Tag Archives: Small Works

From The Director: End of 2017 Edition

The last exhibition of 2017, "Small Works"

The last exhibition of 2017, “Small Works”

It’s the end of the year, so naturally we are getting into a reflective mood and reminiscing about all of the great things that happened at the gallery in 2017. This is also a time when we start to get really excited about new things on the horizon in the year to come. If you are thinking to yourself right now, “I wish I could look back at 2017 with Main Street Arts and see some of the exciting things coming up in 2018″, well you are in luck! Keep reading!

Top: Multifaceted, jewelry exhibition; Middle: Re-emerging artists: John Greene and Robert Marx; Bottom: Sacred Curiosities

2017 Exhibition Highlights – Top: Multifaceted, An exhibition of fine jewelry; Middle: Artist talk with John Greene and Robert Marx during Re-emerging Artists; Bottom: Sacred Curiosities

This year, we hosted  fifteen exhibitions on two floors including artwork by a total of 246 artists. Through five solo exhibitions, three two-person shows, four group invitationals, and three national juried exhibitions, we presented a variety of media and artistic perspectives over the course of the year. Highlights for me include hanging jewelry on the wall, hosting an exhibition featuring two artists with over 100 years combined art making experience, and an exhibition based on found objects.

2017 Finger Lakes Regional Student Painting Competition: Self Portraits

2017 Finger Lakes Regional Student Painting Competition: Self Portraits

We also held the 4th annual Finger Lakes Regional Student Painting Competition, which featured 5×7 self portraits by 203 student artists in grades 6 through 12 from 10 area school districts.

May/June, 2017 Artist in Residence, Nick LaTona

May/June, 2017 Artist in Residence, Nick LaTona

Our artist residency program, now well into it’s second year of existence, has been an exciting and meaningful addition to Main Street Arts. This year, we welcomed 18 different artists into our community, including our first ceramic artist in residence, Mandy Ranck, providing them the time and space to focus on making their art. We had artists from the Finger Lakes/Rochester areas; Brooklyn, NY; Staten Island, NY; Jersey City, NJ; Lenox, MA; Phoenix, AZ; and Austin, TX.

2017 Workshop Highlights – In order from top left to bottom right: The Beauty of Small with Cathy Gordon; Printmaking with Chas Davis; students from Penn Yan Academy on a field trip to the gallery making Collage/Assemblage pieces; Encaustic Collage with Ali Herrmann

2017 Workshop Highlights – In order from top left to bottom right: The Beauty of Small with Cathy Gordon; Printmaking with Chas Davis; students from Penn Yan Academy on a field trip to Main Street Arts, making Collage/Assemblage pieces; Encaustic Collage with Ali Herrmann

Artists in residence have the opportunity to teach workshops during their stay at the gallery. In 2017, we ran workshops with 7 of our artists in residence in the following media: ceramics, embroidery, encaustic wax, painting, printmaking, and mixed-media collage. We also offered several workshops in jewelry making and fiber arts with a handful of regional artists as the instructors.

Artist Talks

2017 Event Highlights – Top: Upstate NY Painting Invitational Artist Talk; Bottom, left to right: Sketch session with Andy Reddout and Genine Carvalheira-Geman; Artist talk with John Greene and Robert Marx; and Tintype Demo with John Coffer.

In addition to showcasing the artwork of great artists, we sometimes also ask them to come to the gallery to talk about their work. This year, we hosted artist talks with Robert Marx and John Greene in April in conjunction with their Re-emerging Artists exhibition, Genine Carvalheira-Gehman and Andy Reddout in March for their exhibition of sketchbooks on our second floor, along with a talk with 7 of the painters featured in the Upstate New York Painting Invitational in September. We also invited nationally-known tintype photographer, John Coffer to do a demo here in March as part of the Alternative Process Photography exhibition.

Students and their art teacher, Sherry Blanco during their field trip in October

Penn Yan students and their art teacher, Sherry Blanco during their field trip in October

In October, we also had a group of 15 art students from Penn Yan Academy come in for a field trip to learn about our Sacred Curiosities exhibition and to make their own mixed media collage/assemblage pieces!

Now onto 2018…

The first exhibition of 2018, "Dream State" will open on Saturday, January 13.

The first exhibition of 2018, “Dream State” will open on Saturday, January 13.

We have an exciting schedule of exhibitions planned for next year. Our first exhibition will be called Dream State and will include the work of four artists. Through painting, sculpture and photography, this exhibition is an exploration of time and space, a suspension of reality, and a journey into a personal mental space. The four artists included in this invitational exhibition are Matt Duquette of Buffalo; Bill Finger of Seattle, WA; Carrianne Hendrickson of Rochester; and Lin Price of Ithaca.

“Former King Ferry Scoreboard”, photograph by Harry Littell (Selection from the new book “UNROOM: New 2 U”, a collaboration with author Ron Ostman documenting the surrounding region, finding the beauty in the everyday built environment.)

