Category Archives: Inside the Artist’s Studio

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Matt Duquette

Matt Duquette

Matt Duquette

Being a 40-year-old commercial artist and graphic designer, gallery work has always been an idea in the back of my mind. I haven’t dedicated much effort to painting and showing because most of my creative energies are spent in the day-to-day of a design and illustration studio in Buffalo, NY. The gallery seems to be an allusive place where I’m required to be extroverted and share my thoughts and experiences. It does, however, offer an opportunity to create something purely for my own, with materials that allow for exploration.

While in school at RIT, I began to develop a loose, painterly style because I liked to convey action or even emotion of the moment. I was leaning more towards candid portraiture since most of my interests laid in music and sports. In 2000 I attended The School of Visual Art (SVA) in New York City to further develop my visual storytelling. Here, I began to include collaged elements—paper, photos, notes—to help explain the storyline and add visual texture.

Mixed media work from early 2000's

Mixed media work from early 2000′s

Many of my older paintings focused on personal life experiences or at least followed a surreal storytelling approach and almost always involved a figure. I was exploring concepts of home and family, along with the stresses of caring for an ill parent.

Matt Duquette

Figurative work “A New Day” & “Homesick”

A few years ago, after taking some time off from painting, I began drawing the chickens we raising on our small farm. It started merely as an exercise in making art, but I rather enjoyed it because there wasn’t much thought involved. I just drew pictures that I wanted to draw. That experiment has since sparked a number of paintings and drawings, and a new excitement which has allowed me to focus on style. I also get to talk about my chickens.

Matt Duquette

Chicken portraits

The series I worked on for the Dream State show a came at a time when my wife had just experienced a guided meditation dream involving an owl. Even before the show I knew that I wanted to do some type of bird interaction so it was perfect timing. Owl dreams have so many interpretations, but I did the best I could to remain close to her experience. The focus, of course, was the majestic owl guide in a outer space-like atmosphere.

Matt Duquette

Process detail

I’m most comfortable with acrylic paint because it’s fast drying, easy to control, and easy to clean up. It works well with collaged elements and layering of drawings. I typically work with washes of color to build the forms but quickly move to a dry brush technique to layer on the paint. I like to mix the color on the surface, so many times I’ll just use paint straight from the tube. For sometime I’ve used basically the same 6 colors: black, raw umber, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, pthalo blue, and gesso as my white. I only have 3–4 brushes that I’m comfortable using so I try to make it work with what little I have. Again, I would not classify myself as a fine artist.

Matt Duquette

Materials used for painting

You can view more of my personal artwork at mattduquette.com or follow my art and farming adventures on the Instagrams @matt12grain. Thanks for looking!


Five paintings by Matt Duquette can be seen in Dream State, on display through February 16, 2018. The exhibition also features photographs by Bill Finger (Seattle, WA), sculpture by Carrianne Hendrickson (Rochester, NY), and paintings by Lin Price (Ithaca, NY). Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased online. 

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Colleen Pendry: What it means to be a Hybrid Artist

For the artist, the process of “making” may appear aloof. We are independent thinkers, and for the most part are reserved. We pride ourselves in our separateness, however, we, or at least I, find great energy in the overall closeness we have with others through the sharing of our work.

Over the past 50 years, my work has taken on many forms. From copying “how to be an artist” matchbook covers when I was kid, to watercolor painting in the early seventies to oils and pastels in the eighties. In those early years my work was primarily seated in a two-dimensional realm, but, I always thought there was something missing. My aesthetic conversation seemed to be stifled…nothing more to say on a flat surface. The pretty pictures were simply that…pretty…lacking content and an extended dialogue.

Little did I know how growing up in the 1960′s, would truly impact my work. As history continued to repeat itself in the art world, I could see the same happening in my own work. The regurgitation of memory and materials, over and over again, began emerging as a relentless new discourse. Multiplicity, multiplicity, multiplicity.

Testimonial IV (2011) mixed media on acrylic panel

Testimonial IV (2011) mixed media on acrylic panel

Testimonial I (2011) mixed media on acrylic panel

Testimonial I (2011) mixed media on acrylic panel

My work made a significant departure from painting throughout the nineties when I began to merge genres and combine disparate materials and techniques. From a metaphorical standpoint this was the perfect path in pushing not only the making process, but  content as well. “There is a story to be told”, my mother always reminded me, and “you just need to find a way to tell it.”

As painting began to be pushed off the wall and then stripped totally from a traditional gallery installation, the dialogue changed, becoming compelling in both form and intent.

