Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Alexandria Commission for the Arts Lends Approval for City Galleries Show

The Alexandria Commission for the Arts gave its nod of approval today to Shauna Lee Lange Art Advisory and their recent submission for public works in the City Galleries Program. Ms. Lange will feature small works of pencil, pastel, marker, and other embellishments on printer's ornaments from the Renaissance to the 20th century. The exhibit will thematically explore color application and how various color components impact the way we view (contemporarily or historically) decorative designs. The works include scrolls, lunettes, heraldic devices, and wreaths. The show will be mounted February 7, 2008.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Artist's Statement: Shauna Lee Lange


What work do I do? I am communicating, listening, and hoping to be heard. My visual art work encompasses artistry in ephemera assemblage, mixed media, and collage. Most of my work involves a growing and heavy use of paper, graphic images, and transitory written and printed matter. I love trade cards, bookmarks, greeting cards, letters, photographs, and old postcards which I use to assemble new images with new meanings. I like reusing found, discarded, or overlooked items. I have a keen interest in the public arts arena and outsider or visionary art. In 2006, I founded and now run a full service professional arts advisory firm within the metropolitan DC area. My professional arts concentration is in the area of art writing, art design, art consulting and art coaching. My personal goals and aspirations are ones of communication, exploration, and developing new motivations for the viewing audience.


I make decisions based on mood, color, and composition. I often collected pieces of mixed media, ephemera, collages, photographs, printed matter, and various papers for months on end. When an idea has solidified, I go searching for items previously put aside. I compile the items, figure out the design for the message I want to convey, and then I define the whole lot with intricate scissors and Xacto knifes. As life has holes, I am seeking not only to show a finished work, but to accept the space between individual components and to accentuate it; much as in life’s imperfections. I select materials based on texture, meaning, and color. My techniques are rough, experimental, and constantly changing. I try new adhesive methods, new windowing methods, and new incorporations of small accent items. Themes I focus on include matters of the heart; following one’s heart, listening to one’s inner voice, and being true to one’s self. Many works end up having a cultural, political, or social sub-message. Overall, I have learned to embrace the fact that I am a big systems thinker; a true analyst. I am always trying to make a whole out of the sum of parts; always trying to find larger meaning. I am constantly amazed at how subjects, people, and events intersect in unusual and unexpected ways.


Happy childhood memories involve art. As a young Girl Scout Brownie, I made Christmas card holders out of old Sears Catalogues. Or there was the time we spray painted elbow macaroni with gold and silver and adhered the pieces to a conical sphere to make decorative trees. Years later, a local community arts-mobile used to come by our street once a week. We learned how to make popsicle stick vases and yarned cat-eye decorations. A school experience solidified my interest in art when I learned how to make a coiled rug from yarn and rope. It was also around that time that we began cutting intricate paper ornaments with detailed sharp scissors. I loved art, lived for art class, and loved working with my hands.

Sadly, I didn’t plug into those memories until much later in life when I reached my early forties. My then college-aged daughter left to attend school in the big city. Suddenly alone in my empty-nest syndrome, I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out who I had become, who I had been, and what there was left to love outside of my art books. My current work grows out of these life experiences and the new experience of being a mom to a son born in 2007. I am still exploring how all the pieces come together - attempting to make sense out of the past and make a statement, a map of sorts, for a new future. I am challenged to find the medium, the artistic expression, or the venue for half a life lived without a dedicated focus on art. At times, the ideas feel like they are streaming river-fast as if some gate has been opened, yet I worry there isn’t enough time to realize them all! I am self-taught, I am emerging, and I want to meet others (figuratively and literally) through my art. Most importantly, I hope to meet myself.

Honfleur Gallery's One Year Anniversary Celebration and Retrospective Exhibition

Southeast DC's Honfleur Gallery celebrated their one year anniversary with an exhibition of fine art and culture this evening. The show featured artists such as: Alison Spain; Jonathan French; Justin Couch; Seneca Wells; Renee Woodward; Jonathan Royce; and Darren Smith. Some of the artists are members of the ARCH Artist in Residence Program and thank the gallery staff for their hard work in bringing to light new cultural beginnings and in helping to make the gallery a success.

Tonight's celebration featured a fine buffet table, thoughtful door prizes, open artists studios, and an energetic electric spark in tune with a wonderful jazz trio. Support for the Gallery seems to span age, race, artistic interest, and status. One of the ways we like to measure the health of a gallery is in the culture of open reception to children and youth. Tonight's celebration welcomed a young teen enjoying blackberries, an older teen wearing a "Make Music Not War" t-shirt, and a young man sitting patiently on black leather couches with his guardian. When children are welcomed to explore art, and not kept at arms length from art gallery openings, it makes our world all the richer. Honfleur Gallery invites you to come in and meet the work of artists who are exploring photography, oils, woodworking, stitched canvas, and collage mosaics. Happy Anniversary, Honfleur - may we be with you at year 5, 10, 25, and 50!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Boeing Selects Third Lange Design for Public Art Competition

The Boeing Company has selected a Shauna Lee Lange Arts Advisory public art design in the recent Crystal City Celebration of Flight competition. Boeing has a multi-layered history in the Washington, DC area in support of both the U.S. Government and the community at large. Boeing will be participating in the Crystal City Takes Flight public promotion designed to increase awareness of the value of Crystal City as a flight corridor, a tourist destination, a vibrant residential area, and a thriving business district.