Next up is an exhibition called Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar. This exhibition opens on February 24 and will present three distinct bodies of work from three photographers. Each series of images is an investigation into a unique and distinct subject matter. Presented together, the similarities and differences between each body of work will be amplified as parallels between different concepts are made. 30 Photographs by Jasna Bogdanovska, Harry Littell (pictured above), and Nigel Maister will be included and an artist talk will take place on Saturday, March 10 at 1pm.

Main Street Arts’ profile on Artsy, showing our eight represented artists

In April, we will open an exhibition called Cultivate and it will be an introduction to a new gallery program. Main Street Arts will be representing a roster of regional artists. This is something I have wanted to do for a few years and I am so excited to start with eight wonderful artists: Pat Bacon of Lyons, Chad Grohman of Buffalo, Patrick Kana of Geneva, Meredith Mallwitz of Canandaigua, Lanna Pejovic of Honeoye Falls, Jody Selin of Buffalo, Mike Tarantelli of Rochester, and Sylvia Taylor of Ithaca. Work by our represented artists is regularly available on Artsy and at the gallery. Expect to hear much more about this in the new year!

Photo from a visit to Lanna Pejovic's studio in June

Photo from a visit to Lanna Pejovic’s studio in June

There will be a solo exhibition each year for one of the gallery artists, and this year we are excited to mount a solo exhibition of paintings by Lanna Pejovic in October. Stay tuned for more info…

Aside from a solo exhibition and perhaps a group exhibition including these artists each year, I am still excited to have invitational exhibitions which include artists from our region and beyond. A majority of the year will still be filled with the types of exhibitions you have come to know (and hopefully love!) at Main Street Arts.

The Cup, The Mug 2017; our last show of the year on the second floor

“The Cup, The Mug”; our last show of 2017 on the second floor

As we continue to focus our efforts, things will be a little bit different on our second floor. In order to focus on the eight main exhibitions per year in our first floor gallery space and promoting the work of our represented artists, we will no longer have regular exhibitions on our second floor. That space will be dedicated to showing the work of our artists in residence, our gallery artists, and special pop up exhibitions.

And now for 2018 and beyond…

Finally, I would like to announce that this coming year Main Street Arts will be starting the process of converting from a commercial entity to a non-profit. From the beginning, in 2013, we have been graciously funded by Marjorie Morris and the Morris family. Mrs. Morris has, and continues to be, a wonderful patron of Main Street Arts and by extension, all of the artists we have been fortunate enough to show here. Moving forward with a non-profit status will allow us to function in a more sustainable manner and help us to continue to promote the work of artists for many years to come.

This also means that we are able to accept donations and are currently accepting them for a scholarship fund for our artist residency program. If you are interested in supporting our residency program, please contact the gallery for more information.

Main Street Arts, decked out for the holiday season, 2017

Main Street Arts, decked out for the holiday season, 2017

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your support over the past four and a half years. We look forward to many more years of continuing our mission of promoting the work of artists from our region, encouraging the creation of art, and fostering a creative community through exhibitions, artist residency program, workshops, and events.

— Bradley Butler, gallery director and curator


There were so many great exhibitions, workshops, residents, and events in 2017 and it was impossible for me to talk about everything in a concise manner. So, I encourage you to look back and see everything in detail for yourself: 2017 Resident Artists, 2017 Exhibition History, Photo Albums on Flickr.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Cat Clay: Pop Vintage

Cat Clay’s work is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. Their work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


Cat Clay was founded by Clifton Wood, a gorgeous calico who stepped on a rainbow the same day as Prince.

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Miss Clifton Wood

She has been reincarnated as the Dalai Kitten, Miss Beckett. The sole employee of Cat Clay is Sabra, who also doubles as a mediocre kitten servant.

Our studio was founded 10 years ago, after taking classes at Genesee Pottery and RIT, as well as working alongside Stephen Merritt & Richard Aerni. We are located in the historic Hungerford Building in Rochester, New York. Cat Clay’s cozy studio has all the usual components: wheel, slab roller, kiln, display shelves. Plus an executive gym for Beckett.

Cat Clay studio

Cat Clay studio

We make functional pottery and sculpture, and are best known for our mug shot mugs.

David Bowie mugshot mug

David Bowie mugshot mug

And this time of year, we make ornaments – lots & lots of ornaments. With critical quality control being provided by senior management.

Quality control of ornaments by Miss Beckett Wood

Quality control of ornaments by Miss Beckett Wood

The other mainstay of our studio is Pop Vintage, where we transform vintage china into pieces that appeal to a new generation of collectors. This is done by designing an image with pop references, applying it to the china, then re-firing it in the kiln.

The first step in creating a Pop Vintage piece is to buy vintage china. A lot of vintage china. 6 shelving units of vintage china. Too much china? A lot of our friends are enablers, acting as pickers – keeping a lookout when they go thrifting or to estate sales.

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When we bring home a new pattern, we test it for lead – both to meet federal regulations, and to be sure our kiln is not contaminated and fuming lead on everything that’s fired in it.

