Tag Archives: Artist Residency

Meet the Artist in Residence: Renee Valenti

Renee Valenti is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the month of October, 2017, she will be working on a series of abstract paintings and immersing herself in art history books. We asked Renee a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Renee Valenti

Renee Valenti

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I’m originally from a town right outside of New Haven, CT but I’ve been living in Brooklyn for the greater part of the past fifteen years. I’ve been making visual art for the past ten, after making a switch out of performing art and theater. I decided to make the change and went to Pratt for my undergrad and finished my masters last year from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s low-residency program. I feel that I still often draw from storytelling, the theatrical, or cinematic in my work; and I often like to work in series until something is finished for me.

"fuckin, fuck", oil on canvas, 2017

Renee Valenti: “fuckin, fuck”, oil on canvas, 2017

Q: How would you describe your work?
Painting is the largest part of my studio practice and I also do a lot of photography. Most of the time I would take the photos that I was using for my figure paintings, as well. My painting had primarily been figurative or the spaces people occupy, but then last year I started turning toward abstraction. I just couldn’t carry the heaviness in the narratives that were in the paintings from 2015-16 and I also just didn’t have any ideas in my head! I was feeling mentally spent but also just needed to get back into the paint. So one day just started making without the photo imagery. However, then another narrative started emerging for me within these abstract paintings; which still very much have a place of body within them.

My photography has been a continued investigation of portraits of friends, bikers, communities, and empty hotel rooms. I started driving to nearby towns and staying in hotels while living briefly in the mid-west in 2014. As a way to combat the solitude I was experiencing while living there, I started to photograph these spaces—investigating the comfort within transient places devoid of personal memory. Recently, I started a project of landscape photos down Route 66.

Images by Renee Valenti: The Chateau Royale, Lake Geneva,WI (left) Photo 9; (right) Photo 8: ghosts of ashtrays and whiskeys

Image by Renee Valenti: "Gas station, entering New Mexico—off Route 66", digital photo, 2016

Image by Renee Valenti: “Gas station, entering New Mexico—off Route 66″, digital photo, 2016

Q: What is your process for creating a work or art?
That’s a big question and it varies. Sometimes I watch a lot of movies and that inspires me aesthetically; filmmakers like David Lynch, Wong Kar Wai, Fellini, and Pedro Almodóvar. Usually it takes me a minute to do all the background work before beginning a new series. Whether that’s going to the library to do research on a photo project or walking around the city or being or getting into a head space to feel out what the inspiration for the paintings is/are. Sometimes it’s just walking in the woods a lot. I need meditative time for sure. But then once it takes off I can kind of hit the ground running after that until a stop comes and then it maybe things need a minute to refresh.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
I’m going to say my speakers, or my phone speakers. I always have something on, whether it’s music or a podcast, or talk radio or something. That kind of gets me going or keeps me going. You spend a lot of time alone in your studio too, so it breaks up your own voice or lets me get deeper into it within the making.

Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork?
Everything from Beethoven to Best Coast to Led Zeppelin, to Santigold. It runs the gamut.

"White Noise", oil on canvas, 2016

“White Noise”, oil on canvas, 2016

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
Out in the world. I feel like some of the best art is all around us. Then Museums and galleries of course, depending on the show. The one thing about living in New York is that a lot comes through there, so you get to see a lot of great work up close and in person.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I plan on working on the series of abstract paintings that have been in process. I’m also planning on just bringing a lot of art history books and digging into those. I’m really looking forward to having a whole month to work there.

"Winter", oil on canvas, 2017

“Winter”, oil on canvas, 2017

Q: What’s next for you?
We’ll see! I’m looking for an exhibition space for these paintings sometime next year and to complete my Route 66 project. That’s the immediate future, art-wise.

