Inside the Artist’s Studio with Cole Worden

Cole Worden in the studio

Cole Worden in the studio

Hello, my name is Cole Worden. I am a recent graduate from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where I received a BFA in studio arts, and I am currently a participant of the working artist program at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

Cup II by Cole Worden included in The Cup, The Mug

Cup II by Cole Worden included in The Cup, The Mug

As far as my personal timeline goes, I am rather new to ceramics. I spent the majority of my youth honing my skills as a musician, which led to a short career as a drummer in an internationally touring metal band. My eyes were opened to a vastly larger world than I could have ever imagined, and became aware of how little I really knew about life. This fueled my curiosity and eventually drove me to drop everything and return to school. I spent two and a half years as a neuroscience major and struggled to adjust to the life of a student, while coming down from a three year high of adrenaline, drugs, rock and roll, and my own inflated ego. It became clear I wasn’t going to make it as a scientist. I took a ceramics class on a whim, trying to find a new path ahead, and was hooked instantly. I accidentally stumbled into a warm, accepting, and challenging community of artists, that helped me to find myself, and a way forward. I graduated in December of 2018, and have since been doing what I can to make it as a ceramic artist.

The original model for a bowl made from MDF and tape with fired bowl

The original model for a bowl made from MDF and tape with fired bowl

So, what does a day in the studio look like for me? Most of my work is slip-cast, so that means I have to go through a pretty extensive process starting from an idea and getting to a finished product. I begin by either making a form from clay, or making a form from MDF, then alter the surface (often with paint, electrical tape, or customized stickers) to get the desired texture I want. Then I take a plaster mold of the object, which I can later cast from with slip. Once I have the object in porcelain, I apply various washes, wax, and glazes to achieve the desired coloration.

Applying wash to bisquware

Applying wash to bisquware

While I am casting from the molds I have, in a more rigid production sort of process, I’m simultaneously working out how to improve on what I have, and brainstorming for the next form I want to make. Alternating between production and creation keeps my day interesting, and every step has room for creativity. So, despite the rigid replication that comes with slip casting, I like to make subtle changes all the time to make each piece unique.

Much of my time in the studio, I can be found with headphones in, which half of the time are playing metal. Growing up, one of the most influential forms of visual art for me was the album art and graphic design on cd covers and band merch. I think on a deeper level, most of my aesthetic decisions have roots in metal/rock/punk culture, whether they are immediately apparent or not. The other half is spent listening to audiobooks or podcasts, generally in the realm of science or philosophy. Learning about and pondering the nature of our reality through reason and experimentation provides for me a sort of spiritual satisfaction that no religion has been able to do.

Cole Worden pouring slip from a mold

Cole Worden pouring slip from a mold

Pouring slip from a mold

Pouring slip from a mold

These ideas permeate into my work, along with my love for architecture, and all of the media I consume, creating a chimeric brain baby that usually pops out in the form of a pot. Which begs the question, why pottery?

I’ve been asking myself this question for a while now, and for many reasons I love the process of making pottery. I find my flow through physical action. My mind and body are both engaged creatively and intellectually. But I think those personally gratifying aspects wouldn’t be worth it without being able to serve someone else. The utility of pottery is common across all walks of human life, and I am happy to provide someone with that utility. Plus, I can hint at little nuggets of ideas for someone to contemplate with their morning coffee, and that’s fun for me.

Cup 1 by Cole Worden included in The Cup, The Mug

Cup 1 by Cole Worden included in The Cup, The Mug

Thanks to Main Street Arts Gallery for giving me the opportunity to share with you a little bit about myself and my process. If you’d like to know more, or find more of my work, you can visit my:

Website: coleworden.com
Instagram: @coleworden
Etsy: Etsy.com/shop/colewordenartworks
Or contact me at: cwordenart@gmail.com


Cole Worden is one of 44 artists included in the 4th annual The Cup, The Mug exhibition on the second floor at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of drinking vessels. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. The Cup, The Mug runs through December 14, 2019.

