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

Meet the Artist in Residence: Siena Hancock

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

Artist working during residency in Iceland

Artist working during residency in Iceland

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

venus

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

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

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

Nibble

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

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

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

dmc

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

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

thefall_detail

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

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

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

Meet the Artist in Residence: Kyle Graham

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

A self portrait print ready for installation

A self portrait print ready for installation

Q: Tell us about your background.
Hello! I currently reside in Whistler, BC, Canada, moved to the west coast in 2006 although grew up in Whitby, Ontario. I studied Adventure Tourism in college, and didn’t start making what I considered art until spring of 2017. The exploration had started previously but personally I didn’t feel anything had any oomph to it even though I had been  exploring with a camera since about 2010 in different capacities.

A lot of my background consists of adventures in the mountains, coastal landscapes, hiking, climbing, camping, mountain biking, skiing, and so forth. Although my mind has always had a fascination with art and creating works that provoke emotions and thoughts, I’ve simply been a self taught photographer with no prior experience in the artistic world. Currently I work part-time as a photographer, and part-time security personnel for a museum in Whistler, plus a few random odds and ends.

Multi day trek on the Sunshine coast

Multi day trek on the Sunshine coast

Q: How would you describe your work?
I am a self portrait photographer, I explore comfort zones, social constructs, personalized constructs, and attempt to find natural landscapes (generally) that can help facilitate a narrative to those experiences and ideas. Using the nude form primarily as it’s been a focal point to much anxiety growing up, it can host a variety of emotions.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
Camera, tripod, shutter release cable, and my laptop which has Lightroom. Also having a vehicle to get to unique locations is quite nice, or a bike to get there.

My local landscape

My local landscape

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Although I’ll have rough ideas, it’s going out and exploring, seeing what speaks to me. I’ll go under bridges, wade through rivers, climb on obstacles, experiment. I’ll look at spaces for a few minutes, think of poses, set-up the camera, trigger, try a couple shots, re-adjust framing, etc.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
Erwin Olaf in Europe, his imagery was one of the first I’ve seen that made me a little uncomfortable and gives me anxiety, his work pokes at convention. A lot of my work is loosely based around the same premise.

The Spotlight

Q: What are your goals for the residency?
These goals have funny enough changed, and they could change again during the residency. Originally I had the idea to expand current series surrounding nudes in nature, and gender. Although with further thought realized new series that compliment these series already started might be a better idea due to great differences in landscape design.

With a landscape that is familiar from growing up not too far away, although foreign when it comes to art, and with the shifts in changing seasons, I’m looking to force my perspective to think different on how I view landscapes. From a combination to thinking more critically about poses with it’s intervention with land in the nude form. Gender from the spectrum of gender identification and wearing lingerie/dress’s and the psychological ideas on how I feel society has processed this series.

A new series, The Voyeur, it’s taking a look at how the online world has changed so dramatically over the last couple decades and our interactions with strangers online has altered our ideas of interaction, the frame work is around nudity, exhibitionism from simple talking to explicit in nature imagery. I have another idea that I may tackle surrounding our phones/cameras and our interactions in landscapes, with people, scenic areas, etc, but creating augmented reality artistic expressions, this one I’ve dabbled in before but need to see where it may lead.

Gender Series Photo

Gender Series Photo

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
Explore, explore, explore. Get uncomfortable, try something new, go against the grain. Make things that you know aren’t going to work out. Step back, think, process, try, experiment, repeat.

Q: What’s next for you?
I don’t know…More residencies, expand/creating series, applying to shows, maybe get into a renegade style that goes against the regular spectrum on how you’re suppose to create you’re artistic image?

Q: Where else can we find you?
Can find me at:
www.kylegrahamfineart.com,
www.kylegrahamphotography.com, www.instagram.com/kylegrahamfineart, and www.instagram.com/kylegrahamphotography

Meet the Artist in Residence: Meredith Olinger

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

MO_Photo

Meredith Olinger

Q: Tell us about your background.
I’m from Memphis, TN. I recently obtained my M.F.A. from Memphis College of Art. I am a mixed media artist. For the past two years I have been designing my own wallpaper, creating it both digitally and by hand, and using that to collage large scale installation pieces. I also work in printmaking, painting, and textiles.

