Tag Archives: Perception of Time

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Nancy Wiley

My name is Nancy Wiley and I’m honored that my series of portraits is on display as part of the Perception of Time exhibit that is currently at Main Street Arts.

Nancy Wiley at Main Street Arts

Group of my paintings in the exhibition

I have always loved painting individual portraits in oils. I love people, especially faces — trying to get a likeness and portraying some aspect of each subject has always fascinated me.

Recently, my thoughts have turned to the kids growing up in our country right now— the adolescents who have been labeled “Generation Z” in the current culture. I have met quite a few (I’ll admit my own children are in this group) and a common thread I have noticed is that being true to themselves and being honest about who they are is very important to them, sometimes when it isn’t easy or if it challenges old social norms.

Sketch

Sketch

I decided to do a series of these individual portraits, and show them grouped together and in various states of being finished, as they are still physically and emotionally changing and emerging into adulthood.

My idea is to do as many as I can and then show them together in large groups. This would hopefully portray them as peers in a way or as part of a whole — a “generation”.

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The process of painting so many young people has caused me to think about what I was like at their age and what the world was like then. Contrasting that to current times, so many things are different in ways I could not have fathomed.

And also I think about the future and what it holds for these kids —how life will shape them and how they will live in the world.

My daughter posing in front of my portrait of her during the opening reception

My daughter posing in front of my portrait of her during the opening reception

And so I continue to find them compelling subjects to paint. I hope the series will possibly evoke thoughts from the viewer about his or her own perspective about time and change — individuality and the identity of different generations.


Nancy Wiley is one of seven artists featured in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. The exhibition can be previewed on the gallery’s Artsy page. Perception of Time runs through February 15, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Nick Marshall: Living with Photographs

Photo studio

Photo studio

Hi, my name is Nick Marshall. My work is currently on view in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. Here is a glimpse into my practice as an artist.

I grew up in Canton, Ohio. I received my B.F.A. from Columbus College of Art and Design and my M.F.A. from Rochester Institute of Technology. I have taught photography related courses at Alfred University, RIT, and Visual Studies Workshop. Since 2013, I have been the Manager of Exhibitions and Programs at George Eastman Museum.

There were three important experiences I had with art in my formative years that shaped my practice as an artist.

1) In high school I was introduced to Robert Rauschenberg’s work and it changed my understanding of what materials could be used. (Anything)

2) In grad school I unknowingly walked into a James Turrell installation at the Albright Knox Art Gallery and it altered my understanding of how art can be experienced. (Physical)

3) In 2009 I saw an exhibition of Paul Graham’s A Shimmer of Possibility and it changed my understanding of how photograph’s can shift perspective. (Time)

 

From Then Until Now (I), 2009, chromogenic development print, 24x18"

From Then Until Now (I), 2009, chromogenic development print, 24×18″

My first love was painting but in undergrad I gravitated toward photography. The process of being in the darkroom and the chance for the unknown was appealing to me. In grad school I became interested in the chemical and cultural histories of photography which lead to my work with vernacular imagery. My series From Then Until Now examined the snapshot as an object that “lives” with us. It’s bends, folds, and tears tell of a tactile history while it’s chemical properties are altered due to the conditions it’s exposed to.

I have continued these investigations into the amateur and consumer aspects of photography for the past 10 years.  I’m interested in the way we live with photographs — from shoeboxes and mass-produced picture frames to touch screens and Instagram. How does the way we interact with photographs affect our memory?

Future Nostalgia, 2018-2019, gelatin silver print, 14x11" (installation view)

Future Nostalgia, 2018-2019, gelatin silver print, 14×11″ (installation view)

Collecting is an important part of my practice. I have boxes full of thrift store picture frames, lottery tickets that have already been scratched off, dead pens, and hand-written driving directions. I’m perpetually drawn to discarded or obsolete objects that carry very little monetary value but have the potential to tell stories.

Found picture frame

Found picture frame

Insert Photo Here (I), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24x18"

Insert Photo Here (I), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24×18″

Insert Photo Here (II), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24x18"

Insert Photo Here (IV), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24×18″

My work has always heavily focused on material and the physicality of objects so once I am in my studio, it’s important to touch the things around me — to become familiar with them, put them next to other things, see how they interact, break them down or destroy them. What’s inside? What’s underneath? How is this used? How isn’t it used?

