Meet the Artist in Residence: Hunter Zelner

Hunter Zelner is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the month of August, 2017, she will be exploring the notion of place and memory through small landscape paintings while also continuing a series of figure-based works. We asked Hunter a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Hunter Zelner

Hunter Zelner

Q: Tell us about your background.
I am Arizona born and raised and have spent my life there save for a brief stint in Oregon. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t tinkering, making, and more specifically painting. I was fortunate to have an arts high school in the area so I went there. Once I hit college I scrambled through just about every major known to man and in the end received my degree in Art History at ASU. I joke but in all seriousness I was the queen of overrides and managed to take mostly studio classes and still ended up with an Art History degree.

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Wolf Skin, oil on canvas, 28in x 56in

Q: How would you describe your work?
Depicting the dichotomy of visceral meat, a still unmoving form surrounding humanity within has been the primary interest of my work.

Early on in my artistic career a teacher asked the students “Have you ever seen a dead body?” That question stuck with me. She went on to explain that as a figurative painter the trick is to put a person behind the eyes. I want to paint a shell with a person behind the eyes. For this reason I primarily paint people I know. I have worked in metal sculpture, oil painting, acrylic painting, and most recently taxidermy. I always go back to oil paint.

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Sister Ursuline, oil on canvas, 18in x 36in

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I am a very structured painter…sometimes to my chagrin. I typically come up with a concept, research until I can’t see straight, put the basics together in Photoshop to work out the kinks, grid my surface, underpaint, and then finally get to actually laying on the final image.

Q: What are your goals for the residency?
Like most people coming to the residency I want time and space to work. Life is wonderful but also full of so many distractions. I am looking forward to building better and more consistent work habits.

Currently I am working on a departure from my otherwise figurative work. It’s a series about place and memory but in short paintings of parking lots, alley, stairs, empty pool, etc. at night. I am curious about taking time to document otherwise transitionary places that I might forget. Beyond that, I am planning two larger figurative pieces, and some portraits for the time I am at the residency.

Landscape

Landscape, oil on canvas, 5in x 7in

Q: Do you collect anything?
Yes, I have always been a collector. I like a bit of clutter when I paint and in my life as a whole. I collect a lot of random things but some of my larger collections include mounted insects, antique and vintage ephemera, and wall art. At this point I am actually running out of wall space at home.

Tucker, oil on panel, 12in x 48in

Tucker, oil on panel, 12in x 48in

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
Lean into your mistakes. As a representational artist I have spent a lot of time fighting the standard of being a human photocopier. There are people with the innate ability to duplicate exactly what they see or those who have spent years learning old masters’ methods. Some of my favorite artists work that way, nothing against it but you are the only one who can “make” exactly like you and the mistakes you make are yours. Fight the urge to start over or cover them and try making them part of your work.

Hunter Zelner in her studio at Main Street Arts

Hunter Zelner in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What’s next for you?
After the residency I will be applying for a MFA in Painting. I am glad I took time between Undergraduate and Graduate School but am ready to be immersed again… hense my applying to the residency.

Q: Where else can we find you?https://www.instagram.com/hunterzelner/
http://www.hunterzelner.com/


Hunter is teaching a workshop on painting hands (something many painters struggle with!) on Saturday, August 19 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

Meet the Artist in Residence: Emily Long

Emily Long is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the month of August, 2017, she will be exploring new mediums and working on a series that explores the idea that everything is fluid and connected—finding commonalities and relationships between ourselves and our surrounding that inevitably confirm our greater humanity. We asked Emily a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Emily Long

Emily Long

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. At an early age I was enrolled in multiple art programs at my local cultural center, Snug Harbor and was constantly creating things at home thanks to the support of my parents. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into an art focused high school in New York City and continued my interest in visual arts and museum studies in undergrad at Fashion Institute of Technology. Beyond creating my own art, I am passionate about art education and currently work for the New York Historical Society (NYHS) and Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My art is fluid. I am interested in exploring the relationship between one’s self and their surroundings. A majority of these works are illustrated with watercolor but I am always excited to add a new medium into my work.

Work by Emily Long, water color and ink

“Raw Synergy Recognize Symmetry”, Emily Long

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
For every piece my process is a little different depending on how much time I am able to give myself to create. Some days I will jump right into a watercolor illustration. Other days I will spend hours researching symbols and their significance; taking notes on how they can be added into a work.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
My primary medium is watercolor, naturally my paintbrushes are my most used and useful tool in my studio.

