Liz Mamorsky’s work is a trip. Living through the late 60’s and early 70’s, I know a trip when I see one. I distinctly remember sitting on my bed, watching a montage of Liz Mamorsky paintings play out on the cinder block walls of my dorm room in 1971. Well, maybe not distinctly. By that time, Liz had relocated from the East Coast. She graduated from Bennington in Vermont; spend time in the Village in New York City; then, made her way to San Francisco where the counter-cultural revolution was in full force. Liz has a wondeful studio just south of Market off of 9th Street. We spent an afternoon chatting about shared history. Not surprisingly, when I pointed out the similarities between the light shows of the 60’s and some of her work, Liz noted that she produced light shows for rock bands with liquid gels – both in New York and in San Francisco.
Liz Mamorsky’s work has been referred to as “organic abstraction”. Like the forms in the light shows, the abstact shapes are amoeba-like. The roots of her art in the Op Art movement of the 60’s is clearly evident. There are also distinct echoes of artists stretching from Hieronymous Bosch to James Ensor. Some of her works, such as the montage in the current banner above, are identifiable as mainstream Op Art. It is “right-brain” art, regardless of medium. In her signature drawing and painting style, forms mysteriously emerge “from a tangle of brushmarks, spills and splatters, randomly applied to the stretched canvas, obliterating the oppressive whitespace”. Those forms seem to live and breathe. I was very intrigued with her techniques. With painting, she lays down the color and form abstractly. She then spends a lot of time contemplating the result. Human beings are hard-wired to see patterns in seeming chaos. It is why we see animals dancing across the sky in cloud formations. It is why we see the Man in the Moon. So, as Liz contemplates her painting, faces and bodies – both human and animal – take shape. She re-works the painting and the strongest impressions ultimately define the final painting.
Liz’s drawings are similar, but also different. With the drawings, the surface is not a blank canvas. She draws on amate bark. The texture of this remarkable bark is already etched with distinct patterns. Again making art is a contemplative, meditative process. But here, she coaxes her images out of the existing texture. The drawing is surprising meticulous. But the result is once again psychedelic. Liz describes them as “little dreams or haikus dancing in the realm of the psyche”.
In recent years, Liz has become well known for her sculpture, notably her art-bots. She has been using recyled materials to produce sculptures since the 60’s. However, it was only after meeting Allison Walton at Float Gallery that she started to seriously produce her whimisical bot creatures. Float Gallery is a pretty interesting gallery in its own right. It is a “urban art spa”. Inspired by a movie that Allison saw when she was 16, the iconic “Altered States”, she started a flotation tank spa and expanded it to include a gallery. Not surprisingly, Liz Mamorsky’s work fit right in. And when Allison invited Liz to make art-bots for a show she was curating, Liz really enjoyed herself. The process of the art was very much in tune with what she had been doing for years. She would take recycled materials: foundry patterns and old computer motherboards. Then, she would lay them out on her studio floor, rearranging the parts until something anthropomorphic suggested itself. The results are great fun. Most importantly, she has enjoyed meeting the collectors and fans of the artbots. It is, as she says, “like going to geek camp”. For the past two years, she has competed in the “Artbot Division” of Robogames, where her work has consistently garnered acclaim.
Lizland will be opening its doors to the public for San Francisco Open Studios this weekend. There is a reception tonight that you do not want to miss. Liz’s husband, Mel Knox will be pouring his Ici/La-Bas & Uvaggio wines. The studio will also be open from 11am – 6pm both Saturday & Sunday. Liz exhibits frequently in California and beyond. She keeps her calendar updated and current. And, of course, you can always call to arrange for a studio visit.