Tag Archives: Upstate NY Art

Meet the Artist in Residence: Stacey Rowe

Stacey Rowe is one of our current artists in residence, she’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the month of April 2017. We asked her a few questions about her work, life, and more:

Stacey Rowe in her studio at Main Street Arts

Stacey Rowe in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: Tell us about your background.

A: I moved from the Syracuse area to Rochester to attend college at Nazareth. I have a B.S. in Studio Art and an M.S. in Art Therapy. I think I started painting on canvas around the age of fourteen. I work as a freelance writer and public relations/ marketing consultant. I’m also the editor-at-large at (585) magazine. The flexibility allows me to do a residency like this.

Q: How would you describe your work?

A: I paint in acrylic and I’d describe my work as colorful, humorous, and often layered with symbolism.

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

A: I’m very cerebral about it. Meaning: I tend to think more than sketch when I’m planning a piece. I’ll jot down lists of ideas and go about researching. Then, I’ll sketch right on the canvas and start painting. There are usually one or two improvisational items that happen once I get into it, so it’s good that paint is such a forgiving medium!

Some of the Pantone People Series

Some of the Pantone People Series

Q: What are your goals for this residency?  

A: I currently have three pages of ideas for the Pantone People series. These are smaller square works (6” x 6”) typically featuring a celebrity with some sort of creative play on the Pantone color swatch name. I’d like to put a dent in that list and also work on some larger pieces that will feature some of the funny animal characters I have created. I’m also going to teach a workshop on April 15. We’re going to have fun!

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio? 

A: I’ve been using “The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver” for years and it really is the best. I once left paint on a relatively new brush overnight and this totally saved it. It’s also great for reshaping and conditioning brushes.

Q: Do you collect anything? 

A: Now that I’m older, I’m reducing my “Hoarders-Lite” tendencies. It’s tough because as an artsy person, it’s very easy to accumulate a lot of useless stuff! When I was a kid, I collected anything and everything – rocks, coins, different kinds of toys, and stuffed animals. I had a run on snowglobes for a bit. They’ve been in a few of my paintings. Since my father relocated, I only have one left and it’s kind of a relief. I still grab shells on beach trips and display them in a nice jar upon my return. I do have a few coins I’ve saved from my travels. I’d eventually like to see those in some form of jewelry. French Polynesian currency is particularly eye-catching.

"Goodbye Special Friend" is a painting I did for my graduate thesis in 2000. It features the only snowglobe I have left from the collection.

“Goodbye Special Friend” is a painting I did for my graduate thesis in 2000. It features the only snowglobe I have left from the collection.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? 

A: It’s so hard to pick just one here. I love Gustav Klimt for his gorgeous pattern work and all of that gold leaf. I love Andy Warhol for his pop sensibility. I love Frida Kahlo for her ability to tell a story through imagery. And, of course, there’s the king of color – Henri Matisse.

Q: Who are your favorite local artists? 

A: I was incredibly happy that my college painting and illustration professor, Kathy Calderwood, had a show at RoCo last spring. It was great to see so many of her new paintings in a show. Lately, I’ve been interested in the work of Edie Small (Edith Lunt Small). She had a very intriguing piece in the RoCo member show in December. I’m always interested in what Sarah Rutherford and Andrea Durfee are doing because they are such incredibly skilled and powerful artists. I like what Shawn Dunwoody has done with street art and neighborhood beautification the past several years. He has fantastic energy and an ability to engage young artists and the general public. I’m also drawn to some abstract artists because their work is so different from my own – Brian O’Neill (who also does hyper-realistic work), Nate Hodge, and Bill Judkins – to name a few.

Nena Sanchez Gallery in Curaçao

Nena Sanchez Gallery in Curaçao

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork? 

A: Anytime I travel, I seem to wind up in a museum. I also love seeing the street art in other countries. Aside from the obvious choice (France), one of my favorite art destinations was Curaçao. In addition to the Kura Hulanda Slave Museum, I visited the Nena Sanchez and Serena Janet Israel galleries. The art community is very strong there. The architecture, floating market, and beach drinks aren’t too shabby, either!

Inside my studio at Main Street Arts

Inside my studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What advice would you give to other artists? 

