From The Dirt to The Skies: Pat Bacon

“From The Dirt to The Skies” is on view at Main Street Arts through Oct. 4, 2019

“From The Dirt to The Skies” is on view at Main Street Arts through Oct. 4, 2019

From the Dirt to the Skies is a group exhibition featuring new works in painting, drawing, and printmaking from four of Main Street Arts’ gallery artists — Pat Bacon, Chad Grohman, Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer, and Lanna Pejovic. The artwork is inspired by fog-laden lakes, wooded paths, gardens, and objects plucked from nature. 

In the final interview of the series, executive director and curator Bradley Butler talks with Pat Bacon. If you haven’t had a chance to read the other interviews with artists Meredith, Chad, and Lanna, be sure to check them out and see the way their inspirations, motivations, and color palettes overlap with one another.


From The Dirt to The Skies: 
Pat Bacon

PatBacon

Q: Can you talk about the work that is included in the show and what inspired it?

A: I like reflections, looking in through water, what’s on the surface of water, what’s below it. The same with mud. I ended up printing a lot of diptychs for this show and while the imagery isn’t obvious, I feel like it’s more readable as a diptych. Putting two images together makes the print a little more solid. As singular images I thought they were a little too nebulous, a little too “floaty”. Showing them as diptychs gives the imagery a little more grounding and makes them
more readable. I’d like the work to transcend what it obviously is but I don’t want to make it so mysterious or so unrecognizable. It has to have some recognition, there has to be some point of reference. The singular pieces are from walks in the woods and my response to what I saw.

"Reflection" by Pat Bacon

“Reflection” by Pat Bacon

Q: Where did the diptych idea come from?

A: I felt the singular images were incomplete. If I’m looking at 50 images, two will seem to relate to me and inform each other and I’m hoping it does for someone else also. Why did I pick “those two” that seem to inform each other? You always have design considerations because you want it to look like two singular images but read as one statement but it’s an intuitive process. “The Garden” is a triptych, it just needed that balance. It had more of a cathedral effect with the corn on either side of the greenhouse.

"Garden" by Pat Bacon

“Garden” by Pat Bacon

Q: How does the work in this show differ from previous work? They definitely seem like related themes and images from past work but they are also different and new.

A: I have a new press and it’s bigger, I think that has something to do with it. To have more plate surface to work with building textures helps me. I was very happy with the burn piles and trees that I was working with last year and I felt that they worked well as singular,
standalone images or statements. These just work better as diptychs.

"Fire II" by Pat Bacon

“Fire II” by Pat Bacon

Q: What is on your mind while you’re working?

A: I collect all of my images, mostly on my iPhone and sometimes on my camera. As I’m looking through them, I sort out what I’m intrigued with most and then I’m looking at 100 images and they just seem to really speak to me. From there, it’s a process of deciding which ones I want to pull together. Sometimes I know that there are things going on in the world or in my life that is affecting those choices on a certain level, a more intuitive level. If people relate to my work, they relate to it on their own level with what’s going on in their own life. I don’t want to tell them exactly how to read it.

"Bridge" by Pat Bacon

“Bridge” by Pat Bacon

Q: Can you talk about a specific piece that is included in the show?

A: The one piece that evolved over the course of four years, is “Bridge”. I had done it originally using contact prints in the darkroom and I liked it that way. I also used this image in a triptych, and in a collage but I was never satisfied with the outcome. Then,
when I got my larger press I was able to do it as a double plate and I thought to myself, “Yes, this is how I always wanted to do it”. Through the manipulation of the plate I was able to draw out certain textures and tones that I wanted to come forward. 

For me, this piece has to do with transitions. Between one thought and another, between parts of your life, aging. I’m looking down from the bridge and you can see my reflection in the water and the textures you see are animal prints in the mud. The bridge is on the western edge of Lake Ontario, almost to Lake Erie. I stopped
at a small pull off just to look at the lake and I noticed there was a bridge on the road and I walked down the bridge and I realize there was this amazing pattern of tracks in the mud and I had to photograph it. The image just seemed so important to me.

"Mud Tree" by Pat Bacon

“Mud Tree” by Pat Bacon

Q: You work largely in black and white but there is always a tone, or a cast of warm or cool to your blacks. Can you talk about your color mixing? 