01_MO_Room#1

Room #1, mixed media, 2017

Q: How would you describe your work?
My work is very layered, both in physicality and content. I’m very interested in the intersections of art and design, painting and installation, digital and handmade. My work blurs these lines. Aesthetically, I’m looking for something bombastic and overwhelming. I’m inspired by advertising, billboards, interiors and  social media.

02_MO_Room1Reconfigured_Front

Room #1 Reconfigured: Front, mixed media, 2017

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
All of my wallpapers are of my own design. I create them digitally and have them printed by Spoonflower, or I create them by hand, using painting, printmaking, drawing, etc. These are then layered onto a surface and then I rip away at them. I often collage these pieces back on, working until the piece feels right. I also photograph my work while it is in process, make a wallpaper pattern out of that, and then collage it into the work.

03_MO_Room#1Reconfigured_Back

Room #1 Reconfigured: Back, mixed media, 2017

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
During this residency, I am focusing solely on painting. My background is in painting, but I have been so focused on collage for the past few years that working with oil has been very challenging for me. My goal this month is to get re-acquainted with the medium.

05_MO_Detail

Detail, oil on panel, 2017

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
I have so many favorite artists! El Anatsui, Amy Sillman, Mark Bradford, and Nick Cave are just a few of my favorites. But recently, I’ve been very interested in Elliot Hundley’s work. Though it’s very different from mine, the way he works in layers is similar to my own process. I also love how dense his work is, and that is something I strive for in my own work.

08_MO_ZeitgeistInstallation

Untitled (Zeitgeist Installation), mixed media on wall, 2018

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
I’ve had so many great professors over the years, and they have all graciously given me so much wisdom. But one professor in particular once told me to, “trust the process.” Simple really, but I repeat it to myself a lot in the studio. It’s so easy to get bogged down in your work. Art making is hard and you have good days and bad days. You have to remember that it’s all part of the process. The struggle is important for making your best work.

Q: Do you collect artwork? Tell us about your collection.
I do collect artwork! My collection is small, but has some really great pieces by artists I love. I own a few pieces from some of my cohorts from graduate school: Katherine Dean, Joseph Mosely, and Mary Ruth Pruitt. I also own a piece of one of my professors, Beth Edwards, a fantastic Memphis painter. I also own some antique Chinese peasant paintings that I bought for a song because I don’t think their owner knew how amazing they were! I try to pick up prints when I can, and am looking to add a Chuck Johnson and a Greely Myatt (two local Memphis artists) to my collection in the near future.

09_MO_Untitled_1

Untitled 1, mixed media, 2018

Q: What’s next for you?
I recently started showing my work with Binder Projects, an online gallery, so I am excited to see how that relationship develops. I’ll be teaching in the Fashion Design Certificate Program at Memphis College of Art in the Spring, and I have some workshops in mixed media and printmaking coming up. As for my work, I’m excited to see how my process grows and changes this month.

Q: Where else can we find you?
Check out Binder Projects and my website.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Emily Tyman

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

Emily Tyman

Emily Tyman

Q: Tell us about your background. 

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

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

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

Q: How would you describe your work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Do you collect anything?

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

Q: What are your goals for this residency?

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

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

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

Q: What’s next for you?

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

Q: Where else can we find you?

My website and my Instagram.

From The Director: The Complexity of Drawing

Colleen Buzzard, drawing on the wall

Colleen Buzzard, drawing on the wall to complete one of her pieces in the exhibition

What isn’t a drawing? In the beginning of 2012, I taught a class at RIT on Tuesday nights called Experimental Drawing. On the first night, I started the course by asking this question and proceeded to take the students on a magical journey (a.k.a. “boring slideshow”) that chronicled drawing since the dawn of time according to Bradley Butler. It was of course a truncated version of the history of drawing. Within the slideshow there were typical drawings made with pencils and there were paintings and there were sculptures and other things that were more experimental (hence the name of the course). It was a way to show the students that classifications don’t always work in art. Just as in other real life examples, the definitions of things that seem so certain may end up being in more of a fluid state.