In the studio with Dale

In the studio with Dale (cat on chair)

Photoshop Tools (Eraser), 2018, inkjet print, 24x18"

Photoshop Tools (Eraser), 2018, inkjet print, 24×18″

Every day I am essentially surrounded by the history of photography while at work. I see this time as a part of my practice that informs and influences the projects I take on. For instance, after exhibiting Anna Atkins’s 19th century botanical studies, I started to think about what a contemporary study would look like.

Botanical Study (I), 2016, chromogenic development print with LED panel, 12x7"

Botanical Study (I), 2016, chromogenic development print with LED panel, 12×7″

Unintentionally, the flatbed scanner has become one of my favorite tools in the studio. I was drawn to it’s relationship to photograms and to its ability to alter perception through depth of field and surface.

Touching Photographs (III), 2018, acrylic face mounted chromogenic development print, 13x9"

Touching Photographs (III), 2018, acrylic face mounted chromogenic development print, 13×9″

I hope you have a chance to stop by the exhibition before it closes. My work from Touching Photographs and Future Nostalgia will be on view until February 15.

My new website will be published soon but until then you can find me at marshallnick on Instagram.


Nick Marshall is one of seven artists featured in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. The exhibition can be previewed on the gallery’s Artsy page. Perception of Time runs through February 15, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Carol Acquilano

Carol Acquilano painting on-site at Linwood Gardens in Pavillion, NY

Painting on-site at Linwood Gardens in Pavillion, NY

In this place I am witness to a succession of blossoming things, an orchestra that performs to the sun and the moon, to the wind and the bees. Rushing towards a full flowering or the stout skeletal remains, this is how painting days are at Linwood Gardens. Lee Gratwick is the master conductor and seemingly has arranged her plantings for artists to take in.

The gardens and grounds were first arranged over one hundred years ago and have been carefully tended. Their original structured design has relaxed into a casual and enchanting sequence of outdoor rooms. Every season brings about changes, pruning out and planting new. This evolution reveals the ephemeral nature of time and transformation.

"Summer Growth" watercolor on paper

“Summer Growth” watercolor on paper

The bounty of the garden offers endless subject matter. Plants offer such interesting compositions, and the peacefulness is just right for getting in the groove. Looks comfortable, but don’t be fooled. It’s typically extremely hot, and the bugs are everywhere.

My portable watercolor "studio" at Linwood

My portable watercolor “studio” at Linwood

I found an old golf cart and re-designed it for carting my materials around. The large wheels work great over uneven fields, brick and stone. I can roll my materials anywhere. Working on full sheets is liberating but the paper dries fast so my decisions are made quickly. I mix paint in large batches, using brushes and also pouring techniques.

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Smaller works are completed indoors where I can relax, without the busy bees buzzing, and hot sun glaring.


Carol Acquilano is one of seven artists featured in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. The exhibition can be previewed on the gallery’s Artsy page. Perception of Time runs through February 15, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jim Garmhausen: Processing The Artist’s Process

A few years ago I made a rather large shift in my artmaking process. I’ve been a working artist for the last 20 years, starting with cartooning, for weekly papers; then painting and drawing, on flat surfaces like canvas, wood, metal, and glass. Ultimately I’d work on walls, in the form of murals. As I progressed in my studio work, I began incorporating collage, using ephemera, vintage book pages, old wall paper and the like; and occasionally attached found objects, like a bottlecap, a flattened piece of metal, or a run of rusty nail heads, to whatever surface I was working on.

baby-bearman

A page from my weekly comic strip, “Dreamland,” from the early 2000s.

Looking back, I realize I was pushing the 2D form to its limit. At the time, I felt increasingly frustrated, even fed up, with my work. As a self-taught artist, I was keenly aware of my limitations, and although I pushed myself hard to improve, there was something about my work that had me feeling like I was falling short of my intentions.

My studio, until this past year, was located about ten miles outside of Ithaca, NY, where I live. A woodworker had bought a former chicken farm with a large barn for processing chickens, and a number of outbuildings. He renovated the barn, creating workspaces for artists, and set up his own woodshop at the ground floor level.

The amount of studio space I found myself with (about 1000 square feet) allowed me to work at a large scale, on rolls of paper and canvas dropcloths meant for housepainters. As a former cartoonist, used to confining my work to small boxes, this was liberating. The barn itself was full of treasures that deepened my interest in both vintage items and the esthetics of aged materials. It also put me in proximity to a host of woodcutting tools that fascinated and intimidated me, and so I avoided them for my first few years at the studio, until my interest overcame my fear.

