A Studio Visit with Sarah Sutton

Sarah Sutton studio visit

“This process of translation creates a loss, distortion and fracture, yet the scrambled image becomes a field of possibilities-cultural hallucinations, and open-ended associations; a kind of visual ‘backmasking’.” — Sarah Sutton


This coming September and October, Main Street Arts will be showing an exhibition of abstract painting and photography called, The Opposite of Concrete. It will feature five artists, each with their own approach to making abstract imagery. The artists featured are: Carl Chiarenza, Karen Sardisco, Sarah Sutton, Patricia Wilder, and Bradley Butler (myself, gallery director).

Sarah Sutton studio visit

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of taking a trip to Ithaca to do a studio visit with Sarah Sutton, one of the painters in the show. You can see a glimpse of some of the work in progress to be included in this exciting upcoming exhibition.

Sarah Sutton studio visit

Watch for Sarah’s Inside The Artist’s Studio posts in the coming weeks to get some insight into her work. Until then, enjoy these images from her studio…

Sarah Sutton studio visit

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Samantha Stumpf: Ongoing Inspiration

Hello, and thank you for checking out my first Inside The Artist’s Studio blog post on the Main Street Arts blog!

I would like to introduce myself…

talking about pots

talking about pots

I am originally from Baltimore Maryland and started working with clay in high school. I was instantly hooked to the material’s responsiveness  to the sense of touch. I knew that I wanted to continue my exploration of this material in college and completed my BFA at Cleveland Institute of Art in 2003. After completing my degree, I worked for local potters in Baltimore until moving to Rochester to complete my MFA in Ceramics at Rochester Institute of Technology, School for American Crafts. After my experience at RIT I began teaching and making work at the Lorton Arts Workhouse in Lorton, Virginia. Then in 2009 I became a resident artist at Genesee Center for Arts and Education which brought me back to Rochester where I continued to make work and teach. After my residency  experience  at Genesee Center I decided to stay in the Rochester area. I have a private studio located in the Susan B. area, downtown. I also currently teach at Genesee Community College, Studio Sales (Avon) and the Genesee Center.

landscapes

Landscapes

I enjoy making both sculptural and functional work. Most of my sculptural work focuses on the forms of action and reaction that occur in natural environment. A sense of simultaneous deconstruction and construction—such as what occurs when a mountain slowly weathers or the way that water erodes a stream bed. Given the primary influence of nature, these pieces can be seen as metaphoric landscapes. I create these clay pieces by exploiting the responsiveness of the clay. I push, pull, and tear the clay in an attempt to create a physical dialogue between myself and the material.

work in progress

Work in progress (for the Main Street Arts online gallery shop)

On the other hand, my functional work is fun and fresh with an attention to detail. I use a wide range of glazes for my color palette and then layer the surface with unique hand painted brush marks. These marks are very fluid and intuitive. I enjoy layering glazes and washes to create contrasts within the glaze surface. I love to use my functional work everyday. I would want you as well to use it everyday. All of my functional works are food, dishwasher, microwave and oven safe.

Look for my Signature Tableware Series in the Main Street Arts Online Gallery Shop soon!

Part Two: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Samantha Stumpf: Process and Perspective
Part Three: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Samantha Stumpf: A Little Bit of Process…

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: Cracks in the Foundation

Last week I was visited by critic and blog writer Jason.  Sleep, In Spite of the Storm piqued Jason’s interest, so he traveled seven hours to see the show and get down to business.

Jason was able to find the all the technical flaws in my work, as if directly accessing my thoughts.  Some were obvious, though others were nearly invisible.  Jason was the first person to outwardly fixate on those sorts of details.  That fixation, which I celebrate for its clarity and honesty, prompted the following blog post.

The vase on the left leans.  Can you see it?  I do every time I look.

The vase on the left leans. Can you see it? I do every time I look.

An alternate view of the urns in the exhibition

Sorry for the re-post, but these urns also lean. I have to show them in this order, because if I flip them the lean becomes more obvious. I’ve since figured out how to avoid this problem in future works, but these will always remind me.

