Cathy Liu Ideas for Show at Louis Meager Art Gallery in Fremont

Here are some further thoughts about my work that I’d like to share with the class.  Today I talked about working towards more clarity in my work, so I hope to add some clarity in explaining it.


In addition to distilling my shapes and forms into their most purest and simple selves for the past 16 years, I also want to emphasize that tension and balance play a huge part in every piece. I spoke a little bit about that tension when I talked about starting to play music in my forties.  That challenge causes tension.  Also, even though I listen to NPR while painting, it’s almost like a weight that grounds me as I go into a peaceful, meditative painting state.  Somehow it gives me sense of balance.  It’s similar to the heaviness of working for Mother Jones and my husband’s injury that catapulted me into these happy paintings.  In every one of my paintings there is tension between the shapes––mostly seen as lines and forms that barely touch or are about to touch which is probably easiest to see in the lettering on cards–– as well as with the colors which are on the extreme end of complementary in many cases.

I consider my work abstract organic.  Organisms adapt and evolve.  The organic nature of my paintings are attempting to illustrate that growth, life and development. Though the titles of the paintings will give a hint to the basic idea I was trying to convey, it’s important to remember that an abstract painting is meant to be interpreted by the viewer.  A neighbor of ours was a Jungian psychotherapist and he thought all of the paintings were definitely sexual.  A friend in medicine felt they were all very biological. Several friends who were trying to get pregnant were convinced that they are all about fertility.  You see what you want to see and hopefully it’s something good and inspiring.
When I hear a great song, read a well written story, see a well made movie, or see/hear anything that is done with somebody’s best self, their truest self, I’m always inspired to do better work.  I’m hoping to bring out the playful spirit in viewers of my work. There is a focused flow of positive energy that goes into all the artwork I put out in the world––be it a painting, a rock or a birthday card.  I really want the receiver to feel it. .  The best compliment I get from friends who own my paintings is, “I don’t know why, but just looking at your painting makes me happy.” All personal pieces for friends and family are marked with a “made with aloha” stamp from me.  It’s true that a lot of love goes into everything I put my name on. It’s almost a miracle to me when people I don’t know love my work, which is really what makes gallery shows fun for me.  I figure, making a complete stranger feel happy can only make the world a better place. Some basic Buddhist tenets guide my work: Is it true?  Is it kind?  Is it necessary?

Art inspirations:
Jean Arp
Art inspirations:
Jean Arp
Joan Miro
Isamu Noguchi
Emilio Pucci

Talk to you soon.
Thanks again for this opportunity to share my work.

Hi Kenney,
Thanks again for the opportunity to meet with your students as well as providing lunch for everyone.  I appreciate how easy you've made the process so far.  Now that I've taken a better look at the gallery, I will decide which paintings and objects I'd like to include in the show.  Once I've got a list, I'll send it to you so your students can access just the photos they need to do the catalog and not have to go through everyone of them.  Maybe a page with a couple of cards and a page with rocks and driftwood would also be nice to include.
Talk to you soon.

Cathy Liu


Hi Kenney,
I was thinking more about the catalog and I was wondering what you thought about doing a poster instead.  That way people could hang them up at home.  It could be the standard 8 1/2 x 11 size that folds out and would have the images of the paintings in the show and maybe a few objects.  There could be a smallish bio or statement at the bottom of the poster.  I think this could be really fun to design. We could then keep the actual show pretty simple.
Let me know.
Any ideas about Cathy's proposal?
Do you have any strong feelings on how her art should be show?  
Think about the things we talked about last class.
Do you have any new ideas for showing Cathy's art?


  1. Greaat choices on her Posted Artwork..the poster idea sounds good instead
    of a catalog...Oscar and I could ask the rest of the class to help with ideas...
    there's several printing shops close to Ohlone unless we wanted to print on
    an Ink Jet...Maybe we could access a surf board and use it as a prop...I'm
    liking the picture string connecting thingy also....John Hughes.