Q: Where else can we find you?
http://reneevalenti.com/home.html
https://www.instagram.com/photoslag/
https://www.facebook.com/renee.valenti.9


Renee is teaching a workshop on Saturday, October 14 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Her Paint As Material worksop will examine the versatility of paint with a focus on experimentation within the medium. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

 

Meet the Artist in Residence: Ali Herrmann

Ali Herrmann is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the month of September, 2017, she will be working on mixed-media encaustic paintings featuring female icons and role models. We asked Ali a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Ali Herrmann

Ali Herrmann

Q:  Tell us about your background
I live in the Berkshires; travel around upstate NY and Hudson River Valley selling my work at markets, fairs, and events.  I have been making art since a very young age—coloring books and a box of Crayola crayons were always my go to.  I went to Colgate University to pursue geology, but after not being satisfied with my choice in college and the academic requirements surrounding the school, I decided to switch majors, transfer, and convinced my geology professor to write a recommendation for application to Bennington College.  My intent was to focus on ceramics and painting, but as it turned out, fell in love with printmaking and continued to pursue painting. I’ve always maintained a multimedia approach to my work, even to this day.  In addition to making art, I teach classes in bookmaking and encaustic painting, bringing my techniques, knowledge and shared experiences to each class.

Encaustic Landscape with Trees

Encaustic Landscape with Trees

Q:  How would you describe your work?
My work is painting with a multi-media approach, using inks, papers, paint, encaustic wax, found object…the idea dictates the medium of choice. I often use multiple things in one painting, hence why I say ‘multi-media.’  Subject matter is typically botanical and nature oriented, in ways that I tend to personify it’s beauty.  There’s a graphic design element to my work, which is a trickle down effect from the very graphic-illustrative nature contributed by college printmaking techniques.

At work in the studio at Main Street Arts

At work in the studio at Main Street Arts

Q:  What is your process for creating a work of art?
My day typically starts around 7:25 am,  getting up with my built in alarm clock, then I head for coffee and journal writing.  It takes me a good hour to fully ‘wake up’ in the morning, even after I’ve gotten out of bed, so I’ve learned this is a good time to let out the thoughts, dreams, ideas, and mental clutter into my journals.  After that, depending on the weather, I may head to the studio or go for a walk/jog.  If I head to the studio, I am likely to turn on the hot plate and slowly start heating up my encaustic paints.  While I’m waiting for the materials to liquify to working state, I clean off the work surface from the day before, prep paper collage materials I think I may want to use, and organize my workspace…much like decluttering my mind in the morning journals. When the materials are ready, I begin with a meditative layering and heat setting process with the wax, developing a surface upon which to work.  Encaustic works in layers, so this medium suits me particularly well, given that I utilize a multi-media approach to other paint processes.  Some of the pieces take days or weeks, while others may be done in a few hours…the elements and working properties of the wax dictate the direction, so it’s an experience of being both in control at times and letting go.

Uma: B. Kiddo, 6” x 6” panel encaustic, 2017

Uma: B. Kiddo, 6” x 6” panel encaustic, 2017

Q:  What are your goals for this residency?
My goal for this residency is to create a body of work that uses portraiture as subject matter, particularly women icons and role models.  I anticipate creating 100 6”x6” encaustic portraits of women, using illustrative drawings, paper collage techniques, writings, and encaustic wax.  Portraiture is almost a big diversion from my typical work in encaustic, since I tend to be more focussed on incorporating color abstraction and illustrative narratives using symbols of plants, trees, and sailboats. However, working with the more illustrative pieces in my tree series, where I embed text, I felt a sense of empowerment through the text and it led me to want to personify a strong women icon series.  And with everything going on in the world of current events/politics, I personally find this a perfect time to explore this series. Also interesting is the idea of ‘icons’, since the history of encaustic was predominantly a process of preserving pieces, such as the face masks from the Fayum wedding portraits, so in a sense, I feel as if I am bringing my love and knowledge of encaustic full circle. Going back to the beginnings and root of why this medium gained attention, while bringing attention to modern day women.

A collection of small, handmade sketchbooks

A collection of small, handmade sketchbooks

Q:  Do you collect anything?
I have a fascination for collecting ‘objects of containment’, yes this needs defining.  For a long time, I used to collect sketchbooks and they would sit on a shelf, pristine blank books, waiting and wanting to be used, but at the time, I was out of college and focused on a day job, completely unrelated to anything artistic.  The blank books became a thing of admiration, a collection of sorts: pretty covers, sizes, different bindings.  Once I took a course on different bookmaking techniques and realized how ordinary these were, I started using them to sketch, paint, & write while I made more fun books to eventually use.  While I do have a collection of sketchbooks I’ve made, it’s more for demonstrations and teaching purposes, but they do get used!  Additionally, I have other objects of containment, ranging from a modern, funky purse collection to old wooden boxes: rice boxes, tea boxes, cheese boxes, wine boxes, pencil boxes, and shelf boxes.