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Emile Bouvet-Boisclair

I am a French Canadian born ceramic artist, residing in Chicago, IL for the last decade. 

artist Emilie Bouvet-Boisclair

Artist and a board of marbled cups. Photo by: Alexis Bouvet-Boisclair

Clay entered my life when I was 13. I was gifted lessons for Christmas with studio potter Lloyd Fitzsimmons. I long considered myself a painter, eventually graduating from State University at Geneseo with a BA in Fine Arts and a concentration in figure studies and water color. Despite this, as a teen, I purchased a potters wheel with my babysitting money before graduating from high school, and in my 20s, continued to enroll at local ceramic studios from time to time. Throwing pots was a welcome release from the seriousness with which I approached my canvases.

This set depicts flora and fauna native to North America- the Cuckoo bird and Paw Paw tree- one of the few fruiting trees native to this continent.

This set depicts flora and fauna native to North America- the Cuckoo bird and Paw Paw tree- one of the few fruiting trees native to this continent.

When I began merging my painting experience with clay, pottery making took on a more serious role in my life. I approached glazing pots with the eye of an oil painter — layering techniques of line inlay, and sculpture with glazes, colored slips and stains to achieve depth and nuanced color.

Jewelry box with typical adornment of flowers and also brains. Jewelry boxes are often gifted to young girls, one of many ways we initiate their values and status in society - this serves as a reminder of the importance of intellect.

Jewelry box with typical adornment of flowers and also brains. Jewelry boxes are often gifted to young girls, one of many ways we initiate their values and status in society – this serves as a reminder of the importance of intellect.

My work addresses an appreciation of nature and a hope to conserve the environment. 

birch wood inspired vases by Emilie Bouvet-Boisclair

The stillness of a birch wood forest is captured in my speckled line of vases.

The animals in my work often have very emotive facial characteristics — with the goal of creating a connection between the viewer and subject.

pufferfish planters by Emilie Bouvet-Boisclair

Pufferfish planters

Humans need to be better stewards of our shared home. Many of us live lives away from the small wonders of the natural world, wrapped in a bustling concrete jungles distracted by bright screens, crowded buses, and constant distraction . It is easy to forget our dependance and interconnectedness with our environments, and also all the creatures that share the earth with us.

Large bowl featuring puffins in a melting arctic with a rainbow throughout. The rainbow refers to a Christian story of Noah's Arc, and God's promise not to flood the earth ever again. We find ourselves in a time when sea levels are rising as a result of human industry; and our leaders are in position to play god to our planet, weather for better or for the self interest of the few.

Large bowl featuring puffins in a melting arctic with a rainbow throughout. The rainbow refers to a Christian story of Noah’s Arc, and God’s promise not to flood the earth ever again. We find ourselves in a time when sea levels are rising as a result of human industry; and our leaders are in position to play god to our planet, weather for better or for the self interest of the few.

Puffin and Rainbow Bowl (D) copy

Detail from Puffin and Rainbow Bowl.

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Photo by: Alexis Bouvet-Boisclair

My studio practice balances my love of sitting down and throwing production with creating more detailed, singular work. Throwing a board full of rounded vases is a meditation and a mental groove I can ride all day long. I find it gives me the mental space to develop and realize larger and more developed pieces.

Pottery requires a humbleness — there are so many facets of ceramics that have taken years to master — and there are lifetimes more of learning. Always having a challenge that seems attainable is one thing I enjoy from pottery making. It is a field which demands hours and full attention; the hurdles overcome and subsequent results in my artistic journey are hugely gratifying. 

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Pots in production. Every one of these that was a success has a pot that failed behind it.

In the last month, I learned to throw large pots — that was hugely difficult and tearful (this was for a commission with a tight deadline which I self assuredly accepted) and also self validating.  Each pottery technique that is mastered will open the door to new ideas and projects. 

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I love the interplay between the grouping of large pieces. These found a permanent home at the Hoxton Hotel in Chicago- they echo the stillness found on the lake front. Lake Michigan is a place to find a bit of peace from the city noise.

On the horizon for next year, I plan to experiment more with throwing large series; I enjoyed the play and interaction with scale, form and color in the pieces in my last collection. I also plan on bringing light into my work — I am interested in the possible narratives and hidden worlds that could be created using light — so hardwiring bulbs will be a skill I hope to attain soon as well. 

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Right now I am a potter- but I will always consider myself an artist first and hope to dip into my box of oils sometime in the future. 

