The works of notable abstract artist and poet, and long time Indianapolis resident, Lois Main Templeton were unveiled recently at the Conrad Indianapolis. I was honored to be given the opportunity to attend the event and visit Lois in her Indianapolis studio.
Organized and presented by the Modern Masters Fine Art, this collection of work is the first solo exhibition for the storied 84 year old artist at the Conrad. She has had solo exhibits in seven other states and her work has been exhibited in four museums, and twice showcased by the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Guests of the artist reception enjoyed live music, complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres, as well as a book signing by the artist herself. In addition to book signings, Templeton was on hand throughout the entire event to take pictures and strike up conversations with those patrons who came to see her works. Templeton creates vibrant combinations of contemporary art and poetry. Her specialty is abstract paintings done in oil on paper, but she also makes use of acrylics, charcoal and other mediums as well.
Check out the entire photo gallery
Following the exhibition I was offered the chance to stop by Ms. Templeton’s studio, where I had the opportunity to see the artist in her element. I was humbled that an established artist such as Ms. Templeton would allow me into her studio space, speak with her about her works, and even let me watch as she prepared another piece of work.
Lois shares the space with another established Indiana artist, Phil O’Malley. Together they gave me a tour of the studio and elaborated on projects they collaborated on, including work they did for the youth in the area. They even worked on a children’s book together, which Lois wrote and illustrated herself, titled “Who Makes the Sun Rise?”
Before visiting the studio I had sent Lois a handful of questions. My purpose was just to give her a few talking points, but what I got in return was far more than I expected. Lois provided me with pages of hand written answers, a treasure trove of thoughts and ideas from an amazing artist. It was as if she had invited me into her world and how she perceives it. After reading her responses I gained a greater appreciation and even a deeper understanding of her work. I have shared her responses to my questions below.
To say it was a privilege to spend the afternoon with Lois Main Templeton would be an understatement.
What does it mean to you to have your works on display at the Conrad?
The Conrad gives my work a voice, along with Constance Edwards Scopelitis and Walter Knabe. The really great artists of Pop Art constantly surprise, and make the Conrad an exciting place as well as a gorgeous hotel. The fact that three Midwestern Artists are included with the greats seems to me an extension of the hotels philosophy as well, of course, of Rhonda Long Sharp (Owner-Modern Masters of Fine Art).
My work is itself; Independent of me. While in the studio a painting and I have a grand tussle together (from the first marks to the point where it says, “Back off, Lady”). When it leaves the studio, it is on its own. If in a home, it becomes part of that person/family. In a corporate or public space, I hope it says “Hello there!” I would rather it be somewhat bumptious than just part of the scenery, just another furnishing.
Could you describe your friendship/relationship with Rhonda Long Sharp and how that influenced your career?
I think Rhonda and I took one look at each other and said, “What have we here!” She hears a piece and places it right where it can sing. We are direct with each other, can speak our minds freely. She is a very knowledgeable woman, so I am honored (and a little surprised) that she thinks so highly of my work. Both of us are family people, a fact very important in my case.
While very much a Middle westerner, I was more than ready to get out of Dodge. Indianapolis has been very welcoming and now it was high time the work take off in the hands of a person who has live contacts in and beyond the USA. Rhonda’s enthusiasm and the energy she puts into her life’s work, are mind boggling. Plus she’s more darn fun to be with.
What inspired you to include lines of your poetry in your artwork?
Most of us are more than just one person. We are often a colony of persons – is that how to put it? I scribble my thoughts as they come. Just as painters like paint, so I like language. Faced with a big white surface, I need to mark it up – words, gestures make it my world. The words don’t have to be mine, for goodness sake, at some point the itch to paint strikes. Most of those writings and marks will be covered by paint; some are discernable. Perhaps writing returns as calligraphic gesture in paint or with charcoal. We are, all of us, body AND mind. Often my work is a reflection of that common fact. We are, most of us quite complicated persons – a colony.
Any new projects?
You never can tell! For instance, lacking studio space for several months in 2011 meant that all I would so was water color…drove me nuts. An oil painter pushes, scrapes, and digs the paint. It is very physical. It is definitely “interactive” – Constantly! My watercolors include ink, graphite, spit, and gouache. Rhonda and I decided they should be classified as “mixed media art work”. Perhaps most importantly, they can be little things done on a dining room table. So, in answer to your question, it depends on the cards you’re dealt – to some extent.
My new project is that at 84 – I am digging up bits of sketches, snapshots, notes that are here in the Indianapolis studio. Pinned to a wall here I spotted a remark of Billy Names (he was a photographer of the 1960) “I don’t mind being an antique. As long as you do something authentic you stick around.” SO- I am powering through bits of what is to see what feels authentic and THEN see if I can run with it. Remember what I said about no fear? Hogwash. I, at any rate, have fear – until I begin, at which point the paint takes over.
Being authentic is all it takes – and what it takes. Hmmm?
Check out the entire photo gallery