A: There are going to be people who tell you to grow up and get a real job. Don’t listen to that noise. Yes, find something to pay your bills, but don’t give up on your passion.

Q: Who inspires you and why? 

A: I consider myself to be pretty fortunate that a very strong, intelligent, creative, and independent mother raised me. Naturally, I’m drawn to likeminded individuals. Many people inspire me and I’m very lucky to know such a diverse group of creatives in both my personal and professional life.

Q: How do you promote your artwork? 

A: I look for show opportunities and I use social media (primarily Instagram and my personal Facebook account) to get the word out. I’m often following up with people (a.k.a. nagging them) who express interest in a piece after a show comes down. I’m also planning on getting an Etsy or some kind of online shop going soon. I set an account up years ago but never had the time to figure it all out.

Stacey Rowe working in her studio at Main Street Arts as Snappy the turtle supervises.

Stacey Rowe working in her studio at Main Street Arts as Snappy the turtle supervises.

Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork? 

A: I will listen to pretty much anything except country, but I have to be careful that it’s not too funky – I’ll get distracted and won’t get anything done!

Q: What’s next for you? 

I’m working on getting some work in a few galleries outside of New York because I have family in Florida and several friends who have moved out of state. I figure it might make for a good excuse to visit!

Q: Where else can we find you?

A: My websiteTwitter & Instagram


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts. Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Housing is available. Submissions are reviewed and residencies awarded quarterly. Upcoming deadline: May 31, 2017 for a residency in July, August, September 2017.

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Rachel Cordaro

“Leave room for inspiration and the mood to create will present itself.”

~Rachel Cordaro

Artist Rachel Cordaro Photography by Katie Finnerty

Artist Rachel Cordaro Photography by Katie Finnerty

Hi! I’m Rachel Cordaro, a Rochester NY native- born and raised. I grew up with great encouraging artistic parents. I am the youngest of three hilariously endearing siblings. I have been an artist my whole life. Dabbling in art shows I decided to make it a permanent career in 2010. I am best known for my vibrant and cheerful floral paintings using acrylics on canvas as well as my hand crochet neck ruffs! Most recently I am taking my career to the next level as I have been pursuing the textile world! Putting my floral prints on pillows, tablecloths and other home fabrics!

My home studio! Photography by Kate Finnerty

My home studio! Photography by Kate Finnerty

What makes me tick!??
I am extremely passionate about what I do. I have a super supportive husband and family. Rochester makes me feel inspired to do what I do. It is truly a platform for entrepreneurs and a rich art community. Painting and textile work for me is therapeutic and fulfilling. There is no better feeling than expressing what is inside of me onto canvas and creating for the world to see.

My favorite part of what I do is having the luxury to be the BOSS!! I work best that way. I can create at my leisure and it is fantastic. Also I love that my husband Cordell and I are both artists so we can be on the same page.

Magnolias are one of my favorite flowers to paint. "Flower Market" Original Painting by Rachel Cordaro. Photography by Katie Finnerty

Magnolias are one of my favorite flowers to paint. “Flower Market” Original Painting by Rachel Cordaro. Photography by Katie Finnerty

Artist Rachel Cordaro Photography by Hannah Betts

Artist Rachel Cordaro Photography by Hannah Betts


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Rachel Cordaro’s paintings and neck ruff in the gallery. Visit Rachel’s website at www.rachelcordaro.com and follow her on Instagram @rachelcordaroart

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by Jessie Marianacci Valone of jmv ceramics.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Chara Dow: Growth of a Sideboard

This table started the way many of my pieces start;  with a deadline and a vague idea.  I had purchased a beautiful, highly fingered slab of Flame Beech up in the Adirondacks a year before and the design grew out of the amount of life and movement flowing through the grain of the slab. I decided to make a sideboard so I could elevate the beech on top of a base which mirrored that organic form. For the legs I used Honey Locust from my collection. They were stripped down with a drawknife  and sanded to reveal their pink and yellow flesh, the angles of their wobbly knees and muscular hips.