Emily working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Emily working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
Choosing a favorite artist feels like telling one’s children who the favorite is. With that said, I love Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh for her fearless use of multiple mediums and line use, Gustav Klimt for his use of gold, and Georgia O’Keeffe for her composition and abstraction. My favorite local artist was my childhood neighbor, Andrea Phillips.

Q: What advice would you give other artists?
Just keep working. Don’t be afraid to “waste” your materials or become upset if you create something you do not like. You have to get the “bad” art out before the masterpiece.

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Work by Emily Long: NY Time Dime (left), and Majority Too Big to Ignore (right)

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I have had a recent interest in working with gesso and printmaking. I am excited to experiment with new mediums and making my work more sculptural while at Main Street Arts Residency. Recent projects have been inspired by folklore and myths. I plan to explore these themes with the exploration of new mediums.  

Q: What’s next for you?
In the fall, I will return to work at the museum. As for my art, I will be turning an old office space into my studio, where I hope to spend most of my free time.

Q: Where else can we find you?
On my website: emilysarahlong.com and on Instagram.


Emily is teaching a crocheted cacti gardens amigurumi workshop on Saturday, August 12 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Amigurumi is the Japanese art of crocheting small stuffed creatures/objects. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

Inside The Artist’s Studio: Erica Bapst

Erica Bapst Profile

I consider myself a bit of a plate spinner. I always have a great multitude of projects in the air. It is a precarious balancing act I perform on a daily basis while running my boutique, Adorn Jewelry and Accessories, in Canandaigua NY. I always laugh and apologize to my customers because my workspace rarely stays confined to the actual designated studio behind the curtain. The designing process, works in progress, tools, random bits and pieces, all spill over into checkout area. I’m sure to many, it looks as though those “plates” I like to spin have all dropped and smashed to bits. More often than not the customers seem to love having the chance to see all the different projects I have going on in their various states. (Or perhaps they only like to peek behind the counter to say “hi” to my constant companion Penny, my shop dog —I am never entirely sure…;)

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Ok, let’s rewind a bit — how did it all start? I have an AAS in Graphic Design from Finger Lakes Community College (1998) and a BFA in Metalsmithing from Syracuse University (2001). I honestly have to say that my time in graphic design has always influenced my work, particularly during the initial layout process. I tend to create most of my layouts and templates using Adobe Illustrator. Because my jewelry is what stocks my store, I am often very focused on creating elements that have a consistency people depend on. Creating the templates allows me to easily reproduce, for example, a specific set of Ginkgo leaves.

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I hand form these ginkgo leaves from brass sheet in bulk.

The invite to this wonderful exhibit at Main Street Arts has given me the chance to step back from the day-to-day routine of creating jewelry for the retail world. I was able to expand upon my favorite body of work and experiment with the form and structure. It was so much fun having a reason to push my boundaries slightly. I am the type of person that often feels guilty if I take time to experiment. I fear that if the piece did not work out,  those precious moments would have been wasted. Running the shop leaves no minute of the day unaccounted for. Being a part of this show was such a luxury to be able to hit pause on my overly sensible brain and create with a sense of freedom!

Here are some progress shots of the piece I had the most fun with.

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I really wanted to design something that felt as ancient as the Ginkgo itself. So I dug into my memories of the historical jewelry I have seen over the years in different museums. Gazing at jewelry that is thousands of years old always mesmerizes me. I could stare at the ancient pieces for hours, puzzling over the stories of how they were made, who they adorned, and how they came to be in front of my eyes. I wanted to take this opportunity to pay homage to those works — jewelry created impossibly long ago from a single ingot, with rudimentary tools  and incorporated rough stone, clay or glass elements.

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While I was not interested in starting from my own cast ingot of brass, I opted to start with a pre-formed sheet…the advantages of our age. Then I searched my vast collection of stones (seriously, my family thinks I am a hoarder when it comes to stones and beads…I am beginning to agree with them) and came across this great slab of seriphinite that I have been hanging on to for a few years waiting for the right moment.  This was the time.

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My favorite shot of this piece.