Once we pass that hurdle, the guess work begins: how hot was the glaze fired on the vintage china?

If under-fired, the image isn’t melted enough into the surface of the glaze and will rub off. If over-fired, the image will disappear. Or bloating can happen, so that the piece looks like it has the plague, like poor Mr. Sloth (pictured below). Or even worse, the piece can melt down, turning into a lava flow in the kiln, and taking out everything in its path. Most of our vintage china is successfully re-fired to a point from 1900-2300 degrees – and a mere 50 degree difference can spell success or failure.

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Even if we guess correctly, there may be a defect in the piece that isn’t visible until after the firing. Soup saves lives, but it couldn’t save the invisible crack that grew in the kiln.

Bowl cracked during firing

Bowl cracked during firing

When we started making pop vintage, about 3 out of 10 pieces were successful. But we fell in love with those successes and kept plugging away. Now, given a new china pattern by an unknown maker, we guess correctly about 70% of the time.

And our images? We design them using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.  Sometimes current events inspire a design, such as our St. Bowie ornament, where we added renaissance wings and halo.

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Other times, we incorporate  lots of vintage illustrations with a snarky twist, to make the bridge from vintage to pop. For Valentine’s Day, we’ll couple an old print of cutlery and pair it with the caption, “Spooning leads to forking”. Or take a vintage cupid, and substitute an AK47 for the bow and arrow, with the added words, “Love hurts”.

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Then comes marrying the image to a specific piece of china, taking into account how the china’s colors will change from the kiln’s heat. And adjusting the contrast of the image so that it pairs well with the vintage glaze characteristics.

Once that’s done, we  re-size the image for the specific china, print it on special paper that creates a water-slide decal, cut it out, soak it in water and apply it to the plate. At this point, the decal is a stark black. A design may be a simple one-image decal. Or there can be over 20 individual decals that are hand-placed on one object.

Plates with images, before firing

Plates with images, before firing

Now it’s time to carefully pack up everything, load it in the car and take it to the kiln at the studio.

The kiln will fire for 8-12 hours and cool for 16 hours before we can unload it. And at the end, if all has gone well, we have a Pop Vintage piece. The decal image is now a warm sepia, and the original colors of the vintage china have softened.

"Surrender, Soviet Shark Subs"

“Surrender, Soviet Shark Subs”

Want to see more of our work? Look no further than Main Street Arts, which carries our Pop Vintage year round. Or check us out on Instagram: @cat.clay. And feel free to visit the studio – we’re there a lot!

In our spare time, we host Graphic Ear, a radio show on WAYO 104.3.

Our radio show on WAYO 104.3

Our radio show on WAYO 104.3

Each Thursday at 6pm, we have a visual artist as our guest, and talk about their life & work and play the music their favorite music. And we’ve had members of the Main Street Arts on – both Bradley Butler and Melissa Huang!

Bradley Butler on Graphic Ear

Bradley Butler on Graphic Ear


 

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Cat Clay’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Sabra and Beckett’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com. and in our physical gallery shop. 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Werner Sun: Redbud Reconsidered

Werner’s artwork is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. His work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


I am an abstract artist from Ithaca, NY and I work with digital prints, drawings, and other paper materials that I cut and fold into three-dimensional patterns. I started making these paper sculptures about five years ago. At the time I was experimenting with digital photographic compositions, but I wanted them to be more than just pixels on a computer screen; I wanted to work with them as physical objects. These folded sculptures are my way of establishing a kind of intimacy with my images.

Werner Sun in his studio.

Werner Sun in his studio.

Below, I show the process I used for a recent wall sculpture (18″ x 24″ x 2″) called Redbud Reconsidered. This piece began with a photograph I took of a redbud tree in my yard on a sunny October day, when the leaves were a brilliant shade of gold.

Source photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

Source photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

Then, I brought this image into Photoshop and combined it with some abstracted floating shapes derived from a different photograph.

Manipulated photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

Manipulated photograph for Redbud Reconsidered.

At this point, I made a 12″ x 16″ archival inkjet print of the image. Instead of folding the print itself (as I usually do), I decided to overlay some patterns made from plain white paper. Below, you can see the folded elements being constructed and then arranged on the print.

Constructing the folded paper elements.

Constructing the folded paper elements.

Sculptural folded paper patterns.

Sculptural folded paper patterns.

Folded paper elements with manipulated photograph.

Folded paper elements with manipulated photograph.

In playing around with the composition, I couldn’t get the proportions quite right. So, I reprinted the image in a larger size and added pencil drawings on top. I also introduced a second, smaller version of the folded pattern to soften the visual rhythm. Finally, I mounted the new print and the folded elements on a 18″ x 24″ x 1.5″ wooden board (painted black), and I coated all the exposed paper with protective acrylic varnish. The finished piece is shown below.

Redbud Reconsidered, full view from front.

Redbud Reconsidered, full view from front.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, detail view.

Redbud Reconsidered, side view.

Redbud Reconsidered, side view.

