About Fran

2004 / Vermont / Terra Nova series

Fran - 2004

BIOGRAPHY

I remember sitting on a commuter train back in the ‘70’s, traveling from Setauket, Long Island to New York City. I was in my late 20’s, a person of many interests, still living in the question of my life. As the landscape scrolled by, a great shift happened in me. The gods of fate and decision-making had boarded that train and when I disembarked in New York I had committed to a life in art.

I grew up in New Jersey. My Saturdays and summers were taken up with children’s classes at the Newark Museum. We children drew from Nature, and we made works of art in every medium. We created pageants with papier-mâché animals and sewed costumes inspired by exhibitions in the Museum. At 10 years of age I fancied myself a “modern” artist and emulated the art of Joseph Stella, whose works hang even today, in the museum. The practicing artists who served as our teachers have bestowed a lasting gift of profound influence.

Around that time, my best friend Lark and I had a studio in her uncle’s basement. We’d go there and make drawings and oil paintings and smoke cigarettes. Herbert Tarrytons, because they came in rainbow colors and had gold filters! We wore berets and now and again took the bus to New York and sat in cafes in Greenwich Village and made sketches. We were ten, then eleven and twelve years old.

By the time I got to Bennington College, I had had a rich life as an artist and decided to major in Music. I love to sing opera and art songs. Graduating in 1960, I continued voice studies in New York and got two subsequent degrees in Textile Design and an M.A. from NYU in Art and Art Education. I have been lucky with mentors who seem to come along just when I need them. I credit the artist June Leaf with showing me how a woman may have the life of a dedicated artist and a domestic life as well. My friend Barbara Pearlman, then a world-famous fashion illustrator, taught me by example how hard you have to work to make good art. Working in painter Malcolm Morley’s studio, I learned many things including how to make really tough paintings and something about the history and mindset of mainstream art. Malcolm would say things like, Most artists don’t know where the picture plane is!

In the ‘80’s I enjoyed New York gallery representation working within the Photorealist movement. My art evolved away from this constrained, exacting way of working and veered in a more personal direction—I needed to tell other stories through art. I needed to address other persistent questions: Who are we human beings? What is our purpose in the universe? Why have we made such a mess of things? What is art’s purpose—can it heal? Can art illuminate and thus transform?

- Fran Bull

 

ARTIST STATEMENT

I have pursued art since childhood. Through art I am able to express my thoughts, concerns, visions and all that I am. I can indulge in the joys of drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpting, turning these activities towards the deepest and most serious ends as visual expressions. In an almost shamanic sense, I use the prima materia of my life as a resource for my art.

I tend to think in images, and frequently my art arrives as a fully realized picture in my mind, along with the specific materials required for its realization. Yet, as I begin to work, mining, digging, excavating, uncovering, even sleuthing become words that more accurately describe my process. The journey from thought to thing can be circuitous and rigorous.

I am attracted to the realms where myth holds sway. I enjoy fusing images and/or ideas from the ancient past with icons of modernity. These unlikely juxtapositions of image, narrative and time can spark new insights and inspire the art.

Regarding my influences, the list is long. It encompasses the gifted people who have been my teachers and the artists who are friends and collaborators. I glean ideas from literature and from the great artists whose art provides continual inspiration and challenge. Rich learning comes from teaching and from my students. I draw inspiration from Nature, from music, poetry and theater—jokingly I say I am a person interested in everything.

I have been given a life in art and I wish to repay the gift. My artworks are that gift and my hope is that they enter the world as vital and necessary protagonists.

- Fran Bull

 

PROCESS

Nothingness and Being

There is a moment in time, (or out of time), difficult to pinpoint, when an idea or image or ghost of an image becomes a command. I must begin, it seems, to imagine the how, the means of implementing the idea so it may live as a work of art. At times the work comes to me whole, as a picture in my mind. I must study it; deconstruct it to its bones in order to body it forth as a thing in the world. Materials and their unique expressive abilities come into range, and before long, I’m drawing on a copper plate, or engaging with plaster or paint.

