Tag Archives: finger lakes artist

From The Dirt to The Skies: Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer

"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. An interesting overlap began to develop between these artists — from the motivation for making art
in the first place, to the imagery, and color palette. First up in this interview series, Finger Lakes artist Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer.


From The Dirt to The Skies:
Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer

Meredith

Q: Can you talk about your paintings and what inspired them?

A: Different trips or experiences or places I have been to over the past year or so. Places I have been that I have experienced and I just found to be really beautiful that just struck me in a way, whether it be the light or a number of different things. It’s usually the light
that is the number one thing that really gets me. They were just places that I loved and took photographs of and then based on my photos and my memories and sketches that I did there in the moment, I took all those things and started paintings based on
them. In the end, the painting takes on almost a memory sort of feel. They all start from I place I have been, a place that I saw and they all are located around the Finger Lakes area.

"Spring's Finale" by Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer

“Spring’s Finale” by Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer

Q: Is this inspiration and process different from what has happened for you in the past or has this always been your process?

A: It’s been a consistent process. It’s a series I started about 10 years ago now that has just continued to work for me. It’s been consistent, they have all started the same way. Now that I know my process a bit better, I know when I see something and know where it’s going to go.
I can do the research and do all the things that I need in order to get a good strong painting from it.

"Winter's Respite" by Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer

“Winter’s Respite” by Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer


Q: What is on your mind when you’re working? Is there a conscious “trying to remember” things about the place?

A:Yeah! The most important thing for me is that I need peace and quiet. I need to be working by myself with no interruptions. It’s rare that I have just one photograph, I usually take a few so that I can see the way the light changes and I can put it all together to create what I think is the most compelling, strongest look. I have all those photos in front of me, whether it’s on the computer or printed out, and I usually have a vision board. And that’s really it. If I have music going it’s nothing distracting, it’s just something quiet in the background.

"Sonnenberg Tribute" by Merdith Mallwitz-Meyer

“Sonnenberg Tribute” by Merdith Mallwitz-Meyer

Q: The painting “Sonnenberg Tribute” depicts nature in a different way than most of your other work. Can you talk about what caused that shift and if that’s something you’ll be doing more of?

A: I want to do more of that going forward. I used to live down the road from Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua and I would take walks through there. I love all the trees on the property, they are absolutely beautiful. One day I heard a story from someone who worked there that Mary Clark Thompson—she and her husband built the mansion at Sonnenberg—used to plant a tree in honor of every guest that she had back when she lived there. I thought that was a really cool thing, what a great way to honor a  guest. I thought that deserved a painting, so I found a tree that stood out really proud and I wanted to treat it almost like a portrait but still really get the washy luminescent layers in there. I definitely hope to take this further.

"Bud's View" by Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer

“Bud’s View” by Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer

Q:  Can you talk about your color palette? Are these colors you have seen in the skies or are they more amplified?

A: They are colors that I have seen in the sky but they are definitely amped up. I love the soft color palette from nature but I really enjoy being able to change it and put my own take on it. It’s important to me to not be painting exactly what I see. I want it to be a little bit more of a personal experience, I think this interpretation is really important. 


Q: How does your environment impact your work?

A: Oh gosh, I think my environment impacts me more than I even realize. I think going back through my paintings and remembering where the inspiration came from reminds me how much my environment influences me. I love landscapes so the Finger Lakes region always seems to be my subject matter. And it just happens to be that way. I don’t necessarily plan it to be that way it just kind of happens. So I think that because I live in such a beautiful area and the light is really beautiful and the weather and the clouds, there’s always a dramatic change in the light you can get from one moment to the next. It has a huge, huge impact on my work.

Work included in "From The Dirt to The Skies" by Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer

Work included in “From The Dirt to The Skies” by Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer

Q: I know that you were working in a different studio space this summer, what was it like being out of your usual set up?

A:I had a completely empty large room, no finished flooring or walls so it freed me up a little bit, which is important. I was able to just get things started and let the paint fly and I didn’t have any reservations. It became a really freeing experience. So having that space and having that freedom, not just the physical space but also not having to worry about getting anything dirty, I think it was a great exercise for me. It loosened up my flow of how I work a little bit more. 

I was able to work on several pieces at once because I had the space which is typically how I like to work it’s just not always the most practical thing for me. I had all of the paintings in this show out while I was working on another one so I could pull from all of those. It’s important for me when I am having a show to make sure there is cohesion and a common thread through one piece to another and that they all work nicely together but still have their own identities. 