If This Wall Could Talk (2012) mixed media and light

If This Wall Could Talk  (2012) mixed media and light

 A Room with a View (2012) mixed media installation

A Room with a View (2012) mixed media installation

If you visit my studio you will find a great deal of stuff as I continue to embrace this new identity. I have found these collections of nothing a relevant source of material in most of my work and an endless reflection of the stuff in my head. This following series of small narratives, which had been brewing for quite some time, emerged from the studio in a most unexpected way.

In this series titled Where Have All the Flowers Gone, my intent was not to reveal any conclusions, but, force an inquisition, and open ended conversation about concepts relating to objectivity, political correctness, preciousness, humility and humanity. Underlying themes are complex and uncomfortable and meaning is uncertain. This particular work can be described as an intellectual layering by way of circumstance. Captured on shelves and in pristine plastic boxes familiar objects appear tangible yet illusive. Juxtaposed with the silhouette, memory becomes a source of meaning, albeit complicated and skewed. This circumstantial evidence, left to its own devices, has the potential to elicit from viewers the unexpected.

Because You're Worth It (2017) Gelatin capsules, silhouette, Barbie, wire, acrylic

Because You’re Worth It (2017)
Gelatin capsules, silhouette, Barbie, wire, acrylic

In a Heartbeat (2017) Shell casings, pedestal, silhouette, American Flag, toy gun,barbed wire, acrylic

In a Heartbeat (2017)
Shell casings, pedestal, silhouette, American Flag, toy gun, barbed wire, acrylic

First Responders (2017) Ashes, silhouette, Bible, Koran, ribbon, acrylic

First Responders (2017)
Ashes, silhouette, Bible, Koran, ribbon, acrylic

See Jane Run (2017) Doll parts, silhouette, Mary Jane shoes, acrylic *Where Have All the Flowers Gone – photography by Jeremy Leadbetter

See Jane Run (2017)
Doll parts, silhouette, Mary Jane shoes, acrylic
*Where Have All the Flowers Gone – photography by Jeremy Leadbetter

From this series came the work currently in the Small Works Exhibition at Main Street Arts.

Nature/Nurture (2017) Cicadidae shell, paper, beeswax, pedestal, silhouette, gold bands, string, acrylic

Nature/Nurture (2017)
Cicadidae shell, paper, beeswax, pedestal, silhouette, gold bands, string, acrylic

Nature/Nurture - detail

Nature/Nurture – detail

Nature:Nurture (2017) Cicadidae shells, handmade paper, crushed wasp next, baling twine, Swarovski crystal, synthetic pearl (collectively)

Nature:Nurture (2017)
Cicadidae shells, handmade paper, crushed wasp next, baling twine, Swarovski crystal, synthetic pearl (collectively)

As an homage to the wondrous images of Robert Mapplethorpe and the eternal debate of nature vs nurture, these works continue. The juxtaposition of form and content seem contradictory…makes sense I think.

Nature:Nurture IV Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, silver thread, silver beads

Nature:Nurture IV (2017)
Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, silver thread, silver beads

Nature:Nurture V (2017) Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, snakeskin

Nature:Nurture V (2017)
Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, snakeskin

Nature:Nurture VI (2017) Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, snake skin head

Nature:Nurture VI (2017)
Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, snake skin head

Thank you to Main Street Arts for the opportunity to share this work. I am truly grateful.

Colleen Pendry


Three of Colleen’s “Nature:Nurture” pieces are currently on display in Main Street Arts’ fourth annual “Small Works” exhibition (juried by Cory E. Card, former curator at View Arts Center in Old Forge, NY). The exhibition runs through January 4, 2018 and can be previewed onlinestore.mainstreetartsgallery.com

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Hedy Yang

I am a 21 year old artist at Michigan State University, majoring in ceramics and minoring in entrepreneurship. I started a small business in college, and plan on growing it after I graduate in May of 2018.

Photo

Photo credit: Mackenzie Bogema

Believe it or not, my career as an artist started pretty unintentionally. My high school required that we take a certain number of art classes in order to graduate, so I decided that ceramics seemed like the most interesting of the available options. Little did I know, I would fall in love and it would become my passion.

IMG_4737

IMG_6136

It was the summer before my junior year that I really found my niche. I had always been interested in elements of nature; marble, crystals, rocks and the endless interesting textures you can find. It seemed like in the last year or two, marble has become a very glamorous material. It’s often associated with class and luxury, due to it’s high price.

Every girl at school had a marble laptop case, phone case, or something to that effect. I was definitely one of those people as well, and I wanted to figure out how to make classy, chic looking pottery that imitated marble. I discovered the bubble glazing technique through a fellow artist, Robert Crisp, at the studio I attended. After a few rounds of testing, I started posting pictures and videos of my process and results online that became somewhat viral. My work has been shared by major Facebook accounts such as InsiderArt, Buzzfeed, Elle Décor, and many more.