A consistent theme in my work has been the use of patterns to transform my visual materials. I am a particle physicist by training, and I’m fascinated by how people figure things out, how our brains can come up with new knowledge by teasing out patterns from a sea of data. So, in a way, my artistic process mirrors my scientific process. In Redbud Reconsidered, I’m treating the source image as data to be understood, and the alterations I’ve made by hand — the pencil drawings and folded paper — grow out of a close examination of the material. These superimposed patterns therefore serve as a lasting record of my own curiosity.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Werner’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Werner’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com. Visit his website at www.wernersun.com and follow him on Instagram @wernersun.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Kathryn E. Noska.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with E. L. Ryan: Creating a Watercolor Still-Life in 5 Steps

Hello fellow art lovers -

It’s a warm, rainy, December evening here in Ithaca; not too typical of western New York this time of year! It’s this type of inclement weather that for me, forecasts a painting night.

Welcome to the studio!

Welcome to the studio!

For my introductory post, I wanted to give you readers out there a little more than an “about the artist” spiel. So here is a quick tutorial to describe one of my favorite painting techniques; in this case, to create a simple still life in just a few steps.

I work almost solely in watercolor, a medium that folks often tell me is “the most unforgiving,” or “the hardest.” I beg to differ – I’ve had a lot of practice, no doubt, but you can turn all the “cons” of watercolor into “pros” with time, patience and technique. There are difficulties with every type of painting, sculpture, what have you. That being said, I hope that if you are interested in painting with watercolor, but intimidated to work with it, that this tutorial might give you a fresh perspective, allowing you to delve into water paint in a whole new way.

Here’s our subject:

To celebrate the seasons of both coasts, I've chosen a persimmon and a sprig of juniper.

To celebrate the seasons of both coasts, I’ve chosen a persimmon and a sprig of juniper.

STEP 1: SKETCH IT OUT
You don’t want to put a lot of detail in here. Keep in mind that this isn’t a drawing, you’re just setting up for your painting. Think light pencil strokes.

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STEP 2: THE WASH
Where is the lightest point of your subject? In this case, it’s the highlight on the persimmon. I left a couple highlights on the juniper berries as well. Everything else is darker, right? So paint everything else! Choose a neutral color, and bring your paint all the way to the edges of the paper.

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STEP 3: ESTABLISH YOUR VALUES
This step gives your subject a little body. Choose another (perhaps complementary) neutral color, and loosely block in the shadows and midtones. A lot of detail is not needed.

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STEP 4: ADD IN YOUR COLOR
Ok, now you have your subject defined. It’s time to put the color in! Add a little color into the back and foreground too. Keep your palette simple – limit yourself to just a few colors.

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STEP 5: ADD THE DARK, DETAIL, & FINISHING TOUCHES
Now that your subject is colored, you need to finish it off with the darkest value. This will make it pop! Add a little texture, color the background a bit more, etc. Voila! You have a little painting, in just 5 steps.

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ABOUT THE ARTIST

E. L. Ryan (F.K.A. Emily Falco) is an artist nationally recognized for the romantic quality portrayed in her watercolor representations of everyday perspectives. In this early stage of her career, she has lived and painted throughout New York State, from New York City through the Hudson Valley to the Adirondack Mountains and into Ithaca where she currently resides.

Ryan’s work has garnered national attention as a featured artist in American Artist Watercolor magazine, and on NBC’s Martha Stewart Live television program.  Since 2008, Ryan has continuously exhibited her work in solo, joint and group shows, including a recent solo exhibition at Cornell University. She holds a B.F.A. from The Cooper Union School of Art in New York City.

For more information please visit: http://elryanart.com

Stop by Main Street Arts to see two of E. L. Ryan’s watercolor paintings in our current exhibition, Small Works 2015 (one of which was an award winning piece!). Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by fabric sculptor & collage artist Jody MacDonald.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Jody MacDonald: Connection is Key

Hello, my name is Jody.  Welcome to my studio!

Studio

My work space – there is a big, beautiful window where I’m standing that provides the most fantastic natural light to work by.

First, let me share a few biographical tidbits to put my work into context:

  •  When I was a child I liked to engage in role-play, often as animals and insects.
  • I attended the famed bealart program in London, ON, Canada (1986-89), double-majoring in textiles and printmaking.
  • I received my undergrad diploma from Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design (Vancouver, BC, Canada, 1996) where I focused on sculpture, performance, and installation.
  • It took me 15 years to obtain the academic credits required for my BFA in Visual Arts from Emily Carr University in Vancouver. I was only able to take one class per semester, so that’s what I did.  Never let life be an obstacle to attaining your goals!
  • In July of 2014 I moved my home and studio practice from Vancouver to Long Island City, NY.
  • I still like to engage in role-play, though now it is mostly through my artwork.

For the past 12 years I’ve been an object maker, creating textile-based, figurative sculptures and drawings that challenge concepts of identity, stereotype, social power dynamics, and the perception of “genuine” vs. “imitation”. I relish dark humor, always work in multiples, and I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to craftsmanship and detail.

