Tag Archives: Sculpture

Meet the Artist in Residence: Gregory Dirr

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

Gregory Dirr and his works at Bailey Contemporary, July 2019

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

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

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

Q: How would you describe your work? 

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

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

Flora

Flora, 2018, Gouache on raw canvas

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

GregoryDirr_James And The Giant Peach

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

Q: What was your experience like at art school?

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

immured

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

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?

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

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

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

Q: What are your goals for this residency? 

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

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

Q: Where else can we find you?

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

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

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

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

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Stephanie Garon

By juxtaposing organic materials against an armature of steel, my art captures paradoxes of decomposition: formalism and fragility, permanence and impermanence, and nature and nurture.

Evaluating placement of my sculptures in an exhibition

Evaluating placement of my sculptures in an exhibition

I’m continually experimenting and evaluating placement of my sculptures. Since I focus on environmental awareness, it’s important to me to bring organic materials indoors to the viewer.

My sculptural work placed in a different setting

My sculptural work placed in a different setting

Placement affects meaning. The viewer’s perspective changes, but this sculpture gets lost in the environment. Should it?

Images from Redwoods

Images from the Redwood Forest in California

My inspiration stems from nature, in additional to the following four artists:

  • Eva Hesse: delicacy of materials, framing of powerful themes with grace,
  • Anish Kapoor: using steel and similar infusions to instill messages about humanity,
  • David Nash: playfulness in creating nature based work that succumbs to nature,
  • Meret Oppenheim: for transforming items traditionally associated with decorum or refinement into sculpture.
Eve sculpture

“Eve”, sculpture included in the “de/composition” exhibition at Main Street Arts

Eve is a monument. Whether we see lungs or breasts or the negative space between the forms, we are forced to acknowledge the greatness of nature, despite how much we nurture it, as evidenced by the evergreen changing. It is foreboding. These decaying materials, presented in unexpected ways, challenge reason and emotion. Eve changes color and sheds through the duration of the exhibit: it’s nature’s own performance art.

“Impediment”, current work

“Impediment”, aluminum, plaster, soil 70x30x30

My current work, shown above, is inspired by pine needle bunches. I plan to fill a small gallery space with these repeating forms.

To see more of my work, visit my website: www.garonstudio.com.


Stephanie Garon is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jennifer Schinzing

Jennifer at work

Jennifer at work in her home studio

The incredible passion I have for animals and the natural world is what inspired me to learn taxidermy. All the animal elements found in my work are road kill casualties or have died from natural and unpreventable deaths. By preserving them in the very small window of time between death and decay it forces the viewer to see them in a more intimate and surreal setting. By placing them in improbable situations, I hope to remind the viewer of our fragile world.

Sculpture

Sculptural piece by Jennifer Schinzing

I grew up in Rochester, NY and still call it my home today. I work at More Fire Glass Studio full time, managing the studio and blowing glass. On weekends I volunteer at Wild Wings (an injured bird of prey facility) helping to educate people about the environment. And at home, my husband and I, have 3 rescue greyhounds.

Jen & greyhounds

Jennifer with her 3 rescue greyhounds

Creating and making art from a very young age eventually led me to art school. I graduated from Alfred University, School of Art and Design, where I was exposed to glassblowing and continued to experiment with different materials.  My sculptural work is mixed media based. I love sourcing found objects from antique stores, sometimes those are the source of inspiration for the piece. I incorporate my own blown and sculpted glass into the work but I also incorporate vintage glass as well. 

Cyclical

Cyclical by Jennifer Schinzing

I have always felt a strong love and connection to animals and the natural world. As a kid, my sister and I spent hours upon hours playing outside, building forts and making “food” from random plants and berries. We would stay busy playing in Irondequoit Creek which ran through our backyard and enjoyed being surrounded by the wildlife that lived close by. This informed my artwork as a kid and it continues to do so today.

glass

Detail of a custom piece for a private residence in Chelsea, NY

My approach of beginning a piece consists of different thoughts and feelings. It isn’t always the same formula for me. I don’t do a ton of sketching, most often a vision will pop in my head and I start piecing it together. It could be the animal that inspires me, in other instances it is a found object or a lot of times I am tying  personal experiences in amongst the broader message. I hint at what the pieces are about for me in the titles but I always love for the viewer to take away their own perception of the piece if possible.

flameworking

Jennifer creating flame worked pieces for a sculpture piece

blowing glass

Jennifer blowing glass

In the indefinite continued progress of existence, there are particular moments that will change us, leaving us to wonder how or why we have gotten to this moment. The hopelessness that these periods of time create can be paralyzing and leave you wondering if you will ever be able to repair the holes. From every death comes a breathe of new life, giving us a glimmer, a feeling of repair. By creating intimate moments from personal fragments paired with an environmental connotation, a duality evolves to form a narrative that explores both sides.
Cache

Cache by Jennifer Schinzing

 I am honored to be among all of the talented artists showing work in the current exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts, I hope all of you get the chance to see the show!


