Tag Archives: Clifton Springs NY

A Growing Art Collection by Sarah Butler

The foyer of our house features a group of work by former MSA resident Marisa Bruno, Hannah Lindo (from a MSA juried Small Works exhibition), John Green (from a two-person exhibition at MSA), Robin Whiteman (MSA gallery shop artist), Matt Metz (from the Flower City Pottery Invitational), and an original Bradley Butler. Show in the mirror to the right, a painting by Rochester artist Amy Vena and a painting by former MSA resident Kira Buckle.

The foyer of our house features a group of work by former MSA resident Marisa Bruno, Hannah Lindo (from a MSA juried Small Works exhibition), John Greene (from a two-person exhibition at MSA), Robin Whiteman (MSA gallery shop artist), Matt Metz (from the Flower City Pottery Invitational), and an original Bradley Butler. Shown in the mirror to the right, a painting by Rochester artist Amy Vena and a painting by former MSA resident Kira Buckel.

Brad and I have what I think is the start of a really great art collection hanging on the walls of our home. Being the directors of an arts organization that hosts several exhibitions per year gives us the chance to see all types of work from new and familiar artists all the time. Sometimes we can’t let a piece of art leave the gallery unless it’s in our car and on its journey to our house. (Okay, maybe not sometimes…maybe often.)

We have many pieces in our collection that we’ve acquired from our Main Street Arts connections including work shown in exhibitions, work from our gallery shop artists, and pieces from former artists in residence.

A view down our upstairs hallway, looking at the stairwell. The skull print on the left, by Bill Fick, was acquired from Rochester Contemporary during the Outlaw Printmakers Show in 2014.

A view down our upstairs hallway, looking at the stairwell. The skull print on the left, by Bill Fick, was acquired from Rochester Contemporary during the Outlaw Printmakers Show in 2014.

Left, a painting by Robert Ernst Marx (from a two-person exhibition at MSA) hangs above a drawing by former MSA resident Geena Massaro. Right, a grouping of work from former MSA resident Emily Tyman, Rochester artist Jim Mott, RIT alum Autumn Hasthor, former Flower City Arts Center resident Lane Chapman, and Rochester artist Sage Churchill Foster.

Left, a painting by Robert Ernst Marx (from a two-person exhibition at MSA) hangs above a drawing by former MSA resident Geena Massaro. Right, a grouping of work from former MSA resident Emily Tyman, Rochester artist Jim Mott, RIT alum Autumn Hasthor, former Flower City Arts Center resident Lane Chapman, and Rochester artist Sage Churchill Foster.

Hanging in area of our stairwell is a drawing of our four-legged kids by July/August 2019 resident Geena Massaro that hangs below a Robert Marx painting that was included in his two-person exhibition in 2017. In another area, a painting of mushrooms by October/November 2018 resident Emily Tyman is paired with a painting by Jim Mott that was included in the Upstate New York Painting Invitational at Main Street Arts in 2017 and a ceramic sculpture by Autumn Hasthor, a now RIT alum, who had her BFA show Sewn Solid on the second floor of the gallery in 2018. Also included in the grouping, a ceramic sculpture by Lane Chapman (a former resident at the Flower City Arts Center) and a RoCo 6×6 featuring an elegant little glass mushroom by Sage Churchill Foster whose work is regularly featured in the gallery shop at Main Street Arts.

The mantle in our living room is the home to one of Brad's own paintings, a mixed media piece by former MSA resident Cathy Gordon, a vessel by Rochester artist Peter Pincus, a tiki sculpture from Hawaii and a vessel from Mexico, as well as an antique camel sculpture and other objects. Guest appearance by our four-legged kids Rodney (left) and Margot (right).

The mantle in our living room is the home to one of Brad’s own paintings, a mixed media piece by former MSA resident Cathy Gordon, a vessel by Rochester artist Peter Pincus, a tiki sculpture from Hawaii and a vessel from Mexico, as well as an antique camel sculpture and other objects. Guest appearance by our four-legged kids Rodney (left) and Margot (right).

Left, a mixed media piece by July 2017 artist in residence Cathy Gordon and one of Brad's abstract paintings sit on our mantle. Next to them, shown on the right, is a tiki we purchased from an artist working on a sidewalk in Lahaina, Maui during our honeymoon, and a vessel from a 2018 trip to Mexico.

Left, a mixed media piece by July 2017 artist in residence Cathy Gordon and one of Brad’s abstract paintings sit on our mantle. Next to them, shown on the right, is a tiki we purchased from an artist working on a sidewalk in Lahaina, Maui during our honeymoon, and a vessel from a 2018 trip to Mexico.

The mantle in our living room features a mixed media piece by July 2017 artist in residence Cathy Gordon, alongside one of own Brad’s paintings, and a vessel by Rochester artist Peter Pincus from his solo exhibition at Main Street Arts in 2014. Also on the mantle: a tiki sculpture purchased from a Hawaiian artist working on the street in Lahaina, Maui from our honeymoon in February 2008, and a Mata Ortiz vessel by Mexican artist Octavio Silveiro which we acquired on a trip to Mexico in 2017.

Left, a print by Syracuse artist Elizabeth Andrews acquired at the Memorial Art Gallery's Clothesline Festival in 2009. This piece sits at the top of our stairs and always makes me smile because on the wall just behind it (shown far left) is our wedding photo in which we are standing in the exact same pose. Right, a 6x6 from the first year of RoCo's 6x6 exhibition in 2008 done by Cory Card, who sadly passed away earlier this year. This piece sits on a shelf in my studio. It says "mangled" and was the first piece I was drawn to at that exhibition due to its bold simplicity.

Left, a print by Syracuse artist Elizabeth Andrews acquired at the Memorial Art Gallery’s Clothesline Festival in 2009. This piece sits at the top of our stairs and always makes me smile because on the wall just behind it (shown far left) is our wedding photo in which we are standing in the exact same pose. Right, a 6×6 from the first year of RoCo’s 6×6 exhibition in 2008 done by Cory Card, who sadly passed away earlier this year. This piece sits on a shelf in my studio. It says “mangled” and was the first piece I was drawn to at that exhibition due to its bold simplicity.

Main Street Arts is a wonderful resource in finding new and inspiring works to add to our personal collection, but we also love to find pieces to add when we visit other local arts organizations. Every year we attend the Flower City Pottery Invitational at the Flower City Arts Center, the Memorial Art Gallery’s Clothesline Festival and Fine Craft Show, and exhibitions at Rochester Contemporary including their 6×6 exhibition.

Our cup collection is quickly outgrowing its designated space in this cabinet in our kitchen. Last year, we added lighting to showcase all of the beautiful cups and bowls we have acquired.

Our cup collection is quickly outgrowing its designated space in this cabinet in our kitchen. Last year, we added lighting to showcase all of the beautiful cups and bowls we have acquired.