Shauna Lee and Alex Lange submitted six designs for the public call to artists. The third winning design in the series is a jet aircraft called "Freedom's Flight." The rough rendering was inspired by an artistic, creative, and inventive vision of the tried and true red, white, and blue American flag. The design takes an outgoing and energetic approach to reorienting the line and position of flag elements so they create an unexpected visual delight. We are thrilled to be able to accept Boeing's sponsorship in this very exciting series of events planned by the Crystal City Business Improvement District.

Author Paige West's Corcoran Lecture: The Art of Buying Art

Paige West gave a well rounded lecture on the current contemporary art scene both in gallery and on-line last evening at the Corcoran. West's PowerPoint presentation included examples of names on the to-be-watched list as well as a great list of on-line resources for where to purchase inexpensive contemporary original works and prints.

West appeared competently versed in the New York art scene, the growing financial market for art, and her concern for what she termed as a possible impending "art backlash." West cited an example stemming from her many years of collecting. The story centered on the price of original acquisition, the price of West's sales to another party a year later, and the price of that party's auction sale months following. West showed a slide of her husband's pained reaction at the news!

As a new mother of infant twin sons, the author, collector, and gallerist apologized for her lack of vocabulary; any default in that area was compensated by a rich display of exciting and challenging new contemporary works along with a good dose of humor. The lecture series was followed by a small reception and book signing.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Short Biographies: Shauna Lee Lange Arts Advisory

shauna lee lange, founder and market analyst/creative director
Born in Rhode Island in 1963, Shauna Lee Lange grew up in southern New England. After serving six years in the U.S. Navy, she studied public administration (arts) at Roger Williams University. Thereafter, she joined the Federal Civil Service working in support of the U.S. Government as a Management and Program Analyst. Shauna Lee has lived in Florida, Italy, Bahrain, Arizona and Massachusetts. She now makes her home in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband Alex and their son Sebastian. An adult daughter, Lauren, resides in Brooklyn.

Lange’s work encompasses emergent and self-taught artistry in ephemera assemblage, mixed media and collage. She has a keen interest in the public arts arena and outsider or visionary art. In 2006, she founded and now runs a full service professional arts advisory firm within the Metropolitan DC corridor. Her arts concentration is in the area of art writing, art design, art consulting and art coaching. She participates in community service projects and loves great books.

alex lange, co-founder and professional architect
Born in Germany in 1942, Alex Lange grew up in Switzerland. After a transatlantic voyage to the United States at the age of 17, he went on to serve two years in the U.S. Army. He attended Pratt Institute and Yale University before becoming a professional architect. Alex has lived in London, New York and Wisconsin. He now resides in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife Shauna Lee and their son Sebastian. Four adult sons include: Alexander of New Jersey; Matthew of Chicago; Christian of Chicago; and Philip of Williams Bay.

Lange’s work encompasses large scale, commercial architecture including projects such as London’s Canary Wharf and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. His professional portfolio includes churches, restaurants, hotels, high-rise office buildings, and small storefronts. Lange's drawings are clean, straightforward, spacious and insightful. He has a keen interest in competition sports as an avid skier, tennis player, and soccer coach. He is an accomplished pool player and speaks several languages.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shauna Lee Lange Wins High-Profile Citywide Public Art Design Competition: Crystal Flight – A Celebration of Art & Air

Shauna Lee and Alex Lange are honored and excited to announce that two of our original public art designs were recently selected as winning entries in the Crystal City Takes Flight Public Art competition.

The competition, initiated by the Crystal City Business Improvement District, is a campaign which drew design concepts from notable national artists. Artists were challenged to create unique images for 50 bi-plane and jet statues measuring 5-feet by 5-feet.

Each plane is sponsored by an area business in an effort to demonstrate collaborative partnerships, to attract visitors, and to link Crystal City’s relationship with flight. Crystal City, in Arlington, Virginia, is central in proximity to the Washington D.C. National Airport; the U.S. Air Force; Boeing; Lockheed Martin; and Northrop Grumman.