  2. Some of the more memorable art shows I've been to have given away posters which is why all weekend I've been thinking posters instead of a catalogues. While catalogues can be shelved or (shudder) tossed, a poster is often something a person will keep and display. The bonus is that it can be signed by the artist at the event thus providing the visitor with a personal connection/experience which could lead to future sales. A bar at the bottom of the poster can have the artist's name, the piece name, the show venue/date, and artist's contact details. Print on one side can lower costs. I'm confused about the poster "folding out" though. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you -- do you mean have a catalogue with a poster "centerfold?" Another option is instead of printing on one side, you could do a 2-sided poster with small images on the backside of the pieces in the show.

    Do you still have any of your driftwood/rock pieces? It would be interesting to have them displayed on pillars in the middle of the gallery so people can see some work in the round.

    I'll leave ideas regarding painting the walls, windows, floors, furniture, etc to those more in the know. I have a personal aesthetic which is minimalist. Perhaps is why I liked Cathy's work (especially her more recent pieces). I wonder if there is a fine line between complimenting and competing the artwork when doing something like this. My $0.02 worth. Whatever is decided, I'm happy to roll up my sleeves and muck in.

    Will music be playing during the show? When I look at her work I think ambient music like Brian Eno. (look at her website while listening to this:

  3. A poster sounds like a great idea. It's simple and would make for a nice memento. I'm having a hard time thinking of a specific way I'd like to see the work shown, I think because all of this is pretty new to me. But since the pieces are all simple and elegant, maybe keep the gallery space simple as well? I also liked the idea that a student had about painting the windows to match the style of the paintings.

  4. I really like, scratch that, LOVE, the poster idea, except maybe having a fold in it might be a problem, unless it has a line in it that corresponds with the fold because having a fold in a poster that I would love to hang up would make me a little sad, personally.

    I liked the idea we had where some of the works could have outward extensions of lines from the painting and onto the floors or walls as well the connections between pieces with the strings, but if we had them strung and left on the floor, I'm thinking of the foot traffic. Not everyone picks up their feet as they stroll around the gallery and we would end up with trips, falls, and a big pile of yarn. I'm all for the idea, just yarn might not be the best concept.

    Thinking of Cathy and how she wants things to be minimalist, yet fun and happy for everyone to enjoy, we should have maybe one piece of furniture to be with her kind of designs on it and the rest of them plain, only so things wouldn't clash or make the room seem over crowded and with too much tension. I think that would be our main goal. The room would need to be coherent with the types of balances that her works have.
    With that being said, maybe painting one window in the style of her more recent work? Under her supervision or adapted from her work or something? I don't know yet. It's a works in progress for ideas.

    I'm really excited for this show. If I wasn't a broke college student, I'd buy her works; Kind of love at first sight. Not trying to kiss ass or anything.

  5. I enjoyed meeting Cathy Liu in last class! I think that a poster is great idea just because people can get more out of it enjoy it more than a catalog. One of the previous comments mentioned something about pilars in the middle of the floor to display some of the rock artwork I think that's a great idea as well! As for how to display artwork I really don't know since im not that familiar with this yet but, in the process of learning...really looking forward to this show.

  6. I really dig the poster idea as well!

    As far as the layout of the show I was thinking something more along the lines of displaying her work in chronological order. As Cathy mentioned, her earlier works are more cluttered and as she continues her craft; she is working towards being more refined and clean. The vibe that I get from Cathy and of the other works she brought in by other artists, is that she's got the minimalist, "less is more"outlook. I could be completely wrong, but that's just what I've gotten from her and from taking notes.

    With her work being vibrant and colorful, I'd really hate to detract from it by adding anything that may be too distracting and may create too much tension and clutter. I like the idea of string, I just think it may be a little difficult to execute without jeopardizing her work.

  7. Chewing on it I think we should ditch the idea of string all together. I think in theory it is a good idea but I don't think it would be pulled off as soundly as we think. Minimalism seemed real important to Cathy through the books she handed out so I feel its vital we stick to that. The poster sounds like a really rad idea and I know personally if we did do that I would end up framing it and hang it proudly on my wall. If we were to build anything to display her work I think natural and unfinished wood would be good to go with her whole natural vibe and its rather simple and minimal, but the point of whatever we do make cannot take away from the art itself was made and I feel like I should just stress it again because I felt it is really important.