A few of my favorites from our cup collection. Left, center, a mug by Sam Chung purchased during the 2019 Flower City Pottery invitational. Just behind it to left, you can see a collaborative cup by August 2018 MSA residents Maliya Travers-Crumb (ceramic artist) and Jill Grimes (painter). To the left of the mug, a cup by John and Kathy Brien from the MSA gallery shop. In the image on the right, my all time favorite cup in the collection, by Matt Metz can be seen in the front on the right. This piece was purchased during the 2017 Flower City Pottery Invitational. The blue tall cup on the left is by Nicolas Kekic. The short tumbler in the front and the tea bowl in the back were both purchased from two different "The Cup, The Mug" exhibitions at Main Street Arts.

A few of my favorites from our cup collection. Left, center, a mug by Sam Chung purchased during the 2019 Flower City Pottery invitational. Just behind it to left, you can see a collaborative cup by August 2018 MSA residents Maliya Travers-Crumb (ceramic artist) and Jill Grimes (painter). To the left of the mug, a cup by John and Kathy Brien from the MSA gallery shop. In the image on the right, my all time favorite cup in the collection, by Matt Metz can be seen in the front on the right. This piece was purchased during the 2017 Flower City Pottery Invitational. The blue tall cup on the left is by Nicolas Kekic. The short tumbler in the front and the tea bowl in the back were both purchased from two different “The Cup, The Mug” exhibitions at Main Street Arts.

We’ve acquired several cups from our annual juried exhibition The Cup, The Mug at Main Street Arts, as well as from the Flower City Arts Center, The Memorial Art Gallery, trips we’ve been on, and we even have a collaborative mug from August 2018 Main Street Arts residents Maliya Travers-Crumb and Jill Grimes. In addition to cups and mugs, we’ve started adding some beautiful bowls to our “cup cabinet” including work by ceramic artists Sang Joon Park and Kaete Brittin Shaw, and glass artist Nicolas Kekic—artists we were introduced to at the 2018 and 2019 MAG Fine Craft Show. Our collection is quickly outgrowing this space and I don’t see it slowing anytime soon!

"These Are My Rivers #16" by Rochester artist Pete Monicelli. This is a piece we purchased last year from his exhibition at Colleen Buzzard's studio at the Anderson Art Building.

“These Are My Rivers #16″ by Rochester artist Pete Monicelli. This is a piece we purchased last year from his exhibition at Colleen Buzzard’s studio at the Anderson Art Building.

We also like finding gems from smaller galleries or artist studios. Last year we purchased this really wonderful piece by Pete Monicelli from his exhibition at Colleen Buzzard’s studio. It’s still waiting to be framed so I haven’t been able to fully appreciate its beauty as a part of the collection hanging on our walls yet, but I knew when we saw it that it would make a wonderful addition.

Left, a sculpture by Bill Stewart that was included in his 2019 solo exhibition "Eccentric Energy" at Main Street Arts is paired with a print by Buffalo artist Kathy Sherin. Kathy's print was acquired at a fundraiser for Gallery R, the RIT student run gallery in 2013. Right, a painting by Robert Ernst Marx from his solo exhibition "Silent Voices, Silent Rooms" in 2019 at Main Street Arts and a grouping of work by Sylvia Taylor, Anne Muntges, Jim Downer (who Brad and I both had as a graphic design professor during our time at Monroe Community College), and Pat Bacon.

Left, a sculpture by Bill Stewart that was included in his 2019 solo exhibition “Eccentric Energy” at Main Street Arts is paired with a print by Buffalo artist Kathy Sherin. Kathy’s print was acquired at a fundraiser for Gallery R, the RIT student run gallery in 2013. Right, a painting by Robert Ernst Marx from his solo exhibition “Silent Voices, Silent Rooms” in 2019 at Main Street Arts and a grouping of work by Sylvia Taylor, Anne Muntges, Jim Downer (who Brad and I both had as a graphic design professor during our time at Monroe Community College), and Pat Bacon.

We collect art because the work speaks to us in some way and reminds us of connections we have with the artists who created them—the reminders of residents who spent time with us at Main Street Arts, hot dog lunches and studio visits with Robert and Francie Marx, or a special vacation where we met the artist working on his or her craft. I wish that I could showcase each piece of art or grouping on our walls, but it’s hard to do because there is so much to say about each piece and the stories made when they are seen together in our home.


This post was written by Sarah Butler, assistant director at Main Street Arts and is expanded from her response on the “What’s on Our Walls post in the Get to Know Us series.

 

From the Director: End of 2019 Edition

As I sit here and prepare myself to write this end of the year blog post, I find it hard to believe that a whole year has actually gone by; 2019 was a whirlwind of a year for us at Main Street Arts!

Installation shot from our residency alumni exhibition in April, featuring 43 former artists in residence

Installation shot from our residency alumni exhibition in April, featuring 43 former artists in residence

In our first full year as a 501(c)(3) non profit arts organization, we have been humbled and encouraged by the support of so many of you through our fundraising efforts. Your contributions help us to keep offering a variety of arts programming to our immediate community, our region, and beyond. Through our first Artist at the Table event and Residency Alumni Exhibition in April, we raised enough funds to start offering financial support to artists in residence. Starting in January 2020, we will be able to fully fund one resident per quarter and offer partial funding to accepted artists in residence in need. We welcomed 22 artists in residence in 2019 from 13 different states and 1 Canadian province. This is the most artists we’ve had come through the program in a single year!

Bill Stewart on the night of his opening reception for "Eccentric Energy"

Bill Stewart on the night of his opening reception for “Eccentric Energy”

"Perception of Time" included artwork by Carol Acquilano, Jim Garmhausen, Sue Leopard, Richard Margolis, Nick Marshall, Nancy Wiley, and Beckett Wood

“Perception of Time” included artwork by Carol Acquilano, Jim Garmhausen, Sue Leopard, Richard Margolis, Nick Marshall, Nancy Wiley, and Beckett Wood

2019 was also a great year for exhibitions at Main Street Arts.  From group exhibitions like Perception of Time, which explored our relationship to the concept of time; to solo exhibitions like Eccentric Energy, which highlighted the career of well-known Rochester sculptor Bill Stewart. We had a total of 16 exhibitions in 2019, 8 on the main floor and 8 in our second floor gallery space.

Sprawling Visions, January 11–February 14, 2020 — Reception: Saturday, January 18, 4–7 p.m.

Sprawling Visions runs Jan. 11–Feb. 14, 2020 — Reception: Saturday, Jan. 18, 4–7 p.m.

While I may be biased in saying this, 2020 is full of great exhibition programming as well. Starting off the year is Sprawling Visions, a 26 artist invitational of paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture and photographs by artists from our region and beyond. Over the past 3 years of having our open call for work, many artist’s submissions have gone unanswered. I would consult the list to find artists for exhibitions we were planning and if there was a fit, I made contact. If not, the submission stayed active. This exhibition is an effort to answer that call and moving forward, all submissions to the open call will be answered twice per year. This exhibition will take place on both floors of the gallery.