Q:  Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
While I enjoy going to a gallery or museum to see work, I really never want to make a full day of it or spend a lot of time in them.  There is a silent, sterile quality that somehow ‘quiets’ the art for me.  I believe this is because I am a process oriented person.  I like to see work in progress, the sketches, the inner brainchild workings, the silly notes, and the processes involved in making work.  The two places I really enjoy to see art are in peoples homes or artist studios.  I think there’s a real intimacy seeing what people collect and how they display it in their environment.  As for artist studios, you get to see the raw and visceral experience of being engaged in the process.

Six, 6x6 inch panels in progress

Six, 6×6 inch panels in progress

Q:  Do you collect artwork?
I think artists always collect artwork.  My collection started in college, where I exchanged a few etchings and monoprints with other printmakers.  Having an affinity for pottery and coffee, I have always loved collecting mugs, though the functional, everyday use aspect of it never made me think I was ‘collecting art’, but rather, creating a collection of enjoyment.  My first purchase that actually made me feel like I was buying art ‘to collect’ was a small portrait piece I found in a boutique type gift shop in Asheville, NC ironically during a pottery visit in 2003.  I saw this lovely portrait and it reminded me of myself: haircut, red background (at the time I had a red Jeep wrangler), seeming poignant, isolated, alone, but having this ingrained presence that could light up a room.  I kept looking at it; however, did not buy it that moment because I thought: why would I want to buy a portrait?   Of who? Of someone I didn’t know?… and so continued on my journey around Asheville.  When my trip reached it’s end, I found myself racing back to the store in the early morning, hoping they would be open, because I simply needed my this piece in my life, regardless of who this person was in the portrait.  I think I even floored the shop owner when I said, ‘I need that’.  She was so excited for the artist, to be selling a piece of their work, but it was more than a sale or a purchase, I somehow connected with that piece in a way that went beyond the imagery, so it became needing it in my life, not simply wanting it.

Since then, I have collected etchings from an artist in New Hampshire, and tiny paintings from artists based in Portland, OR.  Overall, I can say that all the work has a very illustrative feel, despite some being whimsical paintings and others being detailed bug/botanical prints…they all have images of birds, bugs, botany, with the artists personal vision/flair. Artists include: Cori Dantini, Michele Maule, Rachel Austin, J. Ann Eldridge  

Q:  What is the most useful tool in your studio?
The most useful tool is the most unattractive, bright yellow, mundane looking tool: an automotive bond application/spreading tool, but it has a great name…the Dynatron!  While I do love a palette knife, I find this tool in my car, my purse, in the kitchen, and yes, all over the studio for all media, so it is the most purposeful.  Life changing actually!

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In the studio at Main Street Arts

Q:  What’s next for you?
When I return home, I hope have a full schedule teaching classes in encaustic and bookmaking, head into autumn’s beauty, and ready myself for the winter market/vending season.

Q:  Where else can we find you?
On my webiste, www.aliherrmann.com, on Instagram, @aliherrmann, on Facebook, and on my blog, www.aliherrmann.blogspot.com.

Ali is teaching an encaustic collage workshop  on Saturday, September 16 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

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.

CathyGordonCutPaper

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

Meet the Artist in Residence: Adriane Smith

Adriane Smith is our first writer in residence at Main Street Arts! She’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the months of January–February 2017. We asked Adriane a few questions about her work, life, and more:

AdrianeSmith_headshot_small

Q: To start this off, tell us a little about your background.

A: I’m from right outside of Rochester, NY. I’ve always kept my hand in the literary arts from doing community relations at a bookstore to graduate work and teaching writing and Literature to working on a lecture series. I’ve had cool opportunities to write for various places, but I’m looking forward to devoting some time to my own personal projects.

Books and decorations in Adriane's residency studio

Books and decorations in Adriane’s residency studio

Q: How would you describe your work?