The studio is a place of stark confrontation! A compromise is frequently struck between my vision and the reality of embodying an idea. I find I must accept discrepancies. While some of my art these days looks elaborately made (and it is), nevertheless what you see is a series of compromises. I accept this, so long as the resulting shambles carries with it the original spark, the core of the idea that prodded me to action in the beginning.

- Fran Bull

 

ABOUT FRAN

Fran Bull's art has been shown worldwide for over 25 years. In a review of a solo retrospective at the Christine Price Gallery, art critic Marc Awodey writes:

“Fran Bull is a versatile artist, and not just in terms of the media she uses. She has a utilitarian approach to subject matter that is, using any approach or medium, without regard to formal rules that gives a surprising conceptual unity to her body of work. Bull's employment of the term ‘postmodernism’ in her artist's statement fits her pragmatic approach to form and subject. Under that rubric, her work provides insight into the exuberant spirit of contemporary fin de sicle visual art.” - Marc Awodey, Seven Days, November 2007

Bull's life was inspired and defined by her childhood study of art at the Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey. She went on to study painting at Bennington College with Paul Feeley, and in 1980 she earned an M.A. degree from New York University in Art and Art Education. Upon graduation from Bennington in 1960, Bull embarked upon a professional life in art. Her early work was influenced by artist Malcolm Morley and by the Pop spirit of Photo-Realism. It was shown and sold through the Louis K. Meisel Gallery in New York City.

Under the rubric of Photo-Realism, Bull addressed an established reality, one well known and shared. As her art evolved, she felt compelled to investigate the hidden realities of the unconscious: the imagery of the unseen. In 1986, determined to find a personal voice, she set out on a solitary retreat to rural Ireland and delved into the writings of Carl Jung and Jungian analyst Marion Woodman. Bull's affinity for the Jungian literature would come to exert a profound influence on her art.

A large group of ink drawings emerged. In 1990 some of the drawings were chosen to illustrate Mordant Rhymes for Modern Times, a book of political satire by poet Ann Salwey, which won the American Institute of Graphic Arts design award, and is now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. In her review in The Print Collector's Newsletter, Art Critic Nancy Princenthal wrote:

“Bull's expressive ink drawings bleed, maybe hemorrhage is the better word, across the tabloid-size page.” - Nancy Princenthal, PCN, 1992

In the mid 1990's Bull expanded her creative focus by exploring other media, and since that time her artistic output has included performance art, sculpture, mixed media, printmaking and set design, as well as painting. She has been especially prolific in the area of printmaking, creating numerous bodies of work that have received high recognition through several significant awards.

Bull works in collaboration with master printer Virgili Barbarà in Taller 46, a printmaking studio in Barcelona, Spain where Picasso, Tàpies, Miró, Saura and others worked before her.

In 2003 Bull exhibited her painting series The Magdalene Cycle at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, Vermont. Art critic Marc Awodey wrote:

“The paintings in Fran Bull's Magdalene Cycle at the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery comprise a fierce and meaty group of neo-abstract expressionist canvases. Bull's paintings are firmly rooted in art history, and her extensive use of red is particularly powerful. She has taken away the patriarchal view of Magdalene's red as a scarlet letter and turned it into a red badge of courage.” - Marc Awodey, Seven Days, October 2003

Today Bull's art may be seen as an expressionist exploration, one that seeks to connect the mundane and quotidian to larger mythic and historical motifs, themes and narratives.

Fran Bull lives, works, and is a professor of art in Vermont, where in 2005 she established Gallery in-the-Field, a fine art gallery and performance space, whose mission is to present the work of provocative, innovative living artists.

In a recent review of Bull’s latest work In Flanders Fields, B. Amore writes:

“In Flanders Fields is an epic and elegiac hymn composed of subtle yet powerful notes reminding us of the constant interplay between life and death, not only on the world stage, but in our own day to day lives.” - B. Amore, Art New England, February/March 2010

Bull’s work may be seen as far afield as China, in the Guilin Museum where her work was chosen for the museum's permanent collection.