Some of you may be asking at this point,  “What is with the Ginkgo theme?”  I have had the store for 13 years and have heard a lot of personal stories — stories of bravery,  heartbreak, of illness and also of the people who heal and comfort those who have been through it all.  I would listen to these stories and later think to myself, “ugh…and what do I do? — sit here and make jewelry, what good is that to anyone?”  Then little by little I began to notice that the reason I was hearing these stories was because my customers were often coming in to purchase my pieces to lift the spirits of someone going through a tough time, or to celebrate overcoming a difficult situation. I knew I was not a person that truly helps or heals, but if there was some small way I could contribute to others through my work, I wanted to with all my heart.

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I searched for a theme that carried with it a powerful sentiment and could be translated in many ways. So I looked to nature which I love so dearly, for inspiration. I was walking to work and pouring over my thoughts on the subject, and a leaf dropped off of my neighbor’s tree in front of me. I realized right then that the Ginkgo would be my symbol. It fit perfectly.

With every jewelry piece I include the words:

“The Ginkgo has existed for 250 million years, unwavering in its uniqueness and beauty. They naturally resist the negative and are survivors against all odds.

May we be like the ginkgo and carry with us the strength, resilience and natural beauty that resides within. “

It is not much in the grand scheme of things, but I create each and every leaf with as much love as possible in hopes that the love will carry through to the wearer.

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Sterling silver, aquamarine and quartz branch earrings

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A little surprise on the back.

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This Labradorite is what dreams are made of.

This Labradorite is what dreams are made of.

After the show at Main Street Arts, you can find me at AdornJewelryAndAccessories.com,  on Instagram @EricaBapst or on Facebook.

PS—If you get the chance after visiting Main Street Arts, head east up Main and visit the grand Ginkgo Grove that are a little piece of Clifton Springs History!

My Daughter and I visited the trees after the opening of the exhibit.

My Daughter and I visited the trees after the opening of the exhibit.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Erica’s work in our current exhibition “Multifaceted: An Exhibition of Fine Jewelry” through August 18, 2017. Erica’s work from the exhibition is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Karen Tretiak

Jewelry designer Karen Tretiak is one of eight artists in our current exhibition, “Multifaceted: An Exhibition of Fine Jewelry”. We asked her a few questions about her background and the work that can be found in the exhibition.

Karen Tretiak

Karen Tretiak

Q: What influences you? What themes or symbols appear throughout your work?
A: My jewelry exemplifies the visual excitement I find in layering textures, colors, values and materials. I gather imagery and inspiration from the natural world around me; in particular the sea and forest. Moss greens, autumn coppers, silken leaves, woven shadows, luminescent waves, and polished stones appear and reappear throughout my work.

Green Soutache Necklace

Green Soutache Necklace

River Jasper Cabochon Necklace

River Jasper Cabochon Necklace

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background. How long have you been making art?
A: Creativity has guided my life from as far back as I can remember. Mud, paint, crayons, yarn…so many possibilities as a child. As is true of most artists, that child-like joy has never left me but has been guided and nurtured through skill development and life-long learning.

Traveling!

Traveling!

I am an artist and a teacher; each influencing the other. Professionally I have taught in a wide variety of venues from public high school to colleges to workshops and lectures. My paintings, jewelry and ceramic sculptures have been displayed and marketed throughout the world. I have earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education from Skidmore College and a Master of Fine Arts from Rochester Institute of Technology.

Roxie helping to take pictures

Roxie helping to take pictures

Q: Where else can we see your work?
A: I live and work in the Finger Lakes area of Western New York State as well as in “Maxine the Wonder Bus” when I’m on the road. I market my work at many venues across the country which gives me the opportunity to travel and meet many of my customers.

Maxine The Wonder Bus in Maine

“Maxine The Wonder Bus” in Maine

See more of my work on my website: www.karentretiak.com and my Etsy page WonderBusCreations. 


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Karen’s work in our current exhibition “Multifaceted: An Exhibition of Fine Jewelry” through August 18, 2017. Karen’s work from the exhibition is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Francesca Vitali

Francesca Vitali

Francesca Vitali

I was born and raised in Italy. My formal education is in science, having earned a B.Sc. and MS degree in chemistry from the University ‘La Sapienza’ in Rome. I then received my Ph.D from the University of Zurich in Switzerland. 

Even though my love for paper probably started way before my love for chemistry, I only started seeing my passion for paper not just as a hobby after moving to the US.  And more precisely when I took my first jewelry class 10 years ago at Penland school of craft in North Carolina. I am now a full-time studio artist (ok, I’m lying here I still work in the chemistry lab once a week) and I travel for craft shows all over the country.