You can see more of my work at TwinettePoterie.com or @TwinettePoterie on Instagram.


Emilie Bouvet-Boisclair is one of 44 artists included in the 4th annual The Cup, The Mug exhibition on the second floor at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of drinking vessels. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. The Cup, The Mug runs through December 14, 2019.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Vickie Pierre

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

Artist Vickie Pierre

Artist Vickie Pierre

Q: To start off, please tell us about your background.
I’m originally from Brooklyn, New York and graduated from the School of Visual Arts 1997.  I’ve been living and working in Miami, Florida for the last 20+ years.  Prior to my full time studio practice, I spent years working as a fine art preparator in New York and then a Museum Registrar for local institutions in Miami.  I now work occasionally as a Registrar Consultant for local collectors and museums.

I Can't Say No to You (Good Enough) 2014 Mixed medial installation

“I Can’t Say No to You (Good Enough)” by Vickie Pierre, 2014. Mixed media installation.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My practice includes painting, collage and installations. I explore my Haitian American identity, with references to design and the decorative arts and the natural world. I also consider the connections between my Caribbean heritage and global cultural mythologies and their relationship to contemporary cultural politics.

Elemental Mistresses (The Power of 3) 2016

“Elemental Mistresses (The Power of 3)”, by Vickie Pierre, 2016

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
My paintings and collages usually begin with background color buildup followed by basic forms applied with rubber stamps or brushes. Sometimes I’ll draw on the surface to mark out possible shapes and collage placement. The assemblages and installations are trickier. I’ll visualize these projects for a longer period of time, even before I sketch it out. Once I’ve completed it in my mind, I’ll put it to paper and then the best part, I make it!

That's How Important She Was (Poupees in the Bush series) 2019, Acrylic and decorative paper collage.

“That’s How Important She Was (Poupees in the Bush series)” by Vickie Pierre, 2019. Acrylic and decorative paper collage.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
I have many favorite artists (old and new) so it’s difficult to choose… I love the Surrealists and Matisse. Barbara Chase Riboud, Miriam Shapiro, Faith Ringold and the Saar Family women. There’s also Willie Cole, Jim Hodges, Lari Pitman. And of course back to women! All of the incredible women artists who have inspired me for decades: Petah Coyne, Annette Messager, Chakaia Booker, Sue Williams and on and on!

Queen on the Pyre (Poupees in the Bush series) 2018, Acrylic and decorative paper collage.

“Queen on the Pyre (Poupees in the Bush series)” by Vickie Pierre, 2018. Acrylic and decorative paper collage.

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork? 
One of my favorite places to see artwork is at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (previously the Temporary Contemporary). I lived in Los Angeles in the early 90s just before enrolling at SVA and spent many hours visiting with the art there.

She Wolf (Poupees in the Bush series) 2018. Acrylic and decorative paper collage.

“She Wolf (Poupees in the Bush series)” by Vickie Pierre, 2018. Acrylic and decorative paper collage.

Q: What advice would you give to other artists? 
My advice for others artists would be to determine from the onset if being a working artist is what you ultimately want. Perseverance is so important to sustaining your practice, even when it seems as if nothing is happening. My instructors at SVA used to say, ” work comes from work” and “paint your truth” so I try to practice everyday even when I’m not in my studio. I always have a pad and pen with me to jot down ideas or draw a vision that may come to me.

Totem For My Sisters (We Are Illuminous!) 2019. Mixed media installation.

“Totem For My Sisters (We Are Illuminous!)” by Vickie Pierre, 2019. Mixed media installation.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
My goal for this residency is to continue working on the current themes in my work but also include elements of inspiration from living and working in Clifton Springs. I plan on using this opportunity to work on several projects including larger collage artworks.

Q: What’s next for you?
I have a solo exhibition coming up in the next year, so I plan on continuing to work and prepare for this career milestone.