Sneak peek at a painting that will be included in "Painters Painting Painters" by Rochester artist, Brian O'Neill.

Sneak peek at a painting that will be included in “Painters Painting Painters” by Rochester artist, Brian O’Neill.

In February, we’ll have another large group invitational on both floors with Painters Painting Painters. The exhibition consists of 22 artists from the Finger Lakes, Rochester, and Buffalo areas.  Each artist was tasked with making a painting of another artist in the exhibition and the result is a unique look at the variety of figurative painting being done by artists in our region. Additional work by each artist will also be shown, keep an eye out for the full list of artists to be announced soon!

Installation shot from "Silent Voices…Silent Rooms", Robert's solo exhibition in February of 2019

Installation shot from “Silent Voices…Silent Rooms”, Robert’s solo exhibition in February, 2019

We will also be adding a ninth exhibition to the main floor exhibition calendar in 2020. In December, we will have a special solo exhibition of new work by Robert Ernst Marx, which celebrates his 95th birthday!

ASAE students in grades 1–3 discuss ceramics as they look at this year's "The Cup, The Mug" exhibition

ASAE students in grades 1–3 discuss ceramics with instructor Pam Viggiani as they look at this year’s “The Cup, The Mug” exhibition

ASAE students in grades 4–6 show off artwork they made, inspired by Sylvia Taylor's "Pink Cloud" installation.

ASAE students in grades 4–6 show off artwork they made, inspired by Sylvia Taylor’s “Pink Cloud” installation.

The After School Art Experience at Main Street Arts has grown in it’s second year, as we now have two different sections, one for kids in grades 1–3 and another for kids in 4–6. We hit the ground running at the start of the 2019-2020 school year with twice the amount of students in each 4-week session over last year. So far, the students have discussed and made artwork based on a solo exhibition by Sylvia Taylor and they have seen artwork from around the country by a total of 156 artists in our Small Works and The Cup, The Mug exhibitions. This unique program  gives kids the opportunity to thoughtfully engage with the artwork in our exhibitions. They learn about the artists, their ideas and processes, and they make artwork based on what they are learning. We are proud of the program and thank instructor Pam Viggiani for cultivating a deeper appreciation for art in the kids in the program each week.

Mixed media leaf composition project at the Canandaigua VA

Mixed media leaf composition project at the Canandaigua VA

Weekly art classes at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center have been taught by gallery assistant and artist, Maria Galens. She has been doing weekly art sessions with the veterans consistently since February and will be continuing on into 2020. While we have been providing art workshops at the VA since 2014, this is the longest consecutive stretch of classes taught and we are thrilled to be there!

Assistant director, Sarah Butler and literary arts coordinator, Rachel Crawford at Sulfur Books on the first day of being open, Small Business Saturday

Assistant director, Sarah Butler and literary arts coordinator, Rachel Crawford at Sulfur Books on the first day of being open, Small Business Saturday

We hope that by now, you have all heard about the latest addition to Main Street Arts. We now own a bookstore on Main Street in Clifton Springs! Sulfur Books opened at 18 East Main Street on Saturday, November 30th and we couldn’t be happier. Sarah Butler, assistant director, Rachel Crawford, our new literary arts coordinator, and myself spent the month of November tirelessly renovating the storefront. In just 32 days, we moved the entire inventory of Explore! The Bookstore—which MSA board vice president Anne Mancilla gifted to us—built-out, painted, restocked, and rebranded the store.

Top left: Explore! The Bookstore prior to renovation; Top right: The bookstore during renovation; Bottom: Sulfur Books

Top left: Explore! The Bookstore prior to renovation; Top right: The bookstore during renovation; Bottom: Sulfur Books

Rochester-based author, Brian Wood reading from his new book, Joytime Killbox at the Sulfur Books grand opening event

Rochester-based author, Brian Wood reading from his new book, Joytime Killbox at the Sulfur Books grand opening event

The existence of Sulfur Books is the reason that we are now launching literary arts programming and we have many exciting programs and events to be announced. Be sure to follow Sulfur Books on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We will be launching the full website soon. Stay tuned!

The Main Street Arts crew: (left to right) Sarah Butler, assistant director; Maria Galens, gallery assistant; Rachel Crawford, literary arts coordinator; and Bradley Butler, executive director and curator.

The Main Street Arts crew: (left to right) Sarah Butler, assistant director; Maria Galens, gallery assistant; Rachel Crawford, literary arts coordinator; and Bradley Butler, executive director and curator.

From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of all of us at Main Street Arts, I would like to thank everyone who came to see an exhibition, attended an event, took a workshop or joined us for a residency. If you are interested in making a year-end contribution to Main Street Arts, you may do so on our website: MainStreetArtsCS.org/support. A donation of any amount will help to support our unique programming and keep us growing into the future. We look forward to seeing you in 2020!

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Nick Marshall: Living with Photographs

Photo studio

Photo studio

Hi, my name is Nick Marshall. My work is currently on view in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. Here is a glimpse into my practice as an artist.

I grew up in Canton, Ohio. I received my B.F.A. from Columbus College of Art and Design and my M.F.A. from Rochester Institute of Technology. I have taught photography related courses at Alfred University, RIT, and Visual Studies Workshop. Since 2013, I have been the Manager of Exhibitions and Programs at George Eastman Museum.

There were three important experiences I had with art in my formative years that shaped my practice as an artist.

1) In high school I was introduced to Robert Rauschenberg’s work and it changed my understanding of what materials could be used. (Anything)

2) In grad school I unknowingly walked into a James Turrell installation at the Albright Knox Art Gallery and it altered my understanding of how art can be experienced. (Physical)

3) In 2009 I saw an exhibition of Paul Graham’s A Shimmer of Possibility and it changed my understanding of how photograph’s can shift perspective. (Time)

 

From Then Until Now (I), 2009, chromogenic development print, 24x18"

From Then Until Now (I), 2009, chromogenic development print, 24×18″

My first love was painting but in undergrad I gravitated toward photography. The process of being in the darkroom and the chance for the unknown was appealing to me. In grad school I became interested in the chemical and cultural histories of photography which lead to my work with vernacular imagery. My series From Then Until Now examined the snapshot as an object that “lives” with us. It’s bends, folds, and tears tell of a tactile history while it’s chemical properties are altered due to the conditions it’s exposed to.

I have continued these investigations into the amateur and consumer aspects of photography for the past 10 years.  I’m interested in the way we live with photographs — from shoeboxes and mass-produced picture frames to touch screens and Instagram. How does the way we interact with photographs affect our memory?

Future Nostalgia, 2018-2019, gelatin silver print, 14x11" (installation view)

Future Nostalgia, 2018-2019, gelatin silver print, 14×11″ (installation view)

Collecting is an important part of my practice. I have boxes full of thrift store picture frames, lottery tickets that have already been scratched off, dead pens, and hand-written driving directions. I’m perpetually drawn to discarded or obsolete objects that carry very little monetary value but have the potential to tell stories.

