|Painting by Gilda Snowden|
How do you slow down to see as she might see, then stay to celebrate the moment when your eye first met hers?
Detroit painter Gilda Snowden is newly gone now. It's just been a day since her heart stopped in her 60th year. One of my newest Facebook friends posted her photo, and from there I went to her page, and from her page I went to explore the great wide sea with my little Internet.
There is a lot to try to know about Gilda Snowden's work. There is her Web site, for starters. You can read up on the Cass Corridor Art Movement, whose traditions she drew from and extended in her found art assemblages, works on paper, and large-scale canvases filled with exuberant color and daring juxtapositions of line and pattern. You can go back to her site and read her words:
"I have always been drawn to the complexities of nature and the fact of history, specifically the documentation of the history that is closest to my own experience."
Her experience ended abruptly on September 9. Until that moment, for 60 years, Gilda Snowden devoted herself to simply seeing and acting upon what she saw. How very hard that is, though, that.
It is a life's work, truly.
And then, even more: Gilda Snowden actually bested the words of Walt Whitman, not only containing multitudes but sharing out multitudes over the years, through the brilliance of her own work and her years of teaching at Wayne State University and the College for Creative Studies, and also by painstakingly documenting the Detroit art world:
"Snowden attended virtually every gallery opening in Detroit... documenting the events in highly popular videos posted to YouTube along with her observations.“She pretty much archived years of art production in Detroit,” [CCS professor Timothy Van Laar] said. “You’d show up at an exhibit, and Gilda was there, greeting everybody. And she always got a ‘selfie’ with you. She was famous for that.”
(The Detroit News)
I went to her YouTube feed today while preparing this post. Just to sense the scale of her archival accomplishment, of the love I'd seen outpoured for her on Facebook and in the press, I clicked the tab at the bottom of the screen that says, Load More. I was still clicking, many minutes later, when I finally hit the end. It took 17 clicks to see more than 500 videos, all on the grid. I could not even count how many openings she'd attended, how many galleries she'd documented. There were studio demonstrations and technique talks. Plus occasionally, some touching miscellany, like a video on how to separate an egg, or the day she saw a female stingray. It was all there. A life of seeing.
My new friend's feed let me see Gilda Snowden last night, and for a while I could only see what she showed me. And this:
'She says that she chose to paint because of its speed.
“I want to see answers immediately,” she told us."
Load More. Load More. Load More.