Rachel Cohen

Tara Geer At Home, Drawn

Tara Geer At Home Drawn

Tara Geer, drawing ca. 2012-13. Detail. Photos Rachel Cohen.

Tara Geer draws from life. There were some months, maybe years, where she spent hours up on the roof of her studio building on 133rd Street sketching the tar stains. She drew backpacks and socks, the buses in the city lot across the street, and the cobwebs in the freight elevator shaft. Right now she is sheltering with her family, and like many artists cannot get to her studio.

The things she looks for are oblique, at odds. A relationship of the edges from two separate objects seen across space; a shape from wood grain but no longer embedded in a pattern, and not the dark lines from the wood, but the lighter spaces between.

This gives the drawings a quality of life. The lines have the animated movement of the living world; they seem a part of understood space that can be moved through and felt, even though they don’t fall into an easily recognizable form. In this way, they have something in common with Chinese calligraphy, a form Geer attends to, where the characters may seem to leap and spin – a drawing, a thinking mind, a figure, all at once.

As in memories or dreams, the details have been recombined to draw attention to something that matters, though, also as in memories or dreams, sometimes by turning away, veiling, sometimes by stepping akimbo or making a joke.

In many of the drawings, there is a feeling of creatures or beings, that the whole drawing is a being, or that there are creatures lingering in the depths.

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This drawing by Tara Geer, made in early 2013, or late 2012, hangs in our dining room.

I see it hundreds of times a day. Sometimes, like this morning, I stand in front of it and study it, with museum-quality attention. Most of the time it is a companion. Or, I do not even notice that I am looking at it, it is a space of reverie, a bit like a window, or a book that one has put down but not yet closed.

This morning I drew some of the areas in it:

This upper corner that seems almost like a planetary area, of axis and orbit.

Two areas where dark angled lines surround an area of wash, of which this is one:

And the central area of tangle.

I thought about it how she managed to make this all one thing that holds together when the pieces are made so disparately, with such different densities and kinds of lines.

It has a lot to do with the wash, and with the whites and grays that run over and through, the thick cloudy areas which hold it together geometrically, spatially, and also psychologically.

I was surprised that after I looked at the tangled area for a while there was a very distinct clarity of the space through and behind. A sense of clear, lit clarity, like the increase in light before sunrise at the end of a quiet street.

It is airy and surprising.

Weekend Space Tara Geer

Geer Drawing

Tara Geer, detail from drawing, ca. 2012-3. Photo Rachel Cohen.

I met the artist Tara Geer at the MacDowell Colony in 2002. For the next nine years or so, we were both living in New York, and I spent quite a bit of time at her studio, looking. Eventually, I came to have three of her works, which are drawings.

This is one that does not have a title, done before May of 2013, probably in early 2013 or late 2012.

It is work that takes attention very seriously, and I hope, even through these photos, will offer contemplation, at the end of another difficult week, looking ahead to another difficult week.

Some areas of the drawing:

Closer:

Staying close, movement and edges:

Tara Geer: Carrying Silence

Tara Geer walk along the border 2013

Tara Geer, walk along the border, 2013

At Glenn Horowitz, 87 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, NY, 11937, through September 3, 2013. Here is the first section of my catalog essay, "Looking at Tara Geer's Drawings":

One way to begin is just by quietly trying to notice things. In “walk along the border,” your eye might be drawn by the smudges off to the left, or by the white surround and the sense of movement in the white surround.

In my notes: white area with a little falling black squiggle; then other little black details, these somewhere between figures and lines, running on a diagonal from lower left to upper right.

Almost like little embedded panels – as if there is a progress toward the final window.

In the gray an effect of a waterfall down the right-hand side.

A gray patch and a gray triangle make a space between them.

On the right, the softness almost of hair.

An immense variety of texture.

The central column like vertebrae.

This central black part is strangely flat like a mosaic and also has a lot of depth.

A problem I returned to in looking: the skein in the lower right corner seemed dirty in a way that was familiar. After a while I felt that it looked like an old cobweb in which flakes of dirt have gathered. Hesitatingly, I mentioned this to Tara and she said that for a long time she had been stopping the freight elevator at her studio between floors so that she could study the cobwebs. This – the suspended elevator, webs between floors, painstaking attention to the derelict – could be a sort of parable for Tara Geer’s way of looking. The drawing is a meditation on space. It is full of respect for spiders.