Found picture frame

Found picture frame

Insert Photo Here (I), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24x18"

Insert Photo Here (I), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24×18″

Insert Photo Here (II), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24x18"

Insert Photo Here (IV), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24×18″

My work has always heavily focused on material and the physicality of objects so once I am in my studio, it’s important to touch the things around me — to become familiar with them, put them next to other things, see how they interact, break them down or destroy them. What’s inside? What’s underneath? How is this used? How isn’t it used?

In the studio with Dale

In the studio with Dale (cat on chair)

Photoshop Tools (Eraser), 2018, inkjet print, 24x18"

Photoshop Tools (Eraser), 2018, inkjet print, 24×18″

Every day I am essentially surrounded by the history of photography while at work. I see this time as a part of my practice that informs and influences the projects I take on. For instance, after exhibiting Anna Atkins’s 19th century botanical studies, I started to think about what a contemporary study would look like.

Botanical Study (I), 2016, chromogenic development print with LED panel, 12x7"

Botanical Study (I), 2016, chromogenic development print with LED panel, 12×7″

Unintentionally, the flatbed scanner has become one of my favorite tools in the studio. I was drawn to it’s relationship to photograms and to its ability to alter perception through depth of field and surface.

Touching Photographs (III), 2018, acrylic face mounted chromogenic development print, 13x9"

Touching Photographs (III), 2018, acrylic face mounted chromogenic development print, 13×9″

I hope you have a chance to stop by the exhibition before it closes. My work from Touching Photographs and Future Nostalgia will be on view until February 15.

My new website will be published soon but until then you can find me at marshallnick on Instagram.


Nick Marshall is one of seven artists featured in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. The exhibition can be previewed on the gallery’s Artsy page. Perception of Time runs through February 15, 2019.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Kara Lynn Cox

Painter Kara Cox artist in residence during the month of April 2017, is working in one of our two studio spaces for the month . We asked her a few questions about her work, life, and more:

Kara Cox in her studio at Main Street Arts

Kara Cox in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: To start this off, tell us about your background. 
I am from Rochester, New York, but currently live in Yonkers. This move was accompanied by my studies at SUNY Purchase for my BFA in Painting and Drawing. I have been keeping track of my studio hours, and guesstimate I’m around 3091 hours at this point. (I’ve been keeping strict track of my studio hours starting at the rough estimate of 3000).

I sort of have a day job… I wear many hats. Currently I am a Listings Editor for Artcritical, and have published writing with them as well. I’m also a studio assistant to various artists, and I will often freelance odd jobs. This is the only way I could support my nomadic studio life style and still have a place to live in New York City!

"Interference Blue" (Acrylic paint, house paint, on canvas)

“Interference Blue” (Acrylic paint, house paint, on canvas)

Q: How would you describe your work? 
My preferred medium is acrylic (painting). I also draw realistic portraits of people and dogs, but I don’t consider it part of my practice. As of late I think the paintings operate in the liminal space between abstraction and realism. They are rooted in their abstract formal elements, but are contingent on the structure inherent to photography (and physical objects/subjects of the reference photographs).

I’m really interested in how perception influences each of our individual experiences. The paintings have addressed this in their formal properties, such as hyper-gloss, or slightly differing colors. These formal decisions require the viewer to physically walk around the painting, as it is never fixated in a single moment.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
First my paintings start with my environment. 
My recent body of work originated from my attention to objects and surfaces that were easily dismissed or quite often devoid of monetary value. These quotidian objects felt deeply important to me; such as dirt piles, cracks in the sidewalks, or scuffs in the wall. I would then extract a pattern using Adobe Illustrator- either re drawing sections or using the program’s algorithms for selecting an element of the photograph and create a multitude of black stencils to project onto the surface of the painting. I think about the projection as if it were a grid…something to build off of and mold the image.

Still using this process I now think of my paintings as an exploration in perception, between subconsciously choosing what is brought to the foreground of my attention in an environment, and the way this information is translated through a digital lens.

Inside Kara's studio

Inside Kara’s studio

Q: What are your goals for this residency? 
I would like to utilize my time at this residency to produce a few new paintings, but also attempt to create a few short animations. I’ve been interested in making work about our perception of the immediate/physical world and how it is changed by our relationship to the digital/non-physical. I think exploring moments of quietness through extensive labor and the tedium of drawing them out frame by frame will allow me to respond in reverence to these dwindling moments of subtlety and stillness. I’m also interested in how a video might possess an unsalable quality, or have a veil of egalitarianism in its accessible/sharable aspects.

I’ve learned it is better to set very mild goals on a residency. This allows room for exploring new routes and ideas that may be unique to the experience, instead of shrouding new developments with an aggressive or unforgiving goal, mislabeled as productivity. I think some of the quietest, unsuspecting moments in our lives are the ones that fuel progress the most, and it is important to remain open to them.

KaraCox2_web

Kara at work in her studio

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
Hands down it would be my projector. Runner up is my computer. I’ve developed a real attachment to working this way, and these devices have really shaped my visual language.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? 
I would say Trevor Paglen with his investigation into data collection and mass surveillance, and Hope Gangloff with her incredible color relationships are equally tied in first place for me. Runner-ups might be Sarah Sze, Agnes Martin, Donald Judd, and Dan Flavin.

Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork?
I listen to so many kinds of music, but I find that I listen infrequently. I think listening to music while working discourages mindfulness, so very rarely will I listen while I’m painting. I think it is important to be fully present in activities (which is probably encouraged by my interest in our relationship to the digital).

Yellow Sun (Acrylic paint, house paint, on canvas)

Yellow Sun (Acrylic paint, house paint, on canvas)

Q: What’s next for you?
I’m going to head back to New York, and try to wear fewer hats. I’d like to stop freelancing, and find a consistent part time or full time job. I’ve already found a very small studio to rent for a few months, so I plan on slowing down on the nomadic residency life style for now. Other than that, as long as I can keep making and seeing artwork… I’m a happy camper.

Q: Where else can we find you? 
I can be found on Instagram at karalynn_cox, website at karalynncox.com, and email at karalynncox@gmail.com


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts. Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Housing is available. Submissions are reviewed and residencies awarded quarterly. Upcoming deadline: May 31, 2017 for a residency in July, August, September 2017.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Stacey Rowe

Painter Stacey Rowe, artist in residence during the month of April 2017, is working in one of our two studio spaces for the month. We asked her a few questions about her work, life, and more:

Stacey Rowe in her studio at Main Street Arts

Stacey Rowe in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: Tell us about your background.

A: I moved from the Syracuse area to Rochester to attend college at Nazareth. I have a B.S. in Studio Art and an M.S. in Art Therapy. I think I started painting on canvas around the age of fourteen. I work as a freelance writer and public relations/ marketing consultant. I’m also the editor-at-large at (585) magazine. The flexibility allows me to do a residency like this.