Makers suffer from the desire to do their best given their mental and physical potential.  Luckily, the mind and hand get better.  But in the wake of learning, there will always be concrete reminders of imperfections and failures in the objects produced.  Here-in lies the two most important questions to the longevity of an artistic career:  When is it appropriate to hold yourself accountable to your flaws?  When is it harmful to do so?

My work is usually misunderstood because of its relative visual refinement.  It is a celebration of color and composition as much as an autobiographical statement through the porcelain vessel, not a celebration of a flashy process or technique.  Having said that, I’ve developed a technique to make possible the aesthetic I’m after and that technique has its inherent limitations and flaws.  When I am alone in my studio, those flaws are the things that slowly eat away at my confidence, pride, and overall emotional stability.

White gold luster is such a pain for me.  It often drips on the raw porcelain and then takes a miracle to remove if I can.  Jason and I talked about this issue for a while

White gold luster is such a pain for me. It often drips on the raw porcelain and then takes a miracle to remove if I can. Jason and I talked about this issue for a while

Sometimes the seams between colors spread.  I assume it is a result of expansion and tension in the kiln.  It is only an eye sore, not a structural thing.  But it irritates me more than any other problem I have.  I stress about it every day.

Sometimes the seams between colors spread. I assume it is a result of expansion and tension in the kiln. It is only an eye sore, not a structural thing. But it irritates me more than any other problem I have. I stress about it every day.

And then the show happens.  All of the things that keep me up at night are not generally noticed.  I’m found enthusiastic but cautious, imagining that I had somehow escaped the public guillotine!!  The successes of the show walk out the door with the crowd and the failures remain with me.  This is unhealthy.

This post isn’t meant to stir depression.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Jason’s ability to personify my conscience gave me the ability to better define the meaning of artistic engagement.  It is not my job to be perfect.  That is the job of industry.  It is my job to engage the material as a soulful pursuit, and yes to achieve the goals I set, but not to drown in small details while missing the big picture.

All of this comes at a time when I announce my new job as Visiting Professor of Ceramics at RIT.  That appointment carries the responsibility of this type of honesty.  If you make things, I guarantee you’ve had the same feelings that are expressed above.  If you want to do this for a living, you must rise above them and enjoy what you do.  Because there is no such thing as a flawless piece of handmade work.  And if there is, would you really want to be it’s author?

Part One: Inside the Artist’s Studio: Introducing Peter Pincus
Part Two: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: How Long is a Long Time?
Part Three: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: Centerpiece

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: Centerpiece

If Sleep, In Spite of the Storm is an exhibition about the intimate relationship, then the two large crematory urns in the middle of the space serve as principal anchors.  This post is about their story.

Peter Pincus' upcoming exhibition, "Sleep, In Spite of the Storm"

The urns installed and photographed in the gallery before any other work was made.

Before any other work was made for this show, I carefully researched, blueprinted, scaled, fabricated, finished, and photographed them in the gallery.  Excessive, right?  Not at all!  They are vessels of spirit that, just like the hand mirror, have a reflective quality for the viewer.  Done right, they oscillate between container, painting, and figure sculpture.  What a job they have.

I intended them to be independent and dependent at the same time.  It started with the form, which took from Sevres Porcelain the idea of symmetric, tight, articulate profile, but stripped the surface of the type of glamorous opulence that defines Sevres.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with opulence!  But it would be distracting in this particular vessel.

Photograph taken from http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/13368797_pair-sevres-style-25-porcelain-cobalt-urns

Photograph taken from http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/13368797_pair-sevres-style-25-porcelain-cobalt-urns

I designed the forms and lid system and built them in five separate molds.  Having never made such a large slip-cast vessel before, I planned to fire each section separately and then glue the pieces together at the end.  I couldn’t help myself though, I had to cast one in white and see it.  My wife patiently held the sections together at 6am so I could snap an Instagram photo.

The urn in early morning white.

The urn in early morning white.

I planned to have their surfaces reference Josef Albers, whose theories on color routinely find their way into my work.  I cast one urn in white and the other in black, and composed identical gradients of vertical stripes from white to black on their bellies, leaving a gray rectangle centered on the white and black stripe of each piece.  This is a carbon copy of chapter IV from Albers’ Interaction of Color, “A color has many faces—the relativity of color.”