One of Shauna Lee Lange’s winning public art designs features worldwide travel destinations. Capitals and major cities are depicted in mock vintage luggage tags and old style cruise liner trunk decals. The intent is to show Crystal City as a true gateway location, international travel destination, and place where people of all hometowns can live and thrive. The “Capital Cities” design will be sponsored by the Crystal Gateway Marriott and Bin 1700.

The winning public art design submitted by Alex Lange depicts a theme centered on “breaking the race barrier.” A model jet statue will be covered by a multitude of faces, old and young, of various races, expressing a range of human emotions. The intent is to show that wherever one goes, people are people and human experiences are commonly shared. This design has been selected by the United States Marine Corps Marathon.

A VIP kick-off celebration is scheduled for January 29, 2008 wherein press, organizers, artists, and corporate sponsors will meet each other to share concepts and visions for this dynamic public art initiative. Once winning flight designs have been completed, the statues will “land” on the streets of Crystal City for all to enjoy in April of 2008.

Promoted as a great series of enjoyable events for families and aviation enthusiasts, the Celebration of Flight includes parades, marathon race events, and other fun and educational public venues geared to enrich the cultural life of the greater Washington community.

Shauna Lee Lange and Alex Lange are Founder and Co-Founder of Shauna Lee Lange Arts Advisory.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

art consulting, an exhibition nightmare, philanthropy, and the artleague's 41st Annual Patrons' Show Fundraiser

On February 17, 2008, the Alexandria artleague will host their 41st Annual Patrons' Show Fundraiser. Tickets for this unbelievable frenzy of art excitement and enthusiasm are $175 each and are available in The Art League Gallery. The price of entry enables a ticket holder to select a work of art (donated by notable artists) via a highly-charged-you-can-hear-a-pin-drop-nervous-anticipation lottery system held the evening of the event. I've seen people laugh over beating out their neighbors on a particular work, I've seen the neighbor quietly wipe a tear from their eye; it's that kind of festive competition among patrons.

Sometimes the universe has a funny way of working things out that one might never have connected. For example, even the most established art advisor or art consultant sometimes just plain gets it wrong. Recently, Shauna Lee Lange Arts Advisory showcased a series of high quality, original nature photographs at a large exhibition venue. Nothing sold. I know, I know - this is not unusual. But not only did nothing sell from our booth, nothing sold from any of the artists' booths. The event was just the wrong venue. Just too early after the holidays. Just filled with people who were seeking information and education and who were not in the art acquisition mindset.

I know because we, being conscientious mentors, gallerists (of a sort), and arts promoters went to the event two separate times to oversee the activities. We had everything pre-planned according to tried and true formulas that normally work for art exhibitors. A variety of price points, works in different sizes, plenty of marketing materials, a clean and unique display style. Oh, LOTS of people stopped, looked, and considered - but no sales. And in this case, the sales would have gone to support a young, rising artist's endeavors - so our hearts were in it for her to succeed. Failure. Yes, it doesn't only knock on YOUR door and it's just as ugly when it's at ours.

So here we were down-hearted and schlepping all this beautiful work back to our office where the photographs sat in a bulky box prudently screaming, "Yes, we are still here!" Low and behold, at the Jill Bank's "Place Settings" opening the other night, we stumbled across the floor plan for seating arrangements at the upcoming Patrons' Fundraiser (with most sections already being sold out). Whoa! Like magic came not only an opportunity to re-show some of our poignant and introspective works, but also to support a vital arts center, and to demonstrate something truly gorgeous - philanthropy.

Artists and arts professionals don't have to be in the company of the likes of any of the super-wealthy and super-connected to demonstrate simple goodwill in an active effort to promote human welfare. Philanthropy is your gift. And in our opinion, as art advisors and consultants, when you're gift-ed, there's even more of an onus to share it. Sure, we miss out on the revenue. Sometimes though, philanthropic giving has a way of opening doors when windows close - and that goes for all involved in a transaction.

In 2008, Shauna Lee Lange Arts Advisory hopes to work and live in a collaborative attitude of grateful abundance. There IS more than enough to go around, enough art exhibiting opportunities, enough gracious art patrons, and enough corporate art sponsors. That's why we take our exhibition nightmare and our art consulting trials and tribulations and try to turn them into someone else's enjoyment and good. Support your local arts organizations and if you are going to the artleague's Patrons' Show, look for our quadruplet of fine photographic images similar to the nature detail work shown above. You'll have both a story and a set of one-of-a-kind works to add to your art collection.

local arts advisory supports one warm coat

Shauna Lee Lange Arts Advisory of Alexandria, Virginia is proud to support one of the very cosiest charity campaigns in town, the One Warm Coat drive. This non-profit organization provides needy people, through established human services groups, with free warm coats to survive the winter.

One Warm Coat is a San Francisco based national organization, originally conceived in 1992, that carries an impressive accomplishment record. In the 2005 - 2006 campaign year, over 200,000 coats were donated to over 42 states. As seen on Good Morning America, the One Warm Coat organization carries an impressive list of corporate sponsors.

