From The Director: Re-Emerging Artists

Installation shot from the exhibition

Installation shot from the exhibition

Our current exhibition, Re-Emerging Artists features two painters who have both been making art for longer than I have been alive. Considering this fact as a painter myself, I find it so encouraging and inspiring to see two artists making such fascinating work after more than six decades of making art.

John Greene and Robert Marx met each other around the year 2000 but their history goes back to the 1950s when John purchased a print of Robert’s in a gallery on Madison Avenue in New York. Over the years, John acquired more of Robert’s work and was delighted to find out that he lived and worked in Rochester when he was in town for a meeting at the Memorial Art Gallery. The two met in Robert’s studio and immediately became friends.

Fast forward to 2017 and we have the first showing of their work together in an exhibition at Main Street Arts!

In Robert's studio at Anderson Alley. An early, in-progress shot of the painting "Solana" that is in the exhibition.

In Robert’s studio at Anderson Alley including an early, in-progress shot of the painting “Solana” that is in the exhibition.

I had the pleasure of visiting both artists in their studios multiple times in preparation for this show. With Robert, both in his studio at Anderson Alley and in his current basement studio in his home. He spent almost 30 years in the Anderson Arts building on Goodman Street in Rochester. He now has the convenience of not having to commute to and from the studio—unless you count the walk from the kitchen to the basement steps.

Making the initial selection of work for the show back in May of 2016

John and I in his studio, making the initial selection of work for the show back in May, 2016

I visit artist’s studios frequently and going to see Robert was a quick trip to Rochester. However, visiting John’s studio meant going on a bit of a road trip—he lives in the Hudson region about four hours southeast of Main Street Arts. During our first visit in May of 2016, I was thrilled to be welcomed into his home studio to see his encaustic paintings in person for the first time. I was particularly drawn to the “Dimensional Landscapes”, four of which are included in the exhibition. I had never seen a painting stick straight out from the wall before!

Dimensional Landscape, oil and encaustic on wood—John Greene

Dimensional Landscape, oil and encaustic on wood by John Greene (two views)

The seeds of this exhibition were sown in September, 2015 at an opening reception at Main Street Arts. Grant Holcomb, former director of MAG and Marcia Lowry, on the board of managers at MAG, approached me with the idea of having a show with Robert and John. Already being a Robert Marx fan—and soon to become a fan of John Greene—I quickly obliged and we set the date of April, 2017 for the show. All of us thought that 2017 sounded so far away, but here we are!

One of the sections of the show where John and Robert's work is paired together as one

One of the sections of the exhibition where John and Robert’s work is paired together as one

One of the things I looked forward to the most, besides seeing all of this work in person, was being able to curate it together in one space. I am always drawn to the idea mixing things up. Rather than have John’s work in one room and Robert’s in the other, we have sections like the one shown above, where pieces by each artist are hung as a cohesive singular installation. Other areas of the show allow for specific pieces to be highlighted on their own but for the most part the exhibition is a unification of both artist’s work.

Pictured from left to right: Marcia Lowry, John Greene, Gwen Greene, Bradley Butler, Francie Marx, Robert Marx, Grant Holcomb

Pictured from left to right: Marcia Lowry, John Greene, Gwen Greene, Bradley Butler, Francie Marx, Robert Marx, Grant Holcomb


Re-Emerging Artists runs through May 12th, 2017. On Saturday, April 29th, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., John and Robert will be discussing their work in the gallery (discussion begins promptly at 11 a.m.) RSVP by calling or emailing the gallery. More info: Artist Discussion Facebook Event

Purchase work from the Exhibition in our online store.
See photos from the exhibition and opening reception on Flickr.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Kara Lynn Cox

Kara Cox is one of our current artists in residence, she’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the month of April 2017. We asked her a few questions about her work, life, and more:

Kara Cox in her studio at Main Street Arts

Kara Cox in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: To start this off, tell us about your background. 
I am from Rochester, New York, but currently live in Yonkers. This move was accompanied by my studies at SUNY Purchase for my BFA in Painting and Drawing. I have been keeping track of my studio hours, and guesstimate I’m around 3091 hours at this point. (I’ve been keeping strict track of my studio hours starting at the rough estimate of 3000).

I sort of have a day job… I wear many hats. Currently I am a Listings Editor for Artcritical, and have published writing with them as well. I’m also a studio assistant to various artists, and I will often freelance odd jobs. This is the only way I could support my nomadic studio life style and still have a place to live in New York City!

