Meet the Artist in Residency: Andrew Palladino

Andrew Palladino

Andrew Palladino

Q: Please you tell us about your background?
I am a Boston based printmaking artist, I recently graduated with a BFA in printmaking from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  I’ve been making art for about the past five years now but my time printing goes further back than that. Before MassArt I attended vocational school for production commercial printing, specializing in offset lithography and silkscreen.

Empty in the Cave, Intaglio, 12.5x23.5in, 2018

Empty in the Cave, Intaglio, 12.5×23.5in, 2018

Q: How would you describe your work?
A majority of my current work is etchings and silkscreen prints. My prints are abstractions working off of maps and diagrams. I use observation and pre-existing information to create completely impossible forms and uninterpretable figures. I look at things very analytically yet display them with more open readings, swinging the real into my own pieces of art.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I work heavily with layering, the pieces build themselves that way. I make a lot of components in a drawing that may not even appear in the final print, but the contribution to the overall drawing is important to me. The image builds and thickens, usually to the point of being over-done, but that really shows how my mind works while creating. I tend to get fixated on my work and bring it past the point where my initial intention would be to stop.

Margin Treader, Intaglio, 12x8in, 2017

Margin Treader, Intaglio, 12x8in, 2017

Q: What are your goals for this residency? 
This residency for me is most about experimentation. I’m mostly looking to get as many things on paper in different ways. While I normally publish works in formal editions I want to stray from keeping things looking uniform and really just take some time to print and collage and reprint.

Untitled, Intaglio with Chine Colle, 12x8in, 2018

Untitled, Intaglio with Chine Colle, 12x8in, 2018

Q: Who are some of your favorite artists? 
My favorite artists currently are people like John Walker, Terry Winters, Anselm Kiefer, and Julie Mehrutu. They all demonstrate the ability to tackle small marks translating into extremely larger compositions, which is something that captivates me when looking at art.

Q: Do you collect artwork? 
I have a small collection of other artists’ works, I really only limit myself to things I could show in my home and on my studio walls as opposed to having things locked away in storage. Mostly I just find myself getting pieces from local artist friends back in Boston, though a few works are from artists I did print publishing projects for such as John Walker and Kiki Smith.

I, Intaglio, 5x9in, 2017

I, Intaglio, 5x9in, 2017

Q: What’s next for you? 
Currently, I am building and improving an in-home studio in Boston while making work there. I mostly show around that area as well though always looking to reach out to new spaces.  I would like to venture further onto getting an MFA, but that seems a ways away for me at the moment.

Q: Where else can we find you? 
My website is cargocollective.com/andrewpalladino and you can find me on instagram: @apalladino309

Meet the Artist in Residence: Rachel Siminoski

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

Rachel Siminoski

Rachel Siminoski

Q: Please you tell us about your background.
I grew up in a small town in central Ohio, and after graduating high school I went to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for my BS in biology. During my sophomore year I decided that as much as I loved science (and still do!), it wasn’t what I wanted to pursue. I graduated with my BFA in drawing and printmaking, worked at an art gallery for a year, and recently I’ve been working for a screen printing company in the Charlotte area. I also started an online art magazine called Reciprocal in 2017, and I’m currently working on the fourth issue.

Rachel's studio

Rachel’s studio

Q: How would you describe your work?
My work stems from my interest in biological systems and the intersection of protection and separation. Most of my paintings depict ambiguous enclosures in which biomorphic and structural forms interact symbiotically. While I’m influenced by various structures that I see on a daily basis (fences, enclosures, walls, etc.), I’m not actively attempting to depict anything from life. I’m more interested in the function that those forms are associated with- such as protecting, covering, holding, or supporting the things around it.

"Octagonal", 2018, acrylic on canvas, 36.25  27 inches

“Octagonal”, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 36.25 x 27 inches


Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I start with small, simple sketches, although I never feel obligated to stick with my original plan. I like to work on multiple pieces at a time- if I try to focus on just one image, I feel like I end up drowning in ideas that don’t belong crammed together in one single painting. I also like to stop and take a moment to write about what I’m working on, ask myself questions about the decisions I’ve made so far, and gain some clarity on where I want to take the painting next.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I’ve been thinking about how things evolve over time, and how the abstract characters and environments within my paintings fit into that idea. I think in the past I’ve thought about each of my paintings as separate, individual representations, whereas now I’m more curious about how they interact in relation to one another, and depicting them in a way that makes them seem less static.

I’ve also been playing with the temperature of the grays that I mix, and I want to explore how I can push that further while still staying true to the parameters that I set for my work. I’m hoping to continue exploring these ideas and make some smaller paintings that will lead to larger works once I get back to my studio in North Carolina.

Per Kirkeby

Per Kirkeby

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? Who are your favorite local artists?
I really love Per Kirkeby’s paintings. He made sure to emphasize the importance of having structure within a painting, and that has always resonated with me. A few of my favorite North Carolina artists include Felicia van Bork, Marvin Saltzman, and Mariam Stephan.