Shauna Lee Lange Arts Advisory is proud to join the long list of private donors and corporations like the Charles Schwab Foundation; The Glad Products Co.; The Examiner Newspaper; The Timberland Company; Kaiser Permanente; W.L. Gore & Associates; the Gap; Ghiradelli Chocolate Company; Burlington; and Google.

We think Van Gogh would have liked all of Metropolitan DC to participate in the effort He said, "It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality is more important than the feeling for pictures."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

jill banks: place settings opening reception @ the art league

McLean's Jill Banks celebrated the opening reception of her oil paintings on mood and emotion this afternoon at the Torpedo Factory's Art League. The works shown emanate muted warmth, complexity in detail, and they transport one to a simple time. A time when the most important daily decision might have been where and with whom to dine as opposed to which presidential candidate is currently in the lead and where that leaves the condition of our nation.

An unassuming but engaging Ms. Banks should be well pleased with the fairly large turnout and genuinely pointed interest from patrons. Shown above are two pieces from her exhibit "Place Settings" and one portrait being offered on its own merit in an adjacent room. Another nice job for gallery staff in stocking an enticing table of treats; appropriately matched to these works on restaurant atmospheres, interpersonal relationships of diners, and various themes on how dining connects one to the community at large. Jill's framing selection is perfect for this refreshing "take-it-on-face-value" thematic show.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

For Love of Water: The Water Bottle Adopts Art

All of us know what beautiful art can be found on wine bottle labels - naturally, it wasn't going to be long before luxury water bottles adopted the practice of using visual images to improve sales and attract new markets. A few months ago, Fonte Sole introduced ARTE - a beautiful, clear glass, 750ml bottle featuring Lombardi mineral waters on the inside, and renderings of great Italian artists on the exterior.

The first launch of ARTE water pays respect to Leonardo da Vinci - and other artists will be showcased as the product gains in its market share. Kudos to Sole Water for not only being visionary in new art markets, but also in being good stewards to the community. In November, at a ball in Dorchester, the company donated bottles of ARTE to help raise funds for a brain tumor trust. Art consultants, art advocates, and art advisories everywhere lift our glasses in a toast!

Leonardo da Vinci was somewhat crazed when it came to water. He is reported to have fashioned himself as an architect and engineer in order to work on bridge projects and water transportation system projects - remember, the power of electricity was not yet harnessed. Leonardo studied water in all its forms, thinking about how to measure humidity, how to revitalize canals, and even how to build an unsinkable ship. He's one cool cat; credited with having said:

In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

15th NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo to Feature Shauna Lee Lange & Lauren Turnbull Photographic Works

The 2008 15th Annual NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo runs this weekend, January 12 & 13th, 2008, from 9 - 5 at the Washington Convention Center. Free admission to the public includes entrance to the expo, exhibitors, a dynamic schedule of attractions, health screenings, and great giveaways.

Live music, dance performances, seminars, comedy, and local art will also be featured as part of the Health & Fitness Expo via the 2nd Annual DC Scene Winter Jam. In its effort to support local artwork, the DC Scene will create exhibition space for ten area artists featured in this truly dedicated fun family event. The ten artists are: Shauna Lee Lange; Samira Bhandari; Joe M; Richard Blum; Dana Shafie, Photographer; MARShetta; Jason Myers; Ned MacFadden; Aditi Charnoubi; and John Kinnaird.

Shauna Lee Lange Arts Advisory will be featuring original photography and one-of-a-kind limited print photographic works from both Shauna Lee Lange of Alexandria, Virginia and newly emerging student photographer Lauren Kelly Turnbull of Brooklyn, New York. Turnbull originates from Italy and moved to the United States at the age of two. She spent the majority of her youth in theater and is currently attending Pratt Institute as a Film & Media major. Turnbull's black and white photography works feature interesting perspectives on nature, uncommon viewpoints, and a spectacular print of various cooking pans.

Shauna Lee Lange will exhibit new works featuring scenic views found in the mid-Atlantic region along with 2007 works taken in California, Arizona, and New England. All works are framed, matted, and priced to suit new collectors - while having layers of complexity designed to attract even the seasoned photography collector. Shauna Lee Lange runs a metropolitan DC based arts advisory firm dedicated to help those in the art world achieve their objectives.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Annapolis and the Trouble With Resort Galleries

If you've been around art for any length of time, you know that the commercial availability of art can become regionalized. Meaning, what sells in Paducah may not sell in Santa Monica and that artists who like working locally usually sell locally. Art regionalism also means that people in St. Thomas are buying works featuring marine life, sunny skies, and bright and happy colors (for the most part) while people in Vail are buying snowscapes, tree lines, and other cold weather art. There's a whole theory and science to how people live geographically and how vacation homes (second and third homes) in resort communities have a very different art purchasing base.