IMG_4893  IMG_4904

Here is a photo of my process; I use a small container filled with glaze, drizzle a few drops of dish soap in it, and blow with a straw. When that mixture bubbles up over the edge of the container and pops against the piece, you are left with a crisp outline of those glaze bubbles, which mimic the veining in marble.

4

All my pieces are thrown and textured with precision, while the glazing part of my process brings a lot of uncertainty in the color and shapes. It took me over a year to finally feel like I was close to getting the hang of “bubbleglazing”, where I could feel consistently pleased with the results I was getting. With a lot of trial and error I was able to introduce other colors to create an entirely different style, and I plan to continue innovating and growing my style.

You can find more information about me and my work on Instagram , Facebook , or at my website


Two of Hedy’s cups are included in our national juried exhibition of drinking vessels, “The Cup, The Mug” (juried by Peter Pincus, educator and ceramic artist from Rochester, N.Y. Preview and purchase work from the exhibition through January 4, 2018: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jaime Gaiti

My interest in making art has been prevalent throughout my life. Even as a young child I always enjoyed making small objects, drawings, and collages.  I can even remember one of my elementary school art teachers, very matter of factly, stating that I would be an artist one day.  I was born and raised in Ronkonkoma, New York, a town in the center of Long Island.  After graduating high school, I attended Suffolk County Community College on and off for a few years where I discovered how interested I truly was in pursuing art school.

Gaiti working on her BFA thesis in her studio

Jaime working on her BFA thesis in her studio

When I began my academic career at Suffolk, I was interested in ceramics and by the time I left I had decided to major in sculpture, which led me to apply to the Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine in 2014. By 2016, I had graduated from MECA with my BFA in Sculpture. At MECA I had access to countless new materials and techniques that I used to develop my work including, metal smithing, mold making, welding, and fabrication.

An image of Gaiti's studio at MECA

An image of Jaime’s studio at MECA

My work has always centered around the human body and some of my own intimate, personal experiences and struggles. One of these early pieces, Contact Comfort, was created by using plaster bandages to create casts of my own body that were assembled to abstract the form, as well as chicken wire to create the underlying structure of the piece. I made this piece with the idea of human’s inherent need for physical contact and the need to be loved and cared for. At this point, the inherent fragility of the human body and life became a prevalent theme for my work. Personally, I was experiencing a relationship in which I felt myself separating while feeling like the other person was becoming increasingly dependent.

"Contact Comfort," 2015

“Contact Comfort,” 2015

As I further developed my work, I began to abstract the human form and focus in on the grotesque qualities of the body as I became less interested in portraying the body as solidly as I had in previous work, like Contact Comfort.  I became interested in the simultaneous presence of the grotesque and  beauty in the human body and how I could create forms that were  repulsive, uncomfortable, and familiar. This body of work began with Human, which is included in the Small Works exhibition, and began the development of my thesis project.

Detail of "Human," 2016

Detail of “Human,” 2016

Through this body of work, I aimed to create a sense of discomfort and familiarity for my audience; they are able to make connections to the work by relating it to their own bodies. I began to focus and draw inspiration from my own experiences with life and death, including the death of my mother in 2014. I created this work in an effort to answer questions about the fragility and complexities of life and death by confronting people with the delicate and impermanent nature of their own lives.  I began to explore the effects of being faced with the realization of one’s own mortality, the limitations of flesh, and anxieties about the body’s inevitable decay.

"Bound in Flesh, Time, and Place," 2016

“Bound in Flesh, Time, and Place,” 2016

My thesis work, Bound in Flesh, Time, and Place, became the culmination of this body of work.  It also served as an extremely cathartic process for me as I navigated through my experiences during the first 2 years after my mother’s death, and could feel a sense of closure after this work allowed me to convey all of the emotions I had felt but was unable to put into words.

Since graduation and the completion of my thesis, I have been working towards my next body of work with a series of studies of flesh and contrasting materials.  The human body and its grotesque qualities have become sort of the base focus of my work, however, I have been interested on the idea of heirloom objects and memory as things that remain as a source of comfort.  Having moved back to my childhood home in Ronkonkoma, after living in Portland for the past few years, it has been inspiring to be in such a familiar place with a new perspective and understanding.  I am looking forward to the development of this work and being able to share it with others.

"Vulnerability 1," 2017

“Vulnerability 1,” 2017

"Untitled Ring," 2016

“Untitled Ring,” 2016

To see more of my work you can visit my website: jgaiti.wixsite.com/jaimegaiti


“Human 1–5″ is currently on display in Main Street Arts’ fourth annual “Small Works” exhibition (juried by Cory E. Card, former curator at View Arts Center in Old Forge, NY). The exhibition runs through January 4, 2018 and can be previewed onlinestore.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Paul Frazer

Paul Frazer making mugs

Paul Frazer making mugs

“Forever a journey”
I have been creating and teaching art for the majority of my life. I learned to work on the potter’s wheel at a very early age. I was amazed at the process of taking soft clay, throwing it on this contraption, spinning it, and creating a pot. When I learned about the ceramic process, and that you use fire to finish the work, I was hooked.