“I want to give expression to very deep intimations about the world of forms and presences. This entails a kind of physics, highly theoretical, but eminently experiential. I portray not a shell, for example, but the forces giving rise to that form. I look for the dream of the shell inside the dreamer’s head.” - Fran Bull

 

RESUME

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FRAN BULL

SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2016: In Flanders Fields: a meditation on War, Chaffee Arts Center, Rutland, VT, June 10-July 30
2016: Artist, Master Printer and Paper maker: a collaboration, Museu-Moli y Paperer de Capellades, Barcelona
2014: STATIONS, 14 sculptural paintings,
         Chaffee Art Center
         Castleton Art Center, Rutland, Vermont
         Christine Price Gallery, Castleton College, Castleton, Vermont
2013: Land and Local , Burlington City Arts, Burlington and Shelburne, Vermont
2013: The Mysterious Mind, VTica, Chester, Vermont
2013: Earth as Muse, Great Hall, Springfield, Vermont
2013: Opera Portraits, Town Hall Theater, Middlebury, Vermont
2013: HERoica, Soho20 Chelsea Gallery, New York City
2013: Etchings, Barcelona and Shanghai
2013: Drawings, Castleton College Downtown Gallery, Rutland, Vermont

DUO EXHIBITIONS
2014: Impressions, etching, Vermont Metro Gallery, Kerri Macon, curator
2013: Barcelona!, etching series, University of Massachusetts at Lowell, with sculptor Anne Lilly - Curator: Michele Gagnon
2012: Home/Hogar: etching and sculpture, Soho20 Chelsea Gallery, New York, NY, with sculptor Nora Valdez

