Arlene Love

Arlene Love

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    The Bulls Los Toros

    During the decade starting in 1989, I did scores of drawings from the bullring. The corrida is a pageant about life and death with honor. I notice that almost none of my drawings show the man as the victor. We know that both the bull and the man will die. The bull – within about twenty minutes. The man? Sooner or later.


    Texcoco is a small town near Mexico City where a grand festival and fair, a feria, was in progress. One of the attractions was a large arena where the cockfights took place. The rituals, the fast and loud betting, the noise and the strangeness of suddenly being in such an alien environment, allowed me to suspend judgment on the “sport.” I saw the birds in action as moving Rorchachs and all I thought about amid the cacophony was how can I catch that dance of death in crayon.

    Decades later, I used these drawings as a model, and began drawing on a Wacom tablet. The tablet is connected to my computer, so as I drew I saw the drawing on the computer monitor. The possibilities in computer technology to create drawings is thrilling, but in the end, I want to feel the crayon in my hand.

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    Artist's Biography

    Tyler School of Art BFA, BSEd

    After graduating, the next forty years I focused on sculpture, with solo shows from North Dakota to California. My work has been included in juried exhibitions in the Museum of Modern Art (NY), Boston Museum of Art, Sculpture Center (NYC), Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Cornell University, among others. My sculpture is in the collections of The Philadelphia Museum of Art, James A Michener Museum, the University of Scranton and Franklin & Marshall College. In Philadelphia, my bronze Winged Woman is in the garden of the Dorchester facing Rittenhouse Square. Eight Figures, life size bronzes reside permanently in the Kimmel Center. The gold leafed Face Fragment is in front of the Monell Chemical Senses Cemnter at 3500 Market Street.

    My focus began shifting toward drawing during the dozen years we lived in a tiny mountain village near the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. My drawings, etchings and encaustics were exhibited in Oaxaca galleries and in exhibitions of Oaxaca artists. While in Oaxaca, I also worked in a print taller and created a portfolio of etchings which is in the Linda Lee Alter collection at PAFA.

    Meanwhile, I began taking photographs in our village and in neighboring markets. I loved taking pictures, but hated the darkroom, so I filled old shoe boxes with negatives, wondering why I kept taking pictures. In the year 2000, I saw the words digital darkroom. Until recently, street photography and candid portraits were my sole passion. I never asked permission. I wanted the person without his or her mask. The present is just an illusion. As soon as the shutter snaps it's past. My photograph of Old Lee is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

    I have had more than thirty solo shows of sculpture, drawings and photographs, and am the recipient of awards and grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Leeway Foundation, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and Temple University.
    I have now returned to drawing. I want the feel of pencil and crayon in my hand making tangible marks. Drawing is the magic of discovery.

    Artist's Statement

    My work, regardless of medium has always focused on depiction of the human image. The only exceptions are my series of drawings of the bullfight 1989-1997.This ritual of life and death with honor had fascinated me for decades. Most of the drawings show the bull as victor, even though we know the bull must die. Both the bull and the man will die - the bull within twenty minutes. The man - sooner or later.

    From the Venus of Willendorf to the photographic image, I feel that the vehicle of expression most immediate and most compelling is the image of a human being. It is the image that expresses the most profound and basic emotions. It speaks back to us of our own vulnerability and humanity.