Not the greatest example, but you get the point.  Taken from http://joshsmilingskull.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/albers-exercises/

Not the greatest example, but you get the point. Taken from http://joshsmilingskull.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/albers-exercises/

Urns in  process.

Urns in process.

When installed, the stripes are turned opposite each other, forcing the gray rectangles to show different faces; lighter on black and darker on white.  Thus the appearance of independence. But, if you separate them the phenomenon doesn’t work. So, they become very dependent on each other to maintain their individuality.

An alternate view of the urns in the exhibition

An alternate view of the urns in the exhibition

An alternate view of the urns in the exhibition

Part One: Inside the Artist’s Studio: Introducing Peter Pincus
Part Two: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: How Long is a Long Time?
Part Four: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: Cracks in the Foundation

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: How Long is a Long Time?

Among the pots and vessels featured in Sleep, In Spite of the Storm, you will find a perfume bottle standing on top of a hand mirror.  In my (very) biased opinion, these two are the most complex and compelling objects in this show.  And they better be, because I’ve been working on them for a long time.

Perfume Bottle and Hand Mirror.  2014

Perfume Bottle and Hand Mirror. 2014

It all started when I paired perfume bottles and jewelry boxes for my graduate thesis exhibition in 2011.  I thought the perfume bottle could become an abstracted figure, and the jewelry box could become a landscape, and that together they could create a seductive atmosphere.  In theory it was great, but I left that body of work feeling  underwhelmed.

Perfume Bottle and Jewelry Box from Thesis Exhibition, 2011.

Perfume Bottle and Jewelry Box from Thesis Exhibition, 2011.

For starters, the perfume bottle as an abstract figure was a forced idea, if an idea at all.  I couldn’t get far enough away from the wheel to make it transcend the pot.  And by stacking the bottle on the box, I changed the way the jewelry box worked.  It stopped being a container and turned into a pedestal.  Neither object heightened the other.  The two were not a great match.

Another Perfume Bottle and Jewelry Box from Thesis Exhibition, 2011.

Another Perfume Bottle and Jewelry Box from Thesis Exhibition, 2011.

So I spent time sketching the perfume bottle by itself as a way to gain distance from the relationship I’d forced.   I also restricted myself from actually making a perfume bottle because I knew it was important to grow in my hand and mind first to avoid retracing my steps.  I spent the time looking at dresses and figures and paintings, while I made a ton of bottles and cups – of course!

When I finally made the right sketch, the challenge was figuring out how to make the thing.  What a pain!  If you are interested in how I did it, go back to my early Instagram posts where I documented the process step by step (most steps are there).

 

Peter Pincus and his ceramics

Peter Pincus and his ceramics

The hand mirror came to mind in its own time.  It was the first thing I could think of that conceptually aligned with the perfume bottle, was found in a similar location and completely heightened the bottle while not turning into a pedestal in the process.  To boot, it was an exceptionally undervalued object.  Opportunity… check!

But here’s the catch.  Slip casting a hand mirror doesn’t work.  Believe me, I tried… and tried and tried.  It took time to realize that the hand mirror was best suited as a wheel turned object.  So I found rich, dark chocolate, dense earthenware and had at it.

Scraping a finished edge of the hand mirror before drying and firing it.

Scraping a finished edge of the hand mirror before drying and firing it.

So here they are.  Three years from when I last made a perfume bottle.  Finally.

Detail

Detail

Part One: Inside the Artist’s Studio: Introducing Peter Pincus
Part Three: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: Centerpiece
Part Four: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: Cracks in the Foundation

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Introducing Peter Pincus

Hello All, and welcome to my guest blog extravaganza!

Allow me to bend your ear about my upcoming show Sleep, In Spite Of The Storm.  In just a few short weeks, July 12th at 3pm to be exact, the doors at Main Street Arts will open and I invite you all to attend.  If you do make it, you’ll find an installation of brightly colored porcelain pots, vessels and containers, which are presented in this case as sculpture.  It’s an admittedly challenging exhibition for most gallery goers, hence my guest blogging for the next month, which will hopefully clarify my intentions.  It’s going to be a wild ride, so stick with me.