Q: How would you describe your work?

A: I paint in acrylic and I’d describe my work as colorful, humorous, and often layered with symbolism.

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

A: I’m very cerebral about it. Meaning: I tend to think more than sketch when I’m planning a piece. I’ll jot down lists of ideas and go about researching. Then, I’ll sketch right on the canvas and start painting. There are usually one or two improvisational items that happen once I get into it, so it’s good that paint is such a forgiving medium!

Some of the Pantone People Series

Some of the Pantone People Series

Q: What are your goals for this residency?  

A: I currently have three pages of ideas for the Pantone People series. These are smaller square works (6” x 6”) typically featuring a celebrity with some sort of creative play on the Pantone color swatch name. I’d like to put a dent in that list and also work on some larger pieces that will feature some of the funny animal characters I have created. I’m also going to teach a workshop on April 15. We’re going to have fun!

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

A: I’ve been using “The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver” for years and it really is the best. I once left paint on a relatively new brush overnight and this totally saved it. It’s also great for reshaping and conditioning brushes.

Q: Do you collect anything? 

A: Now that I’m older, I’m reducing my “Hoarders-Lite” tendencies. It’s tough because as an artsy person, it’s very easy to accumulate a lot of useless stuff! When I was a kid, I collected anything and everything – rocks, coins, different kinds of toys, and stuffed animals. I had a run on snowglobes for a bit. They’ve been in a few of my paintings. Since my father relocated, I only have one left and it’s kind of a relief. I still grab shells on beach trips and display them in a nice jar upon my return. I do have a few coins I’ve saved from my travels. I’d eventually like to see those in some form of jewelry. French Polynesian currency is particularly eye-catching.

"Goodbye Special Friend" is a painting I did for my graduate thesis in 2000. It features the only snowglobe I have left from the collection.

“Goodbye Special Friend” is a painting I did for my graduate thesis in 2000. It features the only snowglobe I have left from the collection.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? 

A: It’s so hard to pick just one here. I love Gustav Klimt for his gorgeous pattern work and all of that gold leaf. I love Andy Warhol for his pop sensibility. I love Frida Kahlo for her ability to tell a story through imagery. And, of course, there’s the king of color – Henri Matisse.

Q: Who are your favorite local artists? 

A: I was incredibly happy that my college painting and illustration professor, Kathy Calderwood, had a show at RoCo last spring. It was great to see so many of her new paintings in a show. Lately, I’ve been interested in the work of Edie Small (Edith Lunt Small). She had a very intriguing piece in the RoCo member show in December. I’m always interested in what Sarah Rutherford and Andrea Durfee are doing because they are such incredibly skilled and powerful artists. I like what Shawn Dunwoody has done with street art and neighborhood beautification the past several years. He has fantastic energy and an ability to engage young artists and the general public. I’m also drawn to some abstract artists because their work is so different from my own – Brian O’Neill (who also does hyper-realistic work), Nate Hodge, and Bill Judkins – to name a few.

Nena Sanchez Gallery in Curaçao

Nena Sanchez Gallery in Curaçao

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork? 

A: Anytime I travel, I seem to wind up in a museum. I also love seeing the street art in other countries. Aside from the obvious choice (France), one of my favorite art destinations was Curaçao. In addition to the Kura Hulanda Slave Museum, I visited the Nena Sanchez and Serena Janet Israel galleries. The art community is very strong there. The architecture, floating market, and beach drinks aren’t too shabby, either!

Inside my studio at Main Street Arts

Inside my studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What advice would you give to other artists? 

A: There are going to be people who tell you to grow up and get a real job. Don’t listen to that noise. Yes, find something to pay your bills, but don’t give up on your passion.

Q: Who inspires you and why? 

A: I consider myself to be pretty fortunate that a very strong, intelligent, creative, and independent mother raised me. Naturally, I’m drawn to likeminded individuals. Many people inspire me and I’m very lucky to know such a diverse group of creatives in both my personal and professional life.

Q: How do you promote your artwork? 

A: I look for show opportunities and I use social media (primarily Instagram and my personal Facebook account) to get the word out. I’m often following up with people (a.k.a. nagging them) who express interest in a piece after a show comes down. I’m also planning on getting an Etsy or some kind of online shop going soon. I set an account up years ago but never had the time to figure it all out.

Stacey Rowe working in her studio at Main Street Arts as Snappy the turtle supervises.

Stacey Rowe working in her studio at Main Street Arts as Snappy the turtle supervises.

Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork? 

A: I will listen to pretty much anything except country, but I have to be careful that it’s not too funky – I’ll get distracted and won’t get anything done!

Q: What’s next for you? 

I’m working on getting some work in a few galleries outside of New York because I have family in Florida and several friends who have moved out of state. I figure it might make for a good excuse to visit!

Q: Where else can we find you?

A: My websiteTwitter & Instagram


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts. Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Housing is available. Submissions are reviewed and residencies awarded quarterly. Upcoming deadline: May 31, 2017 for a residency in July, August, September 2017.

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Victoria Brzustowicz: One Tree x 52

Victoria’s artwork is on view in “8x8x52: Weekly Paintings by Victoria Brzustowicz”. Her work is available for purchase in our Online Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


In December 2015, I was looking for ways I could push my painting routine. I considered one of those painting-a-day challenges, but I knew that was an unrealistic goal given my crazy schedule and the vagaries of Rochester weather. See, I don’t have studio space, so I do most of my painting outside.

I came up with a painting goal that would be flexible enough  to accommodate works schedule, personal responsibilities, and that crazy, unpredictable weather—I challenged myself to a painting a week of my favorite tree in my garden. My ground rules were that I could paint it from any vantage or any angle, as long as that tree appeared somewhere in the painting.  I bought my 52 canvas panels and painted the first of the series on January 6th, 2016, at 9am.

8x8-01, the first painting in the series.

8×8-01, the first painting in the series.

As I worked on this series, I tried to be open to the moment for each painting. Knowing that I would be painting the tree over and over  made me freer to start with an open mind. I knew there was another painting in which I could explore some other aspect of the composition, the drawing, my palette, or my brush selection. I tried various colors to tone the canvas, tried starting with a white canvas, tried various limited palettes, tried mediums, tried to use up odd tubes of paint, and tried to see what worked or didn’t work for me and the way I feel comfortable painting.

My setup for painting #9 – you’ll see that my biggest task is editing and simplifiying what I see.

My setup for painting #9 – you’ll see that my biggest task is editing and simplifiying what I see.

8x8-09 March 5, 1pm

8×8-09 March 5, 1pm

Here are a couple of other pairs of images, showing my setup and the finished painting. Yes, simplifying what I saw was  a big part of each piece….

That morning, I wanted to capture the glow of the morning light on the foliage against the blue sky.

That morning, I wanted to capture the glow of the morning light on the foliage against the blue sky.