This space granted me all those things which was really wonderful. It has beautiful light as well, it was a big open space with sliding glass doors and a big open backyard in the back. It was the perfect scenario.


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: Geena Massaro

Geena Massaro, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the months of July and August 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Geena some questions about her work and studio practice:

Geena drawing

Geena drawing

Q. Please tell us about your background.
I grew up in Palmyra, NY and still reside there. I attended Pratt MWP in Utica, NY as well as the better known Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY where I received my BFA in painting and drawing. Since finishing my BFA, I worked as a preschool teacher and am currently a teacher’s aide in a special education program. I’ve always found the energy of children inspiring, honest and relatable so I seem to have developed a gravity for this type of profession. I am currently attending Nazareth College in pursuit of a degree in art education.

Q. How long have you been making artwork?
I have been making art since I was a child. My imagination was my home and a safe place to follow some of the curiosities I developed about perceiving my inner and outer worlds.  I identified with the quiet self who  actively observed both my imaginary world and the physical world in one channel, so drawing became very natural to me. It was my habit and identity as a child.

The first thing I consciously remember drawing was an elephant. I remember showing my parents at the kitchen table (where I actually still draw) and my mother telling me that I was going to be an “artist” and I remember I took that very seriously.

Self portrait as a child, graphite on paper, 2019

Self portrait as a child, graphite on paper, 2019

Q. How would you describe your work?
I started this style of automatic painting that is very reactive to surface and are conversations (and excavations) with my own silent innerness. My paintings exhibit compulsive movements, perceived more through the hand than the eye. Superficially, they are highly textured and raw spaces. The goal of this kind of painting is not to represent a specific thing but to be within the activity of a field of feelings come and gone- observed and released through me to my hand and onto the surface. I started doing this as a way to push my paintings and myself into places of the unknown. When I reach this state of the unknown, I feel I often go blind to the action of my hand and become involved in this deep instinctual play of automatic-reactive problem solving. 

Geena Massaro, Untitled, oil on canvas, 2019

Untitled, oil on canvas, 2019

My drawings channel the same hand but a different eye. They often depict some innocent and vulnerable object or character (I seem to be followed by the archetype of the child) turned melancholic.  It is the expression of my hand however that I do believe defines my drawing- regardless of what I could say my subject matter is.

Geena Massaro, Isabella at the table, graphite on paper, 2018

Isabella at the table, graphite on paper, 2018

Q. What is your process for creating a work of art?
I am very curious about seeing and enthusiastic about the act of (and the mind of) drawing itself. Translating an image from my perceptions to my hand, my hand becomes a vehicle towards another seeing.

I draw a lot from reference photos that I have accumulated from my time as a preschool teacher. I draw a lot of my students. I think sometimes the drawing begins with a separate emotional response (some curious response) and then I just continue reacting to whatever through the language of line. My line dances fast from light to heavy and I tend to draw small- around sketchbook scale.

Geena Massaro, Lily in a chair II, graphite on paper, 2019

Lily in a chair II, graphite on paper, 2019

My paintings develop out of reaction as well. Painting is embarked upon in phases of intense work and suspensions of waiting. Painting begins in the hand and it’s completion is seldom foreseen. The process is a blind, visceral response between thought, hand and material.

Geena Massaro, Untitled (Blue), oil on canvas, 2018

Untitled (Blue), oil on canvas, 2018

The painting sits once I tire of the action and then waits for me to return to it. I live with the painting as if it were complete. This is when the painting speaks to me. I contemplate its suggested “eternity” through this play until I am either tormented or inspired to re-enter the work- or agree with it’s completion.  this play is very childlike to me and liberating. It is difficult for me to see my paintings clearly as the object they insist to be in their completion and I am curious still how to define the life of an artwork.

Geena Massaro, detail of Untitled (Blue)

Detail of Untitled (Blue)

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
I’ve learned that it is more productive and enjoyable to leave some questions out of the working hand and to ask them when you are out of the creative state. I think asking yourself questions while working is important but any question that involves a doubt about the work  will be more beneficial and constructive to yourself when you are out of the work and in a state of reflection instead.

Geena Massaro, Untitled (Carter, curtain, dog, room), graphite and chalk on paper, 2018

Untitled (Carter, curtain, dog, room), graphite and chalk on paper, 2018

Q. Who inspires you and why?
Children seem to have a big emotional impact on me. It may be because they are naturally what they are and I have a feeling of this being more difficult to know in adult life. I think children are always in a creative space.  Their brains are so hungry and I feel mine is too but I feel it is so much more natural to engage with that when you are child. They take the information of life as it comes. I love my students and there is so much natural wisdom in the things they say and do. They remind me to be honest with myself and my own inner child.

