1st Annual Clyfford Still Graveside Toast

The founding Abstract Expressionist artist, Clyfford Still, lived in Westminster/New Windsor from 1961 until his death in 1980. Clyfford Still is celebrated as a visionary and groundbreaking artist in the purest sense who continued to make art throughout his life, refusing to compromise or “sell out”. Clyfford Still has been adopted as the muse of the 5×7 UNDERGROUND.

On November 30th, 2020; members of the 5×7 Underground met at the Clyfford Still Mausoleum in the Pipe Creek Cemetery at 5:30pm to toast the birth and artistic accomplishments of Clyfford Still. Members in attendance included: Thomas Sterner, Jeff Sharp, Lauren Latané-Valis and virtually via ZOOM, Mary Beth Francis.

The night was perfect though somewhat chilly with ominous clouds looming in the distance.

Work inspired by Clyfford Still was created in tribute and displayed at the Clyfford Still Mausoleum. Plans have been made to continue this new tradition next year and also on the anniversary of his death on June 23rd.

1st Annual 5x7 UNDERGROUND Clyfford Still Graveside Birthday Toas 5x7 UNDERGROUND GALLERY
Art from 1st Annual 5×7 UNDERGROUND Clyfford Still Graveside Birthday Toast.
Art from 1st Annual 5×7 UNDERGROUND Clyfford Still Graveside Birthday Toast.
"Here Am I, Lifeline 1" Letterpress print
Jeff Sharp, “Here Am I, Lifeline 1”, 2020, Letterpress, 6in x 4in.

I wanted to see if it was possible to create a Clyfford Still inspired letterpress print.  It was a real challenge locking in the lead ornaments so they wouldn’t move since they were placed at odd angles.  Satisfied with the result, I plan to make more in the coming year.  The subject matter reflects the Clyfford Still lifeline.  2020 presented me with some unresolved health challenges.  This piece represents the many tests (CAT, MRI, ECG, TEE) I went through and the physical connection between heart and mind.

"Living Spirit" painting
Lauren Latané-Valis, “Living Spirit”, 2020, acrylic and paper, 6in x 6in.
"Clyfford Still redacted letter poem" artwork
Thomas Sterner, “Clyfford Still redacted letter poem”, 2020, ink on paper, 11inx 8.5in.

I redacted the original typewritten letter text, which Clifford Still wrote to Betty Parsons on Sept 21, 1951, and I arrived at a poem, in which I attempt to capture the essence and seriousness of withholding ones artwork as an expression against the establishment and its judgements. Read aloud at his gravesite on his birthday.

Mary Beth Francis, “The Way Forward”, 2020, acrylic on panel , 5in x 7in.