Working on sculpture

Working on sculpture

My interests in ceramics and the studio arts consumed my high school and college life. I earned my Art Education degree from Buffalo State College and went on to earn my MFA in Ceramics from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Since that time I have taught in a variety of situations, but quickly realized my love of working with children. I am a high school art teacher in the beautiful town of Naples, in the Finger Lakes region of New York. I enjoy playing a role in the lives of the children and young adults of my community and I am inspired everyday by seeing the world through their eyes.

MFA exhibition candid

MFA exhibition

My interests in the visual arts are diverse. My undergraduate portfolio focused upon the sculptural vessel and the firing process of raku. I also intensely studied figure drawing and sculpture while obtaining by education degree. My graduate work consisted of large scale, classically inspired figurative sculpture. I enjoyed the challenge of creating really big sculpture out of clay and gained a tremendous amount of experience regarding ceramic techniques, processes and materials.

Monster Mugs

Monster Mugs

I have always made pots and the past several years have concentrated on sculptural mugs. These mugs have become studies in form and function and have also allowed me to explore imagery related to character and creature design as seen in my monster mug series. Imagination is the world I am often lost in, storytelling, escapism and popular fantasy have driven my creative choices. I love bringing form to life with gesture, texture and color.

Frazer porcelain mugs and goblets

Frazer porcelain mugs and goblets

I love working with clay as it is able to exist in so many different forms. From liquid to stone like solid, clay provides the most interesting and engaging processes of any art materials I have explored. Being a high school art teacher allows me to journey through art processes and materials , visiting with freedom, ideas fleeting or complex. The mug allows for a quick dip into process and idea formation, like a maquette, it represents something more, something larger and more complex but just for a moment I can hesitate and enjoy that tactile communication frozen in form as I enjoy my morning coffee.

Thank you to Main Street Arts for putting together this exhibition, it’s an honor to share my work. Find me on Facebook.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Paul’s “Scurrying Mug” in our national juried exhibition of drinking vessels, “The Cup, The Mug” (juried by Peter Pincus, educator and ceramic artist from Rochester, N.Y.) The exhibition can also be previewed and purchased in our online shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com The exhibition runs through January 4, 2018.

 

Inside the Artist Studio with Michael Ashley

 

2017-10-10_15.23.05

Glazing at Ashley Studio Pottery in Tupelo Mississippi

Originally from Springfield  MO, I graduated from College of the Ozarks with a BA in Painting and Ceramics then moved to Tachi, Taiwan where I spent a year at Tainan National University for the Arts.  In 2010 I graduated from the University of Mississippi with an MFA in Ceramics. I have taught at Missouri State University, the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and Tyler School of Art and am currently making Pots in Tupelo MS at Ashley Studio Pottery and teaching at Northeast Mississippi Community College.

2017-09-18_14.43.45

My desk with Max Beckmann, coffee, homework for students, and sketches for cups.

My current work comprises utilitarian forms with motifs and patterns influenced by Kenzan Style Edo Period Japan with color and painterly application of  expressionist paintings from early to mid century.

2017-10-01_20.20.16

wine cups earthenware 2017

I am particularly interested in the way Beckmann uses bold colors surround by black lines to create shapes and planes.

IMG_0070

vase with tulips

My process begins with red clay dipped or brushed in white slip. After bisque, I start first layer of brush work using iron wash made of iron oxide and OM4 ball clay or glaze pencil.

IMG_0417

bisqued bowls with brushwork

Next, I apply liner glaze depending on the form.

IMG_0427

I then begin to layer glazes using bulb syringe and brushes. My glazes are a combination of glazes I mix, made mostly of frits and Mason Stains as well as some commercial Amaco and Duncan glazes.

IMG_0429

Glazed work ready for the next layer

Lastly, the pot is dipped in a thin clear glaze and fired.

IMG_0306

Footed red box 2017

Artist Statement
My work invites touch, like a stone plucked from a riverbed. I love pots that are smooth in the hand but have a rugged, natural beauty. I observe a constant erosion and evaporation that takes place in my daily environment. I strive for layers of visual depth combining slip, glaze and texture to recall this geological wearing. Traditional utilitarian forms are the vocabulary for my investigation, surfaces are a combination of historic patterns and motifs mixed with the vibrancy and life of mid century abstract expressionist paintings.