SOLO EXHIBITIONS (selected)
2011: 8.15.11, Calvin Coolidge Library, Castleton College, VT
2011: Prints, Proofs and Plates, Bennington College, Bennington, VT
2011: The Feick Gallery, Green Mountain College, Poultney, VT
2011: In Flanders Fields, Christine W. Price Gallery, Castleton College, VT
2010: In Flanders Fields, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL
2009: In Flanders Fields, The Carving Studio and Sculpture Center, Rutland, VT
2008: Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, NY, NY
2007: Dark Matter Gallery in the Field, Brandon, VT
2007: The Christine W. Price Gallery, Castleton College, VT
2007: Gallery Gora, Montreal, Canada
2003: Sheridan Russell Gallery, London, UK
2003: The Old Fire Station Gallery, London, UK
2003: Paintings and Prints, Sotheby Auction, London, UK
2003: Night Passage, Printmaking Council of New Jersey, Somerville, NJ
2003: The Magdalene Cycle, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Burlington, VT
2003: World Wide Web and Barcelona Series, Gallerie Universitini, Plzen, Czech Republic
2002: Art and Science, University of West Bohemia, Plzen, Czech Republic
2002: Brava Diva! Karpeles Manuscript Museum, Charleston, SC
2001: Barcelona! Trans Hudson Gallery, New York, NY
2001: Plants and Prints, Dennis Morgan Gallery, Kansas City, MO
2000: City Without Walls, Newark, NJ
2000: Feed the Body, Feed the Soul, Fitton Center for Creative Arts, Hamilton, OH
1997: Mad River Post, New York, NY
1994: Carlyce Gallery, New York, NY
1993: Galerie du Temple, Paris, France
1993: Dennis Morgan Gallery, Kansas City, MO           
1987: Pelican Variations, Seraphim Fine Arts, Tenafly, NJ
1986: Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY
1983: Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY
1982: Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS (selected)
2017 Close to Home, Duxbury Museum, Duxbury, MA
2016: Crossing, Soho20 Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY
2015: Up Close, Soho20 Chelsea Gallery, New York City
2014: Earth As Muse, Great Hall Gallery, Springfield, Vermont
2014: Hungry Eyes, Soho20 Chelsea Gallery, New York City
2013: Feria Internacional del Libro y Ediciones de arte. Etchings exhibited by the Museu Moli Papel de Capellades, Arts Santa Monica, La Rambla 7, Barcelona, Spain
2013: Soho20 Chelsea, Se.lec.tion, New York
2012: Evolving Seasons, Seton Hall University School of Law, Newark, NJ, Curator: Evonne M. Davis
2012: Storytime, Studio Place Arts, Barre, VT, Curator: Janet Van Fleet
2011: Impromptu, Soho20, Chelsea, NYC
2010: A Book About Death, SAL GALLERY, Brookville, NY
2010: New Directions: National Affiliates, Soho20, Chelsea, NY
2010: Where Have We Been, Printmaking Council of New Jersey, Somerville, NJ
2010: Faces, Upstream People Gallery, Online Juried Exhibition
2009: Soho20 Gallery Chelsea, National Affiliate Exhibition, Chelsea, NY
2009: A Book About Death, a project by Matthew Rose, The Emily Harvey Foundation, New York, NY
2009: Sylvia White Gallery, Invitational Exhibition, Ventura, California
2009: Contemporary Art Network, NY, NY
2009: American Impressions, Ben Shahn Center, William Paterson University, NJ
2008: Dialogues; Poetry and the Visual Response, Washington Art Gallery, Poughkeepsie, NY
2007: Juried Member’s Show, Printmaking Council of New Jersey, Somerville, NJ
2007: The Carving Studio and Sculpture Center Gallery, Rutland, Vermont
2007: PCNJ Juried Member’s Exhibition, Ortho Biotech headquarters, Bridgewater, NJ
2006: Juried Member’s Show, Printmaking Council of New Jersey, Juror: Marianne Ficarra
2006: Four Points of View, Mildred I. Washington Art Gallery at Dutchess Community College
2006: Four Points of View, Galeria Nacional del Centro Costarricense de Ciencia y Cultura, Costa Rica
2006: 15th National Juried Show, ACNNJ, Juror: Henriette Huldisch, Assistant Curator, Whitney Museum
2006: Here Comes the Bride, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
2005: Small Miracles, Atlantic Gallery, New York, NY
2005: International Group Show II, Caelum Gallery, New York, NY
2005: Annual Juried Member’s Show, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
2004: National Association of Women Artists Juried Exhibition, Poughkeepsie Art Museum, Poughkeepsie, NY. Curator: Albert Shahinian
2004: Artists Who Happen to Be Women, Stark Galleries, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
2003: Studio Montclair Sixth Annual Open Art Exhibition, Westminster Gallery, Bloomfield College, Bloomfield, NJ.
            Juror: Joseph Jacobs, Curator of Contemporary Art, Newark Museum
2002: Food Chain, Printmaking Council of New Jersey, Somerville, NJ. Juror: Bill Fick
2002: Northeast Prints 2002, Ben Shahn Galleries, William Paterson University, Paterson, NJ
            Juror: Judy Hecker, Asst. Curator, Prints & Illustrated Books, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
2001: Mixed Media III International, Period Gallery, Omaha, NE
2001: Sophia Series, Borders Books, San Francisco, CA
2000: Millennial Fever: Cutting Edge Art of the Future, Lowe Gallery, Hudson Guild, New York, NY
2000: Mixed Media, Paula Vincenti Gallery, Marbella, Spain
2000: Snapshot, Invitational Exhibition and National Tour, The Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, MD
1998: Album, Lower East Side Printshop Exhibition, West Chelsea Arts, New York, NY
1998: Pulp Art: Investigations into Slurry, Katherine E. Nash Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
1999: Contemporary American Artists, Kunsthallen, Copenhagen, Denmark
1996: A Dialogue through Pictures, Two-Person Exhibition, Broome Street Gallery, New York, NY
1995: International Juried Exhibition, New Jersey Center for Visual Arts, Summit, NJ. Juror: Lowery Sims
1993: Wild Woman: Celebrating the Instinctual Self, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
1990: Chicago International Art Exposition, Chicago, IL
1986: The American Photorealist: An Anthology, Fisher Fine Art Gallery, St. James, London, UK

