Inside The Artist’s Studio with Mandi Antonucci

I like to think of myself as a crafter of visual stories.  I attempt to create drawings that provide more questions than answers, more ambiguity than certainty.  My intention is to leave the viewer with an open ended narrative that allows one to fill in the blanks from their own personal experiences.  

"Swarm"

“Swarm”

I grew up in Syracuse, New York with an unconventional family that instilled in me an appreciation for bird watching, collecting antique typewriters, and art.  My relationship with art was formed inside the walls of the Everson Museum where my grandfather served on the Board of Directors, and by watching my grandmother create ornate pieces with needlepoint.  These two factors served to inspire my great love for art history and attention to detail.  

"Family Tree"

“Family Tree”

I received my Bachelor’s degree in Studio in Art and Art History from Nazareth College, and my Masters in Art Education from Rochester Institute of Technology.  For the past 13 years, I have been an Art Teacher at Batavia High School.  I love my job.  It’s a unique opportunity that enables me to be constantly in the company of other artists.  I love the give and take of ideas, and the constant progression of concepts and materials that come with being an educator.  My students keep me on my toes, pushing me with their talent and insight to become a better artist while I help them to find their own artistic voice.  Nearly everyday, they give me hope for the next generation of creative thinkers.

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I like to invite my students into my creative process.  Aside from talking through my concepts and symbolism, many of them have become my subjects for my portraits.  They never seem to mind when I ask them to make weird faces or pose in a certain way.

"Queen of Crows"

“Queen of Crows”

My work as a whole is best described as Pop Surrealism, though I try my best not to label myself too strictly as I don’t want the identification to become a limitation.  While I will use a variety of materials, I generally use mostly colored pencil and graphite.  I love the control and versatility of my colored pencils; I love the feel of a sharp pencil and the look of a sharp edge. However, I also love the way in which colored pencil allows me to build subtle layers, like a recipe for the perfect color.

I generally don’t have a finished concept in my mind when I start a piece.  Rather, I like to start with a story in mind, or a picture I have taken, and let the creative process dictate my direction.  My best ideas come from the act of making, so it’s not uncommon for me to have five or six drawings in various states of completion as I work.

In progress

In progress

My work explores the themes of mental illness, loss, and the fragility of life.  I like to think of my drawings as a visual memoir of the struggles and achievements of myself and the others I share my life with.   My drawings often include the human form in some way, whether it’s with portraits or hands.  I am drawn to the automatic sense of emotion that comes with portraying the human form.  I want my work to tell a symbolic story of the strength of the individual while still leaving the details to the interpretation of the observer. My drawings attempt to show the vulnerability of my subject, their precarious and fantastical reality, and the effects their mental state has made in their lives.  

"The Future is Female"

“The Future is Female”

I tend to use a lot of pattern in my work as a design and symbolic element.  I am particularly drawn to the honeycomb pattern because it stands as a reminder that beauty can be born from chaos.  I feel like I’m just scratching the surface as to where I am headed in terms of my use of pattern; I’m excited to see where the process will take me.

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"Daydream Believer"

“Daydream Believer”

When I’m not at school or in my studio, I can be found at home in Geneseo with my husband and two children, surrounded by cornfields and distant horizon lines.  

"Boy Wonder"

“Boy Wonder”

My work can be found at www.mandiantonucci.com or on Instagram @skywardagain


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Mandi’s work in our current exhibition “Utopia/Dystopia” (juried by John Massier, curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo, NY). The exhibition runs through June 30, 2017. Mandi’s piece, “Boy Wonder”, is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Neil Marcello

I was born in Bombay, India, before I moved to Dubai, where I spent my childhood years. Dubai exposed me to the various industrial landscapes, like oil and natural gas production, large-scale infrastructure construction, and shipping ports that helped transform this desert city into the thriving manufactured oasis it has become today. These industrial scenes also left a lasting impression on me that continue to inform the imagery I produce today.

Photo Credit: Joanna Kula, 2015

Photo Credit: Joanna Kula, 2015

I have been making photographs for the past 10 years, during which time my focus and approach to creating images evolved from casual snapshots, towards images that are research based and might take on a critical role that can raise questions.

I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the Indiana State University, where my studies were concentrated in conceptual design and urban architecture. As a photographer I am self-taught, though computer technology, Hollywood films, and filmmaking factored heavily in my understanding of the aspects of image-making, as have the works of Caspar David Friedrich, Charles Sheeler and Edward Burtynsky that influenced me at pivotal junctures in my development as an artist

My body of work takes on an abstract quality without losing the sight of its origins. This is not a deliberate effort in which I go looking to create an abstracted view instead I find it to be inherent in the evidence left behind by our highly evolved consumer society.