Jennifer Schinzing is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Bryan Northup

Me with installation Artist with installation 'You Can't Put It Back In The Box'

Artist with installation ‘You Can’t Put It Back In The Box’

My name is Bryan Northup and I’m honored that my work “Cautionary Entrails” was selected to be a part of the de/composition exhibit at Main Street Arts. I am particularly pleased that this work found a place to be shown, framed in a such a compelling theme.

Cautionary Entrails

“Cautionary Entrails” by Bryan Northup

I am a Chicago based environmental artist, originally from Northern California. I have been making art for most of my life, drawing horses during church sermons and taking any and all art classes offered in high school. I graduated from California College of the Arts in Oakland, California with a BFA in Fine Art Photography and since then have been a self taught, intuitive artist.

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Earlier work, 2000 – 2014

I work in several media including cold and warm glass, painting, mixed media sculpture and photography. Until recently, I focused on working with glass, from traditional stained glass and mosaics to experiments with recycled bottles, creating kiln-formed, functional tableware, lighting and sculptural works.  See more here >

Plastic raw material

Plastic art material

studio

My studio worktable, kinda clean

I was awakened to the serious problem of single-use plastics in 2015. I like to think that a dead tree changed the trajectory of my art practice. I was fortunate to be selected to create a public art sculpture through the Chicago Tree Project that utilized a dead tree (one of many in the city’s parks) as a framework for sculpture. I chose to shift my material from glass bottles to plastic beverage bottles for many logistical reasons, but through the process of creating the sculpture entitled “Message In A Bottle”  I discovered the invisible scourge of single use plastic and ties to the bottled water industry. Shifting my thinking, message and medium to create with everyday found materials that no one was thinking about seemed the most important outcome of the project.

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View while installing Message in a Bottle

Before this experience I had no idea that plastic lasts forever, never decomposing, or the amounts of plastic produced, used and thrown away on a daily basis, all designed to be disposed of. As I researched more, these facts changed my awareness and the focus of my artwork.

sliced roll

Detail of a “sliced roll”

Now I use these plastics and foam to create wall relief and sculpture works that abstract food, mimic organic forms and invent pseudo-biological structures. I attempt to blur the lines between appetizing consumables, anatomical dissection and waste — exploring layers of meaning in an age where plastics have saturated our environment and penetrated human-kind both biologically and culturally, to the cellular level.

wip

Work in progress

While being an environmental plague, I have found plastic to be an incredibly dynamic art medium. I work with plastic as a fiber, a fabric, in some ways as a cooking ingredient, a food. I incorporate common tools such as chef knife to cut the rolls and an iron to laminate sheets of films together. Creating rolls, “sushi- style” is a technique I originated when I started working with plastic. It’s a meditation, adding unlikely and inedible ingredients like foam, bubble wrap, plastic bags while I reflect on how these same steps are so closely related to making nourishing food, something we crave and can actually eat.  I think about all the wildlife, particularly in the ocean that that ingest plastic because of our dependence on it.

Sea_Change_BN

My first plastic wall relief, Sea Change, 36×48

The organic forms and textures I create suggest perishable matter, “flesh”, “tissue” likely to spoil and decay quickly, but because these objects are created with plastic, they will never naturally decompose  but just appear to be, forever, in a state of suspended decomposition.

IMG_2513

Detail

Thank you for taking the time to get to know me a bit better. You can see much more of my work on my website, www.bryannorthup.com, I post regularly on Instagram @bryan.northup and have a Facebook page @beyondbiolumglass


Bryan Northup is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Becca Barolli

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

Becca Barolli, San Francisco Art Institute Open Studios, 2016

Becca Barolli, San Francisco Art Institute Open Studios, 2016

Q: To start off, please tell us about your background?
I’m originally from North Granby, Connecticut and currently live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2010 I earned my BFA in photography from the University of Connecticut. After graduating, I spent four years teaching experimental art and digital photography classes at the Mansfield Community Center. In 2016 I received my MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute working in sculpture.

