Maggie Tennesen at Michael Stearns Studio at The Loft

Maggie Tennesen, New Work, Michael Stearns Studio at The Loft; Image courtesy of the gallery

Abstract Artist Dances with Spiritual Light in San Pedro

Michael Stearns Studio at The Loft, San Pedro
now closed

Written by Genie Davis
An abstract artist of delicate skill, Maggie Tennesen’s work is a lush, deep experience that pulls the viewer into the very fabric of life itself. Her rich colors and perfect symmetry are both accessible and mysterious, an immersive viewing submersion.

In her most recent exhibition, simply titled New Work, now closed at Michael Stearns Studio at The Loft in San Pedro, the highly geometric work pulses with color and a hidden light. At first glance, it resembles weavings rather than paintings. The precision of her work is so deft as to be illusory: the viewer tends to focus on the overall image, her palette and her graceful shapes, without taking in the almost overwhelming nature of her process of creation.

She relates that her work takes its form from “the accumulation of strands or veins that recall the weft and warp of existence.” The light seemingly emanates from many of the works. It’s shimmer within her visual folds fits in with the fact her body of work is suffused with the landscape of the desert, specifically its layers, its glow, in the rocks near Joshua Tree National Park. While the colors are more vibrant than a desert sunset, Tennesen’s work nonetheless reflects both the spareness and the grace of the desert. It exudes the power that she sees as “built into this landscape…layers…rock and sand and color.”

The lines in her work remind the viewer of both musical notes and electronic transmissions. There is an energy to them that creates an overall rising tension, an angularity and a strength. The artists describes what she is creating as waves of consciousness, as well as aspects of the human body and emotion.

There is both a fierce, burning intensity to the work and a cool, almost soothing chilliness. Certainly, her palette and a thrumming emotion within the works speaks to its intense spirit. The coolness is born of the shapes she employs, which defy a knowable connection to the unknown, instead taking the viewer away from the conventional experience of human existence, and into something that goes to the very core of both personal being, and nature’s landscape, of which we are a part.

One gets the sense of looking into an unknowable soul, a collective consciousness, a state of becoming. Tennesen describes her art as accumulating and gathering momentum as it comes into being, and reveals that her own meditative practice, melded to the natural environment, is at its core.

The dimensionality of her work is somewhat astonishing; look into their brightness long enough and one can feel a pull toward a cosmic center. Past works focused on a richly alien map of architecture and technology; the shapes were more rectangular, the colors more pearled. Here the colors are like glittering, hot gems. In these newest images, her art is filled with a motion that pulls the viewer both inward to the painting, and within themselves. Her work excudes a more spiritual bent. Triangular shapes remind the viewer of conjoined mountains, the wings of birds, kites, and the edges of rocks washed in shadow and sunset, a dazzling hot sun, and mirage.

Both in their reference to nature and their indomitable energy, Tennesen’s art most of all recalls pyramids of quartz. Used for channeling energy, these perfectly cut and shaped stones collect and draw energy, an energy that can also be pointed toward a place that needs such a concentration of spiritual power.

Today more than ever, perhaps, we could all use an infusion of Tennesen’s pyramid power, her spiritual heft, her perfection of balance. Visit Tennesen’s website at

Michael Stearns Studio at The Loft

One comment

  1. Great, there is cruel, burning intensity in the work, and a cold, almost soothing coldness. For some reason, this description is closest to me.

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