IMG_0397

cups earthenware 2017

Ritual and habit inform my studio practice. Art, work and play exist in all aspects of life. I begin my day with tea; boil the water, strain, pour and savor. That rhythm carries throughout my day whether chopping onions or wedging clay. Make something, use it, let it inform your life, make more.

asp_jun2017_small-2225

Mississippi oribe 2017

You can follow me on Instagram and Michael D. Ashley or Ashley Studio Pottery on Facebook.

662-523-7887
ashleyceramics@hotmail.com

Ashley Studio Pottery
398 East Main Street, Suite 106, Tupelo MS, 38804

2017-09-02_23.11.51

Ashley Studio Pottery www.ashleystudiopottery.com


Michael Ashley has two cups included in our second annual “The Cup, The Mug” exhibition, and received an honorable mention award for one of his wine cupsStop by Main Street Arts to see Michaels’s work through January 4, 2018 or purchase his cups onlinestore.mainstreetartsgallery.com

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Anna Katalkina

I am originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, where I had my formative introduction to arts and culture. Growing up in that environment I was surrounded by two artistic worlds; the great Russo-European traditions of the city’s museums, architecture, and performing arts, but also the underground cultural explosion that came with the end of the Cold War – rockers, hippies, and a youthful fascination with the ‘new.’

Since I left Russia in the early 1990s, I have developed in several directions across  different places. I spent a few years near London in the UK, before moving to Birmingham, Alabama for six years. It was in Birmingham that my art-making began to shape up. Maybe because of the studio courses at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, or maybe because of the southern charm?

Part of my Arabian Nights series

The Fisherman and the Jinni, from my Arabian Nights series

Since 2002, I have lived and worked in the Washington, DC area.  I have painted, photographed, and completed a master’s degree at Georgetown, studying cultural diplomacy and Cambodian cultural regeneration. In terms of artistic inspiration, DC is the great place as it’s full of diverse people, world-renowned museums, and space to breathe. In addition to Washington, DC, I spend a lot of time in Paris and Brittany with my family, soaking up French arts, culture, and the joie-de-vivre along the way!

I have always been creative, but it has taken a long build to get to where I am now. At the age of 15, I bought a box of oil paints and started painting on any surface that I could find: cardboard, broken guitar backs, or vinyl. I haven’t had a moment of a single transformative art school, but I’ve learned from great talents throughout – at the UAB; at the Corcoran College of Art and Design; in the Maroger studio of artist Robert White; and by seeing countless exhibitions and museums I visit no matter where I go.

From my Candy and Mementoes series

From my Candy and Mementoes series

Over the years, I’ve worked in different mediums: narrative drawing, abstraction, photography and design, but am currently settled on a rooting in the Old Dutch Masters’ still lifes, with modern interpretation. These days I create vivid depictions of simple objects, which often convey much richer meaning than the elaborate. The style requires a large amount of layering, time, and patience, but ultimately it’s incomparable as a way of depicting still life. Making the still life (nature-morte) alive. My work expressly balances seriousness and humor, elegance and simplicity, tradition and modernity – it picks up the breezes from travel, theatre literature, and food.

Elephant on Red Jawbreaker

Elephant on Red Jawbreaker

Elephant work in progress

My inspiration is mainly in slowing down the fast pace of society and zooming in to objects with a certain meaning. I seek out and depict possible objects of desire, beauty and satisfaction – sometimes in the overtly beautiful, and often in the mundane. Candy and toys receive the same attention as fine porcelain figurines, capable of attracting the willing eye and triggering lighthearted memories and pleasure.

When preparing for a show, I tend to look for a common theme which can be explored through different objects. One of my series, Candy and Mementoes, explores the nostalgia and tactile charm that people have for childhood candy. The other, the Arabian Nights, interprets the tales from One Thousand and One Nights, merging  the cultural traditions of the East and the West.

Sinbad the Seaman

Sinbad the Seaman from my Arabian Nights series

You can find my work on my website at annakatalkina.com. I’m also on Instagram sharing photos of what catches the eye at Instagram.


See two of Anna’s paintings in Main Street Arts’ fourth annual “Small Works” exhibition (juried by Cory E. Card, former curator at View Arts Center in Old Forge, NY). The exhibition runs through January 4, 2018 and can be previewed onlinestore.mainstreetartsgallery.com. Anna’s piece, “Clay Duck and White Jellybeans” received a juror’s choice award for the exhibition!

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Sam Lopez

Demo days are the best days

Demo days are the best days

I was born and raised in a small dairy town in Riverside County called Mira Loma just one hundred miles north of my current home in San Diego. As a kid, I spent most of my spare time  in my dad’s leather shop either helping sew up saddles or struggling along with my own projects. Working alongside my dad over the years has allowed me to grow up with an appreciation for well-crafted objects that help serve a community.