CA #014, Coincidental Accretion, 2015

CA #014, Coincidental Accretion, 2015

To record my images I use a medium format, analog camera and film stock that best compliment the subject matter. I print using large format digital printers. This hybrid approach offers me the best of what the analog and digital formats have to offer, while continuing to challenge my sensibilities as a photographer and an artist.

My projects focus on conceptual ideas derived from industrial solutions, often created in the name of progress, that I now view as having become problems that bear examination. When I approach a specific idea, it is usually with the mindset that the viewer needs to be visually captivated before there is any chance of my idea being accepted. If the resulting image holds this type of interest, then it might draw the viewer into further discussion and thought on the perspective about the subject matter. Overall I think my work communicates a contemporary view more than it does any kind of popular view or trend in art.

#1JKS, Beyond the Heliopause, 2012

#1JKS, Beyond the Heliopause, 2012

With my most recent project, titled “Sweet Tooth”, the focus is on synthetic dyes derived from crude oil, and their role in the mass production of candy.

Sweet Tooth Series, 2014-2016

Sweet Tooth Series, 2014-2016

The project’s concept touches on themes of industry, mass production, consumerism and some of the resulting negative effects which may be seen in the piece, titled “Good and Plenty”, featured in the “Utopia/Dystopia” exhibition at Main Street Arts.

The idea for “Sweet Tooth” was born out of a need to find healthy candy for kids trick-or-treating on Halloween in my neighborhood when I was living in Los Angeles. I discovered news articles and a radio show on National Public Radio, that discussed the topic of synthetic dyes being used by candy companies in the US for their production of candy, while using natural dyes in the same candies in Europe.

Having just completed my work on “Mulholland’s Gold”, a project that dealt with the industrialization of water in Los Angeles, I was exposed to the various facets of the oil industry in California. So the connection between crude oil and synthetic dyes only became more apparent in my idea.

Oil #001, Mulholland's Gold, 2011-2014

Oil #001, Mulholland’s Gold, 2011-2014

The process behind “Sweet Tooth” was to place the candy that I was familiar with as a child and young adult, into an industrial backdrop. So I began with making rough sketches on paper to get the initial ideas down.

Good and Plenty Sketch, Pen on Paper, 2014

Good and Plenty Sketch, Pen on Paper, 2014

I would then scan and enhance these sketches in Photoshop to figure out the composition and color schemes.

Good and Plenty Schematic, Digital Rendering, 2014

Good and Plenty Schematic, Digital Rendering, 2014

Once I have finalized the schematic I set about building and painting the dioramas using household goods, broken or used model kits, architectural model building materials and synthetic paints mostly derived from crude oil.

Good and Plenty Diorama, 2015

Good and Plenty Diorama, 2015

Some of these dioramas measured up to 4 to 5 feet in height, width and/or depth, before I photographed them and progressed into post-production to create the final image and print.

Good and Plenty, Sweet Tooth Series, 2014-2016

Good and Plenty, Sweet Tooth Series, 2014-2016

The most challenging aspect to making my art is in how to rethink my fascination with the sublime in contemporary society, and translate this into a unique visual that can continue to attract and engage the viewer in a necessary dialogue about our time.

If you are interested in learning more about my works and background please visit my website www.neilmarcello.com. You can also connect with me on Instagram @neilmarcello and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/neil.marcello/


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Neil’s work in our current exhibition “Utopia/Dystopia” (juried by John Massier, curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo, NY). The exhibition runs through June 30, 2017. Neil’s piece, “Good and Plenty, The Sweet Tooth Series”, is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Meet the Artist in Residence: Nick LaTona

Nick LaTona is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. He is working on sculptures and artist books during the months of May and June, 2017. We asked him a few questions about his artwork and studio practice.

Nick LaTona, artist in residence (May/June, 2017)

Nick LaTona, artist in residence (May/June, 2017)

Q: Tell us about yourself A: My name is Nicholas LaTona and I am from Churchville, NY. I currently work at Highland Hospital, Strong Memorial hospital and Entercom Communications. I’ve always been interested in the arts as far back as I can remember. When I was a junior in high school, I started to become invested in the arts and from there I attended college at SUNY Fredonia where I received my BFA. I was always indecisive about concentrating in a specific area but in my junior year is when I began concentrating specifically in sculpture. It took me 5 years to graduate because into the end of my junior year, I decided to have duel major in both sculpture and public relations.

Installation from a residency at The Yards in Rochester

Installation from a residency at The Yards in Rochester

Q: Tell us about your work A: Through the years in college I was exposed to many materials and was specifically drawn to Plaster, Wax, Copper, and Paper. Since graduating my work has drifted more towards using Paper, thread and pigment.

April 19th, artist book

“April 19th”, artist book about a day that changed my life

Q: What inspires you in the studio? A: I draw my inspiration from the medical experiences I’ve been exposed to. I find this helps me process what I’ve seen or have been through personally. This is what I have been concentrating on the past year. I also work on different pieces inspired by everyday experiences and various media I am introduced to.