Bad Seed, 23" x 22" x 22", recycled tire soaker tubing, 2015

Bad Seed, 23″ x 22″ x 22″, recycled tire soaker tubing, 2015

Q: How would you describe your work?
I make abstract sculptures using craft techniques like weaving and braiding with raw industrial materials like rebar tie wire and recycled tire soaker tubing. My work is very labor-intensive, fueled by a compulsive need for repetition and reverence.

Through endurance based processes I repeat stereotypical feminine gestures that defy the initial industrial function of these materials. My work involves variations in tension and density to consider vulnerability and explore the differences of being open or closed off, relaxed or uptight without passing judgement on either condition.

Untitled (ripple), 36" x 36" x 5", 16.5 gauge annealed steel wire, 2017

Untitled (ripple), 36″ x 36″ x 5″, 16.5 gauge annealed steel wire, 2017

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I spend a lot of time in the studio. I usually focus on one piece while taking breaks to try out other ideas that are still being formed. Some sculptures are comprised of one object that builds up over time while others consist of pieces that were compiled and connected over time.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
For my time at Main Street Arts, I would like to further develop new construction strategies I have been working on to create a range of small objects and at least one finished, labor-intensive piece. While working recently, I have been considering the intricate connections and relationships found in tight-knit communities and what it means to be existing within such contexts.

Right before coming to Clifton Springs I was working on a piece that is basically a free-standing, corrugated wire tube I’m weaving where each tier is a similar but slightly different iteration of the previous sections in the stack.

Untitled (vessel), 23.5" x 14.5" x 14.5", 16.5 gauge annealed steel wire, 2018

Untitled (vessel), 23.5″ x 14.5″ x 14.5″, 16.5 gauge annealed steel wire, 2018

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? Who are your favorite local artists?
My favorite artist is Ruth Asawa and I learn something new from her wire sculptures every time I see them in person. Not only is her work amazing but she contributed a lot to art education and public access to art in San Francisco all while raising six kids. I have too many favorite artists frequently showing in the Bay Area to name them all, but I would recommend Sahar Khoury, Alicia McCarthy, Ben Venom, Lucien Shapiro and Windy Chien.

Untitled (lumpy), 69" x 60" x 19", 16.5 gauge annealed steel wire, 2017

Untitled (lumpy), 69″ x 60″ x 19″, 16.5 gauge annealed steel wire, 2017

Q: What’s next for you?
I am excited to continue where I left off in my studio back home but with the experience I’ve gained during my time here. I am also looking forward to being in a group show at SHOH Gallery in Berkeley that opens on April 27th.

Q: Where else can we find you?
You can find me on Instagram @beccabarolli or visit my website www.beccabarolli.com.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Sam Rathbun

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

Sam Rathbun

Sam Rathbun

Q: Please you tell us about your background.
I grew up on a multi-generational farm in Naples, NY. After graduating high school, I pursued a degree in international development from Tulane University, however after taking a required drawing class, I dropped my major and transferred to SUNY New Paltz where I received my BFA in painting and drawing. I currently work at Salem Art Works (SAW), an artist residency, sculpture park, and community arts hub on the border of NY and Vermont.

Heimlich, paint, ink, muslin. Variable dimensions. 2016

Heimlich, paint, ink, muslin. Variable dimensions. 2016

Q: How would you describe your work?
In school I focused almost exclusively on painting and drawing and developed a method of utilizing drawn interiors to examine the boundaries of memory and perception. A few months after graduating I participated in a residency at SAW where I began working three dimensionally. During the first week of my residency, my family’s oldest barn caught fire and completely burnt down. This event changed the trajectory of both my subject matter and material use.

Currently, my work concerns processes of production, manufacturing, transportation, and marketing of goods, particularly those rooted in agriculture. I’ve found a reservoir of absurdity while examining my own ignorance as a consumer, especially considering I was raised by production.

Recently, I have limited myself to ink drawings when working two-dimensionally, but have no material restrictions when working sculpturally — although I do have a fondness for gummy materials like beeswax and rubber.

Once We Carried. Used conveyor belts, re-used and new elevator bolts, 11" x 25" x 6 ". Salem Art Works, 2017

Once We Carried. Used conveyor belts, re-used and new elevator bolts, 11″ x 25″ x 6 “. Salem Art Works, 2017

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Research and play compose the foundation of my work. I latch onto bits of information that I read, hear, or see and store them until I find one or more complementary components. I think finding the link between these seemingly exclusive ideas or materials is the soul of my practice.