I got my start in ceramics in high school and was instantly hooked and spent all four years completely seduced by the potters wheel. Nearly fifteen years later, in May of 2017, I still retain my infatuation with the material and recently  received my MFA in ceramics from San Diego State University and now teach ceramics at Riverside City College. I am currently learning and enjoying the process of becoming an effective educator; and as with most teachers, I get most of my own studio work done anytime class isn’t in session.

One and three fingered handled mugs

One and three fingered handled mugs

I primarily make utilitarian pottery but try to remain open to other processes and ideas. I make the majority of my work on the potters’ wheel but also use slip casting and hand building techniques for some of my larger scale works. My surface choices are made based on the color of my clay. Aside from its’ smoothness, I work primarily in porcelain because it provides an opportunity for a pristine white background to the painted surfaces I apply to each piece. It also takes color fairly well so I will often pigment my clay to explore different foreground/background color relationships.

Porcelain Polychrome cups

Porcelain Polychrome cups

Polychrome cups on Black Porcelain

Polychrome cups on Black Porcelain

slip case colored clays with black underglaze

slip case colored clays with black underglaze

When making pots, I work fluidly through small batches and continually test myself with new forms. My sketchbook will sometimes guide a making session if I am actively trying to approach new ideas of form, especially with more complex forms like teapots and other pouring pots. However, I will almost always use sketches through a batch of cups with the hopes of exploring larger forms similarly. Generally, I am attracted to creating some kind of tension in each form as well as a tension with the glaze surface of each pot.

I continually try to ask questions of each piece. The question, “How can this form demonstrate qualities of both hard and soft sensibilities?” has been lingering in my head for nearly six months and still keeps me excitedly making new work in the studio.

Varying Mug Shapes

Varying Mug Shapes

Cup variations from my sketch book

Cup variations from my sketch book

Two prominent influences are my dad and Josef Albers. My dad taught me the importance of making with quality, which means to make something that can potentially last someone a lifetime of hard use with appropriate care. The beauty of the object was secondary to its functional success. As a result, some may find my pots to be a bit heavy according to most standards. I like for the user to be confident that each pot can withstand some banging around without fear of it easily breaking so I make sure to leave them just a little on the hefty side.

Josef Albers is largely responsible for my decisions when using color. His book, The Interaction of Color is never more than an arm’s reach away when I am painting with my underglazes. This book is full of great information and I would recommend it to anyone interested in color theory. This book helps me continually ask questions about color relationships and is the influence behind all the clay and glaze choices I make.

Mixing Color Washes

Mixing Color Washes

Tech talk:
I use cone 10 Miller Porcelain (WC631) from Laguna Clay. It is sold at other supplies under the name #550 as well. My liner glaze starts out as Tom Coleman’s TC-103 clear that I tint to my liking. This glaze is a great clear as well as a great base that takes color very well. I’ve tinted it using Amaco underglazes as well as traditional combinations. I paint my work using Amaco velvet underglazes. I really enjoy the ability to mix them up and create new colors relatively quickly. All my work is fired in oxidation to cone 10 before each piece is completely sanded. I use diamond sanding pads from 3M up to 800 grit on the surfaces of all my work. It is at this stage when my pots start to come to life. Although this takes up to an hour for one pot, I get a lot of enjoyment during this process because I get to thoroughly get to know each pot individually before I pack it up.

Sanding pads after three years of use

Sanding pads after three years of use

I am currently without a website, but I hope to rectify that within the next year. For the time being, people can easily find me on Instagram @Sam_._Lopez where I routinely share my studio practice and daily shenanigans. In the next year, I hope to dial in my pots a bit more and continue growing as a maker as well as an instructor. Teaching ceramics has been such a great learning experience this last year and I look forward to continually growing and learning from my students. For now, I feel extremely thankful to be a part of the clay and craft community that seems to be growing more than ever.

DSC_0415

“Mug”, included in the exhibition (click for more info)

"Cup", included in the exhibition

“Cup”, included in the exhibition (click for more info)


Sam is one of the award winners in our second annual “The Cup, The Mug” exhibition (juried by Peter Pincus). Stop by Main Street Arts to see Sam’s work through January 4, 2018 or buy his work  onlinestore.mainstreetartsgallery.com

 

 

Inside The Artist Studio with Christina Brinkman

Christina Brinkman

Christina Brinkman

I have worked as an artist is some form or another all my life.  I received my degree from Rochester Institute of Technology.  I began as a painter and printmaker, specializing in etchings and mixed media prints.  I also published a series of die-cut cards which rapidly expanded and were published under the name of Parrett Paper.  These cards were sold and distributed throughout the world in galleries, museums and high end stationery stores.  Some of these cards were chosen and published by the Museum of Modern Art.  MOMA also commissioned the design of an Umbrella and a Mobile.  Upon the sale of my company, I turned my sights back to the fine arts area and am now concentrating on porcelain vessels and sculpture.

