Monday, September 16, 2013

Ellen Dieter: This'a Way or That'a Way

by Joe Nalven

There’s a new solo show at the San Diego Art Institute. The art of Ellen Dieter.

Imagine walking through the exhibit and finding Dieter nearby. What would she say about her art-making? I was surprised by her direct engagement with choice.

Ellen Dieter:  In the beginning, and now in the present, I am very interested in places I'd been or am, rejoicing in my surroundings. As I progress and learn, experience and produce, choices are made and events happen that offer other directions with new information.  Different ways of getting to the same place, yet a different place appear.  An openness, a willingness arises encouraging me to try new things.  Pathways are presented with forks, choices to be made, or not made.

Ellen Dieter / Under the Bridge
As I begin each work, I ask myself, "this'a way or that'a way"? And the process starts anew.

Joe Nalven:  I can appreciate the element of choice as the art unfolds. But there is a further question I have for you:  What makes you tick as an artist?

Ellen Dieter:  I think of myself as a painter, I paint, it is what I do, it is who I am and have been since I was about five. Putting paint to canvas is like breathing for me. Expressing my insides, trying to relate to the outside. Where I've been, physically as well as mentally feeds the process of creating a new piece, a new series. I see myself capturing a moment in time in a way that is open for interpretation by the viewer. Creating a dialogue is what I hope to achieve.

Ellen Dieter:  This'a Way or That'a Way
A solo show as part of a new regional exhibit

When:    September 20, 2013 to October 5, 2013
Hours:    Tues-Sat 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sun 12 noon to 4 p.m.
Where:  San Diego Art Institute, 1439 El Prado / Balboa Park
                San Diego, California 92102

For more information:   619-236-0011

Part of Ellen Dieter solo show exhibit at the San Diego Art Institute
 Joe Nalven:  Are there new things on the horizon that might change your approach to art making?

Ellen Dieter:  My art changes all the time depending on where I am. I have different styles although they are all the same to me. And then, I want to change again. Each series presents itself differently.

I do feel though, that I am at a crossroads, which is what my show is about.
Joe Nalven: I know you worked as a collaborator with Richard Messenger and Shahla Dorafshan. Did that change you in any way in your approach to art making?

Ellen Dieter:  Yes, that collaboration led me to a looser style, allowed an opening to become more willing to change, to paint over, push forward, let go. Let go, that best describes the change. We had to let go of our own marks as they may be painted over by the other.  It was a truly freeing experience.

Joe Nalven: Many artists don’t like to talk about specific images — even going to the extent of using arbitrary numbers instead of names. What about you?
Ellen Dieter /  Between The Piano and The Player
Ellen Dieter:  I might  comment about specific images in conversation. Every one is about place, feeling, or trying to feel a connection to where I am.  I  am not an artist that makes political statements, but looks for metaphors that one can relate to, or express through color or movement and energy that can be felt and experienced.


  1. Ellen, this conversation adds another depth to your already amazing art. Your work reminds me of a journey, a dissection of moment or an expanded version of time and place. I get lost in your expression, which I find to be a marvelous exercise for learning in life. Thank you, and thank you, Joe Nalven.

  2. Thank-you so much Cree! I'm really touched by your comment, your words are always so elegant. Thank-you for being such a great supporter, for reading Joe's blog and taking the time to respond! Mahalo! See you soon I hope.