Sacramento Art History Consortium’s Featured Artist: Maren Conrad

by Bree Garcia

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MC: Through multiple applications of painting, metal leafing, and pouring resin, each of my panels gain depth, transparency, and dimensionality. My work manifests meditations in visual display. Inspired by universal truths and formative experiences, I find resonating images or phrases in which to draw strength. I engage myself in repetitive tasks that clear my mind and bring me to a centered present. Rendering strictly from memory allows my subconscious and interpretation to become my creation.

My current work of koi fish are inspired by their symbolic meaning of “prosperity through perseverance.” After creating the images, I looked into the species further. Although my creations easily read as koi, the fin structure is more that of a beta fish and the head’s skeletal structure is more reptilian than water-dwelling. My subconscious added two fighters to the vegetarian carp. The patterned fish scales created a great opportunity for methodical application, a soothing form of my meditative practice. The small tactile circular finger motions of applying metal leaf do this as well.

Feathers have also currently caught my fascination. I see them as a visual form of weightlessness and letting go. When dipped in ink and given parchment, they can serve as a time capsule for one’s thoughts.

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SAHC: Can you give us a brief description of your creative process? What is your preferred medium and style?

MC: I paint and draw between multiple layers of acrylic resin applied to wood panels.  I have a current obsession with metal leaf and glitter.  I am a representational painter with an illustrative style.  I love intricate line work and use it to create a sense of movement in my images.

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SAHC:As a Sacramento artist what responsibilities do you believe that you have to the local and the global community?

MC: My role as a local artist is to contribute to the arts community through the sponsorship/mentorship of other artists, participation in local arts events, and contribution and editing of my own work to ensure that the quality is something I hope represents our area well.  Through the collaborative environment, Exhibit S, where my studio is housed- I work in a collaborative fashion daily.  We constantly have artists who work outside of our space come through to chat, recieve feedback and offer input on our work as well.  We hold monthly free events and work with local business partners to a fun community of creative-types to help connect and push our city forward.

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SAHC:What advice do you have for emerging artists, or those pursuing a career in the arts?

MC: Your dedication and commitment to your craft is what will separate you from a hobbiest and a professional artist.  If you want other people to invest in you, you have to invest in yourself first.  Do not cut corners on supplies and quality of your finished product.  If you have to be your own patron to fund your career while it is getting started or hits a lag, take a part-time job that gives you the capacity to still create.  Do not listen to the applause or the haters- find one or two people who you trust will give you honest constructive feedback, and take their opinions into consideration.  Start low with your price point and find the joy in getting paid to practice.  Ten sold paintings are better than three expensive paintings on your studio floor.

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SAHC:Who are some of your favorite Sacramento Artists, and why?

MC: You know the art is good when you are jealous.  Rogelio Manzo’s treatment of his resin panels and figurative compositions make me green with envy.  Kim Squaglia and Jane Mikacich are amazing examples of strong established female painters.  They were both mentors of mine and I still look up to them.  The care and consideration that Gale Hart puts in her finishing process and juxtaposition between clean and wild knocks my socks off.  I am the beneficiary of the daily love, care and support of Danny Scheible.  He puts more energy and follow-through to keeping other artists creating than any other artist I’ve met.

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MC: The library at the San Francisco Art Institute is the most incredible place on the planet.

SAHC:Where can your work be viewed, or found online?