Artist Statement

Artist Biography

Julie Young is originally from Ogden, Utah. She graduated from Utah State University and taught English in Kennebunk, Maine and Layton, Utah for six years. She then moved East and spent thirty years as a business person and artist in Nantucket, Ma. Julie was a self-taught landscape painter and a member of the Nantucket Artists Association for many years. She spent several winters attending the Art Students League in NYC. Julie entered Pacifica Graduate School in Carpinteria, Ca. in 2000 and she graduated with a PhD in Depth Psychology in 2008. She is now a practising psychotherapist in Santa Barbara and she continues to make painting a
large part of her life.
In Julie's words: "I came to Santa Barbara thirteen years ago. I was captivated by the beauty of my surroundings, but it took me half that time to find and idiom for the sights passing before my eyes-- such an abundance of nature and light, humanity and vegetation, moutains and vistas on a grand scale. On Nantucket I was drawn to the minimal landscape and my paintings often followed diminishing dirt roads over rolling moors all oriented toward an uninterrupted horizon line. The colors I preferred were Fall colors that evoked a quiet time of Nature dying into itself, held down in a composition by equal amounts of sky. But as my world changed, so did my art. I continue to spend time on both coasts and find that the respective differences are exciting contrasts. Like language, what is perceived is a system of terms given meaning by background experience. I believe that art is what is allowed to emerge from the mysterious gap between ever shifting assumptions.

Artist Statement

I'm always thinking about language. Language is a system of differences with no positive terms and my interest in abstract painting is a contemplation of that basic realization about language. In the neighborhood of words and paint I experience differences as curious combinations of
shapes and colors as they pattern, flow and occur to me as unique designs.

At present my art teachers are philsophers I read who espouse a poetic view of Language and Being. Following the concepts of one language philsopher, i call my painting an engagement with endlessly moving "supplementary traces" of meaning that lean into each other, fall away, and then rise up again. The landscape of the California coast often occurs to me this way. Another teacher uses an appealing metapor for Being. He calls it "releasement into the round dance of gods mortals earth and sky." This image of interconnected existence challenges me to appreciate designs with a sense of movement and rhythm and a playful relationship of part to whole. Also I am influenced by a philosopher/poet who says she "writes on all four in the dark."
What I value is her attempt to access embodied memory. I do not use photographs as reference for my abstracted landscapes. Though I generally paint specific places, what I care to convey are not necessarily recognizable images. I want to approximate what I have experienced from time spent in an environment. Usually subject matter in my paintings is result of what lingers for me as sensation. I choose colors, make lines and describe areas guided by what may be questionably defined as sensations, intuitions, gestural memories or impressions. In differentiating between the possibilities these mysteries offer, I adjust and veer toward what I perceive to be a language or communication of joy, curiosity and freedom. 

My themes with a Spanish nature are also an outcome of my interest in language, in this case I tried to observe the relationship between image and language in learning a second language. My thought was to paint the feeling of words as they impressed my beginners mind. Irregular verbs have conjunctions that I found difficult to learn because of their irregularity. My intent in painting them was to dwell a bit with the words in order to develop images that would assist my recall. These are very commonly used words and I like the thought that in order to be fluent one must be comfortable with irregularity.

Dichos are Spanish proverbs. They are wonderful metaphors expressing timeless wisdom. For me, they bring images to mind. I tried to capture as simply as possible the feeling in the image. Many Spanish people I have spoken to tell me that they remember dichos their parents used over and over. I too find these saying come readily to mind in many situations.

Borderlands is a term used in a book by Gloria Anzaldua. It beautifully explores the idea of self. These are four expressions derived from her descriptions of the many ways identity is fluid and Other.

Nature is always a predominate basis for my paintings. Yosemite, the painting, took me many years to paint after first visiting the park five years ago. It is a feeling of such indescribable beauty it can only be called sacred. There is nothing to compare to Half Dome and El Capitan and my painting is what I hope to be the first of a series. The Grand Canyon series is result of my first visit to the Grand Canyon in my adult life. The layers representing a view of geologic time hold fascination for me. This series too will be ongoing.

Recent Review


November 29, 2013 10:54 AM


'Perfect Day'

James Lambert, Julie Young and Liz Zutphen

When: Through December 29

Where: MichaelKate Interiors and Gallery, 132 Santa Barbara St.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday,

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Wednesday

Cost: Free

Information: 963-1411,

Curator Brad Nack has brought three artists, mostly locals from the region, for a show at MichaelKate Interiors that doesn't even try to match the crazed intensity of its Halloween/October exhibit. Instead, this show, titled "Perfect Day" as a nod to the recently passed Lou Reed, acts as a sort of palate cleanser. We have the bold graphics of James Paul Lambert, the brutal abstracts of Liv Zutphen and the landscapes of Julie Young to contend with. Do the three have anything really to do with each other? Not really, apart from the abstract, but their jarring proximity is a breather, a chance to regroup. All three are worth checking out.

Julie Young's landscapes break geography into geometric shapes and explode them onto her canvases in her colorful oil paintings. There's a Chagall and Miro-like dance in such works like "Summerland Beach," where the sand can barely be seen through the blue and green shapes (swimmers? umbrellas?), or "Paradise Road" with its green curlicues and odd stripes. Elsewhere in sketchier and centered "Hendry's Beach" or "150 Lookout," one can see the paragliders off the cliffs, for example, but it's still like a half-remembered dream. For those not versed in the look of Santa Barbara, it may not just look abstract. Call it a hidden message to the locals.

Any messages in Liv Zutphen's art are to be found in the titles and any lively discussion to be had with the artist (which happened on opening night last week). Ms. Zutphen hails from the Bay Area, lives in Venice, but exhibits more here (a few months ago, her paintings were hanging at Roy restaurant). There's a bit of DeKooning and a lot of Franz Kline in these mostly square paintings, angry and jagged brushwork, segmenting the canvas into black lines. They have titles like "Isis" or "Ishatar" and work in archetypal shapes. (Ms. Zutphen spoke about human figures and objects, but they are more hidden than in Ms. Young's work). The color work is more playful to look at, with titles like "Paloma" (a street in Venice) filled with objects buzzing around, maybe something like a face or two, a blur of sensory input. "St. John" and "For Xe" both have bold, primary colors trying to break free from her black brushstrokes, and "Glasses" is all frames, appropriately enough.

While Ms. Zutphen's art is serious in its play, the bold, graphic designs of James Lambert hearken back to the airbrushed product art of the early '80s — yet rendered into large acrylics. The artist has brought older work to show a progression: four small graphite works of dynamic lines and shapes, which leads into something from the "Micheltorena Series" that looks like a psychedelic corncob or an eyeball. Color is graded and soft. But in the large "Laguna Series" that dominates the gallery, that softness has been shed for bold, flat colors. Some paintings have been reduced to three colors — others just two. The inspiration comes from car detail and model kits and sleek hopes for a better future, even if the gyres that widen at the center of his best work may cause vertigo.

There may be a conversation going on between all three artists'works that curator Brad Nack can hear. Even if not, all three have something to say.