Q: Where else can we find you?
My work can be see on my website: www.vickiepierre.com and on Instagram: @vpvpierre

Meet the Artist in Residence: Jeff Schofield

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

Jeff Schofield

Jeff Schofield

Q: To start off, please tell us about your background.
I grew up as an American expatriate in Europe, where I lived with my family for decades. I studied architecture at Columbia University and pursued a career in New York, Paris and Dubai designing sustainable buildings and urban masterplans. Along the way I began making art, also expressing sustainable themes, which gradually developed into a full-time occupation. For the past ten years I’ve devoted myself to artistic pursuits, which includes curatorial work in galleries and art fairs. I studied sculpture at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Detroit, Michigan, where I am currently based as an emerging artist.

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“Beach Litter” by Jeff Scholfield. Plastic and metal litter in recycled glass jars filled with lake water

Q: How would you describe your work?
I am an installation artist working with sustainable themes. I upcycle found objects, such as beach litter, salvaged wood, newspapers, car parts and everyday detritus, into irreverent art installations. My material choices involve discarded items with their own life cycles, containing stories of human use, interaction and ultimately disposal. I experiment with this detritus through processes of collecting and cataloging to create large scale artworks examining critical narratives that question the sustainability of post-industrial society.

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“Michigan Forest Fire” by Jeff Schofield. Burnt tree trunks hung on metal chains.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I use two complimentary approaches to investigate the landscape as a source of artistic expression. One, I explore outdoors to document specific sites of human trespassing in nature, which I try to interpret through in-situ installations. Two, I install artworks indoors using discarded materials found in the field. I conceive this artwork in the open air, through walks, hikes and forms of wandering, as methods for collecting and documenting the land. Landscape interventions are expressed through photography to highlight aspects of human agency, and through collection to understand natural sites as retainers of those agencies. I explore notions of “making do,” material life cycles, overproduction and accumulation.

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“Picnic at the Beach” by Jeff Schofield. Recycled plastic picnic ware and life vests hung on ropes and buoys.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
I use the camera a lot while developing a large-scale art installation, especially regarding an outdoor piece. There are two main reasons for employing this technique. One, the siting and lighting are crucial for the public to view a piece properly, and photos provide me insight on how to do this comprehensively right from the start of a project. Second, many of my outdoor pieces are intended to decay over time, and photos allow me to record this process visually, so viewers can see the progression and understand the underlying concept as a narrative.

"Beach Toys" by Jeff Schofield. Recycled plastic beach toys hung on ropes and buoys.

“Beach Toys” by Jeff Schofield. Recycled plastic beach toys hung on ropes and buoys.

Q: Do you collect anything?
Collection is a cornerstone of my art practice. I accumulate many things found in nature, in the city, in my kitchen, among my friends, almost anywhere. Found objects constitute my art palette, including plastic, metal, glass, ropes, newspapers, salvaged wood, burnt wood, beach litter, forest litter, sidewalk litter, old toys, broken toys, broken tools, rusty tools, rusty nails, hair, hats, shoes, belts, wheels, tires, car parts, almost anything non-perishable. Storage is a big part of my art practice, and I manage this constraint as well as I can.

"Subject to Flooding" by Jeff Schofield. Sapling tree trunks on forest floor

“Subject to Flooding” by Jeff Schofield. Sapling tree trunks on forest floor

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
My ultimate reference is Marcel Duchamp, who pioneered “ready-made” artwork a century ago. My upcycling artworks derive from this, though they are many generations removed. Contemporary artists I look at include Andy Goldsworthy, Lauren Bon, Mona Hatoum, Mary Mattingly and many others too numerous to mention.

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“Ford Escort” by Jeff Schofield. Car body parts hung on ropes and pulleys

Q: Who inspires you and why?
Hemingway, whose deceptively simple writing style expresses vivid emotions.

Philip Glass, whose whimsical compositions exude deeply emotional sounds.

Greta Thunberg, whose simple message on climate change is universally powerful.

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Trash to Treasure Series: “Banner of Trash” by Jeff Schofield. Found objects bound with twine

What was your experience like at art school?
Cranbrook’s multi-disciplinary pedagogy provided me a chance to delve into the complex inter-related realms of art and design. Most striking was the sheer diversity of the student body; everyone was unique in character and talent. I learned how to search for artistic freedom, and this creative journey will continue for a lifetime. Preparing a master’s thesis forced me to build bridges between visual thinking and conceptual writing. I adopted collaboration with fellow students as a working method to develop sustainable ideas more broadly. Sharing these events with others, including the successes and failures, helped me build a permanent network of professional colleagues.

