The life of Randee Levine is one based on making decisions and arriving at the here and now, with a life that flourishes and with many avenues of expression; her long practiced psychology translates into her art, into her perception of herself, those she interacts with, her life, is a development. Levine was born in Manhattan and grew up in Bronx and Yonkers. She was raised in a first generation Jewish family, which, although not currently active, her heritage has had a significant impact on her life and her art.
Her mother and father moved to Yonkers once they had a family. Ultimately, Levine set her sights on fine art and entered State University of New York at Purchase and receiving her BFA in visual art. Levine is emphatic on how she gained and enjoyed this learning experience; her colleagues, her learning, and her mentors, many of whom had direct influences in the NYC art community with associations such as Josef Albers, formative to Levine’s studies.
As a struggling artist living in NYC, Levine did much of what other artists did, she sang in bands, she waited tables, and she did visual research many designers needed. In the process of survival of being an artist in NYC, Levine met a musician and “We decided we didn’t want to stay in New York; he had some connections here because his parents were ‘transplants.’ We decided to move here, it was great here, and developing the connections, and the gigs that I got,” she says.
In 1986, Levine and her husband moved to Los Angeles, Levine practicing celebrity photographing and only then, after, she states with experience, “Leaving New York to come to Salt Lake City, I realized I do better in a more relaxed environment. Coming back from LA and coming here, through going to a therapist here for my own personal needs, I discovered something called ‘Process Oriented Psychology.’ This affects both personally and professionally the way I view the world and my life. I work professionally, as well as privately with individuals, couples and groups, developing awareness, compassion, and communication,” she says.
“Process work is not traditional psychology, it has a strong Eastern Asian Philosophical bend; it draws out of Jungian psychology. The whole idea is that it’s potential oriented, that everything we experience that is troubling or disturbing, has the seed for potential growth.” she continues, “I like to make a distinction between new age thinking and Process work. We don’t invite things into our lives but face those disturbances. For example, if you are depressed, we don’t prescribe something for depression, we discover the meaningfulness of that depression and doing that often relieves the symptom. Things manifest as disturbances, but if we can become congruent with these things, they flow more easily,” she says concertedly.
In this case, it is hard to say what comes first, the philosophy or the art, or, the art and then the philosophy. According to Levine’s philosophy, her art is an extension of herself, of reaching out to face challenges and life’s many disturbances and to face these disturbances and to understand them and progress. Art, on the other hand, might not be understood as a “disturbance,” yet still it is a coming whole with balances and manifestations for life congruencies to harmonize; in reality, a life long process of an ongoing processing.
Levine will be showing more than 10 major works at Dibble Gallery to open on the 15th of July third Friday gallery stroll, and with this opportunity, Levine is able to reach a congruence with those who may come to appreciate her expressive process, the psychological being of her work, and the elements that reveal this being through processing.
Levine’s standard medium scale canvases, are the kind that can be read with a symbolic intensity, so much that the viewer might come to an understanding of the thematic elements of Levine’s figural expression, with emphasis and how this resonates with the viewer’s phenomenological attachment; meanings, and understandings. Color, shape, scale, formal implication, one element to another, meaningfulness and discovering through process a revelation of the processing self as a relationship, is created through the expression of the figure. The meaningful presence is to be absorbed with a congruence of understanding. Coming to understand this work can be challenging, but at the same time, fluid and open with the figure and personal connectivity. For example, the prominent yet simplified symbol of female gender in “Woman with dog on green,” gestural, almost hidden, with breasts, prominently high just below the neck, seen as cones protruding, these definitive provocative symbols may confront personal connectivity with myriad processing that is instead evocative.
In 1945, Jackson Pollock painted a series of “Totem” paintings. These were semi-figural and have a strong parallel with Levine’s work. Pollock had a long-running interest with Surrealism, and the abundance of meaning that can be read on a subconscious level, with parts to the whole and emphasis given from part to part with symbolic awareness. This is very much like the work of Levine, whose painting is based on process and the processing that renders totem-like figures, comparable in levels and hierarchy of meaning, that build the structure of Pollock’s as much as the verticality and meaningful emphasis of Levine’s figures.
Says Levine, “I think that showing things that aren’t always exposed is part of my psychology and who I am. I tend to be an expressive and authentic person who shows things that others might be shyer about, something that might be reflected. This is getting along with what is actually and not trying to cover things up and make them different;” a core basis for Levine’s philosophical practice and her art practice.
“I am connected with dreaming and what’s inside,” says Levine. The environmental phenomena of personal psychology and the coming together of Levine’s art is achieved, so says Levine, in the subconscious.” Like the others, there is a structural flatness here that unifies while projecting core inner elements. “Yellow and red woman” has a very widened head with eyes rendered as hypnotic. Two cone-like projected breasts are placed just below the neck, the child-like rendered arms are bowed, the feet are heavy. At her core is a visceral representation, the abstraction of her inner-core. The colors are bright, but a compendium that seems to have no rhyme or reason.
In “Yellow and red woman,” the dream is rendered in a Frieda Kahlo-like manner, a visceral awareness of the core of self and not being afraid to look deeply within and not be afraid of confrontation that, which may be a harsh reality, but in Process psychology, one is encouraged to face inner demons, not by aggressively challenging, but meeting whatever this may be on its own terms, with a congruous understanding of being.
As Levine’s current work acts on a myriad of subtleties; it has not always been figural abstraction, but for much of her professional career, Levine has had the quality of total abstraction. However, the artist’s abstract work functions in much the same way as the figural work, with meanings that evolve from symbol and structure. “Red and green abstract” is one such example, possessing totem symbolism, layering from top to the bottom strata, with an irrational element in the heaviness at the top and a looser application towards the bottom layer. This pressure, with scribbles and blending through each layer, causes a different dream-state. “Black and red abstract” functions in the same manner, with the top tier far more intense than the bottom and sketchiness of hue creating a psychological, irrational response, thus sensitizing or desensitizing by the effect of the linearity
These charged works are a study, of sorts, of what is personified, what is portrayed, and who, what, where, when, why and how the response is projected; the purpose of process, the movement of self, the movement of spirit, a moving of mind, and ultimately the courage in processing this psychological and personal journey. Ultimately, an expressiveness of Levine’s putting her own art “out there” is facing her own life, mistakes, misfortune, arming herself and the viewer; projecting blindness with color and personal connectivity with the unknown