I grew up around tools, in a sort of DIY, middle-income household. That was a time (not so long ago), when things were only thrown away when they could no longer be fixed. I wore hand-me-down clothes that my mother sewed patches on, and played with hand-me-down toys that my brothers had broken and repaired. This mentality extended to the house itself. My father was a capable, if unimaginative, carpenter. He had a Sears table-mounted saw he’d use for projects around the house. I remember the loud whir of the motor, and the high pitched whine of the blade, as he guided a piece of wood along the cut line, his fingers inches from the blur of sharktooth metal serrations. I’d wait, captivated and afraid, for the engine to cut down, and the blade to slow and finally stop, after each cut, and exhale only when his fingers were fully away from the saw.

Despite my interest in his skillset, my father chose not to pass it on to me. He made halfhearted attempts to include me (I could press the “on” button for the table saw) but never really followed through, with either instruction or encouragement. In retrospect it would have been a wonderful way to bond with a man I ended up hardly knowing. It could be that his intention, in not taking me under his wing, was to preserve that distance.

Anything my father did with me, when I was a kid, was halfhearted. We both loved baseball, for example, but he rarely got his own glove out. I don’t remember him showing up for my baseball games, or taking me to Cooperstown, which I would have loved to visit. I don’t think he disliked me. I think it’s possible he was afraid of me. I was a sensitive kid, aware and creative and emotional and easily hurt. Probably something like he was, when he was a kid. His father, an imperious, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, self-made success, didn’t know what to do with him, and (according to my father) mercilessly drove him to be something he wasn’t. I think when my father was faced with the same dynamic, he shrunk from it. How could he teach me anything, without pushing me to be more of a “man” about it? That was something he didn’t want to face, in himself, or in me.

Whatever his intentions, I internalized his lack of interest in teaching me as an indication of my built-in unworthiness of that information. I was the sensitive kid in a closed-mouth family, who merited both special handling and extra concern. In short, my sensitivity, my lack of being a “typical” boy energetically, left me feeling damaged and inferior, and afraid to show my lack of “male” knowledge.

So, as an adult, when faced with questions about car repair, or carpentry, or some other technical issue, I found I could not admit that I had no idea. Rather, I’d scramble to find a way to cover up my lack of knowledge. I had a hidden, unexamined terror of being “found out:” I can’t fix cars, or roofs, or boilers, or lawnmower engines. Sadly, I realized I would never be that guy fixing the classic car on the driveway Saturday morning, with the wife inside making waffles for the kids. In fact, I turned out to be the guy inside making the waffles, while my (now ex) wife fixed whatever car we had.

Hitting a wall as a 2D artist coincided with working in a space loaded with both vintage materials (old windows and hardware and indecipherable machine parts and more) and tools intended for the express purpose of reshaping wood. It took a while, but I eventually worked up my courage to ask for access to the woodshop, and instruction in how to not lose any fingers. Though it was sometimes difficult for me, I learned to say “I have no idea,” and ask for help. The results were immediate and empowering.

For my first project in the woodshop, I gathered foot high sections of raw cut trunk wood. Using a reciprocating saw, I cut off edges and rounded the “top” as well as I could, until I had a sort of fat domed plug, sitting on a flat base. Which I further rounded and smoothed with an orbital sander. Once I had a relatively consistent surface, I used an electric woodcarving chisel to bring out details: eyes and mouth and teeth, cheekbones, and the parentheses of cheek muscles around the mouth. Nose and ears I left for the moment. Finding these forms in the wood, bringing them out, working and sanding them, was an epiphany. I found myself lost in the small repetitions of bringing out details.  I let the overall face and form appear organically, choosing to sketch out only the simplest indications before carving: where the eyes would be, what space they’d need, and the same with the mouth; where would the nose fit; and the placement of cheekbones, brows and forehead.

GIAF_Rolling-Smoker

“Rolling Smoker”

My carving method, right from the outset, was intuitive, similar to I how work in my sketchbooks. I start with eyes, usually, and fill in around them, letting the face take shape according to whatever my emotional/intuitive response indicates. Using this technique with wood was exhilarating. Finding a simple competency with tools furthered that feeling, and began to heal old wounds, even as, Gepetto-like, I brought new forms into being.

GIAF_Jack-The-Extractor

“Jack The Extractor”

Working intuitively, rather than from a blueprint, also meant problem solving: I don’t have the wood mass to carve a nose out of the initial block, so what do I do? Searching around for items that might serve: an old doorknob, a heavy bolt, smaller pieces of wood. In the process of looking, I might find other interesting objects that don’t quite fit the purpose, but call to be used anyway. A heavy rusted hook or eyebolt would present itself, ask to be included, and I’d search for ways to do so. Which opened my process up to greater incorporation of found objects. My age-old fascination with wheels led me to fix them to the base of the heads, creating ungainly rolling toy-like things. Later I’d create pull toys, a more stable kind of vehicle, tested by my son at multiple speeds.