But enough about me, lets step into the studio!

A few places where I store paper

A few places where I store paper

I use many different kind of paper for my jewelry—sometimes it is the paper that informs my work, sometimes I start with a design idea and then I have to find the proper paper that will translate into the design. 

I have shopping bags, books, magazine, maps, paint chips, patterned paper, money, yellow pages, newspaper, movie posters and the list goes on! (P.S. if you have some paper that is special to you and you want to make it into something wearable now you know who to ask!)

Once the right paper for a piece is selected, it needs to be reduced into strips, and that’s when the floor gets messy.

Strips of paper waiting to be made into jewelry

Strips of paper waiting to be made into jewelry

Next comes the weaving. The paper strips are handwoven into three-dimensional shapes by repeating the same movement over and over. 

If you are wondering if this stage of the process is a little monotonous, absolutely not! It is definitively very labor intensive but it is also very rhythmic, almost meditative, and therefore my favorite part of my studio time.

Once a piece is done, it needs to be coated. Every piece is protected with an acrylic layer that prevents weather or wearing problems.

The bracelet in the show  air drying after a first coat of acrylic medium

The bracelet in the show air drying after a first coat of acrylic medium

The tour has come to an end but if you want to know more about my work and my daily studio adventures, follow me on Instagram @francrscavitali.paperjelry. It has been a pleasure to have you in my studio!


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Francesca’s work in our current exhibition “Multifaceted: An Exhibition of Fine Jewelry” through August 18, 2017. Francesca’s work from the exhibition is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Meet The Artist in Residence: Noah Estrella

Noah Estrella is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. He is working on studio photography and portraiture during the month of July, 2017. We asked him a few questions about his artwork and studio practice.

Noah Estrella, self portrait

Noah Estrella, self portrait

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born and raised in the Finger Lakes. I developed an early interest in visual art from my parents and grandmother. I was actively creative through my adolescence, for a source of play and experimentation. I still look at creativity in that way, but I began taking it more seriously in my 20s. I enrolled at Finger Lakes Community College at the age of 21 to understand more about art. It is still a learning process to me, and very experimental, but studying it verified my desire to pursue it as a lifestyle.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My primary medium is through digital photography. I still play around a lot with drawing, and I do have a love for the written word, but photography is the most pleasurable for me. I am very fascinated with how visual art can reflect humanity, and as a result the majority of my work is portraiture. I think the human form, and the face, can provide us with a huge amount of information and emotion. A look on someones face, the environment, the lighting, etc. this could strongly reveal what is going on in our world.

Photo of Noah capturing a self portrait   Self Portrait

Photo of Noah capturing a self portrait                        Self Portrait

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I’d like to say that I plan, and occasionally I do. But it’s usually intuitive and experimental, maybe focusing in on one idea/theme. I tend to contact friends to schedule shoots, keeping in mind the location and their outfit. Sometimes it is informal, just spending time with them and taking photographs, other times it is planning a specific idea. From there I spend a lot of time using editing software, and my goal is to always produce the strongest pieces from photoshoots, and see how they can relate to other photographs, or stand alone.

Photograph by Noah Estrella

Photograph by Noah Estrella

Q: Do you collect anything?
I have a lot of keepsake objects that were gifted to me by friends. Usually things that connect to a memory, person, or event. I think there is something special in how objects can be symbols, not just the historical context of the symbolism of an object, but what they personally mean to you. They can also be great props in photoshoots.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? Who are your favorite local artists?
I’ve noticed that I find the most inspiration in a lot of female artists. Frida Kahlo was a huge inspiration to me from a very young age, her work is personal and emotional, speaking to identity and society. And the entire body of work by the artist Ana Mendieta was a huge eye opener to me; her works are intense and almost threatening/dangerous to the patriarchal interpretation of fine art.
Locally, I’m very intrigued by the immersive artist Colleen Buzzard, I was surprised and glad to find a thinker like that in Rochester. I’m also hugely inspired by Lacey McKinney, my former professor, the elusive aspects of style in her portrait work are personally profound to my interest in human identity.

