Inside the Artist’s Studio with Bill Stephens

I grew up in Lyons NY.  My high school art instructor, Norm Williams was a gifted artist/teacher who was instrumental in my development as an artist.

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Still Life, mixed media, college portfolio piece

On his recommendation, I applied to the prestigious Layton School of Art in Milwaukee WI. The school at that time was under the direction of Edmund Lewandowski, a contemporary of Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth. Layton’s innovative, strict core curriculum was based on design and provided me with a great foundation to build on. We were supported and encouraged by a gifted staff of working artist instructors.

Upon graduation, I was offered a teaching position at the new Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua, NY, where I taught for two years. I received a Masters in Science of Teaching from RIT and taught art for forty years in the Webster CSD.

I had a very successful career, with numerous students receiving national awards and scholarships to leading art schools. Working as an artist alongside my students, sharing artistic successes and failures, I was a positive role model.

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Sketchbook pencil drawing

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Sketchbook pencil drawing

Printmaking, painting, drawing, mixed media and ceramic sculpture are disciplines I’ve explored.

My work is process driven and inspired by morning meditation, writing, memory and my imagination. Each piece is extemporaneously developed and contains open-ended symbols that encourage personal interpretation and reflection.

The house, window, and barn symbols have appeared in my work for many years.

House grid, series of paintings, acrylic on board

The Village, acrylic on paper

I am also exploring a series of drawings using abstract, organic form. The pen drawings in this show are cubist inspired and playful.

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Hive, pen on paper

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Village, pen on paper


Bill Stephens 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 Phyllis Bryce Ely: Not My Father’s Iceberg

Joseph Loder Bryce

Joseph Loder Bryce

I began painting this series after the loss of my father, Joseph Loder Bryce, in 2015.

Loder served in the US Navy as a photographer aboard the Icebreaker USS Edisto in the early 1950s during the cold war era. His ship supported the installation of the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW Line) in the Arctic region with a mission to dramatically reduce the warning time of possible Soviet attack. The DEW Line, along the 69th parallel, was the northernmost radar system, taking my father into the Arctic region with his camera to photograph sea and air missions, life aboard the ship, and the extreme beauty of the Arctic landscape and its inhabitants.

Photographs by Joseph Loder Bryce. Caption of lower left photo reads, "Aerial view of the Edito, note the paths we made by circling about in the ice. Sondrestrom, Greenland. 5/18/54."

Photographs by Joseph Loder Bryce. Caption of lower left photo reads, “Aerial view of the Edisto, note the paths we made by circling about in the ice. Sondrestrom, Greenland. 5/18/54.”

I grew up with boxes of these photographs in my life; they were a perennial choice for “show and tell” in grammar school and I loved to share the exotic icebergs, people, polar bears, and frozen ships with my friends.

The images, shapes, places and people I “knew” but never met became a visual foundation for me. I now know I was influenced by my father’s eye for composition, shapes, and light as well as his interest in telling stories that come from landscape. These attributes have become the very context of my nearly 40 years of art-making.

"On my easel: ice formation off Greenland with kayaker, working from my Dad's photos." July 26, 2017

“On my easel: ice formation off Greenland with kayaker, working from my Dad’s photos.” July 26, 2017

After Loder’s death, I found myself engaging with his photos yet again and was struck and inspired by the old familiar shapes and simple colorless format. No longer able to hear my father’s stories about the pictures, I started a new conversation with my paintbrush. I began with no plan in mind as I painted one iceberg, then some polar bears, and then a ship…one by one the photos found their way into my studio. Working on these paintings was a form of meditation for me.

Detail of painting "Exodus"

Detail of painting “Exodus”

My first paintings were in oil on a vivid red ground I typically use when painting en plein air. The vibration of the limited, cool palette against the red quickly appealed to me; I connected with the raw edges of color as I worked, excited by how the colors created an emotional response and competing feeling of calm and urgency. I also chose to work in encaustic wax because of the rich texture and intimate scale made possible in that medium.

Photograph by Joseph Loder Bryce (left) and detail of encaustic painting "Ice Journey" by Phyllis Bryce Ely.

Photograph by Joseph Loder Bryce (left) and detail of encaustic painting “Ice Journey” by Phyllis Bryce Ely.

As I finished each painting I tucked the work away with no particular plan for sharing them,  but knew I wanted them to be together. On New Year’s Eve, I set a goal of pulling the photographs and paintings together for a show, which ultimately led to this exhibit.

"Not My Father's Iceberg" exhibition at Main Street Arts

“Not My Father’s Iceberg” exhibition at Main Street Arts

"Not My Father's Iceberg" exhibition at Main Street Arts

“Not My Father’s Iceberg” exhibition at Main Street Arts

I am grateful to gallery director Brad Butler for his early interest in these paintings, which he first saw when my first iceberg painting was juried into the Utopia/Dystopia exhibit at Main Street Arts in 2017 and was awarded “Best in Show.”

Phyllis Bryce Ely with her painting from "Utopia/Dystopia" (left); Joseph Loder Bryce (1930–2015) at an exhibition of his photographs in 2014

Phyllis Bryce Ely with her painting from “Utopia/Dystopia” (left); Joseph Loder Bryce (1930–2015) at an exhibition of his photographs in 2014

Please enjoy my contemporary consideration of a decades-old Arctic landscape that once was my father’s place in the world. 


Not My Father’s Iceberg, a solo exhibition on the second floor at Main Street Arts, presents paintings by Phyllis Bryce Ely made in response to photographs taken by her father, Joseph Loder Bryce. The exhibition runs August 3 through September 15, 2018 and can be viewed on the gallery’s Artsy page.