GIAFpulltoys

Two of the first pull toys I created.

Simple train cars of old barn wood and caster wheels served as display surfaces for smaller works, including porcelain head, soft-bodied dolls I created with the help of my mother in law’s sartorial skills, a first for me, in that I handed over the creation of a specific part of my pieces to someone else. My work was becoming more collaborative, more open. I wasn’t closed off in my studio all the time. People walking through the woodshop could see my process, give feedback, ask questions, or be asked questions, about tools, or potential solutions.

In short, I was alive with the process of coming up with ideas and bringing them into being. This new direction in my art brought in another great passion: collecting. I’ve always loved rummaging through antique, second-hand, and salvage stores. Now I had a reason (excuse) to do so: finding materials for art-making. Sometimes I’d look for a specific something to fill a need, like more caster wheels, or a small box to be used as a drawer in a cabinet. Or I’d find something that I simply loved the look of, that would be placed in my studio to provide inspiration.

Jim Garmhausen

Livery Cabinet, found object sculpture

The cabinets in this show, which I’ve written about on my website, came out of my fascination with old medicine cabinets, and my habit of collecting ornate, crumbling gilt frames. They also served as display cases for the many small kitsch items I collect. Art was no longer about making something to fit in a frame. It had jumped beyond that form, out of a specific discipline, and into something more like the messy coherence of life. I was, and am, thrilled.

The results, when introduced to the world, were immediate. My first 3D pieces were accepted into the Governor’s Island Art Fair, in NYC, and one was selected by uber-artist Greg “Craola” Simpkins to be shown in the Surreal Salon 9 exhibition at Baton Rouge Gallery. There was also a clear uptick in interest on social media. It was gratifying that this new path didn’t just feel good personally, but led to work that was well-received.

So what is my process? It’s hard to explain, as it varies from piece to piece. Usually it starts with free-sketching, in my sketchbooks. I draw whatever is asking to be drawn, that moment. I take different turns, when I’m stuck. Removing a body that does nothing for the head that sits on it, and replacing it with wheels, turning it into a bizarre vehicle or robotic/cyborgian rolling thing. My guiding principle is how it makes me feel. If it doesn’t make me smile, I’m not going to translate it in wood. I don’t worry too much about how it will be received. My in-process work often has the feel of an inside joke. I’m laughing, but I have no idea if anyone else will, ultimately. I find that keeping potential responses to my work out of my head and workspace is vital to creating something, well, vital.

Part of being an artist is facing the question: what does your work mean? The answers to that question, in conversations and interviews, in artist statements, and within myself, have changed as I’ve gotten older (in both time and life experience). I’m beginning to understand that my work (like any art) is self-exploration, and for me that means going back into my childhood, and family history, using forms and objects as archaelogical indicators. I’m piecing together the mystery of who I am. This is a lifelong process, which, of course, promises a lifetime of art-making. Passions always have roots. My passions for art, for history and collecting, for old toys, for vintage materials, for the visible effects of aging on items, all are based in deep, often unexplored parts of myself.

pulltoytrain

A five car pull toy train.

It might be cliche-ish to say it, but my art really is about me, and my life. I sometimes feel like more of a medium than a creator, and the spirit I’m communicating with is my own. It’s a powerful process, and thankfully, a very enjoyable one. Life has intervened on my art career, recently. I’ve undergone a lot of changes. My father died, two years ago, and my mother has pancreatic cancer. I broke my wrist, limiting my ability to work. My 16 year old daughter moved out, after a blowup. I lost my studio. And, worst and hardest of all, my marriage ended suddenly, due to (this will take more explanation that I can offer here, but you’re welcome to visit my blog for the more complete story) my coming out as gay, which has of course led to seismic changes to my entire universe.

There has been little time, space or energy for art, but it is calling me again, more and more insistently. I’m interested to see what comes out, when I get back to work. Changes come in the slightest shades or the greatest shifts, and it is my job as an artist to guide rather than steer that process, and not to overly influence it with what I think I should be doing. Having the chance to examine the last few years of production is a bit like examining the rings on a tree stump, or the different shades of layers of rock on an eroding cliff face. It is a record of me, set down in ways that words cannot. And I’m looking forward to the next chapter.


Jim Garmhausen is one of seven artists featured in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. The exhibition can be previewed on the gallery’s Artsy page. Perception of Time runs through February 15, 2019.