So it is very important to get out to these resort areas and rural areas and look around to see what's new in different parts of the country - and this is why some of the larger art shows are so popular. One can see what's hot in New York, Florida, and London all in one venue without having to travel. In large metropolitan areas, inventory tends to change fairly rapidly, but in smaller, rural towns, art inventory can have a longer wall life - and this is one way that an arts advisory can learn which artists have staying power in which communities and why.

Today we chose to visit Annapolis, and although Annapolis, Maryland is not very far from our desks (over 25 miles - less than 50), Annapolis has the benefit of being both a resort community and a seaside community with a big boom in summer and a big focus on marine art. Now, as many of you may know, I originate from Rhode Island and spent a great deal of time in Newport, Rhode Island - arguably a comparable community. The trouble with resort galleries, particularly right after Christmas on a very slow Monday, is they're closed. Or they're closing. Or they relocated,or they're only open on a Tuesday when the moon is blue, or the gallery attendant is a bored college student on winter break.

It's frustrating to hear gallery owners lament about the difficulties of managing gallery overhead (and all the associated costs of insurance, shipping, contracts, etc.) when they have store hours of 10 - 2 or when they're only open on the weekends. As an arts advisory service firm, Shauna Lee Lange and company work far more than we should - developing leads, answering questions, helping people connect, exploring calls for submissions, researching art purchases - the list goes on. This is not a good thing, always to be pushing and working, but it is difficult from our perspective to understand how an art gallery can close its doors to the public it serves or the artists it represents.

And frustrating too, is that some of these spaces and curators and owners are very high quality. Certainly, January is a far cry from June, but when did it happen that art buyers only bought in June? Today was a glorious sunshiny, warm, spring-like day and Main Street Annapolis seemed dismal in comparison. Many spaces were for lease or rent - alarming so - even shops that have been in business for some time. Is this a condition of the economy? Is it normal turn-around for post-season stores? Or does the unavailability of art galleries speak to a larger causality, the growth of Internet galleries, the reduction of pedestrian traffic due to technology, or the cavalier approach some long-term gallery owners may have adopted?

Most of the gallery owners we know do it because they love it and they're good at it. They live, eat, and breathe art. And we have to wonder in Annapolis, where is everyone?? It'll take a few months to see how Annapolis fares through changes it is facing with Main Street development along with many other communities in similar situations. We wanted to share some first hand impressions, a few photos of sights we saw along the way today, and a heart-felt plea to open your doors.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Photo Essay: Things Seen in and around the Corcoran's Ansel Adams & Annie Leibovitz Show

The Wrights: A Couple of Hard Working Artists Create, Collaborate, and Conquer

A Marriage of Art

Carl Wright first contacted me in early September 2007. He was getting ready for a two-person exhibition with his wife Jody at Ed Chasen’s Gallery ( in the historic Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC (December 15, 2007 - January 5, 2008).

I wanted to interview Carl on the nuances of working together with one’s spouse, especially when each partner has such diverse artistic interests; Carl is a sculptor and Jody is a painter. The couple had to turn down my request at the time, because they were concentrating on getting publicity for their show. They wanted to get the maximum amount of people in to the exhibit to talk about and buy art. It had been a very hectic preparation period for them between creating new art, doing news interviews, and shooting a TV spot.

We connected again at the beginning of the New Year. I asked the Wrights how the Georgetown exhibition went for them, and they reported it was a good show. Jody sold several paintings and took a custom order. Carl met some notable clients who are interested in later sales and he got a chance to meet a collector who had earlier purchased two sculptures. Overall the show was a success, their experience was positive, and the Wrights hope it will bear continued interest and sales later in the year.

Most importantly, the show allowed the couple to enjoy a unique opportunity to see how well they worked together outside of the confines of their somewhat solitary life in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Whereas paintings may easily sell in a gallery when there is enough interest, with sculpture it takes a while to develop the client because sculpture is such a very individualistic medium. A piece has to be the right color and style to hit the client just right. It proved to be a workable dynamic with sales and relationship building occurring simultaneously.

Carl relates that while at Ed Chasen’s, a lifelong fantasy came true. A client came into the gallery and said something to the effect of, oh I’ve just got to have the piece, but I have to bring back my wife. When the client actually returned with the spouse, she said something to the effect of, fine, you can have the piece, but I also want this other one!! In the art world, one finds all kinds of marriages!

And so it was appropriate that the Ed Chasen show was entitled, "A Marriage of Art." The Wrights liken it to Bogey & Bacall – the perfect match, in the perfect place, at the perfect time. Or, the perfect case of opposites attracting. It’s not every painter with her dappling of color on a canvas who can live with and work with the dirt and noise of stone sculpture.

