We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Patricia Frischer. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Patricia below.
Hi Patricia, thanks for joining us today. We’d love to hear the backstory behind a risk you’ve taken – whether big or small, walk us through what it was like and how it ultimately turned out.
My parents supported me while I attended undergraduate school. but when I wanted to get a master’s degree, they were not sure if I was wasting my time. They said that if I could get a scholarship, they would continue to help me with rent. That scholarship that I received was the proof that they needed, and I became a star student, graduating with my master’s degree in sculpture from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1972. I was offered a teaching position straight out of school, but I turned it down to travel to Europe where I had never been. When my money ran out, I got a job as a receptionist in an art gallery in the West End of London. That experience working with art collectors and artists changed my life. I ended up as co-director of the gallery, deciding to specialize in drawings. I traveled all over America and Europe arranging exhibitions. Eventually I wrote a book about marketing for artists (one of the first of its kind in 1976) because I saw that artists who came to the gallery often acted in very unprofessional ways, and I was so sorry that they did not know the right way to approach a venue. I also trained artist agents to represent a group of artists that I had joined. and I showed my own work in many galleries in London and the USA. If I had not taken the risk to turn down the teaching job, none of these experiences would have come my way. That risk taught me to follow my own path.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your background and context?
I like this description of my work, “The pieces can be calming or stimulating, occasionally even startling but always offer an experience to the collector much as theatre does. She is not afraid to show the pleasure she experiences in the beauty around her. The works of art are alarmingly literal, wittily verbal, surreally funny, flagrantly personal, daringly fun and always mysterious.”
Some time ago I wrote the following list of my major principles when I make art, but they also apply to the whole of my life. In order to do all the administration of running a sales gallery in London, three university galleries at Humboldt State University, head of an art department at an international school, a website with 2500 listed resources and a successful non-profit, you need lots of fairly boring skills. But life should be fun, so I try to remember:
1. remain aware of the whole – look for fields of vision
2. look for patterns of movements over time.
3. don’t draw straight lines, time lines, or polarities.
4. don’t worry about what is real.
5. look at structures for relationships instead of detailed planning and analysis
6. let the wave of information spread out broadly everywhere
7. create through concepts, not elaborate rules or structures
8. set expectations of acceptable visual standards at the same time as giving myself freedom
9. push myself into confusion, create more information than I can possibly handle while watching for the information to self – organize
10. remember control is not order
Is there a mission driving your creative journey?
I believe a visual artist is anyone who chooses to communicate by using a chosen visual medium. In my case, that is mainly gouache and Neocolor with collage on paper or card (stock?) as well as three-dimensional sculpture in a variety of mediums.
To be a professional artist, one must conduct oneself in a professional way. I interpret that to mean both professional in the skills and thought that goes into the art and in the techniques and standards one uses to present and sell that work.
That artist has a responsibility to only exhibit works of the highest quality she or he is able to produce. I produce works in a series which is thematic and can run from 10 to over 30 pictures.
But most of all, I believe an artist has to be honest. It is internal honesty that is the guiding light for all that I do. I have learned to trust this “pit of my stomach” honesty. I know that it has led to me having an interesting life full of intriguing ideas and fascinating people. And it has helped me to produce a body of over 500 works. With continued trust in this honesty, hopefully I will be creating art work for the rest of my life.
I am constantly working on trying to define my art. I call it neo-narrative. I have said that neo-narrative is narrative art that is not literal or linear, but that is only saying what it is not. I describe it as quantum in nature as it has elements of chaos, which means that it has order without predictability. I try to depict the strange attractor which is an element of attraction that the system is drawn into, pulling the system into a visible shape. This happens in a non-linear system when information feeds back on itself (a process called iteration). One little bit of information can have a dramatic effect when it is amplified by iteration. That is why I am interested in repeating certain motifs. My self-organizing system must always remain consistent within itself and its past as this defines boundaries which makes the creativity possible and the subject to be glimpsed. Otherwise, it really is chaos. Individuals with total freedom, i.e., the viewers, will still heed the call of the strange attractor, the cohering presence of a purpose which gives people the capacity for self-reference. The viewer will actually make the work make sense.
What can society do to ensure an environment that’s helpful to artists and creatives?
I hope the Wizard of OZ long remains in our lexicon of myths. Remakes and reinterpretation are a timeless reminder of an essential storytelling fascination.
I was born in Kansas City in 1948. The movie came out in 1939, but it is one of my earliest memories. Living in Kansas was like living in a black-and-white city and OZ represented the adventures waiting for me out in the world. I had a fascination edging on fetish for shoes…red and sparkling popped up in early art works and are still present. Once I left home for college, I hoped never to click my heels together. I have been lucky enough to travel the world.
In dreams we are told that each character represents a part of our own psyche. It is easy enough to see myself with my red hair in pigtails as Dorothy with ribbons and gingham. I needed the courage of the Lion to take off for Europe once I got my master’s degree in sculpture. I stayed for over 30 years. I inherited the brain of the scarecrow from my father which allowed me to combine business acumen with my creativity, ending up running a gallery in London and writing a book on marketing for artists. It took me a while to find my tin man’s heart. Each relationship enriched my life and helped me form my world view.
But what of the great and powerful OZ? It was not until I came to San Diego with its beaches and sunshine (very much like the Emerald City after the fog of London!) that I found myself taking the role of the little woman behind the curtain. The internet made this possible. Creating a non-profit, the San Diego Visual Arts Network, to help promote visual arts in the entire county, including over the border into Mexico, seemed essential when I saw the state of the arts in 1996. After trying to sell my work in the nonexistent market, I took the time to learn the history of the area and to gather like-minded people. We started the first website exclusively for the visual arts and populated it with 2500 resources in this community. These believers were the participants in the Little and Large, Movers and Shakers, Art Meets Fashion, Eat Your Art Out and DNA of Creativity projects. The goal was to include as many artists as possible and to empower them to put on their own events. The SD Art Prize lives on as proof of the excellence of the art made in the San Diego region.
I was astonished to hear so many people here in San Diego County say that it is culturally deprived when I first arrived. I have found a wealth of talent and activity here. In fact, I think the only thing holding back the arts in San Diego is this misguided inferiority complex. I am doing what I can to change that image. I encourage all artists to step up and do a project that will amplify the importance of the arts wherever they are.
I continue to work towards a county-level arts commission and a local art center in my own town of Encinitas. I helped start the North County Arts Network which, along with east and south county, are underserved by funding sources. I advocate for affordable live/work spaces for artists and would like to see every city in our county have a paid arts administrator. San Diego/Tijuana was just announced as is the 2023 Design City of the World. I am confident that San Diego will takes its rightful place as a national art center.
My best advice to artists is, DON’T WAIT TO BE DISCOVERED. Get out there and make it happen. My best advice to collectors is to buy what you fall in love with and what is a bit more than you can afford.
- Website: www.drawscrowd.com and www.sdvisualarts.net
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/patriciafrischer
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/sdvan
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patricia-frischer-7415676/
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/SDVAN
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/sdvan1
Fritzie Urqhart for portrait only