Q. Who is your favorite artist and why?
My favorite visual artist, overall, is Cy Twombly.  Apart from his works being highly charged in historical literary significance, there is a sublime freedom and play in his hand and the language his works possesses which I feel moved by.

Geena Massaro, Sasha’s communion and lilies, graphite on paper, 2019

Sasha’s communion and lilies, graphite on paper, 2019

Q. What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork?
I’ve noticed, my hands respond to noise reflexively, so I really enjoy listening to music while working. I respond to all kinds of genres, so whatever I’m into at the moment is what’s playing.

I had a huge relationship with John Frusciante’s music during college (especially after reading his essay on the creative act, The Will to Death). His work and expressions carry through to me still so deeply so I turn to him sometimes by default because I know a strong energy exists in his music.

I sing a lot to myself when I work as well.

Q. What are your goals for this residency?
My goal for this residency is to produce as much as I can and really be present with my creative world. I want to work bigger and I am very excited to have the space to do so (my current working studio is also my bedroom which is very limiting).

I want to try to unite the worlds of my painting hand and my drawing hand more successfully as well. I would like to try larger figurative paintings that use the same kind of mark as my non-objective paintings but solve themselves with a  figure. I would like to try to make more spaces for the figures to exist in in the paintings that would combine a better sense of space with the dance of paint that my non-objective works have.

Geena Massaro, Lily, oil on canvas, 2017

Lily, oil on canvas, 2017

Apart from figure, there are other subjects in me that I find reoccurring in the gravity of my innerness and I want to try to understand how these objects or things got there and what I could do with them in my work.

Geena Massaro, Untitled (Julianna, bird, branch), graphite on paper, 2019

Untitled (Julianna, bird, branch), graphite on paper, 2019

Q. What’s next for you?
I can’t really say what’s next yet. I’ve been  looking forward to this residency and I’m just really excited for this opportunity to be with myself and create.

Q. Where else can we find you?
Instagram @geenamassaro

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Nancy Wiley

My name is Nancy Wiley and I’m honored that my series of portraits is on display as part of the Perception of Time exhibit that is currently at Main Street Arts.

Nancy Wiley at Main Street Arts

Group of my paintings in the exhibition

I have always loved painting individual portraits in oils. I love people, especially faces — trying to get a likeness and portraying some aspect of each subject has always fascinated me.

Recently, my thoughts have turned to the kids growing up in our country right now— the adolescents who have been labeled “Generation Z” in the current culture. I have met quite a few (I’ll admit my own children are in this group) and a common thread I have noticed is that being true to themselves and being honest about who they are is very important to them, sometimes when it isn’t easy or if it challenges old social norms.

Sketch

Sketch

I decided to do a series of these individual portraits, and show them grouped together and in various states of being finished, as they are still physically and emotionally changing and emerging into adulthood.

My idea is to do as many as I can and then show them together in large groups. This would hopefully portray them as peers in a way or as part of a whole — a “generation”.

IMG_20181211_155254836 (1)

The process of painting so many young people has caused me to think about what I was like at their age and what the world was like then. Contrasting that to current times, so many things are different in ways I could not have fathomed.

And also I think about the future and what it holds for these kids —how life will shape them and how they will live in the world.

My daughter posing in front of my portrait of her during the opening reception

My daughter posing in front of my portrait of her during the opening reception

And so I continue to find them compelling subjects to paint. I hope the series will possibly evoke thoughts from the viewer about his or her own perspective about time and change — individuality and the identity of different generations.


Nancy Wiley 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: Emily Tyman

Emily Tyman, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the months of October and November2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Emily some questions about her work and studio practice:

Emily Tyman

Emily Tyman

Q: Tell us about your background. 

I grew up in Geneva, NY and went to college at the University of Rochester.  Originally I was a Biology major but quickly switched to Studio Art. I had always liked to make art, but in college, I experimented with different mediums and had amazing professors as mentors. I’ve tried many different types of art such as photography, sculpture, and performance art, but I always came back to painting as my favorite medium.

"Reflect", acrylic on linen, 18"x18", 2018

“Reflect”, acrylic on linen, 18″x18″, 2018

Q: How would you describe your work?