Carl’s visual sculpture sensations feature Alabaster, Marble, and Limestone in abstract stone sculpture. His work is hand-carved and lovingly finished with waxes and a variety of other finishes bringing out the subtle beauty of the stone. Depending on the type of stone used, Carl’s color offerings vary. Limestone, for instance, is a dove gray. Marble can be white or sky blue, among other colors. Alabaster can be translucent white, green with brown striations, or strawberry and cream, among others.

Carl carves stone sculptures for both interiors and exteriors. He has been in several juried museum and gallery shows. His work is in private residences from Maryland to California to Switzerland. One sculpture is also in a pharmaceutical headquarters in Durham, NC.

Wife Jody offers a wide range of original canvases, she is widely known for her works of companion animals, but at the Ed Chasen show, Jody wanted to bring new life and energy with her. Featured were several different series: The Renaissance series with Einstein and Twain, dancers, and abstracts. Jody’s mural work can be found in both Martinsburg and Charles Town, West Virginia, and her paintings are hanging on walls nationwide and in Australia.

The Couple’s History

Jody and CarI had been married for a couple of years when the first impulses of being an artist started to bite. They had both dabbled in art as part-time pursuits: photography and painting. Their day jobs and college classes together began to affect the time they were able to see one another. As a solution, they took a craft class. This was mainly to satisfy their urge to do something different and have a guaranteed date to see each other.

After that, the passion for art and for each other just kept building. Weary of the metropolitan city life, the couple moved to West Virginia in 1986 to occupy an 1895 Victorian home. This meant one and a half hour commutes by train or by car. Carl was commuting to DC; Jody to Baltimore, Maryland. Within a month of each other, eventually both artists quit their jobs and opened up the WSG Gallery in 1988.

The Wrights find that while in the city, they were getting caught up in the hustle bustle. When they moved - life got quieter and easier. Because of their move, their life is simpler so more effort can be poured into their art.

Contract for Artistic Collaboration

Carl reports that as to working with Jody on a full-time basis – it is a delight. He had the great fortune to marry his best friend. Since the couple work around each other upwards to 14 hours a day, they have to be best friends and they recognize that this level of involvement would be pretty hard on a lot of people’s relationships. The Wrights have guidelines about getting along as artists, as friends, and as spouses that have evolved over the years.

1. Have a space that is yours. Carl's work is basically noisy, dirty, and messy. Some of that carries over in his organization of paper and filing. Jody is just the opposite, she is neat. She can paint on canvas all day with a white sweater on and at the end of the day it is still white. He is always allowed in her studio and she into his - but you always ask where a tool is (ask permission), and then put it back.

2. Know how to talk about your partner’s work critically and more importantly, know when to back off. Carl loves color and detail. He can help Jody with these two items in her paintings when she asks. Jody can help him with a three dimensional design problem in stone. The important thing to remember is Jody is the expert in painting like Carl is in sculpture. If there is a difference of opinion – the winner is always Jody if it is painting; Carl if it is sculpture. There are no exceptions.

3. Everyone gets to do housework, regardless if it is the studio or the personal space in the house. There are no set rules on who gets to do what. Both of the partners made the mess, both of them get the fun of cleaning it up. No Mighty Maids to the rescue. With the Wrights’ 112 year old home, there are things that need to get fixed. Jody hates plumbing but gets better results at it than Carl does. Wiring the house is easy for him. Putting in the framing for new walls, installing hardwood flooring, building and installing cabinets is a breeze. Jody is the one who can plaster the walls and make the room look good. Somehow it all works.

4. If all else goes wrong, nothing gets in the way of their relationship. Carl feels his relationship is somewhat akin to the way he looks at stone sculpture. Stone sculpture, like love, is a dance. Sometimes you lead, sometimes your partner leads. It is all about getting to the same objective. I asked him, "How do painting, sculpture, and space interrelate?" Painting, sculpture, and space interrelate well. It is a case of keeping as much as possible, the work separate from the home. "That is a hard act to accomplish" says Carl. The separation of space is essential.

5. Forgive, respect, and compromise. The Wrights worked together in the corporate world a couple of times and don’t understand the argument of people who love each other but say they couldn’t work together. Certainly there are differences in personal style and temperament. Carl says one has to be somewhat forgiving about much of it. Compromise and get along – respect each other. It’s not for everyone.

The Proof’s in the Art

Well, all of that "get along" stuff is just plain mumbo jumbo to this arts advisor. What I wanted to see was the work. Because after all, art is work and work is art. So I was delighted when Carl shared that he had participated in the first Public Art Program of installation sculptures in the City of Algonquin, Illinois (near Chicago). This is the third year in a row that the respected Algonquin Public Art Program has held this event; previous years brought awards of excellence.