8x8-44 November 4, 9am

8×8-44 November 4, 9am

Here are three shots: one showing my set up, one showing the tree, and the last showing the final piece. This was painted in the evening with a floodlight illuminating the fall foliage — I knew a storm was coming and I wanted to capture that color one last time, even if it was under artificial lighting.

You can see my easel and my supplies, all lit with a small lantern; the tree is in the background, lit by the floodlight.

You can see my easel and my supplies, all lit with a small lantern; the tree is in the background, lit by the floodlight.

The flood-lit tree

The flood-lit tree

8x8-45 November 7, 6:30pm

8×8-45 November 7, 6:30pm

Victoria Brzustowicz is an award-winning  painter, illustrator, and graphic designer. She  graduated from Wells College with a BA in Studio Art. At Wells she studied with noted painter William Roberts. A native of Rochester, NY, Victoria is Co-Studio Manager at the Book Arts Studio of Flower City Arts Center (formerly Genesee Center for the Arts), where she also teaches linoleum block printing. Although she painted extensively through the years, she was recently introduced to the  techniques of painting alla prima by Carol L. Douglas. Victoria is also a co-founder and chair of the Greater Rochester Plein Air Painters, a chapter of the New York Plein Air Painters


Stop by Main Street Arts to see “8x8x52: Weekly Paintings by Victoria Brzustowicz” in our second floor gallery. The exhibition runs through February 17, 2017

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by ceramic artist Jillian Cooper.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jillian Cooper

I spent my early childhood growing up in Manchester, New Hampshire and then moved to Lubbock, Texas where I remained for 20 years.  I earned my MFA with concentrations in Ceramics and Metalsmithing/Jewelry from Texas Tech University in 2015.  Currently, I am living in Plano, Texas where I work at Collin College as the Ceramics Lab Coordinator.

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I enjoy using lace in my work because it can be found embellishing everything from tablecloths to underwear.  It can be innocent, seductive, outrageous, delicate, timeless and trendy. It appears on babies, brides, entertainers and grandmothers.  The incorporation of lace allows me to simultaneously represent a variety of associations.

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I have only recently began using plaid in my work.  It started as a suggestion from a friend and I ran with it.  The more I research it, the more I enjoy using it much for the same reason I use lace. Its broad spectrum of use and associations from historic family tartans, to the lumberjack, to the school girl leave so much room for interpretation

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“Plaid Mug” featured in The Cup, The Mug exhibition

I use Laguna Dark Brown boxed clay. I start out with a simple slab built cylinder.  I slip and score the seam and use the overlap as part of my design instead of smoothing it out.

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When the cylinder is formed I use it as a template to cut out a rough circle for the bottom.

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Thick slip is painted over lace on the slab that is going to be the inside bottom of the mug.

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When the slip is no longer tacky, I peel away the lace.

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The bottom of the cylinder is slipped and scored and carefully attached to the bottom.

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The excess slip around the edges is wiped away and the remaining clay is pushed up against the cylinder creating a lip around the bottom.  The basic cylinder shape is gently formed into a softer edged form.

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I use a rubber tipped tool to divide the surface into an area that will have lace added to it.  The area without the lace is pushed out slightly more from the inside.

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Again, thick slip is painted over lace and allowed to sit until it is no longer tacky.

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The lace is peeled away and any excess slip is wiped away with a rubber tipped tool.  I use a drill bit to remove clay so that the stitches are recessed into the clay and not just sitting on top.

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Small coils are rolled out and pressed into the holes to create the stitches.

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When the clay dry, I sketch out a (very) rough plaid pattern.

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Three coats of underglaze are applied, then it is bisque fired to cone 08.

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After bisque firing, a clear or celadon glaze is applied on the interior.  The lace and stitches are waxed and a clear glaze is applied over the outside.  I then fire to cone 10 in reduction.

My plaid cups are still in their early stages of experimentation and development, but I am excited to see what they grow into from here.  You can find me and my work on Instagram @toberninejilly or on my website at www.jilliancooper.com


Stop by Main Street Arts to see the mug shown above by Jillian Cooper in our current exhibition “The Cup, The Mug: A National Juried Exhibition of Drinking Vessels” (juried by ceramic artist Peter Pincus, exhibition runs through January 6th). 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Megan Armstrong

Megan’s artwork is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. Her work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


Artist Statement:
A line is a critical tool for communication – whether compositionally visual or textual, a line connected to another line creates a navigational thread to follow – this thread can be woven in and out as a form of coded language – the duplicity of a line is directly linked to the formation and understanding of words – whether drawn or written, a line can develop into structures, systems, labels, and powerful (perhaps dangerous) associations – associations spur emotional, factual, and fallible interpretations and translations – lines act as evidence of human thought – definitions, synonyms, organizations – lines slide back and forth to create new relationships, pairings, combinations, composites, connections – the limitlessness of the line is linked with it’s limitations – through repetitive, compulsive exploration and manipulation of lines I investigate notions of normalcy by examining the narrative lines between fiction and reality.

Through practical and emotional research of a specific system – mental illness and the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version 5 (DSM-V) – I create artwork that translates the coded language within the system, as well as the individual experiences that are left out of the clinical translation of human behavior. When a system and it’s coding logic is laboriously translated into didactic lines that weave in and out, attempting individuality, but ultimately creating controlled chaos, the complexity and ambiguity of a convoluted system remains.  

Work in Progress

Megan Armstrong in her studio drawing lines for a work in progress.

For the past three years my work has focused on the exploration of lines, as a form of communication, translation, and investigation of systems and mark-making. While the width and style of the line remains consistent in each drawing, it is important that every endeavor is a challenge, whether in content or form.

Artist Studio

Megan Armstrong’s home studio.

This past summer I moved to Rochester, NY, and set up a temporary artist studio in my home. The second I step into the house I am reminded of the art I have made in the past, current pieces, and the type of work I would like to attempt in the future.

Nomenclature, 2016, Ink and graphite drawing on paper, 36"H x 42"W

Nomenclature, 2016, Ink and graphite drawing on paper, 36″H x 42″W

Hanging above my makeshift drawing table is Nomenclature, a drawing I started at the Byrdcliffe Artist Residency in Woodstock, New York in 2015, and completed in 2016. The drawing is created by individual ink lines woven together. The background was laboriously hand-drawn, erased, and re-worked in graphite.

A Reductionistic Anachronism, 2016, Ink drawings on paper, Eighteen individual 12"H x 12"W drawings

A Reductionistic Anachronism, 2016, Ink drawings on paper, Eighteen individual 12″H x 12″W drawings

Resting on the drawing table is a work in progress titled A Reductionistic Anachronism. This piece was started with the simple and necessary idea of individual drawings building and creating a larger drawing. I was in the process of moving and had packed up all of my larger works and tools, except for my micron pens. I began working on a 12″ x 12″ drawing with the intention that it would connect to another, and another, and another… In a grouping of 18 drawings as shown it measures a total of 36″H x 72″. This drawing will continue to grow indefinitely.