Inside Nick's studio at Main Street Arts

Inside Nick’s studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio? A: The most useful tool(s) in my studio would have to be my cutting board, x-acto knife and ruler. I use those tools the most and they are the most essential tools to have with me. I collect all scrap paper and strands of thread whenever and wherever I can.  I do this so when I make paper I can recycle these bits and pieces and reuse them to make sheets of paper.

Q: Who are some of your favorite artists? A: Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Maggie Taylor. I draw inspiration from many artists, but these two in particular inspired me the moment I discovered their work and they continue to inspire me to this day. Gonzalez-Torres works minimalistic but his works speak powerfully while focusing on activism. Taylor’s work is more focused on surrealism, creating fantasy and dream-like images that are manipulated in Photoshop. I am very inspired by the local artists in Rochester I have had the opportunity to work with or meet. Everyone is exploring great concepts and you learn different ways to see what’s around you and interrupt. This has helped me tremendously through my work by offering positive feedback and motivation.

1992–2016, artist book

“1992–2016″, artist book

Q: Any advice for other artists? A: If I were to give another artist advice, it would be to double the amount of time you think it will take for you to complete work and to allow things to change as you progress through a piece. Everything I have made to this day has changed from my original intent to the finished piece.

Q: Where can we see more of your work? A: You can check out my work on Instagram @Nick_l.art


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: Sam Bogner

Sam Bogner is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. She is working on celestial sculptures and extra terrestrial relics during the month of May, 2017. We asked her a few questions about her artwork and studio practice.

Sam Bogner, artist in residence

Sam Bogner, artist in residence (May 2017)

Q: Tell us about your background.
A: I am originally from Cleveland but I am currently living in Jersey City, NJ. I earned my BFA in Sculpture and Expanded Media at the Cleveland Institute of Art. This coming fall I’ll begin my graduate work at Rutgers University, where I’ll be studying archives and librarianship.

Q: Tell us about your work.
A: My work is almost always object based, but includes a range in size from miniature sculpture to large scale installation. My material range is also very broad and changes from project to project. I want to tease out sci-fi camp qualities from the material I’m using over any specific medium. My work stems from science fiction’s relationship to science—how as humans we have a cycle of wonder and inspiration, which leads to exploration and discovery. It is so enveloped in pop-culture that we can’t help but confront it. My work embodies the same visual language of classic sci-fi films. Campy effects are used in my installations and objects to create an other worldly experience—one that asks the viewer to suspend belief, to wonder where humanity can go, and what waits to be discovered in the cosmos.

UHO, Destination Moon, detail at dusk  2016 Varying sizes between 18” and 12’  Installation; Mylar, fabric, video, various color-changing lights, resin

UHO, Destination Moon, detail at dusk (2016) Varying sizes between 18” and 12’
Installation; Mylar, fabric, video, various color-changing lights, resin

Q: How would you describe your studio practice?
A: My studio practice is primarily research based. I spend a lot of time making an archive for myself of images, experiences, video, material, pop culture phenomena, etc. I also make a lot of models and plans for work that I don’t have the time or space to make, but maybe someday will realize it. There is something precious about this work for me, I can keep changing it and evolving it over years and when the opportunity strikes, it is ready and waiting. On residency though, I have time to make physical objects based on my research. I rarely have a direct plan, an artwork like this references bits of my archive, but often is directly involved in the experience of the material I’m using.

Sam Bogner, at work in her studio

Sam Bogner, at work in her studio

Q: What is your most useful tool in the studio?
The internet. Its an addiction. When I don’t have the time to re-visit a museum or library, it can fill the void. I don’t keep a traditional sketchbook, rather a large mess of files of interesting things I find. At any given moment I have 20 tabs of things that I want to search into more.

Q: Who are your favorite artists and why?
A: I am always interested in the works of Laurie Anderson, Isa Genzken, Lucio Fontana’s sculptures, Marsha Cottrell, Sarah Sze, Pipilotti Rist, Mike Kelley.

My favorites change a lot, lately I’ve been obsessed with the Instagram feeds of Laura Catherine Soto, Esther Ruiz, Stephanie Sarley. Their range of material, texture, and experience are what keep me coming back to their work.

Giant Sediment from Juni River Delta, Planet Hjl  (2015) 8”–28”  Sculpture; Foam, paint, glitter

Giant Sediment from Juni River Delta, Planet Hjl (2015) 8”–28”, foam, paint, glitter

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your time here?
A: I am working on a series of space rock formations based on NASA and SETI images. I am also continuing to make a series of extra terrestrial relics.

Q: Where else can we find you?
On instagram @samb0gner and at www.sambognerart.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.