Carl’s contribution, his sculpture Eihei (pronounced I-HEE) and the sculpture Motion, are on display from November 1, 2007 - November 1, 2008. Eihei and Motion grace the entry way to the Old Algonquin Town Hall at the corner of Main Street and Algonquin Road (State Routes 31 and 62). The works are specially carved from stone so that they can be displayed either on the exterior or interior of buildings and homes. Eihei and Motion are carved from limestone from Indiana, the same stone used for the sculptures and exterior cladding of National Cathedral in Washington, DC.

Eihei, on its pedestal, is 60" tall. Motion, on its pedestal, is 48" tall. Both are part of Carl’s sculpture series having a rhythmic, flowing, and peaceful feel to them. This series of sculptures is specifically meant to impart a peaceful calm feeling before entering an office or home. I asked Carl about Eihei’s name. He imparts that it comes from Japanese and means guardian or sentinel.

Carl had a few clients who mentioned they could visualize his work in a Japanese stone garden because it has a quiet meditative feel to it. When he created the works, he was also experiencing an internal shift about naming conventions. Years of experience had taught him that many art buyers who look at an abstract piece want to know what the artist was thinking about it.

Carl’s gone through a phase of naming association in his works because he wants each sculpture to have its own individual name with a distinctive, relatable personality. On the other hand, naming a sculpture is fraught with a mindset. An artist doesn’t want to turn off a potential buyer and to add a layer of complexity, and when using a foreign language, you can have the same word with different meanings based on one’s intonations. He says, "You want to ensure you’re not coming off as culturally arrogant or ignorant."

Carl’s excited about Algonquin because the City is trying to cultivate an Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia environment with the re-use of waterfront properties, Victorian homes, and home-town small walking mall shops. City developers are trying to attract the Chicago professional who craves the cultural arts beat.

More than 20 sculptures are spread all over from the old part of town to new shopping centers. Additionally, Algonquin staffers were very professional to work with, very detailed oriented, and knew how to install and de-install. Both sculptures weigh 600 pounds each, and a sculptor is always worried in public installation whether public officials know how to correctly place a work – would it be level?

Carl says after the three to four weeks it takes him to complete a work, he wants the finished product to be a testament to his sculpting ability and not a sad reflection on stone. It is this motivation that causes him to be sure to read public art prospectuses very carefully. He pays particular attention to where sculpture is sited and the installation expertise of the public art authority to make sure of a successful proposal and project.

Other Career Milestones

Although the Wrights report that so far, there has not really been one big sale or break, they say their arts journey has been one of process, transformation, and time. Most of the breaks or milestones the couple has accomplished seem to them to be more of a steady building of intensity.

Recently, Carl was one of four participants in an eclectic invitational museum show with the Washington County Museum of Arts in Hagerstown, MD (part of the American Association of Museums). He and three other furniture makers were invited to show their creations.

While most people think of furniture in square shapes, none of the furniture makers in the show did conventional works. Carl’s piece, "The Dolphin Table" is a depiction of a dolphin breaking water with the table top being the water. He laughs and says it makes for an interesting conversation piece. He credits wood to getting him on his path in sculpture and thinks he knew he was answering to a different call when his work was stained and finished and all the others in the show were highly painted. He was interested in works and materials that were visually exciting design wise.

Other career markers are having been represented by the Washington, DC gallery FAA Fine Art & Artists Gallery also located in the Georgetown area. Carl’s first large sale ($6,600) was through a gallery and took place almost a year ago to date. A woman through Summerhill Gallery in Chapel Hill, North Carolina had her eyes on a sculpture that weighed 250 pounds, but the gallery couldn’t deliver it.

Carl said he’d take care of all the arrangements – and the Wrights went down and personally installed it in her newly completed home with beautiful, high-end flooring. For the Wrights, this was not just a matter of logistics and installation, but rather personal care and concern. Carl’s equipment is used to being on dirty concrete floors. The Wrights had to clean everything. For added measure, they got builder’s paper (heavy duty craft paper) to protect the floors. A testament to customer service, the woman recently purchased another sculpture from the artist.

No Rest for the Weary

It’s very true that a rolling stone gathers no moss, and the Wrights are well aware of the power of invested activity. With an opening reception to be held this January 23rd, Carl will be in a juried group show at West Chester University, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The show is sponsored by the Philadelphia Sculptors ( and Carl will be among 33 other sculptors exhibiting work. He plans to show one small piece about 13 – 15 inches tall named Noboru.

In early spring, the Wrights are planning their first Joint Show in Richmond, Virginia, at the Chasen Galleries ( Not to be confused, Carl will be showing some of the same works he showed at Ed Chasen’s Gallery this winter. Here is one case where the accomplished sculptor has to take a back seat, as Jody is primary draw for the exhibit "Fauna & Fun." Opening reception is April 25, 2008.