"Outside Ourselves" by Jeff Schofield. Storm-damaged pear tree branches.

“Outside Ourselves” by Jeff Schofield. Storm-damaged pear tree branches.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I aim to continue building the body of work I am currently developing with plastic and metal found objects. I will work with discarded materials that can be found in Ontario County public parklands in order to explore human transgressions of natural sites. I will make day trips to local parks, trails, lakes and rivers to collect thrown-away plastic, metal, glass and other inorganic waste. The landscape offers unexpected sources of inspiration and materials, in this case discarded junk. Using everyday items such as string, wire, paper, scrap fabric, etc, I will transform ordinary items into extraordinary artwork. My purpose is to interrogate received notions of recycling and repair. I aim to explore wacky and nonfunctional art forms by converting trash into treasure.

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Trash to Treasure Series: “Pillow of Trash”. Found objects bound with twine

q: What’s next for you?
As an ongoing program, I plan to visit other natural sites around the country and examine discarded refuse as materials to create art expressing sustainability issues specific to each locality. I am scheduled for an Artist-in-Residence program at PlySpace in Muncie, Indiana, in the spring of 2020. Just before then I will have a solo exhibition at Hatch Art Gallery in Detroit, Michigan. I will also participate in a group exhibition at the Sculpture Center in Cleveland, Ohio, in the summer of 2020.

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Q: Where else can we find you?
My website is www.JeffSchofield.net
My Facebook art page is Jeff Scofield Art

 

Meet the Artist in Residence: Sam Fratto

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

Sam Fratto, October 2019 artist in residence

Sam Fratto, October 2019 artist in residence

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

I grew up in the surrounding area of Main Street Arts, Clifton Springs and Phelps, and spent my childhood playing sports and skateboarding with friends there. I was always into doodling for fun back then, but didn’t take drawing or art seriously until college.

It was during my time at Finger Lakes Community College, where I studied fine art and graphic design, that I got into animating through a program I purchased called Toon Boom. After graduating from FLCC I followed this cartoon fancy and went to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco where I studied traditional animation and obtained my BFA in Animation and Visual Effects.

Since, I moved back to upstate NY and have been working as a screen printer at Guerrilla Tees in Victor, while animating, painting, and drawing in my off time.

"Mind's Eye" by Sam Fratto, ink on paper

“Mind’s Eye” by Sam Fratto, ink on paper

Q: How would you describe your work?

My work ranges in subject and material. In animation, I have made various silly comedy shorts using digital software (like Toon Boom) and drawing pads, as well as glass painted animations that have a more serious and experimental feel to them. These glass painted animations, like my traditional paintings, tend to have dream like imagery that comes and goes.

A still from one of Sam's painted animations

A still from one of Sam’s paint on glass animations

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?

For my glass painted animations, I work at a fast pace due to the nature of the materials and animating process. I will paint an image, sometimes thought of before hand and sometimes instinctually determined, and then I will take a photo of the painting with a down-shooting camera. From there I will alter the painting by adding or subtracting paint and snap another picture, repeat, repeat. I also really enjoy editing and adding sound post-animation to give the piece texture and depth.

"Dane" by Sam Fratto, ink on paper

“Dane” by Sam Fratto, ink on paper

Q: What are your goals for this residency?

My goal is to complete a glass painted animation that I have barely started. Like my other painted animation work, this one has no story. Instead it is an experiment in imagery and sound.

"Cloud" by Sam Fratto, acrylic

“Cloud” by Sam Fratto, acrylic

Q: What’s next for you?

I am very into painting acrylics on canvas right now and plan on diving as deep as I can into the medium after the residency. A part of this will be painting for the ‘Painters Painting Painters’ show at Main Street Arts, that I am excited to be a part of.

Q: Where else can we find you?

You can see animations and other work of mine on my website -> www.samfratto.com…and I am on Instagram @chubbychocolate1

Introducing Literary Arts Coordinator, Rachel Crawford

Rachel

I want to thank all of you for welcoming me to the Main Street Arts family as the new Literary Arts Coordinator. As I get to know Clifton Springs, I find that so much of the charm I love about Western New York is present and thriving—and I’m humbled to be part of the work Bradley and Sarah put into integrating the arts here. It’s remarkable that they see literature as integral to the arts and I couldn’t be more excited to share our upcoming events with the rest of you.