Untitled, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 28 inches

Untitled, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 28 inches

Q: What was your experience like at art school?
I had an amazing experience in school. My professors were tough yet supportive, and I was surrounded by talented and driven peers. The environment wasn’t competitive in an unhealthy way like I think some people assume.

"Small Enclosure 2", 2018, acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10 inches

“Small Enclosure 2″, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10 inches


Q: What’s next for you?
That’s a big question! Hopefully I’ll be attending more residencies later on this year. I’m also starting to think about going back to school for an MFA in painting, so we’ll see where that leads me!

Q: Where else can we find you?
You can find me on instagram, or on my website www.rachelsiminoski.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.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Eve Bobrow

Eve Bobrow, 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 Eve some questions about their work and studio practice:

Artist Eve Bobrow

Artist Eve Bobrow

Q: Please tell us about your background:
I grew up in Rochester, NY and have recently returned after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis. I originally went to school for design and computer science with the goal of working in the video game industry but transferred to architecture during my freshman year. Even while studying architecture I knew my real passion was for art, but the technical education gave me a whole new perspective to work from.

"Columnar" Drawing and Collage on Mylar; 24" x 36", 2016

“Columnar” Drawing and Collage on Mylar; 24″ x 36″, 2016

Q: How would you describe your work?
My primary focus in my work is the intersection between quantitative study and emotional experience. I like to draw from technical aesthetics, like user manuals, city plans, and blueprints, to legitimize the subject matter, or to explore a concept more deeply through technical practices.

"Thought Projection" Drawing on Mylar; 24"x36"; 2018.

“Thought Projection” Drawing on Mylar; 24″x36″; 2018.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I usually start with a burst of productivity, which could be anything from intensive research to rapid prototyping. After I’ve iterated myself into a corner and gotten everything out of my system I will often step back and take an entirely different approach. Occasionally I will have an idea that requires a more precise plan and workflow, but normally there is a lot of chaotic collaging and those string maps detectives make.

"Haunted Alton"; Digital (Photocopied), Cover and 2 Pages of 28; 8.5"x11"; 2018

“Haunted Alton”; Digital (Photocopied), Cover and 2 Pages of 28; 8.5″x11″; 2018

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I’m hoping to make as much as possible! I haven’t had my own studio in several months so I’m excited to get into the space and spread out. Because of space constraints I’ve been working digitally lately, or on screenprinting projects with my friend/main collaborator Finnegan Roy-Nyline, that he is printing at his studio in Minneapolis.

"Untitled" 3 Color Screenprint; 8"x10"; 2019

“Big Thought” (Created in Collaboration with Finnegan Roy-Nyline)  3 Color Screenprint; 8″x10″; 2019

Q: Do you collect anything?
Yes! I’m a sucker for paper goods from the 60s-80s. I have a growing collection of USGS maps, old magazines, botany books, carving books, and basically any kind of craft book. My favorite is a two volume set of songbird carving books that had a little hand drawn pattern for a wren tucked in the pages. I also collect kodachrome slides, vintage electronics, and nice rocks.

"Collograph" Drawing Machine Output, Ink, Pencil, and Etching on Mylar; 24"x36"; 2018

“Collograph” Drawing Machine Output, Ink, Pencil, and Etching on Mylar; 24″x36″; 2018

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? Who are your favorite local artists?
It’s a tie between Rueben Margolin and Mark Dion, both of them in different ways bring a scientific approach to their art practice that I’m really inspired by. Locally I really love Heather Swenson’s work, I think she’s doing some really interesting things with her screenprinting practice.

Bobrow_E_09

Q: What’s next for you?
I have another residency in April and May, but until then I’m working on a couple different book projects/collaborations and continuing to apply for more things. I’m hoping to move to Minneapolis sometime this summer, but there’s still a lot to consider.

Q: Where else can we find you?
I’m currently redoing my website but you can find me on Instagram @evebobrow for updates on what I’m working on.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Nancy Wiley

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

Nancy Wiley at Main Street Arts

Group of my paintings in the exhibition

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

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

Sketch

Sketch

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

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

IMG_20181211_155254836 (1)

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Photo studio

Photo studio

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Found picture frame

Found picture frame

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

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

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

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

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

In the studio with Dale

In the studio with Dale (cat on chair)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Carol Acquilano

Carol Acquilano painting on-site at Linwood Gardens in Pavillion, NY

Painting on-site at Linwood Gardens in Pavillion, NY

In this place I am witness to a succession of blossoming things, an orchestra that performs to the sun and the moon, to the wind and the bees. Rushing towards a full flowering or the stout skeletal remains, this is how painting days are at Linwood Gardens. Lee Gratwick is the master conductor and seemingly has arranged her plantings for artists to take in.