A: “Garden” has yellow ochre and heavy Portland black. With “Reflection”, I used Portland black and Cerulean blue. What’s nice about photogravure is that you establish your palette and then you open a can of black, open the ocre, the blue — depending if you’re going to go warm or cool—black just has such a nice voice between warm and cool as you respond to the image. A lot of these images I have done very warm or done very cool until I really hit on the black that I like. That’s why a lot of them are monoprints instead of editions. I respond to the plate differently every time I ink it, like a painter. And I want the ink to be heavy enough that you can smell it!
Ink is very sensual and tactile, just like paint is. With the heavy texture you can feel that, I want it lo look heavy and substantial.

"I Didn’t Hear You Fall" by Pat Bacon

“I Didn’t Hear You Fall” by Pat Bacon

Q: How does your environment impact your work? 

A: I live in the country and have for the past 40 years or so. I find that even when I’m in an urban environment, I’m taking pictures of the weeds in the sidewalk or the corner of a building that is deteriorating. I can’t seem to capture the essence of what is urban,
that’s why I like to look at urban photographs and paintings, those artists are capturing the vision of where they live, and that’s different from where I live.

I travel the state quite a bit and I get to stop in a lot of very rural places and take photographs, like the overgrown greenhouse in “Garden”, I just found it in a field and shot it. It was a nice unexpected thing to come across. I was so intrigued with this greenhouse and took about 20 shots and then I moved on and do something else.
A month later I pulled those images out and start looking at them, pinning them up on the wall in the studio and then finding other images to go with it. The greenhouse on its own seemed so incomplete to me. I printed it singular but it just didn’t work for
me. The corn images on either side of the greenhouse inform it on a design level with the cathedral effect of the tunnel of corn leaves and the architecture of the building. It also brings forward the idea of the greenhouse effect, global warming, and the earth
coming back and overcoming manmade structures. 

When I find images that work together it’s not a concrete thing right away, I don’t set out to make a statement about climate change. The substance or meaning comes through over time and you just know it when you see it. That process is pretty intuitive and sometimes I look at a print a year after I made it and say “wow, that says it for me”. Your work sometimes is ahead of your life and you can’t read it yourself for another 6 months or a year.

"Fire I" by Pat Bacon

“Fire I” by Pat Bacon

Q: Talk about your studio

A: My new press is in the barn studio next to my house. It was a cold spring, so in April I could print out there using a hot plate to warm the ink. Hopefully I’ll be able to use it up through November and then I’ll move into the house and use my smaller press.


From The Dirt to The Skies runs through Friday, October 4, 2019. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop.

From The Dirt to The Skies: Chad Grohman

“From The Dirt to The Skies” is on view at Main Street Arts through Oct. 4, 2019

“From The Dirt to The Skies” is on view at Main Street Arts through Oct. 4, 2019

From the Dirt to the Skies is a group exhibition featuring new works in painting, drawing, and printmaking from four of Main Street Arts’ gallery artists — Pat Bacon, Chad Grohman, Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer, and Lanna Pejovic. The artwork is inspired by fog-laden lakes, wooded paths, gardens, and objects plucked from nature. 

Executive director and curator Bradley Butler sat down with each of the artists and asked them some questions about their work and what inspires them to make it. Up next in this series, Buffalo artist Chad Grohman.


From The Dirt to The Skies: 
Chad Grohman

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Q: What inspired you to make this body of work and how is it different from other work you’ve shown here in the past? 

A: With work I’ve shown in the past at Main Street Arts, I am usually focusing on landscapes and trying to show “the big picture”, the larger view. There are a couple of paintings like that included in this show but what’s different about the other pieces is that I am focusing more on specific branches and the fruits and vegetable that comes from the branches. A little more focus to provide more intimacy with the natural world. 

Stylistically it is done different as well. To differentiate from previous paintings I tried painting smaller objects with bigger brushes, bringing the viewer closer into the individual
object of nature rather than providing a larger scope of nature.

"Organics" by Chad Grohman

“Organics” by Chad Grohman

Q: What’s on your mind when you’re making your work? 