My recent work has been focusing on color and shapes and breaking down environments. I want to highlight the materials that I use, such as the linen or wood that I paint on and make that material as equally important as the paint that I’m using.

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

I used to always sketch out a plan and my paintings would usually end up being very close to the original sketch. Recently, I’ve tried to not be so strict with my paintings and just start something and not know how it’ll end up. While this was scary for me, it was a very liberating way to paint that I’ll continue to do with my pieces.

"Continue", acrylic on linen, 18"x18", 2018

“Continue”, acrylic on linen, 18″x18″, 2018

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

Brush conditioner. Cleaning up is my least favorite thing to do and I’m not always the best at taking care of my brushes. The conditioner helps so much when I don’t thoroughly clean the paint off my brushes.

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

I usually listen to a lot of pop music but when I’m in the studio I will listen to art rock and indie rock. Anything with a good beat that will keep me focused on the piece I’m working on. A lot of times I work without any music, just listening to ambient noises. Sometimes that makes it easier for me to become distracted so then I’ll put music on.

"Setting Sun", acrylic on wood, 2'x2', 2018

“Setting Sun”, acrylic on wood, 2′x2′, 2018

Q: Do you collect anything?

I hoard a lot of random items and basically keep everything. It’ll be anything from wood bark to flower stem tubes. I have over fifty topography maps. I want to hang onto things that I think I could use in the future for different art pieces. Most of the time I end up not using anything that I’ve kept but I like to have it just in case. One day I might need it.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?

My goal is to become more comfortable with abstract work. I started to try and incorporate abstract elements into my recent pieces, but I want to see how I can develop those ideas further.

"Seneca", acrylic on linen, 11"x12", 2018

“Seneca”, acrylic on linen, 11″x12″, 2018

Q: What’s next for you?

Eventually, I want to go back to school for an MFA in painting. Applying to school again is very intimidating and so I want to get to a place where I am a lot more comfortable with my portfolio.

Q: Where else can we find you?

My website and my Instagram.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with June Szabo

Most of my work begins with the natural world, often in a particular landscape. Sometimes a place finds me and sometimes I look for a location that illustrates the idea I am working on. I spend many hours exploring and researching the history and geology that formed the place I have chosen. I find myself making comparisons and creating metaphors between the events that shaped the land and the actions that shape our lives.

Artist June Szabo

Artist June Szabo

Picture2

Inspiration

To understand what each place has to teach me, I write about the connections I make in poetry and prose. The following contemplation on the purpose of scars was a comparison between glacial formations (scars on the land) and the scars that we carry.

Relics of Our Story – Mendon
June B W Szabo

Considering the damage we do to ourselves and others;
I looked to the landscape to ponder the purpose of scars.
Above and below the surface is a record of events that have left a lasting impression:
Kettles, kames and eskers, are divots, knobs and welts,
caverns, caves and sinkholes are mania and despair.
Forgotten and remembered these marks and inklings are the relics of our story,
scars and impressions resolved and unresolved.
When we stop scratching, scraping and digging like a glacier,
our wounds begin to heal.

"Relics of our Story – Mendon"

“Relics of our Story – Mendon”

The process I use to create my sculpture is also a metaphor for a connection between nature and human behavior. The layers of wood, which give my forms depth and dimension, reflect growth in nature and the layering of the earth. Wood sculptures are formed by cutting and stacking lumber, which is joined with glue, clamps and wooden dowels. Each layer in a landscape sculpture represents an elevation on a topographical map.

Work in progress

Work in progress

Work in progress

Work in progress

In addition to wood sculptures, such as the one seen in Land & Sea, I also weave. Weaving creates thousands of connections and intersections. I warp my loom with copper wire and weave panels that are folded, pleated and bent into three dimensional forms. These bonds are sometimes unseen, but necessary for the final woven product to exist. They are a metaphor for the connections that hold our earth together.

Weaving

Weaving

Weaving

Weaving

For me each process has come to represent and illustrate the interrelated, interdependence of all things.

Comparison is the estimation of similarities and differences. Metaphor suggests a likeness as we speak about one thing as if it were another. My sculptures are reflections on questions that occur to me as I consider our place in the world. They take the shape of landscapes and natural forms. They may include an area that covers inches or hundreds of miles. The sculptures are not exact replicas of a particular place or thing, but partial abstractions representing ideas that surface as I consider each place and how it was created. They are comparisons between the forces and forms found in nature to human inclination and behavior.