A: Victorian Futuristic Punk. I’m interested in fairytales, nostalgia, and liminality or the spaces between. I grew up on Molly Whuppie, Baba Yaga, the Grimm Brothers, and Hans Christian Anderson and I love how these fairytales are eerie and dark and violent and beautiful and clever and whimsical all at once. They tell us about the world on a very primal level as they illustrate life, death, love, goodness, sacrifice, and loss. Fairytales are also deeply nostalgic texts. They are the creation of and yearning for a time and place that never existed. Thus, fairytales speak to the deepest parts of our psyche. So, I’m also interested in exploring nostalgia for both the past and the future—how it imbues our memory of the past, our action in the present, and our hope for the future is an important element in my work.

Inside Adriane's residency studio

Inside Adriane’s residency studio

Q: What is your creative process?

A: Procrastinate, write really terrible prose, revise said prose, repeat until it’s not terrible anymore. That’s really the writing process in a nutshell. But it can also include reading, researching, drinking copious amounts of tea, writing lists, and staring into space. And I’m developing a penchant for writing on blank walls, so we’ll see where that takes me.

Adriane's cozy writing studio at Main Street Arts

Adriane’s cozy writing studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What are your goals for this residency?

A: So, there’s this great story about Douglas Adams’ editor locking him into a hotel room until he finished a long overdue project. He was a notorious procrastinator which gives me hope for myself and my own procrastinating tendencies. I think of this residency as my own version of the hotel room, but with better art. I plan to use this time to focus, discipline, and organize my writing life. So far, it’s working. I’ve got a longer novel in the works but there are also a couple shorter projects that I’d like to finish up. I will be teaching writing workshops—stay tuned. And I would love to work with artists who might want some help with artist statements or other writing for their careers—stay tuned on that one too.

Writing materials

Writing materials

Q: Who is your favorite writer and why?

A: My favorite writing usually brings together the fantastic with the ordinary. I like Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clarke, and Douglas Adams very much for these reasons. There are so many great authors who have done and are doing so many interesting things and I’m very bad at lists because I always change my mind and/or leave something/someone out.

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Q: What advice would you give to other writers?

A: Write! Even if it’s just for a matter of minutes every day. There is no substitute for sitting down and putting one word after another over and over again. And don’t be afraid to write badly—just keep going; that’s what revision is for.


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts! Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Housing is available. Submissions are reviewed and residencies awarded quarterly. Upcoming deadline: February 28, 2017 for a residency in April, May, or June 2017.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Kira Buckel

Kira Buckel is an artist in residence at Main Street Arts. She’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the months of November–December 2016 (you can stop by the gallery to see her studio and works in progress). We asked Kira a few questions about her artwork, life, and more:

Kira Buckel working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Kira Buckel working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: To start this off, would you tell us about your background?

A: I grew up on the East End of Long Island and always enjoyed drawing as a child. I studied art in high school and through college. I graduated from Bard College with a BA in Studio Art this past May. As a recent graduate I’ve been working and living back home and looking for job opportunities in art.

Kira Buckel, "Infinite Kitchen" (detail), acrylic, gouache, painted collaged paper, PVA glue, tape on paper, 22’ x 7’, 2016.

Kira Buckel, “Infinite Kitchen” (detail), acrylic, gouache, painted collaged paper, PVA glue, tape on paper, 22’ x 7’, 2016.

Q: How would you describe your work? 

A: I usually work in a 2-D format, mostly painting and drawing, and occasionally printmaking. At college I explored sculpture as well, but settled back into painting for my senior thesis. Most recently I have been working with collaged paper that I paint or using found papers and incorporating them into paintings. I like to work representationally, usually of everyday reality, but mixed with the imagined in order to express a personal relationship to the subject of the painting.

Kira Buckel works on a new painting/collage

Kira Buckel works on a new painting/collage

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?

A: I work from sketches and photos, but ultimately allow the materials I’m using to direct the process of painting. When working with collaged paper I sometimes peel off layers or use sandpaper to reveal what is underneath. I enjoy working this way because it is tactile and almost sculptural.

Kira creates her works by collaging painted paper

Kira creates her works by collaging painted paper

Kira Buckel, "On an Anxious Sea" (detail), acrylic, watercolor, painted collaged paper, PVA glue, tape on paper, 12’ x 6’4”, 2016.

