Meet the Artist in Residence: Amber Roach

Amber Roach is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. She is working on printmaking and oil painting in during the months of November and December 2017. We asked Amber a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Amber Roach

Amber Roach

Q: Tell us about your background.
I was born and raised in Syracuse, New York. I graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in illustration.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My preferred medium is relief printmaking. However, I wouldn’t confine myself to only using a printmaking process when making a piece. If I feel it would be enhance by painting or drawing I’ll work in a more mixed media fashion. I would describe my work as graphic yet textural.

Prints by Amber Roach

Prints by Amber Roach

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Once I’ve decided on a subject matter I start out with very loose thumb nail sketches. After I feel I’ve gotten a decent composition I’ll transfer my drawing to the block and redraw it with more detail. I carve the block and do about a dozen test prints to figure out which colors to use.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
For this first month, I want to fine tune my portfolio and create more pieces that are cohesive with my current body of work. Primarily I’ve been making linocut pieces. For the second month, I want to get back into oil painting.

Amber Roach working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Amber Roach working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
My glass palette.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
My favorite contemporary painter is Kent Williams because of his use of color and the way he captures the figure. My favorite contemporary printmaker is Kathleen Neeley — I admire her style and the characters she creates.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Mostly through my Instagram but I’ll also send out mailers to art directors.

Print by Amber Roach

Print by Amber Roach

Q: What’s next for you?
After this I will probably be planning a move to New York or hunting down another residency.

Q: Where else can we find you?
Instagram: @amberleighroach
My website: www.amberroach.com
Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/amberroachart


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts. Artists in residence have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Housing is available. Submissions are reviewed and residencies awarded quarterly. Upcoming deadline: November 30, 2017 for a residency in January, February or March 2018.

From The Director: Sacred Curiosities

Sacred Curiosities, installation shot

Sacred Curiosities, installation shot

Sometimes, an exhibition will come to me quickly. An artist will submit their work and it instantly sparks an idea of what other artist/artists could be paired with this person to make an engaging show. The full concept and title will also come easily and all will be well… More often, I will come up with an abstract notion of an idea and then try to find work that will fit. For Sacred Curiosities, it was the latter.

Planning notes for the exhibition

Planning notes for the exhibition with the first three artists to be included

About a year and a half ago, I had the spark of an idea for an exhibition and wrote myself a note that said “Object/Relic/Ritual”. This vague description was a guide for me but didn’t really get close to defining what the show would be, visually. I knew it would be based on objects (found objects) that seemed like relics, either from the artist’s everyday life or from another time entirely. The “ritual” aspect shows up in work that seems to indicate daily routine and in some cases, references to religious or spiritual practices.

A shrine by Chad Grohman. Chad's motivation for making these pieces comes from his experiences as a Nichiren Shu Buddhist Priest. The content of his images comes from doctrinal concepts found throughout the Buddhist cannon.

A shrine by Chad Grohman. Chad’s motivation for making these pieces comes from his experiences as a Nichiren Shu Buddhist Priest. The content of his images comes from doctrinal concepts found throughout the Buddhist cannon.

Immaculate Conception (front piece), a sculpture by Jacquie Germanow sits in front of many of Marth O'Connor's female totems and a framed "portrait" by Emily Kenas on the wall

“Immaculate Conception” (front piece), a sculpture by Jacquie Germanow sits in front of many of Martha O’Connor’s female totems and a framed “portrait” by Emily Kenas on the wall

A large part of Sacred Curiosities is focused on found object sculpture. The beauty of this method of making art is that many disparate parts—all with their own meaning or connotation—come together to form something new. The grouping of materials may be harmonious or it may be a collection of diverse and contradictory parts. The artists create new meaning from the various materials.

“Two Figures”, a found object sculpture by Emily Kenas as seen at a studio visit on March 15, 2016 (left) and again May 3, 2017 (right)

The paintings, drawings, and other more traditionally constructed sculpture add to this notion by depicting personal, historical, or cultural signifiers as they relate to the artist.

Richard Rockford pointing to "Todd" during my studio vist with him. This is an image made by cutting and reconstructing a vintage sign

Richard Rockford pointing to “Todd” during my studio visit with him in September, 2016. This piece was made by cutting and reconstructing a vintage sign.

Thinking about the meaning of objects led me to think about the passage of time and how the meaning we assign to certain objects can change. A symbol or signifier excavated centuries after it was made is interpreted out of its original context and the meaning is assigned based on what else may be known of the time from which it came.

A collection of legs from various sculptures in Bill Stewart's studio

A collection of legs from various sculptures in Bill Stewart’s studio

What will remain from our time here on earth? What will be known of our civilization when our cultural relics are unearthed? These questions helped me frame the exhibition and give it a context, even if only in my own mind, but the real meaning of the show is derived from the individual meaning created by each artist.

Photo from the studio of Jean Stephens, taken in July, 2016 just after a trip out west when she started working with these images of rock formations.