Installation view of exhibition

Installation view of exhibition

Our current exhibition, The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational  is a great example of a portion of that slideshow. It has drawings, paintings, collages, sculptures but all of them fit into this exhibition as drawings.

Looking at drawings by Faithanne Carapella in her studio in Syracuse, NY

Looking at drawings by Faithanne Carapella in her studio in Syracuse, NY

The large-scale works by Faithanne Carapella bounce back and forth between drawing and collage as she often uses torn paper, photographs, and found objects among her marks of charcoal and ink. Her process involves making a drawing, tearing it apart and finding a way to make it whole again, often with the other materials filling in the cracks. When I was in her studio, I found myself holding torn sections up to see the full image as they hung off the wall.

Kathy Farrell's mixed media drawings, prior to framing

Three of Kathy Farrell’s mixed media drawings, prior to framing

Kathy Farrell also uses collage. Her mixed media work tends to  walk the line between drawing and painting but her approach to making artwork is always based in drawing. Her use of line, whether made with a marker, paintbrush, or scraggly bits of press type is lyrical and improvisational and will often interact with lines or printed words found on the torn pieces of maps or other printed ephemera in the composition.

Colleen Buzzard, Untitled wall drawing with graphite and wire

Colleen Buzzard, untitled wall drawing with graphite and wire

In thinking about the use of line, no one’s work in the show best exemplifies the simple beauty of a line more than Colleen Buzzard’s  Untitled graphite and wire drawing (Colleen is pictured above drawing on the gallery wall). This simplicity is deceiving, however, because this piece is multilayered. The drawn portion, extending from the floor to the top of the wire, is imagined as being the same line that punches out through the wall into 3 dimensional space. This floating line of wire also makes a “drawing” all on its own, casting several shadows onto the wall, some of which are even more predominate than her own drawn pencil line.

Installation shot of Bill's drawings

Installation view of Bill Stephens’ pen and ink drawings

Bill Stephens gives us another way to reimagine space as well with his intimate pen and ink drawings, which depict cubist inspired architecture and organic human/nature hybrids. Many of the drawings in his cube house series have more than one orientation, which leaves you wondering which way is up.

detail of "Disconnect 4", colored pencil on panel by Mandi Antonucci

detail of “Disconnect 4″, colored pencil on panel by Mandi Antonucci

Mandi Antonucci’s colored pencil drawings are a consistent surprise for gallery visitors who assume they are painted in gouache or acrylic. Her ability to model the human form in this way with colored pencil is impressive. Beyond the dexterity with the medium, the composition and point of view she offers us is even more engaging. Faces interrupted by geometric patterns and flat color as well as homes being overtaken by glowing crystal formations are the basis of these surreal drawings on wood panel and paper.

IMG_0214

Installation view of “Fragments 2 and 3″, two charcoal drawings by Tricia Butski

Two distinct bodies of work by Buffalo artist, Tricia Butski are also included in the exhibition. Her Lapse series includes small overlapping linear outlines of faces with ink on paper, making us see many sides of a person at the same time. While the heavier, darker charcoal drawings in her Semblance series give us a single view but through veils of distortion and abstraction. Both avenues offer us a way to consider the ideas of memory and identity.

Overall, the goal for this exhibition is to show that drawing is a versatile medium. It can be done with a single pencil and sheet of paper (or wall) or it can be complex and exist somewhere between a drawing and a painting/sculpture/etc. See The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational before it closes on Friday, September 28. You can also preview many of the pieces included in the exhibition on Artsy and view photos on Flickr.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Kathleen Farrell

Kathleen Farrell at the opening reception of the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational

Kathleen Farrell at the opening reception of the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational

I love making art from discards, lost, recycled, unwanted things. I have been looking in other people’s trash for most of my life. I can go for hours, days, just looking for objects, in search of something that will later be worked into a painting or collage. I tuck them away when another idea takes over and revisit them looking for  just that piece for completion of a artwork.  If I like the look of something or it conjures up a memory or thought it goes into my stash bin for safekeeping. I work on my art whenever possible. I have many projects going at once always in search for that perfect discarded piece of wood or partial part of a toy that will take on another life.

