Show Preview | Peggy McGivern

Santa Fe, NM
Alexandra Stevens Fine Art, August 25-September 25

Peggy McGivern, The Babysitter, mixed media, 20 x 24.

Peggy McGivern, The Babysitter, mixed media, 20 x 24.

This story was featured in the August 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  August 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

An old trunk stored Peggy McGivern’s memorabilia and photographs of her late mother and late brother, Patrick. As McGivern sifted through the photographs, inspiration flowed. Her latest show, titled Visual Thoughts: Kindred Memories and Dreams, is the culmination of those memories and inspirations on canvas—an ode to her family and families everywhere. McGivern brings 30 new works to Alexandra Stevens Fine Art this month. The show opens with an artist’s reception on Friday, August 25, from 5 to 7 p.m. McGivern also presents a demonstration on Saturday, August 26, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The artist says this is some of the most emotional work she’s ever created; after her brother’s passing, she knew this is exactly how she wanted to remember him. “When I’m painting a figurative work, I get emotional about it,” McGivern says. To create these works, she used old black-and-white photographs for reference, obscured the faces, and added color. She chose which colors to use based entirely on emotions.

McGivern says that she spent the first half of her life creating a style and is spending the second half trying to move beyond it. “But I finally figured out that moving past my inherent style isn’t going to happen,” she says. “Our brush stroke is in our DNA. You can’t get rid of it.” And while McGivern’s whimsical, narrative works are distinct, hardly any of them are just paint. Her “mixed media” label is accurate: She works with a combination of water-soluble oils, charcoal, pastels, sandpaper, and any other materials that achieve her final vision. “Sometimes there’s 25 layers on the canvas before I get it exactly as I wanted,” says McGivern, who splits her time between studios in Denver and Taos. “Acrylics are really flat until you work with them. Sometimes I’ll just decide to splash color on the whole blank canvas and rub it out with really rough sandpaper before I even start painting.”

Gallery owner Alexandra Stevens is intrigued by McGivern’s distorted and whimsical characters. “The thing collectors love best about her work is that each painting is a narrative,” Stevens says. “She gives us information to help us create our own story within the vagueness of her figurative works.” The faceless figures are purposeful, indeed, as McGivern wants the subjects to be able to morph into anyone. “I want the viewers to put themselves in the painting personally and not get tied up with what I was feeling,” McGivern says.

Ultimately, these works speak with deep honesty for McGivern. “This particular show really hits home,” she says. “It’s more personal than ever.—Katie Askew

contact information
505.988.1311
www.alexandrastevens.com

This story was featured in the August 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  August 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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