'Among the Meadows', Handbuilt Porcelain, Glazed

‘Among the Meadows’, Handbuilt Porcelain, Glazed

Handbuilt Porcelain Vessel

Handbuilt Porcelain Vessel

'Fraternal Twins', Handbuilt Porcelain, Glazed, Gold Leaf

‘Fraternal Twins’, Handbuilt Porcelain, Glazed, Gold Leaf

Handbuilt Porcelain Vessel, Glazed

Handbuilt Porcelain Vessel, Glazed

Artist Satement I am guided by touch, engagement with the material.

Nature, memory and organic form bring direction and orientation.

It tries to be sympathetic with the natural world.

It is usually white, the absence of color, the sum of all colors.

White reflects simplicity, purity, nakedness, lightness, death, calm or stillness.

Without the distraction of color, one considers the outline, the interior and exterior space, the proportions and relationships of the form.

The shadows and the space around become an integral part of the work, the light reflecting surfaces and edges, the energy of what is and isn’t there.

I am never certain of its destination but it is often within the boundaries of the vessel form.

Sculpture tries to sneak in. And it wants to take over.

Handbuilt Porcelain, Blackened Steel, Unglazed

Handbuilt Porcelain, Blackened Steel, Unglazed

Handbuilt Porcelain Vessel, detail, Glazed

Handbuilt Porcelain Vessel, detail, Glazed

Seaform Series, Handbuilt Porcelain, Unglazed

Seaform Series, Handbuilt Porcelain, Unglazed

I have studios located in Rochester, NY and in Fort Lauderdale, FL and divide my time between the two.  My work is included in museum, public, private, and corporate collections, and am currently represented by Blue Spiral 1 Gallery in Asheville, NC.

My website is christinabrinkman.com


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Christina’s work in our fourth annual “Small Works” exhibition (juried by Cory E. Card, former curator at View Arts Center in Old Forge, NY). The exhibition runs through January 4, 2018 and can be previewed onlinestore.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Richard Rockford

The artist, taking in the exhibition

The artist, taking in the exhibition

My association with Main Street Arts begins with the show, Sacred Curiosities, running October 13–November 17 at the Clifton Springs, NY gallery. Though the title sounds a bit awkward and mysterious, it is actually quite on the mark.

Since time began some humans have had deep feelings for certain objects, shapes, colors, and “special” things either natural or man made. Archeologists delight in finding certain very special objects among the utilitarian tools of the ancients. There is a longstanding delight in the “cabinet of curiosities” known all over Europe for hundreds of years. Religions literally worship relics, remnants, and anything touched by a deity or saint. And let’s not forget the artifact crowded shelves of any room used by Dr. Sigmund Freud.

"Todd", found signage that was cut and reimagined, 43 inches square.

“Todd”, found signage that was cut and reimagined, 43 inches square. Included in the exhibition.

For at least a couple of centuries, and expanding rapidly in the very modern age, artists have become great purveyors of objects. From 18th century tromp l’oeil to portraits posed with special toys and accessories, to 20th century Pop Art, collage, found art, and all manner of objects used in and as art (THE urinal!), artists most certainly have found “things” sacred or curious. It is entirely possible today to assemble a massive and fine quality (not to mention important and delightful) collection of art with signage, common objects, dolls, flags, toys, etc as the media and/or the theme. We are so in tune with messages and possessing “things” that the public can now relate to any bits of typography, campaign buttons, newspaper, and ephemera that artists employ.

A crushed steel channel with welded support remnants. This is a crowning example of found metal art. It is completely as found, with no patina alteration, but mounted very professionally. It suggests a tall, elegant figure, flowing garments, and clearly mimics what a sculptor would create in abstract casting. It evokes such issues as "Why create when you can find things like this?", as well as, "It's not art, it's just a coincidence"… and it easily suggests a sacred or curious thing.

A crushed steel channel with welded support remnants. This is a crowning example of found metal art. It is completely as found, with no patina alteration, but mounted very professionally. It suggests a tall, elegant figure, flowing garments, and clearly mimics what a sculptor would create in abstract casting. It evokes such issues as “Why create when you can find things like this?”, as well as, “It’s not art, it’s just a coincidence”… and it easily suggests a sacred or curious thing.