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After a lot of awkward arranging, re-arranging and turning each branch a dozen times I settled on a stance that called to me.  The legs were then numbered and angles marked. The four drawbored thru tenons were then cut and fit into the Beech. With rustic work even very traditional joinery likes this becomes extremely custom. Everything is done by eye, there are no exact formats or jigs to follow due to the nature of the organic form I’m working with. Each branch is different in size, shape and angle so the joint takes its own path to completion. Each of these joints is unique, with maple dowels running through and securing the pieces tightly into place.

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img_0097After bracing each pair of legs with another locust branch I selected the material for the stretcher. I used Oriental Bittersweet Vine which is an invasive vine that chokes out many pockets of our beautiful native north eastern woods. I cut and pull it out of several local parks with permission. Shown here it is climbing in Corbett’s Glen Park before being cut. Once cut it is peeled and stored indoors where to dry.  I wanted to use the vines in the base because it was an ideal place to showcase the wild tangled way they grow and twist so perfectly around themselves, and anything that gets in their way on their path to the light.

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The process is quiet and contemplative and  involves a lot of arranging, turning, clamping and then standing back and looking.  Taking it all apart and trying different vines. Each vine gets turned upside down and backwards, rejected and then re-invited until the lines and negative spaces feel balanced, strong and peaceful.  Then they are marked and slowly placed in one at time, shaking hands through coped joints with other vines and branches, creating more strength at every contact. I did not want to overwhelm any of the lines but give instead each vine the space it needed to display the unique path it had taken through space; the obstacles it wriggled around and overcame while growing.

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I used chisels to carve the sharp right angles off the slab and bring it down to meet its asymmetrical base. Doing so created a highly tactile detail to run the finger tips along in passing. The slab had been air dried and has a subtle dish warp to it that I thoroughly enjoy and chose not to correct as I wanted to give a nod to the movement and growth in wood, a living material that never truly stops breathing and softly seething. Four hard maple bowtie keys were set into the slab to secure a crack running on the underside.

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The chaotic messy shop space before it was deep cleaned for the finish to be applied.

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 Multiple coats of a high quality durable oil based top coat were applied and the legs were additionally waxed and buffed. When the oil hits the Beech and Honey Locust all of the rich tones and deep figure pop and the warmth of the wood is radiated.

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Before the opening I carved a Cherry serving spoon to accompany the turrine Richard provided for the show.

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The rich natural lines of Richard Aerni’s ceramics married harmoniously with the sideboard. Here in the gallery it catches the natural light coming through the windows and casts wild shadows on the gallery floor. These materials may have been caught but they will never be tame.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Chara Dow’s furniture in our current exhibition “Setting the Table” (runs through November 25th). You can see more of Chara’s work online at www.charadowrusticworks.com.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Cherry Rahn.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Emily Glass

I spent my childhood outside in rural Vermont, taking care of animals and watching wildlife grow. As a kid I photographed my surrounding world extensively, always documenting, always looking. I loved art classes in high school and first worked with oil paint at the State University of New York Potsdam in 2004.  I found the challenge of oil exciting and completely engrossing.

24 by 42.5 inches, Oil on Canvas, 2015

I Discard (in progress during the residency), 24 by 42.5 inches, Oil on Canvas, 2015

I think of my work as a mix of abstraction and realism.  With it, I seek to communicate subtle narrative and commentary on our current culture. I am beginning a shift into using more plant-based imagery and questioning what it means to have a particular plant on a dinner table or in a yard.  The privileges and beliefs that come with iceberg lettuce versus arugula (or dandelion leaves versus cabbage) reveal differences in class systems and political associations.

My residency studio at the Vermont Studio Center

My studio at the Vermont Studio Center

In the Flora and Fauna exhibition, four paintings were started at a residency at Vermont Studio Center (VSC) in June 2015.

Here is an excerpt from my time there:

While parts of the country were fighting drought, the Vermont sky opened up with rain.  I would keep the windows open, breath in the wet air and paint for hours.  When the rain broke (about every two days or so), I was exhausted from painting and needed to think before beginning again. During those breaks in the rain I spent my time walking, writing and reading outside, documenting what caught my eye and turning over thoughts. Everything was so green, so rich.

