By Barbara Falconer Newhall
Some artists seem to be able transfer the way their minds — souls? — work onto paper or canvas. And of those artists, every once in a while, it’s a mind that you’d like to spend more time with.
That’s probably why I stayed so long in the studio of Berkeley painter Judy Seidel recently during the last moments of the last day of the 2014 East Bay Open Studios. I couldn’t get myself to leave those wonderful, life-affirming paintings of hers. Seidel didn’t seem to mind that I was keeping her past her 6 p.m. closing time. She even cheerfully posed for a picture.
A few days later, after poring over the photos I took at her studio, I phoned to ask Seidel what animated her work.
“My life is a lot about healing and transformation — physical, emotional and spiritual,” she says. “You kind of have to fall apart — and let that happen — then come together and reorganize. Breaking apart and coming back together again. Death and rebirth.”
It’s a theme that Seidel has revisited in her paintings over time. It’s not obvious in her work, and she likes it that way. But when you walk into her studio, it’s palpable.