Tag Archives: Buffalo Artist

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Richard Rockford

The artist, taking in the exhibition

The artist, taking in the exhibition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tape wrapped "Depression" baseballs.

Tape wrapped “Depression” baseballs.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Dianne Baker

Dianne Baker in front of her work, "Whole", in an exhibition at Chautauqua Institute in Chautauqua, NY

Dianne Baker in front of her work, “Whole”, in an exhibition at Chautauqua Institute in Chautauqua, NY

I am drawn to what is overlooked—the transcendent in the forgotten, the discarded, and the mundane. By reconfiguring these unexpected materials and objects into collages, assemblages, and sculptures, I attempt to subvert  the viewers’ perception and to value the past and its remains for they provide insight and connections to the present. If the art reminds them of a grandparent, a work experience, a family holiday, they establish a connection and can then imagine the extraordinary in the debris from our materialized culture and abused environment. Thus, I see my work as providing a transformational  experience in that the viewer cannot only see, but also appreciate, the creative possibilities which exist within the discarded—finding the “magic in the ordinary”.

An installation at UB Anderson Gallery as part of Buffalo Society of Artists Exhibition

An installation at UB Anderson Gallery as part of Buffalo Society of Artists Exhibition

As I collect from scrap yards, and roadsides, what others consider waste, I extend the materials and objects’ useful life and forever alter its history and significance.  The discarded rusty metal, weathered wood, broken parts are transformed into artworks that reflect our consumer society.  I am taking art off of its pedestal and making it more about everyday experience because the viewer can recognize the recycled object and relate it to a place, event, or individual.

Dianne Baker in front of her work as part of a three person show at MC Master University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Dianne Baker in front of her work as part of a three person show at MC Master University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

I have been exhibiting artwork since l979 locally in galleries including Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Castellani Art Museum, Burchfield- Penney Art Center, Art Dialogue Gallery, and Canisius College.  Nationally, I have exhibited in New York City, Washington, D. C., Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Denver, and Santa Fe. Internationally, in Hamilton, Ontario and Bratislava, Slovak Republic.

Video with the Buffalo Society of Artists

Video with the Buffalo Society of Artists

You can see more of my work on my website, www.dbakerartist.com, and view a recent video created by the Buffalo Society of Artists of my work here.


Four of Dianne Baker’s pieces, including “Quartet” (which can be seen being worked on in the video above) are included in “Sacred Curiosities” at Main Street Arts. The exhibition runs through November 17, 2017. 


 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Kathleen Sherin: Printmaker

U D, Carborundum Monoprint, 19.5 x 9.5 inches

U D, Carborundum Monoprint, 19.5 x 9.5 inches

The prints I have on display at Main Street Arts are part of a new series called “Imeasurable Blues”.

Assembled Carborundum and Collagraphic Monoprint, 25 x 15 inches

Assembled Carborundum and Collagraphic Monoprint, 25 x 15 inches

I create my prints in my studio in the TriMain Building as a resident artist in Buffalo Arts Studio  and larger prints in the printshop at the University of Buffalo through a community access program called ePIC ( Experimental Print Imaging Center).

My studio and press at Buffalo Arts Studio

My studio and press at Buffalo Arts Studio

I always work in series.  Each series is a conversation. These conversations all seem to have a common thread, to explore and express conflicts and contrasts of the physical and mental aspects of being human – or  of the rational and intuitive self. In this current series I have ventured past the border of self to the resonant forces found in nature.

My 10 second statement: “Ideas derived from Biology clash with ideas about Psychology, are mediated by Observation and Experience then completed on an Etching Press”.

The press is an essential tool and partner in creation and  involvement in the process of printing is essential to my creative thinking.

2.press

The prints in this exhibition are Carborundum and Collagraphic Monprints.

A Carborundum  print is made from a calligraphic process in which the image is painted on the plate with carborundum (a gritty abrasive powder) mixed with acrylic medium. Once dried the plate is inked wiped and printed.

The Process of Making a Carborundum Print

A drawing with a liquid acrylic mixed with carborundum in made on  a polystyrene (plastic) plate.