Photos in the studio

Photos in the studio

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.
I always feel I’m getting pulled in quite a few different directions. I intend on using this time to further experiment (with style and contextual meaning), play with lighting (ie. How is it effective/ineffective), and continue to grow. I’m really interested in using portraiture to further understand the dynamic aspect of identity in society (both internal and external, self and other).

Work from Noah's residency

Work from Noah’s residency

Q: Where else can we find you?
I recently made an Instagram @noah_estrella. You can also e-mail me at noahmestrella@gmail.com

Meet the Artist in Residence: Chas Davis

Chas Davis is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. He is working on prints and paintings during the month of July, 2017. We asked him a few questions about his artwork and studio practice.

 

Portrait of the artist

Portrait of the artist

Q: Tell us a bit about your background.
I grew up in Indiana, and like most kids, started drawing at an early age. I just never stopped, and have been a painter and a printmaker for most of my life. I guess that’s it in a nutshell. I have been in Rochester since 1996, and my studio is in the old Valley Cadillac building at 339 East Ave. I have taught here and there and now and then, at RIT, the Creative Workshop at MAG, and Roberts Wesleyan, for example, and currently teach a monoprint series of classes at the Flower City Arts Center, formerly Genesee Center of the Arts. You can see some of the more fun things I’ve done in Chas Davis’ Rambling Bio.

 

Artworks Gallery, 2015

Artworks Gallery, 2015

Q: How about some of your influences?
I was blessed growing up with many generous teachers, and while I was never too influenced by any one style of imagery, I was more impressed and influenced by hard work and the different ways to arrive at a solutions to visual problems.

 

Here I am doing some detail work.

Here I am doing some detail work.

Q:Where do you find inspiration?
I am very inspired by the landscape. I have travelled a lot around the country and the more time you spend in nature, the more you realize that everything is interconnected, and alive. I am inspired by simplicity, and by literature. Stories—especially the evolution and dynamics between events and characters—feed the imagination and create an alternate universe. These are some of the important elements that feed into my work. This is why I was attracted to Clifton Springs, because it is central to the Finger Lakes landscape, and it is in an area with a rich history.

My studio at Main Street Arts

My studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in your residency at Main Street Arts?
I have always wanted to work specifically with the Finger Lakes landscape, so I will focus on that. Since there is an etching press outside the studio I will fool around with that and see what happens. Then I have a few surprise projects that I have no idea what will happen, so we will see. I would also like to get familiar with the area and meet new people as well.

Q: Where else can we find you?
I have a web site, www.Chasworld.com and a studio page on Facebook, www.facebook.com/ChasDavisStudio.

 

Meet the Artist in Residence: Cathy Gordon

Cathy Gordon is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. She is working on mixed media paintings and cut paper pieces during the month of June, 2017. We asked her a few questions about her artwork and studio practice.

Cathy Gordon working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Cathy Gordon working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: To start off, please you tell us about your background.
While I grew up on Air Forces bases across the United States and always created art, my love affair with art began when my parents divorced. My father moved to Chicago and my mother, my sisters, brother, and I moved to western Kansas. I know that sounds odd because you would not associate art with a small town in Kansas but it was a critical time in my life and as it happened the high school art teacher in that small town was a truly great art teacher (and a gifted artist in his own right!). I can’t begin to tell you how many of his students went on to become artists, art teachers, designers, photographers etc… He continues to mentor me to this day.

I went on to paint, draw, and print my way through the University of Kansas and I eventually obtained my Master of Fine Arts from Fort Hays State University, a small school in Kansas with an exceptional art program. Once again, I was fortunate that my drawing professor, who became an important mentor in my life, taught by example. She was a great artist and held her students to very high standards.

My experiences with these two great teachers made me realize that not only did I want to teach but I had to “walk the walk” for myself as well as my students. I knew my students needed to see me create art. I have taught full-time at the college level for twenty-five years and have always used an active studio approach to my classes.

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Cut paper piece by Cathy Gordon

Q: How would you describe your work?
My work has always been influenced by mathematics, Constructivist design aesthetics, and classical subject matter but most recently I have been inspired by the book, Visual Complexity, Mapping Patterns of information, by Manuel Lima. I am currently working on a series of cut paper drawings and mixed media collages that use the connecting lines and coordinates of mapping. Each coordinate represents a person, encounter, event, or transpiring moment in my life. The lines soon became a metaphor for the transience of life and our congruence with one another.