Studio Workbench

Studio Workbench

It was summer but the rainy days were cold. I wore a fleece hat and kept an extra pair of dry socks in my studio for the next rainfall painting session.

I have only mentioned my working habits at the residency, which was one half of the experience.  The other half were the 45 or so wonderful visual artists and writers that were also residing at VSC and whom I shared my meals with.  The experience is one I recommend to anyone looking for a nourishing and intensive space to develop work.

My Agent Says the Neighbors are Nice, Oil Paint on Canvas, 43 by 180 inches, 2014

My Agent Says the Neighbors are Nice, Oil Paint on Canvas, 43 by 180 inches, 2014

During the year I teach painting and drawing at Rochester Institute of Technology and spend as much time as possible in my home studio, developing oily canvases and putting together plans for future works.

View Emily’s artwork online at emilyglassart.com. Stop by Main Street Arts to see Emily’s work in our current exhibition, Flora and Fauna. The exhibition is up through Friday, February 12. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by encaustic painter Kristen T. Woodward.

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

Q & A with Virginia Torrence

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.

Virginia Torrence

Alfred ceramic artist Virginia Torrence

Virginia Torrence

Q: Where are you from originally and where are you now?
A: I am originally from Midland Michigan and spent four years in Detroit Michigan attaining my BFA. I am now living in Alfred New York attending graduate school.

Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a ceramic artist?
A: I started focusing on ceramics during my senior year of High school and then went on to major in ceramics/crafts in undergrad at the College for Creative Studies.  Although I used many other materials during that time I always preferred working with clay.

Q: Did you make other types of artwork before finding ceramics? Do you currently make other work?
A: I have found that I have a knack for drawing as well and I definitely find myself incorporating that into my current practice. I also dabble in using fiber at times and have recently been using paper pulp in a verity of ways within my sculptures.

Q: Do you have an artistic hero or an artist you look up to?
A: Eva Hesse

Q: What is your largest source of inspiration?
A: I would say that my largest sources of inspiration are literature, music, and my own writing. I read a lot of poetry, philosophy, and surrealist texts.

Q: Do you look forward to opening the kiln? Or do you wince at the thought of something going wrong in there?
A: Most of my current work is only fired once. I found that I want to bring the piece as close as I can to what I want using terra sigillata which is applied when the works are bone dry. When I open the kiln, of course I wince at the thought of disasters, but for the most part I can learn to cope with what I find using other materials. I try to view things that don’t come out exactly right as an opportunity to do something else to them.

Q: What is it like being a ceramic artist in Upstate NY?
A: I am really enjoying my time in Alfred. My classmates are really wonderful and I am learning so much from this experience. Upstate New York is stunning and I enjoy hiking and swimming in the warmer months.

Q: Where else are you showing your work this summer or fall?
A: Hmmm, I am not sure… I am not really actively searching for opportunities to show my work right now while I am getting my degree, but I will be having my thesis exhibition in the summer of 2016 in Alfred. I have nothing else lined up at this point, but would love to.

Sculpture by Virginia Torrence

Sculpture by Virginia Torrence

Sculpture by Virginia Torrence

Sculpture by Virginia Torrence

Sculpture by Virginia Torrence

Sculpture by Virginia Torrence

Sculpture by Virginia Torrence

Sculpture by Virginia Torrence

Sculpture by Virginia Torrence

Sculpture by Virginia Torrence

Sculpture by Virginia Torrence

Sculpture by Virginia Torrence

Where can people see more of your work/follow you?
Website: www.virginiatorrence.com 
Instagram: @virginiaroset

Check out the previous Q & A with ceramic artist Hannah Thompsett.

Q & A with Hannah Thompsett

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.

Hannah Thompsett

Alfred ceramic artist Hannah Thompsett

Hannah Thompsett

Q: Where are you from originally and where are you now?
A: I am originally from Scio, NY, a small town in Western NY. I spent the past two years in Rochester, and now I am a first year graduate student at Alfred University.

Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a ceramic artist?
A: I was introduced to ceramics in high school, and fell in love with the material. However, I was not sure I wanted to pursue ceramics until after I took a ceramics class in undergrad.