Two cups waiting for their pedestals at Main Street Arts

Two cups waiting for their pedestals at Main Street Arts

But before we get into all of that, let me introduce myself.  My name is Peter Pincus.  Born and raised in Rochester, NY, I now live and make ceramic art in Penfield, NY.  Yes, Rochester has claimed me, as it does so many others who love the seasons, the manageable, accessible city size, the budding artistic community, and of course, Wegmans!  I’m a proud husband, father, artist and teacher.  I received my undergraduate and graduate degrees at Alfred University, and I now work all around town, as the Studio Manager and Resident Artist Coordinator of the Genesee Center for Arts and Education and Adjunct Professor wherever I’m needed.  My work travels all around this great nation with regularity, however it doesn’t often land here at home.  That is why I’m investing as heavily as possible in Sleep, In Spite Of The Storm.

Peter Pincus

Now for the big question…  Do I make pottery?  No.  Well, yes and no.  I’ve focused for fifteen years on the study of pottery, but my work rests in a grey area that is closer to a painting of a pot than a pot itself.  I know what you’re thinking – that sounds like the musing of an academic.  And it is!  That’s the beauty of making, you get to present ideas through materials.  I see pottery as undervalued in my place and time, and therefore I present it to you in a different light.

The underside of a perfume bottle.

The underside of a perfume bottle.

I actively post on Instagram (@peterpincusporcelain) – check it out for pictures that will give you a glimpse into my studio process from beginning to end.

That’s all for now folks!
Part Two: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: How Long is a Long Time?
Part Three: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: Centerpiece
Part Four: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: Cracks in the Foundation

A Solo Exhibition by Chad Grohman

Upstairs at Main Street Arts we are currently exhibiting nineteen paintings by Buffalo, NY artist Chad Grohman. Grohman’s work ranges from more traditional landscapes and still lives to buildings, plants, animals, and people with a surreal twist.

Chad Grohman, "Always Home"

Chad Grohman, “Always Home”,  2014, Gouache, 8″ x 10″

Chad Grohman, "At the Center of the Clearing", 2013, Gouache, 8" x 10"

Chad Grohman, “At the Center of the Clearing”, 2013, Gouache, 8″ x 10″

Chad’s muted color palette creates a sense of uncertainty and uneasiness in these gouache paintings (which is interesting, compared to how warm some of his landscapes can feel). There is a strong sense of narrative, even if the the viewer can’t pin down what that narrative is.

Chad Grohman, "Light Dagger", 2014, Gouache, 8" x 10"

Chad Grohman, “Light Dagger”, 2014, Gouache, 8″ x 10″

Chad Grohman, "Crowclops", 2014, Gouache, 8" x 10"

Chad Grohman, “Crowclops”, 2014, Gouache, 8″ x 10″

Houses with legs, flying tigers, lightning fish, all of these unusual creatures are juxtaposed with more traditional landscape backgrounds. Many of these pieces feel as though their characters would be at home in a tattoo parlor, or in a very unusual fairy tale.

Chad Grohman, Grabbing Hands, 2014, Gouache, 6" x 8"

Chad Grohman, Grabbing Hands, 2014, Gouache, 6″ x 8″

Stop by to see Chad Grohman’s solo exhibition Upstairs at Main Street! His work will be here through July 26, 2014. You can see more of Grohman’s work here and read more information about exhibitions at Main Street Arts here.

Exhibition Dates: June 6–July 26, 2014

Call for Submissions: Small Works Show

The first national juried exhibition at Main Street Arts will be
an exhibition of small works (12″ or less in any direction). Open to artists working in all media excluding film/sound and installation art. This exhibition is open to all U.S. residents at least 18 years of age. Download the prospectus here. Entry is currently open.

 Jurors: Gallery director and staff

 Awards: $1,000 in cash awards

Entry Deadline:  Monday, September 22, 2014 at midnight
Notification: The week of October 6, 2014
Shipping/Delivery Dates: October 28–November 1, 2014
Exhibition Dates: November 6–December 27, 2014
Opening Reception: Saturday, November 8, 2014

Submit your work here. Good luck!

A Studio Visit with Ceramic Artist, Peter Pincus

Main Street Arts did a studio visit this week with Peter Pincus, a Rochester-based ceramics artist with an upcoming solo exhibition in our main gallery space. “Sleep, In Spite of the Storm” will feature Pincus’ functional and nonfunctional geometric-patterned ceramics.

