What Takes Your Breath Away?

porcelain vessels made as a collaboration between Simon van der Ven and Mark Bell

©Simon van der Ven

. These pieces and a spectacular array of others will be at CRAFT gallery starting today, Friday, October 3.  Mark and I will be at tonight’s reception.


Inspiration pulls, influence pushes.

I used this line during a slide presentation of my work early this summer. I originally wrote it thinking of past teachers and life events that have pushed and pulled me to where I am now.

When I was in high school my art teacher, Gordon Muck, stopped and peered at a collage I was struggling with. He grabbed a piece of mat board, dipped it in some black paint, nudged me out of the way, and said, ” No, like this.” It may not sound like ideal teaching, but it was perfect. He was the first to tell me, “Ars longa, vita brevis” (concluding with a sharp, “So, get off your ass!”). I had been dawdling, fussing about, not making decisions. In a few deft strokes, he showed me exactly how to get on with it.

That was a moment from long ago – one I happen to remember, but the process of influence and inspiration goes on all the time. It is the breath of artistic process – inhaling and exhaling. The current collaborative project with Mark Bell is a perfect example. The project, and Mark himself, have pushed and pulled me into new territory, into making new marks, understanding new forms and appreciating subtleties I hadn’t seen before.  Thank you Mr. Muck. Thank you, Mark.  

And thank you to all who visited the van der Ven Studios and gallery this summer: You are part of the breathing, too. 


A Collaboration: van der Ven and Bell, at CRAFT gallery, 12 Elm Street in Rockland. Opening reception: Friday, October 3, 5 to 7pm