"Interference Blue" (Acrylic paint, house paint, on canvas)

“Interference Blue” (Acrylic paint, house paint, on canvas)

Q: How would you describe your work? 
My preferred medium is acrylic (painting). I also draw realistic portraits of people and dogs, but I don’t consider it part of my practice. As of late I think the paintings operate in the liminal space between abstraction and realism. They are rooted in their abstract formal elements, but are contingent on the structure inherent to photography (and physical objects/subjects of the reference photographs).

I’m really interested in how perception influences each of our individual experiences. The paintings have addressed this in their formal properties, such as hyper-gloss, or slightly differing colors. These formal decisions require the viewer to physically walk around the painting, as it is never fixated in a single moment.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
First my paintings start with my environment. 
My recent body of work originated from my attention to objects and surfaces that were easily dismissed or quite often devoid of monetary value. These quotidian objects felt deeply important to me; such as dirt piles, cracks in the sidewalks, or scuffs in the wall. I would then extract a pattern using Adobe Illustrator- either re drawing sections or using the program’s algorithms for selecting an element of the photograph and create a multitude of black stencils to project onto the surface of the painting. I think about the projection as if it were a grid…something to build off of and mold the image.

Still using this process I now think of my paintings as an exploration in perception, between subconsciously choosing what is brought to the foreground of my attention in an environment, and the way this information is translated through a digital lens.

Inside Kara's studio

Inside Kara’s studio

Q: What are your goals for this residency? 
I would like to utilize my time at this residency to produce a few new paintings, but also attempt to create a few short animations. I’ve been interested in making work about our perception of the immediate/physical world and how it is changed by our relationship to the digital/non-physical. I think exploring moments of quietness through extensive labor and the tedium of drawing them out frame by frame will allow me to respond in reverence to these dwindling moments of subtlety and stillness. I’m also interested in how a video might possess an unsalable quality, or have a veil of egalitarianism in its accessible/sharable aspects.

I’ve learned it is better to set very mild goals on a residency. This allows room for exploring new routes and ideas that may be unique to the experience, instead of shrouding new developments with an aggressive or unforgiving goal, mislabeled as productivity. I think some of the quietest, unsuspecting moments in our lives are the ones that fuel progress the most, and it is important to remain open to them.

KaraCox2_web

Kara at work in her studio

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
Hands down it would be my projector. Runner up is my computer. I’ve developed a real attachment to working this way, and these devices have really shaped my visual language.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? 
I would say Trevor Paglen with his investigation into data collection and mass surveillance, and Hope Gangloff with her incredible color relationships are equally tied in first place for me. Runner-ups might be Sarah Sze, Agnes Martin, Donald Judd, and Dan Flavin.

Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork?
I listen to so many kinds of music, but I find that I listen infrequently. I think listening to music while working discourages mindfulness, so very rarely will I listen while I’m painting. I think it is important to be fully present in activities (which is probably encouraged by my interest in our relationship to the digital).

Yellow Sun (Acrylic paint, house paint, on canvas)

Yellow Sun (Acrylic paint, house paint, on canvas)

Q: What’s next for you?
I’m going to head back to New York, and try to wear fewer hats. I’d like to stop freelancing, and find a consistent part time or full time job. I’ve already found a very small studio to rent for a few months, so I plan on slowing down on the nomadic residency life style for now. Other than that, as long as I can keep making and seeing artwork… I’m a happy camper.

Q: Where else can we find you? 
I can be found on Instagram at karalynn_cox, website at karalynncox.com, and email at karalynncox@gmail.com


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts. Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Housing is available. Submissions are reviewed and residencies awarded quarterly. Upcoming deadline: May 31, 2017 for a residency in July, August, September 2017.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Stacey Rowe

Stacey Rowe is one of our current artists in residence, she’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the month of April 2017. We asked her a few questions about her work, life, and more:

Stacey Rowe in her studio at Main Street Arts

Stacey Rowe in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: Tell us about your background.

A: I moved from the Syracuse area to Rochester to attend college at Nazareth. I have a B.S. in Studio Art and an M.S. in Art Therapy. I think I started painting on canvas around the age of fourteen. I work as a freelance writer and public relations/ marketing consultant. I’m also the editor-at-large at (585) magazine. The flexibility allows me to do a residency like this.

Q: How would you describe your work?

A: I paint in acrylic and I’d describe my work as colorful, humorous, and often layered with symbolism.

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

A: I’m very cerebral about it. Meaning: I tend to think more than sketch when I’m planning a piece. I’ll jot down lists of ideas and go about researching. Then, I’ll sketch right on the canvas and start painting. There are usually one or two improvisational items that happen once I get into it, so it’s good that paint is such a forgiving medium!