Discarded book

Discarded book

I love to draw and do so every day. An activity that has remained constant since I was a child. I draw in meetings, at parties, poetry readings, listening to music in bars, while watching baseball, and especially at boring meetings. More or less working out ideas, frustrations or for pure comic relief. I work in small manageable formats whenever possible keeping several projects going at once. I prefer drawing my thoughts, rather than speaking my thoughts, whenever possible.

Me drawing with two hands

Me drawing with two hands

I can work almost anywhere that has a flat surface.  As a child I would get in trouble in school for drawing in my composition books, so I would take notes on the desk top and draw in an other book on my lap or in the compartment under the desktop. Being both righty and lefty (ambidextrous) this skill set has helped me throughout my life to cope with my need to draw. I attend the Rochester International Jazz Festival each summer and do drawings of musicians and concert goers. I draw a lot when waiting in lines.

I have numerous sketchbooks scattered everywhere. I will purchase various types of sketchbooks, chosen for shape and paper.  My favorite is the Moleskine Japanese book, as it has one continuous page that usually becomes a landscape of a sort. I participate each year in the Brooklyn Art Library sketchbook project.  I have eleven sketchbooks in their library. At first it was hard to give the books up, to not have them in my possession.  Now somehow knowing that my books can be viewed by visitors at the library in Williamsburg NY almost on a daily basis feels good to me.

discard

Discarded book drawing

I work with just about every drawing medium under the sun.  Markers and colored pencils are my favorite. I use gouache, watercolor, pen and ink and combined all that with collage materials.  Of late I have been using discarded library books. It pains be to see such nicely bound paper go in the trash. Lately, like drawing on bogus paper, I collage,draw and paint on that surface. I have a small studio in my basement with many  and various surfaces to work on.  I listen to all types of music while working out ideas.

Two-handed

Two-handed

I was born and raised in Rochester, New York. I love to travel to see new places and ideas.  I have worked at Monroe Community College since November 1986 as the Director of Monroe Community College’s Mercer Gallery which entails administering an arts program of gallery exhibitions, artists workshops, residencies and an artist lecture series. I am a full professor in the Visual and Performing Arts Department at MCC. I teach in both Commercial Illustration, and Graphic Design programs, and teach various other courses from time to time.  I love every aspect of my job.

I teach a sketchbook class that I developed with another colleague, Jason Smith, about 10 years ago. The course has developed into a very successful course that is offered each semester with two sections.  Many of the students are not visual artists, most are studying the sciences or engineering.  It is a great course that allows these students to relax, mediate and exercise their imagination on a daily basis.

Detail of drawing

Detail of drawing

I am the recipient of the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities, the NISOD Excellence Award for Teaching, the John and Suzanne Roueche Award for Teaching and the Dr. Wesley T. Hanson Award for Teaching Excellence.

I surround myself with colleagues, friends, family, madmen and poets who do not judge and will nudge me when I fall asleep.

Video of Kathy Farrell, drawing with both hands!

Click to watch the video of me drawing with both hands!


Kathleen Farrell is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Faithanne Carapella

document-10

Teacher/Artist. Artist /Teacher.

I am an artist who teaches. Drawing and teaching are methods of informing  the manner in which I learn about my self, my environment. Teaching requires that you examine and pay attention to the world outside of yourself. Teaching clarifies your ideas and makes you examine what is not quite clear. Art pulls it all together.

IMG_4672

I grew up in Syracuse, NY. I believe that there is a  Central New York “look” that invades most of my work. I attended SUC Buffalo and received an MFA from Syracuse University.