COLLECTIONS (selected)
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Bennington College, Bennington, VT
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore MD
Indianapolis Museum, Indianapolis, IN
Guilin Museum, China
John McEnroe Library Collection, NY Studio School, New York, NY
Bo Alveryd, Malmo, Sweden
Yale University, New Haven, CT
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Amherst College, Amherst, MA
Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, NJ
Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA 

PUBLIC ART
University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
Vail Resorts Spa (Avanyu), Vail, Colorado

INSTALLATIONS, PERFORMANCES & THEATRICAL PROJECTS (selected)
2010: In Flanders Fields, touring exhibition/installation, Vermont, Chicago
2006: A Dinner Engagement, The Opera Company of Middlebury, Brandon, Vermont
2004: Carmen, scenic design, The Town Hall Theatre, Middlebury, Vermont
1999: Love Letter, solo performance, College Art Association Conference, Los Angeles, CA
1998: Crossing the Threshold: To Be Continued, singer, with Janet Hues, performance artist. Spencer Museum, Lawrence, KS
1998: Mater Dolorosa (She Grieves), Sylvia White Gallery, New York, NY
1997: Crossing the Threshold: To Be Continued, singer, with Janet Hues, performance artist. Steinbaum Krauss Gallery, New York, NY
1997: Alchemy in the Kitchen: Womanchrist, collaboration with Lorraine Neithardt, Kitchen Performance Space, New York, NY
1996: Alchemy in the Kitchen: Envy, collaboration with Lorraine Neithardt, Kitchen Performance Space, New York, NY
1990: Mordant Rhymes for Modern Times — In a Walled Garden; writer, designer, producer; Kitchen Performance Space, New York, NY                                                           

BOOKS
2014: Artists=Poets, Fran Bull and colleagues
2014: Transition, Fran Bull, ink drawings
2010: Grabado, Fran Bull, Etching Retrospective
2010: Halleluiah Chorus, head sculptures by Fran Bull
2003: Balm of My Dreams, etchings with English/Spanish poetry by Carolyn Corbett
1990: Mordant Rhymes for Modern Times, drawings with verse by Ann Salwey 

BIBLIOGRAPHY (selected)
2014: Victoria Crain, Patricia Minichiello, Jim Lowe, articles in The Rutland Herald
2014: Victoria Crain, Bedtime Stories, Seven Days, October1
2014: Elizabeth Michelman,      
2010: B. Amore, “Fran Bull: In Flanders Fields,” Art New England, March Issue
2010: Janet Van Fleet, “In Flanders Fields,” Vermont Art Zine, January 18
2007: Marc Awodey, “Coming Together,” Seven Days, November 14
2007: Richard L. Brown, “Sculpture and Beyond in West Rutland” Rutland Herald, May 20
2006: Pamela Polston, “Field Trip,” Seven Days, May 31
2006: Harriet Brainard, “Comic Opera for this Summer,” Addison Independent, May 22
2006: Harriet Brainard, “Studio Reflects World-renowned Artist,” Addison Independent, May 22
2003: Marc Awodey, “There’s Something about Mary,” Seven Days, October 1
2002: Gwen Donovan, “Local Artists Have Broad Scope,” Star-Ledger, September 22
2002: Douglas Anderson, “Barn Dance,” Vermont Magazine, October
1993: Alice Thorson, “Differences Make ‘Genesis Gender’ a Lively Exhibit,” Kansas City Star, 9/5
1992: Nancy Princenthal, “Artist’s Book Beat,” The Print Collector’s Newsletter, January-February
1991: Mordant Rhymes for Modern Times, “Book Reviews,” Umbrella, December
1989: Eileen Watkins, “Women Paint Women,” Star-Ledger, June 25
1987: “Art Exhibitors,” The New York Times, September 6
1987: Steve Purchase, “Bull Creates Intriguing Images,” The Baltimore Evening Sun, February 26
1981: David Bourdon, “Art — A Painter’s Aviary,” Architectural Digest, April
1980: Louis K. Meisel, Photorealism, Harry Abrams, Inc., New York, NY

