As a part of GVG’s on-going Studio Tour series, I visited Blair Vaughn-Gruler in her studio where she creates her abstract oil paintings.
Blair approaches the ideas of space and geometry through large-scale, monochromatic, structural paintings, which contemplate the relationship of the physical body to the painted object. Vaughn-Gruler’s images subvert rather than build upon geometry, exploring the materiality of paint and the structure of paint as it exists when applied to a surface: “My visual vocabulary includes references to structure, repetition, deconstructed geometry, and the physical qualities of the paint itself.”
Renee: Let’s start at the beginning. Will you share a formative experience from your early life as an artist?
Blair: I found out about abstract expressionism when I was about 8 years old. My parents had the Life Magazine issue with Jackson Pollack on the cover. When I saw that article, I was completely captivated by the idea that artwork could carry meaning beyond the pictorial. I got a set of oil paints for Christmas and made myself a studio in the basement. I also attended a grade school where we had art every day, and I was encouraged to be curious and creative from a very young age.
Renee: What is your preferred medium and why?
Blair: Paint, for me, has all the delicious qualities of body lotion, whipped cream, mayo, mud, glue and a healing salve rolled into one.
Renee: What is a typical studio day for you?
Blair: I maintain a rigorous studio schedule. My studio is at our home, so I can get there first thing in the morning, without first preparing to be out in the world. Then I easily paint until late afternoon, when the light starts to change, without realizing how the hours have gone by. I have 4 or 5 studio days a week, and on those days I work for 10 hours at least. I take a break to cook something wonderful at dinnertime. Happily, my studio is near the kitchen.
Renee: What do you listen to when you are working?
Blair: I listen to NPR, which usually includes talk and news in the morning and jazz in the afternoon. If the music doesn’t suit me, I go to podcasts. News and ideas keep my mind distracted so I can paint.
Renee: What are the major career milestones for you so far?
Blair: Going back to school, and getting my MFA in Visual Art in 2010 nearly 30 years after getting my BFA in Painting. Making a living making paintings (in the postmodern era). Painting, apparently, is not actually dead. Having the courage to make a life focused around making, thinking and writing while encouraging and engaging with other makers. I have come to view this as a satisfying pushback on the current political and corporate era we live in.
Blair Vaughn-Gruler earned an MFA in Visual Art in 2010 from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a BFA in Painting in 1979 from Northern Michigan University. She lives in Lamy, New Mexico and co-owns GVG Contemporary with her husband, Ernst Gruler.
To see more of Blair’s work visit her online gallery page, here. Or view her digital catalog below.
To read more about GVG’s artists through the GVG Studio Tour Series, click here.
All interviews have been conducted by Renee Lauzon, Gallery Manager at GVG Contemporary. If you have any questions you can email Renee at firstname.lastname@example.org.