Cathy's workspace in her studio

Cathy’s workspace in her studio

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
For me, the process of creating a work of art is ongoing. I can’t turn it on and off. I am constantly contemplating a work of art whether it is in its early stages or almost completed.  It is a little embarrassing to tell you this, but I lay in bed at night thinking about artwork that I am either struggling with or considering. There is no question that the most important aspect of creation is to listen. If you truly listen to the artwork it will guide you.

On a practical note regarding creativity, it is imperative that you work on this process every day. The best-case scenario is to be in the studio working every day but if that doesn’t happen you still need to have your head in your work whether it is searching for ideas, taking notes, journaling, or exploring. We all hit creative road blocks. I once had a teacher tell me that when I feel empty and I don’t think I have anything to give, pick up a pen and draw straight lines. Keep drawing the lines as a form of meditation and the next thing you know you will be drawing. It works!

"Pear With a Five", mixed media painting by Cathleen Gordon

“Pear With a Five”, mixed media painting by Cathy Gordon

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
A: There is no question that my main goal for this residency is to create and produce art. This residency is a gift. It is a such a joy to walk into the studio and not have any of my regular life demands trying to draw me away from the studio. I am usually pretty good at dedicating time to creating art everyday but to have all day, every day to work has been nothing short incredible.

Creativity is often nurtured through experience and the fact that I came here from Texas is in and of itself, an experience. I am calling my month here, “Zen and the Art of Art.” I am looking at art along the way, creating art in the studio, meeting new people, seeing new landscapes and just trying to absorb the experiences.

I am working on both painted mixed media and cut paper projects while I am at Main Street Arts and I am working on incorporated mapping and charting into the works.

Q: What’s next for you?
A: I am a drawing and painting professor by day and an artist by night. And while that will continue, I am changing the location. As soon as I get back to Texas I will be packing up and moving to a new college in Kansas where I have accepted a new position. The adventure continues!

Q: Where else can we find you?
A: Check out my website at cathleengordonart.com

View and purchase a selection of Cathy’s work at the gallery and in our online shop

From The Director: Utopia/Dystopia

Installation view from "Utopia/Dystopia", painting in foreground by Polly Little

Installation view from ‘Utopia/Dystopia’, painting in foreground by Polly Little

Juried exhibitions are interesting from my perspective as a gallery director. There is much less control of the outcome in an exhibition like this. Typically, I get to choose each artist—and many times, each specific piece—that will be included in a show. From the beginning, I have an idea of how the exhibition will come together and how it can be installed to become an interesting thing unto itself. However, in a juried show I have no control over what will be displayed, only how it will be  displayed.

The usual exhibition at Main Street Arts has its beginnings in seeing a specific piece by an artist and slowly building the idea for the exhibition around that. The place that I end up may be different from where I started but it is this organic process that keeps things interesting for me from year to year.

The current national juried exhibition, Utopia/Dystopia features 40 artists from 15 different states selected by our juror, John Massier—visual arts curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo, NY. The idea for this exhibition came to me last year during the strange spectacle that was primaries and started out only as “dystopia”, with no brighter side. As a little time passed, it became important to add in “utopia” as the counterpoint with the hope for an exhibition that presented competing visions of the future. The resulting exhibition brings the realization that the themes of utopia and dystopia can be left to interpretation.

Installation view of 'Utopia/Dystopia', Painting by Sarah Peck in foreground

Installation view of ‘Utopia/Dystopia’, Painting by Sarah Peck in foreground

There are of course pieces in the show that are always read as depicting  dystopia (i.e. things that are on fire or demonic figures) and then there are those that could be both. Endless Pool by Anna Pleskow could be read either way, I see both isolation and serenity. Fretful Mickey by Jennifer McCandless  is meant to be “a dystopian Disney that is hot, crowded, and the only thing to eat is a giant turkey leg” (a quote from the artist) but I could also see this as an alternative version of the Disney classic that is perhaps even more captivating.

(left) "Endless Pool" by Anna Pleskow (right) "Fretful Mikey" by Jennifer McCandless

(left) “Endless Pool” by Anna Pleskow (right) “Fretful Mikey” by Jennifer McCandless

Even though I had a complete lack of control in selecting the work for Utopia/Dystopia, I am very happy with the selections made by our juror. It is an eclectic mix that makes you laugh, scratch your head, and maybe even get a little creeped out! Stop in before June 30, 2017 to see the show before it is gone.

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