As this year’s artist in residence at Kingston’s Trolley Museum, Temre Stanchfield is painting landscapes inspired by Kingston Point Park, located not far from the museum on the Hudson River. These pastorals, which suggest a luxuriant, if slightly disquieting, languor represent a departure for the artist. Formerly a photorealist who explored issues of gender and sexuality in her images of female and male nudes, Stanchfield has been moving toward a more painterly style. Her series of Japanese-inspired female heads, which she showed at galleries in Kingston, Beacon, and Rhinebeck in 2007 and 2008, turned conventions of the Japanese feminine ideal upside down, with their exaggerated coiffures, blurred faces, and carefully rendered accessories. Her more recent series of head studies showcases the visceral nature of paint: Images of blandly beautiful women are transformed into grotesques by the loose, luscious application of red and pink paint and erratic scraping. In one monumental study, the canvas has been turned on its side so that the head rests heavily on the ground, as if suffering from a very bad hangover.
Born and raised in Alaska, Stanchfield spent her young adult life in the Seattle area before earning an MFA at the University in Arizona in 2000. Her paintings of overweight, middle-aged, nude men, depicted as cavorting cupids, and young cowboys wearing nothing but cow masks were shown at the Pima Community Art Gallery in Tucson and in Los Angeles. In 2001, Stanchfield and her husband moved to Japan, where both taught at the Kanazawa International Design Institute, an affiliate of Parsons School of Design. After arriving in the Hudson Valley in 2007, they bought a house in Kingston, where Stanchfield paints in an attic studio and teaches art to children. Her landscapes will be shown at Donskoj & Co. in Kingston from July 4 through 25. (845) 338-8473;
www.donskoj.com. Portfolio: www.temrestanchfield.com.
Growing Up in Alaska
I was born in Kodiak. My dad was a commercial fisherman. He was out fishing for many weeks on end. We moved from Kodiak to Dutch Harbor, which is the biggest fishing port in the US, to be closer to the industry, after my mom went an entire year not seeing my dad. Dutch Harbor is a little island out in the Pacific Ocean that’s a two-hour plane ride from Anchorage.
I was there until the middle of high school. It was very isolated and sheltered but an amazing place to grow up. There were wild blueberries growing everywhere. We had our fishing poles and our big boots. It wasn’t cold like the interior of Alaska, because of the Gulf Stream. But the elements were outrageous: There were 14 hurricane cables tying our house into the bedrock. It was quiet, and you had to rely on the community. There was one TV channel, which showed the Iditarod in the winter. There were no paved roads. There was a rec center, which showed movies twice a month, one grocery store, and one or two restaurants.
I think there’s something about being an outsider. I’ve always loved traveling. Coming down to the Lower 48, it was very much like I was outside looking in on this culture. That’s what I do with my paintings. I’m often an outsider looking in, taking things apart and questioning them and studying that.
I’ve been spending a lot of time mixing paints and looking at color. Most of the [landscapes] seem to be taking place in spring and summer, a time of fertility and transition, [although they’re] not about reflecting on what I see out there; it became more about subjective content. I like them to be a little acidic, slightly off. My goal for [the large works] is to stay as loose as possible, because they’re more of a mystery and not everything has been given away. I like paintings that ask questions more than tell facts.
Painting Kingston Point Park
This is the first time I’ve approached the landscape. I’ve wanted to for a long while, so it was a neat opportunity that I was asked to be the artist in residence at the Trolley Museum. I started visiting Kingston Point Park in February and have taken lots of photos. Originally, I was interested in the park because it’s gone through such a transition. You don’t have the ferry bringing people in; geographically, it’s kind of on the side of Kingston now. And then walking in the park and seeing these very mysterious areas overgrown with bushes and grasses, you can see originally there was something else there.