I draw. I draw because I find making marks to be the most immediate, the most fluid, most adaptable process for how and what I see. The marks move from my heart to my eyes, to my brain to finally to my hand. I find that drawing can move from raw, emotional and straight from the gut sensation or it can clean up to become sleek refined and elegant observational recording.

document-6

For me, drawing always starts from  sheer observation. While I see an initial image before I even begin a drawing, the time between the beginning and end of of drawing influences the final strokes. Things change. When I start a drawing, I think know where I am headed. I am sure that I am concentrating on a form or a tangle of positive and negative space. I am looking at light and dark. I am seeing texture. I am filled with concern about a natural phenomenon. But suddenly the drawing gains a life of its own. There is a constant conversation between me and the material and the idea. Sometimes the drawing and I fight and argue. And sometimes we co-exist peacefully. We work it out.

document-2

Obviously, I am strongly influenced by my environment. I am always aware of both interior and exterior environments. My drawings are where I live and how I live and oh, I do live inside of these drawings. The elements and images and ideas are sometimes actual events. Sometimes they are metaphorical. There are great amounts of manipulation of idea and technique.  And then again, often an audience reads them as a totally different entity and that is good. Art tells stories that allows everyone to interpret as they need. My own internal and external landscapes drive what and how I draw.but I watch and try to interpret how others inhabit the same places. I see images in my head suddenly and without warning. They germinate and marinate over time. When they are ready to happen, they know.

document-11

 

I usually have 4 or 5 drawings developing at the same time. Sometimes the work just needs the time to sit and figure itself  out. I simply lay down the marks that give voice and credence. All of the images. All the memory. All of the world. All of the daily observation. It is a tangle. It is my job to unravel and make sense of it all.

IMG_4752

While the technical part takes some time—the tiny marks, the light against the dark—the composition knows itself immediately. The drawings are never precious. I usually let them get a bit beat up I often just rip them up and reassemble. I make great mistakes and sometimes embrace those mistakes. Sometimes I do not. I add materials. I currently have a pile of smooth clean bark that I found in a pile in the woods.

IMG_3445

IMG_E1974

While I’m currently working on natural environments I’ve always been entranced by the all of the spaces that people inhabit. I’ve worked with interiors that include the artifacts that people leave behind. I watch the effect that they have on spaces.

IMG_0382

I was that kid that grew up on concrete sidewalks. I played kickball in the middle of the busy city streets under streetlights. I sat on the curbs and watched cars drive by and wondered where the people were coming from and going to. I wondered about the stories. I always found solace and comfort in the hidden quiet nature so often overlooked in urban areas. Weeds that survived the trauma of concrete. Branches bent by forces specific to cities. Insects. Weather patterns. Rocks. Seeds. I picked up acorns and beautiful chestnuts from old city trees. I carried them in in my pockets. Dandelions were as beautiful as the city park roses. Maybe more so. I loved the darkness and lightness of evening. Stars . Lightening bugs. I collected leaves and rocks. Dead insects. Bird nests. Bones. These objects were Talismans from nature. They were to pondered and studied for shape. Form. Color. All of the concepts that I eventually learned in school I learned on the streets. Two objects placed next to each other-appeared a certain way. When you rearrange the grouping the image and feel changed.

document

IMG_E1969

I am currently working on this group of drawings that center on the trauma of our earth, I think I see it as a way of earth reacting to our brutal action. We overrun and abuse the earth. We leave our imprint. Wind/Air. Water. Fire .Ice. Stone. All alive .  Hurricanes. Rockslides. Fires. Tsunamis. Tornados. I just heard of the latest phenomena this morning. A fire tornado. It is tragic,but that will be a future drawing. The earth reacts to our presence and we are now watching the result.

Recently I stumbled across a house for sale. The setting  appeared to be pulled straight out of one of my old drawings. The house is made of logs and sits in the middle of a mishmash of old trees. The ancient land is covered with boulders and rocks and moss. A winding creek cuts through a deep ravine. The environment is full of shadow and light. Drawings will happen here.

document-1

My one consistency is that I must draw everyday. It’s a habit. In my head I need to remember the eye/hand/brain connection. Observation. Correct drawing and then I can throw it away or tear it up. . Sometimes I simply throw washes down on big paper. Charcoal and ink seem to fit as natural mediums. They seem close to the earth for me. They connect.

document-9

I find my drawings becoming more wild. More fragmented and more ragged. Less observational, more emotional. I look around and I start adding other materials. I watch them and suddenly I know a part of will happen on that page. And then I draw. And I will continue to draw.


Faithanne Carapella is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.