Obsessive Detail

(L) Detail of a British Military Coat from Wardrobe (1755) – 3/16″ custom crafted buttons and those tiny buttonholes are functional. (R) Detail of mini skinny jeans, new work in progress – approx. 4″ wide (I did make the hangers, but the teeny clothespins were a cherished find).

A common element in my artwork that makes it readily distinguishable is the use of my face in every piece, either as a collaged component in works-on-paper or as a photo transfer on fabric in sculptural pieces.

(L) Detail from a work-on-paper in the Survival Games series. (R) Detail from Jurassic Measures, a textile sculpture from the Will The Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up? series.

There are many reasons why an artist might choose to use themselves in their work, such as convenience or legal issues. The reason I use my face? To communicate that I am imperfectly implicated in the issues that I point a critical finger at. We’re all in it together ;-)

Much of my work is created in a diminutive scale – figures stand about 20” tall and drawings are generally 15” x 22” or smaller. I do this to gently coax the viewer closer to the work where they will discover subtle details and develop an intimate connection with the piece.

Showing Scale

Head and hand of a new sculpture in progress.

Ultimately, connection is what being an artist is all about for me – making an emotional or intellectual connection with another person… oh, and making tiny things.

Although on occasion I’ve used found objects in my pieces, I make 98% of the miniature clothing and accessories you see in my artwork.

Shirt and Garters

(L) Detail of wolf figure in Chestnut Complex (Slim Shady series). (R) Detail of one of the lingerie outfits for Favorite Ways With Pheasant (Slim Shady series).

I LOVE the challenge of trying to replicate an Oxford shirt, a garter belt, a Brown Bess musket, or a canoe in 1/4 scale.

Brown Bess Musket

Detail of the Brown Bess musket from Wardrobe (1755), part of the Slim Shady series.

Canoe Interior Detail

Detail – interior of the large, 4 foot canoe from Chestnut Complex (Slim Shady series). The ribs and planking are made out of wood veneer.

There’s so much more I’d like to share with you – here are a couple of ways we can connect:

Visit my website/blog to see more of my art and learn more about my process: jodymacdonald.ca. Follow my Facebook page to see sneak peeks of works-in-progress and general art musings a couple of times per week. Thanks for visiting!

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Jody MacDonald’s artwork in our current exhibition, Small Works 2015. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by Finger Lakes painter Kari Ganoung Ruiz.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Kari Ganoung Ruiz: En Plein Air

I’m Kari Ganoung Ruiz, and my studio is the great outdoors!

Painting near Saranac Lake, NY August 2015. Photo by Dave Martin

Painting near Saranac Lake, NY August 2015. Photo by Dave Martin

My husband Diego Ruiz and I currently live in Union Springs, NY on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake. I grew up in Interlaken, NY near the Finger Lakes National Forest, setting the stage early for my deep appreciation of the natural landscape. I was always drawing as a kid; filling up as many sketchbooks as I could get my hands on. Fortunately, many of my teachers up through high school were creative and excited about teaching and learning, no matter the subject; helping me keep my mind open to an alternate career path such as “artist”!

I attended Ashland University in Ohio, graduating in 1998 with a Bachelors of Science in Fine Art. My husband and I were married in 2000 and we decided to make the Finger Lakes Region our home; searching for a community to develop our studio. We opened Copperesque in 2007, a boutique picture framing and stained glass studio here in Union Springs .

Taughannock Falls, painted on location spring 2015. Private collection

Taughannock Falls, painted on location spring 2015. 6″x8″ Private collection

Within the last 3 years I’ve become increasingly excited about painting outside directly from life, taking part in plein air festivals throughout New York state and beyond. One of Diego’s artistic passions is stereo photography; currently working on his 5th and 6th 3D books! Both of our endeavors involve travel, so in the fall of 2014 we decided to move our shop from storefront to cyberspace to free the constraints on our time and location.

Painting near the Ventura Pier in CA during The Representational Art Conference 2015. Photo courtesy BritBrat Studio

Painting near the Ventura Pier in California during The Representational Art Conference 2015. Photo courtesy BritBrat Studio

The Lifeguard Tower, 8"x8"... the piece I was working on in the picture above!

The Lifeguard Tower, 8″x8″… the piece I was working on in the picture above!

I’m currently painting in oils and concentrating on the landscape. Many of my paintings are completed outside in one session; trying to capture more than a likeness of the place, but the essence of what made it speak to me. Studying through painting outside has taught me a great deal in the last few years about the science of the natural world. Something new is learned each plein air session, even if that something is what the air feels like right before being drenched by a sudden rainstorm!  I do have a studio in which work progresses on commissioned paintings and larger or more detailed work not easily done outside. It’s a small, upstairs room in our home where I can work in relative quiet. Painting outside in winter is an interesting challenge, and the subtle color shifts of the snow are seductive, but it’s great to have a warm studio to come back to!