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language (106), 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 12"H x 12"W

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language (106), 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 12″H x 12″W

The drawing shown above was created for the Small Works 2016 Exhibit at Main Street Arts. I challenged myself to take content I had previously worked on in a large scale, to the restricted dimensions of 12″H x 12″W. The drawing created for Small Works 2016, which won the Director’s Choice Award, features 106 lines total, signifying the amount of mental disorders defined by the first version of the DSM. The piece is an iteration of a drawing I created for my MFA Thesis at San Francisco Institute of Art, title The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language for Communication (pictured below). The entire drawing includes 394 hand-drawn ink lines, depicting the number of current codes for diagnosing mental illness, as categorized by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version 5 (DSM-V). These pieces were created line by line, and each line is numbered, with a clear beginning and end. This means that you can follow one line in it’s entirety. In both drawings there seems to be a clear form, although abstract, when viewed from a distance. The closer you get to the drawings, the easier it is to see the distinctions between each line, the connections and interactions, as well as the varying paths traveled. Each line is completely unique and wholly individual, yet viewed on the same page and in the same space, they begin to seem the same and it is more difficult to clearly define them as separate.

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language for Communication, 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 48"H x 48"W

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language for Communication, 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 48″H x 48″W

Line Theory, 2015, ink drawings on paper, artist book, 7" x 8.5" x .5"

Line Theory, 2015, ink drawings on paper, artist book, 7″ x 8.5″ x .5″

Line Theory is a hand-drawn and hand-written artist book I created in collaboration with photographer Brian Dean, who beautifully hand-bound each book. Each page features a “chapter” and corresponding line drawing. The book holds 28 complete chapters (original poetry) and line drawings (the drawings grow from one line to twenty-eight lines). Line Theory is a limited edition of six, and each book in the edition features completely different drawings.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Megan’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Megan’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com. Visit her website at http://www.meganarmstrongart.com and follow her on Instagram @meganarmstrongart.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by ceramic artist Renee LoPresti.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Renee LoPresti

Renee’s cups are on view in our juried exhibition “The Cup, The Mug: A National Juried Exhibition of Drinking Vessels”. Her cups are available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


“I was born and raised in rural Northwestern New Jersey and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the New York State School of Ceramics at Alfred University. Currently, I live in San Marcos, Texas as a resident artist at Eye of the Dog Art Center. My focus is making functional ceramics consisting of simple forms and graphic surfaces with underlying narratives.”

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All pieces are thrown using a locally mixed, mid-range stoneware clay with a high-iron content (Armadillo’s Cinco Rojo from Austin, TX). The claybody becomes a rich, rusty color when fired and provides a dark base layer for the brightly colored underglazes, which are layered upon it. I prefer to create relatively simple forms designed for comfort and functionality. The smooth thrown surface and simplicity in shape  creates the perfect  ‘blank canvas’ for the graphic surfaces.

thrown mug prepared for surface decoration

thrown mug prepared for surface decoration

Overlapping blocks of punchy colors and repetitious dots patterns are layered beneath images of paper airplanes, crashing into one another and sometimes ascending into the clouds. The paper airplane has become my most commonly used image lately, and I have come to fall in love with the range of scenarios and interpretations it offers. To me, the paper plane is delicate, fleeting, and hopeful, with the ability to be easily picked up by a gust of wind and soar freely. Of course, the planes can eventually fall and are often crashed into a large pile. I love to play with notions of hope and cheerfulness, backed by underlying tones of loss or despair.

finished mugs with crashing and ascending paper airplanes

finished mugs with crashing and ascending paper airplanes

First, I begin by throwing multiples of the same form in small batches that can be finished in approximately one week. Each piece is trimmed, each handle is pulled and shaped before attaching. After the ends are cut to fit, both sides of the handle are slipped, scored and firmly pressed to the cup. Coils are added near each connection for strength, but mostly for visual continuity and ergonomics. All mugs are stored in a damp box (an air-tight plastic box with a 2” plaster sub-floor to regulate and maintain moisture) until they are decorated.

damp box storage

damp box storage

thrown and trimmed cups awaiting handles to be attached

thrown and trimmed cups awaiting handles to be attached

slipping and scoring for handle attachment

slipping and scoring for handle attachment

The layering begins by incising equally spaced vertical lines using a blade and a circle divider, thereby creating a general framework for each subsequent layer.

using a circle divider and xacto to incise vertical lines

using a circle divider and xacto to incise vertical lines

Next, the imagery with highest contrast and focus are affixed to the leatherhard clay using thin gauge die-cut vinyl. The paper airplanes are cut using a Silhouette Cameo, which can cut many identical images with intricate lines. The vinyl is the perfect material because it sticks well to the bare clay and when removed from under many layers it will create crisp lines without tearing (and its reusable).

applying die-cut vinyl paper airplane cutouts

applying die-cut vinyl paper airplane cutouts

After all the vinyl images are in place, the first color of underglaze is applied to the entire piece.

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Once dry to the touch, I will begin blocking out sections using the blade to incise defined areas. These areas are then filled with the second color of underglaze.

grey underglaze applied to blocked areas with 1" hake brush

grey underglaze applied to blocked areas with 1″ hake brush

Often, I will use the rule of thirds when deciding where to place the horizontal lines for each layer of color blocking. It is important that the blocks continue to become smaller in size, as to not cover too much of the preceding layers.

mint underglaze being applied to smaller blocked areas

mint underglaze being applied to smaller blocked areas

Now, I begin to apply glaze to certain areas, particularly to the areas where one’s mouth will come in contact with the rim.  I use Mayco’s Stroke and Coat glaze because it is formulated to be applied to greenware. The clouds are also cut using the die-cutting machine, but are cut from construction paper. Paper is preferred for this stage because it can quickly be soaked in water and gently applied to previous layers without marring the surface.

paper cloud cutouts ready for use after being cut from silhouette cameo die-cutting machine

paper cloud cutouts ready for use after being cut from silhouette cameo die-cutting machine

After three coats, the paper clouds and vinyl airplanes are quickly removed  (this helps to keep the edges clean and crisp).

removing paper cutouts while glaze is still wet

removing paper clouds

removing vinyl paper airplanes from cloud section while glaze is still wet

removing vinyl paper airplanes from cloud section

An applicator squeeze bulb is used to apply glaze dots of a complementary color. The dots are applied to all open areas that were painted with the first base color. This allows the dot pattern to move all around the piece, even inside and outside of the handle.

using squeeze bulb to apply  dots inside the handle

using squeeze bulb to apply dots inside the handle

The final touch is to use a tracing wheel to create the dashed lines trailing behind each airplane. These lines create an additional line quality, one that is organic and momentous and helps to carry one’s eye around the piece.