Kira Buckel, “On an Anxious Sea” (detail), acrylic, watercolor, painted collaged paper, PVA glue, tape on paper, 12’ x 6’4”, 2016.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?

A: One of my favorite artists is Pierre Bonnard. I’m always inspired by how he transformed everyday scenes into otherworldly images through his paintings. His use of color is especially magical.

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.

A: I want to make as many paintings as I can during my time here, using sketches and imagery from the past. I’d like to explore the Finger Lakes region and paint local scenes as well.

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Q: What’s next for you?

A: Next I’ll be attending a residency at the Vermont Studio Center for the month of February. After that, I’m applying for other residencies and opportunities, and continuing the search for jobs in NYC or the northeast in general. Eventually I’d like to attend graduate school.

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Q: Where else can we find you?

You can view my work at www.kirabuckel.com. I’ll also be on Instagram soon!


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts! Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Housing is available. Submissions are reviewed and residencies awarded quarterly.

Meet the Artist in Residence: James Mikhel Emerson

James Mikhel Emerson is an artist in residence at Main Street Arts! He’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the month of August 2016 (you can stop by the gallery to see his studio and work in progress). We asked James a few questions about his artwork, life, and more:

Artist in residence James Mikhel Emerson

Artist in residence James Mikhel Emerson in his studio at Main Street Arts

Q: Where are you from?

A: I’m from a real small town called Candler, in the heartland. It’s actually an unincorporated borough, just like one that I passed real close to Clifton Springs.

"The Totem Can Project" by James Mikhel Emerson

“The Totem Can Project” by James Mikhel Emerson

Q: How long have you been making artwork?

A: I’ve been making art my whole life. Both of my parents were artist craftsmen, so I started very early in clay and paint. Later, I moved to New York City and studied traditional drawing, painting, and advanced mixed media at the Art Students League in Manhattan.

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Q: How would you describe your work? What is your preferred medium and your typical subject matter?

A: Primitive Surrealism is a term I like. I work with concepts and styles that extend across generations; things that humans can relate to regardless of time and place.

Somebody else just asked me what my preferred medium is, and I’ve been thinking about it. It’s sculpture when coupled with drawing and painting. I usually draw to absorb and explore different styles, and then sort of port that over into sculptures through a lot of different means.

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Q: Do you collect artwork?

A: I do, very occasionally. I have a couple of very cool prints, a coke bottle, some small stone objects, and a wooden piece of a new alphabet created by a great artist, Esteban Patiño. I also have a small collection of artwork that I found around NYC over the years, which was created by #FAF and #FreeArtsMovement artists. Some of it’s good stuff.

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?

A: Good question. My favorite places are anywhere art doesn’t normally occur, so outside of galleries, museums, etc. I have participated in the #FAF as I mentioned before, and have left a bunch of small sculptures in public places for people to find and to hold, so I get a kick when I find other artists doing that as well.

A recent public sculpture by James in Riverside Park South in Manhattan

A recent public sculpture by James in Riverside Park South in Manhattan

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.

A: Right now I am working on a new series of paintings and sculptures which use old visual language to present contemporary life. I’m using a bunch of styles to create contemporary symbols and representational imagery with which to talk about the world we live in.

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Q: What advice would you give to other artists?

A: Seek the deeper function of art. Ask “What does art do for us humans, why do we keep creating it?” It is a question that is as old as us and is absolutely relevant today. See how far you can go to find your answer.

Q: What’s next for you? 

A: I think I’m gonna drive over to New York to the Wassaic Project. There are some folks over there that I’m hoping to see.

James8

Q: Where else can we find you?

A: You can see more of my artwork at www.jamesmikhel.com. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as @JamesMikhel.


Sign up for a Social Media for Artists Workshop with James Mikhel Emerson! In this workshop, James will discuss different social media platforms and strategies for creating platform-specific content. Increase your reach and get your work in front of collectors, galleries, and more! Saturday, August 20, 2016 from 12-3pm. $25 per person. Call, email, or stop in to sign up today.

Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts! Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Submissions are reviewed and awarded on an ongoing basis.