Peter Pincus and his assistants, Hannah Thompsett and Liz Tomlinson

Peter Pincus and his assistants, Liz Tomlinson (left) and Hannah Thompsett (right)

Sleep, In Spite of The Storm, celebrates the intimate relationship. On view will be porcelain pots and vessels, which are in this case presented as a collection of sculptural groupings. He says, “It’s a unique challenge to consider pottery as a premier form of abstract expression, carrying with it much more than the ability to contain and serve. This show is strongly autobiographical in nature. My goal is for these pots to be concrete reflections of my experience as a husband, father, early career artist and educator. It is uncommon ground and has made my recent months in the studio thrilling and captivating.”

Studio assistant and artist, Hannah Thompsett

Studio assistant and artist, Hannah Thompsett

Studio assistant and artist, Liz Tomlinson

Studio assistant and artist, Liz Tomlinson

Peter Pincus

Peter Pincus at work in his studio

Peter Pincus and his ceramics

Peter Pincus handling his ceramic works

Exhibition Dates: July 12–August 29, 2014

Artist Talk: Saturday, July 12, 2014 3pm-4pm
Opening Reception: Saturday, July 12, 2014, 4pm–7pm

Gallery Hours: TuesdayThursday, 11am–6pm and FridaySaturday, 11am–7pm.

Peter Pincus' upcoming exhibition, "Sleep, In Spite of the Storm"

Peter Pincus’ upcoming exhibition, “Sleep, In Spite of the Storm” features functional and nonfunctional ceramics with geometric patterns

FLORA: A Juried Exhibition of Botanical Artwork

This is the last week for our current show in the main gallery space! FLORA is a juried exhibition of botanical-themed artwork, dealing with flowers, plants or botany as subject matter. This is the first juried exhibition at Main Street Arts and features works of art by 43 New York State artists. Artwork shown in this exhibition includes painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, ceramics, and printmaking.

FLORA postcard

FLORA postcard

Artists included in this exhibition: Judi Cermak, Alice Chen,
Sage Churchill Foster, Cindy Dalton, Brad Daruszka, Hannah Ely, Alexandra Gable, Teresa Gable, Miranda Gatewood, JoAnn Gentle, Bethany Haeseler, Nancy Holowka, Melissa Huang, Patrick Kana, Ileen Kaplan, Keith Kappel, Roberta Kappel, Anne Lamme, Trisha Max, Barbara McPhail, Ho Moon, Connie Mosher, Colleen McCall, Emily McCall, Roberta Nelson, Mary Pat O’Brien, Lynn Patti, Larry Poole, Angela Possemato, Jan Romeiser, Jody Selin, g.a. Sheller, Bob Snyder, Deborah Stewart, June Szabo, Joeseph Tarentelli, Jean Tidd, Ken Townsend, Elizabeth Valenti, Rikki VanCamp, Robert Whiteside, Margaret Wilson, and Esther Yaloz. The exhibition will also include work by its juror, Alan Singer.

Exhibition Dates: May 1–July 3, 2014

FLORA opening reception

FLORA opening reception

FLORA opening reception

FLORA opening reception

FLORA opening reception

FLORA opening reception

So make sure to stop by before July 3rd, to see these beautiful works of botanical art! The gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday, 11:00am – 6:00pm.

Jody Selin, 7 Botanical Panels, 2014, 10" x 10" (each)

Winner of Director’s Choice: Jody Selin, “7 Botanical Panels”, 2014, 10″ x 10″ (each)

Winner of Juror's Choice: Margaret Wilson, Delphinium Delicacy, Watercolor, 2014, 28’’ x 21’’

Winner of Juror’s Choice: Margaret Wilson, “Delphinium Delicacy”, Watercolor, 2014, 28’’ x 21’’

Winner of Best in Show: Patrick Kana, "Specimen 1: Samara", Mahogany, milk paint, lacquer, 2014, 6" x 6" x 44"

Winner of Best in Show: Patrick Kana, “Specimen 1: Samara”, Mahogany, milk paint, lacquer, 2014, 6″ x 6″ x 44″

You can see more photos from the opening reception here and can see more information about our current and upcoming exhibitions here.