June Szabo is one of 28 artists featured in “Land & Sea”, a national juried exhibition of landscapes and seascapes juried by Deirdre Aureden, director of programs and special projects at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, NY. The exhibition runs through June 29, 2018.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Patrick Kana

For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to the idea of making things with my hands. I started as a child in my father’s basement workshop making carefully assembled model boats and planes, and over the last 15 years continued to gravitate toward working with wood as my primary creative practice.

Patrick Kana working in his studio

Patrick Kana working in his studio

I grew up on the coastal eastern shore of Maryland as a son of two marine biologists, and these influences remain at the forefront of my experimental woodworking today. I am currently the studio technician and visiting faculty for the Art and Architecture Department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY, and have my independent business and studio: Kana Studios.

Finished texture and form exploring biological specimens.

Finished texture and form exploring biological specimens.

My work ranges in appearance and context, from fine client-based commissioned furniture to sculptural and carved objects that are grounded in my curiosity of the natural world. All of my work is experimental on some degree, by testing and exploring what certain specimens of wood can provide, how form integrates with the material, and how surface texture and color can enhance the gesture of the piece.

Development of Geneva Chair, 2012.  Mock-up before final production.

Development of Geneva Chair, 2012. Mock-up before final production.

The collection of work currently on view at Main Street Arts is more about showing the spectrum of my work rather than honing in on one central theme. The Geneva Chairs were my first long-term design and research project in 2012 that yielded a user-friendly and intriguing product for the masses, while keeping the material use and construction process efficient in my workshop. These are designed to be made in multiples, which contrasts well to the inherently one-of-a-kind carved wall vessel, Nascent, a piece that is designed and made using one specific piece of wood.

Organic development of Nascent.  Arranging free-form parts until I am drawn to a pleasing composition.

Organic development of “Nascent”, arranging free-form parts until I am drawn to a pleasing composition.

"Nascent" by Patrick Kana

“Nascent” by Patrick Kana

As my work has progressed over the last 5 years, I have found more intrigue in curves and contours of surfaces, as seen in the reed-like curves on the back of my Palea Chair, where multiple laminated slats combine to generate a contoured, gestured, and most importantly comfortable back to the chair.

Sketch developments of Palea Chair.

Sketch developments of Palea Chair.

Sketch refinement of Palea Chair.

Sketch refinement of Palea Chair.

Mock-up development of Palea Chair.

Mock-up development of Palea Chair.

"Palea Chair" by Patrick Kana

“Palea Chair” by Patrick Kana

My outlook on making is one that is central to understanding material. I want to learn the deep characteristics of wood—it is a seductive material in its natural state, tempting to simply sand and leave smooth, but I challenge myself to look at the raw material with a curiosity of what is within, or what it wants to become. I believe that through a range of working methods, we gain a more thorough understanding of medium, and in return we become stronger designers and artists.


Patrick Kana is one of eight gallery artists represented by Main Street Arts. He is featured in the exhibition CULTIVATE which runs April 7 through May 18, 2018. More information about Patrick and his work can be found on our website. View more pieces by Patrick Kana on the gallery’s Artsy page.

"Into the Wood (Autumn)"

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Lanna Pejovic

Throughout my life as an artist/painter, I have found my inspiration in the world of nature. The places I prefer as a source for motifs are the places that I can experience continually, such as the view from my house and studio windows or a park or special garden close by that I visit all the time in every season and light. I live in a village surrounded by fields and woods with gentle hills and four seasons in a year.

My backyard

View of my backyard with studio on left

DSCN3539

Gouache sketch

I most often paint in cycles where I concentrate on one of “my” places for a while in a series of works and then move  to another motif. There is usually overlap and a cycling back toward previous motifs. Discoveries in each cycle inspire future series.  I swing between abstraction and naturalism and I often paint and draw on location. My on location paintings are a way of building up a memory of landscape but as finished paintings can become too burdened by information. I prefer to have time to reflect and distill so I often work over the outdoor version in the studio. It can become a finer reflection or a reflection of a different experience, such as the painting below, “Winter Garden”.

garden shed at Linwood Gardens

Photo of Linwood Garden shed

Winter in the Garden

A summer plein air version that got a winter makeover

What I respond to in the space surrounding me is the light and color first and then the structure of the trees. I love trees and experience them as living architecture. I can imagine them breathing when I walk through the woods. They also remind me of the great church architecture of Gothic Europe.

