Karen Ganz

Thank you for coming and thank you to Billy.


Everybody exists in a hierarchy .I make pieces starring middle-management types, “everyman“sorts of Chaplin-esque figures who don’t have alot or as much power as they need.People seem to identify with the struggles of these characters, not entirely in control of their decision-making,answerable to the whims of others, pulled in several directions at once...I’ve encountered the condition myself in teaching jobs where the loony aspects of bureaucracy were evident and with snafus that were Kafkaesque in nature...its the humor that I find in these situations that fuels the work.  

I have a dance background so that physical trance relationship with the act of painting was very straightforward for me,not so much as a dancer,I’m a failed Martha Graham/Merce Cunningham dancer, too old at 19 when I discovered it at UC Berkeley, and not able to move in the ways that they wanted me to but that experience opened up what painting ended up being for me and crossed over with the ideas from the punk and post-punk music that I was immersed in and led me to be interested in creating disharmonies or disjunctures in my pieces ...same with the postmodern writing/writers that I love.The layering and disjunctures are as beautiful to me as a simple one note beauty is to someone else. I also am interested in playing off the poured paint and painting image as layers of meaning.I approach a show as a staged event. I see the show as a novel and the pieces as parts of that, like chapters or as an album with different parts and counterparts, even repeating parts for emphasis or elaboration. I like to feel as if I’m choreographing a show or some set of pieces.I saw some of Twyla Tharp’s pieces as a teenager and was very influenced by the use of physical gesture in her work to stand in for psychological states of mind . 

I collect images from old cartoon books and transfer them through various scanning processes. I use parts of these to piece together a sort of frankenstein of body parts to get the off-kilter gestures that I like to use.

The loopy line of these old images seems to fit with my loopy paint handling, allowing me to make fairly unreal images.
I watched Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin movies one summer freezing them and viewing them frame by frame ,something a friend of mine ,George Chacona was doing with old 1930s movies for his work source.I had read about these movies as being a strong influence on the form of one of my heros Samuel Beckett.I found an unbelievable amount of material there with people in struggles against larger forces ,powerful people or groups pitted against the lone protagonist, our hero.Personal relationships can have this same dynamic and the power struggles between two people can be as silly and frustrating and tragic as those on a global scale or group level. I use material from all levels to stand in for the other ,the personal material used for the global and vise versa. 

I collect  words phrases and puns and use these as another level of counterpoint and layering within the work.the words don’t necessarily precede the painting/drawing. “The Quicksand Theory of Communications” is about how you can try to communicate and find yourself sunk deeper in miscommunication as you do it. I save these words phrases sometimes for years before I use them.Some like “Stuck” are a series of images that play off of each other and one word.

I’ve brought moves from my drawing process and allowed them to influence the way that I approach my painting process.One level of meaning of the work is the drawing, redrawing act itself.I layer the canvases as a form of redrawing as well and collage into the 21/2 dimension.I literally strip the ptgs down as a form of erasure and see the erasure, redrawing as a positive gesture just like any other ptg move and try not to clean these up. 

No person paints in a vacuum. Mike Spafford’s war ptgs really inspired me to step up to this show material as did those from the 20s and 30s of Max Beckman and Otto Dix. I am always inspired locally by Bob and Fay jones and Katy Stone and Jaq Chartier,Ken Kelly and Jeff Mitchell and nationally from Elizabeth Murray and my ex-teachers Joan Brown,John Dilg and David Dunlap and their love for Philip Guston and the Chicago Hairy Who. Internationally there is a group of Japanese pop people that I love, and a bunch of wild Germans led by Neo Rausch that are doing amazing paintings. Sigmar Polke and Anselm Kiefer retrospectives years ago were formative.


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