Artists have learned a myriad of ways to work with objects and milk them for all aspects of value, curiosity, form, patina, and most importantly, symbolism. Not only have artists used existing objects and materials, they have learned to make objects or images that mimic, mock, or play off of special objects. One can now collect genuine outsider art or one can purchase what looks like outsider art from many contemporary artists. It is certainly obvious that one function of art is to MAKE us consider an object as sacred or curious by the mere fact of presenting it as art—forcing the viewer to try and see these aspects when they are presented in gallery or studio venues, framed or mounted to push the notion.

Tape wrapped "Depression" baseballs. Despite the lowly look of these spheres, they have high "emotional content" as well as creativity, patina galore, and many attributes far beyond a utility object.

Tape wrapped “Depression” baseballs. Despite the lowly look of these spheres, they have high “emotional content” as well as creativity, patina galore, and many attributes far beyond a utility object.

A good question to ponder is how or when an object becomes art, or at least when it gains sacred or curious force. Let’s use an object I have a lot of connections with. There are people who collect and value baseballs with team, player, or game associations. These items can be worth many thousands as the fame and rarity of the autograph rise. As art or objects for the sophisticated, they are lacking almost all value. Some people collect such spheres for the age, style, and patina they demonstrate. Now we are crossing from “baseball” collector value to historic and aesthetic value. The right bunch of these aged brown balls can certainly be an artistic and curious matter.

Tape wrapped "Depression" baseballs.

Tape wrapped “Depression” baseballs.

I have collected and used many baseballs in my art because they have great age, color, and patina. Going even further, I collect a type of baseball that has very special meaning. If any object can be curious and sacred to me, these are the ones. I refer to the electrical or friction tape wrapped balls, mostly from the Great Depression. They are all creative in origin, delightful to look at, and though some might pay highly for them, they are usually found for under a dollar at flea markets and garage sales. However, they go way beyond the value of most ephemera when you consider what I call “emotional content”. This quality exists only in some special objects. It is distinct from great beauty, form, patina. It is similar to the feelings evoked by any toy or doll showing great wear, but with these baseballs it goes even further. Each tape wrapped ball was a desperate move by one child or a group to renew a valuable thing as it decayed. They saved the all important sphere by finding tape, working out how to wrap it (my collection has many styles of this “make do” effort), and only then can play resume. Each one is a monument to poverty, creativity, childhood, and cooperation. With slight effort, one can see them as curious, emotional, and for some, sacred.

Certain “found” or at least “unaltered” objects also fuel the debate about artistic validity. I have worked for years promoting found items and it was often done with a degree of shame. The questions always arose—”I did not MAKE this, so how can I be an artist or take credit for it?”…”How can I join a show of highly talented art makers when I do not have those skills myself?”. How can I defend elevating simple findings to the status of art—curious or sacred—without offering a rationale for my lack of skilled artistic efforts?  Do I have to put others down to justify myself? In the war between makers and finders there is the battle of genuine vs. made up, unique vs. copied from others, exploring our material culture vs. the studio hermit. The answer lies in the process and sincerity of the person as well as the simple result. Does the “product” come from serious efforts to bring forth a worthy work?  Is the talent (for finding or making) put to good use? Are the pieces found or made excellent in design, form, color, and do they produce enjoyment, thought, debate?  All of these are valid on both sides.

Starting with a scrapbook page (c1940) that has been stripped of many postings, I heavily embellished its importance with positioning, color, and shadow box framing. A perfect example of elevating the ephemeral so it is considered as an art object.

Starting with a scrapbook page (c1940) that has been stripped of many postings, I heavily embellished its importance with positioning, color, and shadow box framing. A perfect example of elevating the ephemeral so it is considered as an art object.

Looking at results—the “it is what it is”—is surely an OK way to pass judgment in most cases. If you see it as art, if it evokes feelings about it’s beauty, thoughts about it’s challenges, then it passes muster. Where things get really confusing is when found or existing things are manipulated to make an art object. In other words, what do we value in between a found scrap metal sculpture and a fine oil painting? In this gap we find the too clever, the welded old tools, the patina of found wood, the assemblages, and the old doll head novelties, and so on.  Once again, I am shamed to be among the group that employs old things to create evocative art. Partly because I am way better than some of the horrors I see, partly because I am not nearly as good as some that I envy. And the answer lies in a certain generosity of spirit. Unless done with savage insincerity (“I crank out this crap just to make money”), all of it is creative, all of it has some audience, all of it teaches us to compare and contrast to find the best we like. “Sacred Curiosities”—anything that intrigues us, creates feelings of awe, evokes the dark and light of cultures, and impresses us as special objects–is all to the good, worth making, worth looking at, worth living with.

You can see more of my work on my website, www.richardrockford.viewbook.com


Four of Richard Rockford’s found object pieces are included in “Sacred Curiosities” at Main Street Arts. The exhibition runs through November 17, 2017.