Photo from the studio of Jean Stephens, taken in July, 2016 just after a trip out west when she started working with these images of rock formations.

This exhibition has humor, evidence of self-examination, nostalgia and most of all a pluralistic collection of disparate parts coming together. Stop in before Friday, November 17 at 6 p.m. to experience this exhibition and investigate all of the bits and pieces that make up this show.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Richard Rockford

The artist, taking in the exhibition

The artist, taking in the exhibition

My association with Main Street Arts begins with the show, Sacred Curiosities, running October 13–November 17 at the Clifton Springs, NY gallery. Though the title sounds a bit awkward and mysterious, it is actually quite on the mark.

Since time began some humans have had deep feelings for certain objects, shapes, colors, and “special” things either natural or man made. Archeologists delight in finding certain very special objects among the utilitarian tools of the ancients. There is a longstanding delight in the “cabinet of curiosities” known all over Europe for hundreds of years. Religions literally worship relics, remnants, and anything touched by a deity or saint. And let’s not forget the artifact crowded shelves of any room used by Dr. Sigmund Freud.

"Todd", found signage that was cut and reimagined, 43 inches square.

“Todd”, found signage that was cut and reimagined, 43 inches square. Included in the exhibition.

For at least a couple of centuries, and expanding rapidly in the very modern age, artists have become great purveyors of objects. From 18th century tromp l’oeil to portraits posed with special toys and accessories, to 20th century Pop Art, collage, found art, and all manner of objects used in and as art (THE urinal!), artists most certainly have found “things” sacred or curious. It is entirely possible today to assemble a massive and fine quality (not to mention important and delightful) collection of art with signage, common objects, dolls, flags, toys, etc as the media and/or the theme. We are so in tune with messages and possessing “things” that the public can now relate to any bits of typography, campaign buttons, newspaper, and ephemera that artists employ.

A crushed steel channel with welded support remnants. This is a crowning example of found metal art. It is completely as found, with no patina alteration, but mounted very professionally. It suggests a tall, elegant figure, flowing garments, and clearly mimics what a sculptor would create in abstract casting. It evokes such issues as "Why create when you can find things like this?", as well as, "It's not art, it's just a coincidence"… and it easily suggests a sacred or curious thing.

A crushed steel channel with welded support remnants. This is a crowning example of found metal art. It is completely as found, with no patina alteration, but mounted very professionally. It suggests a tall, elegant figure, flowing garments, and clearly mimics what a sculptor would create in abstract casting. It evokes such issues as “Why create when you can find things like this?”, as well as, “It’s not art, it’s just a coincidence”… and it easily suggests a sacred or curious thing.

Artists have learned a myriad of ways to work with objects and milk them for all aspects of value, curiosity, form, patina, and most importantly, symbolism. Not only have artists used existing objects and materials, they have learned to make objects or images that mimic, mock, or play off of special objects. One can now collect genuine outsider art or one can purchase what looks like outsider art from many contemporary artists. It is certainly obvious that one function of art is to MAKE us consider an object as sacred or curious by the mere fact of presenting it as art—forcing the viewer to try and see these aspects when they are presented in gallery or studio venues, framed or mounted to push the notion.

Tape wrapped "Depression" baseballs. Despite the lowly look of these spheres, they have high "emotional content" as well as creativity, patina galore, and many attributes far beyond a utility object.

Tape wrapped “Depression” baseballs. Despite the lowly look of these spheres, they have high “emotional content” as well as creativity, patina galore, and many attributes far beyond a utility object.

A good question to ponder is how or when an object becomes art, or at least when it gains sacred or curious force. Let’s use an object I have a lot of connections with. There are people who collect and value baseballs with team, player, or game associations. These items can be worth many thousands as the fame and rarity of the autograph rise. As art or objects for the sophisticated, they are lacking almost all value. Some people collect such spheres for the age, style, and patina they demonstrate. Now we are crossing from “baseball” collector value to historic and aesthetic value. The right bunch of these aged brown balls can certainly be an artistic and curious matter.

Tape wrapped "Depression" baseballs.

Tape wrapped “Depression” baseballs.

I have collected and used many baseballs in my art because they have great age, color, and patina. Going even further, I collect a type of baseball that has very special meaning. If any object can be curious and sacred to me, these are the ones. I refer to the electrical or friction tape wrapped balls, mostly from the Great Depression. They are all creative in origin, delightful to look at, and though some might pay highly for them, they are usually found for under a dollar at flea markets and garage sales. However, they go way beyond the value of most ephemera when you consider what I call “emotional content”. This quality exists only in some special objects. It is distinct from great beauty, form, patina. It is similar to the feelings evoked by any toy or doll showing great wear, but with these baseballs it goes even further. Each tape wrapped ball was a desperate move by one child or a group to renew a valuable thing as it decayed. They saved the all important sphere by finding tape, working out how to wrap it (my collection has many styles of this “make do” effort), and only then can play resume. Each one is a monument to poverty, creativity, childhood, and cooperation. With slight effort, one can see them as curious, emotional, and for some, sacred.

