Get to Know Artist Lisa Espenmiller

Letting that go; keeping this, Acrylic and ink on canvas mounted over panel

Here's a little Q&A with Lisa about her art-making here in Oakland.

Your paintings have such lovely use of color. What are they inspired by?
Typically what happens is that a color starts to nudge me, appearing at random times in my mind's eye competing for my attention. At times the inspiration for a color is clear – a yellow leaps out at me from our native garden, or from a pale, oceanic blue scarf wrapped around a woman's neck as she walks by, or orange just seems to be filling me up and wants to pour out onto the canvas or paper. Other times I have little inkling as to why a particular green calls me, or why I'm suddenly attracted to a particular soft, warm grey.

Can you tell us a little bit about your meditation practice?
I sit zazen, a form of Zen meditation, twice a day with my husband. The first thing we do each day upon waking is to sit for 30 minutes. The last thing we do before going to bed is to sit for 15 minutes. In zazen, one sits on a meditation cushion facing a blank wall with eyes open. You stare at the wall with "soft" eyes and breathe, letting thoughts arise and fall away, trying not to get caught in them; when your attention inevitably gets snagged and you realize that it has, you let the thoughts go, and return to breathing and focusing on a spot on the wall. We've been doing this every day since December, 2008.

To live till you die, Acrylic and ink on canvas mounted over panel
What's it like to be a practicing artist in Oakland, and how can we support your work?
I've lived in Oakland for 16 years. It's exciting to be a part of the emerging art scene as it grows and matures. I feel like there's an openness, a willingness to experiment, a fresh excitement about art and artists, a friendliness within the developing art communities. As far as supporting my work, showing it here at Marion & Rose is a great form of support. Part of being an artist is getting one's work in front of folks with whom it resonates. The more opportunities I have to show my work, the better chance I have of finding those people.

What else are you up to these days? 
I recently acquired 4 different translations of The Tao Te Ching, bringing my total to 7. Having 7 different versions of one book appeals mightily to the nerd in me. All of my paintings and works on paper (except the groundless ground series) get their names from The Tao through a process in which I enter into a dialogue between the piece and the book. My study of The Tao underlies the lines and washes in my artwork. I can't wait to find time in the coming weeks to sift through the 7 translations of this ancient text on how to live to see what I learn and discover and how this study will shape new work to come.

We can't wait to hang Lisa's pieces! Everything shown at the shop will available for sale, and the show will be up through June 23rd. She'll also be joining us here at the shop in person for First Fridays in June.

Artwork courtesy of Chandra Cerrito Contemporary
Nicole Grant Kriege

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