A: The act of painting a specific object with more focus requires more focused thought. So when I’m painting a landscape that’s seen from across a lake for example, I’m trying to get a sense of the day in the entire landscape, even if I’m not physically capturing all of what I’m seeing. With this group of paintings, I’m really focusing on what the object is and where it came from. For example, in the painting “Organics” we ate those things after I painted them. So there’s a definite connection to our everyday lives. We have an organic
share that we get, so these are things that I’m coming into physical contact with and so I’m remembering those moments or appreciating the work that went into the harvesting and everything else that goes along with providing organic food to a community. This series is really about community.

"Pieces of Hiking" by Chad Grohman

“Pieces of Hiking” by Chad Grohman

Q: Can you talk about a specific piece that is included in the show?

A: The painting called “Pieces of Hiking” is one that I’m the closest to. My wife Kristen and I were going on a hike and I was looking for things that were interesting as we were walking. Whether its specific plants pointed out by Kristen who is an herbalist or maybe something laying next to that plant. I remember that day so clearly
and I remember coming home after the hike and starting that painting right away. I feel like out of all of the paintings in the show, that’s the one I think of first from the group.

“Organics” brings back a memory as well but not as vivid. The tomatoes and peppers were good and made a nice addition to our dinner but “Pieces of Hiking” reminds me more of the day I had with my wife, talking about plants. So I’m closer to that one because the memory is about personal interaction, which is important. With this series of paintings I’m trying to bring people into the work rather than having them looking from across an expanse to see something.

"Organic Turnips" by Chad Grohman

“Organic Turnips” by Chad Grohman

Q: Your color palette shifted a bit in this series, can you talk about that?

A: I hadn’t worked in this way before. I started each piece with a very bright and saturated underpainting of magenta. First, I used this as a way to unify everything. And also, I liked the way it affected the color balance of warm and cool. Then it also started to serve as a way of covering and revealing things. I stayed with the pink color even though I had planned to do some paintings with a blue underpainting. I felt like the pink color really brought joy to the work. I feel that these objects and these things I’ve painted should be celebrated and I feel like the bright pink added to that positive
approach to looking at nature. 

"Wedding Poms" by Chad Grohman

“Wedding Poms” by Chad Grohman


Q: How does your environment impact your work?

A: I live in a rural environment and I’m involved in the community through our various activities. We organize in our community to bring people together and a lot of it has to do with how we’re interacting with nature. Whether that’s through plants or beneficial action to aid the community, like a clean up or something like that. All of these things require us to be in nature and to be around these objects. We aren’t just getting together, we are getting together in nature. Every time we do, it involves observing our environment.

"Sapling" by Chad Grohman

“Sapling” by Chad Grohman

Q: When you’re painting these natural objects and images, you aren’t painting them on site, you’re taking photos and bringing them back and working in your studio, right?

A: That’s right. I’m always using photographs. I appreciate plein air painters and I do that sometimes too but that’s not my standard practice. I’m an illustrator so that’s just the way I’m comfortable working, in the studio using references. 

What’s funny is that this is the first time I’ve painted vertically using an easel! Normally, I work flat on a table. That’s a huge difference and I was very comfortable and welcomed the change.


From The Dirt to The Skies runs through Friday, October 4, 2019. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Gregory Dirr

Gregory Dirr, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of September 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Gregory some questions about his work and studio practice:

Gregory Dirr and his works at Bailey Contemporary, July 2019

Q: To start off, please you tell us about your background.

I’m from Miami but I live and work in Boca Raton, I work as a full-time visual artist. I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember; from a very young age it was something I was known for by my peers and even my family. I created more serious bodies of work during high school and applied to Ringling College in Sarasota where I received my BFA in 2008. After college, I started an artist collective – Thought Coalition – to help not only myself, but my friends and other emerging artists build relationships with businesses and art gallery owners.

Because of Thought Coalition I was able to accrue a lot of experience in curating and event organizing. I work as art director for Healing Blends Global, art director at Sickle Cell Natural Wellness Group, I am co-curator of Shangri-La Collective, and I have spearheaded some projects with local businesses all while pursuing my own studio stuff.

Q: How would you describe your work? 

Primarily, I’m a painter. I do, however, work in printmaking, sculpture, installation, collage, video, and music but I always circle back to painting. I’ve always been interested in various ways of creating and my own career has led me to dip into a plethora of art forms.

My subject matter is all a study for a book I’ve been writing for several years. I create landscapes, observational pieces, realism, or dreamy imagery as a response to my surroundings. These responses are sort of existential, which is touching into what my book is about, even if the references for the book are a bit obscure.

