Tag Archives: Sacred Curiosities

From The Director: Sacred Curiosities

Sacred Curiosities, installation shot

Sacred Curiosities, installation shot

Sometimes, an exhibition will come to me quickly. An artist will submit their work and it instantly sparks an idea of what other artist/artists could be paired with this person to make an engaging show. The full concept and title will also come easily and all will be well… More often, I will come up with an abstract notion of an idea and then try to find work that will fit. For Sacred Curiosities, it was the latter.

Planning notes for the exhibition

Planning notes for the exhibition with the first three artists to be included

About a year and a half ago, I had the spark of an idea for an exhibition and wrote myself a note that said “Object/Relic/Ritual”. This vague description was a guide for me but didn’t really get close to defining what the show would be, visually. I knew it would be based on objects (found objects) that seemed like relics, either from the artist’s everyday life or from another time entirely. The “ritual” aspect shows up in work that seems to indicate daily routine and in some cases, references to religious or spiritual practices.

A shrine by Chad Grohman. Chad's motivation for making these pieces comes from his experiences as a Nichiren Shu Buddhist Priest. The content of his images comes from doctrinal concepts found throughout the Buddhist cannon.

A shrine by Chad Grohman. Chad’s motivation for making these pieces comes from his experiences as a Nichiren Shu Buddhist Priest. The content of his images comes from doctrinal concepts found throughout the Buddhist cannon.

Immaculate Conception (front piece), a sculpture by Jacquie Germanow sits in front of many of Marth O'Connor's female totems and a framed "portrait" by Emily Kenas on the wall

“Immaculate Conception” (front piece), a sculpture by Jacquie Germanow sits in front of many of Martha O’Connor’s female totems and a framed “portrait” by Emily Kenas on the wall

A large part of Sacred Curiosities is focused on found object sculpture. The beauty of this method of making art is that many disparate parts—all with their own meaning or connotation—come together to form something new. The grouping of materials may be harmonious or it may be a collection of diverse and contradictory parts. The artists create new meaning from the various materials.

“Two Figures”, a found object sculpture by Emily Kenas as seen at a studio visit on March 15, 2016 (left) and again May 3, 2017 (right)

The paintings, drawings, and other more traditionally constructed sculpture add to this notion by depicting personal, historical, or cultural signifiers as they relate to the artist.

Richard Rockford pointing to "Todd" during my studio vist with him. This is an image made by cutting and reconstructing a vintage sign

Richard Rockford pointing to “Todd” during my studio visit with him in September, 2016. This piece was made by cutting and reconstructing a vintage sign.

Thinking about the meaning of objects led me to think about the passage of time and how the meaning we assign to certain objects can change. A symbol or signifier excavated centuries after it was made is interpreted out of its original context and the meaning is assigned based on what else may be known of the time from which it came.

A collection of legs from various sculptures in Bill Stewart's studio

A collection of legs from various sculptures in Bill Stewart’s studio

What will remain from our time here on earth? What will be known of our civilization when our cultural relics are unearthed? These questions helped me frame the exhibition and give it a context, even if only in my own mind, but the real meaning of the show is derived from the individual meaning created by each artist.

Photo from the studio of Jean Stephens, taken in July, 2016 just after a trip out west when she started working with these images of rock formations.

Photo from the studio of Jean Stephens, taken in July, 2016 just after a trip out west when she started working with these images of rock formations.

This exhibition has humor, evidence of self-examination, nostalgia and most of all a pluralistic collection of disparate parts coming together. Stop in before Friday, November 17 at 6 p.m. to experience this exhibition and investigate all of the bits and pieces that make up this show.

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 Jacquie Germanow

 

Me in my studio with chisel and wood form

Me in my studio with chisel and wood form

My work process is highly intuitive and relies on an interactive dialogue with the materials at my hand and the possibilities in my head.  I use the energetic/magnetic variety of materials—sometimes, at the edge of existence—to resurrect a visual metaphor in sculpture. The work often progresses through many iterations before being realized for exhibit.

When I was finding my path to becoming an artist, I read a book by Carl Jung that resonated within me:

The artist has at all times been the instrument and spokesman of the spirit of her age. Their work can only be partly understood in terms of personal psychology. Consciously or unconsciously, artists give form to the nature and values of their time, which in turn form them.

I knew it was my path, and because of that I have always seen my role as a conduit for translating universal energy into material conversations.

Positive clay forms waiting to be cast into plaster/silica molds

Positive clay forms waiting to be cast into plaster/silica molds

I love the connecting conversation that my work provokes and enjoy the feedback. Yet, getting ready to show work is always stressful for me. The dialogue shifts from a uniquely personal and nourishing one to a very public and hence “judgey”arena that I know is important as a vital gift to humanity. Visual art is quiet for the artist, for the viewer and patron.  If we are receptive, it makes a connecting vibration in our hearts.

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to English parents who escaped from China just before the Japanese invaded. I became a US citizen when I was 14 very aware of the toll WWII had on my family and my parents homeland. Encouraged by my mother’s artist soul, I have been making art ever since I can remember, and I am particularly struck by memories of sculpting sand on the beaches of the Jersey shore.

The artist at work

Ready to work

My fascination with how things work and the seductive forms and
colors of nature led me into science culminating in a pre med BS. Physics, philosophy, and religion were part of this liberal arts study and they turned my mind from scientific deduction to an inductive formulating mind set that artists use to build work. The excitement of making art was like receiving a lightning strike. Could I dare to do this for my life’s work? I went west to study art in Utah never realizing how the geology would impact my visual acuity. I received an MFA in Sculpture there.

If I have a style, it is by default. I am told my work is recognizable, but I do not aspire to a style. I do trust my dreams, revelations, visions, my capacity to synthesize, and find meaning in the ordinary. Each work bubbles up and percolates. Execution is usually much more arduous than I tend to anticipate because I am magnetized by a large palette of materials. Alas, Inspiration is a command. (Agnes Martin) I take the afore seriously and gratefully.  

Mold loaded with glass and ready for kiln

Mold loaded with glass and ready for kiln

Perhaps by pulling together such disparate forms and  textures into unity, I give credence to connection, heart and memory in a world caught by divisiveness and discord. The space between forms has always spoken to me as a synapse  of forces.  The spiral, a symbol of change,  seems to keep surfacing in my sculpture and painting.  

The most challenging aspect of making my work is how to attach one material to another so that it reads as a whole, seamless impulse.

photo 3

The inclusion of glass and showing my paintings has been the biggest change in the last 20 years.  They all address timeless themes, but in very different ways.  I really enjoy how they inform each other and me.

My sculptures are beautiful maquettes for public spaces.  Wouldn’t it be great to see that happen! “My work is a tether that loops around  the invisible, the chaos, the quiet; always seeking the structure of the sublime.  Without it I am adrift in the in between.”

Visit my website to see more of my work: www.jagvisualart.com.  You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  

www.jagvisualart.com


Stop by Main Street Arts to see four of Jacquie’s sculptures included in “Sacred Curiosities”. The exhibition runs through November 17, 2017.