Q: Did you make other types of artwork before finding ceramics? Do you currently make other work?
A: I have always enjoyed drawing, and still find forms of it important to my studio practice. In addition to working in ceramics, I also fold paper. I have recently begun to use black and white photography paper and digital photography as well.

Q: Do you have an artistic hero or an artist you look up to?
A: My favorite artist right now is Uta Barth. I think that her photographs are beautiful. I enjoy that her subject matter is visual perception. Someday, I would like to be able to use the subtleties of light and color as well as she does.

Q: What is your largest source of inspiration?
A: I am constantly inspired by my dad, who is a wood worker and furniture maker. I grew up in an environment where there was always a project happening. His attention to detail and level of craftsmanship push me to attain that same level of finish in my own work.

Q: Do you look forward to opening the kiln? Or do you wince at the thought of something going wrong in there?
A: I think that opening the kiln is always a mix of excitement and fear. When I am waiting for a kiln to fire or cool, I usually have a lot of dreams, most of which are much more terrifying than anything that has actually come out of the kiln. One thing that drives making is striving to understand more about the ceramic process and overcome problems that may happen in the kiln.

Q: What is it like being a ceramic artist in Upstate NY?
A: I have been working as an artist in Western NY for the past couple of years. I have found there to be many institutions and individuals who are willing to support the exploration of a young artist. I feel grateful for this support. Also, I have enjoyed meeting many other artists in the area who are also supportive of each other. For me personally, it is nice to be close to the support of my family, and also part of this community.

Q: Where else are you showing your work this summer or fall?
A: I am currently in graduate school, so I am not focused on showing my work right now. I’m hoping to spend a lot of time in the studio this summer working out some ideas while school is not in session.

Q: Is there anything strange or unique that people might not know about you?
A: I don’t think there is anything too strange about me. I have recently begun to work in a darkroom, which I find to be a peaceful environment conducive to clear thinking.

Sculpture by Hannah Thompsett

Sculpture by Hannah Thompsett

Artwork by Hannah Thompsett

Artwork by Hannah Thompsett

Artwork by Hannah Thompsett

Artwork by Hannah Thompsett

Artwork by Hannah Thompsett

Artwork by Hannah Thompsett

Where can people see more of your work/follow you?
Website: www.hannahthompsett.com
Instagram: @hannahthompsettsculpture

Check out the previous Q & A with ceramic artist Kate Symonds.

Q & A with Kate Symonds

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.

Kate Symonds

Canandaigua ceramic artist Kate Symonds

Kate Symonds

Q: Where are you from originally and where are you now?
A: I was born and raised in Canandaigua NY. I lived in Rochester, California, Colorado and now live in my hometown as the proprietor and potter at Coach Street Clay.

Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a ceramic artist?
A: I realized that I wanted to be a ceramic artist freshman year of college.  It was the material, the community of the ceramic studio, and the challenge of learning to center and build with clay. One semester of this and I was hooked.  It was in the “Professional Craft Business Practices” class at RIT that I came up with the idea to renovate a barn into a studio, gallery and living space. A few years passed, I did a couple artist residences, waited on tables and started looking for property to buy.  There it was!  I found an old dilapidated barn in downtown Canandaigua in 2007. As a carpenter’s daughter I could see the potential in this property.  After about three years of blood, sweat, and renovation tears I was in business. Coach Street Clay opened in October 2010.

Q: Did you make other types of artwork before finding ceramics? Do you currently make other work?
A: I first went to college for fine arts. I was into drawing and painting and figurative work. When I found clay my focus was sculptural. I became interested in making pots while at my Genesee Pottery residency. At an Anderson Ranch winter residency I jumped in to making pots and never looked back.

Q: Do you have an artistic hero or an artist you look up to?
Just one hero? No. I have immense admiration for all of the mothers and fathers who are makers and entrepreneurs. Raising a child while cultivating a business through art and clay requires more all nighters in the studio than most believe to be humanly possible. Stories of other mothers doing it too is motivating.

Q: What is your largest source of inspiration?
A: Springtime, gardening, nature walks, lake swimming, my daughter Sylah’s perspective.

Q: Do you look forward to opening the kiln? Or do you wince at the thought of something going wrong in there?
A: I love opening the kiln! When things go wrong, therein lies good information. Most of the time things go right at this point. Unless of course I have the time to experiment and push things a bit, but still that is where the good work comes from.