Birdsong Trail at MMP

Birdsong Trail at Mendon Ponds Park

Birdsong Trail at MPP sketch

Drawing made at Birdsong Trail location

Below, the painting The Listener is a studio invention that alludes to time passing, night/day and again…I find winter more evocative.

The Listener 1MB copy

“The Listener”

To conclude my post, I am back at my studio with a photo of a winter sunset seen through a window.

DSCN2664

Winter scene from the studio window


Lanna Pejovic is one of eight gallery artists represented by Main Street Arts. She is featured in the exhibition CULTIVATE which runs April 7 through May 18, 2018. More information about Lanna and her work can be found on our website. View more pieces by Lanna Pejovic on the gallery’s Artsy page.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Kaele Mulberry

Kaele Mulberry, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the month of April 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Kaele some questions about her work and studio practice:

Kaele Mulberry

Kaele Mulberry

Q: Tell us about your background.
I was born in Sodus, NY, but when I was two my family moved south to Dallas, Georgia.  I spent the majority of my childhood there—running barefoot on dry grass, sipping honeysuckle, and drawing in the shade.  We relocated back north to Newark, NY in the summer of 2004 and I have lived there since.

I graduated from Alfred University in 2016 with a BFA and a minor in art history.  After graduating I made an improvisational studio in the closet of my childhood room.  At the moment I juggle working as a barista in the mornings and afternoons, and painting in my little studio in the evenings.

“Pupa, Imago (The Inherited Memory),” oil and varnish on canvas, 2016


Q: How would you describe your work?
More recently I have been really into the atmospheric qualities of layered watercolor and the buttery texture of gouache.  I find that these two mediums work best with my choice of scale.  I love the excitement of being overwhelmed by a large canvas, but even more so the meditative, scrawling, clenched fist process of working small.  There is a preciousness about holding something small in your hands.

“Exchange!,” watercolor and gouache on paper, 2017

Recently I have been painting a lot of raccoons.  During my morning commute it is not uncommon to pass by several unfortunate road-crossers, especially raccoons or opossums.  I have begun painting them to, in my own way, pay homage.  More recently my work subjects innocent and tender moments exchanged between humans and animals.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I start with a sketch, and then create more sketches based off the first sketch.  Most of the time I like my drawing more than a finished painting.

Sketchbook, graphite and marker, 2018

Sketchbook, graphite and marker, 2018

There’s a looseness and a spontaneous quality in my drawings that I am still working to capture in my paintings.  I end up scrapping a lot of work because of this.  Restarting and being frustrated about it is a short but important process for my work and for me.  I usually work on two pieces at once to keep things fresh and to stave off disinterest. I find it best to come back to an image with refreshed eyes.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
My project is a series called Ugly Planet, a collection of paintings that illustrate a utopian planet where the dichotomy between humans and animals has been dismantled.  Ugly Planet describes the conventional human tendency to alienate and disparage the unfamiliar and strange.  The content of this series is not meant to be jarring or violent, rather, it is to blur the presumptive roles of humans and animals.

“Untitled,” ink, watercolor, gouache, and color pencil on paper, 2018

The underbelly of this series is inspired by roadkill.  My personal interest in this series is to pay homage to the birds, foxes, raccoons, and opossums I so often encounter on my daily commute.  I wish to illustrate a wistful imagining of their lives uninhibited by humanity’s environmental intervention, while also portraying them amidst activities and settings that are recognizably human.

My big mission is to walk away from this residency with many paintings and, hopefully, a book of this series.  I am convincing myself to let this series bend and grow however it needs too.

Q: What do you listen to when you work? How does it affect your artwork?
I find that I need to always listen to something to keep myself awake and focused.  I only let myself listen to podcasts when I’m working, and because I like to marathon episodes, this usually keeps me working for longer.  A few podcasts that I’m always listening to are Lore; My Brother, My Brother, and Me; and The Adventure Zone.  I definitely recommend them.

For music, I’m currently into the narrative of Sam Beam and the chaotic and exuberant energy of Dan Deacon.

“To Drown a Fish in Loose Leaf Tea,” oil on panel, 2016


Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
I have a handful of favorite artists.  Remedios Varo is an artist that I am drawn to because of her immersive and fantastical scenes.  Gustav Klimt is another favorite, especially his “Golden Phase” and landscape paintings.  I have far too many favorite contemporary artists, but to name a few: Teagan White, and her detailed paintings of flora and fauna succumbing to the gentle and cruel hands of nature; Rebecca Green, whose gouache paintings of curious children and animals reverberate nostalgia; and Estée Preda, with her folk tale inspired watercolors.