Painted during the Adirondack Plein Air Festivals... one of my favorite experience painting outside this year! 11"x14", available

Painted during the Adirondack Plein Air Festival… one of my favorite experiences painting outside this year! 11″x14″, available

You can see many of my paintings at our Pop-up Gallery in Aurora, New York this December 1-31st, and always online at kariganoungruiz.com. I have also just started a blog, so please follow along on my adventures: Go Paint Outside!

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Kari Ganoung Ruiz’s paintings in our current exhibition, Small Works 2015 (including a juror’s choice award winning piece!)

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by Rochester artist Bob Conge.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Bob Conge: 2005 to the present

Good enough is not !

Good enough is not !

2003 was one of those turning points in life. I was freed of the need to produce work for the commercial illustration sector and from this point on I would have the luxury of working only on projects I wish to pursue for myself.  After many years of honing an array skills in painting and drawing media, I was ready to once again push off into the void. Thus my foray into three dimensional expression and lots of new stuff to learn.

Mexican Nichos

Mexican Nichos

Inspired by the 19th century Nichos of New Mexico and the roadside shrines for accident victims I saw while traveling in Greece, I began a series of shrines that explore the themes of contemporary American worship, and those core experiences of life that shape who we have become as human beings.

Boxes for Shrine series.

Boxes for Shrine series.

I hand build the boxes that house my shrines in much the same way the village carpenters built them in Mexico 200 years ago. Each box holds a collection of objects found and life experienced in an arrangement guided by some internal poetry.

"SHRINE No.14 (The Affair)"

“SHRINE No.14 (The Affair)”

Detail "SHRINE No.14"

Detail “SHRINE No.14″

Shrine "Addiction"

Shrine “Addiction”

Shrine "Addiction" detail

Shrine “Addiction” detail

Shrine

Shrine

Shrine "PRIMA VERA" detail

Shrine “PRIMA VERA” detail

Sometime in 2005 I began to also build free standing pieces that were no longer constrained by the box environment. This was the transition to small sculpture working with a 2 part epoxy clay over various armature materials. Molds are made of the original sculpts and then are cast in resin or soft vinyl editions which are hand painted as unique pieces or in small editions of 5 or less.

Brain Rider sketch and sculpt

Brain Rider sketch and sculpt

The pieces usually begin with small rough concept sketches as a jumping off point.

Brain Rider finished

Brain Rider finished

The themes of my work run the gamut from allegorical to sociopolitical.

"War"

“War”

"War" detail

“War” detail

"Sum and Son"

“Sum and Son”

"Night Gamer Misfit Robot"

“Night Gamer Misfit Robot”

"Night Gamer Misfit Robot"

“Night Gamer Misfit Robot”

"Face Of War"

“Face Of War”

In 2014 I began working in bronze and on large scale pieces in fiberglass and epoxy clay.

"Wartorn" bronze

“Wartorn” bronze

"Rasputin" bronze

“Rasputin” bronze

"Greed Shreds The Fabric Of Democracy" WIP

“Greed Shreds The Fabric Of Democracy” WIP

You can view more works at: www.bobconge.com. and www.plaseebo.net

Stop by Main Street Arts to see three of Bob Conge’s sculptures in our current exhibition, Small Works 2015. View more of his artwork at www.bobconge.com or www.plaseebo.net.

View Bob’s previous blog post: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Bob Conge: Part One

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Robert S. Hunter: Artists Books, Digital Prints, and other Emphera

RSHunter_Book Artist and PrintmakerI’ve been making Art since I was a little boy growing up in New Jersey. My first installation piece was a wall of dinosaur drawings I put up in my bedroom at the age of 7 years old. My interest in Art continued through adolescence resulting in a Bachelor of Science degree from James Madison University with a major in Art and a Master’s degree in Studio Art also from James Madison University. During the first five years after receiving my Master’s degree I was a practicing artist but then as a favor to a friend I agreed to substitute as a high school Art Teacher while my friend recovered from an auto accident. As a substitute teacher I discovered that I enjoyed the energy of the classroom and consequently I returned to James Madison University to complete all the classes necessary to become a certified Secondary Art Educator. My first teaching position was at Colonial Beach High School in Colonial Beach, Virginia and that is where I remained for 32 years. Three years ago I retired from teaching to resume being a full time artist and quickly discovered my home study/studio was too small to accommodate my present needs, so I had a studio built behind my house and that is where I now make all of my artwork.

Studio Image _OPT  Studio  Work-Space


As an artist I believe I should employ the tools and techniques of my chosen medium to convey intention as well as to engage the viewer’s eye. A piece of art should be interesting to look at and should provide something to think about. Both of these purposes are important to me while I am creating an image. As I explore an idea I enjoy combining representational subjects with abstraction to expand the possibilities of visual expression. My prints contain narrative components but also invite comparisons and contrasts of the subject with other abstract elements in the composition. Sometimes these combinations are allegorical and sometimes they are purely visual. I encourage observers to come to their own conclusions and I favor loose associations over structured symbolism.