 

Meet the Artist in Residence: Jill Grimes

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

Artist Jill Grimes

Artist Jill Grimes

Q: Please tell us about your background.
I moved to the Boston area in 1999 to attend the Post Baccalaureate  Program in Studio Art at Brandeis University, then to Boston University for an MFA in Painting. I also went to the Kansas City Art Institute for a BFA in Painting.

I’m a Full Time Lecturer in the School of Visual Arts at Boston University, where I’ve taught for the past 12 years. I’m lucky to work with a fantastic group of faculty and students.

Boston Studio 2018

Boston Studio 2018

Q: How would you describe your work?
I primarily make oil paintings in the still life tradition—working from observation in the studio from a set up that I arrange specifically for each painting. I am working with flowers, plants and trees at the moment. I’ve also been making cut paper pieces recently, and drawing more as a part of my practice.

"Arrangement II" (left) and " "Untitled" by Jill Grimes

“Arrangement II” (left) and ” “Untitled” by Jill Grimes

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I brought a wall-sized piece that I want to develop and think about. I also will work on implementing  some ideas about using different languages in my work: flat shapes, line, fully articulated form (in the same space). It’s something I’ve been thinking about this year.

MSA Studio Day 1

MSA Studio Day 1

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
I don’t have one favorite artist at any one time, but look at different things that may inform what I’m working toward. Right now I’m looking at this:

Fresco from the House of Livia, Museo Nazionale, Rome

Fresco from the House of Livia, Museo Nazionale, Rome

I’m also looking at Bonnard, Klimt landscape paintings, and 17th century Dutch still life.

Q: Do you collect anything?
I collect tiny pinecones. I also collect postcards of paintings I like so I can curate a dream painting show with them.

Members of the pinecone collection

Members of the pinecone collection

Where else can we find you?
My website is jill-grimes.com  and you can find me on Instagram @grimes5000

From The Director: Heightened Awareness

roberto bertoia, gregory page, main street arts

Heightened Awareness (Installation shot)

The themes that are explored in this exhibition are a nod to the fact that we (human beings) don’t fully experience life. Seldom do we allow ourselves to fully experience all of the subtle nuances that exist in our world. Many of us are glued to glowing screens, experiencing things removed from real time and processed through a social media feed. This mediated existence leaves us missing out on things in the moment and maybe some of us don’t care about that. Perhaps we relish in the fact that technology and human life are becoming one and the very idea of “being in the moment” is changing, however, it is a certainty that there are other things happening that are worthy of our attention.

Left: LPV No. 3 (Detail) by Roberto Bertoia; Right: Motifs From ISU Greenhouse (Detail) by Gregory Page

Left: LPV No. 3 (Detail) by Roberto Bertoia; Right: Motifs From ISU Greenhouse (Detail) by Gregory Page

Heightened Awareness presents the work of Roberto Bertoia and Gregory Page, two artists who are interested in these ideas and their work comes from a place of slowing down and noticing the quiet moments in life. Both artists have a desire to be aware of the minute details of their surroundings. This exhibition is a contemplation on being present in the moment and truly experiencing things.

Gregory Page, Lithography

The translucent film for the print “Euonymus Alatus Burning Bush , State 1″ by Gregory Page

Gregory Page has 11 large-scale lithographs featured in the exhibition and each of them utilize his own unique process of drying plants, rehydrating them in a lithographic drawing solution, and arranging them on a translucent film which is then used to make the final printing plate. The plants he uses in his work come from as close as his own backyard and as far away as Edinburgh, Scotland. For Greg, it is about experiencing nature and plant life first-hand.

“I love getting up in the morning, getting in the garden and getting my hands in the dirt. Moving some compost around, planting something and watching it grow. The garden has been a real inspiration for me for a long time.” —Gregory Page

Gregory page, Lithograph, Main Street Arts

“Motifs from ISU Greenhouse, Selection II” (detail) by Gregory Page

It is also about cataloging and making a record of things that exist in our world. With nature in a state of flux, it becomes important to create a record of things as they existed in a certain moment in time.

The sculpture of Roberto Bertoia is made with second-hand, salvaged pieces of wood. He turns them into something new, something other than what was originally intended. He uses his material in an intuitive way, building without a solidified plan, similar to a painter responding to each brushstroke. Through this organic and fluid process his finished pieces are an homage to architecture and design and create interesting relationships between the interior and exterior.

Roberto Bertoia, Sculpture

“Untitled 1″ (detail) by Roberto Bertoia

He enjoys the paradox of seeing and not seeing and contemplating what is hidden and what is revealed. Roberto’s sculpture can be a metaphor for the ways we hide and reveal specific things about ourselves. The subtle moments that slowly shape our perspective on how we interact with people and the world we create for ourselves is something that he finds inspiring.

Roberto Bertoia, Sculpture

“Where Am I To Live” by Roberto Bertoia

“I try to be open and receptive to what’s going on around me. What may seem everyday or mundane may seem more important when I end up in the studio.” —Roberto Bertoia

The notion of slowing down and paying attention is not a new idea but it is one that we are constantly reminded of. Specifically, I think this is the way that we should experience art. Instead of breezing through an exhibition or merely scrolling through an artist’s Instagram feed, let’s spend some time thinking in front of the actual artwork. We may be surprised by where this small, yet meaningful  experience will take us.


The exhibition Heightened Awareness will run through Friday,  August 17, 2018 and you can view available work on the gallery’s Artsy page.