 Memory Merchandise. Fabricated steel, cast iron, paint, 14’ x 20’6” x 12’9”. Franconia Sculpture Park, MN, 2017

Memory Merchandise. Fabricated steel, cast iron, paint, 14’ x 20’6” x 12’9”. Franconia Sculpture Park, MN, 2017

Q: Who is your favorite artist?
Currently I’m really into the work of Janine Antoni. I’m most interested in her process. She’s able to transform rudimentary, visceral actions into poetry. Viewers see her sculptures as remnants of a transformation and are left to imagine the steps in between. Other artists who are constant sources of inspiration are Martín Ramírez, Mika Rottenberg, and Ambera Wellmann. Ramírez’s drawings are a testament to his need to make work and both Rottenberg and Wellmann share this absurdist humor that I obsess over.

Janine Antoni: Eureka. Bathtub, lard, soap, and Dorian, 1993

Janine Antoni: Eureka. Bathtub, lard, soap, and Dorian, 1993

Q: Who inspires you?
Within the past two years, I’ve noticed how integral reading is to my practice. Two of the most influential books that I reference are the Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard and The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. The project I’ll be working on at MSA was almost entirely conceived from a paragraph in the Jungle where Sinclair describes why slaughter houses were built vertically. Animals would walk up a ramp to the top floor and by the time their bodies came back to ground level they were completely transformed, packaged, and ready to ship.

Creamery. Ink on paper , 36.5" x 95", 2018

Creamery. Ink on paper , 36.5″ x 95″, 2018

Q: What type of music do you listen to?
I will try pretty much any type of music. I’m looking at my recently played songs and I have everything from FIDLAR to Erykah Badu. I also listen to podcasts and audiobooks while I work– I just started Murakamis, Kafka on The Shore.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I made several large wooden frames that roughly represent the layout of factories where raw goods are transformed. During my residency I anticipate creating ink drawings to hang within the framework. I also hope to add to this installation by creating a space to hold several glass and latex sculptures.

Water rehab "grassholes", Ink on paper. 36.5" x 93", 2018

Water rehab “grassholes”, Ink on paper. 36.5″ x 93″, 2018

Q: What’s next for you?
I anticipate working as Salem Art Works for another season as the Young Artist Coordinator and using my winter to participate in more residencies.

Q: Where else can we find you?
My website is www.samrathbun.com and I just started an Instagram: @sathbun.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jim Garmhausen: Processing The Artist’s Process

A few years ago I made a rather large shift in my artmaking process. I’ve been a working artist for the last 20 years, starting with cartooning, for weekly papers; then painting and drawing, on flat surfaces like canvas, wood, metal, and glass. Ultimately I’d work on walls, in the form of murals. As I progressed in my studio work, I began incorporating collage, using ephemera, vintage book pages, old wall paper and the like; and occasionally attached found objects, like a bottlecap, a flattened piece of metal, or a run of rusty nail heads, to whatever surface I was working on.

baby-bearman

A page from my weekly comic strip, “Dreamland,” from the early 2000s.

Looking back, I realize I was pushing the 2D form to its limit. At the time, I felt increasingly frustrated, even fed up, with my work. As a self-taught artist, I was keenly aware of my limitations, and although I pushed myself hard to improve, there was something about my work that had me feeling like I was falling short of my intentions.

My studio, until this past year, was located about ten miles outside of Ithaca, NY, where I live. A woodworker had bought a former chicken farm with a large barn for processing chickens, and a number of outbuildings. He renovated the barn, creating workspaces for artists, and set up his own woodshop at the ground floor level.

The amount of studio space I found myself with (about 1000 square feet) allowed me to work at a large scale, on rolls of paper and canvas dropcloths meant for housepainters. As a former cartoonist, used to confining my work to small boxes, this was liberating. The barn itself was full of treasures that deepened my interest in both vintage items and the esthetics of aged materials. It also put me in proximity to a host of woodcutting tools that fascinated and intimidated me, and so I avoided them for my first few years at the studio, until my interest overcame my fear.

