“The what can?…. and what if? in Betsy Cain’s Exhibit “In Situ” at the Jepson

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I have really been enamored with Betsy Cain’s show “In Situ” which is currently open until December 12th at the Jepson Center. Mrs. Cain’s work is wonderfully poetic and lyrical exploration of the potential in the materials. Paint is one of the oldest art making materials and yet artists today are still finding new things that can be accomplished with it. I would believe that Betsy’s first two questions each day might be “What can I make?” and secondly “What happens if….” While that seems like such an awesome way to start every day I am sure it can also be pretty terrifying at times.

One of the ideas often lost in the final presentation of such work, is the amount of practice and risk that has to be taken in order to exhibit so much creative authenticity. In viewing these works we are shown the best final products. We never see, and, really don’t think about the enormous amount of failure or mistakes that encompass this kind of exploration and that are necessary to the final product. I could easily imagine that each piece had a hundred predecessors.

We only see, what seems like such a simple and magnificently humbling creative expression.   We are left with the impression of an artist imbued with some divine power that walked into a studio made a few marks and walked out a genius.   While I think this is part of the magic of art, it often can hamper a student or potential creator from ever even picking up a brush, camera, or hammer. Most students and artist always seem to get stuck between a desire to make something and the fear of screwing it up. There is a great labor and repetitive practice   necessary to all creative adventures.

The discipline and focus necessary to be an artist or make something beautiful is no different from the repetition or practice that everyone more commonly demonstrates in any sport or video game.

How can we show a student that the processes are the same and teach the kind of addiction to challenge that inspires and drives creative ventures? When they say 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration they really don’t give enough credit to how awesome that 1% can be.

Not only can you come see the show but, you can also get a glimpse into that   creative process and labor of love with Betsy Cain’s 1 day workshop “ Paint it up & Cut it Out” Saturday October 22. Or check out any of our other creative exploration classes at

kip Bradley