Little Consolation Series 2022 –
Now upwards of one hundred and fifty pieces at the time of this writing, these 7 x 5 x 1 inch mixed media works on wood panel allow me to hover between abstraction and representation while addressing a free-floating range of subjects such as memories from personal history, love of nature and wilderness and animals as well as the endless cycle of catastrophic events, whether it be social, environmental and/or humanitarian, taking place at any given moment around the world. It depends on what’s in the air – literally and figuratively sometimes.

While the Series, begun in the early days of 2022, does little or nothing to alleviate the tragic global condition, in some small but significant way, it allows me to cope with the struggle of a meaningless existence and keeps me grounded and focused for the tasks at hand, namely, engaging in an increasingly confusing and highly-charged world. I tend my garden, I visit the nurseries, I dig in the mid-day sun, I plant the natives that will attract the pollinators and feed the birds, I recollect a past life with ponds and dogs who loved to swim and eat blueberries as much as we did, juxtaposed with tending declining parents through many long distance drives; cancelling trips because of wildfires and COVID-19 and so on and on. I struggle to reconcile famine, rape, torture, massacres with the charmed life of an artist who can go to the studio every day and can totally shut the world out with the closing of her door. It is that easy, if little consolation.

Beacon, NY
June 13, 2022




The work in the Guardian Series explores memory as well as the ambiguity of nostalgia. Girl by the Sea and Guardians Series are both inspired by the discovery of a photograph of the artist taken by her mother when the family was in Étretat, France in 1959. Girl by the Sea initially riffs on this one image in dozens of smaller sketches, later developed into “memory flags.” The larger Guardians Series eliminates the peripheral details of the memorialized Étretat photograph and brings the ever-changing girl holding the bird front and center. Working through the losses and grievances inherent in a personal history – especially the sudden loss of a mother – Smolen experiences a cathartic release in the creation of this new body of work.
 

In late 2015 I embarked on a new series - I'm riffing on the same pose of a horse, seemingly in mid-gallop, approaching the viewer. Most of the works are oil on birch panels, 16 x 16 x 2 inches.

I painted these after we moved to Beacon. I had a studio in what was then affectionately known as "Bulldog Studios" which was the old high school. I was there for two years and accomplished alot of work during that time because of an almost daily practice. Here is a small selection.

Dharma Rain Series
Around 2005 I started working on a series of paintings and drawings that I titled Dharma Rain. While still using vibrant and multiple layers of color, the mood of these works is much quieter. The exuberant density of the earlier Biophilia paper pieces has given way to contemplative calm and quiet. The vertical motif of lines and drops/circles that is evident in most of the 48 inch square paintings symbolizes the beneficient rain that nourishes all beings. The series has become, in the broadest sense, an ode to the natural world and her place as spiritual sanctuary.
(Here are several examples from the series. I am still working on locating some of the photographs of the many other paintings in this particular series.)

This is where I began as a painter