A Question of Balance              “A Question of Balance”, Archival Pigment Print , 7.5″ x 7.5″

Texture (both visual and conceptual) is important to me as I find variations in each create a more interesting visual and intellectual experience. The digital print processes which I use to create my images provide unique opportunities to manipulate size, texture, color, and transparency that are unavailable in any other print medium. Sometimes I combine traditional and digital printing techniques to produce my work. My images are printed using archival inks on 100% Cotton Rag Somerset Paper and generally are produced in an edition of ten prints.

The Race_Entry Image                        “The Race”, Archival Pigment Print , 6.5″ x 11.5″


Recently I have begun to hand bind my prints to create Artist Books which provide an extended dialogue of content which is not possible in a single print.  Contemporary artists are always employing new forms of media in unexpected ways and the idea of “The Book as Art” is certainly a prime example. The book has been transformed into an aesthetic object to be appreciated for more than its informational or literary content. Some of my books are fairly straight forward narrative structures containing images and a story which I have  created. Others are a combination of a container form and a book form,resulting in a Three Dimensional / Two Dimensional Hybrid.

ENTRY-1_B-EarthWindFire_RSHunterText-EarthWindFire_RSHunter           “Earth, Wind, and Fire”, Sculptural Artist Book , 12.5″ x 4.5″ x 4.5″

In these Sculptural Artist Books multiple aspects of craft, spatial presence, narrative content, and expressive imagery are employed. I’ve found that I enjoy the complexity of these projects and currently I’m working on several ideas which will continue the exploration of this format.

A-Visit-to-Grandmothers-House_RSHunterText-Visit-to-Grandmothers-House_RSHunter   “A Visit to Grandmother’s House”, Sculptural Artist Book , 10″ x 8″ x 8″


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Robert Hunter’s printmaking in our current exhibition, “Small Works 2015 – A National Juried Exhibition” and view more of his artwork at www.roberthunterart.com

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by printmaker and encaustic artist Constance Mauro.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Colleen Pendry: Materials, Metaphor & Memory

My name is Colleen Pendry and I am originally from the suburbs of Washington D.C. I live on a small piece of Heaven in Rockbridge County, Virginia with my husband of 32 years and our assortment of furred and feathered friends – four rescue dogs, one cat, three goats and fourteen chickens.  I received a BA in Studio Art (Painting) from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA and a MFA from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.  I am currently a professor with Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, VA where I teach Drawing, 3-D design, and Art History and Appreciation.

I think I have always been an artist in one capacity or another.  I remember when I was a kid, taking those “art tests” found on the cover of matchbooks. I must have drawn hundreds of those matchbook characters over the years.  My mother was a writer and a folk singer and my father a jazz musician and storyteller. They encouraged creativity very early on, and for that I am eternally grateful!

SONY DSC

fragility ii

SONY DSC

fragility i

My current work fragility, is an ongoing series which began following the death of my mother in March 2008. I remember my mother being in institutionalized in the early 60s when I was about  five years old.  A diagnosis of “tantrums” seemed apt during that time.  She told me once that she had some poems and memoirs for me, but it wasn’t until after her death that I received the faded, nicotine-stained manila folder, stuffed with her past.  A past I never really knew.  Her writings are intense and seem to reveal, in fragments, the taboo of mental illness and her literal way of coping with the silence.  The timelessness of these pages ultimately lead me to a place from her past – the former Western State Lunatic Asylum.

In early February 2010 I was granted access to the sprawling, once iconic campus of Greek Revival style buildings built from 1827–1842. In its inception, the asylum was perceived as a resort-style facility at the cutting edge of rehabilitation and healing for the mentally ill. By the mid 19th century those utopian ideals vanished and the buildings came to be a formidable warehouse for the poor, ill, and transient.

For two years, with camera in hand, I walked the halls, basements,  and attics of the abandoned relic, documenting my steps.  In the winter it was bitterly cold, and I found myself following the light through an endless maze of doors, corridors, and stairways.

East Stairway

Chamber 213

Chamber 213

My Mother, Myself

My Mother, Myself

While painting has always been a foundation in my work, it seemed not enough. Over the next few years I sought out new media and new techniques that would push the work further in an effort to capture the essence of time and space, emotion and memory–bringing the depth of solitude into tangible form.

Testimonial No.2(2012) mixed media on acyrlic panel - 24x32 inches

Testimonial No.2(2012) mixed media on acyrlic panel – 24×32 inches

Testimonial No.3(2012) mixed media on acyrlic panel - 24x32 inches

Testimonial No.3(2012) mixed media on acrylic panel – 24×32 inches

In early 2013 I had watched a documentary on objects and memory, centered around the building of the 911 Memorial. At the same time, I was reading the Psychoanalysis of Fire by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, and The Female Malady by Elaine Showalter.   Shortly after, I began to strip down works in progress hoping to reflect the emotive and sometimes treacherous process of memory. I asked myself, how do we remember? A face, a song, a verse, a single word, a smell, a taste, a space, a color? An iteration of all the senses perhaps?  And what are the tangible things we hold so dear when experiencing the euphoria and harshness of reminiscence? A stained photo, a tattered poem, a trinket? Then it came to me…

During my final few days of photographing the asylum I filled three paper bags with green paint fragments scraped from the walls of the asylum, later placed in a drawer in my studio.  For months I had recurring dreams of windows, doors and those deteriorating green walls.  I found a strangely comforting familiarity in that specific green.

