Last Friday I spent a few hours in the studio of Lynn Basa. Her studio is a storefront space in a building that once housed an eastern European-immigrant sausage maker -- an apt history for a contemporary artist.
Our conversation ranged widely: current studio work, artist's block, the problem of changing your direction when your recent direction is in quite high demand, what represents good public art, the demands of an MFA program, how Andy Warhol influences the current generations of young success-hungry internet-obsessed artists.
Lynn has a successful career as a public artist, with ongoing commissions in Baltimore and Chicago. She wrote a book a few years ago called The Artist's Guide to Public Art: How to Find and Win Commissions, which I think was how her name first came to my attention. Facebook, of course, provided the final bridge. Her studio work currently involves making these gorgeous images from combinations of spontaneous, gestural accumulations of materials and pigments, melted with a heat gun to produce fields of texture that look like flowers or igneous landscapes.
Until recently she had a sort of open door policy at her studio, which is in a, shall we say, "lively" area of Chicago. But recently she's had to keep the door shut and begin working in a room hidden from street view, simply in order to get anything done. I'm glad, however, that she made an exception to the new policy for me, and I hope to do it again in the not too distant future.