And if that weren’t enough, the couple is celebrating the publication of Jody’s new book. "50 Secrets Humans Should Know" is scheduled for release in March ’08 and will be published by Peter Pauper Press. This personal-sized book is a delight with 50 of Jody’s paintings on the left hand page, followed on the right with a lesson that a dog would love to teach a human. Each picture is paired up with a cogent dog thought. Jody, not only being a gifted painter, is much attuned to dogs – at one time the couple had three dogs in the house! Jody’s natural way with the animals accompanied her written articles over the years. The book seemed like a natural extension for her.

The couple anticipates the upcoming release and then they hope to promote that well so "50 Secrets Humans Should Know" moves fairly good sales. [The Wrights will then attract attention for a follow on book as Jody has great writing ideas but needs to explore directions she’d like to take. 50 Secrets is particularly exciting as it is representative of her work and philosophy in an entertaining and easily digestible form.

So by now, my brain was starting to hurt and I asked the Wrights where they find the time. They say they work with time to do many projects simultaneously and Jody and Carl don’t watch much TV. Instead, they work to help their business. Marketing. Mailings. Continued learning and exploration.

The Business of Art

I thought they were joking. The Wrights, among all their paintings, and the sculptures, and the book, and the house, and the dogs, are devising a new marketing plan to drive business to WSG Gallery. They think marketing their services to banks and other financial institutions might be a good idea. Banks have a huge need to personalize their art and differentiate themselves from their competition. This is particularly true in the DC Metropolitan area.

Many galaxies ago, the couple had people come to a stand-alone store, but when the Blue Ridge Outlet closed up, these same people stopped coming to Martinsburg. People live in Martinsburg for relaxed atmosphere and inexpensive living. The idea is to drive these same people who might have visited the artists to their retail galleries for other smaller pieces. If art buyers want larger pieces (murals for Jody) or large outside sculpture – then of course, the Wrights would welcome them.

But all is well in paradise as the couple has to balance small town life and inaccessibility against metropolitan living. They think the trade off is worth it.
Living in a metropolitan area might force the artistic duo to do more commercial work like graphics or building stone fences rather than answering to what their true calling is. Would metropolitan people buy what they want to sell?

The couple is now reframing themselves as a wholesale purveyor and this came after quite a bit of open studio controversy. Most people don’t want to see process in other types of business – I don’t really care how my toaster is made. When you do art like the Wrights, you are a small business person who happens to do art - not an artist in business. Carl started feeling it was draining their time, energy, and home life and if husband and wife were going to be performers, didn’t they deserve a performers fee? Why perform for free?

So they channeled that energy into professionalism they show talking to the customer, taking the order, fulfilling and servicing installations, and working. Did I mention the newsletter ( The Wrights feel a newsletter is a good tool for them because it helps to get older clients thinking about the work, it allows color pictures, several pages, and is not affected by the postal rate.

The Wrights learned that galleries don’t always want to tell you who is buying your work because many artists will go direct to the client and cut the gallery out. Many galleries won’t give names and addresses out to the artists. The Wrights ask the galleries to tell them whether the work appeals to a certain demographic. They use that information to shape the body of people they personally want to address. Carl says, when you’re shooting in the dark, you have no idea how successful you are, particularly with art. Art is one of those things when people are feeling good and successful, they buy more – that is, when and if they get your newsletter.

It’s not all about money. Carl and Jody recently started a blog ( helping potential clients and others navigate through the wilderness of art speak, sculpture commissioning process, buying a pedestal for sculpture, and other art related phenomena Many people don’t know the questions to ask in where to look for a problem or how to hire an art expert. There are so many questions in art; it’s a subjective thing and not objective. You have to know something about art to know if you like it or why you like it – and then comes the question of how or where to hang it in the home. In sculpture, if you want to buy, you then have the question of what to put it on. So the Wrights have begun an education outreach to make the process of art more enjoyable and more informed.

How an Artist Defines Success

Feeling comfortable and successful is an evolving thing. The Wrights say one day, you wake up and feel you are a professional. It’s gradual. Concentrate on your sphere of influence, the gift that’s a total refuge for you. Carl says he doesn’t know if he could work with someone else. He knows, sees, and visits other artists. He reflects that maybe he became an artist with his self-imposed exile to do humanity a favor by not being in the traditional workplace. No, he’s not sure he could work with others.

With Jody, he can talk about projects together, he feels fortunate they don’t have a problem in working side by side. The couple defines their own success – creativity, color, collaboration, compassion, and concentration. "Jody and I have been full-time artists for 19 years. We enjoy that the living we make is because of the effort we put into it. We enjoy making artistic decisions and being responsible for them. It is not the easiest way to make a living, but it really works for us.”

Carl & Jody Wright
WSG Gallery
330 Winchester Avenue
Martinsburg, WV 25401
Where Sculpture is a Delight to the Eye!