Q: What is it like being a ceramic artist in Upstate NY?
A: I have found my place in the world as the village potter in downtown Canandaigua in the beauty of the Finger Lakes. It is a dream that continues to unfold as my business is welcomed and supported by the local people. Coach Street Clay has become part of the community here. My story is told and re-told as my pots continue find homes in Canandaigua, the Fingers Lakes and beyond.

Q: Where else are you showing your work this summer or fall?
Coach Street Clay’s retail gallery is open to the public 5 days a week. I will also be showing at regional juried craft shows such as Craft Alliance in Chautauqua NY, Clothesline in Rochester, and others.

Q: Is there anything strange or unique that people might not know about you?
A: I’ve always had a thing for climbing trees. Many of my childhood memories involve tree climbing. I still climb trees when the mood strikes. Another thing, my 6 year old daughter Sylah and I are learning to play the violin together.

Teapot by Kate Symonds

Teapot by Kate Symonds

Mug by Kate Symonds

Mug by Kate Symonds

Mug by Kate Symonds

Mug by Kate Symonds

Bowl by Kate Symonds

Bowl by Kate Symonds

Vase by Kate Symonds

Vase by Kate Symonds

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

Check out the previous Q & A with ceramic artist Kala Stein.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Susan Stuart

It was while doing graduate work at the University at Albany that the size of my studio space influenced my painting.

Susan Stuart Painting Detail

Photography By Rob O’Neil

As a part time student, I was not provided with a studio so I had to use a small room at home. Because I wanted to paint large works, I began sectioning my work, making both diptychs and triptychs.

Susan Stuart Painting Studio

Photography By Rob O’Neil

I earned my MA from the University in 1976, and, over the years I graduated from the small room at home to a studio in a friend’s basement, and eventually to a space of my own on the 3rd floor of an old factory. It was perfectly situated halfway between my house and the high school where I taught for 33 years. Now, with a ground floor studio in a building adjacent to the old factory building, I’m able to easily create and transport large works.

Susan Stuart Painting Studio

Photography By Rob O’Neil

I’m retired from teaching, and I‘m fortunate to be able to focus
full-time on my painting, which currently has an emphasis on two different series. One is architectural and the other features dogs. For the Main Street Gallery exhibition, “Structurally Speaking”, I am showing a painting from my architecture series.

Gunner and Painting

Photography By Susan Stuart

My interest in architecture began in the mid 1970’s when my husband and I moved into a 19th century row house in Albany. We began the process of renovating our historic home, and we lived in the house during the renovation. It was at that time that I began to appreciate the aesthetics of new building materials. For example, there were patterns of light and shadow cast on the two by fours, and there was a rhythm created by the shapes of the construction material and the resulting spaces.

Architectural Paintings and Inspiration

Photography By Rob O’Neil

Originally, my architectural paintings were of structures in my environment: lifeguard stands at the beach, supports to the roadway overpasses, as well as the facades of buildings in and around Albany. Following the 2008 recession I began a series inspired by structures I found at abandoned construction sites. The result has been paintings that stress the lines, shapes, spaces and patterns of light that I observed at those sites.

I see my paintings as a way to ”recycle” these deserted sites. Today, I continue to be captivated by the challenge of abstracting and creating architectural paintings from new and abandoned sites alike.

Susan Stuart Painting in Studio

Photography By Rob O’Neil

The painting process is also an integral part of my work, and the subjective use of color is an important element. To create a rich surface for a painting, I use both wet and dry pigments, which is a direct influence from 19th century French impressionists. The intermixing of pastels, oil paint, and occasionally pumice, allows me to create a contrast in the color’s intensity and value, as well as providing an enhanced surface texture.

Susan Stuart Painting in Studio

Photography By Rob O’Neil

For more information on Susan Stuart’s artwork, visit her website at www.susanstuart.com. Her painting, “Let It Go” won Director’s Choice in our current exhibition, Structurally Speaking. Stop by Main Street Arts to enjoy the show and see Susan’s artwork.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by Rochester painter Jean K. Stephens.