“Picnic,” watercolor and gouache on paper, 2017


Q: What’s next for you?
I expect to print and distribute Ugly Planet during or shortly after my residency.  I am hoping to ready an online shop up with prints, originals, books, and zines.  I will definitely be found brewing fresh coffee and pouring lattes for friends and familiar faces.  I will also be moving to Canandaigua and upgrading from my closet studio to a room studio.

Q: Where else can we find you?
You can view my work over at my website kaelemulberry.com, and follow my process, adventures, and shenanigans on Instagram @loiir.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Zoey Murphy Houser

Zoey Murphy Houser, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the months of March and April 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Zoey some questions about her work and studio practice:

Zoey with her Patchwork Animals

Zoey with her Patchwork Animals


Q: Tell us about your background:

I was raised (and still live) in a village called Newark in the Finger Lakes, about 12 minutes from Main Street Arts. My mom gave me an art easel and Legos as my first toys as a kid — she has a picture of me painting when I was two, and she says she knew I was an artist by then. Throughout my high school years my main mediums were drawing, painting, and photography, however my preferred medium became clay while attending Alfred University, where I obtained my BFA with a minor in art history.

Zoey painting at age 2

Zoey painting at age two

I’m currently teaching art part-time and volunteering at Bridges for Brain Injury where I’m the art project head. I’m also volunteering alongside Wildlife Defenders where I help handle and take care of various animals including a wallaby, a dingo, ring-tailed lemurs, a lynx, a red fox, and a coyote.

Zoey with Cash the Lynx

Zoey with Cash the lynx


Q: How would you describe your work? 
My preferred medium is clay. I love the tactility of creating with a medium that I can handle with my hands without always having a tool as a mediator. Currently I am working on what I call “Patchwork Animals,” inspired by my childhood collection of well-loved stuffed animals which instilled in me a love for the real-life creatures they represented. I am equally inspired by images of animals I encounter — a dog wearing a lion’s mane, a seal snuggling a small stuffed animal seal, a hedgehog with a strawberry on its head, baby bats wrapped in blankets, my own dog carrying a mini tire around her nose… peculiar creatures doing absurdly-adorable things make me surge with creative energy (and cute aggression).

Zoey with her Patchwork Elephant

Zoey with her Patchwork Elephant


Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I have a stash of animal images and videos I reference to sketch and get inspired by. When I begin my sculptures I’ll occasionally have a quick sketch or detailed drawing of what I want to create but this isn’t always the case. Usually I focus first on the clay body in front of me, trusting my hands to build what I am consciously and unconsciously creating. Molding, pressing and “stitching” each clay animal together results in the form taking on a life of its own.

Lemur Patchwork Animal Drawing

Lemur patchwork animal drawing


Q: What are your goals for this residency?
My goal is to create multiple patchwork animal sculptures that tap into playful oddity. I intend to expand upon various aspects of my animals: their size, texture, color, how they interact with one another, and how those interactions impact the viewer. I want to experiment with their postures and expressions to accentuate their life-like existence while also provoking the viewer to reminisce on the innocence of childhood.

Q: Do you collect anything?
Whenever I go on an adventure (whether that be out of the country, out of state, out of town, or simply out of my house), I tend to find and press flowers to later stick into handmade books. I also collect stones, seashells, sea and lake glass, sand and dirt, and little bones when I can find them. The idea of “collections” is one of the four roots that feed my art forms.

Pressed Flower from Brasil

Pressed flower from Brazil

Pressed flower from Brazil

Pressed flower from Brazil

Pressed flower from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Pressed flower from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Q: Who is your favorite artist?
Vincent Van Gogh has always been my favorite artist; I resonate with his paintings – his urgency to lay down paint, his shameless textures and colors used to express his inner soul, and the whimsical, dream-like state he was able to communicate through his work instilled in me an indescribable connection.

My other favorite artist is Keith Schneider, whose assemblage-characters have given me ideas on how to patch my own sculptures together.

Q: Who inspires you?
LAIKA Productions has fascinated me for years. Their movie Coraline has had a huge impact on my work – the dolls, the parallel “other” world and its peculiar essence, the color scheme throughout the movie, the music… everything about it inspires me. I keep a copy of it in my studio – I’ll often have it playing while I’m working.