Some of the Pantone People Series

Some of the Pantone People Series

Q: What are your goals for this residency?  

A: I currently have three pages of ideas for the Pantone People series. These are smaller square works (6” x 6”) typically featuring a celebrity with some sort of creative play on the Pantone color swatch name. I’d like to put a dent in that list and also work on some larger pieces that will feature some of the funny animal characters I have created. I’m also going to teach a workshop on April 15. We’re going to have fun!

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

A: I’ve been using “The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver” for years and it really is the best. I once left paint on a relatively new brush overnight and this totally saved it. It’s also great for reshaping and conditioning brushes.

Q: Do you collect anything? 

A: Now that I’m older, I’m reducing my “Hoarders-Lite” tendencies. It’s tough because as an artsy person, it’s very easy to accumulate a lot of useless stuff! When I was a kid, I collected anything and everything – rocks, coins, different kinds of toys, and stuffed animals. I had a run on snowglobes for a bit. They’ve been in a few of my paintings. Since my father relocated, I only have one left and it’s kind of a relief. I still grab shells on beach trips and display them in a nice jar upon my return. I do have a few coins I’ve saved from my travels. I’d eventually like to see those in some form of jewelry. French Polynesian currency is particularly eye-catching.

"Goodbye Special Friend" is a painting I did for my graduate thesis in 2000. It features the only snowglobe I have left from the collection.

“Goodbye Special Friend” is a painting I did for my graduate thesis in 2000. It features the only snowglobe I have left from the collection.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? 

A: It’s so hard to pick just one here. I love Gustav Klimt for his gorgeous pattern work and all of that gold leaf. I love Andy Warhol for his pop sensibility. I love Frida Kahlo for her ability to tell a story through imagery. And, of course, there’s the king of color – Henri Matisse.

Q: Who are your favorite local artists? 

A: I was incredibly happy that my college painting and illustration professor, Kathy Calderwood, had a show at RoCo last spring. It was great to see so many of her new paintings in a show. Lately, I’ve been interested in the work of Edie Small (Edith Lunt Small). She had a very intriguing piece in the RoCo member show in December. I’m always interested in what Sarah Rutherford and Andrea Durfee are doing because they are such incredibly skilled and powerful artists. I like what Shawn Dunwoody has done with street art and neighborhood beautification the past several years. He has fantastic energy and an ability to engage young artists and the general public. I’m also drawn to some abstract artists because their work is so different from my own – Brian O’Neill (who also does hyper-realistic work), Nate Hodge, and Bill Judkins – to name a few.

Nena Sanchez Gallery in Curaçao

Nena Sanchez Gallery in Curaçao

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork? 

A: Anytime I travel, I seem to wind up in a museum. I also love seeing the street art in other countries. Aside from the obvious choice (France), one of my favorite art destinations was Curaçao. In addition to the Kura Hulanda Slave Museum, I visited the Nena Sanchez and Serena Janet Israel galleries. The art community is very strong there. The architecture, floating market, and beach drinks aren’t too shabby, either!

Inside my studio at Main Street Arts

Inside my studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What advice would you give to other artists? 

A: There are going to be people who tell you to grow up and get a real job. Don’t listen to that noise. Yes, find something to pay your bills, but don’t give up on your passion.

Q: Who inspires you and why? 

A: I consider myself to be pretty fortunate that a very strong, intelligent, creative, and independent mother raised me. Naturally, I’m drawn to likeminded individuals. Many people inspire me and I’m very lucky to know such a diverse group of creatives in both my personal and professional life.

Q: How do you promote your artwork? 

A: I look for show opportunities and I use social media (primarily Instagram and my personal Facebook account) to get the word out. I’m often following up with people (a.k.a. nagging them) who express interest in a piece after a show comes down. I’m also planning on getting an Etsy or some kind of online shop going soon. I set an account up years ago but never had the time to figure it all out.

Stacey Rowe working in her studio at Main Street Arts as Snappy the turtle supervises.

Stacey Rowe working in her studio at Main Street Arts as Snappy the turtle supervises.

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

A: I will listen to pretty much anything except country, but I have to be careful that it’s not too funky – I’ll get distracted and won’t get anything done!

Q: What’s next for you? 

I’m working on getting some work in a few galleries outside of New York because I have family in Florida and several friends who have moved out of state. I figure it might make for a good excuse to visit!

Q: Where else can we find you?

A: My websiteTwitter & Instagram


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts. Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Housing is available. Submissions are reviewed and residencies awarded quarterly. Upcoming deadline: May 31, 2017 for a residency in July, August, September 2017.