstract artist, I do make a conscious effort to exclude overt portrayals of people and objects in my art. I see the function of my art more as an escape, a place to rest, than as a critique of modern life.
Q. Eloise was your mother; Chris is your nephew. Chris never had the experience of knowing his grandmother, but grew up knowing about her art. As curator of this show, did that influence the work you chose for exhibit?
A. This is going to be a 50-50 show, in that it features two artists, and two different sensibilities in the curating. Chris is representing himself. How much he is influenced by his grandmother’s work may, or may not, show up in how he selects his work. My mother has no choice but to be represented by my selections. I grew up with many of these paintings and have had 45 years to reinterpret them since her death.
Chris grew up living in a house that featured his grandmother’s art and visiting his grandfather at the family home here in Las Vegas where her art was always on the wall. I’ve been preparing for my mother’s part of this show for more than 15 years now, photographing and cataloging her work. My wife, Susan, knew my mother and has known her art for more than 50 years. She helps me choose and steers me away from my prejudices. Chris has witnessed this process over time and with varying degrees of interest. I suspect he has taken some aspects of his grandmother’s art to heart.
Q. This is personal for you. Does that make it harder or easier to select the works that reflect the artists?
A. My mother died when she was 56, and without getting to the point in her artistic career when it was time to start thinking of a retrospective show. I don’t have very many clues as to which pieces she would have chosen for such a show, so I have to make my own choices for the most part. I’ve lived for a long time deciding what I like and don’t like without her guidance, so I don’t labor over the choosing anymore.
Q. You grew up watching your mother create. What would you want people to know about her that reflects who she was as an artist?
A. Art has to stand on its own merits subject to ever-evolving public tastes, but many people are fascinated about the hardships some artists face and about psychological factors that might have influenced their work. I am keenly aware of how the duties of raising a family affected my mother’s career; how the male domination of the profession limited her opportunities, and still limits the opportunities of women artists; and how her poor health limited her energy for producing art and shortened her career. Her weakened lungs and circulation forced her to give up painting in oils and drawing in pastels, but she moved on to other media. Life was not easy for her as an artist, but she was driven to create and she kept at it as long as she could.
Q. Chris seems to have an eye for form and movement in his sculpture; his 2-D work reflects the same. In selecting work for the Generations show, did you want the two generational bodies of work to complement or contrast and why?
A. If there is a point to be made in presenting Chris’s work and his grandmother’s in a single show, it will be made by the art itself. The show may reveal continuities that only a joint show would uncover. It may reveal previously unseen discontinuities caused by time or temperament. Once the show is up, we can all judge for ourselves.
Q. When will the show be up and will there be an opening reception?
A. The show will be from April 2 to April 29, 2016, with an artist’s reception on Sunday, April 10 from 2 to 5 p.m. Normal gallery hours are Tue., Wed., Thu. and Sat/ 1-4 p.m. and Fri. 1-7 p.m. Call the Arts Council at (505) 425-1085 to confirm hours.
This is the first time a significant number of my mother’s pieces has been exhibited in Las Vegas in nearly 50 years. It is the first time Chris’s work has ever been exhibited in Las Vegas. And it is the only time their work has been shown together. That makes the show unique times three. All the work is of high quality and visually stimulating – and all of it will be for sale!
Chris Casey’s work can be found at www.chriscaseyart.com
Eloise Lindeborg’s work can be seen at this Facebook link.