ART CRITICISM WRITING
2011: May/June Art New England - Paedra Bramhall: Parallel Universes–Transfigured Collages

GALLERY IN-THE-FIELD, Brandon, Vermont
Contemporary Art Gallery
Creator, director and head curator 2005-2012
www.galleryinthefield.com

BOARD SERVICE
Member, Board of Trustees, Carving Studio and Sculpture Center, West Rutland, Vermont, 2005-present
Member, Board of Trustees, Opera Company of Middlebury, Middlebury, Vermont, 2013
Member, Advisory Council, Chaffee Art Center, Rutland, Vermont 2014–

CURATORIAL AND JUROR POSITIONS
2009: The Carving Studio - SCULPTFEST (Curator)
2009: The Carving Studio - Sculpture Center Gallery (Juror)
2012: Towson University, Towson, Md. Ron Cubbison Memorial Exhibition, Juror

CONFERENCES
2015, 2016, 2017: Presenter, Geo-Aesthetics Conference, Towson University, MD Philosophy Dept.
2013: Panel: Entrepreneurship in the Arts, Bennington College, Bennington, Vermont
2012: Seduction of the Sensuous, Fourth Annual Geo-Aesthetics Conference,
International Association for the Study of Environment, Space and Place, Towson University, Towson, MD, March 9-10
Keynote Speaker: In Flanders Fields: a meditation on War

WORK ABROAD
2001 – Present: Resident of artist community and ongoing collaboration, Taller 46 Printmaking Workshop, Barcelona Spain. Master Printmaker: Virgili Barbarà.

TEACHING POSITIONS
2017: Chaffee Art Center, Rutland, VT, Lecturer
2007 – Present: Carving Studio and Sculpture Center, West Rutland, VT, Lecturer
2002 – 2003: University of West Bohemia, Plzen, Czech Republic, Visiting Artist
1988: University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, WI, Guest Lecturer, Painting Workshop
1986 – 1987: Towson State University, Towson, MD, Visiting Artist
1980 – 1986: New York University, New York, NY, Adjunct Faculty, Painting

FILM AND VIDEO
2011: Fran Bull’s In Flanders Fields, a cinematic work by Carolyn Corbett
2009: The Edge of Things, Documentary Feature Film, NY - Executive Producer
2004: Leading Actor, Dakota, Independent Feature Film, New York

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS
Soho20
Organization of Independent Artists
National Museum of Women in the Arts
National Association of Women Artists
The Carving Studio and Sculpture Center, Rutland, Vermont
Woman Made Gallery, Chicago 

EDUCATION
New York University, New York, NY: M.A., Fine Art & Education
Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, NY: Textile Design
Bennington College, Bennington, VT: B.A.
Private Study/Apprenticeship: Malcolm Morley, New York, NY

HONORS & AWARDS
2002: Best in Show, Food Chain, Printmaking Council of New Jersey. Juror: Bill Fisk
2002: Featured Artist, NJ State Council on the Arts, Artist Gallery, www.jerseyarts.com
2000: Certificate of Merit, 7th Annual Feed the Body, Feed the Soul Competition, Hamilton, OH
1992: American Institute of Graphic Arts Book Design Award, Mordant Rhymes for Modern Times

THEATER, RADIO & TELEVISON APPEARANCES
2014: NPR Interview, Mary Williams
           PEG-TV Interview with Ilene Blackman
           A Life in Art, PowerPoint lecture, Paramount Theater, Rutland, Vermont
1993: Cable TV Channel 10, interview with Mike Forbes at Seraphim Gallery, Englewood, NJ, March
1988: Public Radio Station WHLA, La Crosse, WI, interview in conjunction with Painting Workshop, July 

LISTINGS (current)
Who’s Who in American Art
Who’s Who in American Women
ART IN AMERICA’S 2003 -2004 Annual Guide (Sourcebook to the U.S. Art World)