A Woven Paradox, BFA Thesis Exhibition

A Woven Paradox, BFA Thesis Exhibition

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
Van Gogh has a quote that I live, breathe, and create by: “It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much, performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”

This ties into the modern Greek word “meraki,” which is the soul, creativity, or love put into something; the essence of yourself that is put into your work.

Essentially: your best work is done in love.

Q: What was your experience like at art school?
I was perpetually inspired by classmates and grad students at Alfred University. Much of my BFA thesis exhibition, A Woven Paradox, was based off of my friends – their mannerisms and outfits were so wonderfully strange, I just had to make sculptures to honor them.

Val and Steph, Ceramic Sculptures

Val and Steph, Ceramic Sculptures

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
Art school taught me that my most useful tool is myself. Other necessities include (and not limited to): friends that make you laugh (and stay sane), a sign that reads: “remember to eat!” and coffee. Lots of coffee.

Zoey in Freshman Year Foundations

Zoey in freshman year foundations

Q: What’s next for you?
I have fluttering ideas, but no solid plans. My usual approach of winging it always brings me to a neat place! Something tells me I’ll end up outside of the country eventually, but who knows. If you want to follow my journey, you can follow me on social medias (below).

Zoey in Brasília, Brasil

Zoey in Brasília, Brazil


Q: Where else can we find you?
website: http://www.zoeymurphyhouser.com/
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zoeymurphyhouserstudio/
instagram: @zozo_studio and @zozomurph

 

 

Meet The Artist in Residence: Noah Estrella

Noah Estrella, artist in residence at Main Street Arts for the month of July 2017, will working on studio photography and portraiture during. We asked him a few questions about his artwork and studio practice:

Noah Estrella, self portrait

Noah Estrella, self portrait

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born and raised in the Finger Lakes. I developed an early interest in visual art from my parents and grandmother. I was actively creative through my adolescence, for a source of play and experimentation. I still look at creativity in that way, but I began taking it more seriously in my 20s. I enrolled at Finger Lakes Community College at the age of 21 to understand more about art. It is still a learning process to me, and very experimental, but studying it verified my desire to pursue it as a lifestyle.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My primary medium is through digital photography. I still play around a lot with drawing, and I do have a love for the written word, but photography is the most pleasurable for me. I am very fascinated with how visual art can reflect humanity, and as a result the majority of my work is portraiture. I think the human form, and the face, can provide us with a huge amount of information and emotion. A look on someones face, the environment, the lighting, etc. this could strongly reveal what is going on in our world.

Photo of Noah capturing a self portrait   Self Portrait

Photo of Noah capturing a self portrait                        Self Portrait

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I’d like to say that I plan, and occasionally I do. But it’s usually intuitive and experimental, maybe focusing in on one idea/theme. I tend to contact friends to schedule shoots, keeping in mind the location and their outfit. Sometimes it is informal, just spending time with them and taking photographs, other times it is planning a specific idea. From there I spend a lot of time using editing software, and my goal is to always produce the strongest pieces from photoshoots, and see how they can relate to other photographs, or stand alone.

Photograph by Noah Estrella

Photograph by Noah Estrella

Q: Do you collect anything?
I have a lot of keepsake objects that were gifted to me by friends. Usually things that connect to a memory, person, or event. I think there is something special in how objects can be symbols, not just the historical context of the symbolism of an object, but what they personally mean to you. They can also be great props in photoshoots.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? Who are your favorite local artists?
I’ve noticed that I find the most inspiration in a lot of female artists. Frida Kahlo was a huge inspiration to me from a very young age, her work is personal and emotional, speaking to identity and society. And the entire body of work by the artist Ana Mendieta was a huge eye opener to me; her works are intense and almost threatening/dangerous to the patriarchal interpretation of fine art.
Locally, I’m very intrigued by the immersive artist Colleen Buzzard, I was surprised and glad to find a thinker like that in Rochester. I’m also hugely inspired by Lacey McKinney, my former professor, the elusive aspects of style in her portrait work are personally profound to my interest in human identity.

Photos in the studio

Photos in the studio

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.
I always feel I’m getting pulled in quite a few different directions. I intend on using this time to further experiment (with style and contextual meaning), play with lighting (ie. How is it effective/ineffective), and continue to grow. I’m really interested in using portraiture to further understand the dynamic aspect of identity in society (both internal and external, self and other).

Work from Noah's residency

Work from Noah’s residency

Q: Where else can we find you?
I recently made an Instagram @noah_estrella. You can also e-mail me at noahmestrella@gmail.com