For the sake of providing a little background as to what literature means to me and what my experience entails, I completed my bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature (with a focus in Russian) at the University of Rochester and went on to complete my master’s in English Literature there as well. During my time at the university, I can say that it was the internships and volunteering opportunities with Open Letter Books—a Rochester-based press that publishes literature in translation—that left the greatest impression on me. I learned how prevalent contemporary literature in translation is,  why we should all be reading living authors, and diversifying what we read.

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While I was completing my master’s degree, I began freelancing for City Newspaper covering the literary community, and interviewing visiting authors. I was granted the opportunity to write a cover story about literary translators in Rochester who bring women’s voices to the spotlight. These translators’ roles are so significant to creating diversity in the literary arts. Marginality in literature has always interested me—the other or the subaltern; who speaks and who is spoken for. Throughout both my graduate and undergraduate careers, I focused on voice and representation. I spoke on two panels in New York (the New York Public Library and Columbia Teachers College) on women and madness in literature. After that, I presented at the University of Johannesburg and co-presented at the Catholic University of Portugal—each on Zimbabwean author Yvonne Vera, through the lens of ecofeminism.

But these are just my interests—I want to know what you’re reading: science fiction? nonfiction? Or maybe you’re revisiting Little Women to prepare for the newest film adaptation. I know some people who solely read specific genres of graphic novels or who casually flip through the New Yorker every week. Maybe you listen to books during your long commute or during a run. I want to talk about all of that with you.

For those of you who may be curious, I’m currently reading Joytime Killbox—a collection of short stories by Rochester-based author Brian Wood (which hits shelves October 15th).  (Joytime Killbox is published by BOA Editions, also based in Rochester.) I’m also  reading On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, a melancholic and mournful rendering of a difficult relationship with a parent. (Of course, there’s a stack of books on my nightstand waiting to be read.)

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With Main Street Arts, I want to bring literature from independent publishers (especially our Western New York neighbors) to the forefront of our growing literary community. Moreover, I want to facilitate an inclusive space where readers can meet authors and poets and discuss what makes a work of fiction or poetry engaging. We will be hosting author visits, poetry readings, fiction workshops, a book club, and film screenings.—so stay tuned for more programs like these, yet to be announced.

Finally, a few fun facts about me: I’m the mother of a thirteen year-old boy who goes to the School of the Arts in Rochester, New York. We try to be adventurous about food, music, art, and by traveling whenever we can. I love a good glass of bubbly. My son and I enjoy camping––there’s no sound I love more than the Adirondack loons at night, paired with the stars during a new moon. But more than anything, I love meeting new people and exchanging ideas. As the saying goes, I’ve never met a stranger—so please come say hello to me at Sulfur Books!

Sincerely,

Rachel Crawford

 

From The Dirt to The Skies: Lanna Pejovic

“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. 

Next in an interview series with the artist, executive director and curator Bradley Butler talks to painter Lanna Pejovic about painting on-site as well as in the studio, her color palette, and what inspired the work  included in the exhibition.


From The Dirt to The Skies: 
Lanna Pejovic

LannaPejovic

Q: Can you talk about the work included in the show and what inspired it? Is there a single theme running through the work?

A: The paintings in this show are more focused on flower gardens. Much of my previous work deals with the larger spaces found in the broader landscape. Even if I’m painting a garden, I’m normally more interested in the space of the garden, not the flowers themselves.
For whatever reason I felt more like being right in the flowers, so that’s what I focused my attention on. 

"A Garden Conversation" by Lanna Pejovic

“A Garden Conversation” by Lanna Pejovic

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

A: It often depends on the mood of the day but I am focusing on specific gardens. Memories of being in these specific places because it isn’t a generic idea of a garden, the memories come from my experience being in a garden. When I get ready to paint I think about the color mood of that day. Its a conversation with the painting about the color mood of that particular day. 

