Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Artist Interview :: Beth Dacey

Get to know a Copley artist! Beth Dacey's works are currently featured in the exhibit "That Was Then" at Boston Private Bank in the Prudential Center.  Recently, the Co|So staff interviewed one of our prominent painters, known for her nostalgic paintings of 1950s America, about this work and her artistic career.

1.        Who is your greatest influence?
It is difficult to choose a single, greatest influence. I am inspired by Sargent's mastery; Cezanne's boldness; Munch's emotion, Hopper's narrative ability. I also love the Bay Area figurative painters, but that barely scratches the surface.  Since I try to tell stories with my work, I am strongly influenced by writers, as well: Virginia Woolf's expanded moments to Dostoevsky’s psychology.   I just read The Goldfinch, by Donna Tarte, which blends art and fiction really well.

Beth Dacey, Two Women, 40 x 30, oil on canvas.
2.        Tell us about your work in That Was Then.
The work in the show reflects my interest in reinterpreting old, black and white photos.  I try to figure out the tension or story in the moment captured.  In Two Women, I was intrigued by the drama in the body language between the two characters, primarily in the attitude of the woman on the left.  In Couple with House, the original photo showed a typical, happy couple from the 50's.  I saw a more intriguing dynamic in the placement of hands and tilt of bodies.  In Woman with House, I invite the viewer to wonder about the relationship between the woman and the house, as well as the (perhaps) more interesting story between her and the picture taker.  

Beth Dacey, Couple With House, 30 x 40, oil on canvas.
3.        How would you characterize the arc of your career?
The path of my career has been like that of many women my age.  My life was focused on other things, such as school, teaching, marriage, and raising children, art was a luxurious, extra thing. I didn't focus on painting until later, twelve years ago, when my life opened up a bit.  At that time, I rented a studio and since then, the "arc of my career" has moved forward at a rapid pace.  Apparently I had a lot to say. I continue to paint almost every day in my studio, and I look forward to more ways of sharing my work.  I have no plans of slowing down.

Beth Dacey, Woman with House, 40 x 30, oil on canvas.
4.        Did you attend an art school?
I did not go to art school.  My formal education was focused on English, which allowed me to teach writing and literature.  While this study enriched my painting in its own way, a parallel, informal education was ongoing, as I took art seminars and classes, with individual artists and at MassArt, DeCordova, and the SMFA.  

5.       When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
I always wanted to be an artist, but never thought I could BE one.  I was creating art long before I heard the words coming out of my mouth, "I am an artist."  Referring back to the time I got my first studio -when I opened it up to the public, exhibiting my work in my first "open studio," I felt like (and knew I was) an artist.  

The exhibition runs through April 15th, and can be found off of Center Court in the Prudential Center (800 Boylston Street), near the Barnes & Noble.

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