P1110186   beeswax

After combing through hundreds of images, I chose those imbued with the notion of time and place.  I printed each image on t-shirt transfer material and–after much trial and error–was able to peel the image away from the paper backing, revealing a hauntingly skin-like transparent image, which I then bonded to the paint fragment with beeswax and flames.    These images ultimately became the subject matter of the fragility series and the paint fragments, ironically, the “trinket”.  The copper wire was re-purposed from other works which became not only a base to cradle each piece, but a depiction of the instability of the past.

fragility iv (2014)

Outside of the fragility series, other memory projects include:

 The Plastic Lady-Armor (2014) Mixed media sculpture – silk chiffon, paper, oil, beeswax, copper wire, photo transfer, velvet, resin

The Plastic Lady-Armor (2014) Mixed media sculpture – silk chiffon, paper, oil, beeswax, copper wire, photo transfer, velvet, resin

The Plastic Lady: Transcendence (2014) Mixed media sculpture – poured plastic, wood, ashes, copper wire, 24k gold spray paint

The Plastic Lady: Transcendence (2014)
Mixed media sculpture – poured plastic, wood, ashes, copper wire, 24k gold spray paint

Study for Short Stories

Study for Short Stories

And, as my parents did for me, I am encouraging my grandson to embrace his creativity and have turned him loose with a camera. We are working on a project together titled Below the Horizon Line.  He is four.

Colleen Pendry’s two fragility pieces won an honorable mention in our Small Works exhibition. Stop by the gallery before the end of the year to see Colleen’s artwork in person!

Check out our previous installment of Inside the Artist’s Studio, a post by enamel artist Katharine Wood.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Katharine Wood: A Lifelong Passion

I was born and grew up in Manhattan, New York, the oldest of four children with two brothers and a sister.  My father was a well-known editor and book publisher and my mother, although a stay-at-home housewife, was an accomplished artist.

I always loved to draw and paint, and was allegedly into art from the moment I could hold a crayon.  I never attended art school, although I was continuously involved in art-related activities and organizations.

I inadvertently became involved with the medium that would be my life-long passionenamel!  One day, while home from college, my mother asked me if I would like to make a piece of enameled jewelry. How could I refuse?  After my first firing, seeing the piece go into the kiln and come out minutes later glowing with color, I was hooked.

Red enamel container

Red enamel container

City Sunrise

City Sunrise

The pieces above are done in champleve enamel; the metal (in this case copper) has been etched first and then enameled into the recessed areas.

Recently I moved.  For the first time, I no longer have a separate room for my studio, but I feel I have done a good job in setting up an area in shared space (i.e. one wall behind a sofa in the living room).  My kiln is in the kitchen.  Overall, because I have less space, I have made what I do have much more efficient, and so far it has been working out well.  I am only limited on the size of the work, but I always have preferred working smaller anyway.  New Yorkers are usually cramped for space, but you see it can be done!

view from the left of my 'studio'

View from the left of my ‘studio’

view from the right of my 'studio'

view from the right of my ‘studio’

my kiln!

my kiln!

I have made efficient use in a small space by use of a cabinet, which I have stocked full of my enamels. I also make sure I have all the ‘tools of the trade’ at hand, ready to use.

cabinet of enamels

cabinet of enamels

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

Although I have limited space, it doesn’t hurt that I have a limitless view from the studio window!

Coop City view from my window (fall)

Coop City view from my window (fall)

Coop City sunrise

Coop City sunrise

So now that you have seen my studio, what exactly is enamel?  Basically, it is glass (usually grains, like sand or finer) fused to metal (usually copper, silver, gold, or steel) at very high temperatures (usually around 1400-1500F).  The colors are unparalleled, and, being glass, will never fade—or at least not for hundreds of years!  It is generally applied either dry, in a sifter, or wet, with a fine brush or spatula.  You may have guessed by now that I am also an instructor of enamel.

Over time I have created everything from wallpieces and jewelry to objects, such as boxes and bowls.  Here are a few pieces that show the range of what is possible.

Rocket Machine Shop I

Rocket Machine Shop I

Achilles Mask

Achilles Mask

Achilles Mask

Achilles Mask

Girl in Glasses (Transit Diaries)

Girl in Glasses (Transit Diaries)

Leaf Dish

Leaf Dish

Katharine Wood’s two Transit Diaries enamel portraits won an honorable mention in our Small Works exhibition. You can see more of Katharine’s work at her website, www.antoniatile.com. Or stop by the gallery before the end of the year to see two of Katharine’s enamel works in person!

Check out our previous installment of Inside the Artist’s Studio, a post by Rochester plein air painter Phyllis Bryce Ely.