I grew up around tools, in a sort of DIY, middle-income household. That was a time (not so long ago), when things were only thrown away when they could no longer be fixed. I wore hand-me-down clothes that my mother sewed patches on, and played with hand-me-down toys that my brothers had broken and repaired. This mentality extended to the house itself. My father was a capable, if unimaginative, carpenter. He had a Sears table-mounted saw he’d use for projects around the house. I remember the loud whir of the motor, and the high pitched whine of the blade, as he guided a piece of wood along the cut line, his fingers inches from the blur of sharktooth metal serrations. I’d wait, captivated and afraid, for the engine to cut down, and the blade to slow and finally stop, after each cut, and exhale only when his fingers were fully away from the saw.

Despite my interest in his skillset, my father chose not to pass it on to me. He made halfhearted attempts to include me (I could press the “on” button for the table saw) but never really followed through, with either instruction or encouragement. In retrospect it would have been a wonderful way to bond with a man I ended up hardly knowing. It could be that his intention, in not taking me under his wing, was to preserve that distance.

Anything my father did with me, when I was a kid, was halfhearted. We both loved baseball, for example, but he rarely got his own glove out. I don’t remember him showing up for my baseball games, or taking me to Cooperstown, which I would have loved to visit. I don’t think he disliked me. I think it’s possible he was afraid of me. I was a sensitive kid, aware and creative and emotional and easily hurt. Probably something like he was, when he was a kid. His father, an imperious, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, self-made success, didn’t know what to do with him, and (according to my father) mercilessly drove him to be something he wasn’t. I think when my father was faced with the same dynamic, he shrunk from it. How could he teach me anything, without pushing me to be more of a “man” about it? That was something he didn’t want to face, in himself, or in me.

Whatever his intentions, I internalized his lack of interest in teaching me as an indication of my built-in unworthiness of that information. I was the sensitive kid in a closed-mouth family, who merited both special handling and extra concern. In short, my sensitivity, my lack of being a “typical” boy energetically, left me feeling damaged and inferior, and afraid to show my lack of “male” knowledge.

So, as an adult, when faced with questions about car repair, or carpentry, or some other technical issue, I found I could not admit that I had no idea. Rather, I’d scramble to find a way to cover up my lack of knowledge. I had a hidden, unexamined terror of being “found out:” I can’t fix cars, or roofs, or boilers, or lawnmower engines. Sadly, I realized I would never be that guy fixing the classic car on the driveway Saturday morning, with the wife inside making waffles for the kids. In fact, I turned out to be the guy inside making the waffles, while my (now ex) wife fixed whatever car we had.

Hitting a wall as a 2D artist coincided with working in a space loaded with both vintage materials (old windows and hardware and indecipherable machine parts and more) and tools intended for the express purpose of reshaping wood. It took a while, but I eventually worked up my courage to ask for access to the woodshop, and instruction in how to not lose any fingers. Though it was sometimes difficult for me, I learned to say “I have no idea,” and ask for help. The results were immediate and empowering.

For my first project in the woodshop, I gathered foot high sections of raw cut trunk wood. Using a reciprocating saw, I cut off edges and rounded the “top” as well as I could, until I had a sort of fat domed plug, sitting on a flat base. Which I further rounded and smoothed with an orbital sander. Once I had a relatively consistent surface, I used an electric woodcarving chisel to bring out details: eyes and mouth and teeth, cheekbones, and the parentheses of cheek muscles around the mouth. Nose and ears I left for the moment. Finding these forms in the wood, bringing them out, working and sanding them, was an epiphany. I found myself lost in the small repetitions of bringing out details.  I let the overall face and form appear organically, choosing to sketch out only the simplest indications before carving: where the eyes would be, what space they’d need, and the same with the mouth; where would the nose fit; and the placement of cheekbones, brows and forehead.

GIAF_Rolling-Smoker

“Rolling Smoker”

My carving method, right from the outset, was intuitive, similar to I how work in my sketchbooks. I start with eyes, usually, and fill in around them, letting the face take shape according to whatever my emotional/intuitive response indicates. Using this technique with wood was exhilarating. Finding a simple competency with tools furthered that feeling, and began to heal old wounds, even as, Gepetto-like, I brought new forms into being.

GIAF_Jack-The-Extractor

“Jack The Extractor”

Working intuitively, rather than from a blueprint, also meant problem solving: I don’t have the wood mass to carve a nose out of the initial block, so what do I do? Searching around for items that might serve: an old doorknob, a heavy bolt, smaller pieces of wood. In the process of looking, I might find other interesting objects that don’t quite fit the purpose, but call to be used anyway. A heavy rusted hook or eyebolt would present itself, ask to be included, and I’d search for ways to do so. Which opened my process up to greater incorporation of found objects. My age-old fascination with wheels led me to fix them to the base of the heads, creating ungainly rolling toy-like things. Later I’d create pull toys, a more stable kind of vehicle, tested by my son at multiple speeds.

GIAFpulltoys

Two of the first pull toys I created.

Simple train cars of old barn wood and caster wheels served as display surfaces for smaller works, including porcelain head, soft-bodied dolls I created with the help of my mother in law’s sartorial skills, a first for me, in that I handed over the creation of a specific part of my pieces to someone else. My work was becoming more collaborative, more open. I wasn’t closed off in my studio all the time. People walking through the woodshop could see my process, give feedback, ask questions, or be asked questions, about tools, or potential solutions.

In short, I was alive with the process of coming up with ideas and bringing them into being. This new direction in my art brought in another great passion: collecting. I’ve always loved rummaging through antique, second-hand, and salvage stores. Now I had a reason (excuse) to do so: finding materials for art-making. Sometimes I’d look for a specific something to fill a need, like more caster wheels, or a small box to be used as a drawer in a cabinet. Or I’d find something that I simply loved the look of, that would be placed in my studio to provide inspiration.

Jim Garmhausen

Livery Cabinet, found object sculpture

The cabinets in this show, which I’ve written about on my website, came out of my fascination with old medicine cabinets, and my habit of collecting ornate, crumbling gilt frames. They also served as display cases for the many small kitsch items I collect. Art was no longer about making something to fit in a frame. It had jumped beyond that form, out of a specific discipline, and into something more like the messy coherence of life. I was, and am, thrilled.

The results, when introduced to the world, were immediate. My first 3D pieces were accepted into the Governor’s Island Art Fair, in NYC, and one was selected by uber-artist Greg “Craola” Simpkins to be shown in the Surreal Salon 9 exhibition at Baton Rouge Gallery. There was also a clear uptick in interest on social media. It was gratifying that this new path didn’t just feel good personally, but led to work that was well-received.

So what is my process? It’s hard to explain, as it varies from piece to piece. Usually it starts with free-sketching, in my sketchbooks. I draw whatever is asking to be drawn, that moment. I take different turns, when I’m stuck. Removing a body that does nothing for the head that sits on it, and replacing it with wheels, turning it into a bizarre vehicle or robotic/cyborgian rolling thing. My guiding principle is how it makes me feel. If it doesn’t make me smile, I’m not going to translate it in wood. I don’t worry too much about how it will be received. My in-process work often has the feel of an inside joke. I’m laughing, but I have no idea if anyone else will, ultimately. I find that keeping potential responses to my work out of my head and workspace is vital to creating something, well, vital.

Part of being an artist is facing the question: what does your work mean? The answers to that question, in conversations and interviews, in artist statements, and within myself, have changed as I’ve gotten older (in both time and life experience). I’m beginning to understand that my work (like any art) is self-exploration, and for me that means going back into my childhood, and family history, using forms and objects as archaelogical indicators. I’m piecing together the mystery of who I am. This is a lifelong process, which, of course, promises a lifetime of art-making. Passions always have roots. My passions for art, for history and collecting, for old toys, for vintage materials, for the visible effects of aging on items, all are based in deep, often unexplored parts of myself.

pulltoytrain

A five car pull toy train.

It might be cliche-ish to say it, but my art really is about me, and my life. I sometimes feel like more of a medium than a creator, and the spirit I’m communicating with is my own. It’s a powerful process, and thankfully, a very enjoyable one. Life has intervened on my art career, recently. I’ve undergone a lot of changes. My father died, two years ago, and my mother has pancreatic cancer. I broke my wrist, limiting my ability to work. My 16 year old daughter moved out, after a blowup. I lost my studio. And, worst and hardest of all, my marriage ended suddenly, due to (this will take more explanation that I can offer here, but you’re welcome to visit my blog for the more complete story) my coming out as gay, which has of course led to seismic changes to my entire universe.

There has been little time, space or energy for art, but it is calling me again, more and more insistently. I’m interested to see what comes out, when I get back to work. Changes come in the slightest shades or the greatest shifts, and it is my job as an artist to guide rather than steer that process, and not to overly influence it with what I think I should be doing. Having the chance to examine the last few years of production is a bit like examining the rings on a tree stump, or the different shades of layers of rock on an eroding cliff face. It is a record of me, set down in ways that words cannot. And I’m looking forward to the next chapter.


Jim Garmhausen 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: Jamie Moriarty

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

Artist Jamie Moriarty

Artist Jamie Moriarty

Q: Please tell us about your background:
I’ve lived in Florida most my life. I started out with film photography in high school and then moved to digital photography and photoshop. However, once I got to college I started painting and sculpting which is when I really started to make artwork. I got my associate’s degree at the State College of Florida where I had access to a wonderful ceramics studio. After graduating I decided to go to New College of Florida. All of the sudden I found myself without clay and a kiln and that’s the moment that my art started to take off in a whole new direction.

"Tilt-Axis Accelerometer" Oil on panel; 5x5 in; 2018

“Tilt-Axis Accelerometer” Oil on panel; 5×5 in; 2018

Q: How would you describe your work?
My first love is sculpture, but I’ve been focused more on painting as of late. Most of my portfolio consists of interactive sculptures. Either via a sensor, button, or other mechanism, the artwork is activated and altered in order to talk about the ways in which we interact with technology and how such interactions influence us. I started out in this genre with simple buttons and relays, but I’ve been expanding into more complex programming. Recently, I’ve been working a lot with computer vision, the field that deals with getting computers to understand and interpret visual images.

"Finger Study No. 3" PLA, MDF, micro servo, Arduino nano, LED, potentiometer, circuitry; 9x4x3.5 in; 2018; When dial is turned, the finger bends.

“Finger Study No. 3″ PLA, MDF, micro servo, Arduino nano, LED, potentiometer, circuitry; 9x4x3.5 in; 2018; When dial is turned, the finger bends.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
I feel somewhat compelled to say a computer, but they never really work so I’d have to go with my speakers or headphones. As my medium changes, I’m always listening to music or an audiobook.

Q: What type of music do you listen to and how does music affect your artwork?
That being said, I love listening to rap, jazz, indie, instrumentals, and everything in between. When I get bored of music I listen to informative non-fiction audiobooks. I find that music helps to keep me on a certain pace or in the right mind set. Although I love audiobooks, they make me work much slower.

"Camera Module" Oil on canvas; 34x28 in; 2018.

“Camera Module” Oil on canvas; 34×28 in; 2018.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I envy the days when I would just start painting out of the blue. Now, my process starts out very conceptually, I have a very good idea of my end product before I begin creating. My paintings start out with very meticulous reference photos, you really don’t see my hand until you get up close. However, it’s my programming works that wind up changing a lot throughout the process, but that is mostly due to the learning process.

IMG_20180108_182344

Paintings in progress in Jamie’s studio

Q: What was your experience like at art school?
I’ve really been struggling with the way that art school has altered my practice. The school I am at is more of a liberal arts college and the art program is firmly rooted in the world of academia. I have become so conditioned to think primarily about the conceptual that aesthetics is always optional and expression weakens the idea. The worst part is that you don’t realizes the changes that happen until they become damaging. I’ve been trying to unlearn some these constraints in order to go back to a more natural process of creation.

"RPi Zero Camera Module" Oil on canvas; 36x11.75 in; 2018.

“RPi Zero Camera Module” Oil on canvas; 36×11.75 in; 2018.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I’ve been animating my sculptures with electronic components for quite some time, but my paintings have remained the same. My goal for this residency is to find new ways of making my two dimensional works more interactive.

photo of taking photo

Q: What’s next for you?
I will be graduating this spring and after that I plan to move to a bigger city and focus on making work outside of the academic environment. I plan to get my master’s but I want to spend more time discovering myself as an artist first.

Q: Where else can we find you?
My website is jamiemoriarty.com and my Instagram is @jamie_michelle_moriarty. All my fun and frustration in the process gets posted to my Instagram account.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Siena Hancock

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

Artist working during residency in Iceland

Artist working during residency in Iceland

Q: Tell us about your background.
I am from Massachusetts, currently I live in Malden which is where I was born but moved around a lot as a child so it is hard to say what my exact origins are. As a kid I was always artistic but didn’t realize what I wanted to do with that until I went to art school and discovered sculpture. I went to school in Boston at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where I majored in glass. Since graduating in 2016, I have spent a great deal of time traveling. I backpacked through Europe one summer and this past spring I spent three months at a residency in Iceland. When I’m not traveling, I work for a fabrication studio in Boston that specializes in creating glass sculpture for a variety of clients: fine-artists, architectural projects, and public monuments.

venus

Venus of Raudsokkreyfingin, papier-mâché, 6′x6.5′x4.5′, 2018

Q: How would you describe your work?
My work is an interdisciplinary, socially-engaged practice which strives to be a conversation between people, place, and media. It is based in process, the process of craft and research, and by marrying these ideas I create sculpture and installation that seeks to educate viewers and illuminate the state of our world and women’s place within it.

Q: What is your process for making a work of art?
I tend to start with research for my larger projects, using texts and online resources to inform my work. From there I will start to develop a visual map of how to present my findings in artistic form. I work in a large variety of materials, usually they are connected to craft traditions, but I have been starting to experiment more with found objects and new media.

Nibble

NibbleBreast, white chocolate & artist’s body, 14″x12″x6″, 2015

Q: Who are your favorite artists?
I have a very long list of artistic influences including: Lynda Benglis, Eva Hesse, Faith Wilding, Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman, Victoria Sin, Doreen Garner, Sarah Lucas, Carolee Schneemann, Annie Sprinkle, and Yayoi Kusama. All of them are amazing women artists that have done so much to push the boundaries of art.

Q: Where is your favorite place to view art?
MassMOCA in North Adams, MA is one of my all time favorite places to view art. The museum is made up of several industrial size buildings and this allows artists to create large-scale installations. I go to see most of the shows and they always make a huge impact, partially due to the space.

dmc

DMC, blown glass, clay/cement, LED, sand, cast glass, mirror, mylar, plaster, installation space: 12′x15′, 2016

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I am working on several projects that all fall under the umbrella of research I have been conducting using feminist sci-fi texts which depict utopias. I am investigating what is a feminist utopia and how one can be formed, more specifically I am interested in learning what other women think this could mean and creating an audio record of their thoughts. This is an ongoing project I began in Iceland. In addition to this, I am creating sci-fi feminist action figures. I’ll also be doing some ceramic work with molds and experimenting with site-specific installation using found objects.

thefall_detail

Detail from recent installation: The Fall (from Vogue), magazine, mirror, mylar, mirrored blown-glass, and mono-filament, 2018

Q: What’s next?
It’s hard to say…I am interested in applying for MFA programs in a year or so. I’m working with a friend in Boston on curating some all-female shows in the area and hope to do more residencies. I may end up going to Italy in the spring for work.

Q: Where can we find you?
My website is sienajhancock.com.

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Momoko Takeshita Keane

Ceramic artist Momoko Takeshita Keane

Ceramic artist Momoko Takeshita Keane

The real heart of ceramics for me is simply the effect of fire on clay.

The technique I use to form my ceramic sculpture is called coil building. Slender ropes of clay called coils are wound in a spiral, and pinched one upon another, to build the desired shape.
"Embrace" (left) and "Fissure" (right) by Momoko Takeshita Keane

“Embrace” (left) and “Fissure” (right) by Momoko Takeshita Keane

Then the work is fired in a Japanese-style kiln called an anagama that is heated by burning wood. It is the effects of this burning wood on the clay — and how it brings out the inherent qualities of the clay — that is the essence of my work.
Momoko's work, alongside other artists' work, loaded into the kiln (left); and work outside of the kiln after it has been fired.

Momoko’s work, alongside other artists’ work, loaded into the kiln (left); and work outside of the kiln after it has been fired.

The mouth of the anagma kiln (left); stoking the fire with wood (right)

The mouth of the anagama kiln (left); stoking the fire with wood (right)

I studied ceramics originally in the ancient kiln town of Shigaraki, Japan, but there weren’t so many opportunities there for me as a woman at that time to do wood-firing. After moving to Ithaca, I began to fire in the anagama that Fred Herbst runs at Corning Community College. The colors and effects on the clay from this kiln are more than I could have expected. Much of my work has been born there including the series called Embrace that has been accepted in many international ceramic competitions.

"In Praise of Nature" runs through July 31, 2018 on the second floor at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs.

“In Praise of Nature” runs through July 31, 2018 on the second floor at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs.

I am so pleased to have had the chance to exhibit this work at the Main Street Arts gallery.

In Praise of Nature, an exhibition featuring wood-fired ceramic sculpture by Momoko Takeshita Keane, runs through July 31, 2018 on the second floor at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased on the Main Street Arts Artsy page.