Making the plate -

This plate has combination of lines made with Carborundum and lines made only with acrylic medium.

Close up of plate:

Close up of plate

Once the additions are  dry,  ink (oil-based etching ink) is rubbed onto the plate and into the textured surface of the carborundum lines until the entire plate is covered with ink.

Inking the plate

7.wipe3

Excess ink is wiped off with tarlatan (material like starched cheesecloth).

tarlatan

I leave much  of the ink on the plate –  and the marks in the ink by manually wiping.   It is now ready to print.

readytoprint

Dampened paper is placed over inked plate on the press bed.

wetpaperon

A rubber blanket is placed over paper to cushion and to allow the paper to mold over the raised lines on the plate.

blanket

The print is rolled through the press user pressure.

throughpress

A print is born!

printborn

A print and plate.

printandplate

Some of my prints like the following are layered pieces  - This print has ben made with 2 plates, one printed over the  other in a separate run through the press.

W T S O, Carborundum and Collagraphic Monoprint, 24 x 15 inches

W T S O, Carborundum and Collagraphic Monoprint, 24 x 15 inches

This is my thinking and working wall at the studio – I am usually working on several overlapping series at once.

workingwall

This is the other part of my studio filled with prints.  BAS is an open studio space; please feel free to visit.

1.tstudio2

Though I have lived and worked in Buffalo NY for many years, I am originally from Greenwich NY.  I moved to Buffalo to attend college first to study nursing (BS in 1972) then continued on to study and make art (BA Empire Sate College 1981, MFA in painting at UB 1985).

I studied intaglio as a post-graduate and  learned traditional printmaking methods. I abandoned these soon to discover through trial and error - simpler materials and more direct, less chemical-mediated ways of working.

My prints are unique, one-of-a-kind, hand-pulled pieces that blend traditions from painting, printmaking and collage. They contain a combination of direct non-chemically-mediated printmaking methods that include my personal spin on collagraphic, carborundum printing and monoprint techniques.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Kathleen Sherin’s prints in our current exhibition the Upstate New York Printmaking Invitational (runs through October 7). View her work online at www.ksherin.com

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by printmaker Barbara McPhail.

Q & A with Jody Selin

The Upstate New York Ceramics Invitational at Main Street Arts will feature functional and sculptural ceramic work by 13 artists from the region. This invitational represents some of the most exciting contemporary ceramic work being made in upstate New York.

The exhibition will be held July 11–August 29, 2015.
Online purchasing will begin in mid-July.

Jody Selin

Buffalo ceramic artist Jody Selin

Jody Selin

Q: Where are you from originally and where are you now?
A: Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina. I lived in Florida for ten years before moving to Rochester to attend graduate school. I now live in Buffalo, New York.

Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a ceramic artist?
A: I never really realized it. It was a natural progression an attraction to working with the material.

Q: Did you make other types of artwork before finding ceramics? Do you currently make other work?
A: Yes, I draw, paint and do some printmaking in addition to using clay.

Q: Do you have an artistic hero or an artist you look up to?
A: I admire many, many, artists both historic and contemporary, mainly for an interesting idea, technique or skill.

Q: What is your largest source of inspiration?
A: Biological sciences both macro and micro.

Q: Do you look forward to opening the kiln? Or do you wince at the thought of something going wrong in there?
A: Yes, I look forward to it. I usually expect something to not go as planned, but with the idea that I will learn something.

Q: What is it like being a ceramic artist in Upstate NY?
A: It’s a great community of artists.

Sculpture by Jody Selin

Sculpture by Jody Selin

Sculpture by Jody Selin

Sculpture by Jody Selin

Sculpture by Jody Selin

Sculpture by Jody Selin

Sculpture by Jody Selin

Sculpture by Jody Selin

Where can people see more of your work/follow you?
Website: www.jodyselin.com

Check out the previous Q & A with ceramic artist Jeremy Randall.