the tracing wheel being used to create trails behind each paper plane

the tracing wheel being used to create trails behind each paper plane

finished and ready to dry before being bisque to cone 06

finished and ready to dry before being bisque fired

The mugs are then bisque to cone 06, each piece is gently sanded using fine grit sandpaper. An opaque, cream colored liner glaze is poured into the interiors, and they fired in an electric kiln to cone 5. All the feet are then sanded again to ensure a smooth bottom surface.

bisqued mugs sanded and ready for liner glaze

bisqued mugs sanded and ready for liner glaze

finished mugs after being gaze fired to cone 5

finished mugs after being gaze fired to cone 5

finished mug in demonstrated color palette

finished mug in demonstrated color palette

In the upcoming  year I plan to continue to explore new color palettes and narrative-based imagery. I have a few workshops I will be teaching in 2017 on surface techniques. For the most up-to-date information on my studio practice you can find me on Instagram @renee_lopresti. You can also find me on the web at  http://www.reneelopresti.com


Stop by Main Street Arts to see two cups by Renee LoPresti in our current exhibition “The Cup, The Mug: A National Juried Exhibition of Drinking Vessels” (juried by ceramic artist Peter Pincus, exhibition runs through January 6th). Renee’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop (available cup pictured below): store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Renee LoPresti, "Pink, Blue and Green Planes Crashing Teabowl", stoneware, 3.25" x 3.5", 2016.

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Renee LoPresti, “Pink, Blue and Green Planes Crashing Teabowl”, stoneware, 3.25″ x 3.5″, 2016.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by sculptor Muhammad Aslam.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Muhammad I. Aslam

Muhammad’s artwork is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. His work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


I would like to take a moment to discuss my process as it relates to my imagery and use of symbolism. My work functions mostly on the allegorical level – the figure is used as an icon; the meaning often suggested through the use of additional parts, pose, as well as palette. The starting point for much of my work is with a single word or a phrase. Much like an author I employ word bubbles, branching off into synonyms  (a thesaurus is heavily employed in this phase). This is often where the title of a piece is locked down as the word that best encompasses the conceptual structure of a work emerges.

Muhammad Aslam, "Opacare I", cast resin, mixed media, 13" x 16" x 5", 2016.

Muhammad Aslam, “Opacare I”, cast resin, mixed media, 13″ x 16″ x 5″, 2016.

While the word bubbles develop the imagery begins to form in my head. In the case of “Opacare I” I began with the concept of “dusk”. That quickly moved to wanting to personify my perception of that particular point of day. Moving in to the symbolism of the word I formed a mental map of what the piece should encompass. Given that twilight is the fading of sunlight hours into the nocturnal it seemed most appropriate to represent elements of both within the work. To this end the bird skulls came into play.

The crow, a bird of the day, is given the central position just above the figure’s head. Here the skull is slightly enlarged as a nod to the prominence of day in the lives of most human beings. It is typically the hours where one is most active as well as feels the most secure. The owl, a bird of the night, takes the left side of the figure suspended in a configuration of three. Crows in addition to owls are often taken as icons of wisdom as well as change. Dusk can be taken as a time of competition, metaphorically this may represent the moment where the end of a phase (or the entirety) of one’s life yields insight.

To pull this together a bit more a headdress, very loosely referencing a dream catcher was constructed. This served a function purpose of giving the skulls a place to attach to but also gave the piece an air of the pseudo religious and regal, albeit the regality of the vanishingly small segment of time sunset represents. The headdress itself is attached in a rather unrealistic way, as is most of the head gear in my work, with the intent of heightening the surreal flavor of the piece.

Of course, at this point outside of some words, loose scribbles on scrap paper, and notions of varying focus in my head – none of the piece exists. This is the part of the process where a project often dies, my interest faded, or it is filed away to attempt later. In addition, while everything I have described thus far sounds rather specific, the final imagery almost always varies quite a bit from the original idea. What works well on paper does not translate well into three dimensions in many cases. Once I actually decide I would like to sculpt a piece it is simply a matter of deciding what the piece should be made of (oil or water based clays, Sculpey, etc…).

The very start of a sculpt. Loose, fast, not much care for anything else.

The very start of a sculpt. Loose, fast, not much care for anything else.

The choice is merely what is appropriate for the piece. For “Opacare I” I chose Monster Clay; an oil based clay with what I find to be excellent handling properties. Once the armature was constructed (a simple brass tube affixed to a base), sculpting begins in earnest. I prefer to start very fast, keeping a loose hand, not paying much attention to overall accuracy, nor using any tools. It is here where the feel of the piece as well as any immediate edits are established. I eventually slow down, introduce tools, and then gradually refine the piece.

Left: How much of the figure to use is experiment with. Right: The final composition is established. Refining starts in earnest.

Left: How much of the figure to use is experiment with. Right: The final composition is established. Refining starts in earnest.

Naturally, an oil based clay sculpture needs to be molded then cast if one intends to keep it.  was a fairly straight forward mold. The interest came from the resin selected to cast her in. A semi-translucent resin was my material of choice. The idea centered on the notion of layering up translucent airbrush colors over the surface to give the piece a depth in color that may otherwise turn out bit flat. With the first set of mostly successful casts the color palette was considered. I initially opted for a color scheme heavily favoring pinks, blues, and purples layered over a wash of violet then scarlet. Testing this on the seconds (castings not quite up to snuff), the pink proved a bit overpowering. The final piece introduced a bit more of a bone color while retaining the same scheme.

Left: Firs two pulls from a silicone mold. Right: Initial paint test, base, and headdress fitting using one of the seconds.

Left: First two pulls from a silicone mold. Right: Initial paint test, base, and headdress fitting using one of the seconds.

The seconds were then used to test fit and experiment with ways of attaching the headdress and skulls. The more or less final piece assembled, it appeared something was missing. Ultimately, I opted to construct two thin tree branches, both made of Sculpey (to save time on molding then casting), and attached them to the back of the figure. This unexpected addition provided the missing element to the work while providing a nice visual to further tie the figure to the natural element found in the bird skulls. Given that twilight, crows, and owls all also symbolize death in certain traditions the branches were given a white color.

Left: Final paint job, but something is missing. At this stage I had experimented with using feathers. Right: Near final piece.

Left: Final paint job, but something is missing. At this stage I had experimented with using feathers. Right: Near final piece.

Outside of some spot checking, a sculpture is finished at this stage. From the point it is presented on it, to some degree, ceases to be completely mine. As each viewer encounters the work it is liked, or disliked, and assigned meanings that often have nothing to do with anything I saw or intended for the piece. This phase it typically the most rewarding. On occasion one or two individuals may ask for the thought processes behind my art, or I may have the artist statement on hand, or write a blog, but I find I mostly prefer to stay silent and let the viewer take in the piece and converse with it on its own terms.

Gallery visitors view Muhammad's sculpture in Small Works 2016

Gallery visitors view Muhammad’s sculpture in Small Works 2016


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Muhammad’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Muhammad’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com. Visit his website at http://aslamfineart.tumblr.com and follow him on Instagram @miaslam_.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Stacey Rowe.