Flora

Flora, 2018, Gouache on raw canvas

I also love children’s folklore and literature. A few of my successful pieces are inspired by children’s stories that have a fantastical world like James and the Giant Peach, Grimm’s Tales, Oz series, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Alice in Wonderland.

GregoryDirr_James And The Giant Peach

James and The Giant Peach, 2017, Acrylic, gouache, ink on canvas

Q: What was your experience like at art school?

During college, I was constantly surrounded by other visual artists. At school I would get a glimpse of other artists’ work and their studio processes. We had to write papers about them and critique their work which turned out to be valuable and introspective to my own work. That analytical way of thinking allowed me to apply it to my own work and become less biased of the art I create.

immured

Immured, 2008, Acrylic, toothpaste, collage, medical tape, iridescent ink

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?

My favorite places to see art are in an artist’s studio or home, where they work. I feel like I’m getting an unedited version of what their process looks like. I enjoy looking at the duality of how something can look so orchestrated when it’s in a gallery, a book, or online versus how human it looks in person.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?

What’s most valuable to my process is actually a sketchbook or journal, something to write down or draw thoughts. To me it’s more than doodling or sketching – I write ideas or even potential color palette combinations. Sometimes I even just write a single word, sometimes I write lyrics. I think the thought process behind an idea is more valuable than the actual painting of the artwork itself. I can be working on a very successful idea, but if I’m not elaborating on it aesthetically or conceptually, it will never grow. This is where a sketchbook comes into play.

Q: What are your goals for this residency? 

I want to mix my observational stuff with my landscapes with my fantastical illustrations with my graphic work and find a middle ground between them. I’m also going to use this opportunity to paint bigger than what I’m usually working because my current working space is at home. That all being said, I’d love to use this opportunity to be influenced by the surrounding imagery of Clifton Springs. I’ve never been to upstate New York so I’m excited to explore the area – especially the nature.

Currently, I’m working with Nordstrom on a project, I’m also working on a regional grant proposal. I always have something in the works be it public art, upcoming shows, commissions, directing art – you name it. This month at Main Street Arts is going to give a reprise from most of those things.

Q: Where else can we find you?

My website — GregoryDirr.com has some bodies of work gathered in an organized type of way.

Instagram — @gregorydirr it where I post only art, usually current stuff or things I’m just interested in showing off. :)

My blog — gregorydirr.wordpress.com where the art is all over the place!

And my Facebook business page — @Gregory Dirr and it lists all my upcoming and and recent works. :)

 

Meet Artist In Residence Lauren Pitcher Stone

Lauren Pitcher Stone , artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of September 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Lauren some questions about her work and studio practice:

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Lauren Pitcher Stone

Q: To start off, tell us about yourself.
Greetings! I am Lauren Pitcher Stone, an interdisciplinary artist from the tri-state area. I graduated with a BFA from Mason Gross and am classified as a millennial even if my bracket rejects the term. I currently work as an artist assistant as well as freelance fabricator and look to continue my studies in the future.

"Remnant of Actaeon", deer teeth, dirt, grinds, hair, fabric, paper, and paint

“Remnant of Actaeon”, deer teeth, dirt, grinds, hair, fabric, paper, and paint

Q: Can you describe your work?
My work encompasses painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, and exists as traces of another place. They act as transformative environments that are chthonic portals of poetry and romance as well as rot and growth.

A Good and Spacious Land, mixed media installation

A Good and Spacious Land, mixed media installation

Q: What are your plans for your residency?
While at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs I plan on delving into polarities of nesting vs. nomadic and how the modern world begs for beings to be conflicted to be subversive, peripatetic, or anthropological in their approach to life. In general I have a clear idea of my direction. I feel intimate with these ideas and feelings that have to be developed through creating and making. As the work is developed it often changes and takes different permeations till they are one.

The works will involve photo and installation which will exist in nature as well as in the workspace till they are cannibalized into something useful or as a stepping stone.

Split of Persephone, Paint, Fabric, Paper, and Graphite

Split of Persephone, Paint, Fabric, Paper, and Graphite

Q: Where can we find you?
My work can be seen on my website, laurenstoneart.com and on Instagram: @HoldMeMonster