Q & A with Bethany Krull

The Upstate New York Ceramics Invitational at Main Street Arts will feature functional and sculptural ceramic work by 13 artists from the region. This invitational represents some of the most exciting contemporary ceramic work being made in upstate New York.

The exhibition will be held July 11–August 29, 2015.
Online purchasing will begin in mid-July.

Bethany Krull

Buffalo ceramic artist Bethany Krull

Bethany Krull

Q: Where are you from originally and where are you now?
A: I grew up in Lancaster New York (a suburb of Buffalo) and I am currently living in the city of Buffalo

Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a ceramic artist?
A: I started in clay at 17 in high school and knew by the time I started college.

Q: Did you make other types of artwork before finding ceramics? Do you currently make other work?
A: I played around with a lot of things in my past. I have and do work in many materials. In the past, when I had the facilities I was casting bronze, metal working. My husband is a woodworker and I have learned a great deal from him and often work in wood. I have done massive paper mache sculptures. Currently I’m making a sculpture out of white vinyl.

Q: What is your largest source of inspiration?
A: The natural world and our relationship to it.

Q: Do you look forward to opening the kiln? Or do you wince at the thought of something going wrong in there?
A: My work is very predictable, so I look forward to seeing the finished piece.

Q: What is it like being a ceramic artist in Upstate NY?
A: I enjoy the area.

Q: Where else are you showing your work this summer or fall?
A: Keenan Center, NCECA

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Sculpture by Bethany Krull

Where can people see more of your work/follow you?
Website: www.bethanykrull.com

Check out the previous Q & A with ceramic artist Michael Hughes.

Q & A with Bryan Hopkins

The Upstate New York Ceramics Invitational at Main Street Arts will feature functional and sculptural ceramic work by 13 artists from the region. This invitational represents some of the most exciting contemporary ceramic work being made in upstate New York.

The exhibition will be held July 11–August 29, 2015.
Online purchasing will begin in mid-July.

Bryan Hopkins

Buffalo ceramic artist Bryan Hopkins

Ceramic artist Bryan Hopkins

Q: Where are you from originally and where are you now?
A: Philadelphia, PA; Buffalo, NY

Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a ceramic artist?
A: After taking a ceramics class in college to fulfill an art requirement.

Q: Did you make other types of artwork before finding ceramics? Do you currently make other work?
A: no, and no

Q: Do you have an artistic hero or an artist you look up to?
A: No hero. I love the work of Bodil Manz.

Q: What is your largest source of inspiration
A: The vessel.

Q: Do you look forward to opening the kiln? Or do you wince at the thought of something going wrong in there?
A: yes and yes.

Q: What is it like being a ceramic artist in Upstate NY?
A: Similar to anywhere else I have been, only colder.

Q: Where else are you showing your work this summer or fall?
A: Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, and on Objective Clay.

Q: Is there anything strange or unique that people might not know about you?
A: I have an obsession with bicycles that borders on addiction.

Work by Bryan Hopkins

Work by Bryan Hopkins

Cups by Bryan Hopkins

Cups by Bryan Hopkins

Bowl by Bryan Hopkins

Bowl by Bryan Hopkins

Work by Bryan Hopkins

Work by Bryan Hopkins

Where can people see more of your work/follow you?
Websites : www.hopkinspottery.com and www.objectiveclay.com
Instagram: bryanshopkins

The Assembled Image

Get ready for our upcoming exhibition, The Assembled Image. The Assembled Image is an exhibition featuring collage and artwork inspired by collage. The artists included in this exhibition make artwork by assembling various individual pieces to make a cohesive whole, and each artist has their own connection to the notion of collage.

The Assembled Image at Main Street Arts

The Assembled Image at Main Street Arts. Left to right: Denton Crawford, St. Monci, Andrea Pawarski, Lynne Feldman, and Gerald Mead

Artists include: Denton Crawford, Lynne Feldman, Gerald Mead, Andrea Pawarski, and St. Monci.

Exhibition Dates: March 7–April 30, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 7, 4-7pm

For more information, check out our Facebook event page: The Assembled Image Opening Reception

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