The gardens and grounds were first arranged over one hundred years ago and have been carefully tended. Their original structured design has relaxed into a casual and enchanting sequence of outdoor rooms. Every season brings about changes, pruning out and planting new. This evolution reveals the ephemeral nature of time and transformation.

"Summer Growth" watercolor on paper

“Summer Growth” watercolor on paper

The bounty of the garden offers endless subject matter. Plants offer such interesting compositions, and the peacefulness is just right for getting in the groove. Looks comfortable, but don’t be fooled. It’s typically extremely hot, and the bugs are everywhere.

My portable watercolor "studio" at Linwood

My portable watercolor “studio” at Linwood

I found an old golf cart and re-designed it for carting my materials around. The large wheels work great over uneven fields, brick and stone. I can roll my materials anywhere. Working on full sheets is liberating but the paper dries fast so my decisions are made quickly. I mix paint in large batches, using brushes and also pouring techniques.

IMG_2549

Smaller works are completed indoors where I can relax, without the busy bees buzzing, and hot sun glaring.


Carol Acquilano 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.

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: Erika Kari McCarthy

Erika Kari McCarthy, 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 Erika some questions about her work and studio practice:

Artist Erika Kari McCarthy

Artist Erika Kari McCarthy

Q: Tell us about your background.
I grew up north of Albany in Halfmoon, NY and realized that art was a huge passion of mine when I attended the New York Summer School of the Arts as a high schooler. I ended up going to RIT to study art, originally as an illustration major before I realized my true niche was in Fine Arts.  I now work for the Byrdcliffe Arts Guild in Woodstock, NY where I help manage their Artist in Residence program.

Q: How would you describe your work?
I am obsessed with the human body and physical presence, and work compulsively to dig into this obsession. I work with a wide variety of tactile materials, from human hair to sleeping bags and cast ashes. The objects and environments I create are efforts to solidify the ephemeral nebulous of ever-changing nonsense in my brain and emotional state.

"From Womb to Nest", sheer bandaids and copper wire, 11"x8"x7", 2018

“From Womb to Nest”, sheer bandaids and copper wire, 11″x8″x7″, 2018

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I work haptically and thrive in chaos. I like to say that I somersault into my studio and work on anything I bump into, because often times thats what it feels like. I work sporadically,  jumping from one task to the next project and changing direction when I need to, but I’m always working.

"Temporary Home", detail

“Temporary Home”, detail

Q: Do you collect anything?
YES. I am a chronic treasure hunter, from thrift stores to flea markets, lost items on the sidewalk to anything interesting in my own back yard, I’m always collecting objects that inspire me in one way or another. It started with picking up broken fragments of glass scattered on the street as if they were lost diamonds. I just collected a jar full of dried “husk tomatoes”, a gossamer weed I found in South Carolina. While living on a mountain in the Catskills I would wake to a cluster of dead moths on my doorstep every morning; I placed them in Petri dishes in my studio and drew and sculpted from them. They’re all part of my research.

Temporary Home", sheer bandaids, copper wire and thread, 34"x4"x3.5", 2018

Temporary Home”, sheer bandaids, copper wire and thread, 34″x4″x3.5″, 2018

Q: What type of music do you listen to and how does music affect your artwork?
I listen to just about everything, preferably through the interface of radio. Radio is one of the few media sources we still have that isn’t directed by algorithms that follow your choices and predict your next move. I love that I can turn on the radio and listen to whatever is most popular in the geographic area I’m in at the time; I start with a clean slate every time I turn on the radio, unencumbered by past choices. I flip through the stations and chose what feels right for the mood I’m trying to create and the work I’m developing.

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
The best way to see art is to open your eyes. There’s so much all around us to be amazed by if you allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to appreciate it.  As far as art museums go, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Dia:Beacon, and MassMOCA are some of my favorites.

"Microbial Chatter", hand-cut copper plate etching, 20"x16"x1", 2018

“Microbial Chatter”, hand-cut copper plate etching, 20″x16″x1″, 2018

Q: Who inspires you and why?
Like many female sculptors, I am in love with the work of Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois for their sincerity in creating real objects that impact the viewer’s emotional state. I am drawn to artists who kept good notes or used writing as a significant part of their process, such as Basquiat, Yoko Ono, and Sol Lewitt.  Words are a huge facet of my visual mind and I am always eager to collect new linguistic sensations.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I’m eager to set my hands to work and make everything I am capable of making. My most recent works have been constructed with copper wire and sheer bandaids to create lantern-like objects. I’ve been delving deeper into studying anatomy diagrams as inspiration for the forms I’m developing. 

"Held", cast ashes, 30"x7"x5", 2018

“Held”, cast ashes, 30″x7″x5″, 2018

Q: What’s next for you?
Many things! I’m beginning to consider various MFA programs but in the most near future I’ll be road tripping traveling around the country with my sketchbook.

Q: Where else can we find you?
Visit my website erikakari.com or follow my Instagram @erikakari