"Lilies and Rain" by Lanna Pejovic

“Lilies and Rain” by Lanna Pejovic

Q: When you’re recalling these gardens in your memory, are you trying to hold onto one specific image? Or do the images keep passing through in your mind?

A: I try to hold on to the image and go back to the same space in my mind. Two of the paintings included in this show are from the most intensive garden experience I’ve had, which is at Linwood Gardens. Linwood is a big place so it has all kinds of spaces that are very planned out, yet not rigid. Flowers and vegetables are planted together and continue to grow there all summer long. That’s where I spent some time a couple of years ago and I try to go back to that mental space while I’m painting, that combined with photos I took. Since I never did drawings in the garden, I am doing that now. Making charcoal drawings in the current mood I’m in which is a more linear and scribbly way of defining details of what I’ve seen. I try to revitalize my experience of the garden first in charcoal and then move towards oil paint.

"Pastel Gardens 2019 — Autumn Walk" by Lanna Pejovic

“Pastel Gardens 2019 — Autumn Walk” by Lanna Pejovic

Q: You have 3 oil paintings in the show along with 8 small pastel drawings, can you talk about the pastels?

A: Those were totally unplanned. I was thinking about a generalized idea of the garden, thinking of a poetic mood about a garden. Trying to not be specific, and not adding specific garden elements. Since they are very small, I couldn’t use the same gestural technique I’m using on the paintings. I didn’t have a specific image that I wanted and I like the ones best that are more diffused. Those are the ones that bring me back to the sensory experience of being in the garden. I focused on laying some color down, smudging the pastels and seeing what memories that might trigger. From there I would draw back into it, which was an unplanned gesture of the moment. I went through lots of paper, you never know if that gesture or that color combination will be successful. With pastels, you can only go so far with layering colors before they aren’t able to be brought to any kind of conclusion.

"Pastel Gardens 2019 — Pink Sky" by Lanna Pejovic

“Pastel Gardens 2019 — Pink Sky” by Lanna Pejovic

Q: Can you talk about your color palette for these pieces?

A: I’m very affected by what’s going on around me, I don’t work in a vacuum. I am aware of the landscape around me. As a landscape painter I am very much affected by the weather, the light, and the mood of the day. Paintings take their own course sometimes and you decide whether to follow it and support it or whether you will deny it. Letting certain colors in to the composition and then reacting to those colors.

I have been making an effort recently to rely less on blues and greens in my paintings. Those colors are so prevalent in our area, especially this time of year, it tends to dull the senses in a way. You can’t feel anything fresh about the garden. So I ask myself, how can I refresh the idea of being in a place that is a garden? I like winter gardens and I like the fall and a lot of the pastels are fall colors, somehow they kept coming out in the pastel drawings. I find the fall and winter to be more inspiring times of the year.

"Pastel Gardens 2019 — Autumn Dusk" by Lanna Pejovic

“Pastel Gardens 2019 — Autumn Dusk” by Lanna Pejovic

Q: How does your environment impact your work? 

A: The kind of painter I am, I am very sensitive to the lyrical mood or sound of the day. That in combination with my own mood, ends up having an effect on my dialog with that particular painting on that day. 

"Pastel Gardens 2019 — Yellow Trees" by Lanna Pejovic

“Pastel Gardens 2019 — Yellow Trees” by Lanna Pejovic

Q: Can you talk about your studio practice and how do you balance working on-site vs. being in the studio?

A: It’s hard being outside working on-site but I feel that it’s necessary, whether I’m just making a sketch or a full painting, that’s where I get the real experience of being there. Otherwise the finished painting wouldn’t have the sense of immediacy that I’m after. The symbolic and formal idea that has come out of my relationship to landscape. It’s more authentic for me to show the immediacy of the moment of being there, or a series of moments. The light is always changing, everything is changing. 

I found some drawings I did 35 years ago, very carefully done with layers of accumulation. They are small sketches but they are so fine, I thought “was I ever that quiet and calm working out there?”. I feel like now everything is moving so fast, even though I am out there in the quiet landscape. I feel like the time is going and I have to keep responding to it. Capturing the changing moments I’ve experienced
in a place is important to me now. So the paintings I make in the studio have to feel that way and having actually spent time somewhere helps me to capture the freshness and immediacy of a place.


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: 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. :)