Certain “found” or at least “unaltered” objects also fuel the debate about artistic validity. I have worked for years promoting found items and it was often done with a degree of shame. The questions always arose—”I did not MAKE this, so how can I be an artist or take credit for it?”…”How can I join a show of highly talented art makers when I do not have those skills myself?”. How can I defend elevating simple findings to the status of art—curious or sacred—without offering a rationale for my lack of skilled artistic efforts?  Do I have to put others down to justify myself? In the war between makers and finders there is the battle of genuine vs. made up, unique vs. copied from others, exploring our material culture vs. the studio hermit. The answer lies in the process and sincerity of the person as well as the simple result. Does the “product” come from serious efforts to bring forth a worthy work?  Is the talent (for finding or making) put to good use? Are the pieces found or made excellent in design, form, color, and do they produce enjoyment, thought, debate?  All of these are valid on both sides.

Starting with a scrapbook page (c1940) that has been stripped of many postings, I heavily embellished its importance with positioning, color, and shadow box framing. A perfect example of elevating the ephemeral so it is considered as an art object.

Starting with a scrapbook page (c1940) that has been stripped of many postings, I heavily embellished its importance with positioning, color, and shadow box framing. A perfect example of elevating the ephemeral so it is considered as an art object.

Looking at results—the “it is what it is”—is surely an OK way to pass judgment in most cases. If you see it as art, if it evokes feelings about it’s beauty, thoughts about it’s challenges, then it passes muster. Where things get really confusing is when found or existing things are manipulated to make an art object. In other words, what do we value in between a found scrap metal sculpture and a fine oil painting? In this gap we find the too clever, the welded old tools, the patina of found wood, the assemblages, and the old doll head novelties, and so on.  Once again, I am shamed to be among the group that employs old things to create evocative art. Partly because I am way better than some of the horrors I see, partly because I am not nearly as good as some that I envy. And the answer lies in a certain generosity of spirit. Unless done with savage insincerity (“I crank out this crap just to make money”), all of it is creative, all of it has some audience, all of it teaches us to compare and contrast to find the best we like. “Sacred Curiosities”—anything that intrigues us, creates feelings of awe, evokes the dark and light of cultures, and impresses us as special objects–is all to the good, worth making, worth looking at, worth living with.

You can see more of my work on my website, www.richardrockford.viewbook.com


Four of Richard Rockford’s found object pieces are included in “Sacred Curiosities” at Main Street Arts. The exhibition runs through November 17, 2017.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Dianne Baker

Dianne Baker in front of her work, "Whole", in an exhibition at Chautauqua Institute in Chautauqua, NY

Dianne Baker in front of her work, “Whole”, in an exhibition at Chautauqua Institute in Chautauqua, NY

I am drawn to what is overlooked—the transcendent in the forgotten, the discarded, and the mundane. By reconfiguring these unexpected materials and objects into collages, assemblages, and sculptures, I attempt to subvert  the viewers’ perception and to value the past and its remains for they provide insight and connections to the present. If the art reminds them of a grandparent, a work experience, a family holiday, they establish a connection and can then imagine the extraordinary in the debris from our materialized culture and abused environment. Thus, I see my work as providing a transformational  experience in that the viewer cannot only see, but also appreciate, the creative possibilities which exist within the discarded—finding the “magic in the ordinary”.

An installation at UB Anderson Gallery as part of Buffalo Society of Artists Exhibition

An installation at UB Anderson Gallery as part of Buffalo Society of Artists Exhibition

As I collect from scrap yards, and roadsides, what others consider waste, I extend the materials and objects’ useful life and forever alter its history and significance.  The discarded rusty metal, weathered wood, broken parts are transformed into artworks that reflect our consumer society.  I am taking art off of its pedestal and making it more about everyday experience because the viewer can recognize the recycled object and relate it to a place, event, or individual.

Dianne Baker in front of her work as part of a three person show at MC Master University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Dianne Baker in front of her work as part of a three person show at MC Master University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

I have been exhibiting artwork since l979 locally in galleries including Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Castellani Art Museum, Burchfield- Penney Art Center, Art Dialogue Gallery, and Canisius College.  Nationally, I have exhibited in New York City, Washington, D. C., Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Denver, and Santa Fe. Internationally, in Hamilton, Ontario and Bratislava, Slovak Republic.

Video with the Buffalo Society of Artists

Video with the Buffalo Society of Artists

You can see more of my work on my website, www.dbakerartist.com, and view a recent video created by the Buffalo Society of Artists of my work here.


Four of Dianne Baker’s pieces, including “Quartet” (which can be seen being worked on in the video above) are included in “Sacred Curiosities” at Main Street Arts. The exhibition runs through November 17, 2017. 


 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jacquie Germanow

 

Me in my studio with chisel and wood form

Me in my studio with chisel and wood form

My work process is highly intuitive and relies on an interactive dialogue with the materials at my hand and the possibilities in my head.  I use the energetic/magnetic variety of materials—sometimes, at the edge of existence—to resurrect a visual metaphor in sculpture. The work often progresses through many iterations before being realized for exhibit.

When I was finding my path to becoming an artist, I read a book by Carl Jung that resonated within me:

The artist has at all times been the instrument and spokesman of the spirit of her age. Their work can only be partly understood in terms of personal psychology. Consciously or unconsciously, artists give form to the nature and values of their time, which in turn form them.

I knew it was my path, and because of that I have always seen my role as a conduit for translating universal energy into material conversations.

Positive clay forms waiting to be cast into plaster/silica molds

Positive clay forms waiting to be cast into plaster/silica molds

I love the connecting conversation that my work provokes and enjoy the feedback. Yet, getting ready to show work is always stressful for me. The dialogue shifts from a uniquely personal and nourishing one to a very public and hence “judgey”arena that I know is important as a vital gift to humanity. Visual art is quiet for the artist, for the viewer and patron.  If we are receptive, it makes a connecting vibration in our hearts.

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to English parents who escaped from China just before the Japanese invaded. I became a US citizen when I was 14 very aware of the toll WWII had on my family and my parents homeland. Encouraged by my mother’s artist soul, I have been making art ever since I can remember, and I am particularly struck by memories of sculpting sand on the beaches of the Jersey shore.

The artist at work

Ready to work

My fascination with how things work and the seductive forms and
colors of nature led me into science culminating in a pre med BS. Physics, philosophy, and religion were part of this liberal arts study and they turned my mind from scientific deduction to an inductive formulating mind set that artists use to build work. The excitement of making art was like receiving a lightning strike. Could I dare to do this for my life’s work? I went west to study art in Utah never realizing how the geology would impact my visual acuity. I received an MFA in Sculpture there.

If I have a style, it is by default. I am told my work is recognizable, but I do not aspire to a style. I do trust my dreams, revelations, visions, my capacity to synthesize, and find meaning in the ordinary. Each work bubbles up and percolates. Execution is usually much more arduous than I tend to anticipate because I am magnetized by a large palette of materials. Alas, Inspiration is a command. (Agnes Martin) I take the afore seriously and gratefully.  

Mold loaded with glass and ready for kiln

Mold loaded with glass and ready for kiln

Perhaps by pulling together such disparate forms and  textures into unity, I give credence to connection, heart and memory in a world caught by divisiveness and discord. The space between forms has always spoken to me as a synapse  of forces.  The spiral, a symbol of change,  seems to keep surfacing in my sculpture and painting.  

The most challenging aspect of making my work is how to attach one material to another so that it reads as a whole, seamless impulse.

photo 3

The inclusion of glass and showing my paintings has been the biggest change in the last 20 years.  They all address timeless themes, but in very different ways.  I really enjoy how they inform each other and me.

My sculptures are beautiful maquettes for public spaces.  Wouldn’t it be great to see that happen! “My work is a tether that loops around  the invisible, the chaos, the quiet; always seeking the structure of the sublime.  Without it I am adrift in the in between.”

Visit my website to see more of my work: www.jagvisualart.com.  You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  

www.jagvisualart.com


Stop by Main Street Arts to see four of Jacquie’s sculptures included in “Sacred Curiosities”. The exhibition runs through November 17, 2017. 

From The Director: Art in the Nation’s Capitol

In front of the National Gallery in Washington D.C.

In front of the National Gallery in Washington D.C.

This past weekend, I attended a family wedding in Washington D.C. While I was there, I had a whole day to kill before the wedding so I decided to see some art. I started out in the west building of the National Gallery of Art, where they mainly have what I call “the old stuff”. 

Rotunda in entrance of West Building

Rotunda in entrance of West Building

While there is so much to appreciate and study in art from early art history, I usually bypass the collections from the middle ages, renaissance, and prehistoric times. I typically choose to look at artwork made after 1900. Today, I decided to just take it all in (or at least as much as I could in 4 hours) and wandered through each room in the grand building.

Bronze casts of French members of Parliament made from Daumier original unbaked clay sculptures

Bronze casts of French members of Parliament made from Daumier’s original unbaked clay sculptures

Not surprisingly, the things I was drawn to were not that old. Highlights for me from the West Building include bronze sculptures of French officials by Daumier; Color in Context, a small exhibition of prints by Edvard Munch focusing on the use of color and the specific theosophical meaning of his colors; and Posing For The Camera, an exhibition of 60 photographs chronicling how posing for a portrait has changed since the invention of photography.

(left) Photo of playwright Jean Genêt by Brassaï, (center) Untitled photo from Berlin by György Kepes; and (right) Photo of Lucian Freud by Brassaï

(left) Photo of playwright Jean Genêt by Brassaï, (center) Untitled photo from Berlin by György Kepes; and (right) Photo of Lucian Freud by Brassaï

Moving to the East building (with a break for a burrito in the park) you notice the distinct differences in the architecture. The first building was classical, the second building was modern and angular.

Interior shot of the east building of the National Gallery

Interior shot of the East Building

The highlights from this building of the National Gallery include a drawing with soot by Lee Bontecou; “Blue Blood” by Martin Puryear, a large circular piece made from pine and cedar; and the thing that knocked me out the most was a film by James Nares called “Street” with a score by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.

"Untitled" drawing with soot by Lee Bontecou

“Untitled” drawing with soot by Lee Bontecou

"Blue Blood" by Martin Puryear

“Blue Blood” by Martin Puryear (with security guy for scale reference)

In the viewing room at The National Gallery watching "Street" by James Nares

In the viewing room at The National Gallery watching “Street” by James Nares

It was a slow motion ride around the streets of NYC and the way we get to interact with these people, usually staring at us or off in to the distance, is very intriguing.  See a clip from the piece here.

Large Robert motherwell painting on the bottom level

Large Robert motherwell painting on the bottom level

"Achilles" by Barnet Newman (left) and two paintings by Clifford Still (right)

“Achilles” by Barnet Newman (left) and two paintings by Clifford Still (right)

"Salut Tom", a huge painting by Joan Mitchell

“Salut Tom”, a huge painting by Joan Mitchell

There were of course some large abstract expressionist paintings, which I always like but the Nares film was my favorite piece. I wish I was able to experience all 61 minutes of it but I didn’t have enough time.

It is always a good idea to check out galleries and museums that you’ve never been to. Sometimes when I am on a trip or vacation, there just isn’t enough time. I’m glad I made the time during this short trip.

204 of Thousands, an installation of cups by Ehren Tool at the Renwick Gallery

“204 of Thousands”, an installation of cups by Ehren Tool at the Renwick Gallery

I also stopped into the Renwick Gallery the day before and saw a great installation of cups by Ehren Tool. Part of his ongoing body of work dealing with war through pottery. This installation at the Renwick Gallery was just a small number compared to the 14,000+ that he has made as part of this project. Powerful to see.

From The Director: End of September Edition

Upstate New York Painting Invitational

Upstate New York Painting Invitational

There have been so many things going on this month, I thought it would be nice to give some highlights… This is the last week to see two great exhibitions. You have until Saturday afternoon to experience the Upstate New York Painting Invitational and Fuse, a solo exhibition of sculpture by Mitch Messina. 

Detail of "" by Mitch Messina

Detail of “Circuit” from the exhibition by Mitch Messina

This is the third consecutive year that we have done a regional, media-specific exhibition. Last year it was printmaking and the year before it was ceramics. This is a great opportunity to see eight painters from our region working in a variety of different styles and media.

We are also having an artists talk this Saturday, October 7 at 2p.m. with seven of the artists included in the Painting Invitational. You can RSVP and get updates on our Facebook Event Page.


The end of each month is always bittersweet… It means that we have to say goodbye to our artists in residence. The bright side is that we get to welcome new artists into our community! Plus this month, Mandy Ranck is staying on for a two month residency, so we get to hang out with her for a while longer.

Ali Herrmann teaching her encaustic collage workshop at Main Street Arts

Ali Herrmann teaching her encaustic collage workshop at Main Street Arts

We are saying goodbye to Ali Herrmann and wishing her well as she travels back home to Lenox, MA. She was the first encaustic artist to be a resident at Main Street Arts and we really enjoyed getting to know her and her work while she was here.


For the month of September, I was honored to be able to teach art classes two days per week at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center. These classes provided an art experience for some of the veterans who are full time residents in the geriatric and psych wards at the VA.

"Animal Collage" project from one of the students at the VA Medical Center

“Animal Collage” project from one of the students at the VA Medical Center

Each class we completed a different project and focused on painting, collage, and ceramics. I would usually have 10–15 guys in the class but the day we did the clay figures, 25 showed up! It was a great experience and I look forward to doing more with the VA in the future.


ArtTalksPromo

On Sunday, Sept. 24, I was privileged to be a part of the Ontario County Arts Council’s “Art Talk” series. In case you missed it, the Art Talk at Wood Library in Canandaigua will be aired on Finger Lakes Television (Spectrum cable 12, digital channel 5.12) on October 6 at 9 a.m., October 7 at 6 p.m., October 13 at 9 a.m., and October 14 at 6 p.m.


Mandy Ranck is our first ceramic resident artist and she also guided our kiln along it’s maiden voyage! We have had a kiln at the gallery since we opened 4 years ago but just have not been able to fire it until this year. 

Mandy Ranck loading work into our kiln at Main Street Arts

Mandy Ranck loading work into our kiln at Main Street Arts

We are looking forward to each time Mandy unloads the kiln! If you are a ceramic artist or you know someone who is interested in a residency, check out the details on our website. You will have full access to the kiln and a potter’s wheel.


Installation shot from last year's Small Works exhibition

Installation shot from last year’s Small Works exhibition

Our deadline for two national juried exhibitions was yesterday at midnight! Keep your eyes peeled as we reveal the accepted artists work in preparation for the opening receptions on Saturday, December 2. The fate of each exhibition is now in the hands of our jurors, Cory Card (Small Works) and Peter Pincus (The Cup, The Mug).

While the month of September was definitely a busy one, the coming months will continue in its path, starting with the installation of our next exhibition Sacred Curiosities, which features the work of 13 artists (opening reception on Saturday, October 21 from 4 to 7 pm). The arrival of work for our two national juried exhibitions will follow, and before you know it, the installation and opening of those exhibitions will be here! We will also be announcing our 2018 exhibition calendar very soon so check our website, follow us on social media and, if you haven’t already, sign up for our weekly email newsletter to keep up with all that’s going on!

Meet the Artist in Residence: Renee Valenti

Renee Valenti is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the month of October, 2017, she will be working on a series of abstract paintings and immersing herself in art history books. We asked Renee a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Renee Valenti

Renee Valenti

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I’m originally from a town right outside of New Haven, CT but I’ve been living in Brooklyn for the greater part of the past fifteen years. I’ve been making visual art for the past ten, after making a switch out of performing art and theater. I decided to make the change and went to Pratt for my undergrad and finished my masters last year from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s low-residency program. I feel that I still often draw from storytelling, the theatrical, or cinematic in my work; and I often like to work in series until something is finished for me.

"fuckin, fuck", oil on canvas, 2017

Renee Valenti: “fuckin, fuck”, oil on canvas, 2017

Q: How would you describe your work?
Painting is the largest part of my studio practice and I also do a lot of photography. Most of the time I would take the photos that I was using for my figure paintings, as well. My painting had primarily been figurative or the spaces people occupy, but then last year I started turning toward abstraction. I just couldn’t carry the heaviness in the narratives that were in the paintings from 2015-16 and I also just didn’t have any ideas in my head! I was feeling mentally spent but also just needed to get back into the paint. So one day just started making without the photo imagery. However, then another narrative started emerging for me within these abstract paintings; which still very much have a place of body within them.

My photography has been a continued investigation of portraits of friends, bikers, communities, and empty hotel rooms. I started driving to nearby towns and staying in hotels while living briefly in the mid-west in 2014. As a way to combat the solitude I was experiencing while living there, I started to photograph these spaces—investigating the comfort within transient places devoid of personal memory. Recently, I started a project of landscape photos down Route 66.

Images by Renee Valenti: The Chateau Royale, Lake Geneva,WI (left) Photo 9; (right) Photo 8: ghosts of ashtrays and whiskeys

Image by Renee Valenti: "Gas station, entering New Mexico—off Route 66", digital photo, 2016

Image by Renee Valenti: “Gas station, entering New Mexico—off Route 66″, digital photo, 2016

Q: What is your process for creating a work or art?
That’s a big question and it varies. Sometimes I watch a lot of movies and that inspires me aesthetically; filmmakers like David Lynch, Wong Kar Wai, Fellini, and Pedro Almodóvar. Usually it takes me a minute to do all the background work before beginning a new series. Whether that’s going to the library to do research on a photo project or walking around the city or being or getting into a head space to feel out what the inspiration for the paintings is/are. Sometimes it’s just walking in the woods a lot. I need meditative time for sure. But then once it takes off I can kind of hit the ground running after that until a stop comes and then it maybe things need a minute to refresh.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
I’m going to say my speakers, or my phone speakers. I always have something on, whether it’s music or a podcast, or talk radio or something. That kind of gets me going or keeps me going. You spend a lot of time alone in your studio too, so it breaks up your own voice or lets me get deeper into it within the making.

Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork?
Everything from Beethoven to Best Coast to Led Zeppelin, to Santigold. It runs the gamut.

"White Noise", oil on canvas, 2016

“White Noise”, oil on canvas, 2016

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
Out in the world. I feel like some of the best art is all around us. Then Museums and galleries of course, depending on the show. The one thing about living in New York is that a lot comes through there, so you get to see a lot of great work up close and in person.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I plan on working on the series of abstract paintings that have been in process. I’m also planning on just bringing a lot of art history books and digging into those. I’m really looking forward to having a whole month to work there.

"Winter", oil on canvas, 2017

“Winter”, oil on canvas, 2017

Q: What’s next for you?
We’ll see! I’m looking for an exhibition space for these paintings sometime next year and to complete my Route 66 project. That’s the immediate future, art-wise.

Q: Where else can we find you?
http://reneevalenti.com/home.html
https://www.instagram.com/photoslag/
https://www.facebook.com/renee.valenti.9


Renee is teaching a workshop on Saturday, October 14 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Her Paint As Material worksop will examine the versatility of paint with a focus on experimentation within the medium. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Belinda Bryce

Belinda Bryce

Belinda Bryce

Although Rochester has been my home for the majority of my life, I wasn’t born here. My family moved a lot when I was very young, and as a young adult I lived in various places before returning to Rochester. These experiences may have led to my interest in navigation of place and time as it relates to an inner journey. This theme also influences how I work with layers to create a history of the art-making process.

I started painting watercolor landscapes inspired by the Finger Lakes while in college. After college I worked for a typography and print production company that supported the major advertising agencies in Atlanta. Graphic design holds a special place in my heart but I was drawn to fine art.

Belinda's Studio

Belinda’s Studio

My interest in non-objective art began while living in Atlanta where expansive contemporary commercial space invited large abstract work. When I returned to Rochester, I spent the first 10 years working with monotype, which allowed me to layer images and combine elements of printmaking and painting. More recently, I have focused primarily on painting.

My work combines expressive drawing and painting. The compositions suggest an inner landscape that is inspired by nature, its patterns, shapes, color, light and textures.

Nighttime photo reference

Nighttime photo reference

NightSketch

Nighttime painting sketch

NightPainting

Finished painting inspired by nighttime photo

In the last five years, I have focused on the fundamentals of line, gesture, form and texture, nestled within layers of staining, glazing, mark-making, and drawing. The dialogue among these formal qualities informs my process. I am interested in creating balance with a visual language that conveys simplicity, complexity, and mystery.

Rock inspiration (left) and a detail from a painting inspired by the same rocks (right)

Rock inspiration (left) and a detail from a painting inspired by the same rocks (right)

A “celebrant of the indeterminate,” I need room to roam in my work and often get lost in the unconfined freedom I so value. The resulting images are related but often visually different, maybe two or three suggest a brief series, but the work as a whole is more a traveler’s diary of exploration, digression, and the indirect process of becoming then going beyond—a map of getting lost.

A rock-inspired sketch

A rock-inspired sketch

Painting inspired by rocks

Painting inspired by rocks

Untitled painting

Untitled painting

You can see more of my work on my website, belindabryce.com, on Instagram and on Facebook.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see three of Belinda’s paintings included in the Upstate New York Painting Invitational. The exhibition runs through October 7, 2017. Belinda’s work from the show is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

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Meet the Artist in Residence: Ali Herrmann

Ali Herrmann is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the month of September, 2017, she will be working on mixed-media encaustic paintings featuring female icons and role models. We asked Ali a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Ali Herrmann

Ali Herrmann

Q:  Tell us about your background
I live in the Berkshires; travel around upstate NY and Hudson River Valley selling my work at markets, fairs, and events.  I have been making art since a very young age—coloring books and a box of Crayola crayons were always my go to.  I went to Colgate University to pursue geology, but after not being satisfied with my choice in college and the academic requirements surrounding the school, I decided to switch majors, transfer, and convinced my geology professor to write a recommendation for application to Bennington College.  My intent was to focus on ceramics and painting, but as it turned out, fell in love with printmaking and continued to pursue painting. I’ve always maintained a multimedia approach to my work, even to this day.  In addition to making art, I teach classes in bookmaking and encaustic painting, bringing my techniques, knowledge and shared experiences to each class.

Encaustic Landscape with Trees

Encaustic Landscape with Trees

Q:  How would you describe your work?
My work is painting with a multi-media approach, using inks, papers, paint, encaustic wax, found object…the idea dictates the medium of choice. I often use multiple things in one painting, hence why I say ‘multi-media.’  Subject matter is typically botanical and nature oriented, in ways that I tend to personify it’s beauty.  There’s a graphic design element to my work, which is a trickle down effect from the very graphic-illustrative nature contributed by college printmaking techniques.

At work in the studio at Main Street Arts

At work in the studio at Main Street Arts

Q:  What is your process for creating a work of art?
My day typically starts around 7:25 am,  getting up with my built in alarm clock, then I head for coffee and journal writing.  It takes me a good hour to fully ‘wake up’ in the morning, even after I’ve gotten out of bed, so I’ve learned this is a good time to let out the thoughts, dreams, ideas, and mental clutter into my journals.  After that, depending on the weather, I may head to the studio or go for a walk/jog.  If I head to the studio, I am likely to turn on the hot plate and slowly start heating up my encaustic paints.  While I’m waiting for the materials to liquify to working state, I clean off the work surface from the day before, prep paper collage materials I think I may want to use, and organize my workspace…much like decluttering my mind in the morning journals. When the materials are ready, I begin with a meditative layering and heat setting process with the wax, developing a surface upon which to work.  Encaustic works in layers, so this medium suits me particularly well, given that I utilize a multi-media approach to other paint processes.  Some of the pieces take days or weeks, while others may be done in a few hours…the elements and working properties of the wax dictate the direction, so it’s an experience of being both in control at times and letting go.

Uma: B. Kiddo, 6” x 6” panel encaustic, 2017

Uma: B. Kiddo, 6” x 6” panel encaustic, 2017

Q:  What are your goals for this residency?
My goal for this residency is to create a body of work that uses portraiture as subject matter, particularly women icons and role models.  I anticipate creating 100 6”x6” encaustic portraits of women, using illustrative drawings, paper collage techniques, writings, and encaustic wax.  Portraiture is almost a big diversion from my typical work in encaustic, since I tend to be more focussed on incorporating color abstraction and illustrative narratives using symbols of plants, trees, and sailboats. However, working with the more illustrative pieces in my tree series, where I embed text, I felt a sense of empowerment through the text and it led me to want to personify a strong women icon series.  And with everything going on in the world of current events/politics, I personally find this a perfect time to explore this series. Also interesting is the idea of ‘icons’, since the history of encaustic was predominantly a process of preserving pieces, such as the face masks from the Fayum wedding portraits, so in a sense, I feel as if I am bringing my love and knowledge of encaustic full circle. Going back to the beginnings and root of why this medium gained attention, while bringing attention to modern day women.

A collection of small, handmade sketchbooks

A collection of small, handmade sketchbooks

Q:  Do you collect anything?
I have a fascination for collecting ‘objects of containment’, yes this needs defining.  For a long time, I used to collect sketchbooks and they would sit on a shelf, pristine blank books, waiting and wanting to be used, but at the time, I was out of college and focused on a day job, completely unrelated to anything artistic.  The blank books became a thing of admiration, a collection of sorts: pretty covers, sizes, different bindings.  Once I took a course on different bookmaking techniques and realized how ordinary these were, I started using them to sketch, paint, & write while I made more fun books to eventually use.  While I do have a collection of sketchbooks I’ve made, it’s more for demonstrations and teaching purposes, but they do get used!  Additionally, I have other objects of containment, ranging from a modern, funky purse collection to old wooden boxes: rice boxes, tea boxes, cheese boxes, wine boxes, pencil boxes, and shelf boxes.

Q:  Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
While I enjoy going to a gallery or museum to see work, I really never want to make a full day of it or spend a lot of time in them.  There is a silent, sterile quality that somehow ‘quiets’ the art for me.  I believe this is because I am a process oriented person.  I like to see work in progress, the sketches, the inner brainchild workings, the silly notes, and the processes involved in making work.  The two places I really enjoy to see art are in peoples homes or artist studios.  I think there’s a real intimacy seeing what people collect and how they display it in their environment.  As for artist studios, you get to see the raw and visceral experience of being engaged in the process.

Six, 6x6 inch panels in progress

Six, 6×6 inch panels in progress

Q:  Do you collect artwork?
I think artists always collect artwork.  My collection started in college, where I exchanged a few etchings and monoprints with other printmakers.  Having an affinity for pottery and coffee, I have always loved collecting mugs, though the functional, everyday use aspect of it never made me think I was ‘collecting art’, but rather, creating a collection of enjoyment.  My first purchase that actually made me feel like I was buying art ‘to collect’ was a small portrait piece I found in a boutique type gift shop in Asheville, NC ironically during a pottery visit in 2003.  I saw this lovely portrait and it reminded me of myself: haircut, red background (at the time I had a red Jeep wrangler), seeming poignant, isolated, alone, but having this ingrained presence that could light up a room.  I kept looking at it; however, did not buy it that moment because I thought: why would I want to buy a portrait?   Of who? Of someone I didn’t know?… and so continued on my journey around Asheville.  When my trip reached it’s end, I found myself racing back to the store in the early morning, hoping they would be open, because I simply needed my this piece in my life, regardless of who this person was in the portrait.  I think I even floored the shop owner when I said, ‘I need that’.  She was so excited for the artist, to be selling a piece of their work, but it was more than a sale or a purchase, I somehow connected with that piece in a way that went beyond the imagery, so it became needing it in my life, not simply wanting it.

Since then, I have collected etchings from an artist in New Hampshire, and tiny paintings from artists based in Portland, OR.  Overall, I can say that all the work has a very illustrative feel, despite some being whimsical paintings and others being detailed bug/botanical prints…they all have images of birds, bugs, botany, with the artists personal vision/flair. Artists include: Cori Dantini, Michele Maule, Rachel Austin, J. Ann Eldridge  

Q:  What is the most useful tool in your studio?
The most useful tool is the most unattractive, bright yellow, mundane looking tool: an automotive bond application/spreading tool, but it has a great name…the Dynatron!  While I do love a palette knife, I find this tool in my car, my purse, in the kitchen, and yes, all over the studio for all media, so it is the most purposeful.  Life changing actually!

DSC_0435

In the studio at Main Street Arts

Q:  What’s next for you?
When I return home, I hope have a full schedule teaching classes in encaustic and bookmaking, head into autumn’s beauty, and ready myself for the winter market/vending season.

Q:  Where else can we find you?
On my webiste, www.aliherrmann.com, on Instagram, @aliherrmann, on Facebook, and on my blog, www.aliherrmann.